"You've never had a proper Christmas!?"
The second Shauna said that, eyes and mouth wide, Serena knew she should never have mentioned it. It was the middle of the summer, about six months after her gaining of the Champion title, and she had thought that Shauna might have been a bit less... excitable about it, seeing as how the holiday just under half a year away.
She had been wrong.
"Well... Mother was always traveling. She always had somewhere to be for at least part of the day."
"That's crazy! You can't just not have Christmas!"
Serena did not want Shauna trying to give her some "proper" Christmas. Shauna always tried insane things, and they never turned out well - in her opinion, at least.
"It's fine, Shauna. It's not as if I have anything to miss."
"What do you mean by that? Christmas is wonderful!" Shauna was staring at Serena rather intently, seemingly unable to get over the shock of finding out that famous people didn't get holidays off.
"That's... not what I meant. It's just that I can't miss something I've never experienced."
"Oh." Much to Serena's relief, she then dropped the subject.
"Would you like to get some ice cream?" she asked Shauna, hoping to keep her mind off of it.
Of course, this was Shauna she was talking about. That girl remembered everything.
About two weeks before the holiday, Serena was outside, feeding Rock his favorite snack - carrots, strangely. The season had been unusually warm, so she had been able to get away with only a sweater.
As Rock gently took the carrots from her palm, she heard the gate moving, and looked up to see a boy in blue.
"Ah, Calem. Hi."
He returned her greeting and entered the yard. He kneeled next to Serena, taking the carrot she offered. As Rock nibbled on it, the two of them watched, a comfortable silence between them.
A few more carrots were given before Serena turned her head towards him. "Why are you here, anyway?" She kicked herself for sounding so stand-offish.
"Just heard something about you."
"What was that?" asked Serena, confused.
"You never got to properly celebrate Christmas."
"...this information didn't happen to come from Shauna, did it."
"Ugh, I told her not to worry about it. It's not as if it really matters to me."
Calem looked a bit surprised at her statement, but he let it drop. He took the last carrot from Serena's hand and watched Rock eat it. He stood up as the Pokémon finished.
"Well, I'll be going, then. See you around, rival." He turned with a small wave and walked back to his house. He never had quite gotten out of the habit of calling her that.
The next morning, she was woken by that cursed Fletchling.
At least it had learned not to peck her in the face. Instead, it opted to jump around on her chest and twitter in an ear-jarringly high pitch, which, if you asked her, wasn't much better.
She sat up, shooing the pesky Pokémon away, then stretched. She looked out her window. It was another beautiful day, sunny and calm. Maybe she could get Rock to give her a ride later.
Serena turned her head annoyedly towards the stairs.
"You have guests! Get dressed and get down here!"
Serena flopped back onto her bed again.
A few minutes later, she was downstairs, dressed in her favorite red-and-black dress and black OTK socks. As she pulled her hair back, she looked around the room, but saw no one.
"Did you leave them outside again, Mother?"
She got no response, only a few slices of toast spread with Pecha jelly sitting on a napkin shoved in her face.
She took this as a sign that she should take the breakfast out with her. She quickly stuck her feet in her boots and grabbed her hat and designer coat before opening the door.
As she expected, it was Shauna and Calem. Serena just knew that Calem would take the opportunity to tease about her habit of sleeping late, but Shauna spoke first.
"What's the rush?" she said, eyeing Serena as she put on her coat and held the toast in her mouth. "We don't need to leave right now, if you still need to eat."
Having finally gotten the coat on, Serena went back to holding the toast. "Yes we do. Mother kicked me out."
Shauna giggled and turned, but Calem shot Serena a sympathetic look.
Swallowing a piece of toast, Serena asked, "So where are we going, anyway? It's Thursday."
Shauna turned back around and did a little dance. "We're going to the Christmas markets! It's going to be so much fun, Serena! There's shopping and lights and delicious food and all sorts of fun things! We're gonna meet Trevor and Tierno there!"
"'There' being Lumiose," added Calem.
"Right!" Shauna then frowned. "But I can't get to Lumiose."
That's right. She doesn't have any Pokémon that can fly.
"I know! I'll just ride with you, Calem! Lou can hold both of us, right?
Serena scowled in irritation. Annoying. Of course she'd want to ride with him. She quickly shook her head. What's it matter, anyways. As Calem nodded and sent out his Altaria, Serena pulled out Neru, her Pidgeot, and sent her out. Neru trilled as she found herself outside of her Pokéball.
"Lumiose City, Neru."
The streets of Lumiose were filled with colorful stalls that looked like little houses selling all sorts of gifts and foods. The smells and the crowd were dazzling, even to Serena, who had been in many kaleidoscopic situations before.
Shauna pulled her through the crowd by the wrist, shouting things back to Serena that she was too dazed to comprehend. She knew Christmastime was busy, but this!
A shout from Tierno brought her back to the present, and she found herself in front of the TMV station. As her friends greeted each other, she scanned the street, trying to figure out what exactly was going on.
"You look confused," came a voice from behind her, which she recognized as Trevor. She merely nodded in response.
"There is a lot going on. Just stick with us, you'll be fine."
They walked all around Lumiose, cutting through side streets when the crowd got too thick and stopping to check out almost all of the stalls. Though she had never really enjoyed shopping, she couldn't help but share some of the enthusiasm of her friends, especially when they found things they liked. After she saw Shauna squealing over a handmade Eevee plush, she bought it for her. The girl got on her nerves sometimes (and not usually for the right reasons), but she was still her friend.
Perhaps some of the "Christmas spirit" she kept hearing about was rubbing off on her.
She quickly found gifts for Trevor and Tierno - they had reminded her of them instantly when she saw them - but come lunchtime, she was still looking for one for Calem.
Shauna was the one who suggested they purchase something to eat, rushing back from a few stalls ahead to proclaim her hungriness. Calem waved Serena forward, and they all congregated at the nearest section of food stalls.
A stall selling sausage drew Serena to it. Looking over her options, she decided that she didn't want any of the toppings - but when she opened her mouth, she realized that she was unable to communicate this to the vendor. She frowned, her mouth opening and closing like a Magikarp's, and backed away, muttering, "Désolé."
She only felt worse when Calem came up to her, eating some kind of waffle, and asked, "Is something wrong?"
She was silent for a moment, but she knew that wouldn't get her anywhere.
"I... I don't remember how to order a plain sausage," she muttered in Kanjoan, pointing towards the stall she had been at a moment ago. He followed her hand.
"'Plaine'. You want 'plaine'," he responded, also in Kanjoan, taking a bite out of his waffle.
Serena felt like even more of an idiot now. That was so obvious! She felt herself blushing out of embarrassment, and tried to pull her hat over her eyes. Calem simply watched her. He honestly thought she was rather cute at the moment, but that was rather cruel, wasn't it?
"J'suis un imbécile." She turned to move away and try her luck at another stall, but Calem caught her shoulder. She turned her head back to him, her embarrassed need to not meet his eyes clashing with her desire to look at him.
He smiled at her.
"Come on," he said, nodding his head towards the stall and gently pushing her in its direction. She obliged, walking back to the stall. She lifted her eyes to the man running the stall and said, "Désolé. Une saucisse plaine, se il vous plaît." She could feel herself blushing even more. So embarrassing.
She took the sausage and paid, then walked away as quickly as she could, Calem quick to follow her. She took a bite of her sausage, which was delicious enough to almost be worth the torture she went through to get it, just as she reached the others.
"Bredele?" offered Tierno, holding out a small cookie-like food. Serena took it and nibbled on it, pleasantly surprised by the spicy taste.
The food was finished in a few minutes. Tierno looked around and asked, "Well, what now?"
Trevor said, "Didn't we go to the gardens last year?"
"Oh yeah! That was sooo pretty! Why don't take Serena?" chimed in Shauna.
"That sounds like a good idea," said Calem with a nod.
"Don't I get a say in this!?"
"Well," began Trevor, "from what I've heard, you've never done anything like this before-"
"Shauna!" shouted Serena, cutting Trevor off. Shauna only giggled.
"-so no, you don't have a say," continued Trevor, acting as if the interruption never happened.
Serena looked to Tierno, but he just shrugged.
"Fine. Let's go."
The gardens were pretty, she had to admit. The topiaries were intricate, cut in the shapes of Bergmite, Aurorus, and various other Ice-types. There weren't any flowers, unfortunately. December, however unseasonably warm, was still December.
There wasn't much to do, though. While the topiaries were amazing in their detail, they were about the only thing of note. The group spent about an hour wandering around before deciding to head back into Lumiose proper.
And that was more of the same, including Serena's frustration at being unable to find a decent gift for Calem.
They decided it was time to go home as the sun started to dip below the buildings, bringing dazzling lights out of hiding to illuminate the city in even brighter tones than the city's own lights.
Not knowing whether they would see each other again or not, gifts were exchanged between the boys of Lumiose and the Vaniville trio. Tierno gave everyone CDs which, with Trevor's help, he had put music onto. He said that the music was different between all of the discs. Trevor had apparently recruited his sister to help him make various desserts, and he had packaged them all with a Pokéball.
Serena felt bad that her gifts were all bought after seeing the effort that Trevor and Tierno had put into their gifts, but they seemed to appreciate them (a book on the various region's legends and a pair of headphones, respectively) nevertheless.
After Trevor and Tierno left, the other three decided to take off from the gardens. As they exited Lumiose into the manicured corridors of hedges, Serena had to catch her breath.
The entire area was lit up. Lights were strung along the tops of the hedges, and the various topiaries were graced with lights that had been strategically placed within them which made various parts of the topiaries stand out. The entire area was cloaked in an ethereal glow.
A giant topiary which Serena had overlooked earlier, unable to make out its intended subject, was now revealed to depict Xerneas standing gracefully, head raised ever-so-slightly to the heavens. The sculpture was lit with a rainbow of various lights, some even changing color. The effect was beautiful - a legend made of leaves standing over its own glowing plant world.
"It's nothing like the real thing, is it?" remarked Calem.
Even Shauna had nothing to say. All she or Serena could do was nod. He was right. Several of the details of the topiary were wrong, and nothing could ever compare to the feeling of standing in the presence of pure life.
No, it isn't anything like it.
And yet... it wasn't bad. Not at all...
"It's another experience altogether."
Saturday morning brought cold and snow, as if nature was making up for lost time. Serena woke up and immediately pulled the blankets tighter around herself, frowning at the sudden bite of the air. The heat of the shower felt divine, but the shivers afterward refused to go away until she had dressed herself in quite a few more layers than she normally would.
She was working a comb through her thick, wavy hair when her Holo Caster rang. She jumped, then glared at the device for startling her. She checked the name, not planning on answering it anyway, but she changed her mind when she saw the caller's identity, quickly hitting the answer button.
"Oh, Sere, you're up."
"What's that supposed to mean!?" hissed Serena at the mini-Calem. She still found it a bit strange to talk to a hologram.
"Nothing!" Yeah right. "Just figured you wouldn't be up on a day like this. I didn't want to get up myself, but then I remembered something."
Serena walked over to the Holo Caster that she had left on her nightstand, still trying to comb her mane.
"And that would be...?"
"You'll see," Calem said with a crooked smile.
"Oh, so you're just going to drag me off someplace again?"
"What if I don't want to go anywhere?"
"I'll tell your mother."
Serena scowled. She knew her mother would force her to go with him if it would get her out of the house.
"That's playing dirty."
"But it works, no?" said Calem, his tone jovial. "I'll be there in half an hour. Don't wear anything too fancy." He ended the call before Serena could ask him just what was the meaning of this. She stood there for a moment before glaring at the far wall, beyond which she knew her rival was smirking.
Serena stood outside in the heaviest boots she could find, a long pair of jeans, and a puffy jacket over her sweater, glaring at her often-infuriating rival, who was dressed similarly, though with a few extra things, and also, as she noted with interest, carrying his blue messenger bag, which seemed to be holding quite a bit.
"Hey, don't look at me like that. You should get out more."
"You sound like my mother."
"Ouch. That's harsh." Though the words were spoken lightly, she could see that he did mean it, at least a bit. He was right. She detested her mother. She shouldn't compare them - after all, Calem was the most supportive of her out of everyone she knew.
She was broken out of her train of thought by Calem, who had a slight frown on his face.
"You're not dressed properly."
"What, are my clothes still too 'fancy'?" she said snappily, bringing her fingers up to make air quotes.
Calem's frown deepened. "No. I meant you don't have a hat or scarf, or even gloves."
Serena's hands dropped, burying themselves into her coat pockets, and she looked away. Great job. Snapping at him. That was an amazing idea.
"Hang on, I'll be right back," said Calem, who jogged off, his bag bouncing against his leg even though he tried to hold it stationary.
A few minutes later, he returned, holding a black mound of cloth which a shivering Serena quickly realized were the clothing articles Calem had said she was missing. He handed her the pile, and she put on the knit hat and gloves. She dropped the scarf while doing so, but before she could bend down and retrieve it, he did so himself. He shook the snow off, then proceeded to wrap the black-and-red-striped fabric around her neck. Despite the cold, Serena could feel her cheeks heat up, and she just hoped that the scarf hid it.
"There." He smiled at her, and she was even more grateful for the scarf than she had been a second ago. "That's better." He sent out his Altaria, who clucked at him for sending him out in such cold weather. He gave him a pet.
"Yeah, I know, Lou. Sorry about that." Turning his attention back to Serena, he said, "We're going to Dendemille! Did you want to ride with me, or are you just going to take Neru?"
Arceus damn her blush and that boy's obliviousness.
"I-I'll just ride on Neru, thanks!"
They flew to Dendemille, and Calem forced her to wait while he ran off to do some business after asking her, of all things, what size shoes she wore. Of course. She paced by the windmill stairs until he came back, his bag looking even bulkier than before, and he led her out of the town and into the woods nearby.
She hoped he knew where he was going.
He finally turned and told her that "it" was just ahead.
"It" was apparently a clearing with a large pond, which had frozen over in the cold. Serena stood, looking around the area. What did he want here? Gears started turning in her mind, and then she realized - shoe size. Frozen pond.
Calem, who had been digging around in his bag, held out a pair of ice skates.
"Skating?" She must have sounded confused, because he seemed to deflate a bit.
"Yeah. One of my friends told me the pond had frozen over... I thought you might have liked to go." It suddenly struck Serena that she'd never even given a thought to him having friends besides the ones she knew.
She took the skates from him with a small smile. "It's been a while since I've gone skating," she said in Kanjoan. She walked towards a rock that protruded from the ground and began to exchange her boots for the skates.
Calem perked up and answered in kind. "Well, if you need help, I'll be right here."
"As if I'll need help," she responded, smirking. "Just who do you think I am?"
"Serena Yvonne Adalbert, the best rival in all of Kalos," he responded almost instantly, a hand lifted to his chest. "That doesn't mean I can't be better than you at some things, though," he continued, returning her smirk.
She laughed, something she hadn't done in a while. He joined in, and they were both still laughing when they made their way onto the frozen pond.
The whole day was like that, a mix of happy emotions - the freedom of flying on ice. Pleasant surprise when his bag turned out to hold blankets, cookies, still-warm grilled cheese sandwiches (thanks to the foil they'd been wrapped in), and two thermoses of hot chocolate. A rising, ticklish feeling when he had, after all, helped her up from a fall, and didn't bother to take his hand away from hers, so they skated hand-in-hand, close enough that their clouded breaths mingled as they rose up into the icy blue sky. The hilarity when they both managed to fall simultaneously, and just sat there laughing and giggling at the coincidence.
The sheer joy of spending time with people that you cared about, so that time faded away and you didn't remember that there was anywhere else until the sun had sunk halfway to the horizon and you could hardly tell the difference between the snow and the ice.
They had rushed back to Dendemille and returned the skates, breathless from racing each other through the town (he won). They hadn't bothered to race on the fly home though, already being late, and had instead opted to leisurely glide through the frigid air, chatting and soaking up the sun's last rays.
And though they had both, as she found out later when he messaged her on the Holo Caster, gotten scolded by their parents, she didn't fell guilty at all - and she got the feeling he didn't either.
She woke up in the morning with her Holo Caster on her lap, an invitation to dinner on Christmas Eve, and an idea for a present for Calem.
On Christmas Eve, she walked over to his house with her mother unfortunately in tow. She, of course, wanted to associate herself with people such as Calem's parents, who were not only part of the nobility but also fairly well-known Trainers.
Her mother had said she was done with the life of fame, but that was a load of Tauros dung.
Serena, dressed in the nicest clothes she could find, was surprised by how warm and cozy the house seemed. A wreath, decorated with bright red bows and pinecones, was sitting on the table in the living room, surrounded by four lit ivory candles. In fact, there were lit candles all around, in a variety of shapes and colors, and the fireplace was lit. A tree stood in the corner, decorated in silver tinsel, white lights, and blue, gray, and silver ornaments.
Shauna and her family were there, too. She, Serena, and Calem all stayed in their own area, avoiding the adults and their conversations of status.
Though the dinner conversation was less than fantastic, what with being constantly pelted by questions and her mother's fake smiles, she had to admit the dinner was nothing short of it. Various types of seafood, including Clauncher, Basculin, and Clamperl, lined the table, along with foie gras, caviar, bran bread, and truffles. For dessert, there was a Yule log, which was much tastier than its namesake.
Once everyone had stuffed themselves, the adults stayed at the table with a bottle of wine, and the three friends went by the fire to give each other their gifts.
Shauna, excited as ever, gave her gifts first - a Chespin plushie, seemingly from the same stall that Serena had gotten the Eevee at, for Serena, and a jacket for Calem, who smiled knowingly as soon as he began to remove the wrapping paper.
Calem gave Shauna, funnily enough, a jacket as well. Judging by the giggling that Shauna was doing, there was some sort of joke associated with it. He gave Serena a hat and glove set, and the very same scarf that she had borrowed that day.
Shauna squealed when she saw the Eevee plushie - "It's adorable!".
Serena felt extremely self-conscious as she turned to Calem. Her idea was either really good or really stupid, and she was about to find out.
"I... I didn't get you... Something like that..." she stammered out, blushing. Calem only looked confused, which Serena took as a okay sign. He wasn't mad at her...
"It's just... after we went skating that one day, I thought maybe I could do something like that for you." She took a deep breath. "So... you tell me one thing you want to do, and I'll take care of everything." She looked down at her fidgeting hands, not wanting to look at his face, or Shauna's, for that matter.
It felt like eternity.
Then she felt a tap on her shoulder.
She looked up to see Calem smiling down at her.
She found herself straightening up.
"I'm... not quite sure what to do with it..." Her head fell again.
"But I'll tell you when I figure it out." He was still smiling, and she found herself smiling back, letting out a sigh of relief.
When the party finally disbanded, Shauna gave them both hugs before walking back home, leaving Calem and Serena standing outside, waiting for her mother to actually stop talking.
They just stood there for a few minutes, watching the stars and the moon edge across the sky. Calem finally broke the silence.
He continued in Kanjoan. "Sorry if I seemed... confused earlier."
"Don't worry about it! I would've been... I was worried you'd be upset."
"Why would I be upset?" he asked, turning his head to her.
"Because I didn't get you something."
"That's not true."
"You know what I meant." She gently elbowed him.
The next thing she knew, he was hugging her. She was frozen for a moment, but she hugged him back.
"Joyeux Noël, Sere."
If this was Christmas, then she was glad that she'd been shown it.
"Joyeux Noël," she whispered back.
AKA my back hurts why did I make myself have to do 3/2 of it today OTL
I do think the elf hat helped me get into the spirit, though.
I think if you read Fairy Scary again, you'll see a couple things that'll make more sense, but eh that's just me and I wouldn't blame you if you didn't want to read a Halloween special at Christmas. ^^"
Feel free to correct my French if it needs it!
Anyway, Merry Christmas to those that celebrate it, and if you don't, I hope your holiday is/was great as well!
WHAT I LEARNED:
- a few French words
- French Christmas traditions
- I remembered Bergmite is a thing
As always, reviews, favs, and follows are always appreciated!
-End Message, Nighttyger