Disclaimer: I do not own the wonderful characters or world created in Atonement by Ian McEwan. All rights belong to him and him only. Please don't sue, this is just a hobby.
Robbie finished taking a pull of his cigarette and dropped it to the ground before crushing it with his foot. He inwardly groaned. He knew his wife hated it when he did this on their property. It was a nasty habit. Hell, smoking almost a pack a day was getting ridiculous but he found it hard to quit, unlike his wife. He managed a small chuckle. He did love watching Cecilia get fired up about his smoking habits. "Do you have any idea what these things do to your body? The membranes in your throat gets abnormally thickened and I've told you repeatedly that..." He would usually shut her up with a kiss, which of course, would get her much more annoyed. She never really did stop pestering him though.
He turned around and rested his arms on the wooden railings of their porch. The air was colder than usual for the February weather. His coat did not exactly keep him warm, but Robbie enjoyed the chill nevertheless. He watched and listened to the waves rock back and forth, crash into one another, and roll onto shore, just to go back to the vast ocean. He didn't blink, allowing himself to go into a trance and settle into the peace and silence of the moment. The sun would be setting in a several which meant Cecilia would be returning home soon. He closed his eyes, and inhaled a large breath of the salty air. As he exhaled and opened his eyes, he let his mind wander.
He was in the beach of Bray-Dunes among thousands and thousands of other soldiers desperate to return home. The air had an aroma of blood and bitterness, causing his guts to whirl around in nausea. He had managed to get a doctor. Laying on the filthy and sticky ground, they said that he was dying of septicemia which he had contracted from an open wound. He remembered staring up at the starry night, tears blurring his vision, thinking only of Cecilia, her voice echoing in his head. "I love you. Come back. Come back to me." she said repeatedly and repeatedly, her voice soft but laced with anguish, fading in his mind. The physical pain he felt at the moment was no match for the pain he felt knowing that he would leave her, that he would never get to caress her gentle cheeks, run his fingers through her soft hair, or kiss her lips. Cecilia's lips... Oh god, I can't leave her. I can't.
And he didn't. October of 1940- they had gotten married in a small church on the outskirts of an English town. Robbie smiled, toying with the gold wedding band on his ring finger. They had made it then, and they would make it now, no matter what happens. The sun was setting faster and from the corner of his eyes, he saw Cecilia walking slowly down the long gravel road to their cottage.
She was still in her nurse's uniform, but she was holding a large bag of groceries. He already knew what was in the bags- carrots, cabbage, whole grain breads, and probably chicken breast or fish. She was during that time of month. Robbie made his way down the stairs and toward the road to help his wife since it seemed as if she was having difficulty. She trudged downhill as if her weight was too heavy for her. The milk boy rode past in his bicycle chirping a "Good evening, Mr. Tallis." Robbie gave him a tense nod of acknowledgment and a grim smile. His mind was elsewhere, thinking of what to say to his wife to ease the tension from this morning's fight. The milk boy rode past him along the road. "Mrs. Tallis", he greeted as he rode past her. Cecilia gave him a warm smile. "Hi, Johnny." As she turned back around, she was facing her husband. He had already made it up to her and had managed to get out of his coat, wearing only his dress shirt from this morning. He had his arm stretched out with it, as a gesture for her to take his coat. "He must be cold" Cecilia thought as she surveyed his unbuttoned shirt revealing a little bit of his chest with his sleeves rolled up to show his forearms. "Must he always be this handsome. It's bloody difficult to stay mad at him." Watching his wife purse her lips and look away, Robbie placed his coat over her shoulders, chuckled and took the grocery bag out of her arms. In silence, they walked together to the cottage they shared by the ocean.
Robbie looked up from the glass of iced tea he was drinking, attempting to make eye contact with his wife. The silence was quite awkward. Cecilia had her eyes concentrated on the chicken she was cutting and so Robbie placed his glass down with a small chuckle. "Honestly love, you still can't be mad about this morning." He had always found amusement in her anger. Cecilia hated that. Even from the very beginning, at the fateful moment in the water fountain, he had found hilarity from breaking their family's most valuable possession. She looked up from her dinner, finally allowing herself to look at him in the eyes. Instantly, she regretted it as she gazed into his lucid blue eyes and felt her anger slowly dissipating, but she said nothing. She went back to the tedious task of cutting rubbery chicken. "And how long are we going to be eating all these bland, healthy foods? I know the doctor recommended it, but you're the one who needs it, not me." Robbie asked, placing down his fork and knife. "Well! If I am to suffer, you ought to suffer along with me. You are, after all, my husband." Cecilia said as to justify herself, looking up at him again. Robbie smiled his signature smile and gazed at her intently into her eyes, lingering there and relishing the blush that was starting to creep onto her cheeks. She knew what he was doing. If he couldn't persuade her with words, he would try to smother her to death. Oh, the nerve of him! "I swear, Robbie, do that again and I honestly will divorce you." Robbie let out a hearty laugh and lowered his head in shame. "It was working, Cee! God, a minute longer and you would've-" "I don't care how long you intend to pout here, Mr. Tallis. I refuse to-" "Cecilia Tallis, I've loved you long before you even realized you loved me. I always have and always will. Therefore, it's only right that I chose the -" "You've got to me kidding me! Are you out of your mind?" "I am in fact, quite serious." Robbie was immensely enjoying Cecilia's animosity. She was livid; her cheeks were now a lovely shade of red, or even perhaps maroon. He opened his mouth to speak again, "Alright, alright. How about we make a deal? You can chose the name of the next one." That was it! Cecilia stood up, slammed her hands loudly on the table causing her husband to wince. She pointed at her pregnant stomach of four months and said quite loudly, "You see this bulge I am heaving around? That means this is my baby and I refuse, I refuse, to name him Humphrey!"
Cecilia sat by the fireplace, knitting navy blue baby socks while her orange tabby, or according to her husband, "a giant fur ball of destruction" tugged on the yarn ball near Cecilia's feet. She was quite settled in her large, emerald armchair and tried to ignore the jerking that Rufus was doing to her yarn ball. Robbie looked up from his book to see Cecilia's pursed lips, knowing she was annoyed by her cat. He smiled and shook his head; he didn't understand what on earth his wife saw in that demonic cat. Rufus seemed to love only her and hissed at him whenever Cecilia was not in the room. But she loved her dear cat (sometimes more than she loved him it seemed) and often told him it was not the cat's fault for ripping his socks to smithereens, but his for leaving his socks around. Robbie whistled and his great golden retriever, Allie, came bustling in from kitchen. Despite Cecilia's complaints about Allie, Cecilia loved her and loved the bond that the dog had with her cat. Seeing Allie, the tabby got to its feet and ran to the next room, thus ensuing the game of chase. "You know dear, Humphrey Bogart is an international icon. Our kid can grow up and say, 'Yeah, I was named after the great Humphrey Bogart!'" For the first time today, his wife cracked a smile and said "I also love raspberry cheesecake, but you don't see me insisting to name our child Raspberry or Cheese or Cake." "What is wrong with the name Humphrey!" "I told you, I don't like it. Kids will grow up calling him Humpy. Besides, you can't be completely sure we will have a boy." Robbie laughed into his hands and looked up, "It's a father's instinct, love." Cecilia stopped knitting, and looked at him with a devilish glint in her eyes, as if she knew something he didn't. "I say we make a deal." His eyebrows arched up in disbelief that his wife would suddenly be so eager to strike a deal. "If it's a girl, I name her. If, for some God forbid reason, it is a boy, we can name him bloody Humphrey.", Cecilia continued. Robbie pumped his fists in the air in victory, leaped up, grabbed his wife's face and kissed her passionately on the lips. "God, I love you! We're going to have a baby Humphrey!" He proceeded to run to the dining room to the telephone his friends about the wondrous news. Rolling her eyes but with a large smile on her face, Cecilia continued to knit her navy blue baby socks whiling humming a show tune from Humphrey Bogart's Swing Your Lady.
5 months later on July 22nd, 1941 at 11:34 pm in East Side Hospital, Cecilia Turner gave birth to a little Audrey Turner.