Lisanna had a joyful smile in her face as she ran through yet another corridor of the mansion. She was so glad you couldn't get tired in this dream, because all the tricking and running around should have made her exhausted by now. And she couldn't get hurt too, which was good since Natsu and Happy made her trip over furniture and pumpkins countless times. She did got back at them the last time though, by pushing a carpet under their feet, and that's why she was so happy now.
She eventually entered a room full of unlit candles, getting startled as they lit themselves one by one. Assuming it was another trick of those two, she got on her guard. But to her surprise, at that moment she started to feel very dizzy. She was still wondering how one could get sleepy inside a dream when she fell unconscious.
"Found you!" Natsu, carrying a blanket he had found somewhere else and planned to trap his female friend with, entered the room she was, loud as always. "Huh?" He stopped upon seeing her body lying on the ground.
A feeling of horror spread through him, despite him knowing that was the inevitable outcome of any dream with her, and he ran to her side, wishing against all odds there was some sign she was alive.
Surprisingly to him, there was. She was still breathing and her heart still beating normally. He tried to wake her up, but it was no use at all. He sighed. How could someone be so troublesome? First dying, and now falling asleep inside the weirdest of dreams. As soon as he thought that, he regretted it. The last thing he needed now was to keep thinking of her death.
Not knowing what else to do, he tried to make her lie comfortably in the floor, and covered her with the blanket. Thinking better now, could this be the reason he found that in the first place? Natsu grumbled. This dream surely had a weird way of making stuff happen. He took another look at the white-haired girl. Sleeping peacefully like that, she looked like an angel. Yet he knew, from the past and from the recent pranks, just how mischievous and playful she could be. Or how stubborn and determined she could be when focused on something. Or...
He looked away, unable to stand thinking of her anymore. He hated all this so much. He hated that she was gone, that he couldn't protect her, that this cursed dream would force him to go through all this again, and more than anything, he hated being so weak and having to run away from her like this. He was blessed to have met such a wonderful person, and now pretended she never existed. He was the worst. No matter how much he showed off to others, in the end he was a weakling crying in a corner alone because of things he failed to do.
Natsu sat on the floor feeling helpless and tried to keep his tears from falling down.
Lisanna didn't know where the vision came from, but she was sure what she was watching was the origin of this dream.
It was night, yet there was enough light to recognize the scenario as an Earthland forest. And Happy sat alone next to a river, looking very sad and lonely.
"Why did Natsu have to pick a mission today?" The cat complained at a low voice. "I wanted to stay home, why is he pretending today is nothing special?" He started to cry. "This used to be such a fun day... There was a lot of food... And everyone was happy... They were the best birthday parties... Lisanna was always so happy too..."
He stopped for a moment to wipe his tears, though it was useless as more kept falling.
"Now... Natsu doesn't even want to hear about her... He always looks sad when I remember stuff... But I don't want to forget her... I don't know what to do! She would know how to cheer up everyone, but I don't!"
As the cat kept sobbing, a white light appeared in the sky. Lisanna recognized it as a small Anima, like the one that took her away. So it was true that they were scattered through Earthland. Right after appearing, it started to close, and at same time, Happy felt sleepy.
Before fully closing his eyes, the unknown fading light looked like a shooting star to his hazy mind. And as the hopeful child he was, he made a wish.
"I want to celebrate Lisanna's birthday... I want her and Natsu to have fun together again..." And after that, Lisanna's vision ended.
By the time she opened her eyes again, she knew the whole dream's script.
It took a while for Natsu to notice the girl besides him was getting up.
"...Natsu?" She called, still a bit disoriented.
"I'm here! What the hell happened to you? How can someone sleep inside a dream?" He was exasperated, and she couldn't blame him.
"Sorry, I don't know. But I glad it happened. Let's stop the pranks for a moment, there's something we need to do." She looked around. "Where's Happy?"
Natsu didn't know, and so they went searching. It didn't take them long to find the cat in a random corner.
"Natsuuuu! Lisaaaana!" He cried out. "You can't just disappear from a game like that! Where wer-" He was cut short as Lisanna hugged him.
"Li...sanna? Why are you hugging me now?" Not that he minded, the maternal love and warmth he felt coming from her were pleasant and soothing.
"Because you're cute. And I felt like it." She answered simply, not wanting to mention the vision she had.
"Now," She announced after breaking the hug. "follow me, guys! I have something to show you!"
"Eh? But you weren't supposed to know anything about this place." Natsu pointed out.
"Not anymore. I know the whole script now. And I know what I'll choose in the end. Now, let's go!"
And so they followed her through corridors and stairways, until reaching the mansion's roof. Lisanna noticed there were pumpkins here too, but they looked different, pale and weak. So fragile it felt like they would disappear at any minute. And that sight pleased the white-haired girl greatly, but there were other things she should pay attention to.
The sky above them was beautiful, with many stars and a shining crescent moon. For a moment, they did nothing but marvel at the sight, until Lisanna finally broke the silence.
"I wish this moment could last forever..." She spoke softly. "That's the kind of thing I would say, right? But that's not how things work. And I was disappointed by this before, but now, I'm starting to think I can accept it. Because if you keep waiting, new good things happen too. And even if they don't last, they were irreplaceable."
She turned and faced her friends, eyes full of determination.
"And that's why I want to make good use of this miracle while I can." She stated. "Natsu, Happy, since we could meet here again, I have something to ask of you." A birthday gift, she added mentally. "From now on, you must support each other better. I won't get to be at peace anywhere while knowing you two are lonely and crying and hiding things from each other. I know you guys view things differently, and might not feel the same about what you're going through, but you're a family, a wonderful family, so you should talk to and trust each other more." She then looked away, realizing the hypocrisy of her words. "You're not weak like me, anyway, so you don't have to be liars."
It was then that Natsu couldn't stand it anymore.
"Who the hell do you think you are to be saying this stuff!" He screamed. "Do you think I'm stronger than you? I'm a pathetic thing that's been an ass to everyone all year and is too haunted to say a freaking name! I keep showing off that I don't fear anything because I don't even try to face things that could make me afraid! And even so, I'm not going to be calling myself weak! Why the hell would you call yourself weak?" In the middle of his outburst, his tone seemed to change. He wasn't self-loathing anymore.
"If I'm weak, then I going to get stronger! One day I'll get to protect everyone so no one dies like you! And I'll find everyone that goes missing, and I won't have any problem with saying your name out loud! I'll tell everyone about you and remember you all the time! So you just wait and see, because I won't stay whining around like you're doing!"
His words were harsh, his voice was burning with anger and what we said hurt her, but deep down, she knew she deserved to hear that. She was satisfied with how things went. She didn't check, but there were no more carved pumpkins around, for sure. Because no one was faking smiles anymore.
Now it was up to her to bring the real ones.
Waiting for him to calm down, she started to pick up one by one the treats he probably forgot he still carried in his hand. Only after having her hand full she started to reply to him:
"I believe you. I know you'll get stronger. And I might not believe that I can do the same, but I promise I'll do my best to protect everyone around me. I don't want anyone crying because of me anymore."
She stuffed the treats on her jacket's pockets and held his hands tenderly.
"So I accept your lecture, because you're right and I shouldn't be whining. And I accept your tricks, because they are one of the funniest times I had. And I accept your treats, because even if I can't do anything with them, they are from you and that's enough for me."
"What do you mean you can't do anything with them? I give you them, you eat them, and the script ends there, so the dream is over, right?"
"That's not how it works. If I eat them, it's all over, but we would actually be stuck here forever and never wake up. And you know that's not right." He nodded.
"Damn, who made up this weird script, after all?" He complained. "It makes no sense at all!"
"Don't stress much about it. I'm sure whoever did it meant well. That if someone wrote it at all."
An Anima that was forcefully closed and, either because Happy was actually from the other world or just because of some weird side-effect of the magic, recognized the Exceed's strong emotions and pulled the three into this strange dream. Maybe even the other two's feelings were an influence too.
Was magic always this weird, or were they the problematic ones? Lisanna didn't know, and right now, she didn't care. She only stared at Natsu's eyes, and he also looked deeply into hers.
"And so now I'll make my choice: nor trick or treat, we will leave this mansion and hope for a wonderful future without lies and false smiles."
"Well, what can I do? You're the guest, you're the one who chooses." And this time, the pink-haired boy was smiling honestly.
There, with their hands still linked together, everything finally felt alright between them. Without any words, their understood their pain, their love, and how neither desired a sad goodbye. The kiss they shared after that was short, but so sweet and meaningful even Happy didn't feel like joking around this time.
And still smiling, they went back to the gate where everything started, while the scenario around began to disappear and fade into white. Their expression never faltered as she waved goodbye and walked away.
The tears only came as they woke up, one in an Edolas building, and the other two in an Earthland forest, the dream forgotten by all but the bittersweet feeling still lingering in their hearts. And despite that, they still faced that day, and the next ones to come, with more energy and hope than before.
Their desired future and their happy ending would still take years to come, but that birthday was certainly an important step.
The Space Time Dimensional Magic, Anima.
More than a passage between worlds, it's magic,
and would be nothing without feelings.
But even if you pour all your feelings into it, and make a wish,
not all wishes can be granted.
Still, those feelings can't be erased.
They become dreams, and connect people,
making them smile and hope for better days.
And that's in itself a miracle.