2018-12-06 - TIMELINE 1: The Companionship Of Stars

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The Companionship Of Stars

Madoka arranges a surprise picnic -- in the middle of the night -- for Mami, atop the lodge's roof.


Madoka Kaname, Mami Tomoe


Hokkaido Snowy Island - Kimata Ski Lodge

OOC - IC Date:

12/6/2018 - 12-24-2013

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Mami finds a note on her pillow, when it's time for bed.

By now Madoka's handwriting -- passable but rarely spectacular, unless she tries to do the fancy lettering that takes her forever -- is instantly recognizable. Her voice leaps off the page with every thoughtless little flourish.

Please meet me on the roof.

The roof is not a well-advertised place; it's steep, and covered with snow, and definitely a liability risk for kids to climb around on. As a matter of fact the ladder to the attic is sufficiently well-hidden that it may well be locked away. There is simply no obvious way up from the inside.

And from the outside, there is no ladder either... but certain girls have other ways of getting around, even if it's only for a moment.

Madoka is waiting by the chimney, which is both back support and warmth, given its steadily flowing heat. She's only half-dressed for snow; boots yes, sweater yes, scarf yes, hat and coat no. Her sweater has an unfurling fern embroidered onto it.

She's rocking back and forth on her heels, with the nerves of someone not totally sure if their date is going to show up. Or maybe she's just keeping her blood flowing. It really is bracingly icy up here.

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Communal sleeping arrangements have their ups and downs. Mami's pillow is one of many in the room--but she spots the note, recognizes the handwriting immediately. Maybe it isn't spectacular by most standards, but it's one of Mami's most favorite things to see on a page; even before she picks it up she starts to smile, and looks curiously down once she does.

On the roof...

Using the attic route would be trouble even if it weren't well-hidden; as Madoka waits on the roof, the sound that greets her first is a soft thump of shoes against snowy shingling. A sense of warmth, maybe... But then Mami steps around from behind the chimney, head ducked slightly to help her look around and spot--

"Ah, there you are," Mami says, her voice warm. ...It seems she has little problem with sneaking around. She is also about half-dressed for the cold, in more or less the sand configuration. Her sweater has a soft flower pattern arranged in its weave, yellows and golds and greens on white. ...Her hair, for once, is down, worn long.

"I read your note," she says, unnecessary but worth mentioning anyway. She has it with her, in fact.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Madoka, whose gaze had fallen vaguely to her pidgeon-toed feet, looks up like a startled bird at Mami's approach. The sun comes up in her face. Even the tips of her twintails -- they're back, after their new-normal absence underneath that fleece headband -- seem to twist and spin, just a little bit, with raw enthusiasm. Or just displaced momentum.

"You came!" she breathes, equally unnecessarily and equally worthwhile. "I'm so glad."

Yo-ka-tta, a word Madoka says often, and with the same wonder squeezed into each syllable every time. A little bit of healthy, tender awe at her own good fortune, be it over an extra cookie or an extra life.

Squaring her shoulders, she pulls some fabric off a dark patch next to the chimney. It's a heavy blanket that she must have filched from the lodge stores, and beneath it is... another heavy blanket! For sitting on, presumably.

But also, a tea set -- two cups and two saucers, a sturdy little earthware pot -- and also two little plates, two delicate forks, and two slices of what was definitely the nicest, and first-to-run-out, cake at the buffet. Christmas cake, strawberry and all.

Madoka's a real witch but she smiles like a stage magician, pleased with her surprise.

"For you!" she explains, beaming. "...For us!"

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Mami may favor gold, but there's times she'd be a little more like the moon than the sun, her smile widening at the light of Madoka's. Maybe it is momentum too, but Mami takes it for enthusiasm, and nods brightly. "Of course I did," Mami answers, and delights not entirely secretly in the fact that she can say that, that there is someone that 'of course' she would come out to see. ...As always she has a bit more reserve by contrast, but--

"Oh!" Not fully anyway. As Mami steps to see the setup, the revelation of the teaset, the plates... Mami looks over them with surprise, very much like a different kind of Christmas and morning instead of night. "Madoka-chan," she starts, and beam up, sliding over and taking her place in front of the chimney carefully, to reach to Madoka's hand for a moment. "It's wonderful," she declares, and laughs softly, "Or you are, is maybe the better way to put it. I almost can't believe you thought of it."

Even now, months beyond their meeting, there's a certain sense of newness Mami feels, a certain... something, that would've stopped her thinking the same, but since it's here--Since it's here, Mami wonders for an instant if she might not float away entirely, or melt what snow is here just by being here.

"I can't think of a better place to be at the moment."

The sturdy pot may as well be the nicest one in Mami's cabinets. The strawberries seem to her to shine in what light there is up here.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Madoka settles in next to Mami against the chimney, and tugs the second blanket around both their shoulders like a cloak. A moment later, after a bit of nestling leaves them shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip, it's more like a nest in truth. Only their hands and heads have to emerge... and the latter, only at need. For her part, Madoka is exceedingly content to leave her hand in Mami's custody for as long as possible.

She is silently ecstatic at the reaction her surprise has received, but the subtlety ends there. The fireshot brick cannot hope to compete with the warmth she exudes, as she serves the cake and pours the tea.

The steam billows around them, amplifying that emitted by their breathing, and wholly drowning out the faintly smoky (though not unpleasant) scents of the lodge itself. It's a familiar blend; storebought, but as close as Madoka could find to what Mami serves at home. Imagine her, for a moment, ransacking the buffet's teabags and brewing like twenty cups in order to find the right one, and you would be imagining correct.

That process done, she settles back, plate and fork held just barely over the outside of the blanket, and sighs happily.

"I love winter," she says, and means I love you. "I love Christmas. I love evergreens, I love snow." She means it, again and again.

"I love stars," she finishes, and points, fork-first, up at her final surprise. Really, it's terrible of the schools to curfew the kids away from seeing what they're missing, living in Tokyo.

There's a little bit of steam and smoke for company with the Milky Way, but not much. The grand expanse of the heavens above is spectacular. The kind of panorama that makes a girl feel very small -- or very special.

"Look," Madoka breathes, "Look up..."

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

It doesn't feel cold here to Mami anymore, though in truth she'd have set that aside anyway even if not for the blanket arrangement. The blonde will just have them both operate with one hand free for a while, because she keeps hold of Madoka's quietly for a long while yet. Steam and steam, and first there is the scent of the tea itself. Mami knows tea varieties very well, of course, and this particular blend is enriched by the cold air out there lending crispness to the warmth within. She inhales deeply of the scent, and only after identifying it does it occur to her how much work probably went into this.

"Mm. A good cup of tea at night is something I thought I'd have to miss, with the curfew." Mami's still smiling. She sets the cup down just enough to reach for the plate, and listens to Madoka. She hears winter, and she hears herself. Silent at first, Mami does not want to interrupt the sound of a precious voice until she finishes, maybe not then--

But with a surprised blink, Mami does look up, gaze traces from fork to sky... And then, up, up, up, at the brilliant vista above. Mami forgets for a moment breathing, staring upward. She is, first and foremost, a girl of Tokyo, of the city and of Shibuya. Seeing a sky untouched by so much light is rare for her.

But while some might feel small and lonely at such a grand expanse, Mami is instead conscious of the girl at her shoulder and her side, of the scent of tea, of the knowledge of the building below, and she breathes, "It's beautiful."

She doesn't only mean the stars, or even the combined moment. She gazes up in wonder at it. "...I..." What word would she use? It becomes easy, "I do, too," she starts, still staring, rapt. "...Everyone seems so happy at this time of year. There's always more to do, always someone to meet. Everyone is coming and going, bundled up, wrapped even. The flowers are gone in winter, and people have to look to one another, instead. And I wanted..."

"I always wanted to know what that felt like." Mami lowers her gaze slowly, turns slightly towards the pink-haired girl bundled up with her. "It's like a dream," she admits, speaking without the projection of elegance she always puts on, more freely.

She imagines she knows why a star wants to be light, now.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

"Yeah," Madoka agrees, and she doesn't mean the stars or the moment, either, as she looks straight back at Mami. She's blushing a little but it's wholly of her own accord.

Although she has a strong floral motif, her magic is more deeply themed of stars and starlight, isn't it? She seems wholly at home here, among the darkness and the cold and the beauty all around them.

She has no idea what Mami's thinking, but just watching her is quietly transcendent. She's pink and white and somehow silver, too, like one of the stars taken human form right there on the roof. And she has no idea about any of that, either. It's gold -- the faint gold of Mami's unbound hair, the shine of her eyes, the reflected starlight on her soft skin -- that's reflected in her eyes.

The softness is too much for her to bear. She has to feel it for herself.

Leaning in, she nuzzles Mami's cheek with her own.

"Merry Christmas, Mami-chan," she murmurs.

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Mami's got a little red tinge to her cheeks, too--maybe it's the temperature outside the blankets... but no, that's too much of a stretch. It isn't. Mami's unguarded here in a way she never really was anymore, before she met this starry girl.

Sure, the void around the stars is cold, and dark, but the light of the stars shines bright enough to make it welcoming. If it is dark and cold then it is still beautiful, and Mami has found a brilliance in the sky that she never thought much of, focused as she was on the ground.

...Even if she's willing to share her thoughts with Madoka, old habits don't break too easily; Mami's demeanor just doesn't show everything so clearly like Madoka's does. ...It's one of the things Mami values about her partner. It's emblemized by that... glow, of hers. And Mami in turn is gold indeed; faint at the hair, brillliant in her eyes, even in the little colors of her sweater, the way it meld with the gold of her hair.

Mami stops in surprise and then sighs, leaning back Madoka's way quietly the stay close. "Merry Christmas, Madoka-chan," Mami murmurs back, and she decides in that instant that it has become her favorite holiday of any of them.

Her cheek is soft, but as a whole she has the softness of melting outright. "...I couldn't even place all of those stars," she admits. "But it makes me wonder. You see some of them close, and I know they're supposedly so far apart, but..."

"Maybe stars can be together, too." A little laugh, quiet, as she closes her eyes. "Maybe I'm babbling. But I never imagined... this."

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

When Mami's eyes close, it ends the spell cast on Madoka, freeing hers to look elsewhere: so they skip back up to the stars.

It really isn't that cold after all, is it? She worked hard to get the tea and cake safely up here but sampling it is suddenly unimportant. It isn't worth leaving the blanket coccoon they've created. Instead she snuggles in more closely.

"Me neither," she agrees. After a moment of shared silence, she feels the need to fill it with shared self. "I always thought... I'd never be able to help anyone, you know? But instead, you taught me how I could best help everyone."

Waiting for Mami's eyes to reopen, camping her gaze like she gives Sayaka a hard time about doing in MMOs, she winks as soon as it's available.

"That means you too, you know? You deserve... all of it."

She nods, doubling down on the thought. How is it that her smile has faded into a solemn, innocently earnest expression, and yet she seems happier than ever?


She relaxes her neck an atom at a time, until the connection between their cheeks is just a frisson of potential, and then not even that.

But there's something else there instead.

It's impossible, when they're both standing up, but being seated like this erases their height difference to all but a tiny fraction.

Madoka's shoulder smells like her sweater -- like pine needles, and a little bit like the sugar she had to hide behind her back to get out of the dining hall.

It's a slender surface, but a sure one all the same. Steady, solid. Reliable.

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The tea smells lovely... but Mami feels the same, not at all quick to reach back out for it. She's relaxed now, with the shingles beneath the blanket obvious, the bricks at her back. Madoka, of course, more important than any of it. She draws in the details anyway, engraves them, and when the silence passes--

Mami's gaze turns up on time, an invited guest; her eyes slide open again a moment after that statement, so that she can look back at Madoka. The wink gets the ghost of a laugh, Mami not quite willing to move away enough to make more of a sound. She smiles brightly, radiant. She has seen too much for innocence, maybe, but the trusting curiousity of Mami watching Madoka and waiting for the next couple of words does a good counterfeit.

There's an earnestness to her, too, as she feels the change; slowly, relaxing, close here seated, Mami closes her eyes again, because scent, feeling, these tell her more of what she wants to know right now. Solid... Reliable. Safe. It's a smell like home, and one fresh, and...

"It was always there," Mami answers softly, her voice as gentle as a dancer's footfalls. "The way you could do it--It was in you. You just needed the chance to let it out, I think."

Slowly, Mami draws in a long breath, exhales in something like a sigh. After a long moment, she adds something.

"...But you really have," Mami tells her partner. "Helped me, I mean. You say I deserve it," she repeats, and her voice does not treat it as a question to be considered, "But you know..."

"I already have it. ...Everything, I mean. Everything I wanted."