Credit to an anonymous deviantArt member I had commissioned for.

If anyone's interested, I have recently commissioned for a translation of the mobage scenario The Hollow Little Mermaid. Be sure to PM me if you'd like a copy of that.

If any of you are also into Lucky Star, be sure to check out my continuation of someone else's fic Unlucky Black Holes, where various LS girls are described if they were to become Witches after abbreviated lives as Puellae Magi.

I've also got a sub-gallery on dA of the five mains as they'd appear in this fic, along with a donation pool for anyone else any of you might be interested in seeing so big and fat. Look for DMXrated if you'd like to check them out or donate any points.

Disclaimer: I don't own Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

Chapter 1: Apéritif

It must have been a dream.

When Madoka woke up, the sun dazzled in her face, but something felt unpleasant. It was so strong, at first she thought it was an illness, but nothing was physically wrong with her. It must have been something carrying over from a nightmare she couldn't remember.

Could one call in sick from school because they felt bad emotionally?

She struggled to get up and dithered while getting dressed, trying to recall the dream to no avail.

Downstairs, their brand new kitchen practically sparkled in the sunlight, thanks to the massive sheet glass windows.

Tomohisa stood at the sink, preparing a rich breakfast. Little Tatsuya bounced up and down next to him, trying to see over the edge of the worktop and help out. Her mother likely was still in bed, to her disapointment. She would have liked a few tips on getting through the day on poor sleep, which her mother had experience with.

Turned out she didn't need it. Breakfast was puffy white congee in a lacquered bowl, a few pickles on a plate, a little pyramid of crispy tofu cubes and a salty broiled mackerel. After wolfing this down, she felt a lot better.

Junko appeared sleep drunk near the end of breakfast. As she walked to her seat, she gently flicked one of her twin tails.

"Those look awfully good on you, Madoka chan," she said, grinning. "I used to wear my hair like that when I was a girl, at least for a while."

"Does that mean I'm going to be like you when I grow up?"

Junko laughed, as if she didn't really think that she deserved it.

"If you want to, I'm sure," she said. "But I know you can do better."

Tomohisa had prepared her lunchbox and she stuck it in her backpack. Before she went, she hugged Junko and Tomohisa and Tatsuya goodbye.

Junko held out her hand, and Madoka high fived her. She tied on her shoes and hurried down to street level.

It was getting towards summer, warm enough that she thought about taking her jacket off. The sun was bright enough that almost everything hurt to look at. The poplars were in leaf and their buds spread a heavy scent, almost like honey.

She usually met up with Sayaka and Hitomi outside the block where Sayaka lived, but she slowed down when she saw a cat lying on a garden wall. It was barely more than a kitten – perhaps the cat equivalent of her own age. Its fur was completely charcoal grey. Eyes closed and curled up with its paw over its nose, it soaked up the sun.

She paused to look at it. Hitomi and Sayaka wouldn't mind waiting for her for another minute, they had plenty of time. The cat must be new, she couldn't remember seeing a kitten here on the street before.

Just as she reached out to pet it, the cat sprung to life. Tail lashing accompanied a growl rather savage for such a small creature.

She couldn't have scared it, she hadn't even touched it, but it had been spooked by something.

Madoka looked around for the source, but the blocks were quiet all around. Most people had already left for work, and there were no dogs or anything else.

Oh well, cats did were weird sometimes sometimes. That was why people used to believe that they could see ghosts, wasn't it? They would bolt from things that humans couldn't see.

Then there was a shadow over her, as if the sky had clouded over all of a sudden.

Madoka pulled her jacket tight in case it would start raining. She glanced up.

The sun was still shone, but it was dull, as if she was seeing it through a tinted glass pane. She could look straight at it. A chilly wind slunk in under her jacket and made the skin on her legs prickle up under her skirt. Could it be some sort of storm coming? There were no clouds, it was just the sky that had grown darker, but she couldn't figure out what else it might be. Would she be better off running to school or just taking cover?

The ground trembled. Her first thought was an earthqueak, but it seemed to come from behind.

She turned around.

Something huge and dark approached along the empty road, dragging shadow with it. It was shaped like a dark gray bear, maybe, but there was something wrong with its head. Sometimes it went on all four and seemed as big as a truck, sometimes it went upright and reached to the roof of the houses. Only its footsteps made a sound.

The cat spun around and leapt down the other side of the wall. That flicker of movement made her able to act again. She glanced down the road towards school – she could run, the creature wasn't moving fast. If she got to the police office, they'd be able to take care of it or at least barricade the door against it.

The cat was still in the garden. If she ran now, she would leave it here. Cats were good at hiding, weren't they? Especially a small cat like that would be able to squeeze into any crack and be safe.

She still couldn't do it.

She looked through the bars of the gate. At first she couldn't make out the cat in the strange dusk –perhaps it was safe– but it had crawled in under a bush. Only its little face and forepaws poked out from under the sparse leaves.

"Come on!" Madoka half shouted, half whispered.

The cat didn't react, as if it hadn't heard.

Madoka tried the gate. It was unlocked and she hurried inside. The footsteps behind got closer, but she was sure she could make it in time.

"Here, kitty!"

As she got closer, the kitten backed up until it was pressed against the wall.

"Look, little one, I'm not dangerous, just stay there, I'm going to save you..." She kept talking to it in a soothing voice, until she was close enough to make a grab for it. The cat scurried away.

She felt the heavy tearing sound through the soles of her feet. Startled, she turned.

The creature had torn the gate off its hinges, leaving it twisted on the lawn. Its large fore paw batted a chunk of white painted wood from the corner of the house as it turned towards her. It had no fur, only glistening grey skin, and where the head should have been there was only a mouth barbed with white fangs. It opened and closed, but still it made no sound.

It didn't have any eyes. Perhaps it hadn't seen her. Her gaze darted right and left, but there was nowhere to run. The garden wall was tall behind her, and the kitten squeezed its belly against the ground, hissing without pause. Madoka picked it up and pressed it to her chest. The cat was too scared to try to get free. She closed her eyes and waited.

The little body was warm against hers.

"No," she said. Her voice sounded firm. "I won't let it do that."

Her eyes flew open.

On the opposite garden wall sat a small animal, outlined against the greyness of the sky. She saw it so clearly, as if it were more important than the monster. It was slender and about the size of a cat. Its ears were long flaps that fluttered in the wind.

There was a flash from above. Something spun down towards her, and then the monster was stretched out on the lawn. Its back heaved as if it were gasping, but it was still silent. Riddled with bullet holes, blood the color of rotten eggs oozed out.

Madoka's ears rang.

Someone wheeled out of the sky and landed on the lawn almost silently. It was a woman – no, a girl, perhaps under eighteen. She was heavy: round arms, her short white dress folding under rolls of fat when she crouched up, puffy thighs and legs swelling inside her thin stockings. Straight midnight hair streamed around a face as plump as a baby's. Madoka forced herself to look away.

"Are you injured?" the girl said. Her voice was nearly neutral.

When Madoka didn't respond, the stranger looked her over. Her gaze stopped on the cat.

"Don't ever be a hero," she said.

She pronounced the last word as if it was an insult.

The monster's corpse gave a shiver and turned into bright light. It shot into the sky with an explosion that blinded Madoka even though she squeezed her eyes closed. When she could see again, both the monster and the girl were gone.

The cat leapt onto its old spot on the sun warm wall and started licking itself.

On her way to Sayaka's block, she'd almost managed to convince herself that she'd dreamt it. It couldn't have been real – but she had stinging claw marks on her hands and grass stains on her socks.

Her friends had already set out, so she had to rush to catch up. Running felt good, she burned the adrenaline out of her body. The others turned around when they heard her shoes clattering on the pavement.

"We were starting to think you weren't showing up." Hitomi, enviably beautiful with her waves of green tinged hair, looked closer at her. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine." When she blinked, she could still see the after image of the explosion.

Sayaka, tall and almost boyish looking with her short turquoise hair, put a sinewy arm around Madoka's shoulder. "Did some bastard... you know, try anything?"

She sounded so concerned, Madoka had to say something. "Oh, no. I just tripped and hurt myself a bit." Hopefully, they'd see her scratches.

They got to the boxy white complex of Mitakihara High in good time and sat down at their desks. One of Madoka's bows had started to come loose –when she hadn't noticed it, when the monster was chasing her–, and she undid it and tied it back on.

Saotome -sensei stomped inside, clearly in a bad mood.

"Class, I have something of the greatest importance to tell you," she began.

After she had expressed the supreme importance for guys not to complain about the way a woman fries her eggs, she went to the classroom door.

"Also, before we begin the lesson, I want you to welcome our new transfer student, Akemi Homura ." She lowered her voice, just a fraction. "Please be nice to her."

A girl walked inside and stopped behind the teacher's desk. She was the girl who had saved Madoka. She was wearing a uniform now, a white blazer and plaid skirt, but there was no mistaking that body, or that hair. She glared at the class like a soldier in an enemy camp.

Madoka realized that she was staring and looked down at her desk. As Homura walked along the aisle, Madoka heard some boys behind her talking.

"Wonder if they gave her an extra reinforced uniform or what," said one boy.

Madoka glanced across the class at Homura, as if she could show her that at least she wasn't like that.

Their eyes met.

When the first class ended, Madoka was about to go and see if she could talk to Homura somewhere private, but a teacher whose name she didn't know poked his head through the door.

"Kaname- chan, you are the Health Officer, aren't you? One of my students needs taking to the infirmary. It's nothing serious, hopefully, but she has passed out."

Madoka followed him into Room A5, a bit tentatively. She hadn't had any classes in here yet. The students were in their third year and made her feel even more small and slender than usual.

"Get a gurney from that storage closet," the teacher said, giving her the key.

Madoka unfolded a gurney that was propped up against the closet wall, then turned around to look at the student who lay slumped next to her desk. It was a girl, very fat, her uniform tight like a thin rind around her swelling body. There didn't seem to be anything outwardly wrong with her. Her rich golden blond ringlets spread across the linoleum floor. A few of her classmates stood around her, others milled towards the door.

"Okay, give me a..." The teacher faltered, then turned to one of the tallest boys. "Shuichi kun, you help me give her a lift."

The boy grabbed the girl's ankles, and the teacher grabbed her under her arms. Together, they lifted her onto the gurney, the boy groaning exaggeratedly. Madoka watched, apparently forgotten.

"Excellent," the teacher said, wiping his hands on his trousers. "Kaname- chan, help me take her to the infirmary."

That part was easy, all Madoka had to do was to walk behind and keep a hand on the gurney. As they walked, she looked at the girl. Her sleeves were tight around her round upper arms, her breasts were as big as those of an adult woman. Madoka had seen fat teenagers before, but this particular kind of dense obesity reminded her of that Homura girl. As they walked, the girl murmured, and her eyes moved under her eyelids, but she didn't wake up.

"Do you think she'll be all right, sensei?" Madoka said.

The teacher kept pulling the gurney, the small wheels making a slick noise on the floor. "I'm sure. The nurse will probably just tell her to exercise more. I mean, look at her."

They left the girl with the nurse. When Madoka came out of the infirmary, Sayaka was waiting for her.

"Did you see her?" Madoka said.

Sayaka nodded. They walked towards the sunny glass door that led the roof. The corridor was deserted, echoing around them.

"It's weird, isn't it?" Madoka said. "Meeting two girls who look... um, like that... on the same day."

Sayaka barked a laugh. "Maybe it's an epidemic. Night of the XXL Girls! You'll be next, you've been close to Patient Zero."

But her laugh wasn't happy, and it soon died away.

"Are you okay, Sayaka?"

All expression faded from Sayaka's face.

"I'm fine," she said. She didn't sound it.

"It's about Kamijo- kun, isn't it?"

Sayaka turned her face away.

"He's going to recover," she said. "But... the doctors told him he's never going to be able to play again. It's his hands, you know?" She shuckled, but without humour. "He can't feel anything with them, he won't be able to control the strings or the bow..."

Madoka closed her eyes for a moment. She tried to imagine having that taken away from herself, but she'd never been that good at anything.

Something made her eyes fly open. Hadn't there been bright sunlight a moment ago? The sky outside was dour, as if there was going to be a thunderstorm.

Sayaka reached for the handle.

"No!" Madoka grabbed her arm. "Get away from there!"

She dragged Sayaka backward, breaking into a run.

"Madoka, what the—" Sayaka tried to shake her had off, but then the sound of breaking glass and claws grating through concrete filled the corridor. No roaring, no speaking.

It was Sayaka with her longer legs who dragged Madoka now.

They reached the teal- painted door to the infirmary. Sayaka tore at the handle, but it slipped in her hand. The door wouldn't be enough, even if they managed to get inside and lock it, and the girl was still in there. There might be other patients too.

The door opened inwards. Behind it stood the blonde girl, upright and apparently recovered.

Something was odd about her, but Madoka hardly had time to look at her.

"Get in there and lock the door," the girl said in a low voice. "I'll handle it."

She held... a gun. An old-fashioned western gun covered in white enamel and flower patterns.

Madoka must have frozen, because Sayaka dragged her inside the infirmary hallway.

"We need to get help!" Sayaka muttered. "There's a phone in the waiting lounge..."

Madoka stayed by the small glass window in the door. The blonde girl positioned herself in the corridor, both hands wrapped around the butt of her gun. She looked small as a toddler before the thing, the creature. It was nearly black, with furry wings and long pointy ears, so large it had to crawl to fit in the corridor. There were claws at the end of its wings, scraping the edges of the ceiling. The face was something she would have nightmares about.

The girl didn't seem perturbed. As she fired her gun, white ribbons unfurled across the corridor and formed a web, as if a giant spider had spun it in an instant. The being slashed at the ribbons, but Madoka heard the gun go off once, twice.

"Tiro finale!" the girl called.

The being's head whipped back, mouth open and showing long fangs. Madoka felt the impact when it crashed to the floor, white fluid seeping from the wounds. Then came the familiar burst of light. This time she knew to close her eyes.

The girl opened the door. Both of them got out into the corridor, Sayaka still rubbing her eyes.

"Thank you for saving us!" Madoka drew a long shaky breath. "What was... that?"

Madoka took a closer look at the girl. She didn't wearher uniform, but a short, embroidered yellow dress, with a corset encasing her thick waist and pushing her breasts up. Had she changed into new clothes in the infirmary? That would be the least odd thing to happen today.

"No need to thank me," the girl said, holstering her gun. "That thing? An Esuriens."

Madoka shook her head. If this was a dream, it felt like she should have woken up by now.

There was another flash of light, causing Sayaka to swear, and when Madoka looked up again, the girl was back in her school uniform. The gun was nowhere to be seen.

"You have to excuse me," the girl said. "My name is Tomoe Mami. And you...?"

"Kaname Madoka." The girl had explained nothing at all. Madoka's brain went for the first question that made any sense in the regular world. "Are you okay? Because I brought you to the infirmary... you'd passed out in class..."

"Oh, I'm fine now." Mami gave a small smile. "My power is regeneration, after all. Either way, it was only my blood sugar crashing. But you helped me... I am in your debt."

"No... no." Sayaka straightened up. "Not that I'm not grateful, but... you're going to have to start from the beginning. Monsters, shapeshifting clothes, you having a gun for some reason. What's going on here?"

Mami sighed. "Please, come with me."

They stepped over the splinters of the ruined glass door and out on the roof. Madoka drew a deep breath of the clean air. In the corridor it had felt like she could still smell the monster, even though its body and even its blood were gone.

The sunlight was bright again, and the chill gone.

Mami stretched. Her fat wasn't loose or flabby, it was a tight thick coat under her skin. Her upper arms were massive. It was easy to imagine that there were strong muscles underneath, even though the fat rounded their outlines.

"I assume you will have to go back to class soon, so I'll be brief," she said. "There are beings called Esurientes, 'the hungry ones'. They live off humans. The creature you saw wasn't fully grown, that's why it was fairly easy to take out."

"That thing?" Sayaka called out. "It barely fit in the corridor!"

Mami went on, disregarding her. "We fight them."

Madoka shuddered against her will. She scanned the city horizon –it felt like one of the Esurientes could swoop on them at any moment– but nothing moved.

She froze up. On the railing sat a small animal, the same as before: a white -furred animal with long sweeping ears and a fox's plume tail. It sat gracefully, tail wrapped around its body. Its eyes were reddish pink like those of a white rabbit.

"What's that?" she said.

Mami didn't hear her while listening to Sayaka.

"'We'? So there are more people like you?" asked the teal-haired girl.

Mami's great golden ringlets swung as she nodded. "Yes, there are. We are called Cibi."

"Chibi?" Madoka said.

Mami didn't act as if she'd heard. It was the usual way: people didn't find her worthy of their attention.

"Are there many of... those Esurientes?" Sayaka asked. She clutched her arms, as if she was cold.

"More than you can imagine."

It was a new voice, vaguely male. The catlike animal was walking up to them.

Mami nodded towards it. "This is Kyubey," she said, as if introducing a class prefect. "He is the one who makes contracts with girls and lets them become Cibi."

Sayaka shook her head, as if she tried to get the animal's voice out of her ears. Madoka looked closer at it – at Kyubey. It actually had cat ears, small and pointy. What she had thought were its ears were floating ribbons of white hair growing out of the real ones. Around each ribbon floated a thin hoop of gold, like a woman's big earring. How did those not fall off? As if anything that happened today made any sense.

The rings and the ring shaped design on its back made it look civilised, and if you looked at its face you could see that it wasn't an animal.

"If there are so many, why don't we see them?" Sayaka said. She'd drawn herself up and spoke to Mami, not to Kyubey.

"They do not let themselves be seen, except by their intended prey," Kyubey replied. "For this, they use a barrier that mirrors but does not outright overlap with this dimension, where they separate their prey to eat undisturbed."

Perhaps he wasn't happy about being ignored.

Mami nodded, eyes closed for a moment. "To everyone else, those who get eaten have just disappeared. If you hear on the news about a disappearance, it is often the Esurientes. Not always, but often."

"But that's horrible!" Madoka blurted out.

The three of them turned their heads towards her. Of course she'd end up saying something so inane and pointless.

Kyubey curled up sinuously. "If that is so horrible, I will allow you to combat them. The world will always need more. All you need to do is tell me your wish. I will grant it, and in return, you will become a Cibus."

"Really?" Sayaka said. "We can join, just like that?"

"He is not wrong," Mami said. "He is passing over some information, though. If you become a Cibus, you will have to become like this."

She gestured down at her body, all thick curves that made her school uniform look indecently small. Then this must mean that Homura was a Cibus, too.

Mami went on, probably to break the silence.

"The... change... greatly increases our muscle mass, as well. The fat is probably there as an outer layer, to cushion our muscles. Look."

She bent down and picked up a metal bar that had been part of the door. She got a grip on it, and her heavy shoulders tensed as she bent it. She stopped after bending it into a weak obtuse angle, but Madoka's skinny arms wouldn't have been able to bend it at all.

"Do you ever regret choosing it?" Sayaka said.

Mami lowered her head.

"No," she said, "but my case was rather extreme... excuse me, I didn't catch your name."

"Miki Sayaka."

"Miki-san, you should not use my case as evidence when deciding what you want to do." She gave a slight smile. "But if either of you does join, I will be happy to become your tutor."

At that point, the bell rang, loud out here. Mami looked around.

"If you're interested, how about I see you by the monkey bars after school?" she said. "You don't need to decide yet, but we can talk about it some more."

When they came through the classroom door, Madoka caught a glimpse of Homura. She looked at her and Sayaka without saying anything.

How could one focus on their lessons when they had found out something like that? Madoka spent the rest of the day closed up in herself and hardly ever put her hand up for questions, even when she knew the answer. The teachers didn't seem to notice. She'd never been good or bad enough for them to care much about her.

Sometimes, her gaze moved over to Homura, a silent and focused figure at her desk. Madoka poked at one of her scratches. It had healed to a rough red line.

She didn't want to look like Mami... or Homura for that matter. Her weight was one of the things she liked about her body. At the same time, no boys –or girls, for that matter– had ever shown interest in her, and she doubted that they would in the future.

Did it matter so much what she looked like, if she was never going to get married?

Both Homura and Mami had saved her life today, and Sayaka's as well. Kyubey had said that there were many Esurientes and many victims. He hadn't given any figures, but she imagined hundreds at least. Could she justify letting them die just because she was afraid of getting fat?

Her gaze slid to Sayaka, who sat with her pen to the paper without moving it, teal hair flopped forward over her face. She must be thinking about it, too.

When the bell rang after the last lesson, Madoka had made up her mind.

She hurried out in the sea of other students, eager to ask Sayaka whether she was heading down to the monkey bars as well, but she could hardly talk about it with everyone else around. All she could do was to keep walking and see whether Sayaka went the same way.

She didn't see Homura in the crowd, but she suspected that she watched her.

Note: Technically, Esurientes are able to feed on any animals they come across. It does make sense that Mami specifies humans, though, because this story does take place in a city, where humans happen to be the most abundant species to feed on. Also, it would have helped if the new manga installment Wraith Arc had already been completed and translated, if mainly as a basis for me and the person I commissioned to form a better explanation together regarding how Esurientes go unnoticed by most people despite their sheer population worldwide.