Satoru opens his eyes to see that they are still in the Between and he’s still hugging Homura. He had thought he was being transported to the past, and in a sense he supposes he was, but not in the way as before. He saw Homura’s past play out like a movie. He was there, but not really there, an onlooker who could do nothing but watch. However, he now understands the truth behind everything. This realm, her struggle and why she’d become the cold and distant loner she had been. She’s been stuck in her own personal hell for all these years and didn’t even know it. When she lost her love, she lost her reason for existing too. Satoru feels a tug in his heart, able to relate to that on a very personal level. He wonders if maybe he had been here during his four-year depression. He doesn’t remember, but after seeing her story, he wouldn’t be surprised. However, one question still remains. Just what is the true nature of his blue butterfly?
“All this time….” Satoru can feel Homura shaking against him. “All this time I had no idea.”
“You couldn’t have known. That’s why they call it limbo. You’re trapped in a world outside normal thought or reason, left to wander in confusion and sorrow for all eternity.”
“How could I have forgotten so much? Before we became magical girls, I had a whole life. A terrible one yes, but still, it was a life. I’d always believed I had been born just to be a magical girl and because I failed to save anyone, my punishment was a never ending battle against the most terrifying being. To think this has all been my fault. The birth of magical girls, this realm, the suffering of countless souls and most of all, Madoka’s erasure of existence. She had ascended to a higher plane just to resolve the situation I created. It’s because of me she had to give up her life, her family, her friends, her everything. That’s why I deserve to be punished. All the hatred that had built up inside of me and brought the Witch. All that hatred was directed at the person who deserved it most, even more than the world that treated me so badly. That person was me. I was angry that I failed to protect the one good thing I had in such a terrible world. Just one single thing! Why should I get to live a normal life when I’m the cause of all the pain? I’ve got no one to blame but myself. That’s why god won’t even let me forget her. Even though everyone else, even her own family forgot her, I still remembered her. Why me? There can only be one answer to that, punishment. I’ll never be able to atone for that sin, so that’s why I deserve to stay here.”
“I’m not so sure that’s it. I think this may be a literal battle with yourself, for forgiveness.”
“Forgiveness? No way. I can never forgive myself. Madoka will never forgive me.”
Just then, Satoru catches sight of the all too familiar being. “I wonder about that.” The butterfly flutters all around Homura’s head, as though trying to get her attention. “I think someone might disagree.” Satoru realizes that he may be a bit more connected to all this than he initially thought.
Homura looks up to see the blue butterfly and she suddenly starts to get a familiar feeling and warmth. “Is this your butterfly Satoru? Has this been what’s leading you all this time?” He nods. Homura stands. “It can’t be….” She follows the butterfly, which begins to lead her. Satoru follows closely behind them, curious as to where it may be leading them to. They travel to seemingly the darkest part of the city and then the butterfly disappears into the darkness. “Wait! Don’t go yet. Where are you-.” Before she can finish, she hears a presence coming from the darkness and a chill travels through her spine. Satoru also feels it, along with a suffocating sensation of dread. From the darkness, comes a shadow figure, like a wraith. Before them is a culmination of all the hatred that had accumulated here, Homura’s hatred, The Witch. “So you finally show yourself. Is it finally time? Will this be our final showdown?” The Witch takes the shape of a human and soon is in the appropriate composition. She now looks identical to Homura, however her eyes are black as the dead of night and there isn’t an ounce of good inside her. “Ok then.” She removes her guns from her holsters and gets them ready. “Let’s do this then. Satoru, you should get back, things may get intense. I’m not sure if I can win this.”
“I believe in you. I think the only one that’s been stopping you all this time is you. You don’t need to punish yourself anymore. What happened may have been caused by you, but it wasn’t your fault. You had no control over it and never would’ve know what was going to happen.”
“I appreciate the support Satoru, but I’m afraid I can’t accept that. I’ve never been destined for happiness. Being born to a mother like that proves it. I was never meant to be like the other girls who hang out with friends after school and talk about fashion and love. I was born with these powers and as long as I have them, I’ll never be happy. I’ll never have love and I’ll always be alone. I know this. I know all of this and yet, I still…Madoka, I wish you were here with me.”
I’m here. Homura suddenly hears a voice, but looking around, she sees no one. Did Satoru say something she wonders? I’m here Homura. I’ve always been here, inside of you. She shakes her head and thinks she must be going crazy. I’m always here, so please, let me help you.
“Ma-Madoka?” Homura practically trembles as she feels that familiar sensation welling up inside of her. She feels like her chest is getting warm and from that warmth, power is surging throughout her entire body, making her feel invincible. Accept me Homura, so we may become one. You don’t have to do this alone, because I am here with you. Let’s fight together, like then.
She can feel Madoka’s warmth and power enveloping her and as a result, her outfit and guns upgrade and change appearance. She appears like a cross between herself and Madoka’s form, the pink and purples intertwining and the pink streaks spreading through her hair like highlights. Homura finally realizes that all this time, Madoka has been there, inside of her. She just never allowed herself to see that and accept her. But she’s not going to run anymore and she’s not going to keep living in regret. She now understands that Madoka would never blame her for what happened because in the end they were exactly the same. Just as Homura was willing to sacrifice everything, even her life to protect Madoka and show her love, Madoka had chosen to protect Homura and show her love by giving her a chance to be a normal girl who no longer had to fight for her sake. She was truly selfless to the end and so now it’s Homura’s turn. “Let’s do this!”
She charges the Witch, who has now seemed to take on a will of its own. It had always run on orders of Homura’s subconscious, but her realization of its true nature and the fact that she’s ready to face it head on has caused a separation. This is why it can now be defeated and vanquished from this realm. Together with Madoka, Homura can win.
Satoru watches as Homura fights with incredible skill, more so than he’d seen in all the fights they have had today. Not only are her attacks more powerful, but her entire being seems to be stronger, she’s truly invested in this battle and knowing that Madoka is there, even in an ethereal form, has really boosted her strength in mind, body and soul. Add in the energy of those souls that Satoru had helped to release and she really has become, unstoppable. Satoru feels as though he’s getting a glimpse of the Homura of the old days, the one who fought confidently and happily with her most beloved partner. The days where she believed that she too, could have happiness. He didn’t know Madoka personally, but she really must have been special.
By this point, the Witch has become very weak and seems to be gripping onto the last leg of her life. Homura gets in position, for one final, finishing blow. “Let’s end this you evil bitch!” Breaking into a run, she gets as close as she can and then jumps up high. With her guns aiming right for her head, at first contact she pulls the triggers and blows every trace of her away.
The Witch is gone and with her goes all the darkness of the realm, causing the sky to brighten. Finally, able to rest, Homura falls to her knees and breathes deeply. “We did it Madoka.”
“Mm, we did.” Homura is startled to hear her voice so loudly, as though she’s right beside her rather than inside of her. However, she notices a blue light and looking up she can see Satoru’s blue butterfly fluttering within that blue light. It starts to transform and take shape. Soon, it takes the form of Madoka. “We can do anything if we do it together, right Homura-chan?”
Homura never thought she’d get to see that smiling face of hers again and so seeing it now brings such pain and joy all at once, that she can’t help but cry. “Madoka…how are you even here?”
“I told you Homura-chan, I’ve always been inside you, but you kept blocking me out. You see, back then, on the day I sacrificed myself, I realized something. Having gotten up close and personal with that Witch, I was able to pick up a familiar feeling. At first I couldn’t understand why it felt so familiar, but then I realized it. It was you Homura. Even though it was an evil being, I realized that some part of it had come from you. After realizing it was a part of you, I immediately knew what it desired and therefore what would pacify it. There could only be one thing and I was the only one who could supply it. So knowing that, it was a no brainer. I knew if it held even a fraction of your soul, then it wouldn’t really be a sacrifice at all, because I’d still get to stay with the only person I ever truly wanted to be with. My sacrifice may have saved everyone and I’m happy it did, but truthfully Homura, my sacrifice wasn’t that selfless. I was actually being really selfish, because I only made that choice so I’d never have to be without you and so you could always have me too. Maybe it wasn’t the way you wanted me, but for me, there could be no better happiness than becoming one with Homura-chan. I gave myself to your darkness, accepting it all into me and in turn, it then returned to you, where it belonged. That’s why you didn’t forget about me when everyone else did. That’s why you could hear my voice speaking to you from within, cheering you on and encouraging you in battle. I’ve always been inside of you Homura-chan, but you had too much guilt to accept me. You caged me in and so all I could do was watch you suffer, unable to help you. It was terrible. So, I used up what power I had left to send out into the world and find someone who could help you break free from this place.” She turns to Satoru. “That was you Satoru-san. I sent you my will the little blue butterfly. I needed to make sure you were up to the task, so I tested you. That test was how you came to know Revival and led you down the path you’ve come to travel to be here now. Thank you.”
Satoru can hardly believe what he’s hearing. “You…you mean you’re the one who created Revival? You allowed me to go back and save Kayo?” She nods. “But why me?”
“I didn’t target you specifically, I really just wanted to find someone with a pure heart who’d be willing to give their all to help others. The butterfly found its way to you based on that criteria. It must have realized that you needed a chance to make things right and so offered you the chance while carrying out my will. Unfortunately, I had no control over the events and so I’m very sorry for the suffering you had to endure in the process. However, during your twelve-year coma, you probably never realized, but you’d spent some time in here in the Between. It was because of this that you were able to manifest within your current timeline. It was a truly rare occurrence and I know you felt that it was fate that allowed you to meet Airi again after having saved Kayo, but truthfully, it was a mistake. The laws of the universe are things that no one can control, not even us. So it’s going to catch up sooner or later when mistakes are made. I’m really sorry about this, but what happened to your family was the universe fixing that mistake. You see, Kayo and Airi were never meant to exists within the same timeline. I’m sure you were aware, but you had genuine feelings for them both. Kayo was love you found as a child, but Airi was love you found as an adult. Because of how things happened, you felt Airi was your true soulmate, and you weren’t technically wrong, but you weren’t exactly right either.”
Satoru is confused. “What do you mean? Are you saying I wasn’t supposed to be with her?”
“Not in that timeline. Homura’s already explained it more or less, but timelines are something like alternate dimensions. They run parallel to each other, but will never intersect. They contain the same structure, but the people, relationships and events are completely different. However, your time here messed up that natural order and caused the two timelines you exist in to intersect. You were living in the timeline in which Kayo survives. That means that you and Kayo would have been together. She would’ve stayed by your side those twelve years, despite the uncertainty and she would’ve grown to love you more each day. You would’ve weaken up with her beside you and fallen even deeper in love with her too. You would’ve married, had a family and be living the life that Hiromi is living with her. In that timeline, she was your true soulmate. However, because of the overlap, she didn’t wait for you and instead followed the path of her alternate timeline in which you normally wouldn’t exist. In that timeline, you would’ve died. No, you should’ve died, but you didn’t, because your will was so strong, it broke the natural order.”
“You mean I’m from the timeline in which I would’ve saved Kayo, but then died in her place?”
“Yes, that’s Kayo’s alternate timeline where Hiromi is her soulmate. However, in the timeline in which you save her and live, Hiromi would’ve died. If you see the pattern here, an individual’s soulmates cannot exist in the same timeline together. Kayo’s soulmates were either you or Hiromi depending on the timeline. Your soulmates were either Kayo or Airi depending on the timeline. If you live within a particular timeline with one or the other, then the other will cease to exist and therefore die. The universe therefore will take whatever actions it deems necessary to fix that. That is unfortunately what happened with you and why you lost Airi and Saori.”
Satoru feels as though he just got hit with a huge revelation all at once. “I can’t believe it…so that means Kayo may have sort of realized that something wasn’t right. Before I left, she started going on about how she felt guilty for not waiting for me. I told her not to think that way because I thought I was meant to be with Airi anyway, but based on what you’ve said, I was the one who was wrong. All that time that she’d been taking care of me when she should’ve been focusing more on her own family…maybe somewhere in her subconscious she realized that she was meant to do so. I really can’t believe it. I’ve had it so wrong this whole time. I’m such an idiot.”
“I doubt she understood that’s what was happening, but I guess you could say she was drifting a bit into her appropriate role for that timeline. But if she’d chosen you, Hiromi would’ve died.”
“This is so crazy, poor Hiromi…. Wait, what about Airi then? Who was her other soulmate besides me? Please don’t tell me it was that Pizza Shop Manager, it’ll make me feel sick.”
“That’s where things get a bit interesting actually. Where most of the people of the universe have at least two soulmates and therefore multiple timelines they exist in; Airi is one of the very rare people who only has one true soulmate. They say those are the souls that are the purest and good of all. Airi only exists in one timeline and her soulmate in that timeline is you.”
Satoru feels the heaviness of what she just said. “Wait, so then…if I’m the only one that exists as her soulmate in that timeline, then if my timelines were crossed and I survived in my timeline with Kayo, while still following my timeline with Airi…then her Satoru of her own timeline would have….” Madoka nods and Satoru really does feel sick to his stomach.
“Her Satoru became you once you found her in your twisted Kayo timeline and so hers…died.”
“So in another timeline out there, Airi is all alone with no one to love again? That’s too sad!”
“Unfortunately, the universe isn’t always the nicest, but that’s just how it is. However, you could save her from that if you wish, but in return, you’ll have to sacrifice your previous life till now.”
“What exactly do you mean?” He asks this, but it only takes him a moment to realize it himself. “Oh, I see…. I’d have to leave Kayo behind wouldn’t I? If I choose to go to Airi, I can be with her again as I’ve always wanted and resume my life that I had been living happily with her until the accident, but in return I’d no longer be able to see Kayo and have her as a friend. Right?”
“Yes, that’s right. You’d be getting just what you started on this journey for, but are you willing to sacrifice the friendship you and Kayo have formed to do so? Can you let her go?”
“Can I let who go? Are you referring to Kayo or Airi?”
“That is exactly the question Satoru. Only you can answer that. You have to choose.”
Satoru feels as though he’s just reached a massive crossroad that has a road of spikes no matter which path he takes, he’s going to be in pain either way. He’s come to really appreciate his friendship with Kayo. Even though his romantic feelings had subsided, at least he thought they had; he still has a hard time accepting having to live a life knowing he can’t go see her at any time. They’ve shared so many memories together and most of all, they’ll always have that terrifyingly wonderful experience between them, or having worked together to save her and Hiromi too. As long as he never pursued any romantic relationship with her, he could live in a timeline where he, Kayo and Hiromi could all live happily as friends, but it’d be at the cost of being alone forever, since he had no Airi there anymore. He could maybe live with that, but then he thinks of the other Airi. She’s in her own timeline, all alone because a faux Airi stole him away from her. He could live alone for the rest of his life, but to make that Airi suffer the same fate seems too cruel. Also, the fact that he is her one and only soulmate must mean something. It can’t be a fluke that they were able to be together, even if in the wrong timeline. Perhaps it could even be that….” Satoru has a sudden epiphany and all at once makes his decision. “Madoka, Homura, I’ve made my decision. I-.” They both shake their heads, but Homura speaks now.
“No need to say it. Let this be your guide.” They join hands and together create a new blue butterfly, similar but different from before. “It will bring you to exactly where you want to be.”
It flutters over to him and as it does, he starts to notice cracks in the atmosphere. “What’s going on? It seems like the realm is…breaking?”
“That’s exactly what’s happening. Now that I’ve finally defeated my inner demon, this realm no longer has the power it needs to persist. I created this realm as a manifestation of my powers and it became the root of time travel, but once it breaks down, it will be gone forever and with it, it will take away any possibility of time travel. I believe that this is for the best though, because we’ve all seen personally how damaging it can be on the natural order. That’s why once you’ve made your choice, there can be no going back. All timelines will be refreshed, like you would a glitch computer. It’s not a full reset and so all the memories and events of each timeline will persist, but all the inconsistencies and chances for error will not. Order will then be restored.”
“I understand. What of you two then? Will you return to your body Homura? What of Madoka?”
They both look a bit down, but then holding their hands tighter together and with a reassuring smile to the other, they return to ease. Homura then says, “I’ve been a part of this realm for a long time and Madoka has in turn been inside of me. She has no body to return to and due to her existence being erased, there is no timeline in which she could be transferred to. I’ve passed through so many timelines of my own, I’m not sure I can return to the one I came from and my body has probably long since been deteriorated. So I’d imagine that the two of us will just drift away, up there to that ethereal plane.” Satoru looks sad, feeling it’s all just too tragic. Homura laughs. “Don’t look so depressed Satoru, it’s ok. My life was over anyway the day that Madoka went away and my goal has always been to return to her side. So this is actually the best thing that could’ve happened to me. I can’t think of a happier fate than to spend eternity in oblivion with my own soulmate. So don’t feel sad for us. Now, it’s time for us to say goodbye.”
A bright light begins to shine in front of Satoru and he realizes that this is his way out. He turns back to them and smile gratefully. “I guess this is it then. Thank you so much Homura for helping me on this journey and thank you to you Madoka, for allowing me the chance.”
Madoka smiles. “We should be thanking you silly! I hope you have a happy life Satoru, with whoever it may be that you’ve chosen. Be sure to live it to the fullest and don’t waste it!”
They both wave goodbye and see him off with pleasant smiles. He returns their gestures and then with a deep breath and no hesitation, he steps into the light, behind his little blue butterfly.