This is sort of an everyone lives AU, set after the series. I couldn't say exactly how they're all alive or when this happens, it's just set in a state of suspended disbelief for an attempt to write something happy.

Homura had spent most of her nights texting Madoka when they weren't staying with each other. Even after high school, and after she came back, they remained best friends and no day was complete if they didn't talk. This night, however, was a lonely one. She kept her phone face up on her lap in case it rang.

They spent every birthday together that they could, but this was special. Madoka was 20 now, and her mom was taking her out to drink to celebrate. She took her out to lunch, but because she was three months younger, she couldn't stay for the rest of the night.

Madoka offered to stay home and wait until she reached the legal drinking age, but she insisted that she have a good time. It was selfish to keep her from having a good time with her mom. Now she was starting to regret it, not talking with her was lonelier than she thought it would be. If she's not calling, she must be having a good time, she told herself.

The phone screen lit up as it rang, but she couldn't help but feel the slightest bit disappointed when she saw Kyoko's name. She enjoyed her company as much as it was possible to enjoy hanging out with somebody who had the manners of a stray dog, and she was sure she was calling to torment her. With a small groan, she answered.

"What do you want?" She was shorter than was probably necessary, but that wasn't unusual.

"Yo, Homura-san." Kyoko either didn't notice or didn't care about her tone, only greeting her with a sarcastic honorific. "I can't call just to say hi?"

"That wouldn't be like you. Is this about money?" Frankly that would be much easier to deal with than talking about Madoka like she expected.

"Nah, not this time, I just have a question." Dammit. "How's the girlfriend?"

"Madoka is with her mother right now." She learned years ago to never react to her referring to them as a couple, but she still tried to get a rise out of her every conversation.

"Aww, I thought for sure she'd wait for you."

"I told her to go."

"Hah!" Kyoko laughed loudly, dragging it out for longer than necessary. "You're kidding, right? I figured you of all people wouldn't be so cowardly."

Homura had effectively 18 years of experience dealing with Kyoko, and she still had to exercise great restraint to not hang up sometimes. "It's best to not complicate it."

"What's there to complicate? She's sweet, you like her, just say it." She made it sound simple.

"I'm not taking that kind of advice from someone who couldn't do it themselves." She and Sayaka had gotten together months ago, but it was Sayaka who made the first move. Before then, she had a handful of boyfriends, and Homura was Kyoko's outlet for her frustrations over falling for a straight girl.

"Actually, that's why I called you. You remember why Sayaka and I hooked up, right?" There was a crinkling sound on the other end of the receiver; she was probably eating a bag of chips.

"I don't care to remember details about your life." Even if she tried, she couldn't remember. The exact reason was overshadowed by weeks of boasting that she had a girlfriend first.

"She came home with all this booze, right? Decided she was going to let me join in." Sayaka was the second oldest, only behind Mami, but Kyoko had been drinking longer than any of them. There was a loud crunch as she ate a chip. "But she got hammered way before I did and confessed right there."

"What does this have to with Madoka and me?" Kyoko was crude, but not cruel, and surely had a reason to bring it up.

"You need to be there with her. Once she has a few drinks she'll be all over you, and you'll have to call me to pull her off!" Crunch, crunch. "Of course, I wouldn't, I have more important things to do."

If anything, Kyoko was the unrealistic optimism she needed sometimes, but she didn't need it right now. "Your relationship with Miki-san is part of the reason I won't tell her."

"Why's that?"

"You two introduced the idea already, so she knows she would be accepted no matter who she likes. If she liked girls, she would've said so by now." At 20, she should've been old enough to make up her mind.

"Nah, that's where you're wrong. She's cute, she could be with any guy right now." And sometimes Kyoko would say exactly what she didn't want to hear. "But she isn't with any guy, she's waiting for you."

"Why do you think that?"

"Alright listen up Homura. Look at this from her perspective." She paused to noisily ball up the chip bag. "How many other girls have you been with?"

"None." She found it hard to hold romantic interests elsewhere with Madoka still so close to her.

"Oh I'm hurt. I don't count?" She could practically hear her pouting.

"No, you don't." Her relationship with Kyoko could hardly be called that. It was years ago when they were still in high school, just experimenting after Sayaka dated a male classmate, and lasted a week before they couldn't put up with each other any longer.

"Alright, good, because this is exactly what I'm talking about." At least she didn't put serious thought into their brief fling either. "If you say you've never had a girlfriend, how is Madoka supposed to know? She's too scared to tell you because she thinks you're straight, too."

She was about to tell Kyoko how ridiculous that idea was when her phone buzzed to alert an incoming call. "I'm hanging up, Madoka's calling."

"Alright, but don't cry to me when you miss your chance and I was right." She switched calls without exchanging goodbyes.

"Homura-chaaaaaaan!" She pulled the receiver away from her ear at the painfully-loud shriek.

"Is everything alright?" It was hard to tell if she was excited or in danger, but she was the closest thing to a living god in existence. It was highly unlikely that there was trouble.

"Everything is alright. It's all perfect." Madoka didn't stop laughing when she spoke and it made it hard to understand her. "Do you know where I am?"

"You're still with your mother, right?" Immediately she worried that she would have to leave and find her.

"Yeah because I'm 20 now! Did you forget?" She continued to laugh hysterically like it was a joke. "You should come over it'll be so much fun."

"I'm 19, Madoka. I can't go with you if you aren't at home." As much as she did want to see what was going on – and she sounded adorable even over the phone – she couldn't do anything if she was at a bar.

"But you should. Because…." Madoka trailed off and was silent for too long.

"Are you still there?" She sounded like she was in bad enough condition that she could have dropped her phone and walked away without it.

"Yeah. I don't remember why I called."

"I don't either." It was best to not let her continue to insist that she visit her.

"There's a reason," she said thoughtfully. "When someone calls their friend at night and I'm drinking."

"I'm not sure what you're talking about." Her mind was so incomprehensible that she didn't even want to know what she was coming up with.

"It's that thing." She mumbled to herself as she tried to remember it. "Oh yeah! A booty call!"

Homura threw a hand to her face to cover a deep blush that nobody else was around to see. "Are you sure that's what you mean?" She recalled her conversation with Kyoko and regretted picking up the phone for her.

"I don't know." Madoka at least sounded unsure of herself. "Would I call you for that?"

"No, that's not what this is." She was completely delirious, and if she didn't have a reason for calling it was probably best to get off the phone.

"Then why am I talking to you?" She must have already forgotten that she called her first. "Mama, why did I call her?"

Homura couldn't make out the answer, but Junko sounded almost as inebriated as

Madoka did. "Mama says we can't leave."

"Has she been drinking too?" She said that she was going to be the driver, but if she was drinking with her then they would be stranded at the bar.

"Yeah and now she can't drive. Come here and I can see you and then we can go home."

"I'm sorry, but it's three in the morning. I can't." She didn't mind helping her, but she was too nervous to be around her. Kyoko was wrong, it wasn't likely that she would confess like Sayaka did. She was afraid that she might say something that she would have to take back once sober.

"Pleeaaase?" She dragged out the word like a child asking to stay up later.

"Have you called your father?" If she needed to get home, that should have been the first place she called. It didn't sound like her dad to not help them out.

"He didn't answer, I think he's sleeping. Please help I want to see you." She could imagine her with her large, begging puppy eyes, but quickly shut out that image. If it was too clear, she really would be guilted into driving out to see her.

"I don't even know where you are." She did know where they said they would be, but she sounded far enough gone to believe that.

"Just come find me. I'm right here." Madoka was silent again, and Homura was about to ask if she was still there again when she continued. "I'm right in front of a cup. If you find the cup I'm right here."

"Of course." She ran several options through her head, trying to avoid leaving to see her.

"If you don't come I'll have to drive home and you don't want that," she threatened. Normally she would take that as a bluff, but she also just gave her directions based on a glass of alcohol.

"Go outside and wait. I'm calling you a taxi." There were a few taxi services that ran into the early mornings, and if it meant getting them home safe she would gladly pay.

"But I don't want a taxi, I want to see you," she whined.

"It shouldn't take long to get there. Just go home and I'll visit you tomorrow." It was getting late anyways. She stayed up after she should have gone to bed, but was glad that she did wait for the call now.

"You promise?"

"I promise." Even if Madoka probably wouldn't remember it, she would go see her tomorrow and help her through the inevitable hangover. She waited for her to finish telling her mother about the new plan. "Go outside and wait."

"Thanks." She laughed again. "You're great, I'm glad I know you. You're really great."

"Yeah, thanks." Kyoko was wrong, they really were just friends. "Good night, Madoka."

"Bye! Make sure you come over tomorrow." Homura had to end the call since Madoka left her phone on to stumble out with Junko. It was time for her to sleep so that she could be up early enough to visit and comfort her the next morning.

For the following months leading up to Homura's twentieth birthday, Madoka avoided alcohol almost religiously. Her life wasn't so busy that she felt the need to relax with it like her mom, and she felt bad hearing the story of that night. But she promised Homura that she would go with her for her first night, and Junko offered to take them out again.

It wasn't often that Homura did anything personal with Junko. Drinking alcohol seemed both very personal and very revealing, and she was afraid that she would do something stupid or embarrassing. But Junko insisted that it was okay and nothing she did could be any worse than her own young adult years.

Midnight hit and she was officially old enough to go inside and order. "I don't remember what I had my first night," Madoka told her sheepishly. "But I can remember a few good ones."

Junko ordered them each something unrecognizably fruity and too sweet. It wasn't what she expected, far more pleasant than sips of her parents' drinks at the dinner table. She wasn't sure what was in it, because it tasted almost exactly like snow cone syrup.

"Yeah, I didn't think there was alcohol in this at first either." Madoka smiled as she watched her; she must have looked surprised at the taste. "Some of the other stuff doesn't taste very good, it's really strong."

"I see." She was through much more of the glass than she thought she was already, it had only been a minute since she got it. Without anything to say, she stared into the colorful drink awkwardly.

"I'm glad you could come with me," Madoka said suddenly. "This is going to be a lot more fun with you."

"Is it boring when you go out alone?" She had gone out a scarce handful of times, but whenever she called she sounded excited.

"No, not really." She giggled and looked away. "At least, I don't think so. But if I don't remember, how good could it have been?"

"I hope nothing bad happens, then." All those years ago, everyone would wake up forgetting the past month except for her. She took memory loss seriously, but it was just the alcohol.

"Hey, let's promise to remember this whole night." Madoka was further into her drink than she was, she noticed. "We'll wake up and talk about everything we did."

"Sure." Her face felt oddly heavy, like she could feel the weight of her skin. "Am I...supposed to feel like this?" It was hard to explain what "this" was.

Madoka held a hand to her mouth and laughed. "Homura-chan, you're a lightweight. But I'm not very good at it either."

"Does it really only take so little?" This couldn't be what drunk felt like, she felt fine, just fuzzy. Totally fine, clear mind. Fuzzy clear mind.

"Sometimes. Mama can drink more than I can. When I tried to keep up with her, I got sick." She laughed again like hangovers and alcohol poisoning were jokes.

"If you get sick, I'll take care of you." That meant she also couldn't have too much.

"I'll take care of you, too," she offered.

"Thanks." Homura wondered how Madoka would take care of her if she was the one needed attended to, but she quickly lost that thought.

"We don't have to worry about feeling bad!" She giggled too much to speak around her own laughter.

"Is something funny?" She didn't hear a joke anywhere, but maybe she missed it.

"Everything. Like you." Madoka paused to hold back intense giggling, but failed. "You're funny when you're confused."

"I didn't think I was confused." If she wasn't before, she was now. "Everything isn't funny. The table isn't."

She looked down in deep thought before deciding, "The table isn't everything."

"Then what is?" If there were exemptions to this, she felt they were important to know.

"Everything is everything. Except the table." Madoka grinned at this revelation. "You too, you're my everything."

Homura buried her face in her hand in embarrassment and busied herself with her drink. She couldn't have meant it like that. That was ridiculous, she was clearly just saying the wrong thing because she was drinking. "Am I really?"

She nearly spilled her drink when she looked at her. "You're all red!" That wasn't funny either.

"It's because you don't make sense." Nothing made sense. The only thing she was sure of was that nothing made any sense.

"I make only sense." She went back to her cup, but found there was nothing in it when she tried to take a drink. "I want to buy you something, what do you want?"

"You don't have to do that." Madoka always did so much, she didn't need her to buy her drinks too. It was just a birthday, and they already had one.

"But I want to. Tell me what you want and I'll get it." She had her hand in her pocket reaching for money.

"Surprise me." It wasn't worth the arguing because no matter what she said, Madoka was going up to the bartender and getting her something. She left her, obviously already having something in mind.

This was the first time she got a good look at her surroundings, if she could call it good. It was dark, but not so much that she couldn't see. And there were people everywhere, most of them in tight groups of friends. Junko wasn't far away, watching them from a table full of her coworkers.

She was distracted by a sign on the wall when Madoka returned, setting down two new cotton candy-colored drinks. "I don't know what's in this, I told her you wanted to be surprised."

"Is it good?" It smelled unpleasant but a bit like sugar.

"I don't know, you try it first." She sat next to her and slid the glass over, splashing some down the sides.

She was hesitant to take a drink without knowing what it was or having Madoka's reassurance that it was okay. But she watched her so expectantly, and if she didn't then she might be disappointed. Before she could stop herself, she took a large gulp. "It's not bad."

"Ah, I like this one!" Madoka smiled as she tried it after her. "It tastes like peaches."

"Yeah, it does." She couldn't taste anything that distinct.

"Do you know what else tastes like peaches?" Another round off giggling before delivering a disappointing punch line. "Peaches!"

"I didn't think of that." Candy could taste like peaches. But so did peaches.

"This was a good pick. I'm glad you picked it." She leaned against Homura's shoulder for support.

"I don't remember what it's called." She also couldn't remember ordering it at all. Or moving. She didn't remember time moving either. Wasn't her drink full seconds ago? Where did the other half go?

"You're quiet." Madoka said this almost immediately after. There wasn't enough time to be quiet, she was just talking.

"No I'm not. I'm just drinking." Her head was so light she was leaning on Madoka just as much as she was supporting her, making them a wobbly attempt at keeping each other upright.

"You weren't talking. I want to talk with you." She held up her glass to show her that it was empty. "It took you this long to talk."

She was digging deep into her mind for a conversation topic when she felt a hand slam down on her shoulder. Junko leaned over them, shaking her balance and causing her to hold onto the table to not fall. "Are you girls empty?"

"'M done, Mama." Madoka shook her head, but nearly pushed over Homura in doing so. "No more."

"That's nonsense, you girls are still young. And it's someone's first time, you can't stop at two." She stood up and took out her wallet. "The next one's on me, okay?"

"That's not necessessessa…." Homura tripped over the word and gave up trying to say it when she just left.

"We should be responsible and no more," Madoka said, unable to sit straight without assistance.

"Yeah." This resolution was forgotten when the glasses in front of them were full again. It was bitter and warm going down despite the ice in the cup.

"What should we do after this? When we go home." Madoka didn't look pleased with the taste, like she was expecting something more like the last one.

"What'd you mean?" They weren't home, they were at the bar.

"S'not open forever. Home has my bed for sleep."

"I'm gonna…." It was hard to explain what sounded good. All she wanted was to stay here with Madoka and feel this light and happy forever. "G'nna wango the tango."

Madoka laughed again, face hitting the table loudly enough that it should've hurt, but her shoulders shook from the hysterics. "Me too. Gonna do wha'ever that is."

She realized that she wasn't entirely sure what she was talking about, either. Something embarrassing probably, she was so afraid to embarrass herself. But that priority was pushed aside for more pressing matters, like noticing how soft Madoka's hair was against her cheek when she leaned on her.

"You're quiet again." She had no idea how much time she spent fascinated with the way her hair bunched up at her shoulder.

"Sorry." Maybe she was just confused, but her drink looked more full than it did when she last looked at it. That was impossible, she was drinking it, so there should be less. "Are you having fun?"

"Yeah. Thanksh for coming." She tried to look at all over her, but it was hard to put the picture together. Her nose, eyes, chin, ears, cheeks, everything separately was clear. But all at once she was impossible to see and turned into a blur. Her last waking memory of that night was trying to look at her as closely as possible.

When Homura woke up, she wasn't in her own bedroom. Her vision was too blurred to make out anything to distinguish where she was. If her stomach wasn't rebelling against her, she would have panicked about the unfamiliar location. But now her head was spinning and her vision was unfocused and her insides threatened to paint the carpet.

Trying to sit up only felt like she was thrown about in a tornado, and she fell back into the mattress. She prioritized discerning her whereabouts, closing her eyes to clear her mind, but the pounding headache was distracting. With a groan, she rolled over and knocked her forehead into something solid.

"Ah." She woke up Madoka, who was next to her now rubbing her eye sleepily.

"Sorry." Homura rubbed her head where she hit, trying to stop the room from spinning. That's right, this was Madoka's room. And she was laying in Madoka's bed, near the window.


If she were able to move, she would have thrown herself out of bed. But the desire to stay perfectly still was stronger, and she hid her face in the pillow she was laying on. She had no memory of falling asleep here, but she couldn't recall any memory of falling asleep. Everything was a fading blur of empty cups and Madoka's face.

"Good morning, Homura-chan." She yawned and stretched her arms up against the headboard.

She responded with a nondescript grumble, failing to return the cheerful greeting. It felt far too early to be awake, but even though the blinds were closed, the room was too bright for the early morning hours. The alarm clock read 11:14, hours past the time she should've woken up.

"Are you feeling okay?" Homura shook her head. "It'll pass, don't worry. I guess we had too much last night."

Madoka kept her voice at a whisper, but it still sent her ears ringing every time she spoke. It made her reluctant to talk to her. "How much?"

"I don't remember, sorry." She giggled and rubbed the back of her neck. "I guess I broke my promise."

Homura was vaguely aware of a promise for something, and hoped it wasn't a big deal because she couldn't remember what. "That's fine." Madoka didn't break promises if they were important.

"We should get up, you won't get better if you don't wake up and get breakfast." She got out of bed easily and pulled the covers away from her.

"No." Moving sounded like a bad idea, and the thought of food made her dangerously likely to lose whatever was in her stomach.

"Just trust me, alright? You'll feel much better." She held her by the shoulders and gently pulled her out of bed, despite her best efforts to weigh herself down. "Come on, get up, we're going into the kitchen."

Homura groaned and sat up on the edge of the bed, resting her forehead in her palm to stop the spinning. "I thought we can't get sick." She hadn't felt like this since she was hospitalized.

"You aren't sick, it's a hangover." Madoka was smiling to soften the message. "I think alcohol interferes with the connection to your soul gem, and you must have had a lot."

"Great." That must have been why she was feeling so sluggish, but knowing the situation didn't help her at all.

"Get up, we're moving out." Madoka pulled her to her feet and offered herself as support to stand upright. She did most of the walking for both of them, as Homura's legs refused to move the way she wanted them to.

Junko was sitting on the couch in the living room, to both of their surprise. Typically she would have left for work by this hour. "Good morning, girls," she greeted cheerfully when they stumbled down the hallway. "Did you want breakfast?"

"That's what we came out here for, actually." Madoka led Homura to the couch that Junko had abandoned to move into the kitchen. "Don't you have work?"

"I took today off to run errands with your father. He's out with Tatsuya right now, I told him I'd meet him when you two wake up." She must have predicted that they would want to eat when they woke up as breakfast was already made, and she began reheating it. "How are you feeling?"

"I'm okay, I think. But Homura-chan…." She was nearly laying down on the couch, pushed up against her and face buried in her side. The living room was much brighter than her bedroom. "How much did we have last night?"

"It was hard to count." Junko looked to the side in thought and smiled. "I think it was at your fourth, you didn't want to finish any of yours so you gave them to Homura-san."

"Oh, then it's my fault. Sorry." She wrapped an arm around Homura, who mumbled something about it not being her fault at all.

"When you feel better, I took pictures of last night." Junko brought them two plates, and Madoka had to physically pull Homura off of her so they could eat.

"I think we'd rather forget last night happened." Nothing good could come from seeing what was on her phone.

"No, you girls definitely want to see. This is important." She smiled like she was hiding a dark secret as she waited for them to finish eating.

"Can't you just tell us? Ah, Homura-chan, you have to actually eat it to feel better." She was pushing the food around her plate, with no plans of putting it in her mouth.

"It won't be as good if I tell you, you need to see." Her smile grew.

"Homura-chan you have to eat so we can find out!" Madoka began bouncing in anticipation, but stopped at the sound of a sickened moan. "Sorry, I want you to feel better."

As unlikely as it had sounded, Madoka was right. After the first few reluctant bites, she was slowly gaining her alertness back, and her stomach had ceased its gymnastics routine. Madoka was done long before her, but waited with poorly-feigned patience for her to finish.

"Are you feeling better?" Junko asked, phone out at the ready.

"Yes, thank you." Speaking didn't make her head cloud like it did before.

"Can you tell us now?" Madoka leaned forward to try and look at the screen.

"I had to ask a bouncer to help get you two out to the car, so I figured you wouldn't remember this." Junko turned the phone towards them. "I had just bought you your last drink, and when I turned around to give it to you, you were doing this!"

Homura had to rub her eyes to make sure she wasn't still too dizzy to see properly. The picture was dark, but the subject was still very clear. Madoka next to her flushed as pink as her hair, and her own face felt warm as she looked down to hide it.

Madoka was a great friend, and admittedly very pretty. She had spent nearly 20 years with her, and it was natural to have strong feelings after all that time. And of course it wasn't reciprocated, she had accepted that a long time ago. However, she never expected to see a picture of Madoka leaning into her, pushing her tongue as far down her throat as it would go.

"Mama why would you take that!" She covered her face with her hands.

"I didn't think you would believe me if I just told you." Junko flipped through several more, all nearly identical and each more embarrassing than the last. "Oh, you missed here, Madoka. I don't think Homura-san even noticed."

It was like a train wreck that she couldn't look away from, or an unexpected explosion. The twisting in her stomach returned, more fluttery than painful this time. Madoka's face was unreadable – hell, it was hardly visible – and she couldn't gauge how she should feel about this. Sure, she thought about this kind of thing before, but now there was proof right in front of them. She felt guilty not knowing if Madoka really was okay with it, and she worried that she had started something unwanted in her impaired state.

"Homura-san fell asleep right in the middle of it." Junko was grinning as she showed a picture of her unconscious on Madoka's shoulder, arms still loosely wrapped around her. "This is when we left. Madoka kept trying to wake you up the whole ride home and insisted you stay with her so that she could take care of you."

They were both silent as Junko put her phone away. "I'll leave you two to discuss it on your own. I'm going to meet with your father now, we'll be back in a few hours."

Madoka muttered a quiet goodbye, and remained focused on the floor even after Junko left. Homura sat next to her concentrating deeply, thinking of anything to say. "I- I'm sorry." This was a mistake, she should never have put herself in a position like this.

"It was my fault," Madoka said quietly.

"No, don't blame yourself. I shouldn't have had that much if I was going to…." Stupid, ridiculous, kind girl taking it too hard on herself.

"I…I'm saying I started it." She hunched over and held her head in her hands. "I thought it was just a dream, but I remember a little bit. You were right there and I touched your cheek and…I'm so sorry!"

"Madoka, you…." It was impossible to put it into words, and she trailed off before she could say the wrong thing.

"I just really like you, okay? I'm sorry." She looked up to face her, eyes beginning to water and chin quivering. "I didn't want to make you feel awkward, but I thought I wouldn't do anything."

"Why didn't you say anything?" This was never how she expected any conversation to turn. Maybe she was still asleep. Maybe she was still hung over and couldn't hear properly. Maybe she wasn't at Madoka's house at all and she was in her own bed dreaming feverishly.

"I know you like girls." Her face was a poor attempt at being serious, and she was visibly on the verge of tears. "But if you liked me, you would've said so. It's been so long and you haven't."

Homura couldn't help but laugh. It was so ridiculous. Years of heartache, half of her life,

over a stupid misunderstanding. "You idiot."

"I'm sorry! I understand if you're mad but please, I want to be friends." She was so close to actually crying. "I already accepted it, I promise I won't do that again."

Homura composed herself long enough to lean in closer to her. "Madoka, I thought you liked boys."

She had barely finished the sentence when Madoka threw her arms around her neck and pressed her mouth into hers fiercely. Her cheek smashed into her nose hard enough that it stung, but it was a distant thought. Maybe they had done this until she fell asleep last night, it was nothing compared to remembering it. Their first kiss didn't have to be the most special one, there was no law saying that.

Madoka pulled away suddenly, fear showing on her face. "I'm sorry, this is what you meant right? I don't want to do this if you don't."

Homura smiled and put a hand on the back of her head. "I love you, you dummy."

Her face lit up, but Homura didn't get to see it for long because she moved back in immediately. She said something that sounded like, "I love you, too," but it was muffled by her own mouth. They didn't separate to speak this time.

"Enjoying yourselves?" They jumped apart at the sound of Junko's voice; both of them had been too preoccupied to hear her coming in.

"How long have you been gone?" Madoka sat upright and smoothed her hair with her hands, ignoring the warmth that suddenly rose to her cheeks. She said that she would be gone a few hours, but it couldn't have been that long.

"Have you two really been like that since I left?" Based on that vague answer, it probably had been. She was afraid to check the clock.

"Where are Papa and Tatsuya?" Madoka didn't want to stay on that topic any longer.

"They're on their way back right now. I drove ahead of them just in case I had to warn you two." She winked at them, showing her approval. "Your father is making your favorite tonight, cream stew. I thought we might want to celebrate."

"Celebrate what?" There wasn't anything going on today, that she could think of.

"Your first girlfriend!" Junko clapped her hands to her chest excitedly. "You are staying for dinner aren't you, Homura-san?"

"If you insist." She stared downwards, unable to meet her eye after being walked in on like that.

"Of course I insist, you're part of the family now." She stood up straighter and held her keys up. "Can you girls help me unload the car, or are you too busy?"

"We'll help," Madoka said quickly.

"Don't worry about that, it's completely natural." She hadn't stopped laughing at them yet. "You just might want to be more aware of things if someone else is here."

It was one of the most awkward positions either of them had been in. Even though she blew it off, and maybe even meant that it wasn't a problem, nobody wanted their mother to walk in on something so personal. Their forgotten first kiss was a rocky start to a relationship, and their interrupted second wasn't much better.

It didn't have to be perfect. They survived through worse. If they could stay friends through everything, this could hold up too.