Patsy's hands trembled as she tried to unbutton Delia's polka dot dress. It was as if those hands had never worked a button or delivered a baby or done anything more than rested at her side. They seemed utterly useless in this moment. Then, small, warm hands cupped hers attempting to cease the tremors.
"Pats, you're shaking," Delia said in a sweet Welsh lilt.
"I'm nervous. Aren't you?" the redhead asked, looking into blue eyes. "I'm scared I won't know what to do. Or that I'll hurt you. Or most especially that you won't like it."
Delia took one of Patsy's hands and laid it flat against her chest, holding it there tightly and securely.
"Dels," Patsy said with some concern, "it feels as if your heart will burst from your chest."
"I'm just as nervous as you, cariad," Delia smiled. "But I can't imagine that I would not like any way you would touch me. Or that you would hurt me. But I know if you did and I said 'stop' that you would. And as for not knowing what to do." Delia removed one of her hands from Patsy's and gently caressed her girlfriend's cheek. "Isn't that part of the fun? Figuring it all out?"
Flashback to four weeks ago
Delia had lost count of the number of times Patsy had snuck into her bed after curfew at Nonnatus House. Clandestine meetings for a few short hours was far from what they had once dreamed about and almost had. Before Delia's accident they had a single night in their very own flat. But since they had no furniture and no money they decided to wait until they at least had a bed to share before they would make love. But they never got the bed and the flat was a distant memory now, as was any prospect of properly sleeping together in the foreseeable future.
Patsy lay with her head resting on Delia's chest. Delia ran her fingers through Patsy's copper locks while Patsy mindlessly traced the lines on Delia's plaid pajama top. "Do you ever regret it, Pats?" Delia asked, breaking the silence.
"Regret what?" Patsy asked, now conscious of the fact that she had started unbuttoning one of Delia's pajama top buttons in her daze. She quickly realized what she was doing and stopped and looked up to her girlfriend. "So sorry."
Delia simply smiled. She had noticed Patsy's unconscious actions, but didn't want to stop her. "Do you regret that we didn't make love the one night we had our own flat?"
"Constantly," Patsy said without hesitation. "Do you?"
"Yes," Delia said. A look of sadness washed across her face. She blamed herself—her carelessness—for the accident that ended the reality of them living on their own and that almost ended them.
Patsy knew the look well, and the guilt that Delia carried. "None of that, Dels," Patsy said attempting to pull Delia from her sorrow. "We're together now. That's all that matters."
"But we can't have now what we could have had then. We could never risk intimacy at the nurses' home and we certainly can't get caught here. Even this is risking a lot if someone were to walk in."
"But no one ever does walk in," Patsy said. And for a moment she felt secure. But suddenly she tensed and felt the need to remove herself from Delia's bed, just in case.
Delia caught her before she could get up and pulled her back down placing Patsy's head back on her chest. "No one's coming in, cariad." She kissed the top of Patsy's head and continued her thoughts. "Have you ever?" Delia began, then paused shyly. "Have you ever slept with a woman?"
Patsy leaned up on her elbow to look Delia in the eyes. "You know I haven't."
Delia pulled herself up into a seated position and leaned back against the headboard. "I didn't think you had," Delia said, "but I wasn't certain. We've never properly discussed it."
Patsy sat up and sat cross legged in the bed facing Delia, taking her hand in hers. "I've never been with anyone, Dels," Patsy confessed. "I've never even kissed another woman, not until you. I honestly thought you knew that."
"Why not?" Delia asked sincerely.
Patsy let out a sarcastic laugh. "You are aware of my crippling anxiety about being found out, aren't you?"
"You opened up to me," Delia said. "Maybe you had opened up to someone else before me—before you came to London."
"No Delia," Patsy said. "Only you." Patsy leaned in and kissed Delia softly on the lips. "You are the only woman I have ever had the courage to open myself to." Patsy paused and asked a question she wasn't sure she wanted the answer to. "Have you been with another woman?"
"No, Pats. Only you." Delia didn't share in Patsy's almost paralyzing fear of being found out. But she was younger and as a result had been away from her parents' home for only a short time; and during that time she had immersed herself in school and then work. Until Patsy had caught her attention when they both worked at the London, Delia had no desire to pursue romantic interests.
Patsy smiled, then furrowed her brow. "Am I enough?" Patsy asked, almost choking on the words. Her insecurities were almost palpable.
"Oh God, Pats." Delia's eyes filled with sadness. "Yes. You are more than enough; you are everything. You are more than I ever dreamed of." She leaned in and kissed Patsy. "But I'm tired of not being able to be intimate with you. I want things, Pats. I want things for us. We've been together for a long time now. If one of us were a man we'd already be married and there would be nothing wrong with us sharing a bed. In every way."
"But neither of us is a man," Patsy said. "And it will most likely never be alright for us to share a bed. At best there will always be a stigma and at worst there will always be a risk."
"We've been together for two years, Pats," Delia frowned. "And I've never felt your skin on mine. Never been able to hold you all night and wake up with you naked and entangled together."
"I know," Patsy sounded so apologetic, like it was all her fault. "There are still things we could do though, Dels. We could be quiet and we could be careful."
"I don't want to be quiet or careful. I don't want to fumble around fully clothed like a teenager sneaking into their girlfriend's bed while her parents are asleep down the hall. I want to do it proper. I want to be loud and to be naked and to wake up in your arms and not have to worry about anyone barging in or catching us."
"I want that too, Dels. But what do you suggest we do?" Patsy asked, letting out a breath of air. "Should we try and get another flat? If we do we risk the wrath of your mother. The only reason we could even get her to consider letting you come back to London was if you lived here, at Nonnatus."
"I'm a grown woman, Pats," Delia scoffed. "My mother doesn't 'let' me do anything. I do what I want."
"Oh really," Patsy stared into Delia's steely blues and called her bluff.
"Well," Delia said sheepishly. "Anyway, I was thinking maybe we should go away for a weekend. Somewhere out of the city. One of the nurses at the London said her parents have a cottage in the country. They rarely use it and have offered it to her anytime she likes. And she offered it to me. To us."
Patsy looked at Delia with wide eyes. "Dels, you didn't tell anyone about us, did you?"
"No," Delia answered a little too defensively. "Well, maybe."
Patsy looked simply horrified. It wasn't a matter of being embarrassed to be a lesbian, it was a matter of livelihood. "Delia, you know we could lose our license to practice nursing if we are found out. What on Earth would ever possess you to do such a thing?"
"Don't worry, cariad," Delia said, reaching out to stroke Patsy's forearm and hand. "I didn't tell her it was you. But she isn't blind. She knows about me; she figured it out."
"If she figured out you, then how long do you think it will take for her to figure out who you are with? We are together all the time, Delia." Patsy looked away, now utterly beside herself.
"Pats, how do you think she figured it out?" Delia asked, pulling Patsy's face to look at her. A look of confusion wrinkled Patsy's brow. "Pats, so is she. She could tell I was and I could tell she was." This wasn't easing Patsy's concern.
"We were eating lunch in the park and we just started talking about things. One thing led to another and she told me about her girlfriend and the flat they share. She said she wouldn't have told me if she didn't think I'd be alright with it. I told her I had a girlfriend too and that it was maddening we couldn't be together in a flat of our own. That's when she told me about the cottage and offered it up anytime I wanted to use it." Delia smiled. "Well, not anytime, but maybe once."
"So you don't think she will tell anyone?" Patsy asked, always cautious.
"No, Pats, I don't," Delia smiled. "She stands just as much to lose as I do if she told."
"This cottage, it's in the country?" Patsy asked.
"Yes. Near a lake and secluded," Delia smiled. She could tell Patsy was on the verge of saying yes. "Away from neighbors. No other guests. And no chance her parents will come to visit as they are currently in Spain for six months."
"How would we get there?" Patsy asked, coming around to the thought of getting away for a weekend.
"All we need to do is ask for the time off—which we are both due. And I'm going to ask Phyllis if I can borrow her car," Delia said. "If we can borrow her car."
"Sounds like you have it all planned out," Patsy said. "What will you tell Phyllis?"
"I will tell her that a friend has offered up her parents' cottage to me for the weekend and that you are coming with me. No need in making up a lie; and no need to elaborate further."
"Sounds sensible," Patsy said.
"We can do whatever we want," Delia smiled a devilish grin. "No chance of interruptions. Will you go with me?"
"Yes," Patsy agreed. Delia's breath hitched as Patsy's now steady hand unbuttoned her polka dot dress. "I think figuring it all out will be quite fun."