Title: (we’ll see) how brave you are
Feedback address: email@example.com
Date in Calendar: 18 June 2011
Fandom: Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Summary: Madoka runs like a girl.
Spoilers: Whole series! If you haven’t seen PMMM, you probably shouldn’t read this.
Warnings: some violence
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Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended in this fanwork.
“But you have the capacity to change fate.”
(In the sky, something huge flares red. Madoka flinches, expecting screams, expecting…she’s not sure what.)
“This unavoidable destruction, this sorrow—you can change it all. That’s why you have this power.”
One morning, apropos of nothing, Madoka’s mother spits in the sink, rinses her toothbrush out, and announces, “You have a lot to offer the world.”
Madoka’s not sure what to say, so she laughs. “I still sleep with stuffed animals, Mom.”
“I’m serious, Madoka. Don’t underestimate your potential.” Her mother’s expression changes for a moment, underlaid with something hard and unfamiliar. Then it softens into a smile. Madoka smiles back. Her goofy mother.
The new transfer student is everything Madoka wishes she were, everything a heroine should be. She’s intelligent, she’s beautiful (and Madoka tries to discount the flip-flopping of her stomach at that thought, tries to ignore how her eyes sometimes stray to the shape of Homura’s body under her uniform or the reflections of light off her long, silky hair), and most of all, she is mysterious.
Homura runs like an athlete. Madoka runs like a girl.
Madoka walks with dead girls, empty shell bodies. At least that’s what they say. Shock informs their movements, the too-straight lines of their limbs. Sayaka’s face looks angry, but her eyes seem like they can’t focus, dazed and terrified. I love you, Sayaka, she wants to say. But she is the crybaby, tag-along, ballast. If she didn’t care for these girls so much, she might mind. But she cares for these girls. Too much.
Madoka sits in the half-dark, staring at her knees and the sliver of bedspread between them. She’s not looking at Kyubey, but she can still see him—dainty small body, ethereal smile, as cute and benign as any of the stuffed animals around him. There’s an ache in her belly, a dull trembling in her hands. She wants to vomit, and she wants to cry. A part of her hates Kyubey, but the other part just feels sad.
I wish that I could take away all pain from the world.
But wishing does no good, does it, Madoka?
“Can I come in?”
Homura gives her a nod and a half-smile.
Madoka steps carefully over the threshold, and feels brave.
Looking at Homura now, the tears on her face—Madoka cries a lot, Homura has definitely seen her cry, but she’s never seen Homura cry.
Love is a gift.
“But for me… But for me you are…”
And they strike Madoka then, memories she shouldn’t have: two hundred gazes meeting across tea and cakes, a hundred shared umbrellas and giggling fits and narrow escapes, a hundred first tentative kisses. And storms, disaster, death. Homura’s pale hands, slick with Madoka’s blood. She can’t breathe.
Homura’s arms are too warm around her.
This isn’t how it happens. This isn’t how it is supposed to happen. For one thing, the first thing, Homura should be a boy.
(Madoka will meet him in her favorite bookstore, their fingers colliding over the same volume. They will blush hard and look away, stammering apologies and you-had-it-firsts. Eventually they’ll decide to buy it together, and read it in turns at a café. On recollection, they will realize it was their first date. If the mysterious transfer student has any role to play in Madoka’s romance, it is as a rival, a recurring obstacle to be repeatedly overcome.)
Homura’s nose is running. Between sobs, she’s wiping the snot on her pristine sleeve. Her face and eyes are red. And Madoka wants to kiss her. She wants to throw her arms around Homura and absorb that sorrow into her own body, wants to fill her with love instead.
But now Homura is turning away. Although she says her words won’t reach Madoka, Madoka can’t help but think it’s the other way around.
Her mother’s slap hurts, and Madoka jolts awake. Was she asleep, before? Her mother’s love is hard and soft, flat planes and rough edges, but it’s there—solid—real in a way Madoka never quite understood. It is possible to love people in so many ways.
Madoka is running, like a girl. Her wrists bob up and down, her pigtails flop about. Her breath comes in pants, quavering. Madoka runs like a girl, and she is running to save her lover from certain destruction. Madoka is running to save the world.
“Homura-chan, I’m sorry.” She turns to Kyubey, to glittering red eyes and that never-unsmiling, never-opening mouth.
Homura’s voice breaks on the syllables of her name, like a teacup shattered against concrete. Above them, the Walpurgisnacht is gathering her forces, crackling with red light and distorted childish laughter.
Madoka knows what she has to do.