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Ruby's Gift

This is a one-shot fanfic made to celebrate the occasion. Merry Christmas to all my readers and I hope you all have a great day on the 25th!

"OK Bryce, use your Flamethrower and try to hit Bugs as he weaves around the area!"


The little Charmander obeyed, opening his mouth and letting out a torrent of flames that were deceptively large for coming out of a small Pokémon. The flames shot towards Bugs the Cinderace, but they failed to hit their target as the rabbit-like Pokémon effortlessly jumped to one side.


It was another training day for Ruby Silverlock and her Pokémon. The teen trainer had been a newbie starting out from her modest home in the small town of Postwick, and had defied all expectations by going on to effortlessly complete the Gym Circuit without losing a single battle, and then defied EVEN MORE expectations by going on to win the Galar League itself! She had become Galar's new Champion, winning a surprisingly one-sided fight against Galar's previous Champion, Leon Dande. A few months had passed since her victory and Ruby still woke up in the morning unable to believe that it had really happened.


Although she enjoyed being Galar's new Champion and getting lots of new trainers to battle as they competed for her title, it did get tiring at times and Ruby found herself enjoying the rare moments of peace that she could get when there were no battles on at the moment. This was such a time now. There would be no new League Championship until next year so Ruby had all the time in the world to relax and get in some training sessions to keep herself and her Pokémon in shape for what would come next year. The only real problem she had would be the occasional fan coming by and asking for an autograph but thankfully, most people in Galar knew to give their Champion some space so it didn't happen too much.


For now, Ruby was training up her newest member of her team, a Charmander that had been given to her as a gift from Leon for defeating him. She'd nicknamed it Bryce and she'd befriended him as quickly as she'd befriended her other Pokémon. Bryce had a lot of catching up to do in order to be at the same level of Ruby's other Pokémon so he'd been getting a lot of training. He loved it of course, getting to show off his skills and prove to Ruby he was a worthy Pokémon for her team. He'd managed to learn some powerful moves, including Flamethrower.


He launched another Flamethrower attack at Bugs, hoping to hit him this time. The Cinderace was much too fast for him. He just dodged the attack as it came, making it look as if he was never in any danger of being struck down. It wasn't a fair fight for Bugs was fully evolved and Bryce was still a Charmander so his stats would never be compatible with Bugs's. But Bryce wasn't meant to win against Bugs. This training match was to try and improve Bryce's speed and reflexes so he would be as swift as he was powerful when he became a Charizard. Bryce opened his mouth and fired another Flamethrower. Bugs once again jumped to one side and left the Flamethrower to just harmlessly shoot past him. However, he seemed to be giving a congratulatory smile to Bryce as he straightened himself up.


"Yer getting' better, doc. Dat was da closest you've ever came ta hittin' me so far." he praised.


"He is indeed!" Ruby agreed, "That Flamethrower looked like it missed you by centimetres. Bryce is certainly getting faster the more he trains!"


"I am? That's great!" Bryce cried, jumping up and down excitedly, "I'll be an all-powerful Charizard in no time at all!"


"You sure will buddy." Ruby said happily, "But remember, speed isn't everything. If you want to hit your opponent in a battle, sometimes it helps to play it smart. One neat little trick some trainers use is to have their Pokémon try to use an opponent's speed against them." she explained.


"What kind of trick?" Bryce asked curiously.


"Sometimes, a Pokémon can be fast enough to launch multiple attacks at once." the Champion answered, "I've seen many trainers launch an attack to force their opponent to dodge, and then they attack again, aiming for where the opponent will land after they dodge. I bet you could do that Bryce."


"You think so?" the Charmander said uncertainly, "I dunno, I don't think I'm skilled enough for that yet."


"Ya never know until ya try, doc." Bugs said supportively, "Come on, let's show Ruby what a great Pokémon you are."


Bryce looked at Bugs, and then looked over at Ruby. Seeing his trainer's kind face and supporting smile was always enough to make him feel at ease. Somehow, this girl made him feel like he could do anything. He clenched his fists determinedly.


"OK, let's try it!" he declared.


"That's my little Charmander!" Ruby said enthusiastically, "OK, positions again you two. Let's make this count."


Bugs and Bryce took up their positions again, both Pokémon facing each other and preparing for what order Ruby would give them next. Both Cinderace and Charmander stared each other down, eyes locked onto each other and their feet coiled up like springs about to launch them into the air. Ruby allowed a tense minute to pass to let the atmosphere sink in before she gave her command.


"Bryce, use Flamethrower again!"


To her delight, Bryce reacted immediately. His response time was as perfect as the rest of her Pokémon! The orange-coloured Pokémon spat out another jet of flames towards his opponent. Bugs didn't need an order for he'd done this training session enough times to know what his role was. He leapt to one side, feeling the heat of the flames shoot past him as Bryce tried to hit. The dodging kept up for half a minute with Bryce missing every time. But then came the critical moment in which Bryce carried out the tactic Ruby had suggested. He had deliberately kept Bugs moving around so he could predict his movements easier. Now he fired a Flamethrower that forced Bugs to move to the right. As soon as he landed, Bryce fired a second time. Bugs tried to leap out of the way but he was a fraction too slow. He had suspected Bryce would try the tactic Ruby had suggested, but not even he could've predicted when exactly he'd do it. As he jumped, the Flamethrower shot over his back and made him yelp, more surprised than hurt by it. He landed safely on his feet and rubbed his back, surprised but also impressed that Bryce had actually managed to hit him at last. If he'd been a Charizard, it would've been a perfect hit. Ruby punched the air excitedly.


"Oh yeah! Whoo-hoo! You did it Bryce! That was brilliant!" the Postwick girl cheered.


"Whew…it took a bit out of me." Bryce said, wiping his forehead, "Not used to rapid-fire attacks."


Ruby could see that Bryce was starting to get tired so she decided it was best to call it a day. She patted his head softly.


"You've earned yourself a break, mate." Ruby said kindly, "You've worked very hard Bryce and I'm very proud of you. You can have the rest of the day to play if you want."


"Thanks Ruby." Bryce said appreciatively, "I'm very glad that I managed to pull off that trick you was talking about."


"No kidding ya pulled it off, kid!" Bugs complimented, "Ya actually managed ta hit me! Yer speed and reflexes are gonna make ya a challenging opponent for anyone who battles against Ruby."


Bryce beamed with pleasure. Hearing that from Bugs, the Pokémon he considered a mentor, was enough for him to feel like the happiest Charmander in the world. Though that feeling was very short-lived as he would be a Charmander no longer. To Ruby and Bugs's surprise, he began to glow a bright white, the light covering him from head-to-toe. Ruby gasped, her heart leaping with excitement.


"Ohmigosh! He's evolving!" she hollered.


"By Arceus, I taught he'd NEVER evolve!" Bugs exclaimed, "Da kid's really growing up now…"


They watched as Bryce began to grow in size and change shape slightly as he evolved. As soon as the light died down, Ruby and Bugs got a good look at the Charmander that was no longer a Charmander, but a Charmeleon. Charmeleon was the second-stage evolution of the Charmander line. Unlike Charmander and Charizard, Charmeleons were red in colour with a white underbelly and a single horn pointing backwards on the back of their heads. They were also bigger than Charmanders, but otherwise still looked much like their pre-evolved forms, complete with a single flame on the end of their tails. Bryce looked himself over, impressed with his new look.


"Wow, I'm a Charmeleon now!" he cried breathlessly, "I feel a lot stronger than before, like I could burn a whole house down! I gotta say, I look good in red too…" he mused, admiring his red scales.


"You look amazing Bryce!" Ruby cried, embracing the newly evolved Charmeleon happily, "I knew you'd evolve eventually! With some more training, you'll finally become a Charizard, just like the one Leon has!"


"I bet he'll be able ta Gigantamax like his can too." Bugs guessed.


Ruby imagined that Bugs was right on that part. She'd never thought to ask Leon if that was the case when she'd received Bryce from him. It was an awesome thought to imagine that Bryce could Gigantamax like Leon's Charizard could. If not, then she knew where to go to make it happen. Just last month, she'd taken a trip to the Isle of Armour to meet Leon's mentor, Dojo Master Mustard. There, she'd learnt that a special type of mushroom called "Max Mushrooms" grew on the island. When mixed into a soup called Max Soup, some Pokémon could gain the ability to Gigantamax by drinking it. She'd given Bugs some on her visit so he was able to Gigantamax whenever he battled. Seeing Bugs Gigantamax the first time had been incredible for Ruby to watch. Next time she visited, she'd see if anyone else in her team could Gigantamax by drinking Max Soup.


Before anything else could happen, Ruby heard the sound of one of her sisters calling out to her. She turned to see Emerald was rushing out the house towards her. When it came to Ruby and her sisters, Emerald was the excitable one, always bouncy and happy about something.


"Hey Ruby, hey Ruby!" she chirped eagerly, "Come on inside! Quick, quick! Mum's getting the decorations down from the attic! We're gonna put them up and she wants everyone to join in!"


"Oh, we're putting our decorations up now? That's pretty sudden!" Ruby laughed, "It's a week before December comes!"


"She thought it'd be best to put them up now." Emerald explained, "Come on Ruby, you don't want to miss putting the Christmas tree up, do you?"


"Wouldn't miss it for the world, Em." Ruby insisted, "Heh, it's going to feel like Christmas has started early for the Silverlock family." she chuckled.


She turned to Bugs and Bryce and gestured for them to come with her.


"You can come along you two. You're gonna enjoy seeing this." Ruby insisted.


Bryce stared back quizzically at his trainer whereas Bugs looked keen.


"It's been a while since I last saw a Christmas tree up." Bugs said brightly, "I bet yer's will look really pretty."


"You got that right!" Emerald declared, "We always have so many lovely decorations to put on them, and then there's that beautiful Christmas Gardevoir we always put on the top! Mum actually knitted it herself you know when all three of us were still babies and it still looks like new even now! You know, I think this is actually our first Christmas with Pokémon in the house, not including mum's Munchlax of course, so this'll be…"


"Hey, hold on a minute!" Bryce cried frantically, gesticulating wildly with his small arms, "What's going on here? What the heck is this "Christmas" thing you're all yapping about?!"


Ruby and Emerald gasped in surprise at the Charmeleon's reaction. Bugs had no such reaction, guessing that he was one of those Pokémon that had never actually seen Christmas before. Not every Pokémon had exposure to the holiday after all, especially those living in the wild. Ruby looked down sympathetically at her newly evolved Pokémon.


"I guess you've never had a chance to experience what Christmas is, what with being essentially a giveaway prize Leon would give to the trainer who eventually beat him." Ruby said softly, "So this must be your first time! I really hope you enjoy it, Bryce. Anyway, Christmas is a wonderful holiday that many of us around the world celebrate in the month of December. It's not just a Galarian thing, all regions celebrate it!" she explained, injecting as much enthusiasm as possible into her explanation to really sell the idea to Bryce.


"And all regions have their own little traditions around Christmas too so no two regions celebrate the same way." Emerald added, "But the spirit of the holiday is always the same the world over: Peace on Earth and goodwill to mankind, and also Pokémon kind too. There's all sorts of fun things about Christmas that make it a joy to celebrate! We all get presents delivered to us on Christmas Eve night, we have big steaming Christmas dinners, make delicious puddings and we always have fun and games with friends and family that come over to celebrate with us!"


Bryce could tell from the excitement on the girl's faces that this Christmas thing had to be worth checking out. It sounded like a very fun celebration. He especially liked the sound of Christmas dinner for he was quite fond of food. He was also interested about the idea that presents get delivered to people on Christmas Eve night. It seemed like whoever delivered these presents must be a very kind and generous individual.


"That all sounds very exciting." Bryce said happily, "And you say you're decorating a "Christmas tree". Can we watch?"


"I did say a moment ago you can come along." Ruby reminded, "You'll really like this Bryce, I promise."


So she, Emerald, Bugs and Bryce all dashed off back into the house to put up the decorations.

__________________________________________________________________________________


The next couple of hours were spent putting up the decorations. Upon re-entering her house, Ruby was quickly greeted by the sight of her parents and her other sister, Sapphire, surrounded by dusty old boxes they'd gotten down from the attic. It was always a pleasure to see them as it meant it was time to decorate the house once again. Annie and Michael Silverlock were already opening up boxes and pulling out decorations while Sapphire was putting the tree up. Ruby and Emerald ran over to help. The three sisters had insisted to their parents that they put up the tree this year. Bugs decided to make himself useful by helping out the parents. As a roughly human-sized Pokémon, he was capable of helping out in tasks such as these. Annie and Michael had appreciated the gesture very much.


Bryce watched, wide-eyed and full of excitement as the decorating began. He'd never seen anything like this before as he'd first ended up in Leon's care sometime after last Christmas. The idea for him to be a present for the trainer that beat him had come to Leon only recently so he'd not had any opportunities to see a Christmas with the Dande family. This was his first impression of the festive season and he liked what he saw. The tree was very tall, taller than all three girls put together and once it was finished, it looked like one of the prettiest things the Fire-type Pokémon had ever seen. It had snowy white tinsel wrapped all around from top-to-bottom, multi-coloured lights and many of the branches had different coloured baubles or popular Christmas figures such as Santa Claus, snowmen, snowman depictions of popular Pokémon like Pikachu and even deer-like Pokémon such as Stantler, Deerling or Sawsbuck. There was even a Stantler decoration that had a glowing red nose when a switch was flicked, akin to the popular Christmas song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The tree just seemed to glow with colour on every branch and the dancing lights made it look even prettier. As Emerald had said earlier, they put up a knitted Gardevoir on top of the tree. It was a very good likeliness to the Psychic/Fairy type Pokémon with the only new additions being a halo and wings to give it an angelic appearance. Emerald of course had insisted she be the one to put it on.


There were many more decorations put up around the house too. The family had hung up red-and-gold banners that said "Merry Christmas" on the walls, the regular tablecloth had been switched out for a red tablecloth that had pictures of snowmen on it, some light-up novelty toys had been placed in the windowsills in all the rooms, some Christmas-themed pillows had been placed on the sofa in the living room and a beautiful wreath had been hung up on the front door. Over the fireplace hung a trio of stockings, one for each sister and of course, they were colour-coded to match them. Annie had knitted those too and had been hanging them up every Christmas since Ruby, Emerald and Sapphire had been born. Bryce's personal favourite of the decorations was a wind-up music box that had a built-in snow globe. He liked the sound the music box made when it was wound up and enjoyed watching the snow dance around inside the globe when it was turned upside down.


After decorating was done, Annie decided to treat everyone to a freshly baked mince pie for all their hard work. Ruby, Emerald and Sapphire all got one each while Bugs picked one out and broke it in half to share with Bryce. The lizard-like Pokémon stuffed it in his mouth and chewed slowly to get a taste of this new food. He smiled brightly.


"Mmm…this is really good!" he said happily, "Your mom bakes some great food, Ruby!"


"I know, she's the best." Ruby said brightly, "Nobody bakes like my mum, I say. And believe me, mince pies aren't the only goods that you'll get to try around Christmas time."


"Wait till you try Christmas pudding, or even a chocolate Yule Log." Sapphire said as she finished her own mince pie, "THEY are things to die for! I always feel like Christmas isn't complete without them."


"When does this "Christmas" thing happen?" Bryce asked curiously.


"December 25th." Ruby explained, "It's an annual holiday too so you'll get to celebrate it again and again."


"Awesome!" Bryce cried excitedly, "So what do you girls usually do on the day itself? What was Christmas like before I became part of the family?"


"Oooh, have we got some stories to tell!" Emerald piped, "Our little tradition is that on Christmas Eve, we open up a present from each other and we open the rest from Santa Claus the next day. I'll never forget that time both Ruby and Sapph gave me my cute little hat one Christmas!" she added, patting her green tam-o-shanter affectionately.


"She always wanted one of those so we got it for her." Ruby said with a smile, "We think it really suits her."


Bryce nodded in agreement. He thought Emerald's hat looked good on her too.


"As for what Christmas was like, we used to love making paper crowns to wear on the day itself." Sapphire explained, "It all started with Ruby in where she'd get lots of paper and stuff and make crowns with them. Me and Em just copied her, not that she minded. We usually competed to see who could make the prettiest crown or who could make the biggest crown. The winner was then called "Queen of Christmas" for the day."


The trio chuckled as they thought back to that fun time. Bryce imagined that it must've been enjoyable for the girls to make these crowns for Christmas.


"Do you still do that now?" he asked.


"Me and Em enjoy it, but Ruby kinda grew out of it." Sapphire answered, "She is 13 after all and at that age, you kinda don't want to do "kiddy" stuff like that."


"I still like kiddy stuff on occasion!" Ruby retorted, "It's just, making paper crowns isn't really for me anymore."


"Nah, I bet what you'd really like instead is to end up under the mistletoe with Hop." Emerald teased, smiling sweetly at her sister as if to disguise the taunting remark she'd made.


Ruby blushed bright red at Emerald's suggestion, hiding her face behind her hands as Emerald and Sapphire giggled at her response.


"S-s-stop that, Em!" she cried from behind her hands, "We're j-just friends, I th-thought I told you that before!"


"Please Ruby, me and Sapph see the way you too act towards each other and how red your faces get. You clearly fancy him." Emerald teased again.


"Sh-shut up Em! It's not funny!" Ruby protested, "It's nothing like that at all, it…"


"Come on, admit it! You'd totally love a kiss under the mistletoe from Hop!" Emerald giggled, springing up on Ruby and tickling her mercilessly, "Go on, I won't stop until you admit it!"


"Ha, ha, ha, ha! Emerald, You're gonna pay for thahahahat!" Ruby laughed helplessly, trying to push her sister away.


Sapphire just laughed as well, unable to resist giggling at the sight of her sisters play-fighting once more. That was certainly ONE thing Ruby hadn't grown out of! Bryce couldn't stop himself from laughing too. He could see very clearly that Ruby and her sisters knew how to have fun together! And yet all this talk about presents and crowns had given him an idea of some sort. He decided to hold onto those thoughts as they'd come in handy for what was to come…

__________________________________________________________________________________


Later that day, Bryce found Bugs out in the back garden once again. The Cinderace had decided to go outside for the moment to play some keepy-uppy with himself. This was his idea of relaxing, going outside to kick pebbles around for a bit to let off steam before bed when night came. Bugs kicked a particularly large pebble from one foot to the next effortlessly, the pebble not once touching the ground. Bryce watched him, impressed with his friend's footwork. Were all Cinderaces this much an ace with their feet? He also watched as the pebble started to get hotter and hotter with each kick from Bugs. It slowly began to grow into a fireball. At first, it was no bigger than a candle flame. The next, it grew to be about the size of a baseball, and then a football. Bugs finished off by launching the fireball up into the sky. Bryce watched as it disappeared from view. He had to wonder where it would land.


Unknown to him, Bugs had noticed on one trip around the region that the juvenile centre in which disgraced Pokémon trainer, Bede, had been sent to was in a straight line down from where the Silverlocks lived. It would take a while to walk there as it was a big distance but Bugs had managed to work out the angles so he could kick fiery pebbles from Ruby's house all the way to said juvenile centre. Cinderaces had the leg power to kick things for miles around and Bugs was no exception. His shot had been right on the mark, the fireball crashing down on Bede's head and knocking him down flat on his face. It had also set his hair on fire, making him run around wildly as several other inmates laughed at him.


Bugs could see through a telescope that he'd managed to hit the ex-trainer again. This had been his fifth time successfully hitting him from where he was now and it was still funny to watch.


"Consider dat yer Christmas present dis year, ya joik." he sneered, "Dat'll teach you to tie people ta trees just because yer a sore loser…"


"Hey Bugs, what are you doing?" Bryce asked innocently.


Bugs leapt a foot in the air and yelled as if he'd stubbed his toe on something sharp.


"GAH! Doc, fer da love of Arceus, don't scare me like dat!" he shrieked, "Criminently, I taught a Ghost Pokémon had sneaked up on me!"


"Sorry!" Bryce said sheepishly, "So, what was that about?"


"N'yah, just takin' care of an old enemy of Ruby's." Bugs explained, "I'll just say dat yer lucky you'll never meet him. He was a real joik and Ruby would rather forget she'd ever met him."


"Gosh…that bad, huh?" Bryce asked in surprise, "I bet he won't have a Merry Christmas if he's that bad."


"Oh they ain't celebratin' Christmas where he is right now." Bugs declared, "And it serves him right. But this ain't about him. You've got something on yer mind, haven't ya?"


Bryce nodded.


"You know, learning about this Christmas thing and how wonderful it is…it's given me an idea." he explained, "Ruby and her sisters were telling me about how they used to make paper crowns as a little Christmas tradition."


"I know, doc. I was in da room with em' as well as you." Bugs noted.


"Well, I was just thinking…what if we make Ruby a crown of our own? As our little Christmas present to her?" Bryce suggested.


The rabbit-like Pokémon put his fingers to his lips in thought.


"A crown for Ruby, huh? Dat'd be interestin'…" he mused, "But ya know Ruby's grown outta dat stuff. She might think we're treating her like a kid if we do that."


"Oh no, I don't mean like that!" Bryce insisted, "More like, we could make her a crown that she could keep forever as something to remember this Christmas for, none of that paper stuff. It could be something for her to wear as the Champion of Galar, kinda like the cape she wears. What do you think?"


Bugs turned the thought over in his head as he pondered on Bryce's plan. This would be much better than making a simple paper crown as it'd be something that Ruby could have as a token of their love for her as their trainer. It'd be a crown that would have some actual sentimental value to Ruby and wouldn't be seen as childish at all. Bugs put a paw on his friend's shoulder.


"Ya know kid? I tink you've got us da perfect gift for our trainer." he said proudly.


"You really think so?! Thanks!" Bryce cried happily, "When shall we start?"


"Anytime now, if ya want." Bugs said with a shrug, "Do ya at least have an idea on how we're gonna make dis crown?"


"I have some ideas at the very least." the Charmeleon confirmed.


He quickly explained to Bugs how they were going to make this crown…

__________________________________________________________________________________


With everything planned out, Bugs and Bryce set out to make their gift for Ruby.


The first thing they did was call on some of Ruby's other Pokémon so they could help in making the gift. Bugs decided that Vesuvius the Coalossal, Raven the Gengar, Soundwave the Noivern and Chomps the Drednaw would be the perfect Pokémon to help out. Spearhead the Barraskewda had volunteered himself to help, though Bugs wasn't entirely sure that the crazy Pokémon could help out that much.


"OK guys, ya probably know dat Christmas is coming up, right?" Bugs explained, "Bryce here has a great idea on a present we can make fer Ruby. All of you can help out in making dat gift."


"We're making a present for Ruby?!" Vesuvius cried happily, pounding her huge, stone hands together in excitement, "Oh wow, I'm definitely helping out with that! I'm all for giving that girl a present!"


"She's been a wonderful trainer to us all." Raven agreed, "We can show her how much we love her by making a gift for her."


"So what ARE we making?" Chomps asked, "Is it something to eat?"


"Nope, we're making her crown." Bugs explained, "When she was younger, she and her sisters used to make crowns fer fun around Christmas time. They made paper ones, but ours will be a proper crown that she can wear all da time, kinda like a king or a queen."


"Aww, that's a sweet gift!" Chomps said happily, "I can see it now: Ruby, our very own Pokémon Queen!"


"Something like that." Bugs agreed, "Now here's where you guys come in. Soundwave, yer da best flier so you can get us to da places we need ta find what we need ta make this crown. Me, Bryce and Vesuvius will use our fiery powers ta make it and Chomps and Spearhead can use their water powers ta cool it down when we're finished. Got dat?"


"Affirmative." Soundwave crooned in his usual deep, guttural voice.


Spearhead didn't seem to have heard for he was staring off into space with his usual dopey grin on his long, pointy face.


"Spearhead? Did ya get all dat?" Bugs asked.


"I'm a Wailord!" Spearhead just yelled out randomly.


Bugs just rolled his eyes but said nothing.


Now everyone had been informed of the plan, the Pokémon set out to get what they needed to make this crown. Bugs and Bryce took a ride on Soundwave's back as he flew them from Postwick town towards an old steel mill that was just outside one of Galar's old mines. Raven herself flew to the mine itself and phased through the walls to search the mine for gems they could put in the crown. Chomps, Spearhead and Vesuvius stayed put as they weren't needed for now.


Due to Soundwave's great speed, he arrived at the steel mill in no time at all. Bugs and Bryce hopped off his back to get a good look around for any metals they could use to make the crown. The steel mill was old and abandoned, having seen no activity in over 50 years since it closed down. The roof had holes in it and the walls were stained with decay. The inside of the mill hardly looked any better with cobwebs coating many of the walls, the support beams and even some of the machinery and a lot of rusted iron lay on the floors. The machinery looked as if they hadn't been operated since the mill closed down. Looking at them, the Pokémon doubted they had ever worked in the first place. At least they wouldn't be stealing from this place as it wasn't in use. Bugs and Bryce took a good look around the place to find any metals that might be useable for their crown. Due to the place being old and abandoned, a lot of the metal that they could see in the mill was already rusted and had weakened with age. Bugs shook his head at the rusted metal. That wouldn't do for making a crown at all. They needed something that was at least in good condition if this gift was going to look its best for their trainer. The mill was a big place so there was plenty of space to look around.


Bryce looked up to see a streak of sunlight peeking in through one of the broken windows. In his youthful mind, he imagined it was trying to show him something. He followed the sunlight and saw that it ended on a slab of iron that didn't look too badly rusted. It even still had some shine to it despite all the years that had gone by. The Charmeleon approached the slab and rapped his knuckles against it. It felt hard. This slab was in a good enough condition for what they needed, and it was big enough to make into a crown easily! He picked it up, straining as he only had small arms to carry it with, and he waddled clumsily over to Bugs.


"Ungh…hey, Bugs, I found this! I think it'll do for our crown!" he grunted.


Bugs turned and eyed up the slab with interest. He held his paws out to help him keep it steady as Bryce was struggling to carry it.


"It looks in good enough condition and feels solid enough. I tink ya found da jackpot, Bryce." he said approvingly, "We'll take dis with us and make our crown outta dat."


They quickly left the steel mill now they had what they needed. They climbed onto Soundwave's back and held on tight to both him and the iron slab as the Noivern flew off into the sky, taking off as if he was a speeding bullet. In a matter of moments, he arrived back at the Silverlock household and Bugs and Bryce presented to the others the slab of iron they'd found.


"That'll be perfect for making into a crown." Vesuvius said happily.


"Dat's what we both thought." Bugs agreed, "Has Raven come back from da mines yet?"


"Not yet, but I doubt she'll be much longer." Chomps answered.


"Isn't that her coming out of my shadow right now? I thought it was looking at me funny…" Spearhead muttered quizzically, looking down at his shadow as if it was about to come alive.


Raven was indeed coming up from under the ground, phasing through it like any Ghost Pokémon could. Spearhead's shadow just happened to be over where she came up from at the time, hence his confusion. The sour-faced Gengar had hordes of sparkling gems in her arms and presented them to the rest of Ruby's Pokémon. There were red, blue, green and yellow gems, both small and large and they shone nicely in the sunlight. Raven had definitely made sure to pick the best ones for they looked very pretty to the others.


"I found as many shiny gems as I could pick in that mine." Raven explained, "I had to leave quick though as some trainer thought I was wild and tried to catch me. You'd think trainers would have a way of knowing that a Pokémon's already owned…" she said, scowling.


"At least ya got what we asked for." Bugs said brightly, "Dose are some nice gems you've found, Raven. Dey'll look very pretty in Ruby's crown."


"Glad you think so." Raven replied bluntly, "You know, Halloween was always more my time, being a Ghost Pokémon as you might expect. But this Christmas thing and making a gift for Ruby…it feels really nice, I have to say." she said, her usually grim face curling up into a slight smile.


"Aww, we all feel da same way, Raven." Bugs said kindly, "It's nice ya feel that way about our trainer, even if yer not the cheeriest Pokémon out dere."


Raven nodded. She liked to think of herself as a Pokémon who showed affection in her own little way and knew you didn't have to be overly open about it to show you care for someone. Now everything was in place, the Pokémon got straight to work on making the crown. Bryce, Bugs and Vesuvius all worked together to heat the iron slab up to such an extreme temperature that it started to melt. With three Fire-type Pokémon on the case, the work went by very quickly as in a matter of minutes, the iron began to liquefy. It now started to look like they were creating a Meltan as the previously solid block of iron became a silvery, gooey puddle. Bugs couldn't help but imagine this was what it felt like for a Steel-type Pokémon to be hit by a Fire attack. As soon as it had melted, Vesuvius began to mould the thick, gooey substance into the shape of a crown. Her large, stony hands were ideal for handling the heat of the metal and forming it into a shape. She had to work fast as the melted iron wouldn't keep its shape for long as it was now. Once the shape had been made, Chomps and Spearhead used their Water attacks to cool the crown down so it would stay in its shape.


Once the crown had cooled down, Bugs, Raven and Bryce finished off by sticking the gems into place. They'd managed to find some superglue in Michael's work shed earlier and they knew that kind of glue would be best in keeping the gems in place. To make them fit more neatly into the crown, They had Vesuvius chip some of the edges to give them gems a flat end for them to apply the glue on. They carefully stuck each gem around the crown, creating two colourful circles that ran all the way around the top and bottom parts of the crown. They stuck the biggest gems on each of the points.


Once everything was dry, the Pokémon took a moment to admire their handiwork. They had managed to make a very pretty looking crown for their trainer to wear. The gems sparkled nicely all around the headgear and the proportions were almost perfect. Bugs rapped his knuckles against the crown. It made a nice clanging sound as he did so, signifying it was a solid build. How beautiful would it look when Ruby placed it on her head come Christmas time!


"Well boys and girls, I can see dis is a job well done fer all of us!" Bugs said happily.


"It's beautiful!" Chomps squealed excitedly, "I can't wait to see Ruby wearing it!"


"She'll make a fine Queen of the Sea with that crown perched upon her noble brow!" Spearhead declared, folding his fins and grinning with pride.


"I wish we could give it to her now." Vesuvius said glumly, "It doesn't feel right that we have to keep it from her until then. How long is it until Christmas, exactly?"


About thirty days from today." Bugs answered, "Don't worry, dat time will soon fly by and Ruby will be opening up her present from us. Ta think it was all Bryce's idea too…" he said, patting his friend's head softly.


Bryce just blushed with pleasure, glad that he'd thought up such a nice gift for Ruby.


"Shucks guys, it was nothing, really." Bryce said bashfully, "I just thought she'd really love it and it felt right that for my first ever Christmas, I give a present to someone. Naturally, it had to be our trainer."


"Ruby's sure lucky that of all trainers Leon could've given you to, it was her in the end." Raven complimented, giving another of her rare smiles.


Bryce just smiled back, touched by what Raven had said. He could already imagine the look on Ruby's face when they gave her their present now…

__________________________________________________________________________________


Bugs was right. The next thirty days did indeed fly by.


Somehow, it was Christmas Eve already despite thirty days seeming a long way away at the time. During those thirty days, Ruby and her Pokémon had been getting up to more training and they'd had the occasional battle with a trainer who happened to come across them, winning the battles easily. None of Ruby's Pokémon gave away that they had a present for the silver-haired Champion, leaving Ruby none-the-wiser throughout wait until Christmas. They'd also been getting into some festive activities too with Ruby and her sisters going around their town sending cards to friends and neighbours, joining in with groups of carol singers and going around the Galar region itself to see what Christmas in some of its towns and cities was like. The girls had best enjoyed visiting the shopping mall in Wyndon City as that had a lot of amazing decorations and animatronics to make the place feel very festive. They'd even done much of their Christmas shopping there with them all buying a gift for each other and their parents. Ruby had even bought a gift for Hop, ignoring Emerald's usual teasing as she purchased it. It had been quite an experience for Ruby's Pokémon to see the Galar region looking so busy, festive, lively and colourful as they travelled with her.


Christmas Eve had dawned bright and sunny but there was also a thick carpet of snow stretching as far as the eye could see. It had snowed during the night and it had come down plenty. Emerald joked that it looked like the Crown Tundra outside, which was funny considering that they had received a Christmas card from their cousin, Gloria Yuri, who lived there. Of course, the three sisters couldn't resist playing out in the snow while it was there and Ruby invited some of her Pokémon to play with them. Of course, none of her Fire types were invited as they would just melt the snow. One game the girls played involved having any of Ruby's Pokémon that were capable of flight gathering up snowballs and then flying around seeing if they could drop them down on them as if they were being carpet-bombed. Sapphire ended up winning that game with Emerald getting hit the most times. Then the three had a race to see who could build a snowman in the shortest amount of time. Nobody won in the end as by the time they'd finished, the snowmen just fell over as it was such a rush job, but it was good for a laugh anyway. Then just to finish off, Ruby built a stage out of snow for her singing sensation, Freddy the Toxtricity, to play on and the Poison/Electric Pokémon instantly burst into Queen's classic Christmas tune, strumming his chest organs and singing:


Ooooh, myyyy loooove.


We've haaaad, our shaaaare, ooooof teeeears.


Oooh, myyy friiiiends.


We've haaaad, our hoooopes, aaaand feeeears.


Oooohhhh! Myyy friiiiends!


It's beeeen a looong, haaaard yeaaar.


But now it's Christmaaaas.


YES IT'S CHRISTMAAAAAAAAAS!


THANK GOD IT'S CHRISTMAAAAAAAAAAAAS!


He received much applause for the great song and he bowed with pleasure, glad to have been able to entertain everyone. Then night time arrived and the family sat down to their traditional Christmas Eve dinner. Every Christmas Eve, they had a meal that was mostly a scaled down version of a proper Christmas dinner with smaller portions and a mince pie to have form dessert. Hop was here too, having been invited by Ruby herself for a sleepover. Both teens felt it would be more fun to spend Christmas together so Hop would be staying the night and joining them throughout Christmas Day itself. Of course, Emerald couldn't resist sneaking some mistletoe above their heads as soon as they were standing together. Upon seeing it, the two could only stand awkwardly, looking away shyly as they realized what had to come next. In the end, Ruby wrapped her arms around Hop and gave him a big kiss on the cheek after some prompting from Emerald. The green-themed sibling giggled childishly as Ruby kissed him while Sapphire just smirked, glad that Emerald was satisfied at least.


Now there was only a couple of hours before bedtime and the family had gathered together in the sitting room for their tradition of opening one present early on this very night. Now was Bryce's chance! He'd been waiting eagerly for this moment and had quickly run off to get the present. He and Bugs had hidden it in Michael's shed so Ruby wouldn't find it. The moment he grabbed it, he darted back into the house. Bugs was out of his Pokéball too so they could present it together. As they entered the sitting room again, they heard the girls talking to each other.


"Why don't you open my present first, Ruby? I know you'll love it!" Emerald was saying.


"I don't know if I should considering that stunt with the mistletoe." Ruby said teasingly.


"Come on, you know you liked it really." Sapphire taunted, "If it makes you feel any better, you can open mine if you want. I had nothing to do with the mistletoe."


"Honestly girls, I might save both of yours for tomorrow. It'll be more special to open them on the day itself." Ruby said kindly, "I'm interested to see what Gym Leader Bea's got for me so I might make her's my one present to open tonight…"


Bugs cleared his throat to catch everyone's attention. All eyes were on him and Bryce now as he approached his trainer with his paws behind his back.


"Oh hi Bugs. What's that you've got?" Ruby asked curiously.


"If ya don't mind Ruby, me and Bryce would like it if ya opened OUR gift foist." the Cinderace said politely.


He then held out the neatly wrapped package for Ruby to see. The present had been placed in a box and wrapped up with green paper and a red bow. Everyone gasped in astonishment, surprised that a Pokémon of all things had a present to give. It wasn't unheard of for Pokémon to give trainers gifts, but it wasn't something that happened all the time. Ruby put her hands to her mouth in awe. Her eyes twinkled and her mouth broke into a wide smile of delight. She couldn't believe that her own Pokémon had a present for her.


"Oh…Bugs, Bryce…you did this, just for me?!" Ruby cried, "Oh you two, I can't believe it…thank you so much!"


She took the present from Bugs and placed it on her lap.


"We really hope you like it Ruby." Bryce said happily, "We worked really hard on that."


"When did you get this for her?" Hop asked with interest.


"Thirty days ago." Bryce answered, "We made it secretly so we could surprise Ruby."


"I can't wait to see what it is!" Hop cried, "Come on Ruby, open it up so we can see what your Pokémon have made!"


Ruby didn't need prompting as she tore off the wrapping. She opened up the box and her eyes widened with amazement as she took out the gift. She held in her hands a beautiful silver crown with multiple gems circled around it, all sparkling and colourful. Hop, Emerald and Sapphire leaned in for a closer look while Michael and Annie stared incredulously at the gift.


"Oh my gosh…you guys…you…you made me a crown?!" Ruby exclaimed, "Sweet Arceus, this is amazing! How did you make this?"


"I asked some of our team mates fer help." Bugs explained, "We found some metal and got some gems from the mines and used our abilities to put it together."


"The whole thing was my idea." Bryce explained, "You talked about how you liked making paper crowns when you were younger so I thought we'd make you a real one that you can wear forever."


"She could wear that with my bro's cape!" Hop declared, "It'd certainly make her look like the Queen of Wyndon Stadium in her Pokémon battles!"


"It's amazing how you and the rest of my girl's Pokémon managed to put this together." Annie said with admiration, "You Pokémon sure are very clever creatures."


"That's one thing that hasn't changed from my days as a trainer." Michael said proudly.


Ruby got up from her seat and hugged Bugs and Bryce in appreciation.