Dawn does not remember a time before Barry, and once upon a time, could not imagine one after him. Still, Dawn realizes that Barry - and her friendship with him - is not perfect. It was never much fun when he teased her for crying over mud stains on her dress or preferring to play house rather than tag.
Dawn would cross her arms, huff and get mad, and swear she would never, ever forgive him, but then he would wander into the tall grass and return with an armful of flowers for her and a smile wider than the sun, and Dawn would decide that maybe she could, again, for one last time.
Lucas is charming and cultured and smart, and in every way the proper lab assistant to Professor Rowan should be. Dawn thinks that he would probably be the type of boy her mother wouldn't mind her bringing home - and, if she'd let herself think that way, someone who would make a good husband one day.
"Thank you for helping out with our research," he would say before smiling and handing her another present. Logically, Dawn knows they're from Professor Rowan, but it rarely feels that way. Sometimes Dawn likes to pretend that they're from Lucas instead, and lets herself accept that all too easily.
Riley, Dawn thinks, is the type of prince every girl has always dreamt about. And even if Dawn is a little too old, too wise, and too pragmatic for that now, she can still feel her heart skip a beat when he smiles.
"I'd like you to show the Pokémon that's inside the egg all sorts of new places," he tells her when he hands her a mystery egg, their fingers barely brushing.
Dawn nods, once, and holds it close to her heart.
The first time Dawn sees Cyrus address Team Galactic, she feels shivers run up her spine. Sure, Cyrus is a bit insane and all of his plans are so strange, but there something beautiful about his mixture of insanity and power.
Still, after she defeats him and captures Giratina in the Distortion World, Dawn realizes it is all a lie. Maybe Cyrus has a presence that commands the same type of attention Dawn only gets on a competition stage, but there is no use to power if it is only for one's self.
Dawn thinks that Cynthia is beautiful. She has long, pretty blonde hair, and is tall and graceful. But even beyond that, she's strong and independent and the type of woman Dawn wants to be when she grows up.
"You're perfect," Dawn tells her, and blushes, because after all, Cynthia is the best.
"I'm not," Cynthia laughs, which only makes Dawn believe it more.
But Cynthia is beautiful and perfect because she is strong and independent, and Dawn knows that if she wants even the smallest chance of being like that - like Cynthia - she has to let go of this, too.
When Dawn returns to Twinleaf five years after becoming Champion, and ten years after she'd left home, she is not greeted with much fanfare.
Still, her mother is there, waiting for her. "Welcome back," her mother says, and pulls Dawn into a hug.
Dawn hugs back, and realizes that she's never been happier than when she's home.