2019-03-31 - TIMELINE 3: Wish Upon A Star, Redux

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Wish Upon A Star, Redux

Walpurgisnacht comes to Tokyo. The magical girls rise to confront it en masse, but not without casualties. Homura Akemi and Madoka Kaname are the only survivors among the Puella Magi, and both on the verge of a fate worse than death. Madoka has one last use of one last Grief Seed left, and uses it to save Homura from becoming a Witch -- then asks her to go back in time to prevent Madoka from becoming a Puella Magi in the first place. As a final request, she begs Homura to kill her before she can become a Witch. Homura promises to fulfill the first wish and reluctantly grants the second one, before turning back the hourglass... ending Timeline Three.


Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname



OOC - IC Date:

3/31/2019 - End of Timeline 3

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

A graveyard rain falls cold from an overcast sky. The jagged bones of buildings rise from a shallow stormwater sea, like countless exposed fractures across the broken body of a fallen city. Here and there are moments of color amid the grey, still and scattered: those who fought bravely to turn the storm called Walpurgisnacht, and fell, too, just as broken.

It's just the two of them, now.

Two girls' arms cross at the wrists; two girls' hands cup grey water and blackly gleaming soul gems. One of the gems used to be pink. The other used to be purple.

Homura Akemi's sopping school uniform clings to her skinny arms, as torn as the rest of her. Everything is a distorted jigsaw through her glasses; their lenses are all cracked and splattered with rain. None of that matters to her. She lies in the water, letting its chill seep into skin and then bone because she has no choice any more.

Her soul feels strangely heavy in her palm, and it's cold, too. Like iron, like ice. If Homura had the strength left for it, she would shiver.

Instead she looks at Madoka next to her, over their crossed arms and guttering soul gems. Her dwindling energy is better spent on the name of the girl who saved her. "Kaname-san..."

Homura's voice is quieter even than is her norm, and cracks high and soft. Like her heart is so weak that each beat steals strength from her words. Her eyes are large and dark and as deeply purple as a fading sunset, even through her ruined glasses. She isn't searching Madoka's face, but gazing upon it, more directly than she ever manages in the day to day of class and monster fighting. Like she's allowed, now, somehow, or maybe she just doesn't have the energy left to be nervous about it.

Looking at Madoka makes it all hurt less, makes it all worth it. She should be sad, and she is, there are tears in her eyes, but...

Sadness isn't what shapes her face as she looks at her best friend, heedless of the broken city and the fallen around them.

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

Madoka's bleeding. She isn't -- like Sayaka was -- her mind flinches from the comparison; the blood continues to trickle from her wrist, anyway, and from a thousand other scrapes and scratches. Normally they'd be gone, after the battle ended.

But then, this was not like other battles.

What matters is that it's over. Tokyo has been saved. Millions and millions and millions of people she doesn't know, and a handful that she does, will go on...

...but some won't. Some already haven't.

There's a peacefulness in Madoka as she looks over at the very last one of her Puella Magi friends who's still with her. Exhaustion can be peaceful, like a blank, empty gray sky reflecting on a windless lake, and this is some of that. But it doesn't capture the fullness of the feeling.

Homura's wrist feels warm. And her voice feels warm. And her gaze feels warm. Madoka opens herself to that warmth as surely as a cat does on the concrete. She digs deep and, somehow, somewhere, finds the energy to smile. A smile, just for Homura. All for her. Everything for her, Madoka's friend.

Everything is all she has left to give.

"So this is... the end for us too, right?"

It isn't really a question; she asks it in the same way and for the same reason that, at the beginning of the battle, and again in its darkest heart, she had ignited her bow with much too much magic, made it burn with radiance, with light for others to see. Courage is the currency of a warrior, and easily spent when there's no time left.

Courage for Homura's sake, and for herself. She doesn't have the strength to go out with her head held high literally, but she can manage the metaphor well enough.

Is such gentle acceptance brave, though, really?

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

Madoka smiles at her.

Just like that she's warm again, a warmth to accompany what Madoka sees and feels in her. It would be harder not to smile back, especially when her friend says 'us'. They're together, and right now Homura cannot think of anything more important to her in the world.

So Homura smiles back, the expression wobbly but pure, even as she asks a question of consequence.

"You don't have any more Grief Seeds...?"

Homura doesn't, and... and she isn't sad about it. Or terrified, or any of the other things she expected to feel in a moment like this. How could she be, with Madoka smiling at her like that? Anything Madoka has to give is everything to Homura, always. Her brave last, her everything is even more precious.

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

Her last friend left.

It isn't even a question, what Madoka's going to do next.

But sometimes, to do a good thing, you have to do a bad thing first. Just like Mama said.

Madoka isn't a good liar, but in a way her track record for dutiful honesty paves the way for her success now. It doesn't even take words. She just closes her eyes -- the world is darker for their lack -- and shakes her head in that peculiar way she has, the gentle push of the one cheekbone and then the other. Nnn-nn, but this time without even that gentle burble of vocalization.

One of her twintails splishes down in the puddle -- another half inch of red ribbon stains crimson, now wet -- as she finishes the motion and, once again, lays her head to the side, facing Homura fully.

Somehow, with that silent confirmation of their being totally and completely doomed, her reopened eyes are warmer still. Hearthfire warm.

Heartfire warm.

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

Readily, easily, she believes Madoka's lie. It's well told and well timed, and protected by the trust Homura has in her.

It isn't peace that Homura feels, but... relief. Undeniable, frightening relief. They're both dying, their soul gems blackened, her shield empty: spent beyond retrieving. The struggle is over.

Homura has never felt much true attachment to this world Madoka loves so, when it comes right down to it. The world did little to encourage it from her. She was raised by EKG monitors and nurses on rotating shifts instead of by loving parents: the timorous transfer student, always on the outside looking in, a ghost of a girl long before her congenitally limited time ran out.

Until she met Madoka Kaname.

The girl who saw her, who saw things in her Homura did not see for herself, who called her brave and drew her as beautiful and bought her a purple chara-barrette from her favorite manga.

However cruel the world has been to Homura since their meeting -- and it has cut her to the bone -- it is a world which has Madoka in it. She wished her soul away to save her best friend, and the world punished her for it, but still she kept on, for Madoka. Now... now it's all done, and the world her best friend loves so won't have Madoka in it for much longer.

What worth does the world hold for her now?

Homura turns her face toward the weeping sky and, in a light whisper, curses it. She curses the world like a benediction, shares it with Madoka, and never knows she misses the glowing warmth in eyes pinker than the pinkest sunrise.

"I see... So... how about we become monsters together... and turn this world upside down? So that there's nothing bad, or sad, left... nothing at all. Let's just break, break, break it all to dust...! Don't you think... that would be great?"

A tear squeezes out of tight-shut eyes and rolls down Homura's cheek; her voice trembles for a body that cannot any more. A darkness seeps through her. It's been so hard, and so painful, and she's been trying so long... she's tired, more tired than any fifteen year old girl should ever be.

But it's over.

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

Madoka's eyes are warm with a secret, and then Homura is warm too.

Warmer, warmer than was physically, metaphysically, magiophysically possible with a Soul Gem blackened almost to the total darkness of the Grief Seed now gently pressed against it. So gently that Homura's palm couldn't even feel the pressure, like an incredibly delicate bird perching upon a fingertip.

But the difference is incredible. From exhaustion, energy. From despair, hope.

It takes Homura's darkness into itself, revealing the gorgeous purple underneath.

"I was lying. I had one." Her voice is tiny and weary and so, so happy.

Paradoxically -- Madoka's own Gem is as perfectly awful as it was before -- she, too, seems energized -- has enough hidden strength to, now, let a soft rose blush of satisfaction unfurl across her nose, over both cheeks.

Again her eyes disappear into a smile but this time the world isn't darker for it because her face is lighter, exudes radiance.

She did it.

She saved one more person.

She saved her very last friend.

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

It is as easy, in the end, to sink into the despair as it was to believe Madoka's lie. Homura is ready to accept both.

There is a darkness that exists behind the eyelids, a natural darkness which yet allows for the gentle glow of light to press through.

And then there is that which Homura perceives: a consuming lack of color and light which engulfs the senses. It fills her ears and eyes like oil, it coats her tongue and it runs in her veins, blacker than her hair, blacker than the night, blacker than the spaces between the unseen stars above.

She does not feel the tear tracking down her own face any more than she feels any pressure in her palm, because all Homura can feel is the absorptive consumption of despair and a sickly-sharp bitter fury like a puncturing needle.

Is this what it will be like? she wonders, even as grand fantasies of nihilism rage within her. And then, insidious: Why did I ever fight this in the first place? Because she will finally be able to vent all of her resentment and hurt and choked-down tears on a world that was never good enough for Madoka in the first place, and--


and all the comforting, seductive despair ebbs, a tide of oil going out even more swiftly than it came in -- chased by energy, by warmth, by Madoka -- and Homura convulses back to hope with wide eyes and open mouth and a sharp short gasp to fill empty lungs. A dried violet of a girl blooms again, despite herself.

She turns to the girl who saved her -- who saved her again, this isn't how it's supposed to go -- and with a voice which wavers with emotion rather than terminal weakness she cries out her shock, her denial.

"NO! You...! Why would you-- why me?!"

It makes no sense -- it's not fair. But it is true, and Homura knows shock and horror. The shock of Madoka's deception is a delicate thing, and the truth is that the girl with the long dark braids and the big dark eyes and the heart that won't give up does not value herself enough; she just accepts it.

But plainly, painfully, it horrifies Homura that it is her soul gem glowing rather than Madoka's.

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

Homura's reaction is heartbreaking and vindicating.

It is why Madoka couldn't just offer.

It is why she had to play a trick.

The last few motes of pink light are disappearing from her Soul Gem like sand flowing out of the top bulb of an hourglass.

Her smile is already starting to turn a little bit rictus -- sharp with pain. She smothers it as best she can. It isn't easy; but then, it has always required courage -- true courage -- to set hope against despair, over and over and over, even when it is impossible.

And it is impossible. For Puella Magi, that is. A happy ending is impossible.

She understands that now, well enough. Body and blood and bone, she understands. Sayaka's body and Mami's blood and achingly deep inside her own bones, bones that aren't real bones anymore, bones that were made for killing.

If she weren't, herself, disappearing into the abyss that used to be her heart -- if she was fully Madoka and not halfway Gretchen -- would she try to use Homura's survival to, in turn, save herself? Is it brave to believe in the possibility, or is it selfish? Certainly she knows all too well the heavy burden Homura's fragile little shoulders have bourne up beneath all this time. To ask more of her...

Homura's hand is clutching hers, and she clutches back, weakly.

Perhaps it is kindness to ask. To just let herself die, without asking... knowing her, Homura would get her sad ending after all, right away. Just from witnessing it. Madoka would become a Witch, and then they'd be Witches together.

And that was the last Grief Seed, and its last use. That much, not a lie.

Madoka swallows and bets on hope. Hope for herself -- hope for Homura.

"Because I have something to ask of you..." Last time she murmured and now it's more of a hoarse whisper. "Something only Homura-chan can do. Homura-chan, you can go back to the past, ne?"

She's so tired, and now her throat is swelling with tears.

"You said you can change history so that it won't end like this, ne?"

They leak out her closed eyelids -- but the words leak out too, a pained hissing weep.

"Will you save me from my stupidity... before I get fooled by Kyuubey?"

Most girls only get one wish.

Her hand loses the strength to hold the Grief Seed, still connecting them, gently, and it presses Seed and Gem and Homura's hand holding all of them, into the puddle.

And Madoka knows, in her heart, that she really is the most selfish girl in the world.

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

Is Madoka saving herself, or is she saving Homura again? Hope claims it could be both, against the impossible and against the black which waxes within a once-pink soul gem. Warm slender fingers cling to Madoka's, and a violet glow seeps between them.

In a way it is a kindness, because the reason Madoka gives... Homura understands, better than she would any rescue of herself. She would not think Madoka selfish at all. The words her friend uses light a fire in her breast, one which burns away at her natural emotional exhaustion much like the darkling seed banished the metaphysical.

It's not over.

It's not over... because there's something only she can do.

Something she can do for Madoka.

Madoka may better understand the sacrifices she has made, these past few timelines, than Homura herself does. The girl with the cracked glasses nods, makes a choked sound of agreement when Madoka asks if she can go back to the past, can change it.

The weakness in her friend's voice frightens her; the way it seems like she can't even keep her eyes open any more.

And she is ready, so ready, to agree. To promise. After all, Homura's already made this promise, hasn't she? To save Madoka. Promising Madoka herself, instead of the deceitful mascot... her heart leaps, and it's in her voice.

"I promise!" The tears fly from her eyes like they leak from Madoka's, and she cradles that limp and precious hand. "I promise I'll do it! No matter how many times I have to go back and try! I swear, I'll save you!"

She is desperate -- desperate for Madoka to hear, to understand, to know that it won't end like this, that she will be saved. That Homura will save her. No matter what it takes.

It is as plain as the heart on her sleeve. She will do anything for Madoka.

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

Madoka's eyes reopen, and they aren't as bright as before. The tears make up for it but the pink star that shines from inside of her is well into its eclipse, now. It is shadowed. She is... shadowed.

Even shadowed, she is grateful.

"I'm glad," she chokes out, around a sob. Her voice is tinier than ever. There's almost no room left in her body for Madoka.

Confirming this, her expression succumbs to pain, teeth grinding, head flopping away from Homura to stare sightlessly at that weeping sky instead.

Her hand clenches around her Soul Gem, which pulses with something much, much stronger than her heartbeat.

She cries out -- and again -- with every spasm, another mewling cry -- and the golden chasing around the Gem is gone now, turned black like a silhouette of itself. There is only the barest memory of pink in the stone, now.

And Madoka's face is almost unrecognizable in its agony. She looks like the corpse that she's about to become.

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

Even cast from shadow, Madoka's gratitude is light and warmth to Homura.

The transformative pain...

She echoes that cry with her own. Every spasm Madoka suffers hits Homura like a little heart attack. She has agonized over this agony before, and the familiarity is terrible. Like feeling a bone begin to crack along an old healed fracture, and being able to anticipate every excruciating inch of the break.

Her desperation shifts -- she leaps to her knees and the crumpled Grief Seed plips into the water between them, empty of the energy which now reanimates her. But whatever promises Homura has made, she can't save Madoka from this agonal transformation.

Her frantic hands grasp the air, ineffectual. Then she reaches down and grasps Madoka's shoulder with all that renewed strength and warmth, biting her own lip so hard it goes white. She doesn't say don't worry, or it will be okay, or any other obvious lies -- they would die on her tongue. What is happening right now will never be okay.

All she can do is save the next Madoka from ever embarking upon this poison-apple fairy tale in the first place. A happy ending is impossible.

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

Selfish, selfish, the most selfish girl in the world.

She hates herself. Homura can see it in her face. It's always been there, at Madoka's core, sometimes more or less hidden by confidence and self-esteem, but now it is laid bare, flayed into easy view by suffering both natural and unnatural, this profound self-loathing.

She hates herself for asking, but not enough to not ask. Which only makes it worse. Which only makes her worse.

Her voice sounds like it's being forced through a grinding gearbox. Or a distant radio. Distortion.

"Can I... ask you one more thing?"

A third wish.


It tears itself from her with the same whisper as the last, dead leaf off a wintering maple tree.

"I don't want to become a witch."

Distress is perhaps the only fuel left to her, potent enough to return life to her voice -- conviction. A miserable siren of a whimper, but there's more to her plea than just wind through teeth.

"There were tough times... and sad times... But there are lots of things... in this world... that I want to protect."

From the distant end of a long, long, dark, dark tunnel -- a tunnel narrowing even now -- barely a pinpoint of herself left -- Madoka gazes up in Homura's direction.

Can she see her?

What good are eyes to a stone? Or to a seed?

But she still has eyes enough left to cry with. Maybe that's enough.

(It's not.)

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

It was worse, impossibly worse, once upon a timeline, to see Madoka become a Witch than it had been to see her die.

Now, this, the self-loathing -- Homura knows self-loathing -- laid bare... Horrible. Harrowing. She would shift the world from its axis to make Madoka stop hurting like this, to banish that horrible look she knows all too well, the look that doesn't belong on that gently lovely face, in those rose-glow eyes.

So when queasy trepidation, unnamed and intuitive, sneaks into her gut, Homura keeps biting her lip and emits a strangled sound of assent. Madoka can ask her one more thing, no matter what contorts her voice. Madoka can ask her anything.

And then she does.

The hand on Madoka's shoulder grips tight, then releases. Trembles.

It clenches like Homura's throat does, then falls to her side in slow motion.

She's there, above Madoka, a dark and trembling shadow against a bright and clearing sky. The tears stream hot through the cool wet of rain on her cheeks, and pool in the curvature of her glasses lenses.

Homura didn't realize that there was a way, one way, to keep Madoka from becoming skybreaking Gretchen, because her mind refused to bend in that direction at all of its own accord. It was unthinkable to her to harm a hair on Madoka's head. Now... the sounds of the shattering soul gems of her friends resound fresh in her mind, sharp enough to cut.

She... she'll do anything for her...

And the name of the girl she loves more than the world itself escapes right out of her frightened heart in a burble of emotion, in syllables she never quite felt worthy of speaking: "Madoka!"

It tears out of her, leaving a hole in its wake. All of her devotion is in that name, laid as bare as Madoka's self-loathing. Like another promise.

If the girl lying in the water cannot see Homura through the burgeoning dark, then perhaps she can feel the warmth of tears dropping onto her face.

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

Her name.

The one thing Madoka least expected to hear, born on the lips of Homura.

Something she hardly deserves. Especially not now. It's almost cruel to call this meatsack Madoka, this nascent monster, pregnant with wicked potential.

It's almost cruel; it's definitely kind.

It reaches her, like the last lingering stretch of fingertips splayed across the vast space between them. Homura can hold this body with her hands, but Homura touches Madoka with her name.

"Homura-chan..." she exhales, and in those syllables, so freely and easily spoken all along, dwells an affection so sharp she could cut herself with it.

There are lots of things in this world that Madoka wants to protect.

She tries to smile and discovers that her cheeks are no longer really hers to command. They're so heavy, and it's so dark.

She holds onto the memory of her own name, on Homura's lips, for dear life.

"You finally called me by my name..."

And she's holding onto something else, still.

The original miracle; the original sin; the original damnation. It sits there in the palm of her hand, a little bit of shape and form restored to it, perhaps thanks to the invocation of her name -- round, it's round, round like Madoka is round -- but nevertheless dark, much too dark, dark beyond return.

She can't feel its smooth-but-cracking surface with her palm, but she can feel her palm with its surface, and so she knows it's there. She's there.

A shaking centimeter at a time, she struggles to thrust herself skyward. Homura-ward.

"...I'm happy..."

There are girls and there are witches; there are demons and there are angels. There is despair and there is hope, and in this broken city, along with these broken children, there is one other thing also.


There is mercy, and it is though Madoka is reaching out to grasp it with the absolute last of her strength.

COMBAT: Homura Akemi transforms into Puella Magi Homura!
<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

She's happy.

Madoka is happy, and it nearly breaks Homura right then and there.

Because even here, even now, even in all of this -- it makes Homura happy, too, and that happiness hurts more deeply than the despair did, even as she clings to it for all she's worth.

Saying Madoka's name made her happy.

And now, all she has to do is this one last thing for her friend. This one... last... thing.

On her knees in the rain, Homura hunches quaking shoulders. She leaks anguish, squeaky and strangled, without ever bidding her throat to make noise. If she had a choice in the matter she would stay silent, would not let Madoka hear her terror. She has none.

Can she do this?

Can she- can she k-

Her crying takes on a wounded, keening tone. The violet of her magic fizzes across Homura and in the air around her, chiming the stark clean lines of her dusky purple collar and white coat and silver shield into being. It casts a small sunset across Madoka, brief and bright and beautiful like fireworks.

It gleams off the swimming black opacity claiming her forfeit soul.

Homura has to.

She has to!

She'll do anything for Madoka. She promised.

Metal chatters on metal. She's shaking too hard, too bodily, to draw the handgun smoothly from her shield.

Homura isn't crying any more.

She's screaming.

It's an awful sound, the sound of a heart breaking itself, indelible and unforgettable, even if only one person will be forced to remember it.

Can she scream so loudly that it will blot out what she's about to do?


She is small and dark, just a girl in braids and broken glasses after all, tiny against the jutting corpses of skyscrapers rising from a sea of tears. Her arms lift. The muzzle flash illuminates her from afar, and then all is dark again.