There are days when she wants to scream. Sometimes, when the others ask her who Madoka is, she wants to cry and yell and demand to know how they could forget. She wants to take the simple, beautiful pink ribbon and make them hold it. Maybe then, maybe if they could be that close, maybe it could spark a memory. Maybe she could stop keeping this secret all to herself. You can only believe for so long in the face of all of the doubt, the uncertainty, the accusations that you’re only making things up...
She doesn’t really hold it against them. She knows and understands the nature of Madoka’s wish, so she stays strong. In this new timeline, she is the center, in a way. She is the only one who knows the truth, and that will never change. It’s just another reason she has to keep going.
Some days are more difficult than others. Those days come and go, but when all is said and done, she doesn’t mind. In fact, she’s happy to carry the burden. She knows why she’s here, and she knows what she needs to do. In a world that has forgotten Madoka - no, that never knew she existed in the first place - Homura will remember, and she will go on fighting. She will protect this world, for the sake of her friend.
Every time before, Madoka had been so much happier. The more Homura repeated things, the more of the truth she revealed to the others, the worse things seemed to become.
“I can’t take it anymore,” she heard Madoka cry, her face buried in her gloved hands. Homura wanted to tell her that she did what she had to, that if she hadn’t stopped Mami then they would probably both be dead. It was the truth, after all, and yet she knew that it wouldn’t help. It wouldn’t make Madoka feel any better.
Homura couldn’t stand it. She would do anything to save Madoka’s life, and she would do anything more to have her smile again.
The miasma is worse tonight that is has ever been, even in this wasteland outside of the city. It feels so thick, like a heavy blanket of smoke that could smother someone careless enough to underestimate the threat. She’s thankful there are no other people around. They may not be able to see the demons like she can, but there are so very many here that even the least attuned might have a vague hint that something is very wrong here.
They’re everywhere. No matter where she turns, she sees more and more of them, ready to tear her down where she stands. She’s surrounded, and she knows there is no escape for her. It makes no difference to her, however; the thought of fleeing never even crossed her mind, not even once.
She moves forward and the demons creep closer. Their attempts to intimidate her are wasted and she instead picks up the pace, her steps intense with purpose and determination. She radiates confidence in every move she makes. She is so very sure of everything now: herself, her intentions, and her plans for this fight... a fight she knows that she will not walk away from with her life. Most importantly, she is sure of her own falling. Even still, she won’t back down.
Mami had said that since a Puella Magi’s wish brings misfortune to the world, they have to disappear before that can happen. Homura knows better. That’s why she isn’t afraid.
Homura would not rely on anyone this time. The more she distanced herself, the easier it was to do what needed to be done. If she fought alone, if she stayed her course, if she kept herself from becoming attached, maybe it wouldn’t be so hard this time. Maybe she could succeed. Maybe this was truly the only way. If she never became Madoka’s friend, maybe...
She couldn’t allow her thoughts to continue wandering. She had to stop Madoka from becoming a Puella Magi, and to do that, she had to find the Incubator. If she could stop him, and then warn Madoka, and if she could do so entirely in the shadows, then this would work. It had to work.
If it didn’t work... how many more times would she have to repeat this?
Even Homura knows that everything has an end.
She takes to the sky, staring down the enemy from above as she prepares to make the first move. Her wings are no longer white. Their colors flow freely, twist and dance around each other. They are broken and distorted, with fantastical images that fade in and out. It’s more proof that she’s closer to her own finish line, so to speak. It’s almost over, but she isn’t frightened. She is a Puella Magi, and she brings hope wherever she fights. The demons don’t stand a chance, but of course they will try anyway. Homura is ready.
She calls forth her bow and takes careful aim. A bolt of simmering violet slices through the air, impales a demon. It falls, but more are there to take its place. She fires, again and again, arrow after arrow. Each shot strikes true, but the number left still greatly outweighs the number of the fallen.
When they come too close, she moves quickly. When they surround her, she flies higher. She never relents, constantly striking and moving and flying and dodging. She brings down a fair number of them before she’s hit even once, but once turns into twice, turns into more... She falls to the ground. The pain is incredible, but she has known worse and she refuses to lose. Not now. If she is to disappear, then all of these wretched things will vanish first.
She raises her bow once again, and she could swear she feels someone’s hand over hers - a familiar touch from a past that happened only in another universe. She smiles. With renewed strength, she conjures another arrow, and looses it into the horde before her.
“Keep it up!”
She’ll see her soon.
Homura’s scream went unheard as she tumbled away. All of space spun on itself and she felt herself being dragged along like a small boat in a raging river. She wanted so badly to fight it, but she knew that this is what Madoka truly wished for. She understood, and she would wait, but for how long...?
It felt like both an eternity and merely an instant before she awoke in her bed. Things were different. This wasn’t another repeat, with the same twisted events laid out before her like a maze she’d failed to properly navigate countless times before. She didn’t need to find Madoka, she was never there to be found at all. What could she possibly do now...?
She moved her hand to pull the covers away, but she felt something slide between her fingers. She looked down. Clutched to her chest, entwined between her pinky and her ring finger, was a brilliant, pink ribbon.
She pulled it even closer to her, cradling it in both hands. She curled in on herself, knees drawn up and head lowered, and she cried. Thanks to Madoka, she was free, but at the cost of Madoka’s own existence. Homura would not let that be in vain.
Madoka said they would meet again. Until that day, Homura would keep going.
Somewhere, perhaps in another world or a different plane of existence, two best friends are reunited. One cries, but the other pulls her close, holds her and tells her that everything is okay now. “I told you I’d meet you again,” she says gently as her best friend’s sobs finally begin to soften, “and now, we don’t have to be apart anymore! I’m so happy!”
“You don’t have to worry anymore. It’s okay!”
She dries her eyes. “Thank you.”
“Thank you. For being such a great friend.” Madoka smiles. “Let’s go.”