It was no secret that Frederick distrusted the Shepherds' new tactician.
Robin. That was what she said her name was. But from the moment her unconscious form was first salvaged from that field, her flimsy identity and Plegian robes had otherwise screamed "enemy spy" - and that was the suspicion that kept Sir Frederick the wary decently wary. And yet, to his dismay, his words of caution went unheeded.
The first day, he watched this Robin like a hawk, poised to take her down if she made any sudden movements towards his noble charges. He was almost surprised when she did not act - even more so when she offered her assistance in that first dangerous conflict that beset the group. Such a decision was certainly odd for a potential spy. But the amnesiac's bizarre manner didn't end there.
Mere seconds after discovering her ability to use weapons, Robin had charged into the thick of the fight like a madwoman. She was a tiny thing, pale hair whirling about her as she flung novice spells and flailed her rusty sword at the enemies that quickly had her surrounded.
She also revealed a hidden, rapier intellect; analyzing the bandit's defenses with streams of detailed, strategic babbling. But despite this, she seemed painfully unaware of her own perilous actions. Two axes whizzed by her head, missing her by inches as Robin fixed her excitable attention on her attacker's weak points, and Prince Chrom tried frantically to keep up with her advance. While her newfound gift in battle tactics would normally leave Frederick impressed; he was too busy panicking, as he watched his beloved prince and princess leap to her defense in the fray.
Robin sustained at least six life-threatening wounds in that first battle, groaning in surprised pain each time Lissa had to sprint over and patch up her crumpled form with a staff. And each time thereafter, the tactician would spring right back up - and head straight for the nearest enemy, while Frederick scrambled to keep the princess out of harm's way. Chrom spent the battle on Robin's heels, each turn a desperate attempt to draw the attention of the bandits she left in her wake, as she cheated blow after blow of certain death. The prince did what he could to protect her slumping form from any remaining adversaries, as Robin staggered to a halt and began bleeding out… again.
The entire experience hadn't done much to lessen Frederick's malcontent. After all, the lack of self-preservation in this strange woman had put his royal charges in a fair amount of danger. Then again - her strategic intellect had won them the battle against poor odds; and Frederick felt his suspicions slightly quelled. Any Plegian spy that would hurl themselves into such obvious danger, and need to be brought back from the brink of death multiple times, was clearly not a very good spy. The same reason could aptly defend her claim to amnesia: for Frederick was convinced that she had to have some sort of bolt loose in that head of hers to act as rashly as she did.
Robin's behavior was otherwise normal. She shared amicable conversation with the prince and princess, and ate her bear-meat without complaint. She had no explanation for her extensive knowledge of battle tactics, but Chrom and Lissa were thankful enough to not look the gift-horse in her talkative mouth.
And so she stayed with them, that night - and another, and another. And each night, Frederick took the longest watch, sure to keep both eyes open with her there. But by the time they reached the capital, and Robin was officially welcomed into the Shepherds, there was nothing he could do but spout the same tired warning to his liege.
"Naga's tears, Frederick…" Chrom scrubbed a hand over his face when the knight confronted him. "Enough about Robin! She's staying, and that's my final decision. The Shepherds could really use a brilliant tactician - you can't deny that she's already been a huge help."
"Yes, but milord-" he began adamantly.
"No buts! I don't want to hear any more about hazards, or spies, or whatever it is you want to accuse her of. Her dedication to our cause has been more than enough to earn my trust, Fredrick." The prince fixed him with a warning glare, but there was no real anger behind it. Chrom knew that such suspicions were simply the nature of Frederick the Wary.
"Look…" Chrom sighed as his knight obediently held his tongue with a sour look, "We both know that Robin still has some… adjusting to do. With the memory loss and all. As much as you distrust her, the only person she's really managed to endanger thus far is herself." The thought seemed to make him worry, judging by his frown. "...So. If you really feel that she poses a threat, maybe you could keep track of her? Make sure she laces her boots on the right feet, and doesn't get lost?"
It was hard to tell if he was joking.
"Milord, surely my time is better spent serving yourself and Lady Lissa," Frederick protested regardless.
"Don't worry - you will be. Our new tactician will be responsible for keeping us alive in future battles! I'm sure with your watchful eye and expert training, she'll excel at it."
The knight prepared to voice his dissent, but Chrom's tone had effectively closed the matter. With a resigned "yes, milord", Frederick excused himself to leave the prince in peace.
Just as proposed, Robin's training proper began in the dark hours of the next morning. The day the Shepherds were set to march. She tumbled out of her bed with a drowsy protest, and pulled on her boots while Frederick barked at her to quicken her pace.
"Jeez, Frederick, we're not in a prison camp…" she complained, attempting to smooth her mess of pale hair. The grogginess only made her look more unkempt.
"Sir Frederick," came his icy correction. "And as your training instructor, it is my duty to enforce an efficient schedule: we have precious few hours each morning before the company marches."
Robin gave him a tired frown, but silenced whatever rebuttal had her tongue as she pulled on her coat.
Frederick wasted no time in launching into their agenda. The first hour was spent running, and while the tactician's endurance wasn't bad for a woman of her size, it wasn't great either. Frederick kept on her heels the entire time, reciting mantras about honorable military service. He expected her to complain, but even as her pace dragged and her panting got heavier, she didn't say a word. When the exercise was over, she merely braced her hands on her knees, blinking her dark-circled eyes, and awaited his next instructions.
The rest of their time was spent on basic weaponry drills; and Frederick had to admit, even by novice standards she was proving sluggish with her sword. How she had managed to survive on the battlefield was a mystery, because her form sorely needed work. They ended the session with Frederick doubting that Robin had improved at all.
Barely fazed by the morning routine, Frederick quickly set about preparing for the day's march. And when the Shepherds departed, he noted Robin's position at the back of the party, a satisfyingly safe distance from his royal charges at the front.
It wasn't until later that day that the knight was bothered to think of her again... and not, exactly, under pleasant circumstances.
"…Where's Robin?" Lissa had called, confusion lacing her voice as the scanned the convoy.
Frederick remained on his path, leading the horses of a supply cart while the other Shepherds glanced around.
"Huh, coulda sworn she was right here..."
"Did anyone check the wagons?"
"Her disappearance is most peculiar to escape my notice."
"Haven't seen her in a while, nah…"
Frederick frowned. If the woman really had been a spy, and was now making her escape, she couldn't have gained much from her mission. A brief check to the supply carts confirmed that nothing had been tampered with or stolen. The only thing missing was her.
"Milady, please stay with me," Frederick rode over the now-panicked Lissa and ushered the cleric princess to his side. If - Naga forbid - the vanished tactician really did have an assassination scheme in the works, he wanted to be ready and within reach. He scanned the area quickly for his other charge.
"Milord?" he called when he realized the blue-haired royal was nowhere to be seen.
...But he did look down to see one of his cavaliers loitering on two legs. Stahl pointed a sheepish finger past the end of the convoy, where a manned horse was just disappearing over the hill they'd traversed. Chrom, of course - jumping the bow, as usual. Frederick saved his lectures for later, and pulling Lissa onto his own armored mare, took off in pursuit.
They doubled-back on the trail for about a half-mile before reaching the treeline of a forest, where Chrom was helping a very disoriented, familiar tactician onto his borrowed steed. Lissa sighed in relief from her spot in the back of Frederick's saddle.
"Frederick," the prince groaned as he steered his mount back onto the path, "I thought we were going to have your watchful eye on duty!" He motioned to the girl behind him.
Robin was currently draped over his shoulder, and already out like a light - but otherwise unharmed.
"What happened, milord?!" the knight demanded, turning his horse to accompany them back to the convoy.
"Well, I wish you could tell me - I found Robin nearly passed out on the trail! Stumbling along like she was dead on her feet. Look-" he gestured to the petite arm in his grasp, fingers already slack from the effort of clinging to his cape.
Frederick frowned. "Milord, this would seem to be an issue of endurance. She would do well to make more of an effort to keep up with the march. The others can manage it just fine."
"The others weren't awake until morning finishing the formation maps I asked for," Chrom narrowed his gaze. "And you started her training today?"
"Of course, milord," Frederick answered matter-of-factly.
"An hour prior to dawn."
...The implications of the statement caught up to Frederick as he spoke it.
"Ugh, Frederick!" Lissa piped up indignantly, "why would you be so mean?!"
"Tis not malice, milady."
"Yeah, but look at the poor girl! No sleep, probably no breakfast... and sore muscles I'll bet." She gave the limp tactician a sympathetic grimace.
Frederick fell silent as they ventured back into sight of the convoy. He did feel guilty for causing his liege the trouble and worry... but he couldn't bring himself to truly pity the sleeping girl on Chrom's back. Her physical weakness was not his concern, and in his personal opinion, simple drowsiness was easily remedied by a bit of tea and iron will.
The pair of horses bobbed along the path, with Chrom clutching the tactician's arm to keep her safely in the saddle behind him, as she nodded off against his shoulder.
"...Robin doesn't seem to know her limitations," he spoke up, earning the attention of his sister and lieutenant. "Or at least, she doesn't seem to remember them," he continued, "So until she gets a grasp on it, we are all going to be a little bit responsible for helping her regulate her health," the prince shot Frederick a pointed look, "including getting enough sleep."
The knight scowled, flicking a cursory glance at the sad sack of a woman slumped against the prince. Limitations indeed. But he nodded anyway.