“You wicked child!” A woman’s voice can be heard yelling as a loud slap echoes through the room. A young girl is the victim of this slap, falling hard down to floor. “You’ve been using them again haven’t you? You’ve been doing the devil’s work right? Answer me!” She kicks her.
The child grunts, but no cries or sobs can be heard at all. She stands up wobbly as she grips her stomach where she had been kicked, her ash black hair obscuring most of her face, except for a single violet eye that burns with hatred. With pursed lips, she glares at the woman defiantly.
“Not going to answer me are you? Fine, then it’s into the closet with you! Maybe time alone in the darkness will purge out the darkness you hold within your soul. Those evil powers of yours are a sin, yet you continue to use them. I won’t allow it! I will not be the mother of a witch!” She grabs the girl and pulls her along to a small broom closet. She opens the door and shoves her inside. “Now you stay in there and repent. Perhaps it’s not to late for god to show you mercy.” She slams the door shut and locks it from the outside, before walking away.
“I’m not a witch.” The girl mutters these words quietly, with no one to hear her or even care. She still doesn’t care for the darkness, but having been forced to reside in it for most of the day for so long in her 6 years of life, she’s grown accustomed to it and no longer cries. She clutches her only companion against her chest, a stuffed bunny cat. “You believe me, right Kyu-chan?”
She snuggles the toy and closes her eyes, eventually finding comfort in that darkness by entering the special place she created within her mind, where no one can hurt her. Kyu-chan doesn’t speak as expected, being he’s not real, however his eyes glow a bright pink in the darkness.
Time passes and soon that girl grows, and becomes a first year middle school student. “Now you listen to me child. You have a chance at a fresh start. It’s a new school, with new people who don’t know you and neither will their parents. I chose to give up our old lives and move here just for that reason. We can both get fresh starts, you want it too don’t you?” She doesn’t respond, which angers her mother and causes her to grip her shoulders tightly. “I’m telling you right here and now, don’t you dare defy me! You are not to ever show anyone your powers, or I’ll keep you in that closet for the rest of your life, do you understand!”
“Yes mother.” Her voice is cold and distant, her eyes are hallowed and dim.
“Good, now get out of my sight. Hurry or you’ll be late for your first day.”
“Yes mother.” She grabs her bag and leaves the house, saying nothing more. She begins her journey down the street towards her new school. Along the way, she passes groups of students heading to the same place. They laugh and play and generally seem to be enjoying themselves. There was a time that she’d imagined herself behaving in such a manner, but then she realized that that kind of happiness was fake and that true friendship and happiness didn’t exist. Die. You should all just die. She whispers these words to herself, each iteration seeming to darken her heart more and more and give her an unsettling aura many have called, the scent of the witch.
“Eww, look at that freak over there. Is she going to our school? What’s with her dark look?” She can hear the whispers and murmurs of her peers all around. They used to bother her, but she’s used to it now. She can even laugh at it now and she does so, with a huge grin. “Creepy….”
It didn’t take long for people to pick up on her strange vibe and avoid her. She was fine with that though, because she found the most comfort when she was alone. She’s come to find that she doesn’t need anyone, because getting close to others has never brought her more than pain and tragedy. She has vowed to never befriend anyone ever again. Despite avoiding everyone however, she was still the target of the worst bullying. It got so bad, that she began skipping school and spending the day in the playground alone. She’d hide out in the play tubes once kids started showing up, in her own little corner that no one intruded on, simply because they couldn’t see her. She could do a lot of things with her powers, creating illusions was one of them. She’d spend her days there, drifting in and out of her own illusionary world, her only peaceful place.
“He, he….” The girl wakes up to what sounds like a laugh. She opens her eyes to see a girl, who looks like she could be a child, sitting on her knees with a grin. “They’ll never find me here.” Her pink hair is tied on each side with a bow, like side ponytails. “Hmm?” She turns her head and reveals the prettiest magenta eyes the girls ever seen and she finds herself staring. The pink haired girl looks at the girl in front of her curiously. “Hello are you ok? Do you need help?”
The girl almost doesn’t realize she’s being addressed until she sees that the pink haired girl has been staring back at her this whole time. “You can see me?” No one has ever been able to see through her illusions, so how is it that this girl can and is even speaking with her directly?
“Of course I can see you silly.” She laughs. “Oh, are you hiding from your friends too?”
“No, I don’t…I don’t have any friends. I just wanted to be by myself, so go away.”
“No one really wants to be alone, so I don’t believe that. Besides, making friends is easy.”
“What would you know? You’re just a cute little girl who believes everyone is her friend.”
“You’re right, I do see everyone as a friend and so that means you too. It’s just as simple as reaching out a hand and asking. Look, I’ll show you.” She holds out her hand and waits.
“What do you expect me to do with that? Leave me alone. I don’t want to be your friend.”
“But I want to be yours. My name is Madoka Kaname, will you be my friend?” She smiles. In that moment, the girl saw a brightness she’d never seen before in her smile and a warmth in her chest she’d never felt and found herself reaching her hand out to meet her. They connect and she feels as though something in her world got just a bit good. “See, easy right? What’s your name?”
The girl wants to be wary and turn away. She wants to push her out and return to her comfortable seclusion. She’s afraid to be hurt again, to be deceived by someone just pretending to care. However, she finds that this girl has far too much goodness to be bad and so unable to resist, she tells her. “Ho-Homura. My name is Homura Akemi. I’m a first year at the middle school.”
“Oh really?! I am too, that’s great Homura-chan!” She sees her blush. “Oh sorry, is it ok to call you that? Sometimes I get carried away and get informal with others without asking first.”
Homura was taken a bit by surprise, never having been called in such a friendly manner, but she doesn’t dislike it. “It-It’s ok, but then let me call you Madoka-san. Then we’re even.”
“Ok, but just call me Madoka. Friends don’t need to be so formal right?” She laughs. “Anyway, what class are you in? I might have seen you and just didn’t realize, but it’s ok because now that we’re friends I’ll always see you….” She rambles on about this and that and although Homura usually finds these types annoying, she doesn’t really mind Madoka. Though she still wonders why she could even see her. “Oh, they still haven’t found me yet, I wonder why? Oh well, I guess I should go find them. Come with me Homura-chan, then you can meet them too and get even more friends. “Mami, Sayaka, Kyouko are all really cool, so I’m sure they’ll be your friend too. Though hands off Sayuka or Kyouko might get mad at you. Otherwise they’re all-.”
“No!” Homura snatches her hand back, causing Madoka to become unsteady and fall forward.
“Ah!” She lets out a yelp as she falls face first. She turns and sits up, clutching her knee. “Ouch.”
Homura can see her knee is bleeding and she instantly feels guilty. She’s done it again. “I’m sorry Madoka! I didn’t mean to! This is why we shouldn’t be friends, I’m too dangerous.”
“It was just an accident. I’m ok, really, see.” She smiles widely, even as she winces in pain.
Homura is shocked at this strange girl and decides that maybe it’d be ok to show her. “Here, let me heal you.” Madoka looks confused, but Homura decides showing is better than explaining. She places her hands over her knee and with a warm energy, she starts to heal the wound.
Madoka watches in awe as Homura does something amazing and soon, her wound is completely healed. “Woah…. That’s so amazing! How did you do that? You have powers, so are you a-.”
“A witch right? That’s why I have these powers. That’s what everyone always says, so it must be true. So it’s ok, you can call me a witch too, these powers are nothing but a curse anyway.”
“A witch? No, I don’t think you are. I was going to say magical girl, just like the ones they have on TV. That’s really awesome, I wish I could be a magical girl. How great would it be to fight bad guys and save everyone in the world? It would just be you and me, the perfect duo.”
Homura can hardly believe what she’s hearing. No one has ever praised her for her powers and no one has ever wished to be the same. Before she even realizes it, tears are streaming down her face. “Why are you so nice? I’m just a freak. I don’t deserve to be happy or have friends.”
“Sure you do! Everyone does, so don’t say you don’t. you’re my friend Homura, forever!” She hugs her tightly and for the first time ever, Homura can feel her heart move and feel love.
It was getting late and so they said their goodbyes for the day, but they agreed to meet again at the same place tomorrow. When Homura arrives home, she gets scolded for skipping school again, slapped and sent to her room without dinner. She lies in her bed that night, clutching her stuffed toy as always and thinking about Madoka. “I think I made a real friend today Kyu-chan, her name is Madoka and she’s really nice. She even said she wished she could be like me and save the world as magical girls. I really wish it were possible too. I’d make a world filled with real witches and then she and I, could fight together. Can I Kyu-chan, can I?”
She falls asleep, dreaming of such a world, that she knows will likely never exist outside of her dreams. But even so, she genuinely wishes it to be so, even if she can only find it in her dreams. However, like before, Kyu-chan’s eyes glow bright and in one night, the world is reformed.
When Homura wakes up, she notices Kyu-chan is no longer in her arms. “Kyu-chan?” She searches all around, but doesn’t find him. She runs to her mother’s room. “Mom, Kyu-chan is gone! I can’t find him anywhere. Did you see him? Mom, mom! Please answer me!”
She’s slapped hard across the face. “Quit all that racket! Can’t you see I’m trying to sleep? I don’t know where that ugly doll is, but if it’s gone then good riddance. Really, 12 years old still playing with toys and dolls. It’s time to grow up. Now get ready for school and out my sight.”
Homura stands up and for the first time in a while, feels true hatred. So much hatred, that Homura feels consumed by it, as though the essence of that hatred is leaking from her. She wants to say many things, but all she can manage as usual is simply, “yes Mother.” She gets herself ready for school and leaves without another word to her or a thought about Kyu-chan.
“Homura-chan!” Madoka comes running towards her as she sits on the swing waiting. Her sour mood is lifted instantly and they play together the entire afternoon playing “magical girls”. Once it starts to get dark, Madoka decides to head home. “It’s getting late, so let’s play some more tomorrow ok? I’ll invite my friends and then we can all have fun together!”
Homura had a lot of fun. In fact, she’s had more fun than she ever had before and so she doesn’t want anyone coming between them or that. “No!” Madoka looks confused. “I mean, it’s nice like this isn’t it? We’re having so much fun with just the two of us. So why change it now?”
“Because, they’re my friends and I want them to be yours too. I promise they’ll be nice to you.”
Homura finds herself getting angry and feeling that darkness again. “No! I don’t want that!”
Madoka looks a bit shocked at her harsh outburst and pouts. “But, they’re my friends….”
Homura realizes she’s being selfish and it’s causing Madoka pain, which makes her feel even angrier than before, but this time at herself. The essence of hatred is practically suffocating. In an instant, there is a loud screech. They both turn to see some sort of monster with an asymmetrical body and multicolored composition. Homura recognizes it as something from her dream. “This is a….” The monster screeches again and then jumps towards them. “Madoka, we have to run!”
She grabs Madoka’s hand and leads her away, running into the safety of their play tube hideaway. Madoka is shaking slightly. “Homura-chan…what was that thing?”
Before she can answer, someone else’s voice is heard. “That was a witch, a nasty one too.”
They both look to see some sort of animal crawling towards them. They are scared it might be another of those monsters, but once it’s closer, they see it’s not. Homura instantly recognizes it. “Kyuubey? Kyu-chan, is that you?” She’d know that bunny cat anywhere, her first friend.
“That’s right, it’s me Homura. I’ve come to life thanks to your power. You never really understood the powers yourself, but basically it comes down to your innate spiritual connection. You’ve always been able to traverse realms, it’s from those other realms that you pull your power from. These realms are also the home of various spirits and lifeforms such as myself, but I couldn’t manifest myself in this world without a vessel. Your doll became my vessel and that’s how we came to know each other. You probably never realized that I was able to hear all the things you said, even if I couldn’t respond. I heard your cries and your complaints and your wish. For the first time you made such an earnest wish, that it opened up the gate to my realm and with the help of your powers, you allowed that realm to leak through to this one, taking the shape of your imaginary world. Now I can finally interact with you directly and I also have the power to make your dream of becoming a magical girl come true. Just like in your world, the only way to defeat those witches, is to become a magical girl and banish them back to the other realm. I am here to be your guide in doing so, as well as recruit others into the cause. You see, there are others like you. Other girls who have potential to use such magic, however you are the most powerful, hence why you manifested them all on your own. However, the others, like Madoka here, their powers still lie latent. I can unlock those powers though and make them into true magical girls and with you, they can fight to defeat the witches and keep them in their own realm forever. That potential is why she was able to see through your illusion when no one else could.”
Both girls are shocked, however Madoka quickly catches up. “Wait, so you mean we could be magical girls? Like real ones to fight evil and save the world? I can with Homura-chan?”
“Yes that’s right. I can give you additional power to fight the monsters like the one outside and as a reward, I can even grant you a wish. You can wish for anything you want at all.”
“Wow really? That’s awesome! We can become real magical girls Homura-chan! Isn’t it great?”
Homura had wished for a chance to fight alongside Madoka, but that never seemed like more than a nice dream. Now that it was available in reality, she wasn’t so sure if she wanted that. “I’m not sure if we should Madoka. How can we be sure that nothing bad will happen to us?”
“We’ll be ok, because we’ll be together Homura-chan. It’ll be a special thing just between us.”
“Just between us…?” Homura did like the idea of having a special secret with her that only she could share. It’d prove that they truly were friends and no one could take it away from her.
“Not to rush you girls, but if you don’t decide soon, innocent people might die.”
“Huh? People will die? From that monster out there? It’ll hurt people?”
“Yes that’s right. Witches like that are born from hatred, Homura’s to be exact. You probably didn’t even realize it Homura, but you’re the reason that monster is here. Your hatred for the world and everyone in it brought it here. Your powers allowed it to pass through the gate.”
“I did this? It’s my fault?” She feels pained to know that she could cause people to die. Yes, she’d always wished for it, but again, it was never something she thought could happen in reality. “No, I don’t want that. I don’t want people to get hurt! I want to stop it Kyu-chan!”
“Then let’s stop it together Homura-chan.” Madoka takes her hand in hers. “Let’s do it together.”
“Madoka….” Seeing such a strong desire in her eyes and feeling such a strong bond between them, Homura decides that she’ll do it. As long as she can always be with Madoka, she’d accept.
“So, what’ll it be girls? Would you like to become the world’s very first magical girls?” Kyu-chan holds out a paw and after a nod of affirmation between them, the girls agree. It was then in that secret tunnel, that they became magical girls and began the fight against witches together.
The fought against the witches that night and every night after to track down all ones that had escaped due to Homura’s intense feelings of hatred. They were the perfect duo, however, later on, they discovered Madoka’s friends also had latent potential. Kyu-chan recruited them as well, to Madoka’s satisfaction, but Homura found the additional members a burden. She hated that they were coming between her and Madoka and that it was no longer something that only they could do. This anger and hatred grew over time, causing more witches to escape and allowing them to become even stronger. One night they met their toughest foe yet.
“Mami, Kyouko, Sakuya!” Madoka calls out to her dear friends, who’d finally fallen to the strongest witch they’d yet to face. “No…everyone….” She cries for the loss of her friends, but even she isn’t it the best condition. She’s not sure how much longer she’ll be able to last. “This…this isn’t what I wanted! How did it come to this? I don’t want to do this anymore!”
“Yah!” Homura blasts away at the witch, still going strong, but she looks to see that Madoka is breaking. She clenches her teeth in frustration, knowing she’s the cause of all this. It’s because of her hatred that this witch was born and that all of the others are dead. She intends to send it back to where it came from if it’s the last thing she does. However, she was so busy on fighting it, that she didn’t notice the smaller witches that had appeared and were going after Madoka. “No!”
She charges towards them, but they are too quick. She makes eye contact with Madoka briefly and in them she can see absolute terror, and feels she’s pleading with them for Homura to save her. She lets out a quiet whimper and says in a defeated voice, “Homura-…chan.” The witches are upon her and soon there is nothing left of Madoka Kaname, but a single hair tie.
“No….” Homura falls to her knees, realizing that her one and only precious person was gone and that she’d never return again and it was all her fault. “No….” The tears fall. “Madoka!”
“Ah, I guess they just weren’t strong enough, too bad. I guess it’s just you now Homura-chan.”
“You!” She looks at Kyu-chan, her old friend, with pure hatred and disgust. “This is your fault!”
“Mine? But this is your world Homura-chan, you made it this way. I just granted your wish.”
“Liar! You may have granted my wish, but it wasn’t for anyone but yourself. You’re an evil creature who just wanted to see the world burn and use us as your weapons. I’ll never forgive you! I’ll fix this. I’ll fix all of this and bring them all back. I won’t let you win, Kyuubey!”
He laughs. “I’d like to see you try Homura-chan. Just how do you think you will do that? Now that the evil has been released, you’ll never be able to take it back. Even if you go back and stop Madoka and friends from joining this cause, the witches will still exist and so will I. I will not stop recruiting girls. I will corrupt their souls and turn it into energy for my kind. That has always been my true intention. You gave me this power as an extension of your own. Therefore, I will exist as long as you do. We’ll never be able to harm each other. So why even bother?”
“For Madoka of course. It’s always been for her. Nevermind the world, I will at least save her!”
“Foolish girl, you can go back and repeat this event as often as you wish. Human minds are not so easily changed. No matter how much you try, she will never choose differently. Even if specifics change, it’ll still always come to this in the end. Only she can truly save herself.”
“I don’t care! I’ll try as many times as I must. I will save her, no matter how long it takes!” Homura uses her power to go back, becoming Homura Akemi, the cold transfer student. She does as she promises, doing any and everything in her power to prevent Madoka from joining and the others if she can. However, just as Kyuubey predicted, every time, Madoka joined. She joined only for the sake of everyone and saving them, her precious friends. Each time Homura failed, it took a greater and greater toll on her. She became more and more spiteful, angry and discontented. The mental and emotional toll she experienced was far greater than any physical pain she ever received. Something grew within her and after the final rewrite, where Madoka made the ultimate sacrifice, she became unhinged. Madoka sacrificed her own existence for the sake of magical girls everywhere and as a result, Homura and the others were allowed to live as normal girls. Though she was the only one to retain her powers. The others had forgotten Madoka completely and moved on with their lives. However, Homura couldn’t move on so easily. She went into an extreme depression and once again found solace in her imaginary world. Her hatred grew and grew, so much that it was too much for her to contain. All of that bottled up hatred bled from her and into another realm, the realm that she’d created and traversed many times during her quest to save Madoka. There, that hatred took shape as the worst witch that had come to be yet, though Homura never realized it was born from her own soul. Stuck in the personal limbo of her own mind, she became nothing but an empty vessel, left to waste away in a hospital bed, while her soul traversed this realm. It was here that she encountered this monster, who would become known as The Witch. This creature who could take any form, began to torment those who found themselves stuck in her realm through a trauma or otherwise. She cursed these people to suffer the same fate that she had. Reliving their traumas over and over, losing their loved ones in the process. Homura made it her mission to defeat this witch, but she could never succeed. Everytime she thought she’d won, the Witch would always return. Never had she imagined that this ten-year battle was one fought entirely within a realm of her own creation, The Between. It was a battle of her soul desiring to return to her body, but the guilt and sadness in the form of the witch kept pulling her back. This is the truth behind the legend, her legend. This is the forgotten past of Homura Akemi-san and her one and only love, Madoka.