ptahrrific: Madoka preparing to take on Walpurgis (madoka magica)
Erin Ptah ([personal profile] ptahrrific) wrote2012-02-28 02:58 am

Madoka Magica: But She Talks Like A Gentle Soul

Title: But She Talks Like A Gentle Soul
Fandom: Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Characters/Pairings: Moemura, ???
Rating: G
Disclaimer: MadoMagi isn't mine. Sad but true.

A five-year-old Homura decides to run away and live in the woods. This is an excellent and well-crafted plan that cannot possibly go wrong.

For the [community profile] hc_bingo February mini-challenge, prompts wild card: orphans, unrequited pining, lost childhood, and stalkers. Title is from the genderflipped cover of "When You Were Young." Also here on the AO3.

Okay, maybe Homura should have planned this a little more.

Her backpack had snacks, a change of clothes, two of her favorite books, her pills, and a warm coat for when fall turned into winter. But it didn't have extra shoes, and the leaf-strewn forest floor had all of a sudden turned into mud, squelchy and dirty and making her feet cold and wet.

Also there was someone following her. Homura was pretty sure it wasn't a wolf, but maybe it was a really tall wolf, and even if it was a person, people could be scary too.

Gulping back a sniffle, she scrubbed under her glasses with the sleeve of her sweater and trudged on. There couldn't be mud forever. The low branches on the trees were too high to climb, but there was a rock a little ahead and over to the left that maybe she could sit on and rest for a bit. And even dry off her shoes.

She couldn't go back. No way. Definitely not ever, and it didn't matter that St. Claire's had a warm fireplace and extra socks.

Somewhere behind her, a branch snapped.

Homura let out a squeal and bolted, charging pell-mell for the large rock. It was about twice as tall as her, flattish on top with a steep craggy slope between there and the mud at its feet. She grabbed a fist-sized rock from the ground in case she needed a weapon, then scrabbled at the boulder's mossy surface until she had hauled herself out of reach of the ground.

Her shoulders hurt. Homura shrugged off her backpack and huddled with it and her throwing rock, and scanned through the trees.

"Hello?" called the voice of a definitely-not-a-wolf. "Are you okay?"

"Fine!" cried Homura. "Leave me alone!"

She could see the shadow of the other person now, dappled in the bits of sunlight that made it through the leaves. There wasn't any sun on Homura's rock.

"I'm fine," Homura repeated. Her voice came out weird, all pale and shaky, even though she'd taken her pill that morning.

"Oh, good!" exclaimed the stranger, coming still closer. It was a hiker, with a much cooler backpack than Homura's, wearing a loose button-up shirt and proper boots. She had hair cut in a short bob and...and the prettiest smile Homura had ever seen. "I'm sorry, but is it okay if I sit on your rock? I've been walking for a long time, and it's too muddy to sit on the ground."

It definitely was. "Okay," said Homura grudgingly. She scooted over to one edge of the boulder and hugged her knees.

The hiker squished her way through the rest of the mud. She was small for a grown-up, though she was still a lot taller than Homura, and it took some awkward scrambling before she made it to the top. "Phew! That's quite a climb."

Homura didn't answer.

From a pocket in the side of her own pack the woman tugged free a water bottle and took a big gulp. "Not the best day for hiking," she admitted sheepishly. "Even though it's sunny, everything's still drying off from the rain yesterday. Guess we should've put it off a little, huh?"

"I'm not hiking," sulked Homura, trying not to think about how she was thirsty. She'd only brought one can of juice, so she had to make it last. "I'm running away."

"Oh!" said the woman. "Sorry, I didn't realize."

Homura pushed her long dark hair out of her face. She hadn't packed a hairbrush either, she realized, and her hair was getting tangly. Oops. "I'll be fine!"

"You do seem pretty tough," agreed the hiker. "Going anywhere in particular?"

"No," snapped Homura.

The hiker began undoing buckles on her shoulder straps. The army-green canvas backpack was huge, probably big enough that Homura could fit inside it if she curled up small enough. She tried to stare out of the corner of her eye, wondering how much stuff was packed in there.

Cool though it looked, it wasn't enough to distract her from her wet shoes forever. Homura finally gave up her throwing rock and pulled them off. Dampness had soaked almost all the way up her white socks, so she had to peel them off.

"I think I have extra socks in here," remarked the stranger. "You can borrow them if you want. Just until yours get dry."

Homura was all set to say no. Then she caught sight of the long thick dark purple socks the woman had pulled out of her backpack, and the words dried in her mouth. "Okay."

She didn't regret it. They were awfully warm.

"I have a coat, though," she informed the hiker, resting her newly besocked feet on a rough ridge in the boulder. "I would've been fine anyway. I prepared!"

The hiker smiled her super-pretty smile again. "You're really smart, aren't you? You didn't just go dashing away from...."

"St. Claire's," filled in Homura.

"...from St. Claire's without thinking it through first. You made a plan."

Homura swallowed. "It maybe wasn't a perfect plan," she admitted in a whisper.

The woman's face got serious again. "There isn't always time to make perfect plans," she said softly. "I guess something bad happened that meant you had to leave, huh."

Water filled Homura's eyes. She pulled her knees up to her chest again, resting her chin against them, hoping the stranger wouldn't look too close.

Gentle fingers brushed against her hair, coming away with a dead brown leaf. The woman flicked it to the ground. "Your hair's a mess, kiddo. Can I brush it out?"

It would make a great excuse to face away from her for a while. Homura nodded, and tried to sniffle quietly.

Sitting had made her butt go kind of numb, and changing position made her notice all over again how hard and uncomfortable the rock really was. The strange woman gathered Homura's hair away from her face, hands catching on tangles as she smoothed down the long mass, and began running through the ends with a brush that must have come from some corner of her huge bag.

Her touch was so light that she didn't even pull, not like the nuns always did. The bristles moved in slow, rhythmic strokes across the back of Homura's shirt. Like a caress.

Closing her eyes, Homura tried to imagine she was somewhere completely different. A little house in the country, maybe, or an apartment with the city all around. With a TV and her very own bedroom and maybe even a kitty. Noise in the kitchen of someone cooking, and someone else sitting on her bed with her, brushing her hair and talking about how wonderful Homura would look, how very proud Homura made—

A strong grip tightened on her shoulder. "Stay very still, Homu-chan. Don't be scared, but don't move."

Homura went rigid. Through blurred lenses she could see a dark shape moving through the trees. Really tall, and definitely not human.

"It's a moon bear," said the hiker, digging quietly through her pack again. "They mostly eat plants, but they can hurt people very badly. Don't get its attention. It might leave on its own."

And what if it didn't?

Homura did her best. She stayed really, really still. She didn't even breathe that loud. The bear kept wandering their way anyhow, until she could clearly see the white mark on its black chest that gave it its name. And then there were its beady black eyes....

A terrified squeak rose from Homura's chest in spite of herself.

What happened next was too fast to keep track of. One second the bear was snarling and looking at her and the hiker like they were a delicious snack, or maybe more like the tiny brave inside part of her wanted to look at Hiromoto when she said—

And in the next breath a wood arrow with bright red-pink feathering on the end sprouted from the creature's chest, and another when the first didn't slow it down. And a dizzy spell swallowed Homura so fast that she swooned against the backpack, knocking her shoes to the ground and getting a blurry view of the third arrow held to the string of the bow in the woman's hands.

She got her balance again a few moments later. The hiker-rescuer-archer insisted on giving her some water anyway. Homura didn't object.

"I know you want to stay out here," said the archer gently, cradling Homura in the same arm that was still clutching the bow. The dark lump of the bear's pelt was a blot at the corner of her Homura's vision; the polished curve of the bow was taller than she was. "But whatever happened to you at St. Claire's, it can't be worse than getting eaten by a bear, right?"

"I don't have parents," blurted Homura. "Hiromoto Naoko f-found out an' made fun of me."

"That must have been awful," murmured the stranger. "I miss my mama and papa every day. It's one of the meanest things someone can tease you about."

This gorgeous, talented, tough, well-organized woman had lost her parents too? If that had been the only thing wrong, Homura could have felt a spark of hope.

"And I'm sick," she confessed, choking on the words. "S-something's wrong with my heart, an' I have to take pills an' can't o-overexert myself and one day that's not gonna be enough, and...."

It's obvious, you're ugly an' stupid 'cause you don't have a mommy to learn better from, and you're prob'ly gonna get sick and die just like your daddy did, and you're gonna die alone 'cause you don't have any friends, and—

"Shhh." The archer pressed a light kiss to Homura's forehead. "You're a brave, strong, smart girl. Don't let anything get you down. Not your heart condition, and definitely not this Hiromoto kid."

Homura nodded. The archer's heart had to be working fine; it seemed to be radiating warmth for her to feel.

"I'll carry you back to St. Claire's," the woman continued. "So you won't get worn out."

"I..." Homura gulped. She'd have to rest up first, but.... "I wanna walk. On my own two feet."

"At least let me brush your hair while you get your strength back?"

That beautiful smile made funny fluttery things happen to Homura's insides. "Uh-huh," she stammered. "C-can you braid it, too? It stays neater that way."

Homura hugged the hiker's knees by way of goodbye, then strode with five-year-old determination up the side stairway of St. Claire's, purple socks stuffed into her mud-stiff shoes and braids bouncing against her backpack. She turned back only once, to give a shy wave in the light of the setting sun. The hiker kept her distance, but kept watching until the little figure was safely indoors.

Too few years later, the girl will stumble into danger once more, and be even closer to death when an archer with a kind smile comes to the rescue. Primed to feel warmly toward her, Homura won't last long before falling headlong in love, though she'll have long forgotten the childhood inspiration for those feelings by the time they're finally returned. And returned they shall be, though another age of the earth pass before they can touch again.

Unseen by anyone living, a new light flared up where the hiker stood. Her bow turned from polished to fluorescent; her short pink bob blossomed into a rosy wave.

"You were always destined to win, Homu-chan," she whispered, and vanished as the first stars came out.
shanejayell: (Default)

[personal profile] shanejayell 2012-06-17 08:43 pm (UTC)(link)

*big grin*


Goddess Madoka is watching over her.