Disclaimer - I do not own Pokemon. Or these characters. Or myself. I believe I'm the property of my slave-master cat. Damn that cat…

Author - Warlordess

Notes - I can't believe it's come to this but here it goes. In an effort to prove to myself that I can indeed write for a ship that I don't support - (a test, it's a test!) - and also to support the more mature members of their shipping fanbase, I thought I'd write this Amourshipping one-shot. It's even more fated because this also just happens to fall on Tumblr's Amourshipping Week.

Good luck, guys! Enjoy your shipping week! Please note that this is a fic written by a die-hard Pokeshipper. I pray I do your ship justice, especially during your special week!

OoO

Title - "Show of Bravery"

Summary - Preceding her first PokePerformance finale, Serena receives some encouragement from her friends.

OoOoO

She blew a random wavy tress of hair out of her way, fighting the urge to scratch at the itch it happened to manifest on one of her cheeks for fear even the most inconsequential move would somehow ruin her appearance and, therefore, her chances at winning the final round of the performance showcase.

"Fenne…?" her Pokemon near whimpered up at her from her position in Serena's arms, perhaps noting the girl's wild heartbeat or electric nerves. The very faint tremors of anxiety weren't helping her case either. She liked to pretend she had the confidence to go through with this - her first attempt at chasing her dream as a Pokemon performer - but all of the courage she thought she'd acquired had long since turned to liquid and trickled down to the ground, abandoning her just when she needed it most.

Well, maybe that wasn't what she needed most.

"Mm," she murmured to Fennekin, holding the fox-type Pokemon a little tighter in what she hoped was more ease than fear and softly shaking her head, "We'll be fine! I'm sure we will…"

What she really, probably needed most was…

"Psst, Serena!" a voice whispered stealthily from somewhere behind her and the girl almost jumped three feet in the air in response. She managed to recover quite easily and turned on her heel, staring confusedly around at the apparently empty back room behind the stage… except for a particularly bulging five-foot-span of maroon curtain that seemed to be talking to her.

"Ash…?" she asked hopefully, ignoring the bulk of shouting and cheering and general chatter from the audience on the very other side of the curtain where she was standing and instead walking in the opposite direction, "Bonnie? Clemont…?" she continued to curiously whisper as she closed in on the source of disruption.

"You got it!" Ash shouted, excitedly throwing the curtain back and leaping out in front of her, Bonnie and Clemont following suit, the former of which posed hopping on one leg with her arms stuck out in hopes of keeping her balance better.

"Pikachu pika!" Pikachu exclaimed in glee from his trainer's shoulder before leaping down onto Bonnie's head and posing along with her.

Serena did her best to stifle it but the giggle escaped her tightly pursed lips and bubbled out into the open air. She soundly released Fennekin and let her leap down to the ground so that she could socialize with her friends, Dedenne and Pikachu.

"So how are you feeling?" Clemont asked cautiously.

Serena's smile did not reach her eyes; rather, it was clearly a wall meant to keep all of the fear and concern bottled up within her.

"I… I'm okay; I mean," and she faltered here in order to gulp a few deep breaths, "I don't know. I think I'm alright."

"You're doing great, Serena!" Bonnie cheered from below the threshold of their height difference, "You're only one round away from winning! I think you'll take first place in the showcase! In fact I know you will!"

Clemont, who'd been surveying the exchange wearing a mask of realism, softened into a hopeful smile.

"Yeah, Serena, Bonnie is right. You've wanted this for awhile now! You were finally able to find a dream of your own, you even found the strength to talk to your mom about it! You came all this way and finally reached a point where you really want something… So you should put up the best fight you can, right?" he finished with a hint of easy-going laughter.

"Thanks, Clemont," she replied kindly even as her gaze was already swerving in Ash's direction so that she was facing him during his vocalization of similar support.

"You're gonna be great," he told her confidently, giving her a thumbs up, "This performing-thing seems right up your alley! And even if you don't win," and Serena felt her grateful smile falter automatically, "you can always try again!"

Well, needless to say, she was a bit disappointed in her crushes choice of words... But she knew not to take them personally - after all, he really was just trying help - and shook the possibility of failure from her head before anyone could notice.

"Th - thanks," she told them with averted eyes and a reticent expression.

"Good luck!" all three of her friends cheered - Pikachu doing the same in his native tongue - as they waved at her and started to u-turn back in the direction they'd come from, apparently feeling that they'd all said their peace.

"U - um, Ash, c - can you wait a minute...?" she called out to the raven-haired trainer, one hand held up before her and reaching out anxiously.

"Sure; what is it?" he asked in accommodating reply.

But she felt the familiar fear nibbling and gnawing at her as she glanced uneasily at Bonnie and Clemont standing behind her crush as well. This wasn't something she had much confidence in, let alone when she had an audience watching with curiosity and eagerness.

Clemont seemed to catch on to this though.

"Hey Bonnie, let's get back to our seats. Pikachu, you wanna come with us?" he asked, already leading both of them away.

And in two-to-three seconds, Serena and Ash were suddenly very alone with one another, Fennekin staring keenly between the two of them from her seat on the floor as they finally had their moment.

"Sorry," the raven-haired trainer blurted before she could even think of what exactly she wanted to tell him and how she'd planned to word it. "What I said... It probably wasn't what you wanted to hear, right?"

Serena blinked and took in his bashful manner, him looking troubled as one hand drew to the back of his neck and rubbed in embarrassment.

"No, Ash, what you said was just fine," she told him in consolation. "A - actually, the reason I asked you to wait... I wanted to thank you."

"Huh? Uh, why is that?" he asked her, dumbfounded.

"Well, you, Clemont, and Bonnie were all right. I finally found something I really wanted to do," she paused here, raising one of her gloved hands until it was perched over her chest, "from the bottom of my heart. For the longest time though, I was complacent. I went through the motions and only did what was convenient and simple... But I watched you fight. I watched you fall and get back up on so many occasions. I've always been proud of you, admired you, for being able to keep trying and fighting for what you want... even after failing the first time."

She paused again here and took a deep breath, doing her utmost to ignore Ash's enthralled expression as he listened to her speak.

"Anyway, that's why it's okay, what you told me a little while ago... because I know you mean it from experience. If I don't... Well, there's always next time." She hesitated here before deciding to switch topics.

"When we started traveling together, I thought it was just fine to watch you battle your way through gym leaders and root for you... And of course I helped with the cooking too," she giggled before pushing through to what she'd been working up the nerve to say, "But for all of your courage and purpose, Ash, you've always been so patient with me. You told me to take my time and that I'd find a goal for myself eventually...

"In fact, you've always been honest and told me what I needed to hear the most. So I guess I'm thanking you because... Well, it's because of you that I'm here today." She finally finished, a familiar flush that Ash didn't seem to notice igniting her cheeks.

"But Serena..." he finally began in response to her gratitude, "I mean, it's really easy to get used to doing the same stuff over and over... And it's really easy to just watch someone else do what you want to do for yourself... But what makes you brave is that you found the strength to chase after this with your own two legs! So, at the very least, you can't go giving me all the credit!" he laughed, patting her on the shoulder, ignorant of her faint retaliatory squeak at the physical contact.

There was the muffled sound of someone shouting another participant's name from across the room and beyond the other curtain leading to the main stage. It distracted from the awkward silence that had taken over after the bulk of their conversation, but the renewed comfort faded quite quickly again afterwards.

"So I guess you and Fennekin should double-check and make sure you're both ready, huh?" Ash went on to say, nodding in the direction of Serena's starter, who'd curled up and proceeded to watch their lengthy exchange in silence. "It'll be your turn soon."

"U - um, yeah, but... there's one more thing," she blurted so quickly he almost missed it, though not quite. She felt a sense of foreboding almost overwhelm her at the very thought of what she was about to do - what she'd set out to do originally.

"Oh, yeah? What is i-"

She'd made her move before he could finish voicing his latest question in full, stealthily grasping onto his trainer vest and pulling it towards her, of course managing to bring the rest of him along for the ride.

"Mwaaah!" he yelped as he did his best to regain proper balance. At the same time, Serena leaned in and clenched her eyes tightly shut and prayed for the best, stifling the rapid beating of her aching heart.

The entire world stopped spinning for the four-second-long duration that her lips were pressed soundly against his cheek. And swiftly as she'd instigated it, the moment was over and the two of them had returned to their original positions, standing roughly two feet away from each other.

"So... what was...? I mean..." the raven-haired trainer fumbled repeatedly in confusion and awe as he tried to find the words, taking the opportunity to reposition his hat so that he had something else to focus on.

"It was just, um," Serena ventured in response but failed rather miserably herself and bit her bottom lip, wondering if it was indeed best to remain silent at this point… though she knew without a doubt that that might be the worst choice she could make after managing to come so far.

Honestly, she couldn't even believe that she'd found the courage to kiss him to begin with. She'd hoped that, after resolving to do so, she would be able to stave off getting tongue-tied and actually tell him what she'd wanted to say for so long...

"I guess... That was also me trying to thank you..." She confessed in the end, her feelings for him internally fighting against her own cowardice the entire time she'd pieced the statement together and vocalized it. "A - and maybe..."

"Maybe...?" Ash repeated as a means of egging her on but it seemed as though he wouldn't be able to pull anymore answers from her since she dropped her gaze to her own hands, which were unconsciously toying with the pleats in her skirt.

"Maybe... I'll tell you later," she tried again by means of an excuse, "you know, if I win."

He watched her repetitive motion with a blank expression on his face, though it eventually softened into an accepting smile before he burst out with a rather abrupt bout of laughter.

"W - what is it…?" she asked him cautiously in response to this action.

"Oh, uh, nothing… It's just… If you win… I guess this means I have more of a reason to cheer my hardest for you, huh? I mean, if I ever want to know what that was all about?" he finished, and he had the good graces to look just as sheepish as her; blush of red to his face, averted gaze, and all.

"Yeah, I guess you… Wait," she felt her brow furrow as her original response tapered off, then she renewed her gaze in his direction, hands on her hips, posture straight and eyes sharp, "What's that supposed to mean? Weren't you going to cheer your hardest for me anyway? What kind of friend are you, Ash?" she asked.

"The kind of friend who knows you're going to be great!" he guffawed mischievously before twisting away from her attempted swat at his arm and hightailing it in the direction the rest of their friends had retreated to. "And I know you will, Serena! Good luck!" he shouted back at her in finality before disappearing from her gaze altogether.

Serena breathed deep through her nose and did her best to let the tension fall away from her, smiling at Ash's retreating back. Of course he didn't mean it. She knew that. But if he was going to poke fun at her then he'd better not expect her to just stand there and take it!

"C'mon, Fennekin, we should probably head back to the stage."

Her partner Pokemon stood back on all fours and stretched before allowing her trainer to pick her back up. Then the two of them did as Serena had suggested beforehand. They both peered around the edge of the curtain and viewed the bright lights; the audience; the showcase hostess who was currently shouting mixed praises and criticism through her microphone.

They both stared at the sight of their dream, suddenly much closer to them than they thought it'd ever be, much more terrifying and extravagant and more real with every stride they'd managed to take thus far.

From a distance, Serena could barely make out Ash's silhouette as he rejoined Clemont, Bonnie, and Pikachu, who in turn immediately leapt into the arms of his trainer and settled himself down.

In the back of her mind, she heard Ash's particular proverb echoing throughout, reminding her that she was indeed capable of doing this, of becoming a Pokemon performer, of winning this showcase, of… eventually telling Ash exactly how she felt about him after everything he'd done to inspire her.

Remember what I said before! It's not over…

Both of their names were called, and she immediately raised her head, put on her best face, and strode forward assuredly with her Pokemon clutched tightly in her arms.

"... Until it's over," she murmured determinedly.

OoOoO

Notes - Oh, yay, I'm glad that's over. Interestingly enough, it only took me a day-and-a-half to write. Things rarely go that way for me unless I really have a solid plan or unless I'm really that inspired to write… I'm not sure what this one fell under but, considering I don't ship Amour, I'm hoping it was the former. Lol.

Please tell me what you thought in reviews! Also be wary if you're thinking of following me here on FFN since, as previously mentioned, I don't ship Amour and I will not be going further out of my way to write for it. This was all a try-out to see what I'm capable of when I don't support something I write for.