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You're Coming With Me

Chapter Text

 

 

 

You're Coming With Me

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

The Letters

 

 

 

The subtle clunk of the letter box was accompanied by hurried footsteps as a small nurse with a great deal of expectation ran to receive them. She rifled through them at speed with shaking hands, rapidly scanning for the red and blue striped edges of an air mail envelope.

 

Nothing.

 

Only plain white envelopes and British purple stamps with an all to familiar face that screamed home. The bottom dropped out of her stomach. Unfortunately this had been something she had become accustomed to feeling every morning after she’d got up early to check the post. She bit her bottom lip to prevent it from quivering as the large wooden door of Nonatas creaked open behind her.

Lowering the letters she raised a weary head to see Phyllis looking between her and the letter with concern etched in her motherly features.

 

“Nothing from Hong Kong?” Nurse Crane asked gently.

 

Delia struggled to maintain a level voice but she was very aware of her misty eyes.

 

“No.” She paused. “Not yet."

 

It had been over a month since Patsy’s last letter. She’d written religiously every week since she’d arrived in Hong Kong, delivering updates and words of comfort to her love while she cared for her father. And Delia had replied - half her wages spent on stamps and stationary. Patsy’s long, eloquent cursive had been somewhat of a lifeline she’d clung onto since the spring. Even if they hadn’t been able to share their innermost thoughts and feelings, they had to keep things superficial in case of prying eyes. Sister Monica Joan had a tendency to read private letters, even discarded ones after all.

 

At the beginning, every time Delia received a letter her heart would jump into her mouth with excitement. As time wore on the excitement turned to longing and finally to a pang of sadness. She knew it wouldn’t be forever. At least, she kept telling herself that. But for some reason no matter how many times she repeated that mantra it didn’t seem to help. She’d read the letters under cover of darkness with a single candle. Ripping them open methodically she’d inhale the scent of their contents. The paper always smelt vaguely of Patsy - but still at some remove as though reminding her of the oceans that separated them.

 

She had thought the absence of Patsy would have made her love for the redhead grow stronger, but as she stood with trembling hands filled with disappointment she could feel only emptiness.

 

Nurse Crane give her another sympathetic look and walked off, the sound of her heels reverberating off the walls of the empty house. And it was empty. No matter how much Phyllis silently sympathised with Delia, she was no replacement for her love. She couldn’t begin to even think about what she missed most about Patsy, it would hurt too much. What at first had been an exciting game of lovers on an adventure was now turning into something a lot less romantic. Instead of blind excitement and anticipation she found herself in tears most nights, silently sobbing away her evenings to herself. Her final midwifery exams were coming up soon which certainly did not help the sway of emotions pulsing through her tired mind. The frustration had caused her to become irritable and rash, sometimes acting without thinking. And this had not gone unnoticed by Sister Julienne. She’d been reprimanded a few times for tardiness and neglect of chores. Often followed with a muttered rebuttal or a quick apology and attempt to hide the tears as she retreated.

 

“Nurse Busby, I would appreciate it if you would stick to the cleaning rota as it is written. It is your turn to make sure the autoclave is clean and dust free.” Sister Julienne was brisk in her manner.

 

It seemed today was likely to be stressful, Trixie had been assigned to St Cuthbert's and they were short staffed.

 

“I’m sorry Sister, I’ll get it done right away.” She bowed her head.

 

Sister Julienne’s face softened slightly as she took in the nurse’s weary face and baggy eyes.

 

She knew Delia was on edge and was prepared to be lenient to a certain extent. After all she was stressed with studying and of course she missed her best friend. People didn’t know of the long nights she spent staring at the ceiling, yearning to feel the warmth of Patsy against her back, her long arms wrapped safely around her, enveloping her in a cocoon of safety.

 

Delia scrubbed at the autoclave until her hands were raw. She laughed at herself dryly. It was Patsy who was always the one for cleaning to take away the pain. Now she began to understand why. There was something about the mundanity of cleaning that put an order to the chaos. It felt controlled and the results easy to see straight away.

 

It was getting late as she dragged her weary feet into the communal area later that evening. Socialising was the least of her plans but she knew she had to seek out some form of company for fear of regressing into her own negative thoughts. Sister Monica Joan was engrossed in the offerings of evening television and seemed unwilling to engage in much conversation.

 

She sat on the sofa and observed the set, but none of the images or sounds registered with her. Her mind felt numb, as if doused in ice. She couldn’t be here right now. She needed to be somewhere she could breathe, where she could be herself. Just then Trixie appeared in the doorway looking rather lopsided with her hair in curlers but very excited nonetheless.

“Delia, we’re browsing some bridal magazines for some inspiration. Would you care to join us? We’d welcome an extra fashionista into the mix!”

 

And so Delia found herself sitting opposite what had once been Patsy’s and was now Valerie’s bed, flicking through the pages of white dress pictures. It had been quite a good distraction for a while to get caught up in the excitement of planning a wedding. Barbara however seemed intent on something low-key, as was her style. But as Delia sat staring at a picture of a beautiful red haired model in a gorgeous strapless number, her mind wandered.

 

She’d never really yearned for a fairytale wedding when she’d been younger. While many girls her age had played at happy families and getting married she’d always been more partial to climbing trees and making dens out of sticks and mud. Her mother would tut loudly when he daughter would arrive home with a muddy face and grazed knees. But the beaming smile on her face would always ensure she was never punished.

 

But seeing Barbara caught up in the whirlpool of romance had struck somewhat of a painful nerve. She might never have desired a white dress wedding but even if she did, it would never even be an option to her. She would never be in Barbara’s place, stressing about flowers and hairbands and material. The thought filled her with a sudden sadness. She had told Patsy, in no uncertain terms that she wanted to marry her. And for all pretence and purposes she supposed they were married in a way. It was sad because they would never be able to make it official. It had to be kept behind closed doors, hushed exchanges and fleeting glances. They had been together for years now but only by being apart for months did Delia fully begin to understand how much she needed Patsy in her life.

 

“Delia, are you alright?” Valerie was looking at her shrewdly as if she could hear the heartache erupting inside her head.

 

Delia shook herself out of her thoughts and forced a smile. “I’m fine. Just a bit tired.” She stood up. “I’m sorry Barbara I think I’m going to have to call it a night, I really need to finish up on brow presentations before next week.”

 

Having excused herself from the frivolity of bridal planning she slunk into her bedroom, lit the oil lamp and eased into her pyjamas. Opening the third drawer of her bedside cabinet she fumbled with some undergarments, pushing them aside to reveal a stack of letters secured with blue ribbon.

 

She would have to seek comfort in words tonight.

Chapter Text

 

 

The bitterly cold winter air cut through Delia’s woollen coat like knives through paper. She trudged through the cobbled streets trying desperately to shake the suffocating feeling that had once again enveloped her senses. After a long hard day there was nothing more she wanted than to curl up in bed but she knew Patsy’s letters would once again call her. The thought of reliving the agony of the words she’d already memorised a thousand times over was unbearable. And so she’d wrapped herself up warm and began to walk. Where, she had no idea. But she knew she had to escape the confines of Nonatus, even if it was for a brief moment.

 

The others had been so kind so she could barely say she was alone. She welcomed their company in fact. But despite the hours spent playing board games with them and the mundane chit chat Delia had never felt more lonely.

 

It came as no surprise to her that she walked the route that she and Patsy had taken before. The pristine streets of Chelsea were such a stark contrast to that of poplar’s winding roads that Delia began to breathe easier. She felt like she was finally escaping and even though her destination was a subconscious decision, it felt the right place to be right now.

 

The green door of Gateways was strangely inviting. A door which had once caused her and Patsy so much anxiety when they’d first decided to venture out into London’s “alternative scene” - Patsy had called it. Delia supposed this was another example of her lover being unwilling to use open words and terms to describe who they were. Although the redhead was never ashamed of who she was, she was clearly very guarded. This didn’t bother Delia as much as it used to, they’d figured out ways to make it work. Patsy was a person who was quick to build walls around herself but unwilling to break them down. Delia was the only one who had managed to chip away at the façade with a measure of success. The breakthrough of going to Gateways together had been a huge milestone in their relationship. But thinking about the first time they danced in public, in each others arms, swaying to the music was too painful. So Delia pushed the memories from her mind and entered the club.

 

The smokey interior hit a hard contrast from the cold outside air. The atmosphere was buzzing, clearly it was busy that night. Delia headed straight for the bar, pulling herself up a stool. A young brunette to her left cocked her head to one side and smiled, winking in her direction.

 

“A bottle of house red please.” Delia requested.

 

The barmaid nodded and Delia pushed the money across the counter. She had been saving this week’s wage to reply to Patsy’s latest correspondence, but nothing had come. She’d put a fair amount on the whip around for Barbara’s wedding dress, but there had been some left over. This seemed like a more than reasonable use for the remainder of her money.

 

“Here you go lovely.” The brunette barmaid placed the bottle next to Delia along with two wine glasses.

 

“Thank you but I only need one.” Delia said, prompting the barmaid to cock an eyebrow.

 

“Where’s red?” she asked nonchalantly, cleaning an empty pint glass with a dirty rag.

 

Delia shook her head.

 

“Long day?”

 

“One of my friend’s getting married in a few days.” She attempted to steer the conversation onto a less sensitive topic.

 

“Oh, how lovely for her.” The barmaid sighed.

 

She drank the first glass straight down. Wincing slightly as the alcohol burned her throat. It was a good feeling, soon the numbness she’d feel would be happy and warm and fuzzy, rather than cold bleak and miserable. Spending a little more time with the second glass she’d consumed around half of its contents before the bartender spoke again.

 

“You know it doesn’t work.”

 

Delia looked up. “What?”

 

“Alcohol. It never fixes the problem. Only makes you feel better in the meanwhile.”

 

Delia scoffed and finished her second glass.

 

The barmaid tried a different tact. “I find talking to be much more useful - less of a headache in the morning too.”

 

Delia remained silent to the hint, filling her glass again.

 

“Sorry I shouldn’t pry. Not my business.” The brunette made to leave.

 

“No, wait.” Delia said.

 

She didn’t know this woman but her face seemed very kind. The alcohol was beginning to take hold and she felt inhibitions sliding away from under her.

 

“Do you ever wonder… just who you are any more?”

 

The brunette laughed dryly. “All the time love. All the time.”

 

“I say to myself sometimes, “Deels, you know who you are, nobody else does. That doesn’t matter, it’s probably just as well.” She paused and gathered herself, staring blankly at the bottles that lined the back of the bar. “But someone knew who I was once. But it’s as if she’s vanished. And because I can’t reach her… I’ve just disappeared.”

 

Her face crumpled as she bit back the tears that were threatening to fall onto the dusty bar. Suddenly she felt a hand on her own. Up until that point she’d been completely unaware she was shaking. The hand felt unusual, but warm, welcoming… it felt like home.

 

“I’m going to get you a taxi.” The barmaid said gently.

 

Delia felt ashamed. Why was she even here? To pick up some random stranger and hope that she’d remedy her heartache overnight with a woman she barely knew? This wasn’t her at all. Gasping she made her way to the entrance of the club, pushing past women cuddling and dancing and grinding - she had to get outside.

 

The cool air washed over her but she barely felt it over the pounding in her ears and her alcohol soaked brain. She didn’t wait for the taxi the kind barmaid had called. She just walked.

 

————

 

By the morning of Barbara’s wedding she had all but erased the escapade from her mind. Today was a day of happiness she decided. Her friend was getting married and she would be happy for her. Nobody would’ve wanted a sad, sulky Delia at their wedding. And so she began the day with the perfect mask of content as she sang in chorused harmony with the other girls at Barbara’s bedside.

 

The ceremony was a short affair, nothing too spectacular but there were very few dry eyes in the house. It gave Delia an excuse for being misty eyed even though the happy couple were not the cause of her tears.

 

She considered excusing herself afterwards - a reception was hardly something she felt she could go through - but Barbara’s face was enough for her to change her mind.

 

“Breach births and brow presentations be damned!” Trixie exclaimed when Delia had made her excuse. “ Don’t abandon Barbara on her special day! Besides we all want you here.”

 

The rest of them smiled and nodded. And so Delia caved in.

 

Snowflakes had begun to fall and Delia thought inexplicably of a phone box on the corner of whittle street where all her hopes and dreams had once resided. Their phone box. The interruption that had got in the way of their life together those few years past.

 

She had refused point blank to go on the merry-go-round. “Honestly, the moment I get on anything that moves I feel terribly sick.” and instead wandered around the edge, watching the others laughing and waving.

 

It was like something out of a fairytale. The Turners and their new baby boy, wrapped tightly in warm crochet blankets, held close by his mother and watched over by his father. Their family was complete, she could see the pure joy in Shelagh’s face as she cooed and doted over the newborn. Yet another thing that would never happen to her.

 

Tearing her eyes away from the happy family she noticed the nuns, laughing with pure unadulterated joy written on their faces. They had become something of a family to her these past few months. More of a family than Delia’s blood ties had been in some ways. For all intents and purposes she should feel at peace here. But for the one missing piece.

 

Then a flash of auburn caught her eye.

Chapter Text

The journey from Hong Kong had been painful. Not just physically to her heaving stomach but mentally too. Put-together-Patsy was no more. She’d left that woman behind. What remained was a hollow shell of the once perfect façade. Once her father had drawn his last breath, in fact even before that point she knew she had to go back. He needed her yes, but in his final days he didn’t know her from the scullery maid. It was then the pang of missing Delia hit hardest. She managed to switch into nurse mode with her father and put all feelings to one side as she dealt with the practicalities of his illness. The part she was good at, where she felt safe. But after there was no more caring to be done she’d felt hopeless. Wondering around the large house aimlessly, unable to stop thinking of a small welsh woman with the most beautiful blue eyes. It was then she decided as soon as her Father had passed she’d get the next boat back to Britain. She had thought it would take a few weeks to get his affairs in order but she couldn’t wait a few weeks. Nine months away from poplar, away from Delia, had been a special kind of agony for the redhead. And even though she was not an expectant mother, she sympathised.

 

And so the day after the funeral she’d boarded the first ship to Southampton. People were surprised to see her leave so soon, but she fobbed them off with excuses of “limited amount of leave” from her job.

 

As she watched Hong Kong disappear past the distant horizon she realised with a lurch that she’d lost everyone. Barely thirty years old and all her surviving relatives were gone. Patsy was not one for grieving. she’d barely come to terms with her mother and sister - always thinking it was better to bury things, especially painful feelings in the hope they’d eventually go away. She’d busied herself the only way she knew how - assisting a pregnant mother onboard.

 

The mother was roughly 8 months gone and had been struggling in her male-centric cabin. A British sailor had met her in Hong Kong and decided to bring her home to England with her. A kind enough gesture but the woman spoke no english. Although Patsy didn’t have her midwifery kit she was more than used to the concept of improvising. They day before the boat docked the mother went into labour. Patsy had delivery her beautiful baby daughter just as the boat entered English waters.

 

Disembarking of the vessel she left for London via train. The train ride a welcome change for her stomach from the sickly motions of a boat. She watched the familiar English countryside pass blearily through her window, streaks of rain mixed with snow revealing the winter season. And that was the thing, time moved on, even when she wasn’t there - just because she had been in another country on another continent didn’t mean life paused for everyone else.She feared Hong Kong would suck her in and want to keep her. But she came to find it never had the draw of home that poplar had.

 

And Poplar had magnetically drawn her home. Or rather Delia. Delia drew her home. Home was being with Delia. She’d spent many many nights thinking about her. Trying to figure out her own insecurities, trying to analyse everything. But the more she tried to work it out the more of a mess inside her head it had become.

 

The day her father died everything had suddenly become clear - like all the smog in London had lifted over night and she could breathe easily for the first time in her entire life. Delia was the only person in her life that she had left. And she was in danger of losing that which mattered most to her. The façades, the angry outbursts, the worrying what other people might think - it had all hurt Delia. The Welshwoman had remained so stoic through everything, her letters to Hong Kong were full of love but hidden in such a way that a prying eye wouldn’t be able to tell the true emotion. And she did it for Patsy. Had Delia had her way she’d be declaring her undying love every other sentence along with her plans of spending the rest of her days with Patsy. The though which had once made her quake now filled her with a warmth that was strange and unfamiliar. She vowed in that moment, no more hiding. No more looking over her shoulder on nights she knew they were alone. No more petty arguments. She’d tell her love anything. She’d tell her everything. Everything she’d been afraid to say in the past because she’d just been too scared to break that wall down.

 

As Patsy rounded the corner, her solitary suitcase in hand she spotted the etherial merry-go-round in the square outside Nonatus’ House. Everyone had gathered to watch the lights and sounds with a childlike wonder on their faces. But through the crowd Patsy found her as if her eyes knew exactly where to go. She stopped dead in her tracks. This was not a time she’d welcome a warm embrace and welcome from Trixie and Barbara. There was only one person she needed right now.

 

Delia caught her eye and stared. Patsy raised a hand to wave.

 

Her heart raced when Delia began to close the gap between them and Patsy thought inexplicably of the time where Delia had stood under the same bridge all those months ago. She probably looked a right sight. Hollowed out and exhausted, as if the weight of the world was bearing down on her shoulders. Gone was her impeccable poised appearance. Her jacket hung limply on her tall frame and the hems of her slacks were uneven and tattered. There had been plenty of time to repair them on the voyage home and yet she found she no longer cared about the unraveling of thread. The colour had all but drained from her pale face, leaving obvious marks of hastily applied rouge on her tall cheekbones.

 

Delia’s face was a picture of sadness and, Patsy released with a jolt, anger. She grabbed the taller woman’s hand and let her to a nook in the wall outside a shopfront.

 

Delia wanted to speak but she found herself unable to suck the cold night air into her lungs. She stood waiting for Patsy to talk, her mouth tight lipped to stop it from shaking. Her eyes sought answers, a million questions asked as they locked with their blue twins.

 

“I got on the boat the day after his funeral.” Patsy’s voice was husky as if she’d forgotten how to use it.

 

Delia broke. “I didn’t know. I didn’t know you were coming back.”

 

“I did. I always did.” The redhead dropped the last of her tight resolve. “And wherever I go next… you’re coming with me.”

 

And with that she grasped a handful of Delia’s coat and pulled her forward, crushing her lips against hers. Electricity ran between them as Delia stroked her cheek with one hand, pulling her closer into her. Patsy’s hand flailed slightly as she adjusted her grip on the brunette. She felt her knees begin to buckle as they broke apart and opened their eyes.

 

Delia was dumbfounded. Patience Mount had kissed her, in full public view without batting an eyelid, without checking behind her - not just a peck that could be described away as a friendly kiss but something that screamed of yearning, of want, of passion - of love.

 

There were so many questions to be asked and answers to be had from both of them. But from the darkness of each other's eyes they knew those could wait. Wordlessly, Delia picked up Patsy’s suitcase as they headed back towards the merry-go-round. Patsy shoved her hands nonchalantly inside her travelling coat as if nothing more out of the ordinary had happened than her petting the stray cat across the street.

 

“Let’s take the side door.” Delia’s dimples appeared.

 

Patsy smiled. She was home.

Chapter Text

The plan to sneak into the side door became rather futile - it turned out Patsy's hair was a ginger beacon that shone throughout the square and like moths to a flame she became bombarded by a flurry of midwives and nuns.

 

"Patsy! You're back!" Trixie almost bowled the tall woman over as she engulfed her in a bone crushing hug.

 

Phyllis smiled broadly, catching Delia's eye. "Welcome back Patsy, you've been sorely missed!"

 

Delia hovered a short distance from the jubilations. She had hoped they would manage to rest before all the reconciliations but Patsy was getting swamped with welcomes and hugs. Although her face was suitably alight with gratitude, Delia could tell all she wanted was solitude to gather herself. It had been an emotional journey, physically and mentally for her, this could all wait until morning.

 

She attempted to interrupt proceedings but Barbara was already showing off her new ring and gushing about how sad it was that Patsy had just missed the ceremony. Phyllis seemed to spot her intentions however and barked over the raucous.

 

"Patsy you look exhausted, I suggest a cup of tea for our weary traveller." She looked at Delia pointedly. "Perhaps young Nurse Busby can assist you."

 

Delia smiled gratefully at Phyllis. It was dark and could have easily been a trick of the carousel lights but she swore she saw the wise woman wink at her.

 

Patsy accepted graciously and bid her farewells to everybody, reassuring them she'd see them the following day and regale them with her tales.

 

Delia picked up her suitcase and the two trudged up the main steps, and allowed the heavy wooden doors to close behind them, instantly reducing the jovial noise outside to a faint murmur. Patsy's eyes closed as she breathed in the somewhat stale air. Nonnatus House always had an aroma similar to those really old vintage bookshops - a warm comforting scent steeped in history and reflection. Delia watched her girlfriend intently, reaching for her arm and giving it a slight squeeze.

 

"Welcome home Pats." she whispered.

 

She raised her hand from her arm and stroked the side of her face gently. Patsy was deep in thought but the touch of Delia's warm hand on her almost frostbitten cheek woke her from her reverie.

 

"What are you thinking?"

 

"I'm thinking about how I could really do with a nice hot steaming bath right now." Patsy's lopsided grin was back, but with less gusto that it usually had.

 

In the light of the hall Delia could finally see her lover's face clearly. Her eyes were dark rimmed, sunken from tiredness and stress, their usual bright azure seemed less saturated than before. Her facial features, although normally pronounced were almost chiseled, the colour faded from her usually full cheeks and in its place a hastily applied layer of rouge. Once plump lips were dry and chapped, missing their signature blood red lipstick. There was something about her whole demeanour that just seemed older.

 

"Go on. I'll make you some tea and meet you upstairs in a bit."

 

Leaning in she placed a chaste kiss on a pale cheek.

 

 

 

As the water simmered to the boil Delia added two spoonfuls of sugar to a faded china cup. Her mind was whirring like the inner workings of a clock. A thousand small gears turning trying to process what had just happened.

 

Half an hour ago she had been wondering if this was it, if she was destined never to see her love again and now she was upstairs having a bath. A delayed shock began to settle in as she felt her hands shake, unable to replace the lid of the sugar container. This was so sudden, so unplanned. And then for Patsy to kiss her in the middle of the street. Her shaking fingers ghosted her lips. It had not been a chaste kiss either. Delia tried to ignore the pulling of her mind towards the many times she had imagined their reunion; lying awake in the dark, alone in her bed, her mind and hands wondering-

 

The water boiled over, startling Delia as she grappled for the pan, burning her hand on the scolding liquid in the process. She yelped, quickly running it under the cold tap. The pain seemed to ground her back into a harsher reality. They would need to talk, that was for sure. She couldn't let Patsy just sidle back into her life without discussing how much she'd hurt her. There were wounds to be healed in their relationship, but they would be addressed with time.

 

 

 

With a sudden trepidation Delia knocked on the bathroom door, tea tray in hand.

 

"Pats? It's Delia."

 

"Come in!" came the muffled reply.

 

Delia balanced the tray with one hand and managed to open the old heavy door with the other, closing it behind her with a loud thunk which echoed off the tiles.

 

Her eyes fell immediately on the redhead and it was everything she could do to not drop the tray. The room was lit by just a few candles. In the soft light she could see the reflection of Patsy's pale skin. She was laid out in the porcelain white tub, knees pulled up slightly, her height not allowing her to stretch out completely. Her head flung back, eyes closed, hair undone and cascading over the back of the tub. Steam was rising from her exposed skin, hot water almost filling the bath completely. Delia was staring, but she couldn't help herself. The vision before her was like something from a dream.

 

She steered herself. Pulling some courage together.

 

"Your tea madam!" she said, almost too jovially, sauntering over towards Patsy. Why were her hips swaying? She berated herself internally. "You don't have to have it now but, it might get cold if you leave it too long." she swore her voice was at least one octave higher than usual.

 

Patsy just accepted the tea graciously, sitting up in the tub slightly and sipping it slowly, trying not to spill any liquid from the full cup.

 

"God I've missed tea. It's the small things." she smiled.

 

"They don't have tea in Hong Kong?"

 

"Not Typhoo."

 

Delia giggled. "I gave you two sugars. Figured you might need the energy."

 

"Whatever for?" Patsy asked, her face a picture of innocence. Eyeing her steadily from behind the cup, her eyes flicked to Delia's lips for a brief second.

 

More and more convinced she was turning the shade of an actual beetroot, Delia decided to steer the conversation onto safer grounds.

 

Halfway through a particularly amusing anecdote about Fred Patsy reached out and held Delia's hand, her thumb rubbing small circles, bringing her rambling to a sudden halt. There was silence apart from the slow dripping of bath water on the floor from Patsy's outstretched arm. Suddenly aware her breathing had become very shallow, Delia met the older woman's eyes.

 

"Deels, as amusing as Fred is, I couldn't care less about him right now." Patsy's voice was low, very low.

 

Delia swallowed hard. Throat suddenly dry, brain unable to form words. "Pats- " her voice broke.

 

"I've missed you." the redhead whispered, bring her hand up to lovingly stroke the curve of Delia's neck.

 

The touch was electrifying. Delia felt her nerve endings come alive, a spark she had not felt in nine long months suddenly reignited. Her eyes closed involuntarily as she revelled in the touch.

 

"Could you pass me my towel? This bath is getting cold and maybe we should go somewhere more... comfortable?"

 

The Welsh woman's hands were shaking again as she held out the towel. As Patsy rose from the bath, she noticed just how much her bones were jutting out from under her skin. She had definitely lost weight and was looking very thin, almost unhealthily so. Wrapping the taller woman in the towel Delia held on for a moment longer, head buried in her back, breathing in the smell of soap and bleach.

 

"I'm so glad you're home." she whispered, tears beginning to prickle at the corners of her eyes.

Chapter Text

They entered Delia's room silently out of habit, avoiding all the squeaky floorboards despite knowing they were completely alone in the house.

 

Delia took a sharp intake of breath. They were alone. For quite possibly the first time since they had sat on that threadbare blanket and toasted to their future in that cold rundown flat before everything had come undone. That seemed like an eternity ago. She shivered, not from the chill of the room but from her last memory of Patsy as she'd cycled away.

 

Patsy moved closer until they were almost touching. The Welsh woman's skin buzzed with anticipation for the her touch. She was surprised there wasn't a low humming sound from the conductive surface that was just longing for the circuit to be completed. Bending down Patsy brushed her lips against Delia's. In that moment all the oxygen was sucked from the room as both women gasped simultaneously. The second kiss was no where near as measured. Their mouths clashed together, hard. Teeth knocking together but they didn't care. Delia felt Patsy's tongue seeking entrance and allowed her mouth to part slightly. My god, she'd missed this. Placing a hand on the taller woman's waist, Delia pulled her impossibly closer, deepening the kiss, both tongues sliding and swiping with pent up desire. Their kissing soon became frenzied, a sense of urgency apparent.

 

Patsy's hand had made its way from Delia's left cheek to her back and had began making quick work of the zip on her dress. Delia moaned into her mouth. The red head was never this forthcoming but as long fingers worked their way under her dress and traced the straps of her brassier she found it incredibly alluring.

 

"Delia... I ... I need... -" Patsy gasped between kisses.

 

The lack of contact had taken it's toll on both women. At some point all that control had to come crashing down.

 

"Pats, wait - "

 

Delia pulled back, her face flushed, lips swollen, dress falling off her shoulders and stray wisps of hair falling from her tousled bun. Instant concern flashed over the tall midwife's features as she withdrew contact.

 

"Is everything alright? I'm sorry - would you rather we didn't?"

 

"No! I mean, Yes." Delia gathered herself. "Everything's fine Pats. I want to keep going but - maybe we should lock the door first? I know we're alone but I'd rather not chance the possibility of a stray nun finding us like this." she finished sheepishly.

 

"That sounds like my line." Patsy broke into a broad grin then padded over to the oak door, sliding the rickety bolt home.

 

Delia meanwhile completed the tall woman's previous intentions and slid out of her navy silk dress. Patsy's eyes roamed all over the newly exposed skin. Together they managed to rid Delia of all her undergarments with record speed. Now was not the time for slow romantic reunions.

 

Patsy removed Delia's hair from its tight bun, letting it fall down the smaller woman's shoulders and brushing away soft strands from her eyes. She hovered her lips an inch from Delia's left ear and whispered softly. "I want you Delia Busby."

 

Delia shivered, not just from the hot breath that was making goosebumps erupt all over her skin. The time away in Hong Kong had only made to sharpen Patsy's clear cut glass accent. Her voice did unimaginable things to Delia's insides, a warm desire shot from her chest to the apex of her legs causing her to whimper. She needed contact. Now.

 

As if she could read her lover's thoughts the redhead crashed heir lips together again in a searing kiss full of yearning and want; echoing the almost animal need radiating between the two women. Delia bit down gently on her lover's bottom lip and both women groaned quietly. They may have been alone but old habits died hard and the need to be silent was still a necessity, albeit processed though hazy minds.

 

Patsy's hands began to move from Delia's hair, running up down her back, ghosting over dips and curves before scraping her nails gently over the exposed skin. Delia gasped, her who body shuddering, her nerve endings on fire. She began reaching for Patsy's towel, now the only barrier between them. It fell to the floor and finally skin met skin as they pressed their bodies together, revelling in the fullness of the contact they had been denied for so long. Delia's brain all but short circuited from the feeling of Patsy's warm soft breasts pressed against her own. The sensation did nothing but increase the rapid need pooling in her groin and from her lover's sighs she was clearly not alone in that predicament.

 

Lips never parting they managed to dance backwards awkwardly before Patsy's long legs hit the bed and she sat down, pulling the smaller woman onto her lap. Delia's thighs clamped around Patsy's hips, effectively pinning her to the bed as her mouth slid from those perfectly full lips and began an agonisingly slow descent, pepping a trail of small wet hot kisses from the redheads neck down and then along her pronounced collarbone.

 

"Christ Deels..." Patsy managed, her voice surpassing husky and sounding straight up hoarse.

 

Her hips bucked helplessly against Delia initiating a brief but torturous contact that elicited quiet moans from both women.

 

"I can't believe how much I've missed you..." she was silenced as Delia placed a finger over those perfect lips, cutting her off mid-sentence.

 

"Shh. Don't speak."

 

Delia's hand found Patsy's breast just as her mouth closed on the pulse point at her neck. The place Delia knew drove her completely wild. She revelled in how soft Patsy was, despite having battled the elements on board a ship for the past month, the tall midwife's skin was silky smooth.

 

Delia's hand came to rest, rolling a perfect coral nipple between her thumb and pointer finger. She felt it harden instantly as Patsy let out a hiss, her head falling backward. Repeating the motion she closed her lips around the other nipple, sucking and then biting very gently while massaging the other breast reverently. Patsy stiffened under her and Delia allowed herself a pleased smile. After nine long months, to know she still had this effect on the redhead was exhilarating.

 

Patsy's hands were now raking down Delia's back, cupping and squeezing whatever they could find along the way. Delia grabbed her lover's arms and with a swift movement guided them both to lie down on the bed, tongues and legs entangled together. Straddling the tall woman, Delia took a moment to behold the wonder that was before her.

 

Patsy's still damp red hair was strewn over the contrasting white pillow in a beautiful fan. Her eyes were hooded and the deepest darkest blue Delia had ever seen. Her red lips slightly parted, swollen from the frantic kissing. Breasts rising and falling with ragged breaths, nipples still erect and shining in the dim light. In that moment Delia didn't think she'd ever seen something or someone so beautiful.

 

Noticing the pause in their movements, Patsy reached out to cup Delia's cheek, her eyes searching, offering so much reassurance and love that Delia felt tears begin to threaten to fall once again. There were no words needed in that moment. She hid any onset of emotion with another heated kiss. Delia jammed a solid thigh between Patsy's legs and gasped at the wet heat it found. Patsy's eyes rolled back into her head as she ground against the Welsh woman, desperate for friction.

 

Withdrawing her thigh Delia began pepping kisses all over Patsy's torso. She felt her lover's hands put gentle pressure on her head, encouraging her lower and lower. Trailing her tongue lightly over Patsy's abdomen she inhaled the heady smell of the redhead's arousal. She manovered herself to sit comfortably between Patsy's legs, allowing herself one more glance towards her face. Blue eyes met blue and Delia closed the gap, lightly kissing the crop of light curls.

 

Finally she closed her mouth around the swollen nub and gently, ever so gently sucked once, twice. Patsy groaned as her head fell back into the pillow, one hand on Delia's hair, the other jammed in her mouth. Her hips raised, trying to increase the contact but Delia steadied them with her hand all whilst keeping a gentle pressure with her mouth.

 

"Deels." gasped Patsy through her fist.

 

Delia hummed, the vibrations causing Patsy's hips to buck again. Slowly she began to increase the pace, still focused on the bundle of nerves that most needed her attention. Gentle flicks turned into longer, lapping motions as she began to flatten her tongue, humming to increase the sensations for her girlfriend. Patsy's grip on her head had become vice-like, the tall woman's breaths coming in short sharp gasps. Delia's attempts to still her hips were abandoned as she focused on the task at hand. She could feel the insistent, growing heat in her groin but clenched her thighs together, trying to dispel her own desires for the moment.

 

"Delia... " Patsy whined.

 

Delia stilled her motions briefly and looked up doe-eyed at the redhead.

 

"More... I need... you...inside..."

 

Her words were disjointed but Delia knew exactly what was asking for. Rising up, she lay beside her, propped up on one elbow, kissing Patsy with a fervour. Her hand trailed down Patsy's abdomen and fingers dipped into the same slick wetness that her mouth had left only moments ago. Patsy grunted into the kiss, her hips bucking against Delia's hand, demanding more. Deciding to finally give in to the torture Delia slowly slipped two fingers inside Patsy's warmth.

 

"Oh..." Patsy cried out in pleasure as her walls clamped down on the brunette's digits.

 

Delia began to ease her fingers in and out slowly, letting the tall woman adjust to the sensation but Patsy's hips had other ideas. They rocked violently as Delia steadied them and began to set a slow, deep rhythm. Patsy's hand was roaming all over Delia's sides, coming to rest on her hand and deftly trying to increase its pace. As Delia obliged, she felt Patsy's other wandering hand stroke up her inner thigh and come to rest on her patch of dark curls.

 

Delia's eyes fluttered at the contact, her concentration and hand movements momentarily lapsing as Patsy's fingers met her own desire.

 

"Christ Deels..." Patsy exclaimed between pants, her fingers probing gently, finding a considerable amount of warm wetness.

 

Despite their position, Delia blushed slightly. She hadn't realised the extent of her own desire until now. Patsy brought her other hand to Delia's face, cupping it and lovingly stroking the smaller woman's cheek with her thumb.

 

"Together?" she whispered.

 

The Welshwoman nodded her consent. "Together."

 

Delia groaned loudly as two of Patsy's long fingers slid deep inside her, filling her completely. Her whole body shuddered with a wave of pleasure as finally she had her love where she desired her the most. My god she had missed this. The nine months apart made the sensation of Patsy's action even more intense. She let out a tiny involuntary gasp as the redhead adjusted her hand to a more comfortable position.

 

"Are you alright?" Patsy whispered.

 

Delia nodded and bit her lip, trying to stop the tears that were threatening to spill over.

 

They stayed completely still for a few moments, foreheads pressed together, panting hard, revelling in the sensation of an ultimate physical connection. 

 

Eventually their desires took over and the rhythm of motion began again, gently, in perfect sync to each other.

 

It quickly became clear neither woman could maintain their current pace. Slow movements rapidly increased in speed and Delia felt a coil beginning to build low in her abdomen. Her hips bucked against Patsy's hand, her own reaching with a thumb to rub tight circles on Patsy's small bundle of nerves. The redhead to gasp and ground against her harder. Delia shifted her weight onto her hand, allowing for more leverage. Patsy’s thumb mirrored her lovers, rubbing gentle circle patterns on Delia's clitoris causing her to moan softly. The intense tingling sensation began to spread from her legs, all up her body. Both women gasped desperately for air, their movements becoming more and more frenzied as they climbed. They had never been this rough with each other before, but right now, neither cared. They needed this. They needed to feel something.

 

They were building together, they were together. In that moment the realisation dawned completely on Delia. Patsy was home, the long empty nights of waiting were over, she could finally let go and love with all she had. Patsy's fingers thrust deep into her one final time and Delia felt herself reach the top. A whiplash of pleasure jolted through her entire body as her back arched and her lungs expelled a loud guttural groan. Her muscles spasmed in an uncontrollable ecstasy and every single nerve ending in her body sparked and fizzled with an invisible electric current. Patsy was right there with her. With a few final thrusts of Delia's fingers she too reached the point of ultimate pleasure, brokenly crying out, the shockwaves travelling through both of their bodies in unison. Bodies twitched as the aftershock rolled over each of them. Both women were panting hard, fighting for air, trying to relieve their oxygen starved brains.

 

The haze settled but neither woman moved. They remained connected, not wanting to part. Delia rested her forehead against Patsy's and kissed her mouth, slowly. Trying to show her just how much love she was feeling in that current moment. Tears pricked again but this time Delia did nothing to stop them from falling. The tidal-wave of emotions had been set loose and relief expelled through salty liquid.

 

Slowly they eased apart. Instantly feeling empty, they wrapped their arms around each other, holding on for dear life. The tears were flowing freely now between both women. Great shuddering sobs turned to small sniffs and finally petered out completely. In that moment no words were needed. They clung onto each other tightly as if their lives depended upon it.

 

Eventually physical and emotional exhaustion overtook them and they drifted off into sleep, still contained within each other's embrace.

Chapter Text

 

 

"Dai, wait!"

 

"Keep up Delia, there's a perfect one just over this river."

 

"I'm trying. Your legs are too long."

 

Dai laughed heartily, his unbroken alto voice echoing off the surrounding hillsides. 

 

Delia huffed as she finally caught up with her gangly friend. Her knee was scraped and bloody, no doubt her mam would have a few choice words upon her return about ruining another dress. Delia didn't understand why she didn't just let her wear trousers or shorts like the other boys. Skirts and dresses always got in the way of anything vaguely outdoorsy. 

 

"There!" he said eagerly, pointing at the tall spruce tree from which a crude rope swing hung, suspended above the river.

 

They exchanged a gleeful glance.

 

 "Race you."

 

Without waiting for her friend, Delia splashed her way across the stream. The water getting in her shoes but she didn't mind. It made her socks make a satisfying squelch noise when she reached the other side.

 

"Not fair, you had a head start." Dai whined, bringing up the rear.

 

"Five seconds for every leg shorter than yours. It's only fair Dai Llewellyn."

 

Delia hoisted herself up onto the rope swing with surprising ease for a 9 year old.

 

"I can see farmer Ferguson's new lambs from here."

 

Dai craned his neck. "What are they doing?"

 

"Jumping." said Delia, matter of factly.

 

"Bet they can't jump as high as I can push you." He said.

 

Delia barely had time to grasp the coarse rope before Dai had pushed her, hard. She let out a cry of joy, the wind soared through her hair, battering her flushed cheeks. She felt like she was flying, like the pilots that flew those planes overhead. 

 

The sunlight was fading but golden rays filtered through the clouds, bathing the valley in a beautiful light. The only sound the far off bleating of sheep and the laughter of the two children.

 

Dai pushed her again, harder this time. Her stomach dropped for a second as she felt the rope go slack but the swing held and she flew again, laughing from the adrenaline rush. She was soaring higher and higher with each push. 

 

Suddenly the rope snapped and she was falling... falling...

 

 

Delia awoke as she hit cold hard wood, the dream vanishing around her, remnants of the Welsh countryside and Dai's panicked voice still hazy in her peripheral. Grumbling she shook her head trying to ground herself back in the present.

 

It was still pitch black outside. Subconsciously she checked herself, nothing broken, head seemed fine, everything was alright apart from the fact she was on the floor and not in her bed. A whimper came from the bed and she startled. 

 

It all came flooding back like ice through her veins. Patsy was home, she was back, she was in her bed, they had - well last night had been, but wait, why was she on the floor? 

 

The whimper came again, louder this time. Delia pulled herself up, wincing slightly, there'd be a bruised elbow in the morning. From the little light that came from the streetlamp outside their window she could see the sleeping form of the redhead. Patsy was taking up the whole single bed, tangled in the linen sheets, clearly having just ejected Delia from her own mattress. 

 

Then Patsy murmured something that made Delia's blood run cold.

 

"Mum..."

 

Delia scanned the scene again. Patsy's knuckles were white, clasped tight around the sheets. She jolted violently in her sleep, pulling a hand to her chest and began breathing rapidly.

 

"No... please. Watashi o kizutsukenaide!" she pleaded with an invisible person. 

 

Delia's eyes filled with tears. She had no idea what the taller woman was saying but it sounded like Japanese. Patsy had not had a nightmare since Nursing School. They had never talked about the night Delia had come barging into Patsy's room when she'd heard the screaming, put her arms around the tall woman and calmed her till they both slept soundly.

 

"Patsy..." she whispered tentatively, reaching out a shaking hand to stroke the fiery red hair.

 

The touch seemed to do nothing but aggravate the situation. Patsy's long limbs folded together as she collapsed into the foetal position and began shaking.

 

Delia hesitated, unsure of what to do. Just then Patsy sat bolt upright, her eyes wide and her mouth open and began to scream. Delia jumped up, held her gently by the shoulders and locked eyes with the terrified blue.

 

"Patsy. You're alright. It's me, it's Delia. You're in London. You're safe." she tried to keep her voice steady and calm.

 

Patsy's scream petered out and she drew a shuddering breath before collapsing forward onto Delia, her body wracked with sobs. Delia held her tightly, one hand on her back, the other stroking her hair.

 

"Shh, you're alright, everything's alright." she kept repeating.

 

A small knock at the door made her look up quickly. It opened a crack and the concerned face of Phyllis appeared. The older woman was in uniform, clearly on call and had heard the commotion. She surveyed the scene; both woman in the center of the bed surrounded by a mess of bedsheets. Delia thanked her lucky stars they had got back into their pyjamas.

 

She looked at Delia questioningly.

 

Delia mouthed silently "Nightmare." but did not move from her position, kneeling in front of the distressed woman.

 

"Is there anything I can do?" Phyllis whispered kindly.

 

Delia shook her head. "We'll be okay, thank you."

 

Phyllis nodded and closed the door quietly behind her.

 

Patsy's breathing had evened out, but her body was still shaking uncontrollably in Delia's arms. The Welshwoman glanced at the bedside table. The luminous hands of a small clock read four o'clock. She shivered. They needed to get under the covers.

 

Gently laying Patsy down, Delia tucked her messy hair behind her and reached for the discarded duvet, pulling it over them both before wrapping her arms around her lover again. The momentary loss of contact was enough for Patsy to whimper again.

 

"Shhh Cariad. I'm here."

 

Delia pressed her body heat to the shivering woman, trying to transfer as much warmth, love and safety as she could.

 

"Delia..." came a shaky voice.

 

"Rwy'n dy garu di."

 

Patsy's breathing became slower and more steady. She had stopped shaking, just the occasional twitch jumped from her settling limbs. Satisfied her girlfriend was in no more immediate distress Delia allowed herself to relax. Her eyelids quickly became heavy and she drifted off into an uneven sleep, Patsy still wrapped in the safety of her embrace.

Chapter Text

 

Delia awoke to the sound of children playing in the street outside. She rolled over to find her bed empty from a lack of Patsy. The sight was no uncommon to her, Patsy never stayed in her room overnight, it was just too risky. She'd obviously returned to her own room in the early morning. Rubbing her eyes she drew the curtains and couldn't help but marvel at the scene in front of her.

 

There had been a lot of snowfall during the night and the street outside was bathed in a blanket of white. Children from all over were throwing snowballs and building snowmen. They hardly ever got snow like this in London, the smog never really permitted more than a light smattering. But that was over the wellington boots deep, at least two feet had fallen over night and it was clear the local youths were determined to make the most of it. The infectious laugher even brought a smile to Delia's weary face. It was the dawn of a new day in Poplar and, she suspected, a new day in the rest of her life too. Not that it was that simple though, she still needed to talk to Patsy about the nine months they had been apart. Not only that but last night too.

 

But that could wait. For now, staring out the window Delia noticed, everything seemed brighter somehow. Colours were move vivid and there was a spring in the young Welshwoman's step as she freshened up and dressed for, well brunch it seemed with a quick glance at the bedside clock.

 

Delia could hear jovial conversation and clattering of crockery as she descended the stairs towards the dining room. Barbara of course would be absent for the next few days, away on her honeymoon with Tom. Delia couldn't help but feel a twang of jealously but it melted away almost instantly when she entered the warm atmosphere of the dining room. Patsy, Trixie, Sister Winifred, Sister Monica Joan and Sister Julienne were tucking into would could only be described as healthy potions of lemon meringue pie.

 

"Delia, nice of you to join us! You slept well I take it?" Trixie's voice was bright as usual.

 

"Yes, thank you Trixie, I was exhausted after yesterday's activities." Delia did her best to avoid Patsy's eye but failed dismally and fought to stop a hot blush creeping up her neck.

 

"Patsy was just telling me all about her voyage - it sounds ghastly, I don't know how one could put up with living on a boat for a month, let alone with hardly any running water..."

 

Delia settled herself down into the empty seat next to Patsy as Trixie continued to express her amazement at the travel conditions between Hong Kong and Southampton. She felt a foot nudge her calf and smiled at the silent greeting from the redhead.

 

"Would you like some pie Delia, you must be famished?" Sister Winifred offered.

 

As Delia accepted and began tucking into the tangy dessert the newest member of the Nonnatus made her appearance.

 

Patsy's manners preceded her as she rose from her seat and offered her hand.

 

"Patience Mount. Patsy." She smiled warmly.

 

"Valerie Dyer." Valerie returned a broad grin. "I've heard a lot about you Patsy!"

 

"Oh gosh, all of it good I hope?" Patsy winked as she returned to her chair.

 

"Mostly..." said the brunette mysteriously.

 

The table laughed lightheartedly. It felt like a scene of almost domestic bliss, everyone talking animatedly about the weather, the fact this was set to be a really cold winter and Fred should really get about fixing the boiler. Delia felt more relaxed and at ease than she had in months. Sister Monica Joan seemed to notice.

 

"Nurse Busby, I think we are in need of rope, lest you float free from your seat!"

 

Delia blinked at her, eyebrows raised.

 

"For you are full of joy, such happiness that has been lacking from your melancholy demeanour these past few weeks."

 

The elderly nun looked pleased, a twinkle in her eye forming. Delia tried not to blush.

 

"I suspect the lemon meringue is the explanation. We must ensure it's copious supply for the future." she said, glancing pointedly towards Sister Julienne.

 

Delia could feel Patsy's gaze but did not meet the redheads eyes. The fact she had been down had clearly not gone as unnoticed as she'd hoped. This tight knit community of women missed nothing. Patsy's foot nudged her again and Delia returned the touch.

 

 

 

It was almost impossible that day to spend any time alone with Patsy that morning. She was bombarded at every opportunity by her workmates to tell stories from her journey. Finally Sister Julienne stepped in suggesting Patsy needed some rest from her travels.

 

"I think that's quite enough questioning for today everyone, we must leave the poor woman to rest." She turned to Patsy "Before you retire Nurse Mount, please would you see me in my office?"

 

Patsy, who was busy cleaning the dishes from lunch, paled slightly but agreed.

 

To everyone's surprise, Phyllis piped up. "Sister Julienne, if I may - Now young nurse Gilbert - sorry, nurse Hereward, is no longer abiding with us, may I request a transfer to the single room? I'm sure nurse busby would much rather be surrounded by her colleagues, especially once she's passed her exams."

 

Patsy almost dropped the dish she was cleaning.

 

"As long as Nurse Busby doesn't mind that is." Phyllis added with a pointed look towards the young Welshwoman.

 

Delia tried not to look too excited as she grinned from ear to ear. "I'm sure I can manage."

 

 

 

Patsy emerged from sister Julienne's office twenty minutes later, bumping into a conveniently placed Delia Busby on the stairs.

 

"Hello Deels. Or should I say, hello my new roommate!"

 

"What?" Delia's mouth hung open for a split second before she remembered where she was.

 

"I trust there is not problem? Nurse Mount has agreed to come back to us for a while, at least until her father's affairs are in order. Since her old room has been taken by Nurse Dyer and you are now in Nurse Crane's old room, there is only one space left."

 

"No, that's, that's fine." Delia stuttered out.

 

"Excellent. Nurse Crane told me you slept there last night and your travel case is on the bed. I assume Nurse Franklin and Nurse Dyer will not mind you retrieving the rest of your belongings from your old room."

 

The older nun retired into her office closing the wooden door gently behind her leaving a stunned pair of nurses in her wake.

 

"Delia..." Patsy's voice was fully of questions.

 

"Come on. Let's arrange your - or should I say, our new room." Delia grabbed her arm and they giggled all the way up the stairs.

 

 

It was late afternoon by the time Patsy had managed to extract her last few dresses from the already packed and sagging wardrobe in her old room, rearranging them in the slightly less full wardrobe of the new double room.

 

They slumped down on a single bed and locked eyes. They'd done it. For once they were living together, under the same roof, in the same room. It wasn't complete privicy by any means but it was more than either of them could hope for in the circumstances. Delia could not contain her grin, her face was aching from smiling so much, the muscles in her face unused to so much exertion, but it was a good pain.

 

Her hand ghosted Patsy's back, half expecting the tall woman to flinch or move away but she lent in, cupping the Welshwoman's face in her hands.

 

Delia couldn't help herself. "Welcome home Pats."

 

Their lips met in a chaste kiss full of meaning. Breaking apart Patsy looked at her love curiously from behind deep blue eyes.

 

"Delia... about Phyllis." Patsy began softly.

 

"Ah. Yes." Delia looked down at her lap.

 

"What's going on?" she reached for Delia's hand and squeezed it.

 

Delia bit her lip, unsure how to go about the revelation that their secret was not so secret anymore. It's like a plaster a little voice in her head said, just rip it off and get it over with.

 

Delia took a deep breath, her eyes squeezing tight shut. "She knows. About us."

 

Patsy's hand didn't leave hers. There was no outburst, no shocked exclamation.

 

"How?" came the calm response.

 

Delia looked up. There was worry in the redheads eyes but not fear.

 

"She guessed. She hasn't told me directly she knows but - there's been little things. She kept asking if you'd written or if I wanted to read some of her Spanish love poems."

 

"And she's okay with it?"

 

Delia shrugged. "She's not said anything. And if the room situation is anything to go by, I think she's on our side Pats."

 

Patsy nodded. There was a silence between the two women for a moment.

 

"I'm glad you had someone... with you. While I wasn't here." Patsy whispered.

 

Delia nodded shortly. So they were having the conversation now it seemed.

 

Patsy took a few deep breaths as if steeling herself. "I'm sorry."

 

Tears began to prickle at Delia's eyes but she forced them away. She needed to hear what Patsy had to say - there were two sides to every story and although she might not want to hear it, she needed to hear both. Although talking about feelings was scarcely second nature to the redhead, if she was ready to speak then Delia knew she needed to listen, the opportunity might not come again.

 

"I'm sorry I didn't write." Patsy was staring at a spot on the far wall. Her voice shook but she managed to control it. "He was getting worse every day. I could see his life slipping away from me and there was nothing I could do about it. I felt like a failure, like all my nursing skills meant nothing. He was the only thing I had left and... I couldn't save him." she sniffed loudly and tried to stem the tears that had began.

 

"The days just passed by so quickly but every hour felt so agonisingly slow, I don't understand how. In the end he didn't recognise me at all. I think maybe it was for the best his mind went before his body - he was unaware of the suffering he was going through and I'm glad. But - I never got to tell him about you Delia. I wanted to so badly, but I was scared. I was scared that with his dying breath he'd see his only remaining daughter for what she really was and hate her for it. But I regret that more than anything now. I regret not taking you with me and introducing you to him. You'd love him, he is..." she choked "... was so very kind to me, at the end."

 

Delia snaked an arm around the shaking woman's waist. Her grief was palpable, great wracking sobs permeated her body as she cried into her lover's shoulder. Sniffing and wiping her face on her sleeve she continued - as if stopping now would mean she'd never be able to start again.

 

"I realised something. I realised life is so short, so fragile." she raised a hand to stroke Delia's face again.

 

Delia looked deep into her eyes and saw a mixture of pain, fear and love all at once, battling for dominance in the ocean of blue.

 

"I don't want to live the rest of my life hiding from happiness. You're the only thing I have left in this life Delia and I don't care anymore what other people think. I love you." she whispered the last three words, her voice finally breaking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

"I don't want to live the rest of my life hiding from happiness. You're the only thing I have left in this life Delia and I don't care anymore what other people think. I love you." she whispered the last three words, her voice finally breaking.

 

Delia's expression crumpled. She felt selfish and naïve - Patsy was a grieving daughter, she did not need any more anger directed towards her for mistakes she had made. Now was not the time to address Delia's own upsets, her pain was nothing compared to what the redhead had endured the past nine months. It would do better she decided to keep those thoughts to herself, Patsy was in a fragile enough state as it was.

 

It all made sense though. The kiss in the middle of the street without a backwards glance, not blowing her top off about Phyllis knowing. This was the beginning of Patsy coming out of her shell and for someone who had flinched at the slightest physical contact before, this was nothing short of a miracle.

 

They held each other for a while that evening, enjoying being in each other's close proximity. All too soon though the winter sun set and the cold began to seep through the old wooden floorboards.

 

 

Sister Jullienne had insisted on extra blankets for everybody that night. Fred was still procrastinating his task of fixing the boiler and the cold was getting worse. Delia was convinced she heard Sister Monica Joan have a tirade about how frostbite could only be cured with butterscotch.

 

 

The morning dawned with another fresh blanket of snow covering poplar. Erasing all the footprints of yesterday's activities and antics and leaving behind a smooth blank canvas, the odd streetlamp sticking out here and there. Phyllis' car was completely covered. Delia shot Trixie a disparaging look as the blonde attempted to muffle a giggle at the older midwife's expense as she deftly attempted to free the entrapped motor.

 

"Don't stand there gawping you lot, one of you come and help me!" she hollered in the general direction of the porch.

 

With surprising speed everyone made themselves scarce and Delia found herself alone on the front steps. Sighing she trudged through the thick snow towards her stranded friend.

 

"What do you need?"

 

"Just help me with this blasted snow, the poor car's trapped. I haven't seen snow like this in decades!" Phyllis exclaimed, hands in the air.

 

Delia bit her lip and tried to not find the scene in front of her remotely amusing. Pity overcame her and she began scooping big lumps of snow away from the car's front wheels.

 

It was cold work and Delia regretted not wearing any gloves. Her fingers were completely numb and she wondered if it was the light reflecting off her uniform or if they were really turning blue.

 

"Need a hand?" came a jovial voice.

 

Fred had a appeared wielding a snow shovel.

 

"And not a moment too soon. You have impeccable timing Fred Buckle." Phyllis scolded him.

 

Fred glanced at Delia, eyebrows raised.

 

Delia shot him a warning glance as if to say, I wouldn't go there.

 

Finally after much huffing and puffing Nurse Crane's motor was on the move, carving beautiful tire tracks through the unmarked snow, the engine only spluttering slightly violently as it took the first bend.

 

Fred observed his handiwork, hands on his hips. "Ah. Job well done."

 

"Wouldn't celebrate too soon, the boiler needs fixing remember." Delia reminded him.

 

His cheery face fell. She almost felt guilty but the previous night shivering under two layers of blankets loomed large in her mind.

 

 

Delia's day went without dramatic incident. The hospital was much warmer and if it weren't for a certain red haired nurse awaiting her arrival back at nonnatus, she would've quite happily spent the rest of the night there.

 

The journey back was so cold she entered the kitchen and began thawing out her frozen hands over a hob over steaming hot chocolate. It was quite late and most of the Nonnatuns were either on call or in compline. Patsy was out "running some errands" in town. Quite what that meant Delia was still unsure but she decided not to pry. She had enough milk for two mugs of hot chocolate just in case.

 

Without warning two hands snaked their way around her waist. She smiled, leaning back into the embrace as a cold cheek touched her neck. Delia almost dropped the pan with a cry of surprise.

 

"You're freezing!"

 

Patsy mumbled something into her uniform.

 

"What?"

 

"I need someone to warm me up."

 

Delia turned to see mischief all over the tall woman's features. She pursed her lips disapprovingly, trying desperately not to kiss the pouted face before her.

 

"Well, here's something for a start." she indicated to the milk now simmering to a boil. "Go on, grab a pew, I'll be with you in a moment."

 

They sat on the old, sagging sofa, hands clasped around warm mugs and toes held to the open fire. Delia was still shivering and Patsy made an apology before darting upstairs. When she returned it was with a large, dark red woollen sweater in her hands.

 

"I don't really think it's my colour but, it would look great on you." she said with a wink.

 

Delia pulled on the jumper and felt her body temperature instantly increase. She drowned in the wool, hands disappearing up sleeves that were way too long for her small frame.

 

"Pats. I feel like a tent." she said trying to wiggle her arms free.

 

Patsy chewed her bottom lip thoughtfully. "Well, I think you're beautiful."

 

"Where did you get this?"

 

"Oh. It was a gift." Patsy turned away, her eyes illuminated by the fire.

 

"Am I about to get awfully jealous about an ex who knitted you a jumper that you've now passed onto your current girlfriend on a whim?" Delia said cheekily.

 

Patsy smiled but it didn't quite reach her eyes.

 

"Pats?" Delia said quietly, sensing the change of atmosphere.

 

"My father gave it to me. When he heard I was going to London."

 

She shifted on the sofa, reaching out a hand to find Delia's in the sea of yarn.

 

"I don't think he realised I was no longer a blonde." she smiled sadly.

 

Delia grabbed a fistful of the jumper and breathed in the scent. There was no bleach smell permeating from the wool, just a happy cozy smell that reminded her of warm fires, hot soup and Patsy.

 

"It suits you perfectly." Patsy whispered with a rather watery smile.

 

"Well, at least I don't have plans of becoming a redhead any time soon."

 

"Good. I like you the way you are."

 

They sat in silence for a while, hand in hand, watching the flames dance in the hearth, throwing light and shade over the walls of the small sitting room.

 

"Deels..."

 

"Yes?"

 

"Do you... I mean would you... do you think we could..."

 

"Just say it Pats."

 

Patsy took a deep breath. "Could we try again?"

 

Delia looked at her blankly.

 

"Could we try again, finding a flat... together."

 

Before she could register what was happening Patience Mount was drowning in dark red wool and adoring Welsh words as Delia threw herself onto her girlfriend in a massive hug.

 

"Of course we can. I'd love nothing more."

 

She let out a relieved sigh and then realised on the next intake of breath she couldn't breathe due to a mouthful of yarn.

 

"Deels- air..." she gasped.

 

"Oh, sorry" Delia relaxed her hold slightly but still remained with her arms wrapped around Patsy's neck like an oddly shaped scarf.

 

Patsy smiled and lent down the shot distance to kiss Delia's nose. It was bright red and very cold.

 

"After your exams of course. Maybe in the Spring? I don't fancy moving in this weather and besides, Sister Julienne has just agreed that I can stay here for a bit."

 

"As long as we don't cycle to work, I'm in." whispered Delia, leaning in to capture Patsy's lips with her own.

Chapter Text

Delia woke abruptly, shivering. Fred had still not managed to fix the boiler, claiming he needed to source some rather obscure parts from a bloke he knew down the docks. It all sounded rather dodgy but if it meant warmth then nobody was about to question the morals.

 

She glanced over to Patsy's sleeping form. The tall woman was also shivering. It was bitterly cold. Delia could see her breath in the moonlight despite wearing Patsy's sweater and two thick blankets. They had decided on the whole that it was too risky to put their beds together but Delia and her freezing toes were already regretting agreeing to the arrangement.

 

Huffing, she gathered the cocoon of blankets and padded over towards Patsy's bed, her feet making no noise on the floorboards due to being encased in three pairs of socks.

 

"Pats. Are you awake?" she whispered into the darkness.

 

"No." came a grunt.

 

Delia waddled over and planted herself next to the sleeping form of the other woman.

 

"Please Pats... Budge over, I'm freezing."

 

Another grunt and Patsy moved slightly, leaving just enough room for Delia and her collection of blankets to slip onto the bed. Wrapping them on top of Patsy, the bed groaned with the weight of two women and four blankets. Delia pulled herself flush to the redhead's back, feeling instant warmth radiating from her.

 

"Mmm... how do you stay so warm?" she nuzzled her cold nose into the fabric of Patsy's pyjamas, breathing in her scent.

 

Soon the rhythm of their breathing matched and both drifted off into sleep once again.

 

 

It might have been a few hours or maybe even a few minutes when Delia woke again, this time due to an arm in her face. Rolling over she opened her eyes blearily.

 

Patsy was tangled in the blankets and sheets, thrashing, her forehead glistening with sweat.

 

Delia's hear raced. Not again...

 

She gently untangled Patsy from the mess she'd got herself in and tried to placate the distraught sleeping woman. Fortunately she hadn't began to scream and Delia decided it would probably be better to attempt to wake her before the whole house was alerted to the scenario.

 

"Patsy... Patsy wake up love, it's okay..." she shook her shoulders gently.

 

"Onegaishimasu!" came a distressed cry.

 

"Patsy!" said Delia slightly more urgently.

 

The taller woman's eyes snapped open, locked with Delia for a split second before she turned and vomited over the side of the bed.

 

"Oh Pats..." Delia pulled the red tresses out her face as she heaved again.

 

Gasping for air Patsy began shaking. Delia was quick to wrap her arms around the quivering body.

 

"It's all right cariad, you're safe. You're okay." she whispered. "No-one's going to hurt you."

 

Patsy took another gulp of air. "Delia..." she spoke shakily. "I'm sorry..." she began.

 

"Shh, don't be sorry. Let's get you cleaned up." Delia rose from the bed and switched on the bedside lamp.

 

The bright light blinded them both temporarily. Once her eyes had adjusted Delia's heart hammered loudly in her ears. Patsy was paper white, her chest rising and falling rapidly, a thin layer of perspiration covering her visible pale skin.

 

"I'm going to go and get a mop and bucket okay? Would you like a glass of water?" she asked steadily.

 

Patsy nodded, her eyes closing.

 

 

 

Delia had no idea how she managed to sneak down to the broom closet, back up to their room and proceed to clean the floor without waking or alerting any of the others but she was thankful. The last thing Patsy needed right now was a crowd. By the time she'd finished Patsy had her back to the wall and was breathing more steadily, the smell of bleach clearly having a calming effect on her.

 

Taking a glass of water Delia passed it to her.

 

"Drink this, it'll help." she coaxed.

 

Patsy accepted the drink without comment, her parched, chapped lips closing round the glass and sucking at the cool liquid.

 

"I'm sorry." she whispered again.

 

"What did I say about apologising?" Delia sighed taking the glass and setting it down on the table.

 

Patsy coughed. And then coughed again. Delia looked at her concerned before raising the back of her hand to her glistening forehead.

 

"Bloody hell Pats, you're boiling." she exclaimed. "No wonder it was like sleeping next to a human hot water bottle, you've got a terrible temperature!"

 

"I feel freezing." Patsy admitted before attempting to draw the blankets up towards her chin.

 

Delia stopped her abruptly. "Oh no you don't. Fever 101, you know the drill. No blankets."

 

Patsy grunted disdainfully then shivered.

 

"I'm sorry cariad but it looks like the flu to me." Delia reached for a cold clammy hand.

 

"Does that mean I've lost my company for the night?"

 

"Fraid so, I've got an exam in a few days remember?"

 

Patsy nodded.

 

"Pats..." Delia began slowly.

 

"What?" came a rather sharp reply.

 

Delia winced. It was almost as if Patsy knew what she was about to ask.

 

"Do you want to talk about them? The nightmares?" she asked softly.

 

Patsy sank down into the bed and rolled away from the Welshwoman in reply. Delia couldn't help but feel a pang of sadness mixed with frustration. She reached over and rubbed the redhead's back gently.

 

"In your own time cariad. I'm just worried about you." she whispered.

 

There was no verbal reply, instead Patsy began coughing again, move violently this time. She rolled over and sat up, unable to find a comfortable position.

 

"I think I'm going to go downstairs for a bit. Maybe try sleeping in an armchair."

 

Delia sighed, defeated and nodded. "Alright. Do you want me to help you?"

 

"No, I'm fine. Thank you." she rose off the bed, took two paces and wobbled slightly.

 

Delia was up as quick as a flash next to her in case she fell.

 

"I said I'm fine Delia." Patsy's voice was harsher than was maybe intended but had its desired effect as Delia withdrew herself and watched the tall woman retreat downstairs.

 

She swallowed the lump forming in her throat and fell back into her own bed. The smell of bleach still lingering on the air. Perhaps Patsy was just feeling under the weather, that's why she'd snapped. Cursing Fred under her breath for not fixing the boiler sooner she fell into a light slumber.

 

 

____

 

 

 

"Do you think we should call Doctor Tuner?"

 

"I think it might be for the best."

 

"She was adamant she was alright though..."

 

"But she did look ever so peaky."

 

 

Voices wafted up the landing and into Delia's sleepy mind as she stirred.

 

Patsy.

 

She shot up, hurrying downstairs and was met by a congregation of concerned nuns and midwives.

 

"What's going on?" Delia asked, trying to sound as neutral as possible.

 

"Patsy's got a terrible fever. It looks like she came downstairs in the middle of the night poor thing." explained Trixie.

 

"I was just saying I think we should call Doctor Turner, just to be sure - besides she was on a ship full of god only knows what, she could have caught all manner of things!" Phyllis added.

 

Delia gaped. "I'm sure it's just the flu or something, the house is freezing."

 

"Nevertheless, I think we ought to be safe rather than sorry." said Phyllis.

 

"I agree." added Sister Julienne. "I'll call Doctor Tuner."

 

 

 

Patsy was sat in the comfy armchair by the fire, her fevered brow still glistening in the morning light, skin so pale it could almost be made of porcelain. Her eyes were closed and she appeared to be sleeping but her breaths were laboured, a wheezing sound coming from her chest. Delia crouched beside her with a cup of warm tea.

 

"Patsy?" she gently shook the older woman's arm.

 

Patsy awoke with another coughing fit before sinking back into the chair looking warn. Dark circles under her eyes as if she hadn't slept in weeks.

 

"Here, drink this." Delia offered up the tea.

 

"My throat feels like sandpaper." Patsy sounded horse as she accepted the drink.

 

"We think you've got the flu. Doctor Turner's coming to check up on you soon." said Delia softly.

 

Patsy made no move to argue with the smaller woman, she was simply too tired.

 

"I'm meant to be revising today but I can stay in here if you want me to?"

 

"Thank you." the redhead's voice was scratchy.

 

"Okay, let me go get my revision notes and I'll join you in a mo. I'll see if I can get you some soup, you should really try to eat something."

 

Patsy smiled weakly. Despite their arguing Delia was in half nurse half caring girlfriend mode and it made her heart glow with something other than the pounding fever.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Doctor Tuner was meticulous in his examination. Stethoscope in his ears he instructed the tall midwife to breathe in and out. Although she knew exactly what he was about to do before he even did it she was a model patient and followed procedure flawlessly until the older man straightened up, apparently satisfied.

 

"You're right. It's a pretty bad case of the flu I'm afraid. Bed rest and plenty of fluids. We'll have to wait until this fever's broken before we'll be able to say anymore. But by the looks of things..." Dr Turner indicated to Patsy's drenched forehead"... that shouldn't be too long."

 

Everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief at the news. Sister Julienne had rushed off to have words with Fred about the state of the boiler before any more of her nurses succumbed to illness and had to be taken off the rota.

 

Delia could feel the relief wash over her in waves. She thanked the kind Doctor quietly on his way out. He seemed a little surprised at the gesture from the small welshwoman but accepted gracefully. "Just call me if anything changes."

 

 

By that evening Patsy's fever had indeed broken and the shivering started to be due to lack of heat rather than too much of it. Delia had set up base in the sitting room, her revision notes strewn across the floor. Patsy was visibly twitchy at the mess her girlfriend was sitting in but was to ill to begin berating her for it.

 

"Deels, how can you work in such a mess?" she asked wearily.

 

"Just because I don't colour-code my notes with little sticky tabs and a dozen fancy colourful pencils." she huffed, remembering their days from training together. Their two very different styles of revision clashing on more than one occasion.

 

"They were not sticky and I only had two colours."

 

Delia rolled her eyes. She enjoyed the playful chatter. It meant Patsy was feeling a bit better than she had this morning.

 

"I can't believe this exam is so soon." Delia mused, trying to keep the worry out her voice and to sound casual.

 

Patsy of course, picked up on it.

 

"You'll be fine Deels. If the state of that textbook is anything to go on, you've read that thing so much it's in need of a nurse of its own." she rested her head on the back of the chair, wiping her forehead with her pyjama sleeve.

 

"You should rest in bed for a bit." Delia eyed her girlfriend as another coughing fit overtook her.

 

Patsy covered her face in her hands. "I'm meant to be meeting my father's solicitor tomorrow."

 

"Can you rearrange?"

 

"I'm not sure..."

 

"You're not well, I doubt Dr Turner would want you to go outside like this - I certainly don't." she sighed. "You do look a lot better since last night." she added on the end, trying to sound positive.

 

Patsy smiled weakly. "I feel better."

 

"Good. Then up to bed with you, I'll come join you later on with a biscuit and some tea."

 

Patsy trouped upstairs, dragging her feet and blankets with her, sniffling all the way up. She was a rather sorry sight and Delia wished she didn't have so much work to do so she could devote more time to looking after her poor battered girlfriend. She was seriously considering abandoning her work for the night when a stern faced Phyllis appeared in the doorway with her knitting needles.

 

"This seat taken?" she gestured to the armchair.

 

Delia shook her head in response. Phyllis smiled and settled herself into the chair Patsy had just vacated. She began knitting in silence for a while as Delia tried to concentrate on a deftly dull passage about preeclampsia.

 

"How is Nurse Mount?" Phyllis asked. She looked around and lowered her voice. "I hope she's alright."

 

"She's better thank you, she had a bit of a rough night last night." said Delia.

 

The strain must have shown on her face as Phyllis' next question filled her with a newfound anxiety.

 

"Did she have another night terror?" the older woman's voice was soft and gentle.

 

Delia nodded, suddenly feeling rather sick.

 

"I know it's not my place to pry but - I couldn't help but feel concern for her, for you both the other night. If there's anything I can do- "

 

"Thank you." Delia smiled tight lipped, knowing she'd never take the older woman up on the offer.

 

She needed to get out of the confines of the dark room. Rising to her feet she almost made it out the room before she felt a hand on her arm.

 

"Don't forget to look after yourself too." Phyllis' kind eyes bore into Delia's slightly glazed look.

 

 

 

 

It was nearly midnight when Delia returned to her and Patsy's room. She'd spent the rest of the evening alone, avoiding company as much as possible. During Patsy's absence she'd become accustomed to solitude and craved it desperately that evening. The craving had since passed and now she wanted to curl up in bed and sleep. She was tired - no, she was exhausted. Patsy would probably be long asleep, hopefully managing to rest away her illness.

 

It came as a surprise to find a sliver of light coming from under the bedroom door. Pushing it open slowly she found Patsy, sitting upright in bed, the covers gathered at the bottom of the bed, her hands tapping nervously. The redhead's eyes fixated on a point on the far wall, legs drawn up to her chest and rocking ever so slightly.

 

"Pats?"

 

She closed the door and sat on her bed opposite, not wanting to crowd the nervous woman. There was still a light sheen of sweat on her forehead, her skin pale and clammy.

 

"I don't want to fall asleep." came a small voice.

 

"Why not?"

 

"I'm scared."

 

Delia shifted her weight onto Patsy's bed, prising her knees from her chin and enveloping her in a warm embrace. She kissed the red hair and stroked it carefully.

 

"Being there... it bought back so many memories. Things I thought I'd forgotten, pushed to the back of my mind."

 

Knowing this was a time for her to be silent, Delia continued stroking and kissing the red hair under her chin.

 

"It feels so real. Like that guard is right there, shouting- " she began shaking again, her knees drawing up to her chest again, her body involuntarily entering the foetal position.

 

"Cariad... I'm so sorry. It must be awful." Delia began to feel the tears streaming down her arm that held the taller woman close.

 

"I can see them so clearly. They won't go away."

 

Delia's heart was breaking with the sadness she felt for her love. If she could fight these demons, banish them from Patsy's mind she would. But there was nothing she could do apart form hugs and sympathy, she felt rather useless. Helpless.

 

"Pats, cariad, have you thought about talking to someone about this?"

 

It might be a silly suggestion, she could barely talk to Delia about it - she'd never gone into detail about what had happened to her at the camp, only the bare minimum. Delia knew there was a lot left unsaid but had never pried, Patsy would tell her in her own time she'd told herself. But this was different, the painful memories were eating away at her from the inside. Delia was not completely stupid, she knew a problem shared was often a problem halved.

 

Patsy shook her head forcefully at the suggestion.

 

Delia didn't push any further. "Would it help if I held you? While you slept?"

 

Patsy nodded. "But I'm infectious?"

 

"I don't care."

 

With that she helped Patsy into a fresh set of pyjamas and settled into bed next to her, draping an arm around her waist and holding on tightly.

 

"I've got you Pats. Rydych yn ddiogel."

 

Although she knew Patsy didn't understand what she'd just said, the taller woman relaxed against her at the words.

 

"Ewch i gysgu. Mae'n iawn cariad."

 

That night both women slept peacefully under copious blankets, their breaths mirroring each other, visible in the cold night air.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

The day of Delia's final midwifery exam had dawned.

 

She had tried hard not to think too much about the fact a year of studying hard had let up to this point. But as she began to dress, a nervousness shrouded her whole body. The anxiety making her chest tight as she fiddled with the catch on her dress. Warm hands enveloped her own struggling digits, helping her complete the task.

 

"You'll be fine." said Patsy softly.

 

Her flu had greatly improved over the past twenty four hours leaving her with a blocked nose and headache. But now satisfied she was no longer contagious, contact between the two woman had resumed with ernest.

 

Delia looked up, her blue eyes willing it to be true. She had revised everything a hundred times over, or so it felt. Deep down she knew it would be alright but on the surface she was terrified. It was the what ifs that scared her most. What if she failed? Would she have to move out? Would she be stuck on male surgical for the rest of her life? Would Patsy be so disappointed in her she'd leave? The last thought was ridiculous but reason didn't stop her overactive brain from thinking it anyway.

 

Instead of reply she buried her face in her girlfriend's pyjamas, inhaling the scent of sleepy Patsy. It calmed her instantly as soft, warm arms enveloped her in a strong hug and a hand came up to stroke her hair.

 

"What if I fail?" her voice sounded foreign to her as she mumbled out the four words to the question that had been plaguing her all night long.

 

"Delia." Patsy said sternly, releasing her from the hug and holding the small woman at arms length. "You won't fail. To be completely honest I think you know more about the theory of midwifery than I do at this point."

 

Delia did not smile.

 

Patsy tried a different tac. "Look. We can go over some of the major points over breakfast if you'd like? For ever question you get right, you get a bite of toast."

 

"I'm not hungry."

 

"You've got to eat Deels, come on. You finish getting ready here and I'll go put some eggs on." she squeezed the shoulders of the younger woman and offered up a lopsided smile.

 

Delia returned it halfheartedly before turning and pulling her long locks into their customary bun. Patsy stared for a moment before mentally kicking herself and retreating down the stairs to the kitchen. Maybe it was the phlegm making her head hazy but Delia was catching her eye a lot today. She couldn't help it though, the small woman's long sleek hair was mesmerising.

 

 

 

"What are the initial symptoms of pre-eclampsia?" Patsy asked thickly through a mouthful of toast.

 

She glazed over as Delia listed them off, counting on her fingers. Delia did have beautiful hands.

 

"Was I right?" Delia asked, snapping Patsy out of her reverie.

 

"Oh. Erm." Patsy's eyes snapped back down to the textbook.

 

Delia sighed. The redhead was clearly not paying attention and it stung slightly. It's not like today wasn't life-changing for her.

 

"Forget it." she snapped stiffly, gathering her scattered notes and rising from the table.

 

"Deels wait, I'm sorry!" Patsy realised too late she'd upset the Welshwoman.

 

But Delia had already disappeared from the room.

 

Cursing herself under her breath Patsy deliberated whether or not to follow. They couldn't leave this on an argument she decided, not before an exam.

 

The weather outside was horrendous, wind and snow battering against the old walls of the convent, sending an eerie howling through the corridors. Patsy shivered. At least the boiler had been fixed but she dreaded returning to work in this weather. Thankfully Sister Julienne had agreed to let her settle the administration with her father's lawyers before returning to the rota, she didn't think she'd be able to cope with work and the agony going through her father's will. Patsy had decided she wanted Delia with her when dividing up the assets. This was little more than a pipe dream however, only relatives were allowed the lawyer had told her. She was not sure of the total value of the mount estate but was sure it would tide her and Delia over to retirement easily.

 

Patsy halted as she reached their bedroom door, thoughts swimming in her head, clouding all logical processing. She hadn't discussed any of this with her girlfriend, just assumed they were together in the decision, after-all it made logical sense. But Delia was often far from logical, especially when she was stressed or nervous. No, this whole business would have to wait until after her exams.

 

 

Delia heard the knock and stopped pacing as the toe of her woollen sock caught on a splinter sticking up through the old floorboards. Swearing in Welsh she kicked her foot violently to attempt to release it, sending her sock and offending splinter flying through the air and landing on the outstretched arm of a very confused looking ginger nurse. Now hovering on one sock clad foot, the other waving uselessly in the air, Delia locked eyes with Patsy. There was a beat and they both erupted into giggles at the hilarity of the sight.

 

"Oh Deels..." gasped Patsy between giggles, removing the splinter from the sock and bending to put it back into the small, frozen foot.

 

She straightened up, the mirth falling from their faces gradually.

 

"I'm sorry." they both said in unison.

 

Patsy held the smaller woman close rubbing small circles on her back.

 

"Shall we try again? I promise I won't get distracted this time." she whispered.

 

"No, it's okay. You're right, I don't need to revise anymore, it's all in there - I've just got to stop stressing and trust myself." Delia muttered in reply.

 

"What time do you need to set off?"

 

"Exam starts at 10 so I'd say 9, just to make absolutely sure. I don't know if the busses are even running in this weather, I might have to walk."

 

"Do you want me to come with you?"

 

Delia seriously considered the tempting offer for a moment.

 

"Can we walk back together after? I'll probably need some fresh air to get rid of the adrenaline."

 

"Of course we can."

 

They remained intertwined for a few more moments before the sound of Sister Monica Joan prowling close by interrupted them.

 

 

 

---

 

 

 

As luck would have it Delia managed to catch the last running bus of the day to the London Hospital. As she disembarked she heard the driver call to the other passengers he'd be unable to continue the service as the engine had failed. Thanking a god she didn't really believe in the bus had made it to her destination before packing in, Delia made her way to the hall where the exam was to be sat.

 

The hall was freezing cold. Clearly an attempt had been made to heat the vast room, but a couple of storage heaters were unlikely to make a dent in the bitter chill. About fifty students took their places behind rows upon rows of desks. The high ceiling amplified the slightest noise tenfold as one unlucky student found out when she dropped her pen with a clatter that Delia was sure would shatter eardrums.

 

A large clock was situated at the front of the hall, it's minute hand moving agonisingly slowly, the seconds ticking by so loudly, some students nearby jumped at the sound. Delia took her seat near the front next to Caroline Burns, a skinny, mousey haired, ever so slightly jittery woman she vaguely recognised from a ward round a few weeks back. The woman smiled nervously in recognition as Delia settled, pulling out her writing implements and awaiting further instruction.

 

A stout older woman entered the hall, her high heeled shoes echoing loudly off the walls as she passed down each row, handing every student a thick slab of paper. With a shaky hand Delia wrote her name, number and the date on the first page.

 

"You have two hours." The older woman's voice was clipped and sharp. She looked down at her watch and then to the clock at the front of the hall.

 

The silence was palpable as every student waited for the command to turn over their paper.

 

"Begin."

Chapter Text

Chapter 12

 

The two hours went by faster than anything Delia had ever experienced before. It felt like no time at all before she was standing outside, wishing for once that she had a tendency towards tobacco. Anything to help ease her erratically beating heart and the adrenaline coursing through her body. She inhaled the crisp winter air and tried to look at everything objectively. She had managed to answer everything. Some questions had been harder than others but that was to be expected. There was no use running over the nitty gritty now but question four still weighed heavily on her mind, a particularly difficult question about a forceps delivery.

 

Shaking her head to clear the brain fog that had begun to settle she caught a glimpse of copper as Patsy hurriedly made her way towards the building.

 

"Delia!" she called, breathless. "Gosh, I'm so sorry I'm late - I had-" she clutched a stitch in her side "...things to do."

 

"S'alright." Delia mumbled, still thinking about question four.

 

"How was it?" asked the redhead, tentatively.

 

"Okay. I think." Delia began. "Oh I don't know!" she threw her hands in the air then covered her face.

 

"Do you want to go get coffee?"

 

Delia mumbled in affirmation just as the last student left the building.

 

"Delia! Patsy!?" came a bright and cheery voice.

 

Lowering her hands Delia came eye to eye with the intruder.

 

"Sylvia." acknowledged Patsy, crisply.

 

The tall, blonde woman smiled broadly enough but Delia noted it didn't quite meet her eyes.

 

"Gosh awful exam wasn't it! I do hope you did well old thing-" she turned to Delia. "-I know you always struggled with the more.. academic side of things."

 

Delia bristled.

 

Sylvia was one of their ex-friends from training school. They had both placed her firmly in the "ex" category after a particular incident at the nurses' ball involving a few too many gin and tonics, a randy surgeon with wandering hands and a low cut, polka dot dress. She was a bright woman, incredibly gifted and seemingly intent on gaining as many qualifications as was humanly possible within the field of nursing. She was clever, and boy did she know it.

 

"I have to say though question eight was a right doozy- I mean they were clearly trying to throw us off with the spotting symptoms but-"

 

Delia blocked her out whilst Patsy nodded along blankly. They caught each other's eyes, Delia pleading quietly, not having the energy to deal with the bubbly, over confident woman at that moment.

 

"Well, it's been wonderful bumping into Sylvia. I hope you did well. Delia and I were just off..." she began.

 

"Oh should we catch a coffee together? It's been absolutely ages, we should catch up! I've not seen you since male surgical Patsy!"

 

Patsy's face read "and for good reason" but she smiled graciously and grabbed Delia by the arm.

 

"Unfortunately I have some financial business to attend to this afternoon but it's been great to see you." she steered them both away hurriedly.

 

"Pats?" Delia ventured as they began a brisk walk in the direction of freedom.

 

"Just keep walking." said Patsy through gritted teeth. "Is she following us?"

 

Delia chanced a glance over her left shoulder. "I think we're safe."

 

Patsy slowed her pace, but to Delia's surprise and delight, kept their arms linked together.

 

"We are still going to get coffee though?"

 

"Of course! I just wanted to throw busy body off the scent."

 

"With your Financial Business? What was that all about? It sounds very sophisticated." Delia chided, nudging the taller woman in the ribs.

 

"So, the Silver Buckle then?" Patsy called, then strode on ahead, breaking the rare physical contact between them.

 

Delia stared after her, confused and a little hurt. There was something Patience Mount was not telling her.

 

 

--

 

 

Patsy was faffing around near the jukebox, apparently trying to find the right song but Delia could tell she was stalling for time. Her coffee was getting cold Delia noted as she sipped her own tea.

 

Eventually the tall redhead joined her girlfriend at their small table in the corner. They were both such regulars of the cafe and the little booth they frequented suited them perfectly, out of sight and when the jukebox was playing, out of earshot of anyone else.

 

Delia watched Patsy fiddle nervously with her cup and decided to get it over with.

 

"What's wrong Pats?" she asked softly.

 

"I had a meeting this morning with my father's financial advisor."

 

"Oh." said Delia, wondering why this was making Patsy so nervous.

 

"We... we went over his will."

 

Delia reached for her hand under the table, giving it a slight squeeze in reassurance as the redhead continued.

 

"There are a number of assets that have been left... to me." Patsy was avoiding Delia's gaze but returned the squeeze of her hand. "This includes some funds. A considerable amount actually."

 

"What are you going to do?" probed Delia gently.

 

"I don't know Deels. I've never accepted any financial aid from my father after I left for training school. It felt too much like he was keeping me out of sight out of mind, but shovelling money at me to show he still cared in his own sadistic way. I refused point blank to have anything to do with his wealth, I left that behind a long time ago. I am a person with my own means and although it's not luxury it suits me fine."

 

"So you're worried about accepting it?"

 

"I don't know what I'd do with it all. The financial advisor recommended I invest some of it but I don't know the first thing about stocks and shares and quite frankly I don't want to know."

 

Patsy worried at her bottom lip for a moment as silence settled on the table.

 

"I wanted to ask you about it." she said eventually.

 

Delia looked puzzled.

 

"Whatever I do will probably effect the rest of my life. And seeing as the rest of my life involves you... I -" Patsy's voice caught in her throat.

 

Delia felt a warmth fill her as she took in the usually poised woman in front of her declare, in her own unique way, that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with her.

 

"I think you should do whatever feels comfortable Pats." she said finally. "And whatever you decide I will support you in that decision."

 

Patsy tapped her finger nails anxiously on the table.

 

"There's something else."

 

"What?"

 

"His estate extends further than just Hong Kong. There's a house. In Chelsea."

 

Delia tried to stop her jaw hitting the floor but did a pretty poor job of it.

 

"Patsy, this is an awful lot to take in, for both of us. Why don't we work together through it all piece by piece. We can ask this financial advisor for help.

 

Patsy nodded "I think I'm just a little... overwhelmed." she smiled nervously.

 

Delia flashed her dimples. "The unflappable Patience Mount, overwhelmed?" she winked.

 

Patsy broke into a lopsided grin which quickly faded as she exclaimed "Oh gosh, here I am ranting on and completely ignoring the fact you've just had your exam."

 

"It's okay. It was good to be distracted." said Delia as a sensation of anxiety settled in her chest again.

 

"When do you get the results?" Patsy ventured.

 

"Next week hopefully."

 

"But that's nearly Christmas!"

 

"Well at least I'll be able to commiserate over a roast turkey." Delia said glumly.

 

Patsy tutted and rose from the table. Delia watched her, perplexed and the sudden movement. Patsy reached out her hand.

 

"Come along Busby."

 

"Where?"

 

"We're going for a walk." said the redhead simply.

 

Delia sighed and took the offered hand. Patsy led them both outside into the snow covered streets, but not before leaving a generous tip in her wake.

Chapter Text

 

 

"Where are we going?" huffed Delia.

 

They had been walking for nearly an hour and the cold was biting its way through her woollen coat.

 

"We're almost there, I promise." came the bright call form up ahead.

 

Delia pulled her arms closer to her chest and trudged onwards, staring down at her feet to avoid the bitterly wind whipping around her face. When she finally looked up Patsy was nowhere to be seen. She scanned her surroundings. They were in an empty park if her assumption the lumpy shapes surrounding them were indeed trees. She shivered. Why couldn't they just go back to Nonnatus, she'd worked out all her adrenaline by now and just felt exhausted. Nothing would hit the spot better right now than a warm blanket in front of a roaring fire, a good book and a nice hand to hol-

 

Thwack.

 

Delia stopped dead in her tracks as something very cold hit her square in the nose. She raised her head, eyebrows disappearing into her fringe at the sight before her.

 

Patsy was in the middle of readying up another projectile with an eagerness Delia could not leave unchallenged.

 

She narrowed her eyes and ducked skilfully as a second snowball missed her by inches. The melting remnants of the previous missile had started to melt, sending cold water down her neck and into her coat.

 

"You'll pay for that one."

 

Ignoring the cold stinging her bare hands she managed to gather some snow into a ball just as a third made contact with her back. Her assailant was moving with surprising agility considering the layers of clothing.

 

Having abandoned throwing, Patsy had decided the best course of action was to now flee the impending revenge - her long legs offering a significant head start. But what she'd failed to draw into consideration was the powerful throwing arm belonging to the bowler of the two times regional championship winning Tenby High School Cricket team.

 

The snowball hit the back of her head with such force just as Patsy's feet came into contact with a particularly icy patch of snow. She hit the deck, sprawling, arms out like a lopsided snow angel. Fortunately the snow was powdery and soft, cushioning the fall. Delia herself followed, jumping on top of the prone figure and pinning her arms to her sides.

 

The mirth on their faces died as blue eyes locked together, made even brighter by the reflections of their surroundings. For a moment he world seemed to stand still as the two women shared in their private moment. There was a sparkle in each other's eyes, one which neither had seen in many months. It felt like a breath of fresh air, to be childlike together in the safety of solitude.

 

Suddenly something very warm licked the side of Delia's face.

 

"Oi!" she started, rolling off Patsy to see who the intruder was.

 

A black labrador stared back, head tilted looking at the two women with excitement, his tail wagging fervently, hot breath causing great billowing clouds of steam to pour from his panting mouth.

 

"Hello!" Delia said, reaching for the dog and giving him a good scratch behind the ears.

 

The dog immediately responded and began rolling around in the snow, clearly in want of even more attention. Delia marvelled for a moment. The dog didn't care that he'd just stumbled across an intimate moment between two women. He was just pleased to see them. She smiled. If only everyone had that attitude.

 

"Deels, careful, he doesn't have a collar." Patsy had sat up, brushing the snow off her coat and eyeing the dog suspiciously.

 

"Oh no, where's your owner boy?" she cooed, rubbing the dog's belly and receiving lots of licks in return.

 

Patsy clearly seemed perturbed by the interruption to their moment and wary of the new visitor. She looked around, expecting to see someone appear from behind the bushes and accuse them of stealing his dog as well as inappropriate behaviour in a park.

 

"He's harmless." Delia insisted. "aren't you?"

 

The dog barked in agreement.

 

Patsy pursed her lips but her unease lessened slightly at the look of joy on Delia's face. She deserved a break today of all days.

 

"I have an idea." she said.

 

Delia looked up at the redhead questioningly.

 

Patsy began rolling another snowball and the dog, sensing what was about to happen jumped to his feet and began panting excitedly. Patsy threw the snowball as far as she could and the dog sprinted after it.

 

Delia howled with laughter.

 

"Is that what you call a throw Patience?"

 

Patsy raised a perfectly plucked brow.

 

The dog had bounded back, his mouth empty but looking game for another round. Delia looked around and spotted a branch sticking out of the snow. Perfect.

 

"Bloody hell Deels. That went halfway to Wales."

 

Delia flexed her arms and wiggled her eyebrows suggestively. Patsy suddenly felt very hot under her layers.

 

 

 

 

All too soon the sun had started to set and a blue glow of evening settled over the park. The pair agreed it was time to head back.

 

"Pats..." Delia began to address the elephant, or rather, dog in the room.

 

"No." Patsy said warningly.

 

"Oh please!"

 

"Sister Julienne would have a fit! We can't Deels." Patsy snipped. "You know we can't." she added softly.

 

Delia set her jaw. She knew it was impossible, but there was something about the way this dog looked at them through non judgemental eyes that just brought her a sense of joy and freedom that she'd never really felt before.

 

"We need to go. If we hurry we'll get back before it's too dark." Patsy was already walking away.

 

Delia gave the dog another scratch around the ears and took his head in her hands.

 

"Thank you" she whispered so only he could hear.

 

Tearing herself away she caught up with Patsy and linked arms with the taller woman. To her delight Patsy did not move away. This would take some getting used to Delia thought as they began the long walk back home, the cold made slightly bearable by the closeness of each other's body heat.

 

Unbeknown to both ladies, a small shadow followed a short distance behind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fan Art (Not specifically done for this chapter, but fits it really well I think...) by the awesome @manu-darko

 

Chapter Text

Delia thought she'd had her fair share of waiting by the letter box of Nonnatus house. But two days after her results were due she was starting to wonder if there was some unseen curse floating around involving her and letters.

 

"Watching it won't make it come any quicker." Trixie said kindly as she passed the worried looking brunette on her way to the clinical room.

 

It was Christmas Eve, but that did not stop the midwives of Nonnatus house from working or the mothers of Poplar going into labour. There were three babies due that week and both Trixie and Valerie were feeling the strain.

 

Deciding Trixie was completely right, Delia followed in the blonde nurse's footsteps. Perhaps she could hover around the morning routine to distract herself. Patsy was out again early, another meeting with the solicitor. Apparently she had tried to wrangle it so Delia could attend too but there were too many questions being asked. It stung slightly to be reminded that their relationship mean nothing when it came to financial matters, even if it was not very significant to them. To Delia it just felt like another brick in the wall of injustice.

 

Not that Patsy hadn't been discussing everything with her. They had agreed to view the property in Chelsea, not with a view to move there - Poplar was still their home at least for the moment. Patsy had many patients there and Delia was keen to work for Nonnatus (pending exam results) which meant staying within the East End was rather essential. The meeting Patsy had today was more to discuss the estate in Hong Kong. Delia hoped this could be settled without another trip overseas. She couldn't do that again. She was however painfully aware that these meetings were taking their toll on the confident woman. Her father had clearly been a big player in the business scene of things, something which his daughter cared very little about, and the stress of having to listen to countless men talk down to her about money was beginning to show.

 

The winter wonderland around Poplar had not lifted, if anything the snow had gotten thicker. Evenings were spent in the living room, huddled together for warmth around a roaring fire. Not that Delia minded. It gave her an excuse to snuggle up close to Patsy around the others. On one daring occasion they even held hands under the thick tartan blanket during a communal viewing of Panorama.

 

 

The clinical room turned out to be of little solace and so Delia found herself assisting Sister Monica Joan in the hunt for Christmas decorations. It made a welcome change from hunting for cake.

 

"I do believe they are contained within a box in the attic. I myself am not allowed near there for fear my fragile limbs betray me." Sister Monica Joan proclaimed rather disappointedly. "However you are young and strong and perfect for the task."

 

And so Delia, on her hands and knees in the dusty loft, came across the box of abandoned Christmas decorations. As the young Welsh nurse and the elderly nun went about decorating Nonnatus house gradually became more and more festive with each layer of tinsel and twee lace doily.

 

It was unlike Christmas at the Busby household, Delia had to admit. Her mam would never allow their prized decorations to gather this much dust. She strongly suspected the box had been hidden away from Sister Monica Joan for a few years now and this was its first outing in quite some time. But the nun seemed very pleased to see the plethora of gaudy items, stroking them lovingly and quoting in verse quite contentedly.

 

Before she knew it the day had all but passed Delia by. As she was hanging up the last of the shiny golden chains on the staircase, the front door opened along with a gust of wind, snow and a flash of red hair.

 

And a brown envelope.

 

Delia's stomach turned to ice at the sight of the object clasped in Patsy's hand.

 

"I just met the postman-" she began.

 

But Delia wasn't listening. She was eyeing the envelope as if it were a bomb wired to explode at any moment. Patsy saw the fear in her wide eyes and decided this was not the place to open the letter.

 

"Lets go upstairs" said Patsy softly, steering a dazed Delia towards the staircase.

 

Delia nodded numbly and followed.

 

In the safe confines of their own room Patsy held out the envelope towards a now shaking Delia.

 

"I can't." she gulped, her voice barely above a whisper.

 

"Do you want me to?"

 

Delia nodded.

 

Patsy tore open the envelope and took out the single page of cream pressed paper inside. She raised it up and began to read in as steady voice as she could.

 

"Miss Delia Anwen Busby, SRN. Following your recent examination to become a State Certified Midwife, the Royal College of Midwives would like to offer their sincere congratulations-"

 

Delia looked up, her eyes as wide as saucers. Patsy beamed.

 

"You passed Deels! Not only that you passed with distinction, it say it here, look-" she passed the letter into Delia's still shaking hands.

 

Blue eyes scanned the type three times, as if daring to believe it was true.

 

"Please find enclosed your State Certified Midwifery Badge - Patsy is this actually happening?" tears were beginning to form in her eyes.

 

"I think it is! Delia Busby, SRN, SCM." Patsy gave her best Phyllis impression.

 

Delia was eyeing the badge, her fingers ghosting over the silver and blue. Placing it carefully on the bed alongside the letter she threw herself into Patsy's arms.

 

Patsy was smiling so hard her face was aching. The small Welshwoman in her arms had began crying in relief, all the pent up worry coming out all at once. She held her tightly, one hand stroking through the brown tresses, the other rubbing small circles on her back.

 

"I love you." Delia choked, pulling away slightly.

 

"I love you too." Patsy replied, closing the gap between them.

 

They kissed long and slow, relishing the closeness of each other and the heightened mood of excitement and relief. Delia's mouth opened slightly as she attempted to deepen the kiss, her hands trying to rid Patsy of her outdoor coat, on a mission to seek out bare skin. Before they were successful however there was a knock at the door and the two sprang apart.

 

Without waiting for an answer, Trixie and Val appeared, both looking rather worried.

 

"We heard someone crying, is everything alright?" Trixie began before spotting the open envelope on the bed. "Oh-"

 

"It's alright Trix, I passed." Delia said with a watery smile.

 

Trixie's eyes had landed on the shiny new badge and she let out a whoop before crushing Delia in a hug, quickly followed by Valerie. The four of them ended up in a pile not too dissimilar to a welsh rugby scrum.

 

"We need to celebrate!" exclaimed Val.

 

"Luckily I picked this up on my way home then." said Patsy, reaching into her handbag and revealing a small bottle of very expensive looking Scotch.

 

Delia raised her eyebrows at her girlfriend.

 

Patsy winked.

 

 

 

The small bottle was quickly devoured between everybody (other than Trixie and the nuns). By the evening the Christmas atmosphere was in full swing. Sister Monica Joan's decorations had really set the mood in Nonnatus House and Despite being on call, Phyllis even indulged in a few mince pies. It was short lived however, soon the telephone was ringing and she was up and out on her bike to assist Mrs Morgen on Rope Street. The sisters finally retreated to compline, Trixie headed out for a date with Christopher and Val bid everyone farewell. She was to stay with her parents over the next few days.

 

Patsy and Delia found themselves alone in the sitting room, staring at a roaring fire, full of mince pies and listening to the haunting melodies of christmas carols floating over the wireless. It was like something out of a fairy tale Delia thought, the alcohol from earlier still warming her from the inside out. This wasn't her first Christmas at Nonnatus, she'd stayed there the previous year when most the staff journeyed to South Africa. But this was the first year she'd been here with everyone. They were truly a family here. A family she really hoped to join someday and today that dream inched ever closer. She let out a loud contented sigh and shifted to sit on the sofa next to Patsy just as the grandfather clock in the hall struck midnight.

 

"Merry Christmas Deels." Patsy whispered, kissing the small woman on the nose.

 

"Merry Christmas Pats." Delia replied, leaning impossibly closer until no space between their lips remained.

 

Their kisses were slow, measured. Delia could taste the mince pies and hot whiskey on Patsy's breath. She moaned quietly into the redhead's mouth and began to nibble of Patsy's bottom lip. Patsy responded, her tongue seeking entrance to Delia's mouth, the brunette obliging instantaneously, relishing the taste and sensation. Patsy's alcohol clouded mind was making her a lot more relaxed than usual, Delia noted as she felt strong hands around her waist pulling her closer.

 

The fire and the alcohol weren't the only things making Delia feel warm now as hands snaked around the big red woollen jumper. She wore it every night now, drowning in warmth and Patsy. It made her sad to think she wouldn't be able to wear it in the Spring, she'd have to find something else of Patsy's to steal for use in the summer months. Maybe another pair of her pyjamas...

 

Delia's thoughts were cut short when a hand cupped one of her breasts above the sweater and lightly squeezed. She gasped and kissed back, harder. The logical part of her brain telling her to stop, they were not behind a locked door, the room was not a hundred percent safe by any means. Not that she wasn't enjoying this daring side to Patsy. Before she'd barely kissed her outside her room let alone this.

 

Patsy's mouth was trailing hot kisses down her neck now, her hand finding the other breast and massaging it gently. There was a thrill about being touched in such a way on something as mundane as a sofa Delia thought. This is what normal people in relationships did. People who didn't have to worry about locking doors behind them.

 

Patsy continued her movements but did not push any further, seemingly content to be in the moment. Eventually they broke apart, slightly breathless, the firelight illuminating each others eyes.

 

"I love you very much Delia Busby." Patsy's voice was low, almost a growl.

 

Delia swallowed audibly.

 

Patsy withdrew a hand from around her waist and fumbled with the pocket of her jeans. She struggled slightly due to the weight of Delia half laying on top of her.

 

"Delia..."

 

"Oh sorry." Delia shifted her weight, sitting back into the sofa.

 

Patsy smiled, adjusting herself before reaching into her pocket again and pulling out a small object.

 

It was a tiny mahogany box with celtic engraving on the lid and a dainty golden clasp that shimmered in the dying light of the fire.

 

Delia's eyes widened for the second time that day as Patsy rose from the sofa and took the smaller woman's hands in her own.

 

"Delia." Patsy fell to one knee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

Patience "Unflappable" Mount as Delia so dearly liked to refer to her was feeling right this moment considerably "flapped".

 

She filled her lungs with a deep breath of smog- filled air and pushed open the door to the tiny shop. Confidence. That's all it took. And she had that in bucketloads, even if inside she was terrified.

 

"Good Morning." she addressed the clerk before she could get a word in.

 

RP accent strong, trying to ooze the class she hated.

 

"Good Morning Ma'am." The straight backed clerk replied.

 

She was in her late fifties, grey hair already beginning to show despite her clear attempts to disguise the fact. Patsy's eyes fell on a necklace of pearls, most likely her pride and joy and very likely fake. The redhead's father had seen enough of people trying to fit in with the upper classes to install the knowledge into his daughter of how to spot a charlatan.

 

"How may I help you? Ma'am?" the clerk asked timidly, clearly aware she was being scrutinised.

 

Patsy stopped staring at the woman's pearls and gathered herself in a split second. Keep up the confidence. She's buying it.

 

"Yes, I'm here for an engagement ring. The old fellow truly doesn't know the first thing about jewellery and quite frankly if he's ever going to marry into our family, it's the least I can do to make sure he gets at least one thing right."

 

"Oh. Quite."

 

Patsy's heart hammered loudly in her ears but she kept up the act.

 

"Indeed. I'm not sure what my sister sees in him to be honest, plenty of eligible bachelors around and she has to pick the one who'd elope with nothing more than his grandmother's ring." she laughed hollowly.

 

Hating how it sounded. Hated how easily the lies slipped out.

 

It went against every fibre of her being to be acting this way but she knew it was necessary. Today had been planned out to the nth degree and she would not lose it all now for the sake of her own pride.

 

"Well, I'm sure our selection will be more than appropriate for your... situation."

 

Patsy nodded curtly. The sales woman began to direct her towards the rear of the shop where everything was coated in velvet and the dazzling stones stood out clearer than anything. Panic rose slightly in her chest, this she hadn't planned for.

 

"Oh gosh no, not one of those song and dance numbers, honestly she'll probably be done with him in a few months - might as well keep it simple."

 

"Of course Ma'am."

 

The sales clerk changed course, eyeing Patsy rather suspiciously this time as she directed her towards the "budget" section of the store. Budget being the choice of word Patsy thought as she scanned the selection in front of her. If these were budget, the ones at the back could afford a small house.

 

"I'll give you a few moments." the clerk backed away and resumed her counting of receipts.

 

The shop bell sounded and a bubbly couple entered, clearly besotted with each other, the girl giggling nervously and the chap grinning from ear to ear. The sales clerk was on them, quick as a flash and Patsy finally let herself breathe.

 

The distraction allowed her time to slip back into herself and make the decision she had truly come to this little shop in the middle of an obscure street in London for.

 

 

 

--

 

 

"Will you marry me?"

 

She was shaking so much the ring could be heard rattling in the small wooden box.

 

"Oh Patsy." silent tears were streaming down Delia's face, her voice so horse Patsy could bearly hear it.

 

Slipping the ring onto Delia's ring finger, Patsy stared down at the perfect fit. The blue green of the simple stone twinkled merrily in the firelight, perfectly matching Delia's piercing gaze.

 

The small woman raised a hand to stroke the side of Patsy's cheek.

 

"Yes." she whispered.

 

Despite knowing the answer, relief hit Patsy like a train. For the briefest moment she wondered if she'd imagined the last few years of her life but no, this was really happening, she'd proposed to the love of her life with a real ring she'd had chosen specifically for the occasion. And, all going to plan, they would be moving in together within a month.

 

No more words were needed as the couple embraced, so many unspoken words shared in the hug. They may never have the chance to do things traditionally thought Patsy, but they were doing it in their own special way and somehow, that just felt perfect.

 

 

 

--

 

 

 

As Patsy had left the small jewellers, the sales clerk shook her head before making her way through a curtain into the back shop.

 

"Everything alright Doreen?" came a warm tone.

 

"Yes." she replied, still thoughtful.

 

"I made you a cuppa."

 

Doreen smiled in thanks as a figure handed her a warm, steaming mug. It was freezing out and she knew the sales she'd gathered this morning would at least feed the fire over Christmas. There was something odd about the red-haired woman though that she just couldn't quite place.

 

"Penny for them love?"

 

After a thoughtful silence Doreen looked up. "Just a customer today. Proper la-di-da she was, but there was summit off." she sipped her tea again.

 

A grunt came from the chair in the corner. "All the same those posh ones."

 

Doreen shook her head. "No. Not this one."

 

A warm hand rested on her shoulder as the figure moved to take over the afternoon shift. Doreen smiled, her eyes following the retreating form of the woman she'd came to love in secret so much over the past decades.

 

“Thanks for the cuppa Alice love.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

Christmas Day had dawned on Nonnatus, along with a fresh blanket of thick snow. Delia's eyes had snapped open at the sound of a noise at the window only to look over to see a red breasted robin tapping lightly on the glass pane. Poor thing was probably frozen and wanted some warmth she thought sadly, the temperature had dropped again during the night and despite the now functioning heating system, everyone was feeling the cold or at the very least had a sniffle.

 

Shivering, Delia pulled Patsy closer to her. The two had fallen into the same bed last night. She felt the cold metal of a silver chain and ring around her neck and recalled the blissful moment when Patsy had placed the band for the briefest of moments where it belonged on her finger. She'd worn it all of five minutes, from the time it took Patsy to slip it on to the time they were kissing frantically behind a locked door. This had to be one of the best Christmas presents ever, Delia mulled as she traced Patsy's exposed neck with her fingers.

 

The redhead stirred slightly at the icy touch, grunting her complaints before trying to snuggle deeper back into Delia's embrace.

 

"Wake up Pats." Delia whispered gently.

 

Patsy was adorable when she was asleep and as much as Delia liked to watch the cute mumbles and grumbles of morning Patsy, they really needed to separate before the day began otherwise, she thought to herself, they'd never leave this bed.

 

"Your hands are cold." Patsy's breath fogged the air in front of her face.

 

"Merry Christmas to you too!" Delia laughed.

 

Patsy pouted and finally opened her eyes, squinting in the daylight.

 

"Who's the visitor?" she asked groggily turning towards the window.

 

The robin stared back, its head cocking slightly to one side.

 

"He's the same colour as your hair Pats." Delia pointed out playfully.

 

Patsy rolled back over to take in the much more pleasing view in front of her.

 

"And the same colour as your cheeks. You really are freezing, we should get you some milky tea before you seize up."

 

"I'm all thawed out after last night." Delia muttered.

 

Patsy's mouth opened in sarcastic horror.  "Delia! Not around the nuns!" she indicated to the door.

 

Delia shot back her best cheeky dimples before braving the cold and flinging off the duvet. A collective gasp came from both women as the cold flooded in over their (barely dressed) bodies.

 

"Oh gosh Busby I think you're right. Last night was considerably warmer." Patsy admitted.

 

 

~

 

 

Nonnatus house, like every slightly dysfunctional family, celebrated Christmas in their rather own unique way. Because there always had to be someone with one ear cocked to the telephone in case of imminent baby arrival on the day babies were rather famous for arriving imminently, traditions were changed and moulded to fit the day as it unfolded. Some things remained constant however. Namely, the lavish Christmas dinner (around 2:30pm pending labouring mothers), the Queen's speech followed by mince pies and charades in front of a roaring log fire. Mince pies were often optional as they had a funny habit of disappearing before they could be consumed.

 

Breakfast consisted of a hot morning brew before most of the house gathered in the chapel and headed to the local church for the Christmas service. This year Trixie took the Christmas day shift as Patsy and Delia had taken one for the team last year during the trip to South Africa. It was nice to get a break Delia thought, idly stirring another spoonful of sugar into her pale tea.

 

The familiar nudge of Patsy's foot filled her with as much warmth as the hot drink as she sipped at the mug feeling, in that moment, as if she was the happiest Welshwoman in London.

 

"Well it's off to the telephone for me sweeties, let me know all about the service and don't tell me what happens, I don't want spoilers!" Trixie tapped her nose and grabbed a bible from the breakfast table before skipping off.

 

Thankfully Patsy and Delia appeared to be the only ones who heard the remark as the sisters were deep in conversation speculating who would be taking the service that morning.

 

"Will you be joining us?" asked Sister Julienne politely.

 

"I shan't imbide I'm afraid." proclaimed Phyllis. "I am after-all Nurse Franklin's back up and there are still two babies due in the very near future and I wouldn't want to leave her in the lurch."

 

"Of course."

 

Delia realised attention was now on her and Patsy. Before she knew it she was speaking hurriedly.

 

"Oh, Patsy and I were going to attend the evening service actually, we said we'd keep Trixie, sorry, Nurse Franklin company. Besides, I have some chores I need to.. do..." she stuttered out the rest of the sentence while Patsy looked over her mug in surprise.

 

Sister Julienne simply smiled and praised the splendid idea before excusing herself and her sisters as they made their way from the dining room.

 

Now alone the two women moved their chairs slightly closer together.

 

"Delia..." Patsy shot the small woman a questioning look.

 

"I panicked." Delia admitted bashfully. "I know you don't particularly like church services and well, I thought we could spend the morning together, just the two of us?"

 

Patsy broke into a wide grin. "And what about tonight?"

 

Delia winced. What had she gotten them into. "Don't suppose you fancy a Welsh carol service?"

 

The redhead looked thoughtful for a moment. "Actually, I think that would be quite fun."

 

Delia gaped.

 

"As long as you're there to translate, I don't fancy going on my own. You know what they say about the Welsh."

 

Blue eyes narrowed over the steaming cup of milky tea as Delia Busby shot her best death stare towards the well mannered nurse.

 

 

~

 

 

By half past four, most of the habitants of Nonnatus house (and Fred, who'd popped round for "just one mince pie" and had ended up with a large serving of turkey and all the trimmings) were sat around the fire, supporting their very own babies of food. Sister Monica Joan was knitting fervently as if to give her fingers something to do other than grapple for the last mince pie that lay tantalisingly on the glass-toped coffee table.

 

There was an agreeable silence around the room. Patsy and Delia sat on the sofa, closer than they would usually dare as Sister Winifred was squeezed on the end, seating space being at a premium with all present. Phyllis had caved in and joined the party for the time being and was eyeing the room, subtly trying to avoid staring in the direction of the three women on the sofa.

 

"Charades!" she proclaimed rather violently, causing Sister Monica Joan to drop several stitches.

 

A collective sigh fell across the room.

 

"Very well, I'll take the first bullet - that is if nobody objects?"

 

Nobody did. Phyllis positioned herself in front of the fire and began motioning with her hands.

 

"Song!" shouted everyone collectively.

 

"Two words!"

 

Phyllis nodded enthusiastically. And started wafting herself then pointing at the fire.

 

"Heat? Fire?"

 

She shook her head and wafted a bit more.

 

"Hot!"

 

More excited nodding. She held up two fingers then put three to her arm.

 

"Second word, three syllables."

 

She stooped down and straightened up, repeating the motion several times. Some people began to giggle, the effect made even more comical by Phyllis' rather ugly colourful sweater with two bells hanging off the chest area and ringing comically from side to side.

 

"Dig!" someone yelled finally, causing the bells to cease their swinging.

 

"Hot dig..."

 

"Hot Diggity!" Sister Winifred exclaimed loudly.

 

Everyone stopped and stared towards the nun.

 

"Why... yes it is!" exclaimed Phyllis, her face flushed. "I do believe that makes it your turn!"

 

The sister rose from the sofa, but Patsy and Delia remained close, not wanting to part for appearances anymore. Besides, Delia thought smiling to herself as she watched a nun in a habit try and mime out the song "Never Do A Tango With An Eskimo", the sofa had seen much, much worse.

 

 

~

 

 

 

Stomachs too full for anything more than a couple of mince pies, that evening most retired to bed early, some choosing to stay by the fire to soak up as much heat as was possible before returning to the cold bedrooms. The nuns took to compline, Trixie came off telephone duty and finally received her portion of roast dinner (kept warm in the low heat of the oven).

 

Delia motioned to Patsy and the pair made themselves scarce from the rest of the house.

 

"Still up for a bit of singing Patsy?"

 

The redhead paled. "You didn't say anything about joining in!"

 

Delia threw her head back in laughter. "You don't have to actually sing, but at least mime and pretend you're enjoying yourself."

 

That earned her a playful slap on the arm.

 

"Where exactly is the nearest Welsh Carol Service?" Patsy questioned.

 

"I'm not entirely sure actually." Delia admitted.

 

"You mean your grand plan Busby is to walk around London listening into random churches until you hear something that resembles Welsh?"

 

"Well, the busses aren't running so we'll have to walk!"

 

Patsy gave her girlfriend a disparaging look. "Remind me never to let you plan anything with less than one week's notice." she sighed.

 

"We could still go to St. Johns down the street." Delia piped up. "It's not Welsh but I'm pretty sure they have the same tunes."

 

 

~

 

 

St. Johns was a medium sized church, small enough to be cozy but large enough for the two women to slip into the back of congregation unnoticed. They'd missed the first sermon it appeared. As neither of them were too bothered by this it didn't really make much difference. A short elderly woman was passing down the nave, handing out hymn books. Patsy took a couple from the woman's frail, shaking hands and thanked her before handing the nicer one to Delia, keeping the more tatty one for herself. Delia smiled at the small gesture and flicked through the thin pages until she reached the first number shown.

 

The organist played the opening chord and the crowd collectively stood with a rustle of paper and pews scraping.

 

"Ar Hyd Y Nos." breathed Delia, her mouth parting.

 

Patsy shot the small woman a glance. Tears were beginning to well in her beautiful blues and sparkled in the candle light.

 

"Patsy." she choked, turning to face the taller woman with emotion bursting from her expression.

 

Patsy didn't think twice, she reached for the small hand and grasped it tightly as the congregation began to sing in unison.

 

Sleep my child and peace attend thee,

All through the night

Guardian angels God will send thee,

All through the night

Soft the drowsy hours are creeping

Hill and vale in slumber sleeping,

I my loving vigil keeping

All through the night.

 

Delia sniffed, trying to gather her emotions. The song of her country had brought back so many memories of a Christmas now passed, a Christmas of uncertainty about her future in London, about her future with Patsy.

 

While the moon her watch is keeping

All through the night

While the weary world is sleeping

All through the night

O'er they spirit gently stealing

Visions of delight revealing

Breathes a pure and holy feeling

All through the night.

 

Still Patsy's hand never left hers. Is this a dream? A small voice inside Delia's head whispered. Because nothing this perfect could be this real, could feel this complete. She wanted to cry out to the heavens, to lift her voice in song-

 

Patsy jumped slightly as a small but clear voice filtered through.

 

O mor siriol, gwena seren

Ar hyd y nos

 

It was Patsy's time to feel a lump harden in her throat. Perhaps this is what angels sounded like, she thought. The pureness of her lovers voice was like a calming salve to the soul. She felt fragments of herself heal together as the notes reverberated off her eardrums, an almost electric feeling pass through their connected hands. She squeezed. Delia squeezed back, her voice becoming stronger.

 

I oleuo'i chwaer ddaearen

Ar hyd y nos.

Nos yw henaint pan ddaw cystudd

Ond i harddu dyn a'i hwyrddydd

Rhown ein golau gwan i'n gilydd

Ar hyd y nos.

 

The song finished but the magic was not broken. As the two took their seat Patsy snaked an arm around Delia's waist, holding her close. With their large coats and hats their gender could easily be disguised to the offhand glance.

 

"Deels?" Patsy ventured.

 

"I can't believe they played it." Delia's voice finally broke.

 

She looked up into the older woman's searching eyes.

 

"It's the first song I heard that reminded me of home after the accident. Mam asked the choir in Tenby to sing it specially that Christmas. That's when I remembered you. Remembered us." she wiped her nose with her sleeve cuff. "I'm so glad I didn't go to the Welsh Carol service that day."

 

"Oh Delia." Tears were making fast tracks down Patsy's face too. "From now on, we'll spend every Christmas together. I promise. And I'll never forget tonight."

 

Delia smiled through her tears, reached over her scarf and pulled out the ring, slipping it off the chain and placing it in Patsy's hand. Patsy cottoned on and glanced round quickly to check nobody was looking. The crowd was already beginning to stand for the next hymn and so the two women rose to their feet also.

 

Silent night, holy night

All is calm, all is bright

Round yon virgin, mother and child

Holy infant so tender and mild

Sleep in heavenly peace

 

Neither of them sang, they simply stared into each other's eyes.

 

"Through sickness and in health." Patsy whispered.

 

"For richer for poorer." Delia replied.

 

"Until death do us part?" Patsy breathed.

 

"I do." They replied in unison.

 

Patsy slipped the ring onto Delia's finger.

 

Sleep in heavenly peace

Sleep in heavenly peace

 

 

~

 

 

 

 

 

Fan Art by the incredible @manu-darko - thanks so much for drawing this chapter and bringing it to life :)

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

The duo exited the church arm in arm only to be greeted by a flurry of snow. There was something rather magical about the silent flakes falling from the ink black sky, visible only from their reflections cast by the surrounding lampposts. Patsy hated rain. Rain was loud. Rain reminded her of humid nights in the camp. But snow was cooling. A silent and gentle lullaby as it floated lazily to earth. It was calming to watch, she thought as she slipped an arm through Delia's, pulling the smaller woman in close.

 

Nothing could wipe the stupid grin from her face. A distant muffled sound of parishioners voices filtered through the air, lending a beautiful soundtrack to the picture perfect scene. Suddenly, feeling a rare sense of daring, Patsy stopped in her tracks and faced the smaller woman.

 

"Let's not go back."

 

Delia looked puzzled. "What do you mean?"

 

Two elegant hands reached the small face and sparkling cerulean stared into the deepest stormy cyan.

 

"I want it to be just us tonight Delia." She said, huskily. Desire so apparent in her voice that a smile tugged at the corner of the Welshwoman's mouth. Mischief personified.

 

"You mean..." Her voice dropped to a conspiratory whisper. "...like a wedding night?" Cheeks flushing instantly.

 

Patsy held the gaze unwavering and nodded. Her heart hammering, hot blood rushing in her ears.

 

"And where do you propose we go?" Delia challenged, indicating around the vacant street.

 

"We'll rent a hotel room. Just for the night." she was being bold. Very unlike her. But at that moment she wanted peace. Peace from everything and everyone else. She wanted to shut out the world. Other than the beautiful woman who stood in front of her of course.

 

"What will we tell the others?" Delia was taking the unusual stance of caution.

 

"That it got too late and the weather was so bad we had to rent a room?" Patsy murmured.

 

Delia's eyes were already darkening behind her long lashes.

 

"Anyone would think you've thought this through Pats."

 

"I haven't. I suppose this is me being more... spontaneous."

 

"Mhmm." Delia sighed in approval, her gaze shifting to Patsy's lips. "I like spontaneous Patsy."

 

She began to remove the ring from her third finger before Patsy leant out and stopped her.

 

"Keep it on. Even if it's just for tonight. Keep it where it belongs."

 

Patsy reached for Delia's hand and began walking again, this time toward the main road. It was time to hail a taxi.




~




The Kingston Hotel was rather a nice establishment, not too luxurious, but it held its own against the other competitors on the same street. The black London taxi pulled up outside, depositing two women at the front door. A smartly dressed, shivering bell-hop, slightly put off by the lack of luggage, ushered them both inside and out of the cold.

 

Patsy strode up elegantly to the front reception desk. She knew exactly how to play this role. Delia tottered behind, her gaze taking in the marble floors and ornate chandeliers that graced the foyer. The entire place was deathly quiet save for a few late night stragglers at the hotel restaurant.

 

"Just the one room my good fellow, and I require the use of the telephone please." Patsy's clipped accent echoed off the polished floors.

 

The balding man behind the counter drew himself up to all five foot six of his height and nodded importantly. "Of course ma'am."

 

Patsy made a great show of telling the imaginary person the other end of the telephone that she and her sister were "well and truly stuck" in the middle of London and would have to stay in a hotel for the night until the weather cleared on boxing day.

 

Delia watched the charade unfold in front of her with some amusement and a sliver of pride. Especially when the redhead caught her eye and winked. It was only as she watched the tall woman produce her chequebook that Delia began to wonder if this really was entirely spontaneous.

 

Within ten minutes of entering the hotel, they were opening the door to their en-suite bedroom, having been assured by the man at the front desk they were the only guests on the entire floor. Eventually the luxury door swung closed behind them and the lock clicked. Wordlessly dumping their belongings on a priceless eighteenth century armchair, the two women finally faced each other.



A clock on the mantelpiece struck ten. Patsy swallowed. The full gravity of the advantageous situation they were in suddenly hit hard.

 

A scenario she'd never even dared think possible - a wedding night with the woman of her dreams. Not that it would be their first time by any means; this was a far reach from the dark fumbling of their nursing home days. But it was the first time they would be able to take their time, without fear of being discovered. The prospect was making her shake. From emotion maybe? No, this was excitement. Apprehension. She had always held back, always on edge, anxious. Not tonight though, she promised herself. Tonight would be different.



Small hands stroked gently through her copper locks, lifted her face and broke her from the reverie.

 

"Cariad?"

 

Patsy could feel her eyes beginning to water, her walls beginning to crack. She launched herself at the smaller woman, drawing her in for a fierce hug.

 

"I love you." she choked into Delia's neck.

 

They stood for a moment, wrapped in the tight embrace, revelling in the feeling of closeness and proximity that had been so lacking that past year.

 

"I want us to take our time Pats." Delia whispered. Her breath feathering round Patsy's ear, making the hairs on the back of her neck stand to attention.

 

Patsy nodded in agreement. She had no intention of rushing. Even as Delia moved towards the kingsized bed she smiled to herself. If anything she thought, this was likely to be one of the most memorable forty eight hours of her life.

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Patsy walked over to where Delia was sat on the kingsized bed; the soft, white linen swallowed her as she sank into the mattress. Delia moved to lay beside the taller woman.

 

"Shoes off Patience." she tutted. "That's what mam always told me before sleeping in a hotel bed."

 

Patsy sighed and kicked off her heels. Her feet ached dully form their unplanned walk earlier and she wished she'd been prepared enough to have worn flats. Clearly this was another (not quite as fun) result of spontaneous Patsy.

 

She grumbled and tried to surreptitiously ease the throbbing by rubbing the offending appendages against her calves.

 

"Are you okay?"

 

"I'm fine."

 

"Fibber."

 

Delia was not so easily fooled. She pulled herself up, adjusting the pillows against the headboard of the bed and patted her lap.

 

Patsy raised an eyebrow in question but lay back, extended her long legs and planted her aching feet onto Delia’s lap. As the petite Welshwoman began working her tense foot muscles with strong fingers, Patsy couldn't help but sigh in relief. The blood flow returned to her toes and to her cheeks as she gazed up at Delia's expression of concentration.

 

"Has anyone told you that you're amazing at that?"

 

Delia smiled. "I don't do this to just anyone Pats."

 

Patsy returned the smile and met the brunette's eyes briefly. They were a deep, dark blue. Darker than she'd ever seen before. It made her next breath catch in her throat.

 

"Don't you?"

 

"No."

 

Delia had now moved to massaging Patsy's calf muscles.

 

"I don't do this either." she murmured before planting a kiss on Patsy's nylon stockings.

 

Patsy all but melted into a puddle. This always seemed to happen. Delia knew exactly how to push her buttons and was always one step ahead when it came to seduction and flirting. Patsy, for her part was, rather useless, at least she thought so. Where in other walks of life she never lacked confidence, in the bedroom it was quite a different story. Delia had never brought it up, it was just the way things were. The smaller woman normally initiated everything and Patsy, well Patsy held on for dear life and went along for the ride. Tonight though, for some reason, a confidence was filling the older woman. An assertiveness she'd never felt before.

 

She retracted her legs from Delia's warm lap and stood, her bare feet sinking into the sheepskin rug next to the bed. Still propped against the pillows, the Welshwoman watched, intrigued, as Patsy dimmed the lights and beckoned to her. Delia obeyed the silent command and arose from the bed to join her.

 

There they stood, mere inches from touching, breathing in each other's scent. Patsy's cheeks burned as she worked her fingers through Delia's bun, carefully pulling out the pins one by one and discarding them on the dresser. Finally free of constraints, Delia shook her head, allowing the chestnut mane to flow down her back. Using just her fingertips, Patsy brushed gently, untangling the last of the knots and marvelling at just how soft the younger woman’s hair was.

 

Delia closed her eyes, revelling in the touch, a contented sigh passing her lips. Placing a chaste kiss to the brunette's forehead, Patsy rested her chin on top of Delia's head. Her arms snaked around Delia’s small frame, gradually removing her coat and discarding it on the floor before moving to her dress. Delia's hands mirrored the redhead’s, and were soon unbuttoning the grey plaid shirt Patsy had chosen to wear that evening. Their movements were slow and meaningful, creating an exhilarating atmosphere in the room.

 

Slowly, Patsy leaned in and captured Delia's lips with her own. Gently and sensually she kissed her. If she were ever to be asked, Patsy would never be able to describe exactly what kissing Delia felt like. Something akin to fireworks, an exquisite agony almost that accumulated into a keen longing. Problems and worries ceased to exist, hurt and pain just melted away. Her lips were a tonic for the soul. There was nothing on earth that could compare to kissing Delia Busby.

 

Feeling a tight clenching of emotion in her stomach, Patsy couldn't help herself. She nibbled lightly on Delia's lower lip, encouraging the smaller woman to open her mouth and allow her tongue access. Delia needed no persuading. Their tongues probed and explored, creating a delirious sensation as they circled one and other. Before long the slow, swirling motions began to increase in pace and intensity. They were dancing now, a delightful tango, pausing briefly for breath before engaging in more searching sweeps. A flame had ignited inside Patsy and this time she did not want it to burn out.

 

She parted eventually but Delia followed her instinctively, her nose nuzzling Patsy's retreating cheek. Gently, Patsy silently directed her towards the bed. Delia met her gaze questioningly but didn't speak. The younger woman was always the one to make the first move but tonight Patsy wanted to be bold. She wanted to show Delia how much she loved her, without holding back. Her cheeks flushed with desire as she tried to rein in some of the nerves.

 

Delia was staring at her intently. Her eyes impossibly dark.

 

"What do you want, Pats? she whispered gently.

 

Patsy's heart raced. There were so many things she wanted to say. I want to memorise every inch of you. I want to show you how much you mean to me. You know I've never been good at words, so please let me show you through actions. All seemed to be perfectly reasonable responses. But instead she opted for the one reply that completely embodied everything she was feeling in that moment.

 

"I want to make love to you."

 

Delia held her gaze, eyes wide, and nodded.

 

Amazingly her hands were not shaking as she unzipped Delia's sunflower dress and let it pool onto the floor. Eyes roamed over the newly exposed creamy skin, glowing in the low light of the hotel room. She bent down and kissed a freckle on a pale collarbone. Delia hissed as Patsy's warm lips made brief contact with her soft flesh. This was quite possibly the most sensual experience they had ever shared. It wasn't a hurried kiss behind a locked door or a discreet, rushed encounter late at night. For once in their lives they were free to explore each other, to take their time, safe in the knowledge they would not be discovered.

 

This very thought passed unsaid between both women. It charged the room with an invisible energy. Patsy's fingers began to skilfully undo Delia's brassiere, slipping it off her shoulders and exposing her perfect breasts. She took a moment to stare, unabashed, at the sight in front of her. Drinking in the soft, curving flesh with a smouldering gaze. Gently, she lowered the smaller woman onto the bed before leaning in to kiss her again, this time trailing kisses down her jawline and down, lower and lower. Finally finding a soft, pink peak with her lips, teasing it until it became hard and swollen. Delia let out a tiny moan. The little noise spurred Patsy on as she sucked gently on the sensitive nipple, rolling it around her tongue and releasing with a small pop. Delia blindly reached for Patsy's hand, bringing it up to attend to the other unattended breast.

Reverently, Patsy began massaging the sensitive flesh, feeling Delia's skin become taut with desire under her ministrations. Never before had she been able to explore every inch of her lover's body with such detail and tenderness. Mapping each freckle, every stretch mark and tiny imperfection. Every unique detail that made Delia, Delia. It was intoxicating, breathing in her scent, drinking in the vision of the brunette’s hooded eyes, swollen lips and husky breathing. She stroked up along her arms; Taking in every dip and curve of her muscles, strong and defined from countless hours on ward rounds, changing linen and aiding patients. And yet, despite being toned, her skin was so silky soft. Patsy marvelled at the contrast between the texture of Delia's body and her own rough hands - calloused from the over-regular encounters with bleach and antiseptic.

She massaged brunette’s shoulders before running her hands past her breasts and down to her ribcage. Delia's breath hitched. She was rather sensitive at the spot where her hips met her waist, a fact that Patsy was more than aware, and was determined to exploit. As the redhead stroked carefully from her stomach and round her back, Delia's hips rose off the bed, granting Patsy access to her rear. Delia wrapped her legs around the taller woman in an attempt to gain more contact.

 

"Patience, I do believe you're overdressed for the occasion." she whispered huskily.

 

Patsy's fishhook smile followed.

 

Drawing back from the vision in front of her she made short work of her own clothes, providing Delia with a wonderful show of de-robing. The younger woman simply sat back on her elbows and licked her lips as she watched as Patsy strip down.

 

"Better?" she queried.

 

Delia nodded in approval. "Much."

 

Patsy pressed their bodies together, enjoying another long, languid kiss. The feeling of Delia’s breasts pressed against her own was something of a wonder to behold. A luxury too, as they rarely risked being this naked together. Delia ground upwards, her hands finding Patsy’s back and lightly tracing her scars. They were breathing hard, their passionate sounds echoing through the empty room.

 

Patsy drew back and hooked her fingers around Delia's knickers, now the only barrier left. She drew  them down impossibly slowly before discarding them onto the floor with their other items of clothing. Kissing her way up Delia's legs, she heard the smaller woman utter little sighs under her touch. Goosebumps were erupting all over Delia's body. She was shaking from exhilaration and anticipation of what was to come. Patsy was enthralled to see her lover so receptive to just the slightest touch and she just couldn’t get enough of her. In fact it seemed her boldness knew no bounds tonight.

 

She slid her body down the bed again, kissing down Delia's stomach as her hands ran over her hip bones. Steeling herself she then nuzzled the patch of dark curls at the apex of Delia's legs.

 

"Pats?" Delia questioned softly, her eyes searching. "Are you sure?"

 

Patsy nodded.

 

She had never done this before. Why, she didn't really know. Maybe it was the fear of being discovered in this particular position. Others might have been easier to explain away but not this. Delia had never complained but Patsy could tell she longed for it. Now just felt like the right time.

 

Delia sensed the hesitation. She reached out a hand and stroked Patsy's hair gently.

 

"You don't have to." she offered kindly.

 

Patsy shook her head. "I want to... I really want to." her voice betrayed her worry.

 

"I trust you Cariad." Delia's eyes shone with nothing but love and adoration.

 

Patsy took a deep breath and kissed the crop of curls. Delia let out another small moan at the sensation. This spurred the taller woman on and she kissed again. Patsy had encountered her fair amount of female nether regions in her career but this was Delia. She couldn't remember how long she'd dreamed of doing this to her lover. When Delia had first done it to her she had experienced powerful sensations she never thought possible for any human to have. She now longed to give her love similar sensations. Feeling her confidence grow, Patsy kissed as if she were kissing Delia's mouth. Her tongue swiped only to be met with a considerable amount of warm wetness. It was slightly salty but not unpleasant. As Patsy repeated the motion, the small woman’s hips uncontrollably bucked, a soft mewling sound escaping her lips.

 

"Keep going, Caraid, that feels amazing." she whispered.

Patsy obeyed. She tried her best to recall what Delia had done to her and repeat the motions. She felt small hands on her head, stroking her hair and directing her motions. They were pulling her up slightly so she paused her movements and tried to reposition herself in order to gain a better angle. As she did so, Delia wrapped one of her legs up and around to embrace her back. Heart thudding fast, Patsy used her long fingers to delicately part Delia's swollen lips in order to locate the organ so desperately in need of her attention.

Brushing her lips against the bundle of nerves she sucked lightly.

"Oh!" Delia exclaimed loudly from above her, head snapping back.

 

Patsy's brow furrowed in concentration as she repeated the motion but with more purpose this time. Again it elicited a similar response from the smaller woman. Curious, she pressed the tip of her tongue harder against the sensitive spot and began to circle.

 

"Ah... Cariad! Slow down!" Delia gasped.

 

"Sorry!" Patsy breathed.

 

"It's alright. You're doing really well." Delia encouraged, stroking the copper hair.

 

Patsy blushed, thankfully unseen by Delia. She felt like an awkward teenager again. But practise makes perfect and it was unrealistic to expect to be fantastic at this the first time around. Using longer and more gentle strokes she began to circle again, this time much more slowly, waiting for Delia to set the pace. This approach seemed to work a lot better and before long Delia's legs were squeezing against her tighter and tighter as she began to build.

 

The moans and sighs coming from the Welshwoman were doing amazing things to Patsy's insides. She was beginning to feel her own desire burning strong, an aching, dull throbbing between her legs trying to distract her from her current task. Another swipe and Delia groaned loudly. They were never this loud. They couldn't be. But hearing Delia come undone was the most erotic sound she’d ever heard. It was utterly exhilarating. And to know she was the cause of this pleasure? Wanting to give her more, Patsy pulled one hand upward and, still keeping contact with her mouth, slid two fingers into Delia's waiting warmth.

 

"Duw Pats!" she cried.

 

Patsy paused her movements and looked up. Was it too much too soon?

 

"Are you okay?"

 

Delia however, bit her bottom lip and nodded furiously. "Just... keep going, don't stop... Peidiwch â stopio"

 

Patsy obliged, easing her long fingers in and out, gaining a steady rhythm. Delia was so slick from desire there was barely any friction. As Patsy curled her fingertips to rub the small patch of rough skin of Delia's inner walls the brunette let out a gasp, hips involuntarily bumping harder against the redhead's hand.

 

"Mwy! Oh Pats... Rwyf mor agos!" came gasping breaths.

 

Oblivious to the meaning, but assuming it was positive, Patsy continued. Delia’s hips rocked, riding with the thrusts of the redhead’s hand as the strokes increased in pace. Patsy delved deeper with every push, tempo quickening, hand blurring, tongue dancing. Delia's breath was catching as she pulled in the occasional lungful of air, expelling it again with a moan. With one more burst of speed Patsy ground into her as fast and as hard as she could. Delia took one more gasping breath, her hands buried in the redhead's tresses before crying out loudly as her climax hit. Her back arched and her muscles spasmed in an explosion of ecstasy.

 

Patsy scooted upwards, her hand still buried, to kiss the beautiful mouth which was still uttering sighs, pants and incoherent Welsh as the aftershocks rolled over her.

 

"You're beautiful." she murmured, kissing Delia gently, allowing the smaller woman to taste herself on Patsy's tongue.

 

Delia's body settled as she began to catch her breath and regain sensation in her limbs. She gazed into Patsy's deep blue eyes, her own filled with tears.

 

"Oh fy duw… That was... you were…" she exhaled. "Thank you."

 

Patsy eased her hand away from its now tight confines. Delia grunted as Patsy's digits left her and wrapped the taller woman in her arms, kissing her gently as she floated back down to earth.

 

“Rydych chi'n anhygoel.” came a sleepy Welsh mumble. “Dy garu di.”

 

They lay, naked as the day they were born, embraced in each other’s arms, enjoying the brief post-coiltal glow that had settled on the room. Patsy smiled as Delia’s hands began to regain feeling and started to journey across her own chest. This was going to be a long, but very much enjoyable, night.

Chapter Text

The final day of 1962 dawned to yet another blanket of snow. Phyllis's car was now officially out of commission until further notice - the engine packing in the previous day, no doubt because of the mercury hitting extreme negatives. The staff at Nonnatus were becoming stretched. District rounds were chock-a-block with cases of the flu and pneumonia. Poplar just wasn't prepared for such a cold snap, especially the more poverty stricken areas with no insulation, let alone money to feed the meter. Barbara had suffered a broken wrist after an encounter with an icy patch of road sent her and her bicycle flying. Thankfully she'd hit a bank of soft snow which had prevented any serious damage. But Nonnatus were now a man down.

 

With Barbara out of commission and resources stretched to breaking point, Patsy had agreed to return to district duties to help relieve some of the tension. Delia had volunteered to help out as best she could, but not being officially employed by Nonnatus, she was rather limited in the assistance she could provide. Having proven her worth at telephone duty many moons ago, she now found herself stationed by the receiver with a mug of warm milky tea.

 

Despite the chaos of the past week, Delia felt as though she was on cloud nine. This had been the best Christmas ever and next year promised to be even better. Her mind whirred with all the things she had to look forward to. Finding a new flat with Patsy, becoming a proper midwife, maybe even working alongside the redhead, now that would be interesting. She smiled to herself. Patsy in her element was quite something to behold. She couldn't deny the attraction she felt towards the taller woman when she commanded a situation and took control. Perhaps they shouldn't work together.

 

Delia stirred her tea and reached for the pen that was lying on the table. The telephone hadn't rung for hours now. There had been one mother earlier that morning who had gone into labour. Phyllis had been dispatched post-haste (via bicycle this time) and she hadn't heard anything since. It was Mrs Fortescue though, a first time mother who would probably be in the first stage of labour for quite a few hours. Delia was hit with a pang of envy. She wanted to be out there, putting her skills to use, not holed up by the telephone, especially when the staff were so stretched. She felt like a spare part not being put to good use and just weighing down the machine.

 

Grabbing a piece of paper from a wad lying on the desk she began to write.

 

Dear Sister Julienne,

 

Please accept my formal application to join Nonnatus House in my official capacity as a midwife.

 

Was that too formal? She'd lived here for well over a year now, it's not as though the Sister and her were strangers. It was Sister Julienne who'd initially invited her to stay following her accident after all. Screwing up the paper she tried again.

 

Dear Sister Julienne,

 

I'd like to apply to join Nonnatus House as a midwife.

 

Perhaps not formal enough. Delia sighed in exasperation and screwed up the paper again. Maybe she just needed to talk to the woman. She was always very approachable. But this busy period had everyone on edge rather and she didn't want to upset anyone. Delia chewed the pen thoughtfully. What would Patsy do?

 

Patsy would get stuck in. She would muck in and help and be damned the pleasantries.

 

The door slammed open and a blonde woman, followed by a flurry of snow entered.

 

"Trixie!" Delia exclaimed, trying to hide all evidence of her letters under the table.

 

Trixie was in a right state. Cheeks flushed with cold, Her hair sticking out from all sides, mascara running and her burgundy hat askew.

 

"I can't feel my fingers!" her teeth chattered.

 

"Oh no you poor thing, lets get you thawed out by the fire." Delia offered kindly.

 

Gently she manoeuvred the shivering blonde from the hallway into the living room and deposited her on an armchair by the fire. Slowly Trixie began to regain feeling in her extremities.

 

"I've had enough of Mr Bentley's ulcers to last a lifetime." she said with a weary sigh.

 

Delia shot her a sympathetic look before prodding the rather lacklustre fire back into life.

 

"Must be really nice to be tucked up all warm by the telephone." she winked.

 

Delia prodded slightly more aggressively.

 

"I suppose it's alright."

 

Trixie's eyes narrowed. Ever astute to the change in her friend's tone.

 

"Have you spoken to Sister Julienne?" she asked casually.

 

Delia tensed. "No, why?"

 

"Well, what with Barbara out of commission and our resources stretched to the limit - we could use an extra pair of hands."

 

Delia plopped another log on the fire and sighed. Trixie was right. She just needed to go and talk to her.

 

 

---

 

Patsy cycled up the East India Dock Road as snow and bitterly cold salty air whipped through her hair trying to head her progress. It was refreshing to be back she thought as she took the sharp right turn onto Bath Street. Mind you anything made a welcome change from the boring meetings with boring men about boring financial matters. She was sticking to her mantra of "If I ignore it, it might all go away" for the time being and getting stuck into what she knew she was good at. Nursing.

 

She dismounted her bike, leaving it to rest lightly against the side of the building. This was her final stop for the day and soon she'd back back home with a nice warm meal and maybe some time later on for a card game...

 

The prospect filled her with warmth as she rapped smartly on the black door of number 26. A commotion was occurring in the small house next door but nobody came to answer.

 

"Nurse calling!" Patsy called out brightly.

 

Still nothing. The lights were off. She tried again, knocking a little louder this time. A dog started barking from across the street. Undeterred, Patsy reached into her bag for her notes. She was sure she had the right address. Holding the small slip of paper up to the light of the streetlamp she read: Number 26 Bath Street, Mr Lowe, suspected chest infection, antibiotics to be administered. She confirmed the details before glancing at her watch. It was nearly 6pm. Perhaps she should call it a day.

 

Suddenly there was movement, a scuffle from behind the door.

 

"Hello?" Patsy called out. "Mr Lowe?"

 

Silence.

 

Concern for her potential patient growing, Patsy knelt down to peer through the letter box. The smell hit her before she had a chance to brace for it. Snapping the letter box shut she gagged for a moment, drawing in lungfuls of fresh air in an attempt to calm her unsettled stomach. Her heart pounded in her ears.

 

Death had a certain smell, there was no denying. Grimly, Patsy stood up and tried the handle. The door didn't budge.

 

There was that scuffle sound again. Rats perhaps? There were more rats than people in Poplar so it wouldn't be a surprise.

 

There was a sudden loud clatter from inside the house. A chill ran the length of Patsy's spine, the heckles on her neck raised. Something was off about this whole situation. She didn't believe in ghosts, there was definitely someone or something still alive inside. And whoever it was seemed very scared.

 

Reaching over Patsy unscrewed the lamp from the front of her bicycle. She knelt down again, this time taking care to open the letter box and allowing the stench of death to go upwind of her.

 

"Hello?" she called out softly.

 

There was a rustle.

 

Patsy shone the lamp through the small slit. The light fell onto what could only be described as a bomb-site. It was absolutely filthy. Grime coated the walls and the floor, the rug in the hallway all but destroyed by mice. Sweeping the light further Patsy's breath caught in her throat. A pair of ghostly eyes stared back at her. She startled and almost dropped the lamp.

 

"Hello." she tried again. "My name's Patsy, what's your name?"

 

There was a pregnant pause. Then, gingerly a small figure stepped forward into the light. Patsy's mouth went dry.

 

There amongst the dirt and crud stood a small girl, probably about eight or nine (if Patsy had to guess). Her arms clasped tightly to her chest as if to shield her from the blinding light. She was so desperately skinny, her alabaster skin mottled and tinged with a sickly green hue. If her slight sway was anything to go by, it seemed as though Patsy had arrived not a moment too soon. The poor child was at death's door.

 

"I know this has been a jolly good game of hide and seek but I think we need to stop now and get some tea. What do you say?" Patsy smiled.

 

The girl looked terrified and began checking over her shoulders as if expecting some form of resistance.

 

"I have some boiled sweets in my bag, do you like the red ones?"

 

A small, barely noticeable nod.

 

"Well then. Luckily for you I prefer the green ones, so together I'm sure we'll manage to finish them off. What do you say?"

 

Patsy's heart was still thudding loudly in her ears. She had no idea what to do but whatever she was saying seemed to be working. The child nodded again but still didn't move.

 

"Can you come and open the door for me sweetie? I promise I won't come in."

 

Gradually the girl inched her way forwards. It was as if she were terrified Patsy could lash out at any moment. Patsy directed the lamp light away from the girl's face and onto the floor to aid her navigation towards the door.

 

As soon as the lock clicked, Patsy retracted the lamp and herself, standing further back to allow the heavy door to creak open. She knelt down to the height of the little girl and reached into her pocket.

 

Immediately the girl jumped backwards and hid behind the door.

 

"It's okay!" said Patsy hurriedly. "I'm just getting the sweets." she held out the small striped paper bag. "See?"

 

Taking extra care not to make any sudden movements she eased herself down to a kneeling position on the porch. The hard stone scratched her nylons and she felt the sting of pain as her skin grated against concrete.

 

The girl took a ginger step towards her and Patsy picked out a red sweet before offering it to her at arms length. She took the sweet carefully before examining it to confirm its identity before popping it into her mouth.

 

Patsy watched with baited breath as she swirled the hard sugar around her mouth, sucking the juice and swallowing. The tiniest hint of a smile began tugging at the corner of her lips and Patsy breathed out a silent sigh of relief. They were getting somewhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

The sound of knuckles rapping on heavy wood echoed through the hallway of Nonnatus House.

 

Delia shifted nervously from foot to foot as she awaited a response. It was usually around this time the Sister was in her office, catching up on paperwork before compline.

 

The door opened and Delia was greeted with a warm smile from the elder nun.

 

"Nurse Busby, is there something I can help you with?" she enquired kindly.

 

"Yes Sister Julienne, I was wondering if I could have a quick word?"

 

"Of course, do come in." She held the door open and stood aside, allowing the Welshwoman to enter her office.

 

It was a cosy space, quite dark apart from the light of a rusty oil lamp on the table and a small yet hearty fire in the hearth . The air seemed thick with history and the smell of antiquated books that lined the walls. Delia felt herself relax at the welcoming atmosphere and allowed herself to sink into the offered seat the other side of the Sister's desk.

 

"Now then Miss Busby, what can I do for you?"

 

Delia folded her hands awkwardly in her lap, twisting her fingers together as she tried to formulate a sentence.

 

"Sister, firstly, I want to thank you, for allowing me to stay at Nonnatus following my accident." she began hesitantly.

 

The nun smiled warmly. "It has been our pleasure."

 

Delia returned the smile from the kind natured woman before taking a deep breath.

 

"I was wondering, if it's not too much to ask, that is assuming you'd consider it... now I have passed my midwifery course, is there any possibility that I may be able to work here - for you, for Nonnatus, as a midwife?" the words came out in a bit of a rush and Delia felt her cheeks redden in embarrassment, her eyes firmly fixed on her lap.

 

Well done Busby.

 

There was a silence. Delia gulped and chanced a glance upward.

 

Sister Julienne was beaming back at her.

 

"Nurse Busby, we would welcome you with open arms. You have proven yourself more than capable and we would be honoured for you to join our ranks."

 

Delia tried her best to stop her jaw from hitting the floor. Was it really going to be that simple?

 

"I'm not sure if you are aware but Nurse Hereward's imminent departure to Birmingham leaves us rather short staffed so your timing has been impeccable. I would be delighted to offer you a position here at Nonnatus. Obviously your living arrangements need not be changed, you are well bonded with our current staff. I think it's a wonderful idea."

 

The smaller woman nodded, still dumbstruck.

 

"I will need you to fill out an official application of course and I will need to speak to the motherhouse, but that shouldn't be a problem. When were you thinking of starting?"

 

"Well, I have no current plans." Delia admitted. "And I have felt rather like a spare part for the last couple of weeks, it would be good to get stuck in as soon as possible. If that's alright!" she added quickly.

 

"An excellent attitude to have." Commended Sister Julienne. "We'll probably get you started on district rounds to begin with and then a few days a week at the clinic. Then we'll send you out with another midwife to supervise." She had begun searching through her desk drawers, hunting for a job application form.

 

Delia's heart was thumping so fast with excitement she suddenly felt quite lightheaded. Finally she would be able to give back, to do something useful. Fighting to contain a stupidly big grin from forming on her flushed face, she settled for a tight lipped smile, dimples in full force. Nervous adrenaline was making her want to dance a little jig of joy, wholly unsuitable behaviour for a nun's office.

 

Suddenly there were several loud bangs on the front door. Delia jumped a foot off her chair, her senses already heightened. She and the sister exchanged worried glances. Usually such a sound was accompanied by an emergency — often a labouring woman in dire need of urgent assistance.

 

Together they rushed from Sister Julienne's office, down the hallway, towards the front door. Trixie had also heard the commotion and was halfway down the stairs, rollers still in her hair.

 

"Help! Help me please!" a voice called out.

 

Delia's blood turned to ice. It was Patsy.

 

She sprinted the rest of the way to the door and with surprising strength for her size, heaved the heavy iron latch open, unlocking the door.

 

Patsy tumbled inside, a bundle wrapped in her arms.

 

"I found her alone, she needs food and water - and warmth, she freezing!"

 

Patsy held out the bundle to reveal the barely conscious form of a small girl with dirty blonde hair. Sister Julienne immediately took the child, cradling her to her chest for warmth.

 

"Nurse Franklin, call Doctor Turner."

 

Trixie nodded and rushed off towards the telephone.

 

"She needs an ambulance!" Patsy almost shouted in desperation.

 

Delia placed a hand on Patsy's arm in an attempt to calm the distressed woman.

 

"Pats, the snow's too heavy - an ambulance won't make it here tonight."

 

Patsy snatched her arm away. "We need to get her to hospital, she needs fluids..."

 

"Nurse Mount." Sister Julienne interjected quietly yet firmly. "She's safe now, we'll take care of her. Where did you find her?"

 

"I was on Bath Street. Mr Lowe was last on my list for antibiotics. Nobody answered the door so I checked through the letterbox. The smell was unmistakable, Sister." Patsy went pale. "and then I saw her." She gestured. "I managed to get her to open the door after a bit of persuading. Fortunately there was a telephone box at the end of the road, I called the police and confirmed Mr Lowe had passed. Then she collapsed so I ran here as fast as I could."

 

"You did the right thing." Said Delia.

 

Sister Julienne nodded. "We need to get her into the warm."

 

Patsy made to follow the sister but Delia put her arm out to stop her.

 

"I need to help her, Delia!" she said angrily.

 

"Pats, you've helped already her by bringing her here. She's safe now. She'll be alright."

 

Patsy's desperate eyes followed the retreating form of Sister Julienne before her legs gave way and her knees buckled. Delia was there quick as a flash to catch her as she sank to the floor.

 

"Let's get you warm." Delia looped a strong arm around the shaking woman.

 

It was as if all the resistance had melted away from the fiery redhead. She allowed the smaller woman to manoeuvre her up the stairs and into their room.

 

Gently Delia eased her onto the bed.

 

"We need to get you out of these - " she indicated towards Patsy's clothes. "They're sopping wet and we don't want you catching another bout of flu."

 

Delia was shaking with delayed shock but she had to keep it together for now, she couldn't come undone in front of Patsy. She had to be the strong one in this moment.

 

Patsy sat there rigid and unblinking as Delia stripped her of her damp uniform, replacing it with her trademark blue flannelette pyjamas.

 

"There, much better." She said, running her hands gently down Patsy's arms, flattening out the creases.

 

It was the straw that broke the camel's back. Patsy collapsed forwards into Delia's arms, sobs wracking her body. Delia held on tightly as she wept. One hand stroking gentle circles on her back and planting light kisses on her titan hair.

 

Half an hour, maybe an hour passed before eventually the sobs dissipated. Delia eased away her cramping muscles and reached for her handkerchief, offering it to the redhead who blew her nose loudly.

 

When she spoke her voice was thick and horse from crying.

 

"I need to go and see her."

 

"Pats..."

 

"I need to make sure she's okay."

 

Delia sighed. The girl couldn't have been older than Patsy was when she had been imprisoned in the Japanese internment camp. While she knew in training they had been taught to distance themselves emotionally from their patients, sometimes this was damn near impossible. Especially when a case hit so very close to home. They might be able to come to a compromise though.

 

"Let's get you cleaned up, then we can go down and check up on how she's doing." she suggested.

 

Patsy nodded.

 

"We can lend her some of your pyjamas, I don't think any of the ones in the charity box will warm enough."

 

Patsy shook her head. "They'll be too big."

 

"Maybe just the top then. We can give her lots of blankets too."

 

Another nod.

 

"Right then. Let's get you sorted first."

 

Delia tried not to let her worry show. Patsy was acting very odd. She was staring at the same spot on the floor, her legs swinging slightly, arms clasped tightly to her chest defensively. Perhaps it was the shock. Shock affected everyone differently after all. Whatever the case, Patsy needed to rest, but it seemed as if she wouldn't hear of it until she'd checked up on her patient.

 

 

---

 

 

 

Delia hovered back at a distance, not wanting to crowd the young girl as Patsy talked to Sister Julienne.

 

"She's doing well. We managed to get her to eat and drink a bit. She is malnourished but Dr Turner says she's too weak to be moved tonight. He'll take another look at her tomorrow and if she's stronger he'll take her to the London in his car."

 

Patsy nodded, relief evident on her exhausted features.

 

"Now, may I suggest you get some rest Nurse Mount, we'll take it from here."

 

 

---

 

 

After brushing her teeth and changing into her pyjamas, Delia entered the room she shared with Patsy to find the taller woman sitting with her back to the headboard of the bed, staring off into space.

 

"You did really well today Pats." she said gently. "I'm proud of you."

 

Delia lifted the duvet and settled herself beside the taller woman. The held each other close for a while, in complete silence. Patsy shook her head as if trying to clear some invisible fog from her mind.

 

"It just... it all felt like such a blur. Finding her, coming here - I don't remember half of it." she admitted.

 

"Nurses instinct to protect someone." Delia mumbled, burying her head into the nook between Patsy's neck and shoulder. "It happens on autopilot sometimes."

 

Far off the sound of a clock striking twelve reached the ears of the weary pair.

 

"Not quite how I imagined spending new year." Delia admitted quietly.

 

Patsy smiled and Delia's heart soared for a moment.

 

The redhead dipped her head and captured Delia's lips in her own as the last of the chimes ended.

 

"Thank you." she whispered.

 

Delia locked eyes and held her gaze steady.

 

"I love you."

 

"I love you." Patsy replied.

 

Wordlessly they lay down, Delia wrapping her arms protectively around Patsy's body, forming the big spoon. Just as sleep began to take hold of them and settling limbs began to twitch, Patsy spoke.

 

"Happy New Year, Deels."

 

Delia smiled into the blue flannel of her girlfriend's pyjamas.

 

"Happy New Year, Pats."

 

Chapter Text

Delia awoke to screaming.

 

She would have been lying if she said she was surprised. No preempting could ever prepare her for it though.

 

Quick as a flash she bolted upright and out her own bed over to the distressed redhead.

 

"Cariad. I'm here. You're alright." she began softly, stroking a fevered brow.

 

It did nothing. Patsy was still thrashing around, her long limbs tangled in sheets, fists white knuckled, grasping at the linen as if it were a lifeline.

 

"Patsy." she tried again, gently shaking her shoulder.

 

"Tasukete!" Patsy cried.

 

"Pats..." Tears were welling in Delia's eyes. She hated seeing her lover in so much distress and right now she felt powerless to help.

 

The door opened. In marched Phyllis Crane with a walk of purpose but a face of unmatched compassion. She knelt down beside Delia.

 

"Alright kid, you're alright." she muttered, to both Delia and the unconscious woman before her.

 

Patsy let out another strangled cry.

 

"Pats... Pats please wake up." Delia again tried to shake her shoulder gently.

 

Phyllis bit her bottom lip. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

 

Delia shook her head. "This normally works, she's not been this bad before."

 

"Tasukete! Mum!"

 

Delia reached for a pale, clammy hand, gently trying to pry the fingers away from the sheet.

 

"Pats, you're in London, in Poplar." she tried to speak as evenly as she could but her voice was wobbling.

 

"That's right. Delia is right here and so am I." Phyllis added soothingly.

 

There was a noise on the landing. Phyllis looked up at Delia and the two held their breath.

 

"I say, is everything alright in there?" came Trixie's clear voice.

 

Delia looked at Phyllis pleadingly.

 

"I'll head her off at the pass." she muttered, before leaving the room quietly.

 

Patsy had stopped thrashing as Delia stroked her hand, her thumb gently working the soft patch of skin in between her thumb and forefinger.

 

What felt like an hour but in reality only must have been about fifteen minutes passed. Patsy had begun to breathe more evenly, no longer shouting out but muttering occasionally. Delia's back was becoming stiff from the angle she was hunched at. Phyllis had not returned and Delia was under the impression she was currently warding off some rather unwanted questions. She felt a sudden rush of gratitude towards the older nurse. Thank god for Phyllis Crane and her stiff upper lip, Delia mused, stretching her aching back as she stood up.

 

The floorboards creaked from her motion and Patsy stirred slightly, reaching for the hand that had momentarily left hers.

 

Delia reached for her again and this time positioned herself behind the taller woman.

 

Before very long her eyes began to droop and she slipped off into a deep slumber.

 

 

--

 

 

She awoke to sunlight streaming through the window, illuminating the warm clouds of breath in front of her face. It was bitterly cold. Suddenly aware she was the only person in the shared room Delia was completely awake. Where was Patsy?

 

Momentary panic gripped her heart, as cold as the ice forming outside.

 

Last night had been the worst episode of nightmares she'd ever seen. To say she was concerned was an understatement. In all her years, including professional training, she'd never come across anything like this. There had been patients on the Psychiatric ward of course who were plagued with nightmares. But they were soldiers from the war, all of them men, shouting about bombs falling, men being killed and the invisible threat of incoming gunfire. But Patsy wasn't a psych case. She was fine. She was functioning normally in her work and every day life. She was fit as a fiddle. Everything was normal apart from the nightmares. Wasn't it?

 

Delia shook her head to try and rid some of the brain fog. She caught a glimpse of her reflection in the mirror about the dresser. A pair of dull, cyan eyes, rimmed with dark stared hauntingly back at her. She looked as exhausted as she felt then.

 

Reaching into the top drawer of the dresser she dismantled an old sock, reaching inside to pull out a thin gold chain. She wrapped it around her neck, feeling the solid weight of a ring bump against her sternum. The metal was cold but she didn't feel it.

 

 

She found Patsy in the living room, sitting on the sofa, silently observing the small girl from yesterday.

 

Wordlessly, Delia joined her, handing over a steaming mug of tea before joining the silent vigil.

 

Patsy's hands wrapped around the warm mug, drawing the hot liquid into her mouth slowly and deliberately. Her eyes closed at the sensation of warmth filling her body but quickly snapped open again, not wanting to leave their task of observing the vulnerable figure in front of her.

 

"How is she?" Delia asked quietly.

 

"Alive." came the reply.

 

Delia studied the pale face in front of her, pronounced cheekbones in the low winter light.

 

"Thanks to you." she said gently. "You saved her life."

 

Patsy sniffed scathingly.

 

"If you hadn't-"

 

"If I hadn't!? She should never have been in that situation to begin with! Have you seen the bruises on her arms? She was clearly beaten within an inch of her life long before I got there." she shook her head.

 

"You weren't to know." Delia reached for her hand but it was snatched away.

 

"That's not the point. I should have done something sooner. I should have found her sooner. You have no idea what she must have gone through Delia."

 

The words stung. The conversation wasn't about the girl anymore and they both knew it. Delia closed her eyes and took a breath before standing up and walking towards the door. One hand on the door handle she spun on her heel and faced the redhead.

 

"I have no idea Pats, because you won't tell me."

 

The door slammed. Possibly harder than she had intended. Bleary eyed, Delia ran headlong into Sister Julienne.

 

"Nurse Busby, I'm sorry."

 

"It's fine Sister, my fault." Delia replied hurriedly.

 

"Are you alright?" The sister was eyeing her from head to toe, clearly concerned.

 

Delia wiped at her eyes quickly and sniffed. "Yes, sister. Quite alright. Just worried about our guest." she gestured lamely towards the door.

 

"Of course. Doctor Turner is dropping by shortly, we agreed a transfer to the London, just to be on the safe side, besides, we are both concerned about her other potential injuries."

 

Delia nodded and made to leave, but a strong, yet gentle hand heeded her progress.

 

"Children are more resilient than we give them credit for." Sister Julienne spoke gently.

 

"I hope so." Delia replied.

 

Sister Julienne smiled warmly. "I was wondering if I could have a word with you later?"

 

Delia blanched. The shock must have been evident on her face because the elder nun quickly clarified.

 

"Nothing bad, just to discuss your job application and how soon you can start."

 

"Oh yes of course." Delia smiled politely.

 

 

She retreated up the stairs and into her bedroom. It was cold up there but she suddenly wanted to seek solitude, to be alone with her thoughts. Normally she would have gone for a brisk walk, but the three feet of snow hindered that idea.

 

Tucking up instead with a warm blanket, she sat against the headboard of her bed, skimming but not properly reading one of Trixie's trashy romance novels.

 

A few hours passed.

 

Then came a timid knock on the door.

 

Delia sighed and put the book down.

 

"Pats, it's your room, you don't need to knock."

 

A sheepish redhead appeared from behind the door.

 

"Sorry. Old habits." she replied, face scrunched in apology.

 

"I do hope you've come to save me from this dreadful book. Trixie's idea of a Perfect Romance apparently - even though the dashing young soldier is having it off with the heroine's sister, she could do so much better if you ask me."

 

Patsy's fishhook smile appeared as she sidled towards the bed.

 

"I've never understood these kind of novels... I don't get the appeal personally." she said, idly turning another page.

 

Patsy's eyebrows raised. "I wonder why..." she chuckled.

 

Delia smiled as the mattress dipped and Patsy took a seat.

 

"I wonder if anyone's ever written a book that we'd enjoy." she questioned out loud, discarding the vibrant pink cover to the floor.

 

"Even if they had, I'm not sure where we'd find one." Patsy's eyes followed the book's journey to the ground.

 

They sat in companionable silence for a few minutes before Patsy finally spoke again.

 

"I owe you an apology."

 

Delia sighed and reached for the redhead's hand. She squeezed back.

 

"We can't keep doing this Pats, arguing then making up. What happens when we live together? There'll be nowhere we can hide and stew!" Delia said in mock outrage.

 

Patsy laughed.

 

"I'm worried about you." Delia's voice was soft, calming.

 

The laugh faded from the taller woman's face, her muscles visibly tensed.

 

"I'm fine."

 

"No you're not." Delia stood her ground. "Last night- "

 

"It was a one off." Patsy's jaw was set firm, her eyes fixed on a point the other side of the room.

 

Delia sighed. This was going nowhere.

 

"So I hear Sister Julienne wants to see you later?" she nudged the smaller woman.

 

The conversation was over then. Delia battled for a moment, part of her wanting to bring it back up, to open everything up, unlock their feelings and figure everything out. But that required cooperation from both parties, something that clearly was not going to happen in this particular moment.

 

"Yes, I may have applied for a job."

 

"That's fantastic Deels!" Patsy threw her arms round the smaller woman, drawing her into a warm embrace.

 

Delia thawed for a moment, enjoying the sensation of being held by her girlfriend. She returned the hug, pouring as much love as she could into it. Patsy pulled back a fraction and captured Delia's lips in a long, lingering kiss.

 

"I'm so proud of you. Delia Busby. Midwife of Nonnatus House."

 

Delia blushed. "Well, not quite yet, I'm to be on district rounds for a little while, then clinic and finally maternity cases, but only accompanied by someone more senior."

 

Patsy wiggled her eyebrows suggestively.

 

"Pats!" she couldn't help but crack a grin.

 

Patsy winced. "Maybe you're right. I don't want to be distracted from my work. And you Nurse Busby..." she kissed her nose lightly. "... are a prime example of a first class distraction."

 

"Cheek."

 

They dissolved into giggles, the air noticeably lighter than it had been in days.

 

Delia settled her head in the nook between Patsy's head and shoulder, Patsy lopped an arm round her back and they sat together, enjoying the proximity for a moment. Delia always marvelled at how well they just fit together. She idly drew light patterns on Patsy's stomach with her free hand. A monumental rumble interrupted her movements.

 

Patsy pursed her lips, her eyes narrowing.

 

"Looks like someone needs some lunch."

 

"Can't we just stay here a while longer?"

 

Delia shifted to look into the deep blue eyes.

 

"We could. But there's a lemon sponge in the kitchen that might not be around for much longer - I fear it may have disappeared entirely if we wait around."

 

"You have me convinced."

 

Patsy bounded up, a spring in her step as she walked towards the door.

 

"Better move those legs Busby, cake won't eat itself."

 

"I'm not so sure about that." Delia shot back.

 

Patsy laughed, her joy echoing down the corridor as she left the room.

 

Delia smiled but it felt hollow somehow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text



 

 

Working at Nonnatus House was a very different experience to being in a busy hospital. A fact Delia had to come to terms with rather quickly in the coming weeks. Not only the pace changed but the company became (in her opinion) much more enjoyable. The only downside she could find was after a  couple of weeks on district rounds, everything had slowed to a snail’s pace. On the flip-side, the midwifery side of Nonnatus was struggling immensely, due to the staffing shortage and terrible weather that continued to plague Poplar and Greater London.

 

As such, Sister Julienne informed them over dinner one evening that Nonnatus House would be taking on a new midwife. Nurse Anderson was set to arrive imminently. Delia felt a little perturbed that she wasn't getting the opportunity to assist the strain on the midwives but the change in situation did seem to soften Sister Julienne somewhat. The Sister had agreed Delia could begin shadowing in clinic the following day and that had put pep into the smaller woman's step.

 

Delia skipped up the stairs, taking them two at a time following the good news. She headed for the room she and Patsy had now been sharing for over a month. It was exciting to say the least, the prospect of finally getting stuck into the business end of things, so to speak.

 

That night she could barely sleep from excitement. Patsy appeared to be out like a light, but Delia tossed and turned, running over various scenarios in her head. Occasionally she stole a glance over to the sleeping form of the redhead. It would be the first time the two of them would have worked alongside since male surgical and she would be lying if she said half the excitement was caused by that thought alone.

 

She had always enjoyed watching Patsy work. There was a beauty to the elegant woman's actions, her methodical approach, unwavering determination but also unmatched compassion. Watching Patsy in her element made Delia's tummy do flips. She smiled to herself as she recalled an incident on male surgical all those years ago when the two of them had just started courting.



~



"Nurse Busby, Mr Lester in bed four is in need of a bed bath, can you see to it please?"

 

Matron's voice echoed crisply off the white polished tiles. The dutiful nurse in question scrambled to attention. She'd been caught off guard.

 

Today just happened to be a Wednesday. And a Wednesday meant that she was sharing her shift with her best friend, Patience Mount. Patience was a fantastic nurse, highly skilled and competent and Delia would often find herself mesmerised watching the taller woman work.

 

It was the little things, the way she payed extra attention to a chart, the way she scrubbed her nails with disinfectant, making sure she covered every square inch. The sound her heels made, clipped and efficient, just like her bedside manner. Yet Delia knew the cold front was exactly that, a front. She knew the warmth that was behind the cool façade. Knowing that and feeling herself falling madly in love with the woman made Wednesdays particularly difficult to navigate.

 

Exquisite torture.

 

She tried to ignore the moment earlier that morning when they'd crossed paths in the storage cupboard, Patsy reaching to restock a box of gauze. The way her bright pink uniform stretched, hugging her figure even more than it normally did. The brief brush of her hips against Delia's in the confined space. Delia was ever grateful she wasn't a patient around Patience. Her elevated heart-rate would surely be a huge cause for concern.

 

Blissful. Agony.

 

"Busby!"

 

Tearing herself away from her daydream Delia double timed it to the sluice, picking up the necessary supplies for a hot bed bath and proceeded to draw the curtains around Mr Lester's bed.

 

"Good Afternoon!" she sung, happily.

 

"Is it?" he grumbled.

 

She beamed at him. Not even a grumpy old man was going to dampen her spirits today, not on a Wednesday.

 

"I've got your bed bath all ready to go."

 

The man looked at her incredulously. "Do I have to?"

 

"I'm afraid it's doctor's orders." Delia said brightly. "Now, would you like some help removing your gown?"

 

Following a violent shake of the patient's head, Delia stood back outside the curtain, allowing her patient some privacy for de-robing.

 

At this exact moment, the tell tale tap tap of Patience Mount's footwear entered her ears. Delia gulped and tried to keep her focus.

 

"Let me know when you're done Mr Lester"

 

"Eh!?" came a shout.

 

"I said, let me know when you're done!" Delia almost shouted.

 

A silence followed. Delia took the opportunity to scan the poster on the wall opposite; A magnificent drawing of the male genitalia. Something she had little to no interest in, whatsoever.

 

Unfortunately, someone caught he staring.

 

"See something you like?" Patsy whispered as she passed.

 

Delia turned a rather unsavoury shade of beetroot red.

 

"Ready, Nurse." came a call from behind the curtain.

 

She rounded, relieved to have a reason to return to her patient.

 

That was until she saw the sight in front of her.

 

Later they would laugh about it. Redhead and brunette, happily sloshed with a bottle of Patsy's finest brandy, late night on a rickety nursing home bed. As it happened Mr Lester in bed four was indeed in need of a bed bath. However Mr Miller in bed five was currently awaiting a procedure to remove a bedpan from a rather awkward part of his anatomy. The poor fellow had been as confused as Delia had been until she actually noticed her mistake and informed him he could re-gown himself and there was no need for a bed bath considering he'd just arrived in hospital earlier that morning.

 

There was some things that Delia would never forget. And Patsy being responsible for her distraction during the ‘depan bedpan incident of 1958’ was one of them.





~



Clinic had been moved from the local community center to a much larger space. Something that the Nonnantuns were very relieved by. It meant a lot more time could be spent assessing each individual mother's needs as well as allowing for any of their older offspring to attend a nursery set aside at the back of the hall.

 

Delia's job was to be shadowing Trixie. Equal parts dismayed but also accepting she agreed. It was probably for the best anyway.

 

The first few patients went by without a hitch. Delia enjoyed watching the process of examination, note taking and care planning. Antenatal care, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy was not a common sight at the London, neither was continuation of care under the same nurse. To see many women comfortable with Nurse Franklin, some greeting her like a long lost friend, was a lovely change.

 

Trixie waved goodbye to Mrs Porter as she, her large bump and four other small children left the building.

 

"I remember delivering her other two." Trixie smiled fondly. "She's a trooper is Janette. Hopefully I'm on call when the latest little one gets their dancing shoes on." she giggled.

 

Delia smiled, only half listening. Her attention being drawn briefly by some long legs in a fetching powder blue dress with matching starch white apron.

 

She was shaken back to reality when trixie pressed a file into her hands.

 

"I think you've heard quite enough of me talking for today, why don't you take the next one?"

 

"Oh." stuttered Delia in surprise. "I'm - Sister Julienne said I was only to observe..."

 

"Nonsense. You learn in this job by doing. And besides, I'll be with you every step of the way. If you need any help, sweetie, just say." the blonde smiled kindly.

 

Delia nodded in thanks, her heart suddenly beating fast. She was about to assess her very first patient!




The woman who lay before did not look pregnant. She was small, slightly stocky and had piercingly green eyes. Her dark brown hair was drawn up into a tidy beehive, spectacles resting on the bridge of her nose.

 

"Hello, Mrs... Robinson." Delia checked the paper in front of her.

 

"Please, call me Gwen." came a soft Welsh lilt in reply.

 

Delia's eyes shot up immediately.

 

"Just moved here from Cardiff, the husband and I. He prefers living near his family, especially with a babby on the way." she smiled, her hand stroking a non-existent bump. "Do I detect a Welsh tone with you my dear?"

 

"Yes. I mean, I'm from Pembrokeshire, Tenby." Delia replied with a warm smile.

 

Trixie looked between both women. "Well in that case, I'll leave you two kindred spirits to it, give me a shout if you need any help Nurse Busby." she turned to Gwen and winked "Go easy on her, it's her first day!"

 

Delia opened her mouth to complain but Trixie was gone in a flash on blonde and a cloud of Chanel no 5.

 

Pursing her lips she gathered a new chart and pulled up a chair to sit beside her patient.

 

"So, you've registered with your local GP, Dr Turner. How many weeks since your last period?"

 

"It's been just over 3 months, nurse."

 

"I see, and is this your first pregnancy?"

 

"Yes. We only got married in December, me and Larry."

 

"Congratulations!" Delia beamed. "And what's your maiden name?"

 

"Thomas."

 

Delia continued making her way through her questions, diligently taking notes and listening carefully. She quickly learned Mrs Robinson was quite the character, bubbly and kind but underneath her jolly exterior there was an unspoken nervousness about the woman. Ever astute, Delia picked up on this small nuance.

 

"Is there anything you're worried about Mrs Robinson?" she asked kindly.

"Please, call me Gwen. And I'm not sure. It's all rather new this whole thing." She gestured to her stomach.

"It's quite normal to be nervous during your first pregnancy but don't worry, we'll be with you every step of the way. You'll have regular visits from a midwife who'll keep a close eye on you and baby from now on."

"Will it be you?"

Delia paused. She honestly didn't know. But the woman seemed ever so nervous.

"I'll try my best and see what I can do." she winked.

"Knock knock" called Trixie from behind the curtain.

 

Delia pulled it back and allowed her companion to re-enter the small space.

 

"I do hope everything's been going alright."

 

"Very much so, Nurse Busby has been wonderful." said Mrs Robinson sincerely.

 

"High praise indeed!" said Trixie. "I'll be out of a job before Easter!"

 

Delia beamed.

 

"Now then Mrs Robinson, we need to conduct a physical examination now so if you could remove your undergarments, pull up your dress and hop up onto the bed for me." Trixie turned to Delia "Could you fetch me a pair of sterile gloves please."

 

Delia nodded and headed for the supply closet.

 

Halfway across the room she heard a sudden crash. Turning on her heel abruptly she saw the cause of the sound. Patsy was standing over broken glass of several empty urine testing kits.

 

Quickly, Delia was at her side.

 

"Patsy, are you alright?"

 

The redhead's hands were shaking.

 

"Quite alright, Thank you Nurse Busby."

 

"I'll get you a towel." Delia squeezed her arm and Patsy flinched away.

 

Several towels and a dustpan and brush later, most of the glass had been removed from the floor. Sister Winifred insisted on cornering off the area just in case and Patsy was supporting a rather deep gash on her left hand.

 

"Here, put pressure on it." Delia held out some gauze and Patsy took it gladly, holding it over her throbbing hand.

 

"Perhaps you should take a break Nurse Mount, I'm sure Nurse Busby can assist you with your hand." suggest Phyllis.

 

"I'm fine." said Patsy defiantly, attempting to stand but wobbling slightly.

 

"No you're not lass, come on, you're no use to us with legs made of jelly."



Delia steered Patsy towards an empty bed and busied herself trying to find a wound suture kit in the first aid box.

 

She returned to Patsy, who was no laid on an examination bed, her skin pale, almost matching the tone of the sheets she lay on. Pulling the curtain shut behind her, Delia lay the suture kit down and took the redhead's uninjured hand.

 

"What happened?" she asked gently.

 

"Nothing, I just dropped the bottles."

 

"Pats..." Delia said warningly.

 

"Fine. I felt a little dizzy, I haven't been drinking enough water today." she spat.

 

Delia took the injured hand gently and removed the towel. A scab had begun to form but some blood was still seeping into the cloth.

 

"This is quite deep. I'm going to clean it, make sure there's not fragments in it and then give you some stitches."

 

Patsy nodded, averting her gaze from Delia's.

 

As gently as she could, Delia began to clean the cut. The alcohol stung and Patsy hissed in pain.

 

"Sorry." Delia apologised."Nearly done."

 

She stole a glance at the redhead's face. It was the closest they'd been in days and Delia could make out dark circles under Patsy's eyes, a clear indicator that she'd not been sleeping.

 

"I was thinking about the Bedpan incident last night..." she tried to change tac. Maybe lightening the mood would help.

 

Patsy's eyes flickered and met their blue twins, mischief sparkling within their depths. It did the trick.

 

“The one of 1958?”

 

“Yes.”

 

"Oh?" she said playfully. "Which part?"

 

Delia blushed.

 

"Ah. That part."

 

"I still blame you. you know that don't you."

 

Patsy batted her eyelids. "Innocent until proven guilty, Deels. Ow!"

 

Delia finished stitching in one fluid motion.

 

"Hurts less when you're distracted." she smiled, dimples in full force.

 

"I'll say." murmured Patsy, examining her newly sutured hand.

 

"Hang on, let me put a dressing and bandage on it, don't want you ruining my lovely needlework!"

 

Patsy dutifully held out her hand for Delia to finish.

 

"Delia..." came a small voice.

 

Wrapping the bandage tightly, but not too tight, Delia looked up into sparkling blue.

 

Patsy was staring at a spot on the curtains.

 

"I'm... I'm sorry. I owe you an apology, for how I've been the past few weeks."

 

Delia sighed, finished securing the bandage and planted a light kiss on Patsy's injured hand before laying it on her lap.

 

"I'm just worried about you, Cariad."

 

"I know. And I've been utterly ghastly towards you." she reached out and took Delia's hand in her good one, linking their fingers together.

 

"I want to make it up to you."

 

Delia sighed. And squeezed the offered hand tighter.

 

"Why don't we go to the cinema this weekend? Just the two of us."

 

Delia's eyebrows shot up. "I'm listening..."

 

"I know you've been dying to see "Girls, Girls Girls!" after reading about it in Trixie's Women's Weekly."

 

"Well, she's right, Elvis looks rather dishy on the poster..."

 

This earned her a playful slap followed by a sharp wince as Patsy tested the integrity of Delia's stitches prematurely.

 

"Then it's a date?"



Chapter Text

 

 

 

Her left hand stung as she scrubbed the barely healed cut with antiseptic. There was nothing worse than an infected wound, that's what she was always telling patients. So what good a nurse would she be if she didn't follow her own strict protocols?

 

Now both hands were clean, and an equal shade of freshly scrubbed red, she pulled on the marigolds and got to work. The kitchen was barely filthy - her constant attention to it these past weeks had seen to that. But there was always dirt to be cleaned. Always dust to be cleared. Always grime embedded in the surfaces, just out of her reach, no matter how hard she scrubbed. It was always there, it never, ever went away.

 

So caught up in her own thoughts, Patsy jumped a mile when the clock struck 3. She'd been at this an hour but it felt like no time had passed. The bowl of murky water sloshed in the washing up tub as she shifted her weight from her heels and stretched her aching muscles. Closing her eyes she inhaled the bleach, trying to allow it to fill every fibre of her being, to clean her from the inside out.

 

She knew she should go back to bed. What with a 7am shift in a few hours, and already running on little to no sleep, it really wasn't an option to stay up. But it would just be the same as it had been the past few nights. Tossing and turning, unable to stop the scrambled thoughts inside her head. For a while she'd considered asking Dr Turner for a sedative. But that would have raised questions. Questions she was not ready to answer. Questions she barely knew the answer to herself come to that.

 

Emptying the muck water down the sink, Patsy cleaned out the washing up bowl and set it aside to air dry. She peeled off her marigolds and laid them to rest until the next sleepless night came calling, and made her way silently towards the door. Trixie was on telephone duty that night and she knew the right squeaky floorboards to avoid that would catch the blonde's attention.

 

Padding quietly down the corridor she glimpsed the silhouette of the blonde, hunched over the on call desk, lit only by a small desk lamp. She paused a second - Trixie was never hunched. She was always too afraid of the side effects of bad posture for that. Curiosity peaked, Patsy moved forwards slightly. What she saw next made her blood run cold.

 

Trixie took a shaking, pale hand from under the desk. Clasped in her bony fingers was a small bottle. She brought it to her lips, took a swig before depositing it under the table again.

 

"Oh Trixie." breathed Patsy to herself.

 

Before she could react however, the telephone sprang into life, causing both Trixie and her silent watcher to jolt in surprise.

 

"Nonnatus House, Midwife speaking." she answered crisply and clearly.

 

Patsy was torn. If Trixie had been drinking, she was in no fit state to be on call. She stood in the darkness of the hallway weighing up the dilemma that stood in front of her. She simply couldn't allow Trixie to attend a mother giving birth when she'd consumed alcohol. She felt a pain tighten in her chest. Trixie was drinking and her best friend hadn't noticed. What had she been doing these past few weeks? Every time they'd talked the blonde seemed perfectly content - either gushing about the latest mascara fashion secrets or her most recent date with Christopher the dashing dentist. Trixie was clearly adept at putting on a façade to rival that of the redheads.

 

Trixie had replaced the telephone to its holder and had made no attempt to move from the desk. False alarm. Patsy breathed out a shaky sigh. She had to say something.

 

"Trix?" she called out softly.

 

Trixie spun around. "Oh it's you!"

 

Patsy smiled awkwardly. "I'm sorry old thing, was just getting a glass of water and heard the telephone go."

 

"Oh." Trixie visibly relaxed a little but was still rigid, her body language guarded. "Yes, that was Mrs Forsyth on Wick street, Braxton Hicks by the sounds of it, she's ever so jumpy, must be first timer's nerves."

 

Patsy smiled and sidled over towards the desk. She reached into her pyjama pocket and pulled out a packet of cigarettes before offering one to Trixie.

 

"You're full of surprises aren't you!" she giggled before taking one.

 

"I suppose it comes from being an Akela. Always be prepared." Patsy smiled warmly.

 

Trixie took a long drag before releasing the smoke out with a shaky sigh. "Thank you. Gosh, I didn't realise how much I needed that."

 

Patsy bit her lower lip.

 

"You know Trix, if you need to talk to anyone..."

 

Trixie let out a rather hysterical laugh.

 

Patsy tried to not look too alarmed at the outburst. "I just mean..."

 

"- I know." Trixie said glumly. Her eyes glazing over as she took another drag.

 

The two sat in silence for a while, smoking their cigarettes down to the butts. Eventually trixie extinguished hers and took a deep breath as if deciding something.

 

"It's Christopher."

 

Patsy quirked an eyebrow.

 

"We've... I mean, I've decided... We're taking a break. Possibly for a long time. Forever maybe."

 

"Oh Trixie, I'm sorry." Patsy put a hand on the blonde's shoulder.

 

"No, no, it's fine, it's for the best. His daughter needs her mother, not me, it's clear she's been distressed and... and I had to do the right thing." her voice caught and she turned to face the redhead. "It was the right thing." she repeated, as if trying to convince herself.

 

Patsy nodded.

 

Trixie smiled. A plastered on smile that would have fooled nobody. She turned back to the desk. "It's for the best. And besides, I can cope just fine without him." her voice was unusually high.

 

"Trixie, it's okay to be upset. You two were very close." Patsy began carefully.

 

Trixie was flicking through her notes now, no longer paying the redhead any attention.

 

"I'm just saying, if you wanted to take some time off, I'm sure nobody would mi-"

 

Trixie let out another hysterical laugh at that. "Oh Patsy, how can I take your advice when you barely head it yourself."

 

"What do you mean?"

 

Trixie closed her file and turned again to face Patsy.

 

"I know why you're down here. I know you come here every night to clean when you can't sleep. I'm not a fool so please don't act like I am one."

 

Patsy's eyes widened, a deer caught in the headlamps of an oncoming car.

 

"I saw the bottle." She instantly regretted it.

 

Trixie held her gaze, her eyes unwavering. "I don't know what you mean."

 

"Please, Trix, don't do this."

 

"Everything is fine Patsy, I don't know what you're talking about." she shot back.

 

"Let me help..." she tried to put her hand on the blonde's arm but she snatched it away as if it had been burned.

 

"No!" she spat."And unless you want Delia to know about your little outings every night I suggest you go back to bed."

 

Patsy reeled. She was well and truly cornered. Her eyes narrowed as the cogs in her brain processed what she'd just heard. Deciding to cut her losses and run she turned and headed upstairs, her heart hammering loudly in her ears.

 

Did Trixie know? Did she suspect? Why had she singled out Delia? Had it been a thinly veiled thread regarding the real secret between the two of them? No, Trixie would never... Patsy gulped and locked herself in the bathroom.

 

She sat, her head spinning, feeling dizzy, a pain pounding in her head. Trixie had never said anything before about knowing the true meaning of their relationship. Delia had suspicions that Trixie knew but didn't want to say anything to upset the status quo. The heels of Patsy's hands kneaded her closed eyes, making her see colours behind her eyelids. She should have just kept walking, ignored her and gone back to bed. But she had just been worried - she'd just been a concerned friend wanting to help and had gotten her head bitten off for it. And now possibly put her relationship and job at risk. Bile rose in her throat at the thought and she collapsed forwards onto her knees, barely making the bowl in time as she vomited.

 

Wiping away her mouth she flushed and attempted to calm her breathing. It was proving very difficult, her breaths were short and sharp, flooding her system with more oxygen than it needed, causing her to become light headed. Her heart was thudding faster and faster and the tips of her fingers and toes began to tingle with pins and needles. A black void was sucking her in, a black void with Trixie shouting, Delia shouting, Sister Julienne proclaiming everything was a sin, an abomination, she was destitute, living on the streets, in a back alley, coughing, fever, dying...

 

A sharp rap on the door lifted the haze for a moment, enough for her to fumble the lock open with dead fingers. Two shapes collided into the room, one going straight to her side the other squatting in front of her.

 

"It's all right Patsy, we're here." came an east end accent, but it seemed miles away.

 

Warm arms wrapped around her waist and held her gently.

 

"You've got to slow down your breathing, you're having a panic attack."

 

"Breath with me Pats." came a smaller, Welsh lilt.

 

The arms around her tightened and then released as their owner took deep breaths. Patsy tried desperately to focus on their rhythm and match it with her own lungs.

 

"That's it cariad."

 

"You're doing great. Keep breathing slowly."

 

"In for five, out for five Pats."

 

She began to regain feeling in her fingers and toes.

 

"One, two, three, four, five... Out, two, three, four, five."

 

The room came swimming back into focus, along with the concerned face of Valerie Dyer. "Count with us." she said softly.

 

Patsy tried to speak but she couldn't.

 

She became aware of a warmth pressed against her back, strong arms still wrapped around her shaking body. Breath fluttered in her ear.

 

"One, two, three, four, five..."

 

She felt her feet on the ground. She was in the bathroom, what was she doing here? She'd came here after - oh. Her breath began to speed up again but the strong arms holding her resisted.

 

"No, no Patsy, you're doing really well, keep going. In, two, three, four, five..."

 

Eventually everyone in the small room was breathing in sync. Patsy's eyes had closed, the bathroom light burned and made her head throb unpleasantly. When she finally opened them, Valerie had disappeared, yet the warm arms around her remained.

 

"Delia..."

 

"Shh... I'm here. Let's get you back to bed. It's getting cold in here."

 

Patsy nodded numbly, allowing herself to ease forward, freeing the Welshwoman.

 

"Stand up slowly, I don't want you fainting."

 

She followed the instructions and allowed herself to bed led back to their shared room. Delia closing the door gently behind them and easing Patsy onto her bed.

 

"I'm going to get you an extra blanket, would you like a glass of water?"

 

Patsy nodded, suddenly aware of how dry her throat was. Delia seemed reluctant to leave the room but darted to the bathroom quickly to fill a glass.

 

She settled next to the redhead, her hand making small comforting circles on her back as Patsy sipped the water.

 

Patsy waited. Waited for the questions that were going to follow. She was tired, ironically all she wanted to do was sleep. She was not in the mood for an interrogation. But the question when it came, was not what she expected.

 

"Do you want me to stay with you?"

 

Patsy looked up at the brunette sat patiently next to her. Her lip wobbled as she nodded her head slowly.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Delia had always thought of Sister Winifred as slightly annoying, but knew her heart was mostly in the right place. Even if their unspoken views and beliefs clashed somewhat. She had even agreed to help the sister learn to drive with the assistance of furniture and cushions to form a makeshift car. It was for that reason she assumed the young nun was now so keen on getting... involved.

 

"I would say it's just like riding a bike... But I feel that's not appropriate given the current situation."

 

Delia tried not to listen.

 

She had been worried about this moment ever since she'd got the job at Nonnatus. It was inevitable at some point that Phyllis would stop giving her lifts and she'd have to travel to see her patients via bicycle. She hadn't touched one since the accident and the thought of cycling was bringing up some very unpleasant thoughts. Not that she could remember much of the accident itself, it was more the concept of being at the mercy of the very object that nearly took her life.

 

Patsy didn't know. Patsy didn't need to know. Delia had decided not to worry the woman since the redhead's tribulations far outweighed her own. But clearly sweeping it all under the metaphorical carpet had done little to convince Sister Winifred that she was at ease.

 

"I can always ask Fred if he's got those spare stabilisers he made for Timothy."

 

Delia shook her head vehemently "No!"

 

The nun blinked in surprise at the loud reaction.

 

"Sorry, I think you're right, I just need to do it, not keep thinking about it."

 

The first few meters were rather shaky, but before long Delia was cycling round the square quite contentedly, the breeze whipping her face and making her feel thoroughly refreshed.

 

"Well done!" Sister Winifred cheered her on enthusiastically.

 

Delia screeched her breaks and rounded the corner, a wide grin on her face.

 

"I did it! I can do it!" she exclaimed excitedly, gathering speed.

 

The adrenaline pumped though her veins, a pleasant feeling of accomplishment at managing to tackle her fear. For a brief moment she felt invincible. Then her front tyre hit a loose rock. A jolt ran through her bike and through her body. An invisible tug on her stomach - that feeling in her gut when you're moments from falling.

 

 

 

 

She gasped and opened her eyes wide before slamming them shut, a blinding pain shooting through her head.

 

It had been a long time since she'd had a dream like that. She shook her head trying to rid the vivid images from her mind as her forehead throbbed angrily.

 

The dream wasn't real but the pain was. Her nerve endings still alight with adrenaline she sat up, shivering slightly in the cool air. The snow outside had finally stopped but the chill in the air still remained despite it being nearly spring. Raising a shaking hand she shielded her eyes and opened them a small amount.

 

Daylight streamed in along with another stab of pain. She cut her losses and succumbed to the welcoming darkness again, head sinking back into the pillow. Patsy wasn't there, she was just coming off a night shift. It was probably for the best. The heels of Delia's hands kneaded into her temples, trying to ease the aching. Headaches had been a regular part of her life after the accident and something she had come to accept in the years since. They were normally not too bad, a niggling pain when she was tired or stressed and the occasional migraine if both her mind and body were under a lot of strain.

 

It was easy for others around her to forget the accident had ever occurred - the visible damage being almost non-existent apart from a light scar on her scalp near her hairline. Even that was hidden by her fringe most days. As such they treated her as they had before, wanting to keep her assured she was better, normal again. Delia was glad. And in most if not all ways she did feel normal again. She'd regained all of her memories in record time, a feat even the doctors had called nothing short of a miracle. They had warned her of the potential of lingering headaches but it had seemed a small price to pay - especially for a miracle. And they never interfered to the point where they stopped her doing her job. So she never mentioned them. On the rare occasions she had migraines they almost always coincided with her monthlies anyway so she had an excuse to stay bed bound in the dark for the day.

 

As if to solidify that fact, a new pain began to surface in her lower abdomen.

 

Great.

 

There were home visits this morning, a double shift at clinic in the afternoon and they were short staffed. She would just have to pop a couple of aspirin and make do.

 

With a groan she managed to sit upright and fully open her eyes. She felt hungover. This is why she didn't drink much any more. Her younger body could have handled a few drinks and a night out on the town with little to no repercussions the next day but not now. Just the odd tipple with Patsy sufficed nowadays. Alcohol wasn't the cause of her symptoms though. It was the sleepless nights that had started to get to her. And she'd be lying if she said the headaches hadn't increased recently.

 

After the first few times she'd lost count of Patsy's nightmares. Being jolted suddenly awake, having to be there to assist the distressed woman and then trying to get back to sleep again after was taking its toll on her body. Both women were struggling but Patsy's stubbornness and refusal of help meant they were stuck in a catch 22. Despite Phyllis's warning to look after herself she found it nearly impossible sometimes. The stress must have been showing too because, more than once, Val had offered her support with some tasks. Patsy was so much more adept and skilled at hiding her stress from others than the brunette. She had of course had many years of practise to perfect the art. Delia meanwhile was struggling.

 

 

~

 

 

Four insulin patients and two haemorrhoid compressions later, Delia wished she'd stayed in bed. Her NHS issue navy elastic belt was digging painfully into her lower back. The aspirin had only made a small dent in the pain in her head and uterus. Nevertheless, the exercise seemed to be helping a little and the worst of the morning was now done. Last on her list before lunch was her (fast becoming favourite) mother-to-be, Mrs Robinson, or Gwen as she insisted being called.

 

Delia placed the cold metal pinard against her ear and listened carefully. The small thrum of a heartbeat made her mouth twitch into a dimpled smile.

 

"Baby's in fine fettle it seems." she glanced up towards the mother.

 

Gwen let out a visible sigh of relief at the good news. "Thank the lord, I was beginning to worry."

 

"Why would you be worried?"

 

"Oh no reason, nurse, it's probably first timers nerves. I just want the little fellow, or lass, to be well is all."

 

Delia narrowed her eyes. The woman in front of her seemed very jittery. "I think I'll just take your blood pressure if that's okay."

 

She fastened the cuff around Gwen's upper arm.

 

"And how have you been keeping my dear?" Gwen asked, eyeing Delia's dark circled eyes.

 

"Oh, I've been alright, it's been rather busy recently, what with our staff shortages and everything. Thankfully we have a new midwife, Nurse Anderson who has been helping us with the strain."

 

"Oh yes, I heard about her - really awful what she had to go through with that hairdresser and her daughter." Gwen sighed sadly. "It's hard enough trying to fit in without everyone else berating you for something outside your control."

 

Delia nodded. She didn't like discussing gossip with patients but Gwen's heart was in the right place.

 

She frowned at the BP results. 142/98. Way too high.

 

"Your blood pressure is a little high Gwen, has everything been all right recently, anything you're stressed about?"

 

Gwen shook her head but Delia noted her right leg was shaking.

 

"It's okay to be anxious." Delia smiled kindly, laying a hand on the jittering leg. "In fact I'd be concerned if you weren't."

 

"I'm sorry, it's just I get the jitters sometimes." Gwen avoided Delia's gaze.

 

"Well, a high blood pressure isn't the best for baby, so if there's anything I can do to help, you must tell me."

 

Gwen worried at her bottom lip.

 

Just then the door to the small flat opened and a tall, lanky man with a strong jaw and mop of bright blond hair appeared.

 

"Gwen?" he looked panicked. "Is everything alright?"

 

"Everything's fine, this is Nurse Busby, she's just here to check on the baby." Gwen indicated to Delia. "And this is my husband, Larry."

 

"Nice to meet you Mr Robinson."

 

"Pleasure's mine, miss. Would you like a cuppa?" asked Larry.

 

Delia pondered for a moment. She really needed to be going, clinic started soon but the prospect of a few more minutes in the warm and a hot cup of tea was too much to pass up. And besides, she wanted to get to the bottom of what was causing Gwen's anxiety.

 

"Yes please, that would be lovely."

 

Larry grinned. "Milk and sugar?"

 

"Lots of milk please, no sugar."

 

"Ha! Just like you Gwen. Grew up on a dairy farm this one, been hard enough to get her to cut down on the milk since we moved here. There aren't that many cows in London. Should've seen her when the milk was rationed at Christmas."

 

"Now that's not fair. I like my milk, besides, it's good for baby. Nurse Busby has very good taste." she winked.

 

Delia grinned at the playful banter between the couple. "Well I didn't grow up on a farm but I do appreciate a milky brew."

 

"Right ho, half milk half tea coming up... and the same for the 'udder' one" he nodded towards his wife.

 

Gwen smiled fondly at Larry's retreating form."Bless him. I've never known a nicer man nurse, not ever."

 

"You're very lucky Mrs Robinson, he's a lovely chap." Delia packed away the blood pressure cuff and settled herself down on the sofa.

 

"What about you, got anyone special?"

 

Delia blushed. Gwen's expression was so kind, so open, she couldn't bring herself to lie. "I do, yes."

 

"Ah that's nice, I hope they're kind to you."

 

Delia nodded. "Yes, they're perfect."

 

There was a knowing twinkle in Gwen's eyes. Delia cleared her throat and attempted to change the subject.

 

"So you grew up in Wales... What made you two move to London?"

 

Gwen's cheerful expression faltered for the briefest moment but Delia spotted it.

 

"Fancied a change of scene didn't we Larry?"

 

Larry had reappeared with the tea and a rather stony expression on his face. "Yes, something like that" he mumbled.

 

"Larry's got a job at the local garage doing repairs and all sorts, he had a friend who worked there who put a good word in for him." Gwen said proudly.

 

Larry passed Delia a steaming cup of milky tea. She took a small sip and instantly felt better as the liquid heated her from the inside out.

 

"Oh thank you Mr Robinson, this is wonderful."

 

"Knows how to change oil and make a cuppa. Can't wish for more can you?" Gwen grinned.

 

 

After her second cup of tea Delia decided it was time to make tracks. Phyllis was running clinic today and she didn't fancy being late. She thanked the Robinson's for their hospitality and left their small flat, beginning the long walk to the Iris Knight Institute.

 

There was something amiss about the Robinson family that she couldn't quite place. Everything seemed almost too cheery. She was beginning to wonder if she should've taken some of Gwen's blood for testing (that high blood pressure was a concern) when a pain shot up her lower back. Grunting, she adjusted her belt again. Confounded thing, completely unnecessary, it served no purpose than being cosmetically pleasing. She wished some days she could just wear trousers. Oh the comfort they would offer... Perhaps one day the NHS would issue more practical uniforms for their nurses, but for now she'd have to deal. At least the grey wool coat was standard issue. It felt like something out of the trenches but it was keeping her warm.

 

Eventually she stumbled through the doors to the clinic, looking rather windswept and straight into the path of Val.

 

"Sorry!" they both exclaimed in unison.

 

"Nurse Busby." Came Phyllis's stern voice from across the hall. "You're late and Mrs Annette has just vomited all over bed three, could you attend to it please."

 

Val gave her an apologetic smile. "I think she's on the war path today - got out of the wrong side of bed this morning if you ask me."

 

"Just when I thought my day couldn't get any better." Delia muttered.

 

Trying to ignore the niggling pain in her head and back she made her way towards the cupboard for the cleaning supplies. She wish she'd stayed in bed this morning.

Chapter Text

Delia didn't get a chance to sit down all afternoon. She was up to her elbows in urine testing kits, coupons and nappies. All in all a typical shift but it was clear there was more assistance needed. It was just her, Nurse Crane and Nurse Dyer and Mrs Turner at the front reception. Around 3pm, Phyllis informed everyone that Nurse Anderson was to be joining them later to help ease the workload and they could take a quick five minute break.

 

Valerie and Delia leant against the back door of the clinic, catching their breath together.

 

"I don't think I've ever had such a busy afternoon." Val mused.

 

"Same." Delia agreed. "And that's including male surgical."

 

Valerie winced. "Male surgical sounds like hell on earth to me... why did you ever go there in the first place?"

 

Delia shrugged. "It was offered. And mam told me to take the first offer in case there wasn't another. And besides, it wasn't all bad."

 

Valerie lit a cigarette. "Of course, you met Patsy!"

 

Delia fought the blush spreading in her cheeks. "That... and it gave me my fair share of hilarious embarrassing stories to take with me into the world."

 

"Do share!" said Valerie enthusiastically "I feel like we need some light relief after that."

 

"Did I ever tell you about the bedpan incident of 1959..."

 

 

~

 

 

All too soon Phyllis was calling them back inside.

 

"Looks like duty calls." Val stamped out her half burned cigarette and opened the door, waiting for Delia.

 

The two shared sympathetic glances before entering the building to rejoin the fray.

 

 

The pain in Delia's head was increasing. She had hoped by now it would be getting better but this morning's aspirin had worn off and the bright lights of clinic were certainly not helping matters. Excusing herself from Mrs Doyle and her large bump, she made her way to the bathroom.

 

The silence of the smallest room was very welcome and Delia sat on the stall, her hands over her eyes, trying to block out the thrumming. Perhaps she should just ask if she could go home, Lucille had arrived now and the throng of expectant mothers was beginning to clear.

 

Just as she made her way towards Phyllis the door to the clinic sprang open loudly, much to the alarm of several small children in the creche near the entrance.

 

"HELP! WE NEED HELP!" yelled a man, wide eyed and panicking.

 

On instinct all four nurses rushed forward to attend the man.

 

"What's going on young man?" Phyllis asked, already visually assessing him for injuries.

 

The man was gasping for breath, the air wheezing in and out of his lungs. It was clear he'd run quite a distance.

 

Satisfied he was uninjured Phyllis put her hands on his shoulders as he sank to the floor in exhaustion "Now then, take some deep breaths and tell me what's happened."

 

"NURSE! Nurse out here!" came some more shouting.

 

Delia and Val locked eyes and ran to the front door.

 

A man covered in motor oil was standing holding a young boy in his arms.

 

"We was test driving the motor and he ran out... I couldn't... he just...." he stuttered helplessly.

 

Delia rushed forward and took the boy in her strong arms. Quickly glancing to Valerie she took the lead.

 

"Call an ambulance. And see if Doctor turner is at the maternity home, it might be quicker to reach him."

 

Val nodded and hurried off.

 

Delia took the small unconscious bundle inside and deposited him gently on the nearest examination table. Phyllis was quickly by her side along with the man from earlier.

 

"His name is Andrew - this is his father, Gareth."

 

Delia nodded. "Andrew, can you hear me?" she asked softly.

 

Phyllis was already assessing the boy for injuries. He appeared to not have any open wounds but they both knew that didn't mean he wasn't in danger. Delia put an ear to his chest and listened.

 

"There's a pulse but he's having trouble breathing." she exclaimed.

 

Phyllis was by her side. "Go get some suction tubes from the supply room, there's probably something lodged in his throat."

 

Delia nodded and all but sprinted towards the room. Her heart was hammering loudly in her ears, the adrenaline pumping. The poor lad's lifeless face loomed in her mind, he was so pale. Her hands shook as she tried to locate the rubber tubes and glass bottles of the suction kit. Every label seemed to be scrambled and the words didn't want to register in her brain. Frustrated at her ineptitude she shook her head, trying to rid the brain fog that was descending but it just made a wave of dizziness wash over her.

 

"Nurse Busby!" came Nurse Crane's voice in urgency.

 

Finally she located the right box and sprinted back to the injured boy.

 

Phyllis tutted and took the box. "Not a moment too soon."

 

Delia cowered as Valerie rounded the curtain. "Doctor Turner is on his way." she looked at the lifeless form. "And so is the ambulance."

 

Phyllis nodded and took the tubing from inside the box. Knowing what was about to happen wasn't going to be pretty, Valerie piped up.

 

"It's too crowded in here, Nurse Anderson, stay with Nurse Crane, Nurse Busby take this young man's father outside and get him a cup of tea, I'll go and see to the man covered in Motor Oil and make sure he's not making a mess of the floor"

 

Bless Valerie Dyer and her ability to stay calm during a crisis.

 

"I'll do no such thing!" resisted the boy's father. "I ain't leaving him."

 

Delia put a gentle hand on his arm. "You're in shock, we need to look after you too. He'll be alright, Nurse Crane knows what she's doing." she helped manoeuvre the stunned man out, glancing back to see Phyllis inserting the rubber tube down the boy's throat.

 

Delia's hands were shaking again as she filled the kettle in the kitchenette. The fog from before was forming again and the pain in her head was reaching such a peak she felt like she was going to vomit. But through sheer willpower she forced the bile back down. She needed to make this cup of tea. Focus Busby, one small task at a time.

 

"It's well sugared." she offered the cup and saucer to the father, who was now pacing up and down outside the cubicle. "Mr..."

 

"Thomas." he grunted.

 

"Mr Thomas, you need to sit down."

 

She pulled up a chair and deposited the trembling man into it before handing him the tea.

 

"Drink up, it'll help."

 

He stared incredulously at the teacup. "You London folk seem to think tea fixes everything."

 

Delia's world swam again and she had to put her arm out to steady herself. Her peripheral vision was blurry and starting to go dark. She took a few deep breaths. Mr Thomas, so consumed in his own worries, didn't notice.

 

"I'm sorry, would you excuse me for a moment?"

 

Without waiting for a reply Delia darted to the bathroom. She barely made it in time before throwing up in the sink. She took a shuddering breath and turned on the taps, wiping her mouth and splashing her face with cold water.

 

For a moment there was no sound apart from the gush of water and the rush of blood in her head. She met the eyes of the woman in the mirror who stared back - dull blue framed with dark on a sea of pale white. Then a blinding hot pain shot through her head and the world went black.

 

 

~

 

 

 

Something was crawling on her face. She tried to swat it away but it wouldn't go. Her arms were heavy, like lead. Slowly muffled sounds began to appear, her brain taking a moment to process what they were saying. It seemed to be her name.

 

"Delia?"

 

Yes, that was her name, she was Delia.

 

"Delia can you hear me?"

 

Yes she could. She tried to open her mouth to respond but nothing came out. Okay, how about nodding her head?

 

Ouch. No. No, that was a bad idea.

 

Everything hurt. In particular her head. And she felt really sleepy. If only these voices would just leave her alone, she'd quite like a nap.

 

"Delia, wake up."

 

Someone was trying to spoil her fun it seemed. Reluctantly she tried to open her eyes.

 

As the light streamed in her other senses seemed to catch up. The muffled sounds became a bit clearer and she was aware of a soft pillow under her head.

 

She winced as a light shone in her eye.

 

The bright light was soon replaced by the grim face of Doctor Turner.

 

Delia blinked, her eyes watering slightly.

 

"Welcome back." came a new voice.

 

Delia looked to her right and came eye to eye with Valerie's stomach. Valerie herself followed and knelt down to the brunette's eye level.

 

The world was becoming much sharper now and Delia turned her head, testing its integrity. She still felt rather woozy and a little queasy.

 

"I'm sorry..." she said horsely "I think I'm going to be sick."

 

Pairs of hands instantly helped her to a sitting position while others provided her with a bowl. Once she'd finished she felt a lot better.

 

Valerie wiped her mouth with a damp cloth and adjusted the bed to a sitting position. Delia sank backwards into the pillow again. Then everything came flooding back. The accident, the man covered in motor oil, Mr Thomas, Andrew...

 

"Where's the boy?" she asked gasping "is he alive?"

 

"The ambulance took him a short time ago. He should be okay but they need to run some tests in case there's any internal damage." Doctor Turner smiled grimly.

 

Delia nodded and then wished she hadn't. Her eyes clamped shut again.

 

"Try not to move your head." Doctor Turner instructed. "Nurse Dyer could you get some water please?"

 

Valerie left, leaving Delia and the Doctor alone.

 

"I fainted?" Delia questioned a fact she already knew the answer to.

 

"Yes. And thankfully Nurse Dyer found you."

 

"Did I..." Delia gulped because she didn't really want to know the answer to this question.

 

"Have a seizure?" Doctor Turner finished her sentence. "I'm not sure. But we need to find out why this happened. Especially given your history."

 

"I'm okay. It was years ago, I haven't had a seizure in years." Delia said defensively.

 

"Maybe so, but fainting at work is never a good thing."

 

She couldn't argue with that. Thank goodness she hadn't been in the middle of the emergency when it had happened. She should have gone home - but things had happened, things had got in the way.

 

"Have you fainted before... recently I mean." Dr Turner asked gently.

 

"No." Delia scrambled with her mind, what was Patsy going to say? The poor woman didn't need more stress - maybe she didn't need to know about this. She could fix this, she just needed more sleep and some rest.

 

"Is there any chance you could be pregnant?"

 

Delia tried not to snort. "No. None whatsoever."

 

"I'm sorry, you know I have to ask these things." he replied sadly.

 

Delia gritted her teeth. His questioning wasn't going to end until he had a satisfactory answer so she might as well give him one.

 

"I've been feeling under the weather recently. Been getting a few headaches and not sleeping well. My monthlies just started and I've been on my feet all day, I skipped breakfast and lunch and then there was the incident earlier..."

 

Doctor Turner held up his hand. "It's alright Nurse Busby."

 

She blinked, expecting a rebuttal.

 

"If you're having trouble sleeping I can write you a prescription. Don't worry - " he added, noticing her alarmed look "nothing that will impede your work, just something that will help you get to sleep."

 

Delia relaxed visibly. Maybe it was a good idea. She wanted to be alert in case of any upset Patsy had during the night. But it wouldn't hurt to have it in case of a time when it was just her.

 

"I can also write you up something for the headaches. Have you been taking anything for them so far?"

 

Delia shook her head. "Only aspirin."

 

Doctor Turner frowned. "Well in that case, I'll send over a prescription as soon as I can. For now I recommend bed rest, fluids and some food. I'll drop the medication by Nonnatus this evening."

 

Delia smiled. "Thank you."

 

"Right. I'm off to the hospital to check on Andrew, the young lad."

 

"Could you let me know how he is?" Delia asked quickly.

 

"Of course."

 

Doctor Turner exited the room to be replaced by Valerie and a cup of water.

 

"Here you go." she offered the glass to the small nurse. "Drink up, then let's get you home."

 

Delia drank, not realising how thirsty she was until she was staring at the bottom of an empty glass.

 

Val reached for the water jug and refilled it.

 

"Look. I know it's not my place to pry..." she began.

 

Delia took a breath.

 

"... and I know that sentence is almost always followed by some sort of prying." she finished.

 

Delia began drinking her third glass of water.

 

"I'm worried about you." Valerie spoke softly.

 

Was it too bad to let someone in? Thought Delia. She'd said the exact same thing to Patsy more times than she could count, but nobody had ever said it to her. For once she had a rush of understanding as to how it felt to be on the receiving end of this comment. What do you even say to that? I'm fine. That's what you say. If you're Patsy.

 

"You've not been yourself recently and... well, I think I know why." Valerie interrupted her thoughts, looking around to make sure they were alone. "You're worried about Patsy."

 

Delia's eyes shot up in alarm.

 

"It's okay." Val sighed. "I know how much she means to you."

 

"I don't know what you mean." Delia lip quivered, the last line of defence cracking.

 

"Don't worry." Val held her hands up. "I'm not here to judge. I'm here to help."

 

Delia held her gaze steadily. Compassionate brown eyes stared back, open and without hidden agenda. She could trust those eyes. Couldn't she?

 

"I'm scared." whispered Delia, the words barely making it out in one comprehensive piece.

 

Val placed a warm hand on Delia's. "What are you scared of?"

 

What was she scared of? She'd never even admitted to herself she was scared until now. She was scared that Patsy would become lost in her own demons, that they would be discovered, that their relationship would end... That was the scariest part of all. She always thought they would stay together forever. But whatever this was, this wasn't a healthy thing for either of them.

 

"I'm scared for her." her voice now barely a whisper.

 

"That she won't get help?"

 

A small nod.

 

"Some people need time to realise they need help. Sometimes it takes someone else to suggest it, but often times they need to come to the decision on their own."

 

Delia's eyes welled with tears. "She's so stubborn."

 

"I know. But her stubbornness will be essential if she does decide to get help."

 

"If." Delia sniffed.

 

Val wrapped Delia into a tight hug. "Whatever happens, you need to make sure you're not destroying yourself. And this..." she indicated to Delia's position "is not good. For either of you."

 

Tears were falling thick and fast from Delia's eyes now as she cried silently into Val's shoulder. There was a certain feeling of helplessness she felt and it was tearing her apart from the inside out. How she wanted to help Patsy, to shoulder her pain, to bear it for her - that's what lovers did, didn't they? They shared each other's pain. Was she failing in her capacity as a lover because she was unable to help? No, Valerie was right, Patsy needed to come to terms with it in her own time, in her own way. The whole world could know Patsy needed help and she still wouldn't get it. Until she was ready.

 

Delia would have to live up to her girlfriend's namesake and be patient.

 

"How do I survive until she does decide?" she choked, the tears finally running dry.

 

Val sighed and held the smaller woman at arms length.

 

"You hold tight. You hold tight to that love you have and don't let it fade. Becuase she's going to need it, you're both going to need it later. Deciding you need help is a huge step, an important one, but it's not the end, it's the beginning. She's going to need you to be strong when it happens."

 

Val was right. And in her current state Delia was about as useful as a chocolate fireguard. She needed to figure out a way to make this work, to stop herself burning out but also be there for Patsy.

 

A task that seemed almost impossible, but was also essential.

 

"Are you going to tell her? About today." Val enquired softly.

 

"I don't know." Delia replied honestly. "I don't want to worry her more."

 

Val nodded. "But would you want to know? If she had fainted."

 

"Yes."

 

Val squeezed Delia's shoulder.

 

"Come on, lets get you back to Nonnatus, wrapped in a blanket and with a nice hot water bottle."

 

Delia grabbed Val's wrist as she made to leave.

 

"Thank you." she said sincerely.

 

"Any time. Really."

Chapter Text

Not being able to sleep after a nightshift was a lot easier than insomnia following a normal shift. It meant Patsy could busy herself with productive tasks rather than hiding from others by cleaning the kitchen.

 

After managing to grab a grand total of twenty minutes, she decided to help Sister Winifred make lunch instead. The afternoon she spent toasting her feet by the fire, reading. The dim light combined with stuffy warmth made her eyelids heavy and she drifted off.

 

The creak of the heavy door of Nonnatus House opening awoke her some time later. She groaned and stretched her aching neck. It wasn't the ideal sleeping position she'd fallen into but she had managed to sleep. Turning to look at the clock she found it to be past dinner time. That meant the noise must be Delia and the others coming back from clinic.

 

She jumped to her feet, eager to see Delia before bed. They'd scarcely managed time alone together in the past few weeks, shift patterns colliding and Patsy generally being in a standoffish mood. All she wanted right now though was to get under the covers and have a jolly good cwtch.

 

By the time she reached the entrance hall it was empty apart from Valerie. Patsy attempted to slow down her eagerness in order to great her colleague.

 

"Hello. Gosh, you're back late - clinic a busy one today?" she asked politely.

 

"Very." Val's face looked pale and drawn. Something was wrong.

 

"What happened?" she asked, the bounce gone from her voice.

 

Val shook her head. "There was an accident. A little boy got run over."

 

"Oh lord." Patsy exclaimed. "Is he alright?"

 

"The ambulance took him - Doctor Turner is at the hospital now. He's dropping by soon to give us an update."

 

Patsy nodded slowly. Her eyes briefly darting up the stairs.

 

Val picked up on the subtle movement.

 

"She's alright, just tired."

 

Patsy schooled her features into what she hoped was a casual confused look but it wasn't fooling anyone.

 

"I'll let you know when Dr Turner arrives." she smiled tiredly and made her way towards the kitchen.

 

Patsy stood for a brief moment before darting up the stairs, taking them two at a time. Skidding to a halt outside their bedroom she knocked before remembering she didn't have to.

 

"Come in." came a very small voice from inside.

 

She opened the door gingerly.

 

Delia was curled up on her bed, knees to her chest, still in full uniform. She looked very small.

 

"Oh Delia." Patsy breathed.

 

The bed sagged as she sank down next to the younger woman. Delia grimaced and turned over with a grunt, lying on her back now, her eyes closed.

 

Patsy leant forward and pressed her lips lightly to Delia's forehead.

 

"Valerie told me what happened." she whispered.

 

Delia's eyes shot open.

 

"What!?"

 

Patsy flinched away, looking surprised at the outburst.

 

"About the boy getting run over?" she questioned.

 

"Oh." Delia closed her eyes again.

 

Patsy reached out and took Delia's hand.

 

"What's going on?" she squeezed gently.

 

Delia lay in silence for a moment, her chest rising and falling with every breath.

 

"Nothing." she said finally, her eyes opening again and a tight smile appearing on her face.

 

Patsy cocked an eyebrow.

 

"Fibber."

 

Delia sighed. "It's just... I've been feeling utterly dreadful all day, Pats."

 

Patsy's eyes softened at that. On closer inspection Delia really did not look well. Her skin was very pale. Patsy raised the back of her hand and placed it on the smaller woman's forehead.

 

"I'm not ill." Delia murmured, taking her hand away.

 

"What's wrong then?" Patsy asked gently.

 

"You know... cramps." Delia gestured at her tummy vaguely.

 

Patsy sighed. "Well, let's get you out of this uncomfortable uniform and into some cozy pyjamas. I'll go make you a hot water bottle and we can have a cwtch before bed."

 

Delia blinked something that looked suspiciously like tears away from her eyes.

 

"Thank you."

 

Patsy smiled and made to leave.

 

"Pats..."

 

"Yes?"

 

"I love you."

 

"I love you too, Delia."

 

 

 

The voice of Dr Turner drifted down the hall as Patsy was filling Delia's hot water bottle. She screwed on the lid tightly and made her way to the front hall. A small throng of midwives and nuns were gathering, waiting to hear the news from the hospital regarding the little boy.

 

"He's stable." Doctor Turner was speaking slowly and measured. "But it's pretty serious. Both his legs are badly broken and he'll be in casts for the next few months. He also suffered some bad abrasions to his back which will need multiple dressing changes daily. He's going to be discharged in a few days time but he'll need a district nurse to help with the dressings after he's home."

 

"I can do it." Patsy volunteered immediately.

 

Dr Turner nodded. "I think that's a good idea. His father is quite a handful - very involved, wants to have a say in everything so I'm sure your no-nonsense manner will be very welcome Nurse Mount."

 

"Of course."

 

"Right. Doctor Turner replaced his hat and opened his suitcase. "Where is Nurse Busby?"

 

"I think she went upstairs as soon as we got back." said Lucille.

 

"She's in bed. Not feeling too well." explained Patsy quickly.

 

Doctor Turner nodded. "Probably the best thing for her right now. Make sure she eats and drinks something." he reached into his suitcase and pulled out two packets of tablets. "and make sure to give her these."

 

Patsy nodded and took them from him.

 

"Right, I'll see everyone tomorrow."

 

"Thank you Doctor, for updating us on his condition." said Valerie.

 

After the heavy door closed she turned to Patsy. "I'll go get a snack sorted for Delia and bring it up in a bit."

 

"Oh you don't have to I can-" Patsy began to interject.

 

"It's fine. I'm hungry anyway." Val smiled warmly. "And I bet Lucille could do with something?"

 

"Oh I wouldn't say no. I'm famished." replied the small midwife.

 

The matter settled, Patsy trudged up the stairs. She stole a glance at the tablets. One was a mid strength pain killer. Possibly for her cramps? Delia had always had painful periods but she'd always seemed to have managed. It just usually involved a day tucked up in bed and she was right as rain the next morning.

And the other... Sominex. That was confusing. Why would the Doctor be prescribing Delia an antihistamine? Especially one known to have undesirable side effects of drowsiness. Unless. The dark circles under her eyes. Was she not sleeping either?

 

She knocked gently on the door. "Are you decent?"

 

"Yes."

 

She entered the room to find Delia wrapped in a fluffy blue dressing gown.

 

"Did I hear Doctor Turner?" she asked, hovering slightly on the side of her bed.

 

"Yes." Patsy closed the door and took a seat opposite Delia on her own bed. "He had some news about the boy."

 

She updated Delia on the young lad's condition and the Welshwoman's face visibly relaxed as she learned he was going to be alright.

 

"I said I'd go and see him on district." Patsy finished.

 

"Thank goodness he's okay. Last I saw him he was unconscious and barely breathing." Delia lay down and spoke to the ceiling, wincing slightly.

 

Patsy looked down at the pills in her hand. "Doctor Turner also told me to give you these." she said quietly, extending her arm.

 

Delia took the pills from Patsy's outstretched hand and smiled grimly. "Thanks."

 

She deposited them into the drawer of the nightstand and resumed her previous position on her back staring at the ceiling. She grunted in pain, her face screwing up and put a hand to her lower stomach but didn't say anything.

 

Obviously the subject was not up for discussion tonight thought Patsy. She felt mildly annoyed, Delia usually told her when something was up. But then again she'd feel like a hypocrite for asking if something was wrong so she bit her tongue.

 

Just then there was a knock on the door. "It's me, Val - I've bought some food."

 

Patsy opened the door to let the brunette in. She deposited a tray full of scones on the end of Patsy's bed.

 

"There's enough there for both of you but I'm afraid they're a little stale we cooked them a few days back" she gestured to Lucille who was hovering behind her "and amazingly we hid them out of Sister Monica Joan's sight for long enough - I know she needs her cataract surgery, poor thing, but the amount of missing cakes has gone down considerably in the last couple of months!"

 

Delia giggled a little at that, a bit of colour returning to her cheeks. "Thanks Valerie."

 

Val winked. "You're welcome. Come on Lucille, let's leave them to it. They both look as exhausted as I feel."

 

With that they were alone again, but for the addition of some rather nice scones, a portion of butter and even a generous helping of strawberry jam.

 

The two women tucked into their late night feast in silence. It was strangely peaceful sitting with Delia on their bed eating a little picnic. If it wasn't for the sadness that surrounded the day (and the fact it was almost 10pm) it could almost be considered something not too dissimilar to a date.

 

Eventually Delia polished off the last of the scones, licking the remnants of jam and crumbs from her lips before settling back into bed. Patsy stowed away the breakfast tray and got changed into her pyjamas.

 

She turned to face Delia, her hands on her hips and sighed. Delia's face was contorted in pain, her eyes squeezed tightly shut. Making her way over to their bedside table she reached inside and pulled out the painkillers, popping two into her hand and offering them to Delia.

 

"Take some."

 

Delia stared for a moment at the pills nestled in Patsy's palm. Eventually it seemed, she reached a decision and sat up reluctantly, reaching for a glass of water.

 

She popped the pills into her mouth and swallowed hard.

 

"Lie down on your front." Patsy instructed gently.

 

Delia lay stretched out, groaning into the pillow as her sore muscles complained.

 

Patsy settled beside her and gently lifted her pyjama top up to expose her lower back. She blew on her hands and rubbed them together to ensure they were warm before laying her fingers flat and gently kneading Delia's lower back muscles.

 

Delia groaned into the pillow again as the tightness began to subside. Patsy kept up the gentle circle motions before placing a light kiss on the smaller woman's back and replacing her pyjamas.

 

"Turn over." she whispered softly.

 

Delia reversed her position, her hair tousled and face slightly flushed from being in a pillow for the past few minutes. Patsy repeated the motions on Delia's lower abdomen. Round and round, applying gentle pressure and easing away the tightness.

 

Slowly but surely the brunette began to relax. Her eyes became heavy and started to droop. Then suddenly she hissed, a hand flying to her forehead.

 

Patsy stopped and looked up in concern. Delia took a few deep breaths and kneaded her temples.

 

"Headache?"

 

A nod.

 

"Do you want me to do your head too?"

 

Another nod.

 

Using a lot less pressure and just her fingertips, Patsy gently massaged Delia's forehead. Her eyes were now completely shut and her breathing was deep and steady. Patsy placed a light kiss on the brunette's cheek and shifted her onto her side.

 

She enjoyed being the big spoon. It felt like she was protecting Delia, providing her with some armour. The painkillers had clearly begun to set in and Delia drifted off happily encased in Patsy's arms.

 

Patsy rarely used Welsh words, her accent was never the best and she preferred to hear them from Delia anyway. But “cwtch” was the one word she adored the most. Just the concept of a safe space. Something she’d been so lacking in her childhood and now she almost took for granted. Her eyes began to feel heavy. Delia’s warmth pressed against her was soothing, it truly did feel safe. No matter what the night was going to bring she always knew she’d wake up and be safe.

Chapter Text

Andrew Thomas lived in one of the more respectable parts of Poplar. A high rise building, recently renovated but as soulless as a ghost town. Patsy had reached the fourth floor and was already out of breath. How they'd managed to cart the poor young boy up all these stairs with two broken legs was quite beyond her. One thing was for certain though, he wouldn't be seeing the outside any time soon.

 

Finally she reached the eighth floor, panting and winded. Taking a moment to catch her breath she gazed out of the window on the landing. It was almost worth the climb just to see the view. Almost. At least her fitness would improve if she were to be seeing Andrew every day for the next week. And she doubted Delia would have many words of complaint at the sight of her muscular calves.

 

She knocked on the door. A fresh paint smell filled her nostrils as it opened to reveal a thin, whily woman with sticks for legs.

 

"Nurse Mount. I'm here to see Andrew." she smiled warmly.

 

The thin woman returned the smile uneasily but did not stand aside.

 

"You must be Mrs Thomas." she extended a hand.

 

"It's Teresa." The thin woman took the offered hand and shook it limply.

 

Patsy's eyes narrowed suspiciously, the heckles on the back of her neck standing on end. Something didn't feel right. Teresa was very jumpy, looking over Patsy's shoulder as if expecting her to be followed by a battalion of other working professionals. Perhaps the woman was just nervous. After all her son had been involved in a terrible accident, no doubt she'd had more than her fair share of people in uniform the past week - it was enough to make anyone feel on edge.

 

"Is Andrew in his bedroom?" Patsy asked pointedly.

 

That seemed to do the trick. Teresa's eyes snapped back and she smiled quickly as if nothing was amiss. "Of course, this way Nurse."

 

Teresa led Patsy into a dark room, the curtains pulled tightly shut. She flicked on a bedside lamp to reveal a sparse space, freshly painted green walls and no toys to be seen. It felt more like a spare room than an eight year old boy's bedroom. Andrew was laid out fast asleep on his bed, both legs stiff with plaster that went over his knees. They plaster was surprisingly sparse for such a large potential surface area for drawing. Patsy was accustomed to seeing lads of Andrew's age with plaster casts covered in pictures and signatures of classmates, it was after all a way to make a grim situation rather exciting. A lot of lads wore their casts like prize war wounds. Perhaps his friends hand't managed to visit yet, he was after all, still very poorly.  The bedspread was plain too. Everything was very clean, the entire flat seemed very modern (as was standard for these new tenement buildings). But there was just no soul to it. Nothing that revealed any personality of its occupants. As Patsy followed Teresa inside a cry came from across the other side of the room. The spindly woman rushed over towards the source of the noise, a cowering young girl in a pretty pink dress.

 

"It's alright love, it's just the nurse." Teresa cooed gently, stroking the girl's blonde hair. "She's come to see Andrew."

 

The little girl stared wide eyed at Patsy as if she'd never seen a nurse before. A very worn teddy bear with a missing eye that was clutched to the girl's chest as if her life depended on it.

 

"Hello I didn't see you there! You must be amazing at hide and seek." Patsy remarked kindly. "My name is Patsy, what's your name?" she knelt down to the girl's eye level.

 

Instantly the girl hid behind her mother. It wasn't uncommon for children to take cover behind their parents in the presence of an authority figure - it was embarrassing to be addressed by an adult in a uniform. But Patsy got the feeling the girl wasn't hiding from embarrassment. Rather like her mother her movements were jittery, her eyes darting. She was scared of something.

 

"Tilly, don't be rude, tell Nurse Patsy your name." gently coaxed her mother.

 

Tilly peered out nervously. "I'm Matilda."

 

Patsy smiled. "What a lovely name."

 

Tilly's mouth twitched into a half smile as she came to the conclusion that Patsy wasn't an immediate threat.

 

"Now, why don't you go play in the other room while we take care of your brother?"

 

Tilly looked at her mother who nodded. When the small girl had left the room, Patsy turned to Mrs Thomas.

 

"How has he been getting on?"

 

"As good as can be expected." she sniffed.

 

"I'm very sorry, it must have come as quite a shock to the family." Patsy sympathised.

 

Mrs Thomas's hands crossed firmly against her chest. "Nothing we can't handle. He's a fighter is our Andrew." she said proudly.

 

After a bit of gentle coaxing, Andrew was awake. Although pale, he seemed to be well, his blood pressure and heart rate normal. It took some effort but between the two of them they managed to get him onto his side and Patsy set about changing the dressings on his back.

 

Wetting a cotton ball with antiseptic, Patsy dabbed gently on one of the deeper scrapes. She expected the boy to flinch or show signs of discomfort but he lay stalwart and still.

 

"You're doing very well Andrew." Patsy encouraged. She turned to Mrs Thomas. "Could you fetch me a bowl of warm water please? It might help to bathe some of these deeper cuts."

 

Mrs Thomas bustled from the room.

 

Alone with the young boy Patsy raised his top up a little further to reach his shoulders. It was all she could do not to gasp at the sight that met her eyes. Several cigarette burns littered Andrew's shoulders. Some old some newer and barely healed. There was no doubt in her mind of their origin though. Gulping down a lump that had formed in her throat she tried her best to keep her voice steady.

 

"Andrew, what happened to your back?"

 

"Accident." he replied.

 

Patsy moved to the other side of the bed so she was now looking him in the eye.

 

"I know you were in an accident and that's how your back got scraped, but what about your shoulders?" she asked gently.

 

He shrugged.

 

"You won't get in trouble."

 

His eyes were round like a deer caught in the headlamps.

 

"Accident."

 

Just then the front door to the flat opened and Andrew flinched away looking terrified.

 

"Teresa!? Goddamnit woman where are you?" came a loud Welsh bark.

 

The noise grated on Patsy's eardrums. She was so unused to the Welsh accent utilised in such a gruff manner. Patsy straightened up and opened the door into the hallway. The man noticed her immediately.

 

"Oh Nurse, sorry." Mr Thomas tipped his cap in apology. "It's been a helluva day and I just need me cuppa." his smile was smarmy, made to please.

 

Patsy returned the smile, tight lipped.

 

"Coming Gareth! Sorry, I forgot to tell you Nurse was dropping by to see to Andrew." called Mrs Thomas.

 

"Why, what's wrong happened?" Mr Thomas looked panicked.

 

"Nothing's wrong Mr Thomas!" Patsy assured hurriedly. "I'm just here to change his dressings."

 

"Oh. Right." Mr Thomas wiped a snotty nose on his sleeve. "I swear if anything else happens to him there'll be hell to pay. I've already been roun' to that there garage giving them a piece of me mind. Lucky they didn't catch my fists so they were." he gritted his teeth and cracked his knuckles.

 

"Gareth!" Mrs Thomas chastised as she rounded the corner with a tray of tea.

 

"You know that place is run by a bunch of flaming queers, Nurse." he spat. "First it was that Amos bloke and now that Robinson fella. It ain't right, it ain't natural."

 

"Gareth, why don't you sit down and have a cuppa, leave the nurse to her job." Mrs Thomas was trying desperately to diffuse the tension.

 

Pats's heart was thudding so loudly in her ears she could barely hear her. The mention of Tony Amos was bringing back several unpleasant memories.

 

"Actually, I'm all finished here and should be going." Patsy managed to get the short sentence out.

 

"Oh of course Nurse, sorry we don't mean to have kept you."

 

"It's quite alright." Patsy smiled tight lipped. "Andrew will need regular dressing changes for a week however as I'm sure the doctor explained."

 

Mrs Thomas nodded. Mr Thomas was now buried in the paper, ignoring his wife and their conversation.

 

Bidding the Thomas family farewell Patsy exited their flat and began descending the stairs back to the ground. It surely wasn't the altitude but she felt very lightheaded and short of breath. She had long ago locked the memories of Mr Amos in a box. A box she never intended on opening ever again quite frankly. She had told Delia about the whole situation but after that refused to talk about it ever again. News had spread that Tony Amos was moving out of Poplar and that someone had taken over his business. Patsy had no idea if there was an ounce of truth in what Mr Thomas was saying but the blatant close-mindedness of his opinion still stung.

 

 

Later that evening Patsy lay in her bed reading the property section of the newspaper, waiting for Delia to return from the bathroom. She was looking at flats. They had put all flat hunting on hold during the unsavoury wether conditions. But now they had passed, Patsy was perusing the ads but with little interest. Her mind was still mulling over the situation with Mr Thomas. It was easy to forget, especially surrounded in a bubble of supporting, likeminded people, that homophobia was all to real in the world. Just a tiny slip up could cost her and Delia their jobs and livelihoods. Was she being too brazen recently in her affections? Perhaps. Although she had claimed when she arrived back in England there would be no more hiding, the reality of the situation was proving much harder than a promise she'd made to herself. Keeping secrets, building walls - they were part of her nature, part of a personality that had been build over years of hardship. Such walls were not likely to crumble with a single promise of change. She was promising something she couldn't give.

 

"Patsy?"

 

She snapped out of her thoughts. Delia had returned and was looking magnificent. Her skin was glowing with the heat of a recent bath, hair wet and tousled and cocooned in a fluffy towel.

 

Patsy smiled and placed the paper down on the nightstand before shifting over and patting a space on the single bed. Delia removed her towel, her hair falling over her shoulders and took the offered spot. She propped herself up so the two women sat with their backs against the headboard. Patsy's head rested on Delia's shoulder as she took a long drawn out sigh.

 

She wanted to tell Delia about today but she didn't have the right words. It almost felt like sticky toffee was preventing her jaw from opening and forming coherent words. So she sat in silence, drawing circles on Delia's right hand with her thumb.

 

"Pats... I need to tell you something."

 

"What is it?" immediate anxiety flooded through Patsy and her heart began to race.

 

She took a steadying breath, what was that all about? Why were her fight or flight responses so on edge at the moment. It was just a casual conversation and she felt like she'd just run up the entire eight floors to the Thomas family flat.

 

"The other week, at clinic." Delia continued, staring at a spot on the opposite wall.

 

Patsy's eyes narrowed. This was a technique she favoured when partaking in a conversation something she'd rather not be part of. She squeezed Delia's hand to offer some comfort.

 

"I... I fainted."

 

Patsy turned their bodies, forcing Delia to look at her.

 

"You fainted?" she repeated, eyebrows knitting together in worry.

 

Delia nodded. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you, I didn't want to worry you."

 

Patsy shook her head and pulled Delia in for an embrace. "Oh Deels."

 

"I've not been sleeping well and, it all got a bit too much I think. That's why Doctor Turner prescribed me the sleeping pills."

 

Patsy pulled back from the hug and used her thumbs to wipe a few stray tears leaking from Delia's eyes. "Have they helped?"

 

Delia nodded.

 

"What about the painkillers?"

 

Delia bit her lip. "They were for my headaches."

 

"You're headaches are back?" Patsy was alarmed.

 

"Not really, I mean, I think it was an isolated incident last week. But I've been having them for a few months."

 

Suddenly the penny dropped.

 

"This is all my fault Delia." Patsy choked. "I've been so selfish, you've not been sleeping because of my nightmares and it's made you ill."

 

"Patsy, no." Delia said firmly. "It's not your fault."

 

Patsy smiled sadly and shook her head. "It is though. If I wasn't waking at silly hours in the morning this wouldn't be happening."

 

"We don't know that." Delia exclaimed fairly. "It's been a miricle I've not been getting headaches for the past few years."

 

"Don't try and justify it." Patsy put her face in her hands. "I'm so sorry I've been so selfish. I never thought for a moment what impact this must be having on your health."

 

"Patsy, stop." Delia tried to console the distraught woman.

 

"You don't deserve this." she mumbled. "You're too kind to deserve this."

 

Delia sighed, her frustration beginning to build. "For goodness sake Patsy, I care about you. I know what I signed up for - for better or for worse right? in sickness and in health?"

 

Patsy shook her head. Poor Delia was trying her best to help. Patsy knew she should feel so lucky to have someone that patient as a partner. She would have abandoned herself years ago she thought wryly. Was she even deserving of that kind of love? She tried desperately to search for the logical part of her that would tell her she was, but the more overwhelming insecure part was busy shouting a resounding no. After all she was damaged goods, not only because she was queer but because of her past too. She was so far from normal it was amazing she was still managing to function as a proper adult. It wasn't fair on Delia.

 

"I can't - I'm sorry."

 

She left the room and made her way downstairs. At least sleeping on the sofa wouldn't disturb the brunette. It would also give her time to gather her thoughts together.

Chapter Text

"Are you sure?"

 

"Of course I'm sure. Besides, it'll be excellent practise and the only way you'll learn is by doing."

 

Delia beamed. Not five minutes ago, Leone Thornton's distressed husband had hung up the phone after claiming his wife's waters had broken "all over the prized cabbages" and it was of the utmost importance a midwife attend as soon as was humanly possible. Valerie had been assisting in the case for a while and after noticing Delia at rather of a lose end that afternoon had decided to give her an offer she couldn't refuse .

 

"It's just round the corner, we don't even need to cycle." she added with a knowing look.

 

Delia smiled in thanks as she grabbed her gladstone bag, hands shaking.

 

She was about to assist in her first delivery with Nonnatus House and she couldn't be more excited. All thoughts of her earlier argument with Patsy were pushed to the back of her mind as she focused on the task at hand.

 

If she was being honest it was a bit irksome that it had taken this long to get to the sharp end of things, as Patsy liked to call it. She'd passed her exams months ago. Poplar had experienced a bit of a lull in births during late January and February. But the Easter babies were beginning to rear their newborn heads and business was due to pick up speed considerably in the following weeks.

 

She was shaking with equal parts nerves and equal parts excitement now - it felt like an age since she'd been in those obstetric lectures and observing births in hospital. Delivering a baby in the mother's home was a far cry from the sterilised operating tables, harsh lighting and undignified foot stirrups of the London. She could quite understand the preference for a home birth over a hospital delivery. It may offer more in terms of emergency medicine and assistance - but as far as she was concerned, a home was almost always the best choice for mothers.

 

 

Mrs Thornton was a brick of a woman with an east End accent to rival that of the late Sister Evangelina. Of course her and Valerie had struck up an immediate friendship based on their similar upbringings.

 

Mr Thornton and Delia hovered slightly awkwardly in the background as Val eased Mrs Thornton onto her bed for an examination. She glanced in Delia's direction.

 

"Delia, take Mr Thornton outside and get him settled with a cuppa." she winked.

 

As Delia shepherd the jittery husband out the bedroom she couldn't help but feel at ease. Valerie oozed confidence and level headedness. A kind of air that rubbed off on patients easily. She was a very good nurse.

 

After depositing Mr Thornton at the dining table with him assuring her he could make his own tea, she returned to the action.

 

Mrs Thornton was elbow deep in her next contraction and Valerie was discarding her recently used latex glove.

 

"Two centimetres dilated, Mrs Thornton. We've got a wee while to go yet I'm afraid."

 

She approached Delia and lowered her voice. "This is her first so we might be in for a long night, you still up for it?"

 

Delia nodded ardently.

 

"Alright, let's get comfortable." she turned back to Mrs Thornton.

 

 

A few hours passed. Steadily Mrs Thornton's contractions got more intense and closer and closer together. Delia kept diligently checking her fob watch and timing them, as was standard practise at the hospital. Val looked a bit bemused but chose not to comment. First timers nerves applied both to mother and midwife it seemed.

 

"Owwwww nurse! When will it stop!?" Mrs Thornton cried as another pain washed over her.

 

"Let's get you up and about, stretch your legs a bit." Val suggested.

 

With a monumental effort, the two midwives managed to heave Mrs Thornton to her feet. She promptly doubled over again, hit by another contraction.

 

"That's it Leone, remember to breathe." Val said calmly, stroking her lower back.

 

 

Another hour passed.

 

Valerie completed another internal exam before turning to Delia.

 

"Showtime." she grinned.

 

Delia scrambled to attention. Her eyelids had begun to droop and her stomach was rumbling. Fortunately the sound of Mrs Thornton's cries had drowned out the worst of the grumbles.

 

"Right then Leone, you're fully dilated." Val explained happily.

 

"You make it sound like it's my birthday or summit." Leone panted, her face red for effort.

 

"Not your birthday, but it's about to be someone's!" Val winked. "Now I want you to pant for me, that's it, small breaths."

 

She motioned for Delia to join her.

 

"Nurse Busby is going to be right here with you, and I'll take care of the business end of things."

 

Delia scooted up the bed and wrapped an arm around Mrs Thornton. "That's it Leone, pant... good girl."

 

Mrs Thornton tensed as another, strong contraction hit. She grasped Delia's hand tightly and Delia felt her knuckles crack with the force.

 

"Good! Well done! I can see baby's head!" called Val.

 

Delia smiled proudly but Mrs Thornton was paying her little to no heed. Her head flopped backwards and she caught her breath, Delia's hand still clutched in her own.

 

"Right Leone, on your next pain, I want you to push as hard as you can for me." Val encouraged.

 

"I can't." cried Mrs Thornton, tears streaking down her face. "It's too hard."

 

"Yes you can." Delia affirmed, offering up her most reassuring dimples. "You're going to meet your baby soon."

 

Mrs Thornton's eyes filled with tears of pain and anguish but she set her jaw and tensed as another contraction built.

 

"Come on Leone, push!" encouraged Delia.

 

She roared, bearing down with all her might - her labour cries echoing in the furthest corners of the small bedroom.

 

"Head's born!" called Val excitedly. "Well done Leone, you're doing splendidly. Now pant for me, that's it."

 

Delia's hand was numb but she didn't really care. Beads of sweat were popping on Leone's forehead as she panted, taking a few moments of respite before the final hurdle.

 

"With your next pain, Baby's going to be born. I want little pushes, just little ones - do that for me now Leone." Val instructed.

 

And then it was over. In a slippery gush of amniotic fluid, blood and mucus - a new life arrived kicking and screaming into the world.

 

Valerie wrapped the baby in a towel and checked his airway before motioning to Delia to come and join her.

 

"Do you want to cut the cord?" she whispered.

 

Delia nodded, her eyes wide with wonder. Carefully she clamped the cord twice before using the stubby scissors to sever the final tie between baby and mother.

 

"Leone, you have a little boy." she held out the bundle for Mrs Thornton, who immediately took hold of her prize.

 

All the pain suddenly vanished as she doted over the baby.

 

"He looks like his dad nurse!" she cooed, letting the baby hold her finger. Her digit almost giant in comparison with the little one's tiny fingers.

 

Delia was winded with emotion. She couldn't help but tear up at the sight. It was Val who disrupted her contemplation with a gentle prod to the ribs.

 

"Oi, our work's not done yet." she winked.

 

Delia gathered herself. "Sorry." she whispered, blushing slightly.

 

"It's alright." Val sighed. "It's easy to get caught up in their joy." she smiled fondly.

 

There was a knock on the door.

 

"Everything alright nurse?" came Mr Thornton's voice.

 

Val turned to Delia. "Do you want to take over here, I'll see to the husband."

 

"If you're sure..." Delia stuttered.

 

Val placed a calming hand on her shoulder. "I'm sure."

 

She left Delia alone with Mrs Thornton, who was still busy doting over her new arrival.

 

"We're going to call him Derek, after me dad. He died last year."

 

"Oh I'm sorry."

 

"No need to apologise nurse, you aren't the one that killed him. But I know he's watching now." she smiled up at the ceiling lamp.

 

"Where's Nurse Dyer?" she asked.

 

"Just gone to tell your husband the good news." Delia affirmed.

 

"Oh, can't he come in now? I want to show him his little boy."

 

"Soon, we're almost done."

 

With that Mrs Thornton winced slightly. Taking that as her call, Delia grabbed a kidney dish and moved to Valerie's previous position on her knees.

 

"Little push for me please Leone." Delia instructed.

 

The placenta was delivered and Delia checked it was complete before covering the kidney dish in a towel.

 

"Val!" she called.

 

Valerie and Mr Thornton had clearly been waiting outside the door. They entered the room, Mr Thornton immediately rushing to his wife's side to see their new arrival.

 

"Everything okay?" Val asked quietly.

 

Delia nodded, her face breaking into an uncontrollable grin.

 

"Congratulations Nurse Busby." Val winked.

 

"Oh nurse!" called out Mr Thornton.

 

"Yes Mr Thornton?"

 

"Can we have the afterbirth for the cabbages? It's just Ivan down the street, he used 'is wife's on their artichokes and they won best in show last year."

 

Val's lip quivered by she held it together. "Of course."

 

Delia wasn't so professional and had to excuse herself before snorting her mirth loudly in the Thornton's kitchen.

 

 

 

~

 

 

 

Delia felt like she was floating. Even though it was gone midnight when the pair finally returned to Nonnatus. Her stomach had passed the hunger stage and had given up any hope of sustenance that evening. Besides, she had elation to fuel her.

 

"You should get some rest." suggested Val as they laid out the instruments.

 

"I don't know if I can sleep after that." Delia admitted.

 

"You did really well." Val grinned at her colleague's enthusiasm.

 

"Did it feel like this after you delivered your first?"

 

"What do you mean first!? You've already got one telephone delivery under your belt, Delia, don't forget that. I may not have been present but I have heard the story many times over."

 

Delia blushed at the praise. True this hadn't technically been her first - but it still felt very special.

 

She sighed as Val bid her goodnight. A small part of her was sad it hadn't been Patsy that had been there. But their fallout quickly resurfaced in her memory and she closed the autoclave with slightly more force than was actually required.

 

Sleep did not come quickly that night. The adrenaline pumping from her recent experience saw to that. And she point blank refused to take the sleeping pills for the sole reason of being a "little too overexcited". Glancing over she saw the sleeping form of Patsy. The redhead was shifting in her sleep - clearly in the midst of dreams not quite verging on nightmares, but far from blissful.

 

Delia had tried very hard to avoid thinking about their situation, all it did was make her feel stressed. Patsy was being utterly infuriating. Utterly Patsy. They had barely talked in the week since their argument. If one could even call it that. Delia supposed that's what it was though, seeing as the redhead had avoided her at all costs that week. They'd not exchanged more than simple pleasantries across the breakfast table. Perhaps this news would break the thaw.

 

That morning at breakfast, Delia appeared later than usual, having finally snatched a few hours sleep in the small hours. She had a gruelling full day of district today and needed all the sustenance a Nonnatus breakfast spread could offer.

 

Val pulled up a chair and Delia took her usual seat opposite Patsy. She nudged the taller woman's foot, their own secret way of greeting each other. But the touch went ignored and Patsy withdrew her legs from reach. Sighing, Delia reached for some toast.

 

"Nurse Busby." applauded Phyllis. "I hear congratulations are in order."

 

Delia blushed as crimson as the strawberry jam on her toast.

 

"Delia helped deliver the Thornton baby last night. 6 pounds 4 ounces of healthy baby boy." Val said proudly, giving Delia's shoulder a small squeeze.

 

The table littered with applause, Patsy joining in briefly before going back to reading the morning paper.

 

Delia felt a tug of sadness deep in her chest. She had been expecting Proud Pats to make an appearance, as she had done after the telephone incident. But nothing. It was as if someone had done something as mundane as announce the weather.

 

Suddenly Delia didn't feel hungry anymore. She smiled gracefully at the praise before pushing her half eaten breakfast away and standing from the table.

 

"Sweetie?" Trixie eyed her plate. "Is everything alright?"

 

"Yes. I'm sorry, would you all excuse me?" Delia said in a small voice.

 

The table nodded bewilderedly. Apart from Patsy. She just sat with her nose in her paper. Trixie's eyes floated over to her best friend and back to the retreating form of Delia before narrowing. Clearly all was not well.

Chapter Text

All Comes Tumbling Down

 

 

 

 

Part 1 - Patsy

 

 

 

 

 

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

 

Patsy's feet beat out the rhythm of the words on the pavement.

 

Delia had clearly been upset. That's why she'd left the table so abruptly this morning. And it was all her fault. Again.

 

"Get a grip Mount," She muttered to herself.

 

The cold air hitting her face gave her the perfect excuse to let her eyes water briefly. Why couldn't she have just been happy for Delia like any other normal person would be? She was happy for her. Inside at least. She was proud as punch. But was it really that hard to show her emotion externally?

 

Evidently it was. Like a tight, unused muscle, the less she exercised her emotions, the more uptight and closed off they became. The best way around it was to bury herself in her work and not allow any opportunity to dwell on feelings. The same strategy she had perfected all those years ago in her youth. When things got too hard to handle, work was the only cure. What matters is what she did, not the "great show of sentiment". Close off, isolate,  put your head down. Everything might just go away.

 

She had not slept well at all that week, opting for the sofa some nights and others just tossing and turning. The nightmares were still vivid, but the screaming had stopped. In its place, though, it had left something much, much worse. She felt guilt. All her dreams now were of her sister, her mother, her father, questioning why she had survived and not them. They pointed their invisible fingers of blame behind her eyelids and she could not shake them away. And now added to the fray was Delia. Delia's finger of guilt pointing, telling her she had failed in her capacity as a lover, as a friend. Delia leaving, cutting her off, never talking to her again. Because who could ever stay loyal to someone who was such a monster?

Lock it up in a box. Throw away the key.

 

Lock it up in a box.

 

Before she realised it she was standing at the foot of the tall tower block that housed Andrew Thomas. This was to be her last visit to attend the injured lad. After today he would attend a GP the other side of London. His parents had arranged for him to stay a short while with an aunt in Ealing until he could use stairs again. Why they hadn't decided that earlier Patsy couldn't fathom.

 

Andrew himself seemed rather chipper at the prospect of a holiday away from home.

 

"Does Aunty Jane still have that wooden train set?" he asked his mum excitedly.

 

"I'm not sure." Mrs Thomas pursed her lips, "She put it in the attic years ago, it's probably been thrown out."

 

"Oh," his face fell. "I bet she still has Grandad's tin cars though."

 

"It's not a bleedin' holiday! You're not off to Brighton for a weekend playing the penny arcades," Mrs Thomas scolded. "Isn't that right nurse?" She turned to Patsy for confirmation.

 

Patsy was changing the last dressing. "Not a holiday, per se - but one must always make the most of a dire situation, at least that's what my mother taught me..." Her voice petered out as she realised what she'd just said.

 

Mrs Thomas chose to ignore this and fixed Andrew with a warning gaze, "You best stay on your best behaviour. And I'll be round every Friday to make sure."

 

"Yes, mum." He exhaled glumly.

 

Patsy finished inspecting the nicely healed cuts on the young boy's back, "Well, this all seems to be healing jolly well."

 

She hitched up his top a little more. There were two fresh cigarette burns on his shoulders.

 

Her eyes narrowed.

 

"Nurse - would you like a cuppa?" asked Mrs Thomas.

 

Pasty gently lowered Andrew's top. Perhaps she had Mrs Thomas needed to have a little chat.

 

"Yes please that would be lovely."

 

 

Mrs Thomas bustled around the kitchen, preparing the kettle.

 

"Least I can do, what with you traipsing up the stairs every day this past week for his nibs, I feel like we owe you an awful lot more than just a cup of tea."

 

Patsy smiled politely at the attempted small talk. She waited until Mrs Thomas had placed the offered cup of tea down with before broaching the topic.

 

"Mrs Thomas. I must ask you... about Andrew's scars."

 

"Well, the doctor did explain there'd be some scarring but he's a tough lad." She turned back to the sink and began cleaning the dishes.

 

"No, not from the accident. The scars on his shoulders. The cigarette burns." Patsy spoke softly, not wanting to spook the mother.

 

She turned abruptly. "What's he been telling you?" she hissed, the dishcloth hitting the sink with a wet slap.

 

"Nothing. He hasn't told me anything." Patsy held up her hands, "But as a nurse, I am concerned for his health and I have to ask."

 

Mrs Thomas paled but nodded. She began pacing the kitchen nervously, her hands tapping on her apron.

 

"If you feel unsafe there are people who can help, numbers you can call..." Patsy began.

 

"We don't need help. We're fine," interjected Mrs Thomas, her arms folded tightly across her chest.

 

Patsy couldn't help but see several bruises on her arms, revealed by sleeves the owner clearly never intended to go above elbow height. Her silent observation clearly did not go completely unnoticed as Mrs Thomas hastily pulled them down.

 

Patsy pursed her lips. "Be that as it may, I am concerned for Andrew's welfare and it's my duty to-"

 

"I'm his mother. I know what's best for him," Mrs Thomas raised her voice. "You're just here to fix his back, not to meddle in our family."

 

Patsy sighed. It was useless to try and break through this woman's stone defences.

 

"I know a mother will go to almost any lengths to protect her children," Patsy implored. "But promise me you'll ask for help if you need it."

 

Mrs Thomas's head wobbled on her neck as she nodded.

 

"Perhaps you should go now, nurse."

 

Patsy stared down at the spindly woman long and hard. Mrs Thomas stared back - her light grey eyed gaze unwavering. Neither was willing to be the first to show signs of defeat.

 

Suddenly the front door to the flat opened loudly. The eye contact was broken.

 

Mr Thomas staggered into the kitchen, his right wrist bleeding.

 

Patsy jumped to her feet, her nurses instinct taking over and helped him into a chair.

 

"Mrs Thomas, pass me that dishcloth," Patsy ordered.

 

Fortunately she complied and Patsy wrapped it tightly around Mr Thomas's injured hand.

 

"Keep it elevated, it'll help slow the bleeding," she instructed.

 

"What on earth have you done this time?" Mrs Robinson exclaimed in panic.

 

"Oh that's right, always assume it's my fault you daft bat." he growled. "Bleedin' dog bit me so it did."

 

"Why'd a dog bite you?"

 

"Ow' am I supposed to know? I couldn't exactly ask it could I!?" he shouted back.

 

"Mr and Mrs Thomas! I think it would help the situation if everybody just calmed down for a moment." Patsy's voice of reason rose above the clamour.

 

Both husband and wife grumbled, but fell into silence as Patsy peeled back the cloth to assess the damage.

 

There were two sizeable puncture wounds on Mr Thomas's wrist, clearly where said hound had attached itself. His knuckles were also bruised and bleeding.

 

"Mr Thomas what happened to your hand?"

 

"Nuthin'," he said gruffly.

 

Patsy arched an eyebrow.

 

"Nuthin' that wasn't deserved," he added in a low voice.

 

"Gareth?" Mrs Thomas was sounding more and more alarmed.

 

"What!?" he exclaimed, spit flying from his mouth.

 

It was then Patsy caught the strong whiff of alcohol on his breath.

 

"Mr Thomas, have you had a drink this morning?" she asked casually.

 

"So what if I have?"

 

"Alcohol is a blood thinner. It might explain why you're bleeding so heavily."

 

"I may have had a couple of pints at the The Black Sail. But I wasn't there long - had business to attend to." He spat out the word business as if it were a foul taste on his tongue.

 

"Is that how you injured your hand?" Patsy tried to coax a response.

 

"Bloody queer bastard had it coming," Mr Thomas growled. "And it weren't my fault a stray mutt hangs around that garage."

 

"You didn't go after that Larry Robinson did you!?" Mrs Thomas exclaimed in horror.

 

"So what if I did? Ain't like he can say anything - and if he does I'll tell em' the truth. I'll tell em' all he's a queer fag-"

 

"Mr Thomas!" Patsy interjected.

 

Her mind was spinning out of control. Part of her wanted to hit the man in front of her.  Hard. On the jaw. At the exact point she knew would sting and smart the most. But he was a patient, a bigoted self-righteous asshole, but a patient nonetheless. Her personal opinion meant nothing right now. She could not afford to let her professional persona slide. Not if she valued her job, or her sanity.

 

"I do not appreciate my patient using such crude language to describe another human being." she hissed, applying slightly more force than was necessary on Mr Thomas's injured hand.

 

"Ouch!" he yelped, drawing his hand away sharply. "Who says anything about me being your patient!?"

 

"Gareth, don't... the nurse is trying to help." Mrs Thomas protested.

 

"Daddy?" came a timid voice from the doorway.

 

All heads were on a swivel to locate the source of the sound.

 

Matilda was stood in the doorway, her teddy bear still clutched to her chest. How long she had been there was anyone's guess, but it looked like it had been long enough. Her eyes were wide with terror and fixated on the bright red blood seeping through the dishcloth.

 

It was Patsy who moved first. She lowered Mr Thomas's hand and returned it to its owner before approaching the little girl and kneeling down in front of her.

 

"Now then... Tilly?" she asked.

 

The little girl nodded. A spark of recognition passed over her features as she took in Patsy's face.

 

"Why don't you be a good girl and go play with your brother for a bit. He must be lonely."

 

Tilly shook her head.

 

"It's all right. We're just having a chat in here. Your dad got a nasty cut on his hand and I'm making it all better."

 

Still Tilly did not speak. Her mouth appeared to be fused shut.

 

"Go see your brother Tilly," called Mrs Thomas in a high pitched voice full of false bravado.

 

"Come on." Patsy held out her hand.

 

Tilly considered her for a long moment before finally accepting and sliding her hand into Patsy's.

 

The two of them left the scene in the kitchen and Patsy allowed the door to close behind them. She left Tilly safely in Andrew's bedroom, picked up her bag and went straight for the front door.

 

 

 

~

 

 

 

Patsy knew she had another half dozen patients to see that afternoon but she needed space. She needed quiet. She needed ...

 

Delia.

 

Delia would know what to do. Delia would hold her close, hold her tight and tell her everything was going to be alright. But with a sob that flew off into the wind as she walked briskly back to Nonnatus, she realised Delia wasn't going to be there. By pushing away her only source of comfort she'd made her bed. And now she had to lie in it.

 

Unaware of where her feet were taking he she blindly followed them. Up the stairs of the front porch, up more stairs to the landing and towards their room - as if hoping she would bump into the brunette on the way.

 

It was not a brunette she collided with though. It was a blonde.

 

"Patsy?" Trixie exclaimed. "What on earth is the matter?"

 

Obviously the distress on Patsy's face was far from subtle. But right now she didn't care. The last of her resolve snapped and she fell into Trixie's outstretched arms.

 

"Come on sweetie," encouraged Trixie, gently rubbing Patsy's back.

 

She managed to ease the distressed midwife into her old bedroom. Patsy sat on the bed, tears still streaming down her face, and Trixie put herself to good use by finding the tissue box.

 

"Big blow," she instructed. "And then tell me what's happened."

 

Patsy blew her nose in the offered tissue and sniffed, trying to gather herself.

 

"It's nothing," she began "I'm just overreacting."

 

"Nonsense." Trixie pursed her lips and raised her perfect penciled brows, "Whatever this is, it isn't 'nothing' is it?"

 

Patsy opened her mouth to retort but Trixie cut her off, "Please don't take me for a fool, Patsy. I want to help."

 

Patsy pondered for a moment. She could always tell Trixie the bare minimum - and keep it about the patients, therefore much safer ground.

 

"I'm worried about a patient."

 

Trixie sighed, "Go on."

 

"Do you remember Andrew Thomas... the little lad who got run over a couple of weeks ago?"

 

"Oh, the one who's father crashed into the clinic and caused a right upset?"

 

Patsy nodded, "That's the one. In fact, it's his father that's causing me some concerns."

 

Trixie reached for a packet of cigarettes and offered one to Patsy. The redhead took it gratefully and sucked a long drag which helped her calm down a bit before she continued.

 

"Something isn't right with that family." She exhaled more smoke, "I don't want to jump to conclusions and point fingers but... The lad, Andrew. He has cigarette burns on his back."

 

Trixie winced, "Goodness."

 

"I asked him about them and he just told me they were an 'accident'. He wouldn't say any more." Patsy fiddled with a thread on her uniform nervously.

 

"And you think it's the father who's responsible?"

 

"I'm not sure," said Patsy honestly. "But the wife has bruises on her arms."

 

Trixie sighed and shook the loose debris off her cigarette into the bedside ashtray. "I've seen similar situations before. More times than I care to admit." She paused, "What's the father like?"

 

"He's vile," Patsy spat, barely containing her anger now. "He came barging in, his hand bleeding, clearly from fighting."

 

Trixie looked confused so Patsy reluctantly clarified.

 

"He claims Andrew's accident was the fault of Mr Robinson, a mechanic at Poplar Motor Repairs."

 

Trixie's eyes flashed in a moment of recollection. "Isn't that A.D Watt's - the one run by Tony Amos' father-in-law?"

 

Patsy nodded. A sick feeling spreading through her stomach, "From what I know Tony Amos and his family moved out a while ago. He was looking for new staff," she added, hoping Trixie would drop it. "Apparently Andrew ran out in front of a moving car that Mr Robinson was test driving."

 

"So Mr Thomas took the law into his own hands?" Trixie exclaimed, surprised. "Why didn't he just go to the police?"

 

Patsy shrugged, "I don't know."

 

Trixie looked thoughtful, "Did he say anything? Perhaps he has a personal vendetta against the man or something."

 

Patsy's heart was racing. Before she could stop herself, the words were pouring out of her mouth, "Mr Thomas believes Mr Robinson is same way Tony Amos was."

 

"You mean he attacked him for being queer!?" Trixie asked, horrified.

 

Patsy berated herself internally. She didn't have to say that. The redhead held her breath as if waiting for a blow. But it never came. Instead, she felt Trixie reach over and envelop her into a tight hug.

 

"I'm so sorry Patsy," she whispered.

 

Patsy jumped back on instinct, "Why? Why are you sorry?"

 

Trixie eyed her best friend sadly. The tension in the room was palpable.

 

"I feel there's little point in beating about the bush," she sighed. "I know. I know about you and Delia."

 

Patsy opened and closed her mouth like a fish out of water, gasping for air. She tried to fight back, defend herself but the words just weren't there. Trixie's hand found hers and gave it a small squeeze.

 

"It's alright sweetie," she said softly.

 

Their eyes finally met, Patsy's round and full of fear, Trixie's sad but compassionate. They studied each other for a moment before Patsy finally found her voice.

 

"I'm- " she began, her voice cracking. "I'm sorry."

 

"Sorry?" Trixie frowned. "Whatever for?"

 

"For not telling you." Patsy bit back a sob that was threatening to overwhelm her composure.

 

"Patsy, I completely understand why you didn't. It's not something one usually proclaims from the rooftops."

 

Trixie's attempt to inject humour didn't work. Patsy felt tears beginning to spill as she voiced her most pressing concern.

 

"You won't... tell anyone?"

 

Trixie grapsed both of her friend's hands then, forcing them to resume eye contact.

 

"No. I will not tell anyone. That is not and never will be my decision to make."

 

Patsy couldn't hold it in any longer. The tears finally spilled over as a wave of emotion crashed over her. Trixie simply sat there and held her as the sobs permeated her body.

 

Patsy cried for the pain of keeping silent for this long. She cried for the relief of finally being able to share who she was without judgement. It felt like the weight of the world had been lifted, even if for just a moment, and she was soaring. Trixie did not hate her, she had not run straight to Sister Julienne. Her unrealistic anxieties were completely unfounded in fact. She began shaking in delayed shock.

 

Immediately, Trixie noticed and handed her another cigarette. Patsy calmed her breathing long enough to take another big draw before exhaling shakily. The nicotine flowed steadily through her body and her muscles began to relax.

 

"How long have you known?" she asked in a small voice.

 

Trixie smiled, happy her friend was calm enough to be speaking.

 

"A girl never tells," she winked. "But rather a long time. A few years."

 

"A few years!?" Patsy repeated, completely horrified.

 

"I'm not a fool, Patience. Have you not noticed I halted all attempts to matchmake you with handsome men long ago?" she giggled.

 

Patsy looked back, her eyes wide before the slightest hint of a fishhook smile appeared. True, Trixie had not broached the subject of 'boyfriends' in a long time with her. She'd just assumed the blonde had been too caught up in her own dramas.

 

"Besides, I'm sure Delia would have had my guts for garters if I ever tried anything like that."

 

Patsy blushed and bit her lip, eyes fixed firmly on the floor.

 

"Talking of which, what's going on between you two?"

 

This was too much. Patsy was barely wrapping her head around the concept of Trixie knowing about her relationship preference, she was already way outside her comfort zone.

 

"I don't want to talk about it," she said firmly.

 

Trixie raised a brow, "You completely ignored her this morning at breakfast. And after she'd delivered her first baby."

 

Patsy exhaled. Usually at this point she would have a rebuttal on hand, perhaps a jibe at the person who was showering her with unwanted questions, but she had no energy left in her system to fight.

 

"I know. And I feel terrible."

 

"I'm sure she does too," huffed Trixie.

 

"She deserves so much better than me, Trix."

 

There. She'd said it. She'd said what she'd been thinking for the past few weeks - no, perhaps years.

 

But Trixie was having none of it.

 

"And what makes you say that?" she challenged.

 

Patsy wrung her hands together in frustration, "Because I'm damaged goods. She doesn't want to spend her life waking at stupid hours because I've had a nightmare, or changing the way she lives her life to make me feel comfortable when obviously it's destroying her physically and mentally." She tried her best to keep her voice down but the volume was rising.

 

Trixie simply blinked at this. The redhead felt the heat escape her face. The lack of reaction sparking more anger.

 

"She deserves someone uncomplicated, someone that makes her feel special... that makes her feel safe and loved." Patsy choked out the word 'loved' and put a hand to her mouth.

 

The blonde took a deep breath.

 

"Christopher and I broke up because I felt his daughter deserved better. She was missing her mother." she sniffed, gathering courage from some invisible place. "So Christopher and I ... We could not be together, not because we don't love each other, because it would not be a safe place to bring up his daughter. I made that decision for her."

 

"Trixie..."

 

"She is a child, Patsy. A child who is unable to make her own decisions for something that big and scary. But Delia... Delia is an adult. She is grown up and mature enough to make her own decisions when it comes to who she wants to spend her life with."

 

Patsy's jaw went slack and Trixie continued.

 

"So before you go ahead and think you know what's best for Delia, you need to ask her what she wants."

 

A blanket of silence fell over the room as Patsy tried to process Trixie's words.

 

"But I'm a mess."

 

"All messes are fixable."

 

Patsy chuckled darkly at that.

 

"I'm going away for a few months." Trixie's voice rose in pitch.

 

Scanning the room Patsy suddenly took in the sight in front of her. Trixie had two suitcases full of clothes that were moments from being closed. She scanned them and looked back at the blonde, her eyes full of questions.

 

"It was Phyllis who suggested it actually. And I'm very glad she did. I'm going to an alcoholics rehabilitation program."

 

Patsy stared in shock at her friend. How she had gathered the bravery to ask for help was beyond her. And this was Trixie, stoic, no-nonsense Beatrix Franklin, who didn't need anyone to tell her what to do. To see her vulnerable side was more than a little surprising to the redhead.

 

"I'm going because I need help. It took me a while to realise I did, everyone around me clearly knew, but I buried my head firmly in the sand." her voice wobbled. "But then I swallowed my pride. Which is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, I'm sure you can relate. Especially when one is always seen as the 'strong one'."

 

She reached out and took Patsy's hand again.

 

"It's okay to ask for help. Not everyone is out to get you, no matter how much it feels like they are."

 

Patsy stared dumbfounded. She had no words. Everything Trixie said was right. Brilliant Trixie Franklin was the voice of reason ringing in her ears. Of course this wasn't her decision to make. She'd never once stopped to ask Delia what she wanted, Patsy always assumed she knew. The thing that was in her control, though, was what she could do to better herself, not just for Delia, not just for their relationship, but for her own self preservation too.

 

Trixie drew her into another tight hug.

 

"Now. Are you going to help me pack? I fear if left to my own devices I'll end up trying to fit an entire wardrobe on the aeroplane and I'm not quite sure that's allowed," she winked.

 

Patsy smiled. Trixie knew when to end a serious chat and how for that matter. Humour was always her strong suit and she did not intend to fail on that front today.

 

"Oh I'm not so sure..." said Patsy blithely, "Don't they do roof-boxes for planes these days?"

 

Trixie burst into giggles and turned towards her packing. Patsy sat crosslegged on the bed and watched as her friend held up a green number, pondering whether or not it should make the cut.

 

"Hang on, that's mine!" Patsy called.

 

"I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about." Trixie smiled cheekily.

 

She threw the offending garment in Patsy's vague direction and the redhead had to dive (rather unceremoniously) to catch it before it landed on the dusty hardwood.

 

Their giggles were cut short by a sudden loud clatter coming from the hallway.

 

"What on earth?" Trixie's puzzled gaze met Patsy's, all mirth replaced by concern.

 

"If Sister Monica Joan has tripped over the vase on the landing again..." Trixie grumbled, placing a pair of lacy knickers inside the duck egg suitcase.

 

"I've still got some spare super glue from the last incident," Patsy winced.

 

"Thank goodness for that," Trixie giggled. "Come on, let's help the poor thing."

 

They left Val and Trixie's bedroom and padded down the hallway towards the stairs. However the sight that met them was not as they had predicted.

 

Trixie gasped, her hand flying to her mouth.

 

Patsy froze, her heart dropping to the floor below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

All Comes Tumbling Down

 

 

 

Part 2 -  Delia

 

 

 

 

 

The joy of assisting in the delivery of the Thornton baby was something Delia was determined to hang onto that day. Even if the feeling had been dampened by Patsy's reaction, or rather lack thereof. Delia left abruptly after her attempt at breakfast, keen to get out of Nonnatus and into the fresh air. Besides, she told herself, it would take her longer than usual to reach her first patient without asking Phyllis for a lift. And the fresh air would wake her up.

 

Taking in some deep breaths, she tried to rid her brain of the grey fog that had settled there. The nurse in her was telling her she needed more sleep and her throbbing head seemed to agree. After all, to risk another fainting incident would not be sensible. But she’d started her day now and numerous patients needed her attention that morning. Not to mention the logistics of sourcing cover from an already grumpy Phyllis. Making an executive decision to keep going until lunch and re-assess how she was after that, Delia continued walking.

 

Her journey to Mrs Robinson's house was taking longer than expected. She had to double her pace after checking her watch. Almost 10 minutes later than she should have been. It would have to be a flying visit today, which was unfortunate.

 

She really enjoyed the company of Mrs Robinson. The two had quite the rapport. It seemed that they had grown up in similar circumstances to each other. Gwen on a dairy farm and Delia in a little seaside town. It was nice to have a connection to back home that wasn't family. Delia rarely got homesick, but some days, talking with Gwen, she'd get the odd pang of missing the valleys, the quiet, the fresh air of Wales. She felt guilty these days to think of home. Her mam had been writing but she had been ignoring most of the letters. Correspondence with her parents had been little more than a phone call at Christmas informing them she'd be spending the holidays in London this year.

 

Whilst Delia did miss the land, the countryside, the peace and quiet and the idea of Wales, she didn't really miss the people she'd left behind. Gwen on the other-hand talked of nothing else. She would natter on at length about her friends back in Llangynidr, regaling Delia with stories of her childhood when they'd camp out on the Brecon Beacons for days on end.

 

"Why did you move to London, Gwen?" Delia had asked her one day.

 

The Welshwoman stiffened. "It was for the best," she said sadly. "Wasn't my first choice to tell you the truth, but Larry was offered a job so we took it."

 

Delia suspected a lot was going unsaid, but never pried. If Gwen wanted to keep herself to herself that was her business. Nevertheless, there was something odd about the Robinson family.

 

Delia knocked on the green door of the terraced house that belonged to the Robinsons.

 

"Midwife calling!" she called brightly.

 

There was no reply. Delia's eyebrows knitted together in worry. This was most unusual. More often than not Mrs Robinson would be at the door in a flash, inviting Delia in and brewing up a milky cuppa all before you (or at least the Welsh) could say 'now in a minute'.

 

She knocked again, a little louder this time, trying to shake the feeling of anxiety that was already pooling in her gut. Straining to hear what was happening inside, she could make out murmured voices, one man and one woman. She pressed an ear to the door.

 

Welsh. They were speaking Welsh.

 

"Rydych chi'n haeddu gwell!" came an angry shout, muffled by the several walls separating them.

 

"Rydym wedi sôn am hyn. Nid wyf yn gofalu am eich barn chi!" was the reply.

 

Delia tried the door and, surprisingly, it swung open. The hallway was dark, the only source of light coming from the kitchen up ahead. The voices continued, speaking quickly and in hushed tones.

 

"Beth fydd y bobl eraill yn ei ddweud? rydych chi wedi priodi rhywun gwrywgydiol! Wedi'r hyn a wnaeth i fy mab. Rydw i'n mynd i ladd y dyn hwnnw!"

 

Delia stood rooted to the spot, unsure if she'd heard correctly. She cleared her throat. "Hello?" she called, announcing her arrival.

 

The murmuring voices halted.

 

Gwen's face peered round the edge of the kitchen door. She looked drawn and pale, but plastered on a wide smile when she saw Delia.

 

"Nurse Busby!" she exclaimed. "Do excuse me for a moment."

 

Delia returned the smile cautiously. Gwen and her were on first name terms by now so it felt odd to be addressed in such a formal way.

 

"Come on through to the living room, I'll get you a cuppa," she called, disappearing from view again.

 

Delia frowned but followed the instructions. The living room was dark, curtains were drawn and the room was airless. An unwelcome stale odour penetrated her nostrils as she sniffed lightly. Something was definitely off, Delia thought as she laid down her bag and tapped her foot nervously. Gwen always insisted on having the curtains wide, letting in as much light as she could.

 

Finally, Gwen reappeared with the tea tray.

 

"I'm sorry," began Delia, "I didn't realise you had company, I can come back later."

 

"No, no, don't be silly cariad," sighed Gwen. "It's just my brother. Besides, he was just about to leave," she called pointedly in the direction of the kitchen.

 

A figure appeared in the alcove between the kitchen and the living room.

 

"Alright annwyl, I can take a hint."

 

Delia's eyebrows shot up. "Mr Thomas?"

 

Recognition flickered briefly across his face before he dipped his cap. "Nurse."

 

Gwen looked between them both, confused. "You know each other?"

 

Delia shook her head. "No, we met at the clinic a few weeks ago - when Andrew had his accident..." she tailed off.

 

Gwen nodded slowly.

 

"How's he doing?" Delia asked Mr Thomas, "Andrew, I mean."

 

Mr Thomas's mouth was tight as he replied, "He's doing fine. One of your lot has been round to see him every day this week."

 

Delia nodded. "He's a brave lad. You must be very proud."

 

"That he is." He spoke flatly, without emotion.

 

The three stood in silence for a little while, the awkwardness very apparent. Delia decided to break the spell.

 

"Anyway, I'd quite like a chat with Mrs Robinson if that's alright - check how baby's getting along."

 

Mr Thomas nodded curtly. "You go right ahead nurse, don't let me stop you." He made to leave the room. As he brushed passed, Delia caught a strong smell of alcohol.

 

"Gareth, wait..." Gwen called suddenly. Her eyes flitted between Delia and her brother, unsure and nervous.

 

"Best not to keep the nurse waiting, Gwen," he smiled, all teeth and no sincerity.

 

"Please... please don't - " she began.

 

Gareth tipped his cap and was gone, the front door slamming behind him.

 

Gwen wobbled on her feet and Delia had to rush to her side to assist as she sank onto the sofa.

 

"Idiot. He's been drinking all night." Her voice was shaking.

 

"What's going on, Gwen?" Delia asked softly, placing her hand gently on Gwen's arm.

 

"This is why I told Larry we shouldn't have moved here. I knew he'd cause us trouble," she spoke almost to herself.

 

"Are you in any danger Gwen?" Delia asked.

 

Gwen shook her head. "I'm not, no."

 

Not quite convinced she was telling the truth, but not wanting to spook her further, Delia reached in her bag and pulled out the blood pressure cuff.

 

"What was he doing round here at this hour anyway?" Delia asked nonchalantly as she wrapped the cuff around Gwen's arm. If she was correct in translating what she'd overheard... But then again it was better to hear it from Gwen herself.

 

She shrugged, refusing to meet Delia's eye.

 

The small midwife's eyebrows knitted together with worry again for the second time that morning.

 

"Your blood pressure is awfully high again." She released the air from the cuff and removed it from her patient's arm.

 

Gwen didn't seem to think this was cause for alarm, she was staring off into space, worrying on her lower lip thoughtfully.

 

"Have you been feeling dizzy recently? Any headaches?"

 

Still no response.

 

"Gwen." Delia moved her body physically in front of Gwen's gaze. "This is important. Please let me help."

 

Gwen sniffed, "I'm not sure there's much you can do, Delia."

 

"Try me." Delia set her jaw. This Busby never backed down from a challenge and she wasn't about to start now.

 

"You are kind." Gwen smiled sadly.

 

"Listen. If something or someone is making you stressed then it's my job to help - I promise I've heard it all before," Delia coaxed.

 

Gwen looked at her incredulously.

 

"Okay, maybe not all," Delia admitted honestly. "But seriously, I want to help-"

 

"It's Larry." Gwen took a deep breath. "Gareth thinks it was him who ran Andrew over. He's convinced himself of it."

 

"Did he?"

 

"Of course he didn't!" Gwen exclaimed defensively. "He's just been looking for an opportunity to pin dirt on him, ever since we moved here -  he wants Larry gone and he knows I ain't leaving him."

 

"I'm so sorry," Delia said softly.

 

Gwen sniffed again and gathered herself. "It's fine. After the baby's born me and Larry, we're moving away from here, far away. Where Gareth won't be able to stick his nose in."

 

Delia nodded. "That sounds like a good idea."

 

Gwen gave a hint of a smile. "I only wish we could do it sooner. But Larry needs this job, he needs to save - we only just bought this place," she waved her hand around the room.

 

Delia looked around. "Perhaps I should open the curtains, it's awfully dark in here. And some fresh air should do you and baby good."

 

She moved to stand but Gwen's hand pulled at her arm, "It's fine, honestly. I can do it later."

 

"I have all the time in the world, Gwen. Least I can do is help you clean up in here a little." Delia made her way towards the curtains and yanked them open.

 

Bright light came streaming into the room, illuminating dust particles in the air. However, one pane of glass on the window was covered haphazardly with tape and cardboard.

 

"What happened to your window?" asked Delia.

 

"Nothing, kids and their football." Gwen smiled weakly.

 

Delia's shoe crunched over broken glass that lay on the carpet.

 

"I patched it up no bother, Larry says he'll fix it soon."

 

Delia frowned. It seemed like an awful lot of mess for just a football. There were large chunks of glass all over the carpet in a generous radius from the window.

 

"I'm going to sweep up some of this glass. Don't want anybody getting hurt do we?" Delia said bracingly.

 

Something was definitely wrong she mused as she borrowed the dustpan and brush from under Gwen's sink. As she collected the bits of broken glass and debris she noticed several small stones and, under one of the side tables a larger stone with a piece of paper tied to it. She turned it over and gulped audibly at the red capital letters "Q U E E R"

 

Delia's vision blurred, a strange taste appeared in her mouth and the sounds around her echoed in her ears. Brain fog descended and she stared numbly at the object in her hand. For a moment nobody moved.

 

"It's not true," Gwen's small voice filtered through.

 

Delia turned, shaking the fog from her mind, her blood beginning to boil. "Mrs Robinson, I don't care if it's true or if it is not - nobody should be throwing rocks through one of my patient's windows."

 

Gwen shrank backwards. Delia realised she'd raised her voice and took a moment to compose herself before talking a seat beside Mrs Robinson.

 

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to shout."

 

Gwen shook her head. "I can't seem to stop them, the rumours. We thought they'd go away if we moved here. A place with lots of people, he could blend in," she slapped a hand to her mouth as she realised what she'd said, "I mean- it's just-" she stuttered.

 

"It's alright." Delia laid a hand gently on Mrs Robinson's before meeting her eyes with as much compassion as she could.

 

Her bright blue eyes locked with Gwen's deep brown. A frisson of understanding flowed between the two women and Gwen began to relax.

 

"Is that where your brother has gone? To find your husband?" Delia asked softly.

 

Gwen nodded, "He's at the garage. Hopefully he's not alone, Bill should be there by now." She checked the clock on the wall.

 

"I could call the police?" Delia suggested.

 

"No! Oh goodness no. I don't want any more attention his way, it's better if we stay low."

 

"Okay," Delia agreed reluctantly, "but I need to know if there's anything I can do to help you."

 

"You listening to me is enough," Gwen whispered, "I don't have anyone to talk to here, no friends to speak of."

 

Delia looked thoughtful. "Have you attended any of our antenatal classes at the clinic?"

 

Gwen shook her head.

 

"It's for mother's to be. We have classes on breastfeeding, nappy changing, the works. It's a great place to meet new mothers, people going through similar things to you. They're every Thursday, I can give you a leaflet if you'd like."

 

Gwen's eyes lit up a bit at that. "Yes please, that would be wonderful."

 

"As for your blood pressure, I'm going to give Doctor Turner a call. Hopefully he can pop into see you later on," Delia said. "Just to be on the safe side," she added, seeing the worry in Gwen's face.

 

Aware time was ticking on and she still had several patients to visit that morning, Delia had to bid Gwen farewell sooner than she would have liked. It was clear the poor woman just needed some company, someone to talk to, but unfortunately time wasn't a luxury.

 

Perhaps she could pop by and see Gwen on her day off, Delia thought as she trudged down the road towards Mr Anderson and his bed sores. It was worrying to say the least that she was under this much stress, especially for a first pregnancy. Delia crossed the road to the telephone box and shut herself in the little cubicle.

 

Depositing some loose change into the phone, she dialled the number for Dr Turner's surgery. With any luck he might be able to fit her into his morning visits.

 

She left a message with Mrs Turner and continued on her way.

 

 

~

 

 

Mrs Aitken was next on her list, following Mr Anderson’s bed sores. A very experienced woman, tough as old boots but with a very kind heart. This was to be her 6th (and hopefully final) child. Several of the others were running riot around her house and it was all Delia could do to locate a foetal heartbeat amongst the clamour.

 

Her head was thumping again - perhaps it was the noise, or the niggling worry about Mrs Robinson but she tried to push through the pain and concentrate.

 

"Any pain at all Mrs Aitken?" she asked, stowing the pinard away in her bag.

 

"None at all Nurse," came the reply. "Oi, Terrence, stop hitting your brother and Liam, give Henry back his spinning top!"

 

Terrence grumbled and Liam began to cry.

 

"Mrs Aitken, have you considered getting some help - just until after baby's born?" Delia asked tactfully.

 

"No, we don't need no help - managing perfectly fine on our on," insisted Mrs Aitken, grabbing one of her sons by the scruff of his neck as he passed, attempting to peer into Delia's bag.

 

"On your notes I can see you've been put down for a home birth, is that correct?"

 

"Yes it is. Had the other five here and they went smooth as clockwork - don't intend on changing what ain't broken." She shuffled back to her feet.

 

Suddenly there was a smash of glass and Delia whipped her head around to see a broken bottle on the floor and Mrs Robinson's urine sample all over the carpet.

 

"Liam!" Mrs Aitken screeched.

 

The aforementioned boy had decided the best course of action was to make a run for it.

 

"It's quite alright, Mrs Aitken - I'll deal with this." Delia tried her best to smile.

 

For the second time today she found herself sweeping up glass from carpet. She checked her watch, it didn't look like she'd have time to go back to the Robinson's to collect another sample before lunch. Perhaps if she squeezed in the time after her next insulin patient...

 

There was another crash and crying. Terrence had created even more havoc by tripping over one of his younger siblings who had slipped on urine that now spread over the kitchen linoleum.

 

Delia pinched the bridge of her nose and tried to take a few deep breaths. This was turning into quite the morning.

 

 

After finally extracting herself from the Aitken household she tried her best to walk briskly to her next patient. Already running half an hour late at this point she broke into a jog before narrowly missing a cyclist who swore loudly at her in passing. Stopping to catch her breath she put her hands on her knees and panted. A dizzy sensation overtook her and she leant against the nearest wall, trying to steady herself. The strange taste in her mouth returned and the noise of the street went muffled for a moment. Then, quick as it had started, it stopped. Everything cleared and Delia found herself being observed by an elderly gentlemen.

 

"Everything alright miss?" he asked, clearly concerned.

 

"Yes. Thank you." Delia smiled.

 

Gathering herself she continued onwards. Perhaps if she had time she could have something to eat after seeing her next patient.

 

 

 

"I don't want it."

 

"Preston, darling, you've got to - the doctor said-"

 

"I don't care. I shan't have it. I shan't."

 

Delia's patience was wearing thin. Preston Winters was a smartly dressed 12 year old with a doting mother and a tendency to be utterly infuriating. Usually he was visited by Nurse Crane who seemed to have a way with the young lad, but Delia was getting absolutely nowhere.

 

"Your mam's right, it's very important medicine."

 

"Your voice is funny. You're not from around here." He stared down at her scathingly.

 

"No, I'm from Wales originally."

 

"We're from Kensington,” he sniffed, “Father still lives there and I get to visit him on weekends."

 

Delia did her best not to roll her eyes. It was not her job to judge patients. But it was becoming abundantly clear that Preston was a spoilt brat.

 

"It's just a small injection - Nurse Crane has given you them lots of times before," Delia encouraged.

 

"You're not her though. She makes it so it doesn't hurt. Doesn't she mummy?" he whined.

 

"Munchkin, Nurse Crane is busy today, that's why lovely Nurse Busby is here," his mum tried to console him.

 

Preston was having none of it. His eyes welled up (clearly a technique he'd perfected well over the years) and his mother broke, hugging him tightly. "I'm sorry my love, I'm sorry."

 

Preston clung on to his doting mother and out of her eyeshot, but well within Delia’s, he rudely stuck out his tongue.

 

Delia turned towards her bag and allowed herself a small eye roll. This really was ridiculous. She undid the clasps and searched through the contents for the insulin bottle. It was nowhere to be found. She groaned inwardly and tried searching for it again but it was futile. Pausing, she took a moment to consider her options before turning to face the her patient and his mother.

 

"Nurse?" asked Mrs Winters expectantly.

 

Delia blinked.

 

"Are you alright?"

 

Delia nodded, "Of course."

 

"You looked like you were daydreaming there for a second."

 

Delia blinked again, confused and trying to concentrate, "I'm sorry - I seem to have forgotten your insulin. I'll pop back to Nonnatus and collect some more."

 

Mrs Winters looked strained. "How long will that take?" she dropped her voice, "It's just I've got to take him to his under fourteens lacrosse lesson this afternoon and they don't like it when he's late- "

 

"Rest assured I'll make sure I'm back within half an hour." Delia tried her best to smile, but her dimples were not functioning at full capacity today.

 

 

Having to divert course back to Nonnatus, Delia was becoming more and more frazzled. The thrumming in her head continued incessantly and she decided when she got back she'd take a few more of the painkillers Dr Turner had prescribed. Perhaps they would help her get through the rest of her shift.

 

Finally, she arrived back where she'd started her day. Making speed towards the clinical room for the insulin, she found her way blocked by a very worried looking Sister Winifred.

 

"Oh Delia, I've been trying to reach you! I've just got off the phone with Doctor Turner. Your patient, Mrs Robinson, has been admitted to the London with suspected preeclampsia. They're running more tests now but it seems a likely diagnoses."

 

Delia gasped, her hand flying to her mouth, "Oh no! I should have stayed with her. I had her urine sample but it got destroyed - " she garbled, aware she wasn’t making much sense, “Is she okay?”

 

"I don’t know,” the sister admitted, “But she’s in the best possible place, given the circumstances.” She saw the paling of Delia’s features and added, “alerting Doctor Turner was quick thinking on your part and certainly stopped the situation from becoming worse.”

 

Delia nodded, "Of course."

 

She continued on her way. She couldn’t have done anything more could she? Staying with Gwen would have meant being unable to fulfill her quota of seeing her other morning patients. Gwen’s blood pressure had been high almost every time she’d seen the poor woman, but she’d always put it down to stress, not something as serious as pre-eclampsia.

 

Lost in her musing she ran headfirst into Sister Julienne in the doorway to the clinical room.

 

"Nurse Busby, what brings you back here so soon?" the nun asked surprised.

 

"Oh, nothing Sister, I just forgot Preston Winters' insulin..."

 

Just then Phyllis rounded the corner with a face like thunder.

 

"Nurse Busby! I've just been informed that Henry Aitken has been found unconscious after consuming what looks to be a considerable amount of insulin, orally I may add, which could lead to some very serious complications.”

 

Delia paled, her heart hammering. The day had gone from bad to worse.

 

Sister Julienne took charge, "Nurse Crane, has an ambulance been called?"

 

"Yes, it is on its way."

 

"Good. I suggest you attend to Master Winters and administer his daily insulin."

 

Delia opened her mouth to object but decided against it.

 

"I will attend to Master Aitken, his mother and I have a good relationship; I do believe I delivered most of her children so I'm sure I'll be able to smooth things over there." The Sister turned her attention towards Delia, her mouth tight lipped and eyes stony. "Nurse Busby, this is a mistake you cannot allow to happen. I strongly advise you to take the rest of today off."

 

Delia balked at the expression on the nun's face. She had never seen Sister Julienne angry and was currently feeling all of two foot tall. "Yes Sister," she replied simply.

 

"Good. That's settled," Sister Julienne proclaimed. "Nurse Anderson, will you assume telephone duty until we return?"

 

 

Delia was in a daze as she upended her bag and emptied her instruments into the autoclave. How could she have allowed for so many things to have gone wrong all at once? She'd never made this many mistakes before, let alone all within the space of a few hours. And now Sister Julienne was upset with her. She could lose her job if she wasn't careful.

 

Scrubbing her hands in the sink she tried to push the tears back into her eyes. Get a grip Busby. This lapse in concentration was probably due to nothing more than her lack of sleep last night. Afterall, she tried to medically justify, the brain makes all sorts of mistakes when it's tired. Perhaps it was for the best the Sister had given her the rest of the day off. At least she hadn't fainted in front of a patient, she thought wryly. The best course of action now was to curl up with a blanket and get some shut eye. Everything ought to be better tomorrow, surely.

 

Sighing, she closed the autoclave and set it to work, ensured everything was in its correct place (because heavens to betsy if she could deal with another criticism today) and made her way towards the stairs and to bed.

 

Halfway up the stairs on the first half landing she stopped. There were voices filtering through from Trixie and Valerie's bedroom. One was quite obviously the former - her giggle quite unmistakable. Delia strained to hear the other, then a low chuckle confirmed it - Patsy. She frowned in confusion. Patsy was meant to have a full day's shift today, what was she doing back this early? And why was she talking - no, laughing, with Trixie when she could barely face the brunette at breakfast? Delia felt hurt, angry, upset and hot tears threatened to spill over once again.

 

Before she could take another step however, her vision swam. She tried to shake her head to make it go away but that just seemed to make it worse. A strange feeling of deja-vu floated through her hazy mind. That was odd. That weird taste in her mouth was back again and everything was going fuzzy in her peripheral. Her heart rate increased tenfold as her blood pressure fell through the floor. The fuzziness turned darker and her hand flew out instinctively grabbing for the bannister rail.

 

Then she saw nothing but black.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

All Comes Tumbling Down

 

 

 

 

 

Part 3 - Patsy

 

 

 

 

The world ceased rotating on its axis in that one instant.

 

"DELIA!" Patsy shouted.

 

The Welshwoman was lying at the foot of the stairs, her body rigid and convulsing.

 

Patsy flew down the steps as fast as she could. Delia was having a seizure, that much was clear. Her eyes were rolled back into her head and her limbs were flailing wildly out of control. The sight made Patsy sick to the stomach.

 

She rushed to Delia's aid while Trixie stood, rooted to the spot, clearly in shock and unable to move. Calling on her training Patsy tried to help Delia onto her side in order to clear her airway but the idea was easier said than done. The Welshwoman's unpredictable movements made it nearly impossible and Patsy was fearing a kick or punch in the jaw at any moment. A strange choking noise was coming from Delia's mouth. Patsy knew this wasn’t necessarily cause of immediate concern, having seen major seizures in patients before. But seeing everything happen to Delia was completely different. She felt utterly helpless towards the brunette's distress. She floundered for a brief moment but managed to shake out the panic. Focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t.

 

"It's alright Delia, I'm here, you’re going to be fine," she tried to speak evenly, gently holding Delia's hair back and keeping her head tilted best she could. Reassurance was important - even if it was mainly for herself.

 

Lucille appeared from her post by the telephone to see what all the commotion was about.

 

Patsy’s head whipped around, "Call Doctor Turner!" she yelled.

 

She took a moment then, tearing her eyes away from Delia - why wasn't anybody helping!?

 

Lucille sprung into action, her movement triggering Trixie to snap out of her trance. The blonde rushed to Patsy and together they finally managed to maneuver Delia's shaking body onto her side. The redhead's eyes were blurring with tears, it was a horrible sight to witness. A dull pain began growing inside her chest. Seeing Delia in so much distress was actually physically hurting her.

 

Eventually, after what felt like half an hour but in reality was only a couple of minutes, Delia's muscle spasms began to ease and her body started to relax. Lucille came bounding back.

 

"Doctor is on his way." she panted.

 

"Thank you sweetie." whispered Trixie.

 

Patsy nodded in thanks. She felt slightly guilty for being brusque with Lucille earlier but there were far more pressing concerns than apologising right now.

 

Lucille stood looking rather helpless as she watched the tangle of midwives at the foot of the stairs.

 

"Perhaps we should move her to the sofa?" she suggested.

 

"That's probably a good idea." Trixie agreed.

 

Patsy said nothing but did not relinquish her steady hold on the brunette. For some reason words just could not form in her mouth she was fixated on Delia's pale face and unseeing eyes.

 

"If she's had a grand-mal, which it looks like it's more than possible, she's going to be rather disorientated for a bit. It's best we sit her somewhere comfortable as she comes round," Trixie explained to Patsy, softly. "Lucille could you take her arms, I'll get her legs and Patsy can support her body."

 

"No!" Patsy found her voice at last, "We haven't checked her for injuries... from the fall," she clarified.

 

All sorts of worst case scenarios were popping into Patsy's head and no matter what she did, she couldn't stop them from bubbling over the surface. What if she'd broken her neck!? Or her spine or - no, they couldn't move her, not yet. Not until they were sure she wasn’t seriously hurt.

 

"We need something to support her head. Lucille could you grab some cushions? And perhaps a blanket - it's freezing out here," Patsy instructed, feeling much safer behind the façade of Nurse Mount.

 

 

 

Lucille dashed off to the sitting room and returned shortly after with a pile of pillows and a large woollen blanket. Between them, they managed to support the brunette's head with several cushions. As Patsy threw the blanket over Delia’s body for warmth, she began to stir.

 

"Delia?" Patsy asked softly, reaching for a pale left hand.

 

Delia frowned and let out a little whimper. Her eyelids fluttered open then closed again.

 

"Delia, squeeze my hand if you can hear me."

 

The cold hand squeezed back infinitesimally.

 

"Well done." Patsy encouraged. "It's all right, take your time."

 

"Will she remember any of this?" Lucille asked Trixie in a hushed tone.

 

"I doubt she will," Trixie replied. "The seizure patients I've worked with in the past had long blackouts of memory following a tonic clonic."

 

Patsy wanted them to be quiet, to stop talking in such medical terms around a fellow colleague and friend. But the logical part of her knew it was their way of dealing with the awful situation and she bit her tongue.

 

Delia's eyes would open for a fraction of a second and then close again. Her mumbles were incoherent but Patsy managed to make out the words "Tired." and "Sleep."

 

"I know you're sleepy Deels, but you've got to wake up for me, it's very important," Patsy coaxed, giving Delia's hand another squeeze, "You need to keep talking to us."

 

The brunette returned the squeeze and after a few more minutes opened her eyes a little further before taking a deep breath and trying to assess her surroundings.

 

"What - " she began and made an attempt to sit up, which proved completely futile. All the movement did was to cause her to groan loudly and clamp her eyes shut again, scrunching them tightly. She flopped back down onto the cushions.

 

"Delia, are you in pain?" Patsy asked, her heart hammering.

 

A tiny nod.

 

Lucille had knelt down beside them. "Where does it hurt precious?"

 

Delia untangled her left hand from Patsy's and pointed limply at her shoulder before letting her arm drop again.

 

"Have you got any pain in your back or neck?" Lucille asked gently.

 

Delia shook her head firmly, as if trying to demonstrate her competence.

 

"And can you wiggle your toes for me?"

 

Delia followed the instruction.

 

 

 

“Any pins and needles?”

 

 

 

Another shake of the smaller woman’s head.

 

"In that case, I think we can rule out any neck injuries." Lucille smiled.

 

Patsy felt almost lightheaded with relief at the news.

 

Delia was slowly gaining more and more awareness of her surroundings and was beginning to look confused as to why she was on the floor. Her eyes were properly open now and she stared at Patsy questioningly.

 

"P-Pats..." she stuttered. "Wh- why am I on the floor?"

 

"You had a seizure and took a tumble down the stairs." Patsy's voice felt foreign, as if it belonged to someone else.

 

Delia's brow furrowed. "Oh." she said simply.

 

"How's you head?" enquired Lucille.

 

Delia tested its integrity by moving it testily from side to side. "Fine."

 

 

 

Patsy examined it, checking for any sensitive spots. If Delia had a concussion this could still be rather serious.

 

"How many fingers am I holding up?"

 

"Three."

 

"And can you tell me what day it is and where you are?"

 

"It's Friday and I'm at the bottom of the stairs." Delia replied, her sarcastic sense of humour returning.

 

Patsy couldn't help but feel a flood of relief at the quip.

 

"Do you have any other pain apart from your shoulder?" she asked.

 

Delia shook her head. "No, I think I'm okay."

 

"Do you think you can stand, if we help you? It's just it’s bally cold in here and the sofa will be much more comfortable." Trixie offered.

 

A nod.

 

All nurses satisfied their patient was not suffering from any immediately life threatening injuries, Patsy wrapped a strong arm around Delia's waist, the Welshwoman supporting herself with her good arm and together they made their way through to the warmth of the sitting room. As Patsy gently lowered Delia onto the nearest armchair, there was a sharp knock at the front door.

 

"That should be Dr Turner." Trixie dashed off to answer.

 

Delia looked up at Patsy, her confusion back. "Why is he here? What happened?"

 

"You had a fall, remember? Doctor is just popping over to make sure you're alright." Patsy smiled.

 

"Oh."

 

There were hushed voices in the hall as Trixie and Lucille filled the Doctor in with the basics of the situation. Meanwhile Patsy knelt beside the armchair, Delia's hand still clutched firmly in her own. She squeezed and Delia squeezed back. The poor woman looked exhausted and pale but a lot more awake and aware.

 

"Nurse Busby." Dr Turner greeted the small woman gently. "I hear you've taken a bit of a tumble, how are you feeling now?"

 

"Better... a little tired. And my shoulder really hurts."

 

"Tiredness following a seizure can be very common. Is it alright if I listen to your chest and examine your shoulder?"

 

Delia nodded. Trixie ushered Lucille out of the room and followed quietly behind her, feeling it was best to give the Welshwoman some privacy. Patsy however stood her ground, but the Doctor did not seem to mind.

 

"Nurse Mount, could you help me?"

 

As gently as she could Patsy undid the buttons on Delia's dress and eased the fabric off her shoulders, allowing it to pool at her waist. The brunette hissed in pain as Patsy released the pressure of her right brassiere strap.

 

 

 

“Can you remember what happened?” he asked cautiously.

 

 

 

Delia shook her head. “Everything went wrong today, I made too many mistakes. Sister Julienne advised I take the rest of the day off, I think I was halfway up the stairs to bed and then…” she tailed off.

 

 

 

The doctor listened intently to Delia's breathing but could not find anything amiss. He then instructed Delia to move her arm this way and that. The results were less than promising and were causing the brunette to turn a paler and paler shade of grey with every motion. It was clear she was resisting the urge to cry out in pain, her body flinching with every little movement. Eventually, Dr Turner laid her arm to rest on her stomach and sat back.

 

"I think we're looking at an anterior dislocation of the right shoulder." he said grimly. "I suggest we get you to hospital."

 

Delia shook her head violently, "No."

 

Patsy and the Doctor exchanged glances.

 

"I'm not going back there again," Delia's voice wobbled.

 

Patsy swallowed a lump of emotion that had lodged itself in her throat.. In all honesty she didn't want Delia back there either. Her beautiful girlfriend in a scratchy, ugly patterned hospital robe. Locked away inside a green room where she couldn't see her. It was bringing back terrible, unsettlingly memories, for both women. But then again, what was the alternative?

 

 

 

"Can you set it?" Delia turned to Dr Turner, eyes wide and hopeful.

 

He cleared his throat. "In theory yes, however I would advise a specialist..."

 

Delia shook her head, "No. No specialists."

 

Dr Turner sighed, the gears in his brain turning. "Very well. If you're completely sure, we'll compromise. I will try and reduce your shoulder here. But if I cannot, or if it is too painful, we go to the London. Agreed?"

 

Delia thought for a moment, her eyes flicking backwards and forwards between Patsy and the Doctor.

 

 

 

"Agreed," she replied, her mouth set in a tight determination.

 

"Right. I'll pop back to the surgery and get some supplies, Nurse Mount, could you help Delia onto a dining chair. It will make access easier."

 

Patsy nodded. She felt conflicting emotions and nursing instincts pulling her in all directions. Delia should be seen by a specialist, that much was clear. The nurse in her knew that shoulder dislocations could carry many serious complications if not set right. Personally though, she knew Delia’s dogged determination would mean the Welshwoman had the determination to sit through pain without complaint. Even to the detriment of her own health.

 

"Have you assisted in a joint reduction before?"

 

"A few times yes, during my stint in male surgical," Patsy took a breath, chancing a quick glance at Delia.

 

 

 

She knew exactly how excruciatingly painful joint reductions could be, having witnessed some of the toughest men on the ward wail like newborns. And that was not counting her own more personal experiences in the internment camps.

 

"Excellent, I'm going to need your help."

 

"Of course." Patsy swallowed her own anxieties. Right now, Delia needed her.

 

They sat in silence together while they waited for the Doctor's return. Delia's eyes were closed and her breathing very shallow. Patsy was stroking her hand, trying to calm her but it wasn't yielding much of a result. Hoping to high heaven the Doctor was going to bring some sort of pain relief with him, Patsy threw caution to the wind for a brief moment and kissed Delia lightly on her damp forehead.

 

The Welshwoman's eyes snapped open at that and she managed a weak smile.

 

"I'm sorry Pats- " she began.

 

"No. I'm sorry." Patsy shook her head.

 

"We need to talk." Delia whispered.

 

Patsy nodded. "I know. Not now but, we will. Soon." She wiped the beads of sweat with her handkerchief.

 

Delia sighed and closed her eyes again. "It's a date."

 

Patsy's mouth twitched into the faintest hint of a smile.

 

Delia shivered. "I'm cold." she whispered, her teeth chattering.

 

"We'll soon get you wrapped up in bed, I promise."

 

 

 

Delayed shock had clearly begun to set in if Delia’s shaking was anything to go by. Patsy took in the sight of her poor, battered girlfriend, nearly naked from the waist up. No wonder she was freezing. The redhead placed the blanket from earlier over the brunette’s lap to help retain some heat and Delia adjusted slightly in her seat hissing in discomfort as her shoulder shifted.

 

 

 

“Try to sit still, love,” Patsy murmured, “Doctor Turner’s on his way.”

 

As if on cue, Doctor Turner reappeared bearing a large canister of gas and air. Patsy let out a shaky sigh of relief when she saw him.

 

"This should help. I've got an extra canister in my car, should we need it, but I think one should do us just fine."

 

He switched on the machine and held out the mask. Delia took it without a second thought, breathing in deeply. It took a few minutes for the gas and air to take effect, but soon Delia visibly relaxed in her seat, the edge clearly gone from her pain.

 

"Good job Deels, that's it, keep breathing, nice deep breaths." Patsy encouraged.

 

Then Delia giggled. She pulled the mouthpiece out for a brief moment, "I’m not giving birth, Pats!"

 

 

 

Patsy snorted at that. “I should hope not.”

 

 

 

Doctor Turner's eyebrows raised in question and Patsy smiled. The giggling was infectious. After all, they called it laughing gas for a reason.

 

Satisfied the gas was working, Doctor Turner rolled up his sleeves, pulled on some disposable gloves and prepared for the procedure.

 

"Okay, Delia. I am going to tell you exactly what I am going to do, before I do it. And if at any point you want me to stop, just tell me and I'll stop."

 

Delia giggled and nodded.

 

 

 

He gently prodded Delia’s shoulder, locating the top of her humerus. In the light of the kitchen it was easier to see the deformation her right side.

 

 

 

"Right, Patsy, could you sit on Delia's left side please, make sure she's still taking deep breaths and try and keep her steady."

 

Patsy got into position, taking Delia's left hand in her own, no longer caring about appearances. With her other hand she held the grey mask to Delia's face, allowing her to keep breathing in the gas.

 

"Delia, I'm going to need you to relax your arm muscles as best you can - everything will go a lot smoother the less you fight it."

 

Delia nodded once in understanding and gripping Patsy's hand slightly tighter, her eyes closing in anticipation.

 

"Now I'm going to move your forearm parallel to your legs." He started to slowly move, supporting her limb with his hands.

 

Delia's eyebrows furrowed but she kept breathing in the gas steadily.

 

"Good. Well done. Now I'm going to bring your arm out to the side until you start to feel some resistance from the muscles."

 

The Welshwoman flinched as the doctor slowly completed the manoeuvre.

 

"Tell me when you feel resistance," he instructed gently.

 

"Now." she hissed. "Owww..."

 

Patsy gripped her hand tighter. Delia was looking impossibly pale, her brow furrowed deep with concentration and pain.

 

"Keep breathing in the gas and air." Patsy encouraged, “You’re doing really well.”

 

"Are you all right for me to keep going?" Dr Turner asked.

 

She nodded, beads of sweat popping off her forehead.

 

"Okay. Now I'm going to gently pull your arm forward and around. This should ease the joint back into the socket. Remember try and relax your muscles as best you can, I know it's hard."

 

He rotated her arm slowly. Delia gasped and flinched before taking several large lungfuls of the gas and air. Patsy felt the blood supply to her hand cease as the smaller woman squeezed hard.

 

"Relax Deels," she coaxed gently.

 

"Do you want me to stop?" Dr Turner asked.

 

Delia groaned and shook her head determinedly. "I'm fine. Keep going."

 

The doctor tried the movement again.

 

“Agh!” Delia screamed, almost flying off her seat in agony. Patsy reacted instantly, trying to steady her.

 

Suddenly a satisfying 'pop' echoed throughout the kitchen.

 

Delia gasped and immediately collapsed sideways onto Patsy. The redhead quickly dropped the gas and air and supported the smaller woman as she panted in relief.

 

Dr Turner beamed. "Well done."

 

Delia’s forehead rested in the crook of Patsy’s neck, her breath tickling Patsy’s skin with every exhale. The taller woman stroked Delia’s hair gently as her breathing settled, resisting the urge to kiss her.

 

"Well done, Deels, it's all over," she whispered in her ear.

 

Eventually, Delia managed to return to a sitting position, propped up heavily by Patsy. Dr Turner performed a few more movements to ensure Delia's shoulder was truly back where it belonged. Seemingly satisfied he removed his gloves and began packing up the gas and air machine.

 

"You'll need an x-ray just to confirm everything’s where it should be. I can book you in for one tomorrow. Don't worry," he added at the worry that flashed over Delia's face, "It'll just be an outpatient appointment, no need to stay anywhere overnight."

 

"Thank you, doctor." Delia sounded utterly spent.

 

"I suggest you take some of the painkillers I gave you tonight. I’m sure Nurse Mount will help you into a sling. You know the drill - we need to give your shoulder time to heal, so it’s important to rest the joint for the next week or so."

 

Both women nodded.

 

The doctor finished packing up his supplies and knelt down to Delia's eye level.

 

“Now, as for your seizures. I'm not happy leaving you alone, so I recommend for the next 24 hours someone is with you at all times. Just in case you are suffering from delayed concussion, or if there are any more seizures. I'm going to write to your old Neurology consultant and ask if you can get an appointment with him as soon as possible. In the meantime, I do not think you should be working so I'll write you a note."

 

Delia looked rather crestfallen but agreed.

 

"Right. If there are any problems or if you have any more seizures, call me."

 

"Thank you." Delia whispered.

 

He smiled at her. "Don't forget to look after yourself. I know folk in our profession sometimes forget that."

 

~

 

After helping Delia into a sling Patsy got her settled into bed. The poor woman looked exhausted, her skin had a grey tinge and there were very dark circles around her eyes. Ensuring she had taken the painkillers, Patsy sat by her bedside and kissed her forehead gently.

 

"You gave us all quite the scare today." she whispered.

 

"I'm sorry." Delia croaked.

 

"It's okay. The main thing is you're alright," Patsy breathed.

 

Delia nodded, the energy sapping from her with each passing second.

 

"Now get some rest." Patsy stoked her forehead, her eyes watering.

 

The brunette's eyes fluttered closed.

 

Patsy sat with her a while, just staring at Delia's peaceful face as she slept soundly.

 

The gravity of what had happened that day finally began to sink in. Slowly Patsy's walls cracked and tears began to make fast tracks silently down her cheeks. She'd stayed strong up until this point because she'd had no choice. Delia had needed her. But now satisfied her girlfriend was safe again everything was bubbling over. Not wanting to wake her, Patsy called Lucille and asked if she could take the next watch over Delia while she took a break. Lucille agreed and the two silently switched places.

 

She felt at a loss as to where to go. For some reason she found herself walking towards the chapel. Patsy never put much stock in prayer and god. Having watched several people in the camps pray for hours on end just to meet their deaths, prayer seemed futile and rather a waste of time. Besides, if god did exist, why had he allowed for such monstrosities to happen? And yet Patsy understood why people sought solace in prayer. When you had nobody to turn to, nothing else to hold on to, the idea that talking to a higher being that had the power save you was rather tempting.

 

The chapel pews were uncomfortable. Delia had told her once that was because they didn't want anybody falling asleep during sermons. She smiled. Oh Delia. They were both going through so much and there was no easy out. No quick prayer that could solve everything. The journey ahead was going to be long and difficult, she knew that.

 

Patsy sat in silence until the sun was setting, its low light casting through the stain glass windows. It was calming to sit in solitude. Many times in the camps she had sought out a hiding spot away from everyone, away from the guards, her fellow detainees and the screams of the hospital tent. She'd sit, close her eyes and imagine a wide open field, the summer breeze flowing through her hair, barefoot on a grassy meadow, the sound of dozy bees buzzing in the distance. It was a place she could disappear to and find some ounce of happiness. And it was here she found herself now. Except this time she wasn't alone. Delia was there. They were lying on the grass, staring up at the sky, watching the clouds pass lazily. Hands intertwined and completely relaxed.

 

Although she did not believe in it, this is what heaven was to her.

 

So lost in her own fantasy, she didn't hear the door to the chapel creak open. A figure shuffled into the room and took a seat beside her.

 

Patsy sensed someone was there and opened her eyes. Sister Monica-Joan was eyeing her intently.

 

"Pray child, what has made you take solace in our kingdom of Christ?" she asked.

 

"I just needed some quiet." she said truthfully.

 

"You look as though your body is present but your mind is in a far off land."

 

Patsy smiled. The old nun may be lacking in eyesight, but she was still incredibly observant.

 

"One often hears disappearing into oneself is apparently a sign of madness, however, I believe my imagination to be a monastery and I am its monk."

 

"We're not mad, Sister." Patsy assured.

 

"I am not passed my capacity for understand but my mind has been most discontented and restless... it has been one that was put into a body too small for it." Sister Monica-Joan stared at the altar. "I used to fear what he had in store for me, but now I have learned I must choose between despair and Energy, and I chose the latter."

 

The two women sat in each other's company for a while, enjoying the silence and solitude together.

 

Sister Monica Joan was right - it was all too easy to get lost within one's own despairs. And the energy spent in doing so was much better put to more constructive things, such as fixing the roots of the problems that were the cause of those despairs. What Trixie had said before about asking for help - Patsy was fearful of accepting she needed it, that much was obvious. But all said and done she did need help. She had no idea what kind of help she need though. What she did know was she was surrounded by people who were willing to help her and that was something she had been lacking her entire life up until this point. Perhaps now was the right time after all.

 

Importantly, she knew she was not alone.

 

Patsy crawled upstairs later that evening, utterly spent. Delia was still fast asleep, being watched over by Valerie.

 

Valerie simply smiled kindly at Patsy when she entered their shared room to collect her pyjamas.

 

"I can leave if you want." she whispered. "Give you some privacy."

 

Patsy shook her head. She knew Delia had to be under constant observation and right now she was minutes away from falling asleep herself.

 

"You're welcome to take your old bed for tonight." Val offered. "I'll keep an eye on her, you deserve some rest."

 

Patsy felt a rush of gratitude towards Valerie. It did everything to affirm her previous thoughts - they were all with her, they always had been.

 

It was such an unusual sensation to wrap her head around, she thought as she tucked herself into her old bed. Especially having spent her whole life on edge, suspicious of almost everyone. Delia had broken down some of those walls, but she'd only ever allowed her in. And even then, Delia still did not know everything. There were some secrets that nobody alive knew.

 

She punched the pillow into a more agreeable shape and stared over at Trixie's empty bed. A pang of guilt hit her. She'd been so focused in her own woes, she not supported Trixie's relapse. Not as a best friend should have at any rate. No, this had to end - whatever 'this' was. Patsy rolled over.

 

Change had to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Being a patient, especially when one was a nurse, was particularly tiresome, Delia mused. Everything seemed to more at a literal snail's pace.

 

She sat on a hard plastic chair as she waited for her name to be called.

 

Several other patients sat alongside her, most of them elderly - coughing and wheezing. Evidence of a hard hitting winter, clearly. A little boy with a huge plaster cast had been sick on his mother's lap and she was trying her best to clean up the mess with her cardigan sleeve.

 

Yes, it was certainly much more exciting being a nurse.

 

She observed the blue blurs of nurses scuttling around, almost like ant workers, carrying files and ferrying patients form A to B. It was odd to stop and watch the frantic activity. She suddenly felt an overwhelming sensation of uselessness. Like she should be doing something, anything, to help them. It was clear the X-ray department was busy, but despite Delia offering to come back later, they assured her she wouldn't have to wait more than half an hour.

 

That was over an hour ago.

 

Delia huffed and tried to focus her mind on something else. There were several women's realm magazines on the table in front of her, but reading one handed wasn't likely to be the easiest task, so she abandoned that idea. Patsy had been unable to attend the appointment with her. Much to the redhead's dismay, Sister Julienne had insisted she pick up Delia's district patients for that morning. Unable to think up a reasonable excuse, Patsy had bid Delia farewell after breakfast, with the promise of catching up later that afternoon.

 

"Miss Busby?" came a sharp bark.

 

Delia looked up and made eye contact with the source of the noise.

 

A middle aged woman with an especially intricate silver belt buckle stared back down her thin nose. If her lips pursed any more, Delia thought, they'd disappear entirely. She recognised the well-built woman instantly. It was Nurse Hopkins, or 'Matron' as she prefered to be called. An almost legendary figure from her nursing school days and very much unforgettable.

 

Matron made no indication that she recognised Delia however, and frankly Delia wasn't surprised. The amount of student nurses that passed by this battleaxe of a woman must be in the high hundreds. She was very unlikely to remember a quiet, petite, brunette from Pembrokeshire.

 

"This way please." Matron indicated to a side room.

 

Delia followed, shuffling her feet a bit, mostly out of habit from her training years. Matron closed the door behind her.

 

"You're here for an x-ray of your shoulder is that correct?"

 

"Yes."

 

Matron nodded crisply, "You'll need to get into this gown and then Doctor will call you."

 

She thrust a bundle into Delia's good hand and left her to it.

 

Delia frowned as the door closed behind the nurse. She was still a cow then. Sighing, she attempted to undress herself without moving her shoulder. It was proving rather tricky. Eventually she shrugged on the uncomfortable starch cotton of the hospital gown. The ridiculous thing had ties all the way up the back and there was no chance in high heaven she'd be able to do them all up by herself.

 

More than aware she was bearing all behind her she sidled carefully towards the door and opened it a crack.

 

Matron was nowhere to be seen.

 

Delia huffed in indignation. So much for a compassionate colleague.

 

Finally she managed to catch the eye of a younger looking nurse and flagged her down.

 

"Everything alright Miss?" she asked with a cheery smile.

 

Delia flashed her best dimples. "Not quite everything. I'm in a bit of a pickle with this gown..."

 

The kind young nurse was tying the final knot on Delia's gown when Matron burst back into the room, without even a hint of a knock.

 

"Nurse Baxter, what are you doing? You're supposed to be on paediatrics."

 

"Sorry, Matron, I was just - "

 

"No excuses girl. Now chop chop. Back to work." she barked loudly. "Miss Busby, when you're quite finished taking up my nurses valuable time with idle chit chat, please wait outside to be called." And with that she was gone in a flash of blue and silver.

 

Delia rolled her eyes and lowered her voice, "Her bark is worse than her bite, don't worry. Silly old cow."

 

Nurse Baxter's eyebrows hit the roof, "You mean you know her?"

 

"She used to be Matron in the old nurses home I stayed in," Delia winked, "She also had a very eclectic taste in music - we'd often hear her singing Dean Martin, offkey I may add, loudly in the shower."

 

The two women grinned at each other, a shared comradery passing between them.



   

Another half an hour passed. Delia was beginning to get very cold. There was a horrible breeze flowing up her gown, the likes of which would have been most welcome in the summer months, but right now was more irksome than pleasant.

 

Finally an elderly man in a white lab coat appeared, glancing from his clipboard to Delia.

 

"Miss Delia Busby?" he questioned.

 

Delia nodded.

 

"Excellent." He put a very cold hand on her back, "Follow me please."


Delia lay flat on the metal slab as the doctor placed the x-ray plate under her.

 

"Now, lie very still please."

 

The machine whirred into life and clicked a few times.

 

"All done. You can get changed now."


Getting out of the gown was a whole lot easier than getting into it, Delia learned quickly as she managed to pull on her own clothes at last. Feeling a lot more human than before, she sat and waited again.

 

At last a young doctor approached her and called her into his room.

 

He completed a through physical of her, taking her height, weight and blood pressure. Even requesting a urine sample and finally taking some blood. Feeling thoroughly prodded and probed Delia was finally allowed to sit in the chair opposite his desk.

 

He flipped through her notes, reading intently. "I see you're a nurse, Miss Busby."

 

Delia nodded. "Yes."

 

He looked up and winked at her. "I'm sure male surgical suffered a horrible loss."

 

Feeling increasingly more uncomfortable, Delia shifted in her seat, hoping he'd just cut to the chase.

 

"Your GP has referred you back to Dr Hendry which I think is a wise decision, considering your recent seizure. As for your shoulder, I'm happy to say the reduction was successful, however you do have a fractured clavicle. It's not a major break and should heal well without intervention. But I'd advise against any energetic dancing." He smiled.

 

Delia did not.. It wasn't the best news by any means, but at least she didn't have to stay in hospital any longer than was necessary.

 

"Having said that, I can advise a more suitable activity to be dinner for two at this new italian restaurant that just opened in kensington. A bottle of the house white and a slow dance might just be what this doctor would order..."

 

"Thank you." Delia cut him off quickly as she twigged what was happening, "You're very kind, but I'm actually spoken for."

 

She almost felt bad as the young doctor's face fell. He recovered rather smoothly however and flattened his hair. "Well, he's a lucky chap, I must say."

 

Delia smiled politely, but inside she just wanted the floor to swallow her up.

 

He coughed, flattening his hair again. "Anyway, keep your arm in a sling for the next 4 weeks, then we'll give you another x-ray to make sure everything is healing as it should." He studied the notes closer. "As for returning to work, I'm afraid that's out of the question for now, at least until your shoulder fully heals."

 

She knew the words were coming but it still hurt to hear them.

 

Meanwhile the Doctor was scribbling something down on a piece of paper. He handed it to her and Delia noted his unattractively sweaty palms.

 

"Here's a prescription for some more pain relief, should you need it. If you have any other questions, just talk to your GP." He rose from behind his desk and opened the door for Delia.

 

On her way out he whispered, "and my telephone number is on the back, just in case your chap ends up dancing with someone else."

 

Delia hot footed it out of the room as quickly as she could.




~



After she'd returned back to Nonnatus she felt completely exhausted. It was annoying really, all she done was wait around all morning and yet she felt like she'd been through a full night shift on a busy ward. Feeling a newfound respect for some of her patients, she decided the best course of action was to grab a quick lunch and spend the rest of the afternoon resting. With any luck Patsy would be back soon anyway.

 

She propped herself up with a few pillows and attempted to read her book with one hand. It sort of worked, but within half an hour her eyelids began to droop and she lolled forward, snoring lightly.

 

Someone jolted her awake by removing the book from her outstretched hand. Eyes opening brearily she blinked as Patsy replaced the novel on the bookshelf.

 

"You can go back to sleep if you want, I just didn't want you getting neck pain from sleeping at that awkward angle."

 

Delia shook her head, "It's okay, I should sleep at night anyway, rather than the middle of the day."

 

"You do realise you're allowed to sleep as much as you want?" Patsy smiled kindly and perched on the corner of Delia's bed. "You're a patient now, remember?"

 

"Don't remind me." Delia grumbled.

 

"Sorry." Patsy looked contrite, reaching for the brunette's hand.

 

Their fingers interlocked together and Delia breathed out a shaky sigh. She could have done with this company earlier that morning.

 

As if reading her mind, Patsy broached the question timidly. "How was your x-ray?"

 

"Fine. Well, my shoulder is fine - I have a broken collar bone though. And the young doctor tried to talk me into going to dinner with him - oh and I saw Matron, she's still a complete cow - "

 

"You have a broken collar bone!?" Patsy exclaimed, "How did we miss that?"

 

Delia shrugged one shoulder. "Dunno. It's not bad though, I'm just to rest for a few weeks. The doctor doesn't want me working either."

 

Patsy gave her a sympathetic look, "I'm sorry Deels."

 

"S'ok. I was expecting him to say it. Can't exactly deliver any babies one handedly. They don't teach us that in training."

 

They smiled at each other.

 

"I'm very proud of you, Delia." Patsy whispered, "I'm sorry I didn't tell you before."

 

"Valerie helped, it wasn't just me..."

 

"And you're incredibly modest too. She told me everything and you were magnificent by the sounds of things. I was being a stubborn mule, so much so that I missed celebrating your first delivery." Patsy looked genuinely downcast, "Can you forgive me?"

 

Delia leaned forward and pulled Patsy to her with her good arm, planting a firm kiss on her full lips.

 

"I forgive you."

 

They came together again and Delia felt butterflies erupt in her belly, as they did every time she kissed the beautiful redhead. Patsy's kisses were tender and gentle, as if she was scared of breaking Delia even more. Eventually they parted and Delia rested her head in the crook of Patsy's neck, sighing contentedly.

 

"I think I've decided something Deels," Patsy's voice was barely audible, "But I don't think I can do it without your help."

 

Delia drew back and looked into the redhead's eyes. They were wide, full of intrepidation.

 

"Anything, cariad. You know I'm here for you."

 

Patsy smiled weakly and stroked Delia's cheek. "Have I mentioned that I love you?"

 

"Once or twice yes."Delia flashed her dimples.

 

Patsy's fingertips traced the dimpled indentation of the brunette's pale skin as she considered her next words.

 

"I think... I think I might need some help." she whispered, her eyes searching Delia's for reassurance, as if the slightest blink might cause her to crumble.

 

Delia wrapped her in a close embrace, kissing her neck gently.

 

"Oh cariad. You do not have to go through this alone, I promise you."

 

She felt warm tears fall onto her neck as Patsy began to cry. It felt as though someone had ignited her heart with helium. Patsy had finally admitted she needed some support and Delia could not have been more proud of her. She knew how much courage this must have taken for the redhead to form those words and felt herself falling in love with her even more.

 

Delia kept stroking Patsy's hair gently as her crying eventually subsided. "I know we've both been trying to go it alone recently, Pats - but I think we work much better as a team."

 

Patsy chuckled lightly and wiped her eyes. "We make a pretty good team, yes."

 

"So whatever comes next, we face it together?"

 

"Agreed."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

"Are you quite sure, Nurse Mount?"

 

Patsy found herself eye to eye with a concerned Sister Julienne. Her mouth became dry all of a sudden as she knew the next words out of her mouth would be a fib. And as a personal rule she strived never to tell lies.

 

"I need some time to sort everything out with my father's lawyers. It's proving too difficult to handle work and financial affairs in tandem," she tried her best to sound contrite.

 

Sister Julienne seemed to take the excuse with good grace.

 

"Very well. Do you have a time frame in mind?"

 

"Two weeks. It shouldn't take much longer than that." Patsy crossed her fingers behind her back.

 

It wasn't a complete fabrication of facts, she did need some time to sort out her property and monetary situation her late father had left her in, but that was not the sole reason she was asking for time off.

 

"I'm sorry Sister, I know my attendance to this job has been patchy at best this past year, and I promise once everything is settled I intend to throw myself back in with enthusiasm." She stopped rambling when she noticed the smile on Sister Julienne's face.

 

"My child, please do not feel you have to justify anything. It is important to take time to grieve."

 

Patsy gulped. She hadn't even considered grieving as an option. Clearly the Sister knew she had ulterior motives, but thankfully had been incorrect in her assumption.

 

The real reason Patsy wanted the time away from work was to take care of Delia. She had planned originally for them both to take a well overdue trip to Paris this Spring, but what with Delia's injury, that plan was out of the question. She hadn't yet come up with an alternative but had been racking her brain for the past few days.

 

The Welshwoman had spent most of the past few days in her room, sleeping off her exhaustion and pain. While this was all well and good, Patsy knew boredom would soon kick in and without work to dig her heels into, Delia would become restless. A respite holiday seemed to be the perfect cure. Just as she was congratulating herself on the idea however, it occured to Patsy she hadn't actually asked Delia if she would be up for it. Chastising herself, she decided to broach the question over dinner.

 

Patsy had joined Delia for 'dinner in bed' again that night and had even included a small vase with a daffodil in it - her attempt to brighten up the spread of onion soup. Delia had taken the gesture with polite grace.

 

"It's beautiful Pats, thank you." she brought the flower to her nose and breathed in its scent. "Mmm... reminds me of Wales. Mam used to have hundreds of daffodils in our front garden. They were easy to take care of and would always be a sign that Spring had arrived."

 

Patsy smiled warmly, glad her gift had evoked such a positive response. She cleared her throat lightly. Delia's comment also led her conveniently onto her next thought.

 

"Deels... How do you feel about a holiday?" she asked slowly.

 

Delia paused, a mouthful of hot soup in her mouth. She swallowed. "I can't go to Paris like this!" she indicated to her broken shoulder, "how unromantic would it be walking around the Louvre in an NHS issue sling."

 

Patsy giggled, "You'd look fetching wearing that thing anywhere."

 

Delia's eyes narrowed. "Excessive flattery is unbecoming, Patience."

 

"Oh?" Patsy raised her eyebrow, "What if I were to say you'd look fetching wearing only that."

 

Delia struggled not to choke on the hot mouthful of soup she'd just taken.

 

It was refreshing to be able to talk so openly with each other again. It almost felt like a window had been opened and a fresh breeze had flown into the room of their relationship, blowing away all the cobwebs. The sun was streaming in and starting to finally shed light into the darker corners that had perhaps never seen the light of day before.

 

"So, not Paris then." Delia chuckled, "good, because if I had to eat one more bowl of onion soup, I fear I might turn into an onion."

 

"There's always the daffodil. That's your desert. Sister Monica Joan has eaten all the battenburg."

 

"Don't even joke Pats - my best friend from school's brother ate a daffodil once. It was St David's day and everyone in the school got a miniature leek to carry around with them. Everyone apart from the younger children, they got a daffodil. Anyway, at the end of the school day we all ate our leeks and Dai's little brother decided to copy everyone and downed his daffodil. He was violently sick and the school had to have an assembly about not eating flowers."

 

Patsy's face creased with mirth, "Poor chap!"

 

"He's a fisherman now, works offshore and hardly gets to see his family." She idly stroked the yellow petals.

 

"And your friend?"

 

Delia shrugged. "He joined the army for a while, but I think he's back in Tenby now. I've not seen him in years, not since I moved to London."

 

They sat in silence for a while, Delia finishing her soup and Patsy pondering how to broach the subject she desperately needed to.

 

"Do you miss it? Wales, I mean."

 

"Sometimes." Delia thought for a while. "I miss the fresh air, I suppose. And the quiet. Poplar can be awfully loud sometimes."

 

"And your parents?"

 

Delia snorted. "Not so much. I haven't talked to mam in ages. She tried to get me to come home at Christmas but I told her I was spending it with you. They're still not 'on the telephone' but I think she got the hint, her letters have stopped coming recently."

 

Patsy bit her lip. She knew Delia's relationship with her mother was tense at the best of times, but Delia still had a loving, alive family. Memories of her family were threatening at the corners of her mind and she tried to push them away before they overwhelmed and consumed her.

 

"Why don't we go there for a bit? As a holiday."

 

"To Wales?"

 

Patsy nodded, her breath held in silent expectation.

 

To her delight, Delia's face broke into the most genuine grin she'd seen in ages. "Oh Pats, that would be so lovely!"

 

Patsy's fish hook smile came to life and she knew she'd do anything in her power to see Delia grin like this every single day.

 

"I was going to book us a hotel, but I thought I should ask you first."

 

"We could stay with my parents - " Delia began, "Or, perhaps not," she finished.

 

Patsy chuckled darkly. "I very much doubt your mother would welcome me into your home with open arms."

 

Delia's face crumpled apologetically.

 

"We could always rent a cottage for a week nearby. And pay them a visit?"

 

"That might work!" Delia was suddenly looking excited. "Oh! I can show you where I went to school, and where Dai and I made our amazing rope swing..."

 

"You might be able to see him too." Patsy offered, enthralled by the smaller woman's enthusiasm.

 

Delia clapped her hands together with glee before abruptly cursing in Welsh and rubbing her shoulder.

 

Patsy reacted on instinct and was quickly at her side, checking her sling was back in place.

 

"Sorry. I just got a bit excited." Delia muttered, pain flashing across her face.

 

Patsy leaned forward and planted a soft kiss on her forehead. "Don't apologise. I love seeing you happy."

 

Delia smiled sheepishly.

 

"So, I take it that's a yes then? We're off on a holiday to Wales?"

 

Delia barely held back a squeal of delight. SUddenly her face changed to worry. "What about time off?"

 

"I spoke to Sister Julienne. She's allowed me two weeks off to sort out my financial affairs." Patsy said eagerly.

 

"You sly fox." Delia giggled.

 

"On the contrary, Busby - I have every intention of sorting out my financial affairs..." Patsy leant forward and kissed the brunette gently, "but there are other affairs that require my more... urgent attention."

 

Delia's face turned as hot as the soup she'd just consumed.


~



Patsy spent the next couple of days on the telephone, booking a cottage and organising transport to Tenby. She could hardly contain her excitement. Sadly, Trixie wasn't there to share in it and the redhead decided to write her a quick letter, with the future promise of a postcard from Wales.

 

She posted the letter and then proceeded to her next destination. This next part of her itinerary was not something she was looking forward to, but she had promised herself it was necessary and therefore, it needed to be done.

 

Approaching the front desk of Doctor Turner's practise, she caught the eye of Shelagh and smiled widely.

 

"Patsy!" Shelagh exclaimed happily. "What brings you here?" she noted the taller woman's lack of uniform.

 

"I was actually wondering if I could see Doctor Turner?" Patsy asked softly, "I just need some advice about a patient of mine."

 

"Of course. He's having a quiet day today so I'm he'll see you. Just take a seat and he'll call you."

 

Patsy sat in the waiting area, her leg jiggling up and down anxiously. She was starting to second guess herself now - perhaps it would have been better to go to a Doctor she didn't know, someone in a different area, a different practise - the other side of London. But, she thought wryly, she found it hard enough talking to strangers about personal matters as it was, a least she knew Doctor Turner and about his own past troubles with mental health. She hated coming under the pretence of asking for advice about an imaginary patient, but she couldn't bear to ask so directly for help. Not yet anyway.

 

"Nurse Mount!" Called Doctor Turner, breaking into a smile.

 

Patsy returned it as best she could, following the Doctor into his room.

 

"Shelagh tells me you have a quirie about a patient of yours?"

 

"Yes." Patsy's heart beat loudly in her ears.

 

"Fire away." He said warmly.

 

"I'm seeing this man on district for hemorrhoids," she began, already hating lying, "he doesn't often leave the house and I starting to believe the reason is more mental than physical."

 

Dr Turner frowned. "I see."

 

"From what his wife tells me, I think he was in a prisoner of war camp. It sounds like he's been having disturbing nightmares and flashbacks. I was just wondering if I could refer him to anyone who could help."

 

Dr Turner pondered her words for a moment. "Well, the logical course would be to admit him to hospital for treatment. It sounds like quite a serious case that would need professional psychologist evaluation."

 

Panic started to rise in Patsy's chest. "I'm not sure it's that serious. He seems completely well and normal overall."

 

"Sadly one's outward appearance does not reflect the inner turmoil of one's mind." Doctor Turner said bitterly. "Just because the chap seems fit and well doesn't mean he's managing on the inside."

 

"I doubt he'd consent to going to hospital." Patsy added, "Is there someone he could speak to, privately?"

 

Doctor Turner was eyeing her intently and Patsy had a horrible feeling he could see right through her fabrication.

 

"I have a few strings I could pull, yes. But I'd be reluctant to diagnose or recommend anything without seeing someone in person." His eyes bore into hers. "Perhaps, when your patient has built up some more trust, he could have an honest chat with me?"

 

Patsy gulped. The temperature in the room felt like it had risen a few degrees.

 

"Perhaps."

 

He stared at her sincerely. "Nobody should have to go through any horror alone. Especially horror caused by war."

 

Patsy nodded stiffly. "I'll tell him. Thank you Doctor."


The outside air hit the back of her throat and yet it still felt as if she were suffocating. Was she that unwell that she needed to be in a mental institution? No - of course not, she was of sound mind, she could make rational decisions about her life, her finances, her relationships... She balled her hands into fists, walking fast, her destination unplanned. There was something wrong, granted, but she was not a madwoman. Wasn't she? The thought scared her more than she cared to admit. The long month she'd spent on the psych ward during training would forever haunt her. Seeing victims of war from those who wouldn't stop screaming, to those who wouldn't speak a word. She wasn't like them though. She had all her marbles, sure she may be one or two short but her brain felt a lot more intact than those of whom she'd witnessed.

 

Perhaps this whole business needed to wait until after her and Delia's holiday. Besides, there was no point in wallowing in self pity right now, it was time to put Delia's well-being to the forefront. She'd take care of number one afterwards. And she had made progress today hadn't she? Even if it felt like one step forward, two steps back.

 

When she arrived back at Nonnatus, Delia was looking considerably drawn. The grey tinge of her skin was back and her forehead creased in discomfort. She was sitting on the edge of her bed, supported by Valerie.

 

"Delia?" she asked, "What on earth happened?"

 

Delia shook her head forlornly.

 

"She tried to have a bath by herself." Val said grimly.

 

"What!?" Patsy exclaimed, "But Doctor Tuner said someone should help you with washing and dressing!"

 

Delia looked completely rejected. "I know."

 

"She talked me round, convinced me she was fine." Val said, "It's my fault. I should have stood my ground."

 

Patsy sighed. It wasn't Valerie's fault, Delia could be devilishly persuasive if she wanted to be. She could also be stupidly stubborn and overestimate her abilities.

 

"Do we need to call the doctor?" she asked Val.

 

Delia cut in, "I'm fine, honestly. I just bent my arm the wrong way."

 

The telephone downstairs sprang into life and Valerie excused herself.

 

Patsy reached down and picked up the towel that Delia had dropped on the floor. "Come on, I'll help you." She offered Delia an arm, "If you still want to that is."

 

Delia nodded, looking a little sheepish.

 

Patsy helped her to the bathroom.

 

"I have some good news," she whispered in the brunette's ear as she closed the door behind them.

 

"Oh?" Delia's eyebrows disappeared into her fringe.

 

"I booked us a cottage. And it has a shower." Patsy began running the bath.

 

Delia grinned. "That's its defining feature?"

 

"Amongst other things!" Patsy looked affronted, "I just thought, it'll be easier to navigate than a bathtub."

 

Delia's smile turned into a grimace as Patsy eased off her sling and helped her out of her pyjama top.

 

"It's near the chip shop," she added.

 

Glee filled Delia's features. "Tenby chip shop does the best haddock and marrowfat peas in the world."

 

"Well, I suppose I'll have to give it a try then," said Patsy loftily, helping Delia to step out of her bottoms and into the steaming bath.

 

"It doesn't taste good if you soak it in a ridiculous amount of vinegar!" Delia added playfully, "They'll kick you out of Wales for that."

 

Patsy feigned horror. "Are you saying my vinegar tastes are common, Busby?"

 

"I'm just saying, anyone who likes that amount of vinegar on their food needs their head examined by a professional." Delia giggled.

 

The smile disappeared instantly off Patsy's face. She turned away from Delia, concentrating on washing her legs so the brunette would not see the effect her words had had on her.

 

Delia didn't seem to notice and simply leant backwards, her back resting against the porcelain.

 

"We can try soaking your shoulder in this warm water," Patsy offered, "it might help ease some of the pain and tightness."

 

Delia nodded, "That sounds heavenly actually."



~

 

 

After a long hot bath, Patsy tucked Delia up in bed.

 

"Do you want some dinner?" she asked softly, kissing the smaller woman on the forehead.

 

Delia's eyes were drooping and she shook her head. "I want a cwtch."

 

Patsy smiled and moved to lock their door, before slipping into her own pyjamas.

 

"Painkillers." She reminded Delia quietly, "Then Cwtch."

 

Delia grumbled but obeyed the command, swallowing the pills and showing Patsy her empty mouth for dramatic effect.

 

Patsy smiled lopsidedly and joined Delia in her single bed. It was a squeeze and recently Patsy hadn't been sleeping at Delia's side. Mainly in fear she'd cause the smaller woman more injury in her sleep. But, she thought, as Delia settled with her good shoulder towards Patsy, a cwtch was a pretty safe option.

 

She rested her head in the crook of Delia's left armpit, her hand tracing random patterns on the smaller woman's tummy.

 

Delia sighed in contentment.

 

"Pats... I'm really looking forward to this holiday."

 

"Me too, Deels."

 

"Oh..." Delia tensed, "I forgot to ask, how much do I owe you, for my portion of the cottage rent?"

 

"Don't be silly. I've got it covered." Patsy mumbled.

 

But Delia wasn't having it. She shifted, trying to meet Patsy's eye.

 

"I can't let you pay for all of it!"

 

"Technically, I'm not paying a penny for this," Patsy whispered, "it's all coming out of my inheritance."

 

"But- "

 

"And that money isn't mine, it's ours." Patsy met Delia's deep blue eyes with her own. "So if we want to spend it on a dirty weekend in Wales, then so be it."

 

"Pats!" Delia chastised softly, "what would your father say?"

 

Patsy smiled sadly, "I don't know, but I hope he'd be proud that I'm taking time to be with the woman I love beyond all else."

 

She lent down and kissed the stunned brunette senseless.

 

Yes, there may be demons lurking in the darker recesses of her mind, but right now, there was only Delia. And Delia was a guiding light, her angel leading her towards true happiness.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Despite Delia's best efforts, she was unable to visit Gwen Robinson in hospital before her and Patsy's trip to Wales. Doctor Turner had passed on a reassuring message however, that her patient was doing well and would be going home within the next week. This helped ease a little of the Welshwoman's anxieties as she still felt partly responsible for not staying with Gwen for longer that day. She supposed that was the thing about district and community based nursing, as opposed to hospital nursing. You couldn't help but get involved. It was this closeness an ability to follow through that drew Delia to the concept in the first place. But she was still learning to walk the fine line between being a professional nurse and friend.

 

Worries of Gwen still plagued her mind, even as her and Patsy boarded the train to Swansea on a rainy Monday afternoon. Delia was so lost in her thoughts, that she completely forgot to mind her way through the crowds at Paddington Station and bumped into a man hurrying in the opposite direction.

 

She yelped with the sudden pain that radiated through her shoulder.

 

"Deels!" Patsy was by her side in a flash.

 

"M'alright." Delia muttered darkly, rubbing her shoulder and glaring at the man.

 

Patsy insisted on shielding her injured side for the rest of their walk to their platform.

 

Once seated on the train, they began to both relax. Patsy had booked them tickets in the first class carriage, much to Delia's delight. She'd never travelled in first class before and the whole experience was quite something to behold; Everything from the leather seats to the little embroidered napkins and lace tablecloth. Patsy just sat back and basked in her girlfriend's wide eyed wonder.

 

An hour into the ride and afternoon tea was served on silver platters. It consisted of a (rather small) carton of milk, a variety of herbal and british teas as well as some sort of salmon hors d'oeuvres. Delia nearly asked the waiter to bring more milk but Patsy took one for the team and had her tea black, allowing the Welshwoman full rein on the milk jug. After polishing off her tea, Delia ate the oat biscuit but surreptitiously discarded the salmon.

 

Before the waiter came to collect their empty plates and mugs, Patsy leaned over and whispered cheekily, "are you going to eat that?"

 

Delia blushed and handed Patsy her napkin under the table which hid the offending morsel.

 

Soon the countryside welcomed them and all remnants of the CIty faded away. Smoke stacks turned to sheep and concrete to grass as they left behind the smog of London. Delia was buzzing from excitement. She had not been home since her accident and now she was returning on much more favourable terms. And of course, with Patsy. She had long dreamed of the day she'd get to introduce the taller nurse to her hometown. But as the rolling hills engulfed them a cold shiver of doubt crept unbidden into her mind.

 

Was it insensitive of her to show Patsy her happy childhood, especially when the redhead had suffered so much in her own? But the trip had been Patsy's idea hadn't it, if she didn't want to go she wouldn't have offered. Perhaps she should keep the sentimentality and mushy stuff to a minimum, just in case. There was no reason they couldn't still have a lovely holiday together.

 

Patsy's foot nudged hers and Delia looked up, smiling away her anxieties.

 

Finally, after a whole afternoon of travelling, a conductor in a smartly pressed uniform informed them the next stop was Swansea and would they like some help with their bags.

 

Delia was starting to tire already. She caught a reflection of herself in the window as the light was fading and noted her pale, drawn skin. Travelling was exhausting, even when fit and well. She was looking forward to curling up with Patsy and a nice warm duvet tonight.

 

They disembarked the train and headed for the local bus station. Patsy was now entirely at the mercy of Delia's local knowledge. Fortunately the brunette knew exactly what bus would take them to Tenby.

 

By the time the bus arrived, the sun was setting, casting a glorious orange glow across the little houses of Swansea. They hauled their luggage onto the small single decker bus and paid the fare. It was decidedly much more uncomfortable than the first class train ride had been and every time the bus and its poor suspension hit a pothole in the road, Delia winced. Patsy was looking increasingly concerned for the poor Welshwoman and kept asking if she wanted to get off.

 

"I can always get us a taxi." She offered.

 

Delia shook her head. "I'm okay. Besides, we're nearly there."

 

Patsy looked out the window and saw nothing but darkness. "How on earth can you tell?"

 

Delia tapped the side of her nose knowingly. "By mathematically calculating the density of sheep numbers of course."

 

She burst out laughing at Patsy's bewildered gaze. Four pairs of eyes were suddenly on a swivel, staring at her. All belonging to little old women who were heading home for the night, packed to the gunnels with grocery shopping.

 

"Here we are!" Delia almost squealed.

 

Patsy caught a glimpse of a sign that read ' Tenby ' before Delia pulled the cord and sounded the bell. The bus drew to a halt and they heaved their luggage off. It pulled away, leaving the couple in darkness, surrounded by the quiet mooing of nearby cattle.

 

They stood for a moment, breathing in the fresh, countryside air. And the quiet. Oh the quiet.

 

Wordlessly Patsy took Delia's hand and nodded in the direction of streetlamps.

 

It took another hour of walking before they finally located the cottage that Patsy had rented. The redhead fumbled around in the dark, trying to find the key that had been left for them. Eventually she upended a flowerpot and spotted it buried in the soil next to a large laburnum bush.

 

Unlocking the front door, the two weary travellers fell over the threshold. Delia flicked on a lightswitch and squinted as her eyes adjusted to the sudden brightness.

 

The cottage was beautiful. It was, in a word, quaint. The wallpaper was flowery, the armchairs plush and comfortable looking and the kitchenette off the to the side looked like something straight out of a Housewife magazine. Patsy darted backwards and forwards, ferrying all their luggage upstairs while Delia tried to soak everything in. It was a lot nicer than her parent's house, that was for sure, but it did scream 'holiday guest house'. A few little personal touches of the owner were scattered around here and there. Some ornaments dotted the mantelpiece, mainly gaudy sheepdogs and chubby looking cherubs. Just as Delia snapped out of her daze and realise she should probably be helping unpack, Patsy wrapped a pair of warm arms around her and kissed her neck gently.

 

"Dinner then bed?" she whispered. "The lady who owns the cottage left us a note saying there’s some basic supplies in the cupboard."

 

"That sounds perfect." Delia replied, turning her head and capturing Patsy's lips with her own.

 

It felt utterly glorious to kiss without worrying about who was watching. Almost as glorious as it felt to be kissing in a house with a kitchenette and a wood stove -  the domesticity of the situation they were in was making Delia feel so much warmth inside. It was their house, even if it was for just a week. She felt herself relax into the kiss as a wave of tiredness suddenly swept over her. She broke apart, grumbling a little.

 

"What's wrong?" Patsy nuzzled her nose.

 

"I really want to make the most of our time alone tonight," Delia stared deep into those ocean blues, "but... I'm quite tired."

 

Patsy chuckled. "I'm tired too. Travelling is awfully taxing," she pecked Delia lightly on the nose, "I vote we go upstairs and get into our pyjamas, then I'll make us some jam on toast and we can fall asleep together. How does that sound?"

 

"Perfect." Delia buried her head into the crook of Patsy's neck. "I would quite like to test out this famous shower," she yawned loudly, "maybe tomorrow..."

 

"Go upstairs, I'll join you with toast in a bit."

 

Delia did as she was told and trooped up the little rickety staircase. The master bedroom was quite large considering how small the cottage was. There was a lovely double bed, freshly made with clean white linen. Delia just wanted to flop onto it but she restrained. Patsy had already packed away all their luggage neatly into the dresser and wardrobe. She'd even placed the book Delia was currently reading on the left nightstand, bookmark still intact.

 

It all just felt so natural and wonderful to be alone with Patsy in a house. Certainly, the hotel room they'd rented overnight at Christmas had been quite the experience (one Delia was unlikely to forget in a hurry) but this felt even more intimate.

 

She shrugged off her outdoor coat, letting it fall on a chair and perched on the edge of the double bed. The mattress was doing its best to swallow her up and she was trying her utmost not to yield to the temptation. Patsy was right, they needed some dinner before going to bed.

 

The smell of toast wafted up the stairs, closely followed by a beautiful redhead carrying a tray in her hands.

 

"Dinner in bed?" she winked.

 

"Not toast!" Delia said in mock horror, "think of all the crumbs in the bedsheets."

 

"Oh gosh, Busby, you're right. We can't have that."

 

Patsy repositioned Delia's coat on the back of the door, alongside her own, before moving the two chairs in the room together and propping the tray on the end of the bed.

 

They ate their small dinner carefully, managing to spare the bed from any unwanted crumb visitors. Delia managed to polish off the toast with surprising speed. As soon as she'd drunk her tea though, her eyes felt heavy again and she tried to suppress a huge yawn. Patsy, ever astute, put the tray down and ensured Delia had taken her painkillers before helping her into her pyjamas.

 

The pyjamas felt lovely and soft against Delia's skin, a stark and more than welcome contrast to her travel clothes. Finally she allowed herself to flop backwards onto the double bed and be engulfed by the mattress. Just the right amount of bounce, she noted, not too firm, but firm enough to feel like she was being supported. Perfect. Her eyes were closed, but she felt the shift next to her as Patsy joined her. The remaining light patterns on her eyelids disappeared as the redhead turned off the lamp. A long arm snaked its way around her waist and held on tightly. Delia sighed in contentment as their feet tangled together, Patsy's foot running up and down her calf.

 

They'd made it. They were in Wales!


~


The pitter patter of rain on the window woke Delia up the following morning. She rolled onto her back and much to her utter delight, Patsy was still in bed with her. It was a sight she’d only ever witnessed twice before, once in their old flat and once at the hotel. Taking a few moments, she observed the redhead sleeping. Her chest rising and falling softly. There was no crease in her brow or jerkiness about her movements. She seemed completely peaceful and calm. Whatever demons plagued her dreams had not come trespassing that night it seemed.

 

Patsy stirred, her eyelids flickered open to be met with Delia staring, unabashed.

 

"Were you watching me sleep?"

 

Delia's heart clenched in her chest. Patsy's husky morning voice was an absolute hidden delight.

 

"Maybe." Delia reached out her good arm and stroked the tousled copper hair.

 

Patsy's fish-hook smile made its morning debut.

 

"I wish we could wake up like this every day." Delia admitted.

 

The smile faded a little. "I'm the same." Patsy whispered.

 

The moment was interrupted by a rather large gust of wind and rain hitting the window pane. Patsy turned and looked towards the source of the noise.

 

"April showers, indeed. I thought Wales was supposed to be sunny?"

 

"It is, most of the time!" Delia defended.

 

Patsy chuckled. "Well, if it means we have to have a day indoors, I'm sure we'll make the best of a dire situation."

 

"I think this situation is far from dire," Delia indicated their position.

 

Patsy smiled, "I take it back."

 

Delia tried to sit up a little, which proved rather difficult with one arm. ‘And if I hadn't broken my bloody shoulder, this would've been perfect,’ she thought. With a little more force than was completely necessary she shoved again, trying to rest her back against the headboard. There was far too much frustration in her movement however, and the only result was a painful twinge that travelled down her right arm.

 

"Oww..."

 

Patsy propped herself up (with much more ease) and attempted to support the brunette.

 

"I really don't want to be 'Nurse Mount' this holiday, Deels, at least not if I can help it. But your poor shoulder went through the wars a bit yesterday. Is it alright if I take a quick look at it?" she asked softly.

 

Delia sighed. She didn't want to spoil this perfect moment of waking up next to Patsy with a clinical exam, but the taller woman was right, her shoulder had taken a bit of a battering.

 

"Alright. On one condition though."

 

Patsy raised her eyebrow in question.

 

"I get to use that shower afterwards."

 

Patsy's fish-hook smile returned to center stage for an encore.


~

 

Satisfied Delia's shoulder was still (mostly) intact and no further damage had been done, Patsy returned the limb to its owner. A bright purple bruise had began to form, the likes of which Phyllis would refer to as 'a real bobby-dazzler'. Delia caught a glimpse of it in the mirror as she shrugged her pyjama sleeve back on. At least it would fade, she thought grimly, reminded of Patsy's not so fortunate souvenirs of her childhood horrors.

 

With Delia being supported with one arm and a bunch of soft towels in the other, Patsy led them both in the hunt for the infamous shower. They came across two broom cupboards and a spare bedroom but at last they located it. The bathroom was much nicer than the stand alone toilet under the stairs they'd seen earlier. It was rather large, consisting of bright polished white tiles and a warm fluffy bath mat. There was a very generous sized modern walk in shower, the likes of which Delia had never seen before.

 

"Oh wow," Delia gaped, "you weren't exaggerating."

 

Patsy smiled and set the towels aside carefully. "There should be enough hot water for quarter of an hour, it said in the note that was left downstairs. Do you want me to help you out of your pyjamas?"

 

Delia turned, her eyes gleaming with mischief. "What about you?"

 

"Oh, I'll just wait and have one this evening, boiler should've reheated by then."

 

Delia rolled her eyes, Patsy could be slow on the uptake sometimes.

 

"What?"

 

"It would save water if we... you know." Delia nodded towards the shower.

 

Patsy's mouth opened in surprise. "Oh." She blushed a deep shade of crimson. "Yes. I suppose it would."

 

"So in the interests of water conservation...?" Delia sideled closer.

 

'I highly doubt Wales has a water shortage." Patsy looked out the window to the rain lashing down outside.

 

"Patience Mount, stop killing the mood." Delia scorned playfully.

 

"There was a mood?" Patsy grinned and pulled the brunette towards her. "In that case, let me get your pyjamas for you, madam."

 

The bathroom was quite cold, Delia soon discovered, as her newly exposed skin erupted in little goose pimples. Patsy was focusing on removing Delia's pyjamas without causing any discomfort. Finally she stood back and drank the petite Welshwoman in. Delia watched Patsy's eyes roam around her body, from her toes, pausing a moment in two particular places, before returning to her eyes.

 

"You really are so beautiful." Patsy breathed huskily.

 

Delia felt a delightful tug between her legs. "Even with my purple shoulder?" she ventured.

 

Patsy nodded. "If anyone asks, I shall say you saved a damsel in distress from a burning building."

 

"Oh, and who might that damsel be?" Delia winked.

 

"Me." Patsy drew in closer still, running a hand through Delia's hair. "You saved me Deels." she whispered softly.

 

Delia couldn't help herself, even if she tried. Before either knew was happening, Delia was kissing Patsy deeply, trying to pour as much love as she could into each contact their lips made.

 

"One moment..." Patsy gasped between kisses.

 

Delia reluctantly pulled back.

 

Patsy made quick work of her own pyjamas, letting the blue striped flannel fall to the floor with a soft flump. Delia's eyes darted around quite happily, drinking in the newly revealed curves in front of her. However, she retained the self control not to reach out, just yet anyway.

 

Patsy fumbled for the shower controls, turning on the water. The boiler groaned and it spluttered into life, a high pressure stream of warm water splattering loudly on the floor tiles. She opened the curtain wider and stood back, offering a hand.

 

"After you, my dear."

 

Delia grinned. "Why thank you Patience, how kind."

 

Taking Patsy's hand, she stepped into the walk in cubicle and allowed the hot water to cascade over her exposed skin. It was utterly glorious. She closed her eyes, feeling the dirt and grime of travel wash away down the plug hole. The pain in her shoulder instantly eased from the warmth. Nonnatus house had many things going for it, but a shower like this was not one of them. Delia was about to suggest when they moved into a new flat, it should have one similar to this, but the thought never made it out of her mouth.

 

Patsy had stepped inside as well, closing the curtain behind her. The bright opaque white of the curtain diffused the daylight in such a way that Delia's next breath caught in her throat. Pasty looked absolutely stunning, her hair ever so slightly damp from the splashback, expression dark and stormy. The brunette's eyes travelled downwards, past perfectly formed collar bones to the swell of Patsy's breasts. Perhaps it was the temperature of the room, but the light pink tips of her nipples were already standing to attention. Before she could touch where she most desperately wanted to, Patsy took her hands in her own.

 

"Do you want me to wash you?" she whispered.

 

Delia nodded, all power of speech having departed long ago, along with the rush of blood to her groin.

 

Patsy lathered a bar of soap in her hands. "Turn around," she instructed.

 

Delia obeyed and was instantly rewarded by gentle, yet firm hands running over her back. Their pressure eased when they met her bruised shoulder, softly caressing the sensitive skin before moving on towards areas still to be covered. Soon, Delia's whole back was covered in lavender smelling soapy bubbles. Patsy's hands became more daring, reaching lower and running over Delia's toned buttocks. The smaller woman felt her knees tremble and bit her lip to try and stop any sound escaping.

 

Then, she realised suddenly, she didn't have to be quiet. There was absolutely nothing or nobody stopping her from making as much noise as she wanted. Patsy's hand squeezed slightly and Delia let out a contented sigh.

 

A pair of warm lips met her neck and a low voice muttered in her ear, "You have no idea how much I wish we could do this every morning."

 

Delia smiled to herself. Oh she had a pretty good idea.

 

Patsy's hands were gently directing her back to face the other way and she obliged, allowing the water to wash away the soap on her back. Now she was face to face with the redhead again she noticed Patsy's eyes appeared to be even darker than before. Repeating the same process, she gathered soap suds in her hands and began working her way down Delia's front. Delia fought the urge to close her eyes and instead watched the taller woman with interest. Patsy's brow was furrowed in concentration as she gently lathered Delia's shoulders and collar bones with the soap. It was achingly gentle, Patsy knew exactly how much pressure to apply to not cause even the slightest bit of discomfort.

 

Her eyes flicked up again briefly, seeking consent. Delia smiled, wanting her desperately to continue this exquisite torture. Instead Patsy leaned in and kissed her softly. Their tongues swirled together in a beautiful dance as the shower water cascaded over their heads. It felt like kissing in the rain, but a warm and pleasant rain. Patsy's breasts pressed into Delia's and she felt a surge of heat again, pulling at her. She grunted into the kiss, attempting to deepen it further, but Patsy had other ideas. Breaking apart, the redhead turned Delia around again, this time pressing her breasts to the smaller woman's back and supporting her safely under her injured arm.

 

Delia's eyes finally flickered shut as all her nerve endings enjoyed the wondrous sensations happening around them. Patsy's soapy hands were back on her now, palming her breasts, taking a handful and squeezing gently. Delia sighed again, louder this time. She let out a little gasp as the redhead's thumb and forefinger found an already hard peak and rolled it between them. The soap suds made skin slip and slide easier, heightening each growing sensation.

 

Again, Patsy's lips found Delia's neck, but this time she was a lot less gentle. The smaller woman moaned quietly as she felt Patsy suck hard at her pulse point, before teeth grazed her skin and eventually light feathery breath eased the sting. It felt utterly devine and Delia thought she might fall if it hadn't been for the redhead supporting most of her weight. Patsy was breathing heavily, her hand dipping into the shower water and rinsing off the soap from Delia's torso. Delia gasped as fingers grazed her nipples once again. She'd never felt more turned on in her entire life.

 

But, Patsy it seemed, was more than content lazily reacquainting herself with her girlfriend's body, unwilling to push further just yet. Delia groaned a little as her frustrations bubbled to the surface. She felt her heart hammering in her chest and she was sure Patsy could feel it too, they were so close together.

 

"Deels?" Patsy whimpered.

 

Delia was happy to hear the redhead sounded very much as flustered as she herself felt.

 

"Mhm?"

 

"Is this alright?"

 

Delia nodded, resisting the urge to grab Patsy's wrist and direct it to where it was very much needed. She ached for release but at the same time was very much enjoying the languid, slow pace of exploration.

 

"I don't want to hurt you - your shoulder..."

 

"Shh. It's okay, I'm fine," Delia wheezed. "Keep going."

 

Patsy's lips closed on that same pulse point on her neck again and Delia whimpered loudly, her legs parting - inviting Patsy closer. She heard the redhead take a deep breath and then a hand snaked down past her breasts, over her abdomen and lower still. The brunette was shivering, not from the cold, but from the desire. Patsy's hand stroked the mound of curly hair at the apex of the brunette's legs. She knew Patsy must been able to feel heat radiating from her core.

 

Delia gasped loudly as she finally she felt the gentle probing of Patsy's fingers beginning to explore her. The brunette felt her knees buckle, threatening to send her off balance. Patsy adjusted her grip with her arm, ensuring the smaller woman was safely secure. Her other hand dipped into Delia's warm folds again, stroking along her length gently.

 

"Gosh, Deels." she gasped in awe, "You're really wet."

 

Delia didn't even blush. She knew it wasn't just the shower that was the cause of the pool of moisture gathering down below.

 

"Mhmm..." It's your fault, she thought.

 

Patsy explored further, her fingers stroking the wet folds with a maddenly light pressure. Delia bit her lip, her eyes tight shut. She was so ready, she needed... she needed more. As if she heard the silent plea, Patsy stroked upwards and circled the swollen nub once. Delia's hips bucked against the redhead's hand and she felt Patsy take a sharp intake breath as hers subconsciously followed suit, bumping into Delia's back. They both groaned quietly at the brief contact. A growing ache was building to a pressure so high Delia was unsure she could take it much longer. She wanted to crawl inside Patsy's skin, wanted her with more passion than she'd ever wanted anything before.

 

Then Patsy's fingers drifted lower, teasing at Delia's entrance, dipping in ever so slightly before pulling out and stroking up again. Again, Delia let out a tiny gasp. The pace was driving her mad. 'Teasing Pats' was making an appearance and it quite frankly wasn't fair.

 

"Fuck! Patsy... please!" Delia managed to pant.

 

She sensed, rather than felt the smile tug at the corner of the redhead's mouth at that exclamation. The Welshwoman never usually swore in English. Delia's muscles contracted almost painfully, the ache growing to an almost unbearable level.

 

“Ever so polite, Busby,“ Patsy sighed, enjoying one last gentle stroke before finally, oh so finally, sliding two fingers deep inside.

 

Delia moaned, louder than she had intended - the sound echoing off the tiles of the bathroom. Patsy stayed still for a moment, allowing the brunette to adjust to the sensation of her fingers. The Welshwoman's walls clamped down over Patsy's digits, encasing them in a wonderful warmth that was uniquely hers. Delia took a few shuddering breaths, trying to regain a sense of equilibrium. The bathroom was just coming back into focus when Patsy moved, curling the tips of her fingers ever so slightly. It was a tiny motion but Delia cried out nonetheless. Seemingly satisfied with the reaction she’d provoked, Patsy slipped her fingers out, coated them with more moisture and then slid back in again.

 

"Ohh..." Delia groaned, as Patsy began to set a delightfully slow rhythm.

 

"Is this alright?" Patsy asked huskily, into her right ear.

 

"Mhmm... yes." Delia replied, "Duw, Pats, mae eich bysedd yn teimlo mor dda."

 

Using her good arm, Delia braced herself against the wall as she felt her knees start to buckle again. Patsy felt the shift and increased her pace, allowing the heel of her hand to put pressure exactly where Delia needed it. It did the trick. Delia felt a familiar pressure begin to build inside her at an almost alarming rate. In just a few moments she was grabbing at Patsy's hand, trying to increase its speed.

 

"Oh, faster, Pats," she moaned.

 

Patsy obeyed, her fingers pumping quicker as the woman in front of her began to fall apart. Sensing she was close, Patsy curled her digits, searching for the small patch of rough skin, the spot that would bring the most pleasure. She found it easily and began a gentle tugging motion. Delia's eyes rolled back into her head and she keened loudly.

 

"Ahh! Galetach, cariad! Os gwelwch yn dda- " Her muscles tightened, everything just felt like it was going to explode. Delia's breath came in short and shorter pants as she climbed impossibly higher.

 

And then, unable to hold on any longer she hit the peak. With a final cry of her lover's name, Delia felt her entire body contract, her legs jerked and muscles clamped down rhythmically over Patsy's buried fingers. Ecstasy flooded through her nerve endings and blood thundered in her head as she shook - safely held by the redhead.

 

For a moment she couldn't hear anything - sounds were muffled and it felt as though she were floating. She was vaguely aware of Patsy’s fingers leaving her. Water splashing over her exposed skin, sending tiny aftershocks through her nerve endings. Then the water stopped. She was being lead backwards, into a brighter light. Blinking, the room came back into focus and with it, Patsy's smiling face.

 

"Wow." Delia grinned goofily.

 

She felt giddy, drunk almost. Patsy had turned off the shower and was now holding out a large soft towel. The brunette allowed herself to be wrapped up in it tightly, the occasional pulse of pleasure hitting her still recovering body.

 

Patsy dried her gently, taking care to lovingly caress her with the towel, each movement making Delia sigh and relax more and more until she felt like she might turn into jelly.

 

"We really need to get one of those." Delia giggled shakily, nodding towards the shower.

 

"I'll say." Patsy winked cheekily. "I'd do anything to see that every morning."

 

"You forget we're here a week, Patience. I'm sure this shower will see a lot more use before we leave." Delia replied saucily before darting for the exit.

 

Patsy blushed and despite her best aim, was unable to hit Delia with a wet flannel as she pranced happily from the bathroom, still clad in her towel and dripping all over the floor.







Chapter Text

The rainy weather sadly didn't ease the following day and Patsy was beginning to suffer a bit of cabin fever. Delia was also walking around aimlessly. Their itinerary (that Patsy had so meticulously planned out to the nth degree) allowed for one day rest after the journey - Patsy had considered that checkbox ticked (although their escapades in the shower that morning, and consequently that evening, could hardly be considered 'rest'). But today she had scheduled in a walk around the local area and the Welsh weather was seemingly very uncooperative to the idea.

 

At a loss for what to do, Patsy decided to clean. There was plenty to be done. Although the little cottage was very neat and organised, there was still some dirt and grime if one looked hard enough.

 

Delia had dispensed herself onto the sofa and had turned on the wireless to give them some sort of entertainment. The nasty weather was affecting her shoulder as she woken up that morning stiff and sore. Patsy had mused the weather might not have been one hundred percent to blame for this, but had bit her tongue. They should have been more gentle, her inner nurse chided. But Delia's face loomed large in her mind, her eyelids hooded, her mouth open wide as she cried out in pleasure...

 

Patsy flushed, her hand slipping as she scrubbed the underside of the sink.

 

"Pats?" called Delia from the sitting room.

 

"Yes love?" Patsy called back.

 

She surprised herself sometimes. The word 'love' had just slipped out without warning, making her heart rate spike. Clearly it had had a similar effect on Delia as there was a bit of a silence before she replied.

 

"Could you make me a cup of tea please?"

 

Patsy grinned and ceased her cleaning efforts.

 

By the time she'd sauntered into the living room with a tray full of tea, milk and biscuits, Delia was taking up the whole two seater sofa and almost falling asleep to the sound of Billy Fury on the radio.

 

Patsy laid down the tray on the coffee table and folded her long legs, trying to budge in beside the brunette. Delia huffed in feigned indignation and shifted over, allowing her head to fall onto Patsy's shoulder.

 

They stayed like that a while, enjoying the simple domesticity of the scene. Patsy could smell Delia's hair as she inhaled. And what a beautiful sweet smell it was too. Almost on instinct she kissed the brown locks. Delia shifted a little, a small arm snaking its way around her waist and holding on tightly. They sighed happily in tandem before giggling.

 

"I hope it's going to be exactly like this when we get our flat." Delia mused.

 

Patsy chuckled throatily. "Perhaps not exactly like this, I don't think there are many quaint cottages for sale in Poplar."

 

That earned her a gentle prod in the ribs.

 

"I mean it Pats, I want to be able to sit and snuggle with you on a sofa, listen to the radio and the rain on the window outside, while we're all cozy inside."

 

Patsy smiled, that did sound pretty marvelous.

 

"And when you get in from work I can cook you dinner and you can tell me all about your day and how many beautiful babies you've delivered." Delia inched closer.

 

"And when you get in, I can wash your dishes and iron your uniform." Patsy said.

 

"Hey!" Delia pouted, sitting up slightly.

 

"Shh, I'm joking." Patsy smiled, flattening away the frown line on her girlfriend's forehead with her thumb. "It's going to be wonderful," she whispered, sincerely.

 

Delia dimples appeared. "I can't wait." she flopped back down onto the sofa again, wincing as her shoulder moved.

 

Patsy's eyes narrowed astutely.

 

"Can we have chips for tea?" Delia enquired, her face illuminating with childlike excitement.

 

Patsy chuckled. "Of course we can! I'm amazed it's taken so long for you to ask."

 

Delia squealed in delight and attempted to give Patsy a lopsided, one armed hug. Taking pity on her, Patsy pulled the smaller woman into a proper embrace, kissing her neck. There was a clear purple mark there which seemed very stark contrast against the Welshwoman's pale skin. Patsy flushed again as she recalled the mark was her doing. Delia hadn't seemed to have minded, in fact when she'd caught sight of it in the mirror that morning she'd remarked it was nice to have a matching bruise for her shoulder - especially one put there by much more... positive, means.

 

This reminded Patsy.

 

"Oh, I spotted a tube of arnica cream in the bathroom cupboard. Would you like me to rub some on your shoulder - it might help ease the stiffness."

 

Delia's eyelashes fluttered. "Why Patience, a massage and chips for dinner, are you trying to seduce me?"

 

"Oh, of course I am." Patsy smiled her lopsided grin. "I have every intention of extorting you for nefarious purposes today. Seeing as your homeland cannot offer even a slight ounce of sunshine - I'll have to find my warmth elsewhere."

 

Delia laughed. "You may think you're a smooth talker, but you really aren't."

 

Patsy stood up with a face of mock hurt. "I have you know Busby, my 'smooth talking' has got me out of many an unwanted date with a junior doctor."

 

"Well, in that case, I can't fault to too much then can I?" Delia grinned. "But, yes please, some arnica would be lovely."

 

Patsy smiled broadly. Little moments of flirting openly like this were what normal couples did all the time. It felt amazing to feel just that tiny ounce of normality for once.

 

Returning shortly after with the generous tube of arnica cream, Patsy perched on the edge of the sofa, carefully considering the logistics of their next exercise. She helped Delia gently out of her shirt.

 

"Where do you want me?" Delia fluttered her eyelashes again.

 

Patsy blushed deeply. God, this woman was infuriating, but also so irresistible she got away with almost anything.

 

"I'm going to sit on the sofa, can you sit between my legs, facing the other way?"

 

Delia obeyed, presenting her back to Patsy. The redhead squeezed a generous amount of cream onto her fingertips and began working it gently into Delia's bruised shoulder. The bruise had started to turn yellow around the edges, a good sign it was starting to heal.

 

The brunette hummed as Patsy's fingers worked gently into her tense shoulder.

 

"It's looking better than yesterday." Patsy remarked.

 

Delia hissed a little as Patsy went over a sensitive spot.

 

"Urgh. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself for the rest of this month while this heals." Delia exclaimed dejectedly.

 

Patsy smiled sympathetically to the back of Delia's head. "A wonderful patient does not a nurse make."

 

"Harumph."

 

Patsy continued rubbing the cream in for a while. Delia sighed and became more relaxed with every little motion.

 

"How are your headaches?" Patsy asked softly.

 

Delia shrugged a single shoulder. "Not had any since... since then."

 

Patsy frowned a little. "Do you have any idea at all what was causing them?"

 

"I was just tired. And stressed." Delia replied honestly, turning round to face the redhead.

 

"And you weren't getting enough sleep." Patsy finished her triplet.

 

Delia nodded, sighing sadly.

 

Patsy made to open her mouth, but decided against it. She knew it was her fault that Delia had been all of those things, yet the conversation she'd had with Trixie reverberated loudly in her mind. Delia chose this. She chose to be with you, through the good and the bad. Patsy reached out a hand and stroked the gorgeous face in front of her.

 

"We'll get through this. Together."

 

Delia grasped Patsy's hand tightly in her own. "Of course we will, Cariad. We've survived a lot worse."

 

The redhead rebuttoned the brunette's shirt carefully before wrapping her in a firm, yet gentle hug. She could feel Delia's heart beating, a grounding thud echoing through her chest that told her she was still here, she was still very much alive. It was a beautiful sound, one that Patsy swore in that moment to never take for granted.

 

~

 

Thankfully, the rain subsided the next day, leaving in its wake contrastingly beautiful blue skies and sunshine.

 

Patsy had awoken early and made her way downstairs. She'd done her best not to let the brunette stir as she padded down the rickety (and as she was conveniently now discovering) loud, creaky staircase. She made haste toward the kitchen to pop on the kettle and prepare her best attempt at a cooked breakfast. Today she wanted to surprise Delia with some form of culinary delight to wake up to. Ideally a nice sunny side up egg with some sausages, toast and maybe, if the larder would permit it, some baked beans.

 

Having assembled what could be considered a pretty good attempt at a full english, Patsy loaded up the breakfast tray, finally being used for its intended purpose, and headed back towards the master bedroom. It seemed her plans for a complete surprise had been thwarted however by the delightful smells radiating from the kitchen. By the time she'd kicked open the door with a foot, Delia was upright in bed, pillows propped up and a huge grin on her sleepy face.

 

"Good morning, Cariad. For what do I owe the pleasure for such a grandeur morning meal?" she blinked away the sleep from her eyes.

 

Patsy smiled and laid the tray down onto the bed.

 

"Happy Birthday, Deels."

 

Delia jolted awake. "Wait. What?"

 

"It's your birthday. Or at least, it should be, unless Wales has a time difference that I don't know about."

 

"Goodness me, you're right. I completely forgot." Delia blinked.

 

Patsy chuckled. "Well, I certainly didn't, and neither did the weather by the looks of it. Seems like we're in for a sunny day today which is just as well. I've planned us a picnic."

 

Delia paused, her mouth full of toast and swallowed hard. "But... but your itinerary says today is for 'exploring the local area and sights'."

 

Feeling bold, Patsy retorted in a stage whisper, "Oh trust me Busby, I have every intention of exploring the local sights..." Patsy raked her eyes from Delia's head to toe, "thoroughly."

 

Delia blushed deeply and stuffed more toast in her face to save embarrassment. Murmuring her approval at the taste she swallowed and turned back to the redhead.

 

"So what do you actually have planned today?" she giggled, the redness receding from her cheeks.

 

"Well, I was thinking we could take a little walk around Tenby together. And perhaps have a picnic lunch?"

 

Delia grinned from ear to ear. "I can give you the guided tour!"



Delia's 'guided tour' consisted mainly of pointing out various points of interest from her childhood. They ranged from 'the tree where Owain Ramsey broke his leg falling off it' to 'Mrs Morgan's house, the village gossip' and of course, the infamous 'rope swing'.

 

It was nearing lunchtime and the pair had walked a considerable distance around the little village. Delia had been accosted by several locals who had recognised her in passing, asking her how she was, how the big city was treating her and of course, if she'd found a lovely husband yet. The smaller woman met all the queries with a broad smile and polite replies before (to Patsy's utter surprise and yet delight) introducing the redhead to them.

 

"And this is Patsy, my very good friend and colleague. We're working together now I've qualified as a midwife."

 

Everyone had been more than friendly towards Patsy. Clearly having a stranger with an accent such as hers was somewhat of a novelty around this tight knit community. Patsy was reminded of Poplar in a sense. It was obvious everyone in this village looked out for each other, everyone knew everyone. The difference was, they seemed to welcome newcomers and visitors with open arms. Poplar could be quite standoffish when it came to change, but this little village, or at least what Patsy had seen of it so far, seemed to be very hospitable.

 

"You dears must pop by for some tea later," Mrs Hoggarth was patting Delia on the hand, "Only if you have the time of course, I wouldn't want to keep you from your parents. Give them my best will you cariad?"

 

Delia smiled and thanked the little old woman as she went back to watering her begonias.

 

"Delia..." Patsy ventured, the thought only just forming in her head, "did you tell your parents you were coming to Tenby?"

 

Delia stiffened a little and dropped Patsy's arm that she'd been holding.

 

"You didn't did you?" Patsy sighed.

 

"I didn't want to ruin this..." Delia waved vaguely, "and I know mam would find some sort of a way to ruin it, I know she would." She finished darkly.

 

"Delia! You can't come past their doorstep and not say hello." Patsy exclaimed. Her upper class upbringing was beginning to show but she thought surely it was universal - when one was in the neighbourhood, one usually made time to see relatives, whether or not one enjoyed their company was irrelevant.

 

"You're right." Delia sighed.

 

Patsy smiled.

 

"But only because Mrs Morgan's seen me walking up the high street and she'll be knocking on mam's door within the hour asking how I've been."

 

Patsy rolled her eyes. "Delia!"

 

"Fine. We'll go see them later. But right now I want to spend this afternoon with you. With ONLY you."

 

Patsy tucked the picnic hamper tightly under her arm. "I think we can do that." She smiled. "Now, can you possibly direct us to a secluded field, preferably one with no sheep droppings, I don't want to spoil the lovely tartan blanket we have on loan from our host."

 

As luck would have it, Delia did know of just the place. It was far from any sort of prying eyes, human or animal for that matter. Unfortunately the secludedness of the spot came at quite the price of hiking. By the time they reached their destination, an idyllic hilltop overlooking Tenby and the sea, the midday sun was beating down overhead and Patsy's heels had blisters from walking.

 

She looked over briefly at Delia, worried the smaller woman would be tiring, but Delia was in her element. It was clear she missed the countryside. The brunette simply stood, her arms out wide, sling abandoned, letting the sea breeze whip her hair up around her as she laughed merrily. Patsy wanted to burn the image into her brain to keep forever. Seeing Delia this happy made her insides flutter uncontrolably, a warmth spread through her chest and seemed to swell up inside her.

 

Delia had sensed she was being watched and looked over towards the guilty party.

 

"What?" she asked nonchalantly.

 

"Nothing." Patsy qualified quickly, "Just... enjoying the view."

 

They laid out the thick tartan rug on the grash. It was very lush and green from the previous days' rainfall and Delia quite contentedly removed her shoes, allowing her toes to be ticked by the little green blades.

 

They ate their little picnic of sandwiches and scones, enjoying the tranquility of the scene. There was no sound to be heard apart from the wind and the far off call of seagulls. Patsy closed her eyes and let the bright sun warm her face. This is what heaven is like, she thought as Delia's hand found hers and squeezed questioningly. She met the bright blue and grinned goofily.

 

"Having a good time?" Delia asked.

 

"Oh yes." Patsy stared back, "It's beautiful. You're beautiful." She added.

 

Delia discarded her half eaten scone into the picnic hamper and leaned forward, kissing Patsy briefly on the lips. She tasted of strawberry jam and cream, Patsy noted, before she pulled the brunette forward and kissed her back. They sat and kissed lazily for a while as the cool breeze gave them goosebumps and pleasant tingles up and down their arms.

 

Patsy maneuvered them down so they were lying on the rug, out of the direct breeze. They lay staring up at the sky, hand in hand, watching as tiny wisps of little white clouds floated by. They talked about everything and nothing. Delia laughed so hard she cried and Patsy's stomach ached from happiness and from all things Welsh and Delia. Delia's smile faded and they locked sparkling blue eyes, the atmosphere changing in an instant as they took each other in.

 

A stray wisp of brown hair was falling into Delia's eye and Patsy reached out to tuck it behind her ear. Delia sighed and closed her eyes.

 

"I want to stay here forever." She whispered, her Welsh lilt very pronounced.

 

"Me too."

 

Delia shifted propped herself up using her good shoulder and hovered her face above Patsy's. She paused for a brief moment before leaning down and capturing the redhead's lips in a searing kiss.

 

Patsy's eyes closed and she returned enthusiastically. Delia's tongue darted out, coating the redhead's bottom lip. Patsy sighed as she felt a small hand on her waist, holding her tight. Perfection. She parted her mouth, allowing Delia more access and soon their mouths were dancing a delightful tango of their own. All the while Delia's hand was moving lower, caressing Patsy's hip and dipping under her dress...

 

"Delia..." Patsy began to protest but suddenly realised she didn't care.

 

"Mmhmm..." Delia replied, now feathering kisses down Patsy's jawline, towards her neck.

 

The errant hand was now making its way up Patsy's dress and into her stockings. Patsy gulped, the risqué nature of this little tryst was to say the least, rather exhilarating. There was still a tiny niggling part of her brain telling her this was wrong, this was dangerous, but right now, couldn't care less what that part had to say.

 

She gasped audibly as Delia's hand slipped inside her knickers.

 

Delia grinned, kissing back up to Patsy's lips again. Patsy whimpered as she felt Delia's fingers stroke her folds gently. Her eyes slammed shut and she sucked in a breath, her whole body tensing.

 

"Pats..." came a gentle whisper.

 

She opened her eyes again to see Delia staring back, her expression open, baby blue eyes as deep as the ocean that lay behind them. Patsy could make out the individual freckles forming on her nose.

 

"Relax. It's just me."

 

Patsy took a deep shuddering breath and tried to calm herself. She focused on relaxing her muscles and letting her shoulders drop.

 

"That's it, you're safe." Delia maintained eye contact.

 

Patsy smiled weakly as Delia's fingers began to circle her gently. Little frissions of pleasure shot up her body and down her legs. She bit her lip as she tried to focus on keeping her body calm. Delia leaned down and kissed her lightly before returning to her previous position, hovering directly above her.

 

"Is this alright, Cariad?"

 

Patsy nodded.

 

The delightful tingly sensations were starting to build with every circle of the brunette's fingers. Delia increased her speed ever so slightly to catch up with Patsy's growing desire. All the while she stared deeply into those eyes.

 

Patsy let out a little whimper. She could feel herself climbing. The wave of pleasure inside of her was building up and up. She found herself desperately clawing at it, trying to reach the peak, trying to regain control of her out of control body.

 

"Relax, Pats," Delia's voice wafted through her ears. "Let go, it's alright, I have you, I have you safe."

 

Patsy let out a long exhale. Let go. Delia's fingers were moving faster. Let go. She could feel something warm spreading up her legs. Let go. Panting she took one final gasping breath.

 

Let... Go.

 

Her eyes locked with Delia's as her body convulsed uncontrollably. She saw nothing but love and tranquility in those eyes. Waves of pleasure rippled through her as her mind and body finally caved in and still all she could see were those beautiful blue eyes.

 

"Cariad?"

 

Delia was holding her as she floated back down to earth. A heaviness seeped into her limbs and she found herself unable to move. But she was safe and that's all that mattered.

 

"I have... no words, Deels." She finally said, her voice husky.

 

Delia leaned in and kissed her lightly on the forehead.

 

"You don't need any. I know." came the reply.

 

They lay side by side, Delia's head resting gently on Patsy's chest, listening to the thrumming of her heart.

 

The scene around them had not stirred, the sea breeze still cast a cooling air and the seagulls cries still sounded from far away.

 

Patsy's eyes fluttered closed as she felt the sun warm her body from the outside, Delia warming her from the inside. Yes. She thought to herself, this - this was what perfect bliss felt like.



~




 

 

Fan Art for this chapter by the as always amazing @manu-darko

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

The next day Delia had decided she couldn't put it off any longer. It was time to visit her parents.

 

The more selfish part of her wanted to have this entire week with Patsy alone. In a way she wished Patsy hadn't chosen Tenby - any other lovely little Welsh seaside town would have been perfect, why did it have to be here? But on the other hand, she wouldn't have gotten to show Patsy all her favourite childhood places. And the cottage was rather perfect.

 

Tossing and turning that night and eventually internally huffing in acceptance, she'd decided they would visit her mam and da the following morning.

 

Afterall, she did feel a little guilty. Not replying to her mam's letters at the start had felt like a good idea. They were so many, most of them worried about her health (as was now a common recurring theme following her accident) but now she was beginning to miss her parents, especially her da. Walking around Tenby with Patsy was wonderful, but it didn't quite feel complete. The thing was, she was dreading her mam's reaction to seeing Patsy again. The last time they had locked horns was in that posh little teahouse when Patsy had boldly asked for Delia's passport. Her mam had clearly known something was going on between them, but none of her consequent letters seemed to mention either Patsy or her daughter's inclinations. There was an awful lot going unsaid between mother and daughter. Delia supposed her mam was, for all pretence and purposes, burying her head firmly in the sand, hoping it would all go away if she ignored it. Ironically, the same technique Patsy deployed in unsettlingly situations too.

 

Delia put on her best and brightest sunflower yellow dress that morning and plaited her hair into pigtails. Patsy also dressed smarter than usual, favouring a clean cut white blouse and well fitting olive slacks. Delia tried not to blush as she watched Patsy button her blouse. There was something about the redhead wearing slacks that gave her stomach butterflies.

 

"You're looking ever so dapper." She commented idly.

 

Patsy smiled and eyed Delia's outfit. "And you look completely adorable."

 

Delia flashed her dimples and gave a twirl, her pigtails swinging through the air. "I was thinking I'd charm my mother through my outfit rather than through words."

 

"Well, you've certainly charmed me." Patsy winked.

 

Delia giggled and fixed a stray wisp of hair that had escaped. She looked at herself in the mirror on the dresser. The pigtails made her look even more youthful than ever. She'd been 'blessed' with a young face and often got mistaken for half her age. It was irritating, especially as a nurse; people sometimes questioning her ability and skill. But today she wanted to turn the charm up, perhaps the more childlike she looked, the easier her mother would go on her.

 

"Are you alright?" Patsy was suddenly behind her, hands on her waist, looking over her shoulder and watching her reflection intently.

 

Delia sighed and nodded. "Just a bit nervous."

 

"You don't have to go if you don't want to."

 

"No, I want to go. It's just... "

 

"You're worried what she'll think about me being here?"

 

Delia turned around and gave an apologetic grimace.

 

"Deels, I can stay here, if it's easier."

 

"No!" Delia exclaimed firmly. "That would mean she's won. And besides you've always taught me to rise above fear and do the things that scares us most."

 

After a quick breakfast they headed out. Delia decided their first port of call should be her Da's drapers shop. He normally worked there on Fridays and she figured it would be best to see him first.

 

They entered the quaint little shop and the bell on the door announced their arrival with a bright tinkle. Inside was quite dark and smelt thickly of fabrics. There was an old fashioned till but nobody behind the counter.

 

Delia hadn't been in her father's shop since she was a teenager, but the smell was just the same. Even some of the products on the shelves seemed to be identical - some covered in a layer of dust. She frowned, usually the place couldn't replenish stock fast enough due to the high demand.

 

Suddenly a rich Welsh baritone voice spoke from the shadows.

 

"Delia bach, is that you?"

 

Delia's head whipped around to see her Da standing behind the counter, his blue eyes wide. He was a short man with a balding head of grey hair and a scruffy beard - at christmas he could pass as santa claus, given the right getup. His hair was a lot greyer and thinner since she'd last seen him but his deep laughter lines were exactly the same.

 

"Da!" She exclaimed before running towards in and enveloping him in a one armed hug.

 

They stayed like that for several moments, Delia enjoying being wrapped in the safe cocoon of her father's arms. His hug was weaker than she remembered and he felt thinner. Eventually they parted and her Da's eyes flickered towards Patsy who was shuffling her feet awkwardly.

 

"Da, this is Patsy, Patsy, this is my Da." Delia made the introductions.

 

"Patsy, what a lovely name. I'm Huw."

 

They shook hands warmly. "Come through to the back, the both of you - I've got a kettle on."

 

"What about customers?" Delia asked.

 

"Oh never mind them bach," Huw grinned, dimples appearing on his cheeks.

 

They made their way into the back of the shop, taking care to avoid large reams of fabrics and cardboard boxes that littered the corridor. The back shop consisted of a little sink kitchenette area and a sad looking sofa. Huw pulled out a rickety wooden chair and sat on it, letting Patsy and Delia take the sofa.

 

"So!" Huw clapped his hands together in glee, "what brings you back to Cymru, cariad?" His eyes flickered to Delia's sling, "and what on earth happened to your poor arm?"

 

"I hurt my shoulder and Patsy and I decided to take a holiday, while I recover."

 

"How did you manage that? Last I heard you were a midwife, not a dock worker!" Huw laughed jovialy at his own joke.

 

"It's a long story." Delia admitted.

 

Huw chuckled, "I bet it is - did she ever tell you about the time she nearly broke her ankle climbing the tree in our back garden?" he asked Patsy.

 

Patsy's eyebrows raised, "No, I don't think she did."

 

Huw's face lit up as he told the story, his face the splitting image of Delia whenever she recounted and exciting tale.

 

"Thankfully the only thing that got hurt was her pride." He finished, winking in Delia's direction.

 

Delia rolled her eyes.

 

"So Patsy, you're clearly not from around here, " Huw addressed the redhead, "What's your story?"

 

Delia felt Patsy stiffen next to her. She never liked being the subject for interrogation and Delia was about to interject with a deflection but Patsy beat her to it.

 

"Not much to tell really, I grew up in singapore, moved to England and studied to be a nurse, that's where I met Delia."

 

Huw met her eyes. "Singapore?" the jovial nature was completely gone from his voice, "Was that during the war?" He frowned.

 

Patsy nodded.

 

"Da, shall I get the tea?" Delia hopped up, startling everyone.

 

Quick as a flash, Huw was back to his normal bubbly self, "Ah thank you bach, kettle is just over there so it is."

 

Delia busied herself making the beverages and Patsy continued the small talk.

 

"Love shop you've got here, Mr Busby." She gestured.

 

"Ah thank you, and it's Huw, no need to bother with all the formality - any friend of Delia's is a friend of mine." He smiled warmly.

 

Delia smiled to herself as she poured extra milk into her cup. This is why she'd come here first, she knew her da would be much more welcoming towards the redhead than her mother and wanted to build up slowly to the encounter.

 

She returned with three steaming mugs of tea, all made perfectly to their recipients tastes and settle back onto the sofa next to Patsy. She sat closer than before, their thighs touching slightly. To her delight, Patsy did not back away.

 

"Delia tells me you've had this shop for a while." Patsy continued.

 

"Aye that I have, opened just after the war so it did." Huw proclaimed proudly.

 

Delia frowned, "Da... Why's it so quiet?"

 

"Oh you know, it's not really the season for drapery. Besides, nowadays folk often go to Swansea to buy their fabrics, we're a little antiquated apparently. Just because I refuse to keep up with 'Good Housekeeping' or 'Women's Realm' doesn't mean I don't know how to hem a pair of trousers or reupholster a chair." He winked.

 

Delia's eyes narrowed. She knew him well enough to know there was something he wasn't telling her. But then again, he perhaps didn't want to talk business in front of Patsy.

 

They all sat in amicable silence for a while, sipping their tea.

 

"So you two met in training did you?" Huw asked.

 

"Yes we did, Patsy was a few years behind in school so we started studying at the same time." Delia explained.

 

"Ahh, and you've stuck together ever since?"

 

"We bonded over our ward rounds." Patsy smiled, remembering how they'd first met. "And I haven't been able to get rid of her."

 

"Got drawn in by her sense of humor and stayed for her taste in music did you?" He winked at Patsy.

 

Patsy flushed a deep crimson and suddenly became very interested in her tea.

 

"So where are you staying?" Huw asked.

 

"Oh, Patsy rented us a cottage near the chip shop." Delia explained.

 

Huw frowned, "The one with the red door and the laburnum bush outside?"

 

Patsy nodded.

 

"Ahh, Morag Ramsey's place, yes she said she was going away for a while to see her cousin up in Inverness."

 

"Everyone really does know everyone in Tenby don't they?" Patsy smiled.

 

"That we do. That we do." Huw hummed. "I'm not one for gossip though, that's Mrs Morgan's job - I suspect you've met her?" he asked Patsy.

 

Patsy's smile grew bigger, "Not in person, but I have seen her."

 

"She was rapping on the door last night and we plain ignored her. Probably spotted you both and wanted to let us know." Huw chuckled. "However, I am delighted with the surprise, bach." He leaned forward. "But why didn't you tell us you were coming, I'm sure your mam would've let you stay with us."

 

Delia tried her best not to snort. "We didn't want to bother you."

 

"Nonsense, you could never bother us, cariad! You and Patsy are welcome any time, I mean it."

 

Shooting a side glance towards Patsy, Delia realised with a slight jolt in her stomach that the redhead's eyes were watering.

 

"Thank you Mr Bus- "

 

Huw held out a hand in protest.

 

"Huw." Patsy corrected. "That is most kind of you." She added sincerely.

 

"You two should come round for dinner later, I'm sure Enid would cook us up a lovely spread."

 

There was a silence.

 

"We were going to pop by after seeing you and say hello, there's really no need to invite us to dinner, da..." Delia rambled.

 

"Nonsense." Huw exclaimed, "I'm closing up for lunch anyway, I'll come with you."

 

Delia sighed. Having her Da as backup would certainly help ease the tension of surprising her mam.

 

"Thanks, da."

 

Huw closed the shop, locking the door securely and putting up a handwritten sign that read : 'Off On Lunch, Be Back Soonish!' and the trio began walking towards the Busby family home.

 

Delia felt a lot lighter than she had that morning, the encounter with her da had gone really well and it had put both her and Patsy's anxieties at ease a little. But she knew the worst was probably yet to come. She hid her injured arm under her thick coat, hoping to stave off any unwanted questions from the get go about her mishap.

 

After a ten minute walk they came to a little gate which led up a path to the Busby's house. It was a small one storey bungalow with a neatly kept front garden and several potted plants lining the path. The same gaudy looking gnomes from Delia's childhood still littered the front lawn. Her da loved collecting them, he thought they brought good luck to the house. The nostalgia hit her in waves as they walked in a line towards the front door.

 

Of course she had been back here recently after her accident. But then she was only just regaining her memories. It felt completely different to be here, fully aware of everything and able to appreciate all the little details without having to concentrate like mad. And this time it had been her decision to come here, she was here by choice, not by necessity. That thought filled her with courage as Huw rapped loudly on the bright green front door.

 

"Enid!" He called, "There's someone special come to see you."

 

There was a little kerfuffle from inside and Delia's mam's voice rang out, her accent thick, "That rag and bone man has been round four times this week, Huw, I've bloody well had enough of him - " she opened the door and froze in place.

 

"Hello mam." Delia smiled.

 

Mrs Busby's eyes flicked from Delia to Patsy hovering behind her and her jaw dropped to the floor.

 

"Come on cariad, you'll catch flies." Huw chuckled. "Let us in will you, it's starting to rain out here."

 

He pushed open the door, leading Delia and Patsy passed a stunned looking Mrs Busby.

 

"Why don't you get Patsy settled in the lounge bach, I'll sort out your mam." Huw whispered in Delia's ear. "I'll take your coats."

 

Delia led Patsy into the sitting room. It was covered in lilac floral wallpaper and smelt thickly of lavender. Everything was perfectly neat and clearly had its place. Her mam always liked to keep a tight ship and would be ever so out of sorts if someone moved one of the ornaments so much as an inch from its rightful place.

 

They sat on the sofa together, Patsy's hands were clasped in front of her. She looked tense. Delia reached over and stroked the back of her hand gently. The redhead all but jumped a mile in the air.

 

"It's alright, cariad." Delia whispered. "We'll get through this."

 

Patsy smiled weakly.

 

Delia took off her sling and held it out to Patsy. "Could you put this in your pocket?"

 

"What? Why?"

 

"If mam finds out I've hurt myself it'll be mayhem all over again."

 

Patsy's lips pursed, her inner nurse clearly against the idea, but her compassionate side won out and she tucked away the bandage into the pocket of her slacks.

 

There were muffled sounds coming from the hallway. Clearly her Mam and Da were locked in a fierce Welsh discussion together. Delia strained her ears, trying to pick out what they were saying.

 

"Pam mae hi wedi dod yma?" came Mrs Busby's angry whisper, "A chyda hi. O'r holl bobl."

 

"Beth sydd o'i le gyda Patsy?" Huw retorted, "Mae hi'n ferch ifanc braf."

 

"Oh Huw!" Mrs Busby chided, "ydych chi'n gwbl ddall?"

 

"Dydw i ddim yn gwybod beth rydych chi'n sôn amdano, cariad." Huw said defensively. "Ac er eu bod o dan ein to, maent yn ein gwesteion. Felly, yr wyf yn awgrymu eich bod yn mynd a rhowch y tegell ymlaen."

 

Patsy leaned over. "What are they saying?" she whispered.

 

Delia shrugged. She knew exactly what they were saying but didn't really want to repeat it to Patsy. One thing was clear though, her mam's hostile feelings towards the redhead and not changed.

 

Mr Busby appeared in the doorway, a smile plastered on his face again. "Enid's just getting us some lunch."

 

Delia gritted her teeth. She didn't really want to stay here for lunch. The plan was really to say hello and then get out of there as quick as possible.

 

"That's very kind of her." Patsy said. "Isn't it Deels?"

 

Taking a few deep breaths, Delia smiled. "Yes. It is."

 

Huw beamed. "I think it's liver pate and cucumber sandwiches, homegrown cucumbers that is." He added proudly.

 

Patsy looked impressed. "You grow your own vegetables?"

 

"That we do." Huw bounced in excitement. "I've got a little allotment, it's not much but it's been doing pretty well these past weeks, considering we had such a horrible winter."

 

"Did you get snow here too?"

 

"Aye, we were buried in it so we were - trapped for a good few weeks. Thankfully Enid's supply of tinned food kept us going. Although, I'd quite happily never eat another can of baked beans for the rest of my life."

 

The idle chatter continued and Delia began to relax. Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad afterall. They'd eat lunch, make small talk then leave. Then she'd have the rest of the holiday without feeling guilty about seeing her parents. It wasn't that she didn't enjoy their company, it was more so the longer they stayed the more likely her mam would say or do something to upset the apple cart. And in all honesty, Delia did not have the strength right now to cope with a full blown confrontation.

 

Eventually Mrs Busby called them through to the dining room for luncheon. They trooped through, Huw taking the seat at the head of the table and Delia sitting opposite her mam, Patsy to her right.

 

"What a lovely spread you have Mrs Busby." Patsy smiled politely.

 

Enid sniffed and nodded curtly in acknowledgement.

 

They all tucked into their meal, the odd sentence passing between them politely.

 

"So, Delia." Huw said with a mouthful of sandwich.

 

Mrs Busby batted at him, "don't talk with your mouth full Huw."

 

He swallowed hard and continued, "How's life being a midwife eh? How many little ones have you delivered so far?"

 

"I hardly think that's an appropriate subject for the dinner table do you?" Enid responded scathingly.

 

"Actually it's been amazing so far." Delia's face lit up, "I helped Valerie, my colleague, deliver a baby a few weeks ago, it was very exciting."

 

"Well done bach! Isn't that wonderful?" Huw applauded.

 

Patsy grinned. "It was pretty wonderful yes."

 

Delia blushed at the praise from her father and girlfriend. "I was only doing my job."

 

"Modest until then end this one." Huw chuckled. "Even if she's bringing new life into the world."

 

Enid coughed. "She's hardly birthing the children Huw, I wouldn't go that far."

 

"Oh hush cariad, just because Dylan's not married yet doesn't mean you'll never get any grandchildren."

 

"Dylan?" Patsy asked, puzzled.

 

"My brother." Delia clarified. "Younger brother. He's in the merchant navy and travels a lot."

 

"At least he'll have a chance of meeting a lovely wife on his travels." Enid sniffed, replacing the lid on the teapot with a soft 'clink'.

 

The knuckles of Delia's left hand were turning white under the table as she balled her hand into a fist. She refused to let her mam win this stand off.

 

"You never told me you had a younger brother Deels." Patsy smiled.

 

"Well, perhaps you don't know her as well as you thought you do." Enid snarled, sipping her tea.

 

The tension in the room teetered on the edge, Delia and her mam both exchanging death stares over their cups of tea.

 

"Well, what a lovely meal." Huw exclaimed loudly. "I'll just go do the washing up now shall I?" He didn't wait for an answer, just began clearing the plates, some with half eaten sandwiches still on them. "Patsy, why don't you help me dry?"

 

Patsy stood cautiously, sending a glance Delia's way, but right now she also didn't fancy being at the middle of a Busby shouting match and decided to cut her losses and join Huw in the kitchen.

 

The moment the kitchen door closed, Enid rounded on Delia. "What on earth is she doing here?" Her thumb pointed towards the closed door.

 

Normally Delia would back down and submit to her mam, but this time she'd had quite enough. Why should her own mother stop her from being happy and living her own life?

 

"We're on holiday together mam. Patsy rented us a lovely little cottage for the week." Delia tried to keep her voice level.

 

Mrs Busby's face had started to inflate like a giant red balloon. "You're doing what!?" She hissed.

 

"We're sharing a cottage together." Delia repeated. Sharing a bed too. But she didn't push her luck by adding that.

 

"Are you doing this on purpose? Rubbing it in our faces? What if word got out you and her were... were..."

 

"Were what mam?" Delia's voice rose.

 

Enid it seemed, couldn't bring herself to complete the sentence, her eyes darting around as if expecting a cohort of neighbours to be perring in through the dining room windows.

 

"What you do in your own time is your business, " Enid hissed in a low voice, "but the moment you start bringing that filth into our home I- "

 

"I'm sorry, what!?" Delia didn't care about controlling her volume anymore, her blood was boiling.

 

"People will talk, Delia. People do talk. I've heard them. Ever since your accident, ever since all those letters.. from her."

 

"Patsy mam. She has a name." Delia spat.

 

"She's a bad influence on you." Mrs Busby shot back, "No wonder her father abandoned her, honestly I don't understand why you even bother - "

 

SLAM.

 

Delia's fist came down hard on the table, the force and the noise making Enid jump. The brunette's eyes were stormy grey, almost black.

 

"Don't you dare." she whispered, dangerously quiet.

 

Mrs Busby tried to backtrack. "I didn't mean, I just... Oh cariad, I just want what's best for you." Her voice dripped with honey.

 

Delia slumped back down into her seat, trying not to grunt in pain. She'd used her injured arm to make her point and now said limb was throbbing angrily.

 

"Patsy is what's best for me mam." She sighed. "I know you can't see it the way I do but please, trust me."

 

"It's such a lonely life caraid." Enid's voice was suddenly very small. As if she was clinging on to the last remnants of her daughter's innocence.

 

Delia smiled and shook her head. "No. No it isn't." She sighed again. "I love her mam."

 

Enid's face was an array of emotion, she was scrabbling at the pieces, trying her utmost to pull Delia back from the edge. "Delia...can't you just... " came her last, desperate plea.

 

Delia shook her head. "No mam. I love her. She's it for me, there's not going to be anyone else."

 

Enid eyed her daughter intently, but Delia held her gaze firmly, for perhaps the first time ever in her life.

 

"I think you should go." Enid said.

 

Delia nodded, tight lipped and rose from the table. As if on cue, the kitchen door opened and in came Patsy and Huw. She wondered if they'd heard the row - how could they not have. Right now she didn't really care what they thought, she was tired, she'd had enough fighting. She blinked a few times, steadying herself with her good arm as she swayed a little on the spot.

 

Patsy rushed to her side to help prop her up.

 

"Deels, are you alright?" she asked, looking down at Delia's right fist in alarm.

 

Delia followed Patsy's gaze numbly and saw blood on the bright white table cloth. Her knuckles were bleeding.

 

"This is ridiculous." Patsy muttered, reaching into the pocket of her slacks and pulling out Delia's sling. "Put this on," she ordered, "Huw, can you get us a clean dishcloth please?"

 

Delia allowed herself to be helped into a chair in the sitting room as Patsy wrapped her hand and reassessed her shoulder. Huw hovered awkwardly in the background as Patsy worked, Enid had disappeared upstairs without another word.

 

"Right. I don't think there's any more damage done." Patsy checked the range of motion of Delia's shoulder one more time.

 

"Oh bach I'm sori," whispered Huw, "I should have said something."

 

Delia shook her head. "No da, it's alright. We needed to talk." She massaged her right hand with her left.

 

"I don't think that was really talking was it?" Huw said kindly.

 

Delia's lip wobbled threateningly. "I'm sorry, we shouldn't have come."

 

"Nonsense." Huw began.

 

"No da, it's fine, really. We should be going anyway." Delia stood up and made her way towards the hall.

 

Patsy followed her, grabbing their coats as Delia opened the front door.

 

"Tell mam thanks for lunch." Delia said, her face expressionless.

 

"Bach..."

 

But Delia had ushered Patsy outside and had closed the door behind her.

 

They walked in silence back towards their little cottage, the rain lashing down and drowning Delia's hair causing her fringe to stick to her forehead.

 

Patsy said nothing, just linked her arm with Delia and helped her walk.

 

Eventually they reached the warmth and safety of their accommodation. Only when the door closed did Delia finally break.

 

She collapsed sideways into Patsy's arms with a monumental sob. The rest was a blur, she vaguely remembered Patsy helping her upstairs, out of her sodden clothes and into a pair of soft pyjamas. There were warm self arms enveloping her and that wonderful soft mattress consuming her body. If only it could consume her grief too, she though as finally she drifted off into an uneven sleep, Patsy knelt by her bedside, stroking her hair, her tears staining the pillow she was lying on.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

December, 1960


"Cariad? Are you awake?"

 

Delia grumbled, her head was pounding and she didn't really feel like getting up. She heard her mam enter her bedroom and rip open the curtains. Light poured into the room turning her vision red behind her eyes. Her head hurt more.

 

"Come on now, Delia - we've got an appointment with the GP today, remember?"

 

Delia huffed and opened her eyes at last. Enid was staring at her intently, waiting for a response. For a brief moment Delia considered playing with her and pretending she had no recollection of where she was - but the shrewdness of her mother's eyes quickly quelled that defiant thought.

 

Instead she nodded and tried to get up and out of bed. Her mam fussed around her, helping her out of her pyjamas and into her clothes. She didn't physically need the help anymore - her injuries were almost completely healed. But complaining was futile. The one time she'd tried, her mam had bitten her head off with 'I'm just worried about you, cariad' and 'can't I be a mother to you for once in my life?'. Delia had decided to play along. After all, her mother did have her best interests at heart.

 

Enid took her to the doctor's office that morning, a small little one storey building, the opposite side of tenby. It was a long walk and she was inevitably fussing over the brunette's health the entire way. Delia knew that her accident had been particularly emotionally hard on her mother. The poor woman it seemed had been fretting non-stop over her, making sure she followed the strict advice the doctors from the London had gave her and then some. She'd refused to let Delia out of the house unaccompanied, in case she'd have one of her 'spells' as she called them. The seizures had stopped a few weeks ago now and Delia was getting a bit fed up of being indoors. But it seemed her mam always had an excuse to guilt trip her into staying glued to her hip. Delia had started to recall her memories at record speed. They'd mostly come back in chronological order and at first Enid had seemed ever so excited at her ability to recall. As time wore on however, the excitement changed to more of a resentment, every time Delia so much as mentioned anything to do with London. It made sense though, London was where the accident had happened, therefore her mam had every reason to be afraid. Delia knew she'd studied in London but any further recollection of her time there was still blank. Perhaps it was for the best she didn't remember her time there - from what her mam had said, it had been pretty awful.

 

The doctor examined Delia, asked her a few questions about her health, which, inevitably, her mam answered for her. The brunette felt a little out of sorts. She could speak for herself after all, it's not as though her power of speech had been taken away from her. Frustration rose to the surface and on the walk home she made her opinion known. Enid was not pleased.

 

"Cariad, I'm doing this for you, I can't believe you're being so ungrateful. After all we've done for you these past few months, helping you get better." She sniffed dramatically and blew her nose on her handkerchief. "Now, let's concentrate on getting better shall we, instead of fretting."

 

Delia never questioned her again after that. She felt awfully guilty - her mam was right. The next few weeks felt like she was treading on eggshells around her mother, not wanting to say or do anything to upset her further. Everything she did felt like it was under a constant scrutiny, it was utterly exhausting.

 

And then the church service happened, arranged by her mother to welcome her home. The choir had began to sing an Elvis cover and suddenly, seemingly unprompted, memories of London and training came flooding back. It was like a dam had broken in her mind and was almost too much to handle - she couldn't control the tidal wave of new emotions and started to panic.

 

Her mam spotted her gasping for air and was by her side quickly.

 

"Cariad, what's wrong?"

 

"This song... I... I can't..." Delia choked out. "I've got to go." She stood up.

 

"It's a lovely song, now come on, don't be rude there's still more to go yet. They've all gathered here for you and you don't want to let them down now do you?"

 

Delia shook her head. "No, it's not that." She smiled up at her mother. "I remembered."

 

Instead of looking pleased, her mam looked increasingly worried. "Remembered what, cariad?"

 

"London. Nursing school... What happened before the accident."

 

Enid's eyes were the size of saucers. "Now now, let's not worry about all that. You're home now, no more accident." She tried to pull Delia back down into her seat.

 

Several people were starting to turn around and stare at them.

 

Delia stood her ground and shook her head again. "No... no, these aren't bad thoughts mam... they're good ones... happy ones... I think." She narrowed her eyes, trying to grasp at the rapidly disappearing clouds of memories.

 

"Nothing about that place was good, Delia." Mrs Busby's voice was now low, a warning almost. "You got complacent there and look what happened." Enid gripped Delia's arm, almost forcing her to sit down. "Tenby is home now, it always has been. It's where you're safest."

 

Delia resisted and screwed her eyes shut. Something wasn't making sense - and her mam's cold voice in her ear was not helping. She needed to get out of here, she needed some space. Ripping herself away she made for the exit and finally escaped into the cool night air. Thankfully her mam did not follow - she was probably warding off questions from bystanders.

 

She trudged around the side of the church, the choir inside had finished singing their Elvis cover and were preparing for the next song. She felt a pang of guilt. The concert, or service if you will, had been organised for her as a celebration - and here she was walking out on them. But right now she needed time along to gather her thoughts. Up until that point all memories of London had been very hazy, this was the first sign of clarity she'd had.

 

And then the choir started singing again.

All Through The Night.

 

Blonde hair... No, red hair? Puffy pink sleeves. Cigarettes. That throaty laugh, the lopsided grin - training school, a hammering heart, a tentative first kiss... the square dance, a lantern parade, yellow walls, a vase on a windowsill, the night at the flat before... before...

It felt like a punch to the chest. Like her heart had been restarted, jolted back into life with an electric shock. The images projected onto the cinema screen of her mind were playing in reverse as if the projectionist had not quite been able to link the reels together properly. But finally the pictures were clear and in colour.

 

And one image that stood out above all the rest. A laughing face, the smell of Johnny Walker and bleach... copper pigtails, full lips and a beautiful smile.

 

Patsy.

 

She hadn't mentioned the recall to her mam. The whole episode she'd passed off as not feeling well. The downside to that excuse however had been Enid's extra caution in the following days. Despite Delia's assurance that she felt a lot better the next day, her mam was convinced her wobble was a harbinger of doom and required even more cotton wool to shield her daughter from the world.

 

But late at night, as the memories became sharper and more defined, Delia would sit over her writing desk, trying to figure out what she was going to say. It had taken a good few weeks before her fractured wrist had healed enough for her to write again. But now she could finally put pen to paper she had no idea what she wanted to write.

 

One thing was weighing on her mind, was Patsy even real? or was she a figment of her own imagination. Surely if her memories of the past were to be believed, then the read head would have written to her or made some sort of contact. But there had been nothing, not a peep from Patsy. It was making her wonder if she'd made the woman up. And so, she wrote her a letter, in the hope that she'd reply and prove her doubts wrong. It was a simple letter, one that could easily be passed off as a pen pal correspondence.

 

She sealed the envelope, entitling it 'Patience Mount, Nonnatus House, Poplar, London' and made her way downstairs. Perhaps she'd be able to sneak out to the postbox. Unfortunately before she could get her shoes on her mam stopped her in her tracks.

 

"Cariad, where are you going?"

 

"I thought I'd go for a walk and post a letter." She said breezily.

 

"But what about your turn the other day, we can't have you walking out there on your own, the pavements are all icy."

 

Delia looked down at the floor despondent.

 

"Let me post your letter?" Enid offered. "I'm off to shop anyway for some eggs."

 

And so that was that. A similar excuse followed the other two letters that Delia tried sending. And still no reply for the redhead.

 

By the time they were due to visit London and see the neurology doctor, Delia had all but given up hope that Patsy even existed. And then, standing at a bitterly cold bus stop in the snow outside Harrods - she'd seen her.

 

What followed was possibly the worst row she'd ever had with her mother.

 

"You never posted my letters to Patsy did you! Why!?"

 

"It was for your safety, Cariad. I thought you'd abandon me, the safety of your home... all for nothing. Just to go back to where all the horror happened? I couldn't let you do that."

 

"Mam! I'm twenty four, not twelve!"

 

"And it's only by the grace of god that you'll see twenty five!" Enid retorted, close to tears.

 

Delia's shoulders slumped. Perhaps her mam was right, London was quite dangerous. She didn't want to upset her and the tears had started to roll down the older woman's face. The guilt stabbed Delia hard in the gut as she watched despondent. Her mam had done so much for her over the past few months, she'd nursed her back to health, kept her safe, given her a roof and food. Perhaps she was being ungrateful.

 

"I'm sorry mam." She whispered.

 

"No, caraid, I am." Enid sniffed dramatically. "I just, I can't bare the thought of you coming back to live here. What if I lose you?"

 

Delia wrapped her mam in a tight hug. They didn't normally do physical contact, but it felt like the right response for once.

 

"You won't lose me mam."



 

 

April, 1963

 

 

Delia sat on the window seat of their little cottage living room staring out over the Welsh countryside.

 

She used to window gaze during her convalescence, unable to actually go outside - the view was quite refreshing. But now all the memories of that horrible couple of months had come flooding back. How had the void between her and her mam become so large? She wanted desperately to please her mother, it was as if it was the default setting inside her brain. So to storm out on her like she had felt all wrong.

 

But a part of her knew it had to be done. She was no longer a child and she needed to stand up for herself. Her true happiness was in London. And, like it or not, she'd told her mother that's where she wanted to be. Not only that she'd told her in no uncertain words that she loved Patsy.

 

She'd told her mam she loved Patsy.

 

Such an action should've felt freeing or at least somewhat liberating, but in all honesty it was making Delia feel slightly sick. Not that she'd expected warm hugs and acceptance for the news, but to be told to 'get out' had definitely stung. The problem was, where did she go from here? She could potentially go back and apologise. No. That was not an option. She wouldn't apologise for loving Patsy, ever. Her mam had clearly taken their coming to Tenby as a personal jab. She'd said as much - suggesting they were rubbing it in her face!? That was downright unfair. If Delia had come to her hometown with a man, the tale would have been very different. Were the neighbours really talking about them?

 

She shook her head, brain fog beginning to settle. Waves of anxiety flooded her system, her heart beating erratically. The sick feeling lurched and she suddenly felt like she was going to vomit.

 

Scooting off the windowsill she just about made it to the downstairs toilet in time.

 

Her head was pounding again, a dull throbbing ache across her temples. Then small stabs of pain surfaced low in her abdomen.

 

She groaned and resisted the urge to hit her head against the wall of the bathroom.

 

Fantastic. No wonder she'd been feeling extra emotional yesterday. Well. This was one way to end a holiday.

 

Gingerly she got to her feet and opened the bathroom door. There was no sign of Patsy and Delia breathed a sigh of relief. She didn't want the redhead worrying even more than she probably was at the moment. It was still quite early - early enough she might be able to slip back into bed again without waking her partner.

 

The curtains were still drawn tightly shut as Delia slid into their shared bedroom. The darkness instantly calmed her throbbing head. Trying to memorise the room's layout, she rootled around as quietly as she could in the dark to find some supplies, realising, all too late, that she'd left them in London. She wasn't due for another week and had planned on getting away with having a lovely holiday without interruptions of this nature.

 

She did manage to locate her painkillers however and the jug of water that lay next to them. Pouring a glass as quietly as she could, she downed two of the pills.

 

"Delia?"

 

Not quite as invisible as she'd hoped then.

 

"Hey, you." She whispered, "Don't get up, I'm coming back to bed."

 

The dark silhouette of Patsy murmured in agreement and sank back down again.

 

Delia joined her, wrapping her arms tightly around the taller woman and burying her head into her pyjamas. She smelt of warm, sleepy Patsy as the Welshwoman inhaled the calming scent deeply.

 

"Are you alright?" Patsy whispered, stroking the brunette locks gently with her free hand.

 

"M'early." Delia mumbled incoherently.

 

Patsy shifted onto her side, eyes searching in the dark to find Delia's face. "What was that?"

 

"I'm early. My monthlies."

 

"Oh, Deels."

 

Patsy flicked on the bedside lamp.

 

The light stung and Delia's eyes snapped shut as a new throb of pain went through her head.

 

"Sorry." Patsy winced, "do you want me to turn it off again?"

 

"No, it's okay." Delia sighed, finally opening her eyes to see the concern etched over the redhead's features.

 

Patsy reached out and lightly laid her hand on Delia's tummy. The brunette's mouth twitched into a little smile.

 

"Does explain why I was so... emotional yesterday."

 

Patsy's face crumpled sympathetically. "Do you want to talk about it... yesterday, I mean."

 

Delia pondered the offer for a moment. She did want to voice her thoughts, but at the same time she was utterly exhausted and just wanted to go back to sleep. Eventually she settled for a tiny head shake.

 

Thankfully Patsy seemed to understand.

 

"Shall I pop down to the chemist and get you some supplies?"

 

Ever the practical one.

 

"Yes please." Delia smiled.

 

Patsy's mouth twitched into her trademark fishhook smile. "And some milky tea for breakfast?"

 

"That sounds heavenly." Gosh this woman was amazing sometimes.

 

"Have you had your painkillers?"

 

A nod.

 

"Good. Now, lie back down and I'll see if I can find a hot water bottle in this house."

 

Seriously, what did she ever do to deserve someone so wonderful.

 

Patsy left the bed along with her wonderful warmth as she disappeared downstairs. Delia rolled over onto her good side, trying to ignore the growing pains in her lower abdomen. Trust her body and her mam to ruin the end of a perfectly good holiday. They were due to be travelling back to London the next day. Her stomach lurched at the prospect of travelling. She grumbled and tried to find a comfortable position. And there wasn’t even a bath she could soak in. Suddenly the infamous shower lost all of its previous kudos.

 

Unable to stand the light, she reached over and turned off Patsy’s bedside lamp. The instant darkness was very welcoming to her headache and helped her relax back into the mattress.

 

Sleep it off Busby, she thought to herself, sleep it off.



~



Patsy added the fourth spoonful of sugar into Delia's milky white tea and stirred it in. The sugar should give her a little energy, she thought, even if the brunette wasn't up for eating anything.

 

The events of yesterday had left Patsy in a state of rather numb shock. She found herself going through the motions of everything, heating the kettle, searching for a hot water bottle, filling it up... but it all felt like she was watching someone else do these things from across the room.

 

It had been impossible not to overhear the majority of Delia's conversation (if you could call it that) with her mam. Huw had plowed on regardless, ignoring everything. Then they'd heard the crash as Delia punched the table. Even Huw couldn't ignore that and they'd come bursting into the scene. Whilst Patsy was proud of Delia for finally standing up to her mother, the fact she had hurt herself in the process was verging on the ridiculous. She'd been almost relieved when they'd left, but now, in the cold light of day, it was clear this was far from over.

 

Stirring the already dissolved sugar in Delia's tea, she pondered her next move. A large part of her wanted to storm up to the Busby house and give Enid the what for. However, that would be completely overreacting and likely wouldn't help anyone. The more level headed approach would simply be to talk to the woman. Clearly Delia wasn't going anywhere today other than from bedroom to bathroom and back so that left the task to her. Relishing the thought, she loaded up the breakfast tray with a milky well sugared tea and a piping hot hot water bottle and made her way back upstairs.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

It was gone lunchtime when Patsy finally plucked up enough courage to set out for the Busby's house.

 

She didn't even know what she was going to say. Normally for her, some resemblance of a plan was mandatory before such a confrontation. But whatever had happened yesterday between Delia and her mam was not right. She couldn't stand by and do nothing. Having witnessed more than her fair share of families being torn apart for much worse reasons than a small spat, Patsy refused to let this go without a fight. It was clear there was something was going on and she was determined to get to the bottom of it. How though, was a completely different question.

 

In fact by the time she'd walked the short distance to the now familiar building she was starting to regret the decision to storm up without a plan of attack. Her hand hovered, poised to knock on the front door.

 

Before it could make contact with the wood, the door swung open on old rusty hinges ro reveal the round face of Huw Busby smiling at her sadly.

 

"Helo Patsy." He sighed.

 

It was clear he'd seen her through the window. Patsy had taken such a long time before she even considered knocking, he'd come to her rescue. Equal parts glad and resentful she was now no longer stuck on the doorstep facing a conundrum. He held out his hand offering her access inside.

 

"Come in."

 

Patsy's eyes flickered behind him, almost expecting to see Mrs Busby looming behind, hackles raised, breathing fire like a terrifying Welsh dragon.

 

He seemed to read her mind.

 

"Enid's gone out for a walk, don't worry. It's just me."

 

Clearly this was who Delia got her attentiveness from then. Cautiously she slipped inside and Huw shut the door behind her.

 

"Apologies, there won't be any tea on offer right now, I'm in the process of fixing the kitchen taps. The winter did a number on all the pipes in this old place." He began to whistle jovialy as Patsy followed him timidly towards the kitchen.

 

"That's quite alright." Patsy smiled.

 

Huw offered her a seat at the little breakfast table in the kitchen before resuming his task. His knees bent with an almighty crack as he lowered himself back down inside the kitchen cupboard.

 

"I suppose you're here to give Enid the old what-for." He chuckled at Patsy's mortified look. "Don't worry, she's all bark and no bite that woman."

 

Patsy drew herself up to her full height, slipping into her professional persona. "My only interest is ensuring Delia's happiness, I can assure you. Not going after any personal vendettas."

 

Huw nodded solemnly. "I know bach. And believe it or not, despite this jolly exterior, I'm not completely blind to the way my daughter looks at you."

 

Patsy froze, her heart thudding loudly. He knew? Her mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water. She didn't know what to say to that.

 

Huw took a big sigh and lent back on his haunches, his knees cracking again. "I always knew she was different so I did, never brought back any boys or even mentioned them really. Apart from old Dai of course, but they were just best friends, nothing more."

 

The redhead's shoulders relaxed a little as she realised she wasn't in any immediate threat of judgement from the stocky man.

 

"She always had it in her head what she wanted, and be darned if anyone else could tell her otherwise." He chuckled, "And then she left for London. I knew she'd find herself there, in a way she could never here."

 

He picked up a loose washer and began fidgeting with it. Patsy watched the small piece of silver metal travel between his fingers as he dexterously moved it between them.

 

"I'm glad it's you she chose."

 

Patsy gulped. Was this the equivilent of having his blessing?

 

Huw dropped the washer suddenly and cursed in Welsh under his breath as he tried to locate it under the skirting board. Patsy spotted the glint of metal near his boot and rose from her seat quickly to help him. As she handed him back the washer she saw him up close for the first time. His eyes were exactly the same as Delia's. Bright blue with a hint of mischief and wonderful laughter lines were entrenched in his skin from years of dimpled smiles. She wondered if Delia would look like this when she was older. It was a vision she very much hoped she'd get to see.

 

They sat, backs against the kitchen cabinets, staring off into space for a while. Eventually Huw broke the silence.

 

"Enid don't mean it. Not really." He sighed. "She's just terrified of losing her."

 

Patsy swallowed. "That makes two of us then."

 

"Please don't judge her too harshly."

 

"I wasn't - " Patsy began to protest, but Huw held up his hand.

 

"I know how she can be. How she can appear at any rate. But she's been through a lot as I'm sure you know."

 

The expression of confusion on Patsy's face spoke volumes. Huw looked shocked.

 

"Delia never told you did she?"

 

Patsy was growing more and more confused by the second. "I don't know what you mean."

 

"Gerwyn. Her brother."

 

"I thought her brother was called Dylan?" Patsy asked, now completely befuddled.

 

Huw's eyes glazed over with a sadness. "Aye, there's Dylan. But there was also Gerwyn."

 

Patsy's eyebrows shot up. Delia had never mentioned any of these people before. The redhead had talked about her family with the brunette, had Delia not felt comfortable enough to open up in return? Then she rewound the sentence and noticed the past tense.

 

"I'm sorry, 'was'?"

 

Huw took a deep breath. The same way Delia did before she revealed something very personal to her.

 

"Gerwyn was born in 32'. He was our first child. Enid and I had only just got married and she found out she was pregnant. We didn't really know what to do - we were utterly clueless and in love." He smiled wistfully as he recalled the past. "He was premature the doctors said, I'm sure you know all about that sort of thing. Anyway, when he was born he was so small. They kept him in hospital for near on half a year before we could take him home." He sniffed. "Naturally when we did get him back, Enid wouldn't let go of him. She wrapped him in cotton wool so she did, scared he'd go missing or get hurt." He shook his head forlornly. "And then, it was during the winter, he was two. Poor chap got a cough. We didn't think much of it but it got worse overnight. Enid blamed herself of course, so did I. We thought we'd failed as parents. Anyway, they took him into hospital, I can remember he looked so small and sacred." Big fat tears were rolling down Huw's face now. "We never saw him again."

 

The air was knocked from Patsy's lungs as she tried to draw breath. Eventually some air found its way into her as she whispered, "I'm so sorry."

 

Huw wiped his nose with his sleeve. "Doctors said Enid might never conceive again, but a few years later along came our little miracle."

 

Patsy rummaged in her pocket and pulled out a clean handkerchief, offering it to Mr Busby. He took it graciously and blew hard.

 

"She was perfect. We adored her long before we even set eyes on her." He whispered. "And then, when she was two, the war broke out."

 

Patsy sighed. This part of history was now within her living memory.

 

"Of course Enid was terrified. So was I to be honest with you. There were nights where we'd sit huddled round the wireless, searching for any scrap of positive news. Of course, Enid's sister Blod lived in London still at the time. Silly old bat refused to leave and it was driving poor Enid mad. Anyway, we got a ton of refugees sent to us. There was a huge strain on the community but we all pulled together. I even joined the home front. Then Enid got pregnant again in the summer of 1940."

 

"Were you not in the army?" Patsy asked, slightly confused. If her calculations were correct, Mr Busby would have been within the age bracket of compulsory national service during the time.

 

Huw suddenly hid his head. His hands twisted awkwardly in his lap.

 

"What happened?" Patsy asked tentatively.

 

"I couldn't do it. I couldn't leave them. Especially with another baby on the way. What if something went wrong like before?" His lower lip wobbled. "I managed to fail the physical, pretended I was mental. Before they could take me away though, I ran. I ran back home. Like a bloody coward." He spat out the word as if it were poison on his tongue.

 

Patsy tried to hide her shock. Delia's dad had dodged the draft.

 

"Why?" she asked finally.

 

Huw looked up with wide eyes, silently pleading for her to understand. "I couldn't leave them, please don't think I wouldn't have died for my family, I would have. But I felt I had a better chance of protecting them here, rather than in some far of country the other side of the word."

 

"Does Delia know?" she whispered, already knowing the answer.

 

Huw shook his head. "Nobody knows. Not even Enid. I hid the letter from her."

 

Patsy nodded numbly. She was torn with conflicting emotions inside of her. It had been instilled into her by her father that draft dodgers were the lowest of the low. That during the first world war, the worst thing someone could do was to be a coward. But what Huw was saying made sense. If she were in his position would she have not done the same? Of course there'd been talk after the war had ended about the draft dodgers. That men like that had no right to be called 'men' at all. She used to despise them, blame them for not saving her and her family. It was easy to pick someone to blame for everything, that's what humans did. But of course none of it was that easy.

 

Unaware of the tidal wave of emotions going on inside Patsy's head, Huw tentatively asked a question.

 

"Was your dad in the army?"

 

Patsy snapped back to reality with a sudden jolt. She shook her head. "No. He was a shipbroker."

 

"In Singapore?"

 

He'd remembered. Patsy couldn't help but be impressed. She nodded.

 

"I had a school friend who moved out there, part of the merchant navy. He was interned in one of those awful prisoner of war camps. Poor fellow was never the same after he got out."

 

Patsy sniffed dryly. "At least he got out."

 

Huw's eyes widened. "Wait... you?"

 

Patsy nodded grimly. "My mother, my sister and I in one camp, my father in another."

 

"Oh bach, I'm sorry, I had no idea."

 

Patsy sighed. "I was nine. We were interned for three years. My mother and sister didn't make it. When we were finally released my father sent me to boarding school in England. I don't think he ever wanted to see me again. I reminded him too much of my mother."

 

Huw was at a loss for words, so Patsy kept on going. It felt good to talk to someone who had no idea, no pre-conceptions of what she'd been through.

 

"Then I got news last year he was dying. So I traveled across the world to see him." She sniffed and smiled. "I'm very glad I did. I got to see him as a father properly, before the end."

 

The world went black and suddenly Patsy realised she was drowning in a large crushing hug.

 

"I had no idea." Huw whispered. "Forgive me?"

 

Patsy shrugged as they broke apart. "It was a long time ago."

 

"But you're still grieving for your father are you not?"

 

Patsy pondered for a moment. "I'm not sure," she admitted finally.

 

"Bach, you need time to grieve." Huw sighed. "I tried to return to normal too soon after Gerwyn's death and it ate away at me from the inside. And you can see what it's done to Enid."

 

Patsy felt numb. She didn't know how to respond to that.

 

"You need to let yourself be sad. Not just for your father, but for your mother and sister too."

 

A lump formed in Patsy's throat. She tried to swallow it down but it would not budge. She'd never even considered this as a possibility. Her mother and sister's deaths were so long ago now, it seemed pointless to consider mourning them now. Besides what good would it do? They were gone. No amount of crying could ever bring them back. She felt a sudden flash of anger. Mr Busby had no idea what it was like. Sure he'd lost a son as a baby but he hadn't had to spend his childhood in a camp with no running water, watching people die from disease and starvation, unable to do anything to stop it happening. What did he know.

 

"I know I'm not in the best place to be handing out advice." Huw began.

 

She swore for a moment the busby family must be able to mindread.

 

"And you have every right to ignore my advice. But please, don't close yourself off from Delia. It's clear she thinks the world of you. Nobody else would dare punch a table in front of Enid without a good reason."

 

They shared a smile between them. Their shared connection of awareness of the brunette and her stubbornness bringing them closer together.

 

All of a sudden the front door opened and keys clattered into the key bowl near the door. Huw winced.

 

He and Patsy managed to get to their feet just as Mrs Busby entered the kitchen. All the colour drained from her face as she saw who was standing with her husband.

 

"Mrs Busby," Patsy said calmly and clearly, "I was wondering if we could have a little chat?"

 

Enid's eyebrows disappeared, her cheeks flushed and her eyes darted from Patsy to Huw and back, as if expecting Huw to say something.

 

"Please, cariad, listen to what she has to say." Huw offered softly, trying to thaw the ice around them.

 

Mrs Busby heaved a great sigh before nodding in agreement.

 

"Why don't you go through to the living room." Huw hinted. "I'll finish up here and when I'm done I'll bring you both through some tea."

 

Wordlessly the two women made their way into the lounge. Mrs Busby took the rocking chair in the corner, Patsy the two seater sofa.

 

They sat in silence for a moment, Mrs Busby rocking nervously back and forward. The motion was making Patsy feel increasingly sick. It was clear she was on the defensive. Waiting for the taller woman to make the first move. Patsy sighed. Now she knew the truth all the fight had left her and she no longer knew what to say. Enid's beady eyes watched her intently from across the room.

 

"Well?" she broke the silence. The single syllable soaked in contempt.

 

Patsy sighed again and dragged her eyes up to meet Enid's. "Mrs Busby," she began, "I know we perhaps haven't got off on the best foot and I would like to start again. Not for my sake or yours, but for Delia's."

 

Clearly whatever Mrs Busby had been expecting it hadn't been that. Her shoulder slumped in almost relief at the fact Patsy hadn't began a shouting match straight off the bat.

 

"I know you don't agree with the concept of her and myself but, I can assure you our interests are far as Delia is concerned are entirely mutual."

 

"Listen to yourself." Enid finally spoke. "You make it sound like my daughter's a business deal."

 

Cold gripped Patsy's heart but she ignored it. Perhaps 'Professional Patsy' should take a back seat. It scared her to do this as she'd always presented the most polite part of herself to Delia's mother whenever they'd met. It was (at least in her opinion) her best bet (out of a large collection of personas she could call upon) at communicating with the confounded woman. But today Mrs Busby was having none of it. She wanted the unfiltered truth? So be it.

 

"Enid." Patsy began again.

 

The use of her first name made Enid's back straighten and she finally held Patsy's gaze steady. Perhaps she'd been caught off guard - how dare Patsy use such familiar terms without being invited to.

 

Using the shock as a distraction, Patsy continued. "Whether you agree or not, I love your daughter. And she loves me. Nothing you can say or do will change that."

 

Enid was still shocked into silence, so Patsy took her chance and kept going.

 

"Believe it or not I know what it's like to lose someone before they were meant to go," she whispered, softer now. "And I can assure you as long as I have breath in my body I shall do all that I can within my power to keep Delia from harm."

 

Mrs Busby's lip was wobbling, her composure had started to crumble. Patsy barrelled on, unable to stop now, if she did, she'd never be able to say this again.

 

"I know it might not have been what you envisioned for your daughter's future, but this was her choice. And she is truly happy in London, surrounded by her patients and her friends. She is a wonderful nurse and possesses outstanding compassion. More than anyone I have ever met. She's saved me, more times than I care to admit." Patsy's voice broke from the sheer emotion.

 

Her eyes were welling with tears that she couldn't hold back. The room was blurry behind the salty liquid, but she could make out a shape moving towards her. Something soft was laid into her hand. White cotton. A handkerchief.

 

Patsy wiped her eyes and Mrs Busby came back into focus. The taller woman had to blink twice to believe what she was seeing. The corners of Enid's mouth were curling slightly into... was that a smile?

 

"You remember what I said to her, in that coffee house?" Enid finally found her voice.

 

Patsy frowned in confusion.

 

"You're a grown woman, Delia. Just don't do anything to make your dad cry." She sniffed loudly and pulled another handkerchief from her sleeve, blowing on it hard.

 

"I remember, yes." Patsy said.

 

"I also told her another time that I knew what was best for her, nobody else." Enid worried on the corner of her tissue.

 

Patsy's jaw set. She had not heard Mrs Busby utter this particular phrase but it was not beyond the realm of her imagination.

 

"Perhaps you could forgive a mother... for eating her own words?"

 

All the fight had disappeared from Enid's face. The tension in the room broke with those last five words. It was clear Mrs Busby was a lady of few sentences. A long heartfelt apology was probably not on the cards so as far as she was concerned, this admission of guilt was quite the u-turn. Patsy decided to accept it without pushing for more. It was a start. And that was better than nothing.

 

"I could, yes," Patsy replied.

 

"Delia is a grown woman. And if she chooses you, then, well... I must trust her judgement." Enid said rather robotically.

 

"Thank you, Mrs Busby." Patsy bowed her head.

 

"But if you hurt her - if any more harm comes to her whilst you're there..." Enid said warningly.

 

Patsy sat a little straighter in her chair. It had sounded very much like a threat, but she knew Mrs Busby was just scared. Scared about her daughter's health and wellbeing. Part of her wanted to let rip about how she would not be threatened into doing anything for this woman, but she decided against breaking their fragile truce.

 

"I will keep her safe." Patsy said with finality. "I promise."

 

Enid held her gaze for a long while before nodding curtly, seemingly satisfied.

 

As if waiting for his cue, Huw appeared with the tea tray. Patsy wondered if he'd been hovering outside, anticipating a break in conversation. Either way she was more than glad for the distraction. It signaled the end of the exchange between her and Delia's mother.

 

"Tea, Patsy?" He asked happily.

 

Patsy stood and shook her head. "No thank you, I should be getting back. Delia's not feeling too well and I said I'd check in on her later."

 

Mrs Busby's eyes shot up instantly. "Is she alright?"

 

Patsy smiled what she hoped was a convincing not-to-worry smile. "She's fine. Just feeling a little under the weather is all."

 

"You should never have let her walk home in the rain the other night, Huw!" Enid snapped in the direction of Mr Busby.

 

Patsy decided to leave before she lost her cool. "Thank you for your hospitality Mr and Mrs Busby. Perhaps I can convince Delia to drop by before we leave for London again."

 

Huw beamed, "If you could bach, that would be lovely - only if she's feeling up for it that is," he added quickly.



Patsy walked briskly back to their little cottage, the adrenaline pumping hotly through her veins after what had just transpired.

 

The one thing she could not stop running over in her head was why Delia hadn't told her about her brothers. She felt a little hurt that the brunette had not trusted her enough to let her in. Especially when she might have been able to help - in particular empathising with the loss of a sibling. And after all she had told the brunette about her past, why had Delia held out on her? The confusion mulled around in her brain as she hung up her coat and slipped out of her shoes on automatic pilot.

 

A sound from the upstairs bathroom brought her back to reality. Frowning she ascended the stairs in search for the small Welshwoman.

 

The door of the upstairs bathroom was open a tiny crack, light spilling through and onto the landing carpet. Patsy opened the door a little further before quickly hurrying into the room.

 

Delia was knelt by the toilet, her face white. It was clear she had just been sick. Patsy rushed to her side and closed the lid of the toilet, flushing away the waste.

 

"Oh Deels," she murmured, putting the back of her hand to the smaller woman's forehead.

 

It didn't feel particularly hot so that was a good thing.

"Do you think you're going to be sick again?" she asked softly, rubbing comforting circles on Delia's lower back.

 

The brunette shook her head and shivered slightly. "M'alright now."

"Okay, let's get you back to bed shall we?"

 

Delia got to her feet shakily and with Patsy's help managed to return to their shared bedroom. The redhead tucked her up into bed, searching for the hot water bottle that had now found its way behind the headboard.

 

"I'll go refill this for you and get some water."

 

"Thanks Pats." Delia sounded utterly exhausted.

 

As quickly as she could Patsy completed her tasks before setting up a chair at Delia's bedside.

 

"M'sorry." Delia muttered.

 

"Shh. It's alright. It's not your fault." Patsy offered sympathetically.

 

Delia closed her eyes, a deep frown presenting on her forehead.

 

Patsy searched for her hand and gave it a little squeeze. The smaller woman was clearly in a great deal of pain. Perhaps that was why she had been sick. The redhead worried at her bottom lip. Something about this didn't feel right. The nurse inside her was convinced there was more to this than just menstrual cramps. Besides, they should never be that bad, what Delia was experiencing wasn't normal by any standards.

 

"I'm going to get you some more painkillers." Patsy whispered, before moving towards the dresser.

 

The little label on the packet of pills Dr Turner had prescribed Delia read 'Two to be taken in the morning and at night'. It was early afternoon she noted, glancing at her watch. Surely she could take the evening dose now. Reaching for a clean glass and some water Patsy made her way back over to Delia's side.

 

"Here, take these."

 

Delia took them without questioning.

 

"I'm sorry Pats, I don't know if I'm going to be able to travel tomorrow," said Delia quietly.

 

Patsy stroked her forehead gently. "Shh. It's alright, we'll work something out. Just get some rest alright? I'll check up on you a little later, see if you can handle some dinner."

 

Delia nodded and closed her eyes.

 

 

The travelling would be a problem. The owner of the little flat was due back tomorrow evening. She hoped Delia would be feeling better the next morning, but if she didn't they'd have to think of a plan B. Right now though, Delia's health was of more pressing concern. Patsy went straight to the downstairs telephone and riffled through the phonebook on the stand. She found the number for the local doctor's surgery along with their opening hours. It being a Saturday, Patsy saw the next time it was open was 7:00am on Monday morning. She groaned in frustration and slammed the book shut. Her fingers drummed on the table as she began to think quickly. Picking up the receiver she dialed the familiar number for the London switchboard.

 

Eventually she was connected.

 

"Hello?"

 

"Hello, Shelagh? It's Patsy here."

 

"Oh, hello Patsy! I hope Wales is treating you well - Nurse Crane told me all about your adventure."

 

"Thank you, it's been wonderful. I was wondering if Doctor Tuner is around? I need his advice."

 

"Of course, I'll just go and get him for you."

 

"Thank you." Patsy breathed a sigh of relief.










Chapter Text

Delia stirred as she felt a small pressure on her inner wrist. Blinking the sleep from her eyes Patsy came into focus, her two fingers taking the smaller woman's pulse. Delia tried to sit up to greet her and instantly felt a wave of dizziness wash her vision. Groaning, she sank back down into bed, eyes closed.

 

Everything hurt. Well, in particular, her lower abdomen and back. Her head was also pounding out the beat of a familiar migraine. The pain in her uterus radiated round to her back and sides, coming in waves, starting at a grumble and erupting into full blown agony. She briefly recalled vomiting earlier, the pain had been so bad. Whilst she was not new to the concept of intense periods, this month so far had been a whole new level of hurt.

 

Patsy's fingers left her wrist and she felt the back of a cool hand rest on her forehead.

 

"How are you feeling?" whispered the redhead, as if any loud noise would shatter the brunette like glass.

 

"Sore." Delia admitted, opening her eyes.

 

The room was dark thankfully, Patsy had had the good grace to close the curtains and Delia couldn't have been more glad. She had no idea how long she'd been asleep, but her shoulder was very stiff which lead her to believe it had been a while. A glance at the bedside clock told her it was late afternoon.

 

"Still just cramps sore?"

 

"Just cramps, yes." Delia mumbled grumpily.

 

Patsy's face screwed up apologetically. "You don't feel like you have a fever or anything?"

 

Delia shook her head and immediately regretted it. She winced sharply.

 

"Headache too?"

 

"Mhmm."

 

Patsy cursed under her breath. "I shouldn't have left you alone - what if you'd had a seizure..." she muttered more to herself than to Delia.

 

"What time is it?" Delia stretched a little, trying to stretch her aching body. Patsy was in focused nurse mode right now and it was worrying her a little.

 

"It's nearly tea time." Patsy said, "Do you feel like eating something?"

 

"No, not really," Delia said. The thought of food right now was making her stomach queasy and her head spin. Or perhaps that had just been from moving her head. She couldn't tell anymore.

 

"How about a cup of tea? We need to give you some energy."

 

"Okay." She nodded cautiously, her stomach still a couple of miles offshore, but seemingly not completely opposed to that concept. Perhaps just tea would be alright.

 

Patsy left to prepare it and Delia managed to prop herself up at last. When her head finally stopped spinning she saw some evidence that suggested Patsy had set up base next to her bed. An armchair from the spare room was situated nearby, covered in blankets. It was clear she'd had her own personal watch for today.

 

Just as the aforementioned redheaded nurse returned with the tea, a new wave of pain was beginning to build. Delia screwed her eyes tight shut, trying hard not to tense her muscles and make it worse.

 

"Is it hurting again?" Patsy asked.

 

Delia nodded once sharply.

 

"Can I have a gentle feel of your tummy?" she asked cautiously.

 

Delia sighed and pulled up her pyjamas and lay down, allowing Patsy access to her pale stomach. The redhead breathed on her hands and rubbed them together to warm them up before placing them softly on the smaller woman's abdomen.

 

"Tell me if I'm hurting you," she whispered.

 

Gentle, yet firm hands worked their way across Delia's tummy. It didn't seem to hurt any more when Patsy pressed down than when she didn't. But then she hit a particularly sensitive spot and Delia let out a hiss, holding her breath.

 

"It's alright Deels, breathe. Breathe through it." Patsy encouraged and replaced her pyjama top.

 

Delia very nearly chuckled at that. The sentence reminded of the time not too long ago when Doctor Turner had set her shoulder. Their profession as midwives was clearly coming in handy right about now, even if the cause of her symptoms was nowhere near the same as giving birth.

 

It bloody well felt like it though. Shame there wasn't even a reward at the end of it.

 

Before she could help herself Delia began to cry. Perhaps she was just over emotional, the hormones surging through her body - or maybe it was just being fed up of the pain. Even so, the tears came far too easily and with them, great shuddering sobs that wracked her whole body.

 

"I'm so sorry, Pats." she choked.

 

"Shh, it's okay." Patsy stroked her hair. "Let it all out, as Trixie would say."

 

Patsy held the brunette close as she cried, not telling her to 'calm down' or 'stop overreacting' like the voices inside Delia's head. Eventually she gave in trying to stop it all and had a jolly good cry. It actually felt good to let go. Cathartic almost. She should follow her own advice more often she thought dryly.

 

Eventually the tears petered out and Delia felt much better. It hadn't helped her headache at all and she was very grateful when Patsy pressed a glass of cold water to her lips.

 

"Drink up, you're probably quite dehydrated."

 

Delia sucked the water and swallowed. It seemed to go down fine so she sipped again. Her throat which had been burning from the bile earlier was instantly eased. Patsy seemed releaved at the progress and smiled in encouragement.

 

"Have you been here all day?" Delia asked, glancing at the stockpile of blankets and new chair.

 

Patsy shook her head, "No, I went out for a bit after lunch."

 

Delia frowned. Patsy was doing that thing where she was avoiding her gaze. A tactic she normally deployed when she was avoiding something.

 

"Where did you go?" Delia asked casually, trying not to sound too suspicious as she sipped her water.

 

Patsy bit her bottom lip, a battle clearly going on inside her head. "I went to see your mam."

 

Of all the things she could have said, Delia had not been expecting that. She almost spat out her mouthful of Welsh spring water all over the covers.

 

"What? Why!"

 

"I didn't want us to leave for London tomorrow on a confrontation," Patsy said softly, "I think I managed to make some sort of truce." She took the water glass from Delia and set it somewhere safer.

 

Delia's eyes widened in surprise. She couldn't deny she was slightly impressed. Patsy must have weaved some impressive magic back there. "What happened?"

 

Patsy recounted her tale well enough but Delia couldn't help but notice the lack of eye contact from the redhead at certain points. Almost as if she wasn't telling her the whole story.

 

"Your dad is lovely." She smiled.

 

Delia grinned. "He is rather." She shifted a little, trying to find a more comfortable position. "And so is mam, when she's in a good mood."

 

Patsy smiled lopsidedly.

 

"Thank you for extending the olive branch," Delia whispered, "I really should've been the one to do it. I was the one who overreacted."

 

"No. No you didn't. Overreact I mean," Patsy said firmly.

 

Delia smiled. "Thanks Pats, but I really did. And I think these stupid hormones are to blame."

 

Worry flashed over Patsy's face again.

 

"I'll be alright." Delia reassured. "It's just a bad one this month that's all," she sighed.

 

Patsy fidgeted with the duvet. "I also called Dr Turner earlier."

 

Delia's eyebrows shot up - a look of surprise not too dissimilar to her mother's.

 

"I was worried about you." Patsy sighed, reaching over to hold Delia's hand gently in her own.

 

"What did he say?" Delia ventured.

 

Patsy frowned, "Well, he wants to see you when we get back to London. I told him as much information as I could over the phone, the fact you've been vomiting but you don't seem to have a fever. I think we've ruled out an infection but he does want to have a few more tests. Your abdomen isn't distended which is a good sign. It doesn't look like your local GP is open until Monday. And I figured it would be better seeing someone you know."

 

"You make it sound like I'm really ill, Pats." Delia's frown matched Patsy's.

 

The redhead met her gaze steadily. "Deels, whatever this is," she indicated to Delia's tummy, "it's not exactly 'normal' is it?"

 

Delia shrugged, "I get bad periods all the time Pats. It's normal for me." That was a lie. She had never had one quite this bad before.

 

"Yes, but it shouldn't be." Patsy fought back. "Not to the point where you're throwing up from the pain. And what if the seizures are somehow related?"

 

The brunette considered this statement for a moment. She hadn't really the energy to argue with the redhead right now, so decided to concede defeat with a sigh.

 

"If this was a patient of yours, would you be happy to let them carry on as they were?" Patsy asked kindly.

 

"No." Delia admitted.

 

"I don't know if there's something else going on, but I really think you should at least see Doctor Turner."

 

"Fine." Delia sighed, "I'll go and see him when we get back."

 

Perhaps Patsy was right, there'd be no harm in going to see him would there. Besides, he might be able to give her some better pain relief, or something else to help ease things. One thing was for sure, she wouldn't be able to nurse properly if she was out of action for a few days every month. That would not do.

 

"Thank you." Patsy squeezed her hand gently. "Also - about getting back - do you think you'll be able to travel tomorrow?"

 

As much as it hurt her pride to do so, Delia shook her head. "I don't think so, sorry Pats. Unless I wake up tomorrow and feel much better. I don't want to be sick all over the first class train seats." She suddenly realised the implications of not being able to travel. "What about the lady who owns the house - she's coming back tomorrow afternoon!"

 

"Shh, it's alright," Patsy said calmly. "I'll sort something out."

 

Delia bit her lip and nodded just as a fresh wave of pain overtook her. She slammed her eyes shut and felt Patsy move away. About to protest, she opened her eyes a crack to see the taller woman popping two painkillers out of the pill packet.

 

"Here, Doctor Turner said you could up your dose for the next couple of days." She handed Delia the medicine.

 

Delia swallowed the pills without complaint, glugging down a considerable amount of water with them. Such was her enthusiasm, she started choking. Patsy bent her forward and gave her a firm slap but all it did was cause more pain to radiate up her back.

 

"Ow." Delia coughed.

 

Patsy winced, "Sorry old thing."

 

The coughing subsided as the water finally found its way down the correct tubes into Delia's stomach. The next few moments were spent waiting for the painkillers to kick in.

 

"Do you want me to rub your back?" Patsy asked tentatively.

 

Delia smiled. "Yes please."

 

With Patsy's hand rubbing soothing circles on her lower back and the painkillers finally beginning to set to work, Delia's eyes felt heavy once again.

 

"Try and drink some tea before you go back to sleep." Patsy encouraged, holding out the now tepid cup.

 

Delia took it and attempted to drink a little. It helped the liquid was no longer scalding hot, it seemed to slip down easily, even if her stomach complained a little at the intrusion. She managed to polish off half a mug before admitting defeat. Fortunately Patsy didn't push her to consume any more of the stuff.

 

"Well done." Patsy smiled.

 

Delia grunted and was finally allowed to lie back down again. Her back muscles were screaming a little less loudly than before as she straightened the awkward curve in her spine.

 

Sleep finally came and with it no more pain - the medicine doing it's work.

 

Apart from a few emergency toilet trips in the middle of the night, Delia slept pretty well. After the third trip she gently requested for Patsy not to assist her - the poor redhead also needed rest after all - she'd had quite the taxing day too.



Sunday dawned with an overcast sky and muggy temperature. Their bedroom was airless and stuffy so the first thing Patsy did upon waking (other than checking on Delia of course and making she took her morning medication) was to open the window. The brunette stirred only briefly to swallow her pills before falling right back asleep again.

 

It was gone lunchtime (according to the bedside clock) when Delia finally woke again. Her migrane had improved greatly and was now just a dull headache. The increased dose in painkillers seemed to be keeping the worst of her cramps at bay and allowed for her muscles to relax. As such, she woke feeling quite rested. However, there was still a residual lingering tiredness that would not seem to shift.

 

Feeling much better than the previous day, Delia called for Patsy. The redhead poked her head round the door, clearly happy to see the brunette in such high spirits.

 

"Hello, you. How are you feeling?" Pats smiled widely.

 

"Better... I think." Delia's dimples made a tentative appearance.

 

Only when she stood up to troop to the bathroom did she suddenly get hit with a wave of dizziness.

 

"Oh no no no..." Patsy grabbed her safely before she managed to topple over. "I've got you."

 

Gently she eased the smaller woman back into a sitting position on the bed. Delia had already put her head between her legs to try and increase blood flow to her brain. It was helpful having two nurses in the room sometimes.

 

She felt Patsy take her radial pulse again. The redhead frowned. It did feel quite high, Delia thought as she listened to her heart pounding rapidly in her ears. Her blood pressure was probably through the floor too. That's probably what she got for not eating properly the day before. As if reading her mind Patsy offered a solution.

 

"I'm going to help you to the bathroom and back - then I'm going to make us some toast. Just plain toast and butter, maybe some jam on the side, if you feel up for it."

 

Delia nodded. Her stomach growled in appreciation of the idea. Well, that was progress at least. And the water had seemed to help her headache.

 

With surprising speed, Delia managed to wolf down the offered toast and jam, even going so far as to lick the crumbs off her fingers. Patsy watched from her seat looking rather impressed.

 

"Better?" she winked.

 

"Much." Delia affirmed, the toast already giving her a much needed energy boost.


Just as Patsy collected the plates and headed downstairs again, there was a rap on their front door. Delia frowned - was it the owner of the house back early? Panic rose in her chest. They'd not had a chance to clean the place and it had been blatantly obvious they'd been sharing a bed. The plan had been to ruffle the bed in the spare room for appearances sake before leaving. Perhaps Patsy had remembered? The brunette strained her ears, trying to hear what was happening downstairs.

 

There were murmured voices, one lower than the other. So there was a man? She couldn't make out a word of what they were saying. Feeling more and more confused, Delia tried to get up and out of bed, immediately regretting the decision and flopping back down again as a bolt of pain shot through her. The voices were growing louder - two pairs of footsteps coming up the stairs, onto the landing.

 

"Deels, are you decent?" called Patsy from behind the closed door of the bedroom.

 

"Yes," Delia called back.

 

The door creaked open and in walked Patsy with Huw in tow.

 

"Tad?" Delia exclaimed, "what are you doing here?"

 

Her dad smiled, "A little birdie told me you weren't feeling too great. Not only that you're about to be kicked out this lovely holiday home this afternoon. We can't have that now can we, bach? So I've come to rescue you of course."

 

Delia's mouth hung open. Her eyes flicked between her father and Patsy.

 

"Wha... what do you mean?" she stuttered.

 

Patsy smiled and backed out the room, muttering something about getting them both some tea. Huw perched on the side of her bed.

 

"Well, I came round to see how you were doing. Patsy told me yesterday you weren't feeling too well. And she told me just now about your... predicament as far as accomodation goes. And well, forgive me for assuming but I think the solution is more than obvious. You two should stay with us until you're better and able to travel."

 

Ignoring the pain, Delia flung her arms around her dad tightly. The wind got knocked out of him and he laughed, patting her gently on the shoulder. She pulled back slightly, worry etched on her features.

 

"What about mam?"

 

"Let me deal with your mam, bach. You just focus on feeling better."


~


And so, that afternoon, after Patsy had cleaned the house within an inch of its life (including changing all the sheets) they left the keys where they'd found them, under the begonia bush and made their way to the Busby house. Mr Busby thankfully had a small car, so he took both girls and their luggage the short distance across Tenby. The little ford struggled with the weight of three people and luggage going up hills, but made it there safely. Not before they'd stopped at the chip shop on the way to get Delia a small portion of chips. Bad food was better than no food after all.

 

Huw helped carry all their luggage upstairs into Delia's old room which had since been converted into the spare bedroom. Her brother's room was packed full of storage boxes and products from the draper's shop, but Delia assured her worried dad they would be completely fine sharing the double bed, besides, her illness was not exactly infectious.

 

Meanwhile, tight-lipped Enid had watched the entire thing unfold without so much as lifting a finger to help. It was clear there was a riot going on inside her head but she did nothing to let it show. Her last act of defiance seemed to be her refusal to help.  Delia knew although her mam was a force to be reckoned with, her dad did know how to stand up for himself. Huw had obviously put his foot down this time it seemed and his word was final. Patsy and Delia were staying.

 

As Sunday night drew in, Delia flopped into the rickety double bed in her old room. Her mam had bought it when she'd left for London, meaning to turn the bedroom into a spare room for family and friends. After her accident, Delia had taken up residence there for the few months she'd been home. Not much had changed since then as far as decor, she observed. But an awful lot had changed inside her.

 

She heard Patsy in the upstairs bathroom, brushing her teeth. It was rather surreal if she were being honest. Just knowing Patsy of all people was here in her house about to join her in her bed. Her mam had shot them a look of daggers as they'd said goodnight. She'd even tried her best during dinner to offer up a 'very comfortable sofa' for Patsy. But Delia (and Huw for that matter) were having none of it.

 

"What if Delia has a turn in the night? Patsy won't be able to help if she's down here!"

 

Delia didn't really think her tad had much of an idea or concept of what their relationship actually was and (thankfully) he didn't seem to want to ask. She was glad in a way that he was accepting without prying. Unlike her mam, her dad always seemed to respect her privacy when it came to personal matters. To him it was probably quite clear. They cared about each other, they loved each other, they were happy around each other - so who was he to deny them that? If only everyone could see it the same way, she sighed.

 

~

 

 

The sun had inched below the horizon as the two women lay in bed together at the end of the day. Patsy's fingers intertwined with Delia's and she held them up, trying to study them in the dim light. It was still warm and stuffy, so much so the pair had neglected their duvet, leaving it at the bottom of the bed and favouring a thin over sheet instead. Even Patsy's plaid pyjamas were too much and the redhead decided to only wear the top half. It did fall to her knees anyway allowing for some modesty. Delia rolled up her sleeves and cuffs, fashioning some sort of summer attire that made Patsy giggle.

 

And it was like this they lay now, content together, Patsy's thumb lightly stroking the soft flesh of Delia's hand. The brunette let out a contented sigh. Her pain had gotten a lot better over the past few hours and some of the brain fog had definitely lifted.

 

"I'm sorry, Pats," she whispered into the darkness.

 

"What for?" came a gentle reply.

 

"For ruining the end of a perfect holiday," Delia sighed.

 

Patsy turned, trying to find Delia's eyes in the dark. "Don't be ridiculous, Deels. You haven't ruined anything. I've loved every moment, just being with you. And if it means we get an extra day in this wonderful country, well, I'm not complaining."

Under cover of darkness Delia allowed herself a smile. Bless Patsy for being a complete and utter Phyllis-Crane-worthy brick at times of crisis and hardship. God, she loved this woman.  Unable to think of a suitable response to the wonderful statement she'd just heard, Delia just closed the distance, lips searching for skin. Her mouth found the softness of a cheek and from there she managed to navigate a trail of kisses to Patsy's full lips.

 

Patsy seemed more than eager to respond and soon they were kissing deeply and passionately on Delia's bed. Delia's hands were all over the taller woman. She felt a sudden need to touch her everywhere, all at once. The redhead stifled a whimper when Delia grasped her waist frimly, pulling their bodies flush.

 

Breaking the kiss for air Patsy huffed indignantly.

 

"What's wrong?" Delia whispered.

 

"Well... I mean we can't exactly..." Patsy whispered back, "It's just... you know."

 

"I can't, no." Delia replied, "but you can..."

 

"I was more referring to the fact that we are in your parent's house and they are sleeping literally across the hall from us." Patsy cleared her throat, trying to make Delia see.

 

"So?" Delia nibbled a sweet spot on Patsy neck.

 

Patsy gasped as teeth grazed her skin. "So," she repeated, "what if they hear us? Your mum will surely have a heart-attack."

 

"Then you'll just have to be super quiet won't you." Delia whispered as seductively as she could into Patsy's left ear.

 

"Hrrmmmph." Patsy moaned frustratedly into the pillow, "this is so unfair."

 

"No it's not." Delia protested, just as her thigh ground upwards and made contact with a rather sensitive spot of Patsy's anatomy.

 

She felt the redhead all but melt backwards into the bed, the resistance leaving her completely as her hips rose to meet her.

 

"But I mean... We don't have to if you don't want to." Delia offered, removing the thigh and rolled over so her back faced the worked up taller woman, a smirk playing on her lips.

 

Patsy groaned quietly at the lack of contact. "Don't be ridiculous, Deels!" she hissed, "please..."

 

Delia flipped back around, her expression very mischievous. "Please what?"

 

"I want you mouth on me." Patsy's breathing was rather ragged.

 

The Welshwoman gulped. Patsy had never been this forward before in her requests, normally they were completely silent during their love making, apart from the odd instruction (sometimes in Welsh) and more often or not they acted on instinct. This had been the first time Patsy had specifically asked for something. It was strangely exhilarating.

 

"Okay." Delia's voice was hoarse.

 

She dipped her head under the sheet, taking time to kiss gently down pale thighs. Hearing Patsy's breath hitch above her, she pushed her hips slightly. Taking the hint, Patsy adjusted herself so she was half sitting against the headboard, knees bent. There were some advantages to this hot weather, Delia mused as she took in the long expanse of her lover's bare, pyjamaless legs, following them upwards with kisses and caresses.

 

Gently, she placed a hand on both Patsy's knees and spread her legs before reaching down and unbuttoning her pyjama top. The fabric fell open and Delia could just about make out the roundness of her breasts in the dim light of the bedroom. Despite sight being a little obscured in the dark, her other senses seemed to be heightened. She was now hyper aware of any little sound the redhead made, every tiny breath, sigh and mumble. Patsy trying to control her volume was rather amusing.

 

Wanting to tease for a little while longer, she reached out and lightly ran her fingertips over Patsy's exposed breasts. She felt the taller woman suck in a lungful of air as she rolled a nipple between her fingers. It hardened instantly and despite the humid temperature, goosebumps were spreading over Patsy's tummy and down her legs. Deciding that was probably enough torture for now, Delia readjusted herself lower until she could smell the headyness of her actual destination. Kissing lightly, she followed the curve of an inner thigh upwards until she could feel a heat radiating onto her cheek. Inhaling deeply, the scent of Patsy filled her nostrils and she sighed heavily. Her breath tickling the already sensitive skin underneath her, making Patsy twitch helplessly.

 

"Delia, if you don't start doing something productive, I swear to god..." Patsy's strained whisper came from above.

 

Trying hard not to chuckle to herself, Delia nuzzled the small thatch of light curls with the tip of her nose. Sighing one last time she ran a gentle tongue up Patsy's opening. It was immediately clear she needn't have bothered with such intense foreplay. The redhead whimpered above her, hands reaching to grasp her brown locks, securing her head in place.

 

"Ohhh, fuck!" Patsy gasped.

 

Delia did chuckle at that. The fact the redhead was now borrowing her more vulgar vernacular was actually quite a turn on. Especially in that cut glass accent. Feeling herself swoon even more, Delia tried to focus her mind on a much more productive task. Gently, she teased her tongue through Patsy's folds, lapping up the moisture that pooled there. She was rather enjoying the languid pace of exploration, but Patsy wasn't.

 

There was a tug on her hair as the taller woman made her desires known. Knowing the longer they prolonged this, the likelier they were to be caught, Delia decided to up her pace. Her tongue stiffened as she applied a more steady pressure, focusing on Patsy's clitoris. Building a rhythm Patsy enjoyed was now becoming second nature to the brunette and slowly but surely she felt the woman beneath her begin to climb.

 

Wrapping an arm around Patsy's thigh, Delia secured herself better, just as a tall leg hooked over her shoulder. The redhead's legs were squeezing tighter, in rhythm with the smaller woman's ministrations. For a heart stopping moment Delia heard the bed creak loudly, a mattress spring giving way. She halted all movement quickly, trying to aurally assess the damage.

 

All she got though was a despondent moan from above. "Deels! Don't you dare stop now!"

 

“Not so nice is it, to be teased?” Delia took a moment to enjoy the role reversal.

 

“No…” Patsy choked.

 

Delia giggled softly, before returning to much more pressing matters, She sucked gently at the warm, swollen nub and flicked her tongue a few more times. Patsy's breath was becoming more and more ragged as she drew closer and closer towards the edge. An occasional tiny 'oh!' escaped her, but for the most part she managed to remain pretty quiet. The mattress suddenly creaked again and for a split second Delia questioned whether initiating this had perhaps been the smartest idea, but then Patsy moaned encouragingly, her hips bumping of their own accord and all such thoughts disappeared.

 

With a few more tight circles, Delia finally pushed Patsy over the edge. There was a small cry as the redhead attempted to muffle the sound of her climax using the back of her hand. Her body convulsed as she came, hard. Warm liquid gushed over Delia's chin and the thighs around her peripheral shook almost uncontrollably. The brunette slowed her tongue and set a more meandering pace as she cleaned up the remnants of her lover's arousal, letting her down gently from her high. Patsy really did taste amazing, she noted as she licked her lips before shuffling up the bed to join her winded partner.

 

"Gosh Deels, you are getting awfully good at that," Patsy panted, "I'm just sorry I can't return the favour."

 

Delia grinned, feeling more than a little pleased with herself. "Consider it a thank you for looking after me so well these past few days." And payback for the shower episode, she thought.

 

Patsy smiled lopsidedly back. "Taking of which, you look like you're feeling much better." She nudged Delia playfully.

 

"I am actually." Delia admitted, snuggling in tightly beside the taller woman. "I told you I'd be okay."

 

"Mmmm." Patsy murmured sleepily, her body becoming heavy. "Well, all in all, I don't think that was too bad an end to our holiday do you?"

 

"All things considered, I think you're right Nurse Mount." Delia giggled, turning around so she became the small spoon.

 

Patsy's arms wrapped around her and she fell into the safe cocoon of her love. The pain in her head a tummy were still present, but they felt more like a distant memory. They should bottle and prescribe doses of Patsy, she thought mussily as her brain started to disconnect for sleep. Mind you, that would be no fun. Besides, she wasn't really up for sharing her amazing girlfriend (no, wife) around.

 

"Love you Deels," came a final sleepy whisper.

 

Delia smiled. "Love you too Pats."


 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Patsy's arm felt uncomfortably heavy. Unwilling to open her eyes, she tried shifting it. Pins and needles tingled sharply up the offending limb as she withdrew it from under Delia's neck and tried to shake back the blood supply. She felt the brunette stir next to her, turn over, and grasp her tightly like a small Welsh limpet. Opening her eyes a fraction she drank in the sight next to her.

 

Delia's hair was everywhere, fanned out over the pillow and cascading all over her face. Patsy smiled to herself and lightly moved some of the brunette strands away from the smaller woman's eyes. The sight of Delia sleeping soundly with no discomfort was not only a relief, but also quite something to behold. She'd occasionally let out rather endearing little snore and tiny incoherent mumble, her breath lightly feathering her messy strands of hair as she did so. Patsy suddenly felt her heart swell inside her chest with affection. The fact she got to wake up to such a wonderful, adorable alarm clock was pretty amazing. Most certainly worth the pins and needles.

 

Sunlight was streaming into the small bedroom through a crack in the curtain. Patsy didn't know how long she had been watching Delia for, but eventually the sun made its way over Delia's face. The brunette stirred and her eyes blinked open before slamming shut again at the intrusion of bright light. A series of muttered Welsh followed, most of which, Patsy assumed to be swearing. She held her hand up, shielding the Welshwoman's eyes. Delia grumbled and held onto her rock tighter. Patsy secretly agreed with the subconscious of her limpet, even though she was now struggling to breathe from the force of those deceptively small yet strong arms. In all honesty, she didn't really want to get up either.

 

The morning bliss was not to last unfortunately, as there was a timid knock on the door. The pair sprang apart - the motion well rehearsed, but not entirely essential for their current predicament, before meeting each other's eyes rather sheepishly, Delia still a little groggy from sleep.

 

"Enid's getting breakfast ready, you two." Huw's jovial voice filtered through the door.

 

"Thanks Da, we'll be down in a minute!" Delia chimed pleasantly.

 

They flopped back down as the sound of Huw's retreating footsteps disappeared down the stairs, Delia releasing such a large sigh it could've filled a large balloon.

 

"How are you feeling?" Patsy asked tentatively.

 

Delia yawned loudly and stretched as best she could with her injured shoulder, seemingly testing her aching body. "Better, I think. My shoulder still hurts, but everything else seems to have settled."

 

Patsy pursed her lips thoughtfully. The colour had definitely returned to the younger woman's face and her eyes were a lot brighter than they had been the past two days. There were still dark circles under her eyes, but they had lightened considerably. It was clear she was feeling better, but Patsy still had her doubts.

 

"It's rude to stare, Patience." Delia winked.

 

"I still think you should see the GP." Patsy said in a rush.

 

The brunette's eyebrows raised.

 

"I'm just worried about you. That's all."

 

Delia suppressed a small snort. "Welcome to my world."

 

Patsy did have the grace to appear a little contrite at that. Their situations now reversed, it was becoming apparent how much of a bad patient both nurses made. She also felt a stab of guilt coupled with sudden understanding - This is how Delia must have felt when she'd insisted she had been fine. Before should apologise for her hypocrisy however,  Delia sighed and stood up to get dressed.

 

She swayed a little as she stood but brushed Patsy away. "I'm fine, just stood up too quickly."

 

"Deels..." Patsy began warningly, her inner nurse not wanting to let that fib slide.

 

"Okay, fine." Delia sighed. "I'll go see Doctor Turner when we get back. But I'm not going to see anyone here. There's only one GP in Tenby and I've not seen him since I... you know..." She finished open endedly, fiddling with the buttons of her pyjama top.

 

"Since the accident?"

 

Delia nodded. "And I'd rather not have to go through any of that again."

 

"Of course."

 

Patsy moved over towards the chest of drawers, on top of which their suitcases had been opened. Delia was attempting to get out of her pyjamas and into her summer dress, but was struggling with her right shoulder.

 

"Here - let me..."

 

The smaller woman's frame slumped in defeat as she allowed her taller companion to remove the striped garments. Patsy felt a hitch of breath as she pressed her unbuttoned lithe torso against Delia's naked back. They stood for a few moments, reveling in the touch of skin on skin, Patsy's arms wrapped around Delia from behind, rubbing small circles on her abdomen. They fit together so well, she mused, Delia's head slotting perfectly under her chin. And that beautiful soft chestnut hair - it smelled of wildflowers if she inhaled deep enough.

 

"Umm... Pats?" Delia broke the silence.

 

"Mmhm?" Patsy asked, her face now buried in the crook of Delia's neck, trying to catch her scent.

 

"As lovely as this is, and it really IS lovely... I need the loo."

 

Patsy chuckled, kissed the sweet spot at Delia's pulse point and released the brunette from her grasp. Delia grinned, pulled on her dress with some assistance, grabbed some fresh sanitary supplies from her suitcase and made her way to the bathroom.



Travelling clothes seemed to be the practical option of clothing today Patsy thought as she tidied up their suitcases ready for their upcoming journey. Because they hadn't managed to telephone or visit the train station, their tickets were likely to be on the expensive side if they were buying them on the train itself. Not that it mattered, they could well afford it. Not to mention she had got to spend another whole day with Delia. And all things considered she was just very thankful the brunette was feeling better.

 

Just as she snapped the last latch close on her suitcase however, the woman in question appeared at the door, clutching at the frame.

 

"Pats..." Delia's voice wobbled.

 

WIth two long strides, Patsy was there, supporting the brunette back down to sit on the bed. Her face was as white as a sheet.

 

"What happened?" Patsy asked, "Were you sick again?"

 

Delia shook her head. "No. But I felt really dizzy and faint."

 

As surreptitiously as she could, Patsy took Delia's pulse. It was racing at a rate of knots. The smaller woman's palms were clammy and her breathing shallow. She sighed. Poor Delia, this really was not turning out to be her holiday. Inside, she knew the next logical course of action was to attend the local GP for further tests and advice, but because of the younger woman's earlier reservations, she began racking her brain for an alternate solution.

 

"Let's get some food into you shall we? And see where to go from there."

 

Delia nodded. "I am quite hungry."

 

"Excellent!"

 

Well, that was a relief. At least her nausea had abated, Patsy thought as she helped Delia down the stairs safely. And the fact her appetite had return was another good sign. Patsy frowned, her nursing brain going into overdrive. Whatever was going on here, instinct was telling her something was not quite right. She couldn't quite put a finger on what though. Hopefully Doctor Turner and his seemingly infinite wisdom could shed some light on the mystery. And as much as she'd fallen in love with the little seaside town of Tenby, the sooner they got back to Poplar, the better.

 

"Good morning you two!" Huw exclaimed happily from the head of the breakfast table as the two women appeared. "I hope you both slept well."

 

The pair blushed slightly which fortunately went completely unnoticed with Mr Busby. Patsy caught the eye of Enid staring at her from across the stove as she viciously scrambled some eggs.

 

"Quite well, thank you Mr Busby," she smiled broadly, "Those eggs smell amazing Mrs Busby," she added, trying to melt the thaw.

 

However, Enid had now shifted her gaze towards her daughter and all the fight instantly left her features.

 

"Cariad!" she exclaimed, horrified. "You look as pale as a lamb!"

 

"I'm fine mam." Delia tried her best to sit down without wobbling but her mother saw right through it.

 

"Nonsense, you look like you're about to topple over at any minute, doesn't she Huw?"

 

Huw looked over his paper and surveyed his daughter carefully. "Are you feeling alright bach?"

 

"Of course she's not - she's poorly, look at her!" Enid snapped, placing a hand on Delia's forehead, checking her temperature.

 

"I'm just a bit dizzy, it's nothing... probably just my injured shoulder, I slept on it funny..."

 

Delia had clearly just said the wrong thing. Mrs Busby grasped the table for support as her bottom lip quivered. "Your shoulder? What happened to your shoulder?" He beady eyes took in Delia's sling under her cardigan for the first time.

 

Delia, realising her mistake, tried her best to backpedal, "Nothing serious, I just tripped, it's only a small break..."

 

Mrs Busby let out a sound not too dissimilar to a howl of wounded hippopotamus and clung to Delia tightly. "Why didn't you tell me cariad? I knew London was too dangerous for you to go back - now look what's happened!"

 

"That's precisely why I didn't tell you," responded Delia under her breath through gritted teeth, "Because I knew you'd say exactly that."

 

"Now now, Enid, let's not jump to any conclusions... I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation. Why don't you tell us what happened, bach?" Huw came to the rescue and Delia thanked him silently with a glance.

 

"Well?" Enid's eyes were wide with worry.

 

Delia's mouth opened and then closed again. She was clearly floundering, unsure as to how much to reveal to her mam. Patsy suspected if she told her the whole truth, about the seizures returning, Mrs Busby would not let her leave the house ever again. Seeing the poor brunette so clearly out of her depth, Patsy straightened up, ready to step in with her best 'Nurse Mount' persona. But it wasn't necessary.

 

"I had a bit of a funny turn, fell and broke my collarbone." Delia looked her mam square in the eyes. "But I'm alright, the doctor says my shoulder is healing well. That's why Patsy and I came here for the week, I've taken some time off until I'm better. Patsy had the wonderful idea that we come and stay here so I could show her around where I grew up. I'm going to see the doctor again when I get back to Poplar. It's all under control mam, I'm fine."

 

Patsy blinked, unable to believe her ears. Delia had stood up to her mother, camly, yet firmly. Enid was clearly stunned too, the roles now reversed as she was the one opening and closing her mouth, unable to think of a response. Deciding to back up Delia's claims, Patsy jumped in.

 

"That's right. Delia's doing much better now." Patsy smiled as convincingly as she could, despite that fact not being entirely true. Her shoulder was better though, so it hadn't been a lie. "And Doctor Turner, her GP in Poplar, whom we work beside every day,  is very thorough. she's in very capable hands."

 

Enid huffed indignantly. "And this Tuner man, where did he train?"

 

"Oh hush now cariad," Huw sighed.

 

"One has to check these things," Enid turned on him, "I don't want any old tom dick or harry treating my daughter, especially when she's in such a fragile state," she crooned, stroking Delia's hair as if she were ten years old.

 

"He's actually called Patrick," Delia said pointently, "and he's a brilliant doctor."

 

Enid blanched at her daughter's cheek, Patsy's eyes grew wide and Huw disappeared behind his paper turning what sounded like a laugh into a wracking cough.

 

"No we'll have no more of that cheek - I'm only concerned with what's best for you, Delia."

 

"London is what's best for me mam. Poplar, being a midwife, it's my job and it's where I feel like I'm making a difference." Delia raised her voice, her jaw setting in determination.

 

Patsy felt a huge swell of pride. The Welsh firecracker had released her inner stubbornness and put her foot down. She watched in delight as Enid recoiled in front of her daughter who had finally found her voice.

 

"Huw?" Enid clambored for support.

 

"Hmm?" Huw looked up nonchalantly.

 

"You can't possibly think this is right."

 

Huw sighed and folded his paper, placing it neatly beside his plate of toast. "Listen, cariad, Delia is old enough to decide for herself. If she wants to live in London then who are we to stop her?"

 

"But her health..."

 

"Would it be any better here? At least there she has friends and colleagues around her all day, and of course access to all those fancy doctors and machines at the London hospital. If anything she's probably safer there than in the middle of nowhere with you and I who know nothing about that medical stuff."

 

There was a stunned silence. Huw stood up and made his way into the little kitchenette.

 

"Now, why don't we offer our guests some breakfast? They've got a long journey ahead of them today."

 

Patsy and Delia stared at each other. The conversation was over. Huw had spoken. Mrs Busby looked perturbed but didn't contradict her husband.

 

They ate their breakfast in relative silence, the occasional bit of polite small talk milling between them.

 

"So, how are you planning on getting back to London?" Huw asked, wiping scrambled egg off his moustache.

 

Enid flapped at him, showing a napkin into his hand, muttering about spoiling the pristine new tablecloth.

 

"Well, our return tickets aren't valid anymore obviously," Patsy sighed, stirring her tea, "So we'll just have to get some on the train."

 

"Won't that be terribly expensive?" Huw frowned.

 

Delia stared at her lap, her cheeks reddening. But Patsy sat tall, she refused to let Delia think this was her fault.

 

"Not to worry, we'll manage." She smiled, reaching under the table to squeeze Delia's hand.

 

Huw held her gaze thoughtfully for a moment, as if he was trying to work something out inside his head. Then his eyes lit up.

 

"I'll take you."

 

Six pairs of blue eyes locked onto him in surprise.

 

"What?" Delia and Enid said in unison.

 

"I'll take you both back to London in the car. I need to stop off there anyway for some supplies for the shop. Why not kill two birds as they say."

 

"But it's miles away da, can Doris make it that far and back?"

 

"Doris?" Patsy asked, the hint of a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth, as if she could love the brunette any more.. "the car's called Doris?"

 

Delia nodded deadpan as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

 

"Of course she can, she's done the journey many a time before." Huw grinned. "Besides it'll be a lot quicker than all that bus changing malarky."

 

Delia looked at Patsy expectantly, waiting for her opinion on the matter.

 

"Well, I don't see why not, that's a very kind offer Mr Busby- sorry, Huw. Thank you."

 

Huw clapped his hands together. "Excellent. Now all we need are some sandwiches for lunch - we can have a picnic on the M5!" He looked at Enid.

 

"And where do you propose on staying overnight? I can't land this on Blod - not at the eleventh hour."

 

Huw's face fell. He'd clearly not considered that part of the plan.

 

"If I may..." Patsy cut in, "I'm sure you would be more than welcome to spend the night at Nonnatus House, they do have a spare room and Sister Julienne is very accommodating towards guests, especially family." She caught Delia's eye and winked.

 

Huw bounced back as if nothing had happened."Oh how wonderful! There you see," he beamed triumphantly at Enid, "all sorted!"

 

"Deels and I can prepare the sandwiches, save you the trouble." Patsy looked at Mrs Busby.

 

She nodded slowly, her mouth very thin. It was more than obvious she had been against the idea from the beginning but now she was outnumbered three to one, there was little she could do.

 

"How kind of you." She said with a sickly sweet voice before turning her attention to Huw. "While the girls make their lunch, may I have a word?"

 

"Of course, cariad." Huw bounced from the room into the hall, Enid drifting uncomfortably behind him.

 

Patsy and Delia cleared away the breakfast things and set up a sandwich production line on the dining room table. The whole thing was orchestrated by Patsy's need for organisation and tidiness so therefore worked like clockwork. Within a matter of minutes they had an efficient system of spreading, loading of toppings and bagging up. Patsy relaxed a bit as she settled into the repetitive task. It gave her something to focus on.

 

In all truth she was a little concerned about the journey ahead of them. It was probably irrational fear she thought as she sliced a cucumber, but anxiety still gnawed at her stomach. She found travelling stressful at the best of times, but to go on a journey without a foolproof plan, changing everything at the last minute - it made her feel quite uncomfortable.

 

"Ow!"

 

The knife cutting the cucumber slipped and cut her finger. She frowned and sucked on it, tasting the metallic blood on her tongue.

 

"Are you alright Pats?"

 

Patsy nodded sheepishly, trying to arrange her features into something that resembled calm. She wasn't fooling anyone however.

 

"It's okay, da knows the way."

 

"I'm not worried about getting lost." She sighed, checking her finger.

 

The bleeding had slowed, it wasn't a bad cut. Just a byproduct of her silly carelessness.

 

"Sorry old thing, everything's fine - it's just, last minute changes of plan aren't my strong suit." She smiled awkwardly, silently willing the brunette to understand.

 

Delia nodded. "I understand. We can stick to the original plan if you want?"

 

"No!" Patsy exclaimed.

 

The look of delight when Delia's dad had proposed the road trip was something she was not willing to throw away for the sake of her own silly anxieties.

 

"Are you sure?"

 

"Positive." Patsy beamed. "I dare say it could be quite the adventure."

 

Delia's cheeks turned into dimples as the excitement returned to her features. "Well, I do rather like the prospect of an adventure. Ever since that time you promise I could come along to the scouts camping trip- "

 

She was cut off suddenly by muffled voices from the hall.

 

"Huw! Rydych chi'n gwybod na allwn ei fforddio. Bydd y petrol yn costio gormod a phwy fydd yn rhedeg y siop tra'ch bod chi wedi mynd?"

 

"Nid oes llawer o gwsmeriaid beth bynnag. Pa wahaniaeth y bydd diwrnod yn ei wneud?" Huw tried to calm her down.

 

"Rydym yn mynd yn fethdalwr ac rydych am fynd ar wyliau i Lundain!"

 

"Come now Enid, bydd popeth yn iawn."

 

"Rydych yn claddu eich pen yn y tywod ac yn esgus bod popeth yn iawn pan nad ydyw." Enid sounded close to tears. "Prin iawn sydd gennym ddigon o arian i'w rentu."

 

Patsy stared at Delia, bewildered. The brunette was straining her ears, trying to simultaneously hear and translate the conversation.

 

"What are they saying?" Patsy whispered.

 

"I'm not sure..." Delia frowned. "But I don't think mam's too pleased."

 

Before they could hear another word however, Huw came bursting into the room.

 

"How are my lovely gwneuthurwyr brechdanau?"

 

"Fine da, we even made you one with extra cheese and pickle." Delia beamed, but there was something off with her smile.

"Ah, bach, you know me too well so you do." Huw leaned down and kissed his daughter lightly on her fringe. "Right, well I'll go get your cases packed and loaded into the car."

 

With great difficulty, the three of them managed to squeeze into the pint sized ford anglia. Patsy's long legs had proved quite the puzzle, try as she might she couldn't find a comfortable position and eventually settled in the back seat, angled at a slant. Delia took the front seat and scooted herself as far forward as she could to allow Patsy more leg room. Patsy finally managed to find a position that didn't give her instant pins and needles, their sandwich tupperware balanced precariously on her lap.

 

From her cramped position inside the car, Patsy saw Delia hug her mam goodbye. Enid dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief and waved mournfully as if sending her condolences to a funeral hearse. With everyone safely inside, the little car puttered into life and with a little jolt as it settled into first gear, they were off!

 

Chapter Text

The excitement of the "road trip" quickly wore off for Patsy.

 

The redhead's long, lanky legs were getting cramped in the tiny back seating area of the little Ford, only allowing her a few inches of moving room.

 

A few hours in they stopped at a service station, finally letting the redhead walk about and stretch off some of the stiffness. Huw refilled the car with petrol and Patsy insisted on paying - he was, after all, taking them all the way back, so it felt like the very least she could do.

 

Refilled with fuel, the little car bounced back into life, puttering along the A48 with new vigor. The lack of suspension was starting to get a little uncomfortable for Patsy in the back as she felt her bones complaining every time they hit a pothole. Being skinny did have certain disadvantages, she thought to herself dryly. The sun was now beating down in full force, turning the little metal box into a greenhouse. Sweat dripped from Patsy's forehead and she tried wiping it away best she could. Her exposed skin was sticking to the faux leather of the car seats and made an awful peeling noise every time she shifted position.

 

Their next stop was for lunch, just over the border from Wales to England. They found a rather nice layby to draw into and Huw unwrapped a picnic blanket, setting it up on the side of the road. The sun continued to shine down happily on them, the temperature a little more manageable now they were out in the fresh air.

 

They fished out the (slightly squashed) sandwiches from the boot and sat peacefully enjoying their lunch. It was quiet except for the odd car passing and the occasional 'baa' of a neighbouring sheep.

 

"We should probably get going." Huw stretched out his arms. "Thank you for a lovely cheese and pickle sandwich, it was delicious."

 

Delia beamed, the sun catching her cheeks had already turned them a little red.

 

"How much longer do you think we have to go?" Patsy asked nonchalantly, dreading the answer.

 

"Oh I'd say we'll be there by tea time." Huw smiled, standing up and gathering the blanket.

 

Patsy nodded. She could go a few more hours surely? It was so hot. Suddenly she just  needed to get out of there.

 

"Would you excuse me? I think I need to make use of the facilities. Or should I say, a nearby bush."

 

As quickly as she could so as not to arouse suspicion, the redhead strode away from the layby and into the surrounding shrubbery. There were a few scattered trees and a field ahead of her. After walking for a couple of minutes she stopped near a small stream, leaning up against a tall oak tree and took a deep breath in.

 

The breeze was cool, whipping around her face. Here in the shade of the tree she found her body temperature come under control. The trickle of the stream should've been calming, but her heart was hammering in her ears. She took another breath, trying to calm it down. This was completely irrational, she thought, getting more and more annoyed at herself by the second. But the more she tried to fight the palpitations, the worse they seemed to get. Her chest was getting really tight. Unusually so.

 

Panic flowed through her, this wasn't right, was there something wrong with her heart? The nurse in her knew it shouldn't be beating this fast. She slid down the tree, putting her hands to her eyes and tried to think. No, there wasn't anything wrong with her heart, that would be silly right? A 30 year old, fit and healthy woman would be the last person to have heart issues. She put two shaking fingers to her neck, checking her own pulse. The thrum of her heart-rate beat steadily yet fast against them. Looking at her watching she tried timing the beats but her foggy brain couldn't concentrate. It took several minutes before she managed to figure out she was at roughly 120bpm. Too fast for someone sitting at rest. Perhaps this was something she should see doctor turner about when they got back to Poplar.

 

Poplar. London. They weren't in London, they were still - ah. She needed to get back.

 

Patsy half ran back towards the car, arriving panting and out of breath. Delia's eyebrows raised.

 

"Where were you? I was getting worried. We were just about to come looking for you."

 

"Sorry old thing." Patsy wheezed. "The view was so lovely, I took a little walk and lost track of time."

 

She did her best to smile broadly at the brunette. This was something they could talk about later probably, out of the earshot of Delia's father.

 

Getting back into the car was utterly horrible. Patsy wound down both windows as far as they would go in the back, trying to get some air flow through the cramped little car. One window was broken and only went down a couple of inches before refusing to budge. Delia offered to swap, but there was even less room in the front of the car so Patsy declined the proposal.

 

Another hour of their journey passed. Eventually a bank of clouds rolled in, blocking the sun and its heat. Patsy was so relieved she finally managed to relax a little. The temperature was much more manageable, but she was still sticking to the leatherette seats from her previous perspirations. Resting her head against the window she tried to fall asleep. Sleeping would make the journey go quicker after all. Her heart-rate had steadied, occasionally spiking, but for the most part remaining normal. It felt like she'd ran up two flights of stairs though.

 

Try as she might though, sleep would not come. She was about to give up when she heard Delia talking to her father.

 

"I heard you and mam talking earlier. While we were making the sandwiches."

 

Patsy stiffened. She was probably not meant to be partaking in this moment between father and daughter. Feeling awkward and unable to escape, she kept her eyes shut. Maybe she could dramatically stretch and wake up, make her conscious presence known again.

 

"Oh." Huw said, "What part?"

 

"The part about the business failing, the part about it going bankrupt... and the part about you barely being able to make the rent on the house."

 

Huw didn't reply.

 

"Why didn't you tell me tad?" Delia's voice was wobbling.

 

Patsy wanted to hug her, to comfort her. So she had understood the earlier conversation.

 

"I didn't want to worry you, bach. Besides, you have your own lovely life and friends in London, you don't need to be weighed down by your old man and his problems. I assumed, well, you weren't writing to us anymore so I assumed everything was going really well for you in London, I really didn't want to put a dampener on your joy."

 

"You know that's not true. You can always talk to me."

 

Patsy could almost hear Delia's jaw set.

 

Huw sighed. "Yes, the business hasn't been doing too well lately. People seem to want to get everything from Swansea these days. I'm not the best with the up to date 'trends' as they call them. It used to be people would need something, they'd come and get it. None of that 'oh I want it in sky blue please, with a floral trim.' I'm a draper, not an interior designer. Your mam tried to get me reading some of those magazines, but they did a better job at making me konk out at night than those sleeping pills Doctor Jones gave me..."

 

"Sleeping pills?" Delia asked.

 

"It's not been easy." Huw suddenly sounded old for the first time since Patsy had met him. "Enid's thinking of taking up work again, but I keep telling her it'll be alright, we'll work something out."

 

"Oh da." Delia's voice broke. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry I haven't been in touch. It was really selfish of me."

 

"No no, you didn't want to talk to your mam, I understand." Huw chuckled, "at least you don't have to live with her."

 

Delia groaned. "Thank you. For taking us back."

 

"Not a problem." Patsy could hear Huw smiling. "A city break will be nice. And it's the least I can do for my daughter and her... well, for Patsy."

 

There was an awkward silence.

 

"Did mam tell you... about us?" Delia asked timidly.

 

"Not exactly, no." Huw said carefully. "But... well, forgive your old da's curiosity but, I read a couple of those letters you sent, when you were unwell."

 

"The one's mam didn't post?" Delia said, her voice steely.

 

"Aye those ones." Huw said gravely. "In fact, I took the... erm, liberty, of rescuing them." He coughed awkwardly. "Check the glovebox."

 

There was a clunk as Delia released the catch.

 

"Tad..." she choked.

 

"I'm sorry I read them, they were all torn open you see. But there's the ones you sent and a couple from Patsy."

 

Patsy heard Delia shift in her seat, perhaps checking the redhead was still sleeping. Patsy schooled her features and breathing into what she hoped would pass as someone peacefully unaware.

 

"Thank you." Delia said, barely a whisper.

 

"I'm happy for you cariad," said Huw, "she is wonderful. Fiercely loyal yet kind too which is rare trait to find in someone these days."

 

"She is pretty wonderful, yes."

 

"The way you look at her, it reminds me of the way I looked at your mam when we first started courting." Huw chuckled. "She was absolutely beautiful, I'd have traveled to the moon and back for her if she'd asked me to."

 

"I know how that feels."

 

"Hold on to her, bach. I've never seen you so happy before and if she's the one that gives you that happiness then I don't see anything in the world that should stop you two."

 

The car swerved a little, Delia clearly hugging her da sideways from the passenger seat.

 

"Alright, alright!" Huw chuckled again, "careful now, I want to get us there in one piece!"

 

"Sorry." Delia muttered. "It's just... I wish everyone thought like that."

 

"Ah, there's always going to be bitter folk out there, but in all honesty most of them are just scared of the unknown. And sometimes jealous of the happiness of others. You be who you are bach, don't let anyone else tell you otherwise."

 

There was a silence for a while before Delia finally spoke up.

 

"We could lose our jobs, da. If anyone finds out."

 

"What!?" Huw exclaimed.

 

"It's not illegal." Delia added quickly, "but we were told, first day of nursing school. Anything like that would result in immediate dismissal."

 

"Ha." Huw exclaimed incredulously, "and I'm willing to bet all your other colleagues were as good as gold when it came to the appeal of the young junior doctors."

 

Delia laughed. "I know... it's a bit of a double standard."

 

"You could say that." Huw grumbled. "So how long have you two been..." he tailed off rather awkwardly.

 

Patsy felt her nose prickle. A sneeze was building and she tried her best to stop it emerging. Not now, she thought, not now...

 

"Since training, we started at the same time almost, well, there was a year between us."

 

The prickling was getting worse. Patsy tried to focus on something, anything other than the impending explosion.

 

"Goodness that must've been well over five years." Huw mused, "she really is it then?"

 

"Yes." Delia smiled. "She really is."

 

"No wonder Enid's so hetup about grandchildren... still, I suppose we don't have to worry about you knocking on our door unexpectedly pregnant and asking for-"

 

ATCHOO!

 

Patsy blinked, tears streaming from her eyes from the effort of trying to keep in the sneeze. Delia's head whipped around in shock at the noise and Huw swerved violently.

 

Patsy tried her best to play it cool, blinking pretend sleep from her eyes and looking about drowsily.

 

"Where are we?" she stretched as best she could, trying to glance out the windows.

 

The charade seemed to pay off.

 

"Just coming up to London now." Huw replied jovially, "shouldn't be too much longer."

 

Patsy settled back down and silence filled the car once more, Delia occasionally sneaking a glance at Patsy in the rear-view mirror.

 

Eventually, as the sun was starting to set, the little green Ford rumbled through the cobblestoned streets which signaled the start of Poplar. By now all occupants of the car were exhausted, Patsy's legs were burning from cramp, Delia was pale as a sheet and Huw looked like he might nod off at any second.

 

Delia directed her da through the winding roads until finally they passed through the familiar tunnel and drew up outside Nonnatus house. Mr Busby parked the car neatly outside and opened the door, Delia releasing the seat to let Patsy out of her tight confines.

 

"Why don't you help da with the luggage, " Delia squeezed Patsy's hand, "I'll go talk to Sister Julienne and ask if he can stay."

 

Patsy nodded and watched Delia trudge up the stairs and ring the bell. She glanced at her watch, it was a quarter to six, the nuns would be in compline soon. Perhaps they might be able to scavenge some leftovers from dinner if they were lucky. Her stomach growled appreciatively at the idea, the squashed sandwiches from lunch now a distant memory.

 

Fortunately Sister Julienne was more than willing to accomodate Delia's father for the night. She welcomed him warmly, offering him and the two other weary travellers a nice supper before they turned in for the night. Huw's eyes lit up at the spread of food.

 

After he'd been introduced to Phyllis and Barbara, Huw bid everyone goodnight and took up the sofa. Despite Sister Julienne's insistence that he take the spare room, he was adamant that the sofa would be more than adequate.

 

Eventually Patsy and Delia trooped up to their bedroom together. Delia stumbled on the landing, her tiredness evident.

 

"I really want a shower after that car ride," she admitted ruefully as they closed their door.

 

"Same here." Patsy agreed. "In fact that shower at our cottage would be absolutely amazing right about now."

 

Delia groaned, her mind miles away, back in Wales. "Maybe we can convince Sister Julienne to get us one here?"

 

Patsy laughed, "I doubt showers are top of her list, Deels."

 

Delia pouted in mock annoyance.

 

"However," Patsy winked, "When we begin our search for a flat, we should certainly look for one with a shower. I hear they come as standard with most of the new houses around here."

 

Delia grinned at that. "And when might we do that, Patience?"

 

"I'm not sure," Patsy yawned loudly, "Perhaps we can discuss it when we're more awake. RIght, now let's get you into your pyjamas."

 

~

 

Sleep did not come easy that night, despite Patsy's previously incessant yawning. As soon as her head hit the pillow she instantly felt wide awake. Counter intuitive really, considering how exhausting the day had been. Delia meanwhile, was out like a light. Her soft snores echoing around the bedroom, her one good arm draped lazily across Patsy's waist.

 

It was as though her brain would not shut up. There was an incessant chatter pinging around her mind, talking over itself and making literally no sense whatsoever. And the harder she tried to ignore it, the worse it became. Eventually, unable to take it anymore, she gently removed Delia's arm from her waist and padded downstairs. Perhaps a glass of water might help.

 

She completely forgot Delia's dad was stationed on the living room sofa and almost jumped a mile in the air when she passed the snoozing shape. Recovering quickly she smoothly passed by, trying not to wake him, and finally reached the kitchen. She realised that because of their guest, her normal routine of cleaning away the insomnia, would not be permissible tonight.

 

Filling a glass of water she drank it down slowly, trying to clear her head again of the thoughts whizzing around nonsensically. This wouldn't do. She'd have to look at the situation practically and rationally. After all, that's what she was best at. Broaching the worries from a new angle might help ease her worrying.

 

First thing's first, Delia was back in Poplar, she was safe. Tomorrow they'd go and visit Doctor Tuner together and try and figure out what was going on with her health.

 

That part analysed, she moved onto the next worry.

 

The conversation she couldn't have helped overhear in the car. It wasn't any of her business really, but whatever affected Delia, was her business. And if Delia was worried or upset about something, she would do everything within her power to help. So how could she help? Well, the most obvious part of the Busby's family predicament was money. Money she had lots of and more than she knew what to do with. The problem was, if the Busby's were anything like their daughter, convincing them to take it would be nigh on impossible. No, she had to figure out a way of helping them financially without them feeling like it was an act of charity.

 

Patsy wracked her brains, trying to come up with a solution. It was hard though. Her mind felt like it was wallowing in thick mud, her thought processes began to slow just as her eyelids began to droop.

 

Well, at least she felt tired now.

 

Trooping back up to bed, she snuggled back in with Delia. The brunette stirred for a moment.

 

"Pats?" she whispered groggily.

 

"Shh, it's okay, go back to sleep." Patsy stoked her fringe gently.

 

The exhausted woman did not need to be told twice, within a matter of seconds she was fast asleep again. Patsy smiled to herself. Everything would be alright, wouldn't it? And there wasn't much she could do about it now anyway.

 

Snuggling down, deep into the duvet and Delia's embrace, she let her eyelids droop. This time sleep did seem to come, her body felt heavy, limbs sinking into the mattress...

 

"Patience?"

 

"Mama?"

 

"Patience, hold onto your sister do you hear me? Don't let her go!"

 

Patsy's eyes darted around, Grace had been there a moment ago, and now she was gone. Panic filled her gut as she frantically looked around.

 

She could barely see, let alone breathe. The stench of bodies tightly packed around her made her gag. It was hot. Way too hot. Sweat was dripping from her forehead and getting in her eyes. She blinked it away... She needed to find Grace...

 

People screaming and clamouring filled her ears, her mother's shouts intermingling between them all.

 

"Grace?" Patsy tried to shout, but all that came out was little more than a whimper.

 

"GRACE?" She tried again, this time her lungs allowing an inhuman screech to pass through.

 

There was a flash of dirty blonde and Patsy knew she'd found her sister. Using her elbows, she attempted to get through the throng of figures, trying to reach her. But everytime she thought she'd got a little closer, the dirty blonde hair moved further away.

 

"Grace!" Patsy yelled again.

 

It was hot. She couldn't move. Bodies were pressing in on her from ever side, she looked up, trying to see some light but there was nothing. Her head snapped back, trying to find that beacon of Grace's hair but in its place was her mother's face.

 

She recoiled in shock. Her mother's skin was grey, her eyes sunken and shallow. She looked dead... but she was talking...

 

"You lost her! You lost her!"

 

Patsy began to cry. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!"

 

"It's your fault Patience, you lost her and now she's gone!" Her mother screamed, her face distorting in front of Patsy's eyes.

 

And still it was too hot. Arms were pulling at Patsy, pulling here away from where the golden hair had been, but her mother's hovering face followed, unblinking. But suddenly it wasn't her mother's face, it was her father's - his voice low and growling.

 

"She's gone. They're gone. It should have been you, why was it not you instead of them?"

 

I'm sorry papa!" Patsy protested, "I tried, I tried..."

 

Her father let out a maniacal laugh.

 

"Stop." Patsy pleaded, "Please, stop."

 

But the laugh kept going. He was gripping her shoulders, shaking her, his deathly face mere inches from her own - so close she could see his bloodshot eyes, wide and staring -

 

"Patsy!"

 

"Please!" Patsy begged, "Please... I'm sorry, I'm so sorry!"

 

"Patsy wake up." Her father's voice sounded wrong...

 

"No! I have to find her... I have to..."

 

"Patsy, it's okay cariad, you're having a nightmare..."

 

It felt like she was being sucked down a tube that was way too small for her, everything was loud for a moment and then there was silence. She gasped as her eyes opened, breathing in cool, night air as the remnants of the dream faded away around her.

 

Delia was staring at her, rubbing small circles on her back.

 

Suddenly she felt freezing. The sweat had been real, she'd soaked through her pyjamas. Her teeth chattered as the shivering started.

 

"Oh Pats," Delia muttered, "let's get you out of these for starters."

 

Patsy simply sat there numbly as the brunette changed her into a fresh set of dry pyjamas. Their softness combined with the gentle hands that eased them onto her shaking body was enough to calm her breathing down a notch.

 

"Alright?" Delia questioned, wincing slightly as she settled down next to her again.

 

Patsy nodded. Her heart was still beating ten to the dozen and she was still shaking. Delia wrapped an arm around her and held her close, stroking her hair gently.

 

After a few moments the shaking stopped. Patsy felt her eyelids droop again and Delia laid them both back down into the bed.

 

"Shhh, it's alright Cariad, I've got you. You're safe." Delia whispered in her ear.

 

Too exhausted to reply, Patsy let herself fall back into the chasm of sleep again.




~



The next day, Delia found herself seated anxiously in the waiting room for Doctor Turner's surgery. Patsy had resumed work that morning, despite Delia's concerns following her nightmare, and her tad was visiting some of the local fabric suppliers for stock. Patsy had insisted she go and see the Doctor as soon as they got back and so Delia had agreed. She was equal parts relieved and stressed that Patsy could not attend the appointment with her. Relieved because she didn't want to stress the redhead out any more than was necessary, especially after last night's episode, but stressed because in all honesty, she was slightly scared as to what the doctor might find.

 

It had been a few months since she'd awoken to Patsy's cries. This time had seemed different however, she'd never mentioned Grace, her sister before. Delia frowned. What on earth had bought that on, she wondered. For a while she'd been convinced there must be some sort of logical pattern to Patsy's night terrors, but this made little to no sense whatsoever. There was no reason or rhyme (that she could think of anyway) as to why a trip to wales would warrant such a strong, vivid nightmare from the redhead.

 

"Miss Busby?"

 

Delia snapped back to reality, smiling at Doctor Turner and following him into his examination room. She took a seat opposite the kind man as he rifled through her notes.

 

"Good to see you again, I trust your break in the country went well?" He asked.

 

Delia nodded, "Yes it was lovely to get away for a bit. My shoulder feels much better."

 

Dr Turner smiled. "Good, do you mind if I have a quick look?"

 

"Of course."

 

His gentle hands prodded her bruise, which had now turned a lovely shade of yellow.

 

"Yes, that seems to be looking jolly good. I'd like to book you in for another x-ray, just to make sure though."

 

"Okay." Delia agreed. It didn't hurt to be on the safe side, after all.

 

"Now, as I'm sure you're aware, Nurse Mount did telephone me during your stay in Wales. She seemed rather concerned about you."

 

Delia's eyes dropped to her lap. She suddenly felt guilty for adding more worries to her girlfriend's already worried mind.

 

"I understand you were getting severe abdominal pains?"

 

"Yes." Delia admitted. "But it's just my monthlies, they've always been pretty bad."

 

"I see," Patrick put down his pen from his notetaking and gave Delia his full, undivided attention. "Do you mind if I ask you some questions about your cycle?"

 

Delia shook her head. This was bound to be mildly embarrassing, but, she told herself, they were both professionals, she could handle this. Besides they were questions she'd probably asked patients hundreds of times before, why should this be any different?

 

"How old were you when you first started menstruating?" Doctor Tuner picked up his pen again, poised to write notes.

 

"Fourteen." Delia answered. It was easier now their eye contact had been broken. "On my fourteenth birthday actually." She added, remembering the day vividly. How much easier life had been before then. 

 

"I see, and have they always been painful?"

 

"The cramps started getting bad when I was in my late teens, I just thought it was normal." Delia shrugged.

 

"How long does the pain last? And is there anything that seems to make it worse some months as opposed to others?"

 

"A few days usually. Sometimes I get a migraine too - Actually I'd say it's been slightly worse after my accident come to think of it. But not so much that I've noticed until you asked me."

 

The doctor paused for a moment while he wrote his notes.

 

Delia shuffled in her seat awkwardly. Maybe it would've been better going to see a doctor she didn't know well.

 

"Are your periods irregular?"

 

"No." Delia shook her head, "I mean sometimes it's early by a few days, but nothing dramatically unpredictable."

 

"And how is your monthly flow? Is it heavy?"

 

Delia blushed. "Um... sometimes, yes."

 

"And Nurse Mount mentioned vomiting, is that a normal occurrence?"

 

"No, not really. It's rarely that bad that I'm sick."

 

"So it's the pain that causes the vomiting?"

 

Delia nodded.

 

"And have you felt weak or dizzy? Either during your monthlies or after?"

 

"Yes. But I thought it was just stress... like when I fainted at clinic."

 

"Yes, I was about to bring that up." Dr Turner smiled. "I have some results from the tests they took at the London when you were getting your shoulder seen to. The blood results show a considerable lack of iron levels."

 

"So I'm anemic?"

 

"Yes, it seems so. That would explain some of your symptoms anyway."

 

Delia tried not to look too relieved. Anemia was horrible, certainly. But it was easily treatable.

 

"I'd like to take some more blood from you in week or so, just to run a few more tests." Doctor Turner said gently, "But I'm still concerned about your abdominal pain."

 

"Okay..."

 

"Is the pain only during menstruation or does it occur at other points during your cycle?"

 

Delia shook her head. "No, it's only for the first one to two days. Then it gets better again."

 

"And can you show me whereabouts the pain is?"

 

Delia lifted her shirt and pointed as best she could. The doctor observed and took more notes.

 

"Thank you. I'm going to prescribe you some iron tablets as well as some anti-sickness medication. Keep going with your current painkillers for as long as you need them for your shoulder, but I'll prescribe them again in future for your cramping."

 

"Thank you Doctor Turner."

 

"As I said, I'll book you in for another x-ray on your clavicle, just to make sure. I also want to refer you onto a gynecologist regarding your menstrual pain. Cramps of that severity are not exactly common and I think it would be best to er on the side of caution, just in case there's something else going on."

 

"Of course." Delia paled a little.

 

"I'm going to write you off work for another two weeks until we're absolutely sure your shoulder has healed. It should also give the iron tablets time to work and give you back some strength. Then it's back to light duties only for a bit. I'll also add in the note, you're to take a couple of days off every month if your periods are particularly bad."

 

Delia nodded.

 

"Right, here's your prescription, hand it over to Shelagh on your way past and she'll sort everything out for you. Do you have any more questions?"

 

"No, thank you."

 

Any further problems, do let me know."

 

"Thank you. Goodbye."

 

Delia left the surgery shaking slightly. Was it really that bad that she needed to see a specialist? For a moment she toyed with the idea of keeping this news from Patsy, but quickly decided against it. They'd promised each other no more secrets. And whatever was head, they'd face it together.

 

~

 

"... and I've got another two weeks off work."

 

Delia was recounting her tale to Patsy that evening as they readied themselves for bed. Huw was staying another night and making the journey back to Wales the following morning having secured his drapery stock. Patsy had come back from a full day of district and seemed more than ready for bed, but less than ready to discuss anything to do with the previous night. All her attention was on Delia.

 

"Probably for the best old thing, I'm sure Doctor Turner wouldn't have said anything if he didn't mean it."

 

"I know." Delia sighed. "But two weeks? What am I supposed to do for two weeks?"

 

"Well..." Patsy slid into bed, cozying up beside the brunette. "I was thinking perhaps we could start perusing the classifieds for flats?"

 

Delia's eyes sparkled in excitement. She even let out a gleeful squeak. "Really?"

 

Patsy bent down and kissed her nose. "Really. We did agree to wait until after the dreadful weather and..." she gestured out the window at the clear starry skies, "it seems to be looking much more like Spring now."

 

Delia grinned from ear to ear.

 

They lay down together and Patsy was about to turn off the bedside lamp before she turned back to Delia.

 

"What did Doctor Turner say about your cramps?"

 

"Oh." Delia explained the awkward conversation they'd had and how Patrick had referred her onto a gynecologist.

 

"Oh deels." Patsy stroked her cheek, sensing the worry radiating from her petite partner, "I'm sure he's just being careful."

 

"I know." Delia agreed, kissing Patsy's fingers. "And hopefully I'll start to feel better soon with the iron tablets."

 

"I've heard they do wonders." Patsy grinned. "All my pregnant mothers who take them have only good things to say."

 

"No they don't." Delia poked the redhead in her side. "I heard one of them at clinic the other week complaining her stools were 'as black as the ace of spades'... hardly a raving review if you ask me."

 

They descended into giggles for a while before taking deep breaths and coming to a rest. Delia tucked her head under Patsy's chin and breathed in deeply.

 

"We'll be okay Deels." Patsy purred.

 

"I know." Delia replied with a sigh.

 

She hadn't the heart to ask how Patsy's hunt for therapy was going and right now didn't seem like the best time so she refrained. But even as Patsy drifted off behind her, Delia couldn't help the knaw of anxiety. What with last night's episode, it was clear the redhead needed help now, more than ever.

 

Shaking off her worries she kissed Patsy lightly on the chin and buried her face into the pillow. These were worries for tomorrow. Right now, she was safe, curled up in bed with the woman she loved, listening to the steady beat of her heart thrumming against her back. And of all the things she could have asked for - nothing could be better than this.

 

Chapter Text

Delia was bored.

 

Well, bored was an understatement.

 

She'd read nearly all the books in Nonnatus house (that weren't Keats, she refused to go that far) and de-weeded most of the garden one-handedly, despite Fred telling her she didn't have to. She'd read the bible three times, (scoffing at most of it) and had completed all the crosswords in a hundred meter radius. Patsy had even come in one day to a perfect spread of supper made especially for her by the brunette. Delia had spent all day on it and only some of the edges of the pie were burned.

 

And now there was nothing left to do. She'd sat with Val while she was on telephone duty yesterday, but nobody had called. She was gradually losing her mind.

 

It had been two weeks since she'd started the iron tablets, and in all honesty, she did feel an awful lot better. There was a pep in her step, the lingering tiredness had gone, as had the dizziness. She was dreading her next monthly slightly, but at least she had the resources to cope with it now. Her arm felt fine, she'd even followed to the T the instructions and exercises she'd been given. Another week and she'd be booked in for an x-ray and would finally find out if she could return to work.

 

And frankly, that day couldn't come soon enough.

 

It was an absolute godsend therefore, when Phyllis declared her plans for that day over breakfast.

 

"Blasted car has a rattle. I can't figure out what it is, I've got to take it along to the garage."

 

"May I come too?" Delia piped up.

 

"Well, I suppose that would be alright, as long as you don't overexert yourself."

 

Delia beamed, "I won't. It'll be nice to get outside for a bit. Even if it is for a short drive."

 

Phyllis's car was indeed rattling as Delia tucked herself into the front passenger seat. The engine was spluttering and it lurched forward without warning. Fortunately Delia had buckled her seatbelt in time to stop her flying through the windscreen.

 

The car chuntered through the narrow streets of Poplar. Phyllis being very careful to avoid hitting any potholes - party out of fear of hurting her passenger, but mostly out of fear of hurting the vehicle.

 

The as they finally drew up to A.J Watt's garage, the engine died all together. A pathetic whine escaped the bonet and the car settled, refusing to budge. Phyllis sighed and patted the dashboard.

 

"I suppose it did well to get this far."

 

"Maybe we should ask for some help to get it off the road." Delia suggested. They were causing a mini traffic jam.

 

"Good idea, lass. I'll stay with her, you go and knock on the door, see if we can get some strong young men out here to help."

 

Delia ejected herself from the car. Strong young men, she thought with a snort - she'd shift the thing herself if it wasn't for her shoulder and the fact she really wanted to get back to work next week...

 

She rapped loudly on the wooden garage doors and stood back, waiting for a reply.

 

A little side door opened and out hopped a young man in overalls, covered in grease and oil. He grinned at her, his teeth bright white in contrast to his mucky skin.

 

"Alright, love - can I help?"

 

"Yes please, my colleague's car's just broken down," Delia pointed at Phyllis, "she was on her way here to get it fixed, something about a strange noise coming from the engine. It's probably just the carburetor or something."

 

The man's eyebrows raised in surprise. "Know a lot about cars do you?"

 

"Oh," Delia said, "not really. I mean, I tinkered with my dad's car a bit when I was a teenager."

 

The man nodded, clearly quite impressed with the small woman.

 

"Name's Bill." He held out his hand, before noticing it was covered in oil and quickly wiping it on his trouser leg. "Sorry." He muttered.

 

Delia shook it. "I'm Delia."

 

He grinned. "And who's the sour looking lady in the car?"

 

"Ah. That's Phyllis, Nurse Crane."

 

"Nurse... are you nurses?"

 

"Midwives actually. We're from Nonnatus House."

 

Nurse Crane marched up to where the two were chatting. "I say young man, would you mind lending a hand to get my motor vehicle off the road, it is causing an obstruction as you can see."

 

"Of course ma'am. Let me get my colleague and we'll have your car shifted pronto." He flashed his pearly whites again and disappeared.

 

Phyllis tapped her foot impatiently.

 

Eventually the man returned with another man in tow, also covered head to toe in oil. Delia still recognised him though.

 

"Oh, hello Larry!" Delia exclaimed happily.

 

"Hello, Delia!" Lary smiled politely, tipping his cap.

 

"How are you? How is Gwen?" Delia asked quickly.

 

"Fine, fine. She's home now and doing much better thank you."

 

"Ahem." Phyllis cleared her throat. "My car, gentlemen?"

 

"Sorry, ma'am." The men muttered and went about their task.

 

With a bit of a struggle, the two men managed to wheel Phyllis's motor into the repair shop. Phyllis began engaging in a deep discussion with Bill about the exact sort of clunking that had been coming from the car.

 

It was dark inside the garage and stank of petrol. Delia breathed in deeply. It smelled quite wonderful to her. Reminded her of her teenage years, under her dad's car, tinkering with the exhaust. She used to come in for dinner covered in muck and oil. Her mam was livid one day when she ruined her new dress after changing the oil. Her dad was really pleased, teaching her everything he knew about the little car, which wasn't much, but Delia learned by experiementing. Being in the garage was a hit of nostalgia.

 

Larry seemed to notice her eyes glinting.

 

"Not every day a girl gets that look on her face when she comes in here." he commented, "most of them say it's too dirty and run a mile."

 

Delia turned to him and said, very sincerely, "I love it."

 

He smiled at her, "Well, you're more than welcome to come round any time you want. I can maybe teach you a few things?"

 

"Really?" Delia's face split into a huge grin. "That would be amazing, thank you!"

 

"Anytime, really." He nodded serious. "Where have you been? We've not seen you in ages, Gwen's been asking after you."

 

"Oh, I had a bit of an accident and broke my shoulder." Delia explained, "I've been out of action for a while now. But I'm coming back to work next week, if I get the all clear from the hospital."

 

"Oh no, sorry to hear that. You must be bored out of your mind sitting by yourself in a nunnery with 'owt to do."

 

Delia nodded. "Yes, I must admit the past week or two I've been going a little stir-crazy."

 

Just then a dark shape appeared at her side and began barking loudly, licking at her hand excitedly.

 

"Now now Marley. Leave poor Delia alone." Larry chastised, pulling the dog away from Delia.

 

She caught sight of it in the light and instantly recognised the black coat, the wide, kind eyes... The stray from the park. It felt like eons ago but the dog still recognised her.

 

"Marley eh?" she reached down to scratch the dog behind his ears. The dog let out an excited bark and launched himself at her.

 

"Yeah, found him on the streets in the winter. Had to take him in of course, poor thing would've died if he'd been outside in those temperatures. We planned on letting him go when it got warmer again but he's hung around here ever since. Can't get rid of him can we..." Larry reached out and rubbed Marley on his side. "He's a good boy though, knows if something's off with someone. Got a sixth sense, I swear."

 

Delia knelt down, not even worrying about the state of her tights, so she was now eye level with the dog. He lay down and rolled around, desperate for someone to give him some belly rubs. Delia obliged and he panted appreciatively.

 

"Might even owe him my life." Larry continued. "He saved me from a lunatic a while back, jumped right in front of the man and bit his hand."

 

Delia frowned. Hadn't Patsy seen someone with a dog bite recently? Her eyes widened as she suddenly remembered.

 

"Mr Thomas? The man whose son got ran over?"

 

A shadow passed over Larry's face.

 

"It's alright. I know it wasn't you." Delia added quickly.

 

"I never saw him coming. He just appeared in front of the car, I slammed the brakes on but it was too late."

 

"He's okay. The boy." Delia stood up again. "Patsy- I mean, my colleague has been visiting him. He's recovering with his aunt at the moment."

 

"Good. I'm glad the lad's okay." Larry nodded, tight lipped. "But I can't say I have much sympathy for his dad. Parents should take more care of their kids if you ask me."

 

Delia nodded in agreement. It was still a mystery as to how Andrew had ended up getting run over, but all the signs so far were pointing to Mr Thomas as being somewhat involved.

 

"Delia!" Called Phyllis from the garage entrance, "I'm heading back now, do you want to come with me?"

 

Delia paused. She actually wanted to stay here and chat more with the garage men. It was a nice change of environment. As if sensing she'd rather not, Larry jumped in with an offer.

 

"I mean, you're welcome to stay here for a bit, we're just about to go on Lunch break."

 

"You don't mind?" Delia's face lit up.

 

"Not at all." Larry smiled.

 

"Thanks Phyllis, I'll just get the bus back later on!"



Larry locked up the garage and he, Bill and Delia set off to find food. Bill knew of a good pie shop and the trio bought their lunch, Bill deciding to sit in with a couple of his mates whilst Delia and Larry headed towards a nearby park. It was a lovely sunny day and it seemed a shame to waste the glorious weather inside.

 

"So, Delia," Larry said, as they sat with their backs against an old statue, munching on their pies, "Why nursing?"

 

Delia shrugged, "Same reason as most I suppose, I want to help people."

 

"You'd make a good mechanic. I'm sure nursing ain't the airy fairy stuff some people make out. You girls must work long hours and lift heavy things, just like us."

 

"Mhm." Delia nodded, secretly impressed by how respectful Larry was being towards her profession. It was true. Nurses did get a lot of slack, especially from the more alpha male patients. But Larry didn't strike her as an 'alpha male' type at all.

 

"People can be right assholes sometimes." Larry muttered.

 

"Like Mr Thomas?" Delia ventured.

 

Her last visit to his and Gwen's house was looming large in her mind. The shattered window, broken glass, the rock with the note tied to it. She wanted to say something, something that would show her solidarity, but she didn't know how.

 

"Yeah. Like him." Larry started off into the distance.

 

"I'm sorry," she sighed.

 

He looked at her, confused. "Whatever for?"

 

"I'm sorry he's trying to pin it on you. It's not right."

 

He smiled, "Thank you. I'm glad someone's on my side."

 

Delia put a hand on his arm and caught his eyes. "I am. On your side."

 

This close, she could see his sparkling blue eyes, even behind the motor oil. He was quite a dashing young man to look at. Someone she was sure Trixie would completely lose her rollers over. But when she looked into those eyes she almost saw a reflection of herself. A spark, but behind that sadness, a loneliness.

 

"Um." Larry muttered awkwardly. "I'm sorry, I - " he moved his arm away.

 

Delia jolted, suddenly realising what this probably looked like. "Oh - no." she backtracked, "sorry, I didn't mean, I'm not interested in, I mean, I'm spoken for."

 

"Oh, okay." Larry breathed a sigh of relief. "As am I of course." he added, as if only just remembering.

 

Delia blushed. That was awkward.

 

"Well, whoever speaks for you, they must be very lucky." he winked.

 

Delia smiled, thinking of her perfect redhaired girlfriend. "I think if anything, I'm the lucky one."

 

First Gwen, now Larry using the word 'they' to describe partners. Delia had a suspicion they knew more than they were letting on... but it was understandably, too dangerous to talk openly. Especially when one was not a hundred percent sure.

 

Larry spotted the wistful look in her eye with surprising attentiveness for a man.

 

"Earth to Delia!" He called jokingly.

 

"Sorry!" Delia snapped from her trance.

 

"Must be pretty bloody wonderful, making you daydream like that."

 

"Oh she is." Delia grinned before suddenly realising her mistake and correcting it, "I mean, they are."

 

Fuck.

 

But it was as if Delia had done nothing more than comment on the weather. Larry smiled and looked out over the park, watching a couple of geese fly past.

 

"Adam." he said simply.

 

"I'm sorry, who?" Delia's heart was still thumping loudly with anxiety, How could she have allowed herself to make such a basic error. She needed to be much more careful in the future. She wasn't around her dad anymore.

 

"Adam." Larry repeated. "He's the reason we moved away. Why Gwen and I got married."

 

Delia sat in silence, letting the words sink in.

 

"Everything was wonderful... too wonderful probably. And then he got found out. Lost everything. I panicked. Thought he'd turn me in too. Thankfully Gwen was there, brilliant, clever Gwen. She suggested we get married, take the heat of me so to speak." He pulled out a packet of smokes and offered one to Delia. She shook her head and he drew one out, lighting it. "A year goes by, Gwen's seeing another bloke, which of course is fine by me, I meet Joe. Wonderful lad is Joe." He took in a big draw and exhaled slowly. "Anyway one day Gwen comes home, tears streaming down her face, says she's pregnant. Of course Joe gets upset and threatens to tell folk so we decide to up sticks and move to the city - lose ourselves in a crowd so to speak. But lo and behold we end up on Gwen's brother's doorstep." He took another drag. "Some sick idea of fate that is."

 

"Did he know? About what happened back in Wales?" Delia asked.

 

Larry shook his head. "Not really. He suspected a long time ago but had no evidence. Then when we moved in I don't think he was going to care, until this whole incident with his son. Now it just seems like he won't stop until he's got his revenge."

 

"Has he told anyone?"

 

"Nah. Like holding over our heads so he does, I'd call it blackmail but there's no money in it for him. He keeps threatening to do summit but never does. That was until the other day when he comes barging into the garage. Then of course Marley jumps at him, takes a chunk out of his hand. He's not been back since. But I doubt that's the last I'll be seeing of him." Larry stubbed out the cigarette and squashed it with his boot. "I can't go to the police, I can't do nothing. I only got a job at that garage because a friend knew the bloke there before me and Bill. Bill's a good bloke mind, but I don't think he completely gets it."

 

"I'm so sorry." Delia said sincerely.

 

Larry drew himself up. "It's okay. Nowt will be fixed by moping. And besides, I'm going to be a dad soon. Got to get my act together. and provide for my family."

 

Even if it's not the family you really want, Delia finished inside her head. She didn't know where to start. Larry had opened up to her without holding back, she felt like she needed to return the favour but he was already standing up.

 

"Best get back to the shop. I've got to fix your Nurse Crane's motor. She looks like a right piece of work."

 

"The car or Nurse Crane?" Delia chuckled.

 

Larry shrugged and winked at her.

 

"She's wonderful really. Quite tough on the outside but underneath she's a real mother hen, especially to us younger nurses."

 

"And Nurse Crane?"

 

Delia shoved him playfully.

 

"Though if she ever heard you saying that she'd have your guts for garters."

 

"I don't doubt it for a second." Larry said in all seriousness.

 

They continued their friendly chatter all the way back to the garage. By the time they arrived, Delia was feeling quite out of breath and tired. She was not used to putting this much strain on her body and the short trip was pushing her limits rather.

 

"Why don't I give you a lift back?" Larry asked kindly.

 

"Oh, that's very kind of you, but I can just get a bus." Delia smiled.

 

"Not at all, want to make sure you get back in one piece, don't want Nurse Crane coming after me with a flaming pitchfork. Got enough of those folk knocking on my door already..."

 

"Well I..."

 

Without waiting for an answer, Larry lead her round to the back of the garage, to a small parking area. There was a large shape covered in a tarpaulin which he walked up to.

 

"What..." Delia began.

 

Larry pulled off the tarp in the style of a magician doing a rather dramatic reveal.

 

Delia tried not to gasp.

 

Under the tarp was a gleaming red motor car. A classic MG with leather seats and chrome trimmings. It had a soft drop top that was nestled at the back, perfect for such a sunny day.

 

"Still fancy getting the bus?" Larry chuckled.

 

Delia picked her chin up from the ground and turned, wide eyed. "You mean?"

 

"We can take her for a spin, certainly. I need to test drive her anyway. Client wanted a retune done and she's almost ready to go. Just need to make sure everything's hunky dory and then I'll take her back to her owner. But I can always go back via Nonnatus."

 

Delia was only half listening, stroking the curves of the car gently, so as not to leave any marks. "She's beautiful!"

 

"Well, get in then, we can take the long way round if you'd like."

 

The car handled like a dream compared to Phyllis's rust bucket. The suspension was so good, Delia barely felt the cobbles under the tyres, her shoulder not complaining once. Eventually though their joy ride had to come to an end and Larry pulled up in the square outside the convent.

 

"Thank you so much, that was amazing!" Delia buzzed, trying to underplay her excitement and doing a pretty poor job of it.

 

"Anytime, really. It's been nice to have the company." Larry winked.

 

"Goodness me Deels!" came a call from the cycle shed.

 

Patsy was stowing her bike and had caught sight of the magnificent red machine and the brunette sitting in the passenger seat looking as if Christmas had come early.

 

"Pats!" Delia exclaimed "Look what I got a lift in!"

 

Patsy looked mildly impressed at the car but didn't share in Delia's level of delight. "I like the colour." She commented.

 

Delia rolled her eyes and nudged Larry. "She doesn't know anything about cars. Should've seen us driving back from Wales, Da driving, Pats in the back all folded up with those ridiculously long legs... we needed this red model for sure!" she rambled happily as Patsy gave up and marched up the steps to the door.

 

"Got a thing for redheads have you?" Larry quipped quietly, nodding towards the door of Nonnatus.

 

Delia blushed a similar shade of scarlet to that of the car.








Chapter Text

"I have an idea." Patsy proclaimed suddenly.

 

Delia, who had been preparing supper for the redhead looked up with a quizzical eyebrow raised.

 

"I think we should view the property in Chelsea tomorrow afternoon."

 

"Your father's property?" Delia clarified.

 

"Yes. Although, technically it is ours now, Deels."

 

"Alright. If you're sure?"

 

Patsy nodded enthusiastically. The property had been gathering dust and she wanted to stop the incessant barrage of questions from her father's lawyers about why she hadn't moved in there yet. Although she wasn't keen on the idea of living there, he felt they should probably take a look at the house before giving up on it entirely.

 

"I'm sure. It might be ghastly and horribly out-moded for all I know."

 

"Pats, it's in Chelsea!" Delia was wide-eyed.

 

"I know... I hope we can still get something for it."

 

"You're thinking of selling it?"

 

Patsy sighed and motioned for the petite welshwoman to sit next to her.

 

"I'm not sure yet. It depends if it... Well, I suppose if it feels like home." She smiled and squeezed Delia's hand brazenly. "And I need your opinion for that too."

 

Delia nodded solemnly, more than ready to take the responsibility.

 

"I'm sure it'll be fun." Patsy grinned, taking the solemn face the wrong way.

 

"I know." Delia bit her bottom lip, "It's just... I'm not used to this."

 

Patsy chuckled, "I hardly go around viewing properties every day of my life Deels, it's new for me too."

 

"But you've lived in them before." Delia was still worrying at her lip.

 

Patsy sighed and took the brunette's hands in her own, looking her deep in the eyes.

 

"Deels, we're doing this together. And if you don't want to live there then I don't want to live anywhere where you aren't. We could move to a cardboard box in Poplar and I promise we'd make it our home."

 

She leaned forward and pulled the Welshwoman into a tight hug. They stayed like that for a few minutes, enjoying the embrace and closeness of each other before pulling apart at the sound of approaching footsteps.

 

They wouldn't have to jump apart soon, Patsy mused, taking happy solace in that thought as she watched Sister Monica Joan make a suspicious beeline towards the fridge. And it would be utterly glorious.



The following day Patsy phoned ahead to make arrangements for the property viewing. Fortunately, they managed to secure an appointment that afternoon, her lawyer seemingly relieved that she was finally taking interest in her assets, even offered to drop the key off to Nonnatus house personally.

 

Patsy had a round of district patients to deal with that morning and she bid Delia farewell, assuring her she'd be back as promptly as she could by noon. The first few patients were her regulars and she quickly fell into a routine, changing dressings, administering medication. But all the while the excitement of the afternoon's adventure niggled at the back of her mind.

 

It put a pep in her step when she pulled out her notes to see who her last patient of the morning was to be. The pep faltered, however, when she read the address and name.

 

Patient Name : Mrs Teresa ThomasAddress : 22 Thornfield House, Birchfield Estate, Poplar

Telephone : Poplar 461

Reason for visit: check up following bad bout of flu

 

Patsy frowned. Last time she'd attended the Thomas family she'd discovered some rather concerning evidence. The husband, Gareth, seemed to be the prime suspect for potential abuse of not only his son but his wife too. Thankfully the lad was staying with his aunt and uncle, but it didn't mean the wife, Teresa, was safe. She'd seen bruises on the woman's arms last time she'd been there, not to mention the cigarette burns on Andrew's back.

 

Shuddering, she checked the notes again. "Bad bout of flu" didn't seem to sound suspicious. Or related to usual patterns of abusive injuries. Perhaps she could do some digging while she was there, see if the woman was alright. Andrew was still recovering but he was doing well and the word was he'd be able to return home soon. At the very least, Patsy wanted to make sure when he did, it was safe for him. And there was also a little girl if she remembered correctly, Matilda. She seemed relatively unscathed the last time Patsy had visited, but then she hadn't had a chance to take a good look at her.

 

Patsy climbed the many stairs to the Thomas's flat, reaching the top winded and gasping. Places like this needed lifts, she thought grimly as she knocked on the grey door of number 22.

 

There was a coughing from inside, steadily growing louder as someone fumbled with the lock on the door.

 

"Who's there?" came a muffled question.

 

"It's the nurse," Patsy replied confidently.

 

The door opened to reveal Mrs Thomas blowing hard on a handkerchief.

 

Patsy let her eyes travel down the spindly woman. She seemed even thinner since she'd last been here, perhaps due to the flu. In her other hand, she clutched at a cigarette. That can't have been helping her. Trying not to sigh with frustration Patsy smiled warmly at the woman.

 

"I've just come to check on your chest Mrs Thomas, Doctor tells me you've had quite the nasty case of flu recently."

 

Mrs Thomas's head wobbled on her long neck as she nodded. She still looked flighty.

 

"Come in, kettle's on the boil, I'll get you a cuppa."

 

"Oh there's no need honestly," Patsy closed the door behind her and hovered behind the skinny woman.

 

They passed by what was Andrew's room when Patsy had last been there, there was a sniffing noise then a massive sneeze from behind the door.

 

Mrs Thomas indicated to Patsy to take a seat on the sofa as she busied herself making the tea. Patsy tried not to shiver as she watched the thin woman wipe her nose on the back of her hand and then touch the teacups. That might explain the sneezing coming from the children's bedroom then. If she didn't practice good hygiene it was no wonder it had spread.

 

Patsy thanked the spindly lady for the tea but set it aside, unwilling to take a sip. Mrs Thomas sat on the rocking chair and smoked her cigarette to the butt before pulling out another one. Her eyes flickered to Patsy who was watching her intently and offered the redhead a smoke.

 

"Thank you but I don't smoke on duty." Patsy declined.

 

"Suit yourself." she exhaled.

 

"Could I listen to your chest please?" Patsy reached into her bag to pull out a stethoscope and blood pressure monitor.

 

The examination went seemingly without a hitch. It was evident the smoking wasn't doing the woman any favors, but her BP was normal and her breathing didn't crackle. It was a wonder really, a thin haze of smoke was present throughout the entire flat as if a window had never been opened. Certainly not a healthy environment for a child.

 

Patsy finished the exam and stood up. "Do you mind if I open a window, just to get some fresh air in here?"

 

Mrs Thomas shrugged, already lighting up her next cigarette.

 

Patsy pushed open a window and immediately cool, fresh air came tumbling into the room. She breathed in deeply, allowing her tense lungs to relax.

 

"They helps me relax, nurse." Mrs Thomas was babbling.

 

"I know." Patsy sighed. "I'm quite partial to one myself... but recent studies have shown smoking can be bad for your health, and especially for younger children," she said pointedly.

 

"That's what Gareth says, won't touch them - but then they have enough of them chemicals down the paint factories where he works."

 

Patsy frowned as another muffled sneeze came from outside the room.

 

"Mrs Thomas, may I take a quick look at your daughter, just to make sure she's alright."

 

"Be my guest, nurse." Mrs Thomas shrugged, "and it's Teresa, ain't nobody bothered with this whole Mrs business." she smiled and the heckles instantly raised on Patsy's neck. Her teeth were yellow from the countless cigarettes.

 

It turned our Matilda or 'Tilly' as her mother kept referring to her, was tucked up in Andrew's old bed with a raging fever. Patsy placed the back of her hand gently against the tiny forehead, immediately feeling the heat radiate through her skin.

 

"Tilly, could I have a listen to your chest please?" Patsy asked kindly.

 

Tilly looked curious and allowed Patsy to lift her pajama shirt up and over her head. A very pale, skinny torso greeted Patsy, as thin and as slight as her mothers. It was clear who she took after in appearance at any rate.

 

"Now this might be a little cold," Patsy held up the head of the stethoscope so Tilly could examine it, "But I'll blow on it and try warm it up."

 

Tilly was very patient as Patsy completed all her checks.

 

"Thank you Tilly, you can put your pyjamas back on now."

 

Mrs Thomas was hovering awkwardly in the doorway.

 

Patsy packed away her instruments and smiled at Tilly. "I'm just going to have a word with your mum, thank you for letting me into your bedroom."

 

In the safety of the hallway and out of earshot of the little girl, Patsy revealed her findings.

 

"I think it's best if Doctor comes to examine Tilly. Her lungs didn't sound too good and she may have contracted a similar type of flu."

 

Teresa nodded slowly.

 

"I'll notify Doctor Turner and he should be able to make a home visit. I don't think it's advisable for Tilly to go down all those stairs in her current condition."

 

A plan agreed, Patsy bid Mrs Thomas farewell and made her way back down the flights of stairs to the ground. It was much easier to breathe down here, she thought as she exited the building. Was the air thinner up there? Surely not, it must've been the horrible smokey atmosphere of the flat. No wonder Delia hated Patsy smoking around her.

 

She set off at a brisk pace back towards Nonnatus. It was quarter to twelve and their flat viewing was booked for half past one. They needed to grab a quick lunch and then get the bus to Chelsea.

 

Delia was waiting for her back at the convent, bouncing on the balls of her feet excitedly.

 

"I made us some sandwiches, we can eat them on the way." She flashed the lid open of a tupperware box.

 

Patsy grinned thankfully. She was paranoid they'd be running late but thankfully her appointments had ran to schedule that morning.

 

Within no time at all they were on the number 12 bus, heading for the borough of Chelsea. They took the front seats on the top deck and tucked into their little picnic lunch that Delia had prepared.

 

Halfway through her tuna sandwich, Patsy gasped.

 

"Oh gosh, the lawyer did come round with the keys didn't he!?" she shielded her mouth politely to stop any remnants of lunch escaping during the outburst.

 

Delia smiled reassuringly and patted her pocket. "Don't worry, Pats, I've got it safe."

 

"Oh thank goodness." Patsy breathed a sigh of relief.

 

She felt really on edge today for some reason - weirdly she'd been fine earlier but the visit to Mrs Thomas's flat had really set her nerves off. She brushed aside the notion of discussing things with Delia, this afternoon was about them, not about patients. And so she tried her best to bury the feelings of anxiety. She was well practiced in this art and before long all thoughts of worry began to ebb away.

 

"Oooh!" Delia grabbed Patsy's arm after a while, "I think this is the stop!"

 

Patsy smiled at the smaller woman's premature enthusiasm. "It's the next one, don't worry. I checked it on the map yesterday."

 

"Oh." Delia looked a little sheepish and sat down again.

 

"We might as well make our way downstairs though." Patsy offered kindly.

 

The Welshwoman jumped up and made her way awkwardly down the tight staircase of the bus, trying to hold onto the banister with her good arm, Patsy followed in her wake, wondering if she should've gone first.

 

And then with a squeal of breaks, the bus came to a halt, allowing its cargo to disembark. They thanked the driver and stepped out to what could only be described as a whole new world.

 

Delia's mouth hung agape. They'd been to parts of Chelsea before but never anywhere quite this high end. Bright white brickwork gave the whole street a sort of ethereal glowing quality and the wrought iron fences here were still intact from the war. Patsy stiffened a little - she instantly felt a strange familiarity with the scene. And it was by no means pleasant. Memories of sitting upright at dinner parties, talking politely with father's guests and laughing along with nonsensical jokes that adults made. She shivered. This place may have been spotless, beautiful, perfect... but it felt too clinical. Even for someone as obsessed with cleanliness as she.

 

"Pats?" Delia nudged her out of her daze.

 

Patsy blinked and instantly schooled her features into a reassuring smile.

 

"So, number 27 B detective Busby... do your worst." she winked.

 

"Isn't it 'do your best' Akela?" Delia giggled.

 

Patsy narrowed her eyes at Delia's astute jibe.

 

They walked together, arms brushing, whilst they scanned the door numbers along the street. The houses seemed to be getting larger and grander the further up the road they went. Patsy couldn't deny the Victorian townhouse architecture was absolutely stunning, but it was such a far cry from what she'd been used to it all felt rather jarring.

 

"Here it is!" Delia suddenly exclaimed, pulling Patsy's arm excitedly.

 

The pair silently took in the sight in front of them. A large building several stories high with ornate railings and a boot scraper outside the door. The front door was painted in a soulless gloss black like every other building on the street. The gold numbers 27 reflected the midday sunlight, overly polished and gleaming.

 

Delia handed Patsy the keys silently. Patsy looked down at them and took a deep breath before marching up the steps towards the uninviting front door. Perhaps it would be different inside. Afterall, who was she to judge something solely on its outside appearance.

 

The inside was not much to behold. It was evident the house had been rather empty for several years. Unsurprisingly so, as Charles Mount hadn't visited England in years and therefore had no need to utilise his property here. It had been more of a guest house for when he'd needed to meet with London associates, perhaps invite them round of cigars and brandy. The smoking room looked the most used out of every room in the flat. There were hardly any personal effects to be found. Most of the furniture was bare, covered in white sheeting to prevent dust from ruining it. It was dark and gloomy and smelt of dust, mothballs and loneliness.

 

Delia stood wordlessly in the middle of the sitting room, watching Patsy move around taking everything in. Patsy didn't really know what she was looking for in all honesty. Perhaps a sign that her father had once lived here? A small indication that this was his house. But there was nothing. Nothing until Delia pointed at a shiny object across the room.

 

"Pats, what's that?"

 

Patsy approached cautiously to find a gold plated cigarette lighter perched beside a generic ashtray. She picked it up, blowing some of the dust off it and turned it over in the dim light. On the reverse was a small inscription she had to squint to read:

 

Charles, with love, Elizabeth

 

"Pats?" Delia whispered from behind her.

 

She turned to face the brunette, trying to keep her bottom lip from tremoring.

 

"It's his lighter," she said deadpan.

 

She knew exactly when he'd been given it too. The week before her father's thirtieth birthday, her mother had taken them into Singapore to an engraver's to get the priceless item customised. It had been her great grandfather's, she had said proudly. The look on his face when he'd received the gift was one of pure joy. Even as a little girl, Patsy wondered why he never looked at her with such reverence.

 

She played with the lighter in her hand, pondering its fate. Almost subconsciously she found herself trying to light it. The lighter fluid had dried up long ago, much like her father's ties with England. She decided to pocket it, perhaps she'd manage to find something else to use as a keepsake in this place.

 

But after an hour of searching around, nothing else caught her eye. Eventually, they left, Patsy locking the door behind her and pocketing the keys. The jangled loudly against the lighter in her pocket.

 

"Well." She sighed and looked at Delia, "That's done."

 

Delia nodded solemnly. "Well done. That can't have been easy for you."

 

Patsy bit back a dry laugh. "I've never been here, I never even knew he had a property here. And clearly, he barely used it. I just can't help but wonder if he was here while I was here... and our paths never crossed because he was too afraid to say."

 

She felt a pair of strong arms wrap around her waist. Delia was hugging her really tightly. She allowed her body to relax and returned the embrace.

 

Delia drew back and held her gaze steadily. "What are you going to do?"

 

Patsy sighed heavily. "I'm going to sell it. We belong in Poplar, not here."

 

The Welshwoman nodded.

 

On the bus journey back Patsy pondered some possibilities. The flat in Chelsea would be worth many flats in Poplar, that was for sure, and she didn't need more money - she also had zero interest in property management so she was almost certain she wanted to sell the place. Patsy kneaded her closed eyes with her palms. She'd have to see her father's lawyer tomorrow and figure all this out.



Lying awake that night as Delia silently snored in the bed next to her, Patsy tried to silence her mind. She'd been awake for hours and nothing she'd tried had worked - perhaps a saunter downstairs would help clear her head.

 

Val was on telephone duty and greeted her with a warm smile as she padded down the stairs.

 

"Hello. Can't sleep?" she asked astutely.

 

Patsy smiled lopsidedly. "Something like that."

 

Val nodded, "My mind just won't shut up sometimes. Even when it knows fully well it's time for bed."

 

Patsy sighed. Normally she'd head for the kitchen and begin her usual routine of cleaning everything to within an inch of its life, but today she didn't really feel like it.

 

Val patted a spare seat beside her. C'mon, take a seat."

 

Patsy reluctantly sat, folding her legs politely even though they were covered in checkered flannel. Val excused herself and dashed off, returning a few minutes later with two cups of tea and a notepad and pen.

 

She handed one cup to Patsy and sat the notepad in front of her.

 

Patsy raised her eyebrows in question.

 

"I also find, writing down what's worrying me helps. It gets it all out there, all out your system. Then in the morning you can read your list and figure out a plan for everything."

 

Patsy sucked on her bottom lip thoughtfully. She'd never even considered writing it down before. Perhaps if she wrote it down she feared the problem would exist in reality. A tangible problem rather than a metaphorical one. But on that same line of thought, a tangible problem could be fixed much easier. She drummed her fingers on the desk nervously.

 

"I tell you what, you take that pad and pen and your tea, go sit in the living room and see what happens. You don't need me breathing down your neck - it's much more of a solo activity."

 

"Thank you." Patsy forced a smile and headed for a sofa.

 

Once alone, she finally felt she could breathe a little easier. But the blank paper was scaring her. It sat there, almost demanding to be filled. And so she touched the pen to it, just barely. An ink drop formed and she cursed, trying to blot it away with a tissue. But the first page had been ruined, the perfection broken and with it, her anxieties. She stared down at it, the blot had made it less scary. Whatever she wrote didn't need to be perfect did it?

 

She wrote a quick title and underlined it. 'List' - nice and generic, Patience. Should someone ever come across this, and she hoped they wouldn't - she could at least pass it off as some to-do list. So what did she need to do? Well, there were several things really. Some more short-term some more long term. She decided to start with the short term.

 

  1. Arrange a meeting with the lawyer.

 

She could discuss how the house was going to be sold, what she needed to do from her end to make sure the sale happened. Even if she didn't get the full value, she didn't really mind.



Patsy was about to write a note about collecting a prescription for a patient but stopped before pen hit paper. No. This wasn't a work list. This was a list for her. For what was worrying her. What did she need to do... for herself. Of course, she knew the answer. She needed to face Doctor Turner again. Her first attempt at finding 'help' hadn't exactly gone down well. She'd put it off until after they'd returned from Wales, but that was weeks ago now. If she was going to help Delia she needed to help herself.

 

  1. See Doctor Turner.

 

It took a lot for her to write those three words but it felt so much better to do so. Perhaps number three should be something positive, something for her to do that would make her happy. She racked her brains. Then something Delia said earlier on the bus came to mind - Akela. The cubs. She'd stepped down from the cubs after the trip to Hong Kong had been finalised. Phyllis had, of course, stepped up, but in all honesty, Patsy did miss it. Maybe she could have a word with Phyllis, ask if she could be involved again.

 

  1. Ask Phyllis about cubs.

 

Now. Something for her and Delia. A date perhaps? Searching for their own flat was perhaps a little too forward thinking, but she wanted to do something for the Welshwoman. The problem was she didn't want to invite her to a date that could possibly jeopardise the healing of her injuries. It would not do and Patsy didn't fancy incurring the wrath of Mrs Busby if she were responsible for any further harm to befell her daughter, the poor family seemed stressed enough as it was.

 

Patsy frowned. The seed of an idea forming in her mind. Perhaps there was something she could do. Something to help ease the Busby's worries. A small smile tugged at the side of her mouth as she wrote number four. The genius of the idea growing bigger and bigger. Of course, why hadn't she thought of it before? It solved so many problems in one fell swoop. It was brilliant.

 

An hour or so later, Patsy almost skipped past Val on her way back to bed.

 

"Val, do you mind if I keep this?" she asked holding up the closed notebook.

 

Val frowned, "of course, did it help?"

 

Patsy nodded. "Yes, thank you."

 

"Well, I'm glad. Hope you sleep better now." She beamed.

 

"Goodnight!" Patsy called happily as she took the stairs to her and Delia's room.

 

Val shrugged and went back to writing up her notes. Patsy really was rather peculiar, she thought. Still, it was easy to see what Delia saw in her. They were so lucky. Val sighed. Enough. Don't go thinking about that now. It won't get you anywhere Dyer.

 

Then the telephone sprang into life, saving her from her own thoughts.



 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Delia Busby did not believe in god, the devil or any other celestial beings, but she was convinced  the coincidence of her current situation had to be the result of some higher power. A higher power that completely had it in for her.

 

It was the day she was due to return to light working duties. According to her latest x-ray, her shoulder had fully healed. She'd regained full motion of the joint and the iron tablets had sorted out her tiredness. She felt almost unstoppable.

 

Almost.

 

Until something well and truly stopped her. The first bathroom trip of the day yielded the start of her next cycle. Earlier than expected, again. A string of curse words left her mouth, most in Welsh, as she trudged downstairs for breakfast, bumping into Patsy in the hall.

 

"Oh, good morning Deels!" Patsy greated her happily, a skip in her step.

 

"Is it?" Delia grumbled, watching Patsy's face fall with a sigh. "I'm sorry. It's just I've been looking forward to getting back into things and I was meant to be doing a few district patients today but..." she gestured at her tummy, "guess who's early."

 

"Oh, Delia." Patsy's eyebrows furrowed in worry, "Maybe you should take today off?"

 

"No." Delia contradicted immediately. "I've been sitting on my bum for weeks not helping and anyway, I think I might try some work this morning and see how I am by lunchtime."

 

Patsy bit her lip and Delia could tell the redhead was fighting the urge to disagree. But she was sick of this. Sick of being inside, cooped up with nothing to do. A morning on district would be better than nothing. It would also distract her from thinking about the inevitable agony that lay ahead the next day or two.

 

She had a quick word with Phyllis before they all gathered in the clinical room at the start of the shift that morning. The older woman had been filled in on Delia's situation and was more than happy to accommodate her circumstances.

 

"Nevermind lass, you do as much as you feel you can. I'll make sure to send you out with someone anyway. Just to begin with of course."

 

Delia smiled warmly in thanks. It seemed Phyllis was on her side today at least.

 

A jovial hubbub of chatter echoed through the clinical room as nurses and nuns gathered all their equipment for the day. Delia loaded up her gladstone bag, the routine kicking in as if she'd never left. It felt so good to be back. From the head of the table, Phyllis cleared her throat and a silence fell. She nodded in thanks and proceeded to examine her rolodex.

 

"Right, Nurse Anderson, Mrs Wickham for you this morning, followed by Mr Peters."

 

Lucille nodded "Yes Nurse Crane."

 

"And do send my best to Mr Peters, I heard his wife passed away a few weeks ago and she was one of my mothers a while back."

 

Patsy had shifted beside Delia and was brushing her hand against the smaller woman's under the table. Delia's mouth twitched as a frisson of electricity shot up her arm.

 

"Nurse Busby," Phyllis called, making Delia start, "Effy Warren needs some checks, she's overdue by a few weeks now, if you and Nurse Mount can visit her first and then see to Jannet Ferguson's youngest. He's a few weeks old now and has been doing pretty well, but doctor's a little worried about his recent cold."

 

Delia caught Patsy's eye, hardly daring to believe her luck. They beamed at each other and Delia swore she saw Phyllis wink at her.

 

Finally, they were working alongside each other again for the first time in years. Delia didn't count the disaster of clinic, this was very much just them. Although Patsy was a first class distraction (as she'd learned very early on) she was determined this time to behave as professionally as possible. To see Patsy in her element was something she'd been looking forward to ever since she'd taken the job. Even the dull ache in Delia's lower back was not going to dampen her high spirits as she and Patsy set out the front door.

 

They reached the bike shed and Delia halted. Suddenly she didn't know what to do. Her mind froze, not having considered this part of the midwife's usual routine.

 

Patsy stood by her side as they stared at the bike rack.

 

"Do you want to walk?" she asked softly.

 

Delia set her jaw. "No."

 

She pulled out a bike from the rack, testing the tyres and affixed her bag to the pannier at the back.

 

Patsy gingerly followed suit, keeping a watchful eye on Delia as she spent perhaps a little too long checking to see if the bell was functioning.

 

"Deels, we don't have to..."

 

"I do. I need to. If I don't get back on the metaphorical horse now, so to speak, I never will." Delia flashed her best bravado dimples towards the redhead. "I'll be fine, I just need a few test laps round the square to warm up."

 

She started off a little rocky, wobbling as she found her balance. But the old saying held true and before long she was circling the square quite easily. It felt good to be back on a bike. The wind whipping through her hair, threatening to dislodge her perfectly pinned bun. All the while Patsy watched her, her face moving from worry to relief as she saw the brunette settle back into the saddle.

 

It was not nearly as hard as she thought it was going to be, Delia pondered as she sped round the square quite happily. She had little to no recollection of the moment before the accident, her last memory of that day was cycling away from Patsy and feeling in quite high spirits. It seemed like her worries about being able to remember how to cycle were unfounded in fact. This alone gave her confidence a huge boost.

 

Delia pulled the brakes and stopped perfectly next to the redhead.

 

"Right. Ready to go when you are." she beamed, giddy from excitement at managing to overcome this particular barrier.

 

Patsy responded with her trademark lopsided smile and mounted her own bike.

 

Delia followed Patsy's lead through the streets of Poplar, making sure she paid extra attention at all crossings and junctions. The niggling pain in her back was growing with every cobble they cycled over and she was starting to second guess herself. Perhaps this hadn't been the best idea after all. She could stop at lunchtime though. And it seemed a shame to halt things now when she was doing so well with the bike. Besides, she really wanted to see Patsy in her element. She'd waited long enough for this moment to back out now.

 

They drew up outside Ms Warren's house and parked their bicycles neatly at the side of the road. Before they went any further, Patsy grabbed Delia's arm gently and steared her to the side.

 

"Deels... we can't... you know, be obvious." She muttered quietly.

 

Delia blinked.

 

"Of course. Strictly professional. Got it." She smiled back, reassuringly.

 

Delia watched the redhead approach the door with a small frown. What on earth was that all about? Patsy's guard had been lax for a while now so why was it up in force right now? Maybe it was because this was their first time working alongside each other like this. And if the taller woman was anything like Delia, she thought ruefully, then distractions were probably at the forefront of her mind too.

 

Effy Warren was heavily pregnant and more than ready to pop as many would call it. And pop indeed she did. All over the hall carpet. As soon as she answered the door.

 

"Hello Mrs Warren." Pasty blinked in surprise. "Midwife calling. And not a moment too soon by the looks of things!"

 

Delia soon gathered this was not a normal occurrence for a mother's waters to break at the mere sight of a midwife, but Patsy took the situation in her stride. She called out to the husband who had appeared behind his wife.

 

"Mr Warren could you please get us some towels and hot water, and make sure the children are looked after."

 

The poor fellow reeled up his open mouth after it had hit the ground and sprung into action.

 

"Get Janet to take care of em'. She knows the drill by now." Mrs Warren wheezed as a contraction hit her. "Oh lawd."

 

They helped her into the bedroom, Delia holding her hand and Patsy supporting her weight, not wanting to put too much physical exertion on the brunette.

 

Patsy was setting out her instruments on the dresser and beckoned to Delia.

 

"Things are probably going to move quite quickly, this is her fifth."

 

"Fifth!?" Delia squwaked.

 

"She's an old hat at this aren't you Effy?" Patsy called over her shoulder.

 

Mrs Warren nodded. "You got a new one in toe Nurse Mount?"

 

Patsy smiled, "Nurse Busby is more than capable, she's delivered babies before, never worry."

 

"Poor lamb looks like a rabbit in the headlights."

 

Delia tried to wipe the nervousness from her face and replace it with a smile, but it came across as more of a grimace. In truth she was mildly terrified. This was an unexpected way to start her first day back.

 

Patsy finished laying out her kit and turned to Delia who was turning paler by the second.

 

"Are you alright?" she whispered under her breath, the stone façade of Nurse Mount dropping for a split second to reveal the concerned partner beneath.

 

Delia nodded. "Yes. I'm fine," she smiled, "Just excited nerves I think."

 

"Well," Patsy smiled lopsidedly, "I think it's about time we give you the reigns so to speak. Especially after Val's sterling review. Don't worry, I'll be right here, and Effy's done this so many times before without a hitch - it should be smooth sailing for everyone."

 

Eyes wide as saucers Delia nodded numbly. Patsy was giving her the lead? Better hop to it Busby.

 

Delia carefully helped Effy onto the bed after laying down the appropriate waterproof sheets.

 

She and Patsy got into their gowns, hats and gloves and Delia approached the bed just as another contraction ended.

 

"Well done Effy, you're doing really well. I just need to check how dilated you are."

 

Delia stole a quick glance at Patsy who nodded encouragingly.

 

Delia brought her hand up to her patient and felt carefully for the opening of the cervix. She withdrew her hand, discarded the dirty gloves and turned to Patsy.

 

"I think she's fully dilated, but I might be wrong. It's all happening very quickly."

 

Patsy frowned. "We might need to try and slow things down a little. Ideally we should give her an enema and shave but I don't know if we'll have time."

 

The smaller woman nodded, her heart beating faster.

 

"Effy?" Delia called. "Baby's coming a little too fast. I know you probably need to push like a trooper right now but we need to wait a little while. Can you just give me some good long breaths and pants."

 

She was about to demonstrate but the veteran mother was already following the instructions perfectly.

 

Delia pulled on a fresh pair of gloves and looked down at her hands. They were shaking slightly. She grasped them together and took a deep, steadying breath. Come on Busby, you can do this.

 

Effy Warren moaned loudly as another contraction hit.

 

"Ow much longer nurse? I don't think I can hold it -"

 

"Alright Effy, you're doing splendidly." Patsy nudged Delia into position, kneeling in front of Mrs Warren's spread legs.

 

Delia knelt on the bedroom carpet and tried to focus. With Effy's next pain she clearly saw the baby's head starting to crown. Her heart beat even faster now. Oh my god. She was about to deliver a baby.

 

"Baby's crowning Effy!" she called out, "No pushes just yet, just keep panting."

 

Patsy was by her side as Delia stole a glance at the redhead. She nodded encouragingly. "You've got this Deels, you know what to do."

 

Taking a big deep breath and exhaling shakily, Delia put her hands out and gently helped guide the head safely through the birth canal. It was much easier on models than it was in real life. Everything was so much more messy, her vision almost completely obscured. There was fluid everywhere for a start, blood and mucus and it was almost impossible to see what was going on. She felt Effy's muscles contract hard. It was now or never.

 

"Push, Effy!" Delia called.

 

Effy screamed and in a rush the head was born. Delia supported the baby carefully as she turned the shoulder.

 

"Pant. That's it." She encouraged, panting herself.

 

"Well done Effy, one more and baby will be born." Patsy grinned.

 

"Swear to god nurse, this'll be the last bleedin' one, let me tell you... I'm never doing this agaaaaa-" Effy grit her teeth and roared.

 

Fortunately Delia was ready and managed to catch the baby as the rest of its body was brought into the world in one quick, slippery mess.

 

"Towel please, Pats- Nurse Mount."

 

Patsy was there in an instant, handing Delia a soft blue towel. She rubbed the baby down gently and heard a cry echo around the tiny bedroom. Airway checked and clear, she clamped the cord and cut with the pair of sharp pointed scissors.

 

"What is it nurse?" Effy panted from above her.

 

Delia wrapped the tiny bundle in the towel and presented it to the mother.

 

"Congratulations, you have a daughter!"





They left the Warren's house later that afternoon. Delia hadn't realised how much time had passed until her stomach rumbled grumpily, demanding sustenance. The elation of what had happened completely masked any pain she'd felt from that morning.

 

Was it possible to skip whilst pedaling on a bicycle, she wondered as her and Patsy cycled back to Nonnatus. Patsy had phoned Nonnatus as Delia was delivering the afterbirth to say they wouldn't make it to their second patient of the morning, because of the rather unexpected arrival. Phyllis had reassigned the rest of the caseload and now there was nothing left to do for the rest of the day.

 

Unable to stop babbling, Delia rambled with excitement all through their afternoon tea. Patsy just simply stared at her lovingly. Occasionally remarking on the odd point, but mostly it seemed, content in being present in the moment. Eventually she stopped talking enough for Patsy to check that they were alone, before enveloping her in a big warm hug.

 

"I am so proud of you." she whispered into Delia's ear. "So proud."

 

Delia smiled into Patsy's uniform and squeezed a little tighter into the hug. "Today was the best. I'm so glad you were there."

 

I'm glad I was there too, you were amazing."

 

Delia blushed and beamed once again. Her cheeks were beginning to ache from all this smiling.




By the evening however, Delia was singing a rather different tune. The adrenaline and high had worn off around dinner time. After recounting the tale to the dinner table to applause, she suddenly got hit with a wave of tiredness and pain. Excusing herself politely, she trooped up the stairs to the bedroom.

 

Lying down on her bed with a groan she stared up at the ceiling and took some deep breaths. The morning's excitement had done a wonderful job to mask the upcoming dread she'd been feeling earlier, but it was back now and with a vengeance. Knowing the next couple of days were going to be agony wasn't exactly the most thrilling prospect.

 

Deciding to do what she could to prepare, she sat up and popped a couple of painkillers from the drawer in her nightstand. With any luck they'd kick in before the worst of the pain got a hold. She'd just replaced the packet when footsteps approached the door and someone knocked gently on the wood.

 

"Deels?"

 

Delia smiled. Patsy still knocked.

 

"Come in, Pats." she rearranged her features into  what she hoped was up to her normal joviality of the day.

 

Patsy peeked round the door, her face splitting into a wide grin and bounced happily into the room, something concealed behind her back.

 

Delia raised her eyebrows.

 

"I though perhaps... we could celebrate?" Patsy pulled out a bottle of whiskey and two small glasses.

 

They hadn't had a late night tot of whiskey since their nursing school days and Delia was hit with a wave of nostalgia. Sadly she'd already sealed her fate for that evening.

 

"I'm sorry, Pats, I just took my painkillers. I don't think I should have alcohol with them. But you can go ahead. Have one for the both of us?" She smiled.

 

Patsy frowned, a little concerned. "Are you in pain?"

 

"Not yet." Delia shook her head. "But I will be soon. Thought it would be better to take them now."

 

"Oh Deels, I'm sorry."

 

"It's okay." Delia plastered a large smile on her face that she didn't feel quite fit. "Go on, have a dram, wet the new baby's head."

 

"You were magnificent today." Patsy chimed as she poured herself some whiskey.

 

Delia blushed yet again. All of this praise and she'd hardly done anything really. It was the mother who was the star of today.

 

"And I know you're going to say you hardly did anything," Patsy began warningly, "but that's not true. You did a lot and you remembered everything perfectly. Reminded me how rusty I am actually - I'll be asking you for pointers in no time!"

 

Why was it Patsy always knew what she was thinking, Delia mused, taking the redhead's hand in her own and stroking her thumb gently across her knuckles.

 

Patsy looked down and smiled happily before taking a deep breath. "I have some good news." She looked up at Delia. "I was going to wait a while before I told you but, today has just gone so well...I..."

 

Delia looked up, mildly puzzled. Patsy was jiggling up and down with excitement. Like a ginger cat who had got the proverbial cream.

 

"What is it?" A pain shot through Delia's back and she tried to ignore it.

 

"Well." Patsy took another deep breath. "I sold the flat. In Chelsea."

 

Delia tried not to look to underwhelmed. This is what Patsy was so excited about? It was good news of course, she'd been stressing about it for ages. But surely that alone didn't warrant such an exciting build up...

 

"And..." Patsy was almost floating off the bed now. "I bought a cottage."

 

"A what?" Delia blinked.

 

"I bought a cottage." Patsy beamed. "In Tenby."

 

Delia's mouth practically hit the floor. But Patsy wasn't done.

 

"It's really close to the one we rented out for the week. Similar on the inside too if the photographs the estate agent showed me are anything to go by. Anyway, it's fully furnished, central heating and with double glazing for the cold months. It even has a lovely little garden out the back and a seperate garage where your dad can tinker with his car."

 

"Wait." Delia was trying to process everything that Patsy had just said. "Da?"

 

Patsy nodded enthusiastically. "That's the best part. Obviously we're not going to be able to live there right now, I was more seeing it as possibly a place to retire to, but I thought in the meantime, your parents could live there. There'd be no need to pay rent or anything, I've bought the place outright. And it might help your dad's problems with the shop, or at least give him some breathing space so he can..." she petered off.

 

Delia was looking at her as if she'd been clubbed in the face with a cricket bat.

 

It was too much. What Patsy had just said was threatening to overwhelm her. She didn't know what to say, how to react. Her body's instinct was to send her tear ducts into sudden overdrive. Before she knew what was happening, tears were flowing down her face. Her fight or flight reflexes had kicked in and she needed to get out of there, she needed space to breathe, to think.

 

"Deels..." Patsy looked a little concerned at her partner's reaction.

 

"I can't..." Delia pushed away her offered hand.

 

"Deels, what's wrong?" Patsy was looking more and more worried by the second.

 

Something snapped and before she knew what she was doing, Delia was shouting. "You didn't think to ask me about this first!?"

 

Patsy opened and closed her mouth for a few moments. "I... I thought you'd be pleased. I mean, it solves a lot of problems."

 

"I thought the whole point of this was we made decisions together." Delia winced as another pain shot up her back.

 

Patsy quickly moved to help, but Delia backed away sharply, holding out her hand.

 

"No. Don't. Just..."

 

She needed to escape. Anger and upset were thrumming loudly in her ears. What gave Patsy the right to barge in and decide what was best for her family? And how did she even know about her Da's finances? Had she eavesdropped their conversation in the car? It felt like a kick in the teeth, a betrayal of trust. How could she? How could she have made such an important decision and not involved Delia. She'd probably not even talked to her mam or da about it either.

 

Unable to communicate anything she was thinking, Delia decided to leave. The tears were threatening to turn into full blown sobs and she really didn't want to spend another moment listening to Patsy's excuses. Delia stumbled a little but she made it to the bedroom door, out into the corridor and finally into the bathroom where she locked the door behind her.

 

She sank to the floor and broke down into tears.

 

Stupid hormones, a rational part of her brain spoke up, this was so unfair.

 

Patsy didn't come knocking and Delia was glad. She spent a while in the bathroom before a tentative knock came accompanied by Lucille's cautious call.

 

"Delia? Could I possibly use the bathroom after you've finished? I hope everything's okay."

 

Delia wiped her nose with her sleeve and eased herself off the floor, taking a glance in the mirror. Her eyes were still red and puffy from crying but she'd have to do. There was little to no point in hogging the bathroom, she couldn't stay in there forever, however much she wanted to. But as she turned to open the door, she was hit by a wave of pain and nausea that sent her flying for the toilet bowl.










Chapter Text

Patsy watched Delia leave in a whirlwind of distress but somehow her body was unwilling to react. She simply stood rooted to the floor in complete shock.

 

In all honesty, she didn't know what to do. What had made complete logical sense to her had somehow been the last straw for her small partner. How though? Her first thought was she should probably apologise to the Welshwoman - but that was quickly doused by the more stubborn part of her brain telling her that she shouldn't have to. She'd done nothing wrong. If anything Delia surely should be the one apologising to her for the outburst. Of course, Delia was full of raging hormones right about now which obviously didn't help, but it didn't excuse all of her behavior. Patsy felt confused and more than a little hurt.

 

After all, it had taken a lot of effort on her part to secure the new property in Wales. To find the ideal place on sale, then ward off any awkward questioning from her father's lawyers and convince them of the purchase. She even went as far as to say it was intended to be a holiday home for herself. They had eyed her suspiciously, probably wondering if she had a fellow on the side or something. After all was sealed she'd made a hasty exit from the lawyer's firm. The looks she had received and questions - it had been quite the ordeal. The only thing keeping her upbeat was knowing how pleased Delia would be when she found out all their problems had been solved.

 

So much for that.

 

Patsy paced around their small bedroom. Trying to think.

 

Delia had mentioned making decisions together - But the smaller woman would never have agreed to this if Patsy would have asked her. Delia was far too selfless and proud to admit she needed help. To stage an intervention was the best way to help and perhaps the only way. It solved so many problems with her family too. After she'd told Delia she was planning on phoning the Busby's, well, Huw Busby in particular - he seemed the more reasonable of the two, and breaking the good news to them.

 

Clearly, that plan was fast going down the drain.

 

Frustrated and upset she kicked the bedpost. This did nothing to help the situation and just left her with a throbbing left toe.

 

She let out a frustrated groan and flopped on her bed, her hands over her face. Perhaps Delia would come around. Once she was feeling better she might be able to see the advantages of this.

 

Just then there was a knock on the door.

 

Patsy sat up, straightened her hair and posture.

 

"Come in."

 

Val peeked her head round the door.

 

"Delia just asked me to tell you she's staying in my room tonight." The brunette clipped her words.

 

Patsy stared a little at that. "Oh. Okay."

 

Val nodded curtly. "I know it isn't my place but... I think you could've handled that better. She's really upset."

 

Pasty's eyebrows disappeared. "I'm sorry, what?"

 

Val shuffled a little awkwardly but stood her ground. "You should've asked her, before doing that."

 

"So she's told you everything?" Patsy spat.

 

"I'm not here to fight." Val sighed.

 

"No, it's fine, I hope you and Delia have a wonderful evening." Patsy turned her back on the brunette.

 

She heard the door close and let her shoulders drop. She was being petulant. But if Delia wanted to spend time with Val then so be it, clearly her company wasn't desire this evening - despite the lengths she'd gone to - not only formulating and completing her plan but also listening to and caring for her girlfriend the past few months.

 

And now Delia didn't even want to sleep in the same room as her?

 

Patsy lay down on her bed, frowning. She just couldn't fathom why. If it was her fault, what had she done wrong? Perhaps Delia was just being unreasonable because of her hormones. Nothing seemed to make sense.

 

She worried at her fingernails until they were so short they hurt. Then she paced her room. Then she tidied. Cleaned. Did everything she usually did to clear the fog from her brain.

 

It was gone 2am and she still was none the wiser.

 

Perhaps cleaning the kitchen would help... A lot of moments of clarity had come from scrubbing those floors. So she tiptoed downstairs, past Barbara on telephone duty.

 

But cleaning the kitchen within an inch of its life did nothing but get bleach under her already sore fingernails, making them smart and burn. Her hands were red raw and ached from using the scrubbing brush. The pain helped clear her head a bit though. And the smell of bleach permeated through her nostrils, blowing away the dust and fog in her mind.

 

She took a deep breath and pinched the bridge of her nose.

 

This was useless. She needed someone else's perspective. She needed a friend. If only Trixie was here...

 

The sound of the telephone cut through her thoughts.

 

"Nonnatus House, Midwife speaking," Barbara said clearly.

 

Of course... the telephone. Trixie had left a number when she'd left, perhaps Patsy could reach her on that. She looked at the clock. It was now closing in on 5am. Perhaps later. She had a shift starting in three hours.

 

Running on a grand total of ten minutes sleep, Patsy made her way down to breakfast, two hours later. She'd managed to hide the majority of the dark circles under her eyes with panstick. A quick glance at the table told her Delia was absent. She was about to ask after her but Val's stony gaze stopped her in her tracks.

 

Fortunately SIster Julienne broached the subject.

 

"Where's Nurse Busby?"

 

"She's not feeling well," Val said, "she took a bit of a turn last night and decided to stay in bed today." Val shot silent daggers at Patsy briefly before resuming her toast.

 

Patsy shrunk at the cockney midwife's gaze.

 

"Oh dear, I'll see if Doctor Turner can check in on her later."

 

"I think that would be a good idea, thank you sister." Val smiled.

 

Patsy  went through the whole day of district with her head not in the game. She was spaced out, trying to think of how she could make this right again. It was only after she'd cleaned and re-dressed the same bedsore three times in a row did she realise perhaps her job was not being given her full attention.

 

Cursing herself, she left Mr Menzies house and headed back to Nonnatus House. She was unfit to nurse in this state - things could go wrong, she could hurt someone. She needed rest and time to clear her mind.

 

Without a word to anyone, just a handwritten note saying she wasn't feeling well and could she be taken off the afternoon rota, Patsy went upstairs to bed. But sleep didn't come. She lay, tossing and turning before finally giving up and reaching for her father's lighter.

 

Patsy's hands shook as she lit a cigarette, taking a deep inhale and feeling the nicotine hit her system. It was like someone wiping a steamed up window with a cloth. Everything seemed to clear for a moment. Then she exhaled and the window fogged up again. Her eyes flickered to the table and where a bottle of whiskey sat. It was tempting to say the least. Tempting to pour a glass and then another... and another. To get lost in the abyss and not have to worry. She couldn't though - especially after seeing what alcohol had done to her best friend. She only realised she'd smoked an entire packet of lucky strikes when there were none left. The room was hazy with smoke and made her eyes water.

 

Giving up on sleep, Patsy made her way downstairs. Surprisingly the telephone was unmanned. With a quick glance around to make sure she was alone, Patsy flicked through the log book, trying to find the number that Trixie left. Eventually she saw it - scribbled in a top corner the date the blonde had left.

 

She dialed the number and waited with baited breath as the line the other end started to ring.

 

Please pick up, Trix...

 

There was a click, then silence.

 

"Hello?" Patsy asked tentatively.

 

"Hello?" came a reply.

 

"Trix?" Tears were suddenly queuing up behind Patsy's eyes, desperate to be let out.

 

"Patsy is that you?"

 

"It's me. I'm sorry to call you - I know you're probably in the middle of something terribly important and I don't want to intrude but..."

 

"Patsy, sweetie, take some deep breaths and start from the beginning. It's okay, I'm here."

 

The tears could no longer hold back and suddenly Patsy was sobbing down the phone.

 

"I think I just ruined everything and I don't know how to put it right."




~




Patsy sat in the waiting room for Doctor Turner's surgery. She hated the feeling of deja-vu she was currently experiencing. Knowing her last visit here had been far from successful and also knowing this time she had to brave the truth made her heart hammer in her chest. She gripped the armrests of the chair, her palms sweating. But this was the right idea. This was the best thing to do. She needed help, she couldn't do this alone.

 

Her conversation with Trixie had really helped. The blonde had told her, in no uncertain terms, that she needed to get some help. Knowing she had Trixie on her side helped immensely. Delia had slept in Val's room again the previous night. Things couldn't carry on the way they were. Trixie had agreed Patsy's plan about the house had made sense. But she also made a few good points about communication. Some points that forced Patsy to eat a mouthful or two of humble pie. She should've discussed this with Delia first. They had promised to do everything together. And that meant talking things through too. No matter how hard they might be to talk about.

 

Patsy knew the pattern she slipped into when she was getting bad again. Insomnia was usually an early warning sign. Then the excessive cleaning, the feeling of being dirty, feeling like she needed to purge everything of dirt, washing away the bad feelings with it. Of all the coping mechanisms she could have though, she thought wryly, compulsive cleaning was probably one of the less severe. Either way, she knew what came next. The nightmares, the horrid vivid dreams of the camp. Of her sister and her mother dying. Of being beaten and tortured. If she were lucky these visions would only plague her at night. If she were unlucky they'd seep through into her day to day life.

 

No, she needed to stop this before it got any worse. And rowing with Delia was certainly not going to help. Especially when they were both unwell in their own ways.

 

And that's why she was here, waiting to see Patrick. It was time to drop the fictional charade she'd created and admit it was her that needed the support.

 

"Miss Mount?"

 

Doctor Turner smiled as he opened the door of his consultation room.

 

Patsy took the seat opposite his desk, her arms folding across her chest, a subconsciously protective move. She wasn't unsafe here, it was just... to put it bluntly, the next few minutes were going to be terrifying.

 

The Doctor took his seat and smiled at her warmly.

 

"How are you?"

 

Patsy stared at the floor. Her normal tried and true response of 'Fine thank you' died before it even entered her mouth. Instead she suddenly felt very small.

 

"Patsy?"

 

The use of her first name finally made her glance up. Patrick was looking at her intently, studying her with his piercing gaze.

 

Patsy's left leg was starting to jitter and shake. As it did when she was anxious. She normally did a good job of hiding it by standing and pacing but she couldn't do that here. Both her and Patrick's eyes traveled to the juddering limb.

 

"It's okay, take your time."

 

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Time to man up, Mount.

 

"The patient I was worried about... the one who I asked you about last time I was here."

 

"Ah yes, the one suffering from flashbacks and nightmares."

 

Patsy nodded.

 

"I lied," she held her breath.

 

Doctor Turner simply stared at her.

"There isn't a patient, or at least there is but... it's..."

 

"...yourself?" Patrick finished for her.

 

Patsy nodded numbly.

 

Patrick sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "We all have our secrets, it's nothing to be ashamed of."

 

"I'm not ashamed," Patsy added quickly. "I just... I was just..."

 

"Scared." Patrick nodded. "I understand. I was the same when I first reached out for help."

 

Patsy looked confused. What did Doctor Turner know about this?

 

"I... had some treatment for shell shock, following the war. It affect a lot more of us than people ever let on. There was a stigma attached. We were war heroes, not weak minded, mad fools that needed to be locked up in padded cells."

 

Patsy's eyes widened. She'd had no idea. "I'm sorry, I didn't know."

 

He brushed off her apology. "It's not something one usually notices on face value. You have to get to know someone properly, intimately, before you start to see the cracks. And even then they don't always understand." He stared out the window thoughtfully.

 

"Did it help?"

 

He turned back to face Patsy. "Yes. And no." He sighed. "There's no quick fix I'm afraid. If there were I'd prescribe it in a heartbeat. I know from hearsay a little of your past. That you were in a Japanese internment camp as a child."

 

Patsy nodded. "Yes, I was. From when I was nine till when I was twelve. I lost my mother and my sister there."

 

"And your father recently too?"

 

"Yes."

 

"I'm assuming, correct me if I'm wrong, that the trip abroad has made your symptoms worse."

 

"It has." Patsy admitted.

 

The doctor nodded. He looked thoughtful for a moment before flicking through his contact book.

 

"I have a colleague, and a friend, who might be able to help. He offers counseling to those affected by war."

 

"But I wasn't a soldier." Patsy frowned.

 

"No, but it doesn't the things you saw and experienced any less real or any less painful."

 

Patrick found a card and handed it to Patsy.

 

"He takes in everyone, not just soldiers. I'll give him a call and try and arrange for an appointment for you. Here's his name if you wish to do some research on him. I know it's hard to put your trust in someone, a stranger, who doesn't know you but... sometimes it can be helpful. To get an unbiased, non-judgemental opinion."

 

Patsy studied the card she'd been handed.

 

Dr. William Heathcliff, MA, PhD, Royal Society of Medicine

Psychiatrist for Shell Shock, Battle Fatigue and other Psychiatric Disorders

Electroshock Therapy Specialist

 

"Thank you."



She was still reading the card on the way out. Electroshock Therapy, wasn't that what Sister Mary Cynthia had? She had never researched the treatment before, and her brief but horrendous stint of a psychiatric ward during training had only allowed her a brief glimpse into the therapy. Perhaps she could ask Mary Cynthia more about it. Her ex-colleague wrote to Nonnatus House regularly. She could easily slip in a quick note next time a reply was sent.

 

Patsy pocketed the card and set off back towards Nonnatus House.

 

Her chest felt lighter than it had been in a long while.

 

She'd done it. She'd taken the first step.






Chapter Text

 



Delia had never been so upset with Patsy before. Sure, they had had the odd tiff in their time as a couple, who hadn't? But this one for some reason or other had really taken the biscuit.

 

Having days to think things through had not helped if anything it had made her more confused. She flitted from several schools of thought. One, perhaps she had overreacted because she was hormonal and in pain. Two, she had every right to be upset, Patsy had made a life-changing decisions without involving her. Three, Patsy was only trying her best in her own unique Patsy way. Four, Patsy should know by now that they did things together, they had agreed that, hadn't they? When she'd returned from Hong Kong.

 

The Welshwoman almost felt like she'd cried herself dry. Her head ached from dehydration despite Val giving her copious cups of tea to compensate. The tea wasn't nearly milky enough though, not as good as Patsy made it.

 

She'd been too scared to return to her and Patsy's room for the past three nights and had managed to avoid the redhead almost entirely. But things were getting a little ridiculous now. As happy as Val had seemed with her temporary new roommate, the hours of sniffling long into the night were beginning to take their toll and Delia could tell her cockney companion was getting a little fed up with the arrangement.

 

"Delia..."

 

Delia blew her nose loudly on a handkerchief.

 

"I know I shouldn't barge in on your domestic, but - you two really need to talk things out."

 

Delia shook her head despondent. This was such a mess she didn't even know where to start with communicating. And if SHE didn't know then sure as anything Patsy wouldn't have the foggiest. Being the less talkative of the pair to even begin with.

 

"It's no good." Delia sighed, her nose still stuffy. "I don't know where to even begin."

 

"Well, pretend I'm Patsy." Val sat up, placing her magazine down and straightening her spine so she sat with a perfect Patsy poise.

 

Delia tried not to snort but failed.

 

"What!?" Val asked in mock hurt, "I've got to look authentic. I know I'll never quite live up to her in your heart-shaped eyes, but this is the best I can do!"

 

Delia fought a blush spreading rapidly across her face. Since her mini holiday in Val's room, the Poplar Nurse had been a lot more open about the nature of Patsy and Delia's relationship. Delia had gathered by now that Val was a good ally. She wouldn't tell, their secret was safe... but it still felt odd, being able to be open and talk about her relationship with someone. In a way, it had been nice to get some perspective.

 

"Come on." Val encouraged. "Let me have it."

 

Delia's eyes became saucers as Val quickly stuttered, turning the shade of a beetroot, "I mean... tell me what you want to... you know... say."

 

Swinging her legs over the side of the bed so she sat face on with Val, Delia took a deep breath in and exhaled slowly.

 

"Patsy."

 

Vall nodded solemnly. "Good start, keep going."

 

Delia rolled her eyes and sighed. "Patsy, we need to talk... about... all this."

 

Val smiled warmly. Delia didn't like addressing the brunette so she focused on the bedspread instead. The words came out much easier after that.

 

"I know you did this with the best of intentions, but I think we both know things didn't go completely to plan."

 

Val's smile faded, but she reached out and squeezed Delia's hand briefly in encouragement.

 

"We need to communicate better. I know you find it hard to talk to me but when it comes to something as life-changing as this - then we both need to know. It's a big part of our lives and not telling me feels horrible, keeping things from me feels horrible - " Delia stopped, feeling a lump rise in her throat and attempting to force it down.

 

A sudden creak behind them made both nurses heads whip around.

 

A muffled swear word in a crisp RP accent followed.

 

"Patsy?" Val called to the closed door. "Are you there?"

 

"Yes." Came a rather timid reply.

 

Val stood up and moved towards the door. Delia gazed at her imploringly.

 

"You need to talk," Val said warningly, "and now is a good a time as any."

 

She opened the door to a red-faced Patsy who'd clearly been listening in.

 

"I'm sorry, I was going to knock and then - " she waved her hand helplessly.

 

Delia folded her arms across her chest and raised an eyebrow. "You decided to eavesdrop."

 

"I'm sorry, Deels." Her eyes flicked to Val's, almost expecting the Londoner to bite her head off but Val simply opened the door wider and held out her arm.

 

"Talk. Now. Both of you."

 

And with that she'd closed the door behind her, leaving Patsy and Delia alone together.

 

Patsy shuffled towards Val's bed. "May I sit down?"

 

Delia nodded crisply. "I suppose you may."

 

The taller woman flattened the bed linen and took a seat, hands clasped in front of her. She always did that when she was nervous, Delia noted with a rush of familiarity and warmth. Finally, their eyes met and Delia noticed how tired the redhead looked. It seemed neither of them had slept too well since the argument. She found herself suddenly fighting the desire to wrap Patsy safely in her arms.

 

"I'm sorry." Patsy breathed. "I've been a complete fool."

 

Delia held her gaze. Good start. But she wanted to know that Patsy understood why she'd upset her so much.

 

Her brows raised, signaling she wanted more. Patsy looked at her pleadingly, this was clearly hard for her, but Delia's sympathy was running low. It had been hard for her too. A sudden deja-vu hit her. It was like the moment under the bridge when Patsy had returned from Hong Kong. Had they really not come any further since then? Delia couldn't fight the tears that welled in her eyes now. Half a year and no progress.

 

"I know this sounds like a broken record."

 

There she was, reading her mind again. Bloody Patience Mount - Perfect, brilliant, Patience Infuriating Mount.

 

"But I am sorry I didn't talk to you. I'm sorry I didn't inform you what my plans were. Investing in a property is not a small venture, especially when it involves multiple parties..."

 

"Please stop talking like one of your father's lawyers, Pats." Delia's voice trembled.

 

"I should've discussed it with you. Buying the house. I just thought... well, I thought the money I'd been left could fix things... fix things for your family, for our future."

 

"I thought you of all people would know money fixes nothing." Delia sniffed.

 

Patsy sighed. "No, I know - you're right. But it does make things easier. It can help."

 

Delia remained silent.

 

"I want to help, Deels. I love your family, I love you - I saw a problem and I thought I could fix it. But As usual, I went about it in my Nurse Mount way, when instead I should've thought more as Patsy."

 

She couldn't hold it any longer. Delia launched herself at a startled redhead and enveloped her into a bone cracking hug.

 

"I love you, Pats." she whispered into the shell of an ear. "But... remember when you said 'Wherever I go next, you're coming with me'?"

 

She felt Patsy nod.

 

"It should've been 'Whatever happens next, we face it together.'"

 

"Oh, Deels." Patsy started to cry into her shoulder. "I'm a fool, an utter inexcusable fool."

 

Delia sniffed back her own tears and drew back slightly from their embrace so as to look her partner in the eye. "You're my fool. And we'll be alright. I promise."

 

Patsy smiled tentatively through her tears.

 

They remained holding on to each other for a while, tears eventually petering out as they reacquainted themselves with each other's scent and space.

 

Eventually, after a long period of silence, Patsy spoke.

 

"Deels... Why did you never tell me about Gerwyn?"

 

Delia stiffened defensively. She'd never told Patsy the story. Mainly because the redhead had her fair share of family trials and tribulations and she'd dared not add to them with her own tales of woe. But to not tell her would be hypocritical, especially after her initial speech to Val.

 

"How do you...?"

 

"Your dad told me."

 

"Oh." Delia exhaled. "I... I suppose I didn't want pity. Everyone at school wouldn't look me in the eye, the teachers always gave me special treatment. They all treated me like I was made of glass. I could see it in their eyes, poor Delia whose brother died."

 

"And you thought I'd give you pity?"

 

"No... not like that. I... I didn't want to burden you."

 

"Burden me?" Patsy snorted incredulously, "Deels, darling, I've been through a POW camp, I hardly think a story like that could knock me down."

 

Delia's eyes narrowed. "I know. Perhaps it wouldn't knock YOU down... but it was a big blow to our family... especially mam."

 

"I know, Delia, I didn't mean... I didn't mean to make it sound any lesser than what I went through. Things can be hard for everyone, even the smallest problems can be the biggest for some."

 

Delia sighed. "At least you know now why mam's so protective of me. And why I let her be. I felt guilty. Sometimes I could tell she wished I was him. He was always meant to be the first born, not me."

 

"Oh Delia." Patsy kissed her square on the forehead.

 

"But it's okay, I'm learning to stand up for myself."

 

"I'll say." Patsy smiled, "You were quite the sight when you slammed your fist on the dinner table."

 

Delia blushed. "I feel slightly bad about that now."

 

"I wouldn't, your dad seemed rather proud of you."

 

"He was always proud of me when I was young. But never in the same patronising way as some of the teachers. I don't remember it very clearly but I know he stayed with us during the war." She smiled fondly at the memories.

 

"Yes... well..." Patsy cleared her throat.

 

"Oh Pats, I'm sorry... I know the war was completely different for both of us."

 

Patsy looked confused for a moment but quickly regained her composure. "Don't worry, Deels. It's in the past now."

 

"Is it?" Delia whispered, her eyes searching Patsy's questioningly.

 

Patsy swallowed and took a deep breath. "I spoke to Doctor Turner."

 

The brunette's eyes widened. "And?"

 

"And he's referred me to a psychologist. He even gave me the chap’s card, in case I wanted to look him up."

 

Delia smiled "He knows you too well. But that's fantastic, Pats - I'm so proud of you."

 

She cradled Patsy's head lovingly in her hands before kissing her softly.

 

Patsy's lips responded tentatively. They hadn't had this close contact in a while and things were feeling a little foreign. But the feeling quickly disintegrated and they fell back into the familiar rhythm of each other's lips.

 

Eventually, Delia parted, resting her forehead against Patsy's.

 

"I'm sorry." They said in unison before giggling.

 

A knock on the door stirred them from their happy stupor.

 

"Are you two finished? It's just, I'd quite like my bedroom back."

 

Delia laughed. "Yes, Val." She pecked Patsy on the nose with a quick kiss, "I prefer sharing with this one anyway..." she added under her breath.

 

Patsy turned a deep shade of crimson.




That night Delia settled back into their usual bedroom. It felt much nicer being able to sleep spooning Patsy from behind. Sharing each other's body warmth.

 

After a bit more discussion that evening they had agreed that Delia would call her parents and explain what was going on. If they agreed, then they could have the new house Patsy had purchased. If not, then they would rent it out at a low price just to cover maintenance costs until they reached retirement age. It was a solution of sorts for now at least.



Chapter Text

June was a month of seemingly endless medical appointments for Delia. The first was with Mr. Hendry, or as Patsy colloquially referred to him "The Neuro Chap". She still hadn't had any signs of a seizure since the incident when she'd fallen down the stairs, but it was best to be on the safe side surely. Dr. Turner had fought quite hard to get her this appointment too, it had been several months since he'd put in the request but as the London was seemingly very busy at the moment, outpatient appointments were almost like gold dust. A lot of Nonnatus nurses were being seconded various departments in the hospital due to the high demand and stretched staff. Her second appointment booked was with the Gynecology department of the London. For some reason, this had been easier for Doctor Turner to obtain for her and the two appointments were scheduled for within two weeks of each other.

 

Sadly, the day of her neuro appointment dawned to Patsy being told she had been seconded to the London that day. Delia tried hard to fight back some tears of disappointment - the redhead had assured her that she'd accompany her as emotional support to her appointments this month.

 

To her credit, Patsy had tried her best to argue with Sister Julienne but it was obvious her attempts were futile. She managed to shoot Delia one final apologetic look before being ushered out the door by Nurse Crane.

 

Pull yourself together, Busby. Delia thought bracingly. It's just an appointment, you can handle it by yourself. She took her time with breakfast, her bus wasn't due till late morning.

 

But as she chewed on her bacon the worrying thoughts began to surface. Thoughts she'd been trying to keep contained ever since the stair incident. Her shoulder was healed fully now. And it only felt stiff when the weather was bad. But the more pressing worry was that of the lasting effects of her previous brain injury. What if the seizures were back? What if she wasn't taking care of herself properly and that had been the cause of everything? What if she wasn't as lucky next time? What if something happened to her and she would never fit to nurse again? She couldn't envisage a life without nursing, without Poplar. It had become her home and the idea that her place here was so fragile - a doctor's word away from non-existence - was utterly terrifying.

 

If only Patsy were here, she thought. Patsy approached tough situations with much more lateral thinking than the brunette. Delia tended to get swept up with the what ifs and maybes of a situation. That's why they made such a good team. Not that the redhead nurse was lacking in compassion, far from it. She'd offered to accompany Delia today primarily to be her emotional support. And right now, Delia wished more than anything she was coming with her. But that was selfish thinking in a way - Patsy was needed at the London and the hospital wouldn't staff itself. It was just very unlucky that it had to be today.

 

The bus was blazing hot. The only light relief coming when the doors opened briefly, allowing slightly less hot air in as well as letting passengers on or off. In contrast to their frigid winter, London seemed to be now experiencing a heatwave. Delia felt the back of her dress stick to the leather bus seat uncomfortably from her perspiration. She wiped her brow and glanced out the window.

 

There were children playing in the street, some had filled an old metal bathtub full of cool water and were splashing around having a whale of a time. The bus rolled forward a few more stops and Delia heard the jingle of an approaching ice cream van. Every child in the vicinity of the noise dropped everything and started to chase after the van as if it were the holy grail. Delia sighed wistfully. Her plan had been to go and get ice cream with Patsy after her appointment. Something to look forward to, Patsy had said, a way to cheer up a rotten day. She could go on her own, Delia mused, but it wouldn't quite be the same.

 

The London was fortunately cooler and Delia felt a wave of relief as she entered the hospital. However, the moment she set foot in the Neurological wing, her relief evaporated almost instantly. Suddenly, very unpleasant memories started to come back to her. The sickly green of the walls made bile rise in her throat, the dark corridors and fluorescent lighting closing in on her like a prison. And the smell. Oh god. There was something about this place, an odor that would not shift. She'd never smelled anything like it before and anything like it since. But the smell in and of itself was enough to bring back horrible flashbacks of confusion and panic.

 

Somehow she managed to make her way to the outpatient reception. A young nurse sat behind the desk doing paperwork. Delia shuffled her feet and she looked up, smiling brightly. The tension inside Delia eased a tiny bit.

 

"Good morning, can I help you miss?"

 

Delia replied with a rather wobbly smile of her own, but found herself unable to formulate words.

 

It must've been clear her nerves were obvious as the young nurse looked at her sympathetically.

 

"It's alright, dear. Who are you here to see?"

 

Delia, who was still trying to block out that awful smell, glazed over for a moment. The nurse got the wrong end of the stick.

 

"Are you with someone? Are you lost?"

 

"No!" Delia blurted out. "I'm fine, sorry." She straightened up to all five foot three and a half inches of her height and continued. "My name is Delia Busby, I'm here to see Doctor Hendry."

 

The nurse looked taken aback at the sudden change in demeanor but hid her surprise well.

 

"Busby... Busby..." she checked through her list, "Ah yes. Your appointment with Mr Hendry is at 11:30. I'm afraid he's running a little behind schedule but there's a waiting room over there with some magazines in case you get bored."

 

Delia smiled politely before heading over towards the collection of chairs that comprised the waiting area. It was busy, barely half a dozen seats and all but one were taken. She squeezed herself onto a chair next to a rather large and formidable man in a flat cap.

 

The pile of magazines on display looked rather uninspiring, Delia thought with a sigh. But she'd at least learned her lesson from her last time. Her experience in the waiting room for her shoulder appointment had taught her that a book was an essential part of a waiting room survival kit.

 

She fished into her bag and pulled out her novel of choice. 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest'. It had been in the recommended section of her favourite local bookshop and she'd bought it on a whim really.

 

Half an hour flew by as Delia got more and more engrossed in her book. It was horrifying but at the same time exhilarating. Mr Hendry had to call her name more than once to get her attention. Not a great start, Busby. Delia thought, especially as he's assessing your neurological condition.

 

She sat in the offered chair opposite Mr. Hendry's desk. It was much too big for her. Tall too. Her feet didn't touch the ground and she found them swinging helplessly. She'd never felt more childlike... not since... well.

 

"Miss Busby. Good to see you again. Well, as good as can be considering your circumstances. Your doctor informs me you've had quite a severe seizure recently? Can you remind me again of your circumstances?"

 

The exchange was tedious. Delia recounted everything to the doctor. Everything about her first accident, her recovery, and subsequent fall. It was as if he'd forgotten all about her, she frowned. If her case really had been that "groundbreaking", surely he'd at least be able to fill in most of what she was recounting to him. But then it hit her, he was testing her memory.

 

She sat back with a swell of pride after recounting everything almost perfectly. Mr. Hendry was fact checking what she was saying to her notes and he seemed to be pleased enough.

 

"Well, Miss Busby. I know you are a nurse so I won't beat about the bush, medically. I see no signs of any further impairment to your memory - no lapse back into amnesia. But from the sounds of it you have had some difficulty concentrating recently, is that correct?"

 

"Well... yes, but - "

 

"And you've been experiencing headaches, migraines?"

 

"Sometimes. But I -"

 

"Then I think the best course of action is to monitor your condition closely for the next couple of months. Regular appointments with my trusted registrar should suffice." He was already writing this down in her notes.

 

Delia drew herself up in her large, oversized chair and spoke clearly. "I don't think all of my symptoms can be equated to neurological causes."

 

Mr. Hendry paused, his pen hovering above the paper. "Go on."

 

"I've noticed my concentration gets worse when I'm stressed. And I've been stressed rather a lot recently. The day I had my fall, I hadn't eaten anything, I was having a stressful time at work as well as in my personal life. Since then things have improved. My stress levels have decreased and subsequently, so have my lapses in concentration."

 

Mr. Hendry scribbled some more notes before looking up at Delia again, almost shrewdly this time. "And your migraines?"

 

Delia paused for a moment. "My migraines almost always coincide with my monthlies. I'm pretty sure the two are linked."

 

"And have you always had migraines with your monthlies?"

 

"No... they got worse after my accident."

 

"The migraines or your monthlies?"

 

"Both..." Delia worried on her lip again, "But I've always had bad monthlies. The pain can actually make my concentration bad too. But I've been referred to a gynecologist."

 

"It seems like your GP is rather competent." Mr. Hendry looked quite impressed.

 

"He's very thorough." Delia nodded.

 

Mr. Hendry sighed and stared at Delia's notes for a few minutes.

 

It felt like an age, silence fell in the room apart from the loud ticking of the clock on the wall. Eventually, Mr. Hendry wrote one more note and closed Delia's file. She jumped at the noise.

 

"Right. I suggest we monitor you for a couple of months. As I said before, my junior registrar is more than capable. We'll see you back here in three weeks. If nothing has changed then we'll make another appointment for six weeks. But if something does happen, another seizure, for example, ask your GP to contact me immediately and you'll be seen by me much more promptly."

 

Delia nodded slowly. That all sounded fair. "Thank you."

 

"Not a problem, Miss Busby. You take care now." He held the door for her on her way out.

 

Delia strode out the office without a backwards glance. She had her eyes firmly set on the exit to the department and hot-footed it as quickly as she could towards freedom.

 

Finally outside in the fresh air, she could breathe again. She didn't even care if the air was smoggy and stifling - anything was better than that awful smell. She took a moment to compose herself, leaning on the side of the building and took stock of what had just happened.

 

All things considered, things had gone pretty well. She had gotten across the information she wanted to. But even now as she recalled the encounter, it became more and more hazy in her mind. Especially Mr. Hendry's responses. Perhaps the stress of the situation had, rather ironically, affected her ability to concentrate and retain information.

 

She sighed and tried not to bang her head against the concrete. Patsy would've been brilliant in a situation like this. She could picture it now, the redhead taking notes, asking questions. Actually... perhaps not. She doubted she'd have been able to have articulate everything she wanted to say with Patsy champing at the bit in that small confined room too. It seemed as though her absence had been simultaneously a curse and a blessing.



Delia returned to Nonnatus house at lunchtime, stopping briefly on the way for an ice cream. By the time she reached the square, she was licking the remnants of her mint choc-chip off her sticky fingers. It was marvelously refreshing.

 

She was met in the hallway by an excited Valerie who was waving a newspaper above her head.

 

"It's official! Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova has become the first woman in space!"

 

"Wow!" Delia's mouth fell open. "That's... that's amazing, Val!"

 

"Isn't it!" Val was jumping up and down on the balls of her feet with uncontained glee, "I'm so excited, I can't wait to tell everyone."

 

And with that, she skipped off down the corridor in search of the other residents of Nonnatus House.

 

Delia had made it halfway up the stairs before she ran into Phyllis. She sighed inwardly. Part of her wanted to curl up in bed in peace, but Phyllis seemed unusually chatty.

 

"Delia, I was wondering if I could put to you a proposition. Well, not just you, more you and Patsy."

 

Delia raised an eyebrow, intrigued. "Go on..."

 

"Well, it's the cub's annual camping trip in a few weeks time and - well, to put it frankly, Daniel R's mum has had to drop out because of a nasty case of chickenpox in the family. And we can't have her spreading it to the whole pack, it'll be a nightmare. Anyway her and Mrs. Landry are unable to attend as helpers. And I was wondering if you and Patsy would like to take up the mantle, so to speak."

 

"Oh wow, thank you, Phyllis." Delia smiled warmly, a plan already formulating in her mind. "I'll certainly pass the message on to Patsy. It'll be good for her to get back involved with the cubs again, I think she's missed them."

 

"And they've missed her!" Phyllis chuckled, "if I had a penny for every time one of the little scamps asked after her - ", she put on a high pitched voice, "But Akela let us light fires. Fires are so much better than entrenching tools."

 

Delia smiled. Cubs could be the perfect thing to help Patsy and this seemed like an opportunity too good to pass up.

 

"I'll have a word with her." Delia winked. "But that sounds wonderful, thank you, Phyllis."

 

"Please do!" Phyllis set off down the stairs, thinking out loud, "That's myself, you, Patsy, Valerie, Reggie... we only need one more and we're set!"

 

The rest of the day passed without incident, Delia managing to complete her book before dinner time. It was rather a harrowing read but for some reason, she couldn't bring herself to put it down. It had also raised some questions and thoughts about Patsy's impending therapy, but she wondered if it was best to keep them to herself. It was, after all, a work of fiction. She had no idea if there was fact-checking or references involved and quite frankly didn't want to get into it. One thing was for certain, she would not be recommending the book to Patsy anytime soon. She stowed the book under her bed, as she did so her hand brushed over a mound of envelopes.

 

Of course. Patsy's letters her mam had kept hidden from her.



By the time Patsy had returned from her shift at the London, Delia had read every single one, back to back at least four times. The redhead came into their bedroom to find a mess of paper on their beds and in the middle of it, a small Welshwoman in floods of tears.

 

"Oh, Delia," Patsy mumbled, enveloping the small woman in a large cwtch.

 

"I'd- " Delia hiccuped, "I'd forgotten I left them under my bed and..."

 

"It's okay, love." Patsy soothed, stroking her hair.

 

"I'm sorry..." Delia tried to compose herself. "Hormones."

 

Patsy frowned in concern. "Are you...?"

 

"No. Not yet anyway." Delia looked down glumly.

 

She was dreading her next cycle. Each one seemed to be worse in different ways to the last. Or perhaps her body was just so exhausted and sensitive, the slightest twinge was magnified tenfold. It was almost as if since she'd been told this was not normal, they'd gotten a whole lot worse. But logic told her she was just noticing now, nothing more.

 

Patsy saw the trouble behind blue eyes and cupped Delia's face in her hands, studying her carefully. "How was your appointment?"

 

"Oh." Delia reeled her mind back to today. "It went well, I suppose."

 

She recounted as much as she could from her visit that morning to an attentive Patsy.

 

"Well, that all sounds promising. I'm glad he's agreed to see you for a follow-up."

 

Delia nodded. Had he? She couldn't remember, perhaps he'd said something about a registrar... But the brain fog descended again and the thought was gone. Instead she decided to deflect.

 

"How was your day?"

 

Patsy groaned and stretched out onto her side of the bed.

 

"That good, eh?" Delia smiled, cleaning up the letters strewn all over the bedspread and returning them to their envelopes. Finally replacing the string that tied them together and promoting them to a new home in her bedside drawer.

 

"Absolutely. If you count being vomited on six times. Six. I gave up changing my scrubs after the third..."

 

Delia listened attentively to Patsy as she recalled her own day. They soon slipped back into old nursing school stories. It was easy to compare training to being seconded to the London. Often when Delia was still working there and Patsy was seconded, they'd meet in the Nurses' Home at the end of the day for a tot of brandy and... well, other "Extracurricular Activities" as Trixie would probably call it.

 

"Fancy a tipple?" Delia asked nonchalantly during a gap in their conversation.

 

"Would I ever." Patsy beamed.

 

Delia poured them each a generous helping of Scotch and settled down on the bed with Patsy. Their backs against the headboard, chatting about the old days.

 

It soon became clear drinking on an empty stomach wasn't the best of plans. Within half an hour, Delia was giggling more than breathing and Patsy was quickly heading the same way. It felt lovely to be laughing with her girlfriend, happily sloshed and cozy, Delia thought as Patsy's hand rested on her thigh.

 

The redhead made to move it but Delia stopped her, their eyes meeting, both surprising each other with how dark they were.

 

"Pats..." Delia's throat was suddenly quite dry.

 

Then a wonderful set of full lips met her own and they were kissing, hard. A flailing limb caused a glass to get knocked over onto the floor with a loud clunk, jolting the duo from their tryst.

 

Delia smiled sheepishly, pulling away and fetching the glass. She looked back toward the bed to see Patsy staring at her with pure desire behind her eyes. With a gulp, Delia set the glass down and locked the door.

 

Then they were kissing again, lips hungrily searching for skin, hands grappling for contact, breathy moans escaping occasionally.

 

"Pats..." Delia whispered hoarsely as the redhead started unbuttoning the smaller woman's dress, "I've missed you."

 

"I've missed you too, Deels." came the equally hoarse reply.

 

Delia's fingers fumbled with the buttons of Patsy's powder blue uniform. The alcohol was making this task quite tricky. Eventually, she managed to peel the fabric away to reveal Patsy's slip.

 

After that it seemed like no time at all had passed before they were kissing deeply, entangled in each other's naked bodies under a thin sheet. Patsy was being really bold tonight, Delia mused as teeth tugged softly at her bottom lip, and quite frankly it was driving her wild. They hadn't been intimate since before their tiff. And certain feelings and emotions had clearly been building up over the past few weeks. It seemed the only thing more powerful than the rocket that had propelled Valentina Tereshkova into space was the strong magnetic current drawing each woman together as they slipped into their familiar dance.

 

Delia found Patsy's desire first, her breath hitching as her fingers coated with a copious amount of slick wetness. Patsy let out a whimper, her hips moving of their own accord, encouraging the brunette further. Delia flipped them so Patsy lay with her back on the mattress and kissed her way down perfect collarbones to the rising peak of a breast.

 

Just as she closed her mouth over a straining coral nipple, her fingers began stroking a maddeningly light pressure over Patsy's folds. Patsy let out a hiss, trying to keep herself quiet with a hand over her mouth.

 

"Oh, Deels..." came a muffled moan.

 

"Mmm," Delia hummed, kissing her way back up to Patsy's neck.

 

She'd missed this. A lot, if her own body's reaction was anything to go by. There was an insistent throbbing between her legs, a desire and thirst that needed to be quenched. But first...

 

"Deels... please." Patsy panted.

 

It was all the direction she needed. Slowly, Delia pushed two fingers inside Patsy's waiting warmth.

 

Patsy's whole body almost lifted off the bed as she let out a low growl. That was a new noise, Delia mused as she held her position, waiting for her lover to settle before easing out and back in again. Patsy gasped, jamming her hand into her mouth again as her eyes rolled back and she lost herself in Delia's thrusts.

 

Delia could feel Patsy begin to tense - her muscles of her body squeezing in time with the smaller woman's fingers, her inner walls becoming tighter and tighter, it was becoming more and more difficult to move but Delia knew this was her cue. She gently curled her fingers up and forwards, searching for that little rough patch. Except that 'little' rough patch wasn't that little. It was rather large, swollen almost. Nevertheless, as soon as the pads of her fingers made contact, Patsy stifled a moan.

 

"Shh, cariad." Delia hushed, aware that moan was louder than the usual permitted volume levels. Perhaps it was the alcohol at fault here. Heaven forbid if they were heard... Valerie in the next room might know about their "Extracurricular Activities" but they'd never heard the end of the teasing...

 

"Delia, for Christ's sake, don't stop!"

 

Oops. Hop to it Busby, don't dilly dally now!

 

She began to tug gently causing Patsy's hips to fly wildly out of control. Using her spare hand she steadied them, focusing on putting the right amount of pressure on that perfect spot. Patsy's spare hand, the one that wasn't jammed in her mouth, was grasping tightly at the bed linen, desperately searching for something to do. Delia kept up her steady pace, thoroughly enjoy the pulsing sensations Patsy's walls were making around her fingers.

 

"Oh...Oh...Oh..." Patsy cried, "Delia... I...- "

 

Delia upped her pace, feeling her fingers, hand and now wrist getting soaked with Patsy's desire. Whatever she was doing was clearly working so she kept going, thrusting faster and harder... Patsy's flailing right hand tugged at her wrist and Delia obeyed. Harder.

 

Then something happened which Delia had never seen before, Patsy's hand trailed upwards from Delia's wrist and her long, elegant fingers began to touch herself. The Welshwoman balked, her hand movements faltering briefly as a shot of desire hit her pelvis. Oh gosh. Oh my gosh. She watched those perfect fingers as they skillfully circled round and round their owner's clitoris. It was all Delia could do not to reach down between her own legs and mirror those movements.

 

But before she could contemplate doing this, Patsy's body stiffened, her walls clamped down around Delia's fingers and she cried out, the sound just muffled, but barely. Delia paused to take in the magnificent creature of a woman beneath her, writhing in pleasure as her orgasm swept over her. Eventually, Patsy took a deep shuddering breath and collapsed back down onto the bed. As gently as she could, Delia eased her fingers from their tight confines. Patsy grunted but made no further movement. As Delia crawled up the bed to settle next to her love, she realised, rather proudly, that Patsy had been reduced to a melted puddle.

 

"Delia..." Patsy finally found her breath.

 

"Mhmm?" Delia's breath feathered Patsy's tousled beehive.

 

"Thank you."

 

Delia kissed Patsy's perfect, and rather swollen, lips softly and lovingly. With the intent of helping her float back down to earth. However, it became clear Patsy was not only back down on earth, but she was also warming up for more.

 

An errant hand was trailing its way down Delia's side and resting on her waist. Delia sighed into the kiss. Mmm, perfect. The hand was now lightly ghosting over her curls, causing shivers of desire to pass through her already super responsive body. Lips not leaving hers, Patsy flipped them so she was now straddling Delia, both hands on her waist and thighs locking them firmly in place.

 

Delia relaxed back and let Patsy have free reign. Her job now was to control her volume. Something she could do much better than the redhead, she secretly wagered to herself.

 

But then those same skillful fingers she'd witnessed earlier eased between her folds and she knew there and then she'd lost the wager.

 

"Ohhhh..." she moaned.

 

"Shhh..." Patsy kissed up her torso, sucking on a hardened nipple, just as Delia had done moments before.

 

"Mmmpphh..." Delia grabbed onto the headboard and tried to focus on breathing.

 

She felt Patsy's lips trail down her body. The hot breath ... there.

 

Oh gosh.

 

Fingers gently parted her lips and then she felt Patsy searching tongue sweep upwards.

 

"Oh!" she jammed a fist in her mouth.

 

Patsy hummed in approval which sent another shockwave of pleasure up Delia's body.

 

Delia panted, trying to get oxygen into her brain, trying to tell it to be quiet.

 

Patsy warm tongue swiped again, this time finding a delightful rhythm that Delia's hips couldn't refuse. She felt herself buck upwards off the bed. It was just enough to allow Patsy's hands to grasp her buttocks firmly, guiding her mouth and lips as she licked and sucked at Delia's folds.

 

Delia lost herself to the taller woman's ministrations, feeling like this was heaven on earth. If only Patsy would...

 

She felt a hand shift, Patsy's lips moving upwards to suck gently on her enlarged clit. Delia gasped, one hand burying itself in Patsy's hair, directing the redhead in a circular motion. Patsy followed, her fingers teasing Delia's entrance.

 

"Mmmmph, Pats, please...I need you..." Delia whispered breathlessly.

 

She felt Patsy slide in a little, then out. Teasingly. Delia let out a whine. "Please..."

 

Again, in a little, then out.

 

"Patsy... Fuck..." she couldn't bear it anymore.

 

The next time she felt the delightful intrusion of those wonderful fingers, she lifted her hips up forcefully to meet them, feeling Patsy fill her completely. It felt a little uncomfortable, so she shifted, trying to find a better angle. Patsy pulled out and then thrust back in, just as Delia's hips rose to meet her again.

 

"Ow!" Delia yelped.

 

That was unexpected. Patsy pulled out and looked up concerned.

 

"Are you okay?"

 

Delia frowned and nodded. "I think so. Maybe we're at the wrong angle."

 

With a bit of shuffling around Delia scooted up a bit on the bed and Patsy settled up next to her.

 

"Okay?"

 

"Mhmm..."

 

The desire had returned tenfold after the little interruption and Delia was hungrily kissing Patsy, tasting herself on her lover's tongue. She felt those wonderful fingers delicately part her again and this time slowly slide up and in.

 

She shifted her hips a bit. That felt better.

 

Satisfied she kissed Patsy hard, waiting for the glorious sensation of those long digits to start moving in and out.

 

But as soon as Patsy started to move she felt that pain again.

 

"Ow... shit," she hissed, cursing under her breath.

 

"Deels?" Patsy was looking more and more concerned.

 

"It's okay, I'm fine, keep going."

 

Patsy moved again.

 

"Ahhhh... no, nope." Delia shook her head, pulling Patsy's hand away.

 

"I'm sorry, am I hurting you?" Patsy's face crumpled in worry, "I'm sure I clipped my nails yesterday..."

 

Delia shook her head again, "No, no it's not you, it's not these," she pulled Patsy's fingers up and kissed them softly, "these are perfect."

 

Patsy frowned. Her eyes still searching for an answer.

 

But Delia didn't have one. It had been uncomfortable before, (their first time had hardly been smooth sailing) but never painful. Not like this anyway. She couldn't explain it. It wasn't like her body hadn't been ready - she'd been more than ready. Perhaps it was the angle or something. Yes, that must be it. She shivered. All the heat and desire had completely gone from the moment.

 

Patsy pulled the duvet up and wrapped it around them both as she snuggled in behind Delia, encasing her as the big spoon.

 

"I think we just got the wrong angle," Delia whispered.

 

There was no reply. But Delia could sense something was wrong.

 

"Pats?" she began to turn around.

 

Patsy's eyes were screwed tight shut, her brow a deep furrow. "I hurt you."

 

"No!" Delia cupped Patsy's face in her hands, "No, you didn't. I mean, it hurt, but you didn't hurt me."

 

Patsy's eyes were blurring with tears. "I'm so sorry, Deels. I never... I -"

 

"Pats, stop." Delia was stern now. When Patsy got an idea into her head, especially a wrong one, things could get out of control quite quickly. "Listen to me," she forced the redhead to look her in the eyes, "you did not hurt me okay?"

 

Patsy nodded infinitesimally.

 

"It felt really good actually up until that point." Delia smiled. "And it's unrealistic to think we'd be perfect at this every single time."

 

A tiny trace of a fish hook smile appeared on Patsy's strained face.

 

"Are you sure you're okay?" she asked gingerly.

 

Delia did a quick self assessment of her own body. She felt a little tender but the pain had gone. "I'm fine." she smiled reassuringly.

 

"Cwtch?" Patsy asked.

 

Delia nodded. "That sounds perfect."

 

Patsy kissed her on the forehead and went in search of their pyjamas, helping the brunette into hers before flopping back down onto the mattress. Delia took up position as the small spoon, feeling safely encased with Patsy's warmth at her back. She felt completely safe and content. This was the best part anyway, she thought as she started to doze off.

 

A cwtch really could beat anything and everything.