The following fanfiction was written by die_Frau. Here’s the link to the original source.
Strike leaned back in his seat and let out a sigh of satisfaction, replete with the Christmas feast that had satisfied even his voracious appetite. Linda Ellacott smiled indulgently at him, saying, “Goodness, I haven’t seen anyone eat like that since Stephen and Jonathan played rugby,” in a satisfied tone. Seeing Robin as content as she obviously was had gone a long way toward thawing Linda’s former disapproval, and she had been the one to extend an invitation to Masham when she heard Strike would be alone at the holidays.
“That’s high praise, Cormoran,” claimed Michael. “Usually she sees leftovers as a condemnation of her cooking and puts them away with rather a lot of banging.” Linda whacked him with a dishtowel.
Strike watched the scene with bemusement, still shocked to be part of it. He’d seen this sort of banter between Joan and Ted, but that had been family; he’d never had the opportunity to be invited or accepted into such a…normal family before. Robin noticed his expression and squeezed his arm, giving him a secret smile that told him she knew what he was thinking. The fact that she could read him so well both comforted and astonished him, although if anyone asked her, she would have said the same about him.
Rowntree got up from lying across Martin’s feet and stretched luxuriously, grunting low and soft in his throat. He padded toward the back door and looked expectantly at the group assorted around the table, mutely asking who would brave the cold with him.
“I’ve got him,” said Robin quickly. “I could do with walking off some of that delicious pie, Mum.”
“Oh, Jenny sent that, didn’t I tell you?” replied Linda. “She had them make it at Betty’s as a little Christmas surprise since they couldn’t be here.”
“No wonder it tasted so good,” groaned Martin appreciately. “C’mon, Dad, Doctor Who’s almost on, Christmas night tradition.”
“Not until you’ve helped clean up, young man,” Michael replied sternly.
“Dad, I’m 23–”
“And if you want to see 24, you’ll do as you’re told,” he responded with not quite-mock sternness. Martin looked pleadingly at Strike, who simply shrugged.
“I’d do as you’re told, mate, he sounds like he means business,” he said, and Robin laughed at Martin’s scowl. She had shrugged into her warm winter jacket and had begun to pull on her boots when Strike scraped his chair back and stood up, saying, “Wait for me; I’ll join you.”
“Are you sure? The path can be…a bit slippy,” said Robin hesitantly, not wanting to draw attention to his leg but wary of him taking a fall.
“I could use some fresh air myself, and I brought my good boots. I’ll be fine as long as Rowntree doesn’t race after any squirrels while I’m holding the leash,” he answered.
Linda chuckled. “Any squirrel you see could outrun him.”
“Come on then,” Robin said to Strike, grabbing Rowntree’s leash and clipping it onto his collar. “Besides, I’ll keep him with me so you can keep your hands free,” giving him a small wink. She knew he wanted a chance to have a cigarette away from the house, and this was the perfect opportunity.
They walked along the path in companionable silence, Strike smoking and Robin holding Rowntree’s leash as he trotted along, stopping occasionally to whuff and nuzzle at a particularly interesting patch of snow or bush. The moonlight streamed down, making the snow glitter as they walked. Strike finished his Benson & Hedges, extinguishing it in a bit of snow atop a nearby stone wall and carefully putting the butt in his pocket. He reached for Robin’s mittened hand with his gloved one, and she turned her head to smile at him as they stopped once again for Rowntree. Suddenly, Strike turned his head to look back down the path.
“What is it?” asked Robin with concern. “Do you need to head back?”
“No,” answered Strike, “I’m just looking at our footprints.” Robin looked at him quizzically.
“I like seeing them together, side by side. And I like knowing I get to walk through life with you,” he said, looking deeply into her blue-grey eyes and privately thinking the light from the moon made them even clearer than ever.
“I’m not used to hearing you speak so poetically,” Robin teased gently, putting her hand on his face to let him know his words had moved her as well.
“I’m not used to feeling this way,” he replied. She pulled his head down and kissed him, feeling his lips grow warm against hers.
“You will,” she assured him, and Rowntree butted his head against Strike’s leg as if to confirm it.
“I look forward to it,” he grinned down at her, and they turned to walk back to the house.
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