Robin did her best not to laugh as Chrom frowned at her.
"It's not funny!" He grumbled, seeing her mouth twitch. Robin raised her hand to stifle a laugh.
"I-I know. I'm sorry," She gasped between laughs. "It's just- you the look on your face when you said it-"
"Robin, please," Chrom groaned. "I'm trying to be serious here."
"I know! That's what makes it so-" Robin made a vague hand gesture as more laughter ensued.
"Well excuse me for thinking that my future wife might be important!" Chrom cried, sinking into his chair. Robin took pity on the pouting prince and quickly regained her composure.
"All right," She declared, folding her hands in her lap, "Let's talk strategy. Assuming that is why you asked me here?"
"Well..." Chrom trailed off. "I mean, yes- I'm hoping you can give me some insight, but aside from that you're a close friend."
"Thank you, Chrom," Robin smiled. Chrom smiled as well, but then looked away awkwardly.
"Also... I was hoping you could give me more information on..." The prince's face reddened, "...potential marriage choices." Robin tilted her head slightly, her eyes narrowed. She was silent for a moment.
"I'm not sure I'll be very effective," She finally said. "I'm not very familiar with the ladies of the court."
"Oh, are you asking me to gather information? I suppose I could contact Gaius-"
"Oh, I'm sorry. No, you're right- Gaius would have too much fun with such an assignment. We'd never hear the end of it. Perhaps-"
"I don't want to marry a noblewoman!" Chrom said hurriedly. Robin started.
"Oh! So...," Her eyes widened, "You mean you want to marry someone in the Shepards!"
"Well, sure, I suppose," Chrom stammered awkwardly, "I mean- yes. We have several attractive women in our company. It's only natural that I... uh..." Chrom's face turned red, "...consider what kind of... relationship I might have with them." Robin bit her lip to contain her laughter.
"Chrom... Look, I know I said that you didn't have to marry a woman from the court, but you need to keep in mind that whoever you marry will have to appear in court alongside you. Which means that whoever you marry will be under the scrutiny of every nobleman and woman who look to you for guidance," Robin said, her voice rushed. Chrom frowned.
"I don't give a damn what Lady Gossip or Count None-Of-His-Business says," He declared angrily. "I'll sacrifice some of my freedoms to rule in Emm's place, but I refuse to sacrifice this part of my life. If they want to ridicule me behind my back or even to my face, I'll deal with it."
"So you intend to marry with or without the court's approval?" Robin asked carefully.
"Yes, and I know that I sound like an idiot who doesn't realize his station, but-"
"No, I think that you should," Robin interrupted.
"Of course. Were you more like Virion and flirted with countless woman, I might worry. But you are a sensible man who does not pursue romantic attachment without careful consideration. More importantly, I know that despite your refusal to behave like most princes, you have a keen understanding of what is best for Ylissetol, and will choose a partner who can help you lead your people."
"Oh. Uh... Thanks," Chrom scratched his neck awkwardly, his face reddening. Robin shrugged, leaning back in her chair.
"So," A smug expression came over her face, "Who's the lucky lady?" As predicted, Chrom's face dived into a deeper shade of red.
"W-well..." He stammered awkwardly. Robin found it amusing that a man who could be so cool in battle lost his focus so easily. However, as the silence continued after his awkward stammering, Robin realized the problem.
"You... haven't decided, have you?"
"Okay, no problem," Robin sighed, "I'm sure we can figure out a way to narrow the list." She was silent for a moment, regarding the ceiling thoughtfully. Chrom sat tensely in the silence until Robin finally looked back down.
"Let's try this: Don't think about your answer for this one, just say the first woman who comes to mind, alright?"
"I'm serious- don't think- just react."
"Good. Now," Robin looked at Chrom intensely, "Who is the most attractive woman in this camp?"
There was a moment of silence. Robin's face broke in to a bemused expression, and Chrom immediately felt his face flush.
"Really, Chrom?" Robin sighed, playfully. "Your instinct is to pick the most scantily-clad woman in our company? I don't think this says very good things about your character."
"Hey, you were the one who told me to say the first woman who came to mind," Chrom muttered. "Alright- yes, I initially noticed her due to her revealing attire, but there was more that drew me to her than that. On the battlefield, she makes me feel... energized. Her dancing is... Well, you've seen it. Whenever I watch her, I feel like I can move twice as fast."
"Thank the Gods for Refresh," Robin muttered quietly.
"Well... Off the battlefield, Olivia... she makes me feel so relaxed. She's kind, but she also so shy. I just..." Chrom blushed, "I want to protect her, you know? I've been spending a lot of time with her lately and she's finally starting to open up to me."
"Well, there's no denying that Olivia is very pretty," Robin agreed, "She's probably one of the most attractive women in our company. Definitely the most kind woman in our company. Would you consider her as a marriage candidate?"
"...Yes," Chrom asserted after a pause. "I think I would be lucky to have a woman such as her as my wife."
"I agree. Unfortunately, she's also one of the most likely women in our company to cause controversy in the Court."
"Why?" Chrom frowned.
"Well, you said it yourself. You're only just getting to know Olivia. How long have you known her now?" Robin asked. Chrom opened his mouth to answer, but no sound came out. As he closed it, Robin saw his gaze drift upward as he tried to do the math.
"I... I guess I haven't known her for that long," He finally admitted.
"Exactly," Robin asserted. "In fact, she is the most recent addition to our company, male or female. Do you understand how that might reflect in the court? The crown prince marrying a woman he hardly knows? A dancer, no less."
Chrom stood up from his chair and began pacing his small tent, clearly agitated. Robin was upset as well. Although it was easy for her to imagine, she hated the thought of people talking about Olivia in such a way. She was so sweet and kind, and Robin couldn't imagine anyone who really knew her to say an unkind thing about her. She imagined Olivia in court, shying gracefully away from the nobility. Although... The wheels in her head began to turn again.
"There... is some hope," She said tentatively. Chrom stopped pacing and looked at her intently. "There will definitely be rumors at the beginning," She asserted, "But Olivia is graceful, and that is a trait that nobility value highly. It would not be difficult to at least get several noblemen and women to like her, and you know the general public will swoon for her."
Chrom considered this for a moment, and some of the anger left his eyes. Sitting down in his chair, he crossed his arms and was silent for a bit longer before returning his gaze to Robin.
"So you're saying that I could marry Olivia," He asked directly. Robin smiled and gave a direct answer.
"Yes," She replied, "But- I think you would have to talk it over with her. She would have to be warned of what she would be getting into. She's already very shy. You'd have to at least prepare her for some of the treatment she might get at court." Chrom sighed in exasperation.
"I wish there were someone I could marry without having to worry about what the Court is saying behind my back," Chrom muttered bitterly.
"There are a few women in our company who would probably not be gossiped about very much," Robin attempted to ease his anger. To her surprise, his head snapped up.
"Who?" He asked curtly. Robin blinked.
"Uh... I'm not sure," She hesitated. "I mean... I just assume that some of the nobility in the Shepards would be well received. You know the Court better than I do. Who do you know in the Shepards that would be welcome there?"
Chrom was silent for less than three seconds.
"Maribelle," He answered. Robin's face lit up in surprise.
"Oh? Would you consider marrying Maribelle?" She asked. Chrom blushed.
"Well... she's... certainly very lady-like," He said awkwardly, "And I've known her for a long time. I know she's sort of... what's the word?"
"Condescending?" Robin offered.
"Yeah, that- I mean, she's like that with most people, but she's always been really sweet to me. She looks after me; takes care of me when I'm wounded or need to relax. Besides, she's already like a sister to Lissa, so in a way, it kind of feels like we're already family."
"Well, she's certainly a model noblewoman," Robin agreed, "But I'm a little surprised to hear that you want that."
"Because earlier you mentioned that you didn't want to marry a woman from the court because you felt like you couldn't be yourself around them. Do you feel like you can be yourself around Maribelle?"
"Yeah. Well- maybe," Chrom frowned. "I guess I do try to act like more of a gentleman when I'm around her, but that's how I've always been with her. It doesn't really feel like I'm putting on a show or anything, it's just how I've always tried to treat her."
"Then I'm sure you could be very happy with Maribelle," Robin mused. "But again, I want you to have options. Let's try this again from a different point of view. Who, among the women in the Shepards, do you feel as though you don't have to hold anything back? Who can you be yourself around?" Chrom folded his arms for a moment as he thought.
"Sully," He decided after a moment. "Yeah, if there's any woman in this company I can just be myself around, it's probably Sully."
"It's true that you both share a fondness for directness," Robin observed.
"Sully and I go way back, too," Chrom informed her. "Used to romp around a lot when we were kids. Damn, those were the days. Sully was one of the first Shepards, too. I trust her as both a friend and an ally on the battlefield. I'm thankful that Olivia and Maribelle are willing to risk their lives to support us, but I admire the fact that Sully is a strong fighter."
"So, would you consider marrying Sully?" Robin prodded.
"I definitely could," Chrom grinned. "She's a hell of a woman. She could help me rule a nation with no problem. And unlike Olivia, she won't give a damn what the nobility say about her in court. She's like me- the farther she can get away from all that pomp, the better."
"Her... abrasive attitude might put her at odds with some of the nobility," Robin pointed out.
"Hah, I could see her punching some nobleman right in the face." Chrom chuckled. Then he noticed Robin's horrified expression. "H-hey, relax! I'm joking!" Robin continued to stare at him. "...Kind of..." He chuckled weakly, rubbing the back of his neck. Robin decided to chance the subject.
"You know, I know of at least one other knight who's... smitten with you," She declared. Chrom looked at her in surprise.
"Someone told you they're in love with me?" He asked.
"Well, I wasn't told directly," Robin explained, "But from observing her behavior, it's obvious she has feelings for you. Most of camp knows that she's in love with you."
"Most of camp?" Chrom frowned. "I... I honestly can't think of anyone. Are you sure they're being... obvious about their feelings?"
"Short of a confession, I'm not sure how much more obvious she can get." Robin stressed. Chrom continued to took at her blankly. Sighing, she added, "A certain Pegasus knight we know...?"
"Sumia's in love with me?" Chrom exclaimed. Robin blinked in surprise. Actually, she had been thinking of Cordelia. She opened her mouth to correct him, but Chrom had already leapt out of his chair.
"Of course! I should've known there was another reason she was baking me all those pies!" Chrom exclaimed, "Oh, Robin, remind me to save you a piece of pie next time she gives me one- they are wonderful!"
"She...bakes for you?" Robin asked. This was unknown information to her. She had suspected that Sumia held a small crush on Chrom, but so did most of the women in camp. She hadn't realized her feelings had developed further. And from the look of joy on Chrom's face as he ranted about the pie, it looked like he had developed a crush on Sumia. She silently apologized to Cordelia.
"Gods, I just realized that she's done my laundry for me too," Chrom suddenly exclaimed. "She cooks and cleans, she helps me relax- she's perfect wife material."
"Do you feel comfortable around her?" Robin prodded, although she suspected she already knew the answer.
"Well- yeah. I guess I'm not as... unrefined as I can be with Sully, but Sumia's seen my less-glamorous traits, and she was kind to me for it so... yes. I am very comfortable with her."
"That's good. Sumia would probably be well-accepted in Court as well," Robin pointed out. "She's well-mannered, and already has some social standing."
"Yes, her family is well-regarded," Chrom comfirmed. "She would have been a favored candidate for the Pegusus Knights if she hadn't joined the Shepards first."
"Very well. Let's see then... We have Olivia, Maribelle, Sully, and Sumia," Robin declared, raising a finger for each name she said. "That's four eligible candidates. Not bad, Chrom."
"Do you think that's enough?" He asked anxiously. Robin raised an eyebrow.
"Do you wish to have more women to choose from?" She asked. Chrom flushed.
"N-no, of course not," He said hurriedly. "I just- do you think they'd all be... open to the idea?"
Robin smiled piteously. Leaning forward, she placed one of her hand on Chrom's.
"Chrom, I know they would all be thrilled," She told him. "You're a good man. Everyone in the Shepards admires you. We're proud to be part of your company, and feel honored to serve under you."
"Do you admire me?" Chrom said suddenly. Robin started in surprise.
"Do you..." Chrom lifted his hand, hesitating for a moment before placing it over Robin's. "Do you think I could make someone like you happy?" Robin's face exploded with color.
"I-I," Her normally quick mind struggled to form a sentence. Her head shrank into her shoulders. "I- I think- no, I-" Looking straight at Chrom, she steeled herself. "I think I would be lucky to marry a man such as yourself." She declared. Chrom's face brightened.
"But-" Robin's eyes flickered away again, "You... you should keep in mind that someone such as myself might not... be good for Ylissetol. I... While I am loyal to you, there are many things about myself I still do not know. It would be... better for you to find someone who isn't questioning their own past... much less their future."
A moment of silence passed between the two. Chrom's withdrew his hands slowly. Robin still couldn't look at him. A long moment passed before Robin finally stood up. Her eyes darted towards Chrom briefly, and muttered a quick "It's late," and turned towards the door. Chrom watched her leave, making a fist with his hand.
"Robin," He finally called out. The tactician paused in the doorway. "Thank you," Chrom said. "You've helped me a lot. I'll... be sure to think carefully on what you've said." Robin turned to look at him for a moment before smiling.
"You're welcome," She nodded, then hurried into the hallway.
Leaning back into his chair Chrom closed his eyes and listened to her retreating footsteps. As they grew farther and farther away, he summoned her face in his mind's eye along with the other five girls they had discussed. All of them were wonderful women who, despite some insistence to the contrary, would make fine queens. Chrom tried to reassure himself that no matter who he chose, his country would at least be well off. But as for himself? Chrom weighed his options.
He wanted to marry the woman he knew best, he decided. A woman who he had become closer with than anyone else. Someone who... was special to him. He told himself that he would wait until at least the next day to make a decision, but in his heart, he already knew who he wished to marry. As sleep called to him, he pictured waking up the next day next to a beautiful woman, who would greet him with a smile.