Clearly the Wren who had drafted the sparring partner list for today had been a version of her from before she’d realized she’d fallen in love with her commanding officer. What other reason would she have decided to put the two of them together? After the damning revelation that maybe the warmth in her chest that she felt whenever Chrom was around was more than just a deep friendship, every time she was around him she became… distracted. More than one war room meeting ended up with her having to ask someone to repeat themselves because her full focus had been turned onto how close Chrom was standing to her, or how their fingers sometimes brushed accidentally when they both pointed to the same areas of the map.
These feelings were a distraction at best, a liability at worst. Something had to be done.
Wren shook her head and rolled up the parchment, before heading to the patch of grass in the camp they’d set up as a training arena. Maybe a sparring match would be the best way to shake these feelings after all. It’s hard to focus on how handsome someone is when you’re doing your best to pretend-kill them.
Chrom was already taking practice swings at one of the training dummies by the time Wren arrived at the arena. She lingered just out of sight, taking notes of his sword form for use in their sparring. If she was being honest with herself, she was taking notes of his general form as well. A minor indulgence, nothing more- and who could resist, really? He was a finely carved sculpture of lean muscle and noble bearing, with a strong jawline and hopelessly blue eyes to boot. If looking was a crime, then she deserved to be carted off.
Chrom brought down his practice sword for a decisive blow. The dummy broke apart with a resounding crack as soon as the sword connected, falling to the ground in shattered wooden pieces.
Aaand there went another part of the training arena budget. Wren shook her head as she stepped into his line of sight. “Again, Chrom?”
Chrom perked up. “Wren!” he said, before giving her a sheepish grin. “Sorry. I may have gone a little overboard.”
Wren gave him a pointed look, ignoring the way her heart fluttered at how his grin gave him an adorable boyish air. “Better a training dummy than an actual person, I suppose. Speaking of which…” She removed her overcoat, exposing her dark arms to the sun, before setting it aside and picking up a practice sword of her own. “Are you ready to begin?”
Chrom’s grin shifted to a look of concentration as he nodded and readied his sword. “Just a warning, I’m not going to go easy on you.”
She gave him a smirk. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.” She readied her sword as well. “Give me everything you’ve got!”
Chrom wasted no time, launching himself at her with a frightening speed. Wren brought her sword up to block, before countering with a series of stabs. Her brain whirled as they traded blows, picking apart his fighting style. He favored his right side, and had a tendency to leave his left flank open during certain moves. His swings had raw power and speed, but fell into a rhythm of strikes that was easy to see through once she knew the timing. A sheen of sweat was already coating his flushed skin, his heavy breaths as he gasped for air leaving her wondering if he’d be like this when he-
Wren cut herself off, shoving the raunchy thought back into the dark cesspool it came from. He’s your commanding officer, gods damn it!
“Eyes up, Wren,” Chrom chastised, taking the opportunity to launch a swing at her arm that she barely managed to parry.
Wren cursed under her breath, doubling down on her offensive. You’re at war! This is no time to be falling in love!
But it was hopeless, wasn’t it? She was in love, she couldn’t deny it now. Not when she could feel herself holding back on her strikes even more than she usually did when practicing. The idea of hurting Chrom was sheer blasphemy. She wanted to protect him, guard him with everything that she was and that she had, keep him safe, make him happy-
He’s the crown prince of Ylisse, you idiot. How could he ever love you back?
Wren faltered- before Chrom’s sword smashed into her side, sending her off-balance. She was vaguely aware of falling to the ground with a dull thud, her practice sword hitting the dirt beside her.
Wren closed her eyes. Damnit. Damnit damnit damnit. She let her emotions get the best of her yet again. Fear, worry, doubt- those were all killers on the battlefield. Nothing should make a mark on her brain but the enemy and the objective. This slew of mixed feelings was going to be the end of both of them if she wasn’t careful.
She felt the impact of another sword hitting the ground, then the crunch of boots against dirt as somebody rushed to her side and bent down.
“Wren? Wren, come on, say something!”
A light touch on her shoulder- comforting, but wary of possible broken bones. Wren opened her eyes to see Chrom leaning over her, panic in his eyes. She let her head fall back against the ground and gave a wheezy laugh. “Something about this seems familiar, doesn’t it?”
The tension in Chrom’s face fell in an instant, replaced with a look of relief that was touched by guilt. “Gods, I’m so sorry. I went overboard again and I…”
“It’s okay Chrom, I’m fine.” Wren propped herself up on one arm and attempted to rise. A stab of pain shot through her stomach, sending her back down onto the ground.
“Let’s get you off the ground, at least.” A grin tugged at the edges of Chrom’s lips as he offered a hand to help her. “There are better places to take a nap, after all.”
Wren stuck her tongue out at him, before accepting the offered hand. She tried not to think about how much her hand had trembled, the thrill that went through her at his touch as he guided her to sit down on a nearby box.
Chrom retrieved a waterskin and handed it to her, a concerned look taking over his face. “Is everything okay, Wren?” he asked. “You seem distracted lately.”
Wren’s grip on the waterskin tightened. He’d noticed. She looked down, hoping he’d take the flush on her face to be one of exertion instead of embarrassment and shame.“I promise it won’t happen again.”
“That’s not what I’m asking.” Chrom sat down on the box beside her and laid a gloved hand on her shoulder. “We’re partners, right? You can tell me anything.”
“It’s nothing serious, Chrom.” The lie came easily to her. “Just… a bit stressed about the war.”
Chrom’s grip tightened on her shoulder. “I know you are. But don’t run yourself ragged, okay? You don’t have to go it alone.”
Wren swallowed her water, her throat suddenly tight. This. It was moments like this that the warmth in her chest burned the most, almost too scorching to bear. He cared . He cared about her, if not for her. She could be content with that. She just had to keep her feelings separate. Win the war. Then maybe- no. She needed to see them through first before even entertaining that possibility. She raised her eyes to meet Chrom’s, giving him a nod. “Okay.”
There was that boyish grin again. Chrom patted her once on the shoulder before releasing her. The two of them looked out at at the rest of the camp, the soldiers and Shepherds walking by. A bird began to sing somewhere in the distance.
“Feel like taking a minute before we go on?” Chrom asked.
Wren sighed and closed her eyes. “I’d like that.”