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Dancing in our Heads

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Delia wasn’t sure how long she’d been in the hospital. It was all a blur of light and dark and faces and voices that she didn’t recognise. The only time she felt truly awake was when she slept, there she could move without pain through vivid colourful dreams, dreams where she knew the people around her. When she awoke wisps of the dream would float around her head – a smell of bleach, a flash of red hair, a smile, a laugh, a record playing. Other things happened in her dreams too, she knew that, there was a woman with red hair who never spoke, Delia never saw her face, only the view over her shoulder as they waltzed round and round, spinning endlessly, making her unable to focus. She knew that the touch of the red haired woman made her feel happy, excited almost, and she knew she wished to kiss her. She could remember what kissing the woman felt like so vividly she was sure it was a memory, but something told her to keep that to herself.

  Time was strange in the hospital, there were visits from people who said they were her mother and father, only she didn’t know them, talking to them made her head hurt and she longed for sleep so she could go dancing in her dreams. One day she had a visit from a girl who said she was her friend, she was crying and Delia didn’t know why, but it made her sad right down to her soul to see it. The girl was pretty, but Delia was tired, she didn’t want to stay with the strangers, she wanted to go dancing in her dreams.

  That night however, the dream changed. For the first time the waltz finished and the next tune was faster, more alive. Delia felt it coursing through her like pure lightning. The red haired woman laughed and stepped back so that Delia could see her face, and in that instant Delia swore her heart stopped.

  “I love you Deels” said Patsy, and then she leant forward for a kiss.

  Delia sat bolt upright in bed.

  “Pats!” she called out, it was involuntary, instinctive “Patsy where are you? I need you.” She looked around frantically and slowly remembered where she was, and that wasn’t all she remembered.

She didn’t sleep another wink that night, her life playing on loop in her head as though she’d stayed too long at the pictures. Remembering Patsy had brought back everything, she needed to see her. In those dark hours that she was all alone, Delia tried only to inhabit the memories she had of Patsy, their first kiss, then sly, secretive kisses stolen whenever possible, the touch of her hand, the feeling of holding her in her arms, the picnic on the floor of their flat before the accident. Patsy sitting beside her bed in the hospital. Delia tried to block that one, it was too painful, how could she ever have forgotten Patsy? How must Patsy feel right now? Delia had to see her. But whilst she lay all alone in the dark, watching her own private picture, Delia felt less lonely than she had in all the time she’d been in the hospital – however long that was.

Dawn crept slowly on to the ward and Delia wished it would hurry, she called over the first nurse she saw in what sounded like blind panic,

  “Nurse, nurse!”

  “Whatever is the matter Miss Busby?”

  “I need to see Patsy”

  “Who’s Patsy?”

  “She’s my best friend, she was here yesterday and she made me remember, I remember things now, I dreamt about her and it helped me remember!”

  “Calm down Miss Busby, I’ll fetch doctor and your mother and we’ll see what we can do”, Delia took a deep breath,

  “The bones of the foot are the cuboid, navicular, cuneiform, talus, calcaneus, metatarsals and phalanges. My name is Delia Busby, I’m a trained nurse from Wales but I live in London and I was knocked off my friend’s bicycle and brought here. I didn’t have any memories until I had a dream last night and now they’ve all come back as if I’ve just watched a film starring myself at the pictures and I could remember acting in all the scenes. Patsy is a midwife and she lives with the nuns at Nonnatus house and yesterday I didn’t know who she was and today I do and I need to see her and tell her that so she will stop crying.” The outburst was sapping Delia’s energy but some unknown force kept her going, it’s not an unknown force you fool, it’s love, “look I would really like to see my friend, and my parents, right away.” The nurse looked at her with a kind of pity in her eyes,

  “I’ll see what I can do Miss Busby.”

Chapter Text

Delia was pleased to see her mother, and pleased to find also that she knew her,

  “Please stop crying mam”,

  “I can’t help it cariad, are you sure you remember everything?”

  “I remember our house in Wales, and building that shed with Dad only to have it collapse in the first winter storm. I remember when we got a puppy, and I remember how I cried the day we thought she’d gone missing but it turned out she was down the road having snuck into a neighbour’s house. I remember everything mam, I could keep telling you about it all for hours.” Delia squeezed her mother’s hand tightly, the relief she felt at knowing her once more was overwhelming. She’d been so happy at home in Wales, but it was starting to feel like another lifetime. She remembered leaving when she finally acknowledged that she was different – it broke her heart, but big cities were easier to hide in than small towns. Her parents must have missed her so much, never quite understanding why she’d left, a lump of guilt rose in her throat. How could she leave them again? She couldn’t possibly tell them that she wanted to stay here, in London, with Patsy.

  “I love you, mam”, she said simply,

  “I love you too, and we’ll have you back home in no time.” Delia heard someone clearing their throat and the face of the doctor appeared around the edge of the screen,

  “Actually Mrs. Busby, there is something about your daughter’s treatment I would like to discuss with you, can you come with me please?” Delia’s mother took a last long look at her daughter,

  “As long as she won’t have forgotten me again by the time I get back”, she said with a sad smile,

  “I won’t forget mam”, replied Delia.

  Delia was left on her own again, she wondered if Patsy was coming, if anyone had even sent for her. Perhaps they had and Patsy didn’t want to come, perhaps there were still things Delia couldn’t remember, an argument or something. Perhaps something bad had happened to Patsy, or suppose her memories weren’t even real. Delia felt panic rising alongside her guilt, I almost preferred the numb loneliness, she thought. She closed her eyes and tried to remember the dancing dream, although now her memories were coming back it seemed duller, less intense, as though it were slipping away and being forced out by reality. The sound of footsteps jolted her back into the moment and she opened her eyes. There, stood just a few paces away from the bed, was Patsy.

  For a second neither of them spoke, they just looked at each other, Patsy’s eyes sparkling with adoration, tinged with a little sadness. Patsy was just as Delia remembered, only more intense, more there, more present, as if Delia had been seeing her through a misty window until that moment. Delia felt as though her senses were sharper, her vision more keen, drinking in Patsy’s details. She felt as if she listened hard enough she would hear her heart beating. This was definitely the girl she had danced with in the dream, but no longer was she some ethereal spirit, she was real, she was here and she was looking at Delia and though her heart might burst. Delia could see Patsy’s eyes filling with tears as a smile spread across her face, the bouquet she held in one hand beginning to tremble.

  “I thought all girls who received flowers became the subject of gossip”, Delia smiled gently,

  “I think the circumstances are different this time, and besides, you’re already the subject of gossip”, Patsy’s voice was thick with tears as she walked quickly towards the bed. Delia stretched her hand out and Patsy took it, setting the flowers down gently on the floor and kneeling beside her, she planted dozens of tiny kisses on Delia’s fingers. Patsy rested her head on Delia gently and began to sob,

  “How much do you remember?” she asked

  “Everything Pats, everything.  I remember the night Abigail’s baby was stillborn and you came running to me and I held you like this and you spent the night in my arms”, Delia kept her voice low, afraid of being overheard. “I remember that I love you, and that you love me.”

  “Deels”, said Patsy, raising her head, “I thought… I thought I’d lost you”,

  “I never really forgot you”, she said, “I couldn’t remember your name or your face or your voice, but I could remember how you made me feel, and I could remember your red hair”,

  “So out of all my qualities you remembered my hair?” said Patsy, smiling through her tears,

  “Your hair, and your kiss”

  “My kiss?” asked Patsy, a nervous excitement filling her up, “like this?” she leant in and softly placed her lips against Delia’s, feeling a warmth flooding through her that she thought she’d lost forever. At that moment she wouldn’t have cared if the whole world was watching, this one kiss with Delia, however brief, was a god given second chance.

  “Yes”, smiled Delia, looking at Patsy as if nothing else could ever exist, “exactly like that. Except my face didn’t get wet because you were crying.”

  “Do you remember our first kiss?”

  “Of course, it was just behind the disused wing next to this one, I was terrified you weren’t going to kiss me back, and before you came in I was terrified that you would never kiss me again.”

  “I would keep kissing you forever if I could”, Patsy had still not let go of Delia’s hand, “actually I’ve got an idea, are you sick of being cooped up in this bed?”

  “Well yes, but I am on bed rest Pats…”

  “Wait here”, she said with a smile,

  “What are you going to do?”

  “You’ll see” she said, planting a quick kiss on Delia’s cheek before leaving.

 

  “I don’t see why I have to be in the wheelchair”, said Delia,

   “Because you’re supposed to be resting and this is the only way they would let you out, besides you’re all bruised and swollen and I don’t want you to be in pain”,

  “I’m never in pain when you’re around, how did you even arrange this?” Patsy was taking Delia on a walk around the hospital grounds, under the pretext that fresh air and familiar surroundings might help cement her memories. Also on the condition that Delia was not to get too cold, or too tired, or to leave the hospital. Patsy didn’t mind that last part, they didn’t need to leave the hospital for this.

  “I just had a word with the doctor, and your mother, I can be awfully persuasive when I want to be.” Patsy couldn’t quite believe this was happening, surely it was all a dream. But Delia’s voice and her touch and that kiss… it was so real, it had to be real.

  “Pats, I think there’s a problem”,

  “What is it? What’s wrong?” there was panic in Patsy’s voice as she looked down at Delia

  “Not me you fool, that”, Delia was pointing to a line of rubble that was blocking their path, there was a gap big enough for a person, but not the chair.  

  “Oh bother” Patsy thought hard for a moment, she looked one way, then the other, and then a smile crossed her face, she leant down and slid an arm under Delia’s legs, and the other around her body,

  “Hold on tight Deels, I’m going to carry you”, Delia looked sceptical but she raised her arms around Patsy’s neck and let herself be lifted. Patsy stepped quickly through the rubble and gently placed Delia down on the grass. Delia recognised the place easily, it was the spot where she’d first kissed Patsy.

  “It’s as though you’ve just carried me over the threshold” smiled Delia,

  “Well one day”, replied Patsy, sitting down beside her and taking her hand “one day I will, I promise” She slipped her coat off and wrapped it around Delia’s shoulders, “can’t have you getting cold now can we?” she said, she folded her arms around Delia who leant into her chest. Patsy peppered her head with small kisses, stopping now and again to breathe in the scent of her hair. They sat like that for some time, Delia was still having trouble with time, but she hoped that it was only a short time so they could stay together longer. She began to drift off to sleep but was woken by Patsy shifting next to her,

  “Looks like it’s time I got you back so you can sleep”

  “Pats I want to stay here, with you”,

  “And I with you, but we can’t, you need to sleep”,

  “Will you be there when I wake up?”

  “Oh Deels, we both know that I can’t be”, said Patsy, tears welling in her eyes once more as she scooped Delia up and carried her over the rubble to the waiting chair, “but one day we’ll never have to wake up apart ever again. I promise.”

Chapter Text

Delia stayed in the hospital, her memories were back but she couldn’t stay awake for long at all, and every so often there were the seizures. Time still eluded her, she never knew if seconds, hours or days had passed between events, the sleeping didn’t help. If she only slept at night she would have had something to go by, but she slept too often and too irregularly for that. Sometimes her memories were clear as day, and other times they became veiled in a hazy mist, so she couldn’t quite make out any details. She was always most upset when she couldn’t see Patsy’s smile. She remembered things yes, important things, events, but sometimes they were just summaries, their details obscured. From what she could tell Patsy visited often, those were her good times, memories sharper, her seizures less violent. The visits always went the same: Patsy arrived, smiling and laden with gifts from Nonnatus, mostly cake, often with a slice or two missing –they suspected Sister Monica Joan. Then there would be the quick furtive kiss that swept through Delia and cleared the haze from her mind. The kiss that made her feel as if she was alive in her own right. Then they would sit and talk, Patsy ever concerned to see how she was doing, Delia keen to hear stories from Nonnatus. Sometimes they had a little cake together. Then Patsy would go and fetch the wheelchair – Delia hated that bloody chair, but it did mean she got to be alone with Patsy. They always went to the same spot, where they’d kissed first, and then they’d really talk. They spoke to one another as lovers, their speech punctuated with kisses. Patsy had been cautious when kissing Delia at first, scared to cause her pain or frighten her, but Delia’s reassurance meant the kisses became more passionate and intense. They never lasted long though, as both girls kept a wary lookout for observers. Delia would lean back against Patsy, who leant against the wall, elegantly smoking a cigarette. Sometimes they’d make plans for the future, sometimes they wouldn’t speak at all. They would just be happy, being there together. It was nice to go somewhere together and just be. Delia didn’t know how long this carried on for, but she lived for Patsy’s visits, for her kisses and the gentle touch of her fingers. She lived for the way Patsy’s strong arms carried her over the rubble and back again, she lived for seeing that smile and hearing that laugh and tasting the traces of cigarette smoke and lipstick on her lips, long after the kissing had stopped. Delia lived for Patsy, and she couldn’t leave her.

  For a while it seemed as if she would never have to leave Patsy. The hospital kept her in, the doctors said she was making progress but it was unsteady. Over time there were more and more good days, more days when everything was clear, and less days plagued by the memory haze and seizures. Then one day it happened,

  “Good news cariad, the doctors say we can take you home on Friday, that’s only three days”, Delia’s mother stood at her bedside and smiled at her, Delia still didn’t know exactly what three days felt like.

  “Home, mam?”

  “Yes home, to Wales. The doctors want to keep you around here so they can monitor you, but you need caring for and you can only get that at home, and your dad and I have missed you so.”

  “If the doctors want me here, isn’t it best that I stay?” asked Delia, feigning concern for her condition,

  “Yes cariad, but there’s no one here that can care for you, not like me and your dad.” Delia felt tears welling up behind her eyes and she was powerless to stop them, “Oh dear, don’t cry, I know it’s overwhelming and it’s been difficult but it will all be alright soon. You’ll be home where you belong, where you can be loved and cared for, you’ll be right as rain in no time, you’ll see.”

  Patsy knew something was wrong as soon as she saw her, Delia was paler than usual, and trembling slightly,

  “Oh darling what’s wrong? Did you have another seizure? Should I fetch doctor?” Delia shook her head, Patsy came closer and took her hand, using her free hand to smooth Delia’s hair, it seemed to comfort her a little “did you have another nightmare?” Patsy’s voice was soft and full of concern, she leaned over and gently kissed Delia’s forehead, “do tell me what’s wrong darling.”

  “When we’re outside Pats, I’ll tell you there.”

The two of them sat in their usual spot, Delia resting against Patsy, holding both her hands, pulling her arms tighter around her. Patsy enjoyed Delia’s warmth, enjoyed her weight pressing against her, placing gentle kisses on the top of her head. 

“They’re taking me back to Wales soon”, Delia tried to say it without emotion, but she felt her voice cracking,

  “When?” asked Patsy, barely disguising her devastation

  “Friday”,

  “But today is Wednesday, and I can’t come tomorrow because I’ve got rounds and I can’t ask anyone to cover because Trixie’s ill and Sister Evangelina put her back out trying to retrieve the cake from its new hiding place. When do you go on Friday? I’ve got early shift but I should be able to…”

  “In the morning, mam wants to set off before lunch, it’s a long journey back to Wales. Oh Pats, what am I going to do?” Patsy gripped her hands tighter,

 “You’re going to go home, and you’re going to get better”, said Patsy, tears beginning to slide down her cheeks “and I’m going to write to you all the time, and when you’re better you can come back here, and we’ll live in a spotless flat together, with only fresh flowers, and modern china.”

 “I’m so scared Pats, I’m scared if I don’t see you I’ll forget you again. I can’t bear to forget you again.”

  “You won’t forget me, you didn’t before, not properly anyway. You’ll have my letters to remember me by, and you’ll have this”, Patsy gently shifted them both so they were facing, leant towards Delia and kissed her. It was a long kiss, deep and heartfelt and saying everything that neither of them could express in words, Patsy eventually pulled back, resting her forehead against Delia’s and looking deep into her eyes.

  “I love you, and this is not goodbye, this is not a goodbye kiss, this is more of a cheerio, see you soon kiss.” The gentle breeze made Patsy’s tears cold against her cheeks, “my darling Delia, how I love you”, she said gently, before looking at her watch and sighing resignedly.

  “It can’t be time to go yet Pats”, the genuine confusion in Delia’s voice was concerning,

  “I’m so sorry my darling but it is, we don’t want to be missed, here”, she slid the watch off her wrist and secured it on to Delia’s “I know you have trouble with time now, so you check a lot, and now every time you check, you can think of me, you can remember me.” She tried hard to control her emotions as she picked up Delia for the last time, feeling her soft hands against the back of her neck,

  “When I come back, can we go dancing?” Delia was already half asleep as she mumbled the question,

  “Of course we can my darling”, said Patsy sadly “but until then, we’ll just have to keep on dancing in our heads.”  

Chapter Text

The knock at the door surprised Trixie, unannounced visitors were becoming less and less common at Nonnatus as more people got the telephone, nevertheless she answered the door with her carefully perfected smile,

  “Delia!” she exclaimed, her smile turning from constructed to genuine, seeing Delia on her feet was good news, the kind of good news that she and Patsy needed. Trixie was not oblivious to her friend crying herself to sleep, as she was sure that Patsy was not oblivious to her own downward spiral, but they rarely spoke of it, their silence a yawning chasm in their small room.

  “Trixie” smiled Delia, “and don’t even think about trying to tell me I look well, because we both know I look frightful; this is my mam”, she added. Delia felt giddy and woozy, walking was still an effort and the street had been busy, too much going on. She tried her best to look put together, hoping beyond hope that Patsy was there.

  “Hello Mrs Busby”, smiled Trixie “come in, both of you, I’ll let everyone know you’re here”,

  “We’re sorry to drop by at such short notice”, said Delia’s mother, “but Delia simply wouldn’t leave without saying thank you for the cake or apologising about the bicycle, and the nurse on the phone was very kind to offer us tea.” This was the first Trixie had heard of tea, however she had seen Nurse Crane disappear into Sister Julienne’s office shortly after taking a phone call.

  “It’s no trouble at all”, she smiled “I’ll go wake Patsy, she’s only just home, you can take your mother through to the kitchen”, her smile faded “oh goodness, I’m so sorry, I didn’t even think… you can remember the way?” Delia reached out and squeezed her arm,

  “Don’t worry Trixie, I remember almost everything most days now”, Trixie looked at her, trying to glean quite what she meant, did she know? Had Patsy told her? It was difficult to tell but there was a kind of warm kindness in her eyes that said even if she knew, she wasn’t judging.

  “Excellent”, she said brightly “I’ll see you in a minute then.”

  Patsy tried to look composed as she came down the stairs, but she was rushing so much in her excitement that she almost tripped over her own feet.  She scolded herself, she might have to keep it together for a while, there was no sign yet that she could be alone with Delia, and she was exhausted from the early shift, having only returned half an hour ago. When she reached the dining room most of the nuns and nurses were already assembled around the table, however the seat next to Delia had been left free,

  “Ah Nurse Mount, have a seat”, smiled Sister Julienne, gesturing towards the seat next to Delia. Patsy sat down, smiling at Delia in greeting, but not risking physical contact for fear of giving herself away. Delia was not supposed to be here, she was supposed to be going back to Wales, seeing her today was more than Patsy could have ever dared to hope and yet there were the questions. Why hadn’t she been told? Was something wrong? Why on earth was most of Nonnatus now gathered in the dining room taking tea with Delia and her mother? The whole atmosphere felt something much more than social. She gratefully accepted her tea and sipped it quietly whilst listening to the small talk, risking a glance at Delia every now and again. A couple of times their eyes met and Patsy felt that familiar thrill, followed by a great swooping sadness as she realised she may never feel it again. Eventually conversation turned to Delia’s treatment,

  “I mean the doctors want to keep her here”, Mrs Busby was saying “they say it’s rare for someone to recover their memory so quickly, and they’ve noticed an improvement on days she’s around other young people, especially Patsy, haven’t they cariad?” Patsy was glad she was addressing Delia and hoped no one noticed as her cheeks flushed,

  “Yes Mam”, smiled Delia “it’s my recent memories that can be a bit more difficult”, she admitted “that’s why it’s good to be around my friends, they help me remember.”

  “I know it would be good if she could stay here, but she can’t stay in the London they say, and she still needs round the clock care, with the sleeping and the seizures and the disorientation. We can give her that at home”, Mrs Busby smiled gently and gave a resigned sigh, the nuns nodded sympathetically. Patsy noticed Delia’s eyelids beginning to close, she nudged her leg under the table and they fluttered awake, so beautiful and delicate that it took Patsy’s breath away for a second. Then she became aware she was staring and quickly returned to her tea, accidentally gulping too much at once. Trixie raised an eyebrow at her from across the table.

  “If you would rather Delia stay in London, we can care for her here”, began Sister Julienne, Trixie’s eyes widened, Patsy almost choked on her huge mouthful of tea, Nurse Crane looked rather smug. A tiny glint of hope appeared in Delia’s eyes and Mrs Busby’s mouth opened in shock. “We are not a hospital”, continued Sister Julienne “but Delia can receive the best care in London and she has nowhere else to stay, besides she is a nurse like us, and since Nurse Mount appears to be some sort of magic tonic to her friend’s condition, I rather fear we would lose her to Wales if Delia were to leave.”

  “I don’t know what to say…” began Mrs Busby, “are you sure?”

 “We are always happy to help a friend in need and there are plenty of spare rooms here. As Delia recovers she can help with cleaning equipment and such, things that will help her return to nursing, if that is what she wants. The environment is familiar for her, and the routines we keep here will help her understanding of time. Of course, we do understand that you may still wish to care for your daughter at home.” Sister Julienne’s voice was calm but the rest of the table sat in a sort of stunned silence, Pasty had stopped breathing, hardly darling to hope, under the table she felt Delia’s fingertips brush her knee reassuringly. Mrs Busby turned to Delia,

  “What do you think would be best cariad?” Delia barely missed a beat,

  “I think I should stay, if that’s really alright with everyone, all I want is to be better, I just want to get back to my life. If you want me to come home mam, I will though”, she added gently.

  “Then you must stay here cariad”, said Mrs Busby, her eyes blurring slightly with tears as she gripped her daughter’s hand,

  “You may also stay for a few days too Mrs Busby, if you’re concerned about Delia settling in”, said Sister Julienne,

  “Oh there’s no need for that, she’s looking quite at home already, and besides, her father will worry if I’m not home tonight.” Patsy had been so focussed on the conversation, so desperate that no one say anything that would cause Delia to be taken from her, that she was shocked when she felt the weight of Delia’s head falling against her shoulder, she spun round quickly and caught her, propping her up against the chair. The nuns began to rise but Patsy waved them down,

  “It’s quite alright, she’s only sleeping, this happens quite often, I expect the shock has quite taken it out if her.” She hoped that they couldn’t see her barely disguised smile, or the tears of joy that were forming in her eyes. She knew that they couldn’t see the way her heart felt as if it was glowing, or the electric tingle that was running through her from being so physically close to Delia in public. She was grateful for that, she sometimes had the feeling the nuns could see right in to her soul.

  “We should probably get her to bed”, smiled Sister Julienne, “I did have Nurse Crane make up a room just in case, after she came to see me this morning.”

  “This really is very kind of you”, said Mrs Busby, struggling to disguise her emotions, “we just want the best for Delia”, she added,

  “I think we all want the same thing”, said Sister Julienne reassuringly,

  “I quite agree”, smiled Patsy, hoping her voice didn’t betray her unspeakable happiness, “I can carry her upstairs and put her to bed”,

  “And I’ll follow you straight up with her things”, said Trixie, giving Patsy a very particular look, “then you’d better get yourself to bed I think, if you’re going to be ready for the night shift.”

Chapter Text

  Delia woke up to the sound of the door closing lightly, her eyelids fluttered open as she felt the bed dip with the weight of someone sitting down next to her,

  “Hello my love”, Patsy’s voice was soft and low as she tenderly stroked Delia’s hair and leant in to place a soft kiss on her forehead,

  “Pats”, smiled Delia, her voice heavy with sleep, she instinctively moved in to Patsy’s touch, wanting to keep the warmth of her hand on her head. “I’m staying here now aren’t I?” Delia’s voice was suddenly fearful, “how long have I slept? What time is it?”

  “Hush darling, it’s nearly 9pm, I’m going on shift in five minutes and I’m required to remain by the telephone. I’m afraid my visits to you may have to be rather fleeting whilst you’re here.” There was sadness in Patsy’s voice, but they both understood the dangers of getting caught, especially now when it could mean a permanent separation. Delia gazed up at Patsy in her neat uniform, hair arranged perfectly under her crimson hat, ready to leave and deliver a baby at a moment’s notice. Delia would never tire of looking at Patsy. Their eyes held each other for a moment, in a way their bodies could not, but all too soon it was time for Patsy to leave,

  “I hate being so close to you but knowing I can’t just be with you”, she sighed,

  “At least you can be with me sometimes”, said Delia “we need to be grateful for that Pats, kiss me before you go?” she added, Patsy obliged willingly, feeling that familiar tingle that made her heart flutter.

  “Wish me luck”, she smiled as she stood up,

  “Good luck darling” said Delia, watching as Patsy walked to the door, gave her one last smile over her shoulder, and left.  

 Patsy was exhausted the next morning as she rode her borrowed bicycle back to Nonnatus, she was glad when she could get off, Delia’s accident had made her wary of the thing. The early morning sun was shining on the steps of Nonnatus and there was a hint of warmth in the air as she hurried inside, her spirits lifted by the promise of food and tea and the prospect of seeing Delia. The nuns and midwives were just finishing breakfast as she stepped inside,

  “Mrs Johnson has had a healthy baby boy, long birth but no complications, they’re both doing well”, she announced,

  “Wonderful news”, smiled Sister Julienne,

  “Especially after the trouble we had with her first one”, added Sister Evangelina “now there was a baby who did not want to come out at all…”

  “Well it’s a good thing this one didn’t want to copy his big brother then!” interrupted Trixie, before the Sister could begin another of her stories “you’ve the evening off tonight haven’t you Patsy?”

  “Yes, and I’m frightfully glad of it!”

  “Excellent, Horlicks and monopoly then? Me, you and Barbara, and maybe if Delia’s awake we could go through and play in her room. I’m sure she’d be glad of company other than Sister Monica Joan!” Patsy was glad to see Trixie’s liveliness beginning to return slightly, for the first time in weeks there was colour in her cheeks and she didn’t seem quite so withdrawn.

  “Horlicks and monopoly it is”, smiled Patsy, “now I’m off to find out if there’s any of that bacon I can smell left over, and then I’m going straight to sleep!”

Chapter Text

Patsy was alarmed to see how late it was when she awoke to Barbara shaking her shoulder,

  “Come on sleepy head, it’s dinner time”, Patsy mumbled something and forced herself to sit up, she had been hoping to sneak a visit to Delia before dinner, but no such luck,

  “You might want to put some actual clothes on, I’m not sure how acceptable it is to dine in pyjamas” added Barbara, before slipping out of the room. Patsy dressed quickly and hurried downstairs, trying to shake off her grogginess, she wasn’t completely successful as she almost collided with Nurse Crane at the foot of the stairs,

  “Oh! I’m sorry, I didn’t even see you there!” said Patsy,

  “It’s quite alright Nurse Mount, but your legs are younger than mine so you can take up Delia’s dinner if you don’t mind.” It was only then that Patsy noticed the tray she was holding, lucky they hadn’t collided after all,

  “Yes, of course”, smiled Patsy, her heart leaping at the thought of seeing Delia, even if only for a moment. Nurse Crane gave a knowing smile at the eager tone in Patsy’s voice,

  “Don’t forget to come back for your own dinner though”, she warned, her voice half amused as she handed Patsy the tray and turned towards the dining room. Patsy blushed in spite of herself, hoping that Nurse Crane hadn’t caught on to the situation, and fled up the stairs.

  Delia was pleased to see her, and not just because she was bringing food, her face broke into a huge smile as soon as she realised it was Patsy coming through the door,

  “Hello Pats”, the warmth of her voice washed over Patsy in waves,

  “Hello Deels, I’ve brought your dinner”, said Patsy

  “I did guess”,  Delia replied playfully, Patsy was careful to push the door to as she entered the room, placing the tray down and helping Delia to sit up before putting the tray in her lap. The brief moment of contact, of having her arms wrapped around Delia was all Patsy needed to pull her out of her post-nap haze.

  “How are you feeling Deels?”

  “Better, now you’re here”, Patsy blushed at the comment “I can’t wait until I can get up and down stairs easily enough to eat with everyone though”,

  “Perhaps it’s a blessing for now” suggested Patsy “I mean, I’m not entirely sure I’d be able to stop myself from taking your hand under the table”, she whispered, placing a kiss on Delia’s cheek, “do you think you’ll be well enough for monopoly?”

  “Not to play perhaps, I still have trouble concentrating, but I can watch and talk, I would very much enjoy your company”, the emphasis she placed on the last words made Patsy’s heart skip, Patsy sighed and smiled and leaned in again to kiss Delia’s forehead,

  “I look forward to seeing you tonight then”, she smiled, “although I must go before I’m missed.” Despite her affirmation, Patsy lingered for a few moments, gazing at the woman she loved,

  “Go on you fool, we can’t have you starving”, said Delia, Patsy gave a resigned sigh and a quick smile,

  “Until tonight”, she said, making her way to the door,

  “Until tonight my love”, replied Delia.

 

  Trixie seemed to have organised everything down to the letter and later that evening they were all sat around a monopoly board in Delia’s room, sipping steaming mugs of Horlicks and working their way through a rather large plate of biscuits. The bedside table had been cleared and placed in the centre of the room to hold the board, Patsy perched on the end of Delia’s bed, just close enough to feel her warmth through the blankets. Trixie and Barbara had carried chairs in from elsewhere. The game was going well, all of them laughing and joking, Trixie fuming whenever she landed on a property with houses, Barbara apologising every time it was hers. There was bargaining and good natured humour and Patsy was winning, until she landed on one of Trixie’s few properties,

  “I think I might quite possibly just have bankrupted you”, said Trixie gleefully, looking down at Patsy’s counter sitting on Mayfair, just in front of the hotel.

  “Oh bother I think you have”, frowned Patsy, “although how you’ve managed to do so with only three properties is beyond me!”

  “Quality, my darling Patsy, is better than quantity”, giggled Trixie, taking a drag on her cigarette followed by a sip of Horlicks, “now hand over the money.”

  “I was never any good at this game anyhow!” smiled Patsy, shooting a glance at Barbra, who had been eliminated a few turns earlier, “but at least I don’t apologise every time I take money from someone.”

  “Sorry!” said Barbara, causing everyone to laugh, she smiled and reddened, “I was just going easy on you both, I’m an expert at monopoly really, you’ll see next time”, she joked.

  “Or next time I will wipe the floor with you both again!” said Trixie,

  “You didn’t exactly wipe the floor with me” Patsy argued, “you were lucky, another turn and I’d have beaten you.”

  “I could have beaten you all”, interrupted Delia “and I bloody well will when I’m back on my feet, you see if I don’t.” The girls all turned to look at her and laughed, Patsy let her gaze rest on Delia a little longer, transfixed by her presence. She had always loved that fire Delia had, that spirit; since the accident Patsy had worried it was lost forever, Delia was more quiet and unsure, the confusion and disorientation taking its toll. But Delia’s fire had begun to come back, in glimpses and flashes, ever more frequent, and each time it did Patsy couldn’t help but be captivated by it. It made her hopeful for the future, but also a little sad as it reminded her what they had almost had, what they had been so close to and then lost. At least we didn’t lose each other. By this point Patsy had been gazing at Delia for a little too long and Trixie gave a pointed yawn,  

  “Goodness look at the time!” she exclaimed, “we’d better clear up and get off to bed”, they all began moving round the room, collecting and replacing things, Barbara headed downstairs with the mugs and plate and Trixie moved towards the door carrying one chair and the game,

  “Bring the other chair through to our room will you Patsy?” she asked, “I’ll see you in a minute” she added, giving her a pointed look and closing the door behind her.

  “What was that look about?” asked Delia, reaching for Patsy’s hand now that they were finally alone, “do you think she knows?”

  “I’m not sure Deels”, mused Patsy, stroking the back of Delia’s hand with her thumb, “if she does know she hasn’t said anything.”

  “Do you think she’d tell?”

  “No, I think Trixie is much better at keeping secrets than you would think”, said Patsy, thinking of all the empty bottles she’d hidden, “but all the same, I can’t stay much longer”, she said resignedly,

  “I know my love”, said Delia, gazing up at her sadly, “will you come say hello before you go on shift tomorrow? I know it’s silly but I do worry about you when you’re away.”

  “Of course I will, and it is silly, I think you’re the one we have to worry about”, smiled Patsy “now how about a goodnight kiss?” Delia gave a mischievous smile,

  “I thought you’d never ask”, she said.

Chapter Text

Patsy could still taste Delia on her lips as she made her way back to her room, using the memory of the kiss to quell her rising apprehension. She was sure Trixie knew, and what she’d said had left little doubt in Patsy’s mind that she wanted to talk about it. She hoped she would be understanding, it would hurt to lose her again just as they were putting their friendship back together, but above all she hoped that she wouldn’t tell anyone. The thought of losing Trixie was bad, the thought of losing Delia again was unbearable. She paused outside the door for a moment to collect herself, then took a deep breath before striding in with her usual confident façade. Trixie was sat cross-legged on her bed, fumbling with a packet of cigarettes,

  “Do you want one?” she asked casually,

  “Yes please”, replied Patsy “I think I rather need one to get over that crushing defeat”, Trixie gave a nervous half smile as she lit it for her, before lighting her own.

  “So when were you going to tell me?” she leant forward almost excitedly, the way she always did when she was gossiping,

  “Tell you what?” asked Patsy, trying and failing to sound calm,

  “About Delia”, Trixie’s words were barely a whisper, and she mouthed them overenthusiastically,

  “Well… I… what about Delia?” stammered Patsy, still trying to pretend that there was nothing going on, she could feel herself turning red as she took a long drag of her cigarette.

  “About the fact that you’re in love with her, I must say you’re quite the dark horse, I had no idea until after the accident.” Patsy stared in confusion at Trixie’s calm tone and excited smirk “I mean we all thought it was you at first of course, your bicycle, your scarf. I could understand why she might be on your bicycle, but the scarf… and then when I saw how distraught you were, at first I thought it might be the guilt but then, when she got her memories back, well then it was obvious. I mean, it all makes sense when you look at it like that, why you always wanted to spend time just the two of you, and if I needed proof well the way you looked at each other tonight was enough. It’s a wonder even Barbara didn’t notice, although I dare say she isn’t quite aware that such things go on…”

  “Trixie…” Patsy began, not quite sure how she was going to finish. The look of complete anguish and confusion on her face did however have the effect of stopping Trixie’s monologue dead in its tracks. Trixie turned to look at Patsy and took her hand, she lowered her voice and said softly,

  “You’ve always known my secret, and now I know yours, I won’t breathe a word of this to anyone, you can trust me, you can both trust me.”  Patsy felt tears forming behind her eyes and eventually they gave way into huge sobs of relief, Trixie extinguished her own cigarette before taking Patsy’s and doing the same with it. Then she wrapped her arms around the taller girl as she cried,

  “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry”, sobbed Patsy,

  “You have nothing to be sorry for you goose”, replied Trixie holding her tighter. Patsy wasn’t sure why she was crying, perhaps it was the relief of not being rejected or exposed, of finally being able to talk about it, of having her friend back. She had always expected that if anyone found out they would run from her, from something they saw as so unnatural and disgusting, she would be publicly shamed and humiliated and never know a kind face or a gentle touch again. Patsy had thought that if anyone ever found out what she was she would be quite alone in the world. Then she had found Delia, and not only had she not been rejected, she had found someone like her, even better she had fallen in love with someone like her. The pain she had felt the day that all that was wrenched away from her was still raw, not only had she lost the love of her life she’d also lost the one person in the world who truly knew and understood her. By some miracle she’d got Delia back, and by some other miracle here was Trixie, the best friend she’d ever really had, holding her as she cried and telling her it would all be okay. Holding her as she cried even though she knew. It was more than Patsy could have ever dared to hope for. Eventually Trixie broke the hug, but she continued to hold on to Patsy’s arms,

  “You’re sure you don’t hate me?” asked Patsy tentatively,

  “No, I utterly detest you for daring to be so happy with someone you love”, said Trixie ironically, “honestly Patsy, I couldn’t care less that she’s a girl, she makes you happy, and I think we need as much happiness as we can get in our job!”

  “Thank you”, Patsy’s words were simple and heartfelt and she didn’t need to say anything more, “Trixie, if you need help with your secret…”

  “I know where you are”, Trixie gave a short smile and lit another cigarette, she handed it to Patsy without asking and she gratefully took a long drag. Patsy watched as Trixie sparked up another cigarette for herself, a familiar mischievous glint appearing in her eyes,

  “So then you sly fox”, she began, taking a quick drag, “how on earth did your secret romance begin?”

Chapter Text

Patsy found as soon as she started talking that the words just came tumbling out – starting had been the hardest part,

  “Well she was just always there”, it seemed like the best place to start, the most honest,

  “What do you mean?” said Trixie, clearly getting nothing from Patsy’s answer,

  “Well there’s a certain spot at the London, I go there on my break to smoke, I always have. One particularly bad day – I assume Jenny told you that the surgeon was a nightmare, well one particularly bad day, when I’d spent far too much time in his company for anyone’s liking, Delia appeared. I’d never seen anyone else in my spot before so I was quite perturbed at first. I mean I’d glimpsed her a couple of times around the nurses home, but we worked in different parts of the hospital and I’d never actually spoken to her. She clearly wasn’t too pleased to see me either because she asked me what I thought I was doing in her spot, so I went all “Nurse Mount” at her and enquired as to why I’d never seen her there before and what possible claim she had to ring-fencing this particular spot as hers. Then she gave me that smile. That one she does that’s all mischievous and cheeky, and I thought she was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. She said,

  “I’m winding you up, you fool”, in that lovely accent of hers, and I went all red and flustered and offered her a cigarette. She said she didn’t really smoke but she’d happily share mine.  Then our breaks were over and I had to try not to think about her. I’d become very good at not dwelling on things you understand. I couldn’t forget her though, not least because she kept turning up almost every day when I was on my break. We’d talk and sometimes share a cigarette, over time we became more… affectionate. At first we’d greet each other with a smile, then it was hug, then a kiss on the cheek. Then one day she moved her mouth ever so slightly and kissed the corner of mine, she told me later it was so she could pretend to have missed my cheek if I reacted badly. I couldn’t help it, I kissed her back, it was quick and innocent but quite the most thrilling moment of my life. Then we knew, we knew what it was, and we knew how much trouble we were in if anyone ever found out.” Patsy looked at Trixie gratefully, “I never thought… I never thought I’d be telling anyone this.” She took a nervous puff of her cigarette, and Trixie moved her hand on top of Patsy’s. They were sat very close together now, talking in low voices like fugitives. Patsy tried to stick to events in her story telling, though she longed to talk for hours about the sharp blueness of Delia’s eyes, or the way her accent caused her voice to trill on certain words, or the thrill she got when her own skin touched that of the woman she loved. But these were private things, these were her own things, and Trixie did not need to know about them.

  “So then what? I mean you could hardly go on dates in the normal way”, Trixie’s voice was soft and sympathetic, but Patsy winced internally at the word normal. A gentle reminder of what she was not, what she could never be. Talking so openly with Trixie had almost made her forget that. She scolded herself, she needed to keep her guard up.

  “Well”, said Patsy, her voice wavering slightly “then we just took advantage of the moments we could have together. A few moments in her room before heading out for the evening, brushing hands as we walked, stolen conversations in cafés and on dark street corners. We would kiss and talk and hold hands whenever we could, whenever we thought it reasonably safe. She told me she wanted to marry me”, Trixie’s eyes widened at this last revelation,

  “Patsy, you do know…”

  “Of course we know, of course we know we can never have that, but it’s how she feels, and how I feel”,

  “Does she remember all of it?”

  “Everything, some days, right down to the detail of conversations, she’ll make reference to something she said before and we’ll laugh. Other days it’s a little cloudy, but she remembers me, remembers that she loves me, she’s actually rather fierce about insisting I know that.” Patsy allowed a smile to break her lips as she said it, it was the Delia she knew, brave and fierce. Trixie smiled back, always happy to see the light in Patsy’s eyes. She often pretended not to hear her crying, or to notice the nightmares, but it didn’t mean she didn’t care, she just didn’t know how to help, and besides she’d been somewhat preoccupied with her own demons.

  “Patsy, I’m sorry I didn’t try and help sooner, I’m sorry I left you all alone with this”, there was genuine shame in her voice,

  “Trixie”, Patsy’s words caught in her throat “you talking to me now, like this, without judging, is more than I could ever have hoped for, you’ve no need to be sorry.” She looked at Trixie with complete sincerity, her face and her emotions lay open. Trixie gave a sad sort of half smile, then her eyes recovered their mischievous glint,

  “So have you just kissed? I mean I’m not sure what else you would do, but I think I have some idea, and it’s not as if you can be proper about it…”

  “Trixie!” Patsy cried, shocked and rather embarrassed, turning red as a beetroot. Trixie giggled and it was infectious, soon Patsy was chuckling too. “We’re doing things as properly as we can thank you very much!” she hissed through her quiet laughter “and besides, even if we weren’t we haven’t exactly had the opportunity”, she stopped laughing “we thought”, her voice cracked and she felt tears replacing her laughter “we thought we’d finally found a way to be together.” That was when the pain came, all the agony she’d bottled up since the accident now came flowing out of her in wave after wave of heart wrenching sobs. Trixie held her tightly and made soothing sounds, unsure what to say or do other than just be there and not leave her. “When I thought I’d lost her…” Patsy was finding it almost impossible to form sentences, “I thought I deserved it, it was my fault, there’s something wrong with me and I don’t deserve a happy ending the same way normal people do… I thought…”

  “Shhh Patsy, it’s alright, Delia’s here now, you’ve got another chance, you do deserve to be happy. Possibly more so than anyone I’ve ever met, you’ve had to be so strong your entire life… you don’t deserve to be alone a second longer. So do pull yourself together.” Trixie’s voice went up a note at the end, a friendly cajole that made Patsy smile through her tears. Trixie’s voice became serious again, “you can go to her, if you want, I won’t tell anyone you weren’t in here.” Patsy paused for a moment, but shook her head,

  “I can’t wake her, and besides everyone keeps such odd hours here I’m bound to get caught…”

  “If they see you going to or from her room we’ll say we thought we heard her cry out, I’ll back you up. Not every night of course, but if you need her tonight, go to her.” Trixie’s voice was rather stern and was the last bit of persuasion Patsy needed,

  “If I don’t wake you coming back in at around five, please come and wake me up.”

  “Of course”, Trixie gave Patsy’s hand a quick squeeze before letting her get up and cross the room to the door, she threw a quick glance over her shoulder, pressing her finger to her lips. Trixie reciprocated the gesture and gave a small smile, it was rather thrilling, she thought, to be caught up in the conspiracy of it all. As Patsy silently closed the door and Trixie lay down on the bed she felt something was out of place, she didn’t quite know what until she was on the edge of sleep, and realised that for the first time in months she didn’t feel quite so alone.

Chapter Text

Patsy opened and closed the door as softly and quickly as possible, before tiptoeing across the room to Delia’s bed. She leant in close to the sleeping girl and whispered,

  “Deels”, Delia opened her moth to reply, but Patsy pressed her finger to her lips, signalling to her to be quiet, “don’t worry darling, it’s not morning and we must be terribly quiet, but I needed to be with you.” She picked up Delia’s hand and gently pressed her lips to it.

  “Pats”, there was a kind of breathless excitement to Delia’s voice, but she knew to whisper “what about Trixie?”

  “She knows” Patsy admitted, “but she doesn’t mind, and she won’t tell, in fact it was her suggestion that I come see you tonight, and I’ll be honest I couldn’t resist.” Even in the darkness Delia could see the smile that lit up Patsy’s face, she gingerly sat up in bed and shuffled over to make space for Patsy,

  “Well you’d better come to bed you fool, you’ll freeze to death out there, that’s if you’re staying?” her voice was hopeful,

  “Of course I’m staying”, murmured Patsy, sliding into bed beside Delia and pulling the blankets over both of them. The bed was small and their bodies pressed close together, for a moment it took Patsy’s breath away and she could feel her heart racing, she reached out and put her arms around Delia, who gladly snuggled in to her chest as though she’d done it a thousand times. She hadn’t of course, this was the first time they’d even been under the covers together in the same bed, on the few occasions Patsy had stayed in Delia’s room she’d always slept on top of the covers. Almost losing Delia had made her braver and more forward, there were worse things, perhaps, than getting caught, and besides being with Delia was worth the risk. Delia wore only her nightdress and Patsy revelled in the warmth she radiated, getting a rush of something every time the exposed skin of Delia’s legs brushed against her own where her pyjamas had rolled up. She kissed the top of Delia’s head and let her face rest there for a moment, breathing her in, she gave an almost inaudible sigh of contentment,

  “I know”, said Delia “oh Pats I know.” Her soft Welsh accent was a balm to Patsy’s leftover anxiety. Beneath the covers Delia felt around for Patsy’s hand and laced their fingers together, the gesture warmed Patsy to the core and made her smile. Delia would have been happy to stay like that forever, warm and safe and all wrapped up in Patsy, protected by the cover of darkness it was as if the rest of the world had ceased to exist for them. It was just the two of them, in that moment, in that beautiful moment. Delia could smell traces of Patsy’s perfume, and of course the ever present bleach, the two mingled to create something unique and recognisable in Delia’s mind, bringing her back to a time before the accident. That feeling, mixed with Patsy’s warmth and the tingle where their skin met almost over whelmed Delia and she raised her head and pressed her lips against Patsy’s. Patsy was a little shocked at first, but the taste of Delia’s lips pressing against her own was so familiar and comforting that she soon forgot that. Kissing Delia in the dark, kissing Delia in bed was making her stomach turn somersaults, she wanted to kiss her properly. Keeping one arm around Delia, Patsy raised her hand to up Delia’s cheek and made the kiss faster, more intense. Delia’s lips responded hungrily and Patsy let her tongue explore Delia’s mouth as she had done only once before. Delia felt sparks flying between them, so much so that she could almost imagine them lighting the room in a soft glow, a gentle light and warmth radiating from where they both lay. Eventually Patsy pulled back, breathing hard, Delia couldn’t see but she knew the other girl must be blushing as much as she was.

  “That was…” Patsy was lost for words, not sure where to begin,

  “A proper good night kiss?” suggested Delia, Patsy began to laugh as silently as possible and Delia soon joined her,

  “Look at us”, whispered Patsy “giggling like a couple of schoolgirls over a kiss.”

  “It was some kiss though”, replied Delia, giving Patsy a quick peck on the cheek, Patsy smiled down at her and lowered her lips to deliver a chaste kiss,

  “You should sleep my darling”,

  “What about you?”

  “I slept most of the day remember? Also I daren’t sleep too much, I wouldn’t want to get us caught. Although if I’m not back by five, Trixie has promised to wake me when she gets up.” Delia looked up at Patsy,

  “I am rather tired” she admitted reluctantly,

  “Then you sleep, and I’ll stay here and hold you, I’ll keep you safe”,

  “Like a guardian angel”, murmured Delia, her eyelids closing despite the excitement “that’s what sort of angel you are, my guardian ange…” she fell asleep before she could finish and Patsy smiled. She could hardly believe her luck, she held the sleeping girl tight in her arms and closed her eyes, wishing that the night would never end.

Chapter Text

  The night did end of course and the following morning Patsy found herself yawning as she packed her bag ahead of a long day,

  “Tired, Nurse Mount?” asked Sister Evangelina as Patsy yawned for the fifth time in as many minutes, Patsy hoped she wasn’t blushing and tried not to sound too flustered,

  “Yes rather, I had terrible trouble sleeping last night”, Trixie caught her eye from across the table and supressed a smirk, Patsy lowered her eyes, pretending to re-check a piece of equipment was in her bag,

  “I know you did, you must have woken me six times with your tossing and turning”, said Trixie, feigning irritation,

  “Oh I am sorry”, said Patsy “perhaps I was dwelling on the travesty that was our monopoly game”, she added mischievously,

  “Or perhaps it’s the fact that you slept from breakfast until dinner”, chided Sister Evangelina, “now come on you lot, the babies of Poplar aren’t going to wait!” As they all filtered out of the room, Trixie gave Patsy a sly nudge and a smile, raising her eyebrows enquiringly. Patsy caught the meaning of her question straight away, and gave a small shake of her head, eyes alive with indignant fire. Trixie supressed a giggle and Patsy couldn’t help joining her.

  “What are you too giggling about? Get a move on!” Sister Evangelina’s voice echoed through the hallway, and with a last look of solidarity between them, Patsy and Trixie stepped out in to the sunshine.

  Life for everyone at Nonnatus continued much like that, Patsy saw Delia whenever she could, popping in for little visits between shifts, bringing her meals, occasionally sneaking in to her room at night to hold her and kiss her. Trixie and Patsy grew closer, bonded by their shared secret and their steadily increasing happiness. Patsy was overjoyed to see the light back in Trixie’s eyes and the colour in her cheeks, she was even happy to see the return of her fondness for gossip and her occasionally cutting wit. There were many more monopoly evenings, they were keeping a running score and from time to time even Nurse Crane would join them.  There were always babies to deliver and patients to visit and it almost felt as if everything could carry on just like that. Delia was recovering, her seizures were almost gone and she was able to move around Nonnatus much more easily. Her memory was usually clear although she still got nightmares and, although she had regained an understanding of time, her need to sleep was still very great. In her waking hours she usually had a visitor, the person she saw the most of was by far Sister Monica Joan, who would often steal cake from the kitchen and smuggle it in to Delia’s room for them to share.

  “Her stories are fascinating”, Delia told Patsy one day, “but I’m not quite sure what she’s talking about sometimes, and if she feeds me any more cake I won’t be able to fit through the door!”

  “Well cake weight or no cake weight I think you're beautiful”, Patsy replied with a smile and a quick kiss, “and if you can’t get out of this room I’ll just have to move in… and besides”, she added with a mischievous gleam in her eye “I thought you didn’t like cake.”

Chapter Text

Patsy woke slowly to the distant sound of a ringing telephone, almost forgetting where she was. Her dreams had been more than pleasant, dreams of taking Delia to the seaside, kissing her to the sound of the waves. She could feel Delia’s warmth, deliciously soft and snuggled tight against her, she wished she could stay like that for ever. She reluctantly opened her eyes and glanced at Delia, sleeping so soundly, her breathing deep and steady, cheeks slightly flushed. She was beautiful. Patsy was glad Delia was sleeping, she had an appointment at the London that day and she’d been anxious about it so Patsy had stayed to comfort her. Now however it was time to leave. Just five more minutes Patsy promised herself, letting her eyelids flutter closed again.

  She woke again in a panic to the sound of the door opening. What time was it? Who was coming in? Was it Trixie coming to wake her? It couldn’t be. Trixie was on first call, she’s have gone out when the phone rang earlier. She had frozen in confusion, but now quickly recovered, making a futile attempt to untangle herself from the sleeping Delia,

  “My dear I have discovered a Victoria sponge which they thought to have hidden from me, they should know by now that such things cannot be hidden from senses such as mine!” the voice of Sister Monica Joan sounded throughout the room, a look of confusion crossed her face when her eyes fell on Patsy,

  “Sister Monica Joan… I… Delia was upset… I must have fallen asleep here… what time is it please?” Patsy hoped her embarrassment backed up her story. Sister Monica Joan closed the door gently and approached Patsy, gazing at her with her old wise eyes,

  “A star hath set, a star hath risen, O Geraldine! Since arms of thine, have been the lovely lady's prison.”

  “Sister are you quoting Coleridge?”  Patsy was confused, she recognised the poem, but was this condemnation or acceptance?

  “It is only the ninth hour”, she said simply, stopping her recitation “and I have always enjoyed that particular work.” The rascally smile that often accompanied one of Sister Monica Joan’s remarks spread across her face and Patsy felt instantly more at ease. The Sister had become party to their secret, and she did enjoy conspiracy, suddenly a look of concern crossed the old nun’s face,

  “But my dear you cannot be found here, there are others who do not have such an understanding of all the many possibilities of love, and I fear a great deal of misery would come your way should you be discovered in your pyjamas.”

  “It’s alright Sister, I was just on my way out”, Patsy caught the older woman’s hand “thank you Sister.”

  “For what?” asked Sister Monica Joan innocently,

  “For keeping our secret”, replied Patsy,

  “I’m sure I don’t know to what you are referring” replied the nun, a conspiratorial glint in her eye “I simply came to find someone who would partake of this delightful Victoria sponge with me”. Patsy gave her a smile of both amusement and gratitude before slipping out of the door and quickly running back to her own room. Heart hammering in her chest, back pressed against the door she let out a sigh of relief and closed her eyes. Silently she scolded herself for not being more careful. Having Delia so close was too tempting, the whole situation, she realised, was becoming very dangerous.

Chapter Text

Despite having over slept Patsy was exhausted later that night when she returned from delivering yet another baby, it was a kind of happy exhaustion however, a smooth delivery to a happy family was always a welcome and beautiful thing. For Patsy though it was tinged with sadness, she could never quite forget that she had lost her own loving family and she was painfully aware that children were not an option for her and Delia. That thought always made her blush slightly at her own foolishness, a public acknowledgement of their love for one another was not even an option, let alone marriage or family. She sighed as she crept in to the kitchen in search of leftover dinner and nearly jumped out of her skin when she saw Delia sat at the table drinking tea.

  “Deels!” she exclaimed “whatever are you doing here? It’s late and you should be sleeping, are you too tired to get back upstairs? What’s going on?” Patsy’s voice was full of concern, she was tired and no one else was around and she no longer had the energy to hide it.

  “It’s alright Pats”, said Delia gently, rising to meet her and taking her hand. Patsy’s head instinctively snapped left and right, scouring the darkness for any sign of observers, “no one else is about.” Delia’s voice was warm and welcoming and Patsy allowed herself to hold her for a few seconds, savouring her touch. Then, still afraid of being caught, she let go.

  “What’s going on Deels?”

  “I wanted to tell you what the doctors said, at the London.”

  “Couldn’t it have waited until morning?” Patsy’s tone was more one of concern than irritation,

  “No it couldn’t, it’s too exciting.” A huge smile broke across Delia’s face and Patsy couldn’t help but smile back at the sight, “they said I can go back to nursing, I have to take a couple of exams again to show I can still do it, and I have to have frequent check- ups, but I can go back.”

  “Oh Deels that’s wonderful news”, Patsy truly meant it, Delia’s joy was infectious, “when?”

  “In a couple of weeks properly, but I can start retraining from tomorrow, Sister Julienne is going to let me help around Nonnatus for a week or so, to help me get used to it. Getting back to normal is not the only reason I’m excited though…” Patsy didn’t speak for a moment, gazing down at Delia as if she couldn’t quite believe her eyes,

  “I love you”, she whispered quietly,

  “I love you too”, Delia’s gaze held Patsy’s, she was aware only of Patsy’s proximity and the sound of her breathing as they stood there together, cocooned in darkness and utterly in love.

  “Why else are you excited?” The sound of Patsy’s voice should have broken the spell but it didn’t somehow, it fitted the moment perfectly,

  “Because once I’m officially a nurse again I would be expected to live in the nurses’ home”,

  “But they’re still rebuilding it?” Patsy sounded confused

  “Exactly, so I can still apply for rent allowance”, Delia paused and let the words sink in, watching the smile grow on Patsy’s face, “we can have a flat together.” Patsy didn’t quite know what to say, it seemed too good to be true, and yet they had had so much heartbreak already, perhaps this could be real,

  “Second time lucky then?” she asked, raising her eyebrows, a smile still lighting up her face,

  “Second time lucky”, Delia smiled back, standing on tiptoes to plant a kiss on her lips. 

Chapter Text

  Patsy gave Sister Julienne the same reasons as before for wanting to move out, but this time she added in her concern for Delia. What if her seizures were to return? Also there were nights when she could be heard halfway across Poplar when she woke screaming from her nightmares, having company might help to ease them. Sister Julienne had been characteristically understanding, wishing Patsy the best with a knowing smile. Then it was just a case of finding somewhere, their old flat was no longer available but it didn’t take long for Patsy to find a new one, close enough to both the hospital and Nonnatus to make it a viable option. It was small but cosy and it didn’t take long for them to set aside a weekend to begin cleaning the place and move in. Delia’s exams went as smoothly as she could have hoped for, her hands quickly remembering the tasks she’d spent many years performing, her mind sharper and refreshed with a new energy for suddenly having something to focus on. Everything seemed perfect, the only problem was Trixie.

  “I shall be ever so lonely when you go”, she complained to Patsy one evening, as they sat in their room, Patsy packing things in to boxes, Trixie flicking through a magazine, “we’ve become rather good friends and I’ll miss your company”, she took a drag of her cigarette and sighed.

  “Oh Trixie it’s not as if I’m miles away, and besides I’ll still stay over when I’m on nights, I can’t exactly man the telephone from elsewhere.”

  “Hmm” said Trixie, sounding unconvinced. Patsy was feeling both guilty and irritated, she felt bad for leaving Trixie, who had been such a support recently, but at the same time she was frustrated that Trixie couldn’t see that this was the safest option for all of them. If Patsy and Delia’s relationship came to light questions would certainly be asked about Trixie’s failure to report it.

  “Oh Trixie”, said Patsy, sitting down on the edge of the bed, “it’s the safest way, it’s the only way.”

  “The safest way would be to just give it up”, snapped Trixie, unexpectedly, tears in her voice,

  “Trixie I love her”, Patsy was indignant, she didn’t know where this anger was coming from and she felt a cold fear beginning to clutch at her chest, what if Trixie tells someone?

  “Well sometimes you can love someone and that’s still not quite enough”, said Trixie “sometimes people just aren’t right for people and you have to save everyone more hurt in the long run!” Patsy began to soften as she realised where this was coming from, it wasn’t about her and Delia, it was about Trixie and Tom.

  “Look Trixie, I know things haven’t been easy recently, but I am always going to be here, I am not choosing Delia over you. You’re…” Patsy faltered with emotion “you’re my best friend.” Trixie looked up at her, still trying to look angry,

  “Just… I just… I’m going to get some tea”, she announced harshly, closing her magazine with a flourish and storming out of the room dramatically. Patsy sat back on the bed and let out a long breath, Trixie wouldn’t tell, she was almost certain of that. The fact remained however that Trixie was upset, and Patsy knew she was going to have to find a way to change that.

  “Special delivery!” Patsy breezed into their room the following evening, trying to act as though she wasn’t nervous about how Trixie might react.  The other girl lowered her magazine,

  “Special delivery of what?” she asked, her curiosity getting the better of her angry pretence,

  “Of chocolate, cream soda and two tickets to the pictures to see that film you keep talking about… the one with that man in it that you think is oh so handsome.”

  “How very specific of you”, Trixie couldn’t help the edges of her lips curling up in to a smile, “oh Patsy I am sorry about yesterday, it’s just I simply can’t stand the thought of losing you.”

  “Well you won’t lose me, as long as you get a move on now, I paid for the good seats and I don’t want to be late!” Patsy smiled, Trixie smiled back at her before hopping off the bed and proceeding to rummage happily through her wardrobe, humming a tune under her breath.

  The next morning Patsy woke early and glanced enviously at the sleeping Trixie, who had the day off. As she quietly pulled on her uniform and padded downstairs to breakfast she felt a strange rush of something bittersweet. This would be her last week at Nonnatus, and although she was greatly looking forward to her new life with Delia, she was reluctant to leave her new family behind. Nevertheless she put her nurse’s head on, there was no time to be affected by personal matters on the rounds, she had to focus on the mothers and babies. She checked the rota in the hall to remind herself of her hours and gave a small sigh; she had a very busy, very exhausting couple of days ahead of her.

Chapter Text

“Patsy!” Trixie squealed, bouncing up off the end of the bed as if she’d been waiting there for hours. Patsy staggered into the room, drained from her long shift and craving sleep, she couldn’t fathom the reason for the excitement plastered across Trixie’s face. For a moment she wondered if Tom was back, but she knew that would not illicit the same response of wild excitement. Patsy wracked her brains, trying to work out if she had forgotten something important, but nothing came to mind.

  “As much as I appreciate your enthusiastic welcome, I’m afraid I don’t come bearing more cinema tickets” she said quietly,

  “You look terribly exhausted”, said Trixie, her voice becoming concerned, “I rather think you need a break”, that excited tone was returning,

  “Well there’s little chance of that”, Patsy said resignedly, “not after Barbara ate… well whatever it was she ate”, as if on cue the faint sound of someone throwing up drifted in through the open door, “poor thing” remarked Patsy.

  “You do have the weekend off”, Trixie pointed out,

  “Yes but getting a flat ready to move into and then getting all our things over there is hardly break Trixie!”

  “Would you like a break?”

  “Well yes but we both know I can’t have one”, Patsy was beginning to get irritated, she just wanted to sleep, why was Trixie pushing the point?

  “That’s not entirely true”, a wry smile crossed Trixie’s features as she spoke “now don’t be angry but I did a little arranging behind your back”, Patsy opened her mouth to protest, but the look in Trixie’s eyes caused her to stop, “this weekend you’re going to the seaside, to Brighton”,

  “But Trixie, the flat…”

  “Is all taken care of, or rather it will be, you take one set of keys and I’ll have the other. I’m going to prepare the flat for you both, not singlehandedly of course, I’ve roped in Fred and the cubs and the girls’ brigade… oh and Chummy, and Mrs Turner has volunteered Timothy…”

  “Trixie, I can’t possibly…”

  “Nonsense, of course you can! You take Delia to the seaside for a well-deserved break, away from prying eyes” she added pointedly “and I’ll organise your flat for you, so when you get back Sunday evening it will be perfect for you both. Everyone was so shocked about Delia’s accident, we all wanted to help but no one was quite sure how to, they just think they’re helping a friend get back on her feet.”

  “Thank you, I don’t know what to say… it must have cost you a fortune…” Patsy was still trying to process, Trixie sat her down and took her hand,

  “You’re not to worry about that, you said you wanted to marry Delia, and I for one am jolly upset that you can’t, so think of this as a wedding present and an engagement present, since I can never give you a proper one, or be your chief bridesmaid”, Trixie was trying to sound nonchalant but Patsy could hear the emotion in her voice “besides I was awful to you a couple of days ago, suggesting you shouldn’t be seeing her in the first place. As your best friend I’m not supposed to be making everything harder for you.”

  “Trixie, I am so grateful, but you know you don’t have to do this”, Patsy was overwhelmed and exhausted and honestly not sure if she was dreaming,

  “It’s already done”, said Trixie with a smile, “and besides, I think I’m going to take more of a management role as far as the heavy lifting’s concerned”, she admitted. Their eyes met and Patsy began to laugh, not only at the image of Trixie in hard hat acting like a foreman on a building site, but also from relief and gratitude and sheer exhaustion. She laughed until tears fell from her eyes. It was infectious and Trixie was giggling just as much, hands gripping her sides,

  “Oh do stop laughing Patsy”, she gasped in between fits of giggles, “I think my sides are going to split”,

  “I can’t” Patsy replied, bursting into fresh peals of laughter,

  “Whatever are you even laughing at?” asked Trixie, their giggling fit beginning to subside,

  “You” chuckled Patsy, then seeing the look upon Trixie’s face “in a hard hat and overalls” she added “shouting at people quite bossily from the cab of a digger.” This revelation brought forth more laughter, and the sound of it drew a very pasty Barbara to the door,

  “What’s the joke?” she asked weakly “do tell, I could rather do with something to laugh about”, Patsy and Trixie looked at each other but this only caused their laughter to increase,

  “Trixie… as… a builder”, gasped Patsy, Barbara wasn’t quite sure that she’d understood the joke but laughed anyway before limping back to her room. It was a good few minutes before the girls managed to calm themselves, perhaps the joke had not been so funny but there was something about that moment. It was the heady mix of exhaustion and anticipation and sheer joy that had caused them to explode in giggles, Patsy realised, as amusing as the thought of Trixie as a builder was.  When they were finally able to look at each other without giggling Trixie gave a genuine smile,

  “I’m so happy that you’re going to be happy”, she said simply,

  “Thank you”, replied Patsy, “although when you get married I’m going to have to get you the most spectacular of presents now”,

  “I would expect nothing less”, smiled Trixie, with mock haughtiness. They sat together quietly for a while, as only true friends can, contented to just be in each other’s company.

  “Are you sure I can’t give you some of the money towards this”, Patsy said at last, she knew they didn’t earn so much, and a weekend away was bound to have been expensive,

  “I’m quite sure”, said Trixie firmly, “I’ve been saving up for something special, with money I would normally have spent on…” she didn’t need to finish the sentence, Patsy gave her a nod of understanding and squeezed her hand “I didn’t know what I was saving up for, and then I thought of this, and it seemed perfect. Besides, it’s autumn now so it’s not exactly high season – the prices of hotels come down considerably when it’s cold.” She gave that sly smile that Patsy was so familiar with, Patsy didn’t say anything, eyes brimming with emotion. Suddenly, she yawned, taking herself completely by surprise,

  “I am so thankful Trixie, honestly I don’t know what to say, but I can hardly keep my eyes open”, she confessed,

  “Of course you can’t, you must have delivered three little ones with hardly a break!” said Trixie “go to bed Patsy, we’ll talk more tomorrow”,

  “Thank you”,

  “And please stop thanking me unnecessarily, you’re getting as bad as Barbara and saying sorry!” this caused a small giggle to pass Patsy’s lips, which soon turned into a sleepy mumble. She barely had time to change in to her pyjamas before she fell in to bed and let sleep take over.

Chapter Text

  “Are you quite sure you’re alright?” Patsy was looking down at Delia with concern as they stood on the platform,

  “Pats, I’m going back to nursing in a few days, I should hope I can get myself and my case on and off a bloody train!” Delia tried to sound cross, but she found the anxious look on Patsy’s face too endearing and couldn’t quite supress her smile. Patsy smiled back, the sort of smile that said things they couldn’t say out loud. She felt bad for worrying, but despite the short notice she’d planned something for this trip and she honestly wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out. Even so the possibility of it going well caused her smile to grow,

  “What’s that smile for?” asked Delia curiously, Patsy missed a beat,

  “That smile is because I’m going to the seaside with you”, she said quickly, Delia raised an eyebrow but Patsy was saved from further interrogation by the arrival of the train.

  They were soon settled in a carriage watching the countryside race by, they sat opposite each other, close enough for their legs to touch. Patsy leaned back and closed her eyes for a second, letting the motion of the train relax her. Delia observed her with a smile,

  “It was so lovely of Trixie to pay for this trip”, she said, Patsy lifted her head and opened her eyes,

  “Yes, I couldn’t quite believe it when she told me, I did ask if she wanted me to help with at least some of the cost, but she was quite insistent.”

  “She must have felt really bad about your argument”, remarked Delia, carefully watching Patsy’s reaction, she had a feeling she hadn’t been told the whole story,

  “Yes, rather, although I honestly think it had a lot to do with people wanting finding a way to help you, following your accident.” Delia lowered her head, trying to hold back tears, they didn’t really talk about what had happened. Patsy knew of course, she was always the first one in to Delia’s room when she cried out from her nightmares, desperate to hold her and calm her. It was also one of the few times she could do so without arousing suspicion. Delia took a deep breath, the conversation had become very serious very quickly.

  “Everyone’s already been so wonderful”, she said quietly, forcing back tears

  “Oh Deels”, the warmth and love in Patsy’s voice made it a gentle caress, “it’s because you deserve it.”

  “Do we?” she asked, tears still stinging her eyes,

  “We do”, said Patsy, she didn’t falter and her eyes never left Delia’s. She was certain now. They deserved to be happy, Delia deserved to be happy, and Patsy was going to do everything she could to make that happen.

  The rest of the journey passed peacefully in a flurry of shared smiles, they enjoyed the proximity the train allowed them, the physical contact between their legs a rare pleasure. Delia chattered away about the flat, and the seaside and how she wanted an ice cream on the beach whether it was freezing cold outside or not. Patsy just listened, appreciating every smile and gesture, the soothing rise and fall of Delia’s voice, the way her eyes expressed exactly what she was feeling. When Patsy was quite sure there was no one else about she leaned in close to Delia and whispered,

  “I love you Deels”,

  “I love you too Pats, and whatever sort of miracle it was that brought us together and kept us together I’ll never know, but I’m very grateful for it.”

  “So am I Deels, so am I.” Patsy replied, gazing deep into the blue of Delia’s eyes, quite sure she’d never seen anything quite so beautiful.

  There were few people about when they arrived, Trixie had been correct, it was the end of the season. It was easy to see why – London may not have been freezing yet, but the brisk sea breeze which swept across Brighton made it bitterly cold. Nevertheless Delia looked around as if she’d just arrived in paradise, grasping Patsy’s hand for an instant before remembering herself and dropping it hurriedly.

  “I can smell the sea”, her voice was gleeful and her eyes bright, Patsy sighed and looked at her in complete adoration.

  “Let’s find the hotel first”, she said at last “then we can go for stroll along the beach and try and find you an ice-cream. Although we’ll have to see about that, I doubt anyone would be too thrilled if I let you catch pneumonia.”

Chapter Text

Patsy had always felt the cold, and she was certainly feeling it now as she watched Delia skipping along the sand. The smaller girl had decided that being by the sea meant that summer was still lingering and had kicked off her shoes and stockings, giving them to Patsy to hold along with her tartan coat. The wind seemed to have picked up and juggling an ice cream as well as all of Delia’s paraphernalia was proving quite a challenge for Patsy as she tried not to get ice-cream in her hair or all over her face. Nevertheless she was blissfully happy, they were lucky, she realised. Delia had definitely regained her pre-accident spirit and there was no evidence of lasting physical injury. Best of all Delia loved her, and remembered that she always had. Patsy watched in complete adoration as Delia left tiny footprints in the sand, giggling like a child, steps light as a fairy’s. Patsy hurried to catch up, lightly bumping in to Delia to remind her of her presence. The smaller girl stopped and turned to face her. She glanced up and down the beach, there were few people about but it wasn’t exactly private, not private enough anyway. Delia’s giggle was infectious,

  “Oh Pats, you look quite lost out here, and quite cold too!” she remarked playfully,

  “Well it might be easier to go scampering across the beach if I was not weighed down with all your worldly possessions”, replied Patsy, giving Delia a glimpse of her gorgeous smile, not quite darling to smile too much.

  “It might also have been easier for you to eat your ice cream without getting it all over your face!” Delia burst in to fresh giggles, then, stopping quite suddenly she reached up and brushed Patsy’s cheek with her thumb, just catching the edge of her lip. Patsy felt her stomach flip and her breath catch, “there”, said Delia quietly “all clean.” For a few seconds they stayed there, just gazing at each other, aching for a kiss,  or even just another touch, but they knew the consequences of staying too long and Patsy reluctantly broke Delia’s gaze,

  “I say, looks like we might be in for a storm later”, she said plainly, narrowing her eyes at a dark smudge on the horizon,

  “Better make the most of the weather now then”, replied Delia “I’m going for a swim”, her blue eyes lit up with the challenge of it, Patsy looked at her in shock,

  “Deels you can’t possibly be serious”,

  “I’m deadly serious Pats, well, maybe not a swim, but at least a paddle”, her tone was light but it was clear she meant to do as she said,

  “Deels it’s freezing!” Patsy was incredulous, but it made no difference, Delia had already set off towards the sea at quite a pace, glancing back once over her shoulder to give Patsy a mischievous grin.  Patsy followed as quickly as she could, beginning to giggle in spite of herself, the whole idea was quite absurd, but it wasn’t as though she herself wasn’t full of crazy ideas. A few steps ahead of her Delia went crashing into the surf, her feet sending up spray that lit up in the afternoon sun, as though she was surrounded by diamonds. Patsy stopped to catch her breath, keeping her shoes well out of the way of the encroaching tide whilst listening to Delia squeal at the cold tickle of the water on her toes.

  “Come on in Pats, the water’s lovely”, joked Delia

  “Deels I’m sure I can see your feet turning blue!” Patsy sounded both concerned and amused, mirroring Delia’s smile with her own, watching the sunlight dance across her features, just as it had the first time they’d kissed. Patsy let her mind wander back to that June day which now seemed so long ago. She was so lost in her reverie that she didn’t notice the huge wave which raced up the sand until it was too late. She gave a loud squeal as the cold water rushed halfway up her calves, and when that stopped ringing in her ears she heard the sound of Delia bubbling over with laughter. Patsy retreated back up the beach a little, her footsteps squelching, and looked up to see Delia bent double with laughter at the water’s edge.

  “Deels!” she called, not quite sure what else she wanted to stay,

  “Oh Pats…” began Delia, before being consumed by giggles again,

  “Delia Busby come here!” Patsy tried to sound stern “we need to go inside somewhere and dry off right away.” Delia moved as if to take a another step into the water, but once she had elicited a look of utter horror from Patsy she drew back giggling and made her way up the back up the beach. She passed Patsy slowly, brushing her hand gently, and began to lead her back towards a small tearoom they had spotted on the way.

Chapter Text

With shoes and stockings drying by the radiator Patsy and Delia sat huddled close together at a table in the corner of the tea room, overlooking the sea. Patsy had rather awkwardly explained their predicament to the proprietor and there had been no objections to them trying to dry their things, but Patsy felt rather embarrassed to be taking tea with bare legs. Delia was much more comfortable with the situation, repeatedly brushing Patsy’s bare legs with her own under the table, enjoying the rush it gave her and the nervous blushing it solicited from Patsy. They sipped their scalding tea slowly, letting the warmth seep back into their bones, sharing coy glances and smiles. Patsy watched as Delia’s blue eyes flicked up and down her body, appreciating the tight fit of Patsy’s dress, hidden until now by her coat. The feeling left Patsy flustered, but strangely excited as she tried to push certain imaginings from her mind. This was neither the time nor the place,

  “That storm is certainly coming in quickly now”, she said, gesturing out of the window with her eyes. Delia’s gaze followed her own and fixed on the dark cloud which was encroaching ominously.

  “Hopefully the rain will hold off until tomorrow”, she said with an optimistic smile, Patsy smiled back and Delia had to resist the urge to take her hand, as she had done in the tearoom back in Poplar. She remembered the conversation in the alleyway afterwards, how absurd it was, the thought that they could get married. She was just about to say something when the young waitress arrived with two large slices of cake which Delia had ordered, unbeknownst to Patsy. Patsy raised an eyebrow at Delia, who replied with a cheeky smile. They thanked the waitress and then Patsy addressed Delia,

  “When…?”

  “When you were in the bathroom”, Delia replied, struggling to control a smirk as she looked at the large slice of Victoria sponge in front of her.

  “I thought you didn’t like cake”, Patsy joked, her words loaded with memories,

  “Let’s just say all that time spent with Sister Monica Joan has left me rather fond of Victoria sponge”, answered Delia.

  “Do you remember…?” began Patsy,

  “The night I stormed out of the café because I couldn’t marry you?” Delia’s voice was barely a whisper,

  “Yes”, replied Patsy, then more cautiously “do you still want to marry me?”

  “I never stopped wanting to. Not that it changes anything”, she added quickly. Patsy just smiled to herself, she picked up her teacup and inspected it, it was old-fashioned, sporting a dull floral pattern that wouldn’t have looked out of place even before the war.

  “So this is the kind of china you want?” she teased

  “Absolutely not! anything but that”, laughed Delia “it’s bloody awful!” They lingered over their cake, both reluctant to leave the warmth and the proximity their corner table afforded them. Eventually though they’d been sat a little too long and Patsy rose, fetching their shoes and stockings from the radiator; they put them on quickly and Patsy settled the bill, despite a protest from Delia. When the waitress turned away Patsy leant in and whispered in Delia’s ear,

  “I told you I was going to court you properly”, Delia felt the warm tickle of Patsy’s breath against her face, the proximity making her heart race. Only a slight movement and they might be kissing. She inhaled Patsy’s scent of bleach and perfume, now mixed with sea salt, and tried to look composed.

  “I think I can live with that”, she smiled, linking her arm through Patsy’s, “now come on, I want to buy a postcard.”

Chapter Text

It was later that night, after a quiet dinner at the hotel that the two women found themselves back on the seafront. The sun had already set and darkness was settling fast, the wind was still rushing about and the ominous cloud was racing towards them. The darkness and the cold had conspired to leave the two women alone and Delia boldly took Patsy’s hand. Patsy instinctively looked around but it was obvious that there was no one else about, the last few end of season tourists kept indoors by the darkness and the weather. She adjusted slightly to lace her fingers with Delia’s and caught the smaller girl smiling out of the corner of her eye,

  “I’m quite sure we’re alone Pats”, said Delia reassuringly gazing up at her, “you’d be a bloody fool to be out here with that storm coming”,

  “Yes, quite”, Patsy smiled, “we are being rather reckless”,

  “And not just with the storm”, added Delia. They shared a mischievous grin before Delia stopped suddenly and swung herself round to face Patsy. Almost in one movement she was up on her tiptoes, pressing her lips against the redhead’s. Patsy was a little shocked but melted into the kiss, enjoying the blissful feeling of Delia’s soft lips against her own, tasting the sea salt which clung to them.

  “Deels”, she said eventually, pulling back, checking every which way for observers that may have materialised in the couple of seconds they had been kissing.

  “You always do that”, smiled Delia knowingly,

  “Do what?”

  “Say my name like that when you’re surprised”,

  “Well it was rather sudden, and rather brazen”,

  “Come on Pats, you’ve known me long enough now, do you expect me to be anything else?” Delia teased,

  “Not at all”, replied Patsy, “and how do you expect me to be?” They were still stood on the rapidly darkening sea front, the last of the daylight sparkling in their eyes. Smiling in spite of themselves, hearts hammering at their own recklessness, fingers lightly laced.

  “I expect you to be Patsy”, Delia’s voice dropped, her tone much more serious, “I expect you to be that loving, caring, beautiful and slightly prim girl I fell in love with, and so far you’ve exceeded all my expectations.” She leaned in for another kiss, this time more intense and passionate, the kind of kiss they only ever stole in the dark, when they were certain of being alone. Patsy took a deep breath, this was it,

  “Deels I have something I want to ask you.”

Chapter Text

Delia stopped breathing for a second, could Patsy be asking? No it was impossible. She couldn’t think like that, how stupid to even imagine… then she watched as Patsy gently got down on one knee. Patsy for her part had never been so nervous, she felt as if her heart might burst out of her dress and was secretly scolding herself for forgetting to lift it as she knelt, it must be getting filthy trapped between her knee and the cold ground. Never mind, she couldn’t exactly stand back up and rearrange now. Her hand went to the pocket of her tartan coat and she drew out a small box, she swallowed hard, her mouth so dry she was sure she wouldn’t be able to speak. But speak she did, as she slowly opened the box with shaking hands to show Delia the ring that lay inside.

  “Delia Busby”, her voice was shaking, keep it together Patience, “will you marry me?” Delia stared at her for what felt like an eternity, her mouth open, her eyes shining with some unreadable emotion. Patsy felt panic rising inside her, this had been a ridiculous idea, of course Delia was looking utterly bemused. She felt tears beginning to prick the back of her eyes and willed herself not to cry,

  “Of course, of course my darling”, Delia was trying to keep her voice steady, but she couldn’t hide the note of cautiousness which stopped Patsy’s relief dead in its tracks “but we can’t, you know we can’t.” Patsy got to her feet and took Delia’s hand,

  “Maybe not now, or here, or properly with all our friends and family in a church; maybe not with the white dresses and the bridesmaids and the reception… but I love you Deels, and I suppose I want you to know that I, well if I could marry you I’d do it right here.”

  “Oh Patsy”, Delia’s voice was less cautious now, the love she felt for Patsy overtaking everything else, “I will marry you, if ever there’s a time or a place where I can marry you I will, and afterwards we’ll dance together”,

  “A waltz, a foxtrot or even a tango?” asked Patsy, relief flooding through her words,

  “There must be somewhere”, Delia smiled back. Patsy took the ring from the box and gently slid it on to Delia’s finger, Delia just looked at it, eyes alive with adoration, “Oh Pats, it’s beautiful, you’re beautiful.” Patsy coyly glanced at her feet, Delia reached around and unclasped the neckless from her own neck, which held her grandmother’s engagement ring.

  “Pats”, she said gently, pulling Patsy’s focus away from her shoes, “you need a ring too”,

  “Deels”, Patsy’s voice choked with emotion, she knew how close Delia had been to her late grandmother, “are you sure?”

  “Of course I’m sure”, Delia deftly slid the ring on to Patsy’s finger, “it fits perfectly”, she said, as though it had always been a certainty. For a while they stood there, hands clasped, gazing at each other, hardly feeling the cold wind which tore across the seafront, then a smile spread across Patsy’s face,

  “What is it?” enquired Delia gently,

  “Can I have your ring back for a moment?” Patsy asked, Delia looked uncertain but wriggled it off her finger, watching as Patsy did the same,

  “Pats I don’t…” Patsy took both rings and Delia’s hands, clasping them all together tightly,

  “Delia Busby”, she began, struggling to keep the grin from spreading right across her face “do you take me to be your unlawfully wedded wife?” The look of confusion on Delia’s face broke and she gave a light giggle of sheer joy,

  “I do”, she replied, a beautiful smile lighting up her face from ear to ear as Patsy slid the ring back on to her finger. Delia took the other ring from Patsy’s hand,

  “Patience Elizabeth Mount”, Patsy had always loved the way Delia said her name, painting it lightly with her Welsh lilt, “do you take me to be your unlawfully wedded wife?” she giggled,

  “I do”, said Patsy, feeling a tear slide down her cheek, as Delia’s warm little hands placed the ring back on her finger. Delia raised her thumb and lightly brushed the tear from Patsy’s cheek,

  “Don’t cry you fool”, she said gently “you’re supposed to kiss the bride, not make her all soggy!” Patsy gave a half laugh, half sob, before pulling Delia tightly against her and kissing her fiercely. In that moment nothing else mattered, there could have been a hundred people watching and Patsy couldn’t have cared less.  As it was there was no one but the two of them, wrapped up in each other, lips moving in time with one another, hands exploring bodies with only a dash of caution. The wind whipped through their hair and tugged at their coats but nothing could draw their attention away from one another until large, heavy raindrops began falling. The storm had arrived.

  “Oh bother it’s raining!” said Patsy, rather obviously, the spell broken,

  “Really?” teased Delia “I thought you might have started crying again”, Patsy shot her a look of mock hurt, before her happiness took over once more. She smiled even bigger as she felt Delia grasp her hand and pull her along, both of them running full pelt towards the hotel, their new rings shining on their fingers.   

Chapter Text

Despite running as fast as they could they were both thoroughly soaked by the time they clattered through the door of their hotel room, breathless, bright-eyes and still giggling. Patsy let go of Delia’s hand, shrugged off her coat and tottered towards a small radio in the corner of the room. After fiddling about for a few seconds there was a crackle followed by the soft notes of Jimmie Rodgers singing ‘Secretly’.  She turned back towards Delia with an irresistible smile and put her arms round her, resting one had gently on her waist,

  “May I have this dance my darling?” she asked, her voice low and charged with love,

  “Of course”, said Delia, rather breathless, allowing Patsy to pull her in closer and letting the taller girl take the lead as they slowly waltzed around the cramped hotel room. She could feel Patsy’s strong fingers in the small of her back, hot even through the soaked fabric of her dress, her other hand was holding Patsy’s tightly, the feeling was comfortable and familiar, but that didn’t make it any less blissful. At first she rested her head on Patsy’s shoulder, but as the chorus of the song approached she lifter her lips to Patsy’s and murmured the words in her lilting Welsh accent. Patsy felt shivers run through her at Delia’s hot breath against her mouth, her lips just a fraction away from her own. Eventually the feeling was too much and Patsy pressed her lips against Delia’s mid-word. For a moment everything stopped, the music, the movement. There was nothing but the two women stood in the middle of a cramped hotel room, holding each other tightly, lips locked together in a passionate kiss. Delia felt her heart race, not just at the intensity of the kiss, but also at the feeling of Patsy’s body pressed against her own so tightly, the dress had been a close fit before, but now soaked from the rain it clung to Patsy’s every curve – and Delia’s own dress wasn’t much drier. Delia found the sensation was making her tremble. As the song hit its closing notes Patsy looked at the smaller girl, concern hovering in her eyes,

  “Are you cold my darling?” she asked, bringing Delia’s fingertips to her lips and kissing them gently,

  “No it’s just…” Delia was slightly lost for words, but she took a deep breath, Patsy had already been so brave tonight, now it was her turn, “maybe we should get out of these dresses, I’m soaked to the skin” she said, giving certain words more weight than others. Patsy gulped, Delia watched the motion travel down her elegant neck, breathing hard in a kind of anxious anticipation and completely transfixed by the gorgeous woman she had just married on the seafront. She remained transfixed as Patsy slowly undid the zip on her dress, revealing more of her creamy skin than Delia had ever seen before. Patsy slid the dress off her shoulders, lips parted, eyes never leaving Delia, breathing heavily. As the dress slid down to her waist Patsy let her eyes fall coyly and tried to calm herself. Delia just stared, trying to drink it all in, she longed to touch Patsy but found herself frozen to the spot as her eyes traced along the lines of her wife’s body. She felt something catch in her throat as her gaze fell on the shadows of Patsy’s childhood scars, she had known they would be there, but the sight of them made the things Patsy had told her all the more real and terrifying. Her gaze was drawn back to Patsy’s face as the taller girl raised her head again and locked her eyes with Delia’s. Taking another deep breath she slid the dress down over her hips and stepped out of it, leaving her in just her underwear. Delia gave an involuntary gasp, Patsy was in touching distance, wearing nothing but underwear, and for once in her life Delia Busby was at a loss as to what to do.

  “Well aren’t you going to get out of that dress?” asked Patsy tentatively “it was you suggestion after all”, she added quickly. The sound of her voice unfroze Delia,

  “I… of course my love”, she stuttered, reaching around her back and fumbling with the buttons on her dress,

  “Here let me”, Patsy was trying to sound smooth and confident but there was a definite tremor in her voice as she reached for Delia’s shoulder and gently encouraged her to turn around. Placing a chaste kiss on the back of her neck Patsy slowly got to work on the buttons of Delia’s dress, running her hands across every inch of newly exposed skin in complete adoration. Delia’s body responded to every tiny touch, Patsy’s fingers raised goose pimples wherever they went, and her soft kisses drew the occasional gasp from Delia’s lips. As Patsy firmly stroked her hands down Delia’s hips – hoping to god she was doing this right – the dress finally fell to the floor, leaving Delia in the same state of undress as Patsy. Delia took a moment to steel herself before swinging round and kissing Patsy with a kind of intensity neither of them had ever felt before. Patsy’s hands instinctively flew to Delia’s waist as Delia wrapped her hands around the redhead’s neck, tangling her fingers in the loose strands of Patsy’s hair and kissing her even more fiercely. Somehow Delia managed to direct them towards the bed and they tumbled on to it together, a tangle of limbs and lips exploring each other for the first time.    

Chapter Text

Patsy let herself wake slowly to the sound of the seagulls outside the window, she revelled in Delia’s warmth, wrapping her body tighter around the smaller woman and nuzzling into her shoulder. She inhaled deeply before planting a tiny kiss there, careful not to wake Delia, even though she knew from experience what a heavy sleeper she was. She let her mind drift back to the events of the evening before and felt herself blushing, it was quite unlike her to be so bold and brazen. This was quite unlike her too, sleeping without a stitch on, in the arms of another woman who was dressed, or rather undressed, in quite the same fashion. This felt comfortable though, there was something familiar about it even though it was the first time she had done anything like this. She rolled over to check the time, catching sight of the ring on her finger and smiling at how it suited her, soon it would have to be placed on a chain around her neck, but for now she could enjoy it. She was shocked by how late it was, they would miss breakfast if they weren’t careful. She took a last long look at Delia sleeping so beautifully and peacefully before gently shaking her shoulder,

  “Deels”, she whispered, “we need to get up my darling”, Delia made some inarticulate noises, reluctant at being woken from her very pleasant dreams, all centring around the night before. Patsy placed a gentle kiss on Delia’s lips, “come on sleepy head, we’ll miss breakfast”, she murmured, reluctantly rising from the bed. She set about getting herself ready, infinitely glad she had packed that extra dress after the fate that had befallen the other two. She delicately retrieved her other dress from the floor, where it was still sat in a damp crumpled heap and unsuccessfully attempted to dry it with a towel. Eventually she gave up, packing her things away as best she could, constantly glancing at Delia as she did the same, their eyes meeting and saying things they hadn’t the proper words to express. They were getting ready to leave the room and head downstairs with their luggage when Patsy suddenly stopped. She placed her suitcase on the floor and looked thoughtfully at the room, something wasn’t right. It was a twin room of course, Trixie had made sure the holiday looked respectable, but only one of the beds had been slept in. Although they had remade it, years as a nurse automatically made you neat, it still wasn’t the same as the other, whose sheets were fresh and clearly untouched. Patsy swiftly moved towards it and pulled the covers back, she slid in, fully clothed and wiggled around a little,

  “Patsy Mount, what on earth…?” began Delia, before catching on to what Patsy was doing, she moved over to the bed and helped Patsy remake it, as they had done with the other.

  “There”, said Pasty, with a sort of sadness “no one will suspect a thing.” She felt stupid for allowing herself to forget, if even only for a night, that this had to be a secret, that she and Delia could never act the same as everyone else did with their sweethearts, with their husbands. Delia sensed her sadness and reached out, taking her hand. Patsy felt the familiar thrill of it, as well as the warmth and the comfort. Delia gave her hand a small squeeze,

  “I love you”, she said quietly “and what everybody else thinks, or knows, or doesn’t know, is never ever going to change that”, her little Welsh voice was fierce and sincere, “that’s what last night meant, that’s what it means Pats.”

  “I love you too Deels”, a smile crept in to the corners of Patsy’s mouth and Delia popped on to her tiptoes to kiss her,

  “Now how about that breakfast?” she asked “I’m bloody starving!”

Chapter Text

The rest of the day passed in some sort of beautiful haze, another ice cream for Delia, another stroll along the seafront. The storm clouds hadn’t quite cleared and it was cold and damp, but to Patsy the place looked even more beautiful than it had the day before, especially the one spot in particular where they had stood the previous night, although they didn’t dare linger there too long. After another cup of tea and huge slice of cake in the same tearoom, where everyone was far too good natured to mention the wet stockings incident, and a walk around the shops in town it was time to get the train back home. This time Patsy didn’t ask Delia if she was sure she could manage, Patsy was quite aware that Delia had the situation under control, all the same Delia turned and gave her a self-satisfied smile as she hauled not only her own case but also Patsy’s on to the train. Patsy wanted to protest, but all she could do was smile at the sight of Delia leaning in the train doorway. She almost skipped on board and they settled in an empty carriage. Daring to sit next to each other, Delia rested her head on Patsy’s shoulder and soon fell in to a blissful sleep, Patsy just gazed at her adoringly, playing with the ring on her necklace all the while.

  As the train pulled in to the station Delia proved worryingly hard to wake, Patsy panicked, shaking her shoulder harder and raising her voice slightly,

  “Deels? Do wake up, we’re almost back in London!” she felt a wave of relief as Delia began to stir and sleepily blinked her eyes open,

  “Patsy?”

  “Yes darling, I’m here, we need to get off the train soon.”

  “I was dreaming, I had the dancing woman dream again, the one where I can see your face though.”

  “Oh Deels!” Patsy knew that the dream must bother her, remind her of the hospital and the accident and…

  “It’s alright Pats, I’m alright, you’re here”, Delia reached up and gently stroked the side of Patsy’s face, as if to double check that it was Patsy and she was really there.

  “Yes I am”, said Patsy, catching her hand and turning it to place a gentle kiss on Delia’s palm “now let’s sort these cases out.”

  It was dark by the time they approached their flat, Patsy nervously fumbled around for the keys, she was excited but also rather apprehensive to see what Trixie had done with the place. Whilst Trixie usually had good taste, she did have a fondness for things that were somewhat avant-garde. Patsy didn’t dare imagine what that could look like, although she had faith that their other friends had probably kept Trixie’s more interesting choices at bay. They stopped at the front door and Delia took Patsy’s hand and squeezed.

  “Ready Pats?” she asked breathlessly,

  “I’m not sure to be honest”, replied Patsy, raising her eyebrows, “part of me is terrified that Trixie has painted the whole place magenta or something.”

  “Oh she’d never do that!” exclaimed Delia, Patsy looked at her quizzically, the corners of her mouth upturned in a waiting smile, “magenta would clash terribly with your hair”, said Delia, in a tone of mock seriousness, before melting in to giggles. The smile crept across the whole of Patsy’s face and she gave a happy sigh,

  “Well, here we go”, she said, turning the key in the lock and opening the door just enough to stick her head inside and find the light, it flickered on to reveal that Trixie had painted the walls a rather fetching shade of yellow, “oh Deels look!” said Patsy, stepping back to allow Delia to peer inside.

  “Yellow walls”, smiled Delia “Trixie has good taste”, Patsy took advantage of Delia’s momentary distraction to scoop her up in her arms, just as she had done day after day at the hospital. Delia froze for a moment, then her arms instinctively slipped around Patsy’s neck, playing with a strand of hair that had come loose,

  “Patsy”, she breathed,

  “I told you, I promised you”, murmured Patsy, “I promised one day I’d carry you over the threshold”, she said, and without missing a beat she carried Delia a few steps inside the flat and set her down gently. They stood there facing each other for a moment, neither of them quite sure it was real. Then Delia slowly raised on to her tiptoes to give Patsy a gentle kiss,

  “Welcome home”, she whispered.

  Once they had hauled their suitcases inside, they set about exploring further. The decoration was simple yet cosy,

  “It feels like home already”, said Delia

  “It is home”, said Patsy “our home.”

  In the kitchen they found a box on the table,

  “Whatever can this be?” asked Patsy, confused,

  “Well don’t ask me”, said Delia, “look there’s a letter on it”, she said, reaching over and detaching an envelope which had been stuck on the top of the box. She carefully opened it and her face broke into a smile,

  “What is it?” asked Patsy perplexed, Delia just smiled back and proceeded to read the letter aloud,

  “Dear Nurse Mount and Nurse Busby”, she began, attempting an English accent which sent Patsy in to fits of giggles “I believe it is customary to give a gift on such occasions as these, now I wasn’t able to obtain a new set, but I feel this will be adequate. Best wishes, Nurse Crane. P.S Nurse Mount, the rota has changed and you’ll be on first call from 8pm Tuesday evening.”

  “Oh how kind!” said Patsy, “still I wonder what it is.”

  “I’ll open it”, said Delia, and her little hands set about scrabbling to open the box, as she achieved her aim and peered inside, her face fell.

  “What is it?” asked Patsy, “what’s wrong?”  Delia said nothing but slowly reached in to the box, she drew out a teacup. Patsy could hardly believe her eyes, it was the exact same print as the china in the tearoom in Brighton. Patsy began to laugh uncontrollably, tears streaming down her face, clutching her stomach. Delia stood there for a few moments, looking dumfounded and not at all impressed, but slowly laughter overtook her too. She caught Patsy’s hand,

  “At least it will always remind me of this weekend” she said, smiling,

  “The weekend we got married”, said Patsy, the words sent a shiver of joy through her and she watched as Delia’s eyes lit up at the memory. “I’m exhausted!” she added “and if I’m on the night shift Tuesday we’d better get some sleep!” Delia agreed and they went to look at their bedroom, Patsy felt a jolt of shock as she saw the two twin beds pushed together. Then she noticed the note on the pillow,

  “Dear Patsy and Delia, don’t panic at the furniture arrangement, I was the last to leave and did it myself. I hope you’ve had the most wonderful weekend and I expect to hear all about it! Welcome home and sleep well. Trixie.”

 “All this was wonderful of her”, said Delia, gazing around the room in awe.

  “I know”, said Patsy, kissing her on the cheek, “but this is so perfect, I daren’t even hope it’s all real.”

  “It is all real Pats”, said Delia, with complete conviction, “and this is real too”, she reached up and ran her fingers along Patsy’s necklace, stopping as she reached the ring and lifting it so Patsy could see, before pressing her lips to it. “I love you”, she said simply,

  “I love you too Deels, I love you too”, smiled Patsy “now shall we get in to our pyjamas?”     

Chapter Text

Delia studied the board cautiously as she gently shook the dice in her hand, as long as she rolled a nine it would all be fine, she’d land on her own property. Any other number however and she was almost certain to be bankrupted, Trixie had once again set up a minefield around Mayfair and was looking far too pleased with herself. They were all sat around in Patsy and Delia’s flat, Trixie’s new engagement ring gleaming on her finger. It was a rare occasion that they should all be off together and a monopoly rematch had been called, Barbara and Nurse Crane had both been invited of course and somehow Barbara was still in the game, although Nurse Crane had fallen foul of Trixie’s fondness for buying hotels and lost a few turns earlier. Patsy Mount looked at her homemade family, all drinking tea from those god-awful cups, and smiled. She gently laced her fingers with Delia’s, feeling the cold metal of her wedding ring and affectionately observing the look of concentration on her face. Surely this was heaven.

  “Yes!” Delia exclaimed, she would have sounded slightly too enthusiastic, had monopoly not been such a serious business among their little group. She had rolled a nine and excitedly slid her counter across the board.

  “Oh bother!” responded Trixie, taking a long drag of her cigarette “I rather thought I had you there.” The game continued like that, both tense and relaxed, light conversation humming over the top of it. Barbara caught sight of Patsy and Delia’s hands and blushed slightly, she’d known for a couple of months now, after Trixie had gently explained the situation to her one evening. She didn’t mind of course, she was glad to see them happy, but she couldn’t quite help blushing at the idea of it and the questions it brought bubbling to her mind. Nurse Crane, it seemed, had always known, deliberately orchestrating Delia’s stay at Nonnatus – though she wouldn’t admit to that. She had caught Patsy in the corridor one day between shifts and remarked, completely unflustered, that she was happy to see her wearing Delia’s ring. Patsy had of course blushed deep scarlet and stared determinedly at her hands, but Nurse Crane just smiled, tapped her nose and told her that live and let live was her philosophy. The matter hadn’t been spoken of since.

  Trixie’s next turn proved disastrous as she drew the ‘make repairs to properties’ card and crashed out of the game in spectacular fashion. A string of unlucky rolls meant that Patsy soon followed, leaving only Delia and Barbara competing for glory. Delia landed on one of Barbara’s middle value properties,

  “Sorry”, said Barbara, taking the money and raising a round of giggles in the process. Delia got a look of fierce determination in her eyes, remembering how she’d vowed to win from her sick bed. It was almost a year later and she still hadn’t won a game, although they played less regularly now she and Patsy were no longer residing at Nonnatus. She looked down at her pile of brightly coloured notes and decided to be brave,

  “I’m putting a hotel on Bond Street”, she announced, paying almost all of her remaining cash. Even Trixie looked shocked,

  “It’s a risky move Deels”, cautioned Patsy,

  “Oh do hush Pats, fortune favours the brave”, replied Delia, Patsy rolled her eyes but couldn’t help smiling at the Welshwoman’s recklessness, “your turn”, Delia said to Barbara. Barbara took the dice and a deep breath, anything but a nine and she was safe, surely Delia’s next turn would end in disaster seeing as she only had six pounds left.  Barbara rolled the dice. The first one showed a four and she held her breath as the second settled on five. It took all of Delia’s control not to jump up in triumph but she was grinning from ear to ear as Barbara accepted defeat.

  “Well done Deels!” Patsy exclaimed, knowing how much a win meant to her wife, even this long after the accident there were still challenges to overcome.

  “You finally won one”, teased Trixie,

  “Of course I won one!” said Delia “I needed Barbara to roll a nine, nine’s my lucky number.” She glanced at Patsy as she said it, who turned that familiar shade of red, smiled and began playing with the wedding ring on her finger, “tell them why Pats”, said Delia gently.

  “Nine”, began Patsy “the ninth of September”, she was smiling so much she could hardly speak, “the day we got married.”