Honestly? Ash, despite his flaws, was one of my childhood heroes, I was 10 myself when the anime came over to the west.
Whoever he gets with or even if he doesn't get with anyone I want to be happy for him. I don't want to be one of those "ruined forever" people.
I am like I've stated before just jaded from years of shipping wars and character bashing in fan-fics. Its just with Ash (finally) being retired as the MC of the anime I think the shipping bug has bitten me again I'm curious if they'll resolve any of the ships and again if they do I want to be supportive.
Though TBH? I think OS Kanto Ash who was a bratty half pint back then would have sunk Serena's crush if they had met during that time.
Noting this because again I’ve read fan-fics that have Serena join Ash in Kanto but make Ash into his XY self from the start without any of the character development to justify it.
OS Kanto Ash is a bratty kid, but there are many times where he put himself at risk to save Pokémon, regardless if there are his or not. And let's not forget that Ash and Gary used to best friends until they reach 10. Then Gary started being a bully and jerkass. It was even a surprise that they used to be friends. But after the Silver Conference, they did become friends again and the two act like their fierce rivalry didn't happen to begin with it.
If I have to guess, Serena would be taken aback by Ash's more bratty moments but will always be reminded time and time again that Ash deep down does care a lot about his friends and Pokémon. And it is that kindness that made Ash so endearing to Serena. I would also note that by the virtue of starting her Pokémon journey much later than Ash, it is possible that she would also be bratty and sassy in her own way. After all, what was Serena doing prior to starting her Pokémon journey and finding Ash again? Arguing with mom over Rhyhorn Racing.
She didn't blush nor she had the ribbon and the scene of serena finally stopped gazing at the ship and went on her journey had huge moving on vibes for me.
I said it before, and I'll say it again with more context since apparently some people don't get it the first time. Blushing is a great indication for romance on the surface, since our characters are inexperienced with love at first sight and thus embarass themselves because they don't know how to deal with this newfound feeling. In short, blushing is a betrayal of your emotions to the public since it's involuntary. But it's not the only indication and quite frankly, blushing is a childish view of romance. More often than not, it's associated with embarrassment or shyness than genuine romance.
A serious romance would be like a sunset in the background, the two lovebirds talking to each other alone, their smiles and glittering eyes face to face, and with some soothing music playing. No one is to interrupt their moment, not even for a laugh. If there is an interruption like a boat leaving, the mood is not interrupted. It is fact enhanced by it. Parting is such sweet sorrow.
Professor Kukui and Professor Burnet's romantic stroll in the sunset of a beach is a good example how genuine romance is done. And it has more in common with Ash and Serena's brief reunion in Journeys than anything in XY with the exceptions of the kiss and blue ribbon gift (which happens to be Amour played seriously than for laughs).
Seriously, blushing gets you nowhere in the anime. A lot of characters blush towards other characters all the time, yet they never went anywhere. Brock can attest to that. The irony is that a ship is more likely to be made canon when it's played seriously rather than played with gags and anime cliches. Serena still holding affection for Ash despite not having her blue ribbon on her dress as well as standing on the docks until the ship is completely out of her view only highlights how strong and deep her love for Ash is. It will never go away, even after all these years.
And with Ash becoming World Champion as he promised to Serena on that fateful day, she would know she made the right choice with him.