A/N: Thank you to ADashOfInsanity, Theadore, Bailerr, NintendoGamerX, Link's Little Brother, thought hemorrhage, Ray-Kat-Hollows, JHO14, catsrae, WayRoundWrong, ttme123, One More Kyubey, Charly-The-Girl, sippurp123, Subvay, jojo, LongShadows, of cookies, Neo Rulez, Lilac Willow Violet, I.K. Holdridge, Truthless, Guest, ytktyfpoio and Kurono-Angel for reviewing this story (as well as anyone else missing a mention)!

I attempted to complete all remaining suggestions at first, but then edited to make it a bit more reasonable. Thank you all for reading and sharing the journey, I hope you have/had a lovely Christmas!


Day 25.

In which we give Marth…


Christmas day was naturally chaos. On reflection Marth thought he should have seen it coming.

He woke to the foreboding sound of sniggering. Opening his eyes he blinked blearily, vaguely aware that he wasn't lying in a conventional position, and that there was someone standing in front of him. About a second or two later he realised that that person was Zelda, she was holding a camera, and the reason his position felt a little odd was because he had accidentally fallen asleep on the sofa curled up against Ike.

Far too quickly for his liking he was wide awake, blushing with embarrassment, and furious.

"Don't you dare!" he yelled, feeling Ike stir beside him at the noise.

Zelda merely giggled before turning and running from the room, calling Peach's name as she went.

By now Marth was sitting upright, gently but hurriedly slipping Ike's arm from his waist and rubbing his eyes brusquely with one hand as he staggered to his feet to chase after Zelda.

"ZELDA!" He sprinted down the corridor in a fury, leaving Ike behind. But despite the spike of adrenalin it was still far too early in the morning for such activity – which meant he hadn't had breakfast and quickly developed a stitch.

"Urgh." He bent over for a moment with his hands on his knees, catching his breath, and then straightened slowly. He had no chance of catching her now. He would have to argue with her about the use of the photos later – although by then it would probably be too late. For a moment he slumped against the wall, wondering what to do next. Anger wasn't a usual emotion for him – it didn't sit well, and rapidly disintegrated into exasperation. Heaving a sigh he headed back towards his room to shower and change.

However, as luck would have it, he bumped into her only an hour or so later, after breakfast. He was heading to the toilet when –

Well, there she was.

"Zelda, what are you doing in the men's toilets?" He crossed his arms, waiting for an explanation. She blushed and then sighed.

"I've lost my diary! I have no idea where it's gone!" she cried, distressed.

"But why –"

"I thought one of the boys might have stolen it and hidden it somewhere as a prank." She frowned. "Was it you?"

Marth blinked. "What? No! Why would you think…" he trailed off. He had every reason to steal Zelda's diary, really, after all she'd put him through. And the photos she'd taken just that morning! Her frown deepened.

"Did you?"

"No!"

"I want to see your room!"

"Zelda, I didn't –"

"Move! We're going to your room right now!"

"I didn't take it! I didn't even know you'd lost it!" Marth protested, holding his hands up defensively.

She wheeled him around and pushed him out of the toilets. "We're going to your room."

Marth sighed and led the way, knowing she wouldn't find anything anyway. They reached his room and he opened the door to allow her to search for her diary. And that was when he was confronted with the next disruption of the day.

A Poké Ball sat just inside the door, a Post-It note attached to the outside. Marth was torn between bending over to read it and backing rapidly away, just in case his presence had somehow…

The seam of the Poké Ball began to glow.

"Um…" He was just on the verge of warning Zelda when the Pokémon materialised, large dark blue eyes looking innocently back up at him. A Manaphy. Oh God no. His luck could not be this bad…

The ends of the Manaphy's antenna began to glow pink, two balls of energy rising upwards. Marth turned to Zelda in horror. No, no, no…

"Oh great," he muttered. In Zelda's voice.

Zelda – or rather him – whirled around. "What? What? What?" The second 'what' was at the sound of her voice on the first 'what'. The third 'what' was at the sight of the Manaphy.

"Oh." Zelda looked down at his – now her – body and twisted experimentally, then put her hands on her waist. "You're thinner than I thought," she commented in a concerned tone.

"I really don't think that's the main problem here," Marth growled.

"It'll wear off in a bit." She smiled then, and pouted, putting one finger to her – his – lips and posing girlishly with her knees bent.

"Don't do that! That's not funny!"

"Do you have a camera? – I don't have long to make use of this opportunity –"

"Don't you dare!"

There was a slight knock on the open door. Both of them turned around and saw Ike standing in the doorway. Marth shot Zelda a don't-even-think-of-anything glare urgently. Ike turned to Zelda and smiled.

"Hey Marth. I was just wondering where you'd gone. You were chasing after Zelda and I couldn't find you. And then I ran into Kirby, who has been running absolutely everywhere – he found some strawberry perfume which he sprayed everywhere and he managed to climb on the roof and has been blowing bubbles ever since. The girls were making Christmas pudding and wanted you to join them, and Link wanted to talk to you about something too, but I don't think he said what about…" Ike shrugged, grinning and then chuckling. "Today seems like it's going to be pretty hectic, huh?"

"Seems so," Zelda answered for him, smiling archly.

Marth was tempted to butt in and point out the Manaphy before Zelda tried anything when he looked at Ike – properly – and hesitated. Ike was smiling so easily, his whole posture relaxed. His expression looked soft and so…affectionate. Marth blushed. Was that really how Ike looked at him? Then Zelda bit one finger coyly, tilting her body towards him and shooting him a smile. Marth stared at her. How dare she be suggestive with his bo– was Ike looking him up and down? It was a quick glance, but he had definitely –

Marth blushed furiously just as the Heart Swap ended and he found himself back in his own body, now faced with Ike's gaze directly. He had known, or suspected that Ike had liked him back, even fancied him, had hoped, but he hadn't suspected, well not as much, he hadn't known, well… Did Ike really look at him like that?

"Marth?"

Marth snapped back to focus. He was looking right back at Ike now. How had he never seen that expression, surely… It couldn't have been like that before could it?

"Yeah. I guess I should go and talk to Link then…" Marth answered, kicking his brain back into gear.

"Right. I'll…catch you later then?" Ike lingered, still smiling, as if reluctant to go. His gaze flicked over to Zelda.

"Yeah. Zelda's, uh…looking for her diary. She thinks I took it. I haven't." Marth shrugged. "Hectic day."

"Are you sure you haven't taken it?" Zelda asked.

"Yes." He turned to Ike and shrugged helplessly. "I'll see you later?"

"Sure."

Ike turned to leave and Zelda immediately returned to scouring around for the diary whilst Marth examined the Poké Ball (now with the Manaphy back inside). The Post-It note on the outside read: 'Hey Marth! I got this courtesy of Red's help. I thought it might help you get your own back on Zelda after all she's put you through. Merry Christmas! -Pit."

There was a certain irony to that.

He shifted the Poké Ball from hand to hand for a moment and then placed it to one side with a sigh, sitting down on the bed. Zelda looked around for a little longer in hope of finding her diary but shortly gave up and sat in the centre of the carpet wearily, looking up at him.

"I'm sorry Marth," she sighed. "I wasn't really convinced you had it, but I hoped that if anyone had stolen it it would be you. You wouldn't do anything bad with it. I don't know who has it or what they are going to do."

Marth gave her a brief look of sympathy. "Are you sure it's stolen?"

Zelda nodded. "I've looked everywhere in my room and through all my bags and I always keep it in the same place anyway." She stood up slowly. "Sorry Marth. I guess I'll keep looking."

"Okay." Marth nodded and she left. He laid back on his bed and stared at the ceiling, his thoughts returning back to Ike and the way he had looked at him. Marth blushed. It seemed too good to be true. Perhaps it was just because it was Christmas day and he was happy because of that. He glanced across at the Poké Ball, wondering what else this festive day could possibly have in store for him.

There was a short knock on the door.

"Come in."

The door opened and Link stood in the doorway looking a bit sheepish.

"Oh, Link! Ike said you wanted to talk to me," Marth said, sitting up.

"Yes." Link stepped in and shut the door. He stood just inside for a long moment as if not knowing what to do, and then moved quickly to sit on the bed next to Marth. There was a pause in which he simply took a nervous breath and then he reached into the school bag he had for some reason brought with him. Marth watched in curiosity as Link withdrew a slim red notebook and held it out to him abruptly. Marth stared at it for a long moment, uncomprehending.

"I was hoping you could return this to Zelda for me," he murmured guiltily.

Marth tensed as realisation dawned on him. "Is that...her diary?"

Link looked away, ashamed. "We were talking in her room this morning when Peach came running in to tell her that you, you know, you and Ike had fallen asleep together on the sofa."

Marth blushed.

"Zelda grabbed her camera and rushed out. She didn't come back for a while and I was glancing around the room for something to do when I saw it – the diary. It was just lying on the side and I opened it to see what it was and..." He trailed off awkwardly, the rest of his confession implied. "She still didn't come back so I sat down to read it properly when I heard her footsteps. I couldn't put it back quick enough so I hid it under my top and made an excuse to leave quickly." Link looked to Marth anxiously. "I don't think I can return it to her without her suspecting... I was hoping you could get it back to her on my behalf somehow... Please don't tell her I took it," he pleaded.

Marth frowned at him. "She already suspected me of taking it! She'll think I really did steal it if I was the one to give it back to her!" Marth protested. Link looked down at his hands. Marth lowered his voice, another thought taking over.

"So...you read her diary?"

Link nodded slowly. "Pieces. I know I shouldn't have...I was too curious... She wrote about the love potion she'd planned to give me on the night of the film party and how you ended up drinking it by accident instead. I guess that's why you acted so strange..."

Marth blushed. "She meant well," he muttered, barely able to believe he was defending her.

Link smiled. "I know."

The red notebook lay on the bed between them and they both stared at it for a moment.

"Please, Marth," Link persisted at last, "I can't bear the thought of falling out with her so soon..."

Marth sighed in resignation. It was true that they had only been together for a few days. They were so good together; it would be a shame to have a potential disruption in their relationship so early on.

"I'll see what I can do," he consented. An expression of relief washed over Link's face.

"Thank you. I'll...leave that with you then." Link shot him one last grateful smile and then stood up to leave. Marth watched him go and sat in silence for a few moments, wondering what to do. His eyes gravitated to back towards the diary. No – he wouldn't. Of course not. The thought hadn't even crossed his mind. He slid one finger slowly over the red cover of the diary. It was an invasion of privacy but she was bound to have written about him – and Link had read it. And in the same position Zelda would definitely read his. He blinked, and forced himself to look away.

A large proportion of the day slipped by without him succumbing to the temptation. The snow had melted a little and he helped Peach retrieve her earring from the snowman, and then finished eating his shortbread before baking a cake to share with everyone. The afternoon melted away before he had a chance to return to his room and was confronted once more with the red notebook still lying on his bed. He'd almost forgotten about it. Almost. He sat down beside it slowly. For a second or two he hesitated, then nudged the cover open with his finger casually as if it was simply an accident of movement. The first entry had been written some time in March and didn't interest him. He paused and then skipped towards entries in December, quickly foregoing the pretence that he wasn't intentionally reading Zelda's diary. His eyes caught on the third:

Yessss! Finally got Marth to admit his blatant crush on Ike...even if it was under the influence of a truth potion...

He skipped a few days.

In the evening Marth got drunk and actually licked Nutella off his top! I'll have to mention that suggestively some time... And then he staggered down the corridor and hugged Ike! Well, I don't think Ike really minded...

He flicked through a little further, to the 18th.

Ike wanted to talk to us about Marth. We managed to make Marth sound so suggestive! Don't think Ike really bought into it, but then he's seen how shy Marth is. His face when I exposed his feelings to the others – he didn't even look angry... I knew it. He knew I was saying the truth. I think he's more likely to do something about it than Marth. If only Marth would just step out and speak up sometimes, I think it could do him a lot of good. I do love my potions, but it would be much better and easier if –

There was a knock on the door. Marth's hands twitched automatically in panic and he flung the diary violently to the other side of the room, sitting on his hands and trying to suppress the sudden guilt that swelled up inside him.

"Yes?"

The door opened slowly. "Hey – are you busy?"

"Oh...no." Marth tried not to look guilty as Ike stepped in holding a small wrapped package and sat on the bed beside him. They sat in silence for a little while.

"Did something fall over?" Ike asked with a frown.

Marth stared at the spot where the diary had crumpled beside the far wall. Ike followed his gaze.

"What –"

"Nothing!" Marth squeaked.

Ike frowned, his eyes narrowing. "Is that –"

"Nothing!"

"O...kay... It's just that I was talking to Z–"

"I didn't mean to! It was just that Link had it and then he gave it to me and then I wasn't going to read it but I knew she'd have written about me and so I just took a quick look – I barely saw anything, really, I mean..."

"...she told me she'd lost her diary," Ike finished slowly, giving Marth a long look. And then he grinned. "Did you read anything funny?"

Marth shrugged. "No. Not really." He smiled shyly.

Ike smiled and leant back on the bed, pulling out his iPod and offering Marth and earphone. Marth paused and then lay down beside him so that they were both staring up at the ceiling.

"Today's been hectic," Ike commented.

"Christmas." Marth sighed. A comfortable silence fell. Marth glanced across at him, wondering what the package was. It was wrapped in Christmas paper – a present for him? Well if it was Ike would offer it to him, right? But the silence slipped on. They relaxed, listening to Ike's music. It was so peaceful, Marth mused. He could spend more time like this, just him and Ike... This time the thought didn't make him blush. Instead he smiled, a big smile that simply spread and spread across his face without reason, until it almost hurt his cheeks. Then his eyes shot open as he felt Ike sit up abruptly.

"What is it?"

Ike looked at him and fiddled with the package in his hand as Marth sat up as well. He looked around at the walls almost as if in despair, or perhaps as if searching for courage, and then held the package out towards Marth.

"This is for you."

"Oh, thank y–"

"It's not from me." Ike rushed, colouring with embarrassment. "I'm so sorry. It's from Peach. I was going to get you something but I kept forgetting and then there was snow and today all the shops are closed and...I...I'm so sorry." Ike looked down at his hands as Marth took the present from him.

"That's okay."

"No!" Ike exclaimed suddenly, making Marth jump. "I really wanted to get you something – I'm so stupid to forget..." He hit himself on the forehead with the palm of his hand.

"No, I don't mind, really, I...I...I forgot your present too." The last words slipped out of his mouth without thought, surprising Marth as he realised the truth of them as they came out. His eyes widened. "Oh no, I did, I really forgot, I..." Marth bit his lip, distressed.

"It's okay Marth," Ike chuckled. Then he shook his head good-humouredly. "I guess we both got distracted."

Marth nodded. "Well...shall we see what this is?"

Ike smiled. "Okay."

Marth pulled the packaging off and pulled out a very girly, very pink, very frilly knitted bobble hat. "Oh, this is just...typical." Marth sighed and Ike grinned.

"Don't worry, I believe she got Pit a very similar scarf," Ike reassured him.

"Peach would, if anyone." Marth rolled his eyes and then his gaze locked onto Ike's as they both smiled. He just felt so...comfortable with Ike, he realised. Did Ike feel the same? He remembered what he'd read in Zelda's diary: 'If only Marth would just step out and speak up sometimes...' He took a deep breath. Ike had said he'd liked him, but that could have meant...was it...it had to be...please...

"Ike...?" He swallowed nervously.

Ike looked at him and it was as though something passed between them then, something deeper than words. Ike lifted one hand and cupped Marth's cheek.

"I know I forgot your present, but...well, do you think you could have me instead?"

Marth beamed at him, a beautiful warmth spreading through him. "Always," he whispered.

Ike smiled, and then leant in to kiss him.


...Ike.