Everything was perfect now- no matter how many times Homura woke up she never did so in a hospital room, no matter how valiantly she searched for white cats with smug empty smiles she never saw any. Her friends- and they were really her friends- lived with her- they even seemed to like her. Maybe even love her? Maybe. She didn't want to count her soul gems before they hatched. That was a neat little play on words; she might tell Kyoko that one.

Still, even though things were better than they had been in years for Homura it wasn't nearly as easy as she had hoped it be to get back to being normal. For one thing she had some pretty close calls with accidentally almost murdering her friends- sometimes she just reacted a little too quickly and a little too violently- she could throw a butter knife pretty fast. Other times Mami would be staring out at nothing, or Sayaka's eyes would look around the room emptily, bright blues clouded with sadness and a sort of dragging nothingness that was so familiar. Homura had tensed involuntarily at those eyes, her hand automatically reaching for where her shield normally was. For a gun. To shoot Sayaka. She hadn't- Madoka had gently caught her hands in hers (so soft) loudly proclaiming that wow Homura you sure have nice nails- Sayaka do you want to paint them with me?

So she supposed old habits die hard after all.

But even disregarding those…alarming incidents, Homura was having a hard time bonding with the other ex-magical girls. It's not that she didn't spend time with them- she did, albeit silently and somewhat awkwardly, it was just that…well sometimes it was hard to separate past timelines from the current ones.

Mami and Homura got along well- they were both somewhat more mature than the rest of them, and could bond over their experiences fighting alone as Magical girls. Mami liked to play chess and bake, and Homura was great at chess and decent at cooking (a leftover ability from her original timeline, her weak heart making it so most of her hobbies were non strenuous things like baking or poetry) so they could perform those activities together. Homura liked Mami. She was calm and level headed but understood tragedy, and she was always nice to Madoka. But Homura couldn't help flinch when Mami reached out to pat her hand, couldn't stop her eyes from scanning Mami up and down suspiciously before every conversation. As much as she might regret it now the two of them had not always been friends, not in every timeline. Not in most of them. Their ideologies were at odds with each other- Mami much like Sayaka (as the younger girl had indeed learned from Mami) strove to protect everyone- from random citizens to close friends. She was selfless where Homura had always been selfish, and though she could be aloof when she wanted to be Mami had always kept some small warmth tucked away in her heart. And of course, she trusted kyubey and would have loved for Sayaka and Madoka to become magical girls alongside her.

This made her Homura's enemy more often than not- and though Mami had tried to understand and help Homura in previous timelines, Homura's more recent cold and calculated demeanor had caused Mami to think of her as a threat. (Which she was of course) This was unfortunate for them both. Mami because it meant her suspicion of Homura made it so that she would never heed her warnings of incoming danger- which usually led to her death. For Homura Mami's distrust and even hatred of her often caused them to fight each other. Most of the time Homura could count of winning a fight against any of the others- she knew their styles and fears and dreams, most of the time they didn't even know her name, nevermind her abilities- but Mami was a constant thorn in her shoe. Her ribbons were infuriating- they connected her to the yellow haired girl, making it impossible for Homura to stop time without Mami coming with her. Homura was still a good enough fighter that she survived all their encounters- obviously. But she wouldn't forget the feeling of her ribs being crushed from tightening silk ribbons, or her hearing clicking out as a musket shot came a little too close to her head- Homura was a magical girl, she had a soul gem- but being shot would never not hurt, especially if you didn't have the kind of healing capabilities that someone like Sayaka did.

The knowledge that Mami could kill her- could stop her from saving Madoka- could make everything she had ever done worthless with the flick of her ribbon- it terrified her.

Sometimes Homura could see Mami narrow those deadly honey eyes her way as well, and was abruptly reminded that in the timeline Mami had last been in her and Homura would have inevitably come to blows if it were not for Mami's sudden but preventable death. So maybe they're even.

If things between her and Mami could be called tense then her relationship with Sayaka is downright uncomfortable. They share very little in common (other than their love and protectiveness for Madoka) and really don't have much to talk about. Their personalities clash, and Homura finds herself constantly annoyed with her silliness, her inability to sit still, her stubborn and rude behavior- it irks her. Probably in the way that Homura's own sullen and cynical personality irritates Sayaka. The blue haired girl does attempt to awkwardly make Homura feel welcome, and Homura does her best to reciprocate- but it's hard. Like Mami Homura has fought Sayaka- quite often at that- they tend to disagree, and Sayaka is annoyingly good at calling Homura on her fabricated helpfulness- but battles with Mami usually ended in draws, whereas Homura can almost always count on Sayakas defeat. And then her subsequent death. That was her method for a while- kill Sayaka before she becomes a witch and Kyoko sacrifices herself. Homura had hoped that her Kyoko and Mami could defeat Walpurgisnacht by themselves- but she had dropped that route after five timelines. Mami often died too early to be of any use, and if either Kyoko or god forbid Madoka caught her killing Sayaka things went pretty downhill. Fast.

Not to mention any plan in which she murdered one particular friend repeatedly put a sour taste in her mouth. Sayaka was oddly stubborn and intrinsically too optimistic, but she wasn't evil. She didn't deserve to be killed over and over in such a cold and planned out manner. She was a good person, and a loyal and kind friend. And the more time Homura spent with her, (painful silences non withstanding) the more her guilt grew. Homura felt really sick for the first time in a long time. Sayaka would smile lovingly at Kyoko, concealing her adoration with a sarcastic comment, her had covering her mouth, unable to hide the affectionate crinkle of her eyes- and Homura would have to excuse herself to throw up, her insides thick and cold, her bones made out of rock, dragging her down to the cool bathroom floor. She put a bullet in that girls head. A bloody bullet right between those loving eyes.

So. Things were kind of weird between them- mostly because Sayaka seemed like she was starting to pick up on Homura's guilt, as irritatingly perceptive as she was.

Homura and Kyoko got along quite well, a fact that had come to some surprise to Homura- a nostalgic emotion she was unaccustomed to feeling. Kyoko was abrasive and crude, and she had a pendent for being a little too honest- but she was oddly wise. She didn't press and issue if it looked like it was sore, and offered off-beat but good advice apropos of nothing. She enjoyed fighting, and was one of the only girls who wouldn't refuse an offer to spar or sharpen her skills. Not to mention she knew where the best food could be found, and had some interesting tips on love and romance- both things Homura sometimes needed help with. The two of them had clashed in the past, as despite Kyoko's seemingly uncaring and casual appreciation of death and violence she was actually quite an empathetic person, and didn't enjoy the way Homura's emotionless and cruel speeches and actions would affect others. This was a motive Homura could actually sympathise with, as she took no pleasure in seeing the hope on her friends faces fade away, especially Madoka, who would make her heartbreak visible for all to see.

And of course there was Madoka. The most important person on earth, the center of Homura's universe. There was nothing Homura wouldn't do for her, there was no one she could have possibly loved more. Madoka. Even now, as the world finally moved on, Homura's life still revolved around her. A little more than what was healthy, but she was starting to learn to separate her own self-worth from Madokas current level of happiness, so baby steps. Maodka was the kindest person she had ever met, someone who tried to identify with everyone, tried to help everyone- saw some good in the world, no matter how awful it was- the only magical girl to never turn into a witch from depression or hopelessness. She could be weak willed, and let others walk all over her, especially if it seemed like they had good intentions- and god, was she ever a bad liar. She was...laughably bad at singing, a disaster in the kitchen, and got drunk after a few sips of alcohol- her sneezes were loud and very decidedly un-cute, and her bed hair was atrocious. Homura couldn't have been more in love. And despite her paranoia, and her pessimism, and her distant words- despite her lack of basic understanding for human emotions, and her terrible math- Madoka loved her back.

And really that was all that mattered. Her friends loved and supported her; she could relax, sleep in, go out to eat, play on the beaches, dress up for Halloween- and be with Madoka. Things could be weird or akward, and Homura still woke up screaming, but she could move forward. Work past the pain, learn to appreciate her friends, move on. It turned out that the perfect timeline was the one that she got to keep.