2019-01-10 - TIMELINE 1: Those Happy Golden Years

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Those Happy Golden Years

Just another perfect summer day for Tokyo's premiere Puella Magi Konbi. It feels like these days will never end.


Madoka Kaname, Eri Shimanouchi, Mami Tomoe, Homura Akemi


A particular park in Shibuya

OOC - IC Date:

1/10/2019 - 08-11-14

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The sky is the magnificent dark blue that remembers the sun but promises stars soon to come. The street lights gild surfaces with gold; the flagstones of the park, the leaves on the trees.

The wood of the bench where Madoka Kaname's waiting.

The pale fur of her companion -- and other partner, in a way; an inextricably important part of the konbi -- who is cadging takoyaki balls from his place the girl's lap, one pleading session at a time.

The surface of her hair -- transforming sakura-pink to a beautiful, delicate sunset cross with peaches, with apricots. Her hairstyle is as usual, but there's a pin thrust through her right twintail that tinkles quietly with dangling beads whenever she turns her head.

Madoka comes from money and her parents buy her a new kimono every year. Every other season, actually; New Years Day and summer festivals.

Now is the latter, of course.

So the fabric is blissfully light on this oppressively hot evening. It glitters with silver thread, which in turn picks out highlights on the wings of the birds that dive, upwards and downwards, across a sweet pink sky that tastes like dawn. The rest of the birds are delineated in lavender.

The normally quiet park is full of noise. The fountain is invisible behind lovingly erected food and gaming stalls. There's potential for fun everywhere you look.

But then -- that's everywhere at all for Madoka. Because she's waiting for her partners. Her friends. Her family.

And every day's a festival, as long as she's with them.

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Barefoot in front of a mirror. Eri Shimanouchi conjoins both ends of the luxurious kimono fabric, holding up the end of the obi and running her hand down the length, leaving a dangly end.

Checks her phone, which was leaned up in front of the counter.

She was hardly an expert on tying it, which meant that she was doing a back and forth on a 'how to' video. She starts to try to move her hand in the motion of tying, when she feels the end lurch out of her hand with a sudden increase in weight and-


Twenty minutes after gently banishing the playful kitten from her dressing room, she finally looked at herself in the mirror, checked it, then the video. Eventually she smiles and says to herself, "Good enough."


At first sight of Madoka, she has the urge to sneak up behind her and put her hands over her eyes. She just can't though, not on a night where she's dressed up so beautifully. She can't bear the thought of even the lightest of teasing messing up any of it. "I haven't kept you waiting long I hope-"

She's wearing an emerald green Kimono with white camellias blooming at the diagonal, including along the sleeves, green plumed red bellied hummingbirds flying across it. She'd cut her hair short a season ago, but for the night she's added an accessory which looks like a trail of ivy cutting across the horizontal of her hair to dangle off the side.

"Madoka-chan." For a moment, she's allowing herself to be quiet, wearing a smile as if she were attempting to be elegant. Before she then starts forward on a quick walk up to her as she makes this light noise that's akin to a squeal as she bends over slightly, "Eeeee- just look at you! I'm so jealous of your kimono! And your pin-!"

She resists the urge to touch it, to hear the sound it makes. "You're the very picture of a traditional beauty, Madoka-chan."

Straightening up a moment later, she allows herself a sigh which sounds a little dramatic as she puts a hand on her hip. "I suppose I'll have to console myself with third place tonight within Tokyo's most stylish Puella Magi konbi." Despite her words though, she doesn't actually sound self-depreciating. Just happy.

Almost idly Eri produces a Daifuku and holds out the Strawberry covered treat to Kyubey. "Thanks for keeping her company while she was waiting Kyubey."

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

No matter how many summers Mami Tomoe spends here, they never seem to be less beautiful. Long ago, the first year she was on her own, she came to the parks to look at the flowers, and there was a peace in them and a loveliness that seemed to make so much awfulness worthwhile.

But she doesn't need to balance anything out anymore; this summer is lighter somehow. Mami doesn't know what the future could bring, but already she's happier than she could have imagined.

...And moreso given who she's going to meet, naturally. She had enough to finish up that she was late getting herself ready, because Mami does not rely on much help in these matters by habit. She also comes from money, but new kimono are always by her choices, now. She took weeks to decide which to wear to this, weeks of considering and watching weather reports and checking when the bloom of each flower was expected...

But all of that is past now, and present is worth taking a moment to pause for. After that--

The noisy park conceals the sound of Mami's arrival, but nothing obscures her brilliant presence. As befits a girl her age, her kimono is bright--a clear, lovely yellow, carefully made, with patterns of morning-glories that cascade across fabric, sharp violet prompting a deep, vivid contrast. It is perfectly arranged, and that contrast sets off her golden hair perfectly--set up, carefully styled outside of her usual, with a pin of her own that resembles a sprig of flowers as well.

It matches some of the flowers they can see, even.

And she would never miss this. Though... Akiko at least didn't give her much trouble. ...Maybe she keeps eating the cream that Mami intended for pastry, though...

"So certain of your loss already?" Mami says to Eri with a smile, as she approaches the others. "You should look at yourself before you say such things. The ivy... I think that's perfect for you." A beat, "Eri-chan," she nods, "Madoka-chan. And of course our Kyubey. I do hope he hasn't been too demanding..."

She smiles, despite the formality of her speech. "But she's right," Mami says to Madoka. "Absolutely lovely. ...But I expect nothing less."

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Homura Akemi wears a new kimono, purchased when summer's flowers were spring's greening buds. Above the lovely geometry of a varied floral pattern, its deep violet matches the shadowed parts of her eyes -- or so her friend Madoka commented, while Homura agonized over the endlessly colorful choices in the shop. Decision made, then and there.

Her friend. Madoka.

And she's going to meet her right now!

For the umpteenth time she fumbles with the pink silken sash to make sure it's in place, succeeding only in adding to the wrinkles she's already inflicted on the fabric from all her other checks. Deep breath. Round the corner she goes and there they are at the bench, all aglow from sunset: Madoka and Eri and Mami, and Kyuubey too. All of them friends.

For all her nervous tip-tapping across the flagstones, Homura catches that sunset glow too. How did she get so lucky?

"I'm- I'm here!" she pants out on her way, hardly challenging the festival noise. Perhaps her flopping braidtips do a better job of signaling her approach, with their cheerful orange bows. She feels oddly self conscious about wearing so bright a color, it keeps catching her eye when she turns...

"Oh, wow. You're all so prettyyy...!" Her wide-eyed astonishment could be no more genuine. "The Covenant of Style..." That gets whispered, after Eri's comment about the stylishness of the puella konbi. "Oh! And you're very cute, Kyuubey-san." Homura isn't sure if he would prefer pretty or cute, but she's covering her bases.

"Thank you so much for inviting me out to the festival!" Her mannerliness has stuck around. "Tomoe-san, I um... you're so right..." Mami's compliments are almost as lovely as she herself is, and Homura knows she could never manage such grace.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Kyuubey has a bow tied around his neck, too, secured at the nape not very differently from Madoka's own, when she's in battle regalia. It's extra visible when he perks up -- his throat throbs as he swallows the last takoyaki ball whole -- and smiles, mostly with his closed eyes, at the approaching girls.

Madoka's smile is brighter and truer. If it lives in any single place most strongly, it is her voice, golden with happiness. "Everyone!"

Her sandals, lacquered redwood, clatter on the stones as she hops up. Displaced, Kyuubey swarms up to her shoulders, becoming more of a New Years stole, and from there accepts Eri's bribery. What a walking stomach.

<< I didn't do it for you, >> Kyuubey announces with his typical tactlessness. << But I will keep doing it, in exchange for more festival food. Do we have a contract? >>

Madoka baps him on the tip of his nose with two gentle fingers.

"We're giving you food because we like you. Stop ruining it!"

<< I don't understand humans, >> he sighs.

But Madoka pays him no more mind. She's openly admiring everyone else's kimono -- and hair -- and accessories. And flushing very slightly at the compliments in turn, but the back and forth is easy. Easy doesn't make it any less wonderful. It's moreso, really.

"The Covenant of Beauty, tonight," she suggests, and mischief infects her eyes as she hooks her arm through Homura's at the elbow. "I am honored to escort such beautiful ladies to the stalls."

There are a lot of them. Goldfish scooping. Ring tossing. Corkgun shooting with impressive prizes. Masks for sale, and elaborate balloons. Every manner of festival food.

"Tonight," she decides, dreamily, "I am going to win prizes for everyone. ...Plus one more for Tatsuya."

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Eri of course doesn't hear Mami approaching with the sounds of the festival, but once she makes herself known, she cannot but command notice. Eri turns and finds herself staring a little extra long, almost like she's stunned, before she stammers out, "Y-You really think so? I ah... thought so too." Though she recovers long enough to smile, and waves at her, "Come on senpai. Don't tease me like that. We all know who holds the crown here."

And at Homura's arrival, "With apologies to 'our' Kyubey..." Eri reaches up with a hand as if to adjust her glasses, "I think you have him beaten in the cute department Homura-chan. There's no contest in that kimono- even with his bow." Though she'd believe that anyhow on any given night. Still such a night and the kimonos lends an air to this place like it were some festival in a Shoujo manga.

Madoka remarks that it's a Covenant of Beauty, and Eri agrees, smiling as Madoka hooks an arm into Homura's, "And I'm honored to accept. All of you are the only escorts I want tonight." She remarks, turning up her chin with a kind of faux haughtiness. "After all - looking like this, we're going to have to try extra hard to keep it just between us girls tonight." ... which turned into certain facetious confidence about mid-way. Before adding as an afterthought, "And Kyubey."

As they walk, despite that remark, she looks a little shy about the idea of simply taking Mami's arm, despite the fact that Madoka took Homura's so readily.

Along the way she instead finds herself taking in the sights and sounds and smells. "You may have to. I've never been any good at festival games." This was already turning into such a happy memory and it had barely begun. Spending a night like this between the four of them. "Though maybe this is my year."

A light smile graces her lips as she offers, "Do your best for all of us, Madoka-chan!"

As if finally considering that concept, the idea of them together, she offers, "... you know we've all known each other for almost a year now. It feels like tonight is the night to celebrate that." And with that, she looks sidelong at Mami. "So it feels only appropriate that you pick what booth we stop at first senpai..."

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"Homura-chan," Mami greets their dear friend warmly as she turns towards her. Naturall, she looks over her kimono, watches the bright bows, the violet pattern...

Kyubey's complaints get a soft shake of Mami's head, long-suffering with the little creature in a fun way.

"Yes," Mami agrees with Madoka, "That's quite apt, I think. Thank you for joining us," she returns warmly, and replies to Eri, "That's sweet of you to say--but of course I think so!" A little laugh that she keeps small comes at the comparison though. "True," she agrees, but they all know she's going to end up feeding him tidbits later anyway.

Madoka's intention brings a smirk to Mami's face. "My, I'm looking forward to what you win us," she says, and takes Eri's arm with her own in the same way as Madoka Homura's.

She lightly adds, "The trick is not to entertain anything past saying no," Mami offers in turn, and starts to move forward with the others. She thinks of festival games when Eri mentions them again, but the question is a surprise--

"Ah--" They've all... "Yes, it has been almost that long, hasn't it?" It's strange, somehow. Long, and short... But given the invitation, Mami considers, and looks between Eri and then Madoka in turn. "Well, if I'm left the choice..."

"I wouldn't want to leave Madoka-chan lonely testing her aim for all of us--I could join you for this one."

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The back-and-forth between puella and fairy has her rapt. At the adorable mascot's mention of contracts, Homura takes a break to stare at her own dark-stained geta and wonder. Kyuubey says such curious things, sometimes -- but at the same time she feels a sort of kinship with him. She's never felt like she understands people, either.

Case in point: the compliments she receives from Eri in return are clearly unexpected, the way they drop her small mouth open. After a moment she manages a stumbling, "Ar-arigatou!" That nervous stammer has gotten better over time, but positive attention aimed her way tends to bring it running.

Homura's face gets just a bit sunsettier when Madoka links arms with her. From that point on the girl takes self-conscious pains to match pace for fear of disturbing that linkage, taking short clip-cloppiting steps and oh so obviously unpracticed at walking in traditional sandals.

Eri's marking of time prompts a reflective quiet from Homura. A thought occurs; she considers whether to express it, if it just makes her seem sad or if they'll understand what she means by it. In the end she takes a chance: "This year... is the first time I've ever played festival games." And offers the shyest of smiles to her friends. It's the first time she's, well, a lot of things.

"Which us um, which is why I'm so terrible at them." Because she's Homura, she can't help tacking on the deprecating disclaimer. "Maybe I should just watch you all play..."

The prospect of being front row for Mami Tomoe versus Corkgun Targets seals that. She shivers her excitement next to Madoka, looking sidelong at the other girl to see what she thinks, too. "Tomoe-san is so amazing! And, and I don't get to see this part up close, much..." The shooty parts of the fighting, she means.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Dimples appear in Madoka's cheeks, as if by magic.

They make a fine accompaniment to the sparkles in her eyes.

"The Covenant's birthday! I promise, I won't let you down -- any of you!"

The fire banks a little, becoming something glowing and warm, suitable for curling alongside, or baking something very sweet indeed, at the double whammy of Mami's challenge and Homura's deprication.

"I'm never lonely anymore," she says softly, basking in the simple delight that this is true. "But I accept your challenge... and yours, too, Homura-chan. I'll help you hit the target before the game is over!"

She slaps down enough yen for everyone to get a gun whether they asked for one or not, handing them out to Eri and Mami and Homura...

Oh, only three.

That makes Madoka and Homura a team. She settles in behind the other girl, and settles her arms around and beneath her counterpart's. Guiding her stance, steadying her grip.

"Okay, like this -- then pick your target -- then SHOOOO~OOOT!"

There are a lot of targets of many different sizes; they are all shaped like clowns, smiling or grimacing or making silly faces. As for the rifles, well... calling them period pieces would be giving them way too much credit. It's more that they're crude facsimiles of what someone thought a rifle should be like. And every cork is a bit different, in shape and weight.

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Perhaps Eri had said it in part to bring out that stammer from Homura. Her teasing has always been mild, but it has developed a touch of a sadistic streak sometimes.

As Mami slides her arm into Eri's, the other girl looks surprised, then momentarily her eyes are on the ground as if her brain has short circuited just a little. Her color changed from pink from her nose up to her ears. Then eventually her arm nestles within Mami's after she recomposes herself. Smiling at her decision. "Starting big tonight- that's definitely the way to go!"

However she'd given Mami the chance because she knew it was her first festival with others. Forgetting that it would also be Homura's. "Ah-!" When the girl brings that up Eri looks her way as if startled by her oversight. Though eventually she brings up a smile. "Well then let's make this a night to remember for you too Homura-chan!" She declares, trying not to get caught up on how touched she feels at Madoka's comment of not being lonely anymore...

... because she whole-heartedly agrees.

"The challenge is on then!"

Lining up at the booth, she swallows, then picks up her gun, realizing that this competition is definitely not ideal for her... all the same. "Here we go - I'll follow your lead and try best not to bring you down senpai-!"

Sighting down the toy gun facsimile she aims low at a target, and when Madoka says 'SHOO~OOT' she anxiously pulls the trigger - and the cork flies off. However she underestimates how not like actual guns these are.

The ill-balanced cork does not fly straight, but hits low and rebounds off the counter - and flies straight past Mami Tomoe in a narros ricochet miss.

Stunned by this development, "I didn't realize we'd have to worry about friendly fire here..." Before she then snaps out of it while stating, "Sorry senpai-!"

Instead the next time she sights down a clown target, she whispers to herself, "Green Effervescence!" And pulls the trigger-!

Resulting in the clown target still standing as she glowers at the cork flies between two of them.

"That always worked before..." She complains to noone in particular.

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mami, as she usually does, continues to talk on people and their foibles like an ancient sage--and there's a little more fun in it with these girls, with whom she doesn't have to maintain the fiction that it's always true all the time.

But as much as she enjoys watching Eri tease, she also enjoys turning it back on her, and walks with an entirely smooth grace as she spots the pink Eri has taken on. ...She really does appreciate the moment, so instead of pressing her advantage, she only gives Eri an amused smile that turns appreciative just a moment as they move onward.

Homura's words get a different kind of smile still. "We were all terrible at things the first time we did them," Mami tells Homura with the air of a great secret when she professes her inability at festival games. "I know I was. It'll be fun seeing you learn," she assures Homura with a knowing nod, and smiles brightly at the wonderful bonfire of Madoka's enthusiasm. Madoka, especially, has even heard Mami talk about those early days.

A little giggle. "Far be it from me to turn down admiration, but we'll have to see how amazing I am with these..."

But with the challenge seet, Mami beams and accepts the rifle she's given. Well, 'rifle'. It's small, and cute, and someone tried very hard with it Mami is sure.

"Ah," she declares, "A noble weapon." She approaches it with all the pomp of a legendary firearm, hefting it and looking it over carefully to test its weight. "Hmm," she declares thoughtfully, before caarefully lifting her chosen weapon towards a silly-faced clown. And--

Eri fires. Mami blinks lightly as it aaalmost hits her on the ricochet. "Ah, no, it's not an issue," she says--and hears the name given. "Good thinking," Mami tells Eri, and then takes aim with her own. "Let's see..."

The first shot is a miss, but the older girl actually smirks in concentration. "So that's your arc, is it?" she murmurs to--the gun? It must be to the gun. She lowers it, gets another cork--

And this time she hits the target dead-on. She smiles. "You did nothing of the sort," she says about Eri bringing her down. "Your shots helped me see how these really work!"

...After her second dead shot the attendant is more than happy to provide prizes to ensure Mami doesn't keep firing, and Mami is definitely susceptible to bribery in the realm of the festival...

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"I can't imagine you ever being bad at this, Tomoe-san. I um, thank you, you're so kind... I hope I can make you proud someday." Favored with the wisdom of the Golden Queen, Homura blinks, a bit overwhelmed -- but Mami often has that effect on her.

"...!" A wordless wisp of startlement escapes Homura's open mouth when Madoka hands her the gun. With elbows stiff, she holds it at arm's length, letting it wobble across her upheld palms. Like she's afraid to even grip the thing. It is, in fact, the closest thing to a weapon Homura Akemi has ever held, and despite the utterly harmless cork plugging its barrel she's embarrassingly intimidated by it.

She's more than happy to let Eri and Mami go first. "You can do it Shimanouchi-san! Oh... um... next time, right?" And after Mami's expert approach pays off, more slowly, an astonished, "Ohhhh... wow. I bet if they had a record board you would break them all!"

Homura's first attempt at orienting her own festival gun culminates in the stock resting atop her dominant shoulder. It perches there like a parrot would, and like a rifle never ever should.

Good thing Madoka's here to help! "Oh, like- I, um, sorry, Kaname-san, I mean, thank you. I won't let you down either, I promise!"

The earnestness squeezes right out of her thanks to all the friendly warmth quite literally surrounding her. How did she get so lucky? She tries to pay attention to those directions, really tries, but her heart's thumping so loudly in her ears...

No more putting it off, now. For her first shot, Homura pulls the trigger before she picks her target, far too flustered. She yelps as the cork flies off -- "Ahhh!!" -- startled by the popping, and the barrel swings toward the purpling sky. The cork zings off over the crowd somewhere. "Oh no, oh no, I... I hope that didn't... um..."

She looks in a guilty panic at the game proprietor. "I'm so sorry! I'll pay to replace your cork!" The incongruity of her own statement escapes Homura. Madoka just dropped good yen on that cork, maybe she should be saying it to her instead...

Two more shots, three, four... thanks to the guidance of an expert combat archer Homura finally has her corks hitting inside the festival tent. The attendant might need to duck, though. On the plus side, he's making back some of the yen he lost to Mami on all these attempts...

Homura's turning steadily more red, though. "I um... it's okay, I'm just, you're all so good at things like this, you don't need to wait on me..." Finally one of her corks bounces off the backboard and, on its rebound, barely scrapes the back corner of a weeping clown. She emits a relieved sigh, and her arms wobble, tired -- and she looks back at Madoka again, like a hopeful puppy.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"Uehihihi!" Madoka's bath-full-of-bubbly giggle pours forth -- not at Eri's miss but at her invocation. "Ganbatte, Ericchi... never give up! Never surrender!"

Her eyes turn round as saucers as Mami starts racking up the shots -- and is laden down with huge plushies (Jiji! Majestia! Sailor V!) in return. "Amazing, senpai... Yosh!" She tosses her head. The pin in her hair tinkles.

"Okay, together, we can't lose!"

And they don't. Madoka keeps up a steady stream of encouragement into Homura's ear; soothing, sometimes wordless hums and sometimes infinitely patient reassurrance. "Don' mind, don' mind," she often clucks in English, a bit of Americana she undoubtedly picked up watching the softball team.

But she says other things, too. She's so close that Homura can feel Madoka's eyelashes on their merged cheekbones, every time she blinks.

"Don't worry about the attendant, or anyone else... just listen to my voice. Let's breathe together... in, out, in, out... next time you exhale, we'll pull the trigger... in, out! Okay, see, that was better, let's do another one, I'm so glad we get to do this, it's fun to work together..."

As Homura begins to flag, Madoka gathers her still closer, taking the other girl's weight onto herself as well as all of that of the gun's.

"You did it!" she celebrates gleefully, lifting her up from behind and spinning them both around, once she finally makes her shot. Then she sets Homura down with the same delicacy with which she would handle her most precious thing. Which is appropriate...

How Madoka's eyes shine.

They definitely lost on points. But they won something else.

The attendant trades Homura her gun for a bobble-headed Hawaiian hula girl. (That isn't what they won.)

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

'Next time' Homura says, and Eri titters a little self-consciously. "I'm just hoping it doesn't ricochet next time-!"

Homura's first shot causes Eri to watch and-

-then suddenly her head turns so quickly one might think she got whiplash as she watches it swing out into the crowd. Gawking, she comments, "It went further than mine..."

'Noble' isn't how Eri would describe the cork guns. However, Mami turns it into a noble weapon within her hands. Stunned as the girl hits a target, then the second. "...wow." There's this note of quiet awe as she says, "Just as expected...!" Then she credits her- "Oh-" There's something of a flush that deeply contrasts her kimono. "Well I'm glad I was able to be of some help. After all we're on the same team...!"

However as Madoka cheers her on she squares her shoulders and lifts the gun for one final shot, "I won't give in." She says with a sudden seriousness brought upon by Madoka's cheer. Her expression entirely somber.

Madoka might catch a wink shortly after from her to realize she's not taking it too seriously. And- her third shot goes up high over her first intended target in an arc which... causes it to graze a target behind it. "Did I get it?!" She says with a sudden excitement, as if she'd actually pulled off something far more incredible even on accident - looking at the harried booth attendant who eventually gives her a tentative thumbs up for what is probably a consolation prize at best.

However Homura shoots and - "Whoa you got it!" -she's much more intent on watching Madoka and Homura celebrate for a moment. Instead after a moment, she smiles and steps closer to Mami. Now that Mami has taken her arm, it only feels natural to give it back right now, as she says with the warmest smile, "I guess we all go home winners tonight."

She knows the same would be true though - even had they all missed and won no prizes.

Being with all of them tonight certainly makes her feel that way.

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"It's hard to imagine now because I practiced it so hard then," Mami answers, and winks. "Don't tell anyone."

Mami makes a point of not showing off too much in day to day life... But she couldn't claim not to be satisfied with her eventual shots. But--

Homura's worry gets a gentle look but frankly Mami doesn't think she'd do half as well calming her as Madoka can. But Eri--

Madoka calls out her victory, and Mami stands there with the expression of a cat who just found her way into the birdcage.

"We sure are," Mami answers Eri in turn--of course they're on the same team. "Go on--you can do it!"

It's easy to cheer people on when doing so laden with plushies. ...But it would be easier anyway, as long as it's these girls.

"Ah!" Eri's excitement gets a nod, and from behind/beside Eri when the attendant looks, Mami gives a smile and a nudge of her head Eri's way until she shows /some/ approval. "You did!" Mami answers, and beams. "You both did!"

The way Madoka shines with Homura there... If there were no other prizes, that itself is a wonderful image, a wonderful thing to see and be near and not be some stranger looking in at all.

And if someone doesn't notice the raised eyebrow Mami gives to Sailor V, as if the plushie were really here, then all the better. She accepts Eri's arm with a smile, and then--

"We do, but we certainly don't go home yet. Homura-chan, why don't you give us an idea for where to stop next?"

Mami saves a special smile after she speaks for turning her head back to Madoka, and it feels wonderful.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Madoka manages to simultaneously fluster and soothe Homura, which the transfer student -- she still thinks of herself as such, whether the others do or not -- finds terribly confusing. The one thing she's sure of is that she can't let Madoka down.

So she keeps trying. This is the miracle friendship has wrought: that Homura tried in the first place, and that she does not slink off into the crowd after her first spectacular failure. A year or so ago, she slunk off in just such a fashion after an exhausting athletic debut...

What a difference the nourishment of friendship can make, especially to a starveling. Somewhere between the gracious wisdom of Mami Tomoe, Eri's understanding and acceptance, and the way Madoka makes her feel like a somebody, Homura finds a way to keep pulling the cork gun's still sliiightly terrifying trigger.

So utterly aware of Madoka's every blink, Homura forgoes that action herself entirely. Her eyes feel dried open by the end of her corkgun volley. She can't help sagging into supportive arms, but she doesn't want to be a burden, but the closeness feeds the desperate loneliness of her soul... When she finally manages to kind of make the shot, her reward is greater than she ever imagined. Toys, stuffed animals? No:

Being picked up and swung around by a gleeful, celebrating Madoka, and most especially hearing that praise in her voice, THAT is everything Homura never knew she needed. She wants so badly to feel worthy of it...

As usual Homura does not see her own growth. It's so goodhearted of Madoka to give her credit for that, she thinks. Her little smile is one of gratitude. "Thanks for... for all the help, and for waiting on me. You'd make a good teacher, Kaname-san. You're so patient, and kind..."

It's easier to be happy for Eri's win. "You got it, Shimanouchi-san! And you were getting better with every shot too, I saw." She's almost as ready to give up her gun as the attendant is to get it back. The hula girl gets clutched in both hands, like a little girl might treasure a new doll. "Something to remember today by," she murmurs, as if she could ever forget a day like this.

"Um... you want me to choose? Okay, I, ah..." There was one booth that caught her eye earlier, and her head turns that direction now as she thinks of it. "If no one else minds... I sort of wanted to look at the festival masks." She's been wanting to try them on since she spotted the red oni grimaces and cheery kitsune faces from across the crowd.