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The Angel By Your Side

Chapter Text

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Deels?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s this Pats?”

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Text

When Delia and Patsy had been dressing in their uniforms, Patsy had realised something. “We can’t wear our rings to work.” She sounded despondent.

“Oh.” Delia had sounded equally sad, then perked up. “I know, we’ll put them on chains. I don’t want to leave it here, or in my wallet, and if it’s on a chain, then it’s close to my heart..”

Patsy smiled as she began to rifle through her jewellery box, Delia doing the same. “You’re very resourceful, Deels.” Patsy said as she pulled a chain from her box. It Took a few more minutes until Delia finally wrenched a chain from her box, grinning satisfactorily, as if she had just beaten the box at some sort of competition. “I do wish you’d let me tidy that up.” Patsy remonstrated lightly.

Delia just grinned. “You can’t spend every minute of every day organising things and bleaching things,”

“Can’t I?”

No , I’m doing you a service by refusing your offer. And besides, I know where everything is anyway.”

Patsy scoffed as she slipped her wing from her finger and slid it onto the gold chain. She was about to lift it around her neck when Delia stopped her. “Let me?” Patsy acquiesced and swapped her chain with Delia’s. The brunette stood behind Patsy for a moment before she tapped the ginger’s shoulder. Patsy smirked and knelt down gracefully, allowing Delia the height to clasp the chain around her neck, the ring settling on her breastbone as Delia kissed her head.

Patsy stood up and they both turned around, Patsy hugging Delia gently for a moment before she clasped Delia’s chain and turned the brunette around for a kiss.

***

Delia got home at eight-thirty in the morning, having started her shift at midnight. Patsy had arrived home a few hours earlier, released from her uneventful post by the phone by Trixie. Patsy had a cup of tea waiting for her fiancée, incredibly milky just as she liked it, while Patsy’s own tea was blessedly milk-free. Pasty always made the effort to wait up for Delia, resulting in the brunette often finding her asleep at the kitchen table or on the couch with a stone cold cup of tea or Horlicks.

Delia remembered when they had still been living in the Nurse’s Home. Patsy had been insistent on keeping their burgeoning relationship secret, and they had taken to leaving romantic notes for each other to find when they arrived back from their shifts and lectures as it was difficult to schedule time together. Delia had left the first note, one that Patsy now kept in her box of treasures. For their first proper date, Patsy had taken Delia to the cinema to see Les Misérables. Delia had been on an early shift, and had slipped a note under the door, quoting the film,  A ghost you say… a ghost maybe. She was just like a ghost to me. One minute there, and she was gone! Patsy’s response had been waiting when Delia returned, exhausted, she had found a note quoting Shakespeare, If music be the food of love, play on . Since that first exchange, they had always greeted each other they came off shift, whether it be with a note or in person, just like they were tonight.

“Morning, Deels.” Patsy handing Delia her mug, and the brunette took a long, grateful drink.

“Morning, cariad.” Delia kissed Patsy’s forehead as she passed. The redhead followed the shorter woman into the bedroom and they changed into their pyjamas. Patsy pulled the curtains as Delia washed up. They had chosen thick, almost-black-out curtains when they moved in, knowing that their sleep patterns would be irregular, and they would need to be able to shut light out of the room  for sleep during the day. Patsy washed up after Delia, and they slipped into bed, relishing the comfort of the bed and each other.

“Can we visit your father on the weekend? We both have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.” Delia asked softly.

Patsy unconsciously tightened her arm around Delia’s waist. The Welshwoman ran her toes up Patsy’s shin, knowing the contact would calm Patsy a little. “If you want.” Patsy said emotionlessly.

“I love you, Pats.” Delia entwined her hand with Patsy’s, lifting it to her mouth and kissing Patsy’s soft palm gently.

“Love you too, Deels.” Patsy whispered tenderly, snuggling ever closer to Delia as she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.

***

By the time Friday inevitably came around, Patsy had become reticent and brusque. Neither woman could say that they were looking forward to their days off anywhere as much as they usually would. Delia knew that Patsy would be waspish and snappy , and Patsy knew that Delia would be unhelpfully cheerful. The long drive would be excruciating for both of them. Patsy was dreading seeing her father again, after over ten years since they saw each other, and four since their last communication, while Delia was dreading how Patsy would cope.

Christopher Mount had returned to the Mount family home in northern Cornwall when he retired. Patsy’s paternal grandmother had lived there until her death, and Patsy’s mother, Elizabeth, had never been her mother-in-law’s favourite, so the family had mostly resided in London when they were in England. The family had been staying up north with Elizabeth’s family when the accident happened. Patsy was of the opinion that Christopher had moved to Cornwall because it was a place that held the least happy memories of his family.

During the four-hour drive, Patsy plugged in her earphones and stared out the open window, chain smoking her way through a pack of cigarettes. The music was so loud that Delia could hear it clearly as she drove. Patsy had given her the address, but nothing else, and Delia was navigating via GPS. When they arrived in the seaside town of Widemouth Bay, Patsy tossed her phone onto the backseat and slouched in her seat. “Fish and chips, cariad?” Delia asked.

“Mmm hmm.” Patsy assented. There was a moment of unprompted silence. “Please.” Once they had the steaming newspaper packages, Delia parked in a carpark overlooking the sea, and they began to eat.

“You alright, Pats?” Delia asked as she swiped one of Patsy’s chips. Patsy mock-glared at her for the theft.

“I’m - I really don’t want to go up there.” Patsy leaned her head back.

“I know, cariad. I’ll be with you the whole time.” Delia reassured Patsy. “There’s nothing your father can do that will make me love you any less. You’re my girl.”

Patsy sucked in a breath as Delia touched on her fears. “I know. And you’re my girl, Deels. I’m just, you know.”

“I know.” Delia took Patsy’s hand and they finished their chips. When they pulled up outside the house, which lay a ten-minute drive from the town, Patsy crunched a mint hard between her teeth.

Delia opened Patsy’s door for her and held steadfastly to her hand, making sure that Patsy knew she was by her side. They walked up the front steps of the old house together, and Patsy lifted the old brass eagle door knocker and thumping it down. The door was answered by a middle-aged woman. “Och, Miss Patsy! We weren’t expectin’ you.” She exclaimed happily.

Patsy avoided Delia’s remonstrative glare. “Hello, Mrs Glennon. We were in the area, and I thought I’d pop in. I’ve got some news for Father.”

“Look a’ me. Come in, Miss. Mr Mount’s in the front room there. I’ll be making up beds for you and your friend, how’d you like your old room?” Mrs Glennon stepped back and opened the door wide.

Delia squeezed Patsy’s hand. “Actually, Mrs Glennon, I’d rather not have my old room, and you only need to make up one.” Mrs Glennon looked confusedly at Patsy and Delia.

“You not staying, Miss-”

“Delia. Delia Busby, a pleasure to meet you.” Delia extended the hand Patys wasn’t gripping and Mrs Glennon shook it. “I’m staying if Patsy is. We’re engaged.” The brunette explained.

“How lovely. That’ll be your news for your father, then, Miss Patsy. I’ll hush up and make up that room.” Mrs Glennon bustled off upstairs, Delia and Patsy’s thanks going after her.

They stayed in the entrance hall for a long few moments. Delia pulled Patsy to face her. “I’m with you, cariad. We’ll be fine.”

“Yeah.” Patsy said faintly. She still didn’t move, so Delia pulled her along a little.

“In here?”

“Mmm.” Before Delia could open the door, Patsy swooped down and captured her lips in a passionate kiss that ended all too soon. “Dutch courage.” They both grinned, and Patsy rapped smartly on the oak door and pushed it open.

“Mrs Glennon?” Christopher Mount asked. He did not turned his head. He was facing away from the door, reading from a pile of Southeast Asian newspapers.

“It’s Patsy, Father.” Only Delia caught the tremble in the redhead’s voice. Christopher lifted his head for a moment, then resumed his reading.

“Come into the light, Patience, don’t make me break my neck trying to see you.”

Patsy pulled Delia around to the couch which faced the fire and was at right angles to Christopher’s armchair. “I’ve brought someone I’d like you to meet, Father.”

“Finally picked a chap, have you?”

“No Father.” Patsy was bolstered by her father’s brusque attitude. This was something she knew how to handle. “This is Delia Busby, she’s my fiancée.”

“I beg your pardon, Patience Elizabeth?” Christopher finally looked up from his newspaper, and slowly removed his thin-rimmed spectacles.

“I said, this is Delia, my fiancée. She wanted to meet you.” Patsy responded.

“Watch your mouth, Patience, I won’t have you showing cheek, not in my house.” Christopher looked Delia over for a long time, taking in her ponytail, her bright Superman jumper, her black jeans. Then he scraped his eyes over Patsy, viewing her slate grey capris and her green blouse with slightly more approval. Delia wished for a moment that she had worn something smarter, but when she had been dressing, she had been thinking of comfort for the long drive, not how smart she looked. “I’ve told you before, in no uncertain terms, Patience, that you are not to bring any girls to this house. I won’t have it. Do what you will, but know that I do not want to hear of it.” He turned back to his newspaper.

“Father, just get to know Delia. I’m not leaving her, but I don’t want to leave like this.” Patsy said lowly, leaning forward.

“If only your mother were still with us. Elizabeth would’ve soon brought you to your senses.”

“I have my senses, thank you. I love Delia, and if that accident taught me anything, it was that you’ve got to grab life, and love, with both hands, before it is too late.” Patsy responded heatedly. Delia could see her muscles tensing.

“You are not welcome here, Patience, if you are going to address me this way. What an example you would’ve grown into for Katherine, I don’t know.”

“I would’ve shown Katie that it’s okay to be yourself! I would’ve-”

Delia interrupted before Patsy could let the argument escalate. She had the feeling that this was old territory for the two. “Mr Mount, could we stay the night, please? We’ve been driving all morning.”

“Very well.” Christopher was clearly dismissing them, so Patsy and Delia trooped upstairs, and into the room prepared for them, far away from Christopher’s room, Patsy noted. Patsy threw herself down on the plush bed, digging around in her pocket for her cigarette case and lighter.

Delia reached out her hand, laying it on the redhead’s before she could lift a cigarette to her mouth. “Please don’t.” Delia had been trying to get Patsy to give up for years, since the first day they met. The Welshwoman saw an emotional gap where she might be able to get through to Patsy today.

Patsy sighed, tensing for an argument, then deflating. “I - Deels, I don’t think I can.”

Delia gently took the case and lighter from Patsy’s trembling hands and laid them on the bedside table, then pulled Patsy into a tight hug. “You’re the strongest person I know, cariad, you can do anything if you believe it.” Delia whispered firmly.

“I mean, I’m not sure if I can cope, Deels.” Patsy said brokenly.

“I’m going to help you, love.” Delia stroked Patsy’s hair. “We can find something else for you to do with your hands instead of smoking, we can go for a run together, I’ll even let you bleach the whole apartment.” Patsy giggled, but the sound was harsh, scraping through her tight throat.

“I might take you up on that.” Patsy caught Delia’s hand in her own, a silent gesture of thanks. “Do you want to go to the beach?” Delia agreed and they pulled some ice lollies from the freezer on their way out. As they wandered along the beach, Delia danced through the surf, kicking water at Patsy who sprang away, still nibbling on her ice lolly stick.

Chapter Text

Delia was in bed reading when Patsy slipped in next to her. “Deels.” Patsy said quietly.

The brunette nurse marked her page and set the book down on the bedside table. “Yeah?”

“I’ve been a bit of a bitch these last few days. I’m sorry.” Patsy said contritely.

“Oh, hello apologetic Pats!” Delia grinned. Patsy watched her uncertainly. “Seriously, Pats, I don’t mind too much, I know coming down here was big for you.”

“Thanks, Deels.” Delia opened her arms and Patsy snuggled in, slipping an arm across Delia’s tummy. “I want to tell you something. Will you just listen for a minute?”

“Of course, cariad.” Delia promised.

Patsy took a deep breath. “Right after we got together, I emailed Father, about you, and me. He responded that I was to stop gallivanting about with you and marry some man who was of ‘my social standing’. He said I wasn’t ever to bring you here. That’s why I didn’t want you to meet him, I wasn’t just worried about what he would say, I knew he wouldn’t react as well as your dad would. I’m sorry.”

Delia waited a beat to be sure Patsy had finished. “Pats, you don’t ever need to be sorry. Yes, I wish you’d told me, it would’ve saved us many an argument, but I understand.”

“Thanks.” Patsy murmured.

“I was thinking, Pats, instead of cutting our weekend short, why don’t we drive over to Pembrokeshire, then we can tell Dad and Mam about, you know.” Delia rubbed her fingers over the ring hanging from Patsy’s neck.

“Is this a punishment?” Patsy asked.

“Pats!” Delia gasped, feigning hurt.

“Oh, I like your dad, but you mother is remarkably indifferent towards me.” Patsy smiled, twining her fingers with Delia’s.

“I know. She’s getting better. And it’s not really you, it’s more that you live in London, and she never wanted me to leave St David’s, let alone Wales.” Delia explained, her thumb rubbing circles on the back of Patsy’s hand.

“I know.” Patsy slid her foot over Delia’s shin. “I think it’s a good idea. We should get it all over with, like ripping off a plaster.”

“Pats, honestly. Dad will be ecstatic, he’s been begging me to make an honest woman of myself for years.”

“He’s been begging me too.” Patsy giggled. “We can leave in the morning, sweetheart. Do you want me to drive?”

“Sure. Is it too late to call Mam and warn her to expect us?”

“No, I’m sure she’d love to be woken at midnight with a call saying I’m coming to stay in less that twenty-four hours.” Patsy said sarcastically.

“Is it that late already? I’ll ring in the morning then.” Delia snuggled down, pressing her back against Patsy’s front. “And you behave, Pats, alright?”

“Sure.” Patsy agreed as she tightened her grip on Delia. “Love you, Deels.”

“Love you, too, Pats. Cysgu yn dda.”

***

They set off on the five hour drive after breakfast, a mel which Christopher Mount did not attend, as he also didn’t attend the previous night’s dinner. Patsy didn’t say goodbye to her father, but at Delia’s insistence she left a note with both their phone numbers, their address, and saying that they would inform him of then and where the wedding would be.

Delia chattered away for the first two hours, enjoying a lively conversation with Patsy, until the redhead turned the radio on. “Really, Deels, you’ll damage your vocal cords if you keep that up.”

“Sorry, Pats.” Delia said, though her tone wasn’t at all apologetic, and she continued to make passing remarks on the songs and their lyrics.

They stopped for lunch in Haverford West, and arrived in St David’s around midday. Delia bounded up to the front door, throwing it open. “Mam! Dad! We’re here!” Patsy was struggling to find the source of Delia’s sudden happiness and energy, so she followed her inside, greeting Rhion Busby with a warm hug, and Enid Busby with a stilted kiss on the cheek. They were invited to sit down, and they chatted happily with Rhion while Enid made tea.

“What brings you two down here on such short notice?” Enid asked as she laid the tea tray down.

“We have some news. You might want to sit down, Mam.” Delia grinned, her hand finding Patsy’s, their legs pressed together on the loveseat. Delia nudged Patsy, who gave her a glare.

“Er. Well, a few days ago, um-” Patsy stuttered, not quite sure how to say it to a couple whose reaction would be positive, at least, Rhion’s would be.

“Er mwyn y nefoedd, Pats!” Delia interrupted. “I proposed to Patsy, and she said yes.” Patsy caught Delia’s eye for a moment and smiled gratefully at her. Delia smiled back, and squeezed Patsy’s hand.

“Delia, anwylyd, that’s marvelous!” Rhion jumped up and pulled Delia and Patsy into a big hug. Patsy grinned despite herself, Rhion and Delia’s exuberance was contagious. “Congratulations!” He let them go, and they returned to their seats. “Isn’t that good, Enid?” He prompted his wife.

“Yes, it’s lovely news, Delia.” Enid smiled at her daughter, though to Patsy’s eyes it seemed forced, Delia didn’t notice.

“Isn’t it? I don’t think I’ve ever been happier!” Delia was practically bouncing in her seat, her grin splitting her face. “It was wonderful, Mam, we’d been arguing, and then I just proposed in the middle of the street, one knee and everything!”

Enid didn’t respond, but Rhion patted Delia’s knee happily. “I don’t see a ring, bach, on either of you.”

“We’ve got them on chains, Dad.” He looked at Delia confusedly.

“Because it’s not very sanitary or safe to wear rings at work, for either of us. This way we can have them, but they stay out of the way, clean.” Patsy explained.

“Clever.” Rhion praised. “May I see?” Delia leaned forwards straight away, slipping her chain from beneath her jumper, the ring balanced on her fingertips.

“It was Patsy’s mother’s ring.” Delia said softly, transfixed by the ring in her hand, as she always was when she caught sight of it. She wondered it the fluttery feeling in her tummy that she felt when she remembered she was engaged to Patsy would ever go away. She didn’t think so.

Rhion smiled at Patsy. “It’s beautiful Patsy. May I see yours?”

“Of course.” Patsy leaned forward, slipping her ring from beneath her shirt. “I’m told it was Delia’s grandmother’s.”

Rhion examined the ring, his blue eyes full of emotion. “It was. My mother’s. She would be so incredibly proud of you, Delia, and you Patsy. I know she loved you two.” Patsy had only meet Delia’s grandmother a handful of times, but the old woman had immediately taken to the redhead, joining her when she escaped Enid’s acerbic comments for a smoke.

“Where’d Mam go?” Delia’s voice cut through Patsy’s thoughts, and she glanced around the room, realising that Enid must’ve slipped away while they pored over their rings.

“I’ll find her.” Rhion made to rise from his seat.

“No, Dad, I’ll go.” Delia patted her dad on his shoulder.

“I’m proud of you, bach.” Rhion reminded his daughter as she left the room.

***

“Mam?” Delia found Enid sitting on the bench in the garden, cradling a cup of tea in both hands. “We wondered where you’d got to.” Delia sat next to her mother.

“I-”

“I know you don’t like Pats, Mam, but I do. I love her.” Delia’s voice was firm.

“I- I know you do, cariad. I know you do.” Enid’s tone told Delia that she seemed resigned to the fact.

“And she loves me. I know she isn’t incredibly public about it, but she really does.”

“I just don’t want you hurt, Delia. I saw how you were when you were keeping your… relationship… secret. I saw the hurt then, and I saw it when she was in London and you were here, after your accident.” Enid explained, emotion colouring her voice.

Delia sighed. “I know, Mam. But I did that because Patsy wasn’t ready, and I wasn’t willing to lose her because she wasn’t out yet. And after the accident, I was only sad because she wasn’t here. All I could think about, when I remembered, was if she’d given up on me ever remembering her, or if she still loved me, if she would still have me.”

“What about children, Delia, you always wanted children.” Enid seemed determined to have Delia explain her way past every obstacle.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. There are ways, sperm donors, adoption.” Delia was exasperated now. She didn’t understand why her mother couldn’t just accept that she and Patsy were good for each other. “I want us to all be a family, like what Patsy lost.”

“I am trying, cariad, I am.”

“Then go in there and say congratulations, ask to see our rings. Pats will be your daughter-in-law, and she thinks you hate her. Show her you don’t. Accept her.” Delia commanded, standing up and marching through the house, grabbing their bags from the car and taking them upstairs. She heard Enid and Patsy’s stilted conversation as she passed the living room, and smiled a little to herself. Delia sat on her bed and checked her phone for a few minutes, giving them time to talk.

“What did you say to her, bach?” Rhion asked, smiling as he sat next to his daughter.

“I just told her how it is.” Delia rested her head on her father’s shoulder.

“And how is it?”

“I love Pats and Pats loves me. We are getting married, whether or not she approves. She can gain a daughter-in-law or lose a daughter.” Delia said bluntly. “Though not in those exact terms.”

“No, she’d have a heart attack if you said that, she would!” Rhion laughed. Delia laughed too. “If she make you happy…” Rhion said seriously.

“She does, Dad. So happy.” Delia said earnestly.

“Then I’ll continue to support you, bach.”

***

Delia and Patsy spent the afternoon strolling around the town, greeting everyone Delia knew with the news of their engagement.

“What’s occurring, Delia?” A voice yelled across the street. Delia spun round.

“Dewi!” Delia ran at the sandy-haired man and leapt at him. “Nyd wyf wedi chi wedi gweld mewn oedrannau!” The man, Dewi, twirled Delia round and round, until she was giddy with laughter. When he set her back on her feet, he had to hold her steady. Patsy noticed that Delia came up to the tops of his biceps. “Pats, come here.” Patsy dutifully went over and wrapped her arm possessively around Delia’s waist. “This is Dewi, he was absolutely my best friend when we were children!”

“Bleser i gwrdd â chi.” Dewi said, extending his hand for Patsy to shake. As she took it, Delia spoke.

“Pats doesn’t speak Welsh, Dewi.” Delia scolded, clearly something she used to do a lot.

Dewi grinned at the much shorter Delia. “Sorry. It’s a pleasure to meet you…”

Patsy took his hand. “Patience Mount, but everyone calls me Patsy. I’m Delia’s fiancée.” Patsy couldn’t help the slight tone of jealousy and possessiveness. Delia slotted herself close into Patsy’s side.

“You sly dog, Delia Busby!” Dewi laughed.

“You can talk, Dewi Jones! I see that ring on your finger.” Delia poked his ribs. “I didn’t get an invite.”

“It was a quick thing. My Carys just had our boy, Steffan, a month back.” Dewi explained.

“Oh, Dewi, that’s wonderful.” Delia said.

“Why don’t you come back and meet him?” Delia and Patsy agreed, and they spent the afternoon with Dewi and his family.

***

“You didn’t need to be jealous of Dewi, cariad.” Delia said as she and Patsy changed into their pyjamas. “You know I only have eyes for you.” Delia slipped her hands onto Patsy’s waist, under her shirt, her thumbs caressing Patsy’s soft skin.

“I know, Deels. I’ll try not to.” Patsy smiled at the brunette. “I love you.”

“I love you too.” Delia’s hand slid higher, onto Patsy’s ribcage.

Patsy pressed her hands against Delia’s, halting their movement. “Deels. Not under your parents roof.” Patsy's eyes danced.

“Awww, spoilsport!” Delia groaned as she threw herself on the bed.

Patsy lay next to her. “I promise I’ll make up for it when we get home. If we leave in the morning.”

“Deal.” Delia leaned up and kissed Patsy warmly.

Chapter Text

Patsy and Delia were both back at work on Monday, though Delia’s shift didn’t start until 4pm as she was working evening for the week. Delia was joining the midwives at Nonnatus House for lunch. Sister Evangelina insisted that they keep the tradition of having a hot meal at lunchtime, to fortify themselves for the rest of the day.

“Patsy!” Trixie trilled, her shoes clicking as she hurried down the steps, hugging Patsy, then Delia. “And Delia! I haven’t seen you two for simply ages . How was your weekend away?”

Patsy caught Delia’s eye. “It was an experience.” She said slowly. “We went to Cornwall to visit Father, then we drove up to Pembrokeshire to see Delia’s family.”

Trixie squeezed Patsy’s arm sympathetically as she tugged her towards the kitchen. “That’s a lot of family.” She said knowingly.

“We had some news.” Patsy kept her tone level, not giving anything away.

“Oooh, let me guess! No, tell me, no, don’t!” Trixie bounced about with excitement.

“We’ll tell you when everyone’s here, Trix.” Delia patted Trixie’s shoulder as they worked together to lay the meal on the table. As they worked, midwives and nuns began arriving. Sister Monica Joan was first, followed by Sisters Winifred and Mary Cynthia. Patrick and Shelagh came in with Phyllis and Barbara. The group was rounded off when Sisters Julienne and Evangelina joined the group and they all sat down. SIster Julienne said grace, and just as everyone was about to serve themselves, Patsy stood up, pulling Delia to her feet next to her. Trixie was brimming with excitement, and Phyllis looked at them with an approving face.

“Excuse me, everyone,” Patsy began, and the chatter that had just begun died down. Patsy noticed Sister Monica Joan toss a roast potato in her mouth and chomp happily. “We have something we’d like to share.”

“Ooh.” Trixie squeaked and Barbara glanced at her confusedly.

“We’re getting married. At some point. We haven’t chosen a date yet.” Patsy babbled as the table erupted in congratulations.

“For what is wedlock forced but a hell, an age of discord and continual strife? Whereas the contrary bringeth bliss, and is a pattern of celestial peace.” Sister Monica Joan said quietly, her hand gripping Delia’s.

“Exactly, Sister.”

Trixie had leapt up at thrown herself at Patsy. “Oh, let me see the ring!” Patsy drew the ring out from beneath her uniform and was immediately set upon by Trixie and Sister Winifred, with Barbara and Sister Mary Cynthia looking on, smiling.

After five minutes of chattering and hugging, Sister Julienne chinked her glass. “We all offer our most heartfelt congratulations to Nurse Mount and Nurse Busby, but I am afraid that we do have clinic this afternoon, and must eat our meal.”

***

Delia arrived home after Patsy, and she eschewed dinner in favour of following her fiancée into bed. Sleep came quickly to them both as they lay curled together in the middle of their bed, only to be woke by the blaring screech of an alarm from across the street. Delia was out of bed in seconds. Patsy blearily saw Delia standing at the window, and joined her, gasping when she saw the burning building opposite their window. Before Patsy could say anything, Delia was already sprinting out of the flat, barefoot and wearing only pyjama shorts and a tank top. Patsy rushed after her.

The building was another house which had been split into multiple flats, like theirs. There were people in their pyjamas standing outside. Some were crying, some just watching in shock. One woman was being restrained by a man as she tried to run back in. Patsy stopped next to her. “Who’s in there?”

“Our daughters.” The man answered as the woman wailed. “On the third floor.” Patsy looked up, seeing that the fire was consuming the fourth floor, where it seemed to have started, and was quickly moving downwards.

“Delia, third floor, children.” Patsy yelled to Delia, who had paused by the door. She nodded sharply and took off. “Is there anyone else in the building?” Patsy yelled loudly.

“Old Mrs Leslie is on the second floor. I haven’t seen her.” A young woman spoke up and several people nodded along.

Patsy ran up to the second floor, and as she reached the landing, she saw Delia coming down with a crying infant in one arm, and a toddler settled on her hip as she rushed out, the fire following close down the stairs. “Be careful, Pats!” Delia yelled over her shoulder as she disappeared down the stairs. Patsy pulled her t-shirt over her mouth and tried the door handle. Locked. She scanned the landing and saw a pot plant by the door. Lifting it up, she grabbed the key and jammed it in the lock, twisting it and shoving the door open. She swiped a scarf from the coat rack and ran through the flat, looking for the bedroom. When she found it, she discovered an old woman trying to pull her dressing gown on. “Mrs Leslie?” Her voice was muffled through her shirt.

“Aye, tha’s me.” She spoke softly.

Patsy handed her the scarf. “Put this over your mouth, Mrs Leslie, to keep the smoke out. We need to go.”

“I can’t, lass. I’ve a broken ankle. You go.”

Patsy thought for a moment, before letting go of her t-shirt. “Cover your mouth, Mrs Leslie. I’m going to carry you.”

Mrs Leslie didn’t say anything, just covered her mouth and nose with the scarf. Patsy lifted the frail old woman into her arms gently and made her way out of the flat. Smoke was quickly filling the air, and Patsy could hear parts of the building’s structure collapsing. She went as quick as she could, inhaling as little smoke as possible. She could hear the sirens of firetrucks and she saw them as she finally emerged.

“Pats!” Delia rushed over as Patsy set Mrs Leslie on her feet, and the girl who had noticed her missing came over, helping Mrs Leslie to a bench.

“Deels.” Patsy said croakily, realising how much smoke she had inhaled. “I think-” She was overcome with a fit of coughing. Delia wrapped her arm around her and guided her over to the ambulance.

“Excuse me, I’m a nurse, she’s been in the building for about 5 minutes, on the second floor, she’s got smoke inhalation. Her name is Patsy, she gave up cigarettes a few days ago.” Delia informed the ambulance officer quickly.

“Hello, Patsy. My name is Martha.” Martha turned back to Delia, “Is there anyone you can call for her?” She asked as she checked Patsy over, sitting her on the edge of the ambulance.

Delia shook her head. “I’m her fiancée.”

“Right. And you’re a registered nurse?”

“Yes, we both are.” Delia could feel Patsy gripping her hand.

Martha nodded. “I’m going to give you some oxygen, Patsy, and once I’m sure you’re okay, I’ll send you home with your fiancée.” Martha slipped the oxygen mask over Patsy’s face and Patsy’s laboured breathing calmed a little.

When Martha returned from checking the other inhabitants of the building, Patsy had already tried to remove her mask twice. Martha checked her breathing, listened to her lungs, and told Delia to keep an eye on her for 24 hours, and that Patsy was to stay in bed, no prolonged exercise or heavy lifting for a few days.

Delia wrapped her arm around Patsy’s waist, and Patsy lifted her arm over Delia’s shoulders, and they made their way tiredly up to their flat. Delia sent Patsy to shower while she emailed the hospital and Nonnatus to say that neither of them would be in for a few days, then she joined Patsy in bed.

***

Delia woke to Patsy’s laboured breathing. She was tossing and turning, whimpering a little. It was clearly a nightmare, triggered by the fire, perhaps. Delia got out of bed, and knelt by Patsy’s side, taking her hand and calling her name. “Pats. Pats? Wake up, cariad. Sweetheart, it’s just a dream, wake up.”

Patsy’s whimpers turned to Delia’s name. “Deels? Deels?” She sounded frantic.

Delia knew that the redhead would wake up any moment. “I’m here, lovely, it’s alright.”

“Delia!” Patsy shot up, her wide eyes snapping open and immediately searching. When she found Delia, she threw her arms around the brunette’s neck and buried her face in her neck.

Delia lifted herself on to the bed, keeping Patsy wrapped in her arms. “I’m here, Pats, I’ve got you, cariad, I’ve got you.”

Delia .” Patsy breathed, relaxing in her fiancée’s hold.

“Do you want to talk about it, Pats?” Delia asked gently, her fingers stroking through Patsy’s tangled ginger hair.

“Same as always.” Patsy said shortly, pulling Delia down and snuggling close, her action displaying her need for comfort.

Delia kissed the crown of Patsy’s head softly. “M’kay, cariad. Love you.”

“Love you too.” Patsy whispered.