I Can’t Breathe by Blue_Robin

The following fanfiction was written by Blue_Robin. Here’s the link to the original source.

 

Robin and Ilsa watched from the windows as Cormoran directed the siege on the front lawn of his Uncle Ted’s house in St. Mawes. “My money is on Jack,” she said as she added a marshmallow to the mug of hot cocoa she’d just poured for her friend.

“Not fair. That kid is practically a legacy into the British Army.” Ilsa winced as she took her first sip of the steaming liquid. “Ooh hot. Shoot.”

Grinning, Robin walked over to the sliding door that lead to the patio, sliding it open a fraction and calling out to the warriors battling on the snow, “Hot cocoa’s ready. Come and get it!”
She watched as the boys dropped the snowballs they were holding and raced to the door. Stepping aside to allow their bundled-up bodies to pass through the door. “Wipe your feet boys. We don’t need ice water all over the floor. Auntie Joan wouldn’t be pleased.”

The middle boy, Jack, stopped next to her as he entered and stood with her for a moment, his eyes twinkling from under Army green hat. “I think Uncle is going to stay outside for a bit.” He said quietly. She put her arm around his shoulders and squeezed him to her side, before releasing him and tugging his cap off and then down over her own head.

She grinned as she pointed to the corner by the fireplace, “Will you fetch me my boots, sweetheart?” and Jack raced to comply before joining his brothers and Ilsa in the kitchen.

Robin sat down on the chair next to the door and tugged on her snow boots, watching the huge figure outside the door out of the corner of her eye. He was just standing in the middle of the yard, face turned toward the shore, hands buried deep in the pockets of his great coat. His blue scarf wrapped around his neck and almost up to his nose, thick black curls uncovered and blowing in the wind.

Though his back was to her, she could tell from his stance that he was thinking hard about something, and as usual, her protective instincts were kicking in. Over the past few years they’d only grown closer, becoming like one mind shared between two bodies. He’d suffered a few injuries on their last case that had put him in the hospital for a week, and it had been torture watching the anxiety in his eyes as the days passed, waiting for the stab wounds to heal.

He hated hospitals, and no wonder, with his history. She’d felt helpless and useless but had tried to distract him in every way possible until he was released and able to rejoin her in the Euston flat they shared. And now, watching him stand, alone, in the snow, she worried, despite the knowledge that he had just been laughing with his three nephews just moments ago.

She pulled on her black peacoat, wrapped her green scarf around her neck and pulled her mittens, knitted for her by Joan, out of her coat pocked as she stepped outside. She tugged the last mitten into place then slid the door closed again, turned and headed toward Cormoran’s still, unmoving form.

She could smell the evergreen wreath Ted had hung on his workshop door as she passed, a lovely homey smell, that would forever be associated with St. Mawes in her mind. Joan always swathed all of the windows in the cottage with candles and evergreen branches, creating a lovely and fragrant ambiance, and an olfactory memory that triggered for Robin anytime she smelled that smell.

Cormoran didn’t move at all when she stepped up next to him. He just kept gazing out to the shoreline. She stayed quiet, knowing he’d acknowledge her when he was ready.

Two minutes passed. Then three.

“How long have we been together now Robin?”

She was startled by the question. She wasn’t sure when to start counting. “Are we talking business wise? Because that would be 5 years. With 4 years of me being your partner. Or did you mean romantically together?”

“Either.” He still hadn’t looked at her.

“There you go. Why?” She cocked her head as she looked up at him, spitting out the hair that the wind chose that moment to blow into her mouth.

“It doesn’t really matter. I was just thinking about us. And how easy this has been. You and me.”

She smiled and slid a little closer to him, so that their arms brushed a little. “I know I’ve only ever been in one other relationship, but I agree. This one has been near to perfect.” She sighed with pleasure, thinking about all the evenings they’d shared in companionable silence, both reading or watching silly shows on the telly. The many nights they’d spent lost in each other, wrapped in blankets and skin. Nights at the pub laughing with Nick and Ilsa or just each other.

“I’ve known almost since the beginning that you, being in my life, was going to change things for me.” Her throat tightened as she listened to his words.
“Cormoran? Are you OK?”

He didn’t answer her, but instead turned and looked into her eyes. His eyes were so dark, the blue deepened almost to black with intensity. She caught her breath as he reached up an ungloved hand to once again remove the hair from her mouth.

“When I walked into Vashti, during the Landry case, and saw you in that dress I stopped breathing. I’d never seen anything or anyone so blisteringly desirable before. You almost seared my retinas.”
She chuffed out a laugh. But her eyes were beginning to tear up.

“When I walked out of your flat the day I sacked you, I stopped breathing again. Because suddenly the thought of not being able to smell your perfume or see the way your hair glowed in the lights on the pub, or in the sunlight, was like suffocating. I wanted so badly to turn around and beg you to forgive me. But I’d done it for a reason and I’d not have been able to live with myself if Laing had got his hands on you again.”

Tears were now starting to spill over, though his thumb was rubbing them gently away as he spoke. She couldn’t stop herself from turning her lips into his palm and pressing a kiss there.

“Then, on the drive to Masham, the day you were to marry Matthew, Shanker was teasing me about The Graduate. Asking me if I was going to interrupt your wedding and God, I so badly wanted to. I hated seeing you standing up there with him, those roses on your head and in your hands. Knocking the flowers over wasn’t purposeful, but it felt like it. I wanted to smash the whole church up and carry you off over my shoulder like a caveman. But you’d made that choice and I respected you enough to abide by it.” He lifted her chin to capture her eyes.

“And then, when you stopped your first dance to follow me. I had to leave then. I couldn’t stand to see his hands on you, even though you were legally his to touch. But you followed me, and I almost asked you to come away with me. I still remember the lines of the song that was playing, the way those roses smelled as you hugged me.”

She whispered, “If I could make you mine. I’d go where ever you will go.”

He nodded. “See. I knew you’d remember too. And I wanted you to go. I’d have followed you anywhere. But I wasn’t sure you’d follow me, so I didn’t say anything.”
“Oh Cormoran.” She reached up to touch his cheek with her mittened hand.

“But then you left him and there was hope, dangling in front of me again. And I’d decided I was going to wait, give you time, let you breathe a little without Matthew. You deserved to stretch your wings. You deserved a chance to be single. But that was so hard. Seeing you every day in the office. Watching you gain confidence in yourself, battling your anxiety and panic attacks, helping you with your cases. It seemed like you were never going to look at me and see how much I loved you.”

“But I did.” She laughed, “Finally.”

“You did. And I’ve never felt this way before Robin. I’ve never truly been happy. I’ve been content. I’ve been pleased. I’ve been depressed and I’ve been damn near suicidal. But I’ve never in my life been so happy that I find myself grinning first thing in the morning. Mornings mean waking up next to you now. Sharing a bagel and tea. Sometimes a shower.” He winked and made her giggle wetly.

“And all I could think the week I was in the hospital, when I couldn’t see you first thing in the morning, was I don’t ever want to be apart from you. Being apart from is like suffocating. Like drowning. Like burning myself alive.” He pulled his other hand out of his pocket. Clasped between his thumb and forefinger was a ring, gold and dainty, topped with an emerald.

“I’d kneel…”

“NO! Don’t!” She hurried to stop him. “Please don’t…I don’t need that.”

“I need you Robin. More than I need food, beer, even Arsenal. I can’t live without you. I don’t even want to try. Will you please, do me the incredibly great honor of marrying me?”

She gazed up at him, this giant of a man, wrapped in blue and grey, black hair flying in the wind, nose just as red as hers, and saw that his blue eyes were, also like hers, sheened with tears. And she was utterly swamped with love for him. Every word he’d said was repeated in her heart. She understood not being able to breath without the one who was essential to your soul.

She stepped into the strength of his body, wrapping her arms around his scarf clad neck, and pulling his head down to hers so that his forehead rested lightly against hers.

“Cormoran Blue Strike…You ruined my Christmas present for you.”

And she laughed at his shocked intake of breath as she nodded and continued, “I was going to ask you to marry me tomorrow morning, in bed. But I like this better.”

She stepped back and held out her left hand so that he could pull the mitten away and slide the ring onto her finger, where all those years ago a gaudy sapphire had created a barrier that had crumbled stone by stone in the face of such a tidal wave of love.

She cupped his cheek, rubbing his beard with her new beringed hand, and he lowered his lips to her in a kiss that promised joy and unending devotion, passion, laughter, countless glasses of wine and pints of beer, arguments, elation and most importantly the deepest and truest love either had ever felt before.

They stayed there, arms full, lips joined, and hearts glowing, as the family that had been watching from the windows erupted into frantic and joyful cries of congratulations.

 

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