Title: Coming Home
Summary: She'd definitely come to find Homura's presence, which was like a welcoming beacon amidst all the chaos of time, a place to return to.
Notes:Spoilers for the series. Takes place post-series.
It was a cold, rainy night and for reasons she couldn't quite comprehend, Akemi Homura could not sleep.
She'd finished all her IT work for that week, so she just sat on her couch and nursed a cup of tea, listening as the rain fell outside. Maybe it was the rain, reminding her too painfully of that night from years before. But this was no freakish storm system and there were no witches to fight, at least not anymore.
Setting down her teacup, Homura flipped her hand over, summing up her soul gem in her palm. As it had been since she'd started cutting back on fighting magical beasts, the light inside was just as pure as it was the last time she'd checked.
"Madoka, you certainly knew what you were doing, didn't you? You knew as long as we didn't overtax our abilities, we'd not darken the gem. It was part of the Incubator's original plan- make us fight so we'd use up our energy and darken our own gems. We were such fools not to realize that sooner…"
She whisked the gem back away and closed her eyes. It had been six long years since Walpurgis Night had appeared in this timeline, and Homura still wondered if she should have turned back time that night and tried again. She thought about it often, the consequences that could befall from Madoka's final wish, and worried.
She then sensed something moving about outside, and for one moment Homura wondered if perhaps she'd been so lost in thought that a magical beast had snuck right up onto her doorstep without her realizing it.
But as she warily eyed her door, she could tell that the presence wasn't malevolent. If anything, it seemed familiar…friendly.
A very quiet succession of knocks sounded and Homura started, not expecting this…whatever to be knocking on her door at far past midnight.
"Probably a drunken neighbor trying to enter the wrong apartment…," she thought to herself as she quickly crossed to the door and peered out.
Her eyes caught sight of pink hair, a tepid smile and a white dress that had definitely seen better days.
Homura's breath caught and her heart began to race, her hand drifting to the red ribbon she now wore around her wrist like a bracelet.
"H-Hello? Is anyone home?"
The voice shot through her like an arrow, and she opened the door with fumbling fingers and shaking hands much more befitting of herself so long ago.
And as the door swung open, Homura found herself wishing for her glasses if nothing more than it might help her believe what her eyes were seeing.
The girl, no woman, bowed politely and spoke, "I'm terribly sorry to impose on you this late, but I don't have anywhere to go and I was hoping a kind stranger might…"
"Madoka…" Homura finally managed to choke out. "It's…it's you."
The woman's rose-colored eyes widened and she cracked a hesitant smile. "You remember?"
It was if some spell was broken at that moment. Homura, forgetting herself entirely, rushed forward and put her arms around the woman. She was solid, flesh and blood and soaking wet hair sticking to her back.
It was too real to be a dream, Homura told herself, wishedto herself- stronger than any wish she'd ever made.
Madoka returned the embrace, her smile blossoming to its fullest as she did.
"I'm sorry it took so long, Homura."
Homura pulled back at that, tears prickling at the corners of her eyes as she stared at Madoka. "You fool. Is that what you're worried about?"
Madoka reached up to awkwardly rub the back of her head. "Well, it's been what…"
"Six years, ten months and five days," Homura rattled off.
At that, Madoka gasped. "Wow, so that's why you're so grown up, Homura! You look really good, you know?"
Homura blushed, trying to put aside her excitement and focus on the important things. Mostly. "But…howare you here, Madoka? I thought…"
"Kyuubey never realized that at some point, my work would be done. It's breaking the rules a little but…" she shrugged, "I don't think you mind."
Madoka stood to her full height, which Homura realized was almost a bit taller than herself now, and smiled.
"There is an end of time. I should know, since I've been to it. I've erased all the witches from all the universes and all the timelines from the beginning of time until the end of time. So, my job is done and…" She lowered her head at this, so her dripping bangs shadowed her eyes, "Well, this was the only place I could come home to. If that's all right with you?"
"But if you truly erased all witches, then Walpurgis Night wouldn't have appeared and you wouldn't have made your wish and…"
Madoka sighed, "Walpurgis Night was a set moment in time, so I couldn't deal with her the same way as the others. If I had, it would have erased everything you'd ever done for me since your wish hinged on her existing in your first timeline. And," she raised her head to look at Homura, "your friendship meant too much to me for me to erase it from history like that."
Tears started streaming down Homura's face at those words and Madoka quickly moved forward to comfort her.
"I'm sorry, is that not what you wanted? I just thought that…"
"You're too good to me, Madoka," Homura managed between sobs. "All that extra work for me…you shouldn't…"
Madoka tipped up her chin at that. "But you deserve it. You did so much for me, Homura. More than I could ever repay. It was the least I could do not to take that away."
Homura just hugged her at that, her tears soaking into the already damp fabric of Madoka's dress. Madoka rubbed soothing circles across her back, the way she remembered her mother doing for her so long ago.
She looked up at her then, questioningly.
"I hope you don't mind but, um…" Madoka started to pull back and fidget, her actions reminding Homura more and more of her younger self. "I promised myself that," she reached out and wiped away Homura's tears, "well, if you remembered me that I'd…well…"
She closed her eyes and leaned forward, her lips awkwardly brushing against Homura's for a moment before she managed to set them right.
Homura's eyes went wide, her heart leaping into her throat and her mind cynically telling her that if this whole fiasco wasn't a dream already, it certainly was now.
When Madoka stepped back, she dropped her gaze to the ground and mumbled, "Sorry it took me so long to realize how you felt, Homura. I'm a bit dense sometimes."
Homura's hand drifted up to her lips and she composed herself long enough to reply.
"Madoka, then you…"
She nodded. "It's really tough to look after someone for so long and not fall in love with them, you know?"
At that, Homura cracked a slight smile that tentatively grew. "I can believe that."
Madoka shuffled her feet. "So?"
"How was it?" She mumbled out.
And at that, Homura couldn't stop the peal of laughter that escaped her lips. This was Madoka, herMadoka, standing on her front doorstep and being enough of a ditz that she was worrying about how well she kissed at a time like this.
"Oh gosh, was it really that bad? You're laughing! Homura-chan, stop that!"
Reaching out, Homura clasped her hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. "It was wonderful, Madoka. Now please, come inside. You're going to catch a cold."
"Oh. Right," she replied, as if she just now remembered how cold and wet she was.
And hand in hand, Homura led her into her apartment and closed the door behind them.
Madoka was beginning to realize that Homura didn't really want to let her out of her sight. A little smile tugged at her lips, thinking how wonderful it felt to be here, to be homein a way. She'd definitely come to find Homura's presence, which was like a welcoming beacon amidst all the chaos of time, a place to return to. She'd visited often, finding that as the years went by Homura's signal that she followed back never once wavered or lessened.
Sometimes, on really rough days, Madoka would worry that it would fade and that she'd have no way back to her. Other days she'd worry that Homura might sense somethingwhen she was around, but that she really couldn't remember her.
But with a shake of her head and a little pep-talk to herself, Madoka would cheer up. Her connection with Homura had never weakened once, and she knew her friend still carried her hair ribbon with her at all times. Things would be fine and one day, she'd return to Homura and they'd be together at last without anything to worry about.
And that was the thought that kept her fighting on, against the flow of time and throughout all the parallel universes that seemed to constantly be creating themselves. If she didn't have such a strong drive, such a dire need to finish her work, Madoka knew she would have slacked off. She'd done it years ago in subjects in school she hadn't cared for, after all.
But time, both literally and physically, had changed Kaname Madoka.
She'd come to understand so many things about the world, about Homura, and about herself.
When she'd encountered Homura in a parallel timeline once, she'd overheard the girl lamenting that she could never confess because it would break her heart. It took Madoka a few days, but she finally connected the dots and realized whoHomura had been thinking of confessing to.
And honestly, when the goddess of time (that's what Madoka had begun to think of herself as, since it had a very catchy ring to it) has to stop what she's doing and have a flailing, blushing, fit- it's quite the sight.
After that, Madoka began to fight even harder than before. Because in realizing Homura's feelings, Madoka had also realized her own. And like her mother always jokingly said- never come between a woman and the thing she loves most.
So, Madoka could fully understand the need to try and reassure that this indeed was reality. She humored Homura insisting that she follow her through the house, as she went about getting towels for drying and warm clothes that would fit Madoka's more womanly frame.
In fact, Madoka found herself enjoying it if nothing more than having Homura's warm hand beating its pulse against her own was perhaps the most amazing thing to her at that moment. To be able to touch her without her hand ghosting through, to be able to feel her heart beat thrumming in her veins. If the cold rain hadn't convinced her she was 'alive' again, this had tenfold.
"Will this shirt be all right? I mean, I don't think you plan on going out again tonight and if this isn't some wonderful yet cruel dream, we can get you new clothing tomorrow."
Madoka nodded, giving Homura's hand a squeeze. "I don't think it can be a dream, Homura. I don't think in that state I could dream, so…it has to be real, okay?"
Madoka took her other hand in hers. "Hard to believe, I know. I'm feeling the same."
They paused then, in the middle of Homura's hallway with a shirt flung over her arm and a towel draped over Madoka's head, and just smiled at one another.
Leaning her head in shyly, Madoka murmured, "Uh…if this is a dream though, I really want to eat some chocolate cake before I go back, okay? I really, really miss chocolate cake."
Homura's face lit up into a warm smile at that, and very shyly she hesitantly pecked a kiss to Madoka's cheek as she whispered, "I'll see what I can fix. But first, we need to get you dry and in something warmer. You were the class nurse; you should know these things, Madoka."
Madoka pouted and reached up to feebly rub the towel against her head. "I haven't had to worry about it for six years, so I guess I've forgotten. Guess that means you'll have to look out for me now, Homura."
She nodded, handing over the shirt and shooing Madoka towards the bathroom. "I will. I promise."
And although Madoka couldn't see it, she had a feeling she wasn't the only one lingering as close to the door as possible in hopes the person on the other side didn't disappear while she changed into the dry clothing.
For the first time in her life, Akemi Homura sorely wished she was better at cooking. It wasn't that she was unable to make a chocolate cake, but more that she had a lot on her mind and following the recipe she pulled up on her laptop was the least of her concerns at the moment.
But it was for Madoka, Madoka who was there and realand wearing Homura's old pajamas that were a bit too short on her long legs.
Pulling her eyes back away from where Madoka sat at the small kitchen table, Homura consulted the recipe again, her hands shakily grasping the ingredients and adding them to the mixing bowl.
"Isn't there a chance that a timeline will distort and you'll have to go?" Homura said quietly.
The chair scraped against the floor as Madoka stood up, crossing over to Homura and reaching over to take the egg from her hand gently. "I think it works better like this, this is how my dad always used to do it."
She cracked the egg with ease and looked over to Homura with a hopeful smile.
"There is only one timeline which I don't know the future of, since it's now changed."
Homura raised her eyes up to meet Madoka's. "Is it this one?"
Madoka nodded silently, then leaned across Homura to pick up the next egg off the counter. She cracked it into the mixing bowl and turned around to toss out the eggshells. "Your trashcan is over here, right?"
Homura blinked, her mind trying to process how it was possible Madoka knew where her trashcan was. "But how did you…"
Her smile softened at that and she looked guilty. "That night you…um, started crying and broke the glass?"
Purple eyes went wide. "You…you were there with me, weren't you?"
"It sounds stupid, because I knew I couldn't touch you, but I tried to hug you then. You were so sad, Homura-chan…"
A silence fell between them at that, nothing but the beating of the rain against the roof and the ticking of the clock to echo through the apartment. Finally, Homura spoke again.
"So what happens if this timeline distorts? You added in a new variable by coming here, right? So now…"
Madoka crossed back over to the counter and reached out to clasp Homura's hand. "You've got this timeline thing figured out a lot better than I do, Homura. But, if my being in this timeline creates a witch, then I'm already here to destroy it before it can be born. I kinda get this feeling when I'm needed so…if something happens, I'll know."
Homura hesitated a moment, not daring to hope that what she believed was actually true. "This…feeling. Is it why you came to me that night?"
Without a word, Madoka embraced her, her warm hands pressed flush against Homura's back. "You probably never thought to look at your soul gem that night, but it…well…it was really bad."
Homura let out a wry laugh, "I should have known. A witch is born of despair, after all."
"Luckily, you seemed to snap out of it," Madoka murmured.
"Because I thought I felt you there, because I knew that you'd be so mad at me if I was blaming myself like that. There was this voice I swore I heard saying…"
"Don't give up, I love you," Madoka finished.
Slowly, choking back the sob that had risen to her throat, Homura reached up and cupped the side of Madoka's face. Closing her eyes, she leaned her forehead against hers.
"If this is a dream, I don't want to ever wake up," she breathed out. "I've missed you so much, Madoka."
Madoka gently tucked a strand of Homura's hair behind her ear and she brushed their noses together. "I know. I feel the same. Which is why, we both have nothing more to worry about. Because I'm here now and I'm about to eat the best chocolate cake in my life and everything will be fine, I promise."
Homura chuckled. "I highly doubt this is going to even resemble cake, let alone be the best you've ever had."
She tapped Homura on the nose, then turned back to the counter covered in the ingredients. "It will be. Because we're going to make it together."
And that with that reasoning, Homura found she couldn't argue much at all.
They'd each had a piece of cake and a glass of milk, and it was as Homura put the cake away promising Madoka they could have more tomorrow with a wistful tone that she yawned.
Madoka noticed this primarily because, as with most yawns, it was rather contagious.
Stifling her own yawn as it attempted to swallow her words, Madoka mumbled, "Are you getting tired?"
There was a flicker of something unreadable in Homura's eyes at that, and she half-wondered if she was planning on staying up infinitely in order to not wake up from their reunion to find it was only a passing dream.
Madoka sighed, fully understanding how Homura felt. But, she stifled another yawn, she hadbeen awake for what seemed like infinity (six years without a proper rest should really be a crime!), and the call of a bed was stronger now than ever. So, adapting a tactic that her mother had used on her when she was young and avoiding bedtime, Madoka decided to take action.
"Would you mind if I laid down for a bit, Homura-chan?" Madoka began, choosing her words carefully. "I haven't had a bed in six years and I think…"
Homura's eyes flickered unconcealed worry at that and before Madoka could even finish her sentence, she'd cut her off.
"You should have said something if you were so exhausted."
Immediately, Homura took her hand and coaxed her up from the kitchen table, leading her down the hallway to the small bedroom.
Madoka paused for a moment at the edge of the bed, but Homura edged her onward. "Go on."
She grinned, unable to resist, and practically dove into the crisp covers, snuggling her face into the pillow. It was pure bliss, this feathery, springy bed with, Madoka blushed on pinpointing it, that slight hint of the smell of Homura's shampoo.
Rolling back towards her, Madoka barely stifled a laugh as she noticed Homura's expression.
"You never change, do you?" She asked. But her warm smile tugging at the corner of her lips betrayed her serious tone.
Madoka pouted, "You can't tell me you've never done that."
Homura raised an eyebrow. "Done what?"
"Jumped into your bed like that. It's so much fun."
She seemed to contemplate it before shaking her head. "No. I can't say I have. I was too sick to really do that kind of thing as a child."
This, Madoka decided, was something up there with chocolate cake in terms of "important things I must do in case this is all an illusion."
"Well then change into your pajamas and join me!" Madoka exclaimed.
A light dusting of pink appeared on Homura's cheeks and Madoka quickly rolled to face the wall. "I won't peek, I promise."
She was certain she could feel Homura's tense expression ease into a smile at that. Moments passed until finally, Madoka heard drawers open and close and the soft rustle of cloth. She was listening so persistently that she started when Homura spoke again.
"Um. So how does one jump into bed like that?" she murmured.
Madoka felt a sudden tinge in her heart, thinking back to the times she'd seen Homura in previous timelines with her red-framed glasses and her timid demeanor. It seemed that somewhere, under all the stress and strain of living the same month over and over, a little of that Homura was still there.
With a smile and outstretched arms, Madoka pulled up her legs to make more room on the bed.
"It's easy. Just jump."
Homura hesitated a moment, but with an encouraging nod from Madoka she made a small leap onto the bed. She fell forward slightly, but Madoka was there to catch her.
"Is there a purpose for this?" she queried.
Madoka had to stifle a laugh, instead choosing to pull Homura to lie down beside her. "It's just for fun." She almost added, don't you know what that is?but realized that perhaps Homura really didn't anymore. With a small smile, she decided she'd have to work to fix that.
Homura seemed a bit uneasy at first, and Madoka soon registered why. They were sharing Homura's bed, both in nothing more than pajamas, and klutz that she was- she'd managed to pull Homura rather close when she'd pulled her down.
Not wanting to move away but hoping to ease the awkwardness, Madoka quickly posed a question. "So, what have I missed?"
Homura quickly found out, much to her surprise, that her past six years that she was under the impression she'd often spent alone weren't so alone. Because every time she tried to tell Madoka about some large event in her life- her graduation, the day she got her job, a hard-won battle against some magical beasts- all of it Madoka had been there for.
"How did you get any work done, Madoka?" Homura asked, half teasing. This was her Madoka after all and she was always prone to get distracted from school lessons.
Madoka just blushed and gently shook her head on the pillow. "Okay, you're just picking out lucky things. But really, honestly...I want to know about the little things I've missed. Like what you wore two days ago and someplace you ate that was super tasty so you'll have to take me."
Homura tried to oblige, but found that many of those memories were not ones she'd held onto.
Stifling a yawn, Madoka just reassured her that they'd have to make new memories then. Homura thought she might cry at the idea.
But, holding hands and with their heads sharing the same pillow, Homura talked for as long as she could about all she could recall. The times she'd talked to Madoka's family and how they were doing, how Kyoko was trying to become a chef and how Mami had opened a small cafe where Kyoko was working temporarily. She was certain Madoka knew some of this, but she didn't seem to mind hearing it again if she did.
And as the hours ticked by, their eyelids grew heavier to the point they both knew that they could no longer stave off sleep. Madoka had just about dozed off when Homura quickly shook her awake.
She blinked at her. "What is it, Homura-chan?"
Homura swallowed. The moment they fell asleep could possibly be the end of this, for good. She wanted to have Madoka's hopeful outlook, but after reliving the same month of her life over and over, Homura knew timelines weren't so easily tricked.
If anyone could do it, Madoka could. But...
"Just...just in case..."
Madoka's eyes softened and she leaned in closer, wrapping her arms around Homura's back. "I'll be right here when you wake up, Homura."
She nodded shakily. This was her one chance, the chance she'd never dared take before.
"Madoka. I love you."
Homura leaned in; doing her best to line up their lips so this one kiss wasn't a fumbling mess. It's just a kiss goodnight. There will be many more after this.
And the last things she remembered before falling asleep were Madoka's soft lips on hers, wet tears on her cheeks and a voice whispering, "Goodnight Homura, I love you."
When the sun rises the next morning, Madoka notes it groggily on her skin, warming her. It pales in comparison though to the warmth next to her, and sleepily, she cuddles closer to that warmth. Why anyone would choose that distant warmth up in the sky over this one in her arms, she doesn't know. She isn't sure what wakes her first- the scent of Homura's shampoo tickling her nose or the small gasp of surprise when Homura herself wakes.
Homura can't seem to find any words at first, looking torn between crying and clutching Madoka to her. Madoka makes the decision for her, pulling her close and whispering a half-choked, "Good morning," into her ear.
A sound that's half laughter, half a sob escapes Homura's throat at that before her tears begin to flow. Madoka decides she can't reprimand her this time, because she can feel the warm prickle of tears forming in her own eyes.
It's a miracle, Madoka decides. Sayaka had talked to her once, long ago, about magic and miracles and how magic could make miracles real. With a smile for her friend, Madoka wonders how rare a miracle without magic is.
Pulling back just enough that she can look Homura in the eyes, Madoka timidly asks, "Would it be too much if I had chocolate cake for breakfast? Just this once?"
Homura, through tears and laughter and a kiss to Madoka's temple, tells her she can have whatever she wants.
For once, Homura seems at a loss as to what comes next, as if her whole world has restarted anew. Madoka finally has to remind her that she'll need somethingto wear besides pajamas if they're going out and they both go to sort through Homura's closet to find something suitable.
They might have lingered with worries near one another the night before, but this morning they were simply in a companionable closeness at all times. Hands quite often clutched or shoulders brushing as they walked through the apartment. They find a white dress that Homura says Mami insisted she buy that's a bit too big on her, yet just right for Madoka. She spins around in it and asks Homura how she looks and is rewarded with a blush and a mumbled reply of "beautiful."
Once again, Madoka has to set Homura back on track, urging her to get dressed as well so they can go see the others. When Madoka comments that the lavender dress looks "lovely" on Homura, she earns another blush and half wonders if she's blushing herself given the way her cheeks heat up. It's a funny thing, being alive like this after all this time.
They share a breakfast of chocolate cake, milk and barely concealed smiles between every bite. Madoka's pinched herself at least five times already, and swears she's seen Homura do the same at least twice as many times.
Homura doesn't seem too surprised that Madoka insists on seeing Mami and Kyoko first and foremost, so they make their way to Mami's café right as it opens its doors that morning. Mami almost drops a teacup when she sees Homura enter hand in hand with Madoka, and she quickly calls for Kyoko.
"Good morning," Homura manages, "I, um…have someone I'd like you both to meet. She's very special to me, so I hope you'll regard her well."
Madoka gives Homura's hand a squeeze at the compliment, and then steps forward. She takes a deep breath, then holds out her hand towards the two girls who are strangers yet her dearest friends all at once.
"Hello, I'm Kaname Madoka, pleased to meet you."
It was good to be home.