Author's Note: This story is going to be 10 chapters long and is a series of drabbles ("drabbles"? "Mega-drabbles"? Everything I write is too long) that chronicle the relationship between Frederick and Cordelia after their marriage. Because their supports broke my heart. Half the chapters will be from Frederick's point of view and the other half will be from Cordelia's.
1. Wedding Night
When Frederick proposed to Cordelia, he did so knowing that she loved his lord the way that he loved her. So be it. Chrom was married already, and Cordelia deserved her own happiness, and Frederick had long since decided that he would give it to her or die trying. She would come around eventually, he was sure, if he put enough effort into it. She'd promised him that she would try, too.
It wasn't that he doubted her sincerity, or underestimated the strength of her feelings. It was just odd to see Cordelia resolve to do something and then fail at it so miserably. In the weeks since he had last proposed he'd given her several gentle kisses and long embraces—with a reasonable lack of privacy, to avoid gossip—but she had been unable to tear her eyes from their Exalt.
On the morning of their wedding, it occurred to him that some might accuse him of being used by her. Like a fool. But he paid the thought no mind. She deserved the stability of marriage and a husband who loved her—and love meant requiring nothing in return.
He rode into town that day, where the army would be staying the night to celebrate the wedding with real beds and warm meals instead of tents and campfires, and spent a long time preparing the room they'd retire to. Candles, their own sheets, petals of her favourite flower. He wanted every detail accounted for, everything just so.
When he had returned, nervous, realizing he'd forgotten to triple-check under the bed for dust he'd missed or that the old, slightly-warped windowpane might let in a draft and make her catch cold, Chrom had laughed. "Never fear, Frederick the Wary. No woman can resist a man who shows such care."
That was the problem, he thought. His lord had quite a time wooing his wife, because he cared for her a great deal but found that difficult to express. Frederick, on the other hand, had always been told that he cared too much. That he was stifling. But what else could he do besides care less, which was nigh impossible?
The ceremony was easy. Cordelia gripped his hand tightly and looked almost happy—and she was never truly happy, because she craved perfection, and nothing she did or the world created was completely perfect. Frederick understood this. Things only became rough when Chrom was the first to greet them, embracing him tightly and kissing her hand—"I can't imagine a couple more suited for one another!"—and she turned as red as her hair. Frederick ignored it and she did not meet his eyes for the entire party afterward, although of course they spoke, to avoid worrying the others.
But when he opened the door to their room for that night, she gasped softly—sweetly. "Oh, Frederick."
"Is it to your liking?" Now that he was here again, he could see that the petals weren't scattered evenly in places, that the candles weren't all the same height, and he cursed himself for his carelessness.
"Of course it is!" she said, which surprised him. "I've dreamed of a wedding night like this since I was a little girl. It's all so perfect."
Everything except the groom. He looked at her for a long while. Since he became enamoured with her he had devoted himself to knowing her as well as he could; every flick of her eyelashes and twitch of her fingers. She was contemplating what was coming next, and she was tense.
His efforts aside, she just wasn't ready.
"I am tired," he said, to spare her. "Our comrades certainly know how to throw an exciting feast. I hope you don't mind if we simply go to sleep."
There was warmth as her arms wrapped fiercely around his waist and her face pressed into his chest, and then it moved away. She said nothing.
He kept his back to her politely as they readied for bed, although he shivered as he blew out the candles—every one that he had positioned so carefully—and slid under the blankets with her. He kissed her gingerly to tell her goodnight and then rolled away from her, looking off into the dark over the edge of the bed.
It hurt, some, that she didn't love or even want him. That her lord made her blush and her husband couldn't do his duty on his own wedding night as a result. He felt even worse that he had fantasized about this moment—simple things, like the colour of her skin in the low light or what her arms would feel like, twined tightly around his neck. He should never have had such stray thoughts, if she wasn't willing.
Love was not demanding, and it would exist long after desire. He shut his eyes and tried to get to sleep despite her soft presence at his back. Perhaps an hour passed before she shifted, put a hand on his shoulder, whispered,
"I've changed my mind. This is our very own wedding night, after all, isn't it?"
He opened his eyes; took in the snuffed-out candles and forgotten flowers. "But this isn't how I planned it."
"And it's not how I dreamed it would be." There was a silence before she ventured, "But look what you've done for me. Look how gallant you've been. I wish to love you, right this instant. Nothing ever happens the way we plan it, in life. What matters is what we make of our circumstances."
There was the Cordelia he'd proposed to, so wise and determined. He rolled to face her, pushed himself up and over her to assure her, "I can make this one good."
"I know you can," she whispered, and tilted her chin up to accept his kiss.
But later, as he fell asleep, he had the day's silent confirmation that no love had yet grown in her heart, for all his efforts. That he had been settled for.
Author's Note: This is my first FE13 fic, so feedback would be greatly appreciated, if you have any! The next chapter is already written and should be up soon.