Bluebells Are Forever

Bridge Ceremony

Unbeknownst to anyone else, Greninja and I have been together for about a week.

It wasn't easy, but we managed to make it work. Tonight was proving to be another example, as I attempted to retreat from my comrades.

"Does anyone else feel like they've gotten the workout of their lives?" asked Armaldo as we finished putting away our equipment. "Or am I the only one that feels half dead?"

"I don't know about half dead," mused Scizor. "But, I will give you the heavy workout. General Rhydon's been drilling us a little harder lately." He paused and chuckled. "Excuse the pun."

"Training hasn't been that bad," I shrugged as I closed a chest of swords and daggers. "I think you guys might be overreacting."

"From the General's favorite, boys," teased Bisharp as he hung up a bow.

"What's that supposed to mean?" I questioned.

Bisharp laughed. "Come on, Chesnaught! He goes softer on you towards the end of training, but still manages to work with you more overall. You had to have noticed."

Still, I scratched my head. "Really?"

"If you haven't noticed that, you're daft," mocked Bisharp. I glanced at the others, who either nodded or shrugged.

"Daft it is," I relented as we walked out.

"But what exactly could have him on cloud nine?" inquired Armaldo. "He may be pummeling us, but he's been really happy lately too."

"He's probably got a nice date lined up for that ball the King's throwing," snickered Typhlosion. "Anyone else have an idea of who they're bringing?"

"Oh, crap, I forgot all about that!" whined Armaldo. "Now I have to run through a list of ladies that would actually consider going with me."

"Relax, you'll get someone," assured Scizor as we climbed the stairs. "Come on; let's go get Heracross and we'll help you out."

"Escavalier's the only guaranteed one out of us," murmured Typhlosion. "He was lucky enough to have his wife show up." He paused and considered, "Unless that's unlucky for him."

"Hush! He'll gut you for that!" scolded Bisharp. "He loves having Accelgor around."

"Ok, ok, just keeping the options opened," clarified Typhlosion. "Anyway, I still need to narrow it down between some of my own options."

"Poor unfortunate souls," mourned Bisharp. "I'll send the unlucky girl my regards."

Typhlosion growled as we entered the main hall. "Bet your date ends up more miserable than mine!"

"That's not a fair bet for you," laughed Bisharp.

"Whatever." Typhlosion folded his arms and watched as I failed to slip away. "Hey, Chesnaught, who are you planning on taking?"

"Me? Oh, uh…s-someone special," I forced out.

"Sounds clueless to me," teased Typhlosion.

"What would you know, anyway?" fired back Bisharp. "Chesnaught's probably got great options with the General's help." He looked me over and nodded. "I'm sure you'll get a great girl to go with," he winked.

"Right, I mean, hopefully," I chuckled. "Ah, I'm going to…head upstairs. Got, uh, something to take care of."

"Sure, catch you later," Bisharp waved as I hurried off.

As I wandered around through the upper level's halls, however, my mind buzzed over the ceremony tomorrow.

Who should I pick? I pondered.

Lilligant would probably be the safest choice. But I wasn't sure if anyone else might ask her first. More importantly, I wanted someone that I would be able to get away from and find Greninja.

A sigh escaped me and my hand rested on the door to the ninja's bedroom. I should be taking him. Instead, I fear what the others will do if they find out that we're together. And he's been ok with keeping us a secret so far, which makes it easier.

But I still want to take him, buzzed my mind.

Quietly, I glanced around the hall and slid into his room. He had a few supplies kept organized in different corners of the room, including a few weapons of his own, a few spare robes, and other tools like ropes and hooks. From the desk on the opposite end of the room, I grabbed the green book and sat down on his bed. Blue quilt, yellow sheets…the King loved matching colors when could.

"Greninja, wait up!" called a slightly muffled voice. My head jerked up and I hopped off the bed.

As I snuck closer to the door, I continued to listen. "What are you going to your room for? It's not even that late yet," noted Samurott.

"Yeah, come with us!" urged Gardevoir. "We're going on another town trip!" She giggled, "Delphox and I might find some more crooks to mess with."

"Well, make sure Samurott has your backs," advised Greninja.

The doorknob turned and I dove back to the bed, which was barely out of the doorway's line of vision.

"Oh, but we want you there too," persisted Gardevoir. "Won't you come, Greninja? Please?"

"Honestly, I'd really love to, but I've got training exercises to catch up on," he lied. "It's going to take a few hours, and I really want to get some rest before morning comes."

"Again with the exercises?" challenged Delphox.

"What do you mean again? It's only the second time," protested Greninja.

"And this is the fourth time you've told us you were busy," complained Delphox. "If I didn't know any better, I'd guess you were avoiding us."

"That's not it at all! I want to spend time with you guys," insisted Greninja. "It's just that I can't. Things have just been coming up inconveniently for me." He sighed. "I promise that I'll catch up with you guys tomorrow, honest. Accelgor will be too mushy over her husband after the ceremony, so I'll definitely have time."

There was a silent pause between them for a moment and I bit my lip.

"Sounds fair to me," Samurott finally spoke up.

"What?! You must be joking," Delphox blurted out.

"Delphox, come off it," asserted Samurott. "Greninja wouldn't lie to us about being busy. He definitely has work to do and probably good reasons for missing your last little outings."

"Don't act like you don't tag along," snapped Delphox. "Or that you're any less upset when Greninja isn't around. In fact, it bugs you more!"

"Of course it does," laughed Samurott. "He's more stable than you two."

"Careful Samurott," cautioned Gardevoir. "We won't be forgiving if you keep up silly comments like that. And the moon is supposed to be bright tonight, if you catch my drift!" There was a pause before she added, "I'll Moon Blast you."

"Oh. Sorry," apologized Samurott. "Anyway, we'll come bother you tomorrow, Greninja. Don't worry about missing tonight."

"Or the other three," quipped Delphox.

"Lady Delphox, please," Samurott scorned, which was followed by a snicker.

"Hey! No! You did that on purpose!" yelled Delphox as Greninja and Gardevoir joined in on Samurott's laughter. "Oh, you're all awful, you know that?"

"It's only because we love you!" assured Gardevoir. "Night, Greninja!"

After a minute, their footsteps disappeared down the hall and I opened the book. As Greninja opened the door, I flipped to the next page and pretended to be immersed in it.

"Hey Chesnaught," he greeted.

"Hey Greninja!" I returned and flashed him a bright smile. He glanced up and smiled at me, but dropped his head again.

"Sorry about that," he mumbled. "They were really persistent tonight."

"Who was?" I feigned ignorance and shifted uncomfortably on the bed.

Greninja picked his head up and lowered his eyes at me. "Don't bother, I can hear plenty through these walls, and I know you can too."

"Ok, fine," I gave in. "Why haven't you told me that you had missed going out with them so often? It's not like I expect to be with you every single night."

He shrugged. "I don't know. I don't like giving up the time I can spend with you, which is limited enough as it is."

"But you don't get a lot of time with them either," I pointed out. "I don't want to monopolize all of your free time."

"You're not, I like being with you," Greninja insisted.

"And you like being with your friends," I argued. "I've seen you with them. And I've been with you guys when you're together. They really love having your company. Don't shut them out for my sake."

"I'm not, honest," he contended. "You heard me make plans with them tomorrow, didn't you? And you'll be…busy, right?" A guilty pang hit my stomach and I slowly nodded. "Then, there you go. It evens out."

"About that," I started, but Greninja walked over and rested his hand on my shoulder.

"We've been over this. I'm fine," Greninja asserted. "You get a date and enjoy the ball with her." He sighed, and then winked at me. "But, you owe me at least one dance. If not there, then somewhere else afterwards."

My hands tapped at book and I shook my head. "This still sucks. And it's not fair to you."

"How is it not fair?"

"No? And who are you going with?" I asked him.

"Uh…I don't know yet," admitted Greninja. "But it's still over two months away."

"True, but you need to tell your date ahead of time," I informed him. "It's not like you can just drop that on someone last minute and expect everything to work out."

"Got it, I'll figure something out," he raised his arms in defense. "Again, I have time. Just because most of you choose tomorrow doesn't mean that I need to. Plus, Delphox has no clue who to take either." He paused and smiled. "Maybe we can go together. And a whole bunch of folks really do mistake him for a lady, so you can talk to me without any worries."

Still, I gazed down the bed and at my feet while Greninja climbed on, resting against me.

"Chesnaught, come on, we'll be fine," Greninja comforted as he snuggled in closer and put my arm around himself. "Don't worry about it."

"Wouldn't you want to go with me?" I inquired and looked at him.

"Of course I would," he nodded. "But I'd want to go anywhere with you. It doesn't have to be anywhere public."

"But you'd be happy if it were," I muttered.

"No, I'm happy to just be with you," Greninja insisted. "Stop trying to guilt yourself over this. It's one night. In two months."

"That's all everyone is going to talk about by tomorrow."

"Then let them talk," he huffed and folded his arms.

"Ok," I relented. "So…where were we?"

"Let me see," he moved in and flipped through the pages. "I think I folded down the edge of the last page." Greninja thumbed through and turned over another few pages. "Here, fennel."

"Fennel symbolize strength," I told him.

"Oh, so I could get you some," he laughed. Greninja studied the picture and shook his head. "Then again, it looks either too flimsy or more like something edible."

"It also symbolizes deceit for some people," I added.

Greninja looked at me again. "So, don't get these for you, ever. Got it." I laughed and he flipped to the next page.

"Freesia symbolize either spiritedness, innocence, or thoughtfulness," I explained.

"That sounds nice," Greninja murmured as he scooted closer to me.

"We can read the rest later," I hugged him into me, as if I could bring him into me.

"You need to get a flower for your date," he sleepily insisted. "Besides, I like learning about these."

"I already know which flower I'm using," I informed him.

"Wait, really?"

"Yes," I laughed again.

"Well, this was a waste then," he mumbled.

"No, no, I like going over these with you, too," I rubbed his shoulders. He yawned and I chuckled. "Then again, we could call it quits here."

"One more, then we rest for a bit," he whispered. "Then we wake up, you leave, and I go back to sleep."

"Or I could spend the night," I offered.

"Then you get caught by the other knights."

"We could lie, tell everyone you weren't feeling well."

"And they'll question why I wasn't taken to the medical room," he yawned again. "Or why you were the one with me. Or the only one or…whatever else."

"So no?"

"No."

"Ok," I chuckled again. "Next one is…Forget-me-not."

"Let me guess, it's to help someone remember things," he muttered.

"It means to remember always, or…well, never forget," I laughed. "People use it for true love sometimes."

"People use any flower for that," Greninja huffed. "Roses and carnations are the obvious ones."

"True, but I think they're meant to have different meanings too," I recalled. "Roses are for passionate love."

"Oh, passion instead of true," mocked Greninja. "Such a big difference."

"Hey, true love goes beyond just the hot and heavy feelings," I teased.

"If you think so," he yawned again. "I'd be happy with either."

"They're not the ones that I'm using."

"Well good, I'm not the one getting it, so you better not," he mockingly warned me.

I folded the next page and closed the book. "I'll get you a whole bouquet later, if you'd like," I offered.

"That's super cheesy," he teased.

"And you'd like it," I poked his belly and laughed.

"Yeah, I probably would," he mumbled and rubbed his stomach.

"Aw, someone's sensitive," I teased.

He grabbed a pillow from behind me and whacked me with it. "You're an idiot."

"Maybe, but I'm your idiot," I lowered my head down onto his.

"And don't you forget it," he joked. "I'll get you a forget-me-not just in case."

"Ha," I tickled him again and laughed as he squirmed.

"Quit that," he shoved me down.

"Fine," I relented and pulled him on top of me. He blushed heavily, and judging by my burning face, so did I.

Greninja put his hands around my face. "S-So…uh…"

"Yes, I would like to kiss you, thanks for asking," I filled in for him.

He laughed and I pulled him in. Gently, I pressed my lips against his top lip and over his tongue. He pressed his lips against me and slowly stroked my face as I rubbed his back. Too soon, we broke apart.

"Again?" Greninja smiled at me.

"S-Sure," I stifled a yawn, but he caught it and patted my head.

"That sounds more like you need to sleep for a bit," he teased.

"No I don't," I lied.

"Don't be a martyr," Greninja rolled his own droopy eyes.

"It's impossible to be one because of you," I flirted and kissed his cheek.

"I love you," he murmured and slowly collapsed on top of me.

"I love you too," I whispered and we drifted off to sleep.


Next morning, I slowly picked my head up from the pillow and gazed at the sunlight as it shined through the window shades.

"It's still too early," I mumbled and let my head drop back down on the pillow.

Somehow, I managed to pick myself up, washed, and put on a fresh set of robes. Then, I went downstairs to find Lord Nidoking and General Rhydon talking with one another. Both turned once they noticed me reach the bottom of the stairs.

"Ah, Greninja, how have you been?" asked Nidoking.

"Tired, sire," I admitted with a bow that nearly proved it, as I felt the weight of my head practically anchor me down to the floor.

"Well, that's no good. You need to be ready for the ceremony later," advised Rhydon.

"What for? I'm not actually partaking in it," I informed them as I picked myself back up.

"What? But you…" Nidoking began and glanced around. "Won't you have someone, ah, choose you?"

"No, I don't believe so," I shook my head.

"None of my knights?" questioned the general.

"Have any of them expressed an interest in me?" I returned the question to him.

"Well, yes, and…isn't he asking you?" wondered Rhydon as Accelgor, Gardevoir, and Delphox wandered into the main hall.

"It's a safe bet that no one will be asking me," I murmured. The king and the general shared perplexed glances with one another, and then returned their attention to me. "I shouldn't even need to go, correct?"

"What?! No, you have to go!" cried Gardevoir and she flew over to grab my hands. "Please, your majesty, make him go!" She then looked to me with the saddest eyes she could whip up, forcing tears to appear behind them and pouting.

"Why should he have to go?" challenged Delphox. "Just so he can be another back drop for when Earl Gallade asks you to go?"

"Oh, please, I'm not that conceited," huffed Gardevoir. "I just want to enjoy the ceremony with all of my friends there."

"Greninja's welcome to come, if he would like to attend," shrugged Nidoking.

"Oh, no, I-I'm going," I corrected myself. "I was just…I'm not required to go, that's all I was checking on. I still want to."

"Hooray!" cheered Gardevoir and she squeezed me into a hug.

"You had the chance to escape," muttered Delphox.

"Oh, stop," Accelgor intervened. "The whole town will be there."

"Yep, all of Little Springton," chimed Gardevoir.

"It's on a bridge, right?" checked Accelgor.

"Sunset Bridge," sang Gardevoir. "The view is so beautiful there!"

"Oh, ok, I've been there," nodded Accelgor. "The sky does look stunning from that spot."

"Doesn't it?!" beamed Gardevoir.

"Greninja, run," hissed Delphox, and Gardevoir slapped the backside of his head.

Abruptly, we heard someone sprint and turned to watch Earl Gallade nearly tumble down the stairs. He stumbled and ran for the door, stopped, and hurried back.

"Your majesty," he bowed to Nidoking. "General." Quickly, he bowed to Rhydon as well. "Lady Gardevoir." He bowed once again and gently took her hand. "La…Lord Delphox," he corrected himself as he bowed to Delphox. "Greninja, Accelgor." He waved to us and ran out of the hall.

Everyone blankly stared and watched the door, as if Gallade would come back to explain himself.

"He seems so majestic when in public, but I love it when he's awkward around us," giggled Gardevoir after a minute.

"Oh, you're one to talk," muttered Delphox.

"Are you going to make today all about me beating you into submission?" inquired Gardevoir. "Because I am perfectly fine with that."

"That would mean you could actually do so," contested Delphox.

"All right, break it up," Nidoking walked between the two and held his arms to distance them. "Anyone outside of this castle might actually think you two hated each other."

"What would give them that impression, sire?" asked Delphox. "We're best friends."

He bumped into Gardevoir as he strode out, to which she ran after him and punched him over the head.

"Definitely best friends," Gardevoir smiled as she returned to us.

"Right," Rhydon nervously nodded. "So, I, uh…I'll go meet my knights, then."

The general squeezed Nidoking's shoulder as he strolled past him and then out the door. Accelgor shot me a quizzical glance as the king smiled, to which I shrugged.

"Ah, we should probably all get to the bridge," noted Nidoking as he nodded to the three of us and walked out from the castle.

Accelgor waited until the door closed behind him, then turned to me and asked, "Are the king and the general a couple?"

"How would I know?" I countered.

"Greninja, please, you've done a much better job at assimilating into this place," observed Accelgor. "You pretty much belong with these people."

"So do you," I tried, but she shook her head.

"No, I belong with my husband. If he were not here…well, I'd be doing a poor job at blending into this place," she folded her arms and looked to the ground.

"Aw, come on," soothed Gardevoir. "I like having you around."

"Yes, you and Delphox make for nice company," nodded Accelgor. "Those knights are fools to act so cowardly around you."

"Oh, they do have a point," hummed Gardevoir. "Delphox and I regularly deliver beatings to them during training."

"They're fools to not look beyond that, then," amended Accelgor. "At any rate, my husband is looking to either spoil or embarrass me, so I'd best be going."

She waved to us and shuffled out of the main hall.

"Guess we'd better go too," I turned back to Gardevoir. "Gallade will be heartbroken if he misses you."

"Ah, he could always ask me later," Gardevoir shrugged.

"It would kill him, though," I laughed.

"Are you sure you want to go?" she asked me. "I want you to be there, but I don't want you to be miserable." Gardevoir's shoulders slumped and she sighed. "I already feel awful about Delphox not having anyone to go with yet."

"Actually, I was wondering if he would want to go with me," I brought up. "We don't have to do much together, just so we don't feel awkward going alone."

"That does seem like a great idea!" clapped Gardevoir. She slowly stopped and sighed. "Still…"

"Yes, I'm upset over not having someone ask me," I let out. "But, it's not a big deal."

"I think it is," Gardevoir folded her arms. "It's stupid ceremony that just makes people who don't get asked out feel awful."

"Apparently, it's been a tradition for so long that Nidoking would encounter resistance over canceling it," I recalled Chesnaught telling me.

"And that just makes it worse," groaned Gardevoir.

"Aren't the gates open for everyone to attend?" I inquired.

"Somewhat," nodded Gardevoir. "We can't let every individual in, because then we'd be overrun with criminals."

"True, but a lot of people still have the chance to enjoy the night," I observed.

"Mm, I suppose," relented Gardevoir.

"Well then," I held out my arm. "Shall we?"

She grinned and locked her arm around mine as we marched out of the castle and traveled to the Sunset Bridge. As we traveled along with the soft morning wind, I gazed at the white clouds in the sky, and searched for familiar shapes. Gardevoir pulled me over to catch petals and leaves that blew away in a sudden gust. We laughed as they flew off and continued on our way around the town.

"Come to think of it," I pondered aloud. "Why is the ceremony held during the morning? If we're going to the bridge, shouldn't it be during the late afternoon?"

"Nidoking likes to leave that time open for anyone to ask their dates out," explained Gardevoir. "He tries to have this ceremony run quickly, but it never works out."

"Can't imagine why," I joked as we approached the platform at the end of the bridge and noticed all of the citizens that had gathered. They cheered and clapped as Nidoking climbed onto the platform and began to make the ceremony speeches.

"I can't even make anyone out," Gardevoir murmured as she pulled me onto the stage and we stood next to Delphox. I nodded in agreement, barely noticing Lilligant between everyone else, in spite of her being closer to the stage.

"And now, let's have our esteemed knights come forward," announced Nidoking. The king stepped back and moved over next to Rhydon and Accelgor, opposite to us.

Earl Gallade was the first one forward, as the highest ranking of the group. Though Samurott was also a higher rank, he would be last. I watched the earl step forward along the marked path to the bridge. Judging by the wildly excited cheers from the crowd as many female folks dove at the barricades, and by his exasperated face, I would imagine that he would be relieved over being the first one to hurry through.

Gallade strode right up on the stage and knelt down in front of Gardevoir, presenting her a gardenia. It was an excellent choice on his part, as it symbolizes secret or sweet love, as well as good luck. Gardevoir grinned as she took the flower from him, pulled him up, into an embrace, and kissed his cheek. The audience cheered in an uproar of delight.

Armaldo came out next, holding an azalea in between his pincers, and carefully tried to keep it locked between them as he walked forward. He stopped by the middle of the bridge and presented the flower to a large, pink and white…egg-shaped lady.

"For you, L-Lady Blissey," Armaldo nervously announced and lifted the flower to her. "It-It would be my honor if you—"

"YES, AAH, YES!" squealed Blissey. "OH, I'D LOVE TO GO WITH YOU AND SHARE MY EGGS WITH YOU!" There was a long pause and I watched her clasp her hands over her mouth. "Oopsie! Did I say that out loud?" I heard her gasp out and held back the laughter that sounded from the rest of the audience. Armaldo blushed as she took the azalea from him and snatched the knight into a hefty hug.

"Does…does he know that azaleas are meant for caretaking or fragility?" whispered Delphox. Gallade and I shrugged while Gardevoir hushed him.

Escavalier moved out third, and garnered a few cheers as he went by. He came up to the stage and presented Accelgor with a hydrangea bouquet that slid down the end of his lance.

"I can't tell if you're embarrassing me, flattering me, or both," she laughed and took the flowers.

"That will be the first part of our anniversary gift," he announced and a good number of folks cheered for them.

"Definitely both," Accelgor squeezed the bouquet close before she wrapped her arms around Escavalier's.

Typhlosion marched out after that and came close to the stage. He turned to the right side of the bridge and held up a dahlia to a thin, brown and white rabbit.

"Lady Lopunny—"

"This will do," she took the flower and studied it. Awkward claps sounded from around the two as Typhlosion scratched at his head.

"Poor choice on his part," snickered Delphox, to which Gardevoir punched his arm.

A chuckle slipped away from me and I turned my attention to the opposite end of the bridge. Chesnaught walked out next and held blue bell.

"Wait, aren't those to show disappointment?" asked Delphox.

"Those are ordinary bellflowers," I corrected him. The two mages and the earl blinked as they stared at me. "I've…read into a few flowers…lately," I murmured and looked back as Chesnaught strode forward.

Blue bells were an interesting choice to present to a date, with multiple meanings. The first, better known, is humility, or constancy, which reinforces devotion, apt for a knight to present to anyone.

"Does he know those are said to summon fairies?" whispered a nearby voice in the audience.

"Hush," chastised another.

I smiled from that and watched him cross the halfway point of the bridge. A blue bell's second meaning is for its appreciation and gratitude. Again, appropriate, but I couldn't recall who Chesnaught wanted to thank.

"Do you guys have a clue who he's going to pick?" inquired Gardevoir. Again, my friends looked to me as I shrugged.

To anyone else's surprise, he strolled right past Lilligant, who merely exchanged a wave as he passed. It surprised me for a moment, but I remembered that they were just friends. Walking directly in line, Chesnaught walked up the stage, over to me, bowed, and extended the blue bell forward.

Its third meaning would be…everlasting love.

"W-What are you doing?" I hissed so only he could hear. "Everyone is watching!"

"That's the point," he whispered. "No more hiding. I want everyone to understand: you're mine, and I'm yours."

"But…"

"This is as much my choice as it is yours," Chesnaught quietly echoed.

Blinking, I glanced up to see the audience, with various reactions of gaping mouths, widened eyes, and at least one small group hugging each other tightly and squealing as they watched. On the left, Delphox began to tear up as he tightly gripped his staff, and Gardevoir lightly clapped her hands together while Gallade nodded. To my right, across the stage, Accelgor nudged Escavalier and I could have sworn I saw Nidoking grab Rhydon's hand.

Looking back to Chesnaught, who smiled expectantly, I smiled back, reached out, and took his flower.


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