Barbara Gilbert had been in love with Trixie Franklin since the second day of being at Nonnatus House - the moment her eyes had settled on that dazzling smile, and ocean blue eyes, she knew she was done for. Trixie was just.. so unobtainable. She’d been dating Tom, for starters, but Barbara swore she could see a lingering glimmer of something whenever she made eye contact with Trixie. She could never pinpoint what it was - ever. Platonic love? Romantic love? Something else? It was torture - seeing Trixie smiling, but not for Barbara, for Tom. Seeing her laugh at his jokes, and hold his hand. It made her so angry, sometimes. She’d storm upstairs, frustrating with something she couldn’t help. She couldn’t help that Trixie loved Tom, and she couldn’t help that every time she laid eyes on Trixie Franklin, her heartbeat sped up, and she just felt warm. Warmth like waking up on a Spring day, with the sunshine busting through your window and your curtains, illuminating your face and leave a red flush on your cheeks. The kind of warmth only Trixie Franklin would radiate.
So naturally, when Trixie and Tom split up, life for Barbara only got harder. One would assume it’d be easier, but now Trixie was obtainable. Well, not really. Barbara rubbed her forehead, and ran a hand through her pristine brunette bob. Perched on the edge of Valerie’s bed, she surveyed the blonde across from her, silently wondering how people weren’t in love with her. The way her hair was always so beautifully curled, her smile so luminous and skin so perfect - or how soft her voice was, little more than a scarf drifting through wind. She felt an elbow in her side, and turned to face her taller friend, who mumbled “you’re staring”, and sipped her drink. Barbara shook herself out of the trance, clearing her throat and sitting up straight. Beside her hair, and the way she sat, nothing else was straight about Barbara Gilbert. She’d spotted Patsy and Delia in a rather compromising position one night, with their lips on each other, and fingers interlocked. She wasn’t shocked, however. She was, ultimately, grateful, because they’d understand. They’d understand the torture she felt whenever Trixie waltzed through the town, as loved and welcomed as the first rain after a scorching summer.
“You’re awfully quiet, Babs,” Trixie mused, flicking her cigarette ash into the ashtray, with an attractive air of nonchalance shrouding her, and only her. Barbara shrugged her shoulders.
“I’m just tired,” she responded, her voice quiet, barely audible over Elvis Presley serenading them. “Well, Valerie’s staying with her aunt, so, you could always sleep in here - save having to walk to your room,” Trixie, once again, was blissfully unaware of the way her actions affected Barbara, who’s cheeks were now as red as a cherry, and her eyes darting everywhere but Trixie, because if they fell on Trixie, she’d be tempted to spill the words “I love you”, and then it’d all be over - before it even started. With another reassuring nudge from Patsy, Barbara nodded. Trixie’s lips formed that beam that Barbara adored so much, and then turned her attentions to Delia.
”Don’t panic, Barbara,” Patsy mumbled, “you’ll be fine! It’s Trixie. You’ve been friends for years,” she whispered, with her biggest, brightest encouraging smile plastered on her face. The timid brunette nodded in response. It was just Trixie. That was part of the problem - she looks like a girl from a polaroid picture, that a forlorn man moons over in a black and white film - a girl nobody is ever worthy of. That was the worst part of the entire thing.
”Well, we both have early starts tomorrow,” Delia’s words were just eligible, as she muffled a yawn into the fluffy material of her dressing gown. Patsy nodded, and stood up, stretching her arms above her head. “Goodnight, girls. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do,” Delia added, with a coy wink, as she and the taller girl exited the room. Trixie’s giggle was potentially the most wonderful thing to ever grace Barbara’s ears. She couldn’t help but stare, with her eyes clouded in a haze of pure adoration, her lips parted slightly as she admired every feature Trixie possessed - dimples, soft, glowing skin, neatly trimmed eyebrows, red lips (despite it being 11 p.m.), glossy hair, and a smile that rivalled even the brightest star. “I really-” Barbara cut herself off, covering her mouth with her hand, her blue eyes widened as she struggled to take them off Trixie, who had now turned to face her, with a confused expression. “I really… am not tired,” Barbara covered up, and Trixie just nodded slowly.
”Me either, really. I quite fancy dancing,” the taller girl hinted, accompanying it with a wink.
”Dancing? With me?” Barbara raised an eyebrow, tilting her head to the left, and quietly reassuring herself that if anything happened, she’d blame it on drink. “Well, who else?” Trixie scrunched up her nose, standing, and holding out a hand for the other, who hesitantly placed her own in it.
”I hope you’re a better dancer than Tom was,” the blonde didn’t falter as she rested her free hand on Barbara’s waist, her confidence unmoving, and eyes as soft as a pastel sky. Barbara was trying so hard not to panic - pursing her lips, moving frigidly, her limbs stiff. The air around them was scented with a shockingly pleasant mix of cigarettes, fruit drinks, and 4 different perfumes. Barbara tried to focus on the aftertaste of the gin she’d drank, how the warmth from it still assaulted her throat, and how she could hear Patsy and Delia laughing in the room next to them. She tried to focus on anything but Trixie; anything that didn’t remind her that she’d move mountains just to make Trixie Franklin laugh, that she’d wade through oceans and rivers just to wake up next to her. Anything that didn’t remind her of how futile her love for the other was. “Barbara, have I done something to upset you?” Trixie’s words were faint, as if she didn’t want an answer. “If I have, please tell me, so we can go back to how we were - you seem so.. rigid,” Barbara could just hear the way Trixie’s voice broke when she continued her sentence, the way her eyes tried so hard to meet Barbara’s, but to no avail.
The taller girl turned off the music, taking Barbara by the hand to drag her to the bed. She sat herself down, pulling the brunette down next to her. “Please tell me! So I can fix it, you’re so distant, Barbara,” Trixie’s hand was still on hers, and Barbara released a quiet laugh.
”Don’t be daft, Trixie, you’ve done nothing wrong,” she reassured the other girl, with the ghost of a smile dancing on her lips. “I just, I don’t know, I’ve been feeling weird lately.”
”Let me help you, Babs. We’re friends, we tell each other problems, and help each other fix them.” Trixie ran her thumb over Barbara’s knuckles, hoping the her actions would bolster her friend.
”It’s okay! Don’t you worry, I’ll get over it,” false confidence was never one of Barbara Gilbert’s strong points, and if anyone knew that, it was Trixie.
”Don’t lie to me, Nurse Gilbert,” she scorned, her voice now stern. “Okay, well, I have something on my mind, too, so, on the count of 3, we say it at the same time.” Barbara pursed her lips - if there was ever a time to air her thoughts, now was the prime moment. She could blame it on the drink, and things could be normal again.
Barbara took her glass, drinking some more of the clear liquid, before agreeing to the conditions.
”1.” Barbara’s heart was now racing at an alarming pace, she worried it would give out at any time.
”2.” Her cheeks were a shining red, burning so warm she could be mistaken as ill.
”3.” This was it - and she’d imagined the moment over and over again - she’d imagined them dancing to Can’t Help Falling In Love, in a dimly lit room, and she’d always lean forward, mumbling the words into the skin of Trixie’s neck, which she imagined smelled of apples, and cinnamon, and Trixie would always say “I love you too.” Another scenario consisted of them sat on the bench by the docks, Trixie was ranting about Tom, and how awful he was, and she’d face Barbara, with the same love Barbara felt visible in her eyes, and she’d say “I have always loved you”. But none of those scenarios had ever prepared her for the moment in hand. Barbara snapped herself out of the daydreams, worried she’d get too caught up in them. “Neither of us said anything,” she stated the obvious, and Trixie laughed. “Okay. 1. 2. 3.” Trixie’s words were stuck in her throat, halted by fear. As were Barbara’s, they were halted by harrowing fear of rejection that constantly plagued her, keeping her awake at night, with tears glistening in her eyes. “I think I’m in love with you,” Barbara’s words shocked her - it was as if the voice that said them was a more confident version of herself. “Let me explain-” she started, only to be halted by Trixie shaking her head.
Silence. Daunting, agonizing silence. Trixie stared down at the floor, as if she was inspecting the ultimately hideous pattern. “Say something, please,” Barbara’s voice broke as she spoke, the dread of being rejected sinking in, provoking tears to prickle her eyes. Trixie looked up, her head tilted to the left. “After some deep consideration, I know I’m in love with you,” more silence lingered, as Barbara slowly registered the words, cracking the most beautiful, genuine smile Trixie had ever seen. “Oh my,” Barbara couldn’t stop the smile that parted her lips - she couldn’t tame it, and Trixie loved it that way. “I think I have been for a while,” she continued, “I love your lopsided smile, and your compassion, and your innocent demeanour, and how selfless you are.” The tears that once held sadness spilled onto Barbara’s cheeks, but this time, they were filled with happiness. Unfiltered, pure happiness.
“I love you, too,” Barbara choked out the words, and leaned forward, into Trixie’s chest.
”Don’t cry! Surely I’m not that awful,” she jested, with a slight chuckle. Barbara shook her head, sitting up.
”Trixie, I’ve loved you since… the second day of being here, I wondered how everybody managed to not fall in love with you, you’re just so…” words escaped the brunette - slipping away, like the tears down her cheeks. “So.. wow.” She let out a watery giggle, and Trixie wiped her eyes with the sleeve of her dressing gown. The moment was temporarily ruined by the hoots and “WOO”’s eliciting through the wall. “Have… have they been listening?” Barbara questioned, staring in awe at the wall, as if she could see through it. Trixie’s mouth formed a small ‘o’ shape, as she bashed her fist against the wall, hearing only snickers in response. “Right, ignoring those two for a second, Babs. Delia told me about a club, and I’d quite like to take you there, if you’d like,” Trixie suggested, her hand reaching out to touch Barbara’s, nervously, like this was the first time they’d held hands. Barbara nodded, her cheeks flushing cherry blossom pink, and her eyes meeting Trixie’s. “I’d love to,” she replied, joy prominent in both her smile, and her words.
Trixie was certain she’d never loved anyone more. Except, maybe one person, who she thought she couldn’t have, years ago. “I know we’ve already said we love each other, so formalities are rendered sort of… Unnecessary, but I’d still love to take you on a date,” Trixie always loved the formal parts of being in a relationship - dates, dances, dinner. “And if it’s quite alright with you, I’d also quite like to kiss you?” She suggested, in a quieter tone. Barbara nodded furiously, tempted to utter the words ‘pinch me’. This wasn’t the scene she’d imagined, not even close, but it was still brilliant. The kiss wasn’t rough, or forced, or stiff, like the others she’d had - it was soft, and abound with tenderness, and blissful. It concluded any nervousness she’d felt in regards to her unrelenting love for Trixie. When she felt Trixie’s lips upon hers, it was as if every bad thought she’d had about this had evaporated - all those nights worried Trixie would find it weird, or worried she’d have to watch Trixie grow old with Tom vanished, as if they’d been wiped from her memory.
She loved Trixie, with everything she had, and Trixie loved her too. It was… astonishing. Exhilarating. “We should sleep, sweetie,” Trixie broke the kiss, and tilted Barbara’s chin up, who silently agreed. Trixie stood, making a move to go to her bed. Barbara quickly took her hand, “I’d quite like for you to sleep with me, if that’s okay? I mean… no risk of you getting pregnant,” she joked, with her usual goofy grin painted on her lips, and Trixie smiled in response, an ambrosial giggle eliciting into the air. Barbara pulled back the covers, slipping under, and sighing contentedly as Trixie joined her, resting her head on the others chest. “I love you,” Barbara mumbled, into Trixie’s sweet scented hair. She could hear another heavenly giggle, before the words “I love you too,” were mumbled into her chest, followed by a kiss on her cheek. This could be it- Barbara’s own personal heaven, tucked in bed, with Trixie Franklin mumbling doting words into the material of her pyjamas, without a worried thought swimming in her mind.