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yellow, for joy

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“Would you just hold still?”

Robin couldn’t help but grin even though he knew Chrom was scolding him. He resisted the urge to turn further and see what kind of expression his captain was making. The sky was clear, the sun was warm, and the Gods would just have to forgive him if Robin was just a little too eager to spend some quality time alone with Chrom.

It wasn’t that he didn’t see Chrom enough. Quite to the contrary, they saw each other every day for most of the day. Robin occasionally went to bed asking himself how he wasn’t sick of looking at his commander’s face so often. All things in moderation or whatever. Robin knew the answer. He also knew he could never admit it. He kept it close to his chest, a little flame he held in his heart, and it gave him strength.

Robin was in love with Chrom, for whatever that was worth.

He knew it was inappropriate, stupid, foolish, and would never amount to anything other than his eventual broken heart--but that was fine. Even if all it did was hurt, Robin wouldn’t trade it for a life without such a feeling. A life without Chrom’s warmth wasn’t worth living. Would he scream and cry and lament his feelings when Chrom chose another? Doubtless. But Robin would live off Chrom’s happiness, no matter what form it took. Being just a little in love with everything around him, perhaps arguably because he had no memory of his previous life, Robin saw as a gift.

Everything was new. Everything was warm. And Chrom was the warmest of all.

“I didn’t mean to say you could space out,” Chrom huffed. “Hello? Are you still in there? Earth to Robin?”

“Hmm? Yes, I’m listening,” Robin hummed, tipping his head back to follow a passing cloud with his eyes. “You told me to hold still. Easiest way to do that is to throw myself into my thoughts.”

“And every time you do that, it makes me want to ask what could possibly be so interesting. Care to enlighten me?”

Robin let his eyes fall a little bit shut. “Hmm… Nope.”

“No?” Chrom repeated, and he sounded a bit hurt. “Really?”

“Really,” Robin chuckled. “Maybe if you hurry up and show me what you’re doing, I might reconsider.”

“Alright, alright. I’m almost done. Maybe just one more…”

Robin lowered his gaze again, following a cluster of petals that were tugged up and away by the breeze. He didn’t know what kind of flowers were growing in the field. Some species native to Ylisse, Sumia had sighed dreamily as it had come into view. Robin hadn’t been listening, deep in argument with Frederick over the state of the armory while on the road. He wished he’d listened now. Maybe he could ask. Maybe Chrom knew, since he’d requested specially to take them both here. Did Chrom like flowers? He must, if he invited Robin to sit in a massive hoard of them with seemingly no other entertainment. Was it the kind or the color? Both? Robin ran a finger down one of the long petals. They were pretty. He wondered what special meaning they might have.

“There,” Chrom sighed proudly. “Here we go, let’s try it out.”

Before Robin could open his mouth again to ask just what, exactly, they’d been sitting here for twenty minutes for, something was placed on his head. Robin froze instinctively, trying to process and understand what just happened. He tipped his head back a bit, but the object stayed circled around his temples. He raised his gaze and saw a flash of familiar yellow, felt the softness of the petals against his ears and with his fingertips. Robin felt his heart skip a beat and face heat up as he turned towards his prince.

Chrom had woven a flower crown, and then, deliberately, placed it on Robin’s head. 

Was Chrom blushing too? Surely not. But his smile was so pure.

“It looks good on you,” Chrom offered, reaching up to scratch absently at his nose. A nervous tick. “Well? What do you think?”

What did he think? At the very moment, absolutely nothing. Robin scrabbled for any semblance of higher thought processes and came up empty. Chrom, prince of an entire country, commander of an army, Chrom--had given Robin a flower crown he made. What kind of significance did this have? Anything? Nothing? What the hell were the two of them doing here, like this, anyway? Robin blinked a couple dozen too many times.

“Not like I can see it myself from where it’s at,” he managed to scoff, trying for a grin. His face probably looked stupid. Chrom made him stupid. “I had no idea you could make these. Doesn’t seem like your style.”

Chrom rolled his eyes with a slight shake of his head. “Growing up with two sisters makes you proficient in some things. I can braid, too, but your hair is so short.”

“The crown prince of Ylisse can braid,” Robin echoed, leaning back on his hands. “Careful not to let that get out, you’re already so popular with the ladies, I’m afraid I’ll wake up one morning and find you drowned in them.”

Robin heard Chrom laugh, and he tried to push the statement from his mind. Your hair is so short. Did Chrom think about braiding Robin’s hair? Gods, no, that couldn’t be what he’d intended to imply. Did Robin want Chrom to braid his hair? Gods, he had to stop while he was ahead. His face had to be pure crimson. This was unbecoming, but if Chrom was making the first move…?

Robin breathed out slowly, trying to control his traitorous heart. He sat back up and reached over his head, working his fingers carefully under the twisted stems. He lifted the crown off his head and placed it in his lap, admiring the handiwork involved. Robin had no way to see his reflection, how it looked on his head, but he was sure it was beautiful. He was sure Chrom was happy with it.

“It’s wonderful,” Robin said softly. He raised his head, meeting Chrom’s gaze. “Thank you.”

It was Chrom’s turn to be dumbstruck. He nodded awkwardly and smoothed a hand down his shirt, tugging on one of the straps. Robin wondered how Chrom would look in the crown, and had to physically restrain himself from reaching over to place it on Chrom’s head. He probably couldn’t recover from that. Instead, Robin just traced the lines engraved in the petals and let the silence hold.

“What are these?” he finally asked, lifting it again to settle it back on his temples. 

“The flowers? Ylissian Lilies,” Chrom offered, turning his gaze out over the field. “This area is famous for them. Sumia’s told me before they don’t do well in Plegia.”

“Not like I’d know either way,” Robin returned dryly.

“Ah, right.”

The silence fell again. Chrom stirred first.

“Say, Robin,” he began, and the hesitance was clear in his tone, “are you--happy like this?”

Robin blinked, tilting his head a bit. The crown stayed firmly in place. “I don’t know what you mean. You’ll have to be more specific.”

Chrom huffed, shifting to sit more comfortably. He plucked a new lily from the ground nearby, twirling it between his thumb and forefinger. He didn’t look up.

“You’re running with a pack of strangers, possibly even enemies, without a single memory to your name. You’re far from home, maybe even from people you love. Who love you. That doesn’t...bother you?”

Robin tipped his head a little farther, drawing up a knee to brace his arm on it. “...I see your point, but...I mean, I guess it would be a lie if I said it didn’t. It’s a weird feeling, having regrets about something you can’t remember. But all in all, I really don’t mind. You and the Shepherds aren’t strangers, and you definitely aren’t enemies. Unless you intend to kick me out and banish me to Plegia in the near future.”

“Gods, no!” Chrom blurted. “Never! I just...I worry about you. It’s such a unique situation you’ve got yourself in, and all the time you pretend like I don’t see how the villagers whisper behind your back. You’re strong, but there’s so much weight on you, and I never intended to throw you into war like this.”

“It was my choice to follow you, in the end,” Robin advised. “I don’t want you beating yourself up over something like that. War isn’t something to be proud of, but as crude as this sounds, I feel most at home there. Always something to do, plan for, keep my mind on. Not having strategy bouncing around in my skull feels...unnatural.”

“So you don’t like being here like this?”

Robin paused, glancing over. “That’s not what I said.”

Chrom chanced a faint smile. Robin returned it, tracing a pattern in the dirt by his feet.

“It’s...different,” Robin added, wincing internally at lack of a better word. “I’m glad for these moments too. War isn’t everything. Times like this--it lets me see how amazing the world is too. I consider myself lucky, in all honesty.”

“Lucky?” Chrom repeated, furrowing his brow. “For sitting in the dirt with some flowers?”

Robin snorted. “Exactly. How many people won’t get to be here, experience this? How many people won’t get to see this sky, feel this breeze, have this moment of peace? Every moment I’m alive, I get to see a little more wonder and beauty, and it encourages me to fight harder and protect it. I’m lucky. Most people only get to see the world once--and because of you, I’m here again. I get to see all these things, and with every new sight, I fall a bit more in love with this world.”

With you, Robin wanted to add, but he bit his tongue. 

Robin raised his head as a hand fell on his shoulder, and he found Chrom’s face much closer to his own than he’d anticipated. Chrom’s eyes were soft and warm, and Robin wanted absolutely nothing more than to lean forward just another couple inches. He didn’t. But he wanted to.

“I want to keep making new memories with you,” Chrom insisted. “I want to keep seeing these little things with you. Promise me you’ll stay by my side, Robin.”

There were so many ways he could misconstrue this. Chrom had to know that, right? Robin felt his brain short circuit for just a moment, before he realized it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter what Chrom meant. Robin loved Chrom, and it didn’t matter at all.

And Robin was glad. And he smiled, and he nodded.

“I’ll be here as long as you have a place for me,” Robin agreed.

It didn’t matter if Chrom loved him back or not. Chrom was the brightest memory Robin would ever have. Chrom lifting him off the ground. Chrom slinging an arm around his shoulders. Chrom weaving him a flower crown. Chrom, Chrom, Chrom. It didn’t matter what Chrom thought of him, as long as Robin could be at his side.

That was all he could ask.

“You’ll always have a place,” Chrom promised.

That was all he could ask.

“Gods, Robin, why are you crying?!”

Robin blinked, raising a hand to his cheek. It was true. Chrom’s almost panicked expression was adorable, and Robin felt a laugh bubble in his chest. He rubbed the heel of his palm against his eyes, sniffing audibly and trying to clear them of tears.

“Absolutely no idea,” he answered honestly. “Thank you, Chrom. For everything.”

Chrom blinked, once, and his face softened again. “Of course. I think you’ve had enough thinking for one day, however. Let’s get back to the others and wrangle them back in line.”

“Ten gold coins Tharja tried a new hex on Libra.”

Chrom squinted, getting to his feet and dusting himself off. “She’s taken a real shine to him. You think she’s really taken to him as a, what, test subject of sorts?”

Robin raised an eyebrow and also heaved himself up. He patted his cloak and made sure his crown was on secure. “She’s been bothering me slightly less than usual, which is rare.”

“Hmm,” Chrom hummed, biting at his thumbnail absently. “Frederick did give her quite the talking-to about it, though. I’ll raise your bet ten more, but for the assumption Henry and Sumia switched bodies for the seventeenth time.”

“They’ve been doing that a lot lately,” Robin sighed. “At least it’s easy to tell them apart by how clumsy Henry gets. We’re incredibly lucky Sumia hasn’t tried to cast any spells unsupervised.”

“Don’t put that thought in my mind,” Chrom groaned. “Now I feel like we have to get back twice as fast.”

Robin slowed his pace a bit, picking carefully between the flowers, careful not to tread on them. “Frederick’s there. He’s good at babysitting. I think it’s alright if we savor the moment a bit longer.”

“Good point,” Chrom murmured, and he turned his gaze out over the field. “They’re such a bright yellow. Just looking at them makes me happier.”

“Yeah,” Robin replied, “me too.”

“I couldn’t tell you the meaning of flowers to save my life,” Chrom chuckled. “Maybe Sumia knows.”

“Yeah,” Robin replied, “maybe she does. We should ask her.”

Robin committed the sight to his freshly voided mind, ensuring a place for this moment forever. He took in Chrom’s smile, the way his heart beat a little bit faster, the weight of the crown sitting on his head. The others would ask about it. Robin wasn’t going to answer. He was just going to treasure it quietly in his mind, long after the physical lilies wilted. Somewhere in his heart, he knew what they meant. He knew what Chrom had meant with them, bringing Robin here. That was enough.

 

Yellow, for joy.