ptahrrific: Madoka preparing to take on Walpurgis (madoka magica)
Erin Ptah ([personal profile] ptahrrific) wrote2012-11-30 10:00 am

Madoka Magica | Homura, Madoka | PG-13 | Persephone's Waltz (2)

Title: Persephone's Waltz, Chapter 2: I'm not taking anything from her.
Characters/Pairings: Homura, Madoka
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer/Warnings: See table of contents.

Madoka takes stock of her new surroundings, and makes her first desperate attempts to get out of them.


March 25

The sides of her fists were red and raw when she finally collapsed. Her steel opponent hadn't taken so much as a dent.

Madoka could have stayed in a crumpled heap for much longer if nature hadn't called. Down was harder than up. She half-walked, half-crawled back down the stairs, to the sparsely decorated bedroom that was apparently her prison and the bathroom whose features she now wished she had paid more attention to. It turned out to hold a Western-style toilet with only one roll of toilet paper to be seen.

Using the strawberry soap made her stomach lurch with a new wave of fear. If there had been any other kind, she wouldn't have touched it.

For lack of anything better to do, Madoka stumbled back out into the main bedroom. At last she noticed the silver-framed clock on the wall, its hands pointing to half past nine. A quick check on the laptop, though it didn't provide a wireless connection or anything else that could have made a difference, corroborated the time.

Mama might still be out drinking with colleagues, but Papa would be worrying himself sick. He'd call her phone soon enough, if he hadn't already.

Would Homura answer? Madoka wouldn't have put anything past the girl's acting skills at that point. It would cheat the police out of several hours' searching time if she put on her stammering, trembling voice and convinced Papa that Madoka was in a dressing room, or waiting in line for food. All she had to do after that was toss the phone in a canal.

Madoka had last seen them at breakfast, and already she missed her parents terribly.

In spite of that, it was thoughts of her family that kept the weight of despair from crushing her afresh. Don't lose heart, her father would say if he were here. Your strong heart is one of your best features. And Tatsuya would echo his words, at least one or two of them, at the top of his little lungs.

Mama, on the other hand, would say, This is no time to be slacking off! When a woman is backed into a corner, that's exactly when she must take her destiny into her own hands! You have a window of opportunity here, so don't waste it. Find out as much as you can!

Madoka turned to a simple oval mirror hanging on the wall, its silver frame matching the one on the clock. Her face was blotchy and tear-stained, the skin around her eyes swollen and puffy; one of her twintails was loose, while the other had all but come undone. She tugged at both scarlet ribbons until the messy bows flowed apart, and combed her fingers through the worst of the tangles, smoothing them down.

Then she separated the pink hair into whip-tight twintails and tied them off with bright, even bows.

For now, it would have to do.


As evening wore into night, and another pass around the room failed to yield any trick walls or secret trap doors, Madoka decided to get some sleep. Any cleverly hidden exits would only get harder for her to find if she kept on like this. Besides, her stomach was growling, and she had no intention of eating any of Homura's food. Sleep seemed the only viable distraction.

Madoka couldn't remember ever being scared of the dark. It was only thanks to family stories that she knew she had thrown a fit at age three during a family vacation where the hotel room had no night light. The next day, she had skipped down the beach and had a day of ordinary fun picking up seashells and making sand castles, oblivious to the fact that her parents were dead on their feet after a night of fractured sleep in a bright room.

So it was without a second thought that she turned off the overhead lights, leaving the room pitch-black except for the pinpricks of blue light on the side of the computer and the softly glowing face of the clock, and climbed into bed with the heap of stuffed animals.

Thirty seconds later she threw herself from the bed and grabbed for the chain dangling from the nearest light, yanking it nearly hard enough to pull it off.

It helped. The shapeless, looming dream-figures grinning at her from the shadows dissolved; the walls stopped closing in. Once again the room was only nightmarish by virtue of being a locked prison buried somewhere under a patch of ground unknown to anyone who might save her.

Madoka crawled back under the covers, pulled them up over her head, and buried her face in Panda-san's fluffy chest, hoping it would block out enough of the brilliance for her to rest.


March 26

Waking found her almost as tired as she had been before sleeping. Not just weary, but burned-out, like an old match. She was also disoriented, vaguely aware that it was later than she usually woke, but it wasn't until she checked the clocks that she realized it was already afternoon.

After gulping a full glass of water and re-tying her hair ribbons, she felt refreshed enough to make a methodical exploration of the room: pausing only to jump at every noise, even the ones that sounded nothing like feet on the stairs.

The discovery of a plastic tray of strawberries among the foods in the minifridge gave her a burst of relief that made her sit down and laugh until her sides hurt. She'd had strawberries at lunch. Homura could easily have seen, and made a last-minute soap purchase during the time Madoka couldn't remember, being drugged and all.

Okay, it wasn't really funny.

Along with Panda-san, the bed was piled with several other stuffed animals, as different from Madoka's own as the blankets were similar: a couple of soft beige and grey rabbits, a monkey with long floppy limbs, a pink dog, and a black cat that looked like something out of an anime. The heaps of things underneath it were less cute, but she was gladder to see them: a twelve-pack of toilet paper, a box of tampons and another of bandages, extra soap and shampoo. Even if the police took as long as a few days to find her, she had no fear of coming up short.

The desk's upper drawer contained a random assortment of pens along with the takeout menus, which, she saw upon looking more closely, had all the addresses carefully torn off. The lower drawer had an unassuming heap of textbooks that she realized with a shudder corresponded to her classes, topped by a couple of idol magazines and a yellow notepad.

The last thing she investigated was the wardrobe, a tall freestanding thing in green-painted wood that matched the bookshelf and bed frame. It had a few more drawers inside it, and various outfits hung neatly in a row. Madoka hadn't changed since the day before; she'd shrugged off her jacket, tie, and socks, but slept in the white shirt and skirt of her uniform, which were starting to get stale. She began paging through the outfits, looking for something simple.

What comfort she had managed to draw from the strawberries evaporated like smoke.

She didn't own a one of them, but she knew these clothes. Every single piece was something she had admired while window-shopping, or gone so far as to try on, posing in front of a trifold mirror while Hitomi clapped and Sayaka acted out the motions of a press photographer catching a star on the catwalk.

Had Homura gone on a shopping spree on her behalf? Or merely a stealing spree?

How long had she been planning this?

Sayaka's voice came to mind then, as determined as her mother's but not so patient or strategic: She's evil! Knock her over the head and get out of there!

She didn't even know where this was. What if they were up a mountainside, or in the middle of some bit of wilderness that she'd never walk out of unaided? Both the wardrobe and the under-bed storage had failed to turn up shoes. She wouldn't last a mile.

And what if there's a house with a phone right next door? Or Homura has her own phone, somewhere upstairs? Don't get discouraged so easily, Madoka-chan! You never know until you try!

She knelt in front of the low cupboard for a while, trying to decide whether to continue refusing the food on principle, or eat something in the name of keeping her strength up. In the end the question was moot: her appetite had fled, and even staring for too long at a box of crackers made her stomach do a queasy flip.

It was five minutes to six, with no sign of Homura.

The algebra textbook was the largest and heaviest.

Madoka stationed herself against the wall behind the foot of the stairs, and waited.


At six on the dot, the lock clicked and Homura's voice said, "Kaname-san? I'm back."

It took all Madoka's effort not to squeak with fright.

"I'm coming down. I have cooked rice with beef and mushrooms, if you want a hot meal."

Madoka held her breath as Homura descended, heeled boots clicking against the stairs. If only she could see a shadow approaching. But the light was all in front of her, fluorescent tubes with lopsided covers and exposed wiring humming in the ceiling of the main room, the staircase lit by whatever spillover light crawled its way up.

Strung out with hunger, wired on fear and adrenaline, she cried out the instant Homura rounded the corner and swung the algebra book with all her might—

—and toppled, overbalanced, hands suddenly empty, to fall right through where Homura had been and crash to the ground, nearly banging her head against the wall.

Madoka scrambled to sit up, gasping for breath. Homura, graceful and unruffled, watched with unreadable eyes from a few steps away. She was holding, not a plate of food, but the textbook.

"You can't hit me," said Homura. "Though I don't blame you for trying."

From this vantage point Madoka had a clear shot at the open doorway. Her eyes flickered from Homura to the top of the stairs and back again, calculating how quickly she could run while breathless, whether the high ground would give her enough advantage to keep Homura back if she clung to both railings and kicked....

"Kaname-san." Homura didn't raise her voice; she didn't have to. There was a sharpness to it that grabbed all Madoka's attention. "I told you I would be back at six. Was I right?"

"Y-yes," said Madoka, wondering what that had to do with anything.

"The next thing I'm going to tell you is that you cannot make it out that door, any more than you can hit me. It'll be easier for you if you believe it."

"You said you brought food," stammered Madoka. "You weren't right about that."

Homura took two steps backward and pointed.

Cautiously, unwilling to surrender her dominance of the foot of the stairs, Madoka got up on her knees and leaned around the wall. Sitting on the desk was a plate with a rice dish, still steaming.


"I can't tell you. Not yet. You wouldn't understand. Aren't you hungry?"

"N-no," said Madoka, in the same moment as her stomach decided to growl.

An ice sculpture couldn't have been stiller.

In the silence, Madoka was terrified she'd crossed a line. The half-recalled dream-Homura flooded back into her mind (teeth bared, screaming). She'd changed once; there was no reason her personality couldn't shift again, maybe this time to something unforgiving and vengeful.

But when Homura spoke, she only said, with matter-of-fact coolness, "Because you're afraid I've poisoned it, or because you don't feel like rice right now?"

How could she not be afraid, after Homura had drugged her once already? Did she dare to say so?

"I'll eat some first," said Homura. "If you like."

When her stomach rumbled again, Madoka nodded.

Homura turned without a second look and went to the cupboard. When she knelt to get a plate, Madoka noticed that her lavender skirt was torn in the back, as if something had ripped away a swatch of the fabric. Of the twin tails of the bow tied at the small of her back, one was long and purple and ended with a neatly-sewn black pattern, while the other was a foot shorter and stopped abruptly in a ragged mess of threads. Had the damage been there all along, or had it happened while she was out?

If the mishap had fazed Homura, she didn't show it. Cool and methodical, she poured two glasses of juice and spooned a handful of the rice onto the second plate. Madoka considered trying to bolt while she was distracted; no sooner had the thought arisen than her arm started to throb where she'd banged it on the wall. Better not, at least not now. A failure might drive Homura away before she'd proven the food.

With perfect posture, Homura knelt in front of her and said, as calmly as if she had met Madoka for lunch at a sunny café, "Itadakimasu."

"Itadakimasu," echoed Madoka out of habit. She certainly wasn't grateful.

Homura ate slowly but without hesitation. The heady scent of sauce and mushrooms summoned Madoka's appetite back with a vengeance; she had to sit on her hands to quelch the impulse to lunge at the other plate (her plate). At last she compromised by taking the nearly-full cup of orange juice and drinking it as slowly as she could manage. It wasn't so different from water, after all.

"I'll take your dishes," said Homura, as Madoka tipped the cup backward to swallow the last few drops. "When I'm not here, you can pile them on the cupboard, and I'll pick them up when I come down."

Madoka handed over the cup and sat placidly while Homura, arms full, walked past. For the first time she noticed that Homura's dark purple boots, which had stayed on through the entire encounter, had the narrowest heels Madoka had ever seen, higher than all but the fanciest in her mother's closet.

When Homura was a third of the way up the stairs, Madoka launched herself after.

Desperation overcame her usual clumsiness. She got a solid fistful of Homura's ragged skirt, yanked hard and true with nearly her full weight, and managed not to tumble back herself as Homura toppled in a frenzy of flying plastic and dark hair. Energized by the power of orange juice, she leaped up the next length of steps—

—there should have been a crash; there wasn't a crash—

—the door was open one second, and closed the next.

Momentum carried her the rest of the way; dismay sapped her energy, so that she sagged against the closed door as into her mother's embrace after a long day. Looking down the stairs told her only what she had already been sure of: that there was no Homura, and no dishes, in sight.

"Akemi-san?" she said out loud, voice small.

No answer. Homura hadn't even waited outside the door this time.


On the top sheet of the notepad, Madoka laid out the grid of a simple calendar. Kanji over each column for the days of the week, with two rows of numbers underneath: this week, and the next. The dates up to the present were crossed out; the date of her capture was circled. She could do the same with the day of her escape, or rescue, when it arrived.

The smell of the rice dish should have faded as it cooled. Judging by the reaction of her nose, it had only gotten stronger. She ought to throw it out. Instead she retreated to the bathroom, shutting the door (it didn't lock) and taking down her hair to give it a thorough brushing.

The pink soap lay mockingly in its dish. Madoka turned her back on it.

"I'm not t-taking anything from her," she said out loud. Uncertainty and smallness echoed off the tiles. "She can't decide to keep me here then start slipping me treats like a pet. She c-can't! It's wrong!"

You tell 'em! cheered her inner Sayaka-voice.

But she was already so gnawingly hungry....

Sayaka let out a squawk of fury. Give up? My Madoka-chan? Never! I didn't let Kamijou-kun give up, and he was a lot worse off than you, so don't you dare!

The inner voice of her mother came to the rescue. Think about it strategically, dear. If you take a stand about not eating her food, will it help you get out any faster? And on the other hand, if you get weak from hunger, won't that make it harder for you to fight back?

It was a good point. Maybe it wasn't just her inherent clumsiness that had made Madoka's attempts to do anything physical miserable failures so far.

You have to pick your battles, as her mother would say. It's better to take a conscious and planned fall than to waste all your energy on a symbolic stand, only to eventually be forced to give up in despair.

It sounded pretty good. Even if, between the lines of the straightforward words, it harbored the spectre of being trapped for far longer than a week.

Although she would be going to bed right afterward, Madoka redid the bows on her twintails before emerging into the main room. A quick search of the cupboard turned up plastic chopsticks, a sheaf of napkins, and another cup, which she filled with water from the sink. Laid out on the desk between the sleeping laptop and a couple of pens, it looked like a paltry excuse for a meal, but it was what she had.

"Itadakimasu," she said politely to the empty room.

Once the first bite touched her lips, all concern for politeness vanished. She ended up wolfing it down, too ravenous to care that it was cold; only after swallowing the last mouthful did she realize that she hadn't even noticed how it tasted.
shanejayell: (Default)

[personal profile] shanejayell 2012-11-30 05:36 pm (UTC)(link)

Gonna be interesting seeing how this goes.
hologramblue: (Default)

[personal profile] hologramblue 2012-12-04 05:56 pm (UTC)(link)
"You have to pick your battles, as her mother would say. It's better to take a conscious and planned fall than to waste all your energy on a symbolic stand, only to eventually be forced to give up in despair."

very clever
fujicori: (Default)

[personal profile] fujicori 2013-02-02 11:07 pm (UTC)(link)
Late to the party, but so far, I'm enjoying both Madoka's range of reactions to her current situation (especially taking on the voices of people she cares about as her own inner voice, and getting different kinds of advice from them), and how the transitions between her responses still feels natural as I read them.

If only she hadn't let go of Homura, that escape attempt could have stood a chance.