2019-05-19 - Walpurgisnacht: Liminality

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Walpurgisnacht: Liminality

You know, magical girls fulfill hopes and dreams!
I'm sure there will be a true miracle soon.
There just has to be!


Madoka Kaname, Homura Akemi


Outer Space

OOC - IC Date:

5/19/2019 - Out Of Time

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Outer Space +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
 Earth's little corner of space, called its geospace, is characterized by a    
 fading haze of gravity-trapped gas, a charged magnetic field, and an          
 increasing clutter of drifting satellite garbage no one's cleaned up. Pale    
 moon above, bluegreen earth below, the atmosphere lights up with an orange    
 glow during the day, and paints the cities in electric yellow dots at night.  
 Without the atmosphere or ambient light, the diamond stars are sharply cut.   
 Between them are unthinkably vast stretches of frozen nothing. Their number   
 seems infinite, and while most are almost as desolate as the void in which    
 they float, others contain strange beings and worlds.        

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

NO! You--you've come so far!
You should never forget about yourself, Madoka-chan!
MADOKA-CHAN! I know you won't let this happen! Not after you worked so hard...!!
Everything we fought for, everything *you* fought for...just to end like this...?
It--it can't, it won't. Madoka...
Prove that the world can be better, please...
That's not FAIR!
Don't let this... THING use you!
I really thought... you made it all look so easy, so...
It's not as bad the second time.

For a terrible moment, nothing happens. Nothing but nothing, which is what the universe has become; NOT an entropically cold void, perhaps, but certainly a lifeless one. Unless of course you're a species that is not affected by Witch enchantment, emotion or no emotion.

The Incubator simply sits and watches, not deigning to reply to those who address it directly, as the encroaching darkness reflects in its unblinking irises. Reality is reality. All of this is just... irrational, and irrelevant.


No... that's...

<SoundTracker> Little Light Of Love - Eric Serra https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4QfyMUeOQ8

There are lots of ways to comfort someone in distress.

And lots of ways to deny something that's bad.

Sometimes, a sound can be both at the same time.

It doesn't even have to be a real word.

"Nnn," objects Madoka, as she's said so many times before. More of a squeak than a syllable, normally, but just now there's a depth to the murmur that makes it sound more like a thousand words instead.

"Shh, it's okay," her voice continues from nowhere, as calmly and soothingly as she was when she addressed Walpurgisnacht.

From nowhere...

...or from everywhere?

The miasma isn't becoming less dense...

...so whatever is forming on its far side must be radiant, indeed.

A feminine hand reaches out to tenderly scritch the moustachioed fluffball of a familiar; it squirms happily beneath the touch, nudging into it like a cat, then... becomes light, butterflies of light. Maybe it was always a chrysalis. That doesn't seem like an unfair characterization of familiars in general. They are, by nature, a transitional state.

"My wish is to erase every witch."

Madoka is standing at the center of the cosmos. Well -- the black silhouette of Madoka is standing there, backlit as she is by the light of all creation. She is astride the heart of everything, a place of rainbows made of colors the human eye has never seen before and may not see again for a long, long, long time. Her fingertips span galaxies.

And then, when she transforms, she becomes brighter still than all that surrounds her, her features thus able to reassert into three dimensions. Her hair pinkens and lengthens impossibly; the beribboned twintails remain but only as a small part of a much greater whole, a beautiful, swirling mane. It is the only thing about her that's still pink, however; her raiment has turned white, pure white, the kind of white that makes up every color.

And her eyes... are a shimmering gold...

Her body lengthened also, not just in the 'magnitude of scope' sense but in the proportional one. She seems older, though still somewhat childlike; ageless but never an adult. In an in-between state. But then -- Puella Magi, too, are inherently chrysalises.

She's smiling her gentle, serene smile, as she watches the butterflies flutter away. As she sees her friends calling to her. Her friends. She never forgot them, after all. Her love for them -- their love for her -- it carried them all the way here...

Aaa. She loves them, even now, especially now.

She loves them so so much.

It's the smile of a girl at the end of her long journey.

It's the smile of a girl who has been many places and knows many things.

It's the smile of a girl who knows a secret.

"If that's fulfilled..."

Translucent, iridescent wings unfurl behind her, and entire galaxy clusters glimmer within the depths of her gown, which is more mature to match who she's become, but still gloriously, fiercely feminine.

She thrusts her arms upwards, and a sphere of pink light gathers there, then becomes her bow, with a curvature that spans the universe itself.

"...then I have no reason to feel despair!"

She isn't smiling anymore.

But her familiar expression -- fierce in all ways -- is as triumphant as it is sad.

Drawing the string back, that complex pattern again whirls its whorls into being, this time using all of reality as its tracing paper. It's so magnificently huge that it's impossible to see even this gargantuan version of Madoka behind the middle of it, other than a blinding flash that surely occurred when she released the arrow.

Then -- naturally -- it explodes with pink light.

It's like matter and antimatter where the infinite barrage of Madoka's power meets the infinite expanse of her newborn witch. Again the reaction seems to consume... everything, creating the inescapable event horizon of a black hole, except -- it's a supermassive white hole, instead.

This time, it isn't a star that's born.

This time, it's the whole universe...

...every universe...

l e t
t h e r e    
b e         
h o p e                             
<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

That soft deep murmur touches Homura like a warm hand upon a cool one; it lifts her tear-stained face as surely as if gentle fingers urged her chin upward.

She is terrified of what she might see, but Madoka's voice gives her the courage to look upward.

Her vision fills with a miracle shaped like a girl, with glory surpassing galaxies. Her heart, with wonder blooming so full there is for a magical moment no space at all for fear. It beats faster, true... But love can do that.

Homura forgets to breathe, forgets to blink. Never did she dream to see such celestial grace.

Those sun-bright eyes shimmer and she gasps, then -- rises from her reverential reverie like a girl surfacing. They are so, so beautiful; they are not pink.

And Madoka... Madoka, sweet giving Madoka, thoughtful grieving Madoka who knows now so well the cost of a wish... This sure goddess of the golden gaze has an answer for despair's demands.

Homura's breath lodges in her throat and she hardly notices -- the rest of her is frozen, too. Has Madoka found a way through the Incubator's cruel system? Has all that karma Homura bound her up in...

It hurts so much to hope again, if less than it would to not.

But Madoka -- Madoka? -- wasn't smiling, and that is the very last image she holds onto as power the color of a sunrise explodes.

White drowns Homura and if her eyelids are shut she can't tell because it's so bright, so unbrookable, that it illuminates through her, that her every cell and her every atom whites out, and even the overwhelmed squeaks she makes transmute waveform from sound to light and erase...

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Sakura Nagashi - Hikaru Utada https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SeiwBKuFNA

Everything feels strangely reversed right now.

Darkness is supposed to be an absence, but what gathered around Madoka's Soul Gem was a presence.

And now, everything has become light -- so... why does it feel so anonymous?

It's empty.

Veils of radiance drift nowhere in particular and everywhere in general.

<< Madoka... >>

Well, maybe not empty enough.

But as though summoned by the Incubator's mental musings, she appears; not as a goddess, but as a girl. Her eyes slowly open.

<< Now your life has no beginning and no end. >>

Another Madoka materializes, then another, then another. Many, many, many Madokas. As many Madokas as... well, infinite, right? That's the whole point.

They all float vaguely downwards.

<< There is no proof or memory left that you even existed. >>

One of the Madokas winks out. Her expression never changes.

She just was, and then she wasn't.

<< Your existence shifted to another plane of being instead. >>


<< You became a mere concept. >>

Another. Another. They're fading away quickly, now.

<< No one can become aware of you, and you can't interact with anyone. >>

The last Madoka is gone.

<< You've ceased to be a person in space-time... >>

It's just the Incubator, now.

Well -- and one other...

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross - I Can't Take It Anymore https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pclySU2L1Y

Before Homura Akemi is a girl again, she is thoughts, and she is feelings, alone in the white.

Well... maybe not alone enough.

She withdraws inwardly at the Incubator's mental voice, a curling of sense of self that feels defensively fetal. Again, it speaks Madoka's name. Floating in the anonymous white, Homura still suffers a chill.

When the many, many, many Madokas appear, it does not abate; it deepens.

What... what does that mean? No beginning, no end? No proof... no memory...!

So little is precious to this weary soul, but her memories of Madoka, of meeting her, of being saved by her, they are the most precious.

Her comprehension begins with the deeply personal, but rapidly expands.

A mere concept.

Madoka? The girl who took her hand, and invited her to help set up the sports festival? The girl who braided her hair and drew a beautiful fantasy of Homura, an... abstraction?

Unknowable? Unseeable? Untouchable, the girl whose hugs are friendship itself?

All the Madokas vanish, one by one, and Homura begins to panic.

All the Madokas are ceasing to exist.

MADOKA is ceasing to exist.

Fear catalyzes Homura -- such an old companion of hers; it gives her purpose, and sharpens her sense of self.

Love, love gives her form from the formless.

"What is this?"

A girl, just a girl, whirls in the nothing, the everything. She sparkles dark where the void radiates white, but even as a spangled half-silhouette she could never be so anonymous. From curled toes to sable crown she is all delicate angles and graceful edges. Someday this girl might grow up to be tall, say the shapes of her legs, but she is not there yet.

Homura's face shines white, though, within the fluttering frame of her bangs, beneath the headband she has not abandoned even here. And contorts with disbelief, with horror.

"You mean... this is the end Madoka wished for?! To be erased, and forgotten, as if she never was? That this is what she deserves, after everything she's done?!"

Madoka deserves so much more. Madoka deserves everything. This... this is...

"Don't be ridiculous!" she shrieks at the Incubator, at their enemy, at cruel fate. At the universe, for being a place that would allow such a thing to happen to a girl like Madoka. After all the times she has saved everyone... After all the times she saved Homura.

It's too much. It's the worst, absolutely unbearable, and she curls in a dark little ball of sparkles and whirling hair and finds there are more tears left in her, an endless well once long stoppered. Enough tears to weep forever for Madoka.

"This... is even worse... than death would have been...!"

However terrible Homura feels, how much worse is it for Madoka...? She just cries all the harder at the thought, sobbing into the stardust limning her palms until they overflow.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> The Garden Of Everything -- Yoko Kanno https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4x5SAseoJI4

It's raining pink again, but without violence.

There's no cosmic sigil, no arrows, no explosions.

It's a warm rain, a gentle rain.

It settles upon Homura's hair, her shoulders, as lightly as the brush of a butterfly's wing.

No -- it's Madoka.

Madoka is girl-shaped but the glittering essence she exudes is both the same as what she gave off, standing against Walpurgisnacht in the rubble of Tokyo, and the same as what she filled the whole universe with in her final moments. Which is another way to say that she is inseparable from herself, now. Girl? Goddess?


It's Madoka.

She floated downwards behind Homura -- all of the Madokas, as they faded away, were floating downwards.

Maybe this is where they were going.

They're here -- she's here -- now, in any case.

"Nnn," she soothes, "That's not it, Homura-chan."

She squeezes Homura's shoulders, then settles her arms around her, a loose enfolding that allows her to utilize the general lack of gravity to both embrace the taller girl, and rotate her within that embrace, at the same time.

Once they're facing each other, Homura can see the way her friend is looking at her. Like all things Madoka, it is both ordinary and extraordinary, the combination lessened by neither component. There's a plain and simple happiness there, a schoolyard happiness, a we-were-playing-hide-and-seek-and-I-found-you happiness, a 'surprise, your popsicle stick says Atari' happiness, which Homura has seen before countless times, on the faces of countless Madokas.

But there's also something else.

Something Homura's never seen there before.

"Now I can see everything in both the past and the future. The worlds that might have existed, and the worlds that might come to exist. All of them," Madoka's explaining, while wearing an expression that is so far past 'tenderness' on the Richter scale of passion that it might as well be forgotten. Tenderness is for Tatsuya. This is... more. So much more.

It becomes hard to continue to read her, when Homura's vision is blocked by Madoka's cheek. She nuzzles her softly, nose in her long dark hair, cheek first on her crown, then sliding downwards to meet Homura's. All of Madoka is soft, softer than imagination, softer than illusion, softer than light.

"So I understand everything..."

Perhaps because of that, her tones, though still light with the joy of a storyteller mid-revelation, become heavier. And she holds Homura closer still, holds her fiercely, so so tight, so so much.

Forehead to forehead, Homura can almost feel Madoka's lips move. But now she can see her eyes again, and the knowledge that dwells there.

The burden... and the privilege.

"How much you struggled in all those timelines for my sake. You cried so many times... You were hurt so many times... all for my sake..."

Her voice is tearful, which is appropriate, because there they are, beading at the corners of her eyes. Two more sparkles to join all the rest. They have nothing but more glitter to reflect, and become one with them seamlessly.

"I'm sorry I didn't realize it at all. I'm sorry."

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Sarah McLachlan - Sweet Surrender https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2JWJYLNUq4

How can she feel warm, now? In all her despair?

The answer is, and ever shall be: Madoka.

Madoka envelops her, in arms and in comfort, and Madoka makes a sound that bids to deny all the grief and guilt wracking Homura's weary soul. The very sound of her voice is a balm after the Incubator's ever-terrible truths, and the shock of that easing shows on Homura's face as Madoka gently turns her.

They're so close. Does Homura have breath to steal, as she is now? It seems so. She's a dark feather in Madoka's arms, weightless and shining and soft. And so, so vulnerable.

The happiness in those eyes, she does not comprehend. How could Madoka be happy, now? But it is recognizable as happiness, even if it makes no sense to Homura.

Something else is there, though, and that... a flutter passes through Homura.

Madoka tells her what the light in her eyes means.

Everything. She can see everything.

What does it mean, what does it really mean -- that Madoka can see everything? Everything?


All the things she tried to hide from Madoka. The awful things she's done. The manipulation. The killings. Each and every lie from a girl who sometimes feels like she tells nothing but lies, any more. She never wanted to lie, but... but she did what she felt she had to...

She never wanted to kill anyone.

She never wanted to make Madoka cry.

But she did. Homura did all of those things, and more. Every single thing she felt she had to do, without mercy, without apology. Without remorse? No, but... she did them, regardless.

And now Madoka can see them all. Every stain on a filthy soul.

Madoka... who is nuzzling her, who gently cradles a cringing girl with such affection that even Homura, self-hating Homura, cannot but believe in it. Disbelief would be sacrilege. Every part of the dark-haired girl trembles, from curled toes to thudding heart to wondering eyes. Madoka's face buries in the smooth silk of Homura's hair, and then she gathers the girl up and squeezes tender understanding into her.

She hears it in Madoka's voice, and sees it in her eyes. The comprehension, solemn and full, of Homura's journey, of her sacrifices.

The thing she never allowed herself to want -- the thing she secretly longed for, but knew to be impossible. Madoka to know, and to... not hate her.

There is no hatred in those eyes, in those words. Those tears. In the way Madoka holds her, and apologizes for not knowing.

A miracle, amid miracles.

It undoes her.

Nose to nose as she is to Homura, Madoka gets every detail of how those large dark eyes well with fresh tears -- tears so unlike all the others the girl has cried these past few days. They do not spring from despair or from grief, but express the inexpressible: the devotion Homura has pledged to Madoka with every day of her long existence, with every turn of her shield, with every drop of her own blood shed.

Madoka knows. Madoka knows, and...

Homura curls, and clings, and keens out all the hurt and loneliness and terrible, terrible fear. It flows out salty and warm, makes a mess of Homura's face and Madoka's gleaming-soft shoulder both. She cries a thousand noisy tears for a thousand sorrows suffered, and she sobs because she is, impossibly, understood. Because she is still held in the soothing circle of Madoka's arms.

The tears are a storm in her, a storm long held within, and they wrack her over a small and timeless forever. They are the first good tears Homura Akemi has cried in a very, very long time, and of course, Madoka would know that, too.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Madoka cradles Homura -- tucks her under her chin, a wonderfully possible impossibility -- and smiles.

Is still smiling.

Never stopped smiling, even when she teared up herself.

Once she notices that, Homura will know, as well as Madoka does in reverse, that Madoka's are the good kind of tears, too.

And what a smile it is.

Compassionate; trembling within her lips is the shared experience of the girl who, in turn, shakes within her arms. It's an understanding smile in a way that no one ever imagined could be possible.

But also, a smile so relaxed that it's almost sleepy.

Madoka is at peace.

At peace with herself.

At peace with her choices.

At peace with Homura.

At peace with the universe.

She strokes Homura's hair with one hand. Pink sparkles intermingle with the purplish darkness that is native to her magnificent mane, and if anything, even lovelier than ever, as though the light that Madoka radiates beautifies everything it touches, instead of outshining it.

Time passes. Madoka never grows tired of holding Homura. Of drying her tears with her nuzzling nose. Of making wordless, soothing noises. Of gazing at her, drinking her in like a lost traveler in the desert.

Eventually it seems like Homura can handle being spoken to again, and that is when Madoka continues -- though she doesn't even begin to let go.

"I had to change like this before I finally got to know the real you. To think that I had such a great friend all this time. I'm really happy."

They shift a little, so that they can look straight at each other again, so that Homura can see Madoka's open eyes, eyes that overflow not just with gratitude, not just with affection, not even just with love--

--but with joy, real joy, to finally know the full truth and give birth to a new one in turn.

It falls from her lips on fluttering wings, as things with feathers so often do.

"Homura-chan, thank you. You were my best friend!"

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Even the greatest of storms must end. Today, all the storms are girls.

Homura disallowed herself tears for so many repeated cycles of years -- for longer than most of her peers have been alive. All that deferred pain at long last pours free, out to the very last, and it is like a wound lanced. A space is made in Homura's hurting heart, a space where it might find its way to healing.

For the time being, it fills with all the caring touches and gentle sounds. Fills with them, and holds fast. The storm spends itself out, and her sobs become shudders and then soft little hiccups. Finally, a quietly tear-soaked Homura clings to every precious moment, every iota of closeness.

All of her many dreams pale, in comparison.

She shifts with Madoka, and that means she gets to experience that smile. Madoka gets to see her in return.

Homura's eyes are all red now, and the tip of her dainty nose too. Her small bottom lip won't stop quivering. But the tension in her slender frame is all drained out, and she's the gentlest of armfuls now: a girl sheltered, and cherished, and safe, when she has forgotten what it is to feel those things.

Homura's nose squidges against Madoka's, and the wonder which was but a glimmer of a planted seed earlier now gleams full in those big dark eyes. She is a girl transfixed by, and with, love.

She is... Madoka's best friend. Madoka sees everything she has done, and...

She is a girl overcome, by the way new tears well, by the fresh wobble of a very emotional bottom lip. Overcome in the best way. Happy, visibly happy. It transforms her.

And oh, the look in Madoka's eyes...

Homura will always remember that look. Always. To her dying moment.

But... but will she?

'There is no proof or memory left that you even existed.'

Fear ever rises quickly in Homura, especially when it comes to fearing for Madoka. It comes bubbling out of her in an unhappy rush, and even as she wishes she could go back to the bliss of moments before... she cannot.

'I don't care what I become.'

"But... but Madoka. The way you are now... you don't have a home any more. You're separated from everyone you love... in a place like this."

Homura knows what it is to be trapped in a lonely place, if not so utterly isolated. The scope of what the Incubator described... horrifies her. It shows in her eyes, and her voice climbs in distress. "You'll be trapped like this, forever... alone!" It's too much. It can't be right.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.


The upturn of Homura's lip is something that Madoka holds onto even after it, ever so quickly, disappears. It lingers in her own eyes, a new shade to the warmth she embodies, like the broadening aura of an everburning flame.

Her own smile deepens, as she strives to bring it back, to return it to the fore. She misses it already.

Maybe she can coax it back with more of the truth.

"I'm not alone," she murmurs, she promises, she swears. "You're all with me forever."

Loosening her grip on Homura slightly, Madoka lets them not so much drift apart -- they remain so very much connected, arms to arms if no longer face to face -- as drift together.

Together, through this endless space beyond space.

The light is more beautiful than ever, pink and white and purple.

Madoka cups Homura's cheek, smooths just above her eyebrow.

"The way I am now, I'll always be everywhere," she continues to gently explain. "Even if you can't see or hear me, I'll be with you, Homura-chan."

The way she says it, it's an encouragement.

But the words themselves are... not entirely encouraging.

Wide-eyed and full of gladness, Madoka awaits Homura's understanding.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Olafur Arnalds - Tomorrow's Song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REE5P9ahIBA

If anyone could reassure Homura, it would be Madoka. The Incubator might lie, she thinks, but Madoka...

Shehe wants to be reassured, so badly.

Homura leans into the touch of palm to cheek, and the need to believe is in that small movement along with the simple endless need to be near Madoka, now bared. Her eyes slowly lid. She takes a deep, shaky breath into her lungs.

She tries. For Madoka, who so clearly wants her to believe.


But belief comes hard to a heart like Homura's, and she will never stop worrying for Madoka. Her vigilance will not so soon abate.

Madoka stopped smiling, before.

'You're with me forever' is the sort of thing someone says about a person who is dead -- about a person they expect to never see again. 'Even if you can't see or hear me, I'll be with you' is the sort of thing a person says when they are expecting to die.

But even the dead are remembered.

"Are you... are you really okay with that, Madoka?"

How could she be? It's so unthinkable. Even as Homura asks, she doesn't understand. It's a question, but it's also an utterance of disbelief.

"With me forgetting you, with... with everyone forgetting you? Even though I'll never be able to sense you again, never see you..."

Homura, Homura is not okay with that. Could never be, by the way her voice breaks to even say the words out loud.

She's so scared.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

If anyone could reassure Homura, it would be Madoka. The Incubator might lie, she thinks, but Madoka...

She wants to be reassured, so badly.

Homura leans into the touch of palm to cheek, and the need to believe is in that small movement along with the simple endless need to be near Madoka, now bared. Her eyes slowly lid. She takes a deep, shaky breath into her lungs.

She tries. For Madoka, who so clearly wants her to believe.


But belief comes hard to a heart like Homura's, and she will never stop worrying for Madoka. Her vigilance will not so soon abate.

Madoka stopped smiling, before.

'You're with me forever' is the sort of thing someone says about a person who is dead -- about a person they expect to never see again. 'Even if you can't see or hear me, I'll be with you' is the sort of thing a person says when they are expecting to die.

But even the dead are remembered.

"Are you... are you really okay with that, Madoka?"

How could she be? It's so unthinkable. Even as Homura asks, she doesn't understand. It's a question, but it's also an utterance of disbelief.

"With me forgetting you, with... with everyone forgetting you? Even though I'll never be able to sense you again, never see you..."

Homura, Homura is not okay with that. Could never be, by the way her voice breaks to even say the words out loud.

She's so scared.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Sagitta Luminis (Music Box) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSI5KcZGwfc

If someone tells me that it's wrong to hope, I will tell them they're wrong every time.

It could almost be frustrating, the way Homura's terror and distress break like waves against the rocky shore of Madoka's absolute, total, and ironclad belief in a happy ending.

It could almost be beautiful, the way she giggles a tiny giggle, practically a single-syllable's worth, a bubble of raw optimism released from between her lips out into the world.

I could tell them that countless times!

"Nnn," Madoka denies, with a tiny headshake that generates an outsized fluffy motion of hair. "It's too early to give up!"

The veils of light are beginning to recede, above and below them, revealing a different, darker, and no less beautiful expanse of twinkles: the universe, or perhaps universes, collectively reconstituting themselves.

Against this backdrop she shifts her hands to Homura's shoulders, just where they were when they first began to touch, and gives her a final squeeze.

"You came all the way here with me, so maybe you won't forget me, even when you return to our world."

And for the first time in long heartbeats, so many and yet far too few, Madoka releases Homura entirely. She needs her hands, now.

She needs them to find her ribbons -- the red ribbons she wears all the time, not as a Puella Magi or something more, but as Madoka, just Madoka. The ribbons given to her by her mother, who wanted only the very best, cutest and most excellent accessories for her daughter's hair.

Tugging gently on the ends of her bows, they pull free, smoothly untying Madoka's twintails, transforming her hair into an unbound, broadly fanning halo that, at its longest, dips just below her skinny little shoulders. There's something soothing about this action, even for her -- she is not immune to Homura's dismay even if she is unrelentingly opposed to it -- and her eyes flutter shut, just for a moment, to enjoy the tension and the release.

But they don't stay closed for long.

The ribbons retain much of Madoka's newly-oldly-eternally-intrinsic glitter, as they trail, loosely, in this weightless space.

She folds them into Homura's empty hands... then presses down with her own, gently, so gently. Tenderly. Lovingly.

Now they're connected again.

Homura can feel Madoka's warmth, not only through her smile or through her ribbons, but within the ribbons themselves.

"It's fine," Madoka promises, Madoka urges, Madoka believes, truly believes, FIERCELY believes, with every ounce of her spirit, every iota of her being. "I'm sure everything's going to turn out okay!"

Her unstoppable smile broadens, both wryly and shyly but also with a certain unabashed irrepressibility. Homura's the shy transfer student again; Madoka is the one who knows what's up, and is confident, wholly and happily confident, in who she is.

"Believe in me," she implores, with the voice of a girl who knows she is enough.

Space is continuing to reassert itself. It's creating distance... drawing Madoka away.

"You know, magical girls fulfill hopes and dreams!"

She gives their hands and the ribbons within them a final press downwards, then begins to float upwards and away.

"I'm sure there will be a true miracle soon," Madoka thinks, Madoka trusts -- again, Madoka believes.

Madoka, still smiling, smiling peacefully, overflowing with hope, even as her hands and feet dissolve into those very same sparkles she's been emitting all this time.

"There just has to be!"

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> The Naked and Famous - The Ends (Young Magic Remix) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWNL-CB8ctc


A maybe is such a gossamer thing, but it is more than Homura had a moment before. It's almost... hope.

It's a shock, when Madoka releases her to drift freely again, a loss. With watering eyes Homura watches as pink hair is freed, too, to float in a soft halo around Madoka's head. She does not understand until the girl she loves folds those lovely red ribbons into her tear-damp palms.

This is goodbye. This, now. The ribbons, a gift of parting.

Dark and glittering space unveils around them and calls the girl who is also a goddess away, and Homura can feel the distance growing between them -- she has ever been keenly attuned to that.


This is goodbye. This is goodbye!

Homura isn't ready to say goodbye to Madoka. She never will be. Not like this. Her fingertips curl at Madoka's wrists, in a gentle grasping. Too gentle to keep her.

And Madoka says it will be okay, even as she pushes away -- pushes away! Homura's legs kick, futile -- Madoka believes, and Madoka wants her to believe, to trust. She wants to, too. But she's so frightened, and-

and this is goodbye, and she's not ready to never see Madoka again.

With one hand, Homura pulls the precious ribbons to her chest, as close to her heart as they can physically get.

"Madoka! Don't go! Please!!"

With the other she reaches, she reaches with every muscle of her arm extended, with every finger wide and seeking, with all of her desperation and her fearfulness and her love.

The distance between them is already too great. It grows by the second. Homura's tears twinkle free of her face and become the newest short-lived stars in the sky.

A miracle. Homura's miracle is leaving. Maybe... She clasps that maybe with all her might and screams after


<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [None] has posed.

Madoka's dissolution is a slow, languid thing.

She doesn't seem to feel it at all.

As for Homura -- it's well-established that she's wholly incapable of not feeling that. She can't turn away from it. She doesn't even want to.

She would never want to leave her.

Calling Madoka's brave face a stiff upper lip is doing a disservice for everyone involved, not to mention Madoka's lips, which are the opposite of stiff in any case. They're as soft as ever within the curvature of her serene smile, though now their exact texture will have to be left to Homura's imagination once more.

"Sorry," she calls in reply to Homura's plea, though despite their increasing distance she doesn't seem to have to raise her voice. It's the same calm, earnest, loving tone that she's held onto practically all this time. Patiently, she explains. "But I have to go meet everyone."

She would never want to leave Homura... but she isn't leaving Homura.

Not really.

And she does want to go.

It shines in her eyes, the surety of her choice.

Her belief in its justice.

An inch at a time, sparkles claim her wrists, her elbows. Her ankles, her knees. She is joining the surrounding stars. She is becoming them. All the stars have their own names, but now they will also be Madoka too.

"I'm sure I'll meet you again too, Homura-chan!" she promises.

The sparkles are at her shoulders. Eating away the tips of her hair.

Her eyes aren't the last thing to disappear because her cheerful smile closes them first.

"Until then, wait just a little longer..."

But they do disappear.

She does disappear, wholly and completely.

The last little bundle of motes that were Madoka fade away into nothing but a memory of light.