morgan is five when he starts having dreams.
at first, it isn’t so bad. he wakes up early and walks into the kitchen, his face as solemn as his parents have ever seen, and he works his way up onto the chair at the table.
"coffee, please," he says seriously, and his father raises his brows at him from above his mug.
robin is at the counter, cutting an apple for her breakfast. she stops, placing the knife down, and looks at him.
"and who is this?" she says with amusement. "surely not my son." she walks to him and scoops him up, planting kisses on his face while he squirms. "MY son would be bouncing off the walls and asking for apple juice."
morgan scrunches up his face and pushes her away. she sets him down and makes him a mug of hot chocolate instead.
"i have something very important to discuss with you," he says, slowly and deliberately, making sure the words don’t slur together like they do normally when he’s excited. robin glances at her husband with a look that says ‘this is your doing.’ frederick tries to hide his smile and fails.
"what is it, morgan," he says, setting down the newspaper to give his son his full attention. robin leans against the counter and waits, too.
morgan takes a sip from his cup and sets it down with a clumsy thud.
"i had a dream."
"i don’t remember telling him any fairy tales or anything," robin says later. it’s evening now, and she and frederick are lounging on the couch. the television is off, and the few lamps around the room give it a warm glow. they should be reading, but robin hadn’t gotten through two pages before shutting her book and drumming her fingertips on the cover.
"when he was younger, did you ever get him a picture book? some toy?"
"if i had," frederick said with a frown, "surely you’d have known about it."
"perhaps he saw something on tv," frederick supplies. "or at school. i wouldn’t be surprised if he’d been exposed to something like that there. it’s not exactly uncommon."
"true," robin concedes grudgingly. "i just— dont you just find it a bit odd?"
"find what a bit odd?"
she purses her lips.
"…never mind. forget it."
frederick smiles, leans over, and gives her temple a kiss.
"i wouldn’t worry too much about it."
robin hums, a note of discontent in her tone, and picks up her book. she stares sightlessly at the cover before putting it back down again.
"just— where in the world would he have gotten the idea of a tactician of all things? does he even know what that word means?"
"would you rather have been the knight?"
she rolls her eyes and gives him a light shove.
they get worse.
morgan comes to their bed in the middle of the night, shaking and silent, and clutches at their pajamas in a death-grip.
robin looks at frederick, bleary eyed and confused, a distant note of concern in her expression. frederick’s mouth is set into a grim line as he strokes his sons back, feeling his racing heart through the thin fabric of his nightclothes.
when they question him the next morning, he looks almost sheepish.
"there was a dragon," he says, and drops his eyes. his feet dangle off the edge of the bed and he twists the covers in his hands.
frederick does his best to smile.
"well," he says, "i’m a knight, aren’t i?" he drops to his knees and lifts morgans chin. "next time i’ll slay it for you."
morgan smiles weakly and nods. he does not seem convinced.
she hadn’t really been expecting much, going to the new thrift store. she’d just wanted to check it out, give it a quick look after she picked morgan up from school. she was no fashion expert but most of what they have in stock isn’t much to look at.
she’s ready to leave when morgan cries out and tugs at her hand. he drags her over to a rack of coats and grabs at one of them, looking at her with all the hope a young child can muster.
it is an old purple thing, not quite a trench but about as long, with an oddly-shaped hood, and has clearly seen better days. it is also about ten sizes too large.
"morgan, that’s an adult size," she says reasonably.
"i know," he says, looking mildly offended. he pushes the sleeve toward her. "for you."
"for me," she repeats flatly. he nods his head once, firmly.
"you want me to get this?"
"it’s your robe."
"your tactician robe."
he looks so serious it’s a wonder he isn’t his father’s direct copy.
"is this what i wear in your dreams?" she asks, slightly amused.
"no," he admits with something close to reluctance. "but its good enough."
robin drops her head and doesn’t say anything for about thirty seconds.
"alright," she says finally. "fine."
morgan lights up and she can’t keep the smile from her face. she takes the coat from the rack and walks him to the cashier.
"you should try to draw it sometime," she says as she takes out her wallet.
"the robe?" he asks.
"yes," she says.
"okay," he says. she slings the coat over her shoulder and walks him out of the store.
"it’s really nice," morgan insists, swinging the hand holding hers as they walk.
robin disengages for a moment and ruffles his hair affectionately.
"i’m sure it is."
"i’m kind of worried, chrom."
robin sips her coffee and watches morgan and lucina play with blocks on the living room floor. they are building a tower, she thinks. it leans and comes crashing down, causing the children to shriek in laughter.
"morgan is still having those weird dreams?"
his tie is loosened and his sleeves rolled up. frederick is still at work, but that’s fine. it’s been a while since she’s had the chance to talk to him one on one anyway.
"he says you’re a lord, by the way," she says, attempting to lighten the mood. she hadn’t meant to start off so somberly.
chrom smiles and sticks out his chest.
"of course," he says, and she snorts.
"an exalt," she continues, a bit more quietly. she worries her lip. "lissa is a princess, and em—"
she stops abruptly. chrom doesn’t seem to take notice of her change in mood.
"what about em?" he asks easily. "is she a princess, too?"
"no," robin says. "she was an exalt."
chrom’s brow furrows.
he realizes it before he finishes. his frown deepens.
"chrom," robin says. there is an edge to her voice. her knuckles are white where her hands grip the cup. "why is my five year old dreaming about assassination?"
chrom doesn’t answer. in the living room, the sound of falling blocks can be heard. morgan and lucina laugh, and it sounds carefree.
morgan sits at the kitchen table, a stack of paper in front of him and crayons scattered across the surface, and draws.
he pushes the oversized sleeves up as much as they can go and drags a line of purple across the page before swapping it out for gold. he’s hunched over the paper intently, trying to pack in as much detail as he can.
"morgan?" he hears his mother call from the other room. "you okay out there?"
he doesn’t respond. he sticks his tongue out in concentration and scribbles furiously.
"hey—" robin leans into the kitchen a few moments later, resting on the door frame. "what’s up, buddy, you didn’t answer."
he looks back at her for a moment, giving her a quick “sorry,” before turning back to his picture.
"hard at work?" she asks, entering. she smiles and tugs at his hood. "you sure do like this coat."
she leans over his shoulder to look at morgan’s drawing.
"is that my robe?" she asks.
"yep," morgan responds simply. it’s… interesting, she thinks. definitely unique. probably not something that’ll hit the catwalk anytime soon. then again, neither is the coat he’s wearing, slightly frayed and too baggy even for her. she supposes that’s fair.
he finishes the cloak and moves on.
"whoa," robin says, eyebrows raised, "what’s that?" she points to an ominous looking mass of black and purple in the corner of the page. the misaligned dots looked like the unblinking eyes of a monster. it makes her feel like she’s being examined, and she fights back a shudder.
"thats the dragon," he says grimly. "the bad one."
"is there a good dragon?" she asks, because she hasn’t heard this part.
"yes," he says. "but the good dragon always loses." he sighs a little.
she isn’t quite sure what to make of that.
"the good dragon will win eventually," she says, trying to reassure him. "good always wins."
"it’s okay," he responds, and her feeling of unease grows.
it reaches a peak when she makes out what he draws next.
"who is that?" she asks, a little more sharply than she wanted. she cringes a bit. morgan’s hand stills.
"grandpa," he says. he sets down his crayon. she stares at the figure.
"why don’t we go play something else," she says, taking his hand.
one of the crayons roll off the table and hits the ground with a clack as they walk out.
morgan is absorbed with a puzzle when robin calls frederick. she heads to the kitchen and takes the paper from the table, speaking in a hushed voice she hopes doesn’t carry.
"frederick, you and i both know i’ve never breathed a word about validar around him."
"i dont think—"
"it looks like him, frederick." the edges of the drawing are being crumpled in her hands. "it could have been anybody, and it’s about as realistic as can be expected from someone his age, but it looks like him.”
when robin returns, morgan is fitting in the last piece of the puzzle. as soon as it snaps, he smiles and looks at her triumphantly.
frederick looks at his watch and sighs. he takes out his reading glasses and leans forward, piecing together the words on the papers in front of him. office work isn’t necessarily his first choice for a job, but he is good at accomplishing menial tasks. he isn’t sure what that said about him, but it puts food on the table.
he just wishes he didn’t have to take so much home nowadays. he would have liked to change into some more comfortable clothes, but it’s just as well. might as well stay professional while working the clock, even if it is in his own house.
he looks up. morgan stands in the doorway, looking vaguely worried. his hair is sticking up at all ends and frederick has to smile.
"mom," he says, but stops, trying to find the words. he is older, now, by some years, and less likely to stumble with speech, but he is having difficulty.
"mom loves you," he finally says. frederick is taken aback with surprise. morgan looks anxious, though, so he tries not to let his confusion show.
"and i love her, too," he says slowly, not sure what the right response is.
"you do," morgan declares, reaffirming it for the both of them. "you do."
"are you alright, morgan?"
frederick takes off his glasses and peers at the boy. he’s got awful bags beneath his eyes and he fidgets, trying to keep his hands still, but failing.
he gives his father a curt nod. then, he grows more urgent.
"and i do too," he says. "i love you, dad."
before he can process it, morgan is in his arms and frederick wheezes — when did morgan get so strong? — before noticing the scattered papers on the floor. they’d been knocked down during his son’s assault.
it doesn’t bother him as much as it should.
morgan clings to him with something akin to desperation and somewhere inside him frederick is suddenly very afraid.
morgan’s bed is empty in the morning.
the caravan presses onward, creaking wheels, beating hooves against the dirt path, and the sound of footsteps creating a symphonic arrangement to rival any of brady’s saved scores. morgan straddles a horse of his own, armor clanking with each step forward, and listens.
up ahead he can see his mother with her head bent, whispering to chrom something he can’t catch. his father is farther still, leading a group to clear the way, inspecting the path for errant pebbles and misplaced branches with unmatchable dedication.
morgan yawns, only for owain to come up behind him and slap him heartily on the back. he’s not quite sure how he did that, since owain is on foot, but he doesn’t question it.
"lo, brother! keep up the good spirit!"
morgan spares a grin and owain matches it.
"i dont know about you," he says, "but i could go for a nap right about now."
owain snorts magnificently.
"that much is evident," he says. "you look like you’re about to fall off your horse."
"it’s been a long ride."
"and you have always been fond of your naps."
"i can’t deny that."
"you know," owain says, his voice lowering to a decibel somewhat below booming, "you should probably work on your endurance. that might help. kjelle has this training regimen that—"
owain continues, but morgan doesn’t much have the fortitude to keep up. what he said was true, though; morgan is quite fond of his naps, perhaps overly so. it has less to do with endurance — his father’s enthusiasm for fitness finds morgan many a day training, both for the sake of exercise and for spending time with frederick. there’s just something about the act of sleeping, that— that’s—
rejuvenating, he supposes.
well, yes, he hears in laurents voice, dry and humorless. duh, in severas, with a bit more bite. he shakes his thoughts away before he gets too far and tries to tune back in to owain. he’s thankful for the companionship, if nothing else.
morgan folds his cloak and sets it beside his bed. he aches from the long march and there is yet further to go on the morrow. he opts not to review his tomes before bed, and puts them aside carefully.
as soon as he lies down, he is asleep.
he dreams of his mother with her hair cropped short and her cloak nowhere to be found. he dreams of honeyed light and a deep voice that he can feel through his back, hands that rest over his as they flip the pages of a book in his lap. he dreams of the scent of something rich and dark as sunlight filters through the windows, the sound of a knife on a cutting board and the rustle of papers. he dreams of reading glasses and messy brown hair, of pressed shirts and straight ties. he dreams of laughter. he dreams of warmth.
the dreams are gone by the time his eyes open.
they find him at a rest stop somewhere near the state border.
they’d sent out an alert, launched a search and investigation, tried to pull strings with sully and stahl to get things going as quickly as possible. robin didn’t sleep and frederick would not stand idle; whenever he wasn’t out searching he was fixing, cleaning, organizing around the house with stiff fingers and tense shoulders. the minute they received the call they dropped everything and drove, breaking several laws in the process, but who cared about that.
as soon as they see him he is crushed in a hug and he scarcely has room to breathe. they pull away for a moment and his eyes alight.
"mother," he breathes. "father."
but as soon as the words are out, his eyes cloud over. he is confused, tired, and in desperate need of a bath. his stomach lets out a pitiful growl. and a meal.
he chews on a hamburger on the way home. the car is silent, and despite the relief robin and frederick feel, tense. morgan stares out the window and tries to think, but every thought is fleeting and refuses to stay.
by the time they get home morgan is swaying on his feet.
"sorry," he says, his eyes heavy-lidded and glassy, "i’m… i’m a bit tired."
"of course," frederick says reassuringly.
"would you like me to fix up the couch or would you rather go to your room?" robin asks. he looks at her with some confusion.
"right, you must be missing your bed."
he shakes his head.
"i’m sorry. where…?"
robin and frederick exchange a glance.
"this way," frederick murmurs, wrapping an arm around morgan to keep him steady. the room is not far and soon he is seated on the mattress.
"we’ll be here when you wake."
frrderick shuts the door with a small click.
morgan falls backwards on the bed sleeps for a long time.
he does not dream of anything at all.