I wanna take you somewhere so you know I care, but it’s so cold, and I don’t know where.
- Her parents.
[Before the loops].
Kyouko had always trusted her parents; even when the other church kids spent their lunch breaks complaining about their own. She would simply stay silent, and it would be one of the only times that she did so.
When she was seven, she fell into a lake. Kyouko still remembered the flash of sheer cold as the water engulfed her. The choking pressure of liquid filling her lungs. The panicked shouts of those above her.
Her dad had pulled her out with the desperation that only a parent could have. Kyouko managed to leave it all behind untouched besides a slight fear of water that she would deny to the end of her days.
Her father was her hero. He had saved her from the natural dangers that the world possessed, but for being so religious, he never succeeded in warning her about the unnatural threats.
Her mom tried, through bedtime stories that always hid a moral or two behind them. She was kind and patient where her husband could be impulsive and rash.
Even when they were starving due to lacking a meal to eat, her mother would smile gently, as she promised that luck was coming their way.
Her fingers were gentle when they prodded Kyouko’s blackened eye; from either school fights or stealing food again, she never did confirm which one it was that time.
It always caused hushed fights, as the adults fought over the ethics of swiping apples from venders, and whether they still have the option of being ethical.
This all being said, for all the stories of selling your soul that Kyouko was told, nobody ever informed her that the devil could take the form of such an innocent creature.
So it is with shaking fists that she stands in a desolate church, thinks about her mom’s tired eyes and her father’s hopelessness, and makes a choice that will change their lives.
(In many ways, Kyouko dies when she is thirteen, all alone in that cathedral, and her family will soon follow).
- Mami Tomoe.
[Before the loops].
Kyouko didn’t heal properly from the wounds inflicted by the death of her family. She never does, and no one suffered because of that quite like the kind-hearted girl who saved her so long ago.
The girl who saved her again in a forest with crunching snow underneath her feet, as Kyouko stared upwards—content to be devoured whole by the monsters they were conscripted into fighting.
Mami knelt in front of her that day, pulling her into a hug that Kyouko was much too numb to push away from. She whispered reassurances that they both knew were lies.
Once again, she did not tell the truth when they sat across from each other in an apartment that Mami could never succeed in making feel like a home.
Kyouko tried not to roll her eyes when she’s told that it’ll be okay. After everything that happened, she just wanted blunt honesty.
The world stopped turning for her when her father slaughtered his wife and child like animals, and she would have appreciated it if someone acknowledged that.
“You don’t understand.” Kyouko said simply, then did not utter a word for the rest of the night. Instead, she watched passively as Mami attempted to fix the tension with empty promises.
The next day, she made the decision to silently watch as familiars feasted on their prey. Kyouko wondered, passively as she bit into an apple, whether that made her a monster.
Those subsequent witches left behind a generous amount of grief seeds that almost made up for the disappointed stare that was on Mami’s face when she was finally able to hunt down Kyouko.
Kyouko bared her teeth as the two of them stood, opposing each other. “It’s human nature.” She argued. “The strong kill the weak, and to the victor goes the spoils.”
The expression of heart-break that followed her words almost broke through Kyouko’s rough exterior. Almost.
However if this was going to happen, if she was going to lose family again, then it would be behind a mask of indifference.
“This isn’t you,” Mami pleaded; the desperation of someone who could not be left alone with their demons. “Kyouko, you won’t survive like this!”
With clenched teeth, Kyouko tried moving past Mami—back into the nightmares of her hometown, yet away from the tragedy of Mitakihara.
She jumped backwards violently as a flash of yellow ribbons attempted to hold her place. Kyouko growled before being engulfed in red light.
Mami asked sadly, “Are we really going to do this? You won’t be able to live the way you want to. It’ll be the end of you.”
Both hands tightened on her spear. “Oh don’t worry Mami, I’ll outlast you. That’s a promise.”
(Kyouko sits on a skyscraper and thinks that there’s no pleasure in being right this time).
- Madoka Kaname.
[Sometimes, in some worlds].
There’s nobody that confused Kyouko as much as Madoka Kaname. She seemed much too soft spoken to enter a world as dangerous as this one.
Madoka never had fear in her eyes though as she stood beside those that signed the unbreakable contact.
The sole human of the group, yet the strongest of them all. She’s the heart of the heartless; vital but their weak spot.
“You shouldn’t be here,” Kyouko roughly told Madoka one day when the witch’s familiars were a little too violent, and she was almost too late. “Get out while you can.”
She doesn’t just mean the labyrinth—with all the monsters that creep in corners; preying on any stragglers that walk the roads of this town at night.
What Kyouko meant was the life of hurt and betrayal, where you can’t trust the other wide-eyed and bloodstained kids that you meet. There’s always a wolf in sheep clothing.
Madoka didn’t say anything, but Kyouko knew by now that silence was more than enough of an answer. Determination like that will not be wavered by simple words.
Kyouko just hoped that it wouldn't be the death of her.
A few days later, she was relaxing on a tree branch when an apple flew at her; a quick one-handed catch later, and she looked to see what the source was.
Pink eyes stared up at her. “You looked lonely.” It’s something that was so evidently Madoka, and Kyouko’s lips twitched into a half grin before she sunk her fangs into the apple.
The two of them somehow fell in a pattern of meeting in that park. It was ironic; the brute and the gentle, but stranger things have happened in the life of a Puella Magi.
“Do you think—“ Madoka broke off, as if she was considering each word with uneasy caution. “Do you think that it’s possible to make a wish that you won’t regret?”
Kyouko’s head popped up; her french fries suddenly became irrelevant. This was dangerous territory, and both of them knew it.
She thought of the others; broken by their own desires and haunted by the technicalities of their contracts. All those implications that they never bothered to care about.
“If it can be done, I haven’t seen it yet.” Kyouko closed her eyes for a moment. She tried not to think of all the mistakes that left bodies and other tragedies in their wake.
Mami’s improperly worded wish allowed her to survive as her parents died beside her.
Sayaka’s wasted wish on that boy who could never love her.
Even Homura, and her unspoken wish that left scars that were obvious to anyone who looked at her.
Kyouko’s mind flashed to an abandoned church; to pools of blood and the sole hanging rope. She tasted bile in her throat before pushing those memories away.
“You have the chance of something that we all lost; a life where you can just live.“ There was something uncharacteristically resigned in her voice. “More than enough girls have already fallen into this trap.”
Madoka didn’t say anything, just moved forward—hesitating for a single moment—before wrapping her arms around Kyouko.
(Kyouko gently lowered Madoka’s body to the floor. She wondered how many people will die until it’s finally her turn).
- Homura Akemi.
[After that wish].
There were few things that Kyouko was certain that she knew; one of them was that Homura Akemi is more than she seemed.
At the start, there were certain moments that cracks started to show on the rocky exterior, and as time went on, they got more and more apparent.
The way she treated that ribbon as an object of worship; so strong in her faith that there are moments where she seemed more like an archangel than human.
Those wings of light just furthered the image, and Kyouko wondered about the possibility that Homura was a fallen soldier of something more ethereal than whatever the hell this was.
“You’re not as heartless as you pretend to be.” Kyouko nonchalantly stated, as she devoured the cup of noodles that Homura served. “You do a pretty good job at acting though.”
Homura tilted her head with curiosity, “It seems that you are more intuitive than people give you credit for.” There was a distant lack of surprise in her expression; just like always.
Both of them know that Homura didn’t classify herself as a person anymore (none of them really, but especially herself).
Kyouko seized her up with caution, before slowly starting to speak. “It sucks, doesn’t it?” She twirled the still boiling noodles before bringing them to her mouth.
There was a slight look of confusion from across her. Homura’s own noodles remained untouched—such a waste. “What does?”
Homura’s hands clenched, “You have no absolutely no idea.” It was the way that she said it which kept Kyouko from getting mad; that was the voice of someone having a burden that cannot be shared with another.
There were times when Kyouko wondered if the two of them were the same type of tragedy; blocking off the world to lick at their own wounds.
The broken understand each other much better than anybody else could, and in the same way, Kyouko simply knows that Homura lost someone.
“Maybe not in the way you do.” She admitted. “But I do know what it’s like to lose someone that you were trying to save.”
Homura had all the signs of a failed protector; whispering one consistent name whenever death surrounded, as if it was her penance.
Kyouko thought of all those who died—leaving her behind with a pile of ashes and shaking hands. She brought out a pocky box, and with a half grin, asked, “Do you want any?”
A pair of purple eyes glanced at the box, and she continued, “For the people that were left behind, at least? Someone wanted you to be happy, you owe them that much.”
Homura took one.
(Kyouko wondered if she imagined that whispered apology before she was engulfed by the nutcracker witch’s labyrinth).
- Sayaka Miki.
Kyouko watched Sayaka self-destruct in many, many timelines; almost all of them. Sometimes she doesn’t care until the end—when Oktavia was playing her lonesome song. Then there are times where she held Sayaka as close as she could, and still lost her.
Her first introduction to Sayaka Miki was fixed; a planned meeting with the rookie that Mami and Homura assisted tagged along with them.
“You’re going to get eaten alive.” Kyouko casually told her when the others left. “Just make sure that none of us end up dying right beside you.”
Sayaka’s returning glare caused her to laugh. She knew a challenge when she saw it. This was going to be interesting.
There are blurs of red and blue; flashing metal as Sayaka and Kyouko danced around the monstrous creatures—something was oddly natural about their combined fighting style.
Eventually nothing was left, but two grinning kids. They shared a cocky glance before quickly looking away, as if remembering that they weren’t allowed to get along.
Kyouko chewed on her pocky stick. “That wasn’t completely horrible, you know? At least you didn’t get yourself killed. Mami wouldn’t get off my back if I come back with the newbie dead.”
Surprise briefly showed on Sayaka’s face before she smirked. “Wouldn’t want to deal with her when she’s angry, right?”
A short laugh. “You have no idea.”
The witch disintegrated with a sharp slice of a sword. Sayaka bent down to pick up the grief seed, before she turned to the shadows. “You can take this one.”
There was an echo of footsteps as Kyouko entered the light. She scowled, “This wasn’t my kill. I don’t take charity.” Even if that wasn’t the reason. Even if they both knew it.
Still, she caught the seed when it was tossed to her. “I’m not going to be using it anyways, and I know how much you hate things going to waste.”
Kyouko snarled, her fangs showing. “You need those things to live. There’s no honour in taking it, and there’s stupidity in blindly giving them away like this.”
Sayaka tilted her head, transforming back to her normal appearance in a flash of blue. “No honour in taking it? Do you not steal food?”
There was a rebuttal on her lips— that’s not the same, that’s so far from this —but Sayaka had already walked away.
“Why, fucking why, are you so stubborn?” Kyouko roughly pushed Sayaka with each word. The occurring train-wreck was painfully obvious. “You aren’t a martyr, stop acting like one.”
“I’m just as much of one as Mami or Madoka. The three of us; we’re going to end up the same, you said that once. Well, they’re gone! Even Homura disappeared off to nowhere.”
Sayaka seemed so distant, even as she was throwing Kyouko’s words back at her face. There was no smugness; just coldness where an energetic spirit once was.
“That wasn’t—“ Kyouko growled out, trying to hide the fact that her voice was breaking. “I didn’t—this isn’t what...” She trailed off.
“Speechless? That’s a new one.” There was something that was too much like cruelty with everything that Sayaka said. It didn’t fit.
She clenched her fists; when did everything get this messed up. “I was wrong, Sayaka. I was fucking wrong. You aren’t them.” There were tears now, and Kyouko couldn’t bring herself to care. “You can’t be them. Please.”
There was something frustratingly close to pity in Sayaka’s eyes. “I wish that I could have realized it earlier; everything I felt. You deserved so much better. I’m sorry.”
During all the fighting and heartbroken confessions, neither of them noticed that a gem that was once bright sapphire had darkened into a solid black.
In a single moment, two things happened:
Oktavia von Seckendorff was born.
Kyouko Sakura was left alone.
and if somebody hurts you, I wanna fight, but my hand’s been broken one too many times.