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Wednesday, May 1st, 2013 06:39 am
Title: The Baby Steps Guide to Recovering Your Memory (Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Amnesia & Accidental baby acquisition)
Summary/Preview: A girl who can't remember her name and a baby who gives her one go for a walk
Content notes: Fluffy

The girl woke to a crushing weight on her chest. It felt like someone was sitting on it.

Her suspicion was confirmed when enough of her awareness had retrieved to register small fists on her shoulder. "It's morning, morning!" a high pitched voice insisted.

The girl cracked open her eyes and immediately had to shut them again. The sunlight was closer to the glare of noon than the soft light of morning, and her eyes hurt from the brief contact. In fact everything hurt. It felt like a building had been dropped on her.

Whoever was sitting on her chest had now started to make distressed noises. She shouldn't worry the person that much.

Now that she was prepared for it, the glare of light when she opened her eyes hurt less. She had to blink a few times before the blurs resolved themselves into a young child. That explained the weight.

When he saw the girl looking back at him, he gave her a toothy smile. "Awake!" He declared, and slid off her chest.

The girl sat up, worried he would get lost when he was out of her sight. If she was in pain before, everything felt much worse now. Little stones were plastered to her back from where she had been laying on them, and she was surrounded by rubble.

... From the look of things, a building had been dropped on her.

She looked over at the child. He was unhurt, and happily babbling at a carved relief of a flower that had caught his eye. There were no sharp edges on that, so she went back to checking her injuries.

Terrible bruising all over, but when she grit her teeth and pressed into the bruises, she could feel no broken bones. Cuts all over her hands, especially on the joints of her fingers. A vague memory of plucking at something crossed her mind, but was gone just as quickly. She prodded at the purple stone mounted on the back of her hand, and was glad that it was not broken. It was so pretty after all.

Her hair was so thick with dust it had turned the black to grey. She meant to brush it out, but instead touched a sticky patch where her hair was matted. She looked at her fingers; they were red.

That explained why she couldn't remember anything. She had been aware of not knowing things, but it had not bothered her until now. Maybe she was in shock.

The child was done inspecting the flower, and was wandering away. The girl opened her mouth to call him back, then realised: she didn't even know her own name, what was his?

"Who are you?" She called after him in the hope that he would answer.

He stopped tottering away, which was a start. Pointing at himself with his thumbs, he declared, "Tatsuya!"

"Tatsuya," she repeated.

He nodded like one of those little bobbing head dolls, then declared, "Madoka!" He reached out for the ribbon in the girl's hair.

"Madoka huh?" The girl mused. The kid did not reply, now marvelling over the knot that kept the ribbon in the girl's hair. "that's a nice name." It must be hers, she decided, and tried it out. "I'm Madoka."

"Madoka!" The child agreed, and put the end of her ribbon in his mouth.

Madoka was glad when the police searching the rubble for the injured took them to the hospital. She wanted to know if Tatsuya was really alright. At the hospital though, Tatsuya fussed when he saw Madoka being led in a different direction.

"I'll stay with him," Madoka told the nurse. Although the nurse was holding on to Tat with the practised ease of someone who did this every day, Madoka did not think it was comfortable.

"You're injured," said the nurse, giving Madoka a once over that she recognised as a quick medical assessment. How Madoka knew that, she couldn't remember.

"I am able to walk."

"Sorry, if you faint you'll get in the way of the child's treatment." The nurse shifted Tatsuya so his now flailing fists would not hit her in the face. "Come by after your treatment is over."

Madoka would have followed instructions, if Tatsuya had not begun to whine when Madoka was blocked from his view. She stood there and listened to the sounds of his keening fade.

"Miss?" Another nurse asked. "The doctor is ready."

Madoka flipped her hair and regretted it when the action tugged on her head wound. "I'm coming."

She did, but for all of 5 minutes. Once the doctor said that she was in no immediate danger, Madoka skipped out of the room when her back was next turned. Madoka could come back for treatment when Tatsuya did not need her.

She found him in one of the doctor's rooms, swinging his feet. Each time he swung them back, he made sure to hit the metal frame hard enough to make a dull thunk.

Madoka caught one foot in mid swing. "You'll hurt yourself," she cautioned.

Tatsuya did not listen, but he did snap out of his sulk to give Madoka a huge smile. "Madoka!" He called, and reached out for her hair ribbon.

"Good, finally someone who can tell me who this kid is." Madoka had been so focused on Tatsuya that she did not see the doctor in the room. "Are you a relative?"

"... Yes?" From the curt way the doctor spoke, Madoka suspected if she said no she would not see Tatsuya for a long time.


"Shizumi?" Madoka said, making up a surname.

The doctor didn't seem convinced. "Write that down for me on this form. If you can, answer the rest of it."

Madoka looked down at the many questions on the tiny sheet of paper, and for the second time that day escaped from the doctor. This time, she had Tatsuya and his medical file in tow.

"Whee!" Said Tatsuya, as Madoka dashed down the corridors away from the shouts of the medical personnel.

The mall was not the best place to read medical reports, but it was near the hospital and had seats.

The tired shoppers taking a break nearby kept looking over, as if to confirm they were really looking at a girl covered in powdered concrete. Tat was sitting next to Madoka, playing with the hair ribbon she had given him. He looked fine, and the medical report confirmed that he was uninjured.

"Damn you look like shit."

"Don't swear around kids," Madoka immediately said, then looked up to see who she was talking to.

It was a girl about her age. She was dressed comfortably in a hoodie, shorts and sneakers that immediately made Madoka aware of how her heels were hurting her feet. As before, Madoka had no idea if this person was someone she should know.

"Who are you?" Madoka asked.

"Madoka," said the girl, then grinned. "Don't give me that face, you're the one who started this joke. Who the fuck else would I be?"

"Language," Madoka had to protest, but the girl was already not paying attention.

"Oh, you brought the little brat." Despite her gruff tone, the other girl picked him up and started making airplanes noises.

"His name is Tatsuya," Madoka said, feeling grumpy for no good reason. "And I'm Madoka. I repeat, who are you?"

The girl tilted her head. "You really don't know huh?" She sat Tatsuyaback down, and Madoka put him on her lap before the other girl could pick him up again.

The other girl noticed Madoka's territorial behaviour, and shrugged. "I'm Kyouko, and your name is Homura. But you got the brat's name right! Say, what happened to you? Lost a fight with a blender or magical beast?"

"Nice to meet you," said Madoka with a politeness that must have been trained into her, for she didn't feel it. "My name is Madoka."

Kyouko shook her head hard enough to make her red ponytail swing wildly. "Man, your invisible friend thing has gotten out of hand. Where the hell did you get that idea?"

"Tatsuya called me Madoka."

At the mention of his name, Tatsuya looked up and added, "Madoka, Madoka!" He waved the ribbon for emphasis.

"I can't believe you'd trust a baby over me."

Madoka was about to explain that concern for him was the first thing she'd woken up to, but Kyouko was already waving her off. "Whatever, I ain't so petty to fight with a kid. You been to a hospital yet?"

"... Yes."

Kyouko picked up the medical file as if she had been expecting to see it. "Got your broken bones set right? I ain't rebreaking them if they don't heal straight."

"Kyouko," Madoka said in shock, and was surprised how familiar the sound was. From Kyouko' answering grin, it was familiar to her too.

"Well, at least we know you're not a shape shifter. No one else would know about Madoka." Kyouko put down the file. "Where's your record?"

"I didn't take it," Madoka admitted. In her concern about Tatsuya, it had not seemed important. Now that she thought about it, it might have contained clues about recovering her memory.

"That's not your usual - oh." Kyouko scratched her head. "Uh, I guess we ought to ask Mami, I ain't that good with the healing shit."


Kyouko laughed. "Homura, you're the only one who gives a crap about how much I swear. Whaddya gonna do when Tatsuya grows up huh?"

"There's no reason for you to encourage him by swearing."

Kyouko punched Madoka in the shoulder. "Now I know you aren't a shapeshifter. Only you would think of such things. Well, come on then."

Madoka hesitated. This Kyouko acted as if she knew Madoka, but could Madoka really trust her? Kyouko kept calling her Homura too...

"I can tell you why a building was dropped on you," Kyouko wheedled.

Madoka picked Tatsuya up and followed Kyouko.

When Madoka entered the apartment that Kyouko had brought her to, she saw a woman and a girl looking at her.

Madoka was about to ask which person was Mami, when Tatsuya squirmed around in her arms. "Mama!" he called happily.

"Tatsuya," the older woman said, as she stood and straightened her business suit. "Have these girls been treating you well?" The tone of her voice suggested that the answer had to be yes, or everyone would be in a world of pain.

Luckily, Tatsuya nodded. "Mmm!"

"That's my sweet little boy." By now, the woman had crossed the room to Madoka. She held out her arms, her expectations clear.

Madoka handed Tatsuya over. She didn't think the woman was happy about her kid being taken from her, especially since Madoka had taken him to a place where there were falling buildings. Tatsuya was cuddling his mom really tight, which meant that Madoka only had to worry about what the woman had to say.

The girl who must be Mami beat the woman to be the next to speak. After Madoka had handed Tatsuya over, the blonde girl immediately started to check her over for injuries. "What happened to you? Where are you injured? Why did you disappear with Tatsuya?"

Madoka stood still, unsure of how to respond. It was like being stuck in a hurricane of concern. From Kyouko's snickering, Madoka guessed her shell shocked look was showing.

Mami - she had to be, by elimination - was not as amused. "I'm sure you wanted to ask these questions too," she berated Kyouko.

"Yeah, but she doesn't remember a thing."

"Oh," Mami took a step back and looked Madoka from head to toe. "I thought you were quieter than usual." She touched the crown of Madoka's head gingerly, just beside the wound. "It's caused by this, isn't it?"

Tatsuya's mom let out a low whistle. "That looks bad. How did you get that wound?"

"Oh she was fighting d- "

Kyouko,Madoka heard in her head in Mami's voice. But Mami's mouth hadn't moved. And Tatsuya's mom hadn't seemed to have heard the berate.

But Kyouko stopped and had a brief confused look pass over her face. "Ah, sorry I tend to call them really bad names. I guess you could call them bullies."

"That didn't stop you from swearing just now," Madoka had to point out.

A panicked look crossed Kyouko's face. Do you want to get me in trouble with Kaname-san???she said, mind to mind just as Mami had. Madoka had no idea that humans could even do that.

But Kaname-san seemed less interested in Kyouko and her swearing than she was in Madoka. "You protected Tatsuya?"

"Yes." Even though Madoka had lost her memory, she was sure of this. It had been the most important thing to her when she had first woken up.

From the softening of Kaname-san's eyes, it seemed that she had relented. "Thank you for always looking out for Tatsuya. He's just a little boy you met in a park."

"It's no trouble at all."

"Don't talk nonsense like that when you're injured. Did you see a doctor?"

Madoka nodded. "Tatsuya too. We're fine."

"You're not. I'm older, not infirm. Still, I'll take your word about Tatsuya." She shifted Tatsuya in her arms. "Oh Tatsuya, don't chew on Homura-chan's hair ribbon."

So her name was indeed Homura. Mado- Homura was sad. She did like the sound of the name Madoka, although she could not recall why that resonated so much with her.

Kaname-san was too busy freeing the hair ribbon from Tatsuya's grasp. "Here you go Homura-chan."

"Madoka," Tatsuya said sadly.

"No sweetie, you can't play with your invisible friend now.Thank Homura for keeping you safe."

Tatsuya met Homura's eyes, and beamed. "Thank you!"

He was just too sweet. Even though he didn't call her Madoka when thanking her, it was good enough.

"I'll leave you to the care of your friends. I thank you too, for taking care of Tatsuya while he was away from us."

Homura felt her cheeks heating up. "I'm sorry that I took him away in the first place."

"You should be. I'll talk to you again when you can remember more things."

"We'll work on that, ma'am," Mami promised. "Shall I show you out?"

Tatsuya waved over his mother's shoulder as he was carried away, and Homura watched the only person she felt comfortable with leave the room.

Mami was good at making tea and exquisite cakes, but she was not as believable when she was telling Mad- Homura about her past.

"You're a magical girl."

Homura felt like a character in a book. "I can't be a magic girl. They don't exist."

"How could you miss you have a honking Soul Gem growing on the back of your hand?" Kyouko demanded. "Or our voices in your head? How do your boots even work if they're not magic? They're like stockings with heels."

Homura didn't ask about her heels - Kyouko did have a point that Homura had no idea how they worked.Instead Homura touched the purple stone on the back of her hand. "It's not pasted on?"

"Would you listen to that girl," Kyouko grumbled.

"Well, I've always found the easiest way to convince someone is to transform." Mami stood, and did a little twirl.

Kyouko turned to Homura. "Here she goes again."

Mami produced a golden egg from nowhere, and as she jumped glowing flowers began to swirl around her. She stepped confidently to produce a pair of boots, and some hair gestures produced in turn a skirt, a corset top, and a beret.

She finished off with a golden gem in her hat. "This is my Soul Gem," Mami said, pointing to the decoration.

"But what if you lose your hat?" Homura had to ask.

"I've never done that before," said Mami primly, as Kyouko fell to sniggering. "You protect your Soul Gem, because it is the source of your powers. When a Soul Gem disappears, that means the Law of Cycles has taken you away."

"Law of Cycles?"

"What it means that when a magic girl uses up too much of her power, she goes poof," said Kyouko. "No body no nothing. Which sucks, because we're often fighting demons, and that makes us burn through our magic."

Mami reached into the folds of her skirts and pulled out what looked like black sugar cubes. "Your Soul Gem looks a bit dirty, so let's clear it up with Grief Cubes to see if that's causing your amnesia."

"Nah, it was the falling building," said Kyouko.

Mami pressed the Grief Cubes to what they called a Soul Gem. Homura was amazed when black tendrils began snaking into the cubes from the purple stone. She felt lighter, as if her concerns were less pressing than they were before.

When Mami removed the Grief Cubes, the gem was clear and shiny. Homura held it up to the light, marvelling at the way it sparkled. "That is magic."

"You remember something?" Mami asked.

Homura cast about in her mind, but she could remember nothing before the time she had found Tatsuya. She shook her head.

"It's alright, I think Kyuubey should be able to help. Kyuubey!" She shook the grief cubes like pet treats.

What she called with the cubes was not a cat, but a white creature with a long fluffy tail and what Homura could only describe as layered ears. It blinked its red eyes at them. I was coming for the grief cubes anyway," it spoke into their minds.

At the sound, Homura was on her feet, blindly reaching for her weapon - but it was a bow instead of a gun. She would have thrown the bow away to replace - with what? She did not have her shield, with its arsenal - no wait, a shield came from an arsenal, it was too small to contain an arsenal -

While Homura was grappling with her jumbled thoughts, she did not see ribbons coming from thin air until they bound her in place. Kyouko too was standing in front of that demon cat.

"What the fuck is wrong with you? I thought you got over your dislike of Kyuubey."

Have you again travelled from an alternative universe, Akemi Homura?

"What?" Homura asked, confused.

"What?" echoed Mami and Kyouko.

Interesting. You were coignisant of your universe hopping the last we spoke. Is that what you wanted to talk to me about, Mami?

Mami shook herself. "Yes, Homura has lost her memory."

That explains her reaction. Kyuubey jumped up on Homura's shoulders. His weight was both an irritation and vaguely familar. Homura wondered if he had perched on her shoulders before. Her memory loss is not magical in nature. Was she hit on the head?

"She has a head wound," Mami informed him.

If my consumption of human media is correct, you ought to hit her in the head. Mami, you can heal her of both injuries once the blow has been administered.

"You can't do that," Homura protested. "I - "

She never managed to finish, for Kyouko had hit her on the head.

- In this new world Madoka had created, Homura sometimes thought she saw brief impressions of her. Some flying strands of pink hair, the billow of a white sleeve or skirt, a smile in a crowd -

- She was with Tatsuya, and she saw a gloved hand pat his head, but when she looked up, no one was there -

- Tatsuya was laughing and talking with Madoka, but Homura couldn't see... Was it true that he could see her when Homura couldn't? -

- She saw the edge of a white skirt disappear around the wall of the children's playground. "Madoka!" said Tatsuya, pointing in that direction, and Homura couldn't stand it, she just had to be sure -

- Kaname-san was going to kill her for talking Tatsuya out of the playground. But Tatsuya kept pointing ahead and saying, "Madoka!" so Homura continued past the gate -

- She was about to give up when she thought she heard Madoka say, "Press on, Homura-chan!" And Tatsuya smiled and clapped. Homura told herself she would stop at the end of the street -

- But then demons came along and she couldn't fight, she had to flee, Tatsuya was with her. She opened her wings and flew -

- She kept evading them -

- Where was Kyouko and Mami? -

- She took refuge in a half-built building to try and call them. That was her mistake. The demon just smashed into the building, and everything was crashing down down down... she had to.... she had to protect Tatsuya! -

- Even magic girl bodies registered pain when several floors of iron and concrete came down on them.-

When Homura awoke, she was lying under the soft warmth of blankets. Someone was holding her hand.

She opened her eyes to see Mami beaming down on her. "Do you finally remember?" she asked.

Homura nodded.

Kyouko's voice floated from her other side, gruff and comforting. "'Bout time. Felt weird without you being all serious and keeping us on track."

Homura missed Madoka, but there were people who needed Homura too. "I'm glad to be back."