AN: Written in response to the various fantasies the members of Ala Alba had under the influence of Poyo Rainyday's artifact in Period 297.


1: Tatsumiya Mana

It wasn't real.

She knew that the second she woke up in the world provided by Poyo's artifact.

It was not real.

Mana knew illusions. You didn't stay alive long in her line of work if you didn't know what to look for, and she had been doing this for far, far longer than her appearance would suggest. She knew what to look for.

Her peripheral vision was slightly fuzzier than she was used to. No amount of rubbing would fix it.

She was closer to the ground than she should have been.

The amount of ammunition contained on her body was nowhere close to the amount she typically considered "safe."

Her pactio card flared with a heat it hadn't contained for years.

None of it was real.

It had been, once, but no amount of magic could convince her that she was still at such an innocent point in her life. The memories of that innocence shattering were burned into her mind too clearly for a simple illusion to make her forget.

She felt herself waking up mere moments after her dream consciousness recognized the situation. Irritation buzzed under her skin, and vivid fantasies of ripping through the illusion came to her so quickly that she was mildly surprised the dream didn't alter to suit them.

She was waking up when she felt Kouki's hand on her shoulder.

He grinned down at her easily, enjoying the height difference he hadn't lived to see disappear.

It wasn't real.

But that didn't stop her from staying asleep.


2: Aisaka Sayo

It had never really bothered her, being a ghost. Not in the way she knew it was supposed to.

Oh, she was very lonely at times, but most of the time it was very pleasant watching people her age running about the school and enjoying their lives. Every few years she would notice that they weren't the same people she'd gotten to know and care for, but that was alright. She would have new people to learn about.

This, a very disgusted spirit once told her, was not the proper way of things. Proper ghosts were supposed to long for their own lives. That was what made them ghosts.

Had the sight of him holding his own head not frightened her halfway across campus, she might have thought to consider that maybe she wasn't a ghost at all, if that were the case. She couldn't long for something she didn't remember.

She tried, sometimes, to behave as a proper ghost would. She pondered her death, and tried to remember if her life could have possibly been any better than those of the laughing students dashing through her.

It never lasted long. She couldn't remember dying, and all of the ways it might have happened were too terrifying to spend much time considering. So she would float along, perhaps a little lonely, but perfectly at ease being the most improper ghost of Mahora Academy.

So improper, in fact, that she could leave the school she haunted to go on an adventure with her most recent (and best, best ever) friends. It was wondrous and scary and all of the things adventures were supposed to be—better still thanks to Asakura keeping her as safe as could possibly be.

But something very strange had happened when they met Zazie's sister. Sayo barely had any time to remember what before the horrible battle truly started and banished it from her mind, but later, when they were safe at home, Asakura, with a teasing glint in her eye that anyone else in their class might have thought dangerous, asked her what her fantasy had been like.

Sayo brightly explained that it was all a warm, happy blur, except—

Except for a boy. A boy on a hill whose smile was more magical than anything even their fantastic adventure had come close to. He was—

His name—

He was—

Her voice came to a stuttered halt.

Gone.

And then maybe she was a proper ghost after all, because suddenly she was crying so hard she could almost feel real tears running down her cheeks.


3: Konoe Konoka

If asked, Konoka probably would have gladly said that she was perfectly content with her life. Yes, the amount of danger had certainly increased in the past few months, and her best friend had gotten kidnapped, and she'd healed a few of her friends from injuries she could have done without seeing, but overall, she was very pleased with everything.

So when she finally got around to asking Makie how she'd avoided being trapped, the answer left her more than a little mystified. She had no objections to spending a few imaginary hours playing with Setsuna, and if Zazie's sister ever offered to let her revisit the dream she probably wouldn't say no, but she couldn't think of a reason why her subconscious would pick it over reality.

It took hearing Negi talk about it to understand.

In that happy world, there had been a moment, just a tiny one, where she thought for sure she was going to lose her balance and fall into the river, but she regained her balance before even Setsuna was quick enough to worry.

If she had stayed asleep a little longer, she thought her dream life would have brought her to the exact same place her real one had. Except in that world she never would have had to wonder if her first friend hated her.


4: Saotome Haruna

Before Haruna's dreams of grandeur were rudely interrupted by real life requiring some good old-fashioned heroics on her part, she got to enjoy quite a few days of people groveling for a chance to grovel at her feet. She'd say that it was enough to give her a taste for it.

So on a whim, she went along with Negi and Asuna to shadow one of their diplomatic trips.

She looked around the Magical World with a grin so wide it threatened to crack her face in two.

"Oh yeah. This is definitely doable."


5: Ōkōchi Akira

Akira never gave much thought to the summer—ordeal after it was over and done with. Mostly, she was so relieved to be home that it took months for the memories to play back in her head without her underdeveloped battle instincts crying at her to duck for cover.

But every once in a while she would dive into water and feel a twinge of fear that never existed before the white-haired girl and her cruelty.

The memory of the air being squeezed from her lungs and choking on the one thing in her life that always made sense would rise up—and for a split second she would float in the water, motionless.

Until another memory came to her. A memory that never happened, where she played with the boy who had saved them all in a room full of purring kittens.

She glided through the water with a smile on her face.


6: Izumi Ako

To the great disappointment of Yuuna and Makie, Ako refused to talk about the fantasy afterwards. Not even Makie's laments about not being able to dream anything fun like everyone else could sway her.

Akira had caught her eye during the initial interrogation, and quietly provided her support and understanding. That almost made it worse.

She was supposed to be getting over Nagi. And for the most part, she really had. She couldn't keep pining for a boy who wasn't even real; she knew that.

But the memory of what could have been was too wonderful to let go of just yet.


7: Inugami Kotarō

Kotarō thought it was pretty lame how the artifact had kept him trapped for so long. Yeah, he'd had some fun, and being on the same level as his rival again was awesome, but what was the point if it wasn't real? Beating people up in dreams didn't count, and if he'd stayed awake, he could have gotten more real fighting done.

That didn't stop him from enthusiastically telling Natsumi all about how he'd gotten to brawl with dream-Negi in a fight with no magic.

…Okay, so maybe that part was cool enough that he could get why he stayed asleep.

It was still lame.


8: Murakami Natsumi

Natsumi's subconscious did not seem to care how inappropriate her feelings for Kotarō were.

It did not care that Kotarō was so much younger than her.

It did not care that he wasn't exactly human.

It did not care that a few of their friends still thought they were related.

Eventually she stopped arguing with it long enough to make its dream come true.


9: Sakurazaki Setsuna

Her sword felt heavy.

That was the first thing Setsuna noticed when she woke up. Yūnagi sliced through the air sluggishly, and her grip was slightly off. Not enough to cause a problem, but it was… wrong. Techniques she'd been using all her life suddenly felt brand new.

And her back kept itching.

Ages ago, when Evangeline tried to make her choose between her sword and happiness, she chose both because she couldn't imagine life without either one.

She could now.

It was probably a good thing embarrassment kept her from dwelling on the fantasy for too long. The pure bliss of simple human happiness had never really been an option in her world.


10: Karakuri Chachamaru

At the time Chachamaru was beginning to recognize as the birth of her soul, her programmed loyalty to her master gave rise to an empathy that could not be found in her sisters. Her master supplied magic as the reason.

Chachamaru, after careful consideration of the content of the soul she now possessed, had concluded that her master's want of freedom was the driving influence. Their actions were both restricted in ways they found objectionable. Chachamaru, with only her primary functions guiding her, had failed in forging long-lasting friendships with the children who admired Chao's more ambitious features. Her master could not leave the school.

Her master fought against the restrictions.

And they met the boy who freed them both.

She dreamed of sharing that freedom with him, and the three of them exploring every corner of the world that they could reach.

She had faith that he would help her make that dream a reality.


11: Kū Fei

There was no doubt in Kū's mind that Negi was a very capable warrior, and that her pupil had gone far beyond what she could have ever envisioned for him as his master. He had grown into a fine man, and a truly worthy opponent.

But the… enthusiasm her fantasy had displayed over those favorable traits was a little…

She was grateful for the battle that followed, if only for the welcome distraction from the turns her thoughts were taking.


12: Luna

Luna had known Fate longer than anyone else. Not just within the new group of companions they'd found; anyone. Meeting each other had marked both of them losing everyone they knew or cared for.

They had grown up together. All on their own.

She never thought of the two of them as lonely. They were always meeting people. Several of them were the friends they had now. Even if most of their time was spent wandering alone, they always had bonds to fall back on.

Fate's meeting with Negi was the first sign that maybe they could have more.

Fate took care of everyone; that had been his role for almost as long as Luna had known him. But Negi wasn't an abandoned war orphan in need of protection. He was an obstacle. He should have been a target for elimination.

Instead, he was a person who wanted everyone to get along. He listened to all of Luna's stories of their travels and associates with an interest that was almost shocking, and declared at the end, with his eyes shining brightly, that the person in the stories sounded like someone he could definitely like.

Luna didn't realize how badly she wanted to believe that until she woke up in a beautiful dream where she and Fate had a brand new friend.


13: Ayase Yue

The merits of dreaming had never been a subject of particular appeal to Yue. If she wanted to enjoy things that weren't real, she would read. If she wanted to analyze the deeper meanings of her thoughts, she would prefer to do it when she was conscious.

If she wanted to immerse herself in things that used to be real—

She didn't. There was no point in desiring things like that.

All the same, she treasured every extra second the fake Cosmo Entelekheia had given her with her grandfather.


14: Miyazaki Nodoka

She wasn't sure how to feel about her mundane wish.

It was certainly pointless to argue against her enjoyment of it—waking up had hurt a little more than she wanted to admit—but after everything, it left her feeling a little guilty. She didn't have a marvelous fantasy where the battles she and her friends would have to endure weren't necessary, or where the pain everyone had already experienced disappeared. She just dreamed of a quiet day with the people she loved most in the world, with all of them sharing their favorite books.

When they got home, she brought that dream to life as many times as she could.

Maybe it didn't fix anything, but… it was perfect.