Alice had been doodling in one of her scrapbooks, sprawled as she was on the sofa with her legs dangling down from the settee arm, when she heard Robin’s footsteps echoing on the floorboards of their cottage’s staircase. She’d made good progress on a few of her drawings after their dinner, hungry from their midday wander round the surrounding forest. Now the late afternoon was gradually melting into evening. She heard the kettle being turned on before a loud meow from the corner elicited a “well, you can’t be hungry already” from the archer who proceeded to pick Dinah up into her arms. She sat herself down besides Alice’s head, Dinah in her lap. A small pile of presents was littered across the living room table and cards had been strewn across each available surface from earlier that day.
“Aww, has she been ignoring you, Di?”, Robin asked, catching Alice’s glare in the corner of her eye.
“I was stroking her all this morning, she’s just greedy”. She lifted herself up onto her side for a brief moment to tickle Dinah under the chin, “Aren’t yer?”
She reached over and swapped her current pencil for another one within the new set her papa had gifted to her and laid back down again.
“This doodle here. Nearly finished it too. I tried drawing madam here again” – she gestured towards the purring machine on Robin’s lap as she flicked through to the previous page of her book where a half finished sketch of a sleeping cat was visible – “but she obviously didn’t want to be drawn today”
Being a cat, Dinah had no idea what Alice was talking about, and continued on enjoying being stroked, fidgeting around a bit to get comfy. The result of this, though, was that her tail now kept whacking Alice in the face after every stroke, something Robin was taking full advantage of.
“Maybe that’s her idea of a birthday present?” Robin offered, her hand momentarily ignoring Dinah as she attempted to stifle her chuckling.
Alice took the pencil in her hand and poked Dinah in the leg with it. This elicited only a minimal response from said cat, who was staring up at Robin; an intimidation tactic perhaps to persuade the human to continue fussing over the fluffy thing currently sat on her lap. It worked. That is until the kettle clicked off and Dinah was nudged from her position back onto the floor, where she resigned herself to the cat bed beside the chair. As she flopped into the bed, Alice watched her, deep in thought. She snapped out of it when she caught Robin in the edge of her vision, holding two mugs of hot chocolate, one of which she placed down on the table in front of Alice.
“I’ll be outside, if you want to join me,” she said, winking back at her as she passed.
After some time, the door to the cottage opened and Alice, a blanket draped around her shoulders, walked out and approached the bench Robin was currently sitting on. The late evening air was calm and quiet, save for the occasional rustle of a tree branch in the surrounding woodland and the scent of moist earth was pungent from the day’s earlier rainfall. This was mixed with the faint smell of hot chocolate as she got nearer to Robin, plonking herself down beside her, one hand gripping the blanket as the other reached around her wife.
“You ok?” Alice smiled, though her eyes betrayed that that wasn’t the true answer.
“Thought, maybe we could talk about what to do about… you know.”
Robin’s eyes were locked onto Alice’s, a wave of understanding crossing between them in the dull glow of the porch light.
“What to do next?”
She nodded. The two of them had been talking for some time about ways and means of having a child, specifically a baby, and had started briefly researching the various different methods: looking into adoption agencies, seeing how much IVF would cost them, that type of thing. They’d not had chance to talk about everything yet but they had managed to ask a few family members for advice, unintentionally including quite an enthusiastic Lucy who had systematically pieced together a pros and cons list for the two of them. She’d dubbed it Operation Little Bunny, which Henry had pointed out was probably the most adorable name she could have possibly given it.
They’d wanted to be prepared.
What they hadn’t necessarily been prepared for was the adoption agency denying working with them on the count of them being two women, something that had made Regina feel guilty for for suggesting the agency in the first place. Whilst Robin had assured her aunt there was nothing to feel guilty over, the setback had somewhat complicated things. Truth be told, it had knocked their confidences a little. Particularly Robin's.
“Well, we can still adopt outside the Realms, it’ll just mean we have to go further away. I looked and - ” Robin reached into her jacket pocket and grabbed her phone, flicking through until she found what she was looking for and showed it to Alice, “I found a few others.”
“Or we could adopt here. Though Tia reckons it might not be too easy finding a specific place.”
“Aunt Regina didn't think so either."
For the next few minutes, they went backwards and forwards in their discussion.
“Maybe we could get pregnant?”
“It’d be expensive. Although…” – her lips pursed together and she tilted her head slightly in thought - “if we pooled together we just might be able to afford it.”
“It’d be a lot easier if we could just do it naturally.” A light chuckle left Alice’s lips before she pondered, “Maybe there’s a magical way it could happen. Like a spell or a potion.”
“Hmm, I hadn’t thought of that,” Robin replied, somewhat absentmindedly. “If there is I can’t recall anyone ever mentioning it.”
“Nah, me neither. Still if we did get pregnant, who’d carry?”
Robin raised her eyebrows. “Seriously not my thing. Can you imagine me pregnant?”. Alice bit her lip, tilting her head up as though trying to imagine that scenario.
“Yeah, best not.”
“My hormones would go wild.”
Robin lifted her hand away from its position wrapped around Alice and ran it through the strands of her wife’s blonde locks, Alice gazing into her eyes as she did so. “I’ll do it. If that’s what we decide, I mean.”
“You sure? It’ll not be easy. That’s partly what puts me off so much.”
Alice slowly lifted herself up and nodded. “Yeah I know. But I’m sure I’ll be able to cope.” Though Robin slowly nodded, Alice sensed concern in her eyes. Her next words were gentle. “I’ll mention it to Archie, see what he says about it. But I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it.” She lifted her hand and let it flow through Robin’s hair.
It was only natural for her love to be concerned. Neither were naïve; they both knew pregnancy had its challenges, both physically and mentally. But in the years since the creation of the United Realms, she’d made progress with her mental health. Quite a bit what with the help of her therapy sessions with Archie. But besides, there was a good chance they wouldn't be going down that route anyway.
“I just thought I’d make sure. You’re excited!” A smile spread across Alice’s face, as she briefly glanced down before meeting Robin’s eyes once again. “I just don’t want you to rush into the idea, because of it,” Robin said, cupping her hand over Alice’s cheek.
Alice leaned into her palm, before Robin finally removed her hand.
“Right,” - her hand fell down onto Alice’s knee – “So I’ll look more into the expenses of pregnancy, if you’re sure that’s definitely an option-”
“It’ll be our backup.”
She nodded in agreement, “And-”
“And I’ll ask around the Enchanted Forest,” interrupted Alice.
“Sounds good. Though we do have to decide eventually what we’re going to do.”
“Obviously, Nobin.” She rolled her eyes in comic exaggeration, prompting Robin to nudge her in the shoulder as best she could in the circumstances, being leaned on. “And, well, regardless what we do now, we can always do it differently next time.”
“One big happy family, huh.”
A wide grin spread across Alice’s face then.
“I’m just… this idea of us, being parents… I-”
“I get it. And we’ll get there.”
She leaned back down again against her wife’s side, Robin’s arms wrapping around her. “I can’t wait.” Their eyes met, smiles forming on their faces before Robin leaned over and kissed the top of Alice’s head. She whispered softly in her ear, “Happy Birthday, Al”. Alice felt her shiver slightly, and moved the blanket which had been tied up beneath her chin so it was now covering the both of them.
For some while, the two lovers laid together in the moonlight, breathing in the subtle signs of the other’s presence and listening to the lonely clicks of the crickets. The cool night air brushed against their skin. But after a while, the quiet of the night was broken by a yawn from Robin.
“Think I’m gonna head in,” she said, just audible enough for Alice to hear as she burrowed herself into the crook of Alice’s neck and kissed her soft skin.
“I’ll be in in a minute,” she murmured back in response, “Meet you up there.”
“Trying to delay tomorrow?”
A groan emanated from Alice. “It’s going to be so boring. Who even invented paperwork?”
That got a grin out of the archer as the two of them unwrapped themselves from each other and Robin got up to go, her hand slipping through Alice’s fingers as she did so.
She’d just reached the door when her eyes lit up from underneath her glasses.
“Oh, I nearly forgot!"
She raced into the house, leaving a confused Alice, eyebrows furrowed, to ponder Robin's sudden remembrance.
“Robin?” she called, as she got up and started walking closer to the door. Reaching the entranceway, she turned on her heels and twiddled her thumbs as she waited for her wife to come back out again.
She made her way to the edge of the porch and leant against the support beam, her head moving to rest on the wood. The sky was clear and bright, undisturbed by the artificial lights of a city. The moon, its crescent shape the spitting image of Cheshire, the smiling cat of Wonderland, shone out as her mind flittered to future hopes and excited new memories. Images of her and Robin and their child drifted through her imagination, hopping from scenario to scenario as she gazed across each glistening star, until her eyes fell on one in particular, one that she recognised from her many hours observing it in her tower. A companion on those dark nights, when her nightmares were abound, whose quiet presence soothed her from her fearful dreams back into the calmness when she needed something to project to. It was a welcome sight and helped steady her thoughts.
Hearing Robin coming back out again, she turned and found her wife holding a cupcake in her hand, a single candle stuck out in the centre. Holding it up, Robin saw the glint of Alice’s eyes and her heart was set aflutter.
A subtle flick of a wrist over the candle and the wick was lit.
Alice briefly pulled her tongue out at her in response, before glancing down at the cake in front of her. With her eyes closed, she drew in a breath.
In the moment that followed, Alice wished for their family, their child, and as she blew out the candle, a seemingly overwhelming sense of hope momentarily surged through her.
“Gonna tell me what you wished for this time?”
Alice gave a sly grin. “Ah, still not how it works.”
“One day I’ll get you to tell me. Anyway, best head to bed. Busy day tomorrow.” Robin turned to leave. “Night, Al.”
“Night.” She watched her skip to the staircase, in that cute way of hers that Alice was sure she was never going to get tired of seeing. Her attention turned back to the darkness of the surrounding trees.
After a few minutes, it became apparent that she hadn’t actually wanted to stay out as long as she’d initially thought and so, missing Robin's presence, she took one last look at the gleaming stars and headed off up to their bedroom, picking up the blanket from the bench, on her way.
Climbing up the stairs, the wish all but left her mind. But a couple of months later, the two are hit with a pretty massive surprise.