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The Fuck Anne Lister Club

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“Mrs. Lister.” Headmaster Rawson spoke and Anne eyed him with disdain,
“It’s Doctor Lister.”
“Ah well.”
“Mm not ah well. I have a as a PhD and three bachelor’s degrees - and that’s more than you have, Mr. Rawson.” Anne told him coldly and he all but waved a hand, showing them into his office – asking them to sit down in the chair’s opposite of him.
“I am pleased you could arrive here so swiftly, Mrs. Lister.”
“It’s Doctor.” Alice muttered and the headmaster scowled at her,
“I hardly think you’re in a position to talk back, young lady.”
“I ask you to not address my daughter thus, Sir. She’s perfectly right to say that. You’re deliberately trying to undermine me, Mr. Rawson to boost your own self-esteem. Which I’m fairly certain is hanging on by a thread just like that button on your suit.” Anne told him darkly, and Alice bit her lip - staring down into her lap, not to smirk at her mother’s remark.
“Anyway, I called you here today because of Miss Lister’s behaviour today in Mr Lucas class.”
“Yes, please tell me why my daughter is the only one here.”  Anne sat with her back straight in the chair – looking intimidating.
“Well, Miss Lister is the only one who has wronged.” Mr Rawson patronised her and Anne frowned,
“Hm, funny, because that’s not how I regard this situation at all.”
“You weren’t there and I’m sure this young lady might have fabricated a story for you, ma’am. But We are here to foremost discuss her suspension.” Mr Rawson continued eying her with distaste and Anne looked unamused,
“Suspension? On what charge? I thought this was a serious and progressive institution, Mr Rawson as stated in the governmentally school law.”
“It is, which is why Miss Lister will be suspended for a week.” Mr Rawson pressed, looking red-faced and annoyed but Anne wasn’t bothered,
“On what charge? Because as far as I am concerned – and I’m sure her schoolfellows will concede – my daughter was forbidden to leave the classroom to go to the lavatory.”
“We do not allow students toilet breaks in the middle of the class as a rule, Mrs. Lister.”
“Do you have early set dementia, Mr Rawson? – It’s Doctor Lister. I’ve worked hard for that title – and it’s becoming evidently clear that you have not for yours. My daughter was denied going to the toilet to change her menstrual supplies. I’m as stated fairly well-educated and one of my specialities is the female anatomy. However, even an ignorant fool such as yourself should know - It’s impossible to stop menstrual flow. Your teacher refused my daughter a necessity – causing her to bleed through her skirt and onto her chair – for which she is now punished? I will report this to the head of the school department in Yorkshire, and I want that teacher to apologise to my daughter and for the school to pay for her ruined underwear and skirt. Of course, you cannot undo the pain you’ve caused her mentally.” 

Alice stared at the floor – embarrassed when reminded of the walk of shame she had to make to the office. How humiliating it had been to get up in-front of all the class to march to the headmasters. But at least her mother was on her side.
“There was also the issue with slapping a boy in her class and then kicking her teacher – which I’m sure you agree, Doctor Lister is unacceptable.” 
“Violence is never acceptable, however sometimes a necessity. I am not going to reprimand my daughter for lashing out when they provoked her the way they did. That boy – whoever he is – called my daughter and her friend dykes in-front of the whole class – taunting her and mocking her for being on her period et cetera touching her!- All the while Mr Lucas did nothing. She warned him but he wouldn’t stop. Then Mr Lucas told her she bled through on purpose and also found it necessary to add that it was due to being a feminazi as a result of having dykes for mothers. Oh, I’m sorry – that’s disgusting dykes.” Anne stared down the man, who looked angrily at her with his small pig eyes.
“So. I ask you again, Mr Rawson, to acknowledge the impropriety of your staff’s conduct as well as that boy’s, and I ask you to call them here – if my daughter is being suspended for self-defence then I hope that boy is suspended for sexual harassment and discrimination and that Mr Lucas is sent off on suspension.”
“I thought you might be more reasonable to deal with, Doctor Lister.”
“More reasonable? Oh, you mean softer. Well, now you know me better.”
“I will not call Mr. Roberts here – that’s outrageous. He was just being funny. He’s a boy!” Mr Rawson insisted.
“Well, then I’ll report your conduct to the heads in Yorkshire – as you know I am myself a member – I teach at York University as a lector of classics nowadays. They do frown upon misogyny and patriarchal bullshit.” Anne said matter of fact and Rawson looked upset. 
“Dare to test me, Lister. Miss Lister is here forth suspended for a fortnight instead of a week and then we’ll discuss her probable expulsion.”
“Good. I’ll enjoy bringing you down.”
“See yourself out.”
Anne stood up, taking Alice protectively around the shoulder before leading her out of the school. There were people from her class calling things to her, and Anne’s blood boiled. When Mr. Roberts dared make his way over, touching her arse briefly,
“See you in a fortnight, Lister – I’ll look forward to bedding you.”
“That’s my daughter you bitch!” Anne pushed the boy away looking thunderous and the teenagers all howled in laughter at him, but Anne wasn’t laughing she was mad as hell.
“How dare you speak to anyone like that! Disgusting. I’ll be calling your mother – don’t think I won’t. And if you weren’t so insignificant Mr Roberts, I’d horsewhip you – until you were black and blue!”
Anne brought Alice to the car, having draped her coat around her to cover up the stain on her skirt. For her sake not that Anne thought it was a big deal. It was just blood. Hannah came over, so Anne sat in the car waiting – only hearing bits of it.
“Allie! Are you alright – did he suspend you?”
“Yeah, but mum gave him a run for his money. You should have seen him – he was red as a tomato – he was so angry. But mum’s fab – she knows all the right things to say.”
“They are so unfair! You didn’t do anything wrong. How long until you come back?”
“Fortnight.” Alice rolled her eyes, and Hannah sighed,
“I’ll miss you, Allie, school won’t be any fun without you.”
“You can come round if you want – to shabby old Shibden.” Alice smirked and Hannah laughed,
“Yeah, right – aren’t you grounded?”
“What!? No- I don’t think so. Mum wasn’t upset with me - she was upset with them. You’ll come right? Say you’ll come!”
“Well, I’ll pop around until dinner.”
“Nah, you can eat with us. Come for dinner, will you? And we can watch a flick – oh and I need to show you – we have this really cool summer hut on the grounds.”
“Are you sure your mums won’t mind?”
“What?  My mummies?  Nah. Mumma isn’t as scary as she looks and, in any case, Mummy keeps her in check.” Alice smirked and Hannah lit up,
“I’ll come then. Can’t wait, Lister.”
“See you soon, Ann.” Alice smiled before getting into the car with her mum. Anne glanced at her whilst backing out of the school’s parking lot,
“Is Hannah coming around?”
“Yes, is that alright? I’m not grounded?”
“Mm, no. You haven’t done anything wrong. Do you want to get some lunch?” Anne wondered and Alice smiled,
“I thought you didn’t eat lunch.”
“I’ll make an exception for my favourite daughter.”
“I’m your only daughter.”
“Well… it’s good you’re my favourite then.” Anne grinned, looking at her quickly before turning her eyes back on the road, straightening the glasses she nowadays needed to drive.
“Hannah and I were going to watch a flick.” 
“Mm, alright – I’ll keep mummy busy.”
“Euw.” Alice scrunched her face up and Anne rolled her eyes,
“I didn’t mean like that.”
“Can we watch it in the summer hut?”
“The chaumiére?” Anne’s eyebrow quirked,
“Alice, I’m not prying but you are my sixteen-year-old daughter… is Hannah more than a friend?”
Alice became beet red in the face staring out of the window – that were misted by the rain trickling down.
“Hm? It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. I had my first love when I was… fourteen? And at boarding school. My parents thought they were being clever sending unruly Anne Lister to an all-girls boarding school – jokes on them. Anyway – point is – you can tell me about these things. I was young too once – though my hair is greying and I’m urgh 62.” Anne rested her hand on her knee for a second before making a left turn and Alice’s eyes turned to her,
“We’ve kissed once. She’s not my girlfriend but I’d like for her to be.”
“Mm, she was a very sweet girl – you’ve got good taste.” Anne said gently, not wanting to scare her daughter off from telling her things like this – if something terrible happened at some point.
“I can’t stop thinking about her. She’s great. And she’s out – well not to her parents but to her friends.”
“That’s brilliant. All the better. I remember being with this girl who wasn’t out – caused a riot -  I was expelled.”
“Eliza Raine?” Alice asked and Anne frowned,
“Yes? How did you know?
“Folks are talking about you in school sometimes – you know ‘Gentleman Jack’”
“Ah.” Anne focused on driving – but it upset her that her daughter need to hear those old insults and rumours.
“I don’t care what anyone says about you, Mum. They don’t know you. And anyway – it’s kind of cool being the daughter of the OG lesbian in Halifax – it’s like being related to Sappho.”
“The OG lesbian?” Anne snorted amused, “Your mum is going to laugh at that one.”
“Could we be in the hut though?” Alice asked again and Anne shook her head,
“I’d be a lousy parent if I said yes. Aunt Marian doesn’t call it the sex hut for nothing.”
“Mum!” Alice cried disgusted, and Anne laughed,
“I’m sorry – that’s a vulgar joke from her but no. You can watch a movie at home, but I want you to be in the house.”
“Fine. But alone – do not send Aunt Anne in to pretend she’s old and forlorn.” Alice bargained and Anne chuckled,
“Aunt Anne is 85! She is old and forlorn.”
“She is not! She’s as bright as a button – I swear she will outlive all of us. Sometimes I think she’s faking her arthritis and that she paints on the ulcers.” Alice argued, and they laughed together.
“Well, she certainly outlived her siblings.”
“Do you miss grandfather?”
“Sometimes.” Anne confessed, “But I’ve always been closer to my aunt. She took me in and brought me up. Nurtured me with love when no one else would.”
“It’s so weird never having met any grandparents – people at school talk about them and I can’t relate. But I have Aunt Anne obviously – and she’s better.”
“Oh trust me – she is way better than my drunk abusive mother was. As for Ann’s poor mother – I think you would’ve liked her.”
“Mary.” Alice said out loud and Anne nodded,
“Your namesake.”
“Alfred’s named after your brothers, right?” Alice asked curiously and Anne nodded,
“Yes, John after mummy’s brother and mine – both of them actually – I had two brothers called John all though, we did call the younger Ensign – John died before I was born so It’s after your mother’s John. And then James after my Uncle who left me Shibden.”
“Is it hard losing your siblings?” Alice wondered and Anne sighed,
“I don’t remember John – obviously, but Ensign was hard – he was just a child, and then baby Jeremy – wasn’t as hard – he was just a baby but still I could see how it affected my parents. Sam… oh, he was the hardest. We were close – closer than me and Marian initially. Me and Marian have stuck together though not always very happily. We’ve been better since your mum came into the picture. I wouldn’t do without her. She’s my baby sister – picking on her is a privilege not a right and only I own that privilege.”
“Mm.”  Alice looked troubled but then the car stopped, and they got out to have a lovely luncheon in York – Alice would just have to follow her to her lectures that afternoon. Anne had given her a pair of trousers to change into in the car.
“Mummy’s going to meet us for lunch.”
“Does she know what happened?”
“She doesn’t even know you’re with me, love.”

“Adney!” Anne called the blonde who sat outside the restaurant by the table waiting for them.
“An… Alice!?”
Anne kissed her wife softly twice as they came over – and she had stood,
“Our daughter’s been suspended and is on the cusp of getting expelled.”
“What? Why!?”
“They were being idiots.” Anne told her kissing her again, but Ann pulled back,
“What’s happened? Sit down and tell me.” 
So, they told her, and Ann became red in the face from anger,
“Those… oh, I’m glad I wasn’t there to give him a piece of my mind and my fist. No one mistreats my daughter, and no one disrespects my wife!”
“And imagine, Alice – they used to say your mummy had a weak spine.”
“Oh, Shut up Lister. When I get to menopause and my spine stops acting up…” 
“Bold words from an invalid.”
“I’ll make you one! I’ll make you one if you make another comment like that.” Ann threatened and Anne kissed her,
“Please do!”
“Urgh, must you two be so disgusting with each other?” Alice rolled her eyes at her mother’s and they laughed out loud,
“Sorry, love – How was your day, excepting the drama?” Ann asked her gently,
“It was alright.”
“Our daughter has a girlfriend.” Anne spouted excitedly and Ann gasped, her eyes widening but Alice groaned,
“She’s not my girlfriend!”
“Yet. But hey, she’s her mother’s daughter – she’ll have no trouble there.” Anne joked and Ann rolled her eyes,
“Let’s hope she has my luck and meets the love of her life the first time around, instead of your lousy luck.”
“You cannot be weird tonight when Ann comes over.” Alice intervened and they smiled at her,
“We promise to act natural. We won’t be busybodies – but I will call Eliza Priestley to come do the honours.” Ann teased and Alice laughed,
“I think she might not survive that. She’ll have a heart attack.”
“She walked in on us once – back when we first got together – mummy lived at Crow Nest and um, we were… having sex and she walked in.” Anne told her daughter who grimaced,
“I really don’t want to imagine that! All though her reaction must’ve been hilarious.”
“Well, your mum tried to convince her that we did nothing.” Ann shook her head, and Anne laughed,
“She almost bought it – well after while she thought she might’ve imagined things.”
“Because we were only respectable women who were friends – and that was the beginning and end of it.” Ann repeated and Anne laughed kissing her temple,
“It worked!”
“Mm… not too sure about that. Anyway, Alice – love, the thing is you don’t have to hide from us. We won’t force ourselves into your mind and so on but we’re here when you want to talk or need help.”
“Thank you, mummy. I love you guys.”
“We love you.” Ann smiled, “Anyway, who is Ann?”
“It’s Hannah.”  Anne filled in and Ann smirked at her daughter,
“Oh, she’s been around sometimes. She’s a very nice girl. She’ll be lucky to have you.”
“Yeah? – I really like her – we kissed once during a game but… I don’t know how to tell her I like her more than just a friend. I think she likes me back – I’m certain she does.” Alice told them and Ann eyed her daughter affectionately, but then she glanced at her wife mischievously,
“Well, you can always do it the way your mother did with me.”
“How?” Alice wondered; she did love hearing about their past – they’d had an exciting life together.
“I wasn’t… uh, I didn’t know I was a lesbian, even though I’d been crushing on your mum since I was fourteen. So, when we were re-acquainted 22 years ago… shit it’s 22 years ago, Pony!? – Anyway, we’d been socialising with each other for a while and for some reason discussed kissing – she asked me if I had wanted to kiss someone, and I asked her and she said – every time I come here and I was confused – and then she was like ‘surely you know what I mean?’ and she traced my lip with her thumb – and then she leaned and said ‘I think you’re a little bit in love with me’ and that’s when I knew – I was hit by the blatant fact that I was in love with your mum. But – yeah… not everyone is so annoyingly confident as Anne Lister.” Ann gave her wife a look and Anne shrugged her shoulder whilst their daughter laughed,
“What can I say? First time we met – I knew you were in love with me – you were so obvious – hanging on to my every word – blushing…”
“Oh shut up, Lister.” Ann pushed at her playfully before kissing the corner of her lips,
“I don’t think normal people go about it like that.” Alice smirked and Ann laughed,
“No – your mum isn’t most people.”
“You never complained!”
“I’m not complaining, dearest – I’m just stating facts.”
“See – such a softie.” Ann told their daughter, teasing her wife with a look,
“I want to have what you have with Hannah.” Alice said shyly and her mother’s hearts might’ve just burst,
“Then we’ll pray for that and support you one thousand percent.” Ann smiled softly, and Anne nodded,
“Yes – I mean Shibden will eventually need a new generation of lesbians to look after it.”
“I thought Alfred was inheriting Shibden.” Alice raised her eyebrows and Anne opened her arms,
“It’s not… He’ll get Crow Nest then – and you’ll have Shibden – obviously there’s the Northgate property… we have loads of properties but the main two – split them. Alfred wants Crow Nest in any case, if you’re not opposed.”
“I want Shibden – hell – we need to continue this lineage that goes all the way back to Charlamagne!”
“That’s my daughter.” Anne grinned, and Ann rolled her eyes,
“You are descendent from trade like everyone else!”
“I cannot hear you over my big ego.” Anne’s breath tickled her ear and Ann laughed,
“Oh, Lord – how about that lunch before I have another lecture?” 
“Well, I’m not sure – me and mum don’t eat with people of trade.”  Alice teased and Anne smirked at her wife, as she high fived her daughter and Ann blew air out of her nose,
“I did not have my vagina stitched to have you turn on me!”
“Mum!” Alice cried disgusted hiding her face behind her hands as they laughed at her kindly.
“Sorry but at least now we can eat. And for the record – I’m descendent from trade – I am not it so we’re basically the same.” 
“Um, no! Shibden is…”
“Oh here we go again – Dearest – I know… please spare me this story again!”
“I’m sorry, Adney but you clearly need to hear it again.”
“I’m with Mumma.” Alice grinned and Ann sighed loudly,
“I’m calling Marian she’s on my side. And I’m calling the girls for some time off – and then you’ll just have to kiss the bedpost tonight, Pony.”
“The girls are my girls! And they love that story as a matter of fact.” Anne huffed and Ann rolled her eyes at her, and then eyed her daughter who laughed loudly,
“Do you believe her?! She will honestly have a debate about it.”
“Mum is right though about the story – I want to hear it. Our ancestry is important.” Alice said to spur her mother on.
“I’ll get them on the phone, and I’ll win this argument, Lister.”
“Do it then.” Anne crossed her arms, and Ann fished her phone up, entering the group chat pressing call, after about one signal someone picked up,
“Ann? Is something the matter? Is Lister being an idiot?” Tib spoke,
Anne’s mouth opened to argue but she had no time,
“Ann! Is something up? Is Anne being an arse about something?” Anne Belcombe tittered,
“Hello – just heard the phone – what’s happening? Is this about Anne being a stubborn fucker – is she trying to bring her thermometer with her again?” Mariana wondered
Anne just stared at her wife’s smug grin, whilst Alice was biting into her hands to muffle her laughter,
“Bonjour ladies! What’s happening? Do not tell me Lister is being a jerk – I’m in Paris but I’ll hop on the first plane for a girl’s night out.” Maria Barlow told them,
“I think she’s…”
“Hi – what’s happening? Who initiated the call?” Marian wondered,
“Ann did.” Tib replied,
“No, Lister.” Anne told her,
“She’s not even in th… oh, sorry Ann. What’s my sister done now?”
“Girls! It’s been too long.” Aunt Anne shouted excitedly into the phone,
Anne gasped, staring at Ann – had her aunt really betrayed her!?
“Aunt Anne – so happy to hear your voice again, I’ve missed you.”
“Is that you, Isabella Norcliffe?”
“The very same.”
“Oh, I’ve missed you too – how’s it going with that lady from Leeds?”
“She’s moving in.”
“Oh congratulations!” People spoke at the same time,
“I’m sorry, I didn’t hear the phone until just now!” Vere told them,
“Vere!” They tittered happily, “Our favourite Ally!”
“HEY!” Marian cried upset, “What about me!”
“Oh, but you’re more like our poor little sister.”
“Oh shut up!”
“I thought I was your favourite Ally!” Aunt Anne said disappointed,
“No, you’re like everyone’s Aunt – taking care of all of your lesbian children and Mary the bisexual.” Tib told her, and Mariana huffed,
“I’m a lesbian!”
“When Charles dies.”  Everyone shouted into the phone, laughing,
“Oh fuck off all of you!” Mariana shouted but she wasn’t that upset,
“Now why did you call, Ann?”
“Here’s the thing… I’m with Anne and Alice – she got suspended today for standing up for her disgusting dykes of mother’s and for bleeding through when a teacher wouldn’t let her go to the lavatory… anyway and oh – she’s having a girl over tonight!”
“Oh! I’m not crying you are!” Tib cried,
“I cannot believe, Alice is that old!” Maria cried, “Ask her if she wanted to come stay with me this summer in Paris – she can bring the girl if she wants.”
“Aw, I haven’t seen her in so long! You better all come to London soon – I am vegetating here!”
“Or you pack up and move to York, Vere – or at least Yorkshire.” Anne B told her,
“Alice got suspended!?” Marian cried, “Do you want us all to come to school to beat the headmaster up?”
“No…” Ann began but the ladies didn’t hear her,
“I’m taking the next plane to England!” Maria said upset,
“Fly to London and I’ll pick you up on the way!” Vere offered,
“Thank you – brilliant!”
“I’ll go find the old swords in the attic!” Aunt Anne told them,
“Excellent! I’ll…”
“Anne already told him off.”
“Only told him off? – that’s boring.” Anne whined,
“OH Lister’s gone soft.” Tib stated
“I was so excited to go on a mission.” Maria sighed,
“Well, they are still being disgusting homophobes so – I mean come – and bring your partners.”
“Not Charles, Mary!” Anne B cried, “And Vere ‘m sorry but not Donald.”
“No, I’ll bring Lady the Rothsary – she’ll pretend to be my lesbian lover.”
“OR you pretend to be mine?” Marian offered,
“OH, yes – that’s good!” Vere agreed,
“I’m so excited!” Maria told them,
“Great ladies but I needed your opinion on something.”
“Go on then!” Tib cried excitedly,
“Well, I was having an argument with Anne – shocker, and she wants to repeat the story of her lineage…”
“All the way back to Charlamagne!”  They all cried in unison,
Anne blushed but little, whereas Alice was turning redder by the second from laughing so hard,
“Well, would you all agree that, because she claims you all love the story, but would you agree that it sucks and is boring after the first time.”
“Oh Lord - yes! I mean it’s a good thing, Lister was so fucking good in bed or I would’ve killed myself hearing that story more than once!” Tib cried dramatically,
“I think the little sapphic I had in me died with that story.” Vere agreed,
“SPARE ME THAT STORY!” Marian bellowed, “I don’t want to hear it again and it’s about my blooming family!.”
“I only listened to that boring story so she would eat me out.” Maria admitted, “Because the story sucks but she doesn’t.”
“Is she still on about that?” Anne Belcombe wondered,
“She’s been on about that for far longer than Mariana’s been saying ‘When Charles dies’.” Tib told her and Mariana huffed again,
“How was I supposed to know that the fucker was invincible!”
“Divorce him!!” Anne shouted at her, “I hate him! Why do you think the whole family is ill every fucking holiday!?”
“We all hate him to be fair.” Tib acknowledged,
“Almost as much as that story!” Maria added, and they all agreed,
“Well, thank you ladies for your help – I need to hang up now, but I’ll call you later and oh, Mariana – Yes, Divorce him!”  Ann hung up the phone and offered a victorious smile to Anne who groaned,
“Divorce me then if I’m so boring.” 
“Aw, Dearest.” Ann laughed at her, pressing her lips to the corner of hers, turning her face around to give her a proper kiss,
“I love you so ridiculously much. Even if you tell me that boring story sometimes.”
“I love you more.” Anne told her, kissing her slowly and Alice groaned,
“There are children here you know!”
“Close your eyes then, love.” Ann told her before kissing her wife one last time – as the waitress finally came over to take their order.

Ann was cuddled up with Anne on the sofa two days later – they were watching a documentary on the history of the old Greek dramas. To be fair at that point it was mostly Anne watching whilst Ann lay in her lap purring as the brunette ran her fingers soothingly over her greying hair.
“Should we have an early night?” Ann suggested and her wife grinned at her,
“Well, seeing as Alice is sleeping away… I wouldn’t mind a good kiss or two.”
“I am not deaf!” Aunt Anne complained from her corner of the room, “Please – remember that.”
“Sorry.” Anne blushed a little – her aunt had that effect on her – being scolded like a child by a mother. Anne paused the documentary and stood up to give her Aunt a kiss on the cheek as the elderly woman was on her way up.
“Good night, Aunt.”
“Night, dear – don’t exert yourself too much tonight – neither of you are youngsters anymore.”
“What? I’m only 62 and Ann’s turning 50 – we are hardly ancient. I ran a marathon this winter.” Anne argued and her aunt shook her head at her as she left.
“Are you ready, Adney?” Anne wondered, smiling roguish, leaning over the back of the sofa to give her wife a kiss when there was a firm knock on the door – Anne’s eyebrows raised but Ann looked equally baffled. Anne was hoping they might just go away but there was another knock and Anne sighed – kissing her wife chastely before standing up straight to go see who it was that knocked on the door at this time of the evening. To say that Anne was surprised was a vast understatement – on her doorstep stood a heap of people.
“Evening, Lister.” Tib patted her old friend on the chest harshly – walking past her into the drawing room, followed by the others who merely acknowledged Anne,
“Ann – it’s been too long!” Tib clasped her arms around Ann and a little touch of jealousy went through her wife at the sight.
“What are you all doing here? Mia is that you – did you fly all the way from Paris?” Ann gasped at the sight of the woman – Maria Barlow – Anne was surprised how well kept she was, she looked fresh and healthy for her seventy-two years.
“I did. I picked up Vere in London, or rather she picked up me.”
“I thought you were kidding when you all said you’d come and defend Alice in school.”
“Why would we joke about that?” Anne Belcombe seemed confused, “We take our role as God mothers to Alice seriously.”
“What? You are not…” Anne began but was interrupted by Marian,
“Of course we are… well at least I am, right?”
“Uh, no? Aunt Anne is.” Anne replied and Mariana rolled her eyes,
“No, we all are because without our existence in your life – she wouldn’t exist, and you wouldn’t have married Ann.”
“In hindsight – what a bloody good thing Charles didn’t die.” Vere said and they laughed,
“I was young and dumb so sue me.”
“How old is he even?” Maria wondered and Mariana looked less than amused,
“Urgh 86.”
This elicited a great laugh from all of them and Mariana huffed,
“Stop laughing! It may sound like a joke but it is my reality!”
“That we will, Mary…” Tib began, and they all glanced sheepishly at each other,
“When Charles dies.”
“Oh, for fuck sakes.”
“Divorce him, Mary! He might live to a hundred – you still have time to fuck about for a bit.” Maria encouraged her, joined by everyone else in the room, who heartily agreed,
“I don’t even… I don’t want to die alone.”
“Exactly – Divorce him, sister dear – because he will die and then you will live another like thirty years and then die… alone.”
“There’s no one out there for me any longer.” Mariana shrugged her shoulder, and her sister who sat with her wife – Sally frowned.
“Of course, there is.”
“I mean, I’m still free, if you want to give it a chance. Rita dumped me.” Tib offered, and everyone gawked and gasped – that wasn’t expected.
“I mean, I know I might not be as attractive as Anne but I’m just as good in bed. I have a comfortable estate and good money – and we’ve known each other forever – we went to school together. So. I just thought.”
“Really?” Mariana asked bewildered and Tib shrugged,
“I’m not going to burst into song about it. But yeah.”
“Do not say when Charles dies – just divorce the knobhead!” Anne B spurred her excitedly and everyone joined her in the cheers.
“I’ll need to think about it, and in any case – we here to help Alice out.”
“Give it all the thought you need.” Tib told her before they all turned their attention back to their cause.

“So, here’s the conclusion we’ve come to, he’s a fucking knob, that Rawson guy and also I own the school basically as well as Mariana whose idiot husband – sorry, owns part of it as well and so we will just march there and resign him because – I sure as fucking hell will not sponsor a school that’s not lgbtq friendly.”
“It’s Lgbtqi+.” Anne B budged in and Tib frowned, sighing,
“Fucking hell – it used to be much simpler back in the day when you were just queer or gay. Ah, better times now course – I’m not… getting away from the point. We’ll force him to resign to a bunch of dykes or we’ll have his head on our spike.”
“Thought that was funny?” Anne raised an eyebrow,
“Shut up, Lister – you are no judge of funny.” Tib defended herself, and Anne turned to her wife who was smirking at her,
“Do you need to look so glum, dearest?”
“Everyone is ganging up on me!”
“Well, you gave half of us a venereal disease that I’m still unwrapping.” Tib smirked and Anne gasped,
“I did not! Well, Mary gave me it first!”
“Charles gave me it!” Mariana defended herself and everyone went silent,
“Mm, are we all in agreement that everything is Charles’s fault until – Charles dies?”
“Good, now before any real fighting can commence – are we in agreement that we will march tomorrow.”
“What if people think it’s just a weird pride parade?” Ann raised the question, and everyone went silent,
“Mm, yeah… well – the more the merrier.” Anne B offered and it was agreed. 
“I am so confused.” Marian held her fingers to her temples, “How did you all give each other chlamydia?”
“Are you still on that?” Tib snickered,
“Well – yes. Was it like an epidemic or what happened?”
“Do you want to tell you sister, Lister or shall I?” Tib wondered and Anne groaned,
“Tell her.”
“Well, here’s the deal with that. Mariana got it from Charles – and she gave it to Anne when they met up to fuck. Anne then – poor depressed little lesbian went and fucked me, and I got it. I may or may not have given it to a couple of one nighters in York but mm, never mind that. I then fucked Anne Belcombe who got it – we didn’t know obviously. And Anne tried to treat herself – didn’t work or maybe it did but then she fucked Anne and Anne gave her it back. Anne then went to Paris – cheeky sod, where she met Mia and she gave her it accidentally during treatment and uh – is that all?”
“Wait – I mean I knew Anne had, you know – done the rounds but have you all more or less just swapped?”
“Yup. I like to refer to it as the swinging seventies and eighties. It was a fun time.” Anne B told Marian who just shook her head,
“Oh Lord give me strength.”
“Just to clarify – I never fucked my sister.” Mariana hurriedly said and Marian grimaced,
“Uh I got that! Thank you very much!”
“I just wasn’t sure you knew that…”
“Hey that’s my pretend girlfriend you’re mocking!” Vere cried out, standing herself in-front of Marian,
“God, no one is going to believe either of you to be gay.” Tib rolled her eyes and Vere and Marian huffed before turning to each other – clasping the other and snogging intensely, whilst the others watched,
“Is it sad that Marian’s now had more action with Vere than I ever did?” Anne asked and the other’s looked at her and Ann laughed,
“Yes, but again – we’re all just useless lesbians.”
“I’m not! I fucked everyone in this room. Except my sister and her straight lover.” Anne puffed out her chest.
“If anyone ever asks what this friend group have common – let’s just all say that we’ve fucked Anne Lister, or you know that we’ve all been wrapped around her fingers.” Ann teased and Anne pondered that, confused.
“Do you mean that I’ve been wrapped around all… huh?”
“We’ll leave that one for you to figure out.”
“So basically, our girl group is the “Fuck Anne Lister club” Anne B concluded,
“Oh – yes!” Tib laughed and Anne growled,
“I hardly think my wife finds that amusing.”
“What – Anne? I’m not the jealous type – I’ve already renamed the group chat.” Ann laughed, teasing Anne with a look or two.
“I’m however not comfortable with that name!” Marian intervened, and they all laughed,
“Well, Marian you’re the + in the name, and we’ve got snacks and Vere is an honorary member because whereas she didn’t fuck Anne Lister, Anne Lister wanted to fuck her.” Ann clarified.
“This isn’t real.” Anne told herself, shaking her head “Why are you all such good friends!”
“Well, I find this quite hilarious.”
“Also, it’s such a faff being enemies with one’s former lovers. I mean I’m so thankful for all of you because I am not friends with all my former lovers in York – I cannot go anywhere.”
“That’s on you for sleeping around for most of the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 00’s.” Anne B said and Tib nodded,
“Yes. 10 years clean this spring.”
“That’s very good. I’m proud of you.” Anne told her old friend who smiled,
“Yeah, life is a lot easier when you’re not trying to fuck other men’s wives.”
“Tell me about it.” Anne winked and they all laughed.

They went together the next morning to the school – first thing, they might as well have been rockstars entering school property – the students were staring with their mouths touching the ground. The women hoovered outside the office for a few seconds, smiling at each other when they heard Rawson speak, probably noticing the upstir among the students outside,
“Is there something queer afoot today, Miss Worsley?”
“Yes, that’d be us.” Anne spoke as she swung the door open,
“Missed me? – I’ve come to fulfil my promise of your downfall.”
“You cannot do that.”
“Mm? Maybe not.”
“But I can.” Tib smirked, banging the resigning papers on his desk, “You see I don’t appreciate my school having a knob for a headmaster.”
“You cannot do that – y-y-you need all parties agreement.”
“Aw aren’t you in luck, you – roughian.” Mariana patronised him, showing her ownership,
“But… I didn’t do anything wrong. It’s that queer bitch!” Rawson pointed to Anne and Ann stepped in front of her, slapping him soundly across the cheek,
“That’s my queer wife you bitch!”
“Sign it now – or I’ll have you sacked instead – and you get no money at all.” Tib urged him and he was forced to sign it,
“There! Happy?”
“Ah no. Apologise to Alice – in front of the whole school and admit that it was sexist and discriminatory what you all did.” Maria Barlow insisted,
“Who are you?”
“Your worst nightmare. An English-French hybrid lesbian, who also happens to have handy connections just about everywhere.”
“It’s over – I will make sure no one will hire you anywhere in England” Vere got close to his face, smiling villainous,
“And who are you?”
“Vere Cameron – I’m Marian Lister’s lover.”
“We have sex!” Marian cried excited and all women just stared at her,
"Marian!" Mariana cried disturbed, 
"Oh, sorry - we all have lesbian sex" Marian added, and Tib nudged Mariana, winking at her,
"When Charles dies."
“Oh God, she overdid it!” Anne Belcombe rolled her eyes at Marian to Sally who laughed quietly. 
“Aw it such a pity when the patriarchal society doesn’t save your poor arse, isn’t it?” Mariana pouted and he shook - whether it be from anger or fear... 
“Fine – I’ll apologise.”