When she sings, Lacus dreams.

They're sedate little dreams, and they never distract her. She's a good girl like that. She records the songs they ask of her, and she smiles and laughs and enjoys the attention, and in the beats between the words, she dreams.

Lacus dreams of being a princess at the top of a hill, pink fabric falling like leaves or rain around her. There is a dragon at her back--and she never puts much thought into describing the dragon, either; it's just the enemy, the threat, the villain. It doesn't matter anyway, because she waits politely at the top of the hill, and a handsome man rides up on a white horse and sweeps her out of danger in the same motion as he lops off the dragon's head.

"Oh, Athrun, my prince," she gushes at him as she flings her arms around him, "you've saved me! My life is yours!"

He picks her up, gives her a careful kiss on the edge of her mouth, and sets her before him on the horse. They ride away, the severed head of the dragon lolling without fuss or mess on the ground behind them.

There are variations on this theme, of course. Sometimes she dreams of them in space, her floating in a frightful field of enemy fighters. Athrun soars into the fray in a shining mobile suit, and he catches her in one giant hand and keeps her safe. She waves to him from the hand of the suit, then blows him a kiss, but she can never get a good look at his face.

The enemy's ships always explode in a painless pink puff, leaving nothing behind.

These are simple dreams from and for a simple girl. Lacus likes them that way. They never interfere with her singing, and no one ever knows that behind the smiling and the laughing and the songs that she sings, she's dreaming little dreams. They can probably guess, though.

Things have been a little strange since she got back from the Archangel, though. Especially in her dreams.

Athrun still shows up in time to save her. She'll always trust him with that. But it's not perfect. Sometimes, she looks back to see the dragon just as Athrun takes it down, and it has violet eyes, human eyes. Sometimes, he forgets to kiss her afterwards because he's too busy fleeing from the sagging body of the dragon.

Sometimes, before the enemy fighters in space explode, she sees the frightened faces of the pilots inside them.

It's starting to distract her. She almost misses a line in her latest song. But that's not the worst part.

One day in the recording studio, Lacus dreams of being a princess at the top of a hill, held captive by a terrible dragon. She waits patiently for her prince to come and take her away. But it seems like it's taking him such a long time.

Lacus can almost feel the hot breath of the dragon behind her, even standing safely behind her microphone, and she wonders who she's afraid for.

"Lady Lacus, are you ready to start the song?" asks one of the technicians as he hooks up the equipment.

She nods. He flips the switch, and she starts to sing.

In her dream, that's when she sees her knight ride up. His horse, she realizes, is not white but grey. There are streaks of sweat and dirt on its sides. And Athrun is not on top of it.

In the real world, she keeps singing. In the dream, she says, "Kira," and she reaches out for him.

He shakes his head, his eyes wide. "The dragon," he says. "I have to--"

And then the dragon lunges at him, and there's a flurry of flashing swords and claws. Lacus feels her gut clenching tight in worry.

Then there's a nasty sizzling noise, and the dragon's head lands with a thump on the ground. Wires protrude from its severed neck, and strange fluids leak from it. It looks half like a mobile suit, half like something living.

But the dream feels more and more urgent now, and Lacus doesn't have time to stare at the dead dragon. She turns and holds her arms out to Kira, waiting for him to pick her up and sweep her away.

But he doesn't. He's sitting astride his horse, staring dully at the dead dragon, and there's something wrong with him.

He's bleeding. Blood pours from a long slash across his forehead, threatening his eyes; it trickles from gashes in his arms and chest. Even his horse is spattered red.

Nobody has ever bled before, in Lacus's dreams. They're always clean. Certainly her rescuer would never bleed. This isn't right.

She runs to him, in her dream. "Kira," she cries out, "Kira, it's all right, I'm here--" But she can't reach him. He's too far away, and he's still bleeding.

She wants to scream, and she almost does.

"Lady Lacus! Lady Lacus, are you all right?"

She's stopped singing. She didn't even realize it, but she's stopped singing. Lacus stares around the recording studio. Everyone's concerned face is fixed on her--and they are concerned, she realizes. They might just be people she works with, but they're worried about her. Why has she always taken that for granted?

"I'm sorry, everyone," she blurts out. "I need to go home now."

"What?"

"I'm sorry," she repeats, and she pushes the recording equipment away from her and runs out the door.

But the dream follows her home.

Kira was bleeding.

If Kira can bleed, then anyone can. The servants at her home, the soldiers in the war, Athrun, her father, anyone. And not only can they bleed, but they do it all the time. They're doing it now. So many people are, all across the worlds.

By the time she reaches her gardens, Lacus has stopped running. She doesn't know much, but she knows one thing: she will never wash the blood from the world by singing and dreaming.

At least, not the way she was doing it before.