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The Angel By Your Side

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“Pats, he’s your father. Even Mam’s coming round to the idea.” Delia sighed exasperatedly. They were in their local coffee shop, just down the street from their flat. “I understand that you don’t speak, but I want to meet him, Pats, please.”

“No, it’s pointless. Your mother is willing to accept us as a couple because she loves you. My father couldn’t give a damn .” Patsy kept her voice low, unwilling to draw attention from the other customers in the cafe.

Delia took Patsy’s hand gently. “I’m sure he does love you, Pats. We’ve been together for four years, I want to meet your family.”

“No, Delia. You aren’t meeting him.” Patsy said definitively, scowling at her coffee. They were both sick of having this argument, but neither would give in.

“Patsy, I want you to let me in. Share your pain with me, and I can help you. I love you.”

“I don’t need you to help me, you’re not another shrink, you’re meant to be my girlfriend!” Patsy said angrily, standing up and sweeping out of the small cafe. Delia rushed after her, swinging the ginger woman around to face her.

“I don’t feel like your girlfriend! I feel like a dirty little secret! You’ve never introduced me to any of your school friends, or your family, I’ve never even seen where you grew up!” Delia was angry now, her Welsh accent thickening as her emotions swelled. “Maybe I should just get with the next Tom, Dick, or Harry who comes down this street, marry them! It would certainly be easier!” Delia spun around and walked away.

Patsy stood frozen for a few seconds, before she strode after the brunette. “Delia!” Patsy said as she caught Delia’s hand, pulling her to a stop. “You don’t really want to get married do you?”

Delia’s face softened. “Yes. More than anything.” Patsy’s face crumpled, crestfallen. “To you, you fool.”

“Delia Anwen Busby, a-are you proposing to me?” Patsy masked her fear and shock with false bravado.

The Welsh-woman tilted her head slightly. “Are you accepting?” She asked slowly.

“That depends on whether or not you are asking.” Patsy smirked softly. All the anger was gone from both of them.

“Christ, Patsy! Wait here.” Delia took off running towards their flat. When she came back down a few minutes later, Patsy was still waiting on the footpath, looking slightly shellshocked. She held a cigarette between her fingers and her thumb was nervously flicking against her ring finger. When she saw the brunette approaching, she stubbed out the cigarette and dropped it in the bin.

“Deels?”

“Pats.” Delia took Patsy’s hand and knelt on one knee.

Delia ?” The whispered question of Delia’s name was full of all of the emotion and feeling that Patsy wouldn’t allow to spill over her stoic face.

“I’ve loved you for years, since the day I first saw you at the Royal College of Nursing five years ago. When I’m not with you, I feel like my heart is dying, and when I am, I feel like my heart might burst. Even when we are arguing, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. Rwy’n dy garu di, Pats, byddwch yn priodi i mi?” Delia flipped open the ring box, which contained a beautiful silver embellished diamond ring, which had belonged to her grandmother.

“I hope you just said what I think you said.” Patsy laughed tearfully as she pulled Delia to her feet. “Because if you did, then the answer is most definitely yes, Deels.” Patsy pulled Delia in for a searing kiss, and Delia pulled back to slip the ring onto the ginger’s slim fingers.

“A perfect fit.” Delia whispered as the spectators in the street began to clap. The brunette twirled and gave a curtsy to their audience, who began to disperse, many shouting their congratulations. “That wasn’t how I planned it, you know. I wanted to ask your father for his blessing.”

Patsy led Delia back to their flat. “I suppose we can go up on the weekend, if you really insist. But I’m warning you, it won’t be remotely enjoyable.” Delia flopped down on their bed as Patsy rummaged in the wardrobe. She pulled out a shoebox and began gently rifling through. She pulled out something small and closed the shoebox, replacing it in the wardrobe. Patsy sat next to Delia.

“What’s this Pats?”

Patsy took Delia’s left hand and slid the ring on. “I know this,” Patsy lifted her own left hand, “was your grandmother’s. This was my mum’s ring, I want you to wear it.”

“Thank you, Pats, it’s an honour.” Delia lifted her hand and cradled Patsy’s cheek, leaning in for a tender kiss.

***

Patsy lay snuggled up with Delia. The redhead was of the opinion that this was one of the best days of her life. Patsy usually found that the best days were often affiliated with the worst days.

When they had gotten together, full of optimism and love, and giddy with the prospects of being together (and maybe a little drunk), Patsy had written emailed her father. It had been full of details about Delia, how wonderful the little Welshwoman was, how happy they were together, how she hoped maybe that she could introduce them. Her father’s reply had been significantly less joyful. I don’t want to meet your floozy it had said. You should be married by now, to a man of proper social standing, not cavorting around with some rural girl who is beneath you. Don’t you ever bring her here, to our family home, i won’t have you defiling your mother’s memory with your crude antics. Patsy hadn’t told Delia what was in the email, but Delia had found her in her room in the Nurse’s Home, silent sobs racking her body. The brunette hadn’t asked questions, she had just pulled Patsy into her arms and held her.

There was that ghastly day when Delia had been in her accident. They had just moved into their small flat, and Delia had been hit as she rushed across the busy road, late to work. Delia hadn’t remembered Patsy, but Patsy still visited as often as she was able, bringing flowers, Delia’s trinkets from home, her favourite clothes. When Delia’s parents had whisked her back (not home, because Delia always said home was wherever they were together) to Wales, Patsy had been distraught, There was no more Delia to be strong for, so she took her annual leave from the small district nursing and midwifery clinic where she worked and stayed home. Eventually Trixie had intervened, saying that though Delia’s family wouldn’t allow her a phone or laptop for fear of her straining her eyes, Patsy could write  good old-fashioned letter. They had met again through those letters, and when Delia remembered her, Patsy was on the first train to Pembrokeshire. Patsy smiled as she remembered the way Delia had flown at her as soon as she stepped off the train, how they had embraced, kissed, how euphoric she was that she had lifted Delia, her arms tight around her waist, and spun around, laughing and crying and kissing.

Patsy worried that soon something bad would happen, it seemed to be a trend of her life, people she loved leaving. Her mother and Katie had been killed in a drunk driving accident while they were visiting England on holiday. Her father had been driving, and she had been in the backseat, behind the driver’s seat. The other car had rammed into the passenger side, and by the time the ambulance came, Patsy had come to. She had stayed quiet, watching the ambulance officers work quickly, her mother, her sister, her unconscious father, all taken away in blaring ambulances. Patsy was the last to leave, and by the time she was taken into A&E, she had been assessed as unharmed, physically, and was at next to her father, who had woken up. Together they had waited for news of Mummy and Katie, who had always been more of a daddy’s girl than Patsy, who was always closest to her mother, but fiercely independent even at age nine. When the news had come that the doctors had not been able to revive Katie, Patsy hadn’t quite understood what it meant beneath all the medical jargon. All she knew was that Father was sad, he wasn’t looking at her, he had rolled over and was facing the wall. The social worker who had come in with the doctor had taken Patsy to a garishly decorated children’s room and explained that Katie wasn’t going to wake up, and Patsy’s first question was if Mummy had been told, could she go to Mummy? The answer was no, that Mummy wasn’t waking up either, and would she like to go back to her Daddy? The woman had thought that this was what Patsy would want, but Patsy had declined, asking instead for her Grandmama. Grandmama was her mother’s mother, and she had come to live with Patsy after the accident, staying until Patsy was sent away to school at age thirteen so Father could go to Hong Kong. Grandmama had died when Patsy was twenty, and Father had returned to England in his retirement, living as a recluse in the family house.

“Pats?” Delia’s soft voice shattered Patsy’s memories and she opened her eyes, which were immediately met by Delia’s sky-blue eyes. “What’s wrong, cariad?”

“I - I’m fine.” Patsy responded quietly, shifting onto her back, staring blankly at the ceiling. Delia lifted herself up, propping herself up with her elbow, her other hand reaching for Patsy’s, her finger ghosting over the ring on the redhead’s finger.

“For better, for worse, Pats. Tell me.” Delia said gently. She knew that Patsy would always need encouragement to share her feelings, and she was happy to encourage if it meant lightening Patsy’s load.

“I -” Patsy sighed, obviously about to deny she was anything but fine, then changing her mind. “I was just thinking that bad things happen a lot, especially right after something good.” Patsy paused, and right as Delia opened her mouth to speak, she said quietly, almost inaudibly, “I don’t want anything bad to happen now, Deels.”

Delia pulled Patsy into her arms, laying kisses on her hair. “ Nid oes unrhyw beth drwg yn digwydd, 'i' jyst mynd i wella, iawn? Rwy'n dy garu di, cariad.” Delia held Patsy securely, lovingly.

After a long few minutes, Patsy responded. “I know. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry, Pats,” Delia said as she slid down to lay next to Patsy, who rolled to face her. “We should celebrate! Let’s go dancing!” Delia said happily, knowing that Patsy wouldn’t want to dwell on her sad thoughts.

Ever the practical one, Patsy countered. “Deels, we can’t. You’re on nights for the next four days, and I’m on call tonight.” Delia worked at the The Royal London Hospital, and Patsy at a midwifery and district nursing service attached to a general practice and maternity home in the East End. The service was still run by Anglican nuns, with the help of nurses like Patsy, and the Nonnatus Maternity Home was a beloved centre of the community. Delia sighed and snuggled back into Patsy’s side. Patsy hated to disappoint Delia, she couldn’t bear it. “We can dance here?” She suggested.

“Oh, yes!” Delia jumped up and turned on their record player. They both loved old music, and as Elvis’s Devil in Disguise began to play, Delia grinned as Patsy took her hand and spun her round before pulling her close and they began to dance together.