and what if i can't? what if i'm not worthy of her ideals?
She's strong, unwavering, and yet kind and peaceful. She stands with a poise that is never disrupted, even with a kind of inner pain that she sustains that no one else could possibly understand. She's an advocate for peace, and she's not the kind who simply says she wants it - she believes everyone does and she's willing to lay her life on the line for that belief. She allowed herself to transform into more of a symbol than a person, and she would so with a smile on her face.
He, by contrast, is quick to act, quick to harm, quick to protect. He's impulsive, bad at speeches, and loses his grip on himself when someone else isn't there to catch him. And that is not to mention the long shadow that their father casts upon him, and the similarities that he'd have to be blind not to notice within himself. A warmongerer who caused fear among not only other nations but his own people, and Chrom shares more similarities to him than he'd ever care to admit.
That'd been fine, when they worked toward their own strengths. She, the Exalt, the leader of her people and the one looked to for strength; and he, the leader of the Shepherds, Ylisse's very own little miniature militia that more so resembled a group of vigilantes, teamed to keep Ylisse functional. She used her words, and he used his sword; her word became his direction, his ideals when he struggled to form any of his own. And it helped him further when Chrom had been allowed to be a man among his men, as rather than a figurehead, a stranger in the crowd, he'd been a friend who fought alongside the rest of them.
For Chrom, Emmeryn was his strength, much like everyone else in Ylisse. No, more than that: she was a pillar. Something to aspire to be. Oh, he knew, still knows, that he's nothing like her at his core. She's self-assured, he's not. She's able to take it when something goes wrong, he's not. She's able to forgive, he's not. But when she was there, he didn't need to think of such comparisons. That pillar stayed lifted and he could climb it whenever he needed to, look to it for its foundations when he desired inspiration. From her, he drew and drew and drew.
Oh, he knows, perhaps better than anyone aside from their other sister, Lissa, that she had her own pain that she hid beneath those robes of hers. When the stones had been thrown at her, when the people mocked and berated her for crimes she did not commit, the wounds left bruises and the words left scars. It took every bit of Chrom, every single little bit, to prevent from lashing out at these people, and even then it's her that stopped him, not his own will. To desire punishment to be absent from the world and leave peace in its wake, one must demonstrate that lack of desire for punishment, that inner peace. Still, she would smile, still, she would pray for them.
He didn't understand, then. But he had the liberty of not having to.
Still, he would seek to subconsciously embody what she envisioned for the world. His little Shepherds ran not out of a need to conquer, but with the sole responsibility of protection. The safety, the need for peace - Chrom stood as its enforcer, as opposed to its proprietor. They would handle the bandits, remnants from war long past, they would help with the day to day, they would rescue children from a pack of wolves... And so it resembled the name, with the Shepherds' sheep being Ylisse's citizens. Maybe, occasionally, a thought would come that they did not deserve this protection when they'd been so willing to throw away their Exalt. But such thoughts remained that: thoughts, private ones, and Chrom always let his actions speak for him.
It becomes all the more obvious how different the two of them are, how much of an utter failure Chrom is, and how he could never measure up to her when she's left falling beautifully off a cliffside, and he's left standing above a dead body with Falchion dripping red.
The picture of the conqueror on their palace wall has the same backdrop.
He'd been a petulant child, to some degree. Oh, he's not running amok, kicking over other kids or anything like that, but he'd been getting himself up to some
trouble, and he often didn't pay attention much in his 'manners' classes. He saw very little point of it; a boy among his peers, at heart. Over and over he would receive the same lectures, but every time he'd much rather go back out and train again.
He remembers some remark about how his father used to be similar, when he was younger. At the time, it hadn't bothered him much. The weight of what his father did, about what he wrought, about the terror that he induced in everyone involved with him - certainly, he came to respect him, but politics didn't weigh that heavily on his mind. He turned an eye away from the suffering that he clearly witnessed when he walked the streets. It wasn't his problem, after all.
Emmeryn, and perhaps Lissa, would tell you a different story than his father would about the kind of person Chrom was. They'd tell you he was a mischievous boy, but a good-hearted one. They'd tell you Chrom often got along well with other kids, and if anything just seemed to want to go out and do things; he didn't do well with curriculums, or books, or anything that didn't use his hands. Maybe it helped that they heard the way that he asked them if they were okay. Maybe it helped that he smiled at them when he didn't appear to any other time. Maybe it helped that Emmeryn was the one to rescue Chrom when he nearly drowned in a bath.
His father saw a man who needed to follow in his footsteps. A man who wanted to, even. He trained hard. He lit up whenever his father praised him. Not so much when his father turned him away, not so much when his father told him what would now become the deep-seated roots of Chrom's vices. But Chrom had figured that his father would have no reason to lie to him. That if he said such things, he said them because they were true, because Chrom needed to realize that Ylisse would not do with someone weak, with someone pitiful, with someone who stood upon the sidelines.
Emmeryn would ask him questions, sometimes. Odd questions about what it was that his father said to him, odd questions about what he was teaching him. Odd questions about where certain bruises came from. He told her that it was training, that it was natural. He'd tell her that Father's not feeling well.
She said every time, "I know."
Eventually, training, the council, schooling - all of it rooted within Chrom's brain. The older he got, the more respectful he became, the more dedicated he was. The more he questioned where and what he wanted to be.
The less he smiled.
Chrom's father left the world as he lived: angry. Emmeryn stood up to take his place. Chrom, in the meanwhile, heard the spite toward his family for the very first time. Or maybe this was just the first time he bothered to listen.
something is very wrong.
Chrom would never tell you that his life was ordinary. Maybe that's why it didn't get to him too much when he found a woman lying in a field, nor when the woman confessed to having no memory.
And why he didn't bother to question it when the woman somehow knew his name, or the way that the two of them instantly connected, something in Chrom's brain telling him that not only could he trust her, but their meeting was fated, somehow.
For most others, Robin might be considered the catalyst of the strangest of happenings to Ylisse, to all of them, the thing that made all of it come to a head. Building for years had the tensions between Ylisse and Plegia, the kingdoms at war for years under Chrom's father's bloody reign, and only once Robin appeared did they escalate to a point that, at that stage, appeared inevitable. But for Chrom, he was pretty sure it was a coincidence. Robin couldn't be at fault for what happened when she didn't even know anything about Plegia.
What they called the 'Risen', undead warriors of some other dimension, appeared through a portal and began to terrorize Ylisse along with the bandits they suspected of being Plegian. For Chrom, it only further justified the Shepherds needing a tactician with an intellect like Robin's. She seemed humble, but sociable. Chrom's opposite in many ways; to some degree, she even reminded him of his sister with her strength of character. It's hard to feel ashamed of being so reliant upon someone so capable, and there's no doubt in Chrom's mind that their team is better for it.
He guided the woman through the Shepherds with a smile, and he trusted her implicitly. Not that Robin needed any help fitting in - to Chrom's delight, the woman appeared to take pretty well to the Shepherds once she met them all. Robin's poked a little fun at his clumsiness along with the rest of them, at Chrom's heavy-handedness; Chrom's grinned as he's caught word of Robin admitting offhandedly to someone that Chrom's "got his charm". Robin's even fussed over Chrom when she's found out that the prince wandered off for reconnaissance, and although Chrom told her that he's not going to compromise for her, it warms his heart to have such compassion directed at him.
(Even if Chrom doesn't think he deserves it. Even if Chrom thinks Robin's worry is best spent at someone else, and not a miserable, pathetic piner like him.),
There's only one concern that Chrom's ever had with Robin, and it's not about how she's been with the Shepherds. Robin probably doesn't know about it, but Chrom's caught her falling asleep on her desk, murmuring in her sleep in such a frantic way that it pulled at his heartstrings. She's mentioned his name a few times, and if Chrom speaks to her afterward there's a fog in her eyes that Chrom has trouble seeing through. Robin's never told him what it meant.
So when Emmeryn is kidnapped by Plegians, there's no one that Chrom trusts more than Robin to get her out of that. It's strange, actually; most anyone else who speaks to Chrom when Chrom wants nothing more than to rip the spines out of those who would harm his family gets rebuffed and doesn't permeate through his skull. But Robin's words reach to him, and they're like music in his ears, and though the fury doesn't leave him it's channeled, channeled properly, ready to spring when the trap is in place.
The only other person Chrom can recall having that effect on him is his sister.
All those worries are washed away, and he's prepared to get her back in order to save Ylisse, because to Chrom, Ylisse relies upon her to function. Relies upon her and the Shepherds, especially under Robin's lead, he's coming to realize.
He knows that Robin would do anything and everything, and that she would do everything she could, and if she couldn't rescue her, no one could.
i've never seen one fall so gracefully.
Robin's plan failed.
Not of her own doing - Chrom knows that. Knows that there's no way that Robin could have adequately prepared for Risen archers, which took out nearly their entire fleet of remaining Pegasus Knights. Robin didn't know they would be there. Chrom didn't know, either.
King Gangrel asked Robin and Chrom if they would rather hand over the Fire Emblem, a relic of untold power held by the Ylisseans that would no doubt wreak havoc if allowed into Plegian hands, or allow Emmeryn to be struck with archers, which no doubt would result in her loss. Chrom didn't listen to Robin's decision. Didn't let her decide, really. Snapped at him, spoke over the others; he regrets it now. Regrets treating them that way. It's not like they knew how much Chrom needs Emmeryn. It's not like they were responsible for it winding up this way.
Especially since it's not like it made a difference.
She'd made the choice for him. Standing on the edge of a cliff, she looked at him, at Lissa, and smiled - before taking a step forward into empty air.
He ran as fast as he could. He was told when he trained when he was younger that he was exceedingly fast, even. Could take out an entire army by slicing them up before they even had the chance to move, and he'd felt it when facing King Gangrel's initial wave, too. And his legs didn't even scream as loudly as his throat did when he moved forward, fighting against the armor clothing his skin to reach her in time.
But as always for Chrom, he's better at being the one needing someone to catch him than the one catching someone else.
And the worst part about it? He knew why she did it. He knew. Others may have looked at it as an act advertising peace, a drastic symbol as she flew through the sky and tumbled to the ground. They saw it as her doing it for the good of all, like all symbols do. Like all gods and goddess, like all prayers, do.
But Chrom knew better.
She did it for me.
"So I wouldn't have to live with the guilt of either choice."
Her eyes spoke not of a woman who was an angel, but of a sister who loved her siblings more than life itself. Chrom saw it.
And maybe sometimes he thinks, If I'd never been born, she wouldn't have suffered. She'd still be here. She would be happy.
alone, i don't think either one of us is half the person your sister was. but together...maybe we can be something more.
"If you fall, I'll be here to pull you back up," Robin said to him. She told him that he should be there for his people, to motivate them, to give them hope.
"And what if I can't? What if I'm not worthy of her ideals? Robin, what if I drag you down with me?"
"If you aren't worthy, you'll keep at it until you are. And if we both fall down, well, that's what friends are for, isn't it?"
The Shepherds, his second family outside of his sisters, all spoke together then. Saying their encouragement, telling him that they would be by his side. And Chrom wonders, when he hears all of it, if his father ever heard this from anyone. It's pressure on his shoulders, pressure that feels heavier than the weight of the entire world; but he'll bear it. His sister had to bear it for so long... Had to keep going, even when loss surrounded her. And now, she sacrificed herself for him.
"I will not falter again," he says.
It's a promise he doesn't know he'll be able to keep. He's sure he won't measure up to her. But... Maybe it'll be okay when Robin is there. When the Shepherds are there. For them, at least, he will do his best.