Chapter 1: The Mission
Frederick was, without a doubt, the most perfect man you ever could have known. He was so tender, and sweet, and sensitive to you and your needs. Not a day went by that he wasn’t thinking of you, and for that you were eternally grateful.
Your romance had been that of a whirlwind. Within your first few battles as wary teammates, to your first offer to help him overcome his fears of bear meat all the way back at the gates of Regna Ferox; he had won your heart over as quickly as you had won his trust.
You were wed shortly after the war ended. Your engagement had come when you were still in the midst of battle, but you had both agreed to wait until after peace had come and the Mad King was put to death.
Despite the great costs that your army had suffered, it was all worth it in the end. You were by Frederick’s side every day and night, now. You wore his grandmother’s ring on your finger and you were absolutely enamored with him after each passing day.
You both had only begun living together as of recently, however. The fact you had only been properly married for a few months made every experience exciting.
It made your time with him, falling asleep beside him and waking up early enough to see him sleeping (it was rare, but still), it all just became so much more precious.
You could hardly stand how wonderful he was. It made his departures al the more difficult to handle.
Such was the situation when he came home that evening, with news of a surprise trip.
“Plegia?” Your brow furrowed when he sank onto the recliner beside you, nodding tiredly as he tugged the ribbon from his neck. “Chrom asked you to go there?”
“It was not Lord Chrom, unfortunately. He is one of the few reasons I would be willing to set foot in that gods forsaken land, at all. This is a more delicate matter; one that was brought to my attention by some of our spies.”
“There isn’t another war on the horizon, is there?” You asked warily, taking the kettle of tea you’d set for yourself not long before he returned home. He shook his head, though he still looked troubled even after you handed him a cup of his own.
“No, nothing like that, either. The matter itself is...sensitive. As much as I’d like to share the details with you, I’m afraid I can only say so much to anyone who isn’t directly involved.” He told you with an apologetic look, which you met with a small smile.
“I understand. I’m a tactician, but I’m not exactly a member of the Royal Guard. I trust whatever is going on, you’ll be able to handle it. And...you’ll be safe too, won’t you?”
“I have every intention to be.” He assured you, settling back and putting his arm around you. “The mission won’t involve combat, but I’ll be armed and prepared should things change. You never know with Plegians, after all.”
“You’re right on that mark.” You sighed, settling into his side and leaning your head against his chest. “How long will you be gone?”
“It shouldn’t be for more than two weeks.” He told you, “Though even a day is far too long to be separated from you, my love.”
“You flatter me.” You giggled at his sweet remark, looking up at him to find a knowing smile crossing his lips.
“I speak the truth; I will miss you terribly while I’m gone, even if it is only for a couple of weeks. It’s not uncommon for such excursions to take months, but...I plan on going with an extremely limited team. We should be in and out within a few days, at most.”
“I do hope so.” You hummed, setting your cup aside and gently prying his away so you might shift into his lap with no obstacle. Frederick quirked an eyebrow, his fingers slipping politely to your waist as he beamed up at you. “I always ache so terribly for you when you leave me behind.”
“I don’t plan on going anywhere once this trip is finished.” He promised you, pressing a gentle kiss to your lips. “I hate to leave you anticipating my return. Especially when I feel the exact same agony. I can barely stand parting from you, as it is.”
“I’m glad to know we’re on the same page.” You said with a chuckle, kissing him once more. “Then I propose we make tonight one to remember. That is...assuming you’re not too tired. I’d hate for you to be exhausted come your departure, tomorrow.”
“I could never be too tired for you, my love.” He grinned, happily taking you up from the recliner and carrying you back to your bedroom.
Whatever concerns or questions you had about Frederick’s surprise trip were quickly forgotten in lieu of spending some proper quality time together.
The evening passed far too quickly for your liking, and you found yourself standing outside with Lissa as they waved goodbye to the captain’s caravan. He wasn’t able to give you a goodbye kiss, not when in front of his leiges and his pocket army, but he had made sure to give you plenty before the two of you left your quarters.
“Do hurry back,” You said quietly as you fiddled with the latch on his saddlebag, your husband watching you with a fond smile before he mounted his horse.
“I’ll be swift as lightning, my sweet. I’d ask you to write letters, but I fear by the time they reach me, I’ll already be home.”
“I’ll hold you to that. Still,” You unclipped the bag, slipping a little leather-bound book from your coat and depositing it inside, “I did write you a few things for the lonelier nights. I know how you can get, sometimes.”
He chuckled, giving your hand a small squeeze. “You know me too well. Thank you, dear. I’ll be sure to read them.”
You stepped back as he mounted Hebert, offering you one last nod before he turned the horse around and addressed his little crew.
“We will return within two weeks’ time.” Frederick announced, giving a salute to Chrom and Lissa. “I bid you farewell.”
“Good luck, Frederick!” Lissa waved enthusiastically, grin as bright as ever.
“And be careful!” Chrom added, and with that, the caravan was gone. You watched after them until they disappeared from sight, gone from the castle walls and off to complete whatever mysterious mission he’d been assigned.
You were tempted to get Chrom to tell you the details one way or another, but you didn’t want to breach Frederick’s trust, either. It had been so terribly hard to earn, after all.
So instead you returned to your home, preparing for your duties and the day ahead. The two weeks weren’t going to be much fun to spend alone, but that’s what your friends were for. They were quite good at filling in the gap.
You only hoped your husband would be home, quickly.
Three days passed slowly after he left, but Lissa and Chrom did their best to keep you preoccupied. After all, it was rare that you ever left Frederick’s side, these days. You had basically been attached at the hip since the beginning (though the reason why had shifted dramatically from the first time you met to now).
Considering your amnesia, spending time with Frederick was pretty much all you really knew. It must have been hard to see him off, even if it was only a couple of weeks.
In the grand scheme of things, of course it wasn’t that bad. But in your heart, it felt as if an eternity was dragging by each hour he was away.
“Oh, Robin~!” Lissa’s sing-song voice penetrated the door of your home, giving you barely a moment to respond before it burst open and the princess bounded inside. “Good morning!!”
“Good morning, Lissa. I’m in the kitchen,” You called to her hoarsely, your voice unused since you’d woken up. Admittedly, you had slept in a lot longer than you meant to.
“Well, look at you! Here I thought you were late to bed and early to rise all the time! I guess without Frederick here to keep you on track, your whole schedule gets messed up. You know it’s almost 12:00, don’t you?”
“I’m aware.” You sighed, pushing the hair from your face that had refused to be pulled back. “Oatmeal’s as good a meal for lunch as it is breakfast, isn’t it?”
“Hardly.” Lissa’s nose scrunched at the thought, coming into the kitchen area and looping her arm around yours. “You know you live in the royal castle, don’t you? I don’t think anyone would mind if you grabbed some food from the chefs, downstairs!”
“I suppose not, but I don’t want to impose. I can handle myself just fine.” You replied with a yawn, stirring the oatmeal in your bowl half-heartedly. Lissa stared at you for a fifth of a second before she shook her head, snatched your spoon and tugged you away from the counter.
“Come on, Robin. Let’s get you dressed and we’ll head out for some proper food before the council meeting this afternoon! It’ll be my treat, okay?” She grinned, with little opportunity for you to protest. “And don’t try and talk yourself out of it! I’m taking care of you until Frederick gets back to do it, again!”
“Gods, Lissa, he doesn’t ‘take care of me’, I’m more than capable of handling myself!”
“Tell that to me when you’re awake at five a.m. all by yourself, lady.” She giggled before pushing you into your bedroom, already rattling off her plans to make you “gorgeous” for your trip to the kitchen. You couldn’t have been less enthused; not that she cared.
The council rolled around faster than you anticipated, though everything became a hurricane when Lissa was involved. She hummed happily beside you, leading you into the councilroom with a skip in her step and her arm linked with yours.
“You seem a lot happier to be here than anyone else.” You mused as you observed the more respectful, somber council men and women that had already gathered.
“That’s because I get to spend the day with you, silly! It’s not often we get to hang out.”
“That’s true...it’s been rather busy now that the war’s over, hasn’t it?” You said with a soft sigh, “I do wish we could chat more considering we’re in the same castle.”
“Yes, well, you do have quite a busy schedule, Miss Chief Tactician.”
A new voice entered the young conversation with a smooth, calm tone. You and Lissa jumped at the sound, turning to find one of the councilmen smiling down at you both expectantly.
“Councilman Lethe,” You greeted him cordially while Lissa recovered from the scare. “To what do we owe the pleasure?”
“I simply wished to spark up a conversation with the woman who single-handedly conquered the Mad King.” He replied with a grin, which you met with a polite chuckle.
“Please, Exalt Chrom and the Shepherds had just as much to do with our triumph as I did. I simply told them where to go.”
“And you did an excellent job of it!” Lissa finally chimed in with a giggle, “She’s so modest, sometimes. I think she gets it from spending so much time with Frederick.
“Sir Frederick seems to be absent from our council, today.” Lethe observed with a thoughtful hum, his eyes narrowed as he scanned the vicinity. You couldn’t help the wary glance you gave him; something about the man before you made you feel uneasy.
“Yes, well, he had business to attend to elsewhere. He’ll be back in a little while.”
“How unlike him.” He hummed, “What is the nature of this business? I can hardly imagine it being important enough for him to shirk his coveted duties, here.”
“You and me, both.” You huffed, “But I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to say. I’m certain he won’t be gone for much longer, though.”
“You’re not at liberty? Or you don’t know?” Lethe quirked a thin eyebrow, to which your lips turned downward.
“I’m not at liberty to say.” You repeated, firmer. Lethe exhaled softly, gazing at you with those sharp, black eyes that seemed to pierce through your soul. He peered down his nose at you, the shadows on his face making him appear far less friendly than you were comfortable with.
“I see.” The strange atmosphere that had developed dissipated as suddenly as it came, “Well, then. I do hope he returns as swiftly as you say. It’s rather boring to attend these meetings without his eccentricities to liven things up.”
You watched after him as Lethe moved to take his seat, the man’s gait slow and purposeful. You’d think it almost graceful if the legs weren’t attached to such a strange, frightening man.
“Yeesh...that guy gives me the creeps.” Lissa muttered to you as you headed for your own places. “I don’t know why we keep him around.”
.“Well I suppose so, but he’s here for a good reason, I’m sure. Chrom wouldn’t let just anyone on this council.” You offered in defense.
“He was added to the council because he knows a lot more about Plegia than we do. I do’t think that’s a great reason to have him around, but...I mean, Chrom still does, so…” She trailed off, but her message was clear. There wasn’t any love lost between them, let alone trust.
Lissa would rather keep a fair distance. Considering how Lethe kept shooting glances over to you throughout the meeting, with that strange little smile...you understood her feelings.
You definitely wished Frederick were here,with you. Though considering how the man seemed so vested in Frederick, you wondered if that would be a good idea, as well.
For the sake of keeping your sanity, you shrugged off your doubts and concerns. He was simply a strange councilman, you decided, and would leave it at that.
Still, you hoped Frederick would hurry home.
Chapter 2: The Deal
You were trembling in your seat, your mind swirling around in a mess of confusion and fear. What in the gods’ names was happening? What had Frederick done?
and so the plot thickens
The Plegian deserts were brutal, blazing and as barren as ever. It took four days traversing through thick sand before they set foot in any civilization, let alone Frederick’s target destination.
The war had been over for nearly a year, now, yet there was still palpable animosity between the Ylisseans and Plegians.
He debated whether or not he should remove Hebert’s armored plates, considering they were emblazoned with the royal crest.
The day they reached their location, he opted to leave his steed at camp. The meeting he had arranged required the utmost secrecy, after all, and a brilliant horse like his was sure to draw attention. Instead he headed into town, long after the day had passed.
His cloak was thick and dark as he shifted through the shadows, weaving through the alleys and roads. The destination was somehow even shadier than Plegia at night; that was as dangerous as it got, by itself.
His frown was deep and firm as he moved along, acutely aware of his surroundings as he worked to keep himself from being seen.
There were few who braved the cold of the desert night, but as he kept a firm hand on the heavy bag of coins, silenced by his hand, he was one of two people who were willing to go.
This was a mission he needed to complete, after all. One that he could not dare risk failing. After all, the goal of the mission wasn’t just to protect Ylisse, but...dare he say it, more importantly...it was to protect you.
“There you are.”
His whisper was met with sharp eyes glinting in the moonlight, a hooded figure standing in the corner of an empty alleyway. The blade on his hip shifted with every step, reminding himself to be wary of the strange man.
The strange, Plegian man.
“I was beginning to think you weren’t coming.” The man replied, “You have the agreed upon payment?”
“You have what I came for?” Frederick countered as he held up the bag of coins, the gold pieces clinking ever so slightly. The man eyed the bag, calculating its size as if he were unsure it was the proper amount, before he broke into a grin.
“Of course. I was the one who brokered the deal.” He said as he moved to take something from his cloak. Frederick’s hand rested on the hilt of his sword, prepared to defend himself if this was as much of a trap as every sense he had screamed at him it was.
But instead of a weapon, he produced a handful of documents, the Plegian seal pressed onto them with a faded wax that suggested age.
Papers that had likely been sealed and archived when he was a small child, and perhaps when you were just born. He glared at them pointedly, holding out his hand to inspect them.
“Allow me to see their contents, sir.”
“I am captain of the Ylissean Guard. You have my solemn word I will not cheat you of your payment. But I cannot be certain that your word is as good as mine. So, if you please.” He held out his hand once again.
The Plegian sighed, but gave in. “If the Plegians and Ylisseans are ever going to trust one another, we have to start somewhere, Captain.”
“We’ll start here, then. Your compliance speaks volumes.” He muttered as he secured the bag to his belt, and broke the seal on the first document.
And, with expected disdain, your name at the top.
The man had reached out to Frederick several weeks ago, a letter strapped to a ruffled crow that had been sent to him, specifically. There were rumors that his wife was likely of Plegian descent, and a certain someone had access to information proving that to be the case.
However, there was an implication that you weren’t only of Plegian descent, but it was entirely likely you came from a far darker, more dangerous family within the desert, altogether.
“It’s as I said, Captain. I’m afraid you’ve married into a cult.” The man said with a chuckle. Frederick grunted, skimming over the information and finding the Grimleal’s insignia at the bottom corner of the document.
He folded it crisply, tucking the records away with a set jaw and a far less pleased expression than before. “Are you certain this is it? This is all the information you have on Robin’s past?”
“Grimleal don’t leave much of a trail behind. The few bits and pieces that I could scrounge up are all there. The birth records alone are a jackpot...maybe I should’ve charged more for the rest of them.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” Frederick chided in a colder, far more warning tone, “I’m still unsure how or why you acquired them, let alone contacting me about it.”
“Because I’ve seen the Ylissean court, before. I know how bad it would be for you and your wife’s reputations. It’d be a real shame if you were suspected of treason, or…acts of terror, perhaps.”
“And how would a Plegian grasp the inner workings of the Ylissean council?” Frederick narrowed his eyes, searching for some clue to the identity of the stranger. He racked his brain for ideas, but no one he knew that was employed in the castle, let alone anyone he’d met in Ylisstol, had a Plegian accent as thick as this man’s.
But he had never met a Plegian with such knowledge, either.
“News travels fast, Captain...but here say travels far faster. Rumors started to spread that the Chief Tactician of the Ylissean army wore a Plegian coat. Some said it was decorated with the Eye of Grima. Needless to say, the potential was far too great to pass up. Lo and behold, a lowly man of the desert finds those papers confirming the rumors...all of them.”
“Indeed.” Frederick said in little less than a growl, straightening his back as he presented the reward. “Here is your payment, sir. Spend it wisely.,,and if you happen to find any other documents or artifacts that link the tactician back to Plegia, but more importantly, the Grimleal...you will send for me, immediately.”
“And can I expect another payment?”
“You can expect double.” Frederick’s reply made the man’s eyes gleam, and his grin somehow widen further. “Only if they are worth my time.”
“Trust me, Captain. I’ll make it worth your time.” The man assured him, yet he couldn’t help but shake the uneasiness he felt at the response. He sounded...almost confident...almost threatening.
He shook off the wary thoughts, giving the man a curt bow.
“Very well. You have my thanks, good sir. While I hope I will not require your services again, I appreciate your work immensely.”
“Think nothing of it.” He waved Frederick off, brushing past him as he headed out of the alleyway. “I’ll be sure to keep an eye out, for you...just for you.”
Frederick watched after the man as he disappeared around the corner, swallowed by the night. He relaxed his jaw, though his brow remained deeply furrowed and his head swam with hundreds of thoughts.
Chiefly, however, were the ones that concerned you. His wife? A Plegian member of the Grimleal? It wasn’t possible.
Yet he saw the coat you wore, he too recognized those eyes it bore.
Yet the thought of you being a menacing, cruel and brainwashed follower of Grima was impossible to imagine. There was no way his cunning, kind and all-around wonderful wife could possibly be apart of such a cult.
That, or you had proven yourself to be a good person after amnesia wiped away whatever you’d been taught. He knew in his heart you were a great woman, and even the papers in his hand couldn’t prove otherwise.
That was the very point he intended to prove, as he returned to camp that following morning. As he tossed the cloak away and he sank down in front of the campfire’s lingering embers, he read over the documents once more.
There were many words that had been redacted, worn away from years of dust and damage, and others still written in cryptic, strange language that he couldn’t understand. He wondered if half the papers had anything to do with you at all, but he didn’t wish to risk anything.
He would rather your past not exist and reduce any threat of scandal and the assault on your reputation, than try and research further.
Frederick sighed heavily, tossing each piece of parchment into the dying flames. He watched as the fire greedily devoured them, reducing it all to ashe floating between the embers in a matter of seconds.
He folded his hands, leaning forward as he silently watched the fire.
The mission was complete, he reminded himself, his gaze lost in the smoldering remains. Whatever information that could harm you was gone; information he didn’t care to look at, himself.
While the meeting confirmed that yes, when you first joined the Shepherds, your background was indeed something to be suspicious of, he also knew who you truly were.
Without your past there to define or direct you, it was easy for you to become one of the Shepherds. And with your kindness and companionship, it didn’t take long for you to become the object of his love and affection.
You were his most precious wife, and past be damned, he was going to protect you. The fact that your “past reputation” could have obliterated your status now was something he didn’t want to risk. After all, the war was finally over, and you were getting to experience peace for the first time. Peace with him. He was going to do everything in his power to keep that from falling apart.
He pulled himself from the fire then, returning to his tent with a small yawn. He settled into his cot, taking the small book you had given him and gently opening it. He smiled softly at the haphazardly bound spine, the leather string clearly very new and woven in by his wife.
He couldn’t help the warmth that spread through him simply at the thought of you making such a little book for him; to think he’d only be gone for a week or two, and you would put in so much effort for his sake.
‘How could an “evil” woman be capable of such kindness?’ He thought to himself, dismissing whatever curiosities had been scrawled away on the destroyed papers.
His tired eyes skimmed along the delicate book, its pages filled with sweet words that were meant for no eyes but his. You wrote of his love, how you were sure to miss him, and of all the things you wished you could do while you were together.
The further into it he got, of course, the quicker he realized the book was literally meant for his eyes only.
However, with every gracefully worded letter he poured over, the more he longed to see you. He could hardly wait to get back home; he was sure you’d be ready and waiting to receive him.
“Councilwoman Robin,” The ever so smooth voice of Lethe crossed your ears, prompting you to pause your trip to the library with a small frown.
The man had been spending much more time with you, the last week or so. His presence, while not entirely unwelcome, was not the most comfortable in any case.
“Councilman Lethe,” You greeted him with as polite a smile you could manage, “To what do I owe the pleasure, today?”
“I have something I wish to speak with you about.”
“You seem to have found several things, these days.” You said offhand, earning a chuckle.
“Yes, well, I’m afraid this matter is much more pressing.” He told you, his eyes narrowed. Your smile quickly dissipated, sensing there was more to his words than you first anticipated. “It has something to do with the captain.”
You tensed, eyes widened. “Frederick?”
“Come.” He said shortly, turning on his heel and gesturing for you to follow. You swallowed thickly, trying to suppress the dread in the pit of your stomach.
Something had happened to Frederick? Why did this guy know about it before you? You were his wife. Not to mention, you were a high ranking military officer and an important member of the royal council.
You should have known about something going wrong before anyone, aside from Chrom.
You didn’t know what to think as Lethe led you to his private office, drawing a chair for you as he shut the door behind him.
“What’s going on? Is he in danger? Was the caravan attacked? He wasn’t hurt, was he? Or was it something worse?” You fired off one after the other. Lethe remained silent as he reached into a desk drawer, taking out a familiar-looking tome.
“As you know, Councilwoman, the Ylissean Guard was given an opportunity to increase defense and security standards with the purchase of a new kind of tome. The merchant’s ‘moment capturing’ magic, or whatever it was she called it.”
“I recall.” You agreed, brow furrowed as he began to flip through its pages. Anna had agreed to sell a few copies of it when Frederick had noted its potential use for espionage and intelligence gathering, as well as internal security.
“This was sent to me, earlier this morning with quite an urgency. It appears that your husband’s mysterious mission has some very questionable motive.” Lethe murmured, stopping the turn of the pages and showing the book to you.
Within its pages was an image of a dark alley, the dust of Plegia’s sands whisking across the paper. In the middle of the shadowy picture was a pair of cloaked men, with a number of sealed documents being passed between them.
The man whose back you could see had turned just so slightly, enough to reveal a very familiar cowlick and sharp eyes you would recognize anywhere.
You sucked in a sharp breath. Frederick.
“It appears your husband is involved in a secret engagement with Plegia. Something that requires the cover of darkness and the transfer of suspicious documents. The informant who relayed this information to me also mentioned the exchange of currency, though he could not specify who was paying whom.”
You couldn’t breathe.
“W-what? Y-you can’t- Frederick’s never done a thing wrong in his life, he would never betray Ylisse!”
“Councilwoman, we have reason to believe that Captain Frederick may be engaging in traitorous acts. There is little I can do in terms of defending him until our private investigation concludes.”
“What does that mean?” You asked as you shifted in your seat, gripping the sides of it with white knuckles. “Oh, gods...a-are you going to arrest him? Lethe, please-”
“There is nothing that can be done, Councilwoman. His reputation could very well be dragged through the dirt and his life ruined the instant this gets out. If the captain of the royal guard is corrupted the people must know.”
“Lethe, please, there must be some mistake. I know Frederick, and he would never-”
“I know him, too. I have observed him as a member of the force and the Exalt’s personal assistant for years. I know exactly who he is. But we are not the only people living in Ylisse, and no matter how much a few people vouch for his character, who will believe us? There is simply nothing we can do.”
You were trembling in your seat, your mind swirling around in a mess of confusion and fear. What in the gods’ names was happening? What had Frederick done?
“Lethe, I’m telling you, there must be an explanation for this meeting. We can’t write him off as guilty before he’s even had a chance to defend himself! We can’t let this get out, not until Frederick is back and this investigation of yours clears his name!”
“I feel the same. However, it’s not entirely possible to ensure it will stay quiet. This is not the only copy of this image. Several other officers have it, and private investigations tend to be leake when the price is high enough. Even with an executive order, it’s likely the information will come out one way or another.”
“Oh gods...oh gods, we can’t- I can’t let this happen to him!” You replied far more desperately, “Please...Lethe, please, there must be something we can do!”
“There is nothing we can do, Robin.” The man said as he watched your shoulders tremble, the tears gathering in your eyes while you swallowed a sob. His lips quirked. “...Nothing legal we can do, that is.”
You looked up at him, finding an unreadable expression on his face. “...What?”
“I had a feeling that you would say such things...when the tome was first delivered, I had guessed you would beg to keep the Captain’s ‘situation’ from the public eye. And so, I decided there would have to be some form of an exchange.”
“What do you mean, ‘exchange’?” Your eyes narrowed, your heart pumping for an entirely different reason. There was something about the glimmer in his glare that had you on edge.
“Well, Councilwoman, you are a very powerful member of the Exalt’s cabinet, and you hold such influence over him...and your everso wary husband. I believe that you have the ability to make it worth my while to keep this information from the public eye...until the investigation is complete.”
“You...are you blackmailing me?” You asked him in a voice naught but a whisper, staring up at him in awe. When his grin widened, it became fear.
“I have never been particularly fond of Captain Frederick, a feeling which he returns, and has proven many a time with his ceaseless obstruction of my goals and plans, and…” He trailed off, laughing bitterly. “Well, you get the idea.”
“What do you want?” You hissed, feeling your lip tremble at the implication. Lethe’s eyes narrowed, his chest rising ever so slightly as his victory neared.
“I want you to be my personal aide.” He stated simply, “You will show me support and block any of your fellow council member’s objections to the plans I put forward, as I see fit. If your husband ever objects, you will support me even more so.”
“You want me to help you with something as frivolous as that in exchange for my husband’s honor?” You seethed, “How could you even suggest-!”
“It’s business, Councilwoman. You give me what I want, and I give you what you need. The last thing Ylisstol should have to deal with is corruption within the Exalt’s house, after all.”
“This whole scenario is corrupt!” You cried as you rose from your chair, “I won’t stand for it, you snake!”
“I’m afraid you’ll have to.” He sighed, “You still have a bit of ill will running about with other councilmen and Ylisstol’s citizens as it is. You really think they’re going to believe you if you try and defend your husband’s shady behavior? You, who hails from Plegia, wore a coat of the Grimleal and is now married to a man who would do business with our enemies?”
If you could have glared harder at him, gods would you have. Upon your silence, he smiled once more, clapping the tome shut and returning it to his desk drawer.
“Now that you’re aware of the situation you’re in, I think it’s time we got the rest of this figured out, hm?” He steepled his fingers, “As I said before, the terms are simple. You support me over the captain and any opposing arguments, until the investigation is concluded. You do not breathe a word of this to anyone, or else there will be severe consequences.”
“I wouldn’t wish to spoil the surprise. I just want to trust that you’ll behave yourself, agree to our terms, and do as you’ve been asked, ‘Chief Tactician’. Now then,” He extended a hand for you to shake, beaming up at you, “Do we have a deal?”
“I…” You trailed off. I can’t do this. You can’t make me do this. I won’t be corrupted by filth like you. I won’t be blackmailed. I would never bring harm to Ylisse because of your twisted plans. I can’t do that to Frederick. I can’t. I can’t. I-
“...I agree.” You hissed.
He took your hand in a reluctant deal, his eyes saying more than his corrupted, fake words ever could have. You resisted the urge to tear your hand from his, instead turning on your heel and heading straight for the door. You had enough. You couldn’t handle anymore.
“Oh, and Robin?” Lethe called to you. Slowly, you turned your head, looking back at him. “Not a word.”
You slammed the door behind you.
Your hands shook as you stormed down the hall, an uneasy fear stirring in your chest. Frederick’s honor was at stake, and you didn’t know why. As a result, the whole of Ylissean society could break apart at any second if such “corruption” was revealed.
You knew that Frederick didn’t do something wrong. His mission must have had a good reason. He was the most law-abiding, patriotic man you knew. The last person to fall into the claws of corruption would be your husband, without a doubt. You’d let yourself be corrupted before that ever happened.
Your frown deepened as you sucked in a sharp breath. Lethe was always a shady figure, that much you knew. That he would use something like this to get his own way in council meetings, of all things, was too much.
How little it took to destroy the weak-willed, you thought bitterly. There was nothing you could do until you found out what was going on. As soon as you knew what Frederick’s mission was, what he accomplished...you could take back the power Lethe had over both of you.
That was all you needed, you thought hopefully, trudging into your quarters and sinking against the door as you shut it behind you.
All you had to do was wait.
Chapter 3: The Reunion
You were siding with Councilman Lethe? Had he accidentally traveled to some parallel Ylisse on his way home? You both agreed that Lethe didn’t have the best ideas, if he ever had some to share.
Two weeks without him must have really done a number on you, he thought to himself with a frown.
the calm-ish calm before the stjorm
The passing days went by slowly, painfully and with a bottomless pit of worry festering in your stomach. You had lost your appetite, your constant worrying and paranoia doing nothing for your health.
But you hadn’t any time to worry about such matters. Frederick was due home any day now, and you were more than ready just to see his face. Granted, you knew that your joy would undoubtedly be overwhelmed by the deal you had made with Lethe.
You had agreed not to speak of anything in exchange for unwavering support of whatever Lethe’s plans were. Any votes he put up, even if they were against Frederick’s, you would support.
You could not afford to risk hurting him, or ruining his life.
But even then, you just had more questions about Frederick than before. You knew he wasn’t a bad man, and you knew he would never betray Ylisse. But why was he in Plegia? Why was he dealing with suspicious people? What exactly was he trying to do?
‘Nothing he could do would ever harm Ylisse. He would never do anything like that. I know him.’ You thought to yourself, refusing to allow your fears to overwhelm you.
You trusted Frederick with all your heart, just as he did with you. Frederick was a good man; the best man you had ever met since you had woken in the field, alone.
Granted, you didn’t know much; but you knew enough to believe him innocent, regardless of the circumstances. So instead, you would swallow your anxieties and wait for the investigation to finish...and you would cover for him until the truth was revealed.
So you walked dutifully to the council the following afternoon, your arm around Lissa’s and trying your best to maintain appearances. Whatever smile you could muster quickly disappeared when Lethe appeared, greeting you with that serpentine grin.
“Good afternoon, Councilwoman- and Princess.”
“Greetings, Councilman Lethe. You seem to be in high spirits, this day.” Lissa commented on the particularly gleeful expression he wore, which only served to widen his smile.
“Yes, well...I have several new proposals that I plan on presenting, today. My hope is that you will receive them kindly...both of you, that is.” He said, looking at you with a lingering gaze that sent shivers down your spine.
“Hopefully they’ll be good!” Lissa managed, before excusing you both from his suffocating presence. “...Yeesh...what a creep.”
“You have no idea…” You whispered, stealing a glance at the man who continued to watch after you. You shivered involuntarily, taking a deep breath to steel yourself for the coming meeting.
Lissa had noticed you were on edge, but she hadn’t thought anything suspicious was going on until she heard you voting to support Lethe’s plans.
Not just one or two of them...but the last four.
“For the next proposal, which comes to us from the south-western border, quite close to Plegia...there have been several requests to increase water supply from Plegians that live nearby. They have been cut off due to strict enforcement of the Ylissean border and as a result, several are suffering. Needless to say, in allowing them to have access to the wells would allow for improved relations between our two kingdoms. What say you all?”
Some councilmen agreed, and some chimed in their disapproval. Naturally, you and Lissa disagreed. However, it was the princess who could voice her concerns.
“Councilman, as admirable as your proposal is, I don’t think it’s reasonable. That water supply was found and built by Ylisseans, and they need it in order to maintain their farms and families. I understand the plight of the Plegians, but from an economic and patriotic standpoint...it just doesn’t make any sense.”
There were several murmurs of agreement from other councilmen, which saw Lethe’s eyes narrow. Lissa shrunk some under his annoyed glare, nudging your shoulder.
“I-I mean it just makes sense! Doesn’t it, Robin?”
“What?” Lissa gaped at you, but you couldn’t bear to even meet her gaze.
“I think Councilman Lethe is- he’s right. We should move to allocate resources to the Plegians.” You said quieter, “If it will help ease tensions on the border, why not? A-at least, for a little while?”
“Robin…” She could only stare at you in awe, if not with mild disappointment and confusion. Your heart twinged with guilt. If only she knew.
“Well, if we have the support of the Chief Tactician, the Exalt’s right hand woman, who are we to disagree? Having her support is tantamount to law!” Lethe declared yet again, receiving some annoyed groans and tired sighs.
“Then let us motion to shift resources immediately.” Another councilwoman declared, and the proposal was settled.
You hated how dirty you felt. Lissa’s expression only worsened your feelings.
“Robin? Uhh...what the hells happened in there?” Lissa caught you as soon as the meeting ended, tugging you into a corner and away from watchful eyes. You thought it in your best interest to play dumb, if only for the time being.
“What do you mean?”
“You and I both know that Lethe’s plan will do more harm than good! It’ll starve the Ylisseans on the border and ruin their farms! What are we going to do for them if we can’t give them the water they need? Why would you even think agreeing with Lethe was a good idea?”
“Lissa...I think it’ll serve us better...in the long run.”
“I know you’re lying. You trail off when you’re trying to cover something up.”
“I’m not lying!” You protested, “Look, I really do think Lethe is on to something, here. He’s just trying to help ease the tension between Plegia and Ylisse. Don’t you think that’s good?”
“I think you’re tired and you’re not thinking straight. That, or Lethe bribed you into agreeing with him…”
“D-don’t be ridiculous!” You tensed, “Lissa, I’m just asking you to trust me on this one, okay? I really do think that Lethe has a good plan for the future of Ylisse. I know he can seem kind of...extremely creepy, but...who knows? Maybe he knows what he’s doing.”
“Or maybe you’re just out of your mind.” Lissa grumbled, “Look, I know exactly what’s going on. Frederick’s been gone for too long and you’re just not yourself when he’s not here. I get it; I’m the same way whenever Lon’qu visits Ferox because Basilio won’t leave him alone! It’s the worst!”
“Y-you always seem the same to me...maybe a little clingier than normal, but...it’s not terrible.” You joked, grateful to redirect the conversation.
“Well, don’t you worry, Robin. Frederick won’t be gone for much longer. In fact…” She motioned you to come closer, a glimmer in her eye. “I have it on good authority that he and his little crew are supposed to come back tonight.”
Your heart leapt at her words, eyes widened in excitement. “R-really?”
“Yes! Chrom told me this morning, Frederick’s already sent a letter informing him that the mission was a success and that he’ll be home in no time. Of course he sent the letter a few days ago, which means i got here this morning and he’ll likely be here, tonight. So just wait a little while longer!”
“I...can hardly wait.” you breathed a laugh, running a hand through your hair.
The mission was a success. Frederick would be home. You could finally hug your husband and talk to him and hold him and tell him how much you loved him...you could finally find out what it was he was hiding.
If the mission was a success, what more was there for him to hide? Surely by now he could tell you everything, and then the blackmail would disappear, an dyou could both go back to your normal lives.
Your heart fluttered at the thought of simply seeing your husband again. Gods, how it had been so very long. You wished he could gallop faster; by the afternoon would be most ideal!
“Thank you for telling me, Lissa, it really does help. Gods...now I’m so excited I don’t even remember what I was supposed to do after the meeting.” You giggled, drawing laughter from the princess as well.
“I’m just glad to see you all chipper, again. It’s never fun working with a bummer out Robin! Especially considering how today’s meeting went… Don’t you start rooting for the bad guy, now!”
“He’s not a ‘bad guy’.” You said with a roll of your eyes, though you were getting rather tired of defending Lethe. “Just go bother your husband. I need to go get ready for when mine comes home.”
“I’ll see you later!” Lissa laughed, giving you a playful nudge before bounding off to harass Lon’qu. You smiled to yourself, hurrying back to your own quarters despite yourself. Frederick was finally home, after all. Whatever decorum or dignity you had was going all the way out the window, tonight; all you wanted at this point was your husband’ embrace, and the moment he came through the front door? You were going to get it.
Frederick’s exhaustion was matched by none.
THe way his shoulders sagged ever so slightly, and how his hair was more askew than usual and peppered with sand, it was clear Frederick had had enough of the desert and anyone in it.
But the sight of Ylisstol’s castle towers brought hope to his soul, his heart singing as he finally made it back home.
A home where you were undoubtedly waiting.
He smile to himself, albeit tiredly, as he passed through the gates and made quick work of Hebert’s saddle and other equipment. He retrieved the little book you’d given him, tucking it carefully into his pocket with a happy hum.
All he had to do was debrief Chrom on the mission and his findings, and then he could go and give you all the attention you deserved. Considering what he discovered...he could certainly use the break, regardless.
When he reached the throne room, a rather tired-looking Exalt was what he found. Of course when Chrom looked up to see his trusted knight, he lit up brightly.
“Frederick! You’re back!” He greeted him happily, drawing a small smile to Frederick’s lips.
“I have returned, milord. The mission was successful.” He announced, giving a proper bow to his liege. “All matters pertaining to the mission have been taken care of, so we may put our concerns to rest.”
“That’s quite a relief.” Chrom said with a relieved sigh, rising from his seat and stepping down to greet Frederick properly. “We are glad you have returned home, most definitely.”
“I trust things ran smoothly during my absence, milord?” Frederick questioned him, scanning the place for your presence. How odd; it was unlike you to not be by Chrom’s side at this hour.
“Well, more or less...there’s something I’ve been meaning to speak with you about, actually. Things haven’t been quite as smooth as you might have hoped.”
“Has something happened?”
“Not exactly, but...Lissa has some concerns about Robin and some of the decisions that she has made during council meetings.”
“Oh?” Frederick’s brow furrowed with that little notch of concern, and Chrom was quick to try and alleviate his more dramatic worries.
“T-that is, Robin has been making some questionable decisions that have in turn influenced the council to put certain laws and plans into action that might not be the best for Ylisse.”
“That’s rather odd...is that what she’s up to, right now?” Frederick guessed, and Chrom nodded.
“We were supposed to have a meeting of our own half an hour ago, but she’s yet to arrive. She’s still in the council meeting from this morning. If what my sister said is correct, she’s trying to convince them that one of Councilman Lethe’s more controversial plans is a good one.”
“Beg pardon?” You were siding with Councilman Lethe? Had he accidentally traveled to some parallel Ylisse on his way home? You both agreed that Lethe didn’t have the best ideas, if he ever had some to share.
Two weeks without him must have really done a number on you, he thought to himself with a frown.
“That’s what I said,” Chrom muttered in agreement with Frederick’s surprise, “Lissa and I think she’s just out of sorts since you’ve been gone for so long. It makes the most sense; I mean, she’s barely gone more than a day without you since we found her...maybe your absence has caused her to make some decisions she normally wouldn’t…?”
Chrom sounded about as unconvinced as Frederick felt, but in reality there wasn’t any other explanation that Frederick found reasonable.
“I suppose we’ll just have to see. For now, I think I’d like to see my wife. If you don’t mind, milord…”
“Not at all. I think she needs to see a familiar-”
“Sorry I’m late, Chrom!”
The Exalt and the knight both turned at the sound of your voice, the doors to the Great Hall bursting open as you rushed through them, breathless and flushed.
“T-that council meeting went on far longer than I expected, but that’s what I get for having an unpopular-”
You froze in your tracks when you looked up and saw your husband standing with Chrom, a pleasantly surprised smile on his lips when he locked eyes with you.
“Hello, Robin.” He greeted you warmly, giving Chrom one last nod before turning to his wife.
“I’ll let you two catch up. We can meet later, Robin. You have more pressing matters to tend to now, I think.” Chrom said with a wink, stepping away and motioning for others to follow.
You could hardly wait long enough for everyone to clear the room, striding up to your husband even while the attendants and Exalt were heading for the door.
“Frederick, I...I can’t believe you’re home so early! Lissa said you wouldn’t be back until this evening…!” You managed, coming to Frederick’s side just as the doors shut behind you both.
Frederick beamed at you as you placed your hands in his, squeezing them gently. “I made excellent time on the roads, this morning. The paths were far kinder to our group on the way home than when we left. That, and...I may have been a little more eager to come home once I read the letters you wrote me in that book.”
You laughed, the sound a mixture of sadness and relief...one that made him both happy and a pinch worried at the same time.
“W-well, I’m glad you liked what I wrote, and...I’m just so glad...I’m so glad that you’re home- you have no idea what it’s been like these last couple weeks.”
“I have heard that you missed me a great deal, my love.” Frederick mused, reaching up to run a finger along the skin below your eye, just as a tear slipped from your lashes. “It appears I was not the only one longing to see me home.”
“Y-you most certainly weren’t.” You managed, before you wrapped your arms around him as best you could, ignoring the cold of his metal armor as he wrapped you in a polite embrace.
He pressed a kiss to the top of your head. “You needn’t fret anymore, my sweet. I’m home now, for a good, long while. I have no intention to leave you alone like that, again.”
“At least take me with you next time you have some crazy long mission to go on.” You mumbled, giving him a soft squeeze, “I’ll hide in your saddlebag, if I have to.”
Frederick chuckled as he pulled back, running a hand through your hair as he gazed down at you. “There won’t be any need for such drastic measures- I have ensured that such a mission won’t be necessary, ever again.”
“Of course you have.” You grinned, taking his hand in yours as the two of you moved to leave the Hall. “You’re thorough as always...a fact I have sorely missed, you know.”
“I think I do, as a matter of fact…” He mused suggestively, “Judging by the way you wrote your letters, I would assume you’ve missed my thoroughness for far too long. Shall I resolve your concerns now, or later?”
“Now and later, if you don’t mind.”
“My, my...someone’s awfully cheeky, aren’t they?”
The sheer joy you felt just joking around with your husband was nearly enough to extinguish all the anxiety and guilt you’d felt in the last two weeks. That is, until a familiar, dark figure stood before you as you left the room, a weasel’s smile on his lips.
“Welcome back, Captain.” Lethe’s voice filled your ears with such disdain, your entire mood evaporated in an instant. Frederick noticed the sudden tension in your shoulders, but he didn’t dare speak of it in front of the man he considered nothing more than a snake.
“Councilman.” Frederick greeted him coolly, just polite enough to earn narrowed eyes and nothing more. You swallowed thickly as they regarded one another, “I trust you have been well since my exit?”
“Quite well, actually; better than I could have ever anticipated! You see, your wife has made quite an interesting turn in her support for my proposals in our daily meetings.”
“So I’ve heard,” Frederick confirmed, which made you glance up at him worriedly. He met your gaze with a curious look, but quickly returned to Lethe. “It’s certainly a strange turn of events, but I don’t doubt Robin’s judgement. It appears your proposals have improved greatly, if she is agreeing with them so fervently.”
“And fervent she is, Sir Knight.” The way he said Frederick’s title seemed almost sarcastic, if not saturated with contempt.
It was no secret Lethe wasn’t popular with any of your friends or family...and it appeared the feelings were mutual.
“Indeed! She’s agreed to every single one of the proposals I have put forth. Granted, some have not been passed, since we cannot be right every time, but she has helped greatly in bringing forward more of my plans than ever!”
“I am glad to hear she has such enthusiasm for you.” Frederick said as politely as possible, with a smile that could freeze the Plegian sun. “As happy as I am for you, I believe I would like to spend some time with the councilwoman, this afternoon. If you don’t mind…”
“Not at all, Captain. Please, do take care of her, today. She has missed you so terribly.” Lethe replied with a disconcerting sweetness in his tone.
You couldn’t have left the man any faster. Frederick was glad to lead you away from the man’s penetrating stare, the two of you feeling his eyes on you even after you turned away.
“So...you’ve been supporting his proposals?”
“I, er- yes. If I’m being honest, I don’t think they’re that bad.” You forced out, trying to maintain appearances as best you could.
How were you supposed to tell him that you were blackmailed into it because of whatever shady business he’d been getting into? You couldn’t think of anything worthwhile.
“But you do agree they’re somewhat bad.”
“I’d rather not talk about Lethe when you’ve only been home for a few minutes.” You deflected, “If anything, I’d much rather hear about this mission you completed so successfully. You never did tell me what you were doing out there.”
“That’s because it was classified, unfortunately...that much I did tell you, before.”
“Even now, you can’t? Even with it all finished?” You asked him hopefully, looking up at him with such a longing expression he almost caved in that instant. Almost.
“Unless Lord Chrom allows me to speak, I am afraid my silence is bound by contract. Trust me, it is nothing that should concern you, my dear; what matters is that everything is taken care of and that everyone is home in one piece, safe and sound.”
“That’s...true.” You relented, swallowing your disappointment with a small smile. “Then, perhaps we should just toss all our problems away for a little while and just focus on the two of us.”
“That sounds like a wonderful idea.” Frederick hummed as you returned to your quarters. Frederick swiftly let you in before him, already undoing the latches and straps of his armor. He considered tossing them aside instead of mounting them properly, but what could he say?
He missed his wife.
You were reasonable enough to help him heave the heavy chestplate and gauntlets away, rushing to properly set them on their mounts in his office.
The second he was down to his usual dress shirt and devoid of his armor...you couldn’t have leapt at the man faster.
He laughed when you fell into his arms, happy to take you into a warm embrace and carry you into your shared bedroom. You wanted to laugh with him, but you felt so overwhelmed with relief, it was all you could do to smile.
The tears that threatened to fall were blinked back furiously, determined to at least have this one moment with your husband.
You wrapped yourself around him, refusing to let him go before and after you relieved your shared stresses and worries and spent the entire afternoon between the sheets of your now severely rumpled bed.
What you wouldn’t give to stay in that moment, his arms locked around your waist, the two of you mumbling little updates about your lives in your time apart, but nothing of consequence. Those were topics you planned on keeping away from until you couldn’t hide them any longer.
You didn’t realize how much of a struggle reaching that point would truly be.
Chapter 4: The Realization
There was a silent shift, a shuffle in the air as you could sense others looking for you to agree. They were waiting for it.
Frederick didn’t buy it, though. He trusted you, and your judgement. He knew you had a fantastic sense of justice and you would never agree to something so dramatic, unreasonable and outlandish.
He trusted you.
When Frederick woke the next morning, it wasn’t because he planned it. No, he’d been given leave from morning training so that he could recuperate and rest from the long mission he had been on. While Chrom knew Frederick needed to relax for a little while, the knight was terrible at it.
So instead of forcing him to take the whole day off, Chrom instead convinced him simply to stay away from morning and afternoon drills, and only allowed him to attend council meetings on his days off.
However, after the night the two of you had, he hadn’t planned on going to the early morning council. In fact, he was hoping to keep you from it, as well. He knew Chrom wouldn’t object to either of you staying away for a morning; he’d welcome it, with great relief.
That, and Frederick knew you despised the morning meetings. They were so dull and tiring, the last thing you wanted to subject yourself to after having such a slow morning to begin with.
You weren’t exactly the earliest of birds.
So it was only natural that he woke up, quite surprised, by the feel of you shifting and getting off the bed, followed by the sound of your drawers being pulled open, your night dress being forgotten in lieu of your tunic and robes.
His eyes slid open with little effort, lifting his head to watch you undress when he heard the heavy sigh escape your lips.
Unaware of your audience, he could clearly see the un-concealed tension in your shoulders, the worry that radiated from your body and the sound of your strategic mumblings coming off much more tense than usual.
You had something on your mind. Frederick frowned softly, remembering what the prince had told him the day before. You had been out of sorts since he left, which touched his heart with love and guilt simultaneously; to think you loved him so much that two weeks apart could affect you so deeply… it made him love you and worry for you all the more.
Such was the nature of marriage, he supposed to himself, as he rose to prop himself up on his elbows. He watched you slip your coat on in silence for a moment longer, speaking up as you began to fix your hair.
“It’s unlike you to be awake so early, good wife. Has my absence truly changed you so drastically?” He commented, disturbing the silence of the gray morning.
You glanced back at him, a mildly surprised expression on your face when he spoke. But you only smiled, your mumbles ceasing as you finished readying yourself for the day.
“I’m afraid not, dear husband. I only rise because my presence was requested at the council meeting, this morning. Otherwise I’d be in bed with you, forcing you to relax as you should be, instead of worrying about me this morning.”
“Force of habit, my dear.” He said with a shrug, though he maintained his wariness. “Shall I join you at council, this morning? You know I would not be opposed in the slightest.”
“Oh…” You paused, “I don’t think that’s necessary, love. You deserve a good rest, and unfortunately I have plenty more to attend to besides a stuffy council meeting.”
“I could say the same to you, Robin; you look like you’re absolutely exhausted.”
“To be fair, it’s not like I got much sleep last night.” You joked with a wink, which sent his cheeks spiraling into a bright red blush.
“That’s not what I meant,” He said in a scolding tone, “You looked tired the instant I saw you, yesterday. You haven’t been sleeping at all the last two weeks, have you?”
“I’ve gotten a bit of rest here and there,” You defended yourself, finishing up your hair and turning to face him as he rose from the bed, his figure well-defined beneath the sleeping clothes he’d pulled back on sometime last night.
“It is clearly not enough, my lady.” He informed you as he walked up to you, brushing a finger under your eye and detailing the heavy bags that were there. You felt it more when he touched you, highlighting just how much you needed the sleep.
“I know...you’re right, Frederick. Sleep has not been coming easily to me, as of late. If I’m being honest…” You wanted so badly to say why. The constant stress and anxiety of what you had learned, what you had to hide- it was burying you alive. “I-I just wasn’t used to you being gone.”
You remained firm, instead. You hated it.
Frederick’s gaze softened at your confession, looking at you with a loving smile. “I understand. It must have been so difficult for you.”
“Oh,” You shrugged, before nodding and feeling the tears unwillingly well in your eyes. “...Yeah, it kind of was.”
“My poor dear.” He said with a soft chuckle and a sad smile, drawing you into his arms and stroking your hair with gentle, calloused fingers. “You’ve nothing to worry about now, my love. I’m home.”
“I know.” You mumbled into his chest, reveling in his warm embrace. “...Forgive me- this is so silly of me. I-I shouldn’t have gotten so worked up in the first place.”
“It’s nothing to be ashamed of, my love. You’re in a strange place and you’re still adjusting to a whole new way of life. It’s only natural you’d be a bit displaced without me, there. I’m simply sorry I had to leave you alone for so long, so early in our marriage.”
“Me, too.” You agreed, to which he laughed. “I’m just glad you’re home...that everything’s all right...that your mission went well, and that you’re here, and safe...it’s just a few more things I can check off my list of worries.”
“And we’ll be sure to check off several more, as well. First on the docket; we need to go and attend this council meeting.”
“N-now wait a second-” You caught yourself before you agreed, as much as you wanted to. You wanted him to see that snake’s knowing little grins, the darkness in his eyes as he watched you squirm under the criticisms of your fellow councilmen. “I thought I told you to relax, today!”
“And I thought I told you that wouldn’t be happening.” He reminded you with a kiss on your forehead, drawing away to find his own clothes. “I’m plenty rejuvenated simply from spending the night with you, last night. I’m sure we’ll find other times in the day to relax; for now, you and I ought to get to work helping Ylisse.”
“Frederick…” You swallowed thickly, knowing that once Frederick was set on doing something, he would out-stubborn you unless you were able to provide a more reasonable argument.
Unfortunately, just saying “I’m being blackmailed into doing what he says in order to defend your honor” would get you into more trouble than you were willing to take on.
You didn’t know what someone with Lethe’s power was capable of doing, but he seemed keen to deliver on any threats he had if he heard of you sharing what you knew with other people. The man of the hour seemed like even less safe of a potential confession mate.
You needed to keep calm and lay low until his investigation was concluded, and Frederick’s name was cleared. You couldn’t risk him losing everything, not now that he had all he had ever hoped for. A newly promoted captain of the Ylissean Royal Guard? How could you ever tear that dream from him?
No, you told yourself with a sharp breath, you would play it cool.
“If you insist.” You finally said, earning a grin from your husband and a squeeze of your hand.
“Then it will be my honor to escort you to the council meeting, my dear.” He said with a happy hum, buttoning up his vest and pecking your cheek as he passed you by to retrieve his ribbon.
He was so very happy, you thought with a clench of your heart. You couldn’t risk that being destroyed. So until you could secure his future, you would trust Lethe.
Those two words didn’t seem to fit together, at all.
The idea of supporting Lethe’s Plegia-supporting plans and proposals was horrifying, especially when you had Lissa judging you quietly by your side.
To think you would have to do as much when Frederick was with you made you want to shrivel up and die in a corner. Every step you took closer to that council room had your heart sinking lower and your head spinning faster.
This was absolutely the last thing you wanted.
What you both immediately picked up on was the unmistakable feeling of glaring eyes on your backs, the reception of the captain’s return more or less devoid of any joy and was squandered by the tactician turncoat to Ylisse’s interests.
“Well...it seems the atmosphere is a bit dire, this morning…” Frederick murmured as he led you to your respective seats, the two of you politely avoiding making any direct eye contact with the particular men and women who weren’t happy to see you.
All except Lissa, who practically bounced into your faces with a cheerful grin that you hadn’t seen in several days.
“Robin, Frederick!! Boy, am I happy to see you two! Especially the two of you, together! It feels like it’s been ages since I’ve seen you all cozy and cute together, my goodness. Seems like you had a lovely reunion, yesterday!”
“Indeed we did, milady.” Frederick said, rising from his seat to bow to his liege, “And I hope that the pleasantness will continue through the rest of my recuperation.”
“Recuperation? You mean you’re supposed to be resting right now?” Lissa turned to you accusingly, to which you shrugged. “Robin! You were supposed to keep him from working for at least one day!”
“He insisted on coming; I couldn’t even get through waking up and getting dressed before he was up and at’em.” You replied, “That’s not to say I didn’t try.”
“She did try, to her defense.” Frederick offered, making both you and Lissa roll your eyes.
“Either way, I’m just happy to see you’re both in such good spirits, this morning. It’s been strange trying to get things going smoothly here without you, and it’s been pretty obvious that Robin had the hardest time adjusting!”
“Lissa,” You said in a chiding tone, earning a gentle squeeze of your hand beneath the table.
“What? It’s true!”
“I’ve heard here and there that Robin was a bit out of sorts, but rest assured, she’ll be just fine now that things are back to normal. Perhaps if Lord Chrom allows, next time she’ll be accompanying me on a mission.”
“That might be best for everyone, honestly!” Lissa giggled, though you could sense a bit of tension behind her tone. She was just as displeased with you as everyone else, and you could feel it.
She just had the added bonus of being your closest friend. Poor Lissa.
“Thanks for that, Lissa.” You said with a sigh, to which she shrank just a little. She recovered quickly enough and left you both alone, the meeting set to begin.
The councilmen and women were introduced and greeted, the procession of duties already put into motion. The first few proposals were received well enough, to which you were grateful. Lethe, positioned directly across the table from you, had kept oddly quiet despite the several pieces of parchment in his hands.
You swallowed thickly at the sight; how quickly was this going to get ugly?
Still, you were able to agree with most proposals given by others, which allowed the room to relax, somewhat. Frederick was observant, keeping an eye on your behavior and your agreements as the meeting dragged on.
Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary. In fact, one would say it was going quite smoothly. If only it could have stayed that way.
“All right, council members...I believe I have waited patiently enough. I would like to move forward with a proposal of my own.”
“Oh?” Lissa sounded displeased, “You seem to have bringing forward several more of those, lately.”
“Yes, well, what with all the extra support I’ve been receiving, it is only natural your continued assistance has encouraged me to find more ways to better improve relations between Plegia and Ylisse, which is something I think we all want.”
“And what is this proposal you have, today?” Another councilman sighed, as if the entire room was bracing for a potentially terrible plan. Lethe grinned.
“I propose a mild extension of the Plegian border into Ylissean territory.”
The room erupted.
“How dare you suggest such a thing!! Ylissean soil is sacred and non-negotiable!”
“You would have Plegia take our land?! Have you gone mad?!”
Several other members spoke out against such a plan, but none of them were for it. Lethe simply looked around the room, waiting for the uproar to calm before he carried on.
“If you’d graciously allow me an opportunity to explain,” He started, “It has been well documented in Plegian history that some of Ylissean territory is ill-claimed. There has been a back and forth for centuries, naturally, always tugging at each other’s borders in search of more land. I think, however, that an immense gesture of goodwill would be to relinquish some of this ill-gotten territory instead of shedding blood over it.”
Several voiced their disagreements, yet again.
“Hear him out!”
“I believe that this particular strip of land, albeit small, would be an excellent first step. It resides near the border of Southtown, but it is rich with resources that would prove extremely beneficial to Plegian farmers. As you know, this stretch has been dealt with before, as we did approve the reassignment of the wells to the Plegians, thanks to Councilwoman Robin’s support.”
Frederick’s brow furrowed, and he glanced at you with a confused look. You swallowed, looking back at him for only a split second before you had to look away .
Why would you have agreed to such a plan? Had he been there, he never would have allowed such a thing. Those wells are essential to Ylissean farmhands, and to think you would give them to the other side…
What were you thinking?
“It is my belief that the entire strip would be better suited to the needs of Plegians. Ylisse is enviably lush and full of resources elsewhere...I’m certain it would not be a terrible inconvenience for them to relocate.”
“With all due respect, Councilman, that’s simply too tall of an order. Those farmers have done nothing to cause their livelihoods to be uprooted. Not only that, but what kind of message would we send to our enemies if they saw us giving up our land? It would be akin to an invitation to come and conquer us. We cannot risk such an image to be put forth.” Frederick argued.
The council mumbled in agreement, rumblings of approval rolling through the room.
Lethe’s eyes narrowed, and he shot a look to you. You wanted to shrivel up in your seat.
“I see. Well, then, we have one vote for disapproval...are there any who approve this plan Anyone who might support it?”
There was a silent shift, a shuffle in the air as you could sense others looking for you to agree. They were waiting for it.
Frederick didn’t buy it, though. He trusted you, and your judgement. He knew you had a fantastic sense of justice and you would never agree to something so dramatic, unreasonable and outlandish.
He trusted you.
Frederick swiveled to look at you, his mouth nearly falling open in shock when he heard the words leave your mouth. You couldn’t even bear to meet his gaze, instead looking ahead and taking the expected heat from the others in the room.
“I-it could be beneficial! Think about it; he’s done the research, he must know that this land belonged to the Plegians, or else he wouldn’t have tried to propose this..right?”
“But of course.”
“Or perhaps he’s proposed it because of how much value the land has!” Another spoke up, “How can you know? All the other proposals he’s put forth have only benefited Plegians, not Ylisseans!”
“It has only been a few weeks, sir.” Lethe said, “You must give these things time to work out.”
“In time, we will have starved our farmers and destroyed the goodwill with the kingdom’s citizens.” Another spat. You frowned deeply, standing from your chair.
“Please, everyone. Lethe is only thinking in the interests of both kingdoms. Even if we were to give up a little land...if it means sacrificing our country’s image temporarily…it could very well be a proposal worth pursuing.”
Frederick’s eyes flicked to Lissa’s, the princess shaking her head as she watched you try to calm the disgruntled nobility. This wasn’t going well.
But most importantly, your thought process was clearly in error. Why didn’t you realize that?
The rest of the council continued in such a chaotic way for the remainder of the meeting. Frederick, although he disapproved of it, was starting to see why you had received so many ugly looks at the beginning. You hadn’t just been supporting Lethe...you were supporting even his worst ideas.
The only problem was, you couldn’t explain the reason why. There wasn’t much of anything that you could do. Lethe put forward three more proposals, each more outrageous than the last. Yet for some reason, you couldn’t seem to disagree with them.
Frederick began to wonder if Lethe had you possessed.
You practically deflated the second the meeting adjourned, nearly melting to the floor on the spot. Frederick eyed you curiously, with just a hint of worry poking through.
“That was quite a, er...meeting.”
“You don’t have to tell me.” You grumbled, pinching the bridge of your nose.
“I can’t help but wonder why it all happened.” He said as you both walked away from the council, Frederick’s hands gripped tightly behind his back.
“I don’t know. The council’s been so…” Reasonable? Justifiably upset? Negative and abrasive, which is just what you needed? “Different.”
“I noticed that, as well. Although...I can’t help but feel part of that may be due to your shift in opinion.” Frederick pointed out tactfully, to which you didn’t reply. “It is rather unlike you to side with Councilman Lethe, after all. I...is everything...is everything all right?”
‘No, Frederick. Nothing is all right. I’m trapped and I’m scared and I need you to talk to me.’
“Everything’s peachy.” You lied through your teeth. “I...just feel that working with Lethe may benefit us as we try and repair our relations with Plegia.”
“I will concede that Lethe does seem to have the interests of Plegia in mind...but I feel that his focus is on Plegia, rather than both our kingdom and the other.”
“That’s just because he’s trying to give more concessions to Plegia. It’s a temporary thing…” You assured him, though you weren’t entirely sure, yourself.
“Do you think that giving our land to Plegia is a good move?” Frederick asked as you returned to your quarters, his hand stopped on the door knob. It forced you to look up at him, finding that deep, analytical gaze locked onto you.
It took everything in your power not to let your voice crack. “I do.”
“After everything that Plegia did to Ylisse, you think that his suggestions to reward Plegians for their behavior is to let them conquer us?”
“That’s not what it is!” You countered him, your voice raising ever so slightly. “Look, Frederick, I...i-it’s in our best interest to agree with what Lethe suggests, all right? You’ve got to trust me on this.”
He trusted you.
Frederick frowned deeply as you said this, his brow furrowed as if he wanted to rebut your words. Yet he knew that you had fought so hard to gain his trust. He had rejected nearly any and all advances you may have had in trying to befriend him...you had worked harder than anyone to break his cold exterior.
He couldn’t have been more happy or blessed when you did.
Who was he to question you or have his faith in you shaken, now/ Who was deciding whether or not your plans weren’t good just because they were unpopular?
Frederick closed his eyes, taking a deep breath before he gave you a soft smile.
He was the last person who needed to question you.
“Robin, of course I trust you, my love. If you believe that Lethe’s plans are the best for the kingdom, I will support your decisions. I merely scrutinize out of habit. Certainly not because I think you incapable or unaware.”
Frederick took your hands in his, pressing a chaste kiss to your fingers.
“You are an incredible woman, Robin. I trust you with Ylisse just as I would, my life.”
Gods, you hated this.
“I-I...thank you, Frederick. It makes me so happy to hear you say that.” You said softly, “But you don’t have to like thes plans. You’re always welcome to disagree.”
“And give off the image that I do not support you? That would prove more detrimental to your credibility than anything. I would never want to do such a thing to you.”
“Then please, at least abstain from voting or commenting if you don’t think you can support me.” You said in a way that sounded almost like begging. Frederick’s eyes flickered with a worried curiosity, but when you spoke no more, he couldn’t ask you for much more.
“If you feel this strongly about it, then...I will honor your wishes.” He said after several seconds of silence, trying to decide if you were truly all right. “And Robin?”
“You do know that you can tell me anything. If there is anything that troubles you, or your heart...please, tell me. I will do all I can to ease your worries.” He promised as he reached up, tracing your cheek with his finger.
You grasped his wrist, turning your cheek against his palm and nuzzling into his touch with a shaky sigh.
“I know, Frederick...a-and I will. But for now, I just...want to be home with you. I don’t have any more meetings today, and so I’d like to spend my afternoon with you, alone.away from everything else, I think…”
“Whatever you wish.” He kissed your forehead, before taking your hand and linking your fingers together, leading you both from the council hall and back to the safety of your home.
He knew something was wrong; he could feel it. But he wanted to trust you, and your jdugement, and he wasn’t going to let your anxieties overwhelm him.
Chapter 5: The Information
“If he hasn’t told me now, he likely never will, Chrom. Please, you have to- I must know what’s going on!” You told him louder, grasping his hand tightly in yours. “Surely you can tell me, can’t you?”
“I can’t, Robin. I really, truly can’t.”
As the days went by, tensions only rose.
It was clear that you weren’t doing what was best for Ylisse, especially as the data rolled in. And as much as Frederick wanted to trust you, it was becoming more difficult by the day.
You weren’t budging on your support of Lethe, even after being pressured by nobility and even the Exalt, himself. You refused to listen, insisting that Lethe knew best.
Every time he tried to get you to change your mind, you would have such a terribly hurt expression on your face.
It was almost as if something more was going on in your mind, something that you refused to share with him as strongly as you refused to change your mind.
If only he could understand you, but this time, he simply couldn’t.
Not only that, but it felt as though you were slipping away from him.
Lethe would have you join him in office meetings, private conversations in regards to moving forward with successful plans and proposals. Those, and trying to come up with even more ideas to put forward for the councils, as well.
At least, that’s what you told him was happening. You couldn’t afford for him to find out what was really going on. Not yet.
“You told me six days ago that the investigation was starting to make some real progress.” You hissed as you entered his office for the ninth time that week, “We can’t keep meeting if you don’t have anything tangible to show me!”
“And we are still looking. There is very little evidence we can uncover when we’re dealing with professionals such as Frederick. Do you honestly think that someone who has such a fluent understanding of politics and government’s inner workings would make this easy?”
“I think that a lack of evidence would suggest innocence before anything else.” You snapped at him, “It’s been weeks, Lethe- you have to call this investigation off and leave Frederick’s reputation alone!”
“You know, it’s common for investigations such as these to carry on for months, Robin. If anything, we’re just getting started.”
“I’ve had enough.” You spat at him, “Your ordinances are getting more and more asinine by the day, and I can’t even look my friends or my family in the eye because of what you’re having me do! At this point I’d rather say to Hells with your investigation and start one of my own!!”
“You haven’t the connections nor the resources, milady. You needn’t forget how little trust you hold among the council, let alone goodwill.” Lethe reminded you cruelly, at which point you resisted the urge to slap him.
“Goodwill and trust that you eroded.”
“Even still, you wouldn’t have been able to conduct such research even if you wanted to; you, a woman adorned in a Plegian coat? Asking about Plegian affairs linked to treason? Who would believe you had good intentions with a set up like that?”
“People who believed me intelligent, loyal and capable. Some people still do, you know. I’ve got the Exalt on my side, and I can’t say the same for you.” You finally told him, “I’ll be letting Chrom know about my plans and I’ll be asking him for anything he can give me, understand? You can consider this treaty, or whatever you want to call this hideous agreement, officially void.”
“Hmm...I’m quite sorry to hear that, Tactician.” He sighed, though he couldn’t have sounded more sarcastic if he tried. You eyed him warily, but turned on your heel just the same. “You should know, though...I don’t plan on letting go of you nor this investigation so easily. I’ve come a long way in a month’s time, and I don’t intend on stopping.”
“That’s a relief to hear.” You snarled, “Just stay out of my way from here on, and don’t expect any more support from me!”
You slammed the door behind you as you stormed from his office, and made a beeline for the best start of your mission. Chrom was in the throneroom, but you were positive that you could glean the information you needed from him.
He trusted you, and he was your best friend. Even if he didn’t tell you the first time you asked, you were certain he would let you know if you begged him. If he saw the urgency in your eyes, and heard the desperation in your voice.
You were desperate. You needed his help.
You needed to save Frederick. It wasn’t just him at stake, anymore; you were a lot more involved in this than you first realized. You made it your duty to fix all of this mess.
So you were relieved as you pushed the doors open, and were greeted by Chrom’s tired smile, which you tried and failed to mirror.
Of course he noticed this, motioning for his attendants and guards to leave him so you might have a private audience with him. You couldn’t have been more grateful to have someone who understood you so well.
“Robin, to what do I owe the pleasure so early in the day?” He greeted you kindly, “I hope everything’s all right? Your face would suggest otherwise.”
“You would be correct; I’m afraid nothing’s all right, not right now.” You told him honestly, your shoulders drooping as you tried to maintain your cool. “I have to ask you something, Chrom, and it is very serious.”
“Anything, Robin. You know I would never lie to you.”
“And you wouldn’t ever keep any secrets from me, would you?” You added, and he nodded, looking as earnest as ever. You sighed again, relief flooding your senses. You would get an answer out of him, yet.
“Please, tell me what’s on your mind.”
“I need you to tell me what Frederick’s mission was.”
“Ah.” Chrom nodded his head before he paused, as if a realization overcame him. “Why do you want to know about that, of all things?”
“It’s important, Chrom. I need to know what he was doing, those two weeks. I really...a lot is dependent on this, but most important my peace of mind.”
“Robin, I...there’s nothing I want more than to-”
He fell silent at your quiet begging, at the insistence in your tone. You really wanted to know, more than anything. He could see that. And yet when he averted his gaze, all you could see was guilt in his eyes.
“There’s nothing I want more than to tell you, my friend. But I can’t.”
“It’s not that I don’t want to, and it’s not inherently because I’m forbidden from it by law, just so you know.” He started to explain, which only served to confuse you. “Rather, it was a very personal, private request of Frederick’s that I not tell you the details of the mission.”
“What?” Your eyes widened, slowly. Frederick didn’t want you to know? Why would he specifically keep that information from you?
“I’m so sorry, Robin. It was his only request, that I not tell you nor anyone else the specifics of his mission...he mentioned you, though, with a great emphasis on secrecy. If anything, your best bet would likely be going to him directly.”
“If he hasn’t told me now, he likely never will, Chrom. Please, you have to- I must know what’s going on!” You told him louder, grasping his hand tightly in yours. “Surely you can tell me, can’t you?”
“I can’t, Robin. I really, truly can’t.” He said finally, to which you dropped his hand with a heavy sigh. “L-look...the least I can do is summon Frederick and try to convince him to either tell you, or at least give me the permission to. I’ll tell him it’s important, all right? I’ll do what I can to free up the information to you. But I can’t go back on my word to him. He’s one of my oldest friends, and...while sometimes he makes decisions that look strange to us, they’re always for the best of us.”
“I know.” You exhaled heavily, running a hand through your hair. “Y-you’re absolutely right. I know I must have frightened you by coming in so anxiously, I just...I need to know. But you’re right; I’ll go and ask him, and if he says no, then I’ll await your results.”
“I’ll ask him, without a doubt.” He promised, placing a hand on your shoulder. “Perhaps you ought to take a break, Robin. You’ve been working so hard...I worry that all this stress is starting to bury you.”
“I’m fine.” You assured him, though it wasn’t convincing in the slightest. “I need to head back, anyways. Frederick and I had a couple plans for the afternoon.”
“I hope you enjoy your time together.”
You had expected to return home and retreat to your desk, and maybe hide yourself in a stack of work while you tried to figure out your next big move.
You didn’t expect Frederick to call you into the kitchen, and find a lovely spread of food out on the dining table that he had so very lovingly prepared. You wanted to cry the second you saw it.
“What’s all this?” You gasped, earning a pleased smile from your husband.
“You’ve been working so hard, lately, I’ve begun to fear you don’t remember what enjoying life is like. Or rather, what it tastes like.” He explained as he gestured for you to come in, pulling back your chair so you might allow him to set you at your place.
He kissed the top of your head while you gawked at the meal, untying his handsome apron before moving to the other side and joining you.
“Y-you did all this for me?”
“Of course. I would do all this and more. You’re always so focused and stressed, these days. I worry for your health, my love. Allow me to treat you, this afternoon.”
“Oh, Freddybear...thank you for all this.” You sighed happily, reaching across the table and squeezing his hand sweetly. You couldn’t help the happy giggle that escaped your lips as he kissed your knuckles.
Frederick was quick to push forward with setting out all the food, giving you a hearty serving of everything he had to offer. A tender entree, delicately garnished sides, and plenty of seasonings and flavor to make you want to never leave the table, again.
One of these days you had to learn how to cook like him, and then some. You would never be able to repay his generosity at the current level of your skills.
It made you wonder, really, if what Chrom said was right. Had he been telling the truth about Frederick wanting to keep things from you? It didn’t make much sense; how could someone who loved you so much, and be so willing to do all this for you, try and keep secrets from you?
You shook your head, making your way through your food and perishing the thought. Surely Chrom had been mistaken.
“My love...could I ask you something?”
“Mmm?” He confirmed between bites of food, which made you smile even more. He was so cute without trying; it washed away any concerns you had.
“I was wondering- you see, I spoke to Chrom today about...well, I asked him about your mission from earlier this month. I asked if he could give me some more details about it, but oddly enough, he told me you had said not to tell me anything about where you’d gone.”
Frederick’s eating had slowed to a stop. His brow furrowed ever so slightly, and he sat back, not speaking until he finished his last bite. You didn’t like the heaviness of the quiet.
“I see. And...did he?”
“W-well, no, he didn’t. He said you’d asked specifically not to tell me anything. He said he couldn’t go back on his word to an old friend.”
Frederick smiled softlt. “It appears I have found myself a dear friend, indeed.”
“Yet I still wonder what you might be hiding.” You murmured, prompting him to continue. Frederick bit the inside of his cheek a few times, looking away.
What if the food wasn’t a kind gesture, but a guilty one? You thought to yourself, suddenly. There all sorts of reasons why people did things; A) because they might benefit or B) They might benefit indirectly by someone else.
It was such a cynical view, one that Miriel had taught you ages ago. Yet here you were, watching Frederick struggle to speak, and you couldn’t help but feel it was a little accurate.
“There is something I wish to make clear to you, Robin.” He said when he decided to speak, once again. There was a chill in his gaze that you didn’t like. “There are some things that I can’t tell you about. This is a part of my job description, and part of my duty as Chrom’s right hand. I cannot allow myself to divulge any information I’m not allowed to, even to you.”
“Chrom said that there was nothing legalls holding you from telling me the truth.” You told him, and again, Frederick paused. He had been looking to use that excuse to avoid the confrontation. You caught him, and yet you did not feel victorious.
You didn’t like the feeling you ended up with, at all.
“...Other times, there are things I cannot tell you because I need to protect you. This, unfortunately, is one of those times. So I need you to trust that I am only withholding this information because I feel it best. You needn’t be burdened with more information than you already have.”
“You say that, and yet not knowing is far more of a burden.”
“And why is that? ...Is it something Lethe put you up to?”
“No, of course not. Why would you even think that?”
“You’re spending far more time with him than any sane person in the council would. You know those old badgers trust him about as far as they can throw him- I’m simply trying to understand why you’re so keen to take his side!”
“Frederick...I’ll say to you exactly what you said to me; you need to trust me on this. I can’t tell you all the reasons I support Lethe, but I need you to understand that not everything the man does is the worst thing in the world!”
“He cuts it awfully close.” Frederick sighed bluntly, setting his fork down with a cold clatter.
“I think you’re biased.”
“I think you’re blinded by…something.” He retorted, to which you narrowed your eyes.
“I can’t tell what, exactly, but you’re not yourself, Robin. And I don’t know what I need to do in order to get you to tell me what it is, but I’m going to figure it out one way or another. This behavior, this strange, unwavering support in that man, of all people, is what needs to come to an end!”
“Why are you so against him, anyways?” You demanded of him, redirecting Frederick’s focus in an attempt to draw the scrutiny away. You stood briskly as you questioned him, taking your empty plate with you.
“Because that man is attached to far more than merely the Plegian desert, Robin- he’s not what he seems!” He argued, vague as ever. You did your best to bite back the frustration, but it wasn’t working as well as you’d like.
“That explains next to nothing, you- gods, why can’t you be forthright with me about anything, anymore? Is Lethe connected to your mission? Is that why you won’t tell me, because he’s the subject of it, and now that we’re such good friends you don’t want me to know in case I’ll tell him?”
“Robin, no, of course it’s not- that mission had nothing to do with Lethe, and I’ll thank you to stop asking about it. Until I can complete it in certainty, it’s for your own good that you not know!”
“Then at least tell me what’s so bad about Lethe!”
“You really want to know?” He leaned back in his seat, looking at you with a cool, measured gaze. You weren’t sure if you were intimidated by it or not, but you weren’t going to leave this room without at least some modicum of information.
“If you’ll at least give me this.” You insisted in a quieter voice, returning to the table when he gestured for you to sit. He pushed aside his plate, the goodwill from the food he’d lovingly prepared nearly all but evaporated.
He knit his fingers together, his frown deep as he searched for what to say. You waited patiently, clenching and unclenching your hands from your pants legs in an attempt to keep your cool.
“I have been participating in an ongoing investigation with Lethe since before you joined the Shepherds. It is rather sensitive, so that not even Princess Lissa is aware of it. Only I and Lord Chrom, along with one or two other higher ups, are aware of it.”
“Wait…you’re investigating Lethe?”
“About a year ago, I led a strike against one of the military facilities in a border town close to Plegia. Inside it were several weapons manufacturers working to produce a number of blades and lances for the Plegian army using our resources. It had been working underground for a long while, and was one of the biggest victories in the early efforts to quell any potential wars.”
“In some of the documents we seized, I found Lethe’s signature on a number of coded documents, though we haven’t been able to get a clear translation on several of them. Until we can find definitive proof, or at the very least, break the codes...we can’t move forward with removing Lethe or even accusing him of any sort of crime.”
“You think he’s a traitor?” You replied after the weight of his explanation struck you, “Then...if you think he’s so dangerous, why on earth is he still on the council? Why not have Chrom remove him?”
“Lethe has connections that run deeper and further than any of us can fully understand. He even has ties in Valm, from what we’ve found, and they’re powerful ones, at that. There’s no telling what the removal of him would bring, especially if we don’t tell him why, or if we produce the meager evidence we do have.”
“So you’re letting him stay in that position of power until you can definitively prove anything...but...but even so, Frederick, he could be doing a lot more harm than good, and...that’s...why you don’t want me approving his plans.”
Frederick nodded silently, his shoulders dropping ever so slightly as if relieved you pieced everything together.
“Precisely. And this is something that only you know, now, outside of those I mentioned before. So I trust that this will stay between us.”
“Of course it will, Frederick. Anything like that you would share with me...I’ll never tell a soul. You know you can trust me.” You assured him, taking hold of his hand and squeezing it gently.
He could see very clearly what you were trying to imply, and for a moment, he considered telling you. But no. He couldn’t say a word. Nothing until he knew for certain.
He needed to protect you above all else. He just hoped you would be understanding of that for a little while longer.
“I...I know that, Robin. And I apologize if I made you feel otherwise. I do trust you, it’s just…there are some things I can’t tell you, right now. I know it must be frustrating, but I’m hoping that you understand.”
“I do.” You begrudgingly admitted, linking your fingers with his. “I do, honestly. And, in the hopes of fairness, I just ask that you trust me with Lethe. Lissa and Chrom made it quite easy not to put all my faith in him or his plans. Knowing what I know now will keep me from pushing further, I promise. I’ll keep a closer eye on him from now on.”
“I’m glad.” He finally smiled, releasing you long enough to rise from the table and take his own dishes to be cleaned. However, he dropped them in the sink and turned back to you, opening his arms for you to join him.
You couldn’t have been happier to join him in that embrace. You practically fell into him, resting your head against his chest and melting into his arms.
“...I’m sorry for yelling.”
“I’m sorry, too.”
He touched his lips to your hair, giving you featherlight kisses wherever he could reach.
You nuzzled against him, relishing the shower of affection. There was supposed to be a meeting with a few officials in an hour, but...as far as you were concerned, the only place you wanted to be was right there beside him. In his arms.
“Say...if we were to forgo the close meeting, this afternoon...would you-”
“Agree vehemently? Absolutely.” He cut in, drawing back to press a far more loving, urgent kiss to your lips. You pulled away with a giggle, meeting him for another, and another.
“Then it’s settled. I’ll notify an attendant that-”
“Later, later.” He took your hands and practically rushed you into the bedroom, making you devolve into peels of laughter.
“Husband comes first?”
“Wife comes first.” He corrected you as he tactfully drew you in, pressing you into the blankets and looming over you with that look in his eyes.
“Are you sure we shouldn’t tell the attendants that we won’t be making it? They may start the meeting before we’re done in here-”
“They’ll figure it out.” He dismissed you before drowning you in a sea of kisses, more than eager to spend some real quality time with his wife.
And there, for a single moment, everything between you was fine, and safe, and strong.
You had a new understanding, at least. Something new to go on when you tried to figure out Lethe’s own motives. It was a tiny thing, really, but it was something.
It gave you a little spot of hope that maybe this whole mess would be resolved one way or another. Perhaps if you could do some investigating of Lethe on your own...surely you could find something.
You allowed yourself to feel happy for the first time in days.
If only you knew how quickly that would dissipate.