The wind blew gently through the residential complexes of Mitakihara City that evening. Mami Tomoe stood outside at the balcony of her apartment, her golden curls swaying softly in the breeze. The gunner rested her elbows on the ledges, silent and thoughtful. Her eyes were turned skyward, fixated on the bright, white moon tucked behind the clouds.
The wan light of the moon calmed Mami, but troubled her at the same time. It made her feel as if she had forgotten something important – something that she held dear to her that just disappeared from her thoughts. Also, the way that a certain time-traveler acted coldly towards her came to mind as well. These thoughts mixed in her mind and made her feel bitter.
What is it that she had forgotten? Why is it that Homura treats her the way she does? Mami could only sigh.
As her mind started to wonder, the gunner was blinded by a bright light. Quickly, Mami turned away and shielded her eyes. Was it a demon, perhaps - Yet another demon?
"Mami-san." A clear voice then spoke, "It's been a while."
Mami slowly opened her eyes, not knowing what to expect. There were no demons in her midst that evening. Instead, a radiant figure clad in brilliant white and with long, pink hair appeared before her, floating in mid-air.
Mami's heart started to race, her body slowly trembling in fear. The figure before her, however, only smiled warmly. This warm smile seemed familiar to her, almost. The smile eroded the fear Mami felt, but the gunner was still speechless – unsure of what to make of this apparition.
"Who… what are you?" Mami asked, barely able to put words together to speak. "A-and how do you know my name?"
"I am an old friend, Mami-san." The figure explained, her tone patient and friendly. "You may not remember me, but I remember you. My name is Madoka Kaname."
"Mado…" Mami repeated the name, totally unfamiliar with it "ka…"
The gunner's eyes bulged in realization.
"Y-you're that Madoka that Akemi-san…"
"Yes." Madoka nodded happily, "Homura-chan kept her promise, it seems. I'm glad."
Listening to the figure speaking fondly about Homura, Mami frowned and her heart felt heavy. This Madoka person was an old friend, it seems. Madoka was an old friend she and Homura both had. The only difference was that Homura remembered Madoka whereas she did not.
"Don't frown like that, Mami-san." Madoka shook her head, "It's complicated, but it really isn't your fault."
"And that doesn't matter to me." Madoka continued, "I still treasure your friendship as much as I treasure my friendship with Homura-chan and I always will! After everything we have been through, you will always have a special place in my heart, Mami-san."
Madoka's words made Mami blush a little bit, but her bitterness slowly crept back to the surface.
"I'm really sorry, Kaname-san…" Mami spoke, her eyes avoiding Madoka's in shame, "I just feel… awkward about all of this. I don't remember a thing… I really wish I could remember, even just a little…"
"I can help you remember." Madoka suggested with a smile.
"Really?" Mami's jaw dropped slowly in amazement.
"Yes, really." Madoka nodded eagerly, "Just trust in me, okay. Close your eyes and listen to my voice."
Mami was hesitant for a moment, but the warm smile on Madoka's face drew a nod from the gunner. She closed her eyes, her heart racing as she wondered what this apparition might do. All of the sudden, she felt a hand gently touch her cheek. Mami's heart raced, wondering what she should do.
"Trust me, Mami-san." Madoka's voice then reached Mami, calming the golden-haired girl down.
Mami focused on the hand gently touching her face and wisps of memories started to resurface in her mind. These memories grew clearer and clearer with each passing moment, coming together into cohesive chains.
"The three of us shared a lot of good times together, Mami-san." Madoka then spoke, shepherding Mami's memories with her words, "You, me and Homura-chan."
Visions of the past filled Mami's thoughts – images of three girls having tea and cake happily in her apartment, smiles on their faces.
"You said that you would become our mentor as Puella Magi, you know." Madoka continued, "Those were some of the best times of my life."
Madoka paused for a moment. "However… there were bad times too."
The images in Mami's mind then shifted, snippets of the numerous timelines Homura had gone through were shown in chronological order. With each snippet, the rift between Mami and Homura widened. Mami had exchanged harsh words with Homura and the enmity between them just grew. The events of Homura's last timeline, Mami remembered them all.
Madoka's hand left Mami's face and the golden-haired girl opened her eyes. The being floating before her was no longer a mere apparition, or a stranger. Goddess or not, this being was the friend she had fought to protect – the friend both she and Homura had. Mami's face soured and tears started to form in her eyes.
"Madoka!" Mami said, the name now familiar to her, "I'm sorry! I'm really sorry!"
"Akemi-san… did all of that for your sake, while I just… and now, you're… and you've got to…"
Mami's sobbing gagged her, stopping her from saying any more.
"Don't cry, Mami-san." Madoka smiled, wiping the tears from Mami's eyes softly, "The past is the past. Now is the time to look towards the future!"
"Yes, Mami-san. The future." Madoka nodded, "I made a promise to Homura-chan, you see, to come back once my work was done. Once I could finally create a true miracle, I'd return – back to you and Homura-chan and everyone else! However, things might take longer than I had hoped. In the meantime, I have a request for you, Mami-san."
Mami raised her eyes up to meet Madoka's and Madoka beamed.
"Until I can finally make good on this promise, please watch over Homura-chan for me."
"… Me?" Mami was dumbfounded
"Mami-san." Madoka then reassured, "No matter what happens, you will always be my mentor to me, and a really, really good friend. Surely, Homura-chan thinks the same."
"You really think so?" Mami asked, her resistance fading
"Of course!" Madoka patted Mami's shoulder, "I'm sure you would make Homura-chan happy, just like you always did. Your lemon-chiffon cake was always the best, after all!"
Madoka's praise made Mami chuckle a little bit. Madoka sure did love her cakes. A moment of silence then fell between them as Mami considered Madoka's words and an air of determination formed around Mami.
"I will do it."
"Thank you, Mami-san." Madoka spoke, utterly pleased, "I believe in you."
The apparition of Madoka then slowly faded away into the night, leaving Mami alone there in the balcony.
Her encounter with Madoka left her a little bit dazed, but oddly satisfied. When her doorbell rang, the golden-haired girl nearly jumped. She scurried over to her apartment door and peeked through the peephole – it was Homura.
Mami took a deep breath and closed her eyes, remembering everything that Madoka had showed her – the times she, Madoka and Homura had spent together. Then, Madoka's parting words resurfaced in her mind. She knew what she had to do.
Mami opened the door for Homura and did something that, until that evening, she would never have even considered doing. She welcomed the time-traveler with a warm smile.
"Good evening, Homura-san." Mami spoke, her tone kind and considerate, "Would you like me to prepare you some tea?"
Homura was shocked by this welcome, unsure of how to react. Mami, however, just smiled and continued.
"I also have some lemon-chiffon cake too." Mami added happily, "If I remember correctly, it was Kaname-san's favorite."
Mami's eyes met with Homura's and the time traveler slowly understood what she meant. A small smile broke out on Homura's face.
"That would be great, Mami-san. Just like old times."
"Yes, indeed." Mami smiled back, "Just like old times."