Spoiler warning: Contains end-of-game spoilers!

Author's Note: It's about time for another Emil x Marta story from me! As usual, this is part of my vague post-game timeline! I would make a collection of one-shots, but I like this format more. It lets me jump around whenever I get a good idea or a fic. That way I can write about an event shortly after the end of the game and then write one many years later. If you're wondering, this fic occurs after "A Father's Blessing" but a few years before the first fic I uploaded.

I enjoyed writing this fluffy little fic, so I hope you'll enjoy reading it! A review would be appreciated, too! With Pokemon Black/White 2 out, my next fic may be a while, but reviews will encourage me to write it faster!

Emil Castaginer stared down the massive green and white wolf in front of him, his sword held in a battle stance. After several moments, the Orion made the first move, lunging at the boy. He swiftly sidestepped the beast's attack and then swung his blade down shouting "Demon Fang!" The blast of energy hit the Orion's side full on, momentarily stunning it. Emil quickly took advantage of this, rushing and kicking the beast. Before he could use his sword, the giant wolf managed to turn around and head butt the blonde. Emil barely raised his blade in time to block the Orion's attack. He then swung it, throwing the monster back.

He dashed at the monster exclaiming "Sword Rain: Alpha!" Emil then thrust his blade at an impossible speed, hitting the wolf several times in its face and neck. The young swordsman tried to move in for the kill, but the green-furred beast leaped to the side, nearly causing Emil to stumble over. He looked up, seeing that the wolf had begun to circle him and growl menacingly.

Emil followed the beast at first, but then stopped, allowing it move behind him. The massive Orion then lunged at the boy, jaws open wide. To the monster's surprise, Emil spun around and delivered a slash along its side. He followed this by throwing the massive beast into the air with his sword and then quickly leaping up.

"Roaring Ti-" He began to shout, but he quickly stopped himself. Emil stopped his Arte let himself fall back to the ground just after the Orion plummeted down and crashed like a boulder.

"Zeimia!" Marta's voice called out as she rushed over to the giant Canid.

"I'm sorry, Zeimia!" Emil exclaimed, kneeling next to the Orion, "I guess I got carried away. Did I hurt you badly?"

Despite the bad fall she took, the large wolf lifted herself up and barked in affirmation. She further emphasized how un-hurt she was by licking Emil's face.

"Hey, cut it out," Emil said with a chuckle, "I get it, you're okay!"

"Aww. We should have known that she's fine. Zeimia is made of tougher stuff than that," Marta said as she kneeled next to the Orion and Emil, "Aren't you, girl?" She scratched the monster behind her large ears, causing Zeimia to woof in appreciation. Not for the first time, Marta noted how Zeimia could be so powerful and ferocious in battle, yet act like an oversized puppy when not.

After they put down the remnant of the vanguard months ago, the young couple did what they could to ease tensions between Sylvarant and Tethe'alla. Neither Marta nor Emil was sure how to do that, so they spent much time meeting and talking with dignitaries from both former worlds. They also worked with their friends on occasion, usually Regal who arranged such meeting and threw the occasional fund raiser, towards this goal. It didn't seem like much, but it was only the beginning.

On that particular day, Marta and Emil had no meetings or events to attend. That gave them a chance to do some training with their monsters in an open field that was not too far from Luin, but usually had few travelers passing through it. They didn't want people to be freaked out by a couple of teenagers fighting with a giant wolf and a dragon, after all. Since they had fewer opportunities to battle, they needed some way to keep their fighting skills sharp. The sword Emil was using was a blunt practice blade. Marta had already sparred with Galena, their Fafnir, and the session had apparently tired out the dragon as she was near by taking a nap.

"I should have known," Emil said with a laugh as he patted Zeimia's neck, "It takes more than that to get you … down ..." Emil said the last two words more quietly and awkwardly. Marta turned towards him, a look of concern on her face.

"Emil?" She asked.

"What?" He replied. His voiced sounded deliberately higher than before, making it sound scratchy.

"Is something wrong?" she continued.

Emil blushed slightly as he stood up from his kneeling position.

"N-nothing's wrong."

Unconvinced, Marta stood back up and said, "You don't have to change your voice like that." Emil flinched noticeably. She might have caught on to what was bothering him.

It happened so slowly and subtly that Marta couldn't even give a general month of when it happened, or started to happen. Emil's voice sounded different, but also very familiar: he was sounding more and more like Ratatosk. From when they first met, the tone of the boy's voice had been changing. He used to be so timid and quiet. Over the course of their journey Emil grew more confident and assertive, which reflected in his voice. This wasn't the same, though.

"You're 18 now. I think that's when boys reach maturity. It makes sense that your voice would change," Marta half explained and half wondered.

"Maybe," Emil said quietly, though he wasn't trying to alter his voice anymore, "But . . . isn't it awkward?"

"Awkward?" Marta repeated. Awkward that his voice was deeper? No, that wasn't what was bothering him directly …

"Awkward that you sound like Ratatosk?"

Emil didn't reply, but he did look down shamefully. They hadn't talked much about Ratatosk since Emil's return from the Ginnungagap two years ago.

"It … it makes me feel sort of guilty," he finally said.

Marta blinked, "Guilty? About being with me?"

Emil snapped his head upwards, eye wide.

"No, I didn't mean that!" he exclaimed. He looked away and said, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything."

Marta walked closer to her boyfriend and then reached with her hand to cup one side of his face. She gently turned his head so his eyes met hers, causing him to blush slightly.

"No, I should've been clearer," she admitted, "and anyway, it's better for us to talk these things out."

Emil nodded. Marta continued,

"Do you feel guilty that you're here with me, and Ratatosk isn't?"

"…Yeah. I mean, I get to live the life of an ordinary person and be with you. He though … he can't. We're supposed to be the same person, the same summon spirit. It just doesn't seem fair. My voice sounding like his is like insult to injury, or something."

Marta continued to look into Emi's brilliant green eyes. She wondered if he was perhaps a touch jealous of any feelings she may still have for his other self. While she missed Ratatosk, she also realized that he and Emil was the same individual. The more she thought about it, though, it made more sense that Emil was concerned about his good fortune verse that of Ratatosk's.

The girl moved her hand from his cheek and then wrapped both arms around Emil's waist, drawing herself closer to him.

"Yes, you are the same person. You are Ratatosk and you are Emil. So in a way, Ratatosk is here with me."

"I guess, but-" Emil began to say. Marta quieted him by placing one of her fingers on his lips. When he stopped talking, she put her arm back around his midsection.

"You also told me that your heart decided to live the life Aster couldn't. That's the same kind heart that always made you do your best; the heart that is both yours and Ratatosk's."

Emil's eyes widened in awe as his jaw hung open slightly.

"And . . . That's the heart I fell in love with," Marta continued, "Since your heart is feeling the things you feel, Ratatosk probably is, too. So you don't have to feel guilty."

With a slight bit of hesitation, Emil encircled his arms around Marta, pulled her into a tight embrace, and rested his head on her shoulder.

"Thank you for saying that, Marta. I'm sorry if I sounded like I don't appreciate our time together. I thank Ratatosk, Richter, and Verius every day for this chance to be with you."

Marta smiled, "It's okay. I didn't take it that way at all. You were just concerned about Ratatosk. The way you always put other before yourself is just one reason I love you."

Emil lifted his head to look into Marta's eyes and smiled warmly.

"You always know what to say, especially to me," Emil said, "and that understanding . . . is one reason I love you." He flushed again.

"I have you to thank for that. I would still be selfish, spoiled, and chasing after some perfect knight I imagined in my head if you didn't snap me out of it in the first place. That was the only way I was able to see the real you and understand you."

"I . . . didn't really do anything," Emil said, "And you're the one who helped me to become a better person."

"Hey now, let's not get into this 'you did more for me!' argument again," Marta warned with a giggle. Emil joined in her mirth. The blonde then leaned down and planted a kiss on his girlfriend's lips. Marta moaned softly as it deepened.

She vaguely heard a quiet woof, but Emil suddenly stopped their kiss. She made a noise of protest until she saw that he was looking at Zeimia. The Orion was sitting up on her haunches, wagging her tail. Marta also saw Galena behind the giant wolf, awake with a distinct draconic smile.

"We kind of have an audience …" Emil trailed off.

It's just the monsters," the brunette pointed out, "And besides, Zeimia has always been our biggest supporter." Marta reached up to pull Emil's head back to hers, but a familiar voice suddenly chimed in an annoyed tone,

"Lady Marta, I'm hurt!'

Great, she thought.

The panther-like Centurion puffed onto mid-air, high enough so that he was at eye level with the young couple.

"Tenebrae, you totally killed the mood!" Marta pouted.

"It didn't look like you were going anything at the moment," he huffed, "In any case, I had to voice how untrue that last statement you made was. I have always been you and Lord Emil's biggest supporter in romantic matters."

"'Always?' The first time we went to Asgard, I remember you saying something like, 'I doubt Marta's wishes will ever come true,'" Emil said.

Tenebrae blinked, "You remember that after all this time?"

"Did you really say that?" Marta responded with a gasp.

"That's all in the past, and that wasn't a fair jab. I tore myself away from my busy schedule of directing my monster servants to redistribute mana just to see you two and instead of a friendly greeting; you accuse me of being callous."

The Centurion continued to protest, mostly in a joking manner. While Marta was still annoyed that Tenebrae had interrupted their moment, she was glad to see him. Not as glad, though, as that sweet heart-to-heart she and Emil were having before he arrived. If only he could have waited a little longer.