Author's Note: This fic is laden with spoilers, so don't read if you haven't finished the game. Told from Lulu's perspective. Enjoy.

Music to read by: Lulu's Theme (Final Fantasy X Soundtrack)

When Dreaming Ends

The sound of the surf woke her at midnight.

She had been sleeping very lightly since the battle with Sin. With Yevon, she reminded herself bitterly. Small things would awaken her, leaving her with a sort of hazy, empty feeling in the morning. She never dreamed and she was grateful for it. She would never admit it out loud but she was afraid of what she would see if she did.

"Too many ghosts," she whispered to the darkness of her hut, one hand clenched around the light sheet that covered her body. The waters of Besaid churned on the beach outside and she sat up, long, dark waves of hair dripping over her shoulders. She ran her fingers through them absently, surprised at the weight of her hair when unbraided. It had gotten very long, almost to her knees when undone, which is why she rarely went anywhere without her hair ornaments. But for night, it was more comfortable to sleep with it down and so she did. She had always been the practical one.

She lifted her bare feet over the edge of the bed and stood, feeling the heat of the sands just outside as it penetrated her thin, purple night gown. She stood still for a moment, letting her copper-colored eyes adjust to the darkness before moving to the door flaps and lifting one aside to peer out.

The night sky was clear, the stars shining with diamond clarity. A gentle breeze came off the ocean, drifting past her to tangle in her hair. A lone figure stood near the water's edge, the delicate silhouette one that Lulu had seen many a times on a darkened beach since that fateful day. Closing her eyes briefly, she felt her heart ache in her chest, the emptiness inside her so great it threatened to swallow her whole, leaving only a void where she was standing. But let no one say she was not strong. Using every part of her will, she pulled herself together and straightened, stuffing her grief and loneliness deep inside her heart where she caged it. She could not be weak. They were all a team and she and Wakka were the solid backbone. Between them they had more years as Guardians than even Sir Auron. Without their courage and strength, everything would fall apart. She had seen it before and vowed to never let it happen again.

Stepping out of her domed hut, she let the tent flaps close behind her as she padded softly across the sand down to the beach. She looked neither to the left nor right but kept her golden brown gaze on the young woman she would still gladly give her life to protect, though her sacrifice was no longer necessary. Yuna did not turn to look at her as she approached. The one-time summoner's hands were gripped together in front of her pale nightgown, the fabric having been made especially for her a grateful weaver in the village. In fact, Yuna was incredibly popular these days, and why not? She had saved the world, saved Spira, but only her closest friends knew she had been unable to save herself.

"I'm all right," the young woman said after a moment, still avoiding her friend's gaze. Yuna's mismatched eyes watched only the waves. "I just like to come here. To remember." She hesitated a moment and Lulu felt the other woman's pain as clearly as if it were her own. And maybe it was. "He loved the water."

Lulu turned her gaze to the incoming tide, struggling to master her own feelings enough to give some comfort. It was hard, especially when her own suffering went unnoticed. Not that she allowed anyone to see it, but it would have been nice if just for once…

"Yes, he did," she answered, and had to stop herself from moving her hands to Yevon's prayer. It would bring her no comfort now. "I hope he swims in the most beautiful of seas now, wherever he is."

Yuna nodded and bowed her head. Lulu knew there were tears in her eyes, there always were. Yuna's heart was still in a million pieces, her own sorrow blinding her to the fact that Spira now looked to her for answers. They wanted her to rise up and fill the hole left by Yevon's death and she could not look beyond the water at her feet.

For a brief second, Lulu felt a terrible guilt. Who was she to judge Yuna? Had she not once loved a man as well? Loved him so much that her heart had turn to ice the moment she had learned of his death? They shattered so easily, people's hearts. Hers would surely crumble at the first sign of kindness. Sympathy would be the end of her, so why did she wish for it so? Nothing would come of it but her own tears, the same that Yuna wept now.

But then she remembered.

Chappu's death had killed her, too. She still felt it inside of her, the dead place, but she had still gone on. She had survived and become Yuna's guardian, lived to protect someone else. She had become one of the strongest Black Mages in a lifetime.

And she had served as a friend and guide to a man who breathed only daydreams.

She could still hear Tidus' voice asking his endless questions to which she would always answer, surprising herself in that fact. She usually had little patience for ignorance, but Tidus had captured her, as surely as he had captured everyone else. After her initial wariness about him becoming one of Yuna's guardian, she had begun to trust him, even going so far as to speak to Wakka about getting him to accept Yuna's invitation to join them on the pilgrimage. That he had joined them had been no surprise. She had seen the way he looked at the young summoner. Someone had once looked at her that way, too.

So what right did Yuna have to cry when Lulu's tears were only icicles? Chappu was dead. Tidus was…gone. No amount of wishing could bring them back. They were both just dreams now, awaiting the hours of night when they could filter into their loved ones' minds and reply scenes from the past. All of them, Rikku, Wakka, Kimarhi, Yuna, and herself. They had all made sacrifices. What right did Yuna have to cling to the past when the future called her so strongly?

Lulu heard the quiet coldness in her tone before she spoke. It was the tone of the older sister, the wise mentor that had never failed to drive home a point. It brought her Yuna's attention effortlessly. "We all have suffered, Yuna. And in our pain it is hard to see that the world is still there, waiting. It's hazy, indistinct, but the focus is there, if we reach for it." She turned her one-eyed gaze to the younger woman. "We are still here, if you would only see it."

For a moment there was perfect silence and Lulu turned her gaze back to the ocean, her long, unbound hair rippling in a gust of wind.

"You know, all those years you were with me, you were my mentor." Lulu kept her surprise from showing on her face as Yuna continued. "You were so confidant, nothing could rattle you. In battle, you were so calm and undeniably fierce. You had this aura that radiated power and self-assuredness and your beauty could stop men in their tracks. I wanted to be like you. I wished for your strength." She took a breath. "And then I realized something. No matter how much I envied you your calm, I could never be you. You've gone through so much in your life and still managed to keep your head high. If I were you, I would be in Lucca right now, trying to lead Spira into a new era. But I can't, not yet anyway. Because I'm not you." Yuna placed a hand over her heart. "And because I still feel him near me and hear his voice on the wind." She looked up at Lulu. "You must have felt the same, when Chappu died."

Lulu swallowed and felt her body tremble. She couldn't think of it. Couldn't. It still hurt so much. Chappu.

She turned away, leaving sandy footprints as she headed slowly back to her bed and the never-ending dreams. Halfway there she stopped and turned slightly, showing Yuna only her profile in the darkness.

"Cry your tears while you can, Yuna," she said softly, "Weeping on the inside hurts too much. And when you're ready and your eyes are clear, you can face the future again. Until then, we'll wait, and dream." She turned around again and headed back, leaving Yuna to watch the waves and remember the love she had lost.

As for herself, Chappu awaited in the land between reality and dreams. The place were no one ever truly died, but lived on in the hearts and minds of those that remembered them.

And Lulu would never forget.

THE END