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There but for the grace of God

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Delia pulled the door to their building shut and turned to face her, barely suppressing a grin. Patsy felt the same. Their building.  

Behind that green door and up the stairs was the door to their flat. Their home . She could barely believe it herself. After almost four years of hiding and constant vigilance they would finally be able to relax, to breathe, to love. They could lock the door and finally just be together.

“Shall I take the keys and get a set cut for you?”

Delia reached out, placed the keys in her hand and held it, using the exchange as an excuse to touch her, to hold on to the freedom they had enjoyed just moments before for just a bit longer. Patsy’s face broke into a full smile at the contact. She sometimes thought that she and Delia had developed a kind of supernatural ability that allowed for so much to be communicated through simple touches, gestures, glances. Or maybe it was more scientific, an evolutionary trait for survival - like how pigeons could sense magnetic fields.

Patsy had compared herself to a pigeon . God, she really did love this woman.

“Yes. I’d come with you, but I’ll be late on duty if I don’t fly,” Delia said, as Patsy released her girlfriend's hand and slipped the keys into her pocket.

The redhead looked at her watch, “Gosh, yes it’s twenty to.”

“Twenty to? I thought it was about quarter past!” Delia huffed, examining her own watch and finding the glass foggy with moisture. “Oh, I must have got water in my watch.”

“You’d best pop off then.  Wouldn’t want to risk the wrath of matron.” Patsy couldn’t help the half-smile that creeped up her face as she watched her flustered girlfriend.   She really does look so adorable with her eyebrows crinkled like that. “And give it here. I’ll take it to the watchmaker to get it repaired. You don’t want to let it wait or the works might rust.”

“You really are a sort of angel. Tragedy is, no one will ever know that either.”

Her stomach flipped as Delia looked her up and down as she spoke, electricity sparking between their fingers as the brunette handed over her ruined watch with a wink. Patsy felt like a giddy schoolgirl - or rather what she assumed one felt like, she herself had never been remotely giddy when she was a schoolgirl.

“All the better. I do have a reputation to maintain,” she flirted back, waggling her eyebrows, and exaggerating her RP accent around ‘reputation.' Focus, Patience. Delia really did have to rush off if she was going to make her shift. “I’m on call tonight, but if I get called out I’ll leave the keys for you at Nonnatus.”

Delia gave her a dazzling smile, her dimples flashing. “Keep warm, Pats.”

Patsy watched as her girlfriend turned and walked swiftly down the street, occasionally breaking into a little jog for a few steps in her rush. Adorable.

The redhead felt a twinge of guilt as she watched Delia rush around the corner at the end of their street. It was Patsy after all who had insisted they scrub the floor before they laid the blanket down for their picnic.

Well actually she had insisted they scrub it twice . It really had been filthy.

Still, if Delia was late and got in trouble with matron Patsy would feel responsible. For a moment she had thought to loan Delia her bike to get her there on time, but there really were a lot of errands to run before her shift and she wouldn’t have time to go by the London to pick up her bike beforehand. Plus, Delia really was a terror on two wheels.

As she mounted her bike, Patsy made a mental note to pick up a present for Trixie while she was out as an apology for being nearly run over that morning. Some cigarettes maybe, or perhaps a trip to the Off License was in order. Yes, a bottle of good scotch would serve nicely as an ‘I’m sorry I’m moving out to live with my girlfriend that nearly ran you over but I cannot tell you she’s my girlfriend so you probably just think I like her better as a friend than you’ gift. She sighed, pushing off and heading in the direction of the Commercial Road. There really wasn’t a good enough gift for that.

Trixie. As happy as she was to start her life with Delia, Patsy could not help feeling like she was abandoning her best friend. And worse, she couldn't even tell her why. She knew Trixie was jealous of her ‘friendship’ with Delia, no matter how she tried to hide it with jokes and coy smiles. Patsy was well versed in putting on an act, and it hadn't taken long into their friendship for her to recognize Trixie’s tells. But lately there had been a subtle change in her roommate. The slips in her mask, when Patsy caught them, revealed something deeper and darker than usual. And she didn't think it was all heartbreak over Tom or even her own relationship with Delia. As she dismounted outside the locksmith, Patsy resolved to make an effort to spend more time with Trixie after they had settled in.

 

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Patsy parked her bike on the pavement outside of their flat ( their flat! ) with an hour to spare before her shift. It had been a busy afternoon.

After the locksmith and watchmakers she had visited the hardware store to pick up paint samples. Fred had offered to help procure some paint for them, but Patsy had decided it was well worth a few extra shillings to avoid any dodgy business dealings with the handyman. It wasn't that she thought he would purposely swindle them, she had just heard too many stories from Trixie and Sister Evangelina to trust his sources. Delia had put on a show of being game to dive headlong into the black market, but when Patsy recounted a story Trixie had told her about feathered toffee apples the brunette conceded, not wanting to risk paint contaminated by fuzz, fur, or worse. Patsy suspected the real reason was that Delia didn't want to risk Fred’s ‘yellow’ paint, wanting to be more particular over the specific shade of the hue. For her own part, Patsy held out hope that Violet might be a good influence on her fiancé, although she had heard him talking to Tom just last week about a mushroom farm. She smiled ruefully to herself. Love is a funny thing.

Exiting the shop with the sample books, Patsy walked her bike a few doors down to a kitchenwares shop. She wandered through the shop, taking note of all the things they would need ( Gosh, there really is an awful lot ), and only bought what she thought of as absolute necessities for the next few days - primarily a kettle, saucepan, dishtowels, and an odd assortment of cooking utensils. Her bike was nearly full with her shopping, but there was one more stop Patsy wanted to make. They had talked about getting a record player, but with all that they needed to purchase to make the flat habitable, a dancette was low on the shopping list. Nevertheless, Patsy wanted to start slowly building their record collection for that future time, and she knew exactly which record she wanted to be the first they owned together. Together. She really could get used to that word.

After bringing the lot home, she headed back out into the brisk November afternoon for provisions. They both had the next morning off and planned to do a full shopping together after coffee, but Delia had put Patsy in charge of getting tea, coffee, milk, sugar, and pink wafers for the interim. Patsy decided they needed more than biscuits to survive and purchased eggs, bread, cheese, and jam as well. On her way home she passed a flower stall and her eyes found a bouquet of white chrysanthemums that would catch the morning light beautifully - even in that ghastly jug .

Patsy spent thirty minutes of her last free hour tidying away the shopping and cleaning up the mess from their picnic. As she filled the kitchen sink with soapy water she was struck with the domesticity of it all. This was actually happening . She had never expected to live independently, not really.

Patsy had known since she had kissed Constance Huxley-Nash in the fencing changing room at fifteen that she was not destined for the traditional path of marriage. The heartbreaking fallout of that experience had equally convinced her that she was destined to be alone. The thought had not especially bothered her. Alone was something Patsy was used to. After training she had planned to continue living in the Nurses Home, or somewhere similar, for the rest of her working life. She would have happily been like Nurse Crane or Sister Julienne ( well, without the wimple obviously ) and gone her entire life never paying a bill or putting up a bookshelf.

But that was before Delia.

Just today she had bought her first pint of milk and it felt glorious . As she finished washing the remains of their picnic along with the newly purchased kitchenware ( really, one shudders to think of the sanitary conditions in the saucepan factory ) Patsy couldn't help the smile that slid over her face. She was home.

Ten minutes later the ginger midwife was dressed in her light blue Nannatus uniform and red cardigan, her makeup and hair impeccable. She pinned her hat on and for the first time hoped for a quiet night on call so that she could return home to Delia as soon as her shift ended. As she shrugged on her mackintosh, her eyes made one final sweep of the flat, making sure all was in order. She grinned lopsidedly as she imagined Delia’s face lighting up upon seeing the flowers and her bouncing on her toes impatiently while she waited for Patsy to get home to open the package containing the record.

The last rays of the late afternoon sun shone down as she mounted her bike for her first commute to work. A small part of her wished it was dark so that her huge grin would be lost in the shadows, for once her trusty ‘Nurse Mount’ persona just couldn't cover the happiness that kept bubbling up inside her. She pushed off and rode toward Nonnatus. The two sets of keys jangled merrily in the pocket of her mac as she rode over the cobbles. Patsy smiled, the brisk wind felt wonderful on her glowing cheeks. She turned left and down a slight hill between the brick buildings. Entering the crossroads, she saw a flash of grey and chrome out of the corner of her eye.

And then there was nothing.