It’s been nearly a full year since the war with Plegia ended, and Ylisse is recovering—both from it and from the untimely loss of Emmeryn—by throwing itself wholeheartedly into celebrations of all kinds. Personally, Chrom feels the sheer amount of parties, balls, and galas to be rather excessive, but it seems to be cheering up not just the people, but the Shepherds and Lissa, so in the end he thinks it’s worth it.
The party he’s at tonight is in honor of the reconstruction efforts. Robin had cleverly organized so while it seems like a regular party, under the surface it also doubles as a fundraiser. Accordingly, most of the people attending are nobles.
Of the people not attending, the foremost among them is Robin himself. Despite both organizing the event and the reconstruction itself, he’d decided to sit this party out in favor of spending a quiet night reading. Chrom can’t really blame him.
Besides which, if Robin had attended, chances are, it would all have played out much different—and really, despite all the trouble, Chrom’s quite happy with the results.
“So,” the girl—was her name Celeste? Chrom can’t quite remember—says, offering him a smile. “Is there anyone special in your life?” When she says special, she bats her eyes a few times. In hindsight, this probably should have tipped him off that she was using it in a less than literal meaning, but at the time he doesn’t give it a second thought.
The question is easy, after all. “Of course!” he says, beaming.
The girl’s smile turns somewhat uncertain. “Oh,” she says. “Ah—is it that tactician guy? I thought you guys were a thing, but my friends convinced me to give a shot anyway.”
Most of this doesn’t make a lot of sense to Chrom, so he overlooks it in favor of the one part that he does understand. “Yeah,” he says, probably too enthusiastically. “That’s Robin! I can’t imagine not having him by my side.” If Robin were here, he’d be flustered and trying to get Chrom to stop talking, so Chrom delights in continuing. “He’s saved my life more times than I can count, you know. Really, if it wasn’t for him, I shudder to think how the war against Plegia would have gone. He is, without a doubt, the most brilliant person I’ve ever met.”
“Wow,” the girl says. Her uncertainty has become something softer, more touched. “You must really love him. He’s very lucky.”
“I’m the lucky one,” Chrom says, honestly. “I’d be lost without him.”
“I hope the two of you are very happy,” she says. With one last smile, she turns away and heads back to a group of girls that Chrom assumes are her friends.
He’s just trying to decide what to do next when Lissa pops out of nowhere, her hands on her hips.
“Chrom,” she says, expression oddly fierce. “A word, please?”
Concerned, Chrom follows her out of the ballroom and into the hallway. The sounds of the party gradually fade to meaningless noise. Lissa waits until they’ve turned a corner before opening a door and pulling inside.
Closing the door behind her, she whirls around. “And when, precisely, were you planning to tell me that you and Robin got together?”
Chrom blinks once, twice, three times. It still doesn’t make any sense, so he blinks a fourth time for good measure. When that, too, fails to turn the question into something comprehensible, he settles for asking, in a tone that is perhaps much louder than strictly necessary, “What?”
“Oh, don’t even bother,” Lissa says, waving a hand flippantly. “I heard the whole conversation. Denial won’t do you much good now when you all but outright said that you loved him.”
“I—” Chrom stares at her, flabbergasted. “Lissa, we aren’t—”
Lissa doesn’t bother to let him finish. “You said he was your special someone, Chrom. That’s not something I’m about to misunderstand.”
Slowly, Chrom fits the pieces together, and realizes with a growing sense of horror, the situation he’s gotten himself into. “Lissa,” he says, more urgently, “that’s not—”
“Will you just give it up? I get it, you guys wanted to keep a secret, or whatever, but it’s a little too late for that now, so you can at least be honest with me.”
“What do you mean it’s too late?” Chrom asks. He’s starting to feel a little faint. “Lissa, listen—don’t—don’t tell anyone, okay?”
“Oh, I don’t have to,” Lissa says. “Sumia heard the whole thing too, and she never can resist gossiping, especially when it’s about something like this. I wouldn’t be surprised if all the Shepherds know by now.”
“Oh, gods,” Chrom says. “I have to—talk to Robin.”
“I’ll bet you do,” Lissa says. “Go on, then, I’ll cover for you.” As Chrom rushes out of the room, she calls after him, “And no more keeping secrets from me, alright?”
Chrom hurtles around the corner and into the stairwell, taking the stairs two at a time in his hurry to get up. Robin is either in his room or the library, most likely. Hopefully, he’ll be in his room; the library is too public for Chrom’s tastes.
When he reaches Robin’s room, he skids to a halt and knocks frantically on the door. “Robin?”
There’s the sound of footsteps and then Robin’s opening the door, brows pulled together in concern. “Chrom! Are you okay?”
“I’m—” fine, Chrom starts to say, then stops. “I need to talk to you,” he says instead. “Is now an okay time?”
“Of course,” Robin says, stepping out of the doorway so he can come in. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m an idiot,” Chrom groans, collapsing in the nearest chair. “I’m such an idiot!”
“Calm down,” Robin says, sitting down on the arm of the chair. He gives Chrom a supportive smile. “I’m sure it’s not as bad as you think. We’ll figure it out, okay?”
Chrom buries his face in his hands and groans. “Lissa thinks we’re dating,” he says, half-hoping it’s too muffled for Robin to hear.
Judging by the silence that follows, it wasn’t. “…What?” Robin finally asks, voice stilted. “Why—why does she think that?”
“She—I—” Chrom sighs heavily. “It’s a long story.”
“I have time,” Robin says, if a touch dryly.
Chrom peeks through his fingers up at him. “Aren’t you mad?”
“Confused, certainly,” Robin says. One corner of his mouth is tugging up persistently. “Curious, too. Not mad, though, no. It’s very clearly all one big misunderstanding.”
Chrom lets out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. “I was talking to one of the guests,” he starts, shifting into a more comfortable position. “And she asked if I had anyone —special in my life. I thought she meant—I don’t know, like a best friend, or something.” Robin bites his lip like he’s stifling a laugh and Chrom glares half-heartedly at him. “Yes, I know,” he says, trying not to pout. “I told you I was an idiot.”
“Sorry,” Robin says. “Still, you have to admit, it’s pretty funny.”
“To you,” Chrom says, but finds himself smiling, if begrudgingly, nonetheless. “Anyway, I told her that I did because—well. There’s no one more important to me than you are. ”
At that, Robin’s amused look melts into one much more fond. “Well, I suppose it’s fortuitous that I’m rather good at solving problems.” He raises an eyebrow. “The obvious solution is, of course, telling Lissa that it was nothing more than a simple miscommunication, but I’m assuming that, since you’re here, we’re eschewing the obvious in favor of the obscure.”
It’s Chrom’s turn to stifle a laugh; Robin’s delightfully long-winded style of speech is endlessly endearing. “It’s more complicated than that,” he says, mood turning morose again. “Apparently Sumia was also eavesdropping on my conversation.”
“Ah,” Robin says. “Which means most of the Shepherds know by now as well. We could still try to dissuade them, I suppose, but the sheer number means it’s unlikely we’ll be able to convince them all.”
“And certainly not any time soon,” Chrom agrees. “I don’t even know how to go about it. Anything I say will be disregarded, since they all think I’ve—well, we, I suppose—been keeping this a secret.”
Robin fidgets slightly. It’s a sign of nerves, which is unusual, especially considering he’s seemed nothing but entertained by the whole sequence of events so far. “There is… something we could do, but it’s—ah, never mind. The idea is ridiculous.”
“This whole situation is ridiculous,” Chrom points out. “C’mon, there’s no harm in considering it, at least.”
“Well,” Robin says, somewhat awkwardly. He’s not quite meeting Chrom’s eyes. “It’s just that—were we to pretend to breakup, no one would doubt the veracity of that. We could even use this whole—” he makes an airy gesture that Chrom takes to mean mess “—to our advantage. Claim that the sudden influx of attention and gossip focused on our relationship made it fall apart, or something along those lines.”
“I guess,” Chrom says, not quite understanding. “Isn’t a bit too soon, though? It’s a good idea, just—awfully convenient timing, you know?”
“Well,” Robin says again. “I considered that. I think to best pull it off, we’d have to fake date for a bit. A week or two, at the very least.” He darts a quick glance at Chrom’s face and must mistake whatever expression he has for disapproval, because he straightens up, eyes wide. “We don’t have to, of course! It was only a thought.”
“It’s a good one,” Chrom says, nudging his side with an elbow in an attempt to calm him down. “Just—are you sure you’re alright with it? I didn’t mean to get you so involved.”
“I think I’ve been involved since the beginning,” Robin says, mouth twisting up in amusement. “They think you’re dating me, after all, so it’s not like I’d have been able to stay out of it. Besides, I don’t mind. I’m always glad to help you.”
“You’re a lifesaver,” Chrom says. He slumps against the arm of the chair that Robin’s perched on and rests his head on Robin’s leg. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
“Hopefully,” Robin says, gently running his fingers through Chrom’s hair, “you won’t have to find out. I suppose we’ll have to make sure the breakup is amiable. I don’t want to lose you over something like this, even if it’s only in pretense.”
Chrom hums. His eyes are getting heavy. The chair is extremely cozy and Robin playing with his hair is nothing but pleasant. “It won’t come to that,” he murmurs, shifting his position slightly into something comfier.
“Are you falling asleep?” Robin asks.
“No,” Chrom says, vaguely aware that he is, indeed, falling asleep. “I’m just resting. I’ll go back down to the party in a few minutes.”
“Alright,” Robin says.
Chrom does not, in fact, return to the party, nor does he make it back to his own room. He sleeps soundly until the next morning, at which point he only wakes up because someone is shaking him.
“Go ’way,” he says, face pressed into something soft. “Five more minutes.”
“Are you always this hard to wake up?” Robin asks. “And here I thought you were a morning person.”
“I am a morning person,” Chrom says, offended enough by this that he lifts his head. This proves to be a mistake, as Robin’s curtains are open just enough that the sun shines directly into his eyes. He drops his head back down with a groan.
“I can tell,” Robin says. “C’mon, you have to get up. It’s nearly breakfast time.”
“Five more minutes,” Chrom repeats stubbornly.
“I could bring you breakfast in bed, if you want,” Robin offers. “But it would require bringing up an extra tray of food, which I doubt would go unnoticed, which would result in me having to explain that you’re asleep in my room. If you don’t mind Lissa and Frederick knowing you spent the night, I’m fine with it, but I rather thought you might not want them to.”
Chrom bolts upright, very nearly smacking their heads together. “Oh, gods,” he says, staring around him. Sure enough, he’s still in Robin’s room, in the very chair he fell asleep in. The only difference from now and last night is the blanket lying across his lap and the pillow tucked against the arm of the chair. It’s got an indent Chrom assumes is from his head. “Why did you let me sleep here all night?”
Robin has the grace to look sheepish. “I meant to wake you up, but—you seemed so peaceful I thought I’d let you nap for a while first. And then I—well, to tell you the truth, I fell asleep myself. I’m sorry.”
“It’s alright,” Chrom says. He untangles himself from the blanket and stands up, fixing his clothes as best he can. They stay persistently wrinkled. “If I’m lucky, I can sneak into my room and change before anyone gets suspicious.”
Robin does not look optimistic about the odds of the plan succeeding, which is the opposite of reassuring. “Good luck, then.”
“Thanks,” Chrom says. “You can go on down to breakfast, if you want.”
“I think I’ll pass,” Robin says. “Seeing as Lissa will pounce on me the second she sees me, and I’d rather you were there as well to divert her attention. In addition, it would probably be wise that we don’t improvise without the other there, and since we foolishly overlooked making any preparations last night, we’ll have to do that now.”
Chrom grimaces. “Good point. I’ll change and then come back to get you, alright? We can walk down together.”
“Alright,” Robin says, picking up the blanket and folding it neatly. “While you do that, I’ll see if I can’t come up with a plan of action. It’ll be rushed, of course, but still better than nothing.”
What Robin considers “better than nothing,” tends to be akin to what someone else might consider “extremely well thought-out,” so Chrom feels confident as he heads back to his room. There’s one close call when he has to duck into an empty guest room to avoid a maid, but other than that he gets to his room without incident. Once there, he quickly changes into his regular outfit, leaving his more formal attire in a crumpled heap by the foot of his wardrobe, as per usual. He quickly runs a brush through his hair, then heads back to Robin’s room.
As he’d expected, Robin is busily scribbling something down in a notebook, one quill in his hand, another in the inkwell, and a third tucked behind his ear. This is a phenomenon Chrom’s observed many times; the more Robin concentrates, the more writing utensils he seems to amass.
“You ready?” Chrom asks, hiding a smile at the way Robin startles. “Sorry, I thought you’d heard me come in. What are you working on?”
“It’s fine,” Robin says. “I’m working out a timeframe for everything. I think it’ll work better if we have concrete dates set for everything. We won’t adhere completely, obviously, since it’s a good idea to leave room for flexibility, but a general idea of when something is supposed to happen should be helpful.”
“Makes sense to me,” Chrom says cheerfully. “What do you have so far?”
“Just a rough outline,” Robin says. He frowns at the page. “I’m still trying to decide when we should say we got together. I don’t want it to be too long ago, but if it’s too soon, the breakup might feel hasty.”
“How about a month?” Chrom suggests.
Robin squints at him. “If we were actually dating, do you really think you’d be able to keep it a secret for a full month? You didn’t even think twice before telling the first person who gave you the opportunity.”
Chrom flushes. “I was—tired?” he says. It sounds more like a question than he would like.
“Hm,” Robin says noncommittally. “That’s not much of an excuse, but I suppose it’ll have to do. We’ll say around a month and a half, I think.”
“Sounds good to me,” Chrom says. He reaches over and gently plucks the quill from behind Robin’s ear. “Let’s go on down,” he says, handing him the quill. “I’m hungry, and the longer we stay up here, the more suspicious Lissa will get.”
Robin closes his notebook and organizes his quills before standing up. “I don’t think she’ll get suspicious, per se, but it certainly would be in our best interest not to keep her waiting for too long.” He stands up and stretches. “Ah, well. Let’s go, then.”
He opens the door and steps out, checking to ensure the hallway is empty before gesturing to Chrom. “Oh, I’ve also figured out a temporary strategy to get us through breakfast,” he says, heading towards the dining room. “We don’t want to both answer a question, since the odds of us giving conflicting responses is fairly high. Therefore, I thought it would be wise to have a signal, so we know who’s answering it.”
“Smart,” Chrom says. “What will the signal be?”
Robin doesn’t answer right away. When Chrom glances over curiously, he’s observing the wall with considerable interest. The tips of his ears look faintly pink. “Ah,” he says, sounding embarrassed. “It would need to be something that would be subtle enough to hopefully escape her attention, but not suspicious if she does notice.”
“Alright,” Chrom says. After a few more moments of silence, he prompts, “So?”
“So, I thought we could… hold hands under the table?” Robin winces, evidently expecting a negative response to this. “If you don’t want to, we don’t have to, of course,” he continues hurriedly. “It just seemed like the safest plan.”
“I don’t mind,” Chrom says, mostly truthfully. While the idea of holding Robin’s hand isn’t unpleasant by any means, thinking about it makes Chrom feel—shivery, almost. It’s not a bad feeling, but he isn’t sure whether it’s precisely a good one or not. It’s most definitely an unfamiliar one, if nothing else.
Robin visibly relaxes. “If you’re sure,” he says. “I certainly wouldn’t want to make you feel uncomfortable.”
Before Chrom gets a chance to respond—you could never make me uncomfortable—they reach the dining room. Chrom shares one last apprehensive look with Robin, then squares his shoulders and steps through. Lissa is already there, plate piled high with food.
“Good morning,” Chrom says as casually as he can, grabbing a plate and starting to fill it with food. “Did you sleep well, Lissa?”
Lissa gives him a look that lets him know in no uncertain terms that she knows exactly what he’s doing and doesn’t plan on letting him get away with it. “I did, thank you,” she says around a mouthful of eggs. “And you?”
“I slept fine,” Chrom says. He avoids her gaze, pretending to be utterly absorbed in choosing a slice of toast. “Sorry I never returned to the party. I was pretty tired, so I just went ahead and crashed.”
“Mhm,” Lissa says, smile turning smug. “Did you? When you didn’t come back, I went up to check on you, but you weren’t in your room.”
Robin takes his usual seat next to Chrom. In lieu of any food, he merely has a fresh cup of tea. “How odd,” he says, taking a sip. “When was that?”
“Pretty late,” Lissa says. “Around midnight, I think.”
“That would explain it,” Robin says, looking totally unbothered. “Chrom was indulging me by playing a few matches of chess. He didn’t get back to his room until quite a bit after midnight.”
Lissa slumps dramatically. “I can never win against you,” she says, sighing. “You’re as quick in verbal battles as you are in actual ones.”
Robin raises his cup to his mouth, but doesn’t drink, which probably means he’s hiding a smile. “You’re being too hard on yourself.” He takes another sip, then puts his cup down on the table. His left hand stays wrapped around the warm mug while his right hand slips under the table.
Chrom’s left hand has been resting on his knee since he first sat down; now, he reaches out for Robin’s hand, giving it a quick squeeze in support. He watches out of the corner of his eye as Robin flushes almost imperceptibly.
If Lissa notices, she doesn’t comment on it. “Anyway,” she says, pouring herself another glass of orange juice. “No more beating around the bush.” She points her fork at them in as threatening a manner as one can point a fork. “How long has this been going on? Don’t try to deny it, either—I got enough of that last night.”
Robin squeezes Chrom’s hand almost before Lissa is finished speaking. “I wondered when your patience would run out,” he says. He picks up his cup and takes a sip, then sets it back down. “You lasted longer than I thought you would, truth be told.”
“Stop stalling,” Lissa says, looking pleased by the flattery nonetheless. “Don’t tell me you don’t know. I would’ve thought that would be Chrom.”
“Hey!” Chrom says, insulted. “I know when we got together!”
Lissa raises an eyebrow. “Prove it.”
“It was—” Chrom breaks off, abruptly remembering that they hadn’t actually chosen a specific date. He deflates a bit. “About a month and half ago.”
“I knew you wouldn’t remember!” Lissa crows. Chrom pulls a face at her and she sticks her tongue at him in return.
“It’s not precisely his fault he doesn’t know,” Robin says mildly. “There’s not one specific day we can point at. It just sort of… happened, over the course of several days.”
“More like months,” Lissa says. “I’ve been watching you two dance around each other for ages now. I was beginning I’d never see the day you guys finally got your act together.”
This seems to fluster Robin, for some reason. “Ah, well, it was—complicated.”
“Yeah, to you. It seemed pretty simple to everyone else,” Lissa says, rolling her eyes dramatically. “Anyway, let’s see… Alright, my next question is: how many dates have you two gone on?”
This time, Chrom squeezes before Robin can. “You remember a week ago, when Robin and I spent the day at the market?”
“No way,” Lissa says, leaning forward in her excitement. “I knew that was a date! I just figured it was another example of you having a date without realizing that you were having a date! I can’t believe this one was intentional. Whose idea was it?”
“Mine,” Robin says. “At least, I was the one who needed to go pick up supplies. It was Chrom’s idea to turn into a date.”
Lissa nods approvingly. “Nice,” she says to Chrom. “I knew you’d be the spontaneous one.”
“Compared to Robin, isn’t most everyone spontaneous?” Chrom asks. He grins when Robin nudges his side indignantly.
“I can be spontaneous,” Robin says. “I improvise all the time.”
“I’m not sure that counts as being spontaneous,” Chrom says. “Besides, you only improvise when you’re forced to. That’s not the same thing as being spontaneous whenever you feel like it.”
“I am perfectly capable of being spontaneous,” Robin insists. To Lissa, he asks, “Do you have any more questions? I’m afraid I have some work I need to return to, so I can’t stay much longer.”
Lissa tilts her head to one side. “Hm… Oh, I know! When—and why—did you realize how head over heels you were for Chrom?” She winks. “I’d ask how long, but I think we both know what the answer to that is.”
Blushing furiously, Robin opens his mouth and then closes it without saying anything. “Ah,” he manages finally. “Well. That’s, uh—”
“Don’t tell me it’s too soon to drop the L-word,” Lissa says. “With the way the two of you look at each other, I didn’t think you’d be shy about saying it.”
“No, it’s—it’s fine,” Robin says, very obviously avoiding Chrom’s gaze. “I suppose it would have been in Regna Ferox, after—well. After. He was so brave and I suppose it just—struck me how much I cared.”
“That’s really sweet,” Lissa says. She looks faintly sad at the reminder of Emmeryn, something Chrom is sure his own expression reflects.
Robin bites his lip. “I’m sorry I couldn’t—” he cuts himself off, shaking his head. “Never mind. I’m going to go get prepared for that meeting, now. I’ll see you both later.” He doesn’t wait for a response before standing up and leaving the room.
Chrom watches him go and makes a mental note to remember to commend him on his acting abilities. If Chrom didn’t know any better, didn’t know that it was all a charade, he’d have believed Robin really was in love with him.
“What about you?” Lissa asks, drawing his attention back to her. There’s still a touch of sadness present in her face, but for the most part, she seems to have cheered back up.
“What about me?” Chrom asks.
Lissa puts her arm on the table and rests her chin on her hand. “What, did you think you were getting out of it so easily? Robin answered the question, but you didn’t. So, spill. When and why did you realize you loved him?”
Chrom does his level best not to stare at her in utter horror. He has a feeling he only slightly succeeds. “I, uh. It just sort of—happened?” It sounds more like a question than a statement, so he hurries to add, “Gradually, I mean, over time. I don’t think there was one specific moment, more like—a sequence of moments.”
He waits for Lissa to call him out on this obvious bit of bullshit, but instead, she smiles, looking pleased. “That’s really sweet too, Chrom,” she says. “You should tell him that! I bet he’d be happy to hear it.”
“I—I will,” Chrom says, having no intention to do so. Awkward enough to have said it at all, he thinks, without risking Robin possibly misunderstanding it. There have been more than enough misunderstandings already, in his opinion.
Lissa seems satisfied by this. She stands up and stretches. “Well,” she says brightly, “I’m full. See you later! Oh, and good luck.”
Chrom finishes the rest of his breakfast. “Good luck?” he echoes, apprehension seeping into his voice. “What for?”
“Chrom, I already told you the rest of the Shepherds know,” Lissa says. “You really think I’m going to be the only one with questions? If I were you, I’d be prepared for the entire day to be nothing but inquiries.”
“Great,” Chrom says. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
As Lissa had said, he spends the rest of the day being mobbed by any Shepherds who manage to catch sight of him. Whenever he and Robin cross paths, they share equally commiserating looks.
Sully catches him first. “You old dastard,” she crows, jabbing him in the side with an elbow. She probably means it playfully, but it’s all he can do not to double over in pain. “You and Robin finally got together, huh? Congrats!”
Next is Stahl. He claps a hand on Chrom’s shoulder. “I heard the news, milord! I hope you and Robin will be very happy together.”
Then Maribelle, who sniffs and says, “No accounting for taste, I see. Still, I suppose you could have done worse.”
She’s followed by Sumia, who looks rather bashful. “Congratulations, captain!” After a brief hesitation, she continues, “And, ah—I’m sorry for spoiling the surprise! I just got so excited I couldn’t help myself. If you see Robin, will you tell him sorry for me?”
He’s barely finished assuring her that no, it’s fine, and I’ll tell him, but I’m sure he’s not upset, before Cordelia approaches him.
By the end of the day, nearly every Shepherd has given wished him and Robin well. He suspects they’ve done it separately, as well—he sees Vaike talking to Robin not long after he’d congratulated Chrom.
The last person to catch him is Frederick, who looks vaguely uncomfortable while doing so. “Milord,” he says, posture stiff. “I wish you much happiness.” He pauses, then says, “And—do tell Robin that any misgivings I may have had about his loyalty have long since been proven false. I hope there will be no hard feelings.”
“Don’t be silly,” Chrom says, startled. “Of course there aren’t! Robin’s not the type to hold a grudge, and besides, he never blamed you in the first place. The circumstances we found him in were rather suspicious, so it’s only natural you were wary.”
Frederick looks impassive as ever, but Chrom thinks he can see flickers of relief in his eyes. “All the same, milord, I wish to apologize.”
“I’ll tell him,” Chrom says. He waits a few seconds longer to make sure Frederick has nothing else to say, before turning and heading to his room. He doesn’t mean to stop by Robin’s room on the way, but his feet bring him there regardless.
As long as he’s here, he figures, he might as well say hello. With the combination of their usual duties and the near-constant stream of well-wishers, they’ve barely gotten to say two words to each other.
He knocks on the door and almost immediately gets a response.
“Just a second,” Robin calls out.
“Take your time,” Chrom says. “I can come back later if now’s a bad time.”
“Oh—” Robin says, apparently caught off-guard. “I didn’t realize it was you, Chrom.” Seconds later, the door swings open and Robin smiles at him, stepping out of the doorway to let him through. “Now is a fine time.”
Chrom walks into the room. Robin closes the door behind him and he finally allows his shoulders to slump. “Busy day, huh?” he asks.
Robin gives a wry laugh. “I’ll say. I thought I’d never get a moment’s peace.” He sits back down at his desk. “You’re more than welcome, of course. I don’t mean to imply being around you is stressful. It’s quite the opposite, really.”
Chrom sinks down into Robin’s chair. It’s really a very comfy chair; Chrom almost wants to steal it for his room. “I know what you mean. It’s nice how excited everyone was, but it made for a rather hectic day. Plus, since we’re not really… you know, it feels like we’re lying to them.”
“Only because they couldn’t keep their noses out of our business,” Robin points out. “But yes, I know what you mean. It does feel rather churlish, seeing how happy this makes them and knowing it’s actually false. Still,” he adds, voice inscrutable, “it won’t be for very long, I suppose.”
Chrom hums in agreement. “That’s true. Only—six more days, I guess.” He lets out a gust of breath. “It feels like it’s been longer than one day. I can’t believe it was only last night that it all started.”
“Six more days,” Robin repeats musingly. “I wonder if we’ll be able to fit it all in. I almost think we should spread some of the events out more, but the longer it takes, the greater the risk of someone figuring out we’re faking it becomes.”
“It’ll be fine,” Chrom says. “I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about.” He fights back a yawn and considers getting up from the chair. The last thing he wants is to fall asleep in it again. “Anyway, I’ve been to ask you something all day.”
“Oh?” Robin asks, looking up from his work. “Is there something wrong?”
“No, no, nothing like that,” Chrom assures him. “Just something you said to Lissa this morning got me thinking.”
Robin shifts, looking nervous for some unfathomable reason. “Ah. What was it?”
“Well,” Chrom says. “You mentioned playing chess, and I was just wondering if you actually wanted to. I’m not very good, mind you, but I know how to play.”
Whatever Robin was expecting him to say, it clearly wasn’t that, judging by the surprised look he gets. After a moment, he says, “That would be—really nice, actually.”
In an odd echo of the excuse Robin had given Lissa early that same day, they stay up late into the night playing several matches of chess. Chrom wins none of them, but had, at one point, managed to make Robin get a worried frown, so he counts that as a personal victory.
Surprisingly—or perhaps, unsurprisingly, since Robin has a 99% success rating when it comes to plans—the next day goes smoothly. Although it’s not old news by any stretch, everyone seems fairly content with the explanations given yesterday, and for the most part, Chrom is left alone.
And then, of course, Lissa once again stirs up trouble. That seems like an unfair accusation, but Chrom can’t feel too bad about making it, since Lissa had just interrupted a perfectly peaceful afternoon with “You know, you guys don’t have to pretend to be platonic anymore. I’m pretty sure we can all handle a little PDA.”
Robin looks up from his book. The three of them are taking advantage of a sunny day by relaxing in one corner of the royal gardens. Frederick is nearby, multitasking by pruning some rose bushes and, presumably, keeping an eye on them. It had taken some persuasion, on both Chrom and Lissa’s behalf, to get Robin to take a break from his work and join them, but now that he’s here, he seems to be enjoying himself.
Or, rather, he had been. Until Lissa had spoken, he’d been completely absorbed in his book, humming softly to himself on occasion. Now, he looks shocked, and perhaps a little panicked as well.
“What?” Chrom asks finally, when it’s clear Robin doesn’t intend to. Although he knows perfectly well what Lissa said, he’s hoping that somehow he misheard her.
Lissa snorts, waving a hand at them. “Oh, look at you two! You’d think I just gave you the worst news of your life! All I’m saying is that you’ve been doing a remarkable job of hiding your relationship, but I know you must be dying to show your affection, and you don’t have to hold back for my sake. I mean, honestly, I’m your sister, Chrom!” She winks at Robin. “And maybe someday I’ll be yours too, hm? Anyway, it’s not like it’s going to bother me if you cuddle or whatever.”
Robin closes his book with a snap. He doesn’t even mark his page before doing so, which probably means he did it on reflex. “Lissa! That’s not—” he breaks off and buries his face in his hands.
Chrom can understand the sentiment, but, to his surprise, doesn’t exactly share it. He’s flustered by Lissa’s bluntness (and has resolved to ignore that one particular sentence), but cuddling with Robin sounds… nice. They’d held hands the other day, after all, and it hadn’t been unpleasant in the slightest. Acting on something he can’t quite explain, he takes Lissa’s side and grins at Robin. “You’re so easily embarrassed,” he says, teasingly. “It’s cute.”
Robin—no matter how fervently he denies this later—yelps. He whips his head up and stares at Chrom with a horrified, betrayed expression. His cheeks are impressively red. “Chrom!” he says, tone reproving. “Don’t!”
Lissa laughs so hard she falls over. “Did you hear the sound he made?” she gasps out between peals of laughter.
Robin glares at Chrom, then at Lissa, then at Chrom again for good measure. When it becomes clear that neither of them are even remotely apologetic, he huffs and opens his book back up, flipping through the pages to find his place. “I should’ve stayed in the field,” he says with no little amount of dignity. “Had brigands found me, I think they would’ve treated me with more respect than the two of you.”
Frederick, still gardening, laughs at this like the traitor he is. “And now,” he says, yanking out a weed and tossing it behind him into a steadily growing pile, “you know what it’s like to be me.”
“I’d already known on some level, but not to this extent,” Robin says, ignoring the indignant “hey!” he gets from both Chrom and Lissa. “It’s really very rude, considering all we’ve done for them.”
“Indeed,” Frederick agrees. “Still, perhaps one day we’ll receive the gratitude we deserve.”
“Hope springs internal,” Robin says.
“Honestly, you two,” Chrom says, sharing a long-suffering look with Lissa. “Neither of you has any sense of humor.” He stands up and stretches, then walks over to the bench Robin’s sitting on and plops down next to him. “Don’t worry,” he tells him seriously. “I still love you, sense of humor or not.”
Robin makes that high-pitched yelp again. “Don’t—just say stuff like that!” he says, blush returning full force. It’s really quite a good look on him, and Chrom resolves to put it there as often as possible. “You have to give me some warning, at least.”
“You’ve been together for over a month and you still need him to give you a warning before he compliments you?” Lissa asks, sounding endlessly amused. “I’m beginning to see how you managed to keep this a secret for so long. I never took you for the shy type, Robin.”
“I’m not shy,” Robin protests. “I’m just new to this. If I’ve ever done this before, it’s not like I would remember it. I’m still getting used to it, that’s all.”
“Alright, alright,” Chrom says, laughing. “I’ll ease up.” Changing the subject, he asks, “What are you reading?”
Robin lights up. “Ah, it’s a book Sumia lent me! I’ll admit I had my doubts at first, but it’s really quite good! It’s called Wyvern Wars: Terror at High Noon. It’s really quite an epic story, if you want to try it.” Chrom’s confusion must have shown on his face, because Robin adds, with an amused smile, “I know, I know. I thought the same thing when Sumia first recommended it to me, but it’s taken me quite by surprise with how interesting it is.”
“I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try,” Chrom says.
This earns him a smile. “I think you’ll like it more than you think you will,” he says, then turns hopefully to Lissa.
“Oh, no,” she says, not even waiting for him to ask. “I’m not going to indulge you on this one.”
Robin shrugs cheerfully. “Worth a shot,” he says philosophically. “Let me know if you change your mind.”
“If I ever find my life severely lacking in high noon terrors, you’ll be the first to know,” Lissa says in a faux-serious tone.
Robin nods back just as gravely, as if they’ve just made some all-important deal. “See that I am.”
“I hope you know how ridiculous the two of you are,” Chrom says. He rests his head against Robin’s and closes his eyes, enjoying the feel of sun on his face. “We should do this more often,” he says. “It’s nice.”
“It is nice,” Lissa says. “See, Robin, I told you it would be fun. It’s good for you to get some fresh air, too, what with how you spend all day cooped up in that stuffy room of yours.”
“It’s not stuffy,” Robin says. “And if I need fresh air, I’m perfectly capable of opening the window. Still, you’re right that it’s pleasant to be outside. The royal gardens really are quite beautiful.”
Lissa rolls her eyes. “Oh, you know what I mean. Besides, stuffy or not, doesn’t it get boring being cooped up in there all day?”
“Not really,” Robin says, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. “I don’t spend all day in my room, for one thing—I’ve got at least one meeting a day, if not more. Anyway, I like how quiet and peaceful it is.”
“If it was me, I’d get lonely,” Lissa says. “I don’t understand how you do it.”
“I suppose I like the solitude, too,” Robin says. He leans into Chrom a bit, pressing their shoulders together. “And if I do get lonely, I can always come and find you or Chrom.” Frederick coughs quietly, and Robin quickly amends, “Or Frederick. Really, I could go find any of the Shepherds, at all. There’s always a few at the castle at any given time.”
“That’s true,” Lissa says. Her smile turns faintly mischievous. “And Chrom spends most of his free time in your room, anyway.”
Chrom doesn’t bother opening his eyes as he answers, “He’s got the comfiest chair. I’m honestly considering stealing it for my own. It’s so nice, Lissa.”
“Hey,” Robin protests. “Get your own chair! I paid for that, fair and square.”
Chrom opens his eyes and squints at him. “Did you? I assumed it came with the room. How’d you get up the stairs?”
“Maybe I carried it myself,” Robin says, in too lofty a voice to be telling the truth. Lissa and Chrom give him identical looks of skepticism and he pulls a face at them. “Alright, if you must know, I had to ask Frederick for help.”
“It was really quite heavy,” Frederick puts in. “I couldn’t have lifted it by myself, either.” His tone turns slightly reproachful. “Particularly if I had been neglecting my sword training.”
“Ah,” Robin says, biting his lip. “I haven’t meant to be, it’s just—with the war over, there have been other things to focus on.”
“Such as playing chess,” Chrom says, doing his best to sound innocent. “Or reading books.” Robin scowls at him and he laughs. “Here, if you want, we can train together. What time would be best for you?”
“What time do you usually train?” Robin asks. “I don’t want to inconvenience you. My schedule is more flexible, so it makes more sense for me to work around you.”
“I like to go for a run when the sun rises,” Chrom says. “And then I usually train once I get back.”
Robin jerks away, mouth agape. “You what? Do you mean to tell me that all these times we’ve walked down to breakfast together, you’re that cheerful after having been up for hours, gone for a run, and trained?”
Chrom furrows his brow. “…Yes?” he says, lilting up at the end. “Were you not aware of this?”
“No, I wasn’t aware of this!” Robin says. He throws his hands in the air. “Chrom, I usually wake up no more than half an hour before breakfast! Often it’s much less than that, and I have to scramble to be ready in time!”
“Oh,” Chrom says. He factors this in with the other information he’s stored away about Robin over the many months he’s known him and something clicks. “Robin, are you not a morning person?”
Robin stares at him. “Am I—no, I am not a morning person, and I’ve never been a morning person in my life!” He pauses, then amends, “Or, well, not that I can remember, anyway. As far as I know, I have always been the very epitome of a night person.”
“That explains so much,” Chrom says, thinking back to all the times Robin’s stumbled down to breakfast with a furious expression, only to be nothing but polite when pulled into conversation. “In hindsight, I guess it’s pretty obvious.”
“I certainly thought so,” Robin says, settling back into his side. “But I underestimated your powers of perception, it would seem.”
“I don’t think Chrom has any,” Lissa chips in, ever so helpfully. “If he does, he’s definitely never used them with me around.”
Chrom sticks his tongue out at her. “Thank you, Lissa. Your input is valued.”
“I value it,” Robin says, grinning. “Anyway, I’m afraid I will most certainly not be joining you at the crack of dawn to swing some pointy metal sticks around. I’ll have to find some other way to pick my training back up.”
“Mhm, or skip it entirely?” Chrom asks, raising an eyebrow.
Robin lifts one shoulder in a half-shrug. “Well, you must admit it’s an option, even if not one you or Frederick approve of.”
Frederick shakes his head. “You’re going to regret it, someday, when you’re in battle and can’t rely on your tomes anymore.”
“Nonsense,” Robin says. “I’ll have Chrom. That’s why we keep him around, after all.”
“I’m touched,” Chrom says, leaning against Robin with more weight. “And here I thought you kept me around because you enjoyed my company.”
Robin tries futilely to push him off. “That’s definitely not why,” he says. “Get off, you’re crushing me!”
“And what a shame that would be,” Chrom says, but relents nonetheless.
“Milord,” Frederick says, getting to his feet and brushing the dirt off his pants. “I’m terribly sorry to interrupt, but I’m afraid you have a meeting with the Duke of Themis and it really wouldn’t do to be late.”
“Ah, that’s right,” Chrom says. “I’d nearly forgotten. I’d better go and get ready.” He shifts to stand up, but, before he does so, leans over (and he will always blame Lissa for this, since she put the idea into his head into the first place) and presses a kiss against the top of Robin’s head. “See you later,” he says, and follows Frederick back inside. It’s not until he’s nearly to his room that he realizes what he’s done and very nearly trips over his own feet. He feels his cheeks flush with heat and stares in horror at the wall.
“Milord?” Frederick asks, looking concerned. “Is everything alright?”
“It’s—fine,” Chrom manages, forcing his feet to carry him forward. Oh, gods, what must Robin have thought? Maybe he’ll assume it was part of the act, he reasons, knowing even as he thinks it how unlikely it all is. It’s unquestionably the worst decision he could make, given the circumstances, but the thought of having to face Robin again makes him feel almost sick, so he resolves to avoid Robin for the rest of the day, at the very least.
As for tomorrow, he thinks, he can cross that bridge when he reaches it, and not a moment sooner.
Two hours later, the only conclusion that makes sense is that the universe hates him, personally. As soon as the meeting is finished, he leaves, intent on spending the rest of the day hiding in his room. The universe, apparently carrying out some vendetta it has against him, decides instead to have him round the corner and come face to face with Robin.
“Ah,” Chrom says, doing his best not to let on the fact that he’s panicking. “Hello, Robin.” He sounds horrifically awkward and he knows it.
Robin’s face is flushing a deep red, which shatters Chrom’s hope that he either hadn’t noticed the Kiss (as Chrom’s taken to calling it in his head, capital letter and all), or had forgotten about it. “Chrom,” he greets, mostly casual except for the way he won’t quite look Chrom directly in the eye. “Your meeting went well, I hope?”
“My—oh, yes. It went—it went fine,” Chrom says. He hesitates, shifting his weight from foot to foot. He feels like he should say something—apologize, probably, or try his best to explain, even though he really doesn’t have an explanation.
“That’s good,” Robin says, after a very pregnant pause. A good sixty seconds of silence follows before Robin blurts out, “Listen, I have to—go.”
At the same time, Chrom says, “I have to—do something—”
They stare at each other for a few more painfully awkward seconds before Chrom averts his gaze and moves past Robin, heading toward his room. “I’ll, uh, see you at dinner?” he says, fully planning on skipping dinner entirely.
“Yeah,” Robin says, sounding, if possible, even less sincere than Chrom did. He hurries off, cheeks still stained a bright red.
Chrom watches him go. He feels—almost terrified. He’s probably ruined the most important friendship he’s ever had, just because of a moment of thoughtlessness. Really, after everything that’s happened, he should’ve learned his lesson by now.
He trudges the rest of the way to his room, unable to shake his dismal mood.
It’s evening the next day by the time he sees Robin again, something he suspects only happened because they were both avoiding each other. He’d eaten an early dinner last night, and an early breakfast this morning. He’d skipped lunch entirely, and spent most of the day catching up on paperwork. It’s unimaginably dull, but it gives him an excuse to stay in his room, where he’s safe from running into Robin.
Or, at least, would be safe, had Robin not come specifically to seek him out. When someone had knocked on his door, Chrom had assumed it was Lissa or Frederick, or perhaps a servant, and called for them to come in without even asking a name.
That, he thinks grimly, had been a mistake, since now Robin is standing in front of him, studiously looking everywhere but at Chrom himself.
“Did you need something?” he asks, finally, when the silence has gone on too long for him to bear.
Robin startles slightly, gaze snapping back to him. He clears his throat. “Ah, yes, sorry. I’ve never—no, never mind, that’s not important. I haven’t seen you all day, so I just wanted to… check that you were alright, I guess.”
“Oh,” Chrom says. “I’m—I’m fine, yes. Just—busy. I’ve been dealing with paperwork all day. Dull, but not strenuous. How are you?”
“I’m fine, as well,” Robin says. He opens his mouth, closes it, then opens it again, this time with a look of determination. “There was something else, too, actually.”
Chrom’s heart sinks. He has a feeling he knows exactly what that something else is. “Oh,” he says again. “What is it?”
“Did you want to play chess?” Robin asks.
Chrom blinks, surprised. Vaguely, it occurs to him that it was only two days ago he’d caught Robin off-guard with the same question. “Sure,” he says, all the stress of the past twenty-four hours melting away. “That would be really nice.”
The tension slips off Robin’s shoulders and he smiles. “Excellent. I’ll just go get my chessboard, then.”
“We can play in your room,” Chrom says. “I don’t mind.”
Robin pauses, having already started walking towards Chrom’s door. “I… actually brought my chess set with me,” he says, smile turning more abashed. “I didn’t know if you’d say yes, but I thought I’d save myself the trouble of an extra trip, if so.”
“Two steps ahead, as usual,” Chrom says. “Go ahead and bring it in, then. I’ll clear off my desk so we have a place to play.”
It takes him longer to accomplish his task than it takes Robin, so they end up working together to shuffle papers into something more manageable.
“Heavens, Chrom,” Robin says once they’ve finished. He eyes the stack with some trepidation. “You really have been putting this off for a while, I see.”
Chrom wrinkles his nose. “I dislike doing paperwork,” he says. “Anyway, none of it is anything pressing, so it doesn’t suffer from sitting around gathering dust.” He grabs the pile and places it on a nearby shelf. “There we go.”
Robin places the chessboard on the desk and starts setting it up. “Do you want black or white?” he asks.
“White,” Chrom says. “I’ll need all the advantage I can get.”
“You might win,” Robin says. When Chrom responds to this by raising an eyebrow, he repeats, “You might!”
“The possibility certainly exists,” Chrom says dryly. “It’s just not a very big possibility, and we both know it.”
Somewhat ruefully, Robin laughs. “I could go easy on you, if you want,” he says. “But I figured you wouldn’t like that.”
“No, no, I enjoy the challenge,” Chrom says. “Don’t hold back.”
“I won’t,” Robin says.
He doesn’t. Chrom loses every game they play. He gets closer and closer to a victory, though, so every time he loses, he asks for a rematch, a request Robin is more than happy to oblige. When they finally call it quits for the night, it’s only because Robin very nearly fell asleep while deliberating over a move.
“Alright,” Chrom says, trying his best not to laugh. “I think we’d best go to bed.”
Robin yawns. “I’m too tired to move,” he says, resting his head on the desk. “How badly do you think I’d regret it if I just slept right here?”
“Very badly indeed,” Chrom says. “Your neck would never forgive you. Come on, my bed should be big enough to fit two and it’s a good deal more comfortable than my desk.”
Robin considers this. “If you don’t mind, I certainly don’t. I don’t feel like going back to my room. It’s too far.”
“Mhm, a whole five minutes’ walk,” Chrom agrees sagely. Robin lifts his head and glares at him. “Sorry,” he says. “Do you want me to loan you something to wear to bed?”
Robin makes a dubious noise. “Do you have anything with two sleeves?” he asks, in a tone that suggests the answer will be no.
“What—obviously I do!” Chrom says. “It’s not like there would be much point in being recognizable if I’m asleep.”
Robin snickers. “Like you need a missing sleeve to be recognized.”
“I’m not sure if that was supposed to be an insult or not, but I’m taking it as a compliment,” Chrom says. “So thank you.” He tosses an old shirt and some pants at Robin. “See if those meet your standards.”
Robin yawns again. “I’m sure they’re fine.”
Satisfied, Chrom wastes no time changing into his own pajamas, and climbs into bed. “Which side do you want?” he asks Robin.
“The left side,” Robin says. He folds his clothes and places them neatly on a nearby chair, then slides under the cover. He makes a contented noise and buries his head in the pillows. “Your bed is so soft,” he mumbles, voice muffled. “I don’t know why you’d want my chair when you have a bed like this.”
“I suppose it is pretty nice,” Chrom says. He reaches over to turn the lights off. “Good night,” he says, although he thinks Robin might already be asleep.
“Mhm,” Robin says.
Chrom’s not sure when he falls asleep, but it must have been relatively soon after, because the next thing he knows, he’s blinking his eyes open to the faint sounds of birdcall outside. He feels oddly warm, and there’s a heavy weight on his waist. He cranes his head back and peers down blearily.
A few scant seconds later, he’s suddenly wide awake. At some point in the night, either he or Robin—or perhaps both of them—must have rolled closer. Robin’s tucked up snugly against him, head resting on his chest. One of Robin’s arms is flung over his side, which accounts for the weight.
Careful not to jostle him, Chrom brings one hand up and brushes the bangs off Robin’s forehead. He feels almost unbearably fond and he thinks he wouldn’t mind waking up to this sight every morning for the rest of his life.
He’s no sooner thought this then something settles into place inside him. He stares at the top of Robin’s head, not really seeing it. He thinks about how he truly wouldn’t mind waking up to this sight every morning for the rest of his life—how nobody had seemed at all surprised that he and Robin were supposedly dating—how, if anything, they’d seemed expectant, like they’d been waiting for it to happen for a while. He thinks about how he’d told Robin, that there was no one more important to him, how he’d told that one girl, back before any of this had begun, that he’d be lost without him.
He thinks about how all of this is undeniably true.
He’s in love with Robin. He mouths it, shaky and silent: I’m in love with Robin. It feels right, like it’s something he’s known for a while, and all he had to do was realize it. It feels terrifying and simple all at the same time.
It feels—too big to fit inside this moment, frozen in time. He’s filled with a burning need to be anywhere else, somewhere he can come to grips with this on his own, and not have to be painfully aware of Robin’s presence.
Very slowly, taking great pains not to wake him, Chrom slips out from underneath Robin’s arm and out of the bed. He gets dressed as quickly and quietly as he can, and heads to the door. He’s very nearly reached it when there’s a rustling noise from the bed and Robin sits up.
“Chrom?” he asks, rubbing one eye with his hand.
Chrom fights the urge to look away. “Right here!” he says, in too loud a voice.
Robin yawns widely. “Good morning,” he says. “Did you sleep well?”
“Yeah,” Chrom says. He winces at how he still sounds overly enthusiastic. “I’m, uh—going for my run. I’ll see you at breakfast!”
“Alright,” Robin says. He sitting in Chrom’s bed, wearing a shirt of Chrom’s, and it’s too much for Chrom to process right now. He tears his gaze away and hurries out of the room.
The fresh air and exercise make the whole thing easier to handle. Really, it’s nothing new; Chrom thinks that perhaps he’s been in love with Robin since the first moment he saw him. It’s a fanciful notion, he knows—Chrom had never put much stock in “love at first sight”—but one he can’t shake nonetheless. And, of course, regardless of when, he can’t deny that he certainly is in love with him now.
By the time he returns, he feels significantly calmer. The only thing that’s changed is his own awareness, so there’s no reason to worry about it. He had considered skipping breakfast, but now he’s confident he can handle it.
He forgoes training, just this once, since his run had gone long and he doesn’t want to keep Lissa and Robin waiting for him.
He walks into the dining room and immediately realizes his mistake; Robin is sitting in his usual spot, looking as cheerful (and beautiful, his traitorous mind whispers) as always, and Chrom cannot handle this.
“Ah, Chrom,” Robin greets, looking up as he comes in. “There you are. I was beginning to think you had gotten lost.”
Chrom swallows hard and sits down in his chair. “No,” he says. “It’s just… a very nice day.”
Robin nods. “I wouldn’t know,” he says. “It certainly looks nice, though.”
Chrom is saved from having to find an answer to this by Lissa walking in the room and straightaway regaling Robin with a story. Probably she’s talking to both of them, but Chrom can’t focus on what she’s saying, too busy watching Robin. He’s got both his hands wrapped around a mug of tea, and Chrom thinks about how nice it felt to hold one of those hands, and then thinks about the fact that, in just a couple more days, the whole fake relationship will be over, and they’ll probably never hold hands again.
Really, this whole façade is a blessing and a curse, because without it, who knows when—if ever—Chrom would have figured out how he felt, but all the same, it’s nothing more than an act. It has to end at some point, and Chrom is coming to realize he really, really, doesn’t want it to end.
He considers, briefly, asking Robin if they could prolong it—surely he could find some excuse for it—but discards that idea almost before it occurs to him. It would be—wrong, he thinks, to trick Robin into something like that. Bad enough he’d started the chain of events that led to it in the first place; the least he can do is let it end on the schedule Robin has planned.
“Hey,” Robin says, pulling him from his thoughts, “are you alright? You look worried. Is there anything I can help with?”
“Ah, no, sorry,” Chrom says. “I was just—thinking.”
“No wonder you looked like you were in pain,” Lissa says, snickering obnoxiously.
Chrom rolls his eyes at her so hard it almost hurts. “Thank you, Lissa. As always, your compassionate nature shines through.”
“Alright, alright,” Robin says, laughing. “Give it a rest, you two. I’m going to have put a ban on any sort of bickering at breakfast time.”
“I was just teasing,” Lissa says, clearly striving for innocence. “It’s not my fault that Chrom took it personally.”
“Mhm,” Robin says, talking over Chrom’s indignant reply. “And it’s not my fault that I would like a peaceful meal, undisturbed by sibling shenanigans.”
With an air of magnanimity, Chrom tells him faux-seriously, “I’ll work harder on ignoring her. If it’s for the sake of preserving your happiness, I’ll be able to withstand any taunts she might send my way.”
Robin snorts and shoves at his shoulder. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’re making fun of me.”
“You can be rather dramatic at times,” Lissa says. “Even you have to admit that much.”
“I don’t have to do any such thing,” Robin says. He takes a sip of tea and gives her a pointed look over the rim. “Especially not when it’s so patently untrue.”
“Oh, please,” Lissa says. “You’re being dramatic right now! Patently untrue indeed. I can’t believe you’re staring me dead in the eyes as you lie, right to my face. Right to Chrom’s face.”
“Now who’s being dramatic?” Robin asks. He drinks the last of his tea and sets the cup down on the table. “I’m afraid I can’t stay. Chrom, could I have a word with you before I go?”
Chrom looks up, startled. “Oh, sure.” He pushes his chair back and stands up, following Robin out into the hallway. “What’s up?”
Robin frowns in the direction of the dining room. “I hope she can’t hear us,” he muses. Then, to Chrom, he says, “Sorry to pull you away, but I just wanted to check that you were ready for today.”
“What’s today?” Chrom asks.
“The fight?” Robin says. He gives Chrom a confused look. “That’s today, remember?”
“Oh,” Chrom says. “It had slipped my mind.” After a pause, he asks, “Are you sure we should do it today? Not… put it off a little longer?”
“Why would we…” Robin trails off as understanding dawns in his eyes. “Ah, I see. You needn’t worry, I promise the fight will be entirely fake. I won’t be offended by anything you say and I’ll make sure not to cross any lines myself. It will just be for show.”
“That’s—” not why I want to put it off, Chrom finishes in his head. “—good,” he says aloud. “I just don’t want to risk upsetting you for real.”
Robin smiles at him. “You won’t. Just follow my cues and everything will be fine. Anyway, that was all I wanted. You can go back to breakfast now.”
Chrom nods and heads back to the dining room, feet heavy and thoughts heavier. After the fight will come the breakup and then—then it’ll be over, and Chrom will have to learn how to pine from afar and be content with that.
“Whoa,” Lissa says as he comes in. She looks concerned. “What did he want to talk about?”
“What?” Chrom asks. “Oh, nothing. I mean, nothing important. I was just—”
“Thinking?” Lissa guesses. “Chrom, you look downright miserable. What’s got you so upset? If it’s something I can help with, you know I will.”
“Thanks, Lissa,” Chrom says. He pokes glumly at his food. On one hand, he can’t really tell her what’s bothering him without exposing the whole farce, but on the other hand… he would like some comfort, and it might do well to set the stage for the fight. “It’s stupid, really. It’s just that—well, I’m starting to get the sense that Robin doesn’t want to be in a relationship with me anymore.”
“Oh, Chrom, I’m sure that’s not true!” Lissa says, surprise coloring her tone. “I’ve never seen anyone more in love than Robin is with you! I’m sure that whatever is going on is nothing more than a big misunderstanding!”
This startles a laugh out of Chrom, because that’s much more accurate than she knows. “I mean, I hope so, but it’s hard not to worry.”
Lissa clicks her tongue reprovingly at him. “Don’t worry so much, then. Listen, all you need to do is make sure you’re on the same page! If you’re concerned about something, then just be honest and tell him that!”
“Be honest…” Chrom muses. He turns the idea over in his head and finds he likes the idea. Even if Robin doesn’t feel the same way, Chrom wants him to know the truth. “Yeah,” he says, squaring his shoulders in determination. “You’re right! I’m going to go talk to him right now!”
“That’s the spirit!” Lissa cheers. “You can do it!”
Not wanting to risk losing his nerve, Chrom stands up and heads out of the dining room towards Robin’s room. He climbs the stairs two at a time, and in a matter of minutes is standing in front of Robin’s door. He takes a deep breath and knocks on it.
“Come on in,” Robin calls.
Chrom opens the door and steps inside, making sure to close the door behind him. Robin is curled up in his chair, engrossed in a book. Before he even has time to look up, Chrom finds himself blurting, “Robin, I’m in love with you.”
Robin’s head whips up so fast Chrom winces on behalf of his neck. His jaw drops and he stares at Chrom, speechless.
Courage fading, Chrom edges back towards the door. “Uh,” he says, skin prickling with disappointment and embarrassment. “I just—wanted you to know. I’m gonna go now—”
“No!” Robin says, standing up so quickly that his book falls off his lap on onto the floor. He doesn’t seem to notice. “No, you don’t have to leave! I—” he breaks off, blushing. “I’m in love with you, too. I have been for a—a long time.”
“You have?” Chrom asks. He feels a smile that’s probably much too giddy stretch across his face. “But that’s—that’s wonderful! This is the best day of my life!”
Robin’s blush deepens, although he’s got a matching smile. “That’s a little much, don’t you think?” he asks.
Chrom reaches out and takes his hand, tracing circles on the back with his thumb. “It could never be too much,” he tells him. “Robin, listen to me. You’re—you’re the wind at my back and the sword at my side—”
Robin kisses him, presumably more to stop him from talking than any other reason, but that’s as fair as a reason as any, and kissing Robin is every bit as delightful as Chrom had thought it would be, so Chrom doesn’t really have any objections.
They kiss for long enough that Chrom loses track of time, the world narrowing to the feel of Robin’s mouth against his. He pulls away to catch his breath and Robin smiles up at him. Chrom presses a kiss against his forehead and says, “We should tell Lissa.”
Robin’s smile turns decidedly more confused. “Chrom, the whole point of this was so you wouldn’t have to tell Lissa.”
“Technically, it was more that she wouldn’t have believed me,” Chrom says. “Which actually makes more sense now. I want to tell her the truth. Plus,” he adds, “if we tell her, then we can celebrate our actual anniversary, not a fake one.”
Robin pulls him in for another kiss. “If you want to tell her, we’ll tell her,” he says. “But she’s going to laugh at you, you know.”
“Correction,” Chrom says. “She’s going to laugh at us.”
He’s right, of course. Lissa laughs for close to ten minutes. Not once does she seem to draw breath. It’s both impressive and utterly terrifying. “You’re both so dumb,” she says, between peals of laughter. “Gods.”