Cover Art by from FT Ending Theme 15
Beta'd by MorriganFae
Characters Kidnapped from Hiro Mashima
CHAPTER 1 – Once Upon a Dream
"I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream.
I know you, the gleam in your eyes is so familiar a gleam…"
– Sleeping Beauty, 1959
Ever since Lucy could remember, there had been a figure lingering just in the corner of her eye – a shadow lurking in her dreams that had become a familiar presence. He was a mischievous little sprite, running wild in the forests of her imagination – always two steps ahead of her. She'd spent hours chasing him down – only for him to laugh, a tinkling muffled echo in her ears. She would often call out to him, though he would never respond to her – his form wavering in that world between slumber and wakefulness.
Still, she'd come to think of him as a friend, this small child who hung in the periphery of her mind – warm and inviting and safe.
She was five years old before she was realized it wasn't normal to have another soul living in her thoughts.
To this day she would never forget the surprise on her mother's face when she found out.
"Darling, what do you mean there's a person in your head?" Layla had asked her carefully, gathering the child in her arms as they sat on the lawn – the grass cool and prickling against the bare skin of their calves.
"He's my friend, Mama! He's always jumping around and he chases away the nightmares when I'm scared." The small blonde had told her, distractedly plucking at the dandelions growing by her feet, the sunny yellow bright and cheerful in the summer haze. "Do you have one too? Does Daddy?"
Layla's response hadn't been instant, the older woman peering down at her daughter with a chuckle, something unfathomable in those wise chocolate irises. She'd reached out with a gentle hand, brushing the little girl's hair behind her ear – letting her fingers trail along her cherub face.
"I did, once upon a time ago, or I should say I still do. I didn't meet him quite as early as you've met your friend, but when I was a young woman, I finally got to meet him in person." She'd explained, her eyes crinkling at the corners when her daughter clapped in delight.
Lucy had cheered, pigtails bouncing as she twisted in place to search the lawn, as if she could see a shadow peeking out from behind the great wood. "Is he here? Can I meet him?"
"You already know him quite well. You see baby girl, when I was a older, I found a man who shared my dreams. clearer than anything my mind could create on my own – I could even hear his voice. Then one day he just appeared – standing there in the middle of the street. This stranger who wasn't really a stranger, who I knew almost as well as I knew myself. Can you guess who he was?"
The child had tapped her chin, deep in thought as she'd considered the people she knew in her life. She squinted, button nose wrinkling as she scanned the yard. Noticing their elderly gardener tending the roses a few yards away, she'd immediately pointed towards him. "Was it Philip?"
Her mother had laughed, full bellied and unrestrained as she'd tipped her head back – a curtain of gold spilling over her shoulders as she had glanced down to her bemused daughter. Layla caught her breath, snickering slightly as she'd shaken her head – the baubles in her ears tangling in her coif. "No silly, not Philip. Your father."
"That's right. He became my best friend and I loved him to the moon and back. The universe gave me a way to find the other half of myself – he was my soulmate."
Lucy had rolled the word silently on her tongue, finding she'd liked the sound of it, the syllables seemed to settle into her, heating her bones as they whispered through her. She'd chewed the inside of her cheek, glancing back towards the flowerbeds.
A beat of silence had passed as they lounged in the August heat, the earthy aroma of snapdragons heavy in the air.
"Does Phillip have one too?"
That had left the older woman in a sputtering guffaw, tweaking her daughter's ear when she too, let out a peal of giggles – more because of her mother's reaction than anything else.
"No goose, he doesn't. It's a rare thing, enough that many doubt the bond even exists. You see, I was one of the lucky ones." Layla had paused, lips quirking up in fondness. "And it seems that you're one of the lucky ones too."
Lucy had lit up immediately, warmth blooming in her at the thought of being special. "Then the boy in my dreams is my soulmate?" She'd questioned, wiggling slightly when her mother had nodded. "And he's going to be my best friend! Oh, I can't wait to meet him!"
Layla had indulgently ruffled her daughter's flaxen tresses. "I'm sure he'll be wonderful – though remember Lucy, it usually takes time to find each other. You will have to be patient."
The little girl had furrowed her brow, bobbing her head seriously as if being entrusted with a valuable secret, hugging her knees to her chest.
"I can do that, I'll even write him letters when something important happens so that I won't forget to tell him about it when I meet him!"
"That's a brilliant idea. I'm sure I'll love meeting him as well. I really am happy for you darling. My lucky Lucy." She'd cooed, squeezing the child tightly and nuzzling her cheek against the crown of her fair head.
The rest of the afternoon had flown by pleasantly, a hum of laughter and smiles buzzing around them as the woman continued to regale her daughter with legends of bonded pairs.
Of famous loves, daring encounters and whirlwind romances – of dashing suitors and distant stars touching as they trekked across the skies. Of that fateful meeting with her own future husband on the eve of her twenty-first birthday. Lucy had listened to them all happily, tucked under the crook of her mom's arm.
It was one of her favourite memories of her mother, and one of her last.
Layla passed away less than a year later.
She never met her daughter's soulmate.
The illness had taken hold suddenly, sapping her strength until she was little more than a husk – a falling, fading star of the woman she used to be. To watch that light go out had killed Lucy, leaving her confused and angry as she'd asked to see her mother – not understanding when she'd been told she couldn't. That her mom was gone.
Perhaps the only one who had taken it harder than she did, was her father.
Jude Heartfilia had never been a firecracker, he was stern where his wife was kind – reserved where she shined. They were opposites but they fit together in perfect harmony, bringing out the best of each other. When she passed, she'd taken a part of him with her – a shard of his soul that had left him broken, a candle doused of flame. He was never the same after that, withdrawn and quiet.
The doting father and husband had vanished, leaving a distant and icy man – unable or unwilling to face the child she'd left behind.
For the next week he'd locked himself in his office, throwing himself into old photos and memories – blind to the tears on his daughter's face and her desperate knocks on the door – too wrapped up in his own grief to recognize hers.
The night of the funeral, Lucy's dreams had been bitter and cold – full of inky darkness that threatened to suffocate her, blocking out the light as the walls crept in. Layla's voice had called to her from beyond a sheet of mist, haunted and yearning as Lucy had clamored towards it, stumbling on the rocky path. Then suddenly, crimson eyed creatures had emerged from the fog of her mind, all jagged teeth and sharp claws.
She remembered crying, running into the forest before she fell – recognizing it as a distorted mirror of the woods behind her home, skeletal and lacking birdsong. She'd shut her eyes then, folding into herself as she had sobbed.
It could have been minutes, it could have been hours that she'd hidden there in the stark black – the nightmare twisting inside her as her heart had throbbed.
Then she'd felt it.
A warmth had engulfed her shoulder, steady and peaceful despite the turmoil raging inside her. She'd taken in a ragged breath, letting the calm seep into her at the touch. She still couldn't see him – her constant companion. He had still been an obscure shadow, but she could feel him.
She could feel his presence, his comfort as he'd curled around her.
And for the first time since her mother had died, she hadn't felt quite so alone.
In the end Lucy did write her letters, though they weren't for her soulmate. She filled the crisp, clean pages with stories of her days and adventures.
She spun tales of her life at the manor and of her lessons, of the books she'd thrown herself into. She told her mother how much she missed her, and how quiet the house had become without her. She admitted she was lonely, and how no matter what she did – Father refused to look her in the eyes.
She told her about how she felt most like herself when she was asleep, and that shadowy figure visited her in her dreams.
An escape from her solitude.
She'd begun to realize that she wasn't always in control of their shared mindscape – the images and buildings often unfamiliar to her, though the boy wove through the alleys with a confidence she envied. She'd never left the confines of Acalypha, but it seemed her ephemeral friend had no such constraints. He was always there, nudging her in the right direction – his ghostly fingers grasping her hand as he led the way.
It was a strange feeling, a phantom touch – the pressure faint as if they were under water. Though ever since the first time he'd made contact, he'd become bolder – reaching for her as if it were the most natural thing in the world. She didn't hold it against him, finding she was touch starved – craving closeness with another human being.
After all, her life at the mansion was isolated and apart from her own mental demons, there were no other people in her dreams. It was just the two of them weaving fantasies together – a side effect of the soulmate bond that she had discovered from her readings. It was a manifestation Lucy had never minded.
He was her anchor, a secret she had never told anyone else about.
She felt safe with him, and she didn't want to share. His companionship was something she hoarded with a draconian fierceness.
Over the years, she learned that she could sometimes glean a spark of emotion coming from him as well – when he was terribly excited or angry or upset.
She was nine when she found him in his own nightmare, similar and yet so different than her own.
Smoke had clogged her senses as the flames had raged, licking at her ankles as she'd woven through the glittering embers and fiery underbrush. Her pulse had been fractured, her eyes wide as she'd raced through the fire – desperate to locate him, an urge deep inside her leading her in his direction.
What she'd found stole her breath away, the shadow had been rolled into a tight ball on the ground. He had been tucked under a fallen beam – the carcass of a torched building caged around him, the charred wood creaking ominously above him. When the roof had swung precipitously and he hadn't moved, she'd lunged towards him, throwing herself over him with her hands outstretched – as if she could shield him from the debris before it buried them.
Her eyes had squeezed shut as her shoulders hunched, leaning over her friend as she'd waited for the collapse – but it never came. Within the space of a blink, the wildfire had disappeared – leaving them braced against each other in what she'd vaguely recognized as her bedroom.
She'd swallowed thickly as she had taken in the plush rug they sat on, leaning against the sofa as they'd faced the crackling fire in her hearth. She'd observed the flames anxiously, but the shadow hadn't flinched at its soft light. Instead he'd melted into her, resting his head against her shoulder.
He had been shivering, and if she strained her ears, she could have sworn she heard rasping sobs spilling from him – muffled but present.
He had been hurting. Badly.
It had shattered her heart, and she'd wished she was truly there – unsure what had caused the nightmare but praying she could make it disappear. They'd sat there through the night, her whispering to him quietly, knowing he couldn't understand her – but hoping the soothing tone would offer a modicum of the comfort he had once given her.
She thought it might've worked, because the flames rarely made an appearance in their dreams after that – only resurfacing once a year in the fall. An anniversary of some tragedy that had befallen him. As she got older, she learned to track it, marking it on her calendar so she knew to expect it – the horror of the fire seared into her memories.
She wondered if he did the same for her.
If he knew that young saplings and sakura blossoms meant he'd find her once again at the roots of the dead wood.
It went on like that for several years. She spent her days dreaming of adventures, and her nights living them with her soulmate – becoming fonder of him by the moment. Every morning, she transcribed their escapades in detail to her mother, the routine familiar and well worn.
It was a long while before her life took a significant turn.
Shortly after her sixteenth birthday she managed to persuade her father of the impossible.
Lucy had been planting the seeds slowly over the course of a few months, leaving brochures and pamphlets in the dining room, or sneaking them onto the tea trolley headed to his office. She'd casually mentioned how her private studies seemed inadequate and dropped hints about the importance of socialization – all to get him to take a closer look at Fairy Tail Academy.
Regardless of how standoffish he could be, Jude Heartfilia was very overprotective of his only daughter – seldom allowing her off the konzern grounds in fear of her getting injured. Therefore, convincing him to send her to a boarding school in the next province over seemed like an ill-conceived pipe-dream at best.
Instead, he was convinced, and for far more sentimental reasons than his daughter had considered possible. For all her pitches of practicality, it was the fact that it was her mother's alma mater that sealed her fate.
"Layla would have wanted you to go." He'd told her, his voice gruff as he stood by the windows of the library – surveying the fields. He hadn't looked at her when he'd summoned her, but she had sensed the undercurrent of emotion lacing his tone.
Her own throat had tightened, grateful despite everything – despite his coolness.
She'd gone straight to her room to tell her mother, repeating the tale excitedly to her soulmate later that night.
He hadn't appeared to have heard her words, but he'd sensed the exhilaration brimming in her veins – and that night he'd led her somewhere new.
He'd brought her to the shoreline of a massive lake where they'd splashed around to their heart's content. They'd raced across the waves until she felt exhaustion heavy in her limbs despite dreaming, laughing as she'd waded to the sand.
The boy had trailed after her, stopping a foot away. His hands had gestured fervently in what she assumed was an illustration of some story or another. He did that often, always spirited and wild. He had still been opaque, but the lines of him were sharper, crisper – as if she were seeing him in the dark rather than just his shadow. She'd glanced up at him, for he was now several inches taller than her, and shaken her head at how animated he was.
Content, she'd glanced around her at the beautiful landscape – this safe harbor he had shared with her.
She had turned towards him then, shoulders thrown back as she'd marched up to him intently. Biting her lip, she'd flicked his nose to get his attention, interrupting what ever tale he had been weaving. He'd recoiled, batting at her hands as she'd giggled.
"Just you wait soulmate, I'm leaving for Magnolia next week and then I'll have all sorts of cool places to show you too!" She'd declared, reaching for his hands to twirl them in place.
To her delight, he didn't pull away, simply twisting them in faster circles – spinning her out and back into him before dragging her into the water once more, toppling them over into the surf.
Squealing, she'd brushed her soaking locks away from her face as she swatted at him playfully – eyes glittering as she took in the faint outline of a smile plastered across his shaded features. Oh, she just couldn't wait to see his reaction when she brought him somewhere new and exciting for the first time.
Little did she know that it would surprise her too.
2nd July, X784
Lucy had always been obsessed with soulmates. Though her father wouldn't speak a word of it, she remembered the stories her mother had told her clearly. She'd spent her adolescence collecting information on the phenomenon, filling her bookshelves with research texts and biographies of famous couples.
She dreamed of one day finding her own wayward partner wherever he was in the wide world, reminding herself to be patient.
Sadly, patience was not one of her virtues.
It was unusual for a person to have a soulmate, the condition occurring in only a sliver of the population. Many dismissed the concept entirely, presenting evidence to the contrary – making it out to be little more than a spark of natural chemistry.
Still, she had faith. The few records she had found were undeniable, too like her own to be a coincidence. She just knew there must something that drew bonded pairs together, their other halves becoming clearer the closer they came to meeting – their subconscious scattering clues in their dreams like breadcrumbs.
Like it had been for her parents.
So for years, Lucy had searched for hints or patterns in the journals she'd used to write to her mother, but had always come up empty-handed.
It was late morning when the train pulled into Magnolia station and she climbed out on the concrete platform, the air thick with vapor from the engine up front. She took no heed of the mugginess, a skip to her step as she secured her canvas bag over her shoulder. Her other possessions had been shipped directly to the academy in a handful of small boxes so she wouldn't have to carry them with her when she arrived.
Mood bright, she'd scampered into the sunlight only for her body to tense. She passed the main square, drinking in the cathedral spires and clocktower, their metals reflective and shimmering in the distance.
These streets seemed oddly familiar.
The brochure she clutched in her hand included a visual aid and directions to the institution, but she ignored them – her feet unconsciously leading her north like the needle of a compass.
She was silent as she padded over the worn cobblestones, her caramel eyes flickering to the store fronts and the canals lining her path. She'd seen pictures of the town when she'd been researching the city, but the recognition now boiling in her gut was unlike anything she had ever felt before.
She knew this place.
She had walked here a thousand times.
Dear Mavis, no wonder his image had been clearer recently. She wanted to kick herself for not realizing it sooner. He had never shown her images of the institute, but there was no doubt in her soul that she'd stumbled into his territory. If the déjà vu wasn't enough to convince her, the fact that she now stood in front of the school without utilizing the map certainly did.
The building was large and imposing, its high gables flanking the bell tower in the center of the main hall. It was multiple stories tall, the stone exterior immaculate and studded by wide glass windows. It was gated on three sides and backed onto the academy grounds – the green fields eddying into the sandy beaches of Lake Scilliora.
Lucy bit her lip, worrying the flesh as she took in the scene before her. Her dreams hadn't shown her Fairy Tail, but the glimmer of water beyond was unmistakable.
She'd danced along those shores only a few short nights ago.
The tide of her emotions threatened to overpower her – a tremor of tension ratcheting within her even as her blood electrified. He was here.
Somewhere within the city limits of Magnolia lived the young man who had haunted her dreams since she was a child. He was the shadow that had brought her comfort in her years of isolation – her midnight partner and her best friend.
For so long, he had been her salvation when the voices inside her head threatened to overpower her – her soulmate.
And she was going to find him.
"For the third week of Christmas my true love gave to me..."
Here is the last of the three connected stories! You officially have past, present, and future. I really hope you enjoyed it, and you tune in to all three stories - "Departure", "Once," and "Helix". They can be read independently, but they do run parallel and relate, so if you want the whole picture, I highly suggest keeping up with all three!
I hope you liked how this story was woven, it starts off in Lucy's childhood, but starting with the next chapter it will be more specific as Lucy starts school. I would love to hear what you think, why you think this might be happening, etc. I hope you like the characterizations. Like the other two stories, please also keep an eye on the dates and thank you for your support! For those of you wondering about 'Miraculous', that will be out soon, and is just a fun and fluffy peice unrelated to this one.
Also question for you all: I've read a ton of Nalu stories on this site, but I'm sure I've missed some. Anyone have any suggestions of fics they really like? I've been itching for something new.
I would like to take a moment to thank my remarkable beta MorriganFae for all her help, it's been a crazy ride! You have to check out her work!
Your feedback means a ton to me, and I always make a point to respond to all reviews and messages. Thanks for reading, Once Upon a Dream will be back in 'Journey to the Past'.
PS: Find me on Tumblr or Twitter for the latest on my stories and spamming reblogs of Fairy Tail content. Same username ^.^
PSS: This is not a spoiler free story. Though it is an AU, this story references events up to the Alvarez arc, so continue at your own risk!