This is a pure 'what-if' story. Basically, what if Cordelia was somehow able to get together with Chrom? It's going to take some sheer willpower from the resident tactician, who has a lot to gain from the pairing. And it's not going to be easy. Robin is female in this story and is the default female model.
Disclaimer: I do not own Fire Emblem: Awakening
Robin was sick of the rumors.
They all said the same thing. 'They have to be an item!' 'Something is there for sure.' 'I think it's romantic, and it makes so much sense!'
For reasons she understood, everyone seemed to believe she and Chrom had some sort of romantic spark. It was easy to see why. The amnesiac, found and taken in by the kind prince, becoming his closest friend and companion. It had all the markings of an epic romance. No wonder people believed there had to be something between them.
It couldn't be further from the truth. Robin wasn't interested in Chrom that way at all. In fact, no man had struck her fancy as far she remembered (which wasn't much, to be honest). But her denial made people even more insistent. They were convinced she would come to terms with her 'feelings' at some point.
Robin would have ignored it all, pushed it aside, and let it burn out. Except she happened to eavesdrop on one of Sumia's conversations,
"I think Robin and Chrom would be wonderful together. I admit, I do possess some feelings for him myself, but I feel there is so much more between them that I doubt my own feelings compare."
Sumia had been the favored candidate for Chrom before Robin came along. If even she believed the tactician and her commander belonged together, then Robin was in trouble.
She had to fix this. She had a good idea how, too. She was a strategist, she could think of a good plan to solve her rumor-mill generated romantic issues. She planned to give the gossipers a pairing with Chrom even more tempting than Sumia had ever been. And, with luck, more than Robin as well.
Robin found the keystone to the plan tending to her mount in the corral. She gazed at her pegasus, brushing its white coat, making sure she got every speck of dirt. She was a perfectionist in every way, even making sure her mount was in as good condition as possible.
Robin coughed, "Cordelia."
The redhead startled and turned around. She smiled at the tactician, "Hello Robin. Did you need something?" She wore full armor, which meant she had finished training already. She probably planned to do some other chore after her pegasus was taken care of.
"Actually yes." Robin looked around. Not out here, where so many people could listen in. A plan like this had to be between her and Cordelia. "When you're done here, would you mind coming to my tent? There's something I need to discuss with you."
Cordelia nodded, "Of course. I will finish up and come as quickly as I can." As serious as ever. A small, sadistic part of Robin looked forward to seeing that serious outer shell break in half.
Robin thanked her and left the corral, heading towards her tent. She wanted to review some of her books while waiting for Cordelia. The battles they encountered were hard. As the chief tactician of the Sheherds, Robin did her best not to crack under the pressure. She studied whatever she could to improve her strategies and avoid loss of life.
On her way, she bumped into the source of her troubles.
"Oh, hello Robin," Chrom said, smiling at her.
"Good day Chrom," Robin replied, "Done with your training already?"
The prince darted his eyes away, "Er, yes, I think I'm done for the day."
His voice and manner indicated something had happened and she guessed what. She groaned, "Don't tell me you broke another training dummy."
"Actually, I punctured a few holes in the nearby tents…" He said.
"How did you…?" Robin shook her head. The tents near Chrom's training area were reinforced for that reason, "Is there anything that you can't break?"
He chuckled, "I can't break my own sword thankfully. Falchion is nigh invulnerable."
"Which is probably why they entrusted you with it in the first place," Robin muttered. She observed the prince. He was handsome, she admitted. Kind too, always willing to give others a chance, to say nothing of everything he had done for her. It was easy to see the attraction others had for him. Attraction she didn't have.
They were close friends, nothing more. She didn't want anything more, and doubted she ever would. But, she feared what the gossip could set in motion. The talk was growing into expectation, and those expectations could lead towards disaster. That was why she had to do this.
Chrom frowned, "Is something bothering you?"
She forced a smile, "I'm fine. I just need some rest is all. I'll probably read some then take a nap before supper."
He eyed her. He knew her well, and picked up on the subtle cues that told him she wasn't saying everything. She relaxed when his eyes softened, "Just remember you can talk to me about anything."
Not about this. Talking about the gossip around camp could lead her down a path she didn't want to tread. She doubted Chrom was even aware of the rumors, the dunce. He was a fantastic commander and her dear friend, but, when it came to social matters, sometimes he was more dense than a stone.
Still, she said, "I know," and left for her tent. She hoped what she planned worked, for both of their sakes.
Cordelia walked through the camp, towards Robin's tent. Why did the tactician want to see her? Did she do something wrong, perhaps? The thought made her panic. What if she had screwed up somehow without knowing it? She cast her mind to anything that warranted a private talk with the tactician.
She bumped into someone. Ack, she hadn't been watching where she was going! She snapped to attention,
"Sorry," she said, "I wasn't paying attention I…" her words died in her throat.
"It's alright," Chrom said, smiling at her, "Are you going somewhere Cordelia?"
Her words stuck in her throat. She didn't know how to make them un-stick. Her face became hot. It wasn't often she was close to Chrom outside of battle. She could never get over how handsome he looked, nor how kind and forgiving his personality was.
He frowned, "Are you alright? You looked flushed."
She managed to squeak out, "I-I'm fine Chrom! Perfectly fine!" Damn her! Why couldn't she just talk normally near him? Why did she always get so flustered?
He gave her a skeptical look, "Are you sure? You aren't sick or anything are you?"
"N-no, of course not, I'm just…" She wanted to stay and talk, try to have an actual conversation. But Robin wanted her. And she was going to embarrass herself if this conversation continued. "I was on my way to Robin's tent. She wanted to see me for something. I best not keep her waiting!"
"Ah," Her insides melted as he waved a hand, "You best not then. Carry on."
"Yes sir!" She bolted. A safe distance away, she slowed down and sighed. Why couldn't she have a normal talk with him? Every time she got close, she fell to pieces. But…
"It could never work," Cordelia told herself, as she reached Robin's tent, "I know that his feelings lie elsewhere. I need to give up on these dreams eventually."
She entered Robin's tent. She wasn't surprised to find the strategist with her nose in a book. She was always reading, studying hard to ensure no one got killed on the battlefield. She looked up when Cordelia entered.
"Cordelia, fantastic!" Robin closed her book and set it aside. She gestured to a chair nearby, "Take a seat, I want to talk about something."
Cordelia tried not to gulp as she sat down, "Did I do something wrong?"
Robin frowned, "No, whatever gave you that idea?"
"It's just that you wanted to talk to me in private, in your tent," Cordelia fidgeted, "I figured that you wanted to scold me for something."
To her surprise, Robin chuckled, "I can see where you would get the impression. But actually, you've been doing wonderfully. You are your own worst critic Cordelia, but if it means anything, I think you are among the finest in Shepherds."
Cordelia bowed her head. She wasn't all that great. Everyone said so, but she wasn't. She wasn't able to save her knight-sisters, she wasn't able to have the man she loved…No, 'finest' wasn't a word she would use for herself.
"I have a good reason for asking for you, but first off," Robin stood from her chair and walked over to the tent flap. She peeked out and glanced around. She withdrew and tied the flap shut, indicating the person inside did not want to be disturbed. "We don't want anyone to listen in on our conversation."
Cordelia cocked her head, "What's going on?"
Robin faced her and took a deep breath, "Cordelia, I have a problem. It's a fairly large problem, but I think I have the solution, and it involves you. I am going to help you with something."
The Pegasus knight furrowed her brow, "Help me with what?"
"Allow me to cut to the chase. I am going to get you together with Chrom."
A silence fell over the tent. Cordelia stared at Robin, not quite comprehending what she heard. What? What did the other woman say?
"What do you mean…?" Cordelia asked, shaky. She couldn't mean…!
"Exactly what I said," Robin walked over to her desk, "I am going to help you with your romantic troubles."
"B-but!" Damn her stammer! "W-we could never be! It would never work out!"
"There's a chance not, but you won't know until you try, hm?" Robin shuffled some papers.
"But he likes someone else!" Cordelia insisted, "You, for example! Everyone says that he has feelings for you!"
Robin froze. She fixated on the redhead, "Gods Cordelia, don't tell me you also believe that gossip."
"But isn't it true?" Cordelia asked, "I've seen you two together. You make a wonderful couple. You would be so happy together!"
Robin shook her head hard, "No, no, no! No we would not!"
"But isn't that denial?" Cordelia asked, "It sounds like you are like me, except you actually have a chance!"
"The difference between me and you Cordelia," Robin said, an edge to her tone, "Is that I am not in love with Chrom! Not even close to it!"
"But..." Cordelia's thoughts stumbled. Robin didn't like Chrom that way? How couldn't she? "The way you two are always together, the way you always treat each other…"
Robin rubbed her forehead, shutting her eyes, "Is it really so hard for people to believe that we are simply friends? Very close friends, mind you, but nothing more?" She opened them, "And I would like to keep it that way. I do not have any kind of romantic feelings for Chrom, Cordelia, and I doubt I ever will. But," she sighed, "That does not stop all of the talk."
Cordelia took in everything Robin said. She had no romantic intentions towards Chrom? But everyone thought she did. Or that she would with time.
"You do have a problem, don't you?" Cordelia said in a quiet tone, "When did you realize the full extent of it?"
"I overheard Sumia," Robin said, "Even she thinks we belong together. That was when I knew that I needed to take a more proactive approach," she rifled through her papers again, "The best way to deflect that kind of rumor, is substance of an actual going on. If Chrom is with someone else, it might finally stop of the gears of this talk."
"But why me?" Cordelia asked, "Why not Sumia?" Everyone knew Sumia and Chrom had a spark between them. Wouldn't the other Pegasus knight be the better candidate?
"What part of 'Even Sumia thinks we belong together' did you not get?" Robin asked, "And in any case, she is moving on already. I saw her with Frederick the other day."
The tactician cut her off, "Remember what I said Cordelia, the best way to counter rumor is with substance. And very good substance. Certainly, there are other girls, but I doubt they would generate the talk I need. You, on the other hand," she looked Cordelia up and down, "Almost everyone in camp knows that you have been in love with Chrom for a very long time, and that those feelings seem fated to be unrequited. However, if that were to change…"
Cordelia shook her head, "He could never return my feelings. Never."
"Never say never," Robin said, pulling out the paper she had searched for, "Even if he does never come to love you, I think you would be better for it to at least try. Whether it works or not, it will still have all of the markings of a love story to rival the one that people believe that I am in. And that will be enough.
"But you mustn't think of the worst. Instead, you must think of the best. Think what would happen if he were to come to love you. Is this not worth trying for that possibility alone?"
Cordelia lowered her head. Here Robin was, willing to play matchmaker for both of their benefits. Anyone else would jump at such an opportunity. But herself…she didn't feel worthy of the man she loved.
"Tell you what," Robin said, with a gentle smile, "Think it over a bit and then come tell me what you think. I understand why you feel reluctant, but I want you to keep this in mind. Are you really willing to let that sense of unworthiness ruin a chance at happiness?"
Cordelia stiffened. Robin had a point. Several good points. Yet why couldn't she bring herself to take her up on it? "I think I will mull over it a bit."
"Alright," Robin looked over the paper in her hand, "In that case, that is all I need you for. I'm glad we had a chance to talk."
"What is that?" Cordelia asked, pointing to the paper Robin held.
"Just some preliminary ideas in better dealing with some of those Risen outbreaks," she said, "Those things do not know rest, even with the war against Plegia. I need to optimize us a bit better so that we aren't left scrambling after each unexpected occurrence."
The Pegasus knight chuckled, "You carry so much on your shoulders. I want you to know that you have my respect for it. Mine and everyone else's."
Robin smiled, "Thank you, I appreciate it."
Cordelia laid awake in her tent, thinking over the events of the day.
Robin did not like Chrom that way. A part of Cordelia was relieved. Another part of her felt silly for listening to the talk and believing it. Like Robin said, it was all gossip and rumors. But such things could be damaging in the long run, which was why she had made Cordelia the offer.
But could Cordelia accept it? She believed she and Chrom could never work out. Robin believed otherwise. Did that count for anything? Cordelia wanted it to. She wanted to believe so much it hurt.
But a part of her hesitated. The part of her that always whispered doubts and uncertainties in her ears. It told her she wasn't good enough, that she was never good enough, and nothing she did would ever change that.
Was she willing to let that part of her ruin her chance at love, Robin had asked? Would she let it keep her from making that leap of faith?
She steeled her resolve. No, she wouldn't. If Robin believed there was a chance, she would take it. She wouldn't let her self-esteem ruin this opportunity. She would trust Robin's instincts and hope for the best. And even if the best didn't occur, at least she could live knowing that she tried.
So, what was she waiting for?
"Hm?" Robin looked up from her notes. Cordelia stood there, her hands fidgeting but her eyes firm. Around them, the camp clamored, raised voices and shouts filling the air. Risen had been spotted nearby, and heading straight for a village. Robin was finalizing the last details of who to send out, and how they would handle the fight.
"I apologize if this is bad timing," the Pegasus knight said, "But I have decided to accept your offer. I will listen to what you have planned after this battle is won."
Cordelia was going to do this? Yes! Robin smirked, "Actually this is excellent timing."
"Hm?" Cordelia blinked.
"I was originally going to send Sumia for this, but you will do perfectly," Robin tapped her notes, "The area up ahead is rocky, and with poor footing. But the Risen spotted are made up mostly of wyvern riders. They won't have a problem. Ourselves, on the other hand, could encounter trouble. I am sending both Ricken and Miriel out with wind magic and armed escorts. Poor terrain tends not to deter magic users. Lissa will be serving as your cleric for the fight. But most importantly, we need a Pegasus knight to accompany Chrom."
"Hah?" Cordelia squeaked, taken off guard, "Why?"
"His Falchion is exceptionally good at taking out wyverns," Robin explained, "But the terrain will slow him down with a flier escort. Hence, why I need you with him."
Cordelia stumbled over herself, "B-but, so soon? I mean, why?"
"If you don't feel up for it, I can still have Sumia do it," Robin said. They just needed one Pegasus knight out there, it didn't matter which one.
"No!" Cordelia exclaimed, "No, I'll do it. Fighting together makes people closer, right? So I need to learn to work with Chrom if I want to be with him."
"I think it's a start, yes," Robin nodded, pleased. Having Chrom and Cordelia start working together more often on the battlefield was the vital first step. Like Cordelia said, fighting together strengthened bonds. Robin often received requests for certain team-ups from those who wished to know someone else better. She obligated them whenever it didn't affect her overall strategy.
This wouldn't be easy. Cordelia became a flustered mess when in the same room as Chrom. Never mind talking to him. Time would tell just how much of a problem that would be.
"Join the others that are preparing to go out," Robin pointed to where the others gathered, "And get ready. I'm going to come around in a moment once I've finalized our strategy."
Cordelia was grateful for her laser-like focus when fighting. The rush of battle cleared her head and allowed her to focus. It prevented her from getting hung up on the fact that Chrom rode right behind her.
"We need to take out the more powerful of these things before they can reach the others," he said. The Risen wyvern riders swooped around the battlefield. Below them, the others shot the Risen down. "Robin said that we should prioritize the ones with throwing weapons."
"There's one over there," Cordelia said, spotting a wyvern rider with a hand axe. And heading straight for Lissa.
"Get us over there!" Cordelia didn't need to be told twice. She urged her Pegasus toward the enemy. The wyvern hissed as they got close, turning to meet them. Falchion drove through it, squelching The rider dissolved into puffs of vile smoke.
Incredible, Chrom was. Cordelia's throat constricted, and her heart sped up. She forced herself to focus. More Risen remained to be purged.
They got a couple more wyvern riders, before they focused on the ground units. A couple of myrmidons and mages accompanied the wyvern riders, and they would harry the other Shepherds if allowed.
By the time they finished with the ground forces, two wyvern riders remained. Miriel and Ricken made for them. Cordelia relaxed a little. As soon as those riders were gone, they could return to camp for healing and debriefing.
A loud screech sent a chill down her spine. "What the?" Cordelia turned her head at Chrom's voice. Her heart sank. More Risen wyvern riders headed straight for them. Where did they come from? She didn't give herself much time to think, as she directed her mount toward the new enemies. How did they get so far from the others?
Her stomach dropped as one of the riders attacked Miriel. She turned her mount, intent on helping the mage and her escort. A roar nearly deafened her. A rider dropped down, almost on top of them. Chrom tried to react, his sword moving too slow. The rider's axe came down.
"Chrom!" She didn't think, only moved, maneuvering her mount to get the prince out of the way. The new position placed her in the path of the weapon. She bit her lip to keep from crying out, as the axe buried itself deep into her shoulder. The Falchion drive itself into the enemy and the Risen disappeared. On the ground below, the other wyvern riders were destroyed by Ricken, and two new arrivals. One was Virion, the archer's bow making quick work of the Risen. The other, to her surprise, was Robin, using powerful wind magic.
The last of the riders vanished. Cordelia tried to ignore her shoulder pain, as she guided her pegasus to the ground. The landing jarred her, and she gritted her teeth. Behind her, Chrom dismounted. She hissed as she slid off, her injury flaring.
"Are you alright?" Chrom looked…worried. For her! Ah, she loved being the focus of such a look. She pushed the thought away.
"I'm fine," she said, her voice weaker than she liked. She resisted the urge to grip her shoulder, "It's nothing that Lissa can't heal up."
"Are you two alright!?" Robin converged on the pair, concern and a hint of panic creasing her face, "When I saw those other wyvern riders come out of nowhere like that…Neither of you are badly hurt, are you?"
"I'm fine, thanks to Cordelia," Chrom gestured to the pegasus knight. Her face heated.
Robin was at Cordelia's side in an instant, "Any injuries? Nothing too serious I hope!"
Cordelia wanted to say she was fine, but doing so would worry the tactician more when she found out the truth. "My shoulder," Cordelia said, "One of those riders managed it gets its blade in fairly deep…" A bolt of pain went through it and she grasped it, "I can wait, there are others who will need healing, like Miriel…"
Robin examined the injury, and her panic grew more pronounced, "Cordelia, that's a serious wound! I'll get Lissa here right away!"
"But, Miriel…" Another bolt of pain and Cordelia collapsed. She leaned against her mount. It nickered and craned its head to nudge her.
"Cordelia!" Chrom kneeled next to her, and the heat in her face increased.
"I'm getting Lissa," Robin declared, her tone brooking no argument, "Chrom, stay here and make sure she doesn't do anything stupid." She placed a hand over her face, "Gods, what a disaster…" She ran to fetch Lissa.
Chrom gazed after her, "I'm going to have to talk with her later. When things go south, she tends to shoulder more of the blame then she should."
"I've noticed," Cordelia said, "But there were no deaths, as usual. She is truly brilliant, being able to adjust her strategy so quickly. We are lucky to have her."
"Indeed," the prince agreed before turning his attention back to the injured rider, "I wanted to thank you. Your quick thinking saved me. You did well today, and you should take a little pride in yourself for it."
Was it just her, or did it get even hotter? "I-I only did what was required of me," she said, again damning how her words never came out right around him, "I have no need of thanks."
"Well, you have my thanks anyway."
The heat intensified. Oh gods, she was going to embarrass herself in about five seconds. Lissa's voice cut through the air,"Cleric! Coming through!" Cordelia mentally thanked the healer as she rushed over, staff in hand.
While Lissa tended to her, Chrom left to track down Robin. According to Lissa, the tactician was scurrying around, checking on each Shepard involved in the battle. Cordelia watched him leave, wistful.
It would be wonderful if she could have his heart. But she still didn't see how.
"You did the best you could given the circumstances. There were no deaths, and everyone who was injured is healing up fine. You shouldn't be so hard on yourself."
Robin chuckled, "Says the pot to the kettle." She and Cordelia had returned to her tent. Robin was exhausted, for lack of a better word. Seeing those wyvern riders sneak up on the group sent out almost stopped her heart. Thank the gods she was able to get herself and Virion out there in time. "You don't have to tell me that. I already got the talk from Chrom earlier, and he'll do it again as many times as he feels he needs to."
Cordelia wrung her hands in her seat, "He really does care for you," she said, "It would be so easy for that kind of feeling to become romantic…"
"That's what I'm afraid of," Robin confessed, shaking her head. She picked up a stack of papers nearby and began flipping through them, "Enough of that though, how did it go on your end?"
Cordelia blushed, "Well, I think? I always seem to lose most of my composure around him…Ah, how am I to win his affections when I can barely speak to him? How is he to love someone like me at all, I wonder?"
Robin clucked her tongue, "None of that 'not good enough' thing now. Although you being so flustered could be a problem. You'll have to learn to relax. I'll help you with that." Robin scanned the papers, analysis of various marching routes, "We will be reaching the border of Regna Ferox soon. We will likely encounter more Risen along the way. I am going to keep you and Chrom together for a while, as much as possible. Also," she paused, "Perhaps you would be willing to join the two of us in the mess tent tomorrow? You might be able to handle your fluster better if I coach you and remain close at hand."
Cordelia gulped, "Are you certain that you…I….that we will be able to make this work? There are so many things that could go wrong…"
"Have a little faith Cordelia," Robin replied, "I believe that we can make this work. As long as you are willing, believe me when I say that I am not one to give up easily!"