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The Papier-Mâché Donkey

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Robin couldn’t remember when she last had this much fun celebrating growing older. A nonstop fit of giggles bubbled up and out of her smiling lips. The copious amount of alcohol consumed over dinner had long settled into her blood stream, swimming around, coaxing her past the point of tipsy.

What a difference a year made.

Her last birthday had been an evening full of fake smiles, unwanted company and overprice food, culminating in a night long shouting match. This year? Robin had more than just her birth to be happy for. She had a full year of being free from an unhappy, loveless marriage to commemorate. A full year of time to learn who she was and do everything that she desired without looking over her shoulders to find guilt lurking.

And for the rest of the foreseeable future, she planned on relishing in being the Robin she had come to love, surrounded by people who genuinely cared for her and whom she cared for in return.

“Come on, birthday girl. Take a whack at it!” Plucking the champagne flute out of Robin’s fingers, Ilsa swapped it out with a broomstick. With hands on Robin’s shoulders, Ilsa positioned her before a piñata swinging on a string that Nick had taped to the ceiling earlier in the day. “I didn’t spend money on that blasted thing for nothing. I want to get my money’s worth in sweets.”

“Yeah! Make it rain!” Nick cheered. His excitement and the impact of a tottering Ilsa colliding into him sent beer flying everywhere from the can in his hands.

“Wha.... What is it?” Robin squinted a little to see her target. Her smile quickly crumpled and tipped upside down into a deep frown. “But it’s a donkey! You want me to whack it?”

Coming to stand beside her, Cormoran said, fighting back a smirk, “It’s a piñata, Robin. You’re meant to hit it.”

Spinning around to face her partner, Robin’s nose started to sour. Her eyes welled up and before she knew it, fat tears came leaking out. Donkeys were wonderful and she loved them so. “How could you ask me to harm... hurt a donkey? They’re precious and adorable!” Robin wailed, tossing the broom away. She had no idea where it would land. She just wanted it gone.

Robin’s sudden outburst had Cormoran feeling very amused. His eyebrows rose up to his hairline. Over the years he had come to witness a great deal of drunk Robin but a bawling, drunk Robin was new.

“Oh no… Don’t cry!” The Herberts cooed.

The couple stumbled towards Robin with their arms outstretched, shoving Cormoran none too gently aside as they passed. Sandwiching Robin in on both sides. Watching them mumble indiscernible nonsense into her hair, to Cormoran, they oddly resembled drowsy bumble bees hovering around a flower.

Shushing Robin, Ilsa patted her on the head before promptly deciding to take a seat on thin air. Catching Ilsa by the elbow, Cormoran righted her, lest she dragged the other two down with her. Chuckling, he guided the very sloshed lightweights towards the nearby couch. When their butts landed on the three-seater, Ilsa instantly crawled her way towards Nick, curling into his side, abandoning Robin to weep on her own.

Rubbing her eyes with the back of her hand, Robin reached out to grab at Cormoran’s shirt sleeve. Tugging at him, she pleaded, “Cormoran, please don’t make me murder the donkey!”

Looking down at Robin with her puffy eyes, mascara streaking down her flushed cheeks and tears clinging to her eyelashes like dew drops, the urge to comfort her rose in waves. The quiet hiccup she released brought them crashing down over him with the impact of a tsunami.

Perching on the arm of the couch beside his partner, Cormoran opened up his arms. Robin eagerly went to him. A soft smile came unbidden to Cormoran’s face as she tucked her head under his chin. She was so soft, so warm, that he wanted nothing more than to bury his face in her hair and bask in the scent of a blooming garden in spring, intermingled with something earthy, musky.

These urges had been coming in increasing frequency of late. It wouldn’t take much for him to give in to them but he knew he couldn’t cross that line just yet. He had to wait. Soon though, he planned to toe said line. Perhaps, Robin would be ready then.

Ready for something more than friendship.

“Don’t worry. No one’s going to make you murder the donkey.”

“What about the sweets? I want them.” Robin mumbled. Her words a muffled slur that Cormoran had to strain to hear.

The near whine in her voice had him laughing. This side of his Robin was too endearing.

Robin however, didn’t seem to be a fan of his laughing. Fisting at his shirt, she groaned pitifully. Letting the remainder of his laughter trail out in an exhale, Cormoran carded his fingers through Robin’s strawberry blonde locks to soothe her. Resembling a satisfied cat, she nuzzled her face into his chest. The probability of finding tears and snot on him was very likely but, Cormoran found that he couldn't bring himself to mind. 

Not when he got to hold his Robin like this. 

“We’ll figure it out when you’re sober.”