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On the Topic of Pockets

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Robin’s coat has pockets.

 

Chrom honestly doesn’t know why this hasn’t occurred to him before, but he’s still largely surprised when one of her tiny hands vanishes into her too-big coat and comes back out clutching a sizeable tome. She passes it off to Ricken and their conversation continues- something about pros and cons of different elemental spells, so it all flies over his head- but Chrom stares stupidly at her for a moment while processing.

 

Robin catches him looking, sends him a sideways glance, but she doesn’t so much as pause the conversation and only quirks a tiny smile at him. A moment later, Ricken hands the book back and it all but vanishes back into the depths of the fabric.

 

Chrom loses another moment to staring, again. Where did it go?

 

 ---

 

 

Another such moment occurs the next morning. They’re both up early, and as Chrom ducks around a tent to avoid Frederick’s mutterings on the far side, he spies her seated by the fire that’s only just begun burning. He doesn’t hesitate to drag himself over and plop down in the seat on her left. She grunts a greeting (it really is very early) and he attempts to return it, but interrupts himself with a jaw-cracking yawn.

 

She snickers at him from where she all but drowns in her purple coat, and he glares halfheartedly- only to be distracted by her hands. For one ridiculous moment his sleep-addled brain thinks they’re gone, or invisible, or something, but then he looks twice and realizes they’re in her pockets. She has them on the outside too, apparently, and they blend so well into the fabric no one would see them without knowing they were there.

 

“Chrom?” He jolts, slightly, and realizes he’d been staring again while trying to compromise this new information in his mind (not only does she have pockets, but they’re on the inside and the outside, and why is that so odd). Robin quirks an eyebrow at him, but instead of floundering for an excuse as he would with anyone else he just snorts and shakes his head, still half-asleep. She makes a commiserating noise and plops her head on her knees, then all of her tilts sideways into his shoulder. He feels his entire body go just a little warmer, but neither of them moves until Frederick finds them napping a half hour later and promptly boots them off their arses.

 

It’s not that odd, surely. He’s probably just tired.

 

 ---

 

 

Except it gets odder.

 

The next pocket incident occurs a few days later, during a lighthearted conversation with Gaius (whose eyes Chrom still has trouble meeting without feeling his face heat up in embarrassment, after the night out he’d been dragged on) that starts with him contemplating taking up the bow and somehow, inevitably, turns into talk of sweets. Gaius delights upon discovering Robin’s incorrigible sweet tooth and pounces on the topic.

 

“Not you too, Robin,” Chrom despairs, and the two snicker at him.

 

“Not once have I caught you snatching sweets from storage, Bubbles,” Gaius says, waving a lollipop mock-accusingly. “Not even once. Obviously no one’s caught me, ‘cause I’m too good for that, but if you had a sweet tooth as bad as mine I’d have known.” Chrom hadn’t known either, in fact, but now he’s carefully filing the knowledge away in his head for future reference.

 

“What, I can’t be sneaky when I choose to be?” She puts a hand to her chest, faking offense, before snorting and promptly producing a bulging sack of candies out of another dimension, apparently, because no way in this world or the next could she manage to keep something that bulky on her diminutive person without it showing outwardly.

 

“I just stock up in the markets, when we pass through town,” she explains, although it comes out a little warbled since her and Gaius both have somehow managed to cram their mouths full of candy in the few seconds Chrom’s brain had stopped working again. “So I always have some on me. The dining tent never has the good sweets, anyways.”

 

Chrom thinks Gaius might be in on this whole infinite pocket scenario, because he just laughs heartily and agrees with her.

 

 ---

 

 

Things start getting really weird when Lissa notices.

 

Chrom and Robin stand hunched over a table in Robin’s tent, debating over a map with their heads pressed together, when his sister bounds in cheerfully. He almost moves away from where he and his tactician have so obviously invaded each other’s personal space, but stays when Robin doesn’t so much as flinch, and Lissa doesn’t seem to notice.

 

“Robin!” she chirps. “I need your help with inventory. Maribelle can’t find one of her staves and we’ve turned the armory upside down looking for it.”

 

Robin shoots her a despairing look. “Please tell me you didn’t actually turn it upside down,” she pleads, and Chrom thinks she’s being silly until he remembers The Pie Incident.

 

“Of course not,” Lissa huffs, but her cheeks go pink and she looks vaguely guilty. “Geez. Will you help us or what?”

 

Robin looks at Chrom questioningly, and without the map to distract them he suddenly remembers she’s very close. So he clamps his jaw shut and shrugs, and refuses to embarrass himself any further than that. She sighs, resigned, and moves away to stand straight. He shoots upright in response and feels his face go red in the sudden rush of cool air, but she’s distracted and rummaging in her cloak again.

 

“Fine, just- hold on, I need to leave the plans for the week’s march,” she says, and somehow produces two more maps and a leather bound planner that she lays on the table. “I’ll come back after lunch to go over them, yeah?”

 

He takes a moment too long to respond (those were big maps) and rushes to agree. “Yeah, sure,” he says, and she smiles up at him. His heart goes fluttery. She turns and sweeps out of the tent, coat fanned out behind her, and calls something to Maribelle outside.

 

It takes him a moment to realize Lissa’s still there, and when he tears his gaze away from the tent flap to look at her she’s still staring at the table, and the planner and maps.

 

“Her coat has pockets?” she asks incredulously, and Chrom nods fervently, relieved that someone else has noticed just how absurd the thought really is.

 

 ---

 

 

“Ok, but how many pockets?”

 

“What?” It comes out more like ‘awhuh’ around his mouthful of jerky, but it’s intelligible.

 

“How many, Chrom?” Lissa repeats, insistent, from where she sits next to him in the dining tent. She keeps her voice hushed even when surrounded by conversation from the Shepherds on all sides, like they’re discussing a clandestine secret during dinner instead of pockets, of all things.

 

“Ah,” he says, and swallows. “You mean Robin?”

 

Yes,” she hisses, “because I’ve been watching her, and I swear she keeps everything in there.” His sister turns to face him fully on the bench. “Books. Candles. Maps. Tonics!”

 

“And sweets,” he adds. He really shouldn’t encourage her, but his curiosity has been piqued since she first gave Ricken that tome, even if he’s still not sure what he’s curious about.

 

“And sweets!” Lissa throws her hands up. “She even has knives in there!”

 

“Knives?” he asks, alarmed. “How did you find out she has knives?”

 

“Oh, she was just scaring Virion, don’t worry about it,” she dismisses, but Chrom can’t really let that go as easily as she can because, hello, knife? What did Virion do to merit that?

 

He stops to review that thought, and then pretends he didn’t have it. Honestly, a better question would be what Virion didn’t do.

 

“Well,” he says after a while, “why don’t we just look at her coat?”

 

“We can’t,” Lissa says like he’s dumb. She rolls her eyes and everything. “Robin wears that thing constantly. I’m pretty sure she sleeps in it. How could we get it to check?”

 

“We could ask,” he suggests, and she looks at him like he’s crazy.

 

“No we couldn’t! Cordelia offered to wash it for her once and Robin nearly bit her hand off.”

 

Chrom’s pretty sure that’s not the same thing, and that Robin would easily tell them if they asked, but this entire situation has him confused enough that he’s too unsure to insist on the point. Suddenly, Lissa pulls her knees under her on the bench and leans over with a menacing glint in her eye.

 

“We’ve got to get that coat off her somehow,” she says deviously.

 

“We?” He didn’t agree to this.

 

 ---

 

 

He goes along with it anyways, because this entire business keeps nagging at the back of his head and he figures he might as well get it over with.

 

Their first attempt involves a kettle. That attempt doesn’t go anywhere because it doesn’t get going to begin with, as Lissa had planned to ‘accidentally’ trip and soak Robin with its contents. What Lissa didn’t think of was where they took the kettle from, which was from Frederick, who had been making tea. Chrom only barely stops his sister from burning Robin with a boiling kettle full of water, and they have to run for it after he accidentally puts a hole through the tent wall with his foot and nearly knocks the whole thing down. The entire disaster shakes him up so badly he puts off any other attempts until the next week.

 

The next time Lissa gets the kettle from Maribelle, who she’s somehow recruited, and they successfully soak Robin with safe, lukewarm water.

 

Except Gaius foils the whole plan, because he’s there and a gentleman, of all things.

 

“Here, let me hold that,” he offers while Lissa stutters false apologies, and Robin hands off her coat gratefully. Chrom might hate him a bit.

 

Chrom and Lissa (and Maribelle, because now she’s invested) comically deflate in their disappointment, but perk back up when Gaius grunts and hefts the coat up over his shoulder.

 

“Geez, Bubbles, what have you got in this thing?” he complains.

 

“Oh, this and that,” Robin says while she’s still distracted wringing her shirt out. “Don’t whine, it’s not that heavy. I’ll take it back, now, the kettle only got my front.”

 

When she slings the coat back on her shoulders something in it actually jingles. Chrom is frozen in his confusion, but there’s a muffled sound of frustration coming from Mirabelle and Lissa practically vibrates with a suppressed, burning need to know.

 

--- 

 

 

Their third attempt is the worst, if only because Chrom knows his sister enjoys torturing him.

 

“Make her sweat,” she said. “Just spar with her,” she said. “She’ll take off the coat eventually,” she said.

 

Well. She’s right, but it backfires horribly. If he didn’t know Lissa was desperate to get that coat, he’d accuse her of doing this solely to laugh at his misery.

 

Robin agrees to his offer to spar with a smile, and Chrom almost forgets the plan entirely simply because he’s enjoying himself too much. They do this often; she’s never removed the coat before, but spring has just ended and the sun’s high so there’s a good chance of that changing. It’s playful and challenging and he gets lost in the mock fight until Robin knocks him on his back and he loses his breath simply because he laughs too hard to get it back.

 

He sticks with the plan, though, and asks to continue sparring with lances after she tires of swords, and again he gets horribly distracted, but he doesn’t mind. It’s just when he’s getting comfortable with the idea that hey, this might actually work and it won’t even be a big deal, when Robin actually shrugs the coat off and his brain does that thing again where it cheerfully decides to stop working because Robin.

 

He’s never even seen her full shirt before, because she ties her coat at the collar, but now that he does he’s not even sure he can call it a shirt. Shirts have more fabric, he’s certain. Hers covers the essentials, but it leaves her arms and neck and shoulders very, very bare, and he’s lucky she’s distracted folding the coat over her arm because he wastes several seconds staring at her collar. It’s collected sweat, and her skin is shining, and his eyes begin to drift downward before he’s abruptly appalled with himself and snaps back into focus just in time to hear her speak.

 

“I’m exhausted,” she says breathlessly (and yes, there goes his brain again, because it’s decided to take that tone of voice wildly out of context), “we should break for lunch. Coming?”

 

She straightens her back and smiles at him and he’s done for. Coat? What coat?

 

 ---

 

 

After several more comically failed attempts, they still haven’t managed to go through all of Robin’s pockets. In the end, it’s Frederick who does it.

 

“Turn out your pockets, all of you,” he demands to the line of Shepherds. Apparently one of his handkerchiefs had vanished, and hadn’t turned up once he’d gone questioning for it, so he’d pulled the Disappointed Parent Face and gathered them all (Chrom and Lissa excepted, since he’d happily forfeit all his hankies if they’d so much as sniffled) to search them thoroughly.

 

Chrom’s a little insulted, since Frederick wasn’t even trying, but they’re too eager for the results to be upset. All the Shepherds obediently turn out the contents of their pockets and hold them out for inspection. Frederick dismisses them as he goes down the line, but he has to stop once he reaches Robin simply because she has so much in her pockets. The others actually gather around for the spectacle (except Virion, who’s having Frederick’s handkerchief forcibly removed from his person).

 

The answer to their question, as it turns out, is fourteen.

 

Two on the outside, for her hands when it’s cold. One of those has an ink bottle, and another has two sticks of charcoal. Two pockets sit in the same area on the inside that she uses for sweets and spare coins- the leftmost holds a pocket watch. Two larger pockets rest above those, that hold books and maps (and a smooth, oddly shaped rock), then four around her hips for assorted miscellany, one of which definitely has a knife and two candles. Three more are stitched in haphazardly with extra fabric in oblong shapes, in which they find a quill, tonic, and two arrows, of all things. The final and biggest pocket, near the small of her back, contains a pretty pendant (which Gaius blushes upon noticing), a sketchbook, three mismatched buttons, four leftover rolls from lunch, and a pair of reading glasses (which Chrom knows for a fact she doesn’t actually need).

 

Fourteen pockets.

 

Chrom ends up holding most of the contents as she gradually puts them back in, but there’s so much that Lissa has to help. Robin doesn’t seem to notice their shock- him and the others gape in a sort of morbid fascination at the sheer volume of junk she carries- and only once she’s resettled her belongings does she notice their staring.

 

“What?” she asks, blinking.

 

“You have fourteen pockets,” he says stupidly.

 

“What? No I don’t.”

 

“Yes you do.” He gestures to all of her.

 

Robin rolls her eyes and corrects him. “I have fourteen in my coat.”

 

That breaks his brain all over again, and behind him he hears Lissa whisper “she has more,” in a horrified tone.

 

Why?” he eventually manages.

 

“It’s convenient,” she says with a shrug. “I don’t like having to make trips back to our tent for everything, so I usually just carry it with me.”

 

He chokes on his own breath at the same time her face goes red when she realizes her mistake. They make eye contact, and the moment goes on uninterrupted for so long he swears his face might catch fire. Lissa saves him from death via spontaneous combustion, but-

 

His sister’s voice comes out with a sadistic glee. “Our tent?”

 

-

 

-

 

-end-