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Skinny Love

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“Oh wow, that still looks pretty bad…”

She didn’t need a mirror to see it.

Truth be told, she didn’t want to see it. Ever. Once Bright Moon’s repairs are done, these are the only physical remnants that would be left from the battle. Everyone else seems to have healed perfectly fine. Glimmer’s many cuts and bruises fixed themselves the second she recharged, while Bow didn’t really have much to begin with.

But Adora?

The wounds on her arms healed the minute she turned back from She-ra. The scratch on her cheek took a few more hours. But her back?

It’s been two days and it hasn’t fully healed.

She didn’t pay much attention to it. It hurt, but there were too many more important things to focus on fixing.

She hadn’t realized how bad they were until Bow accidentally brushed his hand on her; she recoiled forward, and he recoiled back. It was infected, apparently. Now she’s being told to rest, so it can heal for a couple days.

Absolutely no ‘She-ra-fying’.

As for scars? According to Perfuma, it’ll probably mar her body permanently.

She clutched her shirt against her chest while Glimmer busied herself with looking over it. Making sure that each scratch was cleaned correctly. “Does it hurt?”

Adora nearly laughed. It came out as a scoff, but nonetheless, it was a noise that caught Glimmer’s attention. “The idea that she gave it hurts a whole lot more than this,” she raises a thumb to point to her back.

She could practically see Glimmer’s angry pout. “I swear, we’ll get her. She’s going to pay for this –”

“No, I don’t…” Adora twists around, obviously a bad choice when she felt a slight sting, “I don’t want revenge, I just want to win this stupid war.”

“After all this? You still don’t hate her? Adora, you might be the most forgiving person in all of Etheria –”

“If Bow had turned his back on you, how would this –” she nods her head to point at her back “—make you feel? Would you hate him?”

Glimmer opened her mouth, then closed it. The anger in her face loosened, and it didn’t take very long her to shrug in defeat. “I’m just saying, Adora. I don’t know if she feels the same for you. I mean, she wasn’t willing to… to change sides to be with you. I thought you said you were both inseparable?”

Adora really could have explained, but even she didn’t get it at all. Catra had the chance to see the Rebellion’s beauty when she went to princess prom. Catra had every single opportunity to come back, and Adora would accept her almost immediately.

Catra’s anger.

Her blind rage.

It was hard to really put a finger on. She didn’t know Catra hated the fact that she was second best every single time. She didn’t – couldn’t – fully grasp why Catra wouldn’t just leave the Horde when Adora gave her the chance. She didn’t know anything until Catra brought it all up in the same instance that Adora couldn’t explain herself.

Maybe she read her friend wrong all these years.

Maybe it was her.

Maybe –

She pushed the thoughts out of her mind. “Yea, maybe you’re right. Maybe she’s completely gone this time.”

Adora pulled her knees up to her chest as Glimmer continued to wash her wound. “I don’t know what else to say, Adora. I’m sorry,” the defeat in her voice was fatal to the blonde.

“You don’t have to be sorry for something she did. How, or even if, she says that? It’s entirely up to her; it’s just that I.. I don’t think – I don’t know if she’s the only one to blame for all of this.”

“It’s a lot to manage, Adora. I’m not saying I’ll ever forgive her for doing this to you or trying to kill my mother. Man, I can think of about a million ways I could show her exactly how much I hate her… but who am I to judge?” Glimmer shrugged, doing one last clean on her wounds, “you were part of the Horde, and now, I don’t ever want to lose you as my friend. Maybe we just need to kidnap her and transform her into a princess somehow.”

Catra? Have a sword that could turn her into something like She-ra? I don’t think that’s a good idea, even if she is on our side.”

Glim gasped, “Holy Etheria…Cat-ra.”

“Okay, let’s not do that.”

The pair laugh together.

“Not to be a total jerk, but we both should probably get some good night’s sleep.”

 “I get it, Glim,” she stood up to her feet with slight struggle. Her muscles still twitched from how much she had exerted herself. She slipped her shirt back on with the help of Glimmer pulling it down.

“You’ll be okay tonight?”

A heavy sigh rumbled within Adora.

Her first night in the Rebellion was sour. Her second? Much better than the last, but it wasn’t the same as her absolute comfort with the Horde. It felt warmer. Yes, Bow and Glimmer were in the room with her. She could check off company, but she couldn’t check off the fact that she constantly woke up in the middle of the night due to something as ridiculous as the cold.

Catra.

Her warmth was what Adora looked for. What she yearned for.

And it’s not as if her body had gotten used to the cold either.

One would think that every night after the first would be an improvement in her sleeping problems. She felt like it got worse. If she didn’t wake up in the middle of the night because her lower half was cold, she woke up because of night terrors.

She mentally shook her head.

She shouldn’t say it like that. She should just call them ‘nostalgic’ memories.

Adora wondered if Catra dreamed of their times like she had.

“I’ll be okay, Glim. Don’t worry about me,” Adora says “if my back ever starts aching too much, I’ll make sure to give you a holler.”

Glimmer shook her head and walked to spend the rest of the night in her own quarters.

Adora slipped into her sheets that night. The stiffness of her bed gave her comfort… the silence? The stillness? The emptiness whenever she’d open her eyes half way? It didn’t. It made the scratches on her back tingle ever so slightly.

She shifted herself before sharply sucking air through her teeth.

Okay, so, no sleeping on her back tonight.

Great.

Adora grumbled in annoyance. Sleep was going to elude her again tonight, and she knew it. After everything that happened, how could she? This was it. The final blow to their friendship. Leaving her to fall to her death was one but almost hurting everybody in Bright Moon? Almost killing her friend’s mother? Giving her scars that she will never forget?

How could they salvage their friendship from this?

Let it go, Adora.

But she just… can’t.

“So, you’re just going to not realize I’m standing right here?”

Adora jolted up so fast at the sound of that voice, and she knew it was a bad mistake the second she felt a sharp sting on her back. She raised her hand and grabbed the aching area over her shoulders, but it didn’t make it any better.

Her eyes focused themselves on the direction of the voice. The moon did some justice in shedding enough light to see her silhouette, but if the wild, unkempt hair wasn’t enough of a clue? Those narrowed mismatched eyes certainly were.

“Hey, Adora,” the purr on the ‘r’ was also irrefutable “you’ve gotten pretty dull during your stay here.”

She was seconds from yelling for Glimmer, but Catra was half a second faster. The cat raised a hand to stop her.

Don’t.”

Adora followed her movements with her eyes as she snapped her mouth shut. Catra moved to the end of her bed, curling herself up into a ball.

The comfort she felt… it was such an agonizing warmth. Something she missed, something she didn’t think she could get back. A power only Catra could weild at the palm of her hand. Something Etheria diminished from her because of a stupid war.

Really, that’s what they were right? Her, Catra, Glimmer, Bow?

Teenagers caught in their parents’ wars.

“Catra,” she started, quietly. The feline only gave her a flick of her ear as a response. “What are you doing here?”

She didn’t answer.

“We’re enemies, or did you forget what you literally did to me – to my friends – not two days ago?”

Catra’s tail flicked.

“We can’t do this –”

“Look,” Catra started, not bothering to shift to look at Adora “you left me when I stuck with the Horde to be with you. You want to talk about hurt? Try thinking about what I’ve been through for once. Just once Adora.”

Adora let the thought marinate in her head.

But it couldn’t.

“Why didn’t you just come with me then? If you want to be stuck with me so much –”

“You left the Horde for a bunch of strangers,” Catra, her voice evidently irritated, raised her head to look at her once the words had left her lips “for a sword that gave you magic powers –”

It’s not like I chose –”

Don’t, Adora.” Her tone was strained and forced out of her throat. “I don’t think you want to talk about this right now. That is a problem for future Catra and Adora –”

She couldn’t help her voice raising at the mention of that sentence. “Then why are you here? You owe me an explanation for that, at least.”

Catra sighed, “why is talking to you such a goddamn waste of my time nowadays.”

Adora scoffed, feeling a touch offended by the words. “Yeah, well trying to apologize to you is exhausting enough as it is – hey, what are you doing!”

Catra had gotten up from her curled position to flop on the empty space where Adora had her back turned. The blonde tried to turn around, but the wounds were just too painful.

“I’ve been spying Bright Moon while it’s still super unsecured,” Catra lowered herself before pulling her by the arm, pressing her front with Adora’s back. She gritted her teeth, expecting some pain, but it never happened. In fact, the pressure on her back stopped the wound from hurting too much.

“I’ve been watching you. That’s how I found out about these,” Adora couldn’t focus on her words as the feline traced a very gentle finger against the cloth between Catra’s finger and her skin. “What I didn’t know was how bad it was until today when I saw you very nearly collapse after a tap from that friend of yours.”

Catra started dragging her nails along her arms where very light remnants of their fight still lingered. "Hmm, you know, I thought She-ra took the blunt of these.”

“She did,” for the most part, she waned to add.

But she couldn’t fix it fast enough,” Catra finished “and you thought, turning into she-ra again would cure it, but it didn’t. And you didn’t want to bother your dear majesty and her daughter because their focus is on Bright Moon right now,” as if on cue, Catra pressed herself closer “so you tried to sleep it off, but you can’t because it just doesn’t feel right.”

Adora didn’t answer.

Catra scoffed, and Adora shivered at the hot breath blowing against her pulse. “I hope you know, if it weren’t for you, these rebel idiots wouldn’t even be here today.”

“Is that supposed to make me feel guilty?” Adora’s whisper is barely audible.

Thankfully, Catra’s a cat. Catra nuzzled against the crook of her neck. “No. Just wanted to let you know that you’re the only thing in the way of the Horde,” she mumbled into her neck “Someone of that importance? I’d watch your back if I were you.”

There was another silence.

“I should let you know,” Adora squirmed at how close Catra was to her ear. The tail snaking around Adora’s ankle wasn’t left unnoticed either. “I’m second-in-command now.”

Adora chuckled darkly.

She wasn’t just about to sleep with Catra, her ex best friend who tried to kill everyone in Bright Moon. She was about to sleep with the person who could possibly be the next ruler of the Horde. “I guess you were right about me stopping you from becoming the best, huh?”

“I was wrong about that, you know?” Adora almost – she almost – fought against the pain to turn around and make sure Catra wasn’t just saying that to make her feel better about what they were doing. Adora almost spun around, reopen her wounds, and wait for Catra’s apology. But instead, Catra let her down once again, “you helped me get better by proving to Hordak that I am the best option. Not you.”

Adora deflated. Catra’s hand rested at her hipbone, nails digging right at the flesh there. “Go to sleep, Adora.”

“Catra –”

“Sleep,” she reiterated, flicking her tail on Adora’s foot as if to scold her.

This was wrong.

So wrong.

For both of them, really. But with how cruel life, destiny, and all of Etheria had treated them, with how they had to sever their life long attachment in less than a day… Adora felt like someone owed her an apology.

And if the only thing the universe can offer is lying in bed with her alleged enemy to fend off those sleepless nights?

Then so be it.

“I was just going to say that you need to be gone before the sun comes up. That’s all,” Adora scooted closer to Catra.

Adora let the wave of exhaustion engulf her, the last words she heard from her rival were words she hadn't heard in almost a month.

“Good night, princess.”

Chapter Text

The first thing she felt upon waking up was the sheer amount of warmth that was pressed against her. It wasn’t unwelcomed to say the least, but it felt uncomfortably different from what she had gotten used to in the past month.

She gently opened her eyes, pulling her face away slightly from the hair threatening to tickle her nose.

Blonde hair.

It was still dark, but she could see the outline of the sun’s bright touch in the still dusky sky. That was enough light for her to realize who was lying next to her.

Blonde hair, pale face, and a slightly opened mouth; it’s Adora.

Catra, carefully leaning her weight against her elbow, looks over the unconscious princess. Adora is still deep in sleep; surprising, since she had always been the one to wake up before anyone else in their group of cadets. She always woke up before their alarms blared at 0400 in the morning.

Now, it seems … she takes her time waking up.

And it seems that everyone else in the rebellion took their time.

What brainless idiots, Catra thought. The longer Adora stayed here, the more like them she’s turning out to be. It basically undid all her training. Eighteen years worth of it.

It undid it so much that Adora, who was fully capable of calling for help – calling for a friend who could’ve simply teleported herself into the room in a split second – didn’t do so because why? Catra had shown just a tiny bit of vulnerability. A tiny bit of care for her pain. She didn’t even think that maybe her ‘ex best friend’ was there to hurt her at her weakest point.

She didn’t think that maybe Catra would wake up in the middle of the night and steal the sword.

She didn’t think that maybe Catra was there to hit Bright Moon again now that it’s still weak.

Catra lifted a hand to tuck Adora’s hair behind her ear. Her companion whimpered but showed no signs of waking up.

She grinned wickedly.

Adora didn’t think that maybe, this was part of her plan all along.

Adora had certainly gotten pathetic these couple of days. It’s better this way. The idiot she is turning out to be will be what the Horde will need to win this war.

Pulling herself slowly out the bed, she got to her feet and rested a hand by one of the many pillars of Adora’s room. She didn’t bother looking back as she dropped to scale the sides of Bright Moon. It took much of her strength just to go up and down. And honestly, doing this three times a week would literally be a work out for her entire body.

But this will all be worth the effort once Entrapta finishes the tech.

All of this was worth the effort if it meant victory for the Horde.

It was sunrise by the time she got back to the Fright Zone. The first person to greet her, as usual, was Scorpia. She didn’t quite know what to think of this woman.

No, that’s a lie.

She’s annoying.

And endearing.

It’s in a way that Catra had grown to… tolerate. Scorpia would, every now and then, pull the young cat into a tight hug that could literally snap her in half if her bones weren’t as cat-like as they were. Catra would hiss at her ministrations, but Scorpia would only squeal at her some more and pull her into another hug.

“Ooo, captain’s back everyone!”

“I’m not your captain –”

Scorpia blinked and gasped like as if she had some sort of revelation. Scorpia threw a heavy arm over Catra’s shoulder.

Catra hissed, but it was ignored.

“Oh, sorry. Right. Friend? Buddy? Awesome Prom Duo?”

Catra groaned, “I’m your second now, Scorpia. Which means –” she manages ducks the arm off her shoulder “—no hugging. Ever!”

A small smile grew on her face, “Right, right. Personal space. I completely forgot about that.” Catra let a sigh of patience leave her lips, “so, how was the first night of the mission? Did she kick you out? Send the entire kingdom after you? Did you succeed?”

She rolled her eyes. She enjoyed Scorpia as her partner in crime against the Rebellion. In fact, the idea of having her as her second-in-command was more than likely. But sometimes, Scorpia’s air headedness really got on her nerves. “Well, I am back, and it is the morning isn’t it? Of course, I succeeded.”

Easier than I thought, Catra had added in her head.

This mission is one of brilliance. Entrapta found technology that could – if harnessed correctly – completely decimate the entire rebellion in a week. But, to do that, Catra needed to get Adora to entrust her.

“What?” Catra exclaimed at the time “Why do I have to do that?”

Entrapta sat in the air with her hair being used as legs, “We need to catch her off our scent. She’s seen what you’re capable of, and from what I’ve learned about social interactions –” she pointed at Catra “—if you were to say… act like you’d change allegiance…”

“We’d distract her from our true plans,” Catra continued, and Entrapta nodded

“Not only that, but we’ll catch her off guard. All the Rebellion off guard. They’d think they won because you, Catra, have joined them.”

It was a wicked plan to say the least. Something Catra was all in agreement for, but argued that it would be best to only trick Adora. The more eyes were on Catra, the harder it’ll be to maneuver. Hordak simply gave them a curt nod, entrusting his second with everything else. She had all the greenlight she needed to do this, and once it’s done…

The betrayal on Adora’s face will be one that Catra will relish for the rest of her life.

It’s what that princess deserved after she had left her.

The audacity of her to even ask her last night –

Why didn’t you come with me then?

Why did you even leave me in the first place after promising to come back by dawn? Was that she wanted to say back. But she wasn’t there to discuss what Adora had done or what was done to Catra. She was there to hurt Adora the same way she had hurt Catra.

Not with physical scars but ones deeper than that. An infection that can’t be cleaned, dressed, or fixed for a week’s worth of time.

Like the scars Adora left her when Adora left her.

“I have to wonder though, boss,” Catra stopped right in front of her room when Scorpia started speaking again, “do you think this’ll work?”

Catra scoffed. The lack of faith her so called new friend exhibited didn’t disturb her more than it amused her. “It’ll work. Don’t you trust Entrapta?”

When Catra entered her room, Scorpia followed just a couple steps away. Her giant figure – really, Catra would feel twice as fearful of She-ra had the sword been given to Scorpia – struggled with the tiny space, but she found her usual spot by the side of Catra’s bed. Catra’s bed dipped when Scorpia put her weight into it.

“I’m not talking about Entrapta.”

Catra’s tail reflexively swished at that, and the hairs on the back of her head stood right up. She felt her blood start to tingle. “Youre… talking about me?”

She was just about to throw Scorpia out of the room, but the white-haired woman raised her claws in peace. “No, Captain. Not you. Not directly you.”

That didn’t calm her down.

She waited for her to continue.

“I’m talking about your past with her. Not to say that you’d leave the Horde for her… it’s more…” Scorpia sighed, “she used to be your friend. Best friend, as you’ve told me. She knows things about you that you haven’t told Entrapta or I. None of the cadets would spill anything other than –” she changed the tone of her voice “’she was always lazy and mean and blaah’ yknow?”

“Scorpia, I don’t get what point you’re trying to make here –”

“Point is, you never got along with any of the other cadets – or even Entrapta and I – the same way you did with Adora. And…you’re not scared that your previous attachment might come back?” Scorpia hesitated o the last sentence, but Catra appreciated the honesty.

It was a valid concern.

The Horde is the closest that scorpion woman had as a family, and Catra is the closest she had as a friend, aside from Entrapta. If Catra fails and her emotions take the better part of her? Scorpia would lose it all at once. Entrapta would probably go back to the Rebellion, and Catra would be thrown in Princess kingdom prison.

Scopria would be back to having no one.

Just like her when Adora left.

Catra’s ears flattened. “Quit being ridiculous, Scorpia. It’s not going to happen. And if it did,” she made sure to keep her mismatched eyes on the dark ones “you’d be the first one to know.”

Scorpia’s smile grew, “Awww, you’re such a nice kitty.”

Stop,” Catra groaned.

Scorpia laughed, “well, you should know, that wherever you go? I’m coming with you.”

“God, that’ll be a nightmare. I don’t want to babysit princess as clingy as you,” Catra said out loud. It was meant to sting, but she could tell it didn’t work. Because the next thing she knew was that she was raised above the ground and enveloped in another muscle numbing hug.

Ow, get off me. Off, off, off, off—”

“You’re the best friend I have ever had –”

OFF, now!” Catra screeched and hissed.

Scorpia let her go and threw her bedroom door open, “Oh, yeah! Before I forget! Lord Hordak asks for you. He said he wanted a word in person?”

She was still recovering form the hug, but replied in a strained voice anyway, “Got it. Now leave.”

Scorpia did as she was told; the smile never leaving her face.

Catra changed out of her uniform to slip on something with a little more comfort. Another uniform. But it didn’t smell like glitters, and flowers, and Adora. It smelled like rust, and smoke, and the Horde.

Just the way it should.

She headed for Lord Hordak, tucked away in the deeper parts of the Fright Zone, with a skiff that he had given her to aid the promotion. Shadow Weaver was a tad bit easier to manage, since she could turn into a cloud of smoke and all… but Catra.

Catra had legs.

The trip took a quick ten minutes. She secured clearance as she entered his hide out.

“Ma’am,” a solider had greeted.

It made her feel a tingle of power.

It didn’t take long, however, because Lord Hordak’s silhouette could be seen the closer she approached the dark.

“Lord Hordak,” she called out more than she greeted, “Scorpia said you wanted to see me?”

Hordak half turned his head. Her fear of him disappeared when she had been given the promotion. The laughable fact of this is that Shadow Weaver’s constant mockery and control over her made her invulnerable to pretty much any other kind of fear other than constriction.

That, and losing her place as Hordak’s right hand.

“Yes.” He said, stepping out of the dark. “Have you done what you’ve been told to do?”

She flicked her tail, “in the process of it, but I know she’ll be swayed in no time.”

Hordak hummed in approval. She could see his eyes reading her in the dark, “that girl’s love for you is something I could never understand. She always stuck by you… no matter how much of a drag you were.”

She was the one who dragged me down,” she raised her voice before setting it back a few notches, “with all due respect, my lord… All I needed was a chance to prove myself on the field. And I did a pretty good job, if you ask me.”

She didn’t know what raced in his head. Having a robotic face, or mask, or whatever made that all too hard to do. “As I’ve witnessed… Had I seen this kind of loyalty to the Horde as you did before, I would have prided you over her. That light of hers kept dimming the power of darkness within you.”

Catra felt a rush of pride at that.

Adora may have been praised by Shadow Weaver, but It was nothing compared to Hordak’s. It almost nulled the ache for feeling second best. For once in Catra’s entire life…

For once, someone had finally seen what she could do.

“Then tell me what you need me to do, and I’ll get it done.” She says proudly.

“I have nothing for you to do other than what you already know, but I have something for you.”

She raised her brow curiously.

He moves toward a space in the dark. Her cat eyes could see the shape of it, but she didn’t quite know what it was until Hordak stepped closer.

It was a headdress. Similar to the one she currently wore on her head, but the holes where her eyes would go were green. And the garment itself was gold. It looked like something off the Rebellion.

“What is…”

He handed it to her, and she took it gently. “This was the Queen of the Magicats’. They were your ancestors, and this… this right, belongs to you.”

“M..my ancestors?” she wondered

“Yes. The ones who abandoned you.”

She inspected it, removing the one on her head to replace it with the one on her hands. She felt something hum in the back of her head. “Wait… do you… did you know them?”

Hordak waved his hand, “Enough questions. Place it over your eyes.”

Catra did as she was told. Hesitantly, but she obeyed nonetheless.

By the time she felt the rush of pain, it had been too late to slip it off. The headdress became a mask that covered her eyes.

The next few seconds felt like a surge of power slamming into her chest. Her skin felt like it was peeling from her bones. Catra crippled to the ground, gripping the metal floor right underneath her. Her fingers felt like they were fusing together, and her body felt like it was about to burst.

But then, it disappeared as quickly as it was there. She tries to get up, but…

This…

This felt different.

In a span of seconds, she could feel her bones again. She opened her eyes and there was color. Instead of the darkness from before, she could see Hordak, standing right over her. Every detail about him was perfectly outlined. Even in the dark.

When she opened her mouth, words failed her.

Instead, a growl rumbled out of her chest.

She looked at her hands… no paws. They were massive. Her claws were also twice the length and twice as thick as her normal ones. Her pelt matched the shade of her hair. She couldn’t see her face, but she was sure she looked like a beast.

Height wise, she looked shorter than Hordak, but taller than her usual height. She could tell that her muscles had quadrupled in size. Like she turned into She-ra but her own version.

The Horde’s version.

A beast walking on four.

What did you do?” She roared, but it didn’t come out as words. She felt light pressure rubbing either sides of her lower jaw.

Were… were those her teeth?

“This mask gives you the ability to bring out the version of you that Adora had held back. This is your reward for your loyalty to the me, Catra.” Hordak says loudly, “you come from a powerful species, Catra, and this –” he points to her current form “—this is your innate strength. Something you had always had within you. Unlike Adora’s.. magic sword.”

Nothing like She-ra. Her ears perked up, and the longer hair that stood at the back of her neck relaxed.

“Now, leave. You have much to do. And I expect, that the next time I see you, you will bring me something better than a working success.”

Catra feels a rumble in her throat. She flattens her ears, dips her head, and rushes back towards her skiff, ready to get a feel for her new ability.

Now, her real mission begins.

 

Chapter Text

Glimmer spent every waking hour in repairing Bright Moon.

Queen Angella and all the other princesses had actually sat down to talk about their next move, and the current decision was to either rebuild, push forward, or stay on the defensive. Adora stayed with Queen for a few moments until the discussion started to boil at a point.

Adora excused herself, explaining that Glimmer had asked for her hand with the repairs. Her back wasn’t completely healed yet, so Adora started jotting down everything that needed to be fixed. So, she sat in her room and observed everything form a bird’s eye view.

Third on the list of priorities were damages done to the castle itself. While princess Frosta’s ice and princess Perfuma’s vines worked as a temporary fix to stopping cracks from growing, it wasn’t something they should just shrug off. Another random wave of the Horde could blow off important chunks on the castle in a snap of their fingers.

It’s not much of a worry though, seeing that princesses came in and out of the castle like a roundabout clock. Sometimes Mermista and Seahawk spent an entire day, other times it was Netossa and Spinerella.

Second in priority were the houses right at the base of the castle. Simple tents but still something that would need an almost immediate attention. For now, plenty of the villagers stayed in the castle grounds in the few open rooms.

Top priority was the whispering woods. While it’s still in ruins, anyone can come in and anyone can come out. The Horde had done its damage, and Adora is certain that it’ll take more than a week or two to fix it.

She frowned at the sight of it.

Catra may have lost the battle, but she gained so much more than Adora could have imagined at the time.

Catra left Bright Moon defenseless. Yes, there was the moonstone, but without the woods, it was easier to surround the palace. Easier to send every single weapon of the Horde and bomb the dust out of them.

Easier for Catra to sneak in again.

Adora had to toss the pen to mentally refrain herself from accidentally writing Catra’s name.

Last time she saw her was two night ago. Adora almost thought it was a dream if it weren’t for the stench of oil and catra staining her bed sheets.

She had woken up with no one next to her that morning. Catra had actually listened. It wasn’t essentially a first, but Adora really did expect to wake up to the usual ‘Hi Adorrra’. It was in Catra’s nature to not listen until the decision strikes back at her. And a normal person would think that the feline wouldn’t do it again, but Catra does it again anyway.

Just to double check if that really is a bad idea.

But Adora knew. If this night time meeting were to repeat, it was going to be a bad idea.

Adora sighed heavily, rubbing the back of her now aching neck. The last two night had been rough. She woke up hour after hour, and the only person to blame is Catra.

It had been like a training exercise Shadow Weaver had given them: no water for sixty hours plus extensive training exercises.

The minute Adora was allowed to drink water again, she practically tried to drown herself.

“Yoo, Adooora, you in here?” Bow called out from the halls.

“In the ba—my room!” She had almost said ‘barracks’.

Bow creaked her door open. Glimmer was tailing right behind him. Both of them looked exhausted to their bones; Bow welcomed himself to a bean bag they had given Adora while Glimmer welcomed herself to lay on Adora’s bed. Both of them groaned at the same time.

Adora felt a tingle of guilt.

While her friends worked hard to fix the damage, Adora was confined to her room for a week’s worth of rest.

“Hard work?” Adora’s blue eyes twinkled.

Bow was the first to answer, raising both his arms as he yelled – with no shame for his broken voice, if Adora may add, “there’s sooo much to do, and so little amount of hands to do them. You’d think, by now, Frosta or some other princess would send some men to help, right? But noooo” he let the ‘o’ draw out, “they have ‘other things to do’.”

Glimmer grumbled against a pillow. She was only audile once she raised her head “—just wish you could turn into She-ra and just… lend a hand.”

Adora rolled her eyes then shrugged her shoulder as if to point at her back, “I’m not allowed to turn into She-ra until this heals, remember?”

Why, though?”

Bow popped in with an answer. “Perfuma said something along the lines of straining herself could reopen the wounds and make it worse,” he paused, pointing to Adora’s back “which begs the question, how bad exactly did she scratch you?”

“It doesn’t look too bad –”

“It looks absolutely horrible, Bow –“

Adora and Glimmer look at each other. “It really isn’t, Glim. I promise you that.”

“Adora, I was the one who cleaned your back. Catra really dug into you that day. And you –” Glimmer teleported to Adora to flick her forehead.

Ow!”

“—should tell us immediately when you need help.”

“It’s not like I knew, I was that hurt! It didn’t hurt at first, but it just got worse after a few days. Some stupid infection, I don’t know.” Adora got up from her perched seat next to one of her room’s pillars, “whatever, it feels a whole lot better now, and you really shouldn’t worry yourself too much. I mean –“

Adora points to the outside of her window.

“You’re literally in charge of repairing every inch of that forest.”

Glimmer groaned louder. “Ugh, don’t even get me started on that. I will literally rip that cat’s ear off; does she know how long it’s going to take to fix that? Two months, Adora.”

Adora chuckled, “you really think if she knew this, she would have gone easy on you?”

Bow started fiddling with Adora’s figurines of them, “She would have probably spent her entire time picking off every single leaf in that forest just to spite you, Glim.”

Adora laughed at that.

Despite Bow’s very obvious joke, it’s also something that could definitely happen.

It got her thinking…

What would the ‘best friend squad’ be like with Catra in it?

Adora laughed to herself.

She could only imagine the petty arguments between Glimmer and Catra. The two would constantly butt heads with every single decision, and Glimmer would be busy trying to stop the cat from jumping into more trouble than she should. Catra’s snippy attitude and Glimmer’s ‘speak my mind’ one is a disastrous mix, but their loyalty towards their friends would be something worth seeing as well.

Bow, however… The amount of trouble Catra would get to with Bow would be catastrophic to Bright Moon. Adora can just imagine it; Catra encouraging Bow to prank the queen, succeeding, and then putting the blame on Bow. Catra could bring the adventure Bow had always longed to find. Something Bow saw in Sea Hawk.

Actually.

Catra, Bow, and Sea Hawk would make the worst combination.

Adora frowned at the idea. She’ll need to make sure those three never spend more than an hour together.

“Adora!”

She flinched, slicing out of her daze. Her eyes instantly landed on Bow’s, “Did you hear me?” he had said.

Adora shook her head, “no, sorry, I was umm… I was somewhere in my head.”

“Oh, well… I was just saying Sea Hawk invited me to go on one of his… ‘sea trip adventures’. I asked him if I could bring you guys along. He was pretty cool with the idea!”

“We have a palace to restore, Bow –”

“We literally just fought off an entire battalion of Horde and nearly lost. I think we deserve a break–”

“Everyone else has been working nonstop! Why should we be any different?” Glimmer’s voice was raising “Just because I’m a princess, you’re my friend, and Adora is She-ra doesn’t mean we get special treatment.”

“It’s a short trip to the sea.” Adora sensed Bow’s voice rising up as well. She really didn’t think much of it until Glimmer threw her hands out and yelled –

“Look, can we just focus on the task at hand?”

Adora was on the brink of standing up and getting in between them, but Bow had shrugged the desire to escalate the argument off his shoulders, “Okay, okay. I’m just saying… we can have fun as friends.”

“And, I’m saying –”

“I get what you’re saying.” Bow’s cut off was sharp, and Adora couldn’t blame him.

This was the third time Glimmer had turned down a break to focus on the palace. While her argument was understandable, Adora could basically see the rings under her eyes and so did Bow.

Bow’s first offer was lunch with Perfuma. Adora and Bow ended up leaving without Glimmer because their pink haired friend had explained that she was close to completely fixing the northern part of the forest; Glimmer didn’t want to be disturbed. At the end of the day, none of her solutions had worked. She had to start over.

The second time, Glimmer had accepted to play in the water for a bit. A few minutes into it, Glimmer gets alerted that they had found damages on the foundations of the palace. She immediately excused herself to take care of it, and Bow threw a small fit.

It flew over Glimmer’s head, but it didn’t go unnoticed for Adora.

And now… the atmosphere was undeniable.

“Look, next time, okay?” Glimmer sighed heavily, turning to Adora “I’ll see you later?”

Adora nodded, and she teleported out of the room.

As soon as Glimmer had left, Bow sighs, “Adora –”

“It’s fine, Bow,” Adora offers a soft smile, “look, just go with Sea Hawk and unwind, okay –”

“Was it wrong?” He asks her, “I was just… looking out for her. Trying to help her unwind, you know? This stupid work is devouring her.”

Adora licked her lips.

“Look… both of you have different ways of handling situations. Glimmer may look stressed, Bow, but …” Adora shrugged “she’s a princess. A leader. She can’t rest if everyone else doesn’t.”

Bow chuckled darkly, “I just hope she learns to balance it out. She shouldn’t overwork herself so much.”

Adora felt a sad smile rise. Her hand, gentle as a feather, lands on Bow’s slumped shoulder, “you care plenty about her. And she cares about you. You both just… need to find a middle ground.”

“So, a compromise?”

“No, a collaboration. Find something you both agree on instead of a one where you both lose.”

His dark eyes raised from the ground to look at Adora. He looked like he was about to cry. He pulls her into a hug, and she melts into it. “Have I told you how much I looove you?” he sings.

Adora laughs, “yes, plenty of times.”

She pulls back, slapping his shoulder once, “now, go and have fun with Sea Hawk. I’ll make sure Glimmer is fine when she comes back tonight. You just… relax, okay?”

Bow grins, “you don’t want to come with?”

“Eh, I was going to decline before any of this happened anyway. No overworking myself, remember?”

Bow nods, “Alright, See you later then?”

Adora waves him off.

Once Bow had left, Adora slumps herself on the bed. Another day of doing absolutely nothing.

She kills time by visiting Swift Wind. At some point, she started grabbing books off of the palace’s library. Other times, she would sketch.

She would sit by the pillars of her room and draw the scenery.

The first time Adora found out about art being more than just scribbles and doodles, she was hooked.

Asking for her own aisle –

Her own paint –

Her own pencils –

She decided to draw Bright Moon, but it ended up looking more like a plant; and yet, she still enjoyed it. Eventually, she started focusing on smaller things – an object in her room, a bad sketch of Glimmer and Bow, a poor attempt of recreating a tree.

Right now, she focused on sketching the ruined forest in the sunset. 

It didn’t look anything like the actual scene, but she tried.

She stuck it up high to get a better look at it. Adora sighed, head turning to and from her sketch.

“There’s no way I’ll be able to put that into paper,” Adora huffs impatiently.

“No shit, it looks like crap.”

Adora yelped. She got to her feet to send icy glares at the person behind her. She already knew who it was, so by the time her eyes settled on the feline leaning on one of her pillars.

“You scared me!” The blonde scowled.

Catra simply shot her a smug smile. She offered Adora a pen.

The same pen she had dropped hours ago while thinking of Catra.

“You dropped this earlier,” the Horde commander’s ear flicked, “I have to say, you’re really losing your touch, huh? I’ve literally been standing behind you for two hours now. I could have just pushed you off.”

Catra chuckled darkly, a grin on her lips, “what a way to go for the great She-ra…”

“Well, why didn’t you?” Adora snatched the pen from her fingers.

Catra mocks a shocked expression, “Did you just really think that I – a fair fighter and totally not a cheater – would push you off a ledge to your death?”

“Seeing as you literally left me to fall to my death once? Yes.”

“Ouch, princess.”

Catra wandered further into her room. Adora watched her pick items off her desk, toying with them between her fingers, then putting them back.

It felt surreal to have Catra in her room; but, at the same time, it felt natural.

Like as if this was how it’s supposed to be.

She watched the sun saturate Catra’s orange tinted tan. Her dark tail swished left and right, in a hypnotizing way, and Catra’s eyes dilated; the same reaction she puts out when her attention is deeply drawn into an item.

To a toy.

Whatever that feathery object was that she had picked up and twisted between her fingers certainly sucked up the feline’s focus. For a second, Adora eyed a playful expression threatening to break her impassive expression.

But, Catra puts the toy down.

Adora’s growing smile fades.

But her eyes didn’t fail to notice the shiny new headdress on Catra’s head.

“Well,” Adora shifted herself to stand up “you look an awful lot shinier today.”

Catra looked confused for a second, and Adora pointed casually to her headdress. “Oh, this?” The proud grin on Catra’s face was evident “Hordak gave it to me. A reward for my… promotion.”

Oh.

She almost forgot. Catra was the Horde’s second in command now.

“How are repairs going here in Bright Moon? I heard pinkie complaining about the forest, so I’m assuming I did a pretty good job,”

“It’s… going,” Adora shrugged easily, putting away her art utensils “it would be much easier if I just turned into She-ra and do more than just sit here.”

Catra scoffed, “Has it ever dawned on you that you rely too much on her?” Catra scooped up Adora’s sword that was tucked away in a corner. Panic pricked her skin. “I mean, what? She’s 8-feet tall, super strong, and really like… a million times better than you, but you turn into her during such predictable times.”

Catra’s eyes met with her. The Horde commander approached her and handed her the hilt of her sword. Adora tried to swipe it but didn’t expect Catra to pull back. Both their hands ended up brushing against each other while gripping the sword. “You always use it against me, but I have nothing but my skills to beat you.”

When Catra released her hold, Adora was immediately sent back to their fight during Bright Moon.

Her, fighting Catra. Her almost losing as She-ra.

If they had fought as Adora and Catra, would she have even stood a chance?

“If you’re just here to… to make fun of me, then you should leave. My wounds feel better. I don’t need you to keep bothering me like this.” Adora snapped as she tucked her sword away on another corner.

“Can’t I just say hello to my favorite princess?” Catra teased.

“Ugh… this is just like you,” Adora mumbled.

In her peripherals, she noticed Catra’s tail lashing, “you want to say that again?”

Adora didn’t, but she did match her aggressive tone. “You’re lying to me, again.”

“Again?” The scoff was enough for Adora to whirl around and face the feline. Both her pair of blue and Catra’s blue and green eyes were set ablaze.

“Yes, again,” Adora reiterated “you keep shoving your true intentions – your true feelings – down, and it’s not helping. You want to stay with the Horde so much? Go ahead. I’m not going to try and stop you anymore.

But I don’t know what you want from me. I don’t know why you’re here. If it’s because you want me to pay for everything, or if you’re here to taunt me, or if you’re here because you miss me –”

Adora.” Catra warned.

“You never told me about how you felt!” Adora tried to keep her volume in check, “All those times. Those things with Shadow Weaver. What you felt when I left? I didn’t know because you didn’t tell me!”

“You did not just toss the blame on me for not telling you how I felt –”

“Yes, I am actually.”

Catra bared her teeth. Adora didn’t sense danger, but Catra’s defenses launched from the ground and reached heights that she had never seen before. “You promised me you’d stay! And you completely fucked that up  -- fucked up the one thing I clung to.”

“You –”

I am not done.

Adora snapped her mouth shut.

Catra’s tone had gotten to a point that she had never really seen. When they were kids, Catra had gotten mad at several things, and this side of her peeked around the corners of Adora’s eyes. She had never seen it face to face until now.

“You’ve met these people for less than a day, and the next thing you do is that you join their cause. Was I just… not enough for you?” Catra’s voice roared, “was I not enough of a reason for you to leave the Horde in the first place?

You were the golden child Adora, and I was… I was your pet –”

“You know that’s not true—”

“But I can’t help but think that way when that was how it felt.”

“Can you stop being so stuck in your head for once and just look at this from my perspective?”

That was the wrong move, because the next thing Adora felt was a grab at the collar of her jacket.

“Stuck in my head, are you kidding me?” The growl in Catra’s throat felt like a punch to her gut “See things from your perspective? When you never did that to me?”

“Catra –”

Think, Adora. Use that lump of a brain of yours for once without needing someone to put it into words for you –” Catra sounded more impatient than angry at this point “—you turned into She-ra, destroyed the battalion I sent over to try and save you, and chose the rebellion over me in a span of five minutes. Chose a bunch of strangers you’ve barely known over me, who you’ve known for years. What was I supposed to think of you? A loyal friend?”

Adora remained silent, refusing to look at Catra’s eyes.

Catra lowered her back to the ground. Her cat like hands finding Adora’s face.

“Be honest with me Adora,” Adora turned her head to look at Catra, “did you even think what Shadow Weaver would’ve done to me when I couldn’t bring you back?”

She… she hadn’t.

“No.” The answer was plain and simple.

How had she been to completely miss this? She knew what Shadow Weaver did to Catra. She knew the suffering Catra dealt with just by being friends with Adora. Adora knew that their lives in the Horde wasn’t what Catra wanted but it was enough.

Because Adora was enough.

A heavy sigh left Catra then. The feline’s hand went up to her ponytail and gave it a light tug; one of Catra’s many ways to pull her attention. “Then don’t tell me to see your perspective when you couldn’t see mine.”

Adora fell silent for a moment and they stood just like that for a couple more minutes.

“Did…” Adora started, and Catra flicked her ear “What did Shadow Weaver do to you?”

Catra sighed, “took me to Hordak.”

Oh, god. Adora gripped Catra’s elbow.

Her rival seems to have sensed her distress. Catra wrapped her tail on Adora’s ankle. “He didn’t punish me. He punished Shadow Weaver and made me Force Captain.”

“And then, you took Shadow Weaver’s job. Hordak must’ve seen something in you.”

Catra grinned. Part of Adora feared this. It looked like something else shined brightly in Catra’s eyes besides anger and hurt. Something that made her stronger.

Adora didn’t mind whatever it was so long as Catra didn’t look at her with such hate.

“Yeah, I guess he did,” the feline shrugged.

Adora hoped her next words wouldn’t reignite their argument “I hope you know I did too.”

“No you didn’t.” Catra growled, and the tail around Adora’s ankle started unwinding.

“No, no. I did… it’s just… I also muffled whatever it was.”

Catra’s expression was unruffled. The cat still pulled away. Adora followed wherever her gaze fell to and it was out to the night sky. “Look, I’ll leave if you want me to –”

“You can stay if you want.” Adora offered.

“Do you want me to?”

Adora looked down. “…Yes. I think I do.”

They both headed for the bed, the only reassurance Catra gave Adora was the tail sitting on the top of Adora’s hand.

Catra got on the bed first, her arms stretched out for Adora to fall into. Adora melted into it slowly. Her back to Catra’s front, and Catra’s arms wrapped around her. Her companion tucked herself in some of her blonde locks.

They shifted around some more, until Adora asks: “Do you hate me?”

Catra sighs, “yeah.”

“More than Shadow Weaver?”

The chuckle of breath against her shoulder was a very good sign. “I feel offended that you’d even say that.”

Adora laughed lightly, sleep starting to tug at her consciousness “I.. don’t think I can ever hate you.”

Catra was silent for a moment before she pulled Adora closer against her, “I don’t think it’s in your heart to genuinely hate somebody,” she murmured “get some sleep, Adora.”

Adora slowly drifted to sleep, the last thing in her head being a note.

A note?

A promise, really.

To try and understand her old friend a little more.

Chapter Text

She really couldn’t get used to this.

All of Bright Moon was as silent as a dead man at night. Every now and then Catra would hear faint footsteps in the halls just right next to Adora’s bedroom door, but for the most part she heard absolutely nothing but the soft puffs of air from the woman sleeping next to her.

She didn’t mind waking up in the middle of the night; she had enough of that the first two weeks after Adora left. The silence of the night in Bright Moon, though? It was unnerving. Catra would half expect the sound of the Fright Zone – buckling and clunking – whenever she opened her eyes, but it would never happen.

In the hour and a half that she had stayed up, she listed things that bothered her –

The footsteps she heard in the hallway was slow, steady, and subtle. Like as if the person knew Adora could wake up from the sound of anything louder than a knock. At the same time, it also sounded like a sentinel passing through the corridor.

The cool, fresh air blowing into Adora’s room is another thing Catra couldn’t get used to. It whistled sharply sometimes, and she can’t help but tuck herself under the blanket because of it. It wasn’t out of fear but more from discomfort. She’s not used to sleeping in such an open room.

Lastly, Adora mumbles in her sleep. She did it too when they were still friends, but it was usually of things at random. Not whole words. Just gibberish that Catra paid no mind to.

Right now, though, Catra could hear her name and the words ‘hurt’, and ‘no’, and ‘stop’.

Adora had twisted in her arms to face Catra at some point in the night; her arm was clutching Catra’s tight uniform, while one of her legs tucked themselves between the feline’s thighs. Her face was hidden away, forehead pressing against the hollow of Catra’s throat.

Catra couldn’t do anything but grumble in annoyance before shifting slightly just to make herself more comfortable.

Catra groaned when Adora shifted in her sleep again and forced Catra to go back to her discomfort two minutes later.

All this effort of sleeping with the enemy and dealing with their problems with each other is starting to take a toll in Catra’s stress. Like an itch that she can’t scratch.

How was she supposed to get closer to Adora if Catra can’t make herself vulnerable?

To complete this mission, it’s basically expected of Catra to talk through this with Adora.

Their discussion yesterday evening reignited some emotions in her heart she had refused to acknowledge for some time now, because she didn’t need to. Adora had chosen her side; Catra settled with the Horde. There was no reason to talk about miscommunications and previous hurts when Catra was already so close.

So close to getting the recognition she deserved.

She just has to keep her eyes on the prize.

Now that Hordak is personally waiting for her to achieve, Catra can’t afford to fail now. She has earned his respect. The Leader of the Horde awaiting her success. So much so that he gave her an item that helped unlock her true self.

She eyed her headdress sitting on an empty space behind Adora; Adora had slipped it off when it started coming off in her sleep.

What exactly was it though?

And where did it come from?

Were there more of her race?

If there are, where are they located?

Were her parents still alive?

Her questions were interrupted when Adora ironed her arms around Catra and exhaled.

Catra’s tail raised up and her ears flattened when Adora’s leg between her own suddenly went up. She held back a yelp and was a second from smacking Adora awake. But when Adora pressed her sweaty forehead on Catra’s chest, she couldn’t decide which to ask her to move first.

She scowled. Catra shook her awake, practically shoving her.

“Adora, wake up, you’re kicking me in your damn sleep,” Catra grunted.

The girl next to her hummed “Mmmm, sorry.”

Adora slid her leg out of Catra’s space and flipped to lay on her stomach, eyes half-open and facing Catra. The sweat sticking to Adora’s skin almost made her cringe, but Catra reached out to touch her forehead anyway.

“Are you sick?” Catra bluntly asks. There was really no reason for concern. It’s not like Catra has to take care of her again if she was sick anyway.

A sigh from the blonde tickled her ear. She flicks the tickling sensation away.

“I had a bad dream.” Her voice sounded hoarse. Strained. Lack of water, maybe? Or just the effect of waking up? “It was about you,” The blonde murmured.

About how I’ll end up betraying you? Catra’s tongue flicked in her mouth. “What? About the past?”

Adora yawns, brushing a hand on Catra’s arm. Catra let her hand wander up and down her arm. Her tail involuntarily swishing at her ministrations. “No, nothing like that,” her voice was soft and barely audible “I dreamt that you died. In my arms.”

Well, that was awfully cliché. Catra almost laughed.

“We were fighting again. Clashing. I was telling you it hurt, but you didn’t listen. You were telling me to leave you alone, and I wouldn’t do that. So, we fought.” When Adora’s hand reached a spot behind her ear, Catra dipped into the touch. That singular spot that threatened to make Catra purr. “And then,” the hand stopped “you died. I can’t remember what I did. But I… I remember you dying in my arms.”

Catra blinked slowly, moving her head away form Adora’s touch. Adora seemed to get the message when she lowered her hand back to her mattress. “Sounds like a prophecy, princess.”

Adora was quiet for a minute. Then, she asks, “do you think we’re destined to be enemies?”

That was a weighted question.

Catra can’t answer that. Not really.

In her heart, the answer was yes. If destiny is real, then what and who they are is what destiny sets them out to be.  Destiny decided that they would be born during this war. Destiny also decided Adora would wield She-ra. Destiny decided that Adora would be caught by Bow and Glimmer and recruit her to the rebellion. Destiny decided it was time for Adora to leave Catra.

If Catra believes in destiny, then all the blame would go on a superstition that may not even be real.

So, in hear head, she knows destiny isn’t to blame. Catra’s quarrel isn’t with destiny. Her quarrel was with the fact that one stupid disagreement was what ended their friendship. Her anger was in the fact that Adora left in the middle of the night to find a magic sword that somehow swayed her beliefs. Her pain was due in part to Adora running off with two rebels a few hours after meeting them.

Adora. Adora. Adora.

Destiny isn’t what made them enemies.

Decisions are.

That’s what pissed her off the most. Decisions aren’t set. Destiny? Destiny is a straight shot path and a filthy excuse to do something stupid, because it’s your ‘destiny to do it’.

Decisions hold responsibility. What you do is up to you, and you are the one to blame.

So, she decided.

“No. I don’t think so,” Catra started. She saw those blue eyes open a little wider, hoping to hear the right words. She thought about shutting her down but pushed the idea away. “I think we put ourselves in this situation. And whatever we decide to do about this –” Catra pointed a sharp finger and alternated it between them “—will determine that.”

Catra knew what Adora wanted. She wasn’t blind.

That’s the tragedy here.

Catra, just like their current situation, wanted the complete opposite from Adora. Two sides of the same coin.

Catra’ is set on her decision for her future.

Adora is set on her decision to stop the Horde.

“Hey, Catra?”

“Hm.”

She should’ve known that the second Adora raised her hand to keep scratching her ear. Catra didn’t flinch away – first mistake. Pressing herself into the touch, Catra’s instinctual purring almost started – second mistake. Letting Adora scoot closer and get close enough that their breaths mingled – third and final mistake.

She really should’ve known. Because the next words out of Adora’s lips struck a chord in her chest.

“What did Shadow Weaver do to you when I wasn’t around?”

“W…what?” Catra blinked and moved her face away.

Catra didn’t know what face she was making, but she sure as hell knew that whatever it was made Adora shrug her exhaustion away. “Well, when I was with you, she… she didn’t really hurt you –”

Yes, she did –”

“No, not that way. Catra, she never laid a hand on you. It was always…. I don’t know her shadow. But I don’t know,” Adora shrugged “has she ever… hurt you?”

She remembers.

It tossed her back, and Catra saw it play right in her eyes. It was as clear as the memories form the First Ones temple.

She could hear the familiar sound of metal groaning. Clinking, clambering, cackling in the darkness of the whatever hallway she was walking through.

Catra knew this memory very well. She was young. A little older than when they had first seen Shadow Weaver’s face, but still… she was young.

A young Catra walked down the hall, and Shadow Weaver tailed right behind her.

This was assessment day. A test of skill to show your improvements.

Catra remembers.

She had studied – alone, in her own time – a form of offense that would help with her height and utilize her speed. Hit the knee, let the drop, and slam a roundhouse on their face. She was excited to show it to Shadow Weaver.

Catra remembers.

This was her chance to make her proud.

They get to the room. It was empty, dark, and almost lifeless. Only the hexagon shaped panels on the ground.

She looked expectantly at Shadow Weaver. Awaiting her signal.

Catra remembers that she didn’t give any.

The time started before Catra could even get into a stance.

She did swimmingly, anyway. Took a shot to the shoulder near the end, but she pulled off her new move and was two seconds earlier than Adora’s time.

She felt a rush of pride.

And, then, a rush of cold.

Catra remembers the shadow constricting her. The shadow gripping her chest and taking her breath. She couldn’t breathe, or scream, or call for Adora. She couldn’t beg for shadow Weaver to stop.

Catra remembers her voice. Belittling her. Telling her that, that shot to her shoulder made her a useless liability. That, knowing Adora, Catra could’ve distracted Adora by being vulnerable. Adora could’ve gotten severely hurt. That, if that were to ever happen, Shadow Weaver would have Catra’s head.

Catra remembers hitting the cool surface of the assessment chamber way harder than she should have. To the point that she snapped her two fingers and ended up cradling them out of the room.

Catra remembers yelling at Shadow Weaver… then being thrown across the room, causing her nose to bleed out. Shadow Weaver left her there, telling Catra to watch her mouth.

Catra remembers crying.

She remembers seeing Adora about an hour later.

“What happened?” Her friend had asked, taking her injured hand into her own.

Catra could’ve told her the truth but honestly? How could she? When Shadow Weaver stood an earshot away from Adora.

So, instead, Catra shrugged “I broke them in the assessment room. While… doing my exam.”

Adora believed it.

She remembers.

Catra failed that assessment.

“Catra? Are you okay?”

She remembers again.

Catra was older.

She had woken up in the middle of the night and snuck off to steal extra rations.

Shadow Weaver caught her. Constricted her, berated her. Usually, when Adora was around, Catra would be let off with a warning. But Adora wasn’t there.

Shadow Weaver picked her up and threw her across the room and onto the edge of a table.

She cracked a rib that night, but she broke it completely when she was thrown again during a training exercise.

Adora stayed with her the whole night in the Horde’s version of a hospital.

Catra, snap out of it!”

She can’t remember.

Shadow Weaver did something to her, but she couldn’t really remember what it was. The old hag took her to a room. She said something about talking. Something that Catra saw that she wasn’t supposed to.

And Catra…

Catra couldn’t remember. There was a void in her memory of that moment, but she remembers being unable to breathe. A sharp edge on her stomach. She remembers…

A week later, Adora points out that Catra had weird scars on her stomach.

She remembers ignoring it, because she thought it must’ve been from training…

She can’t remember.

What can’t she remember?

“Catra!”

Catra physically recoiled off the blonde’s touch and right off the bed.

She couldn’t see anything in the darkness aside from the side of Adora’s bed. She shuffled to huddle against it, then she clutched her head, nails digging right into her skull.

The next thing she felt were Adora’s hands rushing to hold onto her shoulders. To anchor her down. But no, no, no. That’s not enough. It just isn’t. Adora just isn’t

“No, go away –” Catra tried.

“Catra, shh… I’m here. I’m here.”

“No, you –” she tried again.

Catra,” Adora grappled her back to reality when Adora’s hands fell to the sides of her face. Her blue eyes were filled with pity. No. No. It was filled with the same kind of pain she hadn’t seen since she left Adora to die in that temple.

“I’m here,” Adora had silently murmured, pressing her forehead against Catra’s “just breathe slowly.”

Catra fought against the touch. Adora wouldn’t get it. Adora was raised with the false love of Shadow Weaver, but it was still love nonetheless.

Catra.

What did she have?

The only one who ever made her feel loved was Adora.

Both of them are souls corrupted and broken by the same woman.

And now, they sat on the bedroom floor; Catra’s a right mess, and Adora is doing her best.

Catra really could have gotten up and walked away. Really, maybe she should have. But decisions, decisions…

Adora decided to stay by her. Launch herself off the bed just to hold her. Like they used to when they were kids.

Catra decides to stay as well.

She did long, drawn out breaths. It took her a long couple of minutes to relax, but she eventually did. The hairs on her arms that stood on their ends had flattened out and her tail coiled around her own torso.

Their position shifted as Adora guided herself closer to the feline.

She looked hesitant, but she ended up straddling Catra’s lap anyway.

Catra rested her head on the side of Adora’s neck, while Adora rested her cheek on the side of Catra’s head. Catra’s sure her fists that gripped the sides of Adora’s hips left marks, but Adora didn’t complain. The blonde sat there with her hands scratching Catra’s scalp.

The blonde didn’t stop until Catra’s grip on her sides loosened. Catra, realizing she had done so, peered at her with shadowed eyes.

“You okay?” Adora had remained unmoving.

“No.”

Adora nodded.

It felt embarrassing.

Being held in the arms of the woman she’s trying to manipulate. The woman whose heart she wants to see shattered in a million different pieces. The woman who made broken promises.

But right now, the agonizing truth was that this is the woman who knew the most about Catra. Catra didn’t have to explain too much into detail. She didn’t have to say anything else other than ‘Shadow Weaver this’ or ‘you did that’; Adora already knew the specifics.

So, she let herself be held. What could she possibly lose from this?

 “I caused this, didn’t I?” Adora suddenly pulled from her spot. Her blue eyes were an ocean of apology.

Catra looked away before she ended up sailing right into it. “Nothing you can do about it now.”

Adora’s lip pulled to the left, “I know. I won’t mention it again if you don’t want to?”

Catra didn’t answer.

Adora didn’t need one.

The girl on her lap continued scratching her ear and her head as Catra returned to the crook of her neck. The touch soothed her. Pacified whatever ailments haunted and wracked her. The demons residing inside her skull.

It wasn’t that Adora cured it.

But Adora scared it away for the moment. Like a shield.

Just like she always did back when they were kids.

Catra drifted to sleep right then and there, feeling vulnerable… but safe.

Chapter Text

They say eyes are the windows to someone’s soul. That it carries a weight heavier than words and stronger than a voice. Eyes carry a significant part of someone’s soul that remains tucked away and sheltered from reality.

Adora didn’t really think much of that before. She believed that if someone had a voice, they should speak their mind. Speak their heart and their soul. Don’t rely on something as voiceless as a gaze.

She didn’t think much of it until last night.

Catra had the voice of a man on a mission. She always did. Something Adora admired as they grew up. Something training her muscles everyday won’t give her.

Part of Adora thinks that this was Catra’s strongest artillery. Her words – painful or not – hung on Adora. Catra spoke with her heart, spoke with her mind, and spoke with her soul; but, even the greatest of warriors silenced themselves when they are dealt with the hand of darkness.

She’s used to the childhood belief that Catra told her plenty, but when she looked back on last night, Catra’s eyes spoke a language that was beyond Adora’s.

Replacing her language with Adora’s own vocabulary would do it no justice. It simplified it; Catra is many things, but simple is not one of them.

Fear didn’t cover it.

Neither did hate.

Or, Anger. Or, sorrow. Or, pain.

It was everything and nothing at once. A burst of emotions that passed in rapid succession, too fast for Adora to process.

The next thing she knew was that they slept on her bedroom floor. Catra dozed off before her. Adora adjusted them so that the blonde ended up sitting between spread legs, and her head being tucked under the feline’s chin. Catra pulled her closer while mumbling something, arms wrapped around her torso and tail resting on Adora’s lap.

Adora apologized and shifted once more, but Catra’s response was a mere grunt of annoyance.

She couldn’t see the feline’s face, but she didn’t have to. In sleep, Catra looked the same. A calm in the middle of a hurricane. Sleeping was probably the closest thing to peace Catra had, even when they were young.

Especially when they were young.

Catra spent a good bulk of her time sleeping when they were kids. She’d be tucked in, hidden under her blanket, and curled on the bottom bunk of her bed. Shadow Weaver would wake her by shoving her off it and lecturing her, and Catra would be fully awake the following minute.

Adora sighs, melting her thoughts away the second she let sleep put its hooks on her.

When she woke up that morning, Catra was gone.

It guts her.

It really shouldn’t, but it does. Sleeping together with someone and waking up the next morning without their warmth next to you? Something about that made Adora feel frail.

Glimmer found her sleeping on the floor that morning, and Adora laughed it off; she probably fell off the bed that night. Glimmer believed her.

“Anyway,” Glimmer crossed her arms, “Perfuma is in Bright Moon, and I asked her if you’d be fine with helping with the repairs by now.”

Adora was in the middle of folding her blanket and setting it neatly on her bed. “Well, what did she say?”

“To take off your shirt and check,” her friend shrugged.

Adora nods. After carefully organizing her bed back to normal, she does as she was told to do. A quick hand lifted and slipped her shirt off before placing it gently at the foot of her bed.  She shivers at the sudden cold feeling around the room.

Glimmer had teleported to sit on the bed, hand patting an empty space next to her. Adora follows the silent order. She bunches up her hair as Glimmer’s hand prodded around the wound. Adora didn’t feel any pain; maybe a slight itch, but it’s not like she could reach the spot anyway.

She waits for Glimmer to say something. “It’s definitely healing. These scabs are chipping away little by little...”

“So, am I good to work?”

Her friend’s weighted sigh was enough of an answer. “No, not yet. Maybe another week.”

Adora groans, standing up from her bed to face Glimmer, “ugh, this is so frustrating! I’ve been stuck in this place for the past couple of days, and you—you expect me to stay another week? Do you know what I’ve resorted into doing?” Adora starts listing it off on each finger. “Sketches, sight-seeing, reading books, listing down the same repairs on three different papers, played chess with your mom and losing all the time cus’ I don’t even know what chess is!

I’ve been talking to Horsey for about three hours a day, and I’ve been sleeping wi –”

She stops herself.

Glimmer notices.

“—iiith a constant itch on my back!”

She mentally praised herself with the smooth transition. “What I’m trying to say is, you have to have something for me to do. Something… I don’t know, different!”

“There’s nothing else to do –”

“But I’m booored,” Adora groaned again, louder this time.

Glimmer rolled her eyes. “Don’t be ridiculous. I survived a few years of my life in this castle all alone, you’ll find something to do. Trust me.”

The blonde pouted. She scooped up the shirt from the bed and slipped it on. “Do you know when Bow will be back from his trip?”

Glimmer shrugged. Adora noted her cold demeanor.

Glimmer cared. She cared about plenty of things, no matter how minute or insensible. A great example was Bow going with Perfuma to Princess Prom. Another was when Adora had heard her mumble the same code words she used to turn into She-Ra back when they first met.

It was jealousy slathered with pride. Glimmer’s desperation and need to be right all the time… sometimes, Adora found the confidence endearing. But other times, Adora felt an overwhelming feeling to tell her she’s wrong.

Most of the time, Bow beats her to it. But the way Bow words it… Sometimes, felt a little too direct towards Glimmer’s character. Like the problem was Glimmer and not what she had done.

And when instances like right now happens, Adora knows that this was her cue to ask her friend.

“You okay?”

The question snapped her friend back to her previous nonchalant expression. “Hmm? Yes. Yeah, I’m okay. Just… a lot of repairs for Bright Moon. It’s getting really … ugh.”

“Glimmer,” Adora started. The way that Glimmer retreated – hand suddenly clutching her other one and eyes casted down to her hands – made her heart hurt. “is that all you’re worried abou –”

Yes, just drop it okay?” Glimmer hurled the words at first, but the hitch in her voice gave it away.

The next sob wracked her.

Instantly, Adora’s arms wrapped around Glimmer and pulled her closer. Glimmer didn’t try to fight it. She let her wall of pent up stress fall apart right at Adora’s feet; and Adora held her tightly, offering to hold on to whatever pieces Glimmer wanted her to hold onto.

She had always known Glimmer was an emotional one. She knew the moment they met. How she yelled and charged at Adora in full speed to fight her off in the Whispering Woods. It was odd enough in a sense that Glimmer reminded her of her.

Catra’s voice rumbles like thunder, whereas Glimmer’s voice commands the wind.

Two forces of nature.

She shudders at the idea of them in battle together.

Adora sighs, her hand falls to Glimmer’s back, rubbing soft circles to try and soothe her. It’s like her to wind up in a situation like this. Holding her friend tight to her chest as they cried their eyes out.

She waited for Glimmer to pull back. Her friend was still a choking snotty mess; luckily, she’s dealt with that enough. She raised a hand and brushed each tear and each line of snot out of her face.

“I’m sorry,” Glimmer whispered, “I… I went after Bow this morning before he left with Sea Hawk.”

When Glimmer didn’t answer, Adora rubbed her back as a reassurance. “What happened?”

“We had a fight.”

“Oh, Glim…”

“He… he looked so happy. I-I-I think he thought I was… I think he thought I changed my mind. That I decided to take a break from everything that’s going on in Bright Moon. Adora, his smile went from one ear to the other ear… I thought –“ her friend paused to sniffle “—I thought he was happy I took a few minutes out of working to see him go, but wh-when he learned I wasn’t going .”

Adora squeezed Glimmer hands.

“He… he got mad. Like, really mad. I think I really did it this time.”

“I.. I just don’t get it, why would he get mad. I was literally there to wish him safe trips. I wasn’t even mad at all,” Glimmer’s voice started raise, anger suddenly boiling at the skin of her teeth “and I don’t get why we get into these stupid fights! It’s like… like he assumes plenty of what I say. Of how I feel.”

Adora sighs again.

Where had she heard something like that before?

Then don’t tell me to see your perspective when you couldn’t see mine.

It was such a simple fix, really. To think that everything can be restored if people didn’t assume too much of each other. Adora was guilty of that, and so was Catra. So was Glimmer, Bow, Glimmer’s mother… Everyone carried the fault of trying to think ahead of someone else.

Sometimes, it starts a war.

Other times, a petty argument.

“Glimmer, I’m not saying he’s not in the wrong, but try putting yourself in his shoes.” Adora was careful to say.

“Oh, like as if I’m going to do that –”

Yes, you’re going to because you don’t want to lose a friend,” Adora jerked her head towards their tiny figurines that sat next to her bed. She let Glimmer’s pink eyes settle on it – to let it sink in. “Trust me, Glimm. You don’t want to do that…”

Glimmer didn’t look at Adora, but she looked somewhere in her general direction. “Yeah, you’d know about losing friends, don’t you?”

Well, that stung a lot more than it should have.

The way Glimmer said it with such animosity felt like a sting at her current standing with the feline. “Yes.”

“But,” Glimmer looked up “do you think Bow will hate me that much?”

I.. don’t think I can ever hate you.

I don’t think it’s in your heart to genuinely hate somebody.

Catra’s voice echoes like the thunder.

“Glimmer, if you were kidnapped right this second, and I told Bow? He will drop everything and come rescue you.” The hesitant smile trying to slip itself on Glimmer’s face was relieving. “Bow can’t hate you, and it’s as simple as that. There’s nothing complicated about it.”

She relished in Glimmer’s smile. Her pink haired friend stifled her nose. “Gee, when did you start sounding like my mom.”

Since last night, she almost said. “Eh, I have my moments. Now, come on,” Adora pulled her friend to stand up on her feet “you have a forest to fix! Once Bow gets home, I expect a full-blown apology between the two of you. And, no more being ‘right´ all the time.”

“Ha! No more being right. You’re… reaaally funny Adora, did you know that?” Glimmer forced a laugh, but the smile was genuine. “Thank you, by the way. I’m so glad I didn’t get you executed when we first met.”

“That’s… a weird way of saying thank you, but you’re welcome?”

Glitter wiped off whatever was left on her face. “Well, I’ll get going. How about umm… whenever Bow gets back? Can we all grab lunch together?”

“Yeah, of course.”

Glimmer gives her one last look before disappearing into a faint pink cloud of glitter.

Adora sighs.

“Right then… what can I do for the next twelve hours of my day?”

Most of it was well spent in the palace’s library. She grabbed four books off the shelf and took them to her room.

She had started with a book call “The Gray Atsby”. A prince named Atsby who lived in a hill who fell in love with a wedded woman Flora. To be honest, Adora hadn’t really grappled with the idea of ‘romance’ yet, but she wasn’t an idiot enough to realize – as she read the book – that Flora had been a slithering snake the entire time.

When she finished it, she had three more hours to spend on her own.

So, she starts on another one.

A wordy one, at that. A story called “Prettiness and Pettiness”. Unlike the other book, Adora almost hadn’t put this one down. The story – from what she’s gathered in the first couple of pages – was about a princess of richness named Darlene who finds interest in a common folk named Elisa.

Both of them, hated each other; albeit, one hated while the other didn’t care much. Something about it drew her in. She couldn’t place it correctly, but the book felt like something she had to read front and back.

Just not tonight. Not when Adora’s eyes were throbbing form reading too much in a day.

She leaned back on her desks chair as she placed a thin piece of paper between two pages. Glimmer had practically screeched at her after Adora had folded one of the book’s pages. She spent the next thirty minutes scolding Adora.

“But that’s how Catra did it!”

“Catra is a monster whose only desire is to find right things then wrong it. Don’t be like her!”

Looking back, the words would’ve hurt.

Catra.

Adora hums quietly as she places her book down in favor of the tiny, pink puffball that Catra had very nearly favored over her last night. It was like her old friend, despite the repetitive attempts of Shadow Weaver and their other care takers, struggled to stop her instincts.

Friend.

It doesn’t feel right anymore. Too much has happened between them. And if the scars on Adora’s back weren’t proof enough, the fact that they hid their secret meetings with each other should do it.

And this…

Whatever this was.

If anyone found out about it, whether it was someone from the horde or the rebellion, Adora won’t have the best of endings.

Best case scenario is that Adora would still be too important to exile. At the end of the day, Adora is still She-ra. There was no one else that could fill in her boots.

Worst case scenario is that it’s over. She-ra or not, she won’t be able to fully join the rebellion. She becomes the enemy of both sides, and Adora loses both her friends.

Adora sighs.

Was Catra really worth the trouble of something as costly as that?

She couldn’t answer it.

But, why?

She really couldn’t answer that one either.

Adora ended up sighing and exiting her room once again. This time, it’s to mindlessly count how many arches the palace had in the main floor.

Chapter Text

Kids.

She is babysitting two really annoying kids.

One of them is a mad genius with an extra set of arms thanks to her hair, whose personal belief to hack the planet happen to be correct; and another whose head is equipped with bricks for brains and scorpion claws for arms.

Entrapta and Scorpia busied themselves programming the training room. Scorpia didn’t really do much but sketch Entrapta while she was working or talk about hour long discussions of something that should’ve taken fifteen minutes to say.

Catra sat there and patiently waited for everything to be done.

She hadn’t transformed since Hordak first gave her the headband. Catra can’t quite get a grip on what she’d look like either. She hasn’t transformed in front of a mirror.

“Ah ha!” Catra straightened her back and looked at Entrapta, who finalized everything by screwing in the bolts on the panel. “All systems are a go!”

“Ooohh!! I can’t wait to see captain’s new power!” Scorpia grinned from ear to ear, her claws gripping the tiny notepad. Catra looked at the poor object and took mental note to get her a bigger one. “I wonder what she’s going to look like? Oh! I bet you’ll look suuuper cool!”

Catra groaned.

She’s still not accustomed to their… increased amount of boundless energy.

Catra revealed to them what her new headdress was capable of. What she could do with it. Scorpia’s first reaction was a long and drawn out gasp, followed by yanking Catra into a hug. She managed to slip away but Entrapta caught her and picked Catra up by the arms with her hair. She brought the feline inches from her face to examine the new headdress.

Catra hissed at both of them and told them to shut up and get a training room ready if they wanted to see it in action.

Unsurprisingly, they immediately hurried to the nearest one; Emily, bounding right behind them.

“So, what exactly do you want me to do?”

Entrapta whirled around, flipping the mask off her face.

“You don’t have to do anything but beat those suckers up,” she points to the practice robots, “I’ve upgraded them some time ago, so you should have a bit of a challenge. But I should also let you know that the big round one is suuuper slow, but really tough! It’s to test how hard you can hit.”

Catra followed her finger towards a robot whose size was five times bigger than Emily, but it looked like the same parts.

“That one, over to the side is meant to test your speed. It’s pretty fast, but it lacks the fight.”

It was a skinny robot, the shape of a humanoid almost.

“Aaand, last but never the least,” Entrapta snatches a tiny spider-like machine off her desk “my newest invention. This is Spindra!”

Catra raised a brow “And… what does spindra do – woah!”

The feline managed to duck the second the machine launched a string of web. Entrapta cackles. Catra grits her teeth but sighs in patience. “So, what?” Catra flicks her tail “It just shoots webs?”

“Ohh, Spindra’s job is more than just shoot webs, angry orange cat! Her job is to test your focus. If any of these webs touch your skin, that’s basically a hit from a Rebel soldier that coulda’ destroyed ya!” Entrapta pets the robot that climbs onto her shoulder, “If any of her webs hit you, then it’s game over!”

“Right,” Catra clicks her tongue “so we’re testing on strength, speed, and focus?”

“Cooorrect! We’ll do one round as in your biped form and another as your quadruped form,” Entrapta slides her metal mask back on. She steps back near the entrance of the training room and gives her a thumbs up with her hair “whenever you’re ready!”

Catra was just about to yell at her to start when Scorpia practically shoves her shoulder. “Knock ‘em dead, captain!”

Oh, she will.

She gives Entrapta the signal to start, and when it did, Catra leapt into the air. The tank bot, as promised, was slow. It jutted forward and aimed its turrets right at Catra. By the time it had finally found an angle, the fast bot shot into the air and sliced the wire that Catra held onto.

Catra screeched but found her footing on the tank. She gripped it by its head and started ripping it apart. Through her peripherals, she saw Spindra. Just as quickly as she saw it, the feline jumped off. She landed right on the floor of the training room.

She planned out a map of attack in her head.

She counted how long it took for the tank bot to move, and how quickly the fast bot reacted in comparison. While the tank was still in the process of turning its turret, the fast bot struck.

Catra managed to bounce backwards, ready to pounce the fast bot.

But, she stopped. The metal tapping against a nearby surface changed her movement to a dodge as Spindra shot another line of web.

The second she got back to her feet, the tank shoots a laser that Catra successfully dodges.

That was the pattern.

She lets it happen for the third time, and once there was an opening, Catra made quick offensive movements. Dodge the tank, destroy the fast bot, dodge the tanks laser, catch the stupid spider, and spend the rest of her time beating down the final robot.

Entrapta pressed a button on the wall that led the training room to start over. Once again, there was a tank bot, a fast bot, and another version of Spindra.

“You did awesome on your first time,” Catra glances back to where Entrapta and Scorpia were.“Try transforming,” she heard Entrapta call out.

Catra nods and slips the mask to her eyes.

She braced herself. The pain felt significantly less knee-buckling as before. She could still feel her bones fusing together and her entire body growing into a massive creature, but for the most part, it didn’t hurt as much.

This is her power.

The Horde’s secret weapon.

When Catra had transformed completely, she heard a very audible gasp from Scorpia and a few smaller ones from everyone else.

Catra eyes Entrapta whose mask was lifted up, and the smile on her face was in sheer amazement. “Oh, I cannot wait to see more of that…”

The pride that washed over her was undeniable. This was probably the first that any of them had viewed Catra as a force to be reckoned with. She took as much of the attention as possible, until she feels her throat rumble in anticipation.

“Start it.” She growled. She didn’t know if Entrapta understood her, but the purple haired girl immediately stuck up a thumbs up and started the trial again.

Catra felt all her senses tingling.

The pattern changed.

The fast bot struck faster and plenty more at random, while the tank shot almost the same second as Spindra.

The change in her movement was spectacularly abundant. She could smell the difference between each robot based on whatever their insides were made of. She could hear Spindra climbing the walls and hiding itself behind structures around them. She could feel the change in the air tickle her whiskers quick enough for Catra to dodge without keeping an eye on her enemies.

What stuck out the most was the absolute power and speed.

Her surroundings didn’t blur, but she could tell she was moving faster than usual. Striking plenty harder than she used to. Her claws dug harder against the tank’s body, and her teeth was strong enough to rip one of the tank’s legs off.

The battle was over as soon as it started.

Easy.

Entrapta stops the training session with a howl of her voice. “That was amazing!”

Entrapta heads to the screen she had tampered with earlier, but Scorpia ran towards Catra.

The princess wrapped solid arms around her, pulling her cat face closer. “Wow! You look like a real big kitty, boss! Look at those cheeks –” on cue, Scorpia lifted the loose flesh near her nose “—oh man, your teeth are the size of my claws!”

Catra pulled her face back and batted Scorpia with sheathed claws. “Back off.”

“Oh, oops, sorry captain! Personal space, I keep forgetting.”

She hadn’t realized how much bigger she was until she straightened her neck and realized she was eye level to Scorpia. “You can understand me?”

Scorpia blinked and nodded. “Pft, yeah!” Scorpia said “any human-animal hybrid can understand each other. That, or their own race.”

Her own race?

“But, anyway, come on, let’s go see your results! I bet you did smashing!” Scorpia pointed her tail towards the computer Entrapta and the other cadets rounded. “Hey, do you think I could ride on your back some day?”

No. absolutely not.” Scorpia chuckled at her reply.

“Yeah, see, that’s what you think. One day, Hordak might just ride you to battle to fight off She-ra.”

Catra huffed with slight amusement. She padded over and saw a chart with a bunch of lines. She had seen it enough to know that these were performance records.

“Okay, so,” Entrapta didn’t bother turning to face Catra. Her fingers were too busy tapping on the screen, then zooming in on Catra’s performance. “In your normal form, you scored average on strength, waaay above average in speed, and excellent in focus. Pretty similar to your last report, but you’ve gotten much better since last time your file was updated –”

“—Aaand” Entrapta tapped a few more things on the screen to pull up her cat form’s chart. The numbers are way higher on the chart, “your current form can outperform your normal one in every aspect by more than five times! Very impressive indeed.”

Entrapta whirled around and gripped Catra’s cheeks. What was with everyone and her cheeks today? “I must learn more. What are your weaknesses, strengths? How tough is your pelt? How much damage can you take!”

Catra yelped when Scorpia gripped her pincers at her pelt “Entrapta, what if you make her a saddle! We can ride her to battle!”

For the last time, NO!” Catra hissed and stepped away from the two pests.

Catra lifts a paw to raise her mask back over her eyes. Her muscles shifted, and her bones cracked as she turned back into her normal form. She huffed, thanking the fact that the mask didn’t rip her clothing. She pulled herself up to her feet, rubbing her hands together.

Dusting herself off, Catra glanced at the time on the wall. 13:45.

She sighed. “Entrapta, I need you to have simulation C34-II ready in ten minutes; the cadets have training today.”

“Do you need their locations? I’ve installed heart beat monitors around the facility.”

Catra paused at the doorframe, “Why… would you do that..?”

Entrapta ignored her and tapped a few buttons on the screen. “Rogelio and Kyle are in the barracks. Lonnie is in the sweat facility.”

“Want me to help, boss?” That, was Scorpia.

“No. I need you here to help set up. See you both in a bit.”

Once she steps out of the room, Catra sighs.

Ever since her rise as second-in-command, major training and testing requirements fell on her shoulders. She was in charge of keeping an eye on every Horde soldier’s file and make sure they didn’t regress in their training. Not only that, but Catra also took the role of disciplinarian – where she is to provide a punishment for cadets who broke the rules.

Scorpia helped out with some of the work load. Catra was ready for her to say no, but she did appreciate the… very enthusiastic yes.

Catra sighed.

Who knew the rule breaker would become the new disciplinarian?

It was very unlike her to punish someone just because they broke a rule. Now, a promise? That’s a different story.

So, when she reaches the start of another corridor, she stops on her tracks at the sound of laughter. It was a pitched, almost feminine laugh. There was no mistaking it. She knew who that was

Kyle.

Laughing was fine. It wasn’t against any kind of rule.

But, when she turned to the corridor, she saw Kyle lying in the same mattress as Rogelio. She could barely see Kyle from her angle, but the lizard had his arm on top of Kyle’s hip as the blonde laughed his lungs out.

“Y..you probably shouldn’t do that again,” she hears the muted warning “if anyone walked in and saw you… w..well, I don’t know.”

Catra knew Rogelio couldn’t talk. All the lizard did most of the time was speak with his eyes. Catra understood him, every now and then, but Kyle… Kyle could read him. All of him. Even the text in between the lines.

She was jealous of it. Of what they have.

It was a connection she really couldn’t have anymore.

“O-Oh! Catra! Ahh, shit –” the flustered blond got up to his feet and immediately stood straight with his arms on his sides. Rogelio copied his panic, but he stood more rigidly with his uniform unkempt.

She glanced between the two and walked towards them. Catra held Rogelio down with narrowed eyes, “fix your uniform, cadet.” She hissed.

Rogelio started tucking his shirt as quick and neatly as he could. Catra’s ears never really picked up on heartbeats, but she could tell: Kyle’s was about to burst from his chest.

“Want to explain to me what you were doing?” Catra lashed her tail. She wasn’t really mad, but.. she wanted to see.

“Um..” Kyle looked to Rogelio, and the reptile met his glance for a quick second. “I’m really… We… We’re really sorry, Cat – I mean, commander. I – we – we were just…”

Kyle just hung his head when the words failed him.

Catra couldn’t help but pull a frown.

Looking defeated wasn’t the word for it. Embarrassed wasn’t either. Neither were guilty, shameful, nor scared. He didn’t look like someone had just kicked him or knocked over his plate of food. He didn’t look mad at Catra for interrupting something they shouldn’t be doing in the first place.

It took Catra few seconds but…

Kyle looked like her when she was young. When she begged Shadow Weaver for forgiveness or when Shadow Weaver didn’t even let her apologize at all.

And that’s what she didn’t get.

What enjoyment did Shadow Weaver find in punishment?

“It’s okay.”

Kyle looked up, his fear starting to slip away. “W..what?”

“I said, it’s okay,” Catra reaffirmed “if it doesn’t get in the way of your training, then I don’t care.”

It was like a light lit in the back of his eyes, and the way he looked at Rogelio with such relief made Catra irritated. “Stop looking at each other like that, you’re going to make me throw up,” she hissed “Both of you head to Training Room E-2. There’s a simulation waiting there. Go.”

“Catra, really, thank you –”

Go, before I change my mind,” Catra hissed.

She managed to send the two running with their tails tucked between their legs, but their smiles… Catra let her lips raise on their edges.

Now, for Lonnie.

The Sweat room was a door away. She slipped through it, and through the lockers she found Lonnie. She had sweat sticking to her skin, throwing heavy strikes at a punching bag. Catra watched Lonnie’s muscles play for a bit before approaching.

“Hey,” Catra tilted her head, “you’ve got training in room E-2.”

Lonnie didn’t respond.

Catra huffed impatiently. “Do I have to say it again, or did you finally hit your head hard enough to turn you deaf?”

She noticed the dark-skinned woman glance at her, but she didn’t waver.

“What? Cat got your tongue –”

The final hit on the punching bag made an echoing thud. “Catra,” she breathed heavily “do you ever realize that … you should probably just … shut up and leave someone … alone?”

Catra scoffed, “You’re asking me? Y’know, the one that Shadow Weaver hated the most? Because I talked back all the time?”

“Can you… promise me something?” Catra shut her mouth right as soon as she said that. She hated the way it brought back memories, but she felt herself freezing in place “I don’t care what you decide to do. I don’t care what kind of leader you become. Whether you fail, or –“ she inhales a shaky breath “if you defect… Promise me you’re not just gonna’ leave us like she did.”

Catra follows Lonnie’s finger that fell to the image on the punching bag. It was an image of She ra.

“She pisses me off, Catra. Shockingly? More than you.”

Catra flicks her ear, “you don’t have to start sucking up to me now, you know –”

“I saw her when they rescued that Bow guy and the princess.” Lonnie’s voice muffled behind gritted teeth, but Catra caught it anyway, “she looked at me like as if she never knew me. Or, or that suddenly, all those years together… just gone.” Lonnie’s eyes softened even if it was just for a microscopic amount, “I bet it hurt a ton worse for you, since you stuck with her all the damn time.”

 It was refreshing in some way.

Catra’s hate for Adora was respected and validated through someone who used to hate Catra. Part of her wanted to comfort Lonnie, but she knew.

In cases like this – the feeling of betrayal, of pain, and of hate – showing pity towards vulnerability never worked. Reassurance, however.

Catra.

I’m here.

Just breathe slowly.

The feline lashed her tail at the memory.

Stupid vulnerabilities.

“Well, I’ll leave you to do your thing. You’ll know where we’ll be. Oh, and Lonnie?” Lonnie raises her eyes from She-ra’s image. “I won’t leave anyone. You have my word.”

She didn’t respond to Catra. Instead, she nods and tries to catch her breath.

Catra was late to the training room. They had started the simulation, and by the time Lonnie joined in Kyle and Rogelio were already half way done with the first level.

On the second level, the group passed.

Same with the third.

They, however, failed on the forth.

Catra addressed that they have to pay attention to their surroundings more than landing on their feet. Being too worried about where they land will make them lose their focus.

“Easier for you to say! You’re a goddamn cat!” Lonnie had yelled.

Catra restarted the test again anyway.

It took two more tries, but they eventually passed.

It surpassed their last record. The one with Adora in it.

They threw themselves together and celebrated their victory. Scorpia threw herself onto them and praised each and every single one of them – especially Kyle for ‘being a distraction’ for the enemies. Entrapta was praised by the cadets for her robots. It was tougher, but it felt more realistic that how they were before.

 And Catra?

Catra watched them all, a proud smile threatening to curve her lips.

Chapter Text

This is awkward.

Adora had been in awkward moments in her life. One was when she walked in on Rogelio and Kyle laying together on the bottom bunk of their bed; both boys jolted up and denied anything that she saw. The other time was when Catra talked back to Shadow Weaver for the first time, right in front of the other cadets. The third was this –

It had been a few hours since Bow came back from his trip with Sea Hawk, and Glimmer had been hiding in Adora’s room the entire time.

Adora tired to encourage her to talk to him, but she just couldn’t push away the idea that something wrong could happen. That Glimmer would say the wrong word and Bow would blow up again, or Bow would come back and still be mad at Glimmer, or Bow would come back and show that he still wanted to be Glimmer’s friend.

The last one is apparently a bad thing because Glimmer is doubtful that she’s a good friend for him in the first place.

Now, Glimmer’s pacing around her room, making tracks on her floor of Adora’s room.

Adora felt her lip pull to the left as Glimmer threw out her hands and started mumbling to herself again. Words that Adora didn’t really know, but it was words that most definitely had something to do with the situation.

“Glimmer, just sit down –”

No!” Her friend had cut her trail of mumbling just to fire off a quick word. She went back to mumbling and pacing soon after.

“The more you pace around, the more stressed you’re going to get –”

“I’m already stressed out, we might as well make it worse…” Glimmer said the reply under hear breath.

Adora sighed her frustration away.

“Glimmer, come on.” Adora stood up from her bed to approach Glimmer. She reached out with both hands to steady the princess. “You need to calm down and think about this like we did before.”

“Yeah, but what if –”

“No, don’t think about the but ifs.”

“I can’t focus –”

“Well, try to. Look, Glimmer,” Adora let a tiny smile lift her lips “What are the facts that you know right now?”

“That he’s mad,” Her friend’s reply was almost immediate.

Adora nodded, “what else?”

“That I’m a bad friend.”

“Wrong.”

“Adora –”

“Glimmer, I’m your friend. I am factual proof that you’re a good friend.”

“You have bias because you are my friend.” Glitter remarked.

“It’s not a bias if it’s true,” Adora made a shaky attempt to retort.

Glimmer snorted. A good sign. “You sounded kind of unsure there.”

“No, just… Look,” Adora started “you are an amazing girl who had a fight with her friend. That doesn’t undermine the fact that you’re amazing or that your friend will hate you forever. I mean, yeah, he’s probably mad, but come on… when has Bow ever held a grudge?”

Glimmer actually thought of a reason. She looked to the corner of Adora’s room, “When I stole some of his favorite jam breads. He didn’t speak to me for two weeks.”

“But he still came back, right?”

“Yeah, because I baked him some more.”

Adora raised a brow, “as an apology, right?”

Glimmer nodded.

“Then you have nothing to worry about, Glim. He’s not going anywhere.” Adora’s eyes twinkled.

Glimmer seemed relieved right after. Her back was straightened, and a small smile toyed the edges of her lips. In fact, Adora would have firmly believed that all was well if she hadn’t done the telltale sign of her stress: biting her lips.

Glimmer raised a hand to grip her other arm. “Can… Can I ask you about Catra?”

Adora almost froze, “Glimmer, if it’s because you’re scared Bow will –”

“No, no, it’s not that… It’s just that you’ve never talked about her. Not in detail, I mean,” Glimmer said shrugging her shoulders. “What… what were you guys like?”

Adora sighs.

Where would she even begin with that one?

She knew it would be brought up at some point. The closer she got to Bow and Glimmer the deeper they started diving into her history with the Horde. It was only a matter of time before one of them brought up Catra.

“We were… close. Very close. Catra, well, the first time I met her? I can’t even remember. Catra always loved sticking next to me.”

Adora moved to sit on her bed, and Glimmer teleported herself there. “She did this thing when we were kids… She’d steal my socks in the middle of the night to lay on them. I’d know because I woke up feeling super cold, and I also had two or three pairs missing.”

Glimmer hummed thoughtfully.

“That, I think… was the first time we shared a bed together.” Adora felt herself start to pick at her nails “I offered to let her lay on my feet instead of just stealing my socks all the time.”

Adora let the memories flash into her head.

A supercut of every moment they had stayed together. Good and bad.

“And, Shadow Weaver?” Glimmer nodded, and so Adora went on “she… always had this weird fixation on Catra. She did with me too, but with Catra, it was mostly out of hate. Shadow Weaver treated me like her own daughter… and Catra? Catra like my pet that I had to control.”

“The other cadets,” Adora looked back. She knew some of them had their own battles with Shadow Weaver, but Catra was the one she witnessed up close plenty of times “they knew to stay away. If they got too close to me, it meant putting them closer to Shadow Weaver. So Catra, being close to me… it wasn’t good for her.”

“She never left my side, though. I made her laugh, she made me laugh. She brought me out of my comfort zone to do things I’ve never even thought of doing, exploring places she had found while exploring the Fright Zone. She was… she dealt with a lot of things to make me happy, and all I did was give her suffering.”

She felt Glimmer shift on her bed, but Adora didn’t bother looking.

“She was stuck being second best. She was stuck with everything Shadow Weaver did to her. She lived through the evils of the Horde. All because of a stupid promise that I couldn’t keep, but she…” Adora chuckled “—she was always better than with that stuff. ”

Glimmer’s silence didn’t help her with holding in the tears that threatened to push out of her eyes.

So, she continued, just letting the pain flow.

“You know what, I think… I think I wouldn’t be as great of a person as I am now if it weren’t for Catra. She taught me how to take care of people. How to love. I guess I didn’t learn enough. I made her feel like she wasn’t enough, but I was enough for her to live through all of that. What kind of friend does that make me?”

“Adora, what she’s doing right now is not your fault. You gave Catra the choice to leave, and she still stuck with the Horde.”

“No, you don’t get it, Glimm –” She claimed, but did Adora even know what Catra’s true emotions were? “— when I left, she wasn’t… she wasn’t second best anymore. She was first. And after that, it was just an uphill climb for her, and now…”

She’s Hordak’s right hand.

Adora swallowed a sob.

“If you want to talk about being a bad friend, Glimmer. I’d probably be making you second best as well.”

“That’s not true.”

“I.. What?” Adora swiped the singular tear that fell from the corner of her eye.

“You? Being a bad friend? You’re not,” Glimmer said, “I think… yeah, you could have been better, but… I think, Catra’s anger is fueled by plenty things. What you gave her most of the time were happy memories. The rest were indirect causes of you.

She hates you now, yeah, I wouldn’t doubt that. I’d hate you too if I went through all that torture just for you to leave in the end.”

Ouch.

“I mean, she wouldn’t have given you those scars if she didn’t hate you...” Adora couldn’t help but reach to touch the stretch on damaged skin “But, take it from a girl who only had one friend for a very long time and spent at least two minutes with that Shadow freak? Catra will realize sooner or later that…” Glimmer’s eyes danced around “In all that pain and torture, her best memories were with you.”

Something inside Adora grappled on the final comment.

She really wished it was that easy to undo it all, but it isn’t. Adora made plenty of mistakes that she can’t even tell if Catra would forgive but –

What else could she do?

Maybe.

Maybe, if she reached out enough but not close enough to blind... Her light would show the feline that she can be good. That there is hope beyond the Horde. That there are better people in the Rebellion than the hands that she’s being struck with.

Maybe, she’ll leave to join Adora.

“Do you think she’ll join the rebellion?” Adora said.

“God, I hope not.” Glimmer’s response took Adora by shock. “She’ll probably make my life more stressful than it already is. Plus, I still have to make her pay for what she did to all of Bright Moon.”

Adora could sense the tease in Glimmer’s tone. It was anger, but… It didn’t sound the same as before whenever she mentioned Catra. “Oh,” Adora raised a brow at her friend “and how do you expect to make her pay?”

“Feed her rebellion food then tell her she’s not allowed to for the next two weeks.”

“That’s evil of you. Are you sure you don’t belong to the Horde?”

Glimmer and Adora laugh together, but they soon jump to their feet at the sound of footsteps nearing Adora’s door.

“Hey, guys I’m back –”

Bow practically shoved his way into Adora’s room, his hands clutching a satchel and the smile on his face was as full as a half moon. He approached, with no precaution, and started digging through the brown sack.

Adora stood frozen in place, glancing nervously at Glimmer who had both her hands to her side, but her face was twisted from her jitters and anxiety.

“I got you guys some treasures from Sea Hawk and I’s exploration. We bumped into like… a big scaley monster, but we managed to scare it away.” He pulled out a necklace with a chain made of silver and gold. It had a pearl hanging on it. Bow handed it to Adora, “this one’s for you, and this,” he dug into his bag again to hand Glimmer a bracelet with shells and a perfectly round pearl on the middle, “this one’s yours”.

He held out his hand, but Glimmer only looked at it.

“Glimm?” He asks, smile fading.

Adora cut in very quickly, “Bow, I think… Glimmer has something she’d want to say. Glim?”

Adora thought Glimmer was going to teleport any second.

In fact, it had been a constant worry since Bow barged into her room. Glimmer, however, didn’t. She wound up throwing her arms around Bow. Glimmer didn’t cry, but she did speak in a mute whisper “I’m sorry. I made you mad.”

Bow rested a hand on Glimmer’s head and chuckled, “It’s okay, Glim. Really. I gave what Adora told me some thought –”

Adora, personally, didn’t know how she felt being brought up in a situation like this.

“—and she was right.”

Glimmer, looking up from her hug with him, knotted her brows together. “What do you mean?”

“That I should collaborate instead of thinking of a compromise,” Bow said as he dug into his brown satchel again, this time, pulling out a thin bottle the size of Adora’s pinky “while Sea Hawk and I were out y’know… going on an adventure? I mentioned how you’ve been stressing out. He says that Mermista uses a potion to help her with instant relief.

She gave me this bottle and said that it can help dull the tension and the headaches, but it’ll make you drowsier than usual after about three hours,” Bow placed the bottle and the bracelet on Glimmer’s hand “you’ve been working really hard to help the kingdom, but I hate seeing you move around like a robot all the time.”

Glimmer looked at the potion. “Bow, you really didn’t have to…”

“No, I didn’t, but I wanted to help you as much as I can. You don't want to take breaks, but this should help take some stress off your shoulders. Use it wisely.”

Adora couldn’t help the smile on her face as she looked back and forth between her friends. Glimmer eventually smiled as well and pulled Bow into a tight hug. “You’re honestly the best.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Bow patted her head before pulling away, “oh, yeah, Mermista’s birthday is coming up in a couple days. She was wondering if we could celebrate it in Bright Moon?”

Glimmer glanced at Adora before raising her brow. “Why Bright Moon?”

“She said she wanted to invite both of you, but she didn’t want to leave Bright Moon defenseless… cus um, yknow –” Bow shrugs “—no whispering woods, no She-ra, no Glimmer, no Bow?”

“I already talked to your mom about it, and she said it would be fine but run it with you too. Dress code is blue, by the way,” Bow finished with a wave of his hand.

Adora looks at Glimemr and shrugs, a smile growing on her face “Do you have any blue dresses, Glimm?”

Glimmer grins at that. “No, but I can make something work.”

Bow squeals before pulling both girls into a hug “Oh yeah! Mission: Make Mermista’s party amazing with the power of the Best Friends Squad is a go!”

Adora rolled her eyes, but sunk into the hug “Ugh, I thought we agreed not to call us that?”

“Nope, too bad,” Bow states “it’s already happening.”

Chapter Text

This is her routine –  

Catra would visit Bright Moon every two or three days to do two things: spy and visit Adora.

Before, Catra would enjoy spending her time watching the poor pink haired princess struggle with the havoc she had brought. Glitter girl would try out several things and fail every single time, and at some point, she even heard her mutter a plea, wishing that Entrapta was still alive to help them with the First One’s tech.

The Queen herself was busy trying to build a suitable plan of attack for the rest of the princesses, but even that was tumbling down in ashes. They couldn’t agree on what would be best for the Rebellion except for fighting the horde together instead of disbanding again. A noble reason for a truce, but it won’t be one that will be enough to anchor them all down to the cause.

She memorized the way the soldiers rotated.

During most of the day, it’s a tight patrol in every single angle. Catra had resorted to spying up on of the remaining trees of the Whispering Woods. Come nightfall, patrols increase twice the amount in the morning. During the afternoon, however, right before the sun sets, it was down to a skeleton crew.

That’s when Catra did her work, scaling the side of Bright moon. Climbing the rocky sides was the easy part, but once she reached the castle, it was all in timing. One wrong slip and she call fall to the water.

She arrived in her usual time. But today, Glimmer and Bow were in Adora’s room. So, Catra settled on a tiny space next to Adora’s window where only part of Adora’s bed was in sight.

She perched there and listened to their conversation.

“Okay, so I have three dresses for you to choose from,” It was that Glitter girl who spoke first “this one, which looks almost like the dress you wore to Princess Prom; this one, which looks super sparkly, I know, but I think you’d be able to pull it off; or this, which I wouldn’t even know how you’d feel about it.”

There was a bit of silence and the sound of shuffling. Catra flicked her ear.

She hears Adora’s voice next. “I… don’t think this one will work.”

“Why not? It’ll look super good on you! I think you’d be able to rock an open back dress.”

Catra almost laughed. Not that Glimmer was wrong, but the idiot really didn’t just forget about something as monumental as that?

“Glimmer, I’ve got scars on my back?”

“Ohh, yeah,” Catra notices a pink figure walk to the other side of Adora’s bed. Catra presses herself closer to the wall. “Well, I guess we have to pick between two then.”

“I.. I don’t know, they’re both too umm…. Bright?”

There was a knock on the door. “Come in!” Adora yells.

She heard hard heeled shoes tapping against the ground “Ta da!”

It was Bow.

“Oh wow, you look… like Sea Hawk?” Adora had commented.

Catra flicked her ear, remembering the annoying, joke of a sea captain.

“Yeah, he lent it to me! Said that I’d make a fine-looking pirate.”

Adora laughed. It made Catra’s chest puff with both annoyance and nostalgia. It had been long since she has heard her laugh like that. A genuine laugh. Not a scoff, or a chuckle, or sarcasm. It used to just be her being the only one to be able to do that.

Their private moments are out for anyone else to grab now.

That title of best friend falls to those two rebel idiots.

Catra let her tail lash in annoyance.

“Well, he’s right. But I don’t think you should wear the scarf,” Glimmer had said.

“Oh? Why? Does it look weird?”

“No, it’s just… you’d look better with a bow.”

Catra scoffed. Okay, maybe there was a reason Adora chose them to be her new best friends.

She heard Adora’s footsteps leading closer to the opening of her room, and Catra watched as Adora stood a couple feet away from her. If the blonde just had one small, very tiny change on the angle where her eyes settled to, she would see Catra.

But alas, her perception is lacking as always. “You guys are ridiculous,” Adora had said.

The light of the room let Catra see the light smile on Adora’s face. It didn’t refresh her, really. It hurt to see it. The same way this entire mission hurt her in more ways than one.

It happens like this –

Her best friend and the only woman she had ever fully entrusted herself to, decides to leave her for people who were supposed to be their enemies.

In addition to that, it also went a little like this –

Catra didn’t really hate Adora after that. In fact, she wanted to desperately save her friend from the clutches and the influences of the enemy. In doing so, Catra helps fuel Shadow Weaver’s fixation on Adora, because Catra was never the best.

And the crushing blow of realization, hit her like this –

With Adora gone, Catra wasn’t second best anymore. She was beyond it. She was better than Adora, and she raised the stakes for the Rebellion, and she made Adora realize that Catra has blown through every expectation originally set on her. So, as Catra grew in power, she started to completely sever her attachment with Adora.

But how can she do that when her mission states clearly that Catra must interact with the enemy?

Intimacy.

That was the last string Catra had to cut of from their bond, and she’s forced not to do so.

So, watching Adora interact with anyone else the way she had with Catra… it hurt. The tiny moments they had shared together? The way Adora held her whenever she had been – yet again – dealt at the hand of shadow Weaver? Watching her do that with someone else?

And when those blue eyes finally fall on her, and that smile on Adora’s face started fading as quick as it was there?

Her smile fading away at the sight of Catra?

Catra thought of a million things to say, but she settled with her usual.

“Hey, Adora.” Catra mouthed into the wind. It reached Adora’s ears.

Motionless. The blonde stared at her with wide eyes and a half open mouth. When Catra motioned her eyes to the two brats in the room, Adora jutted back to life, clapping her hands together in a loud slap.

Okay!” Catra rolled her eyes at the all too evident nervousness in her tone. Adora was everything, but a liar. “So, I … uh.. really want to get some sleep now guys. Yeah it’s uhhh.. wow, look at the time!”

There was a small silence before Bow spoke up “Umm.. It’s like… eight –”

“Yeah, well I didn’t sleep very well last night.”

“Adora, you slept in until the afternoon.” Catra almost laughed at that. Instead, she coiled her tail.

“Yes, because I couldn’t sleep at all last night.” Adora reiterated “Look, I’ll uhh retry the dresses on and see which one I like, okay?”

She heard shuffling against the ground, followed by a loud good night and a slam of her door.

Catra took that as a sign to come move from her position. She leapt and landed gracefully on the cold floor of Adora’s bedroom. “You slept until the afternoon,” was the first thing she said “wow, I wish that were me. I have to wake up at 0400 every day now.”

“Hello to you too, asshole,” Adora’s voice tried to sound harsh, but it didn’t work.

“I scale the sides of this massive castle and this is the welcome I get?” The blonde didn’t respond to it, so Catra just welcomed herself on Adora’s bed.

That’s when she spots the three dresses.

The first dress was as dull and blue as the ocean at the tail end of a sunset. It didn’t look bad, but it was certainly tasteless. There was nothing special going on other than the tiny laces on the bottom of it and the fact that it was sleeveless. She pictured Adora in it. Beautiful but it doesn’t show off.

The second dress was a lot more… brighter. The top half was covered in something shiny. It looked like glitters, but it reflected light like a mirror. It created a flower like pattern on the front and the back. It would certainly gain attention but maybe just a little too much. It would snuff out Adora’s personality.

The final dress was the open back one that she overheard them talking about. Now this… It screamed Adora. It was simple, yes, but the color was a bright royal blue. Striking, yet never blinding. The straps that decorated the dress’s backside also decorated the front. The thought of Adora in this dress. She would steal the show.

Catra couldn’t help her smirk.

“Hey,” Catra pointed at the dresses “you tried any of these on yet?”

Adora shrugged, pulling her hair tie to let her hair fall. Catra flicked her tail at the rare sight. “I’ve tried the first two from the left, and I don’t know… it doesn’t feel right.”

Catra raised her brow, “Yeah, no they’re definitely not a good fit for you.”

“What? I thought the first one was pretty okay.”

“Pretty okay isn’t good enough, Adora. You need to look nice enough to grab people’s attention.”

The blonde walked towards the bed where Catra had picked up the open back one, “What, somehow you know things about fashion now?”

“Are you saying I didn’t look amazing during Prom?” Catra quipped.

She expected Adora to be silent. She expected Adora to roll her eyes and tell her to shut up. She expected Adora to deny that Catra didn’t look even the slightest bit better in the suit; yes, Catra will fight her on this.

What she didn’t expect was an agreement.

And that’s what the blonde handed her.

“Y..yeah, now that you think about it. You... you actually looked really nice.”

Catra smirked.

She the dress into Adora’s hands, “try this one on.”

Adora doesn’t miss a beat. “What, no,” she tries to push the dress back to Catra’s direction “my scars are going to show. You know? The ones you gave me?”

Catra’s smirk grew higher. “So? Show it off. You got it from the Horde’s second-in-command. Blah, blah, blah. Heroic. Put it on, Adora.”

“Catra.”

“Princess, Stop being so whiney and just put it on.”

“The scars will show –”

Adora.” Catra hisses, and Adora snaps her mouth shut “Put. It. on.”

The look on Adora’s eyes was a plea. Had she done this a month and a half ago, Catra might’ve fell for it. Catra might have caved in. But right now, the only thing Catra was interested in was getting her into this dress.

It would be a crime if Adora went and wore something that doesn’t represent her.

Adora eventually caved. She walks to a separate room and shut the door as she went in. Catra wore a victory smile.

She waited for the blonde patiently. Her eyes roamed around to inspect the room. It fell to the figurines, the potted plants, the stack of books – mostly romantic genres – on her desk, the sketches she had stashes in a drawer… Then, it fell to a tiny object on the edge of her desk.

A necklace, with a pearl hanging on it.

This.

This would be perfect with her dress.

Catra flicks her ear at the sound of the door opening.

Catra’s guess – as usual – was right. Catra hardly blushed. In fact, she’s sure it was impossible for her to. So, when she sees Adora, with her hair down to her shoulders and the dress draping her body? Catra only swished her tail and twitched her ear.

It looked exactly the way she had imagined it to look. Not too overwhelming but not that simple. A color that matched Adora’s eyes but not one of a similar shade either.

And her back.

Adora had muscles rippling on her shoulders; she already knew that much. She also knew about the mole on her back of her shoulder, and the light scratches from training. But this was the first time Catra stood face to face with the damage she had done to Adora’s porcelain skin – two large gashes on the left, and three other ones on the right.

Despite how deep they looked, she didn’t feel an ounce of guilt.

“It looks really bad,” Adora told more to herself than Catra.

“What? Because of those scars?” Adora nodded at Catra’s words.

Catra sighs, walking towards the blonde and looking her over. “I think… it describes exactly who you are,” Catra stops in front of Adora “a graceful hero who doesn’t hide her insecurities. A hero whose back is torn from protecting the people she loves –” she hears Adora gasp when Catra reaches around to tie her necklace on, “– a hero that won’t let some stupid scar stop her from being who she is.”

They stand there, together. Catra’s face half a foot away, and her eyes roaming Adora’s expression.

“You’re scaring me,” Adora whispers.

“Why?” Catra glances at her lips, feeling a knot in her stomach.

Intimacy.

“I don’t know, you’re weirdly nicer. We’re usually fighting…”

Catra scoffs “Cus’ you haven’t pissed me off yet… and I had a good day today training the cadets.”

There was a smile on Adora’s face, but it quickly fades. “No, but,” Adora pressed “Catra, this is different.”

“What’s so different about it? I’m tired of talking about our feelings –”

“Then,” Adora’s voice was barely audible “why are you still here? Are you here because you’re waiting for me to ask if you’ve changed your mind –”

Catra felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand. If Adora wanted to fight? Catra will be absolutely fine with that. “I don’t do this because of you, I do it because I want –”

Catra’s ear flicks to the door. Without another word, she launches herself to the room Adora had changed in.

“Hey, Adora, I forgot to – woah,” Bow sounded genuinely amazed “—wow I mean… wow. You look amazing! Are you going with that one?”

She hears a pause between the two, and eventually Adora answers. “Y..yeah, I think.. I think I will. A.. anyway, what’s going on?”

“Oh, I was just wondering if you would want to start helping with lighter work. Queen Angella wanted to ask for your help in like…” there was a pause “I don’t know, a tucked away section of the library that was damaged a bit by the Horde.”

“Uh, yeah, yeah. I can do that.”

“Cool, good night! I should probably head home. My dads are gonna’ worry.”

Catra waited until the door clicked shut for her to step out of the closet (AN: ha, im funny). She lets a sigh escape her. “Well, that was close –”

“Catra?”

She looked at Adora. “What?”

Something.

There was something in those eyes that Catra couldn’t define. She couldn’t tell if this was something outside of her understanding, or if this was something too complicated to place into words. Maybe it was both.

It was unnerving. Something dangerous slithering in the sea of blue, and it was coming after Catra.

But then, Adora blinked and it was gone.

“Just… wanted to ask if you wanted to get some sleep?”

Catra could’ve really asked her about it, but she knew Adora would just deny it. So, Catra did what she did best: ignore. “Yeah, sure,” she replies casually.

Adora nods and heads to the closet, changing out of the dress. (AN: ;D)

Catra sinks into the sheets before Adora even stepped back into her room.

It takes a few extra minutes for Adora to get in bed. Catra’s arms encircled Adora’s waist, and the feline buries her nose on Adora’s neck. She feels the blonde’s pulse running faster than normal, but she really doesn’t pay no mind to it.

However, it did feel kind of stiff.

“Etheria.. Adora, can you relax? Are you still worried about the dress?” Catra huffed. “If you really want the other ones, go ahead.”

“No, no, it’s not that.”

“Then what? You’ve been acting weird, princess”

Adora pulls back and looks at Catra in the eyes. “Do you still hate me?”

“Yeah, of course,” Catra answers immediately. She wasn’t really sure if it was honestly.

This isn’t her real feelings nudging her shoulder. This was just pain. Pain from missing Adora.

Intimacy.

Again, she didn’t think too much of it.

Adora hummed before returning to their previous position, this time, Adora pulls Catra close to her. “I just wanted to say that I’m sorry. I.. I almost pushed your buttons back there.” it was a quiet confession “I promise to do better.”

“You sure you’re going to keep that one this time?”

She felt Adora tense again under her touch.

The blonde moved her head closer to Catra; her arms went up to caress Catra’s cheek… before it fell between them, right on the mattress.

“Yeah.”

Catra doesn’t want to think too much.

Or, maybe she just didn’t want to hear it. But the pain coating Adora’s voice. The regret. The guilt. The remorse. It wasn’t slathered in fear. Adora didn’t say the apology when her life was at the tips of Catra’s fingers; this was raw.

Genuine emotions playing right in those eyes, and for some reason, Catra can’t escape this time. Adora held her ground, and she couldn’t look away.

The truth is, part of her wanted to hear that.

But it was just too late. Her heart belonged somewhere else now.

Catra only mumbled, “let’s see how long until you end up breaking this one.”

Chapter Text

She’s been reading books that Glimmer had given her. Most of them were romance, which was a concept Adora couldn’t really grapple or wrap her head around most of the time.

There were things like dates – a walk to the beach, sight-seeing, eating food together in a candle lit room. Then, there were private moments like falling asleep together on the couch, complimenting each other, cooking with one another. The main player of romance are the touches, though: hand holding, hugging,

And kissing.

Adora asked Glimmer at some point –

“Since you, me, and Bow go on adventures all the time, and compliment each other, and hug a lot, does that mean –”

She didn’t get to finish her sentence.

Romance is… allegedly a different type of animal. It comes from someone very dear to your heart. Someone you feel like you could never be without, and you’d give half your life to if it meant seeing them live longer. Like a puzzle piece that just fits.

Adora still didn’t get it.

And even after all the books, she didn’t understand what they meant at all with the heart racing, or the mind blanking or the body craving desires. The only thing that made her heart race was fear and exhaustion. The only thing that blanked her mind were concepts like this. And, the only thing she felt like kissing were rebellion food.

She can’t – couldn’t – understand what it meant.

She raised her hand to touch Catra’s sleeping face in the dark.

But this –

This person.

Adora couldn’t help the gasp that left her lips when Catra’s hand brushed against her neck. It wasn’t something she wanted to happen, but the reaction was instant. The spot Catra’s finger had brushed shot an electric feeling right into a pit in her stomach.

They spoke.

They nearly fought.

Always that cycle.

“Catra?”

Catra looked at her; the flames she had seen rising seconds ago was lost in the wind. But the tension… it was there. Vibrating in the wind. She couldn’t tell if Catra felt it too, or if it was just her own curiosity of this feeling that’s driving it.

And… if it was just her feeling whatever this was… then what should she do?

If Catra doesn’t feel the same, what will she do?

Glimmer never explained that.

Neither did her books.

“Just… wanted to ask if you wanted to get some sleep?”

Adora rubs the feline’s ear, smiles widely when Catra lets out a sleepy purr.

She couldn’t have this anymore. Not while Catra’s awake. Adora knew Catra fought her instincts to purr or play like she normally would around Adora back when they were in the Horde together. Catra looked at her in a way Adora could never place, but it was never malicious.

But now, it felt like looking into two pits; one hailed ice and snow while the other burned an entire prairie. Two contrasting forces contained in a single vessel.

Adora couldn’t blame her.

Everything they had was gone in a span of five minutes. In single, gut-wrenching blows, Adora destroyed Catra’s final strings of love towards Adora. She had been too focused on right and wrong that she didn’t consider anything else but.

The hardest part is that it’s not going to take five minutes to fix what she broke.

It’s easier to destroy than it is to build. The fight between the Rebellion and the Horde should simplify that enough.

Another example is Catra.

The universe truly is a cruel place.

Catra stirs in her sleep and Adora retrieves her hand, “Hey, the sun’s coming up,” she speaks sleepily, rubbing Catra’s forearm, “come on, you should probably go soon.”

Adora scooted away when Catra opened her heavy eyes. The feline yawns and stretches.

Adora stares.

This wasn’t a sight that she normally paid attention to, but… she couldn’t help but fixate on the way Catra’s toned muscles played. Catra wasn’t as strong as Adora, but her figure was undeniably fit by all standards. Despite all her lazing about while growing up, Catra always maintained a fit figure. Still, during their sparring sessions, Catra lost to a stronger Adora.

During the Battle of Bright Moon, though, she felt everything. Something in Catra flipped, and Adora was suddenly staring at her equal.

No, she was staring at She-ra’s equal.

“Why in Etheria are you looking at me like that?” Adora blinked when she heard the rasp.

Adora shrugged, turning herself under the sheets to look away from those eyes. “Nothing, just trying to make out the shape of you in the dark.”

She hears Catra shuffle next to her. When she glanced over her shoulder, the feline was already in the process of standing up.

Catra wasn’t a morning person. Adora knew it that much.

Ever since they were kids, really. Catra always woke up I the middle of the night to venture around the Fright Zone and explore places she really shouldn’t be in. It led her to plenty of trouble growing up, but Catra never learned. Give it two or three days, she’s back to breaking whatever rule she could possibly break in the middle of the night.

It wasn’t until Shadow Weaver strapped her in her bed that Catra forced herself to sleep through the night; however, even after the shackles were off, Catra went right back into it.

Despite this, it wasn’t stubbornness that Adora saw in her. It wasn’t incompetence. It wasn’t disobedience, or deviance, or disdain towards the rules. There was nothing in Catra that made Adora feel like she was malicious.

An unquenchable fire.

The desire to become better. To prove everyone wrong.

Adora couldn’t stop herself from smiling. Despite everything she has been through, Catra never realized her true strength lies inside of her. The will to keep on living to prove everyone wrong –

Persistence.

“Hey,” Adora called out. The way Catra turned to look at her made Adora’s smile grow more. “I think this is the only time I woke up before you left.”

Catra nodded, “About time if you ask me. You’ve started sleeping in.”

“Psh,” Adora stretched her limbs, sprawling herself to the rest of the space in her bed “maybe you’re the one starting to sleep in.”

She didn’t realize it until she looked back at Catra, but the familiarity… The way Catra’s finger poked her forehead threw her off. They share a silence right after before Catra brushes her hand to tuck away the strands of Adora’s hair behind her ear.

“You need to put it down more,” Catra’s voice was barely a whisper “your hair, I mean.”

She tries to play it off. “What, you like it?”

It was dark, and barely any kind of light entered the room besides the increasingly orange tiny that started to peak from the sky. But, Adora saw it. A very small lift on the edge of Catra’s face.

“Yeah, I think it really suits you.”

Adora thanked the darkness of her room.

Because, her entire face flushed.

“Q…Quit it,“ she swatted Catra’s hand off, “you’re just messing with me again.”

Catra missed a beat. It was too uncharacteristic, but the smirk on her lips wasn’t. It always held something sinister. “Wow, you’re starting to read me better. Great job, Adora.”

“You’re exhausting,” Adora rolls her eyes. “Oh, before you go, I umm… I wanted to say that Mermista is having a birthday party here in Bright Moon.”

Catra’s ears lowered a little. “What’s a birthday party?”

Oh. Right.

“Well, it’s… celebrated every year on a specific day to mark when that person is born,” Adora explains. “Bow says it’s a big deal here in the Rebellion. Celebrating life and such.”

Catra flicked the tip of her tail. “Huh, and I thought prom was weird… Want me to crash it?”

No,” Adora had said too strongly.

Catra laughed, mocking her reaction. “I’m teasing, idiot. What was the point of telling me anyway?”

“You’ll be visiting when it happens. I was just… wondering if it would be a better idea if we don’t meet for that night?”

Part of Adora wanted Catra to have some sort of negative reaction to it. Something like her ear twitching or her tail lashing, or even that wild hair on the top of her hair to stand a little taller. Except, all Catra did was approach the pillar next to her balcony.

“Okay, if that’s what you want.”

It isn’t.

“Yeah, it is. It’d be hard for you since there would be extra guards on the grounds,” Adora forced herself to tear her eyes away from Catra.

Catra hummed. “I’ll see you in four days, then. Try not to miss me, princess.”

She flushes again and whips her head to look up, “I won’t –” but Catra was already gone.

Adora groans.

“Crap…”

She tried to sleep for a few more hours, but the scent – the lack of it – of Catra on her sheets didn’t help soothe her conscience enough to sleep. Instead, she spends it trying to wash off the smell.

Stupid cat and her stupider smug smile.

By the time Adora had finished, the sun was already well within an inch over the sky. Adora groaned and walked towards the library to get a start to her day.

This was, really, one of her favorite places of privacy in the palace. When Queen Angella and Glimmer had mentioned a library, Adora didn’t think much of it. At least, not until she saw it. She had seen books in the Fright Zone, but none of them were as imaginary, creative, and unique as the ones in the rebellion.

The giant shelves filled with countless thousands of books struck and filled her with awe and wonder. Some books were in languages Adora couldn’t interpret. Queen Angella says that some books are collections from the different lands of Eternia – the sister planet of Etheria. Some were just languages no one could really interpret to begin with.

Queen Angella found them interesting enough to keep, though.

“Ah, Adora,” the queen greeted graciously as she tucks a book into an empty slot on the shelf. “Good morning. I hope your night was well?

“Yes, your majesty. Bow told me you needed help sorting out books?”

The queen nodded. She beckons one of her workers to continue the work she had been doing before leading Adora towards an empty wall. Adora watches as the queen glows a bright pink, and the wall separates to make a gaping opening.

Once they entered, Adora took immediate note of the books. Some were knocked over. Some were stacked on top of each other while.

One of them caught her eye – a book with metal covers and a strap sealing it shut.

She casually picked it up and flipped from page to page.

The first was a map of Etheria. On the East were place she had already heard of, but the west – where the Horde resided – mentioned names that she had never even heard of before.

“W…what is this place?” Adora couldn’t help but wonder.

Queen Angella placed a palm on the shelf. “Everything about the history of Etheria prior to the Horde is hidden away in here,” her voices sounded strained. The Queen sighs, “the Horde started burning away our history to write their own. So, we hid it for safe keeping. This room can only be opened by queens – not princesses.”

Huh. Adora continues to flip through the pages; Mer-men, Harpies, Twiggets – each page represented a species followed by an image of their culture. Strengths, weaknesses…  “Why would the Horde want to burn these?”

Adora kept flipping through the pages, then stopped when a sheet fell out between the pages.

“To write themselves as heroes.” Queen Angella said, words hard against her tongue. She eventually changed her tone, “All you need to do is put these books back into the shelves they belong. They are numerated, so it should be easy for –”

“Excuse me,” pink eyes landed on Adora’s blue ones “I… swear I didn’t break it. There’s a loose page on this one.”

Queen Angella approaches her, hand on the book as Adora went to pick up the paper. “It’s not a loose page; it’s a note.”

The royal lifts the book close to her chest, and Adora sneaks hidden glances to the page. It had been an image of a soft animal, standing on two. Fur covering their entire body. “The Magicats. One of the first kingdoms to fall because of the Horde.”

Adora could sense the sadness in her voice. A loss that seemed heavy in Queen Angella’s tone. She had used the same hefty energy whenever she spoke of her husband, and Adora couldn’t help but let her empathy flow for the royal.

No one ever deserves to speak with the taste of loss sitting on their lips.

“What… what happened?” Adora gently pressed.

“The worst possible scenario: a genocide. The Magicats resisted the Horde immensely, but it was futile in the end. The Horde had a sorceress who was obsessed with the idea of annihilating them, teach the rest of Etheria what would happen if they didn’t peacefully resign their rights.

Their Queen tried to hide her people in an underground haven called Half Moon, but –” The Queen plucked the letter from Adora’s grip “—the queen sent this letter in distress. It didn’t reach us in time.”

“And… and there were no survivors?” Adora asks.

“No. Not that we know. They are too far into the Horde’s territory for us to know for sure, but there has not been a single sighting since the fall of their kingdom. Although, the last queen tasked me to... find and care for her daughter.”

“And… you never found her?”

Queen Angella lifted a sad smile, “We never found her.”

“Now,” Queen Angella shuts the book quickly, letter sticking out between two pages, “let us not get distracted and focus on the task at hand. I assume you can manage on your own?”

Adora blinked, “oh, um, yes! Ma’am. Definitely!”

The smile on the royal’s face grew as she gracefully headed out of the secret room. “Perfect. I will see when it is all done. I have some other matters to attend to,” Adora eyed it when she placed the golden book onto an empty space.

Adora watched her leave, and after a few seconds, she started her task.

It took a hard few hours just to get one entire row done. Most of her time was spent trying to look for which book went where. She eventually reaches the 102nd book… It was the golden one she had picked up earlier.

She flips to the page she was in.

MAGICAT

It said in large letters. Adora squints to see the smaller ones.

Life expectancy: 145 years.

Strengths: exceptional speed, excellent focus, balance, heightened senses

Weakness: cutting their tail would severely damage their balance,  water, sharp noises

Main Territory: Kingdom of [REDACTED] HalfMoon

Loyal, determined, and brave – Magicats make the most lion-hearted warriors of Etheria. What they lack in size and power, they return in speed and tenacity. Their queen – or anyone of direct royal blood who wears the crown – is given the capabilities to become a powerful beast that negates any of their previous weaknesses.

Adora finishes.

She glances over the words again, and again, and again. She flips the page to the next one, but she fails to find anything else besides the shallow information given to her.

Despite the Horde and its many flaws, they did an outstanding job drilling every single creature’s physiology into her mind. Adora already knew about most of these creatures: unicorns, leporidious, manchines.

But Magicats?

She knew nothing about them. Shadow Weaver never spoke of it, and if it was a successful conquer for the Horde, then why wasn’t it taught to them?

Something’s wrong. Something must have gone wrong. There must have been something that happened during their battle of Half Moon that endangered Hordak enough to not teach it. The only way she’ll know for sure is if she learned more about them.

She glances at the messy pile of books on the ground.

"Well, no place to start but here..."

Chapter Text

Catra had a schedule going on for her.

Everyday she woke up at 0400 to get herself ready for the day. She’d do a round of her own private training – laps around the Fright Zone, swinging from wire to wire, starting up a personal warm-up in one of the training rooms. She’d stop around 0500 when Scorpia announces that she’s finished doing rollcall for the trainers and assigning them their tasks.

The next thing was spending time in the cafeteria eating with Scorpia and Entrapta. Every now and then she’d shoot a glance at the group of cadets she associated herself with before ravaging on her food.

She’d train different groups of cadets every other hour. Some had talents beyond what she expected of them, while others hit a Kyle-like standard. Catra can’t understand why the Horde even bothers with training them when they could just work inside the facility, but she has no say on who she trains.

It wasn’t hard for her to notice that the cadets were distant of Catra at first. They always hesitated to speak their mind, or they immediately asked for forgiveness the minute they screwed up while training.

But word spread fast.

Catra had found one of the cadets with extra rations, stored in a little box under his bed. Catra pressed him on why this was, and he stuttered a reply that there were senior cadets in the third level that would take his rations. So, he resorted in stealing some in the middle of the night.

Cara asked how long this has been going on. The young boy answered almost a month and a half.

Catra assigned the bullies to run an extra ten miles for the next week and a half, and if she ever hears of it happening again, she’d make them run the entire month.

The bullying had stop ever since, and the cadets have learned to open up more towards her.

Her afternoon trainings consisted of her old group of cadets – Lonnie, Kyle, Rogelio. She spent more time with them and even spent a few free minutes to catch up.

After that, on a usual day, she would check up on Entrapta’s progress with her new weapon.

Catra walked into the room with the black garnet. It zinged in power every now and then, and Catra would feel an all too familiar grip in her stomach.

Even with shadow Weaver gone, the memories stuck to the walls. All her pleas of mercy rejected to favor mercy towards Adora.

The sight of Entrapta tapping on the keys of her computer provided some sort of solace. It made the room lighter to know that one of her closest colleagues was there. She watched for a minute as the mad scientist worked her magic.

“Entrapta,” Catra greeted coolly.

Entrapta practically jumped out of her skin. Not out of fear, but excitement “Catra! I have made some very important finds! Here take a look!” Entrapta approached Catra, her hair pushing her closer to a station.

She notices four containers.

The first contained thick, red substance. Entrapta had harnessed and redirected the power of the black garnet to affect water. It was a failed experiment because all it led up to was… a red goo that did nothing but electrify. It was labeled: “Sample 1C”

The second container was red powder. Entrapta did something different with this one, and although the princess tried to explain it to Catra, she still couldn’t process it all. The powder helped with sleep. It didn’t put someone in an immediate state of drowsiness, but it slowly shut down their body’s desire to move; they would wake a few hours later, however. This was labeled: “Sample 4R”

The third container was solid. Sand-like rocks that followed the movement of whatever light touches them. Entrapta called this one a partial success. What the substance did was work as a carrier. It corrupts an object, and whatever light that the object touches will affect it. It was a disease. The container was called: “Sample 14Q”

There was a fourth container, but it was empty. It was labeled ‘Virus’.

Catra frowned.

“What… am I looking at?”

“These, along with this –” she lifted a green triangular object with her hair “—will be what we’ll need to infect She-ra!”

“Infect?” Catra raised a brow.

“Like a sickness! Something that will spread from one runestone to another!” Entrapta laughs, “It’s still in it’s beginnings, but once we finish this virus, we’ll be able to make She-ra unresponsive towards the other runestones and its host!”

Catra tried to process it, but it didn’t work. “Okay, give me more details to go with here –”

“While Adora and her friends were in my castle, I was in the middle of an experiment that ehh… went wrong… and right at the same time!” Entrapta tapped a few buttons on the keyboard before going around the black garnet to look through shelves “they tried to rescue me, and She-Ra’s sword managed to transfer most of the infection to Adora, making her unable to use the sword.”

“Get to the point –”

“I am, I am, but you need the context –” she pulls out a tiny vial from the shelves “—before I tell you as it is.”

Catra lashed her tail impatiently. Did all princesses talk this much? Why does context matter when she just wants to know how to use it?

“Now, think of it like this… Adora is an extension of She-ra. Basically, a fail-safe system where if Adora gets infected, She-ra will save itself by stopping her from transforming. But what if, we created a virus that could slip into the fail-safe defense? Infect She-ra instead of Adora?”

“Well,” Catra shrugged “if we infect Adora won’t it just stop She-ra anyway?”

“Yes, yes, but Glimmer and Bow already know how to shut it off. Any sharp noise can break this shard,” Entrapta raises the disk. “But, what if we make it so that if they destroy the shard, it will destroy She-ra’s runestone as well? Why focus on the host when we could infect the entire system?”

Oh.

“Infect She-ra with something incurable...”

“Well, not sure about incurable. If there’s something foreign in the tech, it’s easy to filter if we know what we’re doing. But, precisely! Now, of course, to do this, I’ll need to find a way to breach whatever First One security they used to power She-Ra,” Entrapta muttered to herself more than to Catra, “Ah, but what to do…”

Catra sighs “I’ll leave you to it, princess. If you need anything, just ask.”

“That’s so helpful of you,” Entrapta approaches her and pulls her into a one arm hug to the side. Catra groans “You’re always helping me with my passion for technology, is this true love?”

Catra groans louder before pushing her away. “Shut up and just work on the tech, would you?”

“Yes, ma’a – oh Kyle!”

Catra lifted a brow and whirled around at that. Kyle approached them with a box of metal scraps and pieces on his arms. “Hey, Entrapta.. I umm.. got those things you t-told me to get. Where w-would you umm, like me to put them?”

Entrapta pointed towards another station “Over here, over here.”

Kyle obeys, he nods to Catra on the way, “Hello, C..Catra”

Catra eyes him, “You’re helping Entrapta now?”

“Y-Yeah! What she does is really cool. It’s … I mean I’d love to learn more. All this tech stuff is really interesting. Oh, and I helped her repair Emily!” Kyle said with a sort of energy Catra had ever seen in him.

Catra couldn’t stop the amused smile that lifted her lips.

For some reason, the idea of Kyle becoming an apprentice to Entrapta made plenty of sense. Both were toss outs who didn’t really know how to socialize correctly, and their brains seemed in tune when it comes to all this... science.

Maybe she could speak to Hordak about this. Kyle would make a better engineer than he would as a soldier.

“It’s a hobby well spent,” Catra swished her tail, “Entrapta, let me know about any progress, I’ll be in my room.”

“Shouldn’t you be heading to Bright Moon today?”

That.

That was the thorn in her schedule.

Catra enjoyed putting her time into productive things. Her life as a second-in-command was a busy yet necessary one. She worked as the bridge between Hordak and the Horde in general, but…

She’s missing a night with Adora because the blonde wanted to party.

Despite her mission to manipulate and break Adora, she can’t help but find their time together one of the most peaceful feeling she had ever been in. She’d wake up twice a night without Adora in her arms, and it would feel lonely to say the least. And the nights she’d wake up with Adora next to her? It felt like basking in the sun.

So, before this mission comes to a close, Catra milked her opportunities. The sun is never going to be there to keep her warm. She’ll have to do it herself at some point.

Catra shook her head.

She didn’t bother replying. She stepped out of the room hastily to head to her own.

Catra curled herself into a ball and slept in the silence of her room.

It only took a couple minutes before she wound up opening her eyes again.

She could hear it clearly; the banging noises of the machines beyond the walls of her room, the chatter of cadets and soldiers as they walked past her room, the sound of someone punching the coded digits to enter their cell and rest for the night. All were sounds and noises that she had grown used to to.

But now it’s all too much. Too much noise, too much things she fixated onto until her brain went mad. She’d even hear the buzzing noise of the vents, and it would all be too much.

Catra got up to her feet.

Since when had these noises become so deafening to her ears?

She left her room and took a walk out of the halls. She took three or four more turns before she exited the facility and climbed up to the top of it.

It was high enough that she could make out parts of the now revealed Bright Moon, but the smog covered most of it up.

She lashed her tail before hoping the rails to perch on it.

“You’re not going to jump, are you?”

She almost did when the voice crept up on her. Catra rebalanced herself, though. She swiveled around and saw Lonnie approaching her with a hand on her hip. “Can’t sleep?”

Catra thought about lying, putting her walls up so that Lonnie could leave her alone. It had always been their relationship. Catra or Lonnie would say one thing, they’d argue, and they’ll never apologize to each other.

But, something about the way the cadet approached her made her feel like it would be the wrong move. “Yeah. The Horde’s noisier than usual,” Catra shrugged.

Lonnie leans against the railing with her back, “The Horde’s always been this noisy. Is sleeping in Bright Moon starting to get to you?”

Catra felt her skin prickle with annoyance. “I came here to relax, Lonnie. Not to be annoyed…”

“Woah, cool it, I was joking around,” Lonnie chuckled, “besides, if I pissed you off now, you’d make me run two extra miles every day.”

Ugh, I help one kid and suddenly every single person makes something out of it.”

“Yeah, you’re getting soft, Catra. Who knew all you needed was a higher rank to be less of an asshole.”

“Say that to me again when you come running and asking me to help with your training.”

“Why, cus’ you’ll say no?” Lonnie barked.

Catra hissed, “No, so I’ll say yes and beat you up.”

Lonnie laughed.

Catra let herself smile.

“You know,” Lonnie turns to look at Catra, “you’re doing a great job.”

Catra tilts her head in confusion.

Lonnie thins her lips and presses on. “Shadow Weaver… my entire life when she was second-in-command… No one really wanted to mess around. Have fun every now and then. People were too terrified. Remember when I threw rations at you and we started a full-blown fight in the cafeteria?”

Catra chuckled and pointed at her nose, “I can still feel the broken bone right here.”

She lifted her sleeve to show a two, inch long scratches on her arm. “I have a matching one,” she smiles weakly “she took me to a dark room and just… left me there. Catra, it felt like I was there for a week. It was cold, and quiet, and lonely. I couldn’t sleep cus’ it felt like I was already asleep, but livin’ a nightmare.

According to Kyle, once I got out, it had only been four hours.”

The isolation rooms. Catra knew that place by heart. It had some sort of tech that deprived someone of the loudness beyond the walls of the Fright Zone. It was only you, the pitch-black darkness around you, and the tinnitus.

“What’d she ended up doing to you?” Lonnie asks casually.

“Well,” Catra bobs her head to the left, “she berated me, said that I would never become anything in my life. You know, the usual.”

Lonnie raised a brow, “With how much Shadow Weaver hated you, that actually shocks me.”

“She knew I looked up to her. Constantly looked for her approval. Telling me I was a useless waste of space hurts plenty more than being thrown in a cell for six hours.”

There was a still silence between them.

“What I’m trying to say is, thank you.” When Catra looked back at Lonnie, the girl’s hand was out stretched. Catra eyed it suspiciously, “For not treating any of those kids like shit. Cus of you, Kyle and Rogelio feel more in the skin than I’ve ever seen. Cus of you, I actually feel some sort of weight off my shoulder.”

Catra was always easy to push into tears, and this… this moment got close.

She took Lonnie’s hand and shook it.

The girl didn’t say anything else but walk away and leave Catra alone with her own thoughts, her eyes falling on Bright Moon once more.

Adora.

If anyone had taught her kindness in the midst of the cruelty given to her, it was Adora.

That was the painful part of it all.

How was she supposed to do this mission if that meant burying on of the lights – the only light – that let her see the world as good?

She grits her teeth.

Decisions, Decisions.

Leaping down from the building, Catra slips on her mask. In a matter of seconds, she turns into a beast of four, running right to the heart of the whispering woods. Truly, she shouldn’t have done that. It would be easier for Rebellion patrols to find her, but with most of the guards around the party, she couldn’t care less.

She reached the clearing faster that usual, her claws digging right into the dirt as she lowers herself to a crouch and view her surroundings.

She, however, couldn’t get a better view from the angle. She huffs.

Catra transforms back. She quietly heads for the rocky walls of Bright Moon, a different route from her usual.

She scales it and succeeds. Now, for the castle itself.

Her grip on the slippery stone loosened every now and then, but she manages to pull herself up over the ledges. Eventually, there was a tiny window in sight.

She enters a room. Catra flattens her ears and quietly heads for the door. She tries to pick up on any footsteps, and when she heard nothing, she explores the castle.

Until she finds the right one.

Adora’s room was empty and the bed was neatly organized. She could smell Adora’s print everywhere, along with Glimmer and Bow’s. When she reaches the balcony, Catra’s lips pull a smile.

In the darkness, she watched the guests. They mingled with each other – all of them wearing something blue. The decorations were blue themed as well.

 She finds Bow and cackles; he looked very exceptional with the long and flappy coat around his body, but still he refuses to wear anything but a half top. Glitter girl wore a bright dress similar to one of Adora’s dresses.

Speaking of…

Catra spots Adora in the crowd, speaking to a man who wore a blue suit. He looked polite enough, and his smile went from ear to ear. She noticed, however, the way his eyes roamed over Adora. Adora, however, looked like she wanted to get as far as possible.

She looked absolutely beautiful in the dress, no doubt. The scars on her back had shown, but she looked less concerned about that and more concerned about the man in front of her.

Adora looked distraught for a minute, before she looks towards the castle.

It took a second for Catra to realize something was off, because when Adora took a step forward towards the castle, the man wrapped an arm around her torso.

Catra’s lip twitched to a snarl.

What’s he doing?

Adora looks back, warily towards the castle and then to the party. Whatever that man was whispering into her ear didn’t sit well with Adora or Catra. The minute Adora took one more lingering glance on the castle, Catra swayed her tail on the balcony, an attempt to grab her attention.

And it works.

Adora looks up to her. Shock and relief crossing her expression. She pushes the guy lightly on his shoulder and says a few words before rushing to the castle. Catra couldn’t stop the smug smile on her face when she noticed him attempting to chase after her before being stopped by the guards.

“Better luck next time, pretty boy,” Catra mumbles, victory evident in her lips.

Chapter Text

(AN: you’re fucking welcome, and I love you all. Now study for your finals, and promise me you’ll do good. I expect good news in the comments next update!!)

The party had only started, and Adora already felt like all eyes were on her.

She couldn’t tell if Catra was right about the dress, or if it was just one of her stupid jokes that Adora took too seriously; but she could feel everyone’s passing glances as she walked next to Bow and Glimmer.

Her friends gave her comfort. She was too distracted with Glimmer dragging her to the buffet to care too much about everyone else in the party. Besides, she was already there. She shouldn’t make a scene by leaving so suddenly, because she felt too flustered and embarrassed of her scars. She promised Glimmer she’d stay until at least after the dance games.

Mermista seemed overjoyed – or, well, Adora thinks – to see her. She commented about her dress, stating that she looked really good; Adora didn’t really believe the princess meant it seriously until Sea Hawk threw his arms on either side of her shoulders to praise her attire.

She let a smile loose after that.

All the other princesses spent their time talking about their kingdoms with Angella, but it wasn’t like the meetings they had back I the castle. It was more or less to check on each other and interesting stories that had been going on.

“Psst, Adora,” Glimmer jabbed her ribs lightly “don’t look too obvious, but Roosevelt is staring at you.”

“Roose – who?” Adora almost straightened her back to look around before Glimmer yanked her back down by the arm “Ow, hey!”

“Roosevelt! Look – but don’t look – to your right,” Adora shot a secret glance, acting like as if she was turning to look at the castle. He had horns sticking out of the top of his head and stretching like tree roots. He had a bush of blue leaves sitting like a nest on either crown. His skin was pale white. His hair – short, wavy, and brown. Handsome, and certainly muscular.

And when Adora accidentally met his eyes, he fires a wink. Adora looks away immediately.

“He’s from Plumeria and well-known for basically being the handsomest guy there –”

“Well, he’s handsome, but is he actually a decent guy –” she begins to whisper, but Glimmer tugs her down even more.

Oh my god, Adora, he’s coming,” she whispered loudly, looking completely flushed.

Adora tries her best not to look over, but with the way Roosevelt places himself right in front of Adora, avoiding to look at him was close to impossible. Looking at him closer, Adora couldn’t see it… What was so appealing about him besides his brawny figure and the freckles on his face?

Princess,” okay, so maybe his voice was smoother than anything she had ever heard. He nods to Glimmer, then lifts his hand to take Adora’s. She could only watch as he leans down to press a soft kiss on top of it “The mighty She-ra… It’s an honor to be blessed by your presence,” his voices sounded obviously lower as he said this.

Adora felt her senses tingling the same way it does whenever something – or someone – dangerous presented itself to her.

Glimmer slipped her arm out of Adora’s and points towards Bow, “I’ll be with Bow and Sea Hawk if you need me. It’s a pleasure to see you, Roosevelt. I hope you enjoy the party.”

“The night is still young, princess. I hope to spend it wisely the next few hours,” he flashes Adora a grin.

Adora silently begs for Glimmer to stay, but Glimmer instead teleports herself away. Adora thins her lips before sighing in defeat. She looks at the young man, his eyes green with a hunger for something Adora couldn’t quite place.

Adora slips her hand out of his hold, “So, Glimmer told me your name is Roosevelt.”

“Yes,” His smile retreats for a moment, only to return when Adora turns her back from him and back towards the buffet “my, my, my, you’re wearing such a lovely dress. The blue certainly matches you… and that necklace is a nice touch.” She hides the fluster from his comments, but it turned out she didn’t need to hide it for too long.

“Shame about your back, though. Damaged skin is never appealing.”

The comment didn’t sting the way she thought it would.

No, no, no. It felt more like a hammer smashing into Adora’s nerves and pushing her to do things out of impulse. It’s as if all her lessons of kindness and love in the rebellion came undone in a span of a second, and every instinct she grew from the Horde came slipping out.

She whirled around, ready to wipe the smug look off his face, but stopped herself when she hears the loud singing of Sea Hawk.

“Ooooh!” He started.

“Sea hawk, I swear to Etheria –”

“She is a lady so beautiful, so fine! A woman whose love for me is divine –” Mermista scowled, but Adora didn’t miss her reddening cheeks. Sea Hawk continued with his shanty “I sailed from the north, and here I’ve brought forth, A treasure from thousands of miles awaaay –“

“Please, shut up!” Mermista yells, but Bow chimes in.

“—aaay!!! And now we’ve come to you, dear princess; because, today is your day! We’ll light up a fire, for this day is we require –” Bow presents a cake in front of Mermista, and Sea Hawk throws an arm around the princess “for this birthday is your final day –”

Sea Hawk winks “because your teenage days –"

“ – are about to expire!!!” the two share the final line.

Adora claps her hands together and laughs at the ridiculousness. Mermista buries her face in her palms, and when Sea Hawk tried to encourage her to look up from her hands, she pushed him away. It exposed a very sensitive part of Mermista, a pure red face.

Adora couldn’t tell if it was out of love our pure embarrassment. Maybe, it was both.

“Fine, whatever! Thank you for the song, and I still hate you,” Mermista blows the candle and everyone cheered.

Adora watched with a gentle smile on her face.

The way Sea Hawk and Mermista were drastic opposites… yet still. Their respect for each other was something she was jealous of. Something she craved with someone she’d fall in love with.

An equal.

“Pathetic, isn’t it?” Adora’s eyes widened, and she couldn’t help but look up towards Roosevelt. His face was twisted in disgust, “It’s a sad pair, if you ask me.”

Adora gritted her teeth and gripped the side of her dress. “If you have nothing better to say about Sea Hawk, you probably shouldn’t be here.”

Roosevelt only chuckles. “I was invited because of my status and reputation, not my opinions. Nothing wrong with speaking my mind if it brings no harm to others. And besides, princess. I have eyes –” he nods towards Sea Hawk “—the pirate is a good man. I was talking about the princess…”

Adora’s blood almost tipped to its boiling point.

“Who would want to settle with a brat like that?”

“Wow, you are nothing other than your appearance, are you?” Adora held him with a glare.

He didn’t waver, though. He raised his hand and picked up blue themed drinks from the waiter. He handed one to Adora as he sipped on his own. “It works, though, doesn’t it?”

Adora growls and starts walking away. She started looking for Glimmer in the crowd. The lights dimmed however, and the crowd of people gathered to the center. Adora pushes through until she reaches the doors of the castle.

Before she could slip away, however, she feels hands wrap around her waist. “Where are you going, princess?”

Adora feels Roosevelt press himself to her, as if pulling her to dance with him, “Why don’t you join me?”

“No, I don’t want to. I have… I left something in the castle.”

“Oh, you are a terrible liar, did you know that?”

Adora looked at the castle then back to the party.

“Come on, there’s no harm to dancing, She-ra…”

Let go. Let go. Let go. She looked back at the party, then back to the palace again, trying to find a suitable exit.

She has to get out.

She opened her mouth to yell at him to let her go – ready to tell him to fuck right off. But, the sight of a tail dangling far in the background, right where her balcony is… She slowly widened her eyes and closed her lips.

Catra.

“I… no.” Adora pushed him back. “Get off me, or I’ll ask for the guards to get you.”

“You wouldn’t.”

Adora shook herself out of his grasp.

She marched off towards the entrance of the castle, the guards letting her pass right in. Roosevelt, however, was blocked off. “Sorry, sir. You’re not permitted to enter.”

The young man looked mad, and the handsome face suddenly looked like something she would never have wanted to meet in the first place.

Looks like not all people in the rebellion are kind people like she thought.

Adora climbs up the steps of the palace until she reached the third level.

Right as she opened the door, she notices Catra leaning against one of her pillars. The moonlight and the light of the party made her silhouette… ethereal.

Adora could only imagine.

If Catra had been in the party with her. If she had stood next to her instead of Roosevelt. If she had been asked to dance with the feline… Perhaps she would’ve enjoyed it a little more. Their personalities, their lives, and their allegiances; it differs form each other drastically. But they always matched each other’s pace.

Equals.

Adora approached Catra, leaning on the pillar directly next to hers. “I thought you said you weren’t coming?”

Catra looked at her and shrugged, “I thought I’d see what this party crap is all about. Who was that bone-head that went after you? He looked fun.”

Adora sighs heavily, “just… someone.”

“Someone?”

“A hassle.”

“I can toss him off a ledge for you if you want? Or stick mud into his antlers?”

Adora laughed at that, “Catra, no.”

Catra looked at her and smiled as well, “well, whatever. But if he lays a hand on you again, I’m breaking one of those horns off his head.”

A silence passed. But… it wasn’t so uncomfortable this time. Just the two of them, under the mercy of moonlight, watching as everyone else danced to their hearts content. Glimmer and Bow pulled and pushed themselves while dancing, and Frosta danced with Mermista and Sea Hawk. Roosevelt… was off dancing with Perfuma.

Adora sighs, heavily. She didn’t mean to.

“Wish you were down there?” Catra flicked her ear.

“Yeah, but… I like it up here with you. People watching.”

“Do you want to dance?”

Adora turns to look at Catra. The feline had her hand out and a blank expression painted her face. Adora looked at her hand.

This was something she liked about Catra.

There was permission for everything. A question of ‘do you want to do this?’ that made Adora feel like her decisions were hers. Catra, even when they were young, never forced her hand on Adora when it came to situations that needed it. Catra would playfully take her things, but Adora…

Even now, with the scars on her back…

Even after Catra had left her to fall to her death in the First One’s temple…

She could never find herself to fear Catra. Disappointed? Very. But never fear her.

Right now, however, Adora feared for her life.

She knew because her heart thudded in her chest.

Adora willed herself to lift her hand and place it right on top of Catra’s softer ones.

Catra’s nails gently scraped the inside of her hand. Unlike the erratic dancing of the people in the party, Catra moved her as gently as she had back in Frosta’s palace. And Adora counted the dots on Catra’s face every time the feline was half a foot away from her.

She lost herself in the moment and nearly missed it when Catra ended their dance when the music outside stopped.

They were pressed together, the same way she was with Roosevelt. But… instead of wanting to push Catra away. She wanted to pull.

“Well,” she felt Catra’s arms unwind from her torso, “that was fun –"

“I’m sorry,” Adora whispered, her hand moving to cup Catra’s cheek.

Catra blinked, “for what?”

“For this.”

She leaned forward, pressing a close-mouthed kiss right on Catra’s own lips.

She felt sparks setting off in her stomach. Adora also felt Catra’s hands gripping her hips and digging themselves against the fabric of her dress. But other than that, the feline stood there, frozen. Adora lets the sparks settle down before she pulls away.

Adora couldn’t look at her in the eyes. The bets were off, and her cards were shown.

Catra… Catra only stood there.

“I’m sorry –”

“Don’t.” She hears the Cat rasp before feeling a hand raise to lift her face. Whatever danced behind those mismatched eyes renewed the fire burning in her stomach.

Catra surged forward, and Adora caught her lips at once.

Unlike before, this kiss dissolved her. She buckled her knees as sharp teeth scraped the thin skin of her lips. This was different. Not a single one of her little books explained that kissing would feel like this, or that it was possible to even kiss like this.

The feeling in her stomach wasn’t butterflies at all; it was scorching fire.

Adora was led backwards until her back hit one of the pillars of her balcony, and she gasped at the feeling of cold marble on her skin. And, when Catra took that moment to slip a rough tongue into her mouth, her brain buzzed the same way it had back in Entrapta’s palace. The whimper that left her lips certainly reached Catra’s flattened ears.

Catra broke the kiss to favor her neck. She placed bites and kisses starting from Adora’s shoulder and up her neck, higher and higher. Once the feline reached Adora’s ear, she ran a rough tongue around the shell of it.

Adora bit her lip to hold back a sound.

It was impossible, though.

Because when Catra raised her hands to dig into Adora’s back before dragging it down hard enough to leave marks, but not hard enough to make her bleed? Adora moaned.

She hadn’t realized that Catra was bunching up her dress from the bottom until she felt rough hands gripping the exposed sides of upper thigh. Catra lifted her up by the legs, and Adora instinctively vices herself around the feline for support.

She felt Catra’s hand burn against the skins of her thighs.

Her books didn’t teach her this either.

“Catra…”

“Come here,” Catra yanks the blonde by her pearl necklace.

Their lips crashed together again, Catra’s tongue dancing with her own in an addictive way that Adora couldn’t completely process in her head.

This.

Whatever this was.

It was numbing her mind and etching itself right into her soul.

She felt every touch shoot something into her stomach, and it was a pressure that slowly built up as Catra continued. It was uncomfortable, like she needed something to force the feeling away. To cast it out of her body.

And when Catra pushed her leg between Adora’s, she felt that desire met.

She let out a heavy sigh and rocked herself against it.

Whatever this was, it wasn’t romance anymore.

The bleeding lips and sharpened teeth, the nails raking her skin, the feeling of something wet right between her legs – her body salivating from every touch... The feeling of Catra’s purring becoming heavier against her eardrums, accompanied by the sound of her own heartbeat. The tiny sighs that left her lips and the growls that left Catra’s…

Catra’s face feeling like a mile away from her when she feels the pressure on her hips, building more – beyond – somewhere – she can’t…

She can’t think.

“Catra –” she moaned out

Suddenly, Catra halted. Adora sensed her panic immediately the second the feline lowered Adora and lowered the leg wedged between the blonde. Catra helps Adora straighten out her dress before leaping out of sight to the same crevice she hid behind last time.

Before Adora could fully calm herself down, there was a knock on her door.

“Yo, Adora, you in there?” It was Bow.

“Ye… yes. I am. I just… I’m okay.”

“You disappeared from the party, Roosevelt said u headed to the castle, is everything –”

“Yes, I’m fine. Peachy. Just…” she exhaled “perfectly okay. Bow, look I’ll talk to you tomorrow okay?”

“But –”

“Good night!”

She waited for Bow’s footsteps to resonate in the hallway. A sigh wracks her body when she notices Catra hop back into her room.

Catra approached her.

“That was umm.. that was close.”

“You think?” Catra huffed, sounding a tiny bit irritated.

Adora looked up at her. The weird feeling in her gut returned, and Adora couldn’t stop herself from asking the question burning in her lips.

“Catra, what is this?”

Adora waited for something along the lines of ‘like’ or ‘love’. But when Catra angled her head to place a gentle bite on her pulse, Adora knew.

This… whatever this was.

It was nowhere close to romance.

“You started this mess and you don’t even know what it is? That’s very like you Adora,” Catra mocked her.

“Hey, no, I just wanted a kiss,” saying it out loud made her blush “you took it… you umm… made it something else.”

There was something dark behind those mismatched eyes.

When Catra started stepping closer, inching little by little into her personal space, Adora felt herself gulp and take several steps back until the back of her knees hits the bed.

“Something else,” Catra whispered, “would you like to find out what that is?”

“I—” she felt Catra’s hands working slowly to bunch her dress up again, and she felt her cheeks burn. The pressure in her stomach was back and it slammed into her full force. Adora’s arms went up to rest on either side of Catra’s shoulders.

What could she possibly lose from this if she said yes?

Adora didn’t answer with her words, but when she leaned up to meet Catra’s lips? She knew her fate was sealed.

Adora didn’t reserve herself this time. The second she felt those hands climb up her thighs as a tongue swept her lips, she felt her control slipping again. Catra rubbed the area between her legs with the flat of her palm in the same second that she decided to bite and pull Adora’s lips.

She gasped against their kiss.

Where in Eternia did Catra learn to do this?

She doesn’t know what words flew out of her mouth when Catra started moving her hand more against the fabric of her underwear, but the more it continued, the more Adora started leaning back. Catra didn’t chase after her. Catra didn’t anchor her down with her other hand. Instead, the feline watched her face fall apart into a mess of moans.

“You look like you’re enjoying yourself.”

“Sh..shut,” she bit her lip and muffled a moan for a second, “shut u-up.”

“I’m sorry, what was that?” Catra dared her as she pressed against her a little harder.

Adora felt her lips pull up to a smile despite the knotting feeling in her stomach. “I sa…said, shut up. You suck at this…”

When Catra stopped her hand, Adora thought she had pushed the feline too far. Adora was still sitting up when she saw the smirk on Catra’s face slowly coming up –

but Catra decided the retract her claws to favor slipping them under the fabric, right where Adora didn’t know she needed her to be –

Adora’s back hit the bed.

Catra didn’t hesitate to play with a spot that drove Adora riveting and moaning for more. Adora gripped the sheets of her bed as she did. Catra bent down to pull Adora by her hair.

Catra – damn it – please,”

I need to kiss you, she wanted to say.

“Say you’re sorry first, and maybe I’ll give you what you want,” she made a point at that by biting her own lips. Adora could only stare; it should be hers between those teeth.

Adora opened her mouth to try, but Catra’s pace – her fingers… The way they moved and circled around made her want to ask – beg – for more… Speaking was hard. “Please, Catra,” she broke into a whine when Catra went lower, into another part of her she hadn’t let anyone touch before.

“Please? I want an apology, not a request.”

“I’m sorry, s-so sorry…You’re really good – gods, you feel so, so good–” Adora clutched the fabric of Catra’s chest with both of her hands, “so please, just…–”

That smirk was starting to piss her off, “Just what?”

Adora growled and pulled Catra closer with a searing kiss.

Catra was never the type of person to ease herself into something. Adora knew this. It was one of Catra’s most defining traits. So, when she felt two fingers dig into the trenches of her body and thrust themselves deep inside her, Adora couldn’t swallow the yell that left her mouth.

Catra, though, was quick to catch it with her tongue.

“You’re so fucking wet…” Catra mumbled to her lips. Adora didn’t know how, but it made her want more.

Those fingers never stopped slipping in and out.

She was close. Back to that feeling of pressure she had when Catra pressed her against the marble pillar. Whatever Catra was trying to dig out of her was close to showing itself. The lewd noises bouncing around her room, the way Catra’s fingers curled and hooked onto her. And when Catra twisted her wrist…

She is so close.

“Adora,” Catra moaned against her lips before perching herself on her elbow, watching Adora fall apart.

“Fuck, I’m –”

“I know, just let go, I have you.”

I have you.

She would be lying if she said Catra’s fingers wasn’t what brought her to the edge, but those words were what tossed her over it.

Her vision went white when she felt the pressure in her stomach pop and release itself onto the hands of the woman who brought it out of her. Adora gripped as Catra continued to pull whatever it was out of system. To let Adora ride it all out.

It wasn’t until she felt herself relax that Catra pulled her fingers from between her legs and lick them clean. Adora blushed to a furious pink at the sight, and it didn’t help when Catra fired a wink in her direction.

She couldn’t stop herself from playfully slapping Catra’s chest.

“Wow, I do you correctly and getting hit is the thanks I get?”

“Shut up, smug bastard.”

She saw Catra grin in the moonlight. Adora felt her heart leap at the sight. “You’re welcome."

Chapter Text

“I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

It… wasn’t what she was hoping for, but Catra liked it anyway.

The soft feeling of Adora’s lips last night. Her little mews and loud moans of pleasure was still ringing in her ears when she opened her eyes in the morning. Every little sound she made was addictive; it dripped in her ears like honey flavored rations against her tongue – sweet, thick, and deliciously flavorful.

Catra could drown in it, and she wouldn’t mind.

She hadn’t done that with anybody. At least, not for a very long time. Every time she had done this was all for the sake of destressing. It was all anybody old enough could do in the Horde.

And that’s what this was.

Just a way for Catra to destress.

The expectations stacking on her shoulder; checking up on Entrapta, Scorpia, and the cadets; reporting her progress with Hordak every now and then; visiting Adora twice or thrice a week; everything was done out of pure necessity to prove herself and finish the mission.

But this? Not this.

This was purely for her own satisfaction. Purely an outlet to let out all her piling emotions into an act that would remain secret between them.

Catra trailed a finger along the forearm of the woman sleeping next to her.

Adora had changed back to her usual outfit and out of that dress of hers – a shame, really – before laying back down into her bed. Catra pulled her into a tight hug that night, but she couldn’t sleep until the glow of the party dimmed down.

Some time during that night, Adora had turned over to face Catra. Catra woke from her sleep because of it and pulls the blonde closer to her, an annoyed sound rumbling in her throat. Adora molds herself against the feline, sighing contently into the cat’s neck. Catra yawned and falls asleep again.

Catra wakes again after a few hours. No apparent reason other than the desire to touch Adora’s skin.

Adora shifted in her sleep when Catra placed her hand on the bone of the Blonde’s hips.

A smirk lifts Catra’s lips. She scoots her hips closer to Adora before she started pressing light kisses on the exposed shoulder.

It didn’t take long for Adora to stir, and when she did, Catra dug her nails on her flesh.

Adora whined.

“Morning, princess,” Catra greeted, peppering the length of her neck with bites.

Another minor thing Catra noticed was Adora’s sensitivity when it comes to her ears. Specifically, a small spot at the ends of her jawline. Catra made an experimental swipe at it with her tongue and that was enough to get the blonde to fully open her eyes and face Catra.

She didn’t say anything besides move closer and place a kiss on Catra’s lips.

Catra felt her tail coil and unwind itself.

“Morning,” the blonde whispered quietly before pulling Catra in for a deeper kiss.

Catra sealed Adora’s lip between her teeth before pulling herself on top of the blonde and under the sheets; her knee slipped between lean legs, but it wasn’t quite high enough to please. Their kiss started gaining heat when Adora lifted her arms to favor gripping Catra’s shirt. The hand placed on Catra’s stomach went lower to grab the hem of her uniform.

Catra felt herself grin; Adora was starting to explore.

Another thing that drove Adora was when Catra pulled at her hair and sank her teeth in her neck in the same second. Catra had the chance to do it when Adora exposed her neck, but Catra didn’t do anything but place heated kisses.

For now, she’ll let Adora journey on.

The girl underneath her tugged at the uniform and slipping her hands to touch the warm flesh underneath it. She fought a moan when Adora glided her hands over her toned stomach, stopping just below the curve of her tits.

What got Catra to eventually slip out a whine was when Adora dragged her fingers back down, blunt nails scraping her.

“As much as I love this,” Adora starts and Catra can already hear the next words. Catra started running her nails on the back of Adora’s upper thighs “Catra, I’m sore form last night –”

“We don’t have to fuck,” Catra mumbled “for you to feel amazing”

Catra shuts her up with her tongue. Adora tries to mumble a few more words, but it all dissolved when Catra finally moved her leg high enough to touch against Adora’s center. Adora cursed and raised her hands back up to drag her nails on Catra’s back this time.

When one of Adora’s fingers accidentally – or purposely, but Catra didn’t really care – scrapes the junction of skin that connected to her tail, she jutted her hips down onto one of Adora’s legs.

Damn it, Catra,” Adora moaned.

The feline went to her ear then and there, sliding a tongue on it and biting before she let her hips saunter down against Adora’s leg again. The blonde underneath her resigned herself to grip the sides of Catra’s arms.

Catra grinned devilishly. “Do you want me to do you like last night?” she made sure her voice rasped against the blonde’s ear.

Adora visibly shook. “N-no… but pl—ease –” Adora turned her face so that their lips would connect once more “—don’t stop moving.”

Catra purred before connecting their lips together again. The hot wetness on her mouth and between her legs, along with the desperate plea, was enough for Catra to fully grind herself against Adora’s thigh.

The movement led her wedged leg to press firmer against Adora’s center, following the rhythm every time Catra rolled her hips. Adora whimpered against their kiss. Coherent words were fleeting away the more it went on. Catra felt her purrs vibrating louder for every slide of her hips.

Adora’s hands gripped the feline’s sides and pushed her further against the blonde’s leg.

Catra gasped at that.

She could tell Adora relished the sound, because the next thing Catra knew was that this woman smirks.

“You were always a fast learner, huh,” Catra curses in between their kiss.

“I learned from the best,” Adora fires back between her moans.

Catra genuinely smiles, “Shut up.”

That was another thing. Adora enjoyed being silenced. It was like a magic word to the blonde’s ear – say it when she’s close to her peak and Adora will practically fall apart then and there.

And just as Catra had suspected, Adora started rocking her hips harder, her moans growing hotter and hotter against Catra’s lips. Eventually, the feline broke their lips apart to let her breathe and to watch her break.

She felt Adora crumble. The silent moan slipping from her lips as she rocked her hips to chase the fleeting feeling. Catra watched the scene play out: mouth open, eyes clenched, skin reddened, and back arched. A beautiful sight to be seen.

It was better than seeing the pained look in her eyes the past two months.

Adora slumped.

Catra didn’t get her release, but there was always another day. She got half of what she wanted.

Catra stayed on top of Adora, watching her labored breathing fill and empty her chest. She looked beautiful like this; collapsed and high from Catra’s touch. Adora had always been unfairly beautiful in her eyes.

Then again, she was unfairly good at everything. That’s what got them into this position in the first place. Two ex-best friends, who have done plenty of things to hurt each other, lying in bed. One of them, knuckle deep inside the other; while the other one chases the high.

This moment… this one wasn’t for anyone else but theirs.

She didn’t think it would get to this point, but now that it has –

How much will this hurt once she loses it?

Catra didn’t want to think about it.

She felt fingers rise and touch her face. Catra snapped back and saw Adora’s curious eyes. “Are you okay?”

“Y..yeah I’m fine, I was just watching you.”

Adora looked like she didn’t believe it. “Are you worried?”

Catra didn’t see it until now, but Adora… She’s learning to read her correctly. Just like she promised the night before. Perhaps, Adora has been trying to read her better before she even made the promise.

Catra battled the thoughts in her head. “Just… Horde things. Don’t worry about it.”

“What about?”

You. How I’ll end up hurting you. “Classified stuff,” Catra shrugged.

Adora nodded silently. Catra could tell that the tiring effect of her climax was hitting her. She got off the blonde and tucked herself under the blankets, claiming the spot right next to her again. Adora didn’t miss a second before she wrapped her arms around Catra.

“Hey, Catra?” Adora mumbled, “what is this?”

The question took her by surprise, but she answered anyway. “Sex. Something two people do to make themselves feel better.”

“Yeah, but…” Adora pulled back to look right into Catra’s eyes, attempting to read whatever emotion would pass through them, “we kissed.”

“So?”

“Well, in the books I’m reading, kissing is meant for lovers. It’s,” Adora toyed with a strand of hair on Catra’s shoulder “it’s what you do to tell someone you love them.”

Love.

Catra felt a hiss threatening to burst out of her throat. Love was anything but what she felt about Adora. If anything, it was just annoyance. Another stupid obstacle. Another mission she has to get done to achieve what she truly loves: power and importance. The only reason Catra was here was to prove a point.

To prove to Hordak that she is better than Adora will ever be.

To prove to Adora that she missed out by deciding to leave.

Love? Love was the last thing on her list, and yet –

She can’t bring herself to hate the woman in front of her anymore. So, when Adora lifts her hand to cup Catra’s cheek to ask: “Do you love me?”

The answer was easy.

“No, I don’t.”

Saying that Adora’s face looked crushed wasn’t it. Mad wasn’t the right word either.

Disappointment?

Yeah, that’s it.

Adora let a soft, yet sad smile play on her face. Those blue eyes shot down to Catra’s lips before Adora leaned forward to give her a kiss.

It wasn’t one meant to get Catra to start again, but it was meant to speak a language. A language that didn’t involve any anger or persuasion. A language they could share silently. Catra didn’t really need to read into it much to hear that voice in her head.

“I love you.”

Catra felt herself still at it. She didn’t push her away, but she didn’t pull Adora in either. Her reaction mirrored it all; She doesn’t know what to do anymore. What she feels.

What does she truly want?

Went Adora broke their lips apart, she whispers. “I’m right here. With you. That’s enough for me even if you don’t feel what I feel for you –”

“You shouldn’t do that,” Catra warned, like a snarling animal “I’ll end up hurting you again.”

But humans… stupid humans will try to save anything. “But it won’t stop me from trying to get you back. You said it yourself, I don’t think I can ever hate you.”

Adora had this awful habit of never giving up. Catra saw it every time they clashed – both in training and in a fight. If Adora saw even the smallest hint of light inside of someone’s soul, she will do whatever is in her power to pull it out of them.

That light of hers kept dimming the power of darkness within you.

No, Hordak was wrong.

Her light made you feel like you could be anything other than dark.

Catra can’t tell if that thought made her sick, because she felt something twist inside her stomach

Catra chuckled, “No wonder She-ra chose you.”

Adora tilted her head in confusion, but her smile brightened, nonetheless.

Catra glanced at the sun starting to peak out of the horizon. “I should probably go.”

The blonde sighs and rubs a hand behind Catra’s ear. Catra fell into it.

“One more question?”

“Go on.”

Catra prepared herself for the worst. Prepared herself for something as serious as the last one.

“Where in Etheria did you learn how to do that?”

Catra broke her stiff demeanor to favor a chuckle. “You would never believe me even if I told you –”

“What? So, there’s a story behind this?” Adora sat up, her eyebrows raised and blue eyes wide “did this happen after I left?”

“Before,” Catra shrugged, her tail playfully lashing.

“And you never told me? Your best friend?”

“I told her I wouldn’t tell a soul,” Catra flicked her ear, unable to stop the growing grin on her face. “And that includes you, you know?”

“Catra!”

“I’ll tell you how it happened, but I can’t tell you who,” Catra said, the tease on her voice was evident. She waited for Adora to wrestle her into asking who it was, but she only beckoned Catra to go on with her eyes. “Well look, this was all the way back in sophomore year. Do you remember when Shadow Weaver told us that there’s a half way exam every season that we had to do to push us on the brink?”

Adora nodded.

“So, I saw this person in the middle of the night on my usual spot up on the roof of the facility. I told her to fuck off, she told me to fuck off, and we ended up fucking each other off,” Adora narrowed her eyes at the lack of detail, but Catra continued “I hadn’t done anything like it before but with all the stress and… just things… that Shadow Weaver has been pushing on us? I caved. So, we kept doing it in secret until the year ended. Then, we were back to hating each other.”

“Wait, you two hated each other,” Catra could see Adora connecting the dots.

“Yeah, guess I have a thing for liking people I hate…” Adora’s mouth started opening, “… humans too, I guess.”

Lonnie?” Adora practically yelled, and Catra cackled “You did it with Lonnie?”

Catra’s grin was from ear to ear now, and Adora’s face was flushed red. It was kind of cute to watch. “Yeah. I kept my end of the deal to keep my mouth shut, and she kept her end of the deal to not make a big deal out of it.”

More dots started connecting in Adora’s brain. “That… do.. do you still –”

The look Catra gave Adora was in the lines of ‘really?’ and ‘why are you jealous?’. Still, Catra wrapped her tail on Adora’s wrist and reassured her. “No, but we are better friends now. Since, you know, you left.”

Adora’s smile faded at that. Catra felt herself sitting up in alert because of it. “I guess… I guess you were right about me getting in the way, huh?”

The words shouldn’t have stung, but it did. The weight her decision to leave didn’t just affect everyone else; it affected Adora, herself, as well. She left because if the Horde’s wrong doing –

Catra lifted her hand to cup Adora’s cheek. Those blue eyes held an ocean of apology.

This time, instead of turning away, Catra touched the waves.

I never wanted to leave you.

And she left anyway.

Promise?

And she broke it.

Yet that burning feeling of hate and anger in Catra’s chest didn’t feel as loud and bright as before. It felt lighter. Like as if a huge weight of it was shaved off the instant that Adora kissed her. This wasn't at all for her satisfaction. She was wrong. Catra knew what this is, and it's a hard thought to swallow.

This is change.

She doesn’t know how to feel about it. She doesn’t know what to do about it.

So, instead, Catra decided not to think too much about it.

Perhaps, this mission wasn’t going to be as easy as she thought after all.

Chapter Text

Magicats are known as the warriors of freedom. Their desire for freedom cannot be tamed, and even the hardest of trials are sought and overcome by their never-ending determination to live freely. They take orders from no one else but their queen – the righteous ruler of their lands. Once a Magicat is taught to be obey a cause or a person – their queen – their loyalty is impossible to break.

While their early history with the rest of Etheria was covered in shadows behind their old underground kingdom, the Magicats rose from their hidden sanctuary after much persuasion from the Queen of Bright Moon – Angella, a being of immortality. Queen Angella had promised the cats land on the surface if it meant sharing their culture with the rest of Etheria. Queen Ferocia of D’riluth, the queen during this treaty, reluctant agreed, but passed away before their kingdom was fully built.

 Her daughter, Queen C’yra of D’riluth II, is known to be one of Queen Angella’s closest ally. It was clear that the Magicats were rising to become one of the most powerful kingdoms in the west of Etheria.

Adora flipped to the next page.

LINE OF ROYALTY –

Queen S’kala of Miluk

Queen Driska of Gol’hem

Queen C’yra of D’riluth

Queen Ferocia of D’riluth

Queen C’yra of D’riluth II (current queen)

 --- C’yra of D’riluth III (princess)

Adora placed a hand on the first queen’s picture – she was covered in fur and her pelt was black, long, knotted on the tips, and scraggly. Her eyes glowed yellow. She looked more like a warrior than a queen.

Queen S’kala of Miluk was known to their people as the queen unguarded. She lived freely and lived her own life away from the throne. She was a leader chosen by the people, but she lost her life fighting for her people when a sickness spread through the Magicats.

She looked at the next cat – Queen Driska of Gol’hem. The sketch of her was angry, on all four, pelt orange like fire with black stripes. Her eyes looked golden. She looked like someone Adora wouldn’t want to get to know.

Queen Driska of Gol’hem was known as the purifier. She spent her life trying to eradicate the sicknesses that went rampant across the kingdom. According to the information left about the leader, her ways of destroying the sickness was destroying the vessels that held them. Yes, you read correctly. This Queen killed her own people to try and cure a spreading disease. She lived to be 70, only to be killed the disease itself.

When Adora saw the next ruler. A beautiful cat of grey pelt and black stripes, and those eyes shined gold and purple. In a regal sense, this was what she’d think of as a queen. Her eyes were soft like Queen Angela’s and her posture was graceful.

Queen C’yra of D’riluth. The Angel of D’riluth. The first of her name for a reason. This queen was known as the first venture of the outside world. Leaving her throne and rule entrusted to her second-in-command’s hand, she roamed the rest of Etheria to find a cure for the sickness. She successfully found it in the Kingdom called Bright Moon. In exchange for the cure, she traded her kingdom’s secret defenses – a wall that moved. She died at 136.

Adora hummed thoughtfully before flipping to the next page.

The next queen’s pelt was orange. She adorned lighter, darker black stripes than the last queen. Her eyes were golden like two pits of fire.

Queen Ferocia of D’riluth – the bridge of Two Moons. She spent plenty of her time forging an agreement with Queen Angella to move from their underground haven. The two queens butted heads on where they should be located but finalized an agreement to remain close to their underground home. Queen Ferocia passed away at 53 due to a toxic fruit called “cocoa”.

Yikes. A sad way to die.

Adora looked at the final cat. Dark, almost jet-black pelt with orange stripes and yellow eyes. She looked like a warrior in every sense, but the gentleness of a queen.

Queen C’yra of D’riluth II is a force of nature the kingdom didn’t expect to see. The Hurricane of Etheria She is strong, lion-hearted, and stubborn; yet, she is also kind, intelligent, and a leader no one was truly ready for. She led the kingdom to prosperity. Her relationship with Queen Angella was one closer to friends than colleagues. Queen C’yra also encouraged the kingdoms to the East to open trades and form allegiances. She is still alive

The pen that had been used to write this information suddenly switched from black to blue. The same hand writing but done at a different time.

lived to be 102. Slain by the Horde along with the rest of her people. She tried to rally her people into the underground. Some say she did it to escape, but I have a theory. Based on the word around, Queen C’yra was pregnant.

Adora looked at the last name below. There was no sketch of this one’s appearance, and there was but one sentence.

Princess C’yra of D’riluth III, the Last Hope.

Adora shut the book.

Amongst everything she had read since she’s found this section of the library, this carried the most information about the Magicats history. Still, she learned a great deal about their home and their culture.

The Magicats were creatures of the night. They hunted, partied, and trained when the rest of Etheria rested. A book directly cited them to have increased capabilities to see in the dark. They preferred ambush over fighting in the front lines and relying on their instincts rather than planning accordingly.

During daylight, Magicats bathed in the sunlight to rest. They loved the warmth of the sun on their pelts, and they could even sleep throughout the day. Their daylight warriors are known to be the most highly trained because of their ability to fight their instincts.

The Queen of the Magicats had the ability to transform into a cat that stood almost six-foot while standing on its four. According to another book she had found, the queen is capable of bringing down at least a hundred men on her own. Her weakness, however, lie in their size; it makes them a bigger target.

Aside from this last book, there was nothing about what the Horde had done to the Magicats. No explanation on why Hordak focused on them and only them. And, their sorceress – Shadow weaver, no doubt – killed them all without mercy, but why?

What did these people have that was so secret?

What did was important enough to sacrifice their entire race.

Her thoughts were caught when she heard a knock on her door. “Come in!”

Glimmer entered. “Hey – Oh wow, you look… glowing?”

Adora tilts her head in confusion. “I… am?”

Glimmer steps closer and squints, “Yeah, definitely. What did you do?”

“I don’t know, I didn’t do anything,” Adora shrugs, flipping through the book.

“Huh, weird. You still stuck on those books?”

Adora nods.

“Yeah, I’m actually shocked your mom let me read them outside the library,” Adora comments, scooting from her bed to let Glimmer sit with her.

“Well, duh, you’re She-ra,” Glimmer rolled her eyes, “and I’m pretty sure she’s glad you’re taking interest in Etherian history. I remember mom was psyched when I asked her if I could learn more about it.”

Adora nodded mindlessly, but then whipped her head up, realizing an idea. “Hey, what do you know about the Magicats?”

Glimmer’s expression turned into something that mirrored worry. “I… I don’t know. Mom never wanted to talk about the Magicats. She gets… really quiet. It’s like she doesn’t want to talk about it. All I know is that the Queen of the Magicats … umm, what was her name again?”

“The last one?”

“Yep.”

“C’yra of D’riluth II.”

“Yeah, her! Mom told me that she hid something valuable in Half Moon, and Mom is the only person left who knows how to get in.”

You don’t know?”

Glimmer shrugged. “Mom kept her promise all these years to keep it a secret. I don’t know how someone can do that. They must’ve been best friends.”

Adora felt a guilt knot in her stomach at that.

She remembers the feeling last night. The tight grip on her stomach, the light feeling the moment they woke…

Adora thought what they already had was complicated enough. But this? What they had now? This was beyond that. Catra viewed it as some sort of escape. But, Adora felt the anchors of her mind drop and face the oncoming waves; Adora basically threw it all on Catra and expected the second-in-command of the Horde to deal with the realization that she wants to be something more.

Something more than best friends.

To hold the promise that she’ll never leave.

… Wait a minute.

“Catra,” Adora whispers, eyes starting to widen as her hands fly towards the book she had opened before.

She flips from page, to page, to page, until she reaches the list of Queens. She made sure. She triple checked. She reread the lines over, and over, and over. Until it all just snapped together in her head.

There’s a chance that there is only one Magicat left alive in all of Etheria, and for that person to hold that burden… of all people….

Is sitting as the right hand of the Horde.

“All the queens have golden eyes….” Adora whispered.

Glimmer nods slowly, “Well, yeah. Aside from the crown, the eyes are also another way of determining –”

“What does their crown look like?” Adora immediately blurts.

“I-I don’t know I wouldn’t know. Queen C’yra died before I was born and mom never –” Adora quickly slides off the bed to slip on her jacket, “Adora, what’s going on?”

“Catra… That’s what’s going on.”

“What does she have to do with this –”

“Glimmer,” Adora snatches a paper from her desk and begins to sketch an approximate image of Catra’s headdress “in our entire lives in the Horde, there has never been another Catra. It was only her. There’s been no one else but her –”

“Woah, woah, okay, slow down,” Glimmer teleports next to Adora. “Catra looks nothing like a Magicat. She has the ears and the tail probably, but –“

Adora faces Glimmer with a half drawn sketch, “Is it possible that a human-magicat hybrid could be born?”

“What? I don’t know! Only my mom knows that –”

“Then we need to talk to your mom –”

Adora, calm down for a second, you don’t even know for sure if the princess is Catra! Other than one yellow eye, there’s really nothing to go with.”

“Yes, there is.” The confidence in her voice almost scared herself, but this… something as big as this should not be swept under the rug. “Your mother mentioned a sorceress who hated magicats. A weird fixation, almost. The only sorceress in the Horde was Shadow Weaver, and she had this weird, anger thing on Catra –”

“Okay, but –”

“And Catra… Catra had problems sleeping growing up! Shadow Weaver practically had to chain her to her bed the first couple nights to stop her from going around causing mayhem around the Horde, and look here –” Adora flips to a page, taking a second to look at the pages before pointing at the tiny text “—Magicats are known to instinctively sleep throughout the morning, but stay awake at night.”

“Adora –”

“And this book also said that uhh… hold on… Oh, it also says here that they preferred to stalk their prey. Catra hated doing battle simulations, because it forced her to battle in the front lines. The cadets and I had to change our strategy to accommodate hers!”

Adora.” The blonde finally snapped her mouth shut at Glimmer’s tone. Hopeful blue eyes met the hardness of pink ones. “Whether Catra is a magicat or not, there is no way mom is going to trust her. Or, have you forgotten what she’s done a month ago already?”

Glimmer made a point to gesture to the Whispering Woods and the current repairs still being done to the villages. Adora silenced herself.

“If she is the last magicat,” Glimmer added “then whatever secrets lie in there will fall to the Horde.”

The Horde.

Catra is still part of the Horde.

Now that she thought about it, Catra still avoided the question on why she’s been visiting Adora. All the moments they shared together, all the moments that Adora hoped that Catra was changing, all of it… It blinded her to a question that nagged her brain in the beginning:

Why did Catra choose now – after every single moment shecould have – to change her mind?

Why would Catra, after the promotion to a rank that’s basically below Hordak, change her mind after every coming so far?

What is Catra hiding?

She looked at the words on her book again –

Magicats prefer to stalk their prey, waiting for the perfect time to strike. Usually, it’s when their enemies’ backs are turned. They strike when they least expect it.

Adora gritted her teeth.

“We can’t trust her,” Adora mumbled more to herself than to anyone else.

But this… This is Catra’s history. Her family. Now that Catra could possibly be the last magicat, why is it in Adora’s right to hold this information against her? Whether Catra was going to betray her in the end –whether Adora was being used nothing more than the own feline’s satisfaction – to Adora, it doesn’t matter.

Catra deserves to know about her family. And if Adora isn’t enough of a reason to pull her to join the rebellion then maybe. Just, maybe.

Her heritage might.

See, this is what happens when you fall in love with you enemy, Adora scolded herself.

She shuts the book and heaves a heavy sigh.

“But Catra deserves to know.”

Glimmer raised a brow, “Adora –”

“This is her family, Glimmer. She deserves to know about them.”

“Does she even know what family is?”

“She doesn’t –”

“Then why bother?”

“Because we didn’t have a family in the Horde!” Adora startles herself with her tone, and Glimmer backs away. She had used the same voice as when they first met: brute, cold, and serious. “The idea that I could have had the love that you and your mom share if it hadn’t been for the Horde? It hurts. I’d give my life – my everything – to find out who my parents are. To know who I really am.

If I take that away from Catra, then who - what - am I?” Adora seethes.

Glimmer holds her look for a minute before looking away and back to the Whispering Woods. Her eyes transitioning from pure irritation to some understanding.

“And how, exactly, do you plan on talking to her? There hasn’t been a single Horde activity beyond the Fright Zone.”

Adora bites her lip. “I’ll figure that out. Don’t worry.”

Chapter Text

[AN: holy shet, thanks for the 150 bookmarks]

Something she didn’t think she’d have to deal with were actual kids.

Kids just like her and Adora when they were young, just running around and playing. Touching things they shouldn’t be touching. Refusing to sleep in hours that they should be sleeping. Stealing socks that they shouldn’t be stealing.

Kids that ran around the hallways and learning about basic math, tech, and science; all subjects that Catra never really cared much about. Kids that learned about Hordak and the history of the Horde. They also learned about the different creatures in Etheria; The Queen of Bright Moon becoming the monster in their nightmares.

Kids that hold such innocence. Easily tempered, easily annoying, easily happy.

Easily scared, easily hurt, easily traumatized.

Kids don’t frighten her. More accurately, kids annoy her.

She has seen some of them running through the hallways every now and then, stopping to say hello to her. Catra would growl and tell them to walk before they trip and split their head open. At some point, one of the kids threw a ration at her. Catra managed to duck, but the kids bolted away in a fit of giggles. Catra caught one of them by their shirt. She told them to clean up their mess. After that, she let them scamper away.

Needless to say, she didn’t force a hand on any of the kids. Whenever she handled them, she retracted her claws.

Entrapta, surprising no one, loved the kids. They found her gadgets and tiny bolts, and she would trade them candies for it. She also had Kyle running around making sure the kids don’t touch anything dangerous in the lab.

Scorpia spent some of her free time drawing with some kids in the facility. The nut-brain of a force captain let the kids – slobber and all – touch her pincers. Apparently, Scorpia investing on a large white slate and erasable markers won the hearts of those tine brats. Rogelio would be in that room sometimes as well, trying to learn art from Scorpia.

Lonnie… well… Catra caught her telling the kids to pull on Catra’s tail whenever they see her. Catra made Lonnie run for five extra miles the next day for that. Lonnie didn’t care, though.

Some kids were just trouble on their own. Catra looked them in the eye and knew it was a reflection of her.

The truth can be told about the young woman giving her a death glare through the window as Octavia stood right in front of Catra. Catra couldn’t help but stare back. Those forest green eyes held a familiar sort of defiance.

“She’s been skipping her lessons about the Horde and Lord Hordak,” Octavia starts, “she fails most of her exams, she bullies the other kids, and she’s pulled each of my tentacles at least once. Today, she yanked a younger kid’s arm when he wouldn’t listen to her. This kid is a mess.”

Octavia hands Catra a chart of what the kid has done.

Huh.

“Wow, five strikes already?” Catra whistled “And Shadow Weaver did some… pretty heavy punishments?”

The woman next to Catra shrugs. “She’s a fighter. Shadow Weaver said all she needed was to learn respect.”

“And Shadow Weaver did that by –” Catra flicked her tail at a bullet point “ – ‘putting a shock bracelet’ on her whenever she spoke back. That’s supposed to teach her… how?”

That’s not my problem. Whatever punishment you decide to do is up to you,” Octavia’s monstrous voice gurgles.

The woman walks away without another word. Catra glances at the file again.

NAME: Dana

AGE: 8

GENDER: Female

HAIR: Brown, curly

EYES: Green

SPECIES: Human

GRADE:

  • Math: low
  • History: avg
  • Tech: low
  • Combat: excellent

RECORD:

  • Disruption, multiple. Spent time in the isolation room for three hours. (age 4)
  • Skipping class. Mandatory after hours in cleaning the cafeteria (age 5)
  • Back talking, multiple. Shock bracelet until she learns how to stop talking back (age 5)
  • Hit one of the cadets. Isolation room for three hours. (age 6)
  • Back talking again. Shock bracelet; increase power 15mA for 1 second (age 7)

Catra sighs.

She turns to the room that the girl was caged in. The second she opened the door, the little girl spoke loud enough to startle Catra.

“Just put another brace on me and get this over with.”

“I’m not putting a stupid shock bracelet on you. I know what that’s like, it wasn’t fun –”

“Oh, boo hoo, we dealt with the same thing, so what?” the little girl mocked.

Ah, suddenly, it all made sense why Shadow Weaver hated Catra. She’s been in the room with this kid for ten seconds, and the desire to claw her mouth off was an option that presented itself right in front Catra.

The temptation to do so marinated in her head, but it still came out tasteless.

So, instead, Catra decides to lift her uniform up, pointing to a scar on her rib “See this – Hey, brat.” Dana looked at her dangerously. Catra waits for those hardened eyes to glance at the scar “This? Shadow Weaver chucked me across the room, and I cracked a rib. I was in pain the entire night, then, during training, a friend of mine hit me on the same spot and my rib snapped off.”

She saw a split second of discomfort on the little girl’s face. Catra showed the little girl her hand. “She broke these two fingers because I was better than this girl in my squadron.”

“This –” Catra opens her mouth to present a darker pink line going across her tongue, “—I got it because she used that dumb shadow control crap that she does, and I snapped my teeth over my tongue.” Catra watched as those eyes started getting softer “So, Dana, you tell me, did we really deal with the same thing?”

The little girl fell quiet, and to Catra, it was enough of an answer. However, she wanted to hear the little girl admit it. Admit that either Catra’s wrong, or if there was something that wasn’t in her file that Shadow Weaver had done.

Dana shook her head, refusing to look at Catra in the eyes.

“She… she grabbed me too. Whenever I didn’t listen,” Dana answered quietly “but she never hurt me like that.”

Was that why she yanked her squadmate when he didn’t? She thinned her lips.

Catra flicked her tail. “She does that. But look, kid,” Catra approached her cautiously. The little girl straightened her back “I’m not her. Do I look like a big scary shadow freak?”

“No, you look like a grown up. Like Octavia. You both have a stupid face.”

“Ha, I told her the same thing almost a decade ago.”

Dana shot her eyes back to Catra. It was glowing with interest. The resentment she held was gone in an instance. Those are other things she forgot about kids –

Easily forgiving.

Easily trusting.

Easily satisfied.

Part of Catra wished she could be like that again.

“No, you’re lying.”

“Kid,” Catra showed Dana her nails “who do you think clawed her eye out?”

No way!” Dana crossed whatever distance was left in the room to get closer to Catra, her eyes sparkling with delight, “that’s so awesome! And now you’re bossing her around. Does that bother you? Was she your teacher too? Did you –”

“Okay, slow down. I can’t answer all of those when you toss them at me like that –”

“That’s so cool!” Dana showed no sign of stopping. When the little girl grabbed Catra’s hand, the feline immediately retracted her claws and bent down a little, so the little girl could look at them closer “Wait, they come back in? How do you do that?”

When the kid grabber her ear, Catra hissed. “Hey, ow!”

“Oh, oops,” the grip on her ear lightened, and Catra let the young girl touch them “I’ve never seen anyone like you in the Horde. You look like a cat! Does your tail help with balancing? It must be easier to fight with –  Oh, I have to show you something!” the little girl tugged at her arm.

Catra yelped as she was dragged out of the room. The little girl blabbered on with nonsense.

She didn’t think she’d deal with kids but this… this… she didn’t mind it.

In fact, she thinks she could end up loving this.

The little girl dragged her to the nearest hallways to the training rooms. She peaked inside them, skipping the ones with people inside before picking a vacant one close to the end of the hallway. The little girl hits a couple of buttons; the door opens with a hiss.

“I’m,” Catra starts “not going to ask how you figured that out.”

Dana shrugs “I got one of the senior cadets to tell me.”

 “H…” Dana releases Catra’s hand “How?”

Whipping her head around, the little girl adorned a cheeky grin that matched Catra’s smugness. “A little something called bribery.”

“Did you get it from Kyle?”

“…Maybe.”

Oh, this kid is going to make a fine force captain.

She watched the little girl struggle to tap a few buttons on the computer. Catra approached and hit the buttons for her.

A training simulation called ‘hook leg’ was brought on screen. A level 4 solo training.

To compare, Catra’s entire squadron trained on a level 2 when they were only eight. Adora, included.

“Kid, if you die, I am so going to laugh…” Catra mumbled.

“Too bad for you, I won’t!” She cheered, taking a staff from the rack.

Catra has seen that blind confidence before.

The room went dark aside from the bright white panels on the ground. Catra stepped back and flicked her tail as she watched the little girl in front of her.

Suddenly, the sound of scraping metal hit the floor. A robot approached from a afar. It a humanoid that wielded a sword like weapon on both hands. Catra knew this model very well. It was one that Adora struggled with; despite the blonde’s power, she lacked the ability to be flexible.

Catra’s hand hovered on the button of the computer. “Start.”

She hits it.

The robot immediately charges, but Dana was faster. The little girl twirled the staff around her wrists and hands before landing a hard smack against the robot’s side. It doesn’t do much, but it did catch cause the bot to lose balance.

It doesn’t take long for Catra to notice.

She held her staff like a spear.

She relied plenty more on a jabbing motion than a swinging motion.

Smart. The space between her and the robot is minimum. A swinging attack takes more energy and takes more movement. It draws the weapon away from the body, making it harder to block an oncoming attack, forcing the user to find a way to dodge it.

But jabbing –

Attacks hurt less, but speed and transition are efficient.

While the robot doesn’t seem too bothered by it, if Dana had been fighting a living creature… the jabs would’ve been too fast to avoid and too annoying to ignore; the opponent loses plenty in focus.

When Dana finally twists her back to throw a swing, Catra gapes.

She missed. Purposely.

Instead, she uses the force and weight of her body to slam her foot on the robot’s side, and then, use the moment of that to land a final swipe of her staff on the bot.

The damage was enough to end the program.

Moves like those – hands on moves like those – are taught at a freshman level when troops were about twelve. This girl is way above her level.

Catra stood in awe of the display. Dana’s brown hair clung to her face from the sweat, and that broken smile of hers reached from one ear to the next. The girl’s talent was intelligently brutal. A perfect mix of Adora’s strength and Catra’s speed, but also a type of tenacity and hard work that she witnessed on the most loyal supporters of Hordak.

Hordak’s most loyal and most elite fighters are hardened, but this kid.

She smiled like she had the best time of her life.

Catra couldn’t help but smile herself. Shadow Weaver… It’s a shame, really… That she never saw the talent hidden behind defiant eyes. She saw it only in those who followed her every whim.

“Okay, so you didn’t die,” Catra approached Dana.

“Nope, did…” green eyes went up to look right into Catra “… umm... did I do good?”

She waited for her to praise her.

She always did.

She wanted to prove to her that she was good enough. That she could do better. That she can do better. Being better than Adora was one thing, but what she truly wanted was for her to approve of her hard work. That’s always been her goal.

And now, she did.

She beat Adora’s time by two seconds.

“Yes!” Catra cheered, she whipped around, the grin on her face lifting from ear to ear “I beat her score, did you see tha –”

“Insolent child.”

“Catra?”

Catra jumped back to reality. “Y..yeah?”

“I was wondering if I did okay?”

The world is mocking her. Doing something as hideous as placing Catra in the position of the woman who couldn’t see anything great about her. To be placed in front of a child’s eyes, who hoped and dug for an approval.

Approval that Catra could give.

Approval that Catra never had.

A lacking void in her past that Catra slowly filled with anger and hate; burdens that she didn’t want this little girl to carry.

So, Catra forced herself to smile. “Yeah, pipsqueak, you did awesome.”

Catra stumbled back. Two arms hand thrown itself around Catra’s legs in a quick hug. “That means a lot to me,” she hears Dana whisper. She steps back, “I’m going to be like you when I grow up.”

“I… don’t think it’s a good idea to look uh…” Catra waited for Dana to pull back “I wasn’t much of anything growing up.”

“Are you kidding me?” Dana genuinely sounded offended, “you kicked Octavia’s butt, became the youngest second-in-command in Horde history. You’re pretty messed up like me –”

“Hey.” Catra interjected, playfully lashing her tail.

and –” Dana pushed “— booted the old hag and took her job! You might’ve been a big, sad, really short loser while growing up –”

Catra twitched her ear and raised a brow. Was this really a compliment?

“But you did it. Beat everything and became the best! Zero to hero!” Dana out stretched her arms “I wanna’ be just like you!”

Catra couldn’t stop herself anymore. Where was this all her life?

Shadow Weaver was never proud of her. No matter what she did, it was always not as good as Adora; and even if she was better than Adora, Shadow Weaver found something to bring her down. When Hordak complimented her, he still managed to make it something about Adora. It was always about Adora.

But this one.

Catra knelt down and pulled the young girl into her arms. The little girl hugs her back after a few seconds. This little light she held would never compare to the shadows of her past. For a moment, a child –

A mere, eight-year-old, child –

Made her feel like everything and nothing at once.

The lightness in her chest grew. Just a little more if that was even possible.

Chapter Text

“For the honor of grayskull!”

She almost forgot how riveting it felt to turn into She-Ra. The way her muscles energized to life, and the feeling of her bones stretching under her skin. The sheer amount of power she could just feel coursing and pumping through her veins.

The feeling of transformation is unexpectedly addictive.

When Glimmer asked her how it felt turning into She-ra, Adora’s words failed her. It was hard to explain. Close to impossible. It felt like experiencing every single one of her first times all over again: first party, first rebellion food, first victory; but it also felt like she had done this a billion times before. The feeling of familiarity but also something she had never felt before.

Glimmer checked her wounds early morning. The pink haired girl said that it all looked good. Aside from the deeper parts of the scar, of course. But even then, Adora was given the go signal to help out in more demanding tasks.

She helps as She-Ra. Mostly carrying heavier debris out of the town’s open space. Once that was done, her next task was to bring in slabs of concrete. Tasks that usually took hours started taking seconds, and before she knew it, the last bits of repair are complete.

The last thing.

The only real problem they still had to focus on is the Whispering Wood.

Which really, branched off to some more problems.

The first problem was this – how do you get trees to grow in less than Glimmer’s expected time of two months? Perfuma helped with that plenty. Although the whispering woods looked less… creepy… the forest was back to being as wild and filled as it was before.

The second problem was this – how do you get the trees to move? Glimmer did her best, scouring through First One’s tech, only to realize that the trees ran on a complex defense mechanism that she couldn’t understand. Queen Angella explained that the technology came from the Magicats, but she lacks the information they need to fix it. Adora and Glimmer share a look; all the more reason Adora needs to talk to Catra.

The third and final problem was this – even if they did figure out how to fix it, the only person who truly knew how to use tech is dead. Entrapta is the smartest person in all of Etheria when it comes to technology, and they didn’t have her anymore. They’re left on their own.

Despite all these problems, Adora can’t help but feel relieved. The longer the repairs are going to take, the more she got to see Catra and think of a plan to find out whatever’s hidden in Half Moon. More time for her to get Catra to learn more about her past.

More time for them to spend with each other.

Despite her love for the feline, Adora can’t help but worry that all of this won’t be enough. That Adora and her family’s history won’t be enough to change her mind. When that happens, what then?

The idea of losing Catra is far from her mind. The idea of hating Catra never even crossed it. But given their situation, even after they learn to understand each other and correctly love each other. Even if they both apologize, and they forgive one another… With the war hanging in the balance between the Horde and the Rebellion –

How would they be able to put their allegiances aside to be together?

Catra has seen the full power of She-ra; Adora has seen what Catra is capable of achieving.

Once the war kicks back into gear, what then?

Adora transformed back to normal and threw her pent-up emotions in the castle’s private training room. It wasn’t as technologically advance as the horde, but the training dummies served its purpose as a way letting her frustrations sweat out.

Sometimes, Bow would join her. He’d use arrows with a soft edge and fire them at Adora. Adora would dodge them flawlessly and usually end up beating Bow pretty easily. There wasn’t much of a challenge for her here.

Not like the Horde.

Not like how she fought with Catra.

She threw one more hit on the dummy’s face, and it breaks off. Adora catches it before it hits the ground.

Adora sighs.

She leaves the room without bothering to clean up after herself. She takes a long shower, letting the heat of the water run on her body. When she stepped out and returned to her room, she notices Catra laying on her with one of her books in hand.

Those blue and yellow eyes dragged themselves from the book to face her. “Hey, Adora,” she purred.

She didn’t try to stop the smile on her face. Adora peeked at what book the feline was reading as she ran a towel on her loose blonde hair. “Oh, this one’s my favorite. Prettiness and Pettiness?”

Catra let out a ‘mrrt’ noise that was music to Adora’s ears. Whether Catra was a half or a full blooded Magicat, the inhuman sounds that rumbled out of the feline’s lips every now and then always – even while they were still back in the Horde – made Adora smile.

Adora claims her spot by Catra’s side, the feline immediately wraps her tail around the Blonde’s calf. “What part are you on,” she asks.

“Ah,” Catra lets the sound draw out “when Cullen proposes to Elisa and he gets rejected.”

Adora sucked air through her teeth, “yeah, that guy is humiliating.”

“You know,” Catra folded the book page in half, “I thought I had a thing for people I hate, but you –” she tosses the book to the floor in favor of wrapping her arms around Adora “—probably have a thing for people who live in different worlds.”

“Pft, what makes you say that?”

“Darlene and Elisa – rich and poor – are probably going to get together by the end of the book,” Catra says, flicking her ear, “they both hated each other, but one of them is starting to like the other…sound familiar?”

Oh, Adora flushes.

“It has absolutely nothing to do with what’s going on between us. I can’t believe you’d even – wow. That’s… low of you.” Adora looks away to hide her red face.

Catra snickers, “I-I mean… I didn’t say anything.”

Adora smiles quietly before looking back at the feline.

She reaches forward to cup her face, and Catra lets it happen.

“Hey, I have to talk to you.”

“What about,” Catra answers, her voice sounding just a touch suspicious.

“Why are you really here?” Adora’s whisper was barely…barely… loud enough.

The second Catra heard it, however, she froze. Adora watched her movement as sharply as Shadow Weaver would whenever Catra was in the same room as Adora. The feline’s tail retreated to place itself somewhere between their hips. Catra’s ears flattened; it read fear, shame, insecurity. When Catra closed her eyes, Adora watched the way it slowly opened up again to hold down her blue ones.

She saw the complexity swimming behind them. Her cool blue eyes clashing with the heat of her golden ones. Two forces meeting in the middle, trying to form some sort of ground for them to settle on.

Adora had asked this question twice.

On both occasions, Catra managed to grapple the answer she needed and spat it out either as a joke or a redirection. This was the first time Adora noticed her struggling with some sort of comeback. It was only then that Adora put it all together –

Doubt.

Whatever confidence Catra had before was lacking in the moment.

She doesn’t know what she wants.

Adora scoots closer, breaking Catra’s stiff composure. Adora pulls her into a hug, her arms wrapping themselves around Catra’s hips and her head tucked safely on Catra’s chest. “If you don’t want to answer, then don’t.”

A silence passed.

Catra scraped her nails over the back of Adora’s head.

“Catra?”

“Hm.”

Adora pulled back to look at Catra again, “do you ever think about your family? Your umm… where you came from?”

“I came from the Horde.” Adora closed her eyes slowly when Catra scraped her nails at the nape of her neck.

“N-no, I was talking about your umm… species?” Adora exhales at the touch on her neck. She reaches up to Catra’s crown. “Do you know where this came from?”

Catra nodded, “Magicats.”

“Do you know about them?”

Catra’s hand paused. “Other than this crown belonging to the Queen? No, not really. Is there something I should know?”

Adora started sensing the atmosphere start tensing right then. There was no getting out of this now. “The Magicats… your ancestors –” Hordak killed them and kidnapped you “—they had a kingdom that the Horde took over.”

“I… I was never good at learning about Horde history. You know this,” Catra shrugged. Adora shivered at how easily Catra was taking this. “I copied off of Kyle most of the time. You too, whenever you weren’t looking.”

“Catra, we never learned about the Magicats.”

“Well, why not?” Catra flicked her ear.

“Because there’s no need to.”

“What are you saying –”

“That the Horde killed them all. Except for you.”

Catra opened her mouth, but she shut it again. Shock crossed her face, then denial, then anger. “You’re lying to me…”

No. “Catra, the Horde are evil people –”

The feline ripped herself from the bed to favor standing up. Adora followed right after, but she remained very cautious as Catra said her reply. “This… this is a mind game, isn’t it? You’re trying to get me to join your stupid princess club?” Catra lashed out, Adora could see those nails shining under the stars.

“Catra, listen to me,” she could tell she wasn’t listening just by the way the thoughts ran a million miles in her eyes. “There are books that say the same thing. The Horde killed –"

“And you’re just going to believe it?” there was a snarl in that “The Horde burned books every single time they sieged a rebel colony. What makes you think that Queen sparklehead doesn’t do the same thing? What makes you think they don’t do the same thing the Horde does!”

Adora took a step forward, closer to the feline, her tone sharpening. “Why are you defending them so much? After everything they’ve done to you.”

“Because, Adora. None of us are evil. My fight was always with Shadow Weaver, and sometimes, you!” Catra bared her teeth when she said that, and Adora had to anchor herself to the ground just to stop herself from running away. “You really think Kyle is evil?”

“Kyle captured Bow!” Adora fought back “Catra, you don’t know what I’ve seen them do. They’ve destroyed homes, taken shelter from civilians. You seriously can’t just sit here and tell me you haven’t seen that –”

“I have. I saw it way before you did.”

“Then why are you still with them!”

Because I got what I wanted!”

“What, me gone?

What?” Catra threw out her hands “When have I ever wanted you gone?”

She jabbed a finger on Catra’s chest to emphasize each point “When you gave me my sword! When you left me to die at the First One’s Temple –” Adora shoved Catra at the last one “ – when you decided to claw my goddamn back!

And now, here I am trying to give back something the Horde took from you –” Adora pressed “—and you think everything I do is out of… of… my desire to change you!”

Catra scowled and whipped around.

Adora yanked her arm to turn her back around “No, don’t do that –”

“I’m not going to sit here and listen to you talk about how my side is bad and yours is good –”

I’m not the one who assumed that!” Adora yelled. At this point, anyone can walk in on their affair, and Adora wouldn’t care at all. She really wouldn’t. “You were the one who jumped to the conclusion that I was trying to drag you into the rebellion! The same thing you did when I told you I wanted to join them!”

“Because you don’t want to come back, and you want me to defect –”

“Well, yes! You’re right! I want that! Is that what you want to hear?” Adora noticed the way Catra’s lip twitched “You’re right, I’m wrong. I want you by my side because I’ve missed you and nothing here feels right without you. Every time we see each other is another day that it feels weirdly normal. Fuck, Catra, even us arguing feels normal!

I want you here because I’m in love with you, and don’t ask me why, because right now I’m trying to figure out why I even fell for someone as stubborn as you!” She can’t remember the last time her frustration had pushed her this far, but Adora kept speaking.

“But I’m not just doing this because of that. This is because you deserve to know about your family. You deserve to know what Hordak won’t tell you. But Catra, I swear to Etheria, if you make one more assumption on why I do what I do, I’m going to declaw yo –” she didn’t get to finish that sentence.

Lips hot from arguing landed on her mouth, and Adora felt her own upper lip slam against the front of her teeth. Catra’s lips seared against her own in ways Adora couldn’t fully process in her mind.

She didn’t try to fight it, but at the same time she did.

“Catra –” Adora pushed feline slightly, but she started pulling her back when Catra bit hard on her lower lip “—I’m still –“ Catra’s hand flew to drag those nails on her back “—fuck, I’m still mad at you.”

So am I.”

That growl was all Adora had as a warning before the feline broke their kiss to grab her thighs and slam her to the wall. Adora felt the moment she let herself give into this. It was right when Catra mumbled the next words out of her mouth.

“I’m mad at myself for being so fucking mad at you…”

When Catra went up to kiss her again, Adora fell apart. Behind all the lust and anger dripping behind the feline’s teeth, there was a familiar hint of pain and hurt. Regrets. Guilt. Shame. Reluctancy.

Pure and utter hate … but not towards Adora.

But towards their situation.

Adora slid her tongue over Catra’s lips and the feline opened her mouth to take it all in. The blonde anchored her legs around Catra again, like they did when they first did this. Adora’s hand shot right to the wilderness of Catra’s hair and scraped her nails along her scalp.

It was starting to feel hot. Other than the heat between her legs, Adora felt hot.

When Catra lifted her hands to run themselves on Adora’s stomach, Adora shuddered and moaned against the feline’s sharp teeth. Catra felt cold. Icy, almost.

Opposites.

The second their skins touched together, she felt themselves mold. The heat of Adora’s skin calmed at the touch of Catra’s cool hand. And Catra’s hand started to warm on Adora’s stomach.

But Adora needed more than this.

“Catra –”

“Take this off,” Catra mumbled between kisses as she tugged at the hem of Adora’s shirt.

Adora nods before tugging the shirt right off her skin.

When Adora did that, Catra made work of her bra. She undid it faster than Adora ever could.

She feels self-conscious suddenly. Because the second her shirt was off, Catra spends a few seconds staring. Catra’s hands raise to brush over her ivory skin – from the muscles of her lean stomach, to the valley between her chest, to the tip of her chin.

“You’re so beautiful, it’s almost unfair,” was the only thing Adora heard the feline say before crashing their lips together again.

The kiss felt different this time. Careful but confident. Like as if Adora could break in half if Catra pushed too hard, but Catra knew how much Adora could take.

Catra readjusted them against the wall before moving herself to nip and scrape her teeth on Adora’s skin. The feline lingers on the spot where her blood pulsed in an out of her body, and Adora whines when the feline bites harder there, enough to break skin but not enough to make her bleed out.

“Adora,” she whispers, running that rough tongue against the edge of her jaw. Adora shuddered. “I’m going to try something. Tell me if you don’t like it,”

Adora opens her mouth to speak, but she only manages to nod.

As soon as Catra was given an answer, she hoists Adora higher so that her face fell on her chest. Catra’s hands went down to hold her thighs, and just when Adora was about to ask what she was planning to do, Catra’s tongue ran themselves over her pink nipple.

Adora arched forward.

Catra must’ve taken that as a good signal, because the next thing Adora realized is that she went ahead and suckled on it. Adora didn’t stop the moan that left her lips. Every single touch launched a wave of pleasure right between her legs.

The more Catra bit, lick, and sucked at her, the hotter it started becoming again.

This time, the unbearable heat was in the pit hidden in her pants.

And as if Catra could smell it, her hand welcomed themselves to press against it. Adora bit her own lip to stop the wine from coming out, but it was impossible. Not when Catra’s lips ran themselves like this on Adora’s body. Not when that thumb started sliding up and down her pants.

Not when –

Fuck, Catra.” She grabbed the feline’s face and kissed her hard. “The bed. Please, the bed.”

Catra smirked, “because you asked so nicely –”

Adora’s back hit the mattress immediately after that. Adora could barely process it all when Catra leaned back to slip off her own shirt. The blonde didn’t have much time to admire the lean figure in front of her, because Catra’s lips crashed right back to hers.

When Catra started pulling at the blonde’s pants, and Adora raised her hips to let the feline slide it off.

A broken whimper left her lips when she felt two fingers moved themselves slowly against her.

Catra pulled her face back. Adora half expected a smirk, but it was never there.

“H-Hey,” Adora managed between her moans.

Catra raised her free hand, placing a finger over Adora’s lips.

Catra hits a spot that made her moan.

The fingers between her legs focus in on it, circling it, pushing it to heights that made Adora want to beg for more. And Catra—

Catra silenced her.

The finger over her lips went into her mouth. An act that shot another wave deep into Adora’s stomach. She didn’t know what to do at first, but she acted on instinct – acted on the same driving force as Catra. Adora licked them, bit them, and when she finally sucked on them, that was tipping point.

The fingers between her legs dove inside her, and Adora groaned.

Catra’s hand left her mouth to favor hearing the tiny mewls leaving Adora’s lips. Adora didn’t expect it, but Catra flattened her ears and pressed their foreheads together.

Adora places a quick kiss to her lips before whispering, “I love you.”

Catra slowed her thrusts for a moment before kissing her back.

Adora felt like there was plenty to unpack in that single moment, but Catra stopped her from dwelling too much on it.

Catra picked up the pace, and Adora let broken moans slide out of her tongue. The relentlessness sent her driving over the edge, and the minute Catra groaned against her ear, she didn’t fight the need to rock her hips in sync with those brutal fingers.

And when Catra managed to pull the string to that final wave of pleasure –

Catra told her to let go.

Adora let herself fall apart.

She rode it out, those fingers refusing to stop its pace. So much so that Adora felt an immediate second wave crash over her, harder than the first.

Once she hit the tail end of her high, Adora could hardly catch her breath. Catra too. Their breathing mingled in the storm of their new-found silence.

“I’ll,” Catra started, and gulped her exhaustion down, “I’ll read those stupid books.”

Adora couldn’t remember for a minute what she meant, and once the memory hit her, she sighed. “I’m… still mad at you –”

“I know, and I just…” Catra starts “there’s so much, I can’t –”

Adora leaned up to press a gentle kiss on the feline’s forehead.

“I know.” Adora whispers.

Adora pulls her into a tight embrace and they lay together, just like that. Until the cool winds of the night pushed them shelter under the blankets.

The last thing Adora felt on her skin were Catra’s arms, reaching to wrap around her torso, laying in the position they always would. The last thing she heard was the sound of Catra’s breathing, slowly pulling away little of what’s left of Adora’ consciousness.

And, before she let sleep completely engulf her, she swore that the last thing she saw were pink glitters dancing in the dark.

Chapter Text

When Adora woke up, she realized two positive things and two negatives.

The first was the fact that the sun was over the horizon. Light passed into her room. She could see every minute detail from the tiny figurines to the mess of clothes piled on the floor from last night’s wild antics.

The first problem happened when Adora noticed a shirt that wasn’t hers that shouldn’t have been on the floor by the time she woke up.

The second thing she noticed was the warmth. Usually when Adora woke up from a night with Catra, the room would feel colder and emptier. This morning, however, Adora realized her second problem.

While she enjoyed the warm breath tickling the back of her head, she felt immediate panic.

Catra,” Adora hissed as she tried to turn over, but a hand on her shoulder stopped her from fully whipping around.

“Shh.”

“No, don’t shush me –”

Shh,” the feline repeated, as she pushed her head on the nape of Adora’s neck.

Adora really didn’t want to have any of it. If they get caught – if this gets out to anyone – it would be Adora’s skin. She was seconds away from completely turning herself, but fingers tracing the scars on her back stopped her.

It mimicked every single ridge and jagged line on her back, starting the ones that Catra had given her.

“I never really thought much about these when I gave them,” Catra murmured. Adora hugged her blanket tight to her bare chest “I never thought much about it when I saw them while you wore that dress of yours. But now,” Adora winced when she felt the nails scraping her back a little harder.

Catra didn’t speak anymore.

Adora slowly turned herself. It was… refreshing to see Catra’s face in morning light. But Catra’s eyes looked swollen. And puffy. Catra looked at Adora, but the feline didn’t look too focused.

Adora sighs.

Catra thought of a million things, but she never paid mind to them – Adora noticed. Catra’s loyalty to the Horde is blinding and binding enough for Catra to ignore every other doubt that passed her mind. Catra did her best not to linger too long.

Perhaps, that’s what made them different. Adora overthought plenty of her problems while Catra tried not to let it get to her.

So, for once, for situation’s sake, Adora tries not to care too much about anything else but the warmth of the sun and the warm body next to her.

Adora raised her hand to trace the faint freckles on Catra’s face before pinpointing a very slight bump on her nose, “I remember this,” she smiled at the memory, Catra blinked back to reality “Lonnie grabbed your tail then shoved you on the table. You broke your nose so bad, but you still wanted to show her, so you clawed her arm.”

Catra stares before chuckling. “Yeah, she has a matching scar, you know,” her tone sounding too innocent, “little reminder of our little fight.”

Adora felt a bile rising in her throat. She can’t tell exactly what it is, but she didn’t like it. Not at all.

Whatever it was, Adora swallowed the feeling away.

She sighs, letting her hand travel lower on Catra’s arm. There was a very faint scar on her elbow, and Adora giggles, “this was when you tried to get into that vent to hide my sock, right?”

“Yeah, and you yanked my foot to stop me, you bitch.”

“Not my fault some random girl started snatching my socks every night,” Adora barked back a retort.

Catra only chuckled and shifted on the bed when Adora’s hand started pulling the blanket down even further. Catra still didn’t have her shirt on, and Adora had to admit it to herself, but whatever Catra’s been eating in the Horde since she left made her muscles pop out more.

That, or Catra wasn’t lying when she said she was going easy on her all those years ago.

Adora’s hand stopped on a diagonal scar on Catra’s rib cage. Oh, she remembered this one.

During training, Catra received a hit too hard.

The rib above her last one broke off completely, while the rib above that was cracked. She remembers Lonnie saying that Catra was just lying about the pain; that there was no way Lonnie would’ve hit that hard. Adora believed her, until she didn’t. Catra was stuck in the medical wing for a week before Shadow Weaver forced her to get back to training.

“Wow, you’re just branded with scars from Lonnie, huh?” Adora whispers. The bile was back.

“No, that one was Shadow Weaver.”

Adora looked up from the damaged skin to look at Catra. “Wh…But, I saw her –”

“Lonnie broke it, but Shadow Weaver screwed it up the night before.” Saying that her voice turned impassive would be an understatement. It was back again. Catra’s inability to care enough about a something important. “I snuck out, stole some rations, she found me, and she decided to toss me to a table. Nothing she hadn’t done before in the same degree.”

She flinched at the way Catra said it. Like it was a normal thing.

Well, she guessed this was her normal.

Adora wanted to ask more questions. Wanted to ask why Catra never told Adora about it. Adora wanted to ask why Catra slept through the pain that night instead of tucking in with her. But the look in her eyes told Adora otherwise.

Adora let her finger linger on the scar.

Catra let her.

It wasn’t until she felt Catra brush her tail against her leg that she went forth. Adora’s hand fell to her hip bone. There, she saw parallel jagged lines on Catra’s hip – three of them, and a fainter fourth one.

This one.

The scars that appeared one night without a single explanation.

“Never did figure out where this came from, did we?” Adora gently says as her finger makes its way along the scarred tissue. Catra didn’t say anything at all, but the blonde did feel her tail move under the blanket.

Whatever cut her didn’t look too sharp. At least, it wasn’t as clean cut as the surgical scar on her ribs. What was odd about it was the fact that there were three. It’s starting to get fainter each passing year.

When Adora lifted her head to check on Catra, “Hey –”

The feline’s eyes were closed. Her little sighs of breath brushed against Adora’s forehead. Catra’s ear twitched once or twice while Adora stared at her in disbelief.

Catra fell asleep.

Adora couldn’t stop herself. She leaned forward to press a slow kiss on Catra’s lips, urging a purr to come out. It didn’t, but when Catra kissed back just as slowly, Adora started smiling.

Adora half expected Catra to pull some sort of stunt, like their last night together. What she didn’t expect was for her to slide her arms around the blonde’s waist and hoist her up. The kiss broke, but Adora didn’t mind.

She leans her weight on her elbows as Catra’s hands settle themselves on the small of Adora’s back.

This was… different. She’s not used to seeing Catra beneath her like this.

But Adora didn’t mind. It felt like an ego boost for power. No wonder Catra liked pinning Adora down so much.

She connected their lips to another lazy kiss. “Starting to see why you like it up here,” Adora teased. Catra didn’t really reply other than a mumble. “Are you feeling okay?”

“Nnnn yeah… The sun just feels amazing here. Why can’t I just spend my mornings with you?”

Adora’s smile vanishes in an instant.

What would her mornings be like if Catra was right next to her all the time? What would it be like if the feline didn’t get up at the crack of dawn to lessen the possibility of bumping into any of Bright Moon’s security?

Adora answered her own question: her life would be complete.

If she got to wake up like this every morning, the warmth of peace and of the sun around her, with the person she loves sleeping right next to her – surrounded by friends, allies, and people that push her to become the best version of herself? Adora’s life would be complete.

Her parents might have been her blood, but this is priceless.

She doesn’t know if she could give this up.

Adora bites her lips before scooting lower, laying against Catra’s chest and listening to the very slow thudding of her heart.

The stay like that; in each other’s arms for about half an hour. Until they both decided then and there that Catra should go. The feline, as promised, takes the book with her; Adora managed to make a makeshift bag out of the cape that Bow had given her the first time they met.

She made sure Catra reached the forest without setting off any guards before getting ready to start the day. Adora noticed the tiny nip on her neck and two very shallow claw marks on her thighs.

Good.

Wait, why is that good?

Adora slips on her shirt and picks up the discarded clothes from the floor. She makes a move to grab She-ra, but the next thing she noticed was her door opening very quickly. Adora meets eyes with a sleep-lacking Glimmer, and Bow, who smiled and waved very nervously.

“Hey, what’s –"

You,” Adora flinched when Glimmer started “have thirty seconds to explain to me what is going between you and that mangy cat.”

Oh.

Oh.

Adora opens her mouth to explain herself –

I kept seeing her because I fell in love with her’ No, that won’t end right.

She’s a better person now’ Yes, because Adora knows that for a fact. Glimmer would definitely love to hear that.

“We uhh…. Talked about the magicats!” Adora grinned innocently, “and um…. There were a lot of guards so… sh…she spent the night!”

It sounded like a valid reason.

Until Glimmer shot that down with something far heavier than reason.

Oh, don’t you even try lying to me, Adora... I heard both of you last night.”

“I’m sorry I started yelling –”

Adora,” Glimmer hardened her tone “I heard both of you last night.”

One second.

Two seconds.

Three.

Adora thinned her lips. Shame and embarrassment started pressing a weight against her chest. Glimmer didn’t just hear the argument. Glimmer didn’t just hear both of them firing off at each other. Glimmer didn’t just hear her profess her love for Catra –

Glimmer heard her with Catra.

“I’m sorr –”

“No, no, no, don’t start. Don’t even bother apologizing, because I’m fine!” She said the last sentence the same way Perfuma would when she talked about the situation with the Horde before She-ra arrived. “I talked to Bow last night –“

Bow nodded immediately. “more like yelled until four in the morning.”

“— and I’ve realized that I should probably scream at you before we talk about anything else as the best friends that we allegedly are. So, on that note –

What in First Ones name were you thinking Adora?” Adora winced “there has to have been a training course in the Horde that told you not to sleep with the enemy. Logic! Where did that go? Did it fly off your brain the second she kissed you?”

Adora was about to argue, but the truth in that sentence was… very undeniable.

“Do you even know how much trust you’re putting into… into… that – HER – just by letting her stay the night? She could have messed the runestone! Taken your sword! Caused a bigger mess than what we’ve been dealing with!”

“She hasn’t done anything–”

“Other than you, apparently,” the quip made Bow widen his eyes and look to the ground. Adora could only purse her lips and look away as well “and speaking of, I thought she killed you last night! All I heard was yelling, and fighting, and I’m shocked none of the guards heard that – and Etheria forbid, my own mother – but the next thing I heard was a slam against the wall and you… you were. Ugh, sounds!”

Glimmer smacked Adora’s arm

Ow!

“She hurt you! She hurt the people in Bright Moon! She tried to kill Mom! And you are sleeping with her? Adora you have reached peak low, and I honestly thought of slapping you awake when I teleported into your room, and I saw you under the sheets with her.”

Adora nursed her arm, “well, why didn’t you?”

Because,” Glimmer crossed her arms, “you’re my friend and I want to hear what you have to say. What made you think this was a good idea?”

 Adora glanced between her two friends before taking a deep breath and exhaling.

When Catra approached her that first night they were together, Adora felt a sense of danger. Panic. A disturbance in the peace and quiet of her night. Adora could have – should have – yelled for help, but she didn’t.

Because when she saw Catra lower her guard even by just a tiny bit, Adora knew it wasn’t too late to get her back.

“I saw something good,” Adora’s reply started as a whisper, but by the time she got to the end of her sentence, her answer was coated with confidence “and whatever that is, I want to pull it out and show her that she can be someone better. Away from the Horde.”

“And if she doesn’t change her mind?”

“I… haven’t thought that far ahead.”

She could see the anger in Glimmer’s eyes starting to boil over, and Adora expected her to lash out. To tell her that she made a mistake, or that there would be consequences to her actions, or that she could never trust Adora again.

She had seen Glimmer’s anger flare twice. The first time they met and their time in Mystacor, was Adora’s first bite out of it. She’s seen the sense of anger and hate towards the Horde brought from her uprising and her father’s death. It had to take Adora to experience Rebellion culture for her to realize that the Horde is made up of people who didn’t know what they were fighting for.

The anger Adora felt right now is exactly that.

Glimmer isn’t complicated to figure out.

She didn’t have Catra’s ignorance to her own emotions, or Adora magnifying her life to look for the right action. Glimmer latched herself to the first thought and the first emotion she felt.

“I’ll trust her for now,” Adora didn’t let herself sigh in relief “But, if – and Adora, I mean it – If she betrays us, you better be strong enough to fight her. I am not about to let anyone hurt or take the only family I have left.”

The threat was clear cut. So direct that Adora sealed her lips shut; the only response she could manage was a swallow and a nod.

“Now,” Glimmer somehow flipped a switch and the gravity in the room lightened “Bow wants to ask you a few questions, so –”

“Few questions?” Adora turns to Bow.

“Yes, about Catra, very, very important question,” Bow starts. Suddenly, he’s putting both his hands on Adora’s shoulder. “Are you and Catra dating?”

“What…” Adora blinked “N-no? I don’t...”

“Oh, great, so, the mighty she-ra is just sleeping with her,” Glimmer groaned “is she at least any good? Wait, no, don’t answer that. I already know what you’ll say.”

Adora’s blush went rampaging back, and this time she lets it redden her face as much as possible. “Wha—”

“Have you gone star gazing? Have you held hands? Talked about kids? –”

“What are you talking about?” Adora lost the last strands of her composure at the mention of kids. She had the chance to meet some kids in the Horde and… Well, she wasn’t much of a kid person.

And Catra with kids?

What was this? An alternate universe?

“See, Glimm,” Bow jabbed Glimmer with his elbow “they’re not that far into it.”

Glimmer rolls her eyes.

“Adora,” Bow claps his hands together “as your best friends, our job is to listen to you dump everything about Catra with extreme detail. Call it uh…. Secret best friend conversation –”

“I wanted to call it an interrogation, but that works too,” Glimmer shrugged.

Adora’s face got redder, if that was even possible, “What, no, I’m not going to –"

“Nope, this is your punishment for hiding and lying to us. Unless, well,” Bow smirked “you want to keep lying, and being secretive, and continue to break our hearts then go ahead.”

Adora is a very empathetic person. It’s what led her to defect in the first place. So, when she started feeling that pang of guilt towards their situation, she sighs.

This is going to be a long day.

Chapter Text

AN: 200 bookmarks let’s gO thank you all for the support ;w;

“Ow, jeez, why do you hit so hard?”

Catra grins at the eight-year-old’s complaint.

It happened the morning Catra came back from Bright Moon later than usual. Scorpia had checked in on her and gave her an earful about how worried she started becoming for being almost three hours late; she also gave Catra a communicator hidden in her belt for emergency.

She told Scorpia to buzz off.

And thanked her for the communicator.

She went and placed the book on her desk, leaving it to read later in the night. Catra was already late to doing some of her duties as second-in-command, and she couldn’t spend another moment towards any distraction.

Distractions like that morning –

She remembered waking up, her hair all over her face, and no desire to leave. When her surroundings started to form, the first thing she noticed were the scars on Adora’s back. She raised a hesitant finger to trace the thickest scar. Catra suddenly felt and urge to just… find a way to fix it.

To heal it.

To undo what she did.

But there was no way to undo it, was there? It’s going to be on Adora’s skin for the rest of her life. While the Blonde worked some way to try and apologize to the feline and make up for everything she had done – to correct the invisible scars she had made in Catra’s soul. How in Etheria will Catra fix something as destructive as this?

The answer is that she can’t.

These scars are permanent.

Catra recalled pressing her lips gently on the scars of Adora’s back seconds before the blonde started stirring awake.

 – It took her an extra hour to finish her commanding duties for the day, and when she started walking back to her room, she found Dana standing patiently in front of Catra’s door, eyes lowered to the ground. Catra startled her when Catra called for her attention.

The little kid wanted to train with Catra. There’s a move she had been trying to perfect, but she can’t figure out what she’s doing wrong. Catra asked Dana how long she had been waiting; Dana says two hours.

Catra decided to spend another two more hours to perfect the brat’s stupid stunt.

The next morning, Catra let herself open it and flip through the pages until she hit one about the Magicats. An entire sixty-page worth of reading. And their handwriting is in cursive.

Catra groaned.

She managed to do five pages that morning. She found out about her home – Half Moon, a world hidden underground – and some of her defining characteristics: unquestionable loyalty, undaunting love for their queen, and unbreakable persistence.

She doesn’t really know how to feel about her loyalty stemming solely because of her blood.

She also found out that Magicats are naturally nocturnal, but those who learn to change this part of themselves were deemed ‘strongest’ for fighting their inner instincts. Basking in the sun was also another instinctual thing they did to pass time. Along with hunting – specifically, mice.

Catra scoffed.

When she flipped to the sixth page, she heard a knock on her door.

Dana was back.

For more practice.

“Two reasons,” Catra started, resting her pole across her shoulders “one, you bothered me so early in the morning just to take you to stupid training. And two, I’m training you to fight tooth-and-nail not glitters-and-feathers.” She heard Dana growl when Catra finished that sentence. “Now, on your feet. Try that move again.”

Just like that, Dana stood back up. The young cadet threw herself towards Catra, and Catra ducked away perfectly.

At this level, Dana is no Adora. She didn’t fight as hard, but she did fight hard. Catra felt the blows she blocked shaking the steel training staff; and when Dana did hit Catra, the feline would wince at the pain before going forth. Her speed is exceptional for someone her level; Catra noticed that too. Even with all this talent, though, Catra fought her like she normally would with every other person: not holding back.

Was Catra going to let her win? No. Never.

Was Catra going to push Dana enough so that she could actually beat the feline someday? Definitely.

Catra swept Dana’s feet with the pole and the kid dropped hard against the ground.

She could see the frustration building in Dana’s green eyes, and Catra watched it flare brighter and brighter the more Catra defeated her. Eventually, it peaked, and Dana threw a heavy attack on Catra’s side.

Catra blocks it easily. She took Dana’s momentary recovery from her heavy attack to point her staff an inch away from the young girl’s forehead.

She looked at Dana breathing heavily. The young girl’s breathing was erratic, chasing to calm herself of whatever feeling she had left that clogged her throat.

“Damn it,” Dana scowled, opting to lie on the cold floor of the training room, “I keep losing.”

Catra watched as she loosened her grip on the staff. Catra lowered the pole she held and watched the young girl wipe the sweat that glistened her skin and the hair that clung to her face. Dana didn’t look broken, but she did fence that point of giving up. Her spirit looked exhausted, like as if nothing she could do would ever be enough for Catra’s approval.

Catra has seen this before. A spirit broken from constantly being torn down by the people around her to favor someone else.

This time, however, there’s no one else to favor but her.

Besides, Dana, despite her constant love for approval, cared more about meeting expectations. Not those set by Catra, but the ones she set for herself.

“You alright, kiddo?” Catra asks, walking over and looking down at the kid.

“Yep.”

Liar, Catra wanted to say. Instead, she opted to sit on the space close to Dana. “What’s going through your head?”

Dana’s voice was coated in dark humor, “a whooole lot.”

“Wow, really detail oriented, I like that,” Catra teased, glancing down at her student. “I’m serious, brat. What’s up?”

Dana groaned. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“What, does your bunkmate annoy you? Do they snore?” Catra started, and she almost smiled when she noticed Dana’s lips start curling “Did you eat the new purple rations? I heard they’re great at cleaning stomach linings and making you sick right after. Or, wait, no, did your bunkmate eat a purple ration and you had to sit there, smelling all that gas in the middle of the night?” that earned Catra a chuckle.

“Shut up,” Dana says.

“No, hold on, I think I got it,” Catra flicked her ear and acted like she didn’t see the way Dana peeked from her covered eyes “is it because of a boy –”

Ew, no!” Dana pushed Catra’s side and the feline let a smile pull her lips, “It’s stupid Vera.”

Catra has heard that name twice.

Once, on Catra’s official report on each cadet from each level, she has seen the name come across her screen. It had been a constant flip flop in ranking between her and Dana; a silent competition, she assumed, since both of them didn’t seem to hold any hardened Lonnie/Catra grudge towards each other. The competition for first place combat-wise, without question, went to Dana; but academically speaking, Vera was plenty more talented.

The second time was in the cafeteria. A cadet had bumped into Catra, her eyes gold like the sun and her skin had green scales in some places. When she bumped into Catra, the young girl turned to a bright red color. Literally. She apologized, before her friends called for her attention at a table just a few feet away. Catra bared her teeth and told her to watch it next time.

“She keeps on talking to me and trying to be nice. I literally told her she sucked at combat and she goes –” Dana pitches her voice higher “’you did so well! I’m so proud of you!’ like as if I need to hear it. Doesn’t she know that she’s literally my rival?”

“Do… you want her to stop being nice?” Catra flicked her tail.

Dana exhales “…No.”

“But you,” Catra furrowed her brows “don’t want her to talk to you…?”

“Yes.”

Catra chuckled, “you sound like me a few years ago.”

Dana raised her brow, “really?”

“Yeah, I had a rival named Adora. Well, not really rival, because she was also my best friend –”

Dana bolted up, “you were friends with She-ra?”

“Uhuh, I thought every cadet knew that? She was always better than me. At a lot of things. That idiot studied books front and back, excelled in combat all the time, and Shadow Weaver… Shadow Weaver made her a poster child. She was… perfect,” she said the word with as much hostility in it as possible, just to get the message across. When the girl next to her nodded, Catra continued –

“She thought she was protecting me, but she didn’t. She didn’t do anything that could make anything feel better. She didn’t say the words I needed her to say when she defends me. She never put herself in the same danger I put myself in for her,” Catra listed “and because of that, Shadow Weaver just…”

She couldn’t finish that sentence. She could feel the anxiety closing in on her. In training rooms like these were Catra’s only chance to prove that she could be better. That she could do better.

But Catra’s failures were always magnified and her successes were never addressed.

Catra broke her emotional state the minute she heard a creak of metal next to her due to Dana leaning her weight on her arms. “And then, despite everything I’ve gone through… It took a group of strangers for her to notice how badly I was treated. She just… left. I.. I hate this situation.”

The situation was this: their allegiances are torn between two, and they both felt something for one another.

Adora felt love, which Catra still can’t understand why she would after everything the feline had done.

Catra felt attachment, which she denied would be a problem when doing this mission. It was the only string that still connected her to Adora.

That string. The final string that secured her to Adora ended up becoming a tension that eventually led them to come crashing back against each other. Catra knew that whatever connection she had with Adora is impossible to break; the same goes for her connection with the Horde.

That’s where her hatred for their situation comes to a boiling point.

Even if Catra decided on her own free will to choose Adora, she could never leave Kyle, Rogelio, and Lonnie. She can’t leave Scorpia or Entrapta.

She looked at the young girl whose kind green eyes fell sympathetically on Catra’s shoulder.

She can’t leave this one either.

“Well,” Dana started “when I was younger, I told this kid what a moon was. He said, that he thought the sun was the moon.”

Catra flattened her ears. What in Etheria did that have to do with anything? “and… your point?”

“We don’t know what something is until someone who knows what it is tells us.”

Of anything the brat had ever said to Catra, this one was her wisest. These were words served on a silver platter for Catra to feast on.

Adora didn’t see anything wrong with what was being done to Catra because that was what she grew up in. Adora’s normal was being praised by Shadow Weaver and told to take care of Catra – both, the blonde did or tried to do. Catra’s normal was living in absolute fear of Shadow Weaver and doing her best to prove she’s more than just a ‘pet’ – both, the feline did and tried to do.

Catra knew they were evil before Adora because they experienced different viewpoints.

Adora saw the sun and called it a moon.

But after that night –

Then don’t tell me to see your perspective when you couldn’t see mine.

Maybe now it’s Catra’s turn to see it from her shoes.

Catra raised a hand and rubbed the top of this young girl’s head. Dana grumbled out a response, “I think I hit you in the head too hard. I think I damaged your brain, or fixed it, I don’t know you seem a lot smarter now.”

“Psh, maybe you hit your head too hard as a kid,” Dana smacked Catra’s hand away “you’re spending time with someone ten years younger than you.”

They both laugh.

“Catra?”

“Hm?”

“Can… can you tell me more about what it was like when you grew up?” Dana looked up to her with softer eyes. They looked curious. Nothing like the way anyone else had looked at her. This was purely a curious child wanting to know more about her hero.

Catra sighs, “I don’t know, Dana, you’re asking a lot just by asking that –”

“Then we won’t talk about the stuff you don’t want to talk about,” Dana shrugged “I… I don’t like talking about Shadow Weaver. I don’t think any of us in the Horde do. She-she was hard on a lot of people, but she looked a lot harder on you.”

“A lot of her punishments for me aren’t on file,” Catra twitched her tail.

Her mind started to wander then and there. To all the moments Shadow Weaver had pulled her aside to talk to her about how much of a damage she was to Adora’s progress; how she’s a parasite. How she was a useless, untamable pet. Words that held weight in Catra’s mind.

Dana’s warm hand on her arm stopped her from diving head first into the mess of her mind. “Then let’s talk about the good moments?”

Oh.

Catra had plenty of that as well.

She and Adora did plenty of pranks on senior cadets and senior officers. Octavia was their number one target. Sometimes, they’d prank Kyle. Catra’s favorite moments with Adora was climbing up to the roof of their facility and spending their free time there – just eating stolen rations and drinking fizzy water; Adora would be doing their homework and Catra would talk about rumors.

Catra had her own adventures too. She ended up, at one point, in a secret place tucked away in the shadows of the Fright Zone. It was a room full of cadets and senior officers drinking drinks that made her brain go crazy and sniffing things that had the same effect.

She didn’t tell Adora about it.

Mostly because Shadow Weaver found out about it a month later and another because she knew right away that if Adora was found taking part in it, it would risk her goal to become a force captain. 

Catra, as much as she didn’t like Adora’s constant superiority, also loved her more than anyone else.

Love.

Huh.

“Catra?”

Catra blinked and looked at Dana, letting a smile pull at the edges of her lips “Yeah, I think I have some good ones.”

Dana grinned and scooted closer to Catra. “Do you want to hear about this prank we did on Shadow Weaver?”

Immediately, the kid’s face warped into genuine shock and excitement, “You didn’t. What did you do?”

“Well, let’s just say her cloak wasn’t ripped like that about ten years ago…”

Her talk with Dana went on. Catra didn’t mind.

The second she got back to her room, Catra didn’t stop reading the book until the crack of dawn the next day.

Chapter Text

Adora liked her privacy.

Back in the Horde, the only one who really went out of her way to get into her business was Catra. She didn’t mind it, of course, since both of them pretty much opened themselves up for each other. Adora knew no one else cared much about what she did outside of everything Shadow Weaver trained her for, and no one really wanted to bother investing for any more information than her name.

Her privacy is her safe haven.

Nothing can get in, nothing can get out.

So, when her two best friends – one that’s curious to know more, and another who didn’t need to because she already heard what was going on – sat her down to talk to her about what had happened, the desire to just run away from the rebellion and never look back had never sounded like a better idea.

Bow is sweet. Adora knows that.

Bow is merciless. Adora found that out yesterday.

He didn’t hesitate to ask Adora to further her detail on everything that happened. Adora tried to minimize it, but she failed whenever Bow would remind her about her ‘betrayal’. Not to mention, for some reason, he asked questions that Adora didn’t even think mattered like ‘how did she do it when her nails are an inch long’ or ‘has she marked you in any way besides her scratches’ or ‘have you done her yet’ –

‘On a scale of one to ten, how good was she’

‘Do you have pet names for each other now’

Needless to say, the conversation ended when Adora buried her face in her hands and hid under her blanket.

Glimmer – she also learned – had some sort of satisfaction watching her suffer through Bow’s very detail-oriented questions. Adora saw the grin plastered on her face when Adora confirmed that she hadn’t… done… anything to Catra.

Glimmer also called her a ‘bottom’.

Bow called her a ‘pillow princess’.

Both of them laughed out loud, and Adora had no idea what any of it meant.

Today, though, it was back to nothing. They didn’t make a big deal out of it, but they did start asking Adora more about Catra.

Bow asked if she has fur on her head instead of hair; Adora answers that her black hair felt like hair but the gray fluffs behind her ear was definitely fur – or, well, at least she thinks so. Bow then asks if her skin feels like skin or if felt like fur, and Adora tells him that it was more like peach fuzz than actual fur. His questions ranged in curiosity about Catra’s physical appearance.

Glimmer, on the other hand, asked the more personality centered questions. She asked if Catra ever actually did work instead of just letting Adora do everything; Adora said that it would differ on the work – if it was book work, Adora would do a bulk of it. Glimmer also asked if Catra ever got along with anyone else, and Adora shrugs. She can’t really answer that since she never knew about Lonnie until recently.

While training with Bow, though, he mentions something Adora hadn’t really thought about –

“Do you and Catra celebrate the first time you met?”

The answer was easy – “No, we didn’t have any parties in the Horde. Remember?”

Bow stretched the string of his bow and aimed it at nothing. “Yeah, well you don’t have to have a party to celebrate anything. You can just…” he waves his hand around “get them a present.”

Adora blinks at him, eyebrow raised. “A… present?”

“Yeah, you know that necklace I got you? The pearl one?” Adora nodded “Didn’t need to have a reason to gift it to you besides the fact that I was thinking of you when I saw it. You know, a present. You get something cus’ it reminds you of someone.”

Adora looks at She-Ra as she shined it clean. “Huh.”

And that’s where she is.

Glimmer brought her to Plumeria. They took Bow’s advice to work with Perfuma on trying to fix the Whispering Woods since she knew Entrapta best amongst everyone else. So, while Glimmer talked to the princess, Adora spent her time talking to the civilians.

She finds a plaza, where a group of vendors huddled around and sold goods that Adora hand never seen. Most of them were flower related – to no one’s surprise – while some sold pottery, food, and drinks. There was, however, one shopkeeper that caught Adora’s eyes.

He looked like a bull. He was brute-looking and covered in long, thick fur. Adora watched his clothes struggle to not burst at the seams as he moved to greet his customers; most of them ran off in fear, and the few who stayed didn’t last too long with him. They didn’t bother buying, either.

To say he looked exhausted would be an understatement. The poor guy couldn’t sell any of his wares.

Adora approached him. “Hey, what are you selling?”

The bull almost jumped, but he laughs heartily. “Jewels found in the northernmost parts of Etheria. Deep in the chasms buried in snow!”

Adora leans forward to inspect them. Some shined yellow, some were blue, others were green, and a few were black. There was also purple, red, orange, pink. All of them, raging in prices that Adora couldn’t afford.

Adora thinned her lips, “I’m sorry, it’s not in my budget –”

“You’re that She-Ra, aren’t you?” The bull grinned at her “tell you what, grab whatever you’d like! It’ll be free of charge.”

“Y-you don’t have to –” Adora looks cautiously at the eyes that were starting to turn her way.

“Sure, I do!” He leans against his stand. The wood creaks under his massive weight, “there was an awful storm in the north when I got these crystals. Thunder, lightning, hail – the worst of the worst! Would’ve been trapped in there if ya’ hadn’t done what you did in Bright Moon. I owe you my life.”

“But, this is…” she glanced at the price again “this is a lot.”

The bull shrugs “So is the price of my life. Please, She-Ra. Pick one.”

Adora thins her lips and looks at the stones. “Each stone holds a meaning. Point to it, and I’ll tell ya’ what it does,” she hears him say.

Her finger lingers to a green stone –

“Fine choice that one,” he bellows “it means life. Creation. The green of the trees and pasture. Wearing this’ll make ya’ feel more alive. It also gives ya’ a better luck with crops.”

Adora nods, before moving her hand to an orange one –

“Oh, this,” he chuckles “rare find. Found ‘im in the crevice of an old cave. It represents fire. Resilience, warmth… The light in the distance that means safety. It brings the brave out of your heart and leaves the fear in the cold.”

She moves her finger towards a red one blotched with a few black dots. For some reason, this one felt the most appealing to her eyes –

“This one’s a remarkable one. A mix of two, really,” he quietly speaks, like as if he was trying to speak to just Adora “See, the black of it represents permanence; a promise. The red, represents beauty. Passion. Love. Put those two together and you have –”

“A promise of love.” Adora mumbles.

“Right. Very special rock, that one –”

“I’ll take it,” Adora immediately states.

The man raises his brow “Oh, and who’s the lucky person?”

“S..someone,” Adora stutters, trying not to blush.

The man laughs loudly, “Ah, well make sure to send me the date!”

“Date?”

“You know, for your marriage!”

“M…marriage?”

Is that a rebellion term?

“Adora!” She hears Glimmer call, “time to go!”

“Looks like your friend’s here. Do ya’ want this rock on a necklace, a bracelet, or what?” He lists.

Adora tries to think.

A bracelet would be great, but it wouldn’t really fit Catra’s character. And she’s not really sure if Catra would wear it in the first place. A necklace either. But maybe –

She looks up at the bull. He had three rings on either one of his ears. “Can I… get it on something like that?” Adora points.

He flicks his ear, the same way Catra would. “An earring? Oh, well… Does your partner have the holes for ‘em?”

“Holes?”

“Yes. If not, then don’t worry. I have –” he digs something out of the stand. Adora couldn’t tell what it was until he took the tiny stone and pressed it against whatever he held in his hands. Once he was done, he presented it to Adora. “—this. It’s not like mine, but it’ll let ‘em wear it without a hole. You can come back, if that person ever wants a real one.”

Adora looks at it.

It was a tiny accessory. It was ring like in shape, aside from the fact that it didn’t connect at the ends. It had enough of a gap to fit into Catra’s ear.

“It looks perfect,” She took the item into her hands very carefully. “thank you!”

“No ma’am, thank you.”

“Adora, let’s go!” She heard Glimmer yell again.

Adora turned on her heel and ran off.

“I’m sorry, I had to grab Catra something,” Adora showed it to Glimmer “you think she’ll like it?”

Glimmer thinned her lips. Adora watched her glance at the stall she got the present from, opened her mouth, then closed it. “You… You do know what that is right..?”

“Yeah! Bow said it’s called a present!”

Glimmer blinked her wide, pink eyes and sighed. “Yeah! Definitely. Come on. Let’s go. We’re going home.”

Adora nodded, “Anything good with Perfuma?”

“No, not much. She started crying about Entrapta, then started blaming herself, then told me thirty minutes later that she didn’t know anything,” Glimmer huffs impatiently. “Our only hope is that stupid cat at this point. Do you even think she’ll help us?”

Adora sighs, glancing at the rock she had on her hands. “We’ll see soon enough, Glimmer.”

Just one more night before she sees Catra again.

Just one more.

When they get back from their trip, Glimmer explained it all to the Queen.

There grew a tension between the two monarchs. She overheard Queen Angella: the princesses want a full attack if Bright Moon’s defenses aren’t fixed in the next two weeks. Adora feels a pang of pain hit her heart. When that happens, Adora knows she’ll be fighting Catra in the front lines. It won’t be the way Adora always dreamed.

They won’t be fighting together.

And once they hit the endgame, it’s over for both of them. There won’t be any gray areas that they can settle in. Adora is She-Ra, and Catra is Hordak’s right hand.

Either ending didn’t work out for them. If she fixed the Whispering Woods, Catra won’t be able to visit anymore. If she didn’t fix it, she and Catra will fall back to how it was before.

Adora feels her scars tingle.

Once that happens, what then? Would Adora be able to put away her feelings to favor the war? Would she be able to fight Catra like before? Would Catra be able to bare her fangs and slice her again, just like they had a month before?

Maybe she should just run away. Forget about She-ra. Forget about the Rebellion… but, she can’t do that. Not after everything she had seen the Horde do.

“Stop, thinking, damn it…” She slumps on her bed, trying to silence her mind.

“Wow,” she jolts from her position, turning herself to turn to an all too familiar silhouette, hiding in the darkness of her room “and I thought I was the only one who’s having a pretty mind buzzing day.”

“Catra? Y…you’re not supposed to be here today.”

“I know,” the feline’s eyes glow in the dark “do you want to go out for a walk?”

Adora’s eyes immediately fall outside to the sight of the setting sun. “It’s… about to be night fall. There’ll be more guards –”

Her eyes adjusted accordingly when she saw Catra slowly approach. There’s something light in her eyes, and Adora can’t really figure out what it is. She liked it; it looked better than what it used to be before. Instead of being hooded in darkness and mischief, Catra’s eyes looked sure.

Catra held out her hand.

Adora took it.

She was pulled to her feet. “Come on,” Catra says “meet me by the edge of the trees in the East.”

Adora felt herself curl her hands around those fingers. “Why?”

“It’s a surprise.”

Normally, Adora would sense something dangerous about any of Catra’s bold and detail-less ideas; toady felt the same as every time else. Adora would worry about getting in trouble with Shadow Weaver. Ruining her chance to become a Force Captain would stop her from going with Catra in her little explorations around the Fright Zone. That, and getting Catra in more trouble.

It was a mutual agreement between the two that Catra won’t drag Adora into places that could risk her future.

And right now, with her trust with all of the Rebellion on the line, Adora didn’t care anymore.

That is a problem for future Adora.

Adora nods. Catra takes off, running back to scale the side of the castle again while Adora went the scenic route.

She told some of the guards to keep their eyes on the west side of the forest for now. Adora explained that Glimmer swore she saw something move in the forest the other night. The guards didn’t question it – whether if it was because she’s She-Ra or if it’s because she mentioned Glimmer, it didn’t really matter to her so long as it meant the chances of Catra being seen is put to the absolute minimum.

Adora reached the wilderness in a few minutes. Catra was already waiting for her there.

Catra nods towards the forest as she walks deeper.

“Love the new forest, by the way,” Catra mocks. Adora watched her tail swish playfully. “Who did this? Flower girl?”

She rolled her blue eyes. “Hey, be nice. Her name is Perfuma and… well, she tried her best.”

Catra cackles, her tail moving on top of Adora’s hand. Eventually, they reach a clearing deep enough into the woods that neither the Fright Zone nor Bright Moon could be seen through the trees. Adora’s surroundings had nothing but twisted vines and thick trunks, and the forest floor was covered with green moss, soil, stones, or thick grass.

There were also bright flowers. It gave off a sort of warmth that the old whispering woods lacked.

Her pale hand raised and pressed against the bark of the tree. “So, what are we here for?”

“You asked me before,” Catra coiled and uncoiled her tail “why I decided to come over all of the sudden?”

Adora blinked, and she felt the anxiety rise in her throat. It wasn’t just because the answer she’s been begging to be answered is finally surfacing. It was because of Catra’s obvious air of seriousness. She only coiled her tail like that either in amusement or before a moment of attack.

There’s nothing amusing about this situation.

In the moment, she felt the tension beginning to rise.

“Yes, I did.”

“Truth is,” Catra stared at nothing. She eventually turned on her heels, approaching Adora. “I never wanted to be friends with you again. Or, have whatever we have now. I never wanted this. I never wanted you. This was never because I liked you. What we have right now will never fix what we had before, and I’ve been such an idiot thinking it would.”

The words wounded her with the same depth, agony, and pain as the nails that raked her back a month ago.

“What are you –”

Adora’s breath hitched when Catra raised her hand to place it on her neck, her four nails gripping the back of it and her thumb digging right at the hollow of her throat. Adora could only watch the impassive emotions dancing in Catra’s eyes.

Even peeking through those windows, Adora can’t sense anything but an unnerving calm and resolution.

Catra buried every emotion deep into her soul.

Catra starts digging hard enough for Adora to feel a sudden spike of danger. Those blue eyes never looked away from Catra. In fact, the more Catra dug her nail down her neck, the more focused her look on the feline became.

She could feel her heart thundering in her chest.

Fear.

This is fear.

“My mission is to find a way to hurt you the worst way possible. To distract you –” the nails dug deeper and Adora felt her breathing struggle “—and poison She-ra so I can destroy Bright Moon. To capture your friends. To destroy what you left me for.

I really wanted to see the exact face you’re making right now, and…”

There it was.

The light that Catra tries to hide behind those hooded eyes. Behind those sharp, white teeth and sharpened, black claws. The light that the darkness swallowed. The light that the Horde did its best to engulf.

And it’s Adora’s job to pull it out.

Adora raised her hand and placed it on Catra’s arm. Catra’s grip loosened.

Catra sighs heavily. “And now,” she started back up again “I think… I don’t ever want to see you hurt like that again.”

Chapter Text

Maybe pinning her to a tree with her nails digging right at her throat was a pretty dramatic move on her part. But it’s not her fault she wanted to see how sure she is of this decision.

Defecting from the Horde.

It felt dirty. Absolutely disgusting. Revolting even.

Part of her wanted to take it all back and continue on with the mission. Maybe just end Adora’s life right there to make it easier for Hordak instead of waiting for a poison. The look on Adora’s face when she grabbed her throat held fear. Nothing but fear. The expression that Catra oh so craved.

But it’s not enough.

Not anymore.

Because, the other part of her reveled in the way Adora’s breath hitched in her throat. In a good way. Her stomach spun and flipped on itself. It got Catra thinking: how much would she lose if she lost Adora?

She looked right into the blonde’s ocean eyes and let herself bathe in the waves of emotion that they presented. It was all there. Thrashing waves of fear and hurt. And, beyond the reef, was mercy and acceptance – an unwavering love, calm and still. Even at that moment, there wasn’t a single pinch of hate. It’s at that point that Catra knew she had to dive deep into the mysterious depths of the unknown.

And she did.

Whatever hold Adora had on Catra led the feline to confess and break her loyalty. What’s strong enough to do the impossible?

Catra didn’t get to think about it too much; Adora didn’t let her.

The next thing she knew was that her lips sealed themselves on Adora’s. In a kiss that seemed more like a dance than their usual battles.

Probably because Adora was leading.

It was light. Slow. Gentle. Forgiving. The kisses felt like renewed promises. Felt like words that couldn’t be understood by anyone else but them. A language that they could finally use to understand each other without thinking too much or thinking too little. A nonverbal communication that still needed their mouths to convey.

Their language.

Adora broke their lazy kiss.

“Can we go back to the room now?” She heard the blonde whisper.

Catra nodded.

She didn’t mind the feeling of her muscles aching. She didn’t mind the fact that she nearly slipped and fell into a cold pool of water. She didn’t mind the fact that Adora grinned at her from the balcony when Catra struggled at a step. She also didn’t mind when Adora lent her a hand and pulled her up with ease.

Catra didn’t mind the hard work, so long as it meant getting to lay beside Adora for the night.

And that’s what they did.

Adora, this time, wrapped her arms around Catra; their faces close together as they tried to sleep. Adora shifted, though. Suddenly, the position didn’t feel too good. It felt… wrong. Stiff, almost. Catra mumbled for Adora to move.

The blonde whined when Catra turned away.

That’s when Adora reached and pulled for the feline – flushing Catra’s back to her front.

Yes, this felt right.

Night fell on them right then.

When Catra woke up, it was to the feeling of the sun on her back. She couldn’t stop the purr of delight that left her throat when the warmth spread through her system.

Magicats loved to bathe in the warmth of the sun. They call this – sun bathing.

Yeah, what else would it have been called? Water bathing?

Her eyes were still shut, but she knew it must’ve been pretty late – compared to waking up at the crack of dawn, at least – in the morning.

She stretched her arms and purred some more. The hands wrapped on her torso pulled her closer. She yelped when lips grazed the side of her neck very gently.

“Morning,” Adora mumbled in-between kisses.

She noticed it since their first night together. Adora, from time to time, ventured on without Catra’s permission; even finding her most sensitive spot at the base of her tail.

Adora’s getting bolder.

Catra let a very faint whine out of her lips to urge her on.

Instead of getting what she wanted, she felt Adora lay back down on the bed.

Catra growled, spinning around and grabbing Adora by the arm. She yanked the giggling blonde up on her body before pulling her into a kiss that turned her fit into whimpers. Every time Adora’s lip got caught on one of Catra’s hooked canines, the blonde moaned.

But this isn’t about Adora.

Catra picked off the pale hands that started going up to cup her face –

“What are –”

Catra pressed her lips on the flat of Adora’s palm. “Have you ever wondered what it would feel like?”.

She could see the daze going on in Adora’s eyes. The way she stared at whatever Catra was doing. “What…” she looked back up to meet Catra’s eyes “what do you mean by that?”

A quick run of her tongue between Adora’s fingers was what it took for Adora to gasp. “Inside me?” Catra made a point by glancing downwards.

Adora’s thumb welcomed itself to rove between Catra’s lips – not really inside Catra’s mouth but not really out of it either. The way that Adora’s lips opened slightly, as if trying to get Catra to open her own. If looks could kill, Catra would be writhing on the ground.

Then again, she was already below Adora.

This is as close to death as she is ever going to get.

Catra raised her head high enough for that thumb to fall into her lips. She sucked gently and watched Adora exhale. “It feels a lot like this, y’know,” she speaks with the thumb in her mouth. Adora’s face started flushing a bright red. “Pretty wet, pretty warm…”

“I..” Adora stops to favor the sight of Catra’s sultry grin “..wouldn’t know.. what to do.”

She felt the thumb retreat, and Catra chuckles.

Nervous.

“Come oon, you learn fast, don’t you? I’m sure you’ve picked something up during those times I’ve fucked you,” Catra pushed Adora gently. The blonde took the signal and raise herself slightly, “I’ll tell you if it feels good or not. No biggie.”

Adora sighs, “Catra, I… I don’t know. I feel… feel like I’ll mess up. And when that happens maybe you’d –”

“What? Reject you?” Catra chuckled. When the blonde’s lips raise oh so slightly, Catra felt something in her stomach flutter. She threw her arms around Adora before anchoring her legs around the blonde. “Not a chance.”

“Catra –” Adora started laughing.

“Come here,” Catra pulled Adora back in.

The kiss started off playful, light, and… happy.

And then, Catra made the move to dig her nails on Adora’s scalp. The blonde’s hand instantly flew to Catra’s neck, pushing her down to the mattress. Catra shuddered at the bold move.

She didn’t have time to recover from it, because Adora didn’t hesitate to claim her lips again. Her blunt teeth pulled Catra’s lips and released it with a pop. It was then that Catra felt the strings in her stomach bubble to life.

Seeing Adora’s smug face made her hiss. She slammed their lips back together; she’s sure it might’ve cut the blonde’s lip, because the taste of blood tainted her tongue. That, or maybe she cut her own.

“Easy, Adora –”

She didn’t get to finish her sentence. The blonde pulled herself up enough that her pale leg pressed itself to the heat between Catra’s lean legs.

Adora grinned. “I really think I’m starting to enjoy this.”

Catra couldn’t admit it out loud, but she did as well.

She loved the idea of being better than Adora. She loved the idea of idea of finally beating Adora in one of their many spars. She loved the idea of being able to show her pretty face what she lost when she left her.

She loved all of that.

But she loves this.

“I think I,” Adora started grazing her lips on Catra’s neck. Her lips parted slightly, “I think I liked you better when you were shy – shit, Adora…

She found it.

A particularly sensitive spot on the side of her neck, just above her collar bone. The minute the blonde found it and placed a curious bite over it, Catra rocked herself further against Adora’s leg.

She doesn’t know what it is. Or why it is. It was a button for her entire system. The minute teeth clamped themselves down on that spot of her neck, the desire to loosen the tightness coiling inside of her outweighed everything else. The absolute desire – the instinct – that took over her system is nothing but animalistic.

Once that button was pressed, getting herself off is the only thing that mattered to her.

And when that instinct started taking over, Catra flipped them over.

“Hey, I thought you said I was –”

Catra stopped whatever Adora was about to say when she slipped off her shirt.

Adora stared for one, two, three seconds before sitting up to land her lips carefully against the lean muscles moving under Catra’s skin. “Wow,” Adora whispers.

A moment of love between their passion and lust; this denominator was what made their entire relationship complicated. Adora’s love for Catra, and Catra’s attachment to Adora… It’s the driving force that made these acts feel plenty more addicting.

It’s the force that led them to gravitate around one another – a push and pull.

Adora rubbed the back of her ears. Catra doesn’t try to swallow the purr, and Adora rewards her with an open-mouthed kiss. Adora’s tongue staking its claim; Adora’s lips dancing wildly; Adora’s teeth scraping her lower lip; All of this in rhythm every time that hand scratched the back of her ear.

Each movement shot a hot feeling deep into Catra’s stomach.

She hadn’t realized Adora had pushed her back down against the mattress until her bare back hit the cool blankets. Catra’s eyes rolled back when she felt Adora’s hesitant fingers grazing over the space between her legs.

“You’re really warm,” Adora mumbles.

With a hand rubbing the base of Catra’s ear, lips busily sliding themselves on Catra’s lips, and – now – her other hand working to the press against her hot center…

This stimulation is too much.

Catra broke the kiss and panted. “And you,” she groaned against their kiss “were w-worried, you’d fuck up?”

“I still am.” Anxiousness dripped hotly out of Adora’s lips.

Nervous.

She could feel it.

Catra made the move to take Adora’s hand between her legs. Catra adjusted her position before shimmying her pants off under the blankets anc tossing it over the edge of the bed. She could see Adora’s cheek bursting to a fine color of red; Catra could only offer her a chaste kiss to help fend off her embarrassment.

“If you want to know how to do me right,” Catra started, taking the blonde’s hand below her own and pushing it under her underwear. Before Adora could say anything, Catra pressed their lips together in the same moment she guided Adora’s hand to brush against the spot that made her entire world blur. Catra moaned, “you have to do me like I do myself.”

She moved Adora’s fore fingers in circles. She did this for a good minute before Adora caught on to reality; Adora started moving her fingers on her own, and Catra rewarded her with a soft whine. “Yes, right there, fuck –“

It took but a few more seconds for Adora start doing it with more confidence. It was rocky, and sometimes, she missed the spot Catra needed her to hit, but Adora’s still learning. Catra brought her own hand back up to favor cupping Adora’s cheek and connecting their lips to a fevered kiss.

“Damn it,” Adora chuckled “my hand’s cramping…”

Catra let herself smile, “It’ll feel a whole lot better with,” Catra swallowed a moan when Adora hit the right spot. “with practice.”

“Maybe I should just turn into She-ra,” Adora seemed oblivious to Catra’s struggle as she joked.

Though, to Catra….

The joke isn’t beyond reality.

Catra felt another ball of pleasure shoot into her stomach. Adora must’ve felt it because the blonde cursed and changed the pace of fingers to something more stable. It wasn’t fast. Nothing like what she’s used to with herself, but still –

It reeled her in.

And when Adora buried her finger inside of her, Catra yelled.

Adora –”

“Did I hurt you?” Adora’s panic was cute but, shit

Catra threw her arms around Adora’s shoulders to stop the blonde from backing away. “No. Fast..” She groaned “Go fast.”

Adora’s cheeks burned, but she obeyed.

“Adora, curl your fingers a little bit,” Catra instructed as she leaned to meet Adora’s lips.

The blonde nodded, she curled her fingers and the tension in Catra’s stomach started rapidly building.

“All – fuck – go all the way down and head left.”

Again, Adora followed her guidance, and Catra started curling her toes.

She hadn’t done this in a long time. She hasn’t had fingers besides her own, fucking her like this in almost two years. Saying that Catra was soaked would be an understatement. The way Adora’s fingers easily slid in and slid out made her want to cum on the spot. The only way she even managed to hold herself together was the fact that she stubbornly fought the need for it.

Catra raked her nails on Adora’s back. Every thrust was just a tug of war at this point. Catra’s control slipping ever so slowly to Adora’s hand. The loud rumble of her purrs echoed in the walls of Adora’s room.

Adora’s breathing staggered, but her pace never stopped. Strength and Endurance; it as always Adora’s best feature in a battle. Normally, Catra would hate her for it, but right now…

Damn it,” Catra jutted her hips when she started feeling herself tighten up.

“You’re doing so good,” Catra flattened her ears at that, and her desire for control further slipped. Adora must’ve sensed it.

Adora must have.

“You’re so good,” Adora didn’t stop.

Catra didn’t want to win. Not anymore.

Catra’s jaw hung open as silent moans slipped out of her lips. She pressed her sweaty forehead on the crook of Adora’s neck like a lifeline. Adora whispering praises into her ear, and the way everything just felt like it was slipping out of her control.

Everything pushed it, but what ended Catra’s stubbornness was when Adora went back to that spot on her neck and clamped her teeth down. Hard.

Her climax never ended in a yell. Habits told her that making any sort of noise would wake one of the cadets. So, Catra didn’t yell. She couldn’t yell, but she held herself back by clawing at Adora’s front hard enough that it would have definitely left marks.

The purring in her throat started dying down right when Adora’s fingers slowed. And when her fingers didn’t stop, the pleasure started turning into pain. Catra’s hand flew to stop her.

“Stop, stop, that hurts…”

Adora slowly took her fingers out. Catra winced. “Oh, I’m sorry –”

“D-don’t.” Catra stopped her, raising a hand to cup Adora’s cheeks.

“I hurt you –”

“Adora,” Catra chuckled “you should really look in the mirror.”

The blonde had shallow scratches on her shoulder and deeper ones on her hip bones. Not to mention, Adora’s lips adorned tiny cuts of their own. Adora raised her hand to touch her bleeding lip, but she didn’t seem to mind.

“You’re a lot calmer about this than I thought,” Catra started, wrapping her arms around Adora as the blonde slumped onto the bed.

“I’m… not calm at all. Just,” as if to make a point, she yawned “really tired…”

“Oh, what?” Catra coiled her tail “was fucking me that exhausting?”

“Try breathtaking.”

Catra rolled her eyes before looking at the rising sun. “I have to go,” she said more to herself.

Adora hummed sadly, leaning forward to place her lips on Catra’s in a slow kiss. When they broke apart, Catra sighed.

She felt a different type of string pull at her chest.

Not lust.

Something else.

“What are you planning to do now?” Adora asks quietly.

That question was enough for Catra to start pushing herself off the bed. She grabbed her pants from the floor and slipped it on. “No idea,” her reply is as curt as her demeanor “I guess look for Half Moon? That would probably mean I won’t see you for a while, but I have to figure this out. Whatever the Horde did or… the truth of what happened…” Catra looked down and picked up her shirt “It has to be in there.”

When Adora didn’t reply, Catra looked up.

Adora sat up, with a soft smile across her face. Catra’s heart thudded in her chest. She looked beautiful in the morning light. Even if her hair was a tousled mess, she still looked vibrant.

The blonde made a move to get up and walk towards her desk. “You know, I didn’t understand what Glimmer meant when she said I was glowing,” she noticed the blonde swipe something “until I saw you. After, you know… We had sex.”

Catra groaned, “Of course princess shimmer-and-shine would point that out,” she said, “what’s that?”

“It’s… a present.” Catra tilted her head. Adora opened her hand and showed it to her. It looked like a ring, but it had a tiny gap dividing the metal. “It’s something you get someone when you look at something and think of them. Here, come closer.”

Catra perked at that. She took a step closer. Adora’s hand went up to her ear. She started slipping the object in. Catra couldn’t help but flick her ear whenever Adora’s finger brushed over her tufts. When Adora pulled away, Catra started to feel a slight pressure near the tip of it.

She looked in the mirror on Adora’s desk. The accessory looked… oddly beautiful.

A crimson red with black splotches. Tiny but it would definitely catch attention.

Catra flicked her ear. “Are you… doing this as a prize for me defecting?”

The smile on the blonde’s face held a sort of ache, but it quickly faded when she leaned closer to Catra and kissed her forehead. “No assuming, remember?”

“It was a genuine question, idiot.”

“I got it for you as a present, Catra; not a reward.”

Catra turned her attention back to Adora.

She didn’t know what went over her. Not really. She had an inkling of an idea, but she didn’t think too much about it. Instead, she acted it out.

She shifted the angle of her face so that the blonde’s lips landed on hers in a slow but hair-raising kiss. Catra felt Adora smile into it some more, throwing her arms on either one of Catra’s shoulders. Her ears flattened when she felt a soft tongue peeking between Adora’s lips. Catra urged it out by opening her mouth.

Adora took the bait and deepened it.

Catra hummed and dropped her shirt to favor clutching Adora’s side.

“D-do you,” Catra whimpers in between their kisses “do you want to go… again?”

Adora’s grin was childish. Almost as wicked as Catra’s whenever they saw each other for the first time during the day. “Practice makes perfect,” Adora murmurs right before diving in again.

Catra didn’t get to leave until midday, and when Lonnie saw her, all the girl did was shake her head and walk away.

Chapter Text

“Scorpia?”

“Yep?”

“Can I trust you with something?”

The conversation with Scorpia started like that.

She explained what had happened. With the mission, with Adora, with everything they had worked for in the past month. Scorpia took it all in. Sometimes, she would get distracted or ask meaningless questions like ‘did you greet Mermista a happy birthday?’ or ‘aww, did Adora give you that earring?’. She ended it with the truth about the Magicats and her birthright.

Scorpia claims she knew about them.

It was covered in Force Captain Orientation. Apparently, heavier topics are covered the higher your rank.

When Catra asked her why she didn’t say something to her about them, Scorpia just shrugged. They were told there wasn’t a single Magicat that’s still alive, and not a single image of them were presented to the captains.

There was no need to.

Why would they need to know a dead race?

Catra brushed it off and continued.

She told Scorpia that she needs to work as an acting second-in-command for the time being. Temporarily, she also assigned Octavia to help with disciplinary part of the work. Just for the day.

Octavia scowled at Catra when she did that, but Catra convinced her by stating she’s the only other captain she knows wouldn’t butcher the job.

Scorpia didn’t really do anything other than grin and take the temporary raise.

Catra packed what she needed in her little satchel. Some rations, A map of the Horde’s territories, some liquids –

and a tiny good luck charm that Dana crafted for her.

“These are… four balls of aluminum glued together.”

“Hey, I’m not artistic okay. Just come back safe from this super-secret Hordak mission and try not to die.”

Catra grinned and clutched the good luck charm. “Thanks, loser.”

It made her smile.

“You’re smiling like an idiot, what’s up with you?”

She whipped her head around and saw Lonnie standing by the doorway of her room, a smirk plastered on her face. Catra rolled her eyes and stashed the good luck charm into her satchel; she stood up to grab the book Adora gave her. “Do you have anything better to do than mess with me?”

“I don’t know,” Lonnie shrugged and walked inside “it’s pretty fun riling you up. Someone’s gotta’ take your best friend position now that Adora is… more than that.”

Catra slammed the book back on her desk to favor glaring at Lonnie. She wanted to look terrifying. She wanted to look pissed. But the hard blush on her face didn’t pass that message.

Two days.

It had been two days since she came back from Bright Moon after a few extra hours with Adora. Scorpia was there to greet her, as per usual, but Lonnie was there too… unfortunately. The minute she took one good look at Catra – one good stare up and down from head to toe – she made an accurate conclusion of what had happened.

Catra tries to deny it.

Lonnie argues that she knows what Catra would look like after one.

For the past two days, Lonnie had been dropping various not so subtle remarks on what Catra has been doing in Bright Moon. More specifically, who, Catra has been doing. Kyle and Rogelio eventually caught on and reassured Catra that no one chooses who they fall in ‘love’ with.

“I’m not in love with her!” Catra hissed at the group.

“Yeah, well what’s that on your ear?”

Catra rips the earing off but made sure to keep it safe in her gripped fist. “I’m just doing it for fun! Is that okay?”

“No, no, Catra what we had was fun,” Lonnie pointed to herself then to Catra in rapid succession “but you and Adora? You tried to deny it when I first asked you!”

“So?”

“Why deny something that’s true if it’s just for fun?”

“I’m not denying!”

Lonnie leaned forward and raised a brow right then. “Then do you want to do it with me again?”

Catra didn’t answer that. She just growled and stormed off as Lonnie laughed devilishly.

“Do you ever just realize that you should just shut up and leave someone alone?” She echoed the same words Lonnie had used to her before.

Lonnie grinned at that and rolled her eyes, “I’m just fucking with you, you know this. But… I bet with Adora it’s more than just a fuck, huh?”

“Lonnie, I’m going to rip your ears off.” Her growl was slathered with impatience.

The cackle that the woman did was almost heart warming to hear. She didn’t think their relationship could get this far. Catra, despite her loath of Lonnie, always thought the woman would be a great force captain. A spark of rivalry that started in hatred of each other’s basic personalities, ending in a level of respect for one another that caused them to become the unlikeliest of friends.

And, now, they’re on a mission to find out the truth about Catra’s heritage.

Catra told Lonnie, Kyle, and Rogelio about the situation with the Magicats. She wanted them to go with her. To find out if what the book’s saying is true. Rogelio and Kyle agreed to go, no questions asked.

But Lonnie –

“You’re thinking of defecting, aren’t you?” The woman’s voice was deep enough that day that Catra felt threatened. She understood why, though.

“I am. And if I’m doing it, I’m doing it with all of you.”

“And what about the rest of the Horde? Are you leaving them?”

Catra flicked her ear, “I’ll figure it out.”

“Bullshit, Catra –”

I can’t promise everyone else, but I can promise yours –”

Lonnie hit her after that.

Catra looked up to get a better view of Lonnie’s scratches. The girl had a few wounds; some shallow scratches, a gash on her brow that needed stitching, and a cut on her ear. Catra did her best not to hurt her too much.

Because of that, Catra got hurt worse.

Catra had her own bruises. Plenty of bruises. She still gasped whenever she moved her torso a certain way. Lonnie hit hard, as if telling Catra the full extent of her frustration. The hit she felt the most was the one Lonnie landed across her cheek.

It was the hit that ended the fight.

While they sat in the medical wing together, Lonnie gave Catra a light shove on her shoulder.

“I’ll go with you.”

She really didn’t understand why the brawl started in the first place if it only ended with Lonnie joining.

“Catra, I hope you know what you’re doing,” Lonnie says, the air changing from light to heavy in a matter of seconds. Catra looked up to meet narrowed eyes “There’s nothing in our way; Adora still trusts you. If we attack now, Bright Moon would be heavily damaged and destroyed in less than an hour.”

She’s not wrong.

But the thought isn’t right.

When did it start not feeling right?

Catra tapped her fingers against the hard cover of the book. “I know, but… if this book isn’t lying then –”

“That changes the game for you,” Lonnie finishes. She welcomes herself to sit on the edge of Catra’s bed. “Well, wherever you go, I’m followin’.”

Catra looked up at that. “You know what, why do you want to stick by me?”

Lonnie thins her lips and looks down to her feet. She looks down at her hands before sighing. “Truth is, Rogelio and Kyle? They’ve been thinking about leaving the Horde.”

To say that’s a shocking revelation is an exaggeration. Relationships – in Kyle and Rogelio’s situation – isn’t allowed; love isn’t allowed. Strictly forbidden unless it’s between two very talented soldiers, and Kyle and Rogelio don’t exactly fit that description. Kyle is a clumsy idiot while Rogelio was mute. They would’ve needed to either keep their relationship a secret for the rest of their lives, destroy their relationship –

Or, find a way to continue their relationship by defecting.

Lonnie plays with her fingers before looking up. Dark brown eyes holding Catra’s down. “They… told me. A while ago. Said that it would be great if we just left. That a guy named Bow pretty much – I don’t know, I blocked out half the shit Kyle said.”

“And,” Catra egged her on as she clamps the belt of her uniform.

“And, I told them,” Lonnie hesitates “that I didn’t want to leave because… well, y’all are the only people I’ve got. I love the Horde. I disagree with how Shadow Weaver ran shit, but I love the Horde.” Something enigmatic crossed her eyes there. That was all Catra needed to see to nod in understanding. “Then, you up and snatched her position.

You went from loser to right hand in a snap. Hordak must’ve seen something great in you. And, if he gave you this chance, I’m sure it’s for good reason. So, I wanted to see it for myself…” She breaks her eye contact “I started liking how you ran shit. Decided, that if there was ever a part of you that wanted to leave, I’m there… Even if that meant leaving it all.”

“You’d leave your family all because you like how I run things?”

“Yeah, I guess, is that what family means?” Lonnie says, “You grew up a lot, Catra. You’re less of a bitch and definitely only half as crappy as Shadow Weaver.”

Catra flicked her ear. Human loyalty is really odd.

“Wow way to make me feel better. That last comment totally worked,” Catra kicked her shin.

Lonnie chuckles. “You know you love me.”

“No, I really don’t.”

“Right, you love Adora though –”

Catra stomps on her boot.

“Ow, jeez, okay, okay,” Lonnie laughs loudly. Catra lets herself smirk “You ready to go? Everyone else is waiting in the ship.”

Catra nods, throwing her packed goods over her shoulder before following Lonnie out of her room.

They head towards the docking station where Rogelio and Kyle already readied themselves. They greeted Catra with a salute. Once they were in the ship, they lifted off.

Their trip took thirty minutes. When the book mentioned that the ruined palace was far into the heart of the Horde, and it wasn’t kidding. The Kingdom of the Magicats sat in a forest clearing barely visible if it weren’t for a fragile tower that loomed over every other ruined building.

Catra knows plenty about age, and this place was burned down ages ago. It was never turned into another colony for the Horde; it was left to the forest to twist its vines around each building.

“Kyle, right there,” Lonnie points to a clearing near their destination.

Kyle gently lands the ship.

Catra didn’t bother to wait for everyone else.

Something pulled her.

Something called to her to approach what remained of this palace.

Just a bunch of toppled rocks and tussled vines. Some buildings still stood with little damage. Pottery work here and there. Ruined dens, hollowed trees, broken signs; all of them were covered in either green moss or green grass. The tower barely stood. It was breaking apart at the foundation.

Catra ran a hand on the flat of one of the walls.

On a flat wall where a very faint symbol of the Horde painted over it.

“Catra,” Catra glanced over to Kyle “are you okay?”

No, she isn’t.

“I’m fine, just… Find an entrance to this stupid underground lair of theirs,” she shrugs.

“Alright, let’s split up,” Lonnie announces “I’ll go with Rogelio. Catra, go with Kyle.”

Part of her itched when Lonnie basically took her mantle of leadership. The minute Catra gives a slight show of weakness, Lonnie welcomed herself to take it. It made her want to make a decision directly opposing Lonnie’s choice of splitting up.

But when her eyes met Lonnie’s, she cooled it. She didn’t look at Catra like she was weak. She was looking for Catra’s agreement. She took initiative; Catra should be proud of that.

She’s the second-in-command now. It’s not a competition anymore.

It still ticked her off, but Catra nods. “Go. Yell when you find something.”

Kyle follows Catra’s direction. Truth is, Catra didn’t know where to go. She enters the first ruined home she finds. Nothing but ashes, broken wood, and worn floors.

Catra enters the next home. It was more structurally sound that the last one. Its walls still stood, but the roof was gone. Burnt to ashes, maybe.

She once heard a Horde soldier explain that the problem with homes that still stand after a siege is that it carries a ‘suffocating gas’ that’ll make you question their loyalty to the Horde. The solider called it the Rebellion’s ‘secret weapon’. An air of silent horror and solemnness. Catra didn’t really understand what it meant.

Until now.

She explored every inch of the Fright Zone. She knew what posters were. Artworks. Propaganda. But these weren’t any of that. These were real people. Suffocating was right. There was nothing in the Horde that was as haunting as this.

“Oh, no…” Kyle whispers.

Catra flattened her ears and felt a bile rising in her throat.

The frames were still up.

Half torn, half burnt. Damaged images that hung on the walls of the home. Images of a family. Two Magicats and their two – she glanced at the stomach of the older woman grinning from ear to ear – no, three kids.

There were items on the floor that she didn’t really know what it was; a rod with a thin copper wire and entwined on the end of the wire was a ball.

On the floor were papers and sketches that looked like Kyle’s drawings. A child’s drawings.

On the floor were seats around a glass table – two big ones, two little ones, and what looked like a burnt box.

Catra’s tail fell between her legs.

Kyle placed a hand on Catra’s back. “Are you… okay?”

She knew the Horde was evil. She always did.

She wasn’t a blind idiot. She wasn’t ignorant to the Horde’s madness. She knew the wickedness of it all. She felt the brunt of it first hand, but she still loved them. This is her family. It was still her home. But right now, she felt like an absolute fool. In the face of a painted portrait… Magicats whose eyes were filled to the brim with happiness and warmth…

To think that she has been helping further this kind of damage against countless of families. Her family grew but at what cost?

 “Hey, Catra! We found something.”

She jumps out of her skin when she hears Lonnie’s voice.

Kyle’s hand didn’t retract when Catra spun around. She pulls a face and bats it away.

She can’t think about this. She needs to drown this out and focus.

“Catra –”

“Don’t. Just… don’t,” she hisses.

“N…No. No, I will,” Catra challenges him by raising her hooded eyes. He instinctively takes a step back, but he corrects it right after. “You’re not okay.”

“I am.”

“St…stop l-lying to yourself about how you really feel! It’ll… It’ll feel easier to just talk about it –”

“How I really feel right now is digging my claws right into your eye sockets and leaving you here for dead.”

Her yell echoed in the home. Kyle only looked away and shifted awkwardly.

Her anger boiled over her skin and leaked out of her pores. She stood, teeth bared, right at the young man in front of her. It’s not in his place to talk to Catra about her feelings. It’s not. He’s…

He has no business

He’s not right.

She’s fine.

 “Get out of the way, Kyle. This is your final warning.” Catra’s hiss made Kyle take another step back. He eventually steps aside and Catra surges through, making sure her shoulder nudges him on the way out.

Lonnie stood in the middle of the clearing, kneeling next to nothing.

Until, Rogelio claws at the dirt to show a wooden platform, the size of two people.

“A trapdoor.”

“Yeah,” Lonnie replies to Catra “come on, let’s lift this up.”

The four worked together to pull it up – Lonnie and Rogelio putting more into it. Once the cover was off, Catra took note of the metal ladder. Rust, worn down, missing some handles. It’ll cause trouble if they get stuck in there.

“It can only fit one person at a time,” Catra explains, “I’ll head in first, see if the coast is clear. Once I give a signal, Lonnie, Kyle, and Rogelio – in that order – follow me in. Rogelio,” she turns to the lizard man “make an anchor in case the stupid ladder breaks.”

She waits for them to acknowledge the order before beginning her decent.

It was dark. Completely dark. Other than the light from above, Catra could barely see anything. “Lonnie, bring extra torches. I think we’re going to need them!” she calls out.

She hears a muted response and continues to clamber down.

Eventually, her feet hit solid ground. Catra looks around. She makes out silhouetted shapes of the wall, and the lack of sound was enough for her to believe there was no one around them. She shouts for the group to come down.

Lonnie tosses her a torch. Catra fumbles with it until her hand lands on the switch.

Catra makes sure everyone else manages to drop down before she focuses on helping herself.

She hears Lonnie gasp, “Catra, look.”

“Give me a minute,” she clips the light to her belt, and when her eyes fall on whatever Lonnie was doing, she let her mouth slack. “woah…”

On either side of the cave – or tunnel, she’s not really sure – were giant cats carved in eroded rock. They looked big. Mighty. Growling at each other. Guardians of whatever secrets are under here. These cats looked nothing like her. Or… maybe close to what she looked like in her beast form.

The only difference being the giant mane wrapping their heads.

This was it. The entrance to Half Moon.

She felt it in her bones. The nerves wracking her.

That changes the game for you.

Catra sighs, glancing at the three people surrounding her. Each of them held a face that Catra found herself relax at. Rogelio’s confident silence, Lonnie’s excited smirk, and Kyle’s… worry. The Horde… the Magicats… The Rebellion.

The truth lies just beyond the darkness.

Catra sighs. This is it.

No turning back now.

Chapter Text

“Holy Hordak…”

She had seen Bright Moon both in the morning and at night. It looked pristine. Undamaged – at least before Catra came along. It looked magical. Beautiful. Jaw dropping. If she was as shallow minded as Kyle, she would’ve jumped at any chance to join the Rebellion after seeing something as mesmerizing.

But Half Moon.

The only natural light coming into the underground kingdom was from a gaping hole in the ceiling; that was all she needed to see.

The light touched the buildings’ right side, revealing the structure and crevices in the distance. Right in the middle stood another tower like sculpture much like the one above ground but in much better condition in terms of damage and erosion. In fact, aside from the overgrowth, the tower was pretty much left untouched. Around said tower were buildings. Homes. Made out of mud and rocks.

And the more Catra stared, the more it didn’t make sense. The book said the Horde chased them into their underground palace. Their underground home where they were all eventually slain. But, from the entrance of this lair up to where they were now…

Not a single ash, or skeleton, or really anything.

Compared to the ruins in the village just above their heads, this one was practically untouched aside from the weather.

Either the book lied or she’s missing something.

“That’s a lot of ground to cover,” Lonnie murmured.

“Probably just houses. What we’re aiming for is that,” she points to the tower, “whatever we’re looking for has to be in there.”

Lonnie shuffles down the path, heading closer to the entrance of Half Moon. Catra follows right beside her. “So, give me a bit more background to go with this,” she starts “you’re… a magicat?”

“Allegedly. Adora is sure that I am, but I… I don’t know. I look nothing like them besides the tail and the ears.”

“Well, it’s enough to go by. I didn’t know ‘bout them until you told me. I thought you were pulling my leg and testing my loyalty for a second there.” Catra nodded at her reason, raising the brightness of her torch to make sure they didn’t step on anything dangerous as they marched forth. “And what, you’re a princess?”

Catra shuddered at that.

“Absolutely not.”

“You have a crown, and your mother was the queen.”

Was.”

“Okay, so you’re a queen,” Catra chuckled when she says. “But here’s my question, why do you think Shadow Weaver would kill every single one of them… but keep you?”

It’s not a question Catra hadn’t thought of.

Catra thinks of plenty of things, but she never really lingers on them. This one, though, stuck to her mind like glue for a solid five seconds before she snapped herself back to reality.

Shadow Weaver’s weird attachment to Catra started way when they were young. Way before Catra could remember anything. During that time, she spent plenty of her time with Adora. That she remembered. It’s as if the blonde imprinted herself onto Catra.

But… why spare her?

The only reason she could really settle on was her crown. The giant cat. A power that could overthrow a hundred men on its own. With that kind of power in Hordak’s disposal, he would be unstoppable…

But… if that’s the case, why a genocide?

Lonnie’s outstretched arm stops her from walking closer to entrance.

“Something wrong?” Catra mumbles.

“I’m not sure. Something doesn’t feel right…” She replies. Her eyes fly to the two soldiers just behind them, signaling them to quiet down and get low. Catra squatted next to Lonnie who took cover by a large boulder. “Do you hear anything,” she whispers to Catra.

Catra touches her fingers to the ground and perks her ears to listen.

She waits for Kyle and Rogelio’s feet to stop shifting around before she really honed on whatever sound Lonnie worried about. It took a few seconds of waiting, but she hears it. A low humming coming from the building. It sounded low and barely audible, but it was there, nonetheless.

It happens again, but louder this time.

And, it was accompanied by a foul stench that nearly knocked Catra backwards if it weren’t for Kyle crouched right behind her.

“Woah, hey, you alright?”

“You didn’t smell that?”

Magicat or not, Lonnie shouldn’t have missed something of that odor.

Lonnie sniffed the air, “N…no, I can’t smell it.”

Catra knotted her brows before sniffing the air again. Nothing. Just rock, moss, and mildew. Did her mind just make that up?

“Did you hear it, though?” The question jolted Catra back into reality. “Sounded like a really low note. Kind of like a humming noise. Like something’s powering up.”

“Or, powering down,” Kyle added. “Th-this place looks pretty umm, run down. Maybe whatever it is, is r-running low on gas. Y-y’know, I reckon that, that tower takes energy from the sun and that hole up there is what it’s for.”

Lonnie raises an eyebrow before looking at Kyle, “Power from the – Kyle, what are you talking about?”

“Oh, um, Entrapta taught me. Something called uhh… solar… solar power?” Catra flicks her ear at his words, beckoning him to continue. Kyle meets her eyes and shrinks, until Rogelio places a hand on his shoulder. “I uhh… It takes the light of the sun, turns it into energy, and powers up an entire city. The runestone in Bright Moon powers from the moon, but I-I guess Half Moon takes it from the sun?”

Catra blinks. She didn’t register any of the mumbo jumbo aside from the fact that Half Moon took power from the sun. Still, Catra hummed in interest. “Looks like my people loved the sun,” she shrugged.

Rogelio lets a hissing noise leave his lips. He starts moving his hands around, and Kyle watches.

“Rogelio says that he picked up on the bad smell too, but it wasn’t that strong,” Rogelio kept signing “and it went away after Catra reacted to it.”

“So,” Catra blinked “it’s not just in my head?”

Lonnie exhales a growl, her hand lifting to scratch the back of her head. “Catra, I ain’t sure about this…”

“Neither am I,” the feline mumbled, but she stood up and approached the entrance.

It wasn’t until Catra took a step into the village did she feel every hair on her body standing on their ends. Lonnie’s right. Something feels very off about this place.

Every single building is intact. Standing. It looked aged, and dusted, and old, but everything still stood. Not a single thing looked out of place. She hears the muted tone again.

There –

Her eyes saw the buildings move.

Her nose crinkled when the sharp odor hit her again. It was stronger this time.

“Rogelio, are you okay?” She hears Kyle wonder. The lizardman hisses. “Catra, Rogelio says the smell got stronger. Much stronger.”

She turns to everyone behind her. “Something’s definitely not right. I saw the buildings move.”

“What,” she hears Lonnie speak “That’s impossible –”

“Look, part of the book mentioned that one of the queens gave Queen Angella some stupid defense mechanism. What it did was cause motionless objects to move on its own. Whoever is lost in will end up right where they started –"

“The Whispering Woods…” Lonnie mumbles.

“Exactly,” Catra reaches for a grenade in her pocket, “and if my guess is right –”

She pulls the pin and tosses it to a nearby building where it explodes. It takes a chunk off the building, and Lonnie instinctively dodges, but nothing ever hits her. The building repairs itself back after a few lingering seconds. It looked the same as it did before Catra ever threw anything at it.

She’s got to hand it to the Magicats. Unlike the rest of Etheria who hungered for Runestones, their disconnection with it led them to rely to another unetherian source – the sun.

No wonder Queen Angella wanted them out from the ground. They understood technology beyond the runestones. They made technology that didn’t rely on a runestone… And, maybe –

Catra reached for her crown –

“Holy shit,” Lonnie murmured “this entire place is a fucking maze.”

“They must’ve done it w-when they moved up the ground,” Kyle added. “But… h-how are we going to find our way through?”

Lonnie shrugs. “Catra?”

Catra grips the crown on her hand and paced around, deep in thought. Her tail swished from side to side.

Three ideas popped into Catra’s head at this point.

The first was to split up and find a way to go through the village and right into the tower in the middle. Seems like a grand idea if it weren’t for the fact that it could result in a bigger problem where finding each other would be as impossible as finding a way through. They would only end up lost in the maze, or back where they started.

The second was to force their way through by destroying the buildings, similar to what they did in the Whispering Woods. The problem with that is that this is underground. If they pushed these buildings to large magnitudes of power, the walls around them could collapse and whatever secret would be buried forever.

The last option was to go back to the Horde and recruit Entrapta. The problem with that is that Entrapta is –

“Catra?” Lonnie presses.

“Shut up, I’m thinking.”

Entrapta didn’t know anything about this trip to Half Moon. And, the mad scientist would likely make the situation worse by blowing something up. Not to mention, it would take too long. Waiting for Entrapta would mean taking another trip in the near future, and she doesn’t have time for that.

Not when Entrapta herself is still working on a poison.

Not when Catra is this close to finding out the truth.

Not when –

Catra glances at her crown.

Entrapta…

“Your current form can outperform your normal one in every aspect by more than five times!”

Every aspect, huh?

Catra placed the crown over her eyes.

She feels it ripping through her again. That same power. That same agonizing pain. It scorched her skin and broke her bones. She turned into a beast on four, and her squadron around her stepped back. Her body very nearly collapses to the ground, but she pulls herself up the minute the hurt ended.

Being in this form…

She could hear everything.

The humming noise sang in the air like a piper leading her to a direction to her left. Catra felt a growl rumble in her throat. Now that she turned into this… the sound isn’t just a sound. It’s a song. A very calming set of notes.

And, like a being led by a beacon, Catra follows it.

She hears the group shuffle behind her.

They followed her every turn and every step. When she hears the song struggle, Catra halts her movements. She flattens her ears as that loud low tone hits her again, along with that rotten smell.

Catra winces at it.

It smells like decay.

She hears a hiss from behind, and it was Rogelio.

Kyle immediately places a hand over his nose.

Lonnie pinches hers too. “Oh, woah, what in Etheria –” she starts.

“You smell it?” Catra growls.

“No idea what you just said, but if you’re asking what I think you’re asking?” Lonnie started waving a hand over her face “the answer is yes, that stinks.”

When Adora mentioned something about the sword in the Whispering Woods, Catra had a gnawing feeling in her gut that something bad was going to happen. She felt it too when Adora asked her to tell everyone she’d be back by sundown.

Catra felt that feeling in her gut as she kept going through the maze. A premonition that something is about to flip everything upside down.

Once she hits a final turn, she notices a clearing with a statue of a feral looking cat right in the middle, jaws hung open and teeth bared to a roar. Catra remembered this one; Queen S’kala, the unguarded. Black pelt twisted and knotted in places. She lacked grace, but she is the first recorded queen of the Magicats.

The statue adorned golden eyes. It felt like they watched Catra’s every move. And the sound –

The sound…

It’s coming from its mouth.

Catra approached it. Lonnie followed just behind her while Kyle and Rogelio hung back. The plaque right on its paws. Her throat rumbled as she read it.

‘The truth will present itself at the hand of the queen,

For only the eyes of the beholder should see

Look into the eyes of the First,

For it will show you the land her people once called free.’

She hears Lonnie whistle behind her, pointing to the tower just in front of them. “I think this thing is a stalagmite. A hollowed out one.”

Catra looked at her and tilted her head to show confusion. Lonnie blinked “What? You don’t know what that is? Catra did you ever read our textbooks?”

Catra whacked Lonnie’s head with her tail. Lonnie returned the affection by punching her shoulder.

Lonnie leans forward to read the plaque.

“Hey,” Kyle yells “a stalagmite!”

Catra glances behind her to see that Kyle is now on Rogelio’s shoulders. The lizardman hisses approvingly before looking up to Kyle.

Kyle leant down and kissed his snout.

Catra flicked her tail before looking away, giving the two boys some privacy.

“Catra,” Lonnie points her lips to the statue’s eyes “I think this one’s on you.”

She nodded.

Catra did as the plaque told her to. She set herself to look right into the eyes of the statue before her. Before she knew it, the eyes glinted brightly. The music stopped, and Catra buckled her knees to prepare for some sort of surprise. An earthquake, or for the tower to turn, or just some sort of movement.

But nothing happened.

Or so she thought.

Kyle gasps. “Catra, behind you!”

Catra whipped around.

A woman – well, Magicat—who stood on her two back legs. Her pelt looked black as the night sky aside from her greying snout, and her stripes blazed orange like fire. Both her eyes were yellow. Despite Lonnie pointing a weapon right at her, she only had her eyes set on Catra, and Catra could only stare back. It didn’t hold any anger, or hate, or…

Why did this stranger look at her with such gentleness?

“Hello, li’l one,” the projection greets her warmly, “be a dear and tell ya’ frien’s to calm it, ey?”

She… sounded weird, but Catra still turned to Lonnie and nudged her weapon. Lonnie gives Catra a look before putting her weapons aside. Kyle and Rogelio followed suit.

“Much better. No need for war ‘ere, plenty of men an’ women ‘ave died in the ground tha’ you stand on. Is hard keepin’ this illusion up, luckily tha’ sorceress took the crown ‘stead of the real treasure,” the projection giggled.

“What,” she started, her tail lashing left and right “what is the treasure?”

The projection grinned, her little fangs showing under her cat like cheeks. “Me, of course! Had ta’ find a body to give in order to ge’ the Nexus ta’ work.”

“How—” Lonnie starts, and couldn’t finish.

“Life force,” the cat replied, “the use of life as a fuel, stored in a crystal crafted by the firs’ ones.” C’yra looks at her nails and flexes them in and out. “I’s wha’ powers these illusions. If I shu’ it off, you’d see all the dead bodies form the war!”

“W-w-wait, there are… bodies all around us, ri…right now?” Kyle started.

The cat only turned herself and smiled. “Do ya’ wan’ to see ‘em? I made sure to keep ‘em fresh and pristine –”

No!” All of them yelled except for Rogelio.

Rogelio slowly nodded.

The projection cackled, “Humans. Such foolish creatures. Bu’, enough about tha’…” she looks right at Catra “I didn’ think it’d take ya’ this long to find Half Moon. I tol’ ya’ to come back, didn’t I?”

“W..what?”

Can’t ya’ remember?”

The projection stared at Catra. Catra stared back. A second. And another. And another.

On the fourth second, the cat’s ears flattened, and her tail slacked. “Oh, darling… She made ya’ forget.”

She?

Shadow Weaver?

The cat sighed heavily. That cheery personality shifts into something more clouded. Sorrowful. Catra almost missed it, because it lasted for a good second before another sly grin replaces it. This woman flipped through her emotions as quickly as Catra did with her thoughts.

Was that a Magicats thing?

“Darlin’,” she starts. Catra steps back as the woman moves forward. “ya’ really don’t know who I am?”

“No. I was wondering when you’d even ask,” Catra huffs.

The cat’s ears perks and she giggles, crossing her fluffy arms around her chest. “Ya’ sound as grumpy as your father. Go figure, ended up fallin’ in love with tha’ one.”

Catra jumped at that.

Her father? Just who –

Wait…

No, she knew who this cat is.

Pelt dark as night with orange stripes and yellow eyes. A strong, stubborn, lion-hearted Magicat queen whose kindness and intelligence made her a force that all of Etheria couldn’t reckon with. The Queen who walked beside Queen Angella into the beginnings of the rebellion, and the fire that sparked its first end.

Catra didn’t know if she should cry. She didn’t know if she should transform back and throw herself to this projection. She didn’t know if she should hiss and run off.

But she did none of those. Instead, she lets her jaw hang open.

“Queen C’yra the second,” Catra mumbled.

The magicat in front of her smiled.  “Welcome home, li’l one.”

This isn’t just any magicat.

This is her mother.

Chapter Text


She felt every hair on her back stand on its tips at the gravity of this realization.

This… this is her mother. The queen of the Magicats before her. The Hurricane of Half Moon, the closest friend to Queen Angella, and the one who died at the hands of the Horde. The woman who could have cared for Catra had The Horde not taken everything from her.

Catra felt the pressure in the air stiffen.

“Turn back, C’yra,” the Magicat approached her as she beckoned Catra over.

She froze at that. The use of her true name caused Catra to shift her paws uncomfortably, and the minute C’yra – her mother – saw it, she took a step back. The Magicat flicked her ear and smiles gently.

In all her life, Shadow Weaver had always pushed Catra to the edge of her discomfort. Forcing her to wake up in the morning and sleep at night, chaining her to the bed when she wouldn’t do just that, pushing her to head on battle practices despite Catra’s different preference. Catra has been thrown, injured, shadow-controlled, and mind wiped by her; despite being her ‘mother’, Shadow Weaver made her live her entire life in pure discomfort.

She glanced at Lonnie, who stood by her, looking ready to pounce the second Catra gives the order. In the distance, Kyle and Rogelio also waited for a signal.

She isn’t just the only one who faced her wrath. She might’ve been felt the worst, but… she’s not alone.

And now this woman.

Yellow eyes, glowing with patience. Two, golden pots, overflowing with kindness she had never seen before in all her years of living. It’s as if she knew that pushing Catra would only lead to aggression. It’s as if nothing Catra could say would hurt her.

Despite Catra’s caution, she found it easier to trust this woman in the twelve minutes they’ve met her compared to the fifteen years she spent with Shadow Weaver.

“I wan’ ta’ see you, C’yra,” her smile was warm. Catra flattened her ears.

No… was the immediate answer she wanted to give to her.

But what kind of monster would she be if she deprived this woman – projection or not – the only family she had left?

So, after swallowing her fear and her own pride, Catra transformed back.

She winced at the pain she felt as she turned back to normal. Although it didn’t hurt as much as turning into her beast form, she still felt everything. Her bones, skin, claws, and fingers shrank back to how they were before, and Catra struggled enough that she almost collapsed back onto the ground had it not been for Lonnie catching her by the arm.

Once she had transformed back, Catra looked up to meet golden eyes. The woman’s smile was one of gentleness. There was a desire in her eyes, similar to Adora’s every time she saw her but much different at the same time.

The desire to reach out and touch.

But the woman wouldn’t even be able to.

She’s only a projection after all.

“My name,” Catra started “it’s not C’yra anymore. It’s Catra.”

The announcement didn’t really cause her mother to react in any negative way. Instead, she nods approvingly. “Ca’ra. Simple, bu’ I like it,” C’yra looks her over, tilting her head “ya’ look like ya’ father. Leas’, ya’ go’ his nose an’ blue eye. His smile too.”

“What… Who, is he?” Catra lashed her tail.

C’yra purred, lashing her own tail. “I coul’ show ya’. In the Nexus.”

Catra blinked at that. Show her?

“Our technology ‘ere came from the Firs’ Ones,” she nods towards the sun “I coul’ show ya’ my memories. Things tha’ I’ve done. Answers ta’ wha’ever questions ya’ migh’ ‘ave. “

Trust her?

Catra looks down at the ground. Lonnie’s hand clapping her shoulder snapped her out of whatever trance she started succumbing into. “It’s alright, Catra. If anything bad happens? we’ll get you out.”

A smirk lifts her lips, but it goes away as soon as it came. Catra puts a hand over Lonnie’s. “If anything bad happens, get everyone out of here. That’s your main priority,” she says quietly “maybe after this, I’ll make you a Force Captain.”

The dark-skinned woman chuckles. “Bit too late for that if we’re defecting right?”

Catra shakes her head before walking towards C’yra. The Magicat grins from ear to ear. “All se’?”

“Yeah,” Catra scratches the back of her ear with her hand.

“Wha’ woul’ ya’ like ta’ start?” C’yra asks.

“The beginning.”

“Which beginnin’?”

“The one that matters.”

“Gotta’ be more specific ‘ere, baby.”

“I don’t know,” Catra’s irritation was clear in her voice. “I don’t know who I am, or where I’m from, or who you are. I don’t know what happened to the Magicats or what happened to my father. I don’t know who my father is and clearly,” she throws her hands out “you are the only person who knows all of this. So, I don’t know. I don’t know where the beginning is.” Catra finishes with a growl.

C’yra’s eyes held a sort of stillness that caused Catra’s irritation to boil down. Her mother sighs and smiles. “Then maybe,” C’yra rushes towards her faster than Catra could react –

The second Catra’s crown was touched by C’yra’s paw, her entire world spiraled down to a complete darkness.

Catra feels knocked back, and she suddenly hits something solid. The ground maybe? She can’t tell. It was too dark. She couldn’t even see her hands. She couldn’t…

In the midst of the darkness, she feels something thundering in her head. Catra groans at the pain.

“Catra!” She hears Kyle’s worried voice, but she couldn’t see him. “Lonnie, w.. is-is she okay?”

“I don’t know, I’m not sure –” That was Lonnie

“W-w-well is she alive? –”

“Shut up! Let me check!” A silence passed “Her pulse is still there…”

She thought she whipped around, trying to find a silhouette. A shape. Just something to find her bearings. But even with her eyes opened wide – or maybe they weren’t, she’s not sure – she couldn’t find anything. She couldn’t see.

Panic filled her lungs as she tried to scream, “Kyle! Lonnie!” Her voice cracked “Can you hear me?”

“None can here ya’, dear,” Catra felt a sudden warmth behind her back; her instincts told her to whip around and she did. She saw C’yra standing there with a glow of light around her form.

The sudden urge to rip her own mother’s ears off felt like something she should do. Even if she couldn’t, it was still tempting to try.

“Where in Etheria am I?” Her growl was threatening.

C’yra hid her paws behind her back. “Welcome ta’ the Nexus.”

Catra scoffed. “You transported me to your… your little…”

“My home?” Meowed the queen. “The Nexus isn’ my home. I’s your brain. I’s where my thoughts can link with yours. Where my memory ‘comes part of ya’. Us’ally, we use this for interrogation, bu’ ‘is a special case.”

Connecting memories?

Catra coiled her tail. “I’ve seen something like this… From the First One’s Temple –”

“With Adora, I know.”

Catra jumped at the mention of the blonde’s name.

“How did –”

“You’re wearin’ a Horde uniform… Angella didn’ send ya’?”

Catra saw it.

The emanating darkness within the blinding light. Her mother’s smile was warped in the same familiar darkness she had spent her entire life in. In this moment, she felt like C’yra would and could kill her. If her mother found out she’s Hordak’s second-in-command...

Her black tail twitched slightly, and Catra started to speak. “I –”

Don’ try ta’ lie to the woman who fed ya’ when you were a bab.” It was less of a tease and more of a threat. “We’re in the Nexus, Catra. I know when ya’ lie.”

“What? You’d do this to your own daughter?” Catra hissed.

C’yra tilts her head. “I do I’ as a queen. Righ’ now, I don’ know how much tha’ witch has influenced ya’.”

“Shadow Weaver?” Catra braves a chuckle, “You shouldn’t worry about her. She’s not a problem anymore.”

C’yra looks taken aback by this.

Her mother gives her a once over, again, as if trying not read whether or not she’s lying. “Wha’ did she do ta’ ya, darlin’?”

Catra flattened her ears. “Nothing.”

“Liar.”

“It’s… It’s all in the past –”

“I’s not all in the pas’ if ya’ can’ even talk abou’ it.”

“Well, I don’t want to –”

“Gonna ‘ave ta,” C’yra cuts her off “Ya’ aren’t jus’ Magicat. Ya’ human too. Ya’ can’t jus’ leave the pain alone till i’ disappear. Can’ jus’ ignore wha’s goin’ on with ya’ the same way I do… The human par’ of ya’ wants ta’ feel.”

“Are you saying Magicats don’t feel?” Catra hisses.

C’yra shrugs. “We think too much, bu’ we don’ dwell. I’s easy ta’ ignore pain after a few months.”

Catra sighs. She looks up at C’yra who patiently smiles. That unnerving feeling Catra got was still there. “She… She didn’ do much. Just, called me names, threw me every now and then.” Catra hated this. Opening up. There was a chance that she could get shut back down. “It was… It was because she said I brought down this other girl in my squad –”

“Adora?”

“Yeah. She said that I would turn her into… She said I would undo all her hard work. That I brought her down. That I was her pet.” Catra nudged her nose to C’yra’s direction, “how do you know about Adora?”

“I can see ya’ memories as well.”

Catra scoffed, “then why bother asking these things if you already knew?”

C’yra grins, “’ccording to ya’ father, I’s very good for humans ta’ talk abou’ their emotions. And, well,” her mother rocks herself on her back paws, “ya’ do a lo’ of talkin’ an’… matin’… with Adora.”

Lonnie knowing exactly what Catra and Adora had done together was one thing.

But for some reason, learning that her mother knew about it felt like someone had thrown a bucket of water over her head; she was washed with shame. Too many people already knew, and this projection of her mother was just another person to add to the list.

Actually, now that she thought about it, based on the other thing Lonnie taught her about sex… Does that mean her Human father and her pure blooded Magicat mother…

Catra’s cheeks flushed red.

“Well,” C’yra flicked her ear “if ya’ was gonna’ en’ up with anyone, I’d like I’ to be her. She brings ou’ the good in ya’. Like ya’ father did with me. Speaking of, I’m… sure ya’ ‘ave plenty of questions.”

The darkness around Catra started shifting. Into something…

Loud?

Bright?

Chaotic?

“Ya’ asked for the beginnin’,” she hears her mother’s voice fading, “I’ll take ya’ ta’ where I think I’ all began.”

Catra shrieked when she hears the sudden boom of a tank.

Instead of the darkness around her, she saw it. She saw them. Magicats, rushing on their two back legs and attacking the Horde soldiers around them. They had pelts of all shades of color, and some of them even had markings – stripes, dots, dapples, splotches. Some of them had pelt stained in red, while others looked muddied all around.

The Horde soldiers looked almost the same aside from the fact that they lacked a helmet. Perhaps they lost it in during the battle, or they just decided not to wear them. Even without it, they still looked plenty more defended than the Magicats who didn’t even bother wearing anything else aside from their pelts and cloth.

But even with the advantage, the Horde was losing.

“Give I’ up, Marcus!”

Catra jumps at the familiar voice. Younger, but familiar, nonetheless.

C’yra stands in a clearing, a bright laser-like sword in hand, and a smile on plastered on her tired face. Her black pelt looked brown from the dust, and it was slightly red from her own blood.

Catra glanced at her opponent.

A human, standing close to Rogelio’s height. Black hair, tan skin, and piercing blue eyes. His cheek was red from his own blood as he adorned a gash right above his eye. His entire body was covered in light armor, and it was ripped apart – likely by Catra’s mother.

“Your father was Hordak’s righ’ hand,” Catra leapt at the voice thudding inside her skull “jus’ like how ya’ are righ’ now.”

Her father.

This man was her father?

“You know I never give up, C,” Catra hears her father’s voice dripping with tease and a little hint of charm, “your kingdom belongs to the Horde.”

“I’ve ‘ad enough of ya’, ya’ skinned rodent.”

C’yra lunged at him again, hitting her saber right at the man’s own weapon – a shock baton. He grabs C’yra by the tail before yanking her to the side. Her mother shrieks but manages to land on her feet.

He fights back, and so did Queen C’yra.

The battle eventually ends with Marcus on the ground, chuckling as C’yra pins him down.

“Retreat while ya’ can, intruder.” Catra hears her mother’s barely audible hiss.

“Have I ever told you how cute your accent is? Because it is –”

C’yra flattens her ears to and grounds her nails on his chest. Marcus sucked in a pained breath. “Are ya’ ever gonna’ stop with tha’? We are from differen’ sides. We can’ be together.”

“Doesn’t hurt to try, C. I meant what I-I s-said when I met you the first time in battle,” Marcus chuckled despite the nails further digging down on his skin “I’d’ve made a wife out of you if we fought for the same side.”

“I’m goin’ ta’ kill you.”

“Wouldn’t want to die any other way, but,” her father suddenly pushes forward and C’yra’s first reaction is to pull back in shock. Marcus took advantage of this and switched their position. “I would reaaally want to go on at least one date with you before that happens.”

C’yra hisses.

Marcus winks, “Cat ya’ later.”

He gets up and leaves C’yra on the ground as he howls for his men to retreat.

The scene ends, and Catra is back to the darkness she was once in. C’yra was next to her, eyes slowly opening.

“Ya’ father was… a charmer. Always smilin’ when he saw me. Greetin’ me before every figh’,” Catra noted how much emotion was dripping from C’yra’s lips. “I’s easy ta’ figure ou’ why I ended up agreein’ after five more months of i’.”

Catra flicked her ear. “You managed to make it work out?”

“Not for the firs’ year, no. We me’ in secre’. He visited a’ sundown an’ we spen’ our nigh’s together in the fores’, and both of us lef’ before dawn of the nex’ mornin’.”

Catra shut her eyes and almost laughed. Why is that so familiar?

She suddenly hears voices.

When she opened her eyes, Catra stood in a clearing. The moon was high in the night sky and the stars shined down just as brightly. Underneath a twisted oak tree was Marcus… with C’yra laying on his chest.

“Sometimes,” Marcus starts, his lips gently gliding on C’yra’s ear. Catra felt her own heart aching at the sight of her father’s face full of love. “I wish I could just bring you with me to the Horde.”

C’yra purred. “I think Hordak woul’n be opposed ta’ tha’. He’d probably congratulate ya’.”

“Woul’n.”

“Shu’ up.”

Marcus chuckles. “Gah, it’s this stupid war. Too many people fight over such reconcilable differences. I mean, look at us,” he says a little more loudly “you used to hate me and now you’re on my lap getting plenty of pets.”

C’yra hums. “War rips people apar’. I’s wha’ i’ is.”

“Wish it didn’t.” Catra watched her mother lift her head to meet her father’s eyes. “If the Horde had a different leader, this would’ve all been better. The horde’s too greedy. The Rebellion didn’t start this war, I know that much, but even they have their flaws.”

“Such as?”

“Allegiances. There should never be allegiances. There should be a-a-an openness to dissenting opinions instead of casting out anyone who opposes the norm. The Rebellion is just like the Horde, don’t you think?” Marcus asks for her approval.

C’yra flicks her ear. Catra could tell she was trying to be patient with the man who held her. “The horde is evil, Marcus –”

“But they’re not!” Marcus claims with a soft smile and a playful tone. “People have different ways of… of… seeing things, but it doesn’t mean they’re evil. It just takes a little bit of openness and respect; why black and white when we can be grey? And, and let’s not forget –

C’yra they literally hide in their precious little castles, letting the Horde swallow whatever village they can get their hands on. You?” He taps her nose “are the only village who has fought back and valiantly won. You don’t just hide behind a shield – even though you do have one. You put yourself out there. Fighting with her people. All the other princesses are… well, they haven’t seen war!”

C’yra stares. Catra could see a smaller war fighting behind those golden eyes before they pass without another thought.  Her mother ends up chuckling and nuzzling her snout on Marcus’s cheek. “Ya’ are ahead of your time, Marcus.”

“Ya’ are.”

C’yra hits his chest.

“Ow.”

A silence passed.

“Been willing to ask you,” Marcus runs a finger on three jagged scars on the side of her torso “what are these? They don’t look like something the Horde did. They look like… Like claw marks?”

“Mmm… coronation ceremony. Whenever the princess’s blood is spilled for the firs’ ‘ime marks ‘eir firs’ ‘battle wounds’.”

“Well, what if they trip and hurt themselves?”

C’yra groans impatiently. “I’ has ta’ be from a fellow magicat. Please go ta’ sleep.”

“Okay, but what if you accidentally cut yourself with your own nails –”

“Marcus. Sleep.”

Catra watched her father’s smile grow. “Okay.”

Catra flattened her ears.

The peaceful face that her father wore… looked a lot like Adora’s in the morning before she’d leave. It hurt how similar they looked. Her mother looked just as content, but Catra could sense her slight unease.

Seeing the two of them like this… hurt. She knew why.

She doesn’t know if it was worse to know why or if it was worse to know why.

The parallel between their situation and hers with Adora made Catra uneasy. Catra knows where something as quiet and as peaceful as love could end in a time like this. Her mother said it herself: war rips people apart. Because of the war, she lost Adora. Because of the war, she’s stuck deciding which side she should go with more.

Because of the war, she lost her true family.

And her father – Marcus – was right.

Both the Rebellion and The Horde had its flaws. More so, the Horde.

And perhaps, the Horde just needed a better leader.

Catra blinked, and she found herself in a different scene.

Queen Angella stood next to a man.

C’yra stood next to Marcus.

“C’yra…”

“I know wha’ you are goin’ to say, bu’ hear ‘im ou’ –”

“No, this is a breach in the agreement,” Catra watched her mother wince at Queen Angella’s yell. Marcus immediately sets a hand on C’yra’s waist to comfort her. “Not only is he Hordak’s heir if he were to ever pass, but you are endangering the Rebellion just by bringing him here in Bright Moon. Are you out of your mind?”

C’yra lashes her tail. “Him bein’ the second makes I’ all the more be’er ta’ ‘ave ‘im on our side. Angie, he isn’ a bad guy –”

“Don’t ‘Angie’ me –”

“Angella,” the man next to Queen Angella speaks lightly. Instantly, Queen Angella shuts her lips. She looks towards the man, as if she knows exactly what he is about to say. “Perhaps, we should hear him? I’ve heard stories about the Horde’s Second-in-command.”

“G-Good things, I hope?” Marcus starts, hesitant if he was in any right to speak.

The man next to Angella chuckles. “I was told you apologized when you accidentally broke an antler off one of the soldiers in Plumeria. And, you refused to hurt another soldier in front of their child.” Marcus turned red and looked down at his feet. The brute man with the beard chuckles. “That is a good man in my book.”

“Micah,” Queen Angella starts.

“Angella,” Micah – King Micah? – starts again. “This man wears a good heart. We shouldn’t judge him based on what we know about Hordak.”

“The Horde is evil –”

“Actually, your majesty,” Marcus interrupts, and Catra nearly cackles when she noticed Queen Angella’s eyebrow twitch in irritation “Half of the Horde think the Rebellion is evil. And… it’s all based off of what we were taught. And, umm… From what I can tell, princesses don’t have sharp teeth. Besides C’yra, I mean.”

“’Ey.”

“Sorry, love.”

Catra watched the way Queen Angella eyed her parents’ affection towards one another. She watched how Angella’s face shifted from judgement, to bargaining, to acceptance. Eventually she raises a hand and rubs her forehead.

“He can stay… but on one condition.”

The scene fades away, and Catra was in a room.

Someone’s room.

The walls were made of clay and so were most of the things in the room. The only wooden objects were the dressers, the bed, a chest, and the door. Catra walked around to inspect the area. On the walls were picture frames. One was of C’yra, another was of Ferocia and C’yra, and the final one was of C’yra and Marcus.

Was this… was this her mother’s room?

She tries to touch the bed, but it only fazes through.

As soon as she retracts her hand, the door of the room flies open.

Catra leaps out of the way as two figures stumbled into the room.

“Ya refuse’ ta’ swear allegiance, Marcus, wha’ did ya’ think was goin’ ta’ happen?”

“I didn’t think she would instantly take it as a fucking sign that I was still loyal to Hordak. C’yra I told you this, I don’t want to live in a spot where I have to swear shit to another conqueror –”

C’yra tosses her crown to the dresser before hissing at Marcus. “Do you even wan’ us ta’ be something that’ll work?”

“Of course, I do,” Marcus yanks his socks off and tosses it to the corner.

Catra watched as her mother snaps her head to his direction. “Then ya’ will swear to Angella –”

“Would you swear to Hordak?”

“No, I wouldn’, ya know this –”

“Then don’t expect me to swear to her!”

“You are human, Marcus. I am a Magicat!”

“You’re loyal to no one and your people will follow whatever you yap out of your lips, but guess what, C’yra?” Marcus throws his arms open “I ain’t your people!”

“Yes, you’re a stupid human who can’ decide where ‘is loyal’ies lie.”

“Woman, I am about to skin you alive and turn you into a goddamn carpet –” C’yra’s mouth slowly gapes open at her father’s words “I am loyal to you! Not Hordak! Not that Pink sparkle head! Not the Rebellion! Not the Horde! I gave up my position as Hordak’s second-in-command two years ago just to be with you! I gave up everyone I cared about in the Horde just to be by your side!

Angella doesn’t get to question my loyalties, because it’s always been to you! –“

“Marcus,” C’yra starts.

“And yeah, I get that I basically embarrassed pinky in front of her entire kingdom, but she said I’m never allowed to set foot in Bright Moon ever again until the war ends, and she –”

“Marcus.”

“ – threatened to throw you out of the Rebellion if you kept me around. What was I supposed to do? Of course, I’d cuss her out for being such a –”

“I’m pregnan’!” C’yra yells.

Marcus’s face twisted. He lifts a finger up at C’yra, inhaling. He then runs a hand on his jet-black hair before chuckling. Catra saw him speed through his shock. “Oh, you’re lying, aren’t you?”

“Wha’? No.” C’yra huffs.

“So, you’re serious.”

“Yes.”

“A girl or a boy?”

“A girl.”

A silence passed.

“How long until she comes out?”

“Three more moons.”

“Are you planning to name her after yourself?”

“Tha’s the idea.”

Another silence.

And then, there was laughing. From both of her parents.

Marcus lifted C’yra up and hugged her close to his chest. Catra could see him crying his eyes out with a smile on his face. He only pulls back to press his forehead against C’yra who purrs at his move of affection.

“I love you, C’yra.”

C’yra smiles. “I love you too.”

“We were happy,” Catra looks at an older C’yra standing next to her. Both of them watched the scene play out in front of them. Catra saw her father kneel to the ground and press his ear on C’yra’s stomach before smiling contently. “You were supposed to be happy too.”

Catra balled her fist.

“What happened? Was it Queen Angella? Did she force him out –”

“No,” C’yra’s answer was as cold and as serious as ice.

The scene shifts again.

This time, Marcus and C’yra laid in bed together… with a child laying right between them.

Catra approached the bed, ears flattened as she tried to peak around the blanket that was thrown over the child’s head. Marcus had his eyes closed, but it instantly burst open when he hears a tiny mewl from under the sheets.

Marcus shifts and lifts the blanket. Catra held her breath.

It was her.

“Hey baby girl,” Marcus whispers, lifting baby Catra slightly “your eyes still aren’t open, huh? That’s okay. I’m sure you’d have my eyes.”

“She’s a princess, darlin’. She’s goin’ ta’ ge’ my yellow ones,” C’yra quietly whispers.

“Maybe both. I hope she gets both. Half of your beauty and the better half of mine.”

C’yra purrs and scoots closer towards a mewling Catra. Marcus watched as C’yra brings the child close enough for her to suckle.

Catra’s face twists for a moment, but she tilts her head when she sees something white coming out.

What is…

What is that?

“Ah, mum’s milk. The best way to calm a bab, huh?” her father reaches forward to scratch baby Catra’s ear.

“Marcus, you shoul’ head ta’ bed. Ya’ve go’ a hunting party with Percival tomorrow,” C’yra mumbles quietly, reaching over the gap between them to scratch her nails against her father’s jawline.

Marcus nods obediently.

The scene fades out.

“He didn’ come back tha’ day…” She hears C’yra in her head again. “Percival said he… he said Marcus lef’ ta’ the deeper parts of the fores’, and he wen’ missing. Days wen’ by, then it ‘came weeks, and moons… When I ran ta’ Angella, all she tol’ me was tha’ she knew this was goin’ ta’ happen.”

Catra started feeling a budding sadness in her heart. A pain she had never felt before. An overwhelming desire to just end her life.

“A year inta’ this, King Micah passe’ away a’ the hands of the Horde,” C’yra whispers. “I neglected ya’. I… I didn’ know wha’ else ta’ do. He wasn’ there anymore an’ neither was Angie… An’ then…”

The darkness around Catra bursts.

It turns into a familiar land. Something she had been in before. But this time… She felt her senses fill and spill over.

While walking through this land with Lonnie, Kyle, and Rogelio, she felt the illusion shake every minute. And every time it did so, she could smell the exact stench she smelled right now.

The smell of blood.

Whichever turn she took, she saw bodies dropping to the ground. A massacre. The color red tinting every single surface of Half Moon. Magicats struggling to breathe because of the blood gurgling in their throat. The sound… the sound of screeching. The sound of bombs. Every single one of Catra’s senses told her to run.

This is war.

This is the Battle of Half Moon.

“C‘yra, please –”

“Mommy, wha’s happening?”

Catra’s breath hitched. She turned her head to see—

C’yra tucked a young Catra into an old barrel. The younger version of her hissed as her mother tries to close the lid.

“C’yra, please. Jus’… stay here okay? Jus’… Wai’ for everythin’ to be quie’ okay? I already sen’ a letter to Auntie Angella ta’ help us a few days ago, she shoul’ ‘ave I’ by now –”

There was another booming sound.

“Mom –”

“Mommy will be okay. I promise. I love you,” C’yra kisses the top of young Catra’s head. She turns the lid close.

It was only seconds after that, that Catra feels the darkness around her start to swallow.

That same feeling of malevolence that she felt while growing up. She knew only one woman who made her feel this frightened. And just like that, Shadow Weaver slips into the frame… But so did Marcus, his hands red with the blood of someone else’s.

“C’yra of Driluth. Second of her name. The Hurricane of Half Moon,” Catra grits her teeth at the all too familiar voice.

“Ligh’ Spinner.”

Light Spinner? Catra noticed the way Shadow Weaver’s eyes narrowed. “Marcus, here, told us plenty about you…”

C’yra looks at once. Catra did as well.

He looked the same aside from the fact that his cold blue eyes held nothing more than anger. Held nothing more than hatred. It wasn’t the same love that he held for C’yra. It wasn’t the same thing Catra saw in the way he looked his family.

 “You did somethin’ ta’ ‘im. The Marcus I know wouldn’ betray us like this!”

“He might have… forgotten… one or two things,” Shadow Weaver’s voice dripped with mockery “It doesn’t matter. Because he was all we needed to find a way to finally unearth this secret kingdom of yours –”

“Nuff, talk,” C’yra growls, pulling the crown over her eyes, “le’s finish this.”

She transforms almost immediately into her version of the creature on four. She had a mane. Equipped with claws and fangs that were far bigger than Catra’s. Compared to Catra’s form, this one looked plenty more intimidating.

Shadow Weaver didn’t look too impressed. And her father…

Her father grinned.

“Kill her,” Shadow Weaver orders.

Marcus instantly leaps, and the battle begins.

Catra could see C’yra hesitate. Every blow of her paws that struck Marcus hurt her just as much, but she could also see a woman with something heavier to lose. If she lost this battle, she would also lose Catra. If she gave up on living right at this second – right at the second she is being forced to kill her own mate, right as she is being forced to watch what’s left of her people die, right as she watched her kingdom collapse – C’yra still fought for her only family.

The fight ends with her jaw clamped on Marcus’s shoulder, and a tear slipping out of her eyes.

C’yra stands victorious.

“Retrea’ now, else I’ll kill everyone else.”

Shadow Weaver cackles. “Insolent fool.”

Shadow Weaver casts a shadow that stilled C’yra’s entire body. “You didn’t think it was going to be that easy, did you?” she cackles “where is it, C’yra? The data crystal.”

Catra watched her mother’s lips curl to a grin.

“It seems that killing your husband isn’t enough…” She turns C’yra towards the entrance of whatever room they were in “Let’s see how you’ll feel watching everyone you’ve known die at your hands.”

The scene ends.

Catra feels light buzzing against her skin.

She looks at C’yra.

“Darlin’,” her mother starts “you’re cryin’.”

Catra reaches up to touch the tear on her face before completely wiping it all away.

“I… think I’ve shown ya’ too much –”

“What happened after?” the briskness of her question caught C’yra off. “I don’t… I don’t what to see it, but what happened after?”

C’yra sighs heavily. “Well, she took me fron’ of Hordak; nasty man, by the way, no idea wha’ he look like now, bu’ he was much worse before,” Catra scoffed at how light her mother made all of this seem “They took my crown. Shadow Weaver tol’ me she foun’ you cus’ one of the soldiers picked ya’ up… said ya’ fough’ like a maniac. Then, she… chained me up, took me prisoner. Said she’d hone ya’ into a loyal Horde soldier… took ya’ eight years, til’ ya’ foun’ me.”

Catra flicked her ear at that. “I… I found you?”

C’yra walks closer to Catra, lifting her hand to touch her mind. “No’ all memories are los’… Wha’ Ligh’ Hope… Shadow Weaver… does is,” Catra feels something pulling at the threads of her mind, “hide ‘em in the depths of your min’.”

Catra feels her brain buzz as the memories flood her.

Catra fell to her knees.

She remembers.

A younger version of her, exploring the Fright Zone. She finds a vent. It looked like any other vent. She was about to pass it, but she hears someone crying.

She remembers.

Catra went through the vent to investigate.

C’yra. Calling for her. Catra doesn’t… She doesn’t know why but she felt a connection. Catra lets her mother touch her through the bars. She doesn’t know why she followed… she doesn’t…

Her mother orders her to open the gate.

The alarms are blaring into Catra’s ears, but she still feels like she should obey this woman.

And, she does.

She remembers, leading C’yra out of the Fright Zone.

She remembers, her words: “Remember ta’ find Half Moon.”

She remembers her mother’s nails raking across her stomach to leave a wound, and Catra feels all her senses coming back to her.

Her mother smiles at her gently. “An’ ‘ere I pass my crown onto you, my child. When ya’ see these scars, please try ta’ remember me. Remember ta’ look for your true family.”

She remembers.

Her mother runs off, right before Shadow Weaver finds Catra.

Catra remembers.

Shadow Weaver took her to her room to heal her and erase her memories.

Hordak, on the screen, tells Shadow Weaver that Catra…

Catra would make for a grand weapon for the Horde. What would hurt Angella more than to see her friend’s daughter turn into a monster, all because she refused to help the Magicats?

Catra falls to her knees and coughs loudly.

She feels like she’s suffocating.

“When ya’ freed me, there was no one lef’, Catra.” She heard C’yra say. Catra looked up from the ground to meet her eyes. “I came back ta’ Half Moon and started up the Nexus ta’ better hide wha’ the Horde wen’ here for in the firs’ place.”

“The Life Crystal?”

“The Life Crystal. I’ hold all the information tha’ we know abou’ the First One’s tech. Manipulation of the sun’s energy, usin’ life as a form of power, and jus’… barbaric methods. Somethin’ Angella never wanted to use; somethin’ the Horde never learned ta’ perfec’.”

“But we did?”

C’yra smiles sadly. “Ferocia agreed ta’ move above land if we go’ ta’ keep our secre’s.”

Catra struggles to get back up to her feet, hissing when she feels the fatigue of her body. “Why… why didn’t you use it against them before? The illusions you’re using now? How did they even get in, in the first place?”

C’yra smiles gently, and Catra hears voices in the darkness –

“So, if ya ever ge’ los’ –”

“Use my very human ears, got it.”

Marcus.

 Her father knew.

Catra sighs. All because of that, all of the Magicats are gone. Her entire family.

The people she could have had, the life she could have had, and the family she could have been with was just gone because of one human mistake. Gone because of one Life Crystal. Gone because her mother stubbornly fought to protect her people. Gone because her mother is loyal to her people.

Gone because her father loved his family enough to stay. Gone because he chose to run away form the war.

Catra grits her teeth.

“I could have had this…”

“We coul’ ‘ave ‘ad plenty of things, Catra. Bu’, your father an’ I were selfish.”

Catra whirled to face her mother, the words scorching out of her lips. “No, all of Etheria is selfish,” Catra hissed. “The Horde is greedy, and it took from family, after family, after family to get to where it is now. The Rebellion is prideful, because –” a sob wracked her “because she didn’t help us when we needed her! And now, because of that I…”

She could have had this.

Catra felt the tears falling from her eyes.

“And I… And I didn’t even remember you. And-And I can’t remember Marcus. I can’t… remember anything besides Shadow Weaver. For the longest time, I was alone, I.. I didn’t have anyone, not even Adora.”

She could have had this

She didn’t hear anything besides the sound of her own grief. The sound of her own pain, bouncing off the walls of the darkness.

It took a moment before she felt a hand on her shoulder. Catra pried her eyes open and looked up.

In front of Catra was her mother, a smile slowly lifting her lips.

Beyond her though, in the distance, were memories of her entire life that she remembered.

To the moment Shadow Weaver gave her, her first taste of pain; to the moment she was first pushed around by Lonnie; to the moment she first bullied Kyle; to her first shock collar, her first time in the isolation rooms, and the first fist fight with Lonnie; to the first time Shadow Weaver degraded her character; to the first time she met Adora…

To the moment Catra finally stood up and defeated her abuser; to the rooftop talk discussion with Lonnie; to the moment she saw Kyle with Rogelio in bed; to the first time she met Dana, the first time she trained with Dana, and the first time she was ever praised without comparison by Dana; to the first time she walked in the Horde as the new second-in-command; to the first time she kissed Adora.

It was all there.

Catra watched with bewilderment in her eyes.

“I was never there for ya’ growin’ up, bu’ I am proud of the woman ya’ve become,” she hears C’yra say ever so quietly “Who ya’ are is a woman who proved herself more than she shoul’. Over, an’ over, an’ over again. Bu’ for once, Catra…”

She felt a light push into her chest when her mother pressed their foreheads together. For a minute, Catra thought she was really physically there. “Do thin’s for ya’… Be who ya’ wan’ ta’ become. Say wha’ ya’ wan’ ta’ say.” She glances to a memory where Adora places the earring on Catra’s ear –

“Love who ya’ wan’ ta’ love. Bu’ a’ the en’ of the day, I need ya’ ta’ know I will always be proud of ya’.”

Catra felt her walls peel layer by layer, and her tears wracked her even more.

She could have had this… but, she doesn’t. And she needs to live with that fact for the rest of her life.

C’yra is her mother; Marcus is her father. But at the end of the day, she was raised by a scornful woman, and she can’t change that. She can’t change her past, but she can write her own future. She can turn it around herself instead of falling into the path that Shadow Weaver paved for her.

This is for her and no one else.

“C’yra...”

“An’ qui’ listenin’ ta’ people who done ya’ wrong! Are ya’ ditzy?” Catra chuckles at her mother’s scolding voice as she swipes away a tear. “Listenin’ to Shadow Witch callin’ ya’ stupid, an’ useless, an’ wha’ no’ when your mate is literally tellin’ ya’ you’re a grea’ person?”

As if on cue, Catra hears Adora’s voice in the darkness –

“I know you’re not a bad person, Catra –”

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have left –”

“I love you…”

Catra smiles gently. She remembered her father’s words –

I gave up my position as Hordak’s second-in-command two years ago just to be with you! I gave up everyone I cared about in the Horde just to be by your side!”

Unconditional love.

Adora had loved her since they were kids. Defending her the best she could. Giving her the best memories in a life full of pain and suffering. When Adora left, she couldn’t… she couldn’t just leave. Catra had too much to prove. But now…

She has proved herself enough. Over, and over, and over again.

She can’t ask Adora to leave her duty as She-ra, but would she be willing to leave?...

The answer was immediate.

Catra shook her head back to reality. “She’s not my mate –”

“She’s the only one I’ll approve of!” C’yra purrs, coiling her tail “Her, an’ that dark skinned girl earlier… wha’ was her name?”

“Wha—Who? Lonnie? Pfft, nooo! She… she’s…” Catra nervously laughs.

“Well, why no’? I’ve seen some of ya’r memories. She seems like she knows how ta’ make love –”

Hey!”

“Now tha’ I think abou’ I’, your father used ta’ do tha’ same thin’ she does with her mouth on my –”

“Mom! Ew! I really don’t want to hear it,” Catra recoils.

She freezes.

Did she just call her mom?

“I’m jokin’, I’m jokin’!” C’yra giggles. Once her fit was over, she lets a loose smile pull her face. “Once ya’ take the Life Crytal, ya… won’ be able ta’ see me again.”

Catra looks up. “But… But why?”

“These crystals need an energy source in order ta’ function,” she starts “the crystal Brigh’ Moon use’ ta’ ‘ave ‘as been tweaked in order ta’ take energy from the runestones. I’ took us over ten years ta’ finish makin’ the life crystal accep’ the rune as a power source, bu’ I’ should take your purple hair friend hours ta’ make I’ so. After all, Magicats were the ones who told Angie tha’ they needed ta’ learn more abou’ First Ones tech.”

“That doesn’t answer my question…” Catra said seriously, watching her mother swivel around to walk somewhere into the darkness.

“I am a’ my limit, Catra. This li’l life of mine ain’ gonna be ‘nuff ta’ power anythin’ anymore,” her mother turns around again with something glowing in the palm of her hands “like I said, I’ took ya’ long enough ta’ fin’ me…”

Catra flattened her ears. “No, that’s just not fair –”

“Plenty things in life aren’t fair, darlin’… bu’,” C’yra lifts her hand and places it on top of Catra’s palm “after this, I can finally be with your father again. Tha’ man is my ligh’ a’ the end of this tunnel.”

Catra felt something warm in her hands, and the buzzing in her brain was back.

“Goodbye, Catra,” Catra heard her say ash the buzz in her brain started getting louder “I will wai’ for ya’ in the nex’ world. I swear. Til’ then…”

She feels her mother’s nose press against her forehead. “Make yar’self proud of who ya’ve become.”

Suddenly, her darkness was replaced by light.

Catra groaned at the drastic change of scenery, and the next thing she hears are muffled voices. She couldn’t really see much aside from blurred lines and splotchy shapes but judging by the extremely high-pitched voice of worry, she knew exactly who it was.

“K…Kyle?” She mumbles.

She hears the voices getting louder.

“Ar—”

“Are you oka ---”

“Catra!”

Oh. She heard that one loud and clear.

“Are you okay?” She heard Kyle ask again.

Once her eyes finally focused, she saw them; Lonnie, Kyle, and Rogelio surrounded her. Catra hisses when she tries to get up. Lonnie wound up helping her by placing a quick hand on her back. She didn’t speak yet.

She took in the sudden change in her surroundings first.

The buildings looked torn up. Some chunks were blown off while some were completely smothered to dust. The stalagmite they saw before was broken – snapped in half. There were old war machines around them and piled in different positions were skeletal remains… some looked fresher than the others, and the odor wasn’t pleasant at all.

It seems like it had only been recent that the Horde stopped searching for the data crystal.

Speaking of…

Catra gripped her hand and felt something solid. She looked down and opened her palm. “W..when did this get here?” Her voice sounded strained.

Lonnie looked at Rogelio and shrugged. “We didn’t see that before.”

Catra eyes it.

The crystal looked similar to the one in the First One’s temple with Adora. This had to be it. The life crystal. This… whichever side she would give this to will determine the future of this war. What would her father do?

Catra clenches her jaw. No, no… she had to make this decision for herself. For what she wants. Catra needs to play her cards right. No one has to lose. Everyone needs to win.

It was time she paid Queen Angella a visit.

Chapter Text

To say she misses Catra would be an understatement.

The past four days have gone by much slower, and sleep eluded her just as frequently as it did a few days after the Battle of Bright Moon.

Her day usually starts the same as the last – she wakes up, she eats breakfast with Glimmer and queen Angella (sometimes Bow), she fed Swift Wind, she would spend some of her free time going from princess to princess to talk about the next step, she’d train with Bow and Glimmer in the training room, she’d take a shower, she’d talk to Bow and Glimmer again, then she’d sleep.

It had always been hard for Adora to sit and settle down. She wasn’t as bad as Catra, but every now and then Adora would need something to either nibble on or fidget with. Before, it used to be Catra’s hand.

The two would get into the worst situations but make the best out of it. Catra had always been her way of getting her mind out of work mode.

Glimmer and Bow are great, but they didn’t quite have the equivalent Catra’s rebellious and risky nature.

While Glimmer had some rebellion in her, she was far too worried of what the queen would say every time Adora would opt to do something past night fall. Bow lacked both rebellion and risk. He worried too much about their wellbeing to actually… do something.

Nowadays, the riskiest thing Adora could ever do is talk back to Queen Angella and even then, she would feel like too little. She really doesn’t know how Glimmer or Catra does it. Talking back, that is.

Today, though, her schedule shifts.

Now, she’s sitting at a round table with princesses surrounding her. Perfuma, Frosta, Mermista, Glimmer, Queen Angella, Bow, and even Sea Hawk were there. Discussing their plans to take the Fright Zone by force in three days.

She really hoped Catra would come back by then.

This plan was something she didn’t think would be executed so soon, and she really didn’t think Catra would be gone for half a week.

“Um, not to be a drag,” Adora breaks her line of thought when she hears Mermista speak “but there’s not a lot of water near the Fright Zone besides their canals? And I don’t think the Horde would fall for the same security breach.”

Glimmer nods. “I agree with Mermista, mom. If we do the same sneak attack as before, we’d only make a fool of ourselves. I say we attack head on. It’ll be messy, but we don’t know how little they are in number ever since they last attacked us.”

“No, a head on attack will only put us in a tight spot!” Bow argues. Frosta nods in agreement. “We have no cover from fire. It’s all just… a flat land with nothing. If they follow us into the forest, they’ll know immediately that we’re prone to any of their head on attacks.”

Sea Hawk chimes in. “we can set the forest on fire once they go through it!”

“Idiot,” Frosta sharply says, “we burn the forest, we burn what’s left of the Whispering Woods.”

“Perhaps,” Perfuma starts, “we can just trick them instead? Offer them a peace offering at the gates like a giant horse made of wood with a bunch of soldiers inside!”

Everyone went quiet.

Mermista knots her brows. “Umm, I don’t think that’ll work…”

Everyone nods in agreement.

Queen Angella lets out a patient sigh, she eyes the map that they had in front of them. “that brings in another point,” her voice is shaky “just how prepared are we for a full-frontal assault? Our soldiers are barely trained. We rely so much on our technological advancements but without trained warriors, we are just as doomed.”

“How did you fend off the war before?” Adora adds the question, also looking at the map.

“We always defended. Relied on the First Ones to help us and relied on She-ra to bring balance. The only ones who really fought are… well… dead.”

Adora noticed the familiar pained face.

The Magicats.

Adora eyes the map again.

No defenses, little numbers, lack of weapons, no battle training, and no solid plan of attack. Adora was a pessimist, but this is just reality: they’re not ready for an all-out war. If they leap into this now, they’ll be destroyed even if She-ra was on their side.

Just as Adora was about to point this out, they hear a commotion. Adora was the first to react, she shot out of her seat to look out the window.

Something big entered the castle, and the queen’s royal court was already onto it. Adora turns to the cautious faces around the room. “We have an intruder,” was all Adora says.

Adora swipes She-ra and raises it to the air just as everyone headed out of the room to face whoever it was; Glimmer opting to teleport out.

“For the honor of Grayskull!”

By the time Adora got down to check on the situation, it had already deescalated.

She watched everyone surround the intruder; a big black, animal standing on all four with orange stripes running along its body. The fur along its spine was longer than the rest of the fur around its body. Adora couldn’t help but stare both in wonder and in fear. The size of the creature was one thing, but the size of its claws is a whole other type of monster. Its teeth were too. With its lips raised up to a snarl and its teeth bared, Adora felt her entire body tingle.

Upon closer inspection, Adora noticed a bleeding wound on its right shoulder and a massive cut on its ear. There was a lighter scratch on its cheek… and right above its cheeks was a mask. A Golden mask. It looked achingly familiar, but…

She-ra or not, she wouldn’t want to dance in a fight with this one.

And, it looks like she didn’t need to.

Not because it had all the leaders of the rebellion standing around ready to raise their arms at her, but because Queen Angella stood right in front of it… and, it didn’t seem to want a fight.

Neither did the queen.

In fact, they looked at each other with some sort of silent understanding. The creature – even though its face is hidden behind the mask – looked like it wasn’t there for a fight, and Queen Angella’s expression was similar to when she saw She-ra for the first time.

“Mom…” Glimmer warns, but Queen Angella raises a hand to stop her daughter.

Queen Angella approaches the beast silently, and everyone tensed up. When she raised her hand towards it, and the creature quietly rumbles a growl. It doesn’t approach, but it does dip its head to meet the queen’s touch.

When Queen Angella’s hand touched its snout, the queen sighs.

“In all my years,” she chuckles sadly “I never thought I would see another one of your kind walk the lands of Etheria… but here you are, bearing the same pelt as your mother…” Queen Angella’s hand falls to the mask over her eyes. “May I? I would like to meet you.”

The only reply was another quiet rumble. When Queen Angella lifts the mask, Adora witnesses it –

The blinding light as the stranger changes form… into somebody that caused Adora to turn back herself.

“Catra?” She whispers at the sight of the feline kneeling before Queen Angella.

“What are you doing here?” Adora fires a look at Glimmer, who was ready to jump at her mother’s signal.

Queen Angella, however, didn’t give any. Instead, she clasps her hands together and sighs.

Catra takes her momentary silence to glance at Adora. Adora thins her lips at the sight of Catra’s bleeding ear and gashed arm. It looks like she retains the wounds from… whatever that form was… and they looked painful. Adora watched her gently shake her head.

As if telling her that approaching Catra right now would be a horrible idea. And Adora agreed. If she stepped forward, no doubt it would start more problems than solve it.

Catra rises to her feet, rolling her eyes when she saw the group of people surrounding her shift at her movement. Queen Angella was the only one who didn’t move a muscle. Catra nods towards the queen. “Hey, Angella.”

Adora cringes at the level of disrespect.

Oh, Catra is so screwed.

Queen Angella’s brows furrowed very slightly. “My daughter asked you a question, I suggest you answer it unless you want to be removed from my sight.”

The cocky smirk she fires Queen Angella made Adora worry on the spot. Really? She’s playing the cocky game right now? In front of the queen and literally everyone who knew her as the force Captain who nearly took Bright Moon?

“Aw, I can’t visit my favorite auntie?” Adora watches Angella clench her jaw. “Remember me? Little old C’yra number three? Y’know, the one you never visited when she was born?”

She feels Glimmer roughly tug at Adora’s shirt. “Does she have a death wish? Mom is going to kill her! What in Etheria is she even talking about?”

“I don’t know what she’s doing, okay? She never told me about this –”

“I am only going to repeat this once, Horde soldier,” Adora flinches at Queen Angella’s tone. She watches as Catra’s smile only grows. Just what is she doing? “What are you doing here?”

Catra sighs. “I told you. I’m visiting –”

“You nearly destroyed Bright Moon.” The statement was cold, and it was meant to hurt. Catra looked just the slightest bit surprised when Queen Angella spread her wings open. “You endangered the lives of everyone here, nearly had me and my daughter killed; and if it hadn’t been for these princesses you could have ended countless lives.”

Queen Angella raised her voice. “You, standing here before me, speaking in the amnenr that you speak, is already a large margin of disrespect. So, before I order my men to throw you in a cell? You should answer my question.”

The silence that passed by was sickening.

But Catra’s cackle whipped through the silence like thunder.

“My father was right about you. You –” Catra pointed a finger “—are too proud to admit to your own mistakes… so you point out the flaw in everyone else’s”

“You –”

“You weren’t there when Half Moon was destroyed.”

To say that guilt drowned the queen on the spot would’ve been an understatement. To say that Catra spoke with pain dripping in her tongue would’ve been an even bigger one. Whatever Catra found in Half Moon must’ve been what she had both been looking for, and it must have been just as heavy as Adora thought.

The truth.

The painful truth.

This is the first time she had seen either party wear such a disheartening expression.

“You weren’t there when everyone I could’ve known and a life I could have had ended at the hands of the Horde. You weren’t there when your best friend – my own mother – asked for you. If you and the princesses hadn’t been so proud? I would’ve still had a family, and what,” Catra raised her own voice this time –

“You refused to help because my mother married a Horde soldier and your husband died at the hands of one?”

Thin ice.

Adora knows that Catra is fully capable of unloading fact after fact. Making anyone’s mind cave under the pressure of their own guilt and acknowledgement of their own mistakes. Adora had witnessed that during one of their first nights together.

But doing it towards Queen Angella.

Of all people.

Catra is treading on thin ice, and she glided over it without a single worry.

The feline held her head high, and the queen hung her head low. It wasn’t that Queen Angella caved at the mention of Half Moon and King Micah. It wasn’t that Catra wanted her to feel horrible for whatever she had done all those years ago. The odd thing about this situation is that Catra didn’t carry anger, and Queen Angella didn’t carry a shred of authority.

It was a matter of respecting each other’s situations, but also bringing out each other’s flaws.

This is a fight between two queens.

Everyone held their breaths when Queen Angella sighed.

“You are,” Queen Angella let a microscopic smile pull her lips “your father’s daughter.”

She saw a stroke of light cross Catra’s face. As if she didn’t expect her to say what she had just said.

Her father?

“I never asked for your mother to leave the rebellion. She left on her own accord, though, yes, the blame falls on my shoulders as well,” Queen Angella said, and Catra looked like she was genuinely listening “Your father… embarrassed me in front of the rebellion. He, lack of a better term, put me in my place. I found that offensive and refused to listen to anything else he wanted to say… but I realized too late that what he had said was something I needed to hear.”

“Your mother tasked me to look for you. Half Moon is deep in the neck of the Horde’s territory, and by the time of Micah’s death, it was already surrounded,” Queen Angella said sadly “I… I could only do so much. I wanted to look for you but, after seven years, I had my reality – the gravity of the rebellion – to worry about. I was never proud of my choice… but I didn’t have much of a choice.”

Adora really expected Catra to hiss at that, but she didn’t. Instead, Catra closes her eyes for a few seconds. Deciding how she should react to her reply. Adora sighed in relief when she sensed an aura of satisfaction around the feline.

“If,” Queen Angella toys with Catra’s head garment between her finger. The word forced Catra to open her eyes again “you are here to visit, what are you here to visit about?”

Catra digs for something clinging on her belt. She pulls it out; a diamond shaped object in a striking color of blue. Catra hands it to Queen Angella.

“This is… this is a Life Crystal.”

“It took me a minute to figure out what C’yra meant when she said that the Horde could never find it. And… I’m sure you know how to?”

“It needed a sacrifice.” Queen Angella held it carefully “but without taking another life…” she eyes Catra.

Catra shakes her head gently. “My mother ran it until what’s left of her life deteriorated. But I had it fixed. It’ll take energy from the runestone. Like you and glitter-and-shine over there.”

Adora chuckles.

Glimmer fumes.

“How did you know that she takes energy from the runestone? And,” The way Queen Angella looked at Catra held a sort of… doubt “how did you know how to hybridize the crystal?”

Catra glances nervously towards Adora and everyone else. That’s the first time Adora had seen her put that façade of confidence down, but it wasn’t until she met eyes with Queen Angella that it came back, full throttle.

“Entrapta.”

“Entrapta?” Perfuma was the first to speak up, followed by Bow who followed suit.

“She’s alive? But… but we saw her –”

“You’re playing games with us, aren’t you?” That was Glimmer. “She would have come back! You have her captured!”

Catra narrowed her eyes at Glimmer. “She waited for you all to come back. It was pretty easy to change her allegiance. How did you think I broke the Whispering Woods, pinky?” Glimmer responded with a growl, and Adora held her back by gripping her arm. Not that, that is going to help; Glimmer could easily teleport if she wanted to.

“Entrapta had an idea that could power the Black Garnet – our runestone – and cause an imbalance between everyone else’s. It’s how we broke through the Whispering Woods and aimed to destroy your runestone. It took a lot of math, but” Catra explained, “Adora knows how stupid I am when it comes to that. I wouldn’t have been able to figure that out.”

All eyes went to Adora immediately. She looked around and met everyone’s eyes. “Uhh,” she shoots a look towards Catra who offers her a reassuring smile “yeah. It’s true.”

“Queen Angella,” Catra starts, grabbing everyone’s attention again “I wouldn’t have risked being here if I knew you wouldn’t know what to do with this.”

Queen Angella eyes the life crystal and then the crown. “I accept, but on one condition –”

“No.” Catra says immediately. Adora jumps at this.

“What?”

“I said no. I know you’re going to ask me to swear my allegiance with you,” Catra rolls her eyes. “My answer is no.”

There was a twinkle of nostalgia and amusement in Queen Angella’s eyes. The small smile on the queen’s face was barely visible, but she’s sure Glimmer, Bow, or anyone who has known her for more than a day must’ve noticed. “And why would that be?”

“Because I’m Hordak’s second-in-command, and I want to overthrow him.”

Catra made sure everyone in the castle heard what she had said. Everyone gasped and murmured towards one another. They looked at Catra, then back at each other, then towards Queen Angella. Adora, though, never let her eyes drift away from Catra. She watched the feline’s face break for a moment before tightening up again.

Putting up that face of leadership again.

Something happened in Half Moon, and Adora wants to know because whatever it was… it changed Catra.

Catra didn’t look so doubtful of herself anymore.

“So you can become the Horde’s leader?” Angella asked more than accused.

Catra lashed her tail, turning her attention towards everyone instead of just Queen Angella. “My father believed that the Horde is too greedy, and the Rebellion is too proud. He believed… that allegiances would only bring forth wars and hate against people who thought differently about whatever that allegiance believed in. He believed that princesses were soft and only defended their lands when it was close to touching their mighty castles… But they never cared to defend everyone else beyond that.”

She turns her attention towards Glimmer then back to Queen Angella. “King Micah believed that there was good in everyone. That people in the Horde fought because the taught beliefs of the Rebellion didn’t include them, and I’ve started to learn that what we were taught was a lie. Adora,” Adora blinks at the mention of her name “for the longest time wanted to be a Force captain, but after seeing what the Horde has done, she decided to join the Rebellion instead.”

Catra pauses to smile at her, and Adora smiles back.

“If you got to change her, the girl I remembered wanting only to become the best Force Captain there is, and me, the one who almost successfully took over Bright Moon, don’t you think we should give everyone else a chance?” Catra sounded like she was pleading.

“If I gain the Horde,” Catra starts again “The war ends. You take back the land we took, but we do not cast out the soldiers who took part in the war. They were only normal people who followed orders because they felt like there was no other choice.

My mother bent the laws of the Rebellion to keep my father. Because they loved each other. Because their loyalty towards one another felt stronger than their loyalties towards either side. They found home with one another. Why can’t we give that chance to the rest of the Horde? Help them find their true home instead of punishing them for following what they were told to do since they were born?”

There was a moment of silence.

Adora watched with pride in her eyes as Catra sighs. “So, those are my terms. Give me the Horde and I’ll give everything back, but you don’t lay a hand on my people.”

Queen Angella doesn’t respond. Adora notices something swimming in those pink eyes, but she couldn’t spell it out. Catra’s mismatched ones, however, glowed with that light that Adora had seen burning inside of her since they were young.

The queen turns to look at everyone. “And…. what do you all think?”

No one responded, until Sea Hawk raises his hand.

“Yes?” Queen Angella beckons him to speak.

“I would just like to say that the passion in this young woman’s voice thrills me!” He almost sings. He approaches Catra and places his hands on her shoulder “Well done, young one! We can make a fine sea captain out of you! Oh, hmm… I think you’d look swell in a trench coat and a tricorn hat…”

“Uhh –” Catra starts.

“Like, I don’t know about you? But I agree with her. Shockingly.” Mermista says as well. “We listen to what the cat lady says.”

Frosta narrows her eyes. “I… for one… am not so happy about what you did to my castle… But you do bring up a point. Besides, that means we get the big cat on our side during the war. I agree to her terms.”

“I agree as well!” Perfuma grabs Bow’s arm “Any friend of Entrapta is a friend of mine!”

Bow chuckles. “We’ll see just how good of a friend she is.”

Adora nervously glances at Glimmer who crosses her arms. “Ugh, not like I have a choice anyway…”

Queen Angella seems to break her character for a solid minute as the princesses, Bow, and Sea Hawk clamor around. The obvious smile on her face went unnoticed to everyone else but Adora. “I’ll agree to your terms,” Angella starts “but –”

“Man, there is always a but, huh?” Catra tries to shrug off Sea Hawk’s anchored arm. Adora chuckles as she fails.

“But,” Queen Angella raises her voice again “if we get even the slightest scent of you double crossing us? The deal is off. We throw you into the worst cell in Bright Moon, and you will stay there until the end of your days. But, for now…”

Angella returns her crown, and Catra takes it hesitantly. Queen Angella waits for her to place the crown on her head again before she announces.

“Welcome, C’yra of Driluth III. The rightful Queen of Half Moon.”

Chapter Text

This was weird.

Maybe a good weird. Maybe a bad weird. She’s not sure anymore.

Maybe this was all a bad idea. Maybe she should have listened to Lonnie when she said this was going to be a bad idea. Maybe she should have talked to Adora privately before rushing in and basically tossing everything she had at their queen.

‘Here you go Queen Angella, I hope you enjoy a silver platter of ‘you’re the reason my entire family is dead! I hope you and your dead husband enjoy!’

She’s an idiot… but somehow, it worked out.

Probably because she brought her the life crystal.

No, no… definitely because she brought her the life crystal.

Now she’s sitting in the medical bay with some loon in a uniform guarding her ever huff of breath. That, and princess… Perfuma? If Catra remembers correctly? It didn’t really matter at this point. Or, maybe it should since they work together now. Whatever, it didn’t really matter, because all Catra could feel was her hand probing around her injured flesh.  

Adora and those two friends of her went somewhere for a meeting with Angella. Probably a talk where Adora reveals the truth about… well, what they’ve been doing the past month. Probably about the life crystal. Probably about the magicats.

Not that she cared. She didn’t. She honestly didn’t.

Whatever they talk about is… their business. It’s not like she could just ask them –

Catra hissed and drew back.

Perfuma sucked in a breath and giggled, “Ooh, oops. I apologize. My finger pushed a little too hard there,” she nods to the guard, who Catra just then noticed had lifted his spear. “It’s alright! Just a tiiiny accident. Not her fault!”

Catra shared a look with the man who slowly lowered his weapon.

When the princess leaned to clean the wounds on the cut of her ear, Catra winced. “You know, we had a statue of Entrapta made?” she wanted to scoff at the attempt for small talk, but she let Perfuma keep talking “I… We weren’t that close really, but she knew how to make me smile. The passion that drives her to make such complicated technological discoveries. It’s interesting, to say the least.”

She grunted out an initial reply, and when she felt the air stiffen to awkwardness, she forced herself to speak. “She’s… a character.”

“Sure is!” Perfuma chimed happily, a slight blush on her cheek.

Ah. That’s what this is about.

“I just wanted to say how grateful I am that you have her working again. That girl won’t be able to sit still enough to make a good prisoner,” Perfuma reached for a canister on the table. She unscrewed it and took a tiny scoop out with her fingers.

Catra narrowed her eyes at that reply. “You’re… grateful?”

Perfuma nods, placing… whatever it was… on Catra’s arm. “I mean, since she helped you with trying to take over Bright Moon, I’m assuming she did so willingly?”

“Because she thought you left.” Catra’s words were meant to sink, but it looks like it didn’t. The freckled girl only continued putting the cream like substance on her wounds. “Because she thought you weren’t going to find her again after I convinced her you weren’t coming back –”

“And we didn’t, so you were right to assume so,” Perfuma pointed out. “but it looks as if the First Ones have blessed her, being under the watch of a merciful woman like you.”

This is definitely weird.

Perfuma continued placing the cream on Catra’s wounds. She placed a bandage on top of her damaged arm and a cotton ball was pretty much taped on the nick of her ear. Once the princess was done, she happily looked over her work.

Catra watched her rise from her seat. “Your friends should be here soon. Try to avoid scratching on your wounds too much while it’s healing. Oh, and when you shower –”

“Try not to get it wet, then clean it, and renew the bandages. I wasn’t born under a rock.” Catra realized the curtness of her response a tad bit too late, but she corrected herself anyway. “Thank you. For… Helping. I guess.”

Nice job.

The smile on the blonde girl was slow and gentle. What took her surprise was when she leaned down and kissed her between her ears. “And thank you for being a kind and talkative patient!”

She walked away without another word, and the minute she did, Catra rubbed the spot between her ears.

Normally, in the Horde, they’d patch you up, give you direction on how to take your medicine, right before they kick you out for staying too long. They’d keep a record for how many times someone has visited to claim that they felt sick, and if your record went over three for half a year’s worth of time? It’s reported straight to Shadow Weaver.

Not a shocking fact that Catra held the highest number of visits due to several mishaps of her own adventure and whatever Shadow Weaver did too her.

It got to the point that their doctor just gave Catra a bottle of painkillers.

This singular experience only cemented it for her. No wonder Adora switched so quickly. Not only was she She-ra, but she also lived with this kind of treatment.

Still, it felt wrong of her to just leave like that.

Catra pressed her eyelids together.

No, she needs to stop thinking like that. She left for the greater good of Etheria. She left, and it isn’t because Catra wasn’t enough. Adora left to protect all of Etheria from the reign of the Horde. She left for the same reason Catra defected – keeping families together and stopping the imbalance.

She left… because…

Why was this so hard?

Even during that talk with Queen Angella, her mind raced with thoughts of anger. Thoughts and desire to just… rip the queen’s pretty little face in two, right in front of her little rebellion. Adora would hate her. Sparkle-and-shine would be left parentless just like her. Hordak would probably step down and give the reigns of leadership to her.

But this wasn’t about her anymore. Lonnie, Kyle, Rogelio, Dana, Scorpia, Entrapta, and everyone else in the Horde… this is for them. She isn’t about to abandon them. She needs to free them.

Catra opened her eyes again and let out a heavy sigh.

Damn anger problems…

Who the hell did she get this trait from? Shadow Weaver?

The door flew open, and Catra jolted in her seat.

Adora, Bow, and glimmer walked in mid conversation –

“Glimmer how in the world is it a good idea –”

“How is it such a bad idea? Look, you’ve only known Roosevelt for all of five minutes until you high tailed back in the castle,” Glimmer argues “he’s not that bad of a guy – thanks for keeping an eye on her, we’ll take it from here –” she tells the guard.

He nods and leaves.

Adora rolled her eyes. “He called Mermista a brat, he told me it’s such a shame that I had ‘damaged skin’, and then he practically forced me to dance with him –”

“He probably meant it as a joke! As for the last one, I don’t know, persistence usually means a guy likes you!”

“Hordak is pretty persistent on taking the Rebellion,” Adora welcomes herself to sit in the chair Perfuma once sat. Glimmer leans on the wall directly next to the seats, and Bow sits on Adora’s arm rest. “Are you saying Hordak likes your mom?”

Catra almost laughed at that but stopped herself by pursing her lips.

“Oh, jeez, no! Gross Adora!”

Bow sticks his pointer finger up. “Actually, with the latest trend of rebellion folks falling in love with Horde soldiers –”

“Bow!” Both Adora and Glimmer yelled.

Adora pinched the bridge of her nose. “Look, whatever! If he hurts you, don’t come running to me, okay? He’s honestly not a good guy, Glim.” Glimmer just shrugs in reply. Adora sighs and looks at Catra, a small smile on her face. “How are your wounds?”

Catra flicked her tail. “Peachy. I’m feeling better already. You were right about Perfuma. She’s pretty airheaded, but she’s sweet.”

The blonde nods at her words. “Well, we have two good news, one maybe good-ish news, and one bad news. Where do you want to start?”

“Hit me with the worst news.”

Bow sucked in air through his teeth and raised his brows. Catra blinked at his reaction before turning to look at Adora. Adora, however, looked beet red. When her eyes drift to Glimmer, the pink haired girl only rolled her eyes at the two.

“Adora told her about both of you’s very… intimate –” Glimmer hit every syllable strongly “—relationship. And, I quote: ‘So you snuck her in, did things under the roof of this castle, gave her one of the original texts stating the history of Etheria – Oh, by the way, she wants it back – and then, gave her an engagement earring thinking it was a suitable present?’

I don’t have to say it, but she was preeetty angry. And, also, amused because of… well, the engagement stone.” Glimmer finishes.

“Engagement stone? What, like an engagement in combat? Engaging the enemy?” Catra asks, dubiously. These new rebellion terms feel like a kick to her side. She’d have to teach the Horde some of it.

Bow laughs heartily, “Oh, oh wow. ‘Engage the enemy’ is one way of putting it.”

Adora is blushing from ear to ear by the time she punches Bow on his shoulder. “Look, I didn’t know okay! I’m sorry, Catra! It basically means you and I are… uhh… about to get married.”

“Married?”

“Yes, umm…. Matrimony.”

Oh.

Oh.

The earring means they were mates. That’s a weird custom to have, but she guesses, if there was one way to show off that you were someone’s mate, it would be a shiny stone.

Still, would it be so bad? Being Adora’s mate for the rest of her life? It wasn’t like they hadn’t already been together – joint at the hip – since they learned how to pick up a training staff. And, it’s not like Catra wasn’t going to technically be part of the Rebellion by the end of this.

So really, how is this bad news?

“So?”

All three of them were shocked by her reaction. Adora was the first to speak up. “That’s your reaction? So?”

Catra shrugs. “I feel like I’m going to be stuck with you my entire life. Wouldn’t be shocked if we did… en..engage… someday?”

Adora’s jaw hung open and Bow iron-gripped her shoulders as he shook her, yelling. Glimmer was the only one who looked somewhat neutral about what she had just said.

Odd.

Her friends acted… indifferent about this.

Like as if they already knew.

“C-c-can we just,” Adora starts, trying to fend off the blush on her face “which… Catra which news to do you want to hear next?”

Catra smirked at her fluster. It’s… really much better seeing it in broad daylight. “Two good news.”

“You don’t have to sneak around at night anymore, and you can stay so long as you are under my – or someone else’s – direct supervision.”

“Meaning, you can both be as intimate as you’d – Ow!

"Meaning,” Glimmer whacked Bow right on the top of his head “you are being supervised by the strongest guard in all of Etheria. She is tasked to report anything she finds suspicious about your behavior… If she tells us, we’re forced to take precautionary measures that would either further or decrease our suspicion.”

Well, that didn’t sound too much like good news.

If anything, it made her nervous. One wrong move, one wrong word, and one wrong action could result in all of this going to the waste. Her hard work to get to this point would have vanished along with what probably would be Adora’s remaining trust in her.

The only plus side is privacy with Adora.

Not for… that… kind of intimacy, but she’s sure she may have questions about what went on in Half Moon.

“I can work with that,” Catra shrugs. “What’s the good-ish news?”

“Queen Angella wants to put you to work while you’re here,” It was Bow’s turn to explain “Queen Angella thought it would be a great idea if you, Adora, and Glimmer helped teach citizens how to fight hand-to-hand.”

“And as much as I wanted to tell Mom that you didn’t need to help,” Catra felt her lip raise at the sass “she said the more people that could help us train, the more we could get our soldiers ready. Don’t expect a warm welcome…”

Catra felt her blood prick. Was that a threat? “What are you trying to say, pinky? I can handle a few brain damaged rebels.”

“Hey, you have nothing you have to prove here besides how honest you really are about your so called ‘plan’, okay?” Glimmer’s voice was hot in her tongue, and Catra dug her nails against the flat palm of her hand “I’m just saying that they’re going to say things to you that won’t necessarily be nice, and they’re going to take a bit more to chill out.

I mean, you hurt a lot of people here. What did you expect? A red carpet to be rolled out for you the minute you waltzed in? –”

Catra felt the growl bubbling in her throat “Your mother needed to hear it from someone –”

“You’re acting as if you were there and that you saw it happen –”

“You don’t know what I’ve seen –”

“And you still haven’t apologized, you hypocrite –”

Hey,” Adora cut in, “Glimmer, we’ve talked about this with your mom.”

Glimmer scoffs. “Whatever. It’s not like the rebellion owes her an official apology for the loss of her family. Her mom was the one who left the rebellion in the first place.”

“At least you have your mom,” Catra chuckles darkly enough for Glimmer to open her mouth, ready to yell again.

Oookay,” Adora stood up from her seat, “Bow if you would kindly escort Glimmer out of here. That would be fantastic.”

Just as Bow was about to stand, Glimmer teleports away in a zing. Adora looks at Bow and shrugs. The young boy glances at Catra for a moment before taking off, yelling for Glimmer to ‘wait’ with that broken voice of his.

Catra groaned.

Of course, this wasn’t going to be easy.

It was never easy in the first place.

Adora bent down to touch Catra’s face. “You okay?”

It was never easy, and this girl was what started all the not easy parts of it.

How did her parents do it? Catra wondered. Falling in love at the time of war. Making it work for a year in secret before slapping the revelation against both the Horde and the Rebellion’s face.

 It was her father who made the first move – leave his rank as second-in-command to give his whole self to new family. In return, her mother did the same – leave the rebellion when Queen Angella felt threatened with their relationship. Their gravitative pull towards one another. The commitment they had to revolve around one another.

The world before wasn’t ready for something as powerful as their love.

But… what about now?

Catra melted into Adora’s touch. “I’m fine… just a bit pissed off, I guess.”

Adora humms. “She can be a bit of a…”

“Bitch?”

“I was going to say harsh, but yes. She was the same with me, until well, she wasn’t. She and Bow took me around the rebellion and… well, I saw the truth,” Adora shrugs. She tucks Catra’s hair behind her ear “they’re all just a bunch of people who want to… enjoy life.”

Catra sighs. She felt Adora reach for her hand, gripping it tightly. The blonde, standing in front of her, rests her head between her ears, humming contently as Catra let out one of her ‘mrrph’ noises. The warmth – the intimate approach – made Catra flick her tail.

Adora shifted her head. “Why do you smell… like flowers?”

“Oh,” Catra flattened her ears as she dipped away from her touch “Perfuma kissed it.”

“She did what?”

Catra flinches at the tone of her voice; she pulls away and raises a brow as she smirks.

She was no idiot. The sudden sharp pitch of Adora’s voice, the pull of discomfort on her face, and the sudden jerkiness of her movement were all telltale signs of one emotion besides anger that Catra had dealt with her entire life –

“Adora, are you jealous?”

Adora pulls a shocked face. “I am not. I’m just… surprised! Why would, why would she even kiss the top of your head! Th-that’s…”

“She thought I was cute,” Catra mocked her “that a cute woman like me was nice enough to not lock Entrapta up in a cell.”

“Catra –"

Catra cackles and pulls her in by her leg. It caught the blonde off enough that she yelped and wound up straddling Catra’s lap. “I’m just fucking with you. She did it as a thank you. For… being a good patient and, well, sparing Entrapta. By the way, she’s been helping the kids in the Horde with math, did you know that?”

The smile that started spreading on Adora’s face warmed her. If she could spend her entire day like this without the war in her head, without the anxieties, without the anger, without the expectations… She would.

She really would.

Is this what love felt like?

She didn’t think about it too much.

She didn’t need to, because she already knew the answer deep in her heart.

Catra leaned forward and grazed her lips so lightly that it probably wouldn’t have passed as a kiss in the first place. But it was enough to catch the blonde’s attention.

Adora places either arms on the sides of Catra’s head, kissing her deeply. It wasn’t an open mouthed kissed. Neither of them opened their mouth at all. It was all just out of pure adoration.

“I missed you,” Adora confesses, breaking an inch from Catra’s lips.

Catra grins. “I missed you too.”

Chapter Text

This is new.

Well, it was old, but also new.

Adora laid in bed with Catra, just like they had been doing for a month now. Adora had her arm around her, and had her head sitting between the feline’s ears. Even the tail wrapped around her calf was all too familiar. In the silence of this morning, Adora could hear Catra’s heart beating much faster than hers – a distinct difference between them.

What was new was how they ended up in this position in the first place.

Adora was ready for Catra to pull a stunt. To jump her on the stairs, or..or roll to her side in the middle of the night and start something… carnal. But on their way up to her room, Catra didn’t do anything other than ask her how the past few days had been. She held her guard up until she opened the door, but even then, all Catra did was pick a random book off her desk and ask her if she had read it yet.

When she answered no, Catra insisted to read together.

Truth is, Adora didn’t want to.

No, she wants to talk about whatever Catra found in Half Moon.

What was this about her father? Her mother? King Micah? Queen Angella? What was this about her being a Queen? What did Catra see in there that would make her drop everything she had believed in, drop her anger, and drop her pride to help the rebellion?

And before she managed to will herself to say her answer, she realized that she couldn’t. Two things stood out about the request that led her to just… go with it.

The first thing was that reading isn’t Catra’s hobby. Not even close to something she enjoyed doing outside of it being necessary. Even if she had taken the time to pick up and read Prettiness and Pettiness, Adora is almost sure that Catra skimmed through it and only read parts that involved Eliza being sassy.

And she knows because she did the same when one of their chief force captains told them to read a specific chapter of a book and highlight important parts. All Catra did was underline specific moments when a soldier named ‘Graham Mintcon’ said something bad about the rebellion, then writing ‘savage’ on the margin.

The second thing was that this is her hobby. A hobby she learned to do in her time of healing in the rebellion. Catra isn’t quite the type to… enjoy… what Adora does. Catra would yowl about how boring it was to fight the same training simulations over, and over, and over again. The only time Catra truly had fun was when she took her on that skiff ride to the Whispering Woods.

She used Catra as a scapegoat from her work and expectations in the Horde, and she’s sure that Catra must’ve been doing the same thing now that she’s out of her element. She knows how much went into becoming a second-in-command. Waking up at 0400, assigning duties to chief captains every week, collecting their reports at the end of the day, writing a report to Hordak every night, being tasked with disciplinary punishments; the world was already stacked on Catra’s shoulders.

Add the fact that she has to prove herself trustworthy enough for the rebellion.

Add the duties Queen Angella had given her.

She can’t blame Catra for trying to find a sense of peace just as she did. Thus, reading a book.

I mean, what else could this be? Love?

Adora could laugh. Catra has made it very known that she wants nothing from this other than sex, and while the thought hurt, Catra is right –

They’ll probably end up spending the rest of their lives together, anyway. So, what’s the fuss about love?

Adora sighs heavily, pulling away to look at her sleeping companion.

They managed to read until about a fourth into the book. Adora sat between Catra’s legs while Catra rested her head on Adora’s shoulder, reading along. After about an hour and a half into it, Adora felt Catra’s throat rumble.

She let Catra fully slump on the bed, and she slipped herself under the sheets soon after.

Catra shifted, grunting grumpily before slowly opening her eyes to the light of the room.

Adora watched as gold and blue adjusted themselves in the brand of sunlight pouring into the room. Suddenly, Catra hummed. She chuckled before raising a hand to scratch the back of her ear. A purr started falling out of her lips.

That, and a vulnerable smile.

“Hey Adora,” she greeted, her voice sandy from exhaustion. Still, she sounded pretty happy compared to whenever she woke up in the Horde.

Adora bit her lip. “Hi.”

Catra blinked slowly before scooting forward; she leaned in, touching their foreheads together. Her purrs started getting louder. Catra coiled and uncoiled her tail under the sheets, and Adora felt her breath hitch when the nails on her hips suddenly dug hard.

There it is.

Adora watched the rise of heat in Catra’s eyes… and when she expected the feline to jump on top of her and start what Adora had been expecting to happen since last night –

She didn’t.

Instead, Catra nipped Adora’s nose with her teeth.

Ow, hey!” Adora giggled.

“Stop looking at me like that,” Catra growled, wearing a smile of her own. “You were doing the same thing last night too on the way up to your room.”

Adora tilted her head. “What? I’m not doing anything other than looking at you.”

“That’s just it. You have that look like you’re about to pounce me. I thought you were about to shamelessly fuck me on the staircase last night –”

“Abso—” Adora shoved back the cackling cat as she blushed furiously “Absolutely not, Catra! Wh… why would I – how dare… I can’t believe you’d think I’d…”

Catra smirks.

I do not look at you like that!”

“Yes, you do.”

“No, I don’t!”

“You’re doing it right now.”

“No, I’m –” Adora meets Catra’s eyes again, and she feels her heart stutter. It’s that look. The same look Catra had when Adora put that dress on for Mermista’s party. That same look she had when they kissed for the first time. The same look she had when literally right before they – “No, stop it.”

Catra flicked her ear. “Oh, whatever do you mean, dear?”

Her smirk grew.

That stupid, fucking, smirk

“You’re the one giving me the stupid look,” Adora shoves her lightly.

Catra was faster, though. She anchors herself with her nails on Adora’s hips. The blonde feels something shoot down to the spot between her legs. She shudders, and she can tell Catra felt it. “Aw, come on. Just admit you were waiting for me to pull something on you.”

This is a goddamn game.

Adora twists around to face the other direction. “Ugh, you’re annoying. Leave.”

She doesn’t hear anything other than the shuffle of her bed. Then, suddenly, she feels something soft gliding on her shoulders.

Turns out, she should never turn her back on a cat.

Adora exhaled when she felt kisses being placed on her shoulder and her neck. “Damn it,” she whispers.

“Turn around,” Catra teases.

Adora doesn’t falter.

The nails on her hips rose up half way on her back before digging themselves back down. She gasps. The kisses along her neck started turning into bites, sharp fangs scoring her neck. Her mouth gaped when Catra nipped at the shell of her ear.

“Turn around,” Catra asks again, a little harsher this time.

“N…” she felt a hand lower themselves on her behind and grope. She feels another pull of lust shoot between her legs. She bit her lip hard and clenched the sheets. “No,” she manages somehow.

Catra doesn’t stop.

She keeps going.

One of the feline’s hands had gone up to dig against her neck as those lips did their work on her neck; it felt like… Adora felt an addicting twist of fear. She knows Catra’s nails could easily rip through metal. She’s seen it happen before. One wrong move, and Catra could hurt her.

And she loved the fear she felt in it.

The other hand under her shirt slipped into her pants and her undergarments. Adora muffles a moan on her pillow as she felt those nimble fingers glide on the slit between her legs. Catra’s grip on her throat tightened, and her kisses started becoming more like bites than anything else.

“You’ve always been so fucking stubborn,” Catra grunted as she grins against the nape of her neck.

“St…stop being so fucking,” Adora jolted when felt one of her fingers gliding against that spot again. She felt her smiling through her kisses, “you’re so smug about everything that you –"

Adora couldn’t stop the gasp that left her lips when Catra started moving her hands faster and rougher than usual between her legs. “Catra, wait –” she starts to push her away to tell her to slow down, but the hand on her neck grips her tight enough to change her words into breathy whines and silent moans.

One of her hands flew to Catra’s wrists – the wrist of the same hand that started to quickly drive her to the edge. She didn’t pull her off. She didn’t stop her from doing… from doing her. Adora let her continue. She thought she knew how fast Catra could go doing something like this, but this was on a different level. The lips grazing over her skin didn’t help either, and the hand around her neck, and her words caught in her throat…

This was a lot.

Just… too much to take in.

It’s only been four days, and –

And it didn’t take too long for Adora to spill over. Then, and only then, did she stop Catra’s hand from moving quickly against. And, just as she always had, Catra muffled her a split second before she slipped into that same mind buzzing feeling; instead of lips, however, it was a hand over her mouth this time.

Once her peak was over, the hand left her mouth to favor stroking the side of her face.

“Adora,” Catra starts, “turn around.”

Adora finally obeys.

She twists herself and as soon as she did, her mouth found Catra’s, and it was as if the fire in her stomach reignited almost immediately. Catra’s own fire – her hunger – was left unquenched as well. But still, there was something different in the way she kissed. Before, Catra would ravage her. Kiss her like it wasn’t enough.

Like Catra wanted them to perfectly merge together, but she couldn’t.

But now, it felt right.

They didn’t merge together. They didn’t collide. It wasn’t a battle or a dance. It wasn’t a competition, either.

This is slow, meticulous, melting. Catra didn’t throw gas at the tiny flame inside her soul; she threw fire wood – a slow burn, but it will feed the fire long enough to keep it alive instead of exhausting it.

This isn’t Catra’s style.

This isn’t Adora’s.

This is theirs.

Catra broke the kiss, and Adora knew what she wanted immediately. She lifted her hips so that the feline could grab at her pants and tug them off.

“What about you?” Adora murmured right as Catra hovered over her.

Catra growls, “Today is about you.”

 “Then let me have a turn,” Adora teases as she settles her hands to cup Catra’s face.

“No,” Catra dips down to kiss her slowly “I want to try something new on you.” One of Catra’s hands moved between Adora’s legs before pressing down firmly. Adora felt a very familiar jolt, accompanied by a slight pain.

She reacts by sucking in a breath.

“Still sensitive?” Catra asks her, removing her hand.

Adora tilts her head. “Just... a little bit.”

Catra seems to have understood, because she eased off her touch just enough to make the pain dissolve into something far better.

Her whimper must have been good enough for Catra. She went much slower than the before. The lips dancing over hers went on a similar pace as well, tongue barely slipping into her mouth, teeth grazing over her lips. Every now and then Catra would stop the movement of her fingers before going forth again.

Waiting for the fire to grow before throwing more fuel for it to feast on.

And it worked because Adora felt herself writhing as much as she did before. She let Catra plant toothy kisses on the skin of her neck but…

Well...

Catra started trailing down, lower and lower… She lifts her shirt enough to show her stomach, and right there, Catra chuckles seconds before sucking on the skin of it.

“What are you doing?” Adora wonders, petting her ear as she did her work.

“Marks,” The answer caught Adora enough to lift her head slightly. She noticed a reddening mark on the flat of her stomach. She raises a questioning brow. “so that you know you’re mine.”

She lays back down and chuckles. “…Ridiculous,”

She let Catra place as much as she wanted, and well, if Adora counted right, there were three. And, if she counts the scratches and bites, there were seven. It wasn’t until she felt Catra kiss below her belt line that Adora stops her from going any further.

All she needed to do was tug on Catra’s hair, and the feline immediately looks up.

Their eyes meet, and it was a wordless conversation.

Trust me.

Adora bites her lower lip before nodding for her to continue.

She held her breath when she felt Catra’s breath brushing against her most sensitive spot.

When Catra’s tongue slid against the slit…

The irregular exhale she felt in her lungs was a message enough; it was the reaction Catra needed to keep going.

Adora arched her back at every lick, and she felt a grand fire of pleasure quickly growing from inside her. Catra hands raking down her thighs made it worse. Or better. She doesn’t really know at this point. All she knew was that this… whatever this was… whatever it was called.

It’s..

“Catra, it – shit, keep going, please…”

“I fucking love it when you beg,” Catra growls.

“Of course you do, you insensitive asshooh, goddamn, you stupid c-cat..”

That smug smile pressing on Adora’s thighs as Catra slipped and curled her fingers inside of her. She couldn’t silence the curses that flew out of her lips then. Adora’s mouth flew open, and she raised her hand to bite against her flesh to stop herself from moaning too loudly when Catra favored to seal her mouth and suck instead of just licking.

It feels good.

It feels too good.

Her hand flew to grip the back of the feline’s head as she continued her ministrations. “C-Catra, I’m –”

“I know,” Catra panted hard against her. “It’s okay, I’m… right here. Just let go.”

How could it possibly feel this good?

It took one of Catra’s teeth to scrape dangerously against her sensitive skin to get her to crash down for the second time. She doesn’t try to hide it this time. She doesn’t want to hide it. There was no reason to if the Queen already knew about it.

She’d let all of Etheria know if she could.

So, she yells. Or at least, tries to.

And again, Catra catches her lips before she could even let a note out. Catra tasted salty and sweet at the same time. Odd, but it didn’t bother her. Was this what it tasted like down there or… is this her? Was this what she tasted like?

If so, then what about Catra?

Adora breaks the kiss to breathe, and Catra pants hot against her the blonde’s ear as she crashes back down against the bed. It takes a few more seconds, but Adora fixes their position; Catra laying on her arm, and Adora laying on the pillows.

They stay like that for another hour.

The peace they had with one another. She wanted it to last longer. The sun slowly rising in the sky was a sign for Adora that Catra needed to leave at some point. They still had a war to take care of after all.

“They were like this, you know,” Catra’s strained voice caught her attention. “C’yra and Marcus… M-my parents. Two people from different sides of the war, enemies who ended up choosing one another instead of the fight… It worked for a while until, well...”

“Catra,” Adora starts, shifting her position to look at her. The pain in her eyes were there. The same one back I the throne room. “You don’t have to tell me. At least, not until you’re ready –”

“I am, it’s just,” she shrugs “hard. I wouldn’t exactly know where to even start.”

“Well,” Adora pulled her in closer to her chest. Catra purrs slightly “start with how you found Half Moon?”

Catra chuckles, leaning up to kiss her lips.

How could she possibly not fall in love with someone like this?

“Okay,” Catra’s answer was barely a whisper.

Chapter Text

  • [AN: 350 bookmarks let's gO LESBIANS]

Someone once told her that putting too much energy and too much effort into something is only going to cause her to combust. That reaching for the stars isn’t going to benefit her in long run, because she would never be able to reach it anyway. That if she stretched too much, her ladder would only tip over. This same person gave up on her desire to become force captain. This same person let that dream go because someone else who already had the stars wanted it.

It was sage advice.

She should have just kept giving as little as possible. Because the moment she started climbing that ladder again, everything started falling onto her shoulders. The price of her guilt, the price of regret, the price of her decisions.

The consequences were high, the expectations were high, and Catra can’t stoop too low anymore. One wrong decision, and it could damage everything else. One wrong step and she could lose her hard work.

It’s times like this that she wished she believed in destiny.

She had two things to deal with today – or, to be more specific, two people: Entrapta and Dana.

She tasked Scorpia to tell Entrapta to switch out the poison she was going to give Hordak. Turns out, she had already given it to Hordak a few hours before they all returned form Half Moon. Now, all Hordak needs is a green light from Catra.

This was her first mistake. She should have told Entrapta before they left that the poison… or, well, virus as she prefers to call it… should never fall to Hordak’s filthy claws. She should have told Entrapta about her family. Catra only confessed when she had asked Entrapta to make a few tweaks on the life crystal. She should have said something; an unquestionable order, a hint, a request, or plea that could’ve been enough of a sign.

The second mistake was manipulating Entrapta a month and a half ago. How in Etheria’s name is Catra going to tell her? Would Entrapta even forgive her? Would she believe her? Would she still trust her? Catra did the same thing Shadow Weaver would have done. Catra used her.

Was Catra turning into Shadow weaver?

Despite their broken relationship, there was… a part of Catra that just wanted Shadow Weaver to see her. She tried being as good as Adora. Tried being better than Adora. Tried to be lower than Adora.

It didn’t work.

But, when Catra started becoming more like her

“She’s like you, you know,” she heard Lonnie break her away from her thoughts. “Just as angry, just as protective. Someone crosses you and you both see red.”

Catra looked up from the file in her hand and faced what seems to be a mirror. But she didn’t see herself. She didn’t see Shadow Weaver, either. Instead, she saw a pair of forest green eyes full of nothing but defiance.

Dana.

“I heard Scorpia say it was out of self-defense –”

“She beat up two eight level cadets and walked away with nothing but a –” Lonnie flipped through the pages of her copy “—broken nose, torn lip, and a missing tooth. The two kids she beat up got concussions, broken bones. One got a dislocated arm. She used a shock rod that she nabbed from one of the guards and put it on maximum stun. Catra, look,” she didn’t continue until Catra turned her head “I get the kid’s got a special place in your heart? But this was more than self-defense. She went too far.”

She can’t deny the truth in that.

Even Catra’s fights with Lonnie never ended this badly. Maybe a scratch here, a crooked nose there. But they never went overboard. Despite their pent-up rage against each other, it didn’t escalate to a full-on death match.

This, however…

She could see it through the window.

One of the eighth level cadet’s ear was swollen from a build-up of blood. His cheeks were bruised to purple, and his lip kept bleeding out. The doctor seems to be roughly prodding at his side and he kept on wincing.

The other cadet looked worse. Her lip and nose were bleeding. Catra lowered her ears as the arm came into view. A blue cast was wrapped around it and two of her fingers. Her good eye looked glazed, like as if she was far too exhausted to move. That, or she was high off drugs.

Then, there was Vera. She sat quietly next to Dana, occasionally saying things that Catra couldn’t decipher. Dana would, every now and then, smile at her without another word.

“I’ll talk to her. Thanks Lonnie,” she clapped Lonnie’s back before walking into the medical wing.

The first one to react was Dana, who straightened her back, shooting a cocky look at the two eighth grade cadets. Catara twitched her lip at her arrogance. The next to react was the medical officer, Barley.

“Ah, commander. You’re here to speak to these three troublemakers, I assume?”

“No, actually. You –” she nods at Vera “come outside.”

“Oh, um,” she glances at Dana who shrugs “okay.”

The minute they step out of the room and shut the door, Catra turns to her. “What started all of this? Do you know?”

Vera started turning into a light shade of blue. Catra watched it unfold in front of her. “I… I turned pink.”

“What’s so bad about that?”

“It… it’s the color I turn into when I enjoy s-someone’s company and I was… I was talking to Dana. The, umm… the other kids saw and teased me about it. D-dana told them to stop and,” Vera thinned her lips before continuing as her color changed to a darker blue “they… they pushed her.”

“so, they physically hurt her first?” Catra asks curiously.

“N-no! They… ma’am they pushed her.”

Ah.

“I.. I don’t know if you know those kids but, they’re… both of them have parents. Both are elites and they c-called Dana half-baked. They also said that she wouldn’t amount to-to anything.”

“Then she hits them?”

“The-the only time she hit them was when they mentioned you.” Catra flicked her ear at that. Vera keeps going “They said that the only reason you’re second-in-command is that… that Adora left. And Adora would have been a much better commander than y-you. That’s when… that’s when Dana hurt them.”

Catra almost scoffs. Then they had what was coming for them. They shouldn’t have said what they said. They paid for what they decided to say. Catra opens her mouth to say something, but she closes it soon after.

No.

That’s not right.

This is more than self-defense; Dana was angry.

And Catra knows a thing or two about that.

Catra glances at Dana through the window. The next thing she needs is for this girl to walk the same path she walked. Make decisions that she would never be able to undo. There can’t be another Catra, and there should never be another Shadow Weaver. But, how is she going to go about lecturing a stubborn kid?

Catra nods for Vera to leave. She casts one more look at Dana before stalking off to a different corridor. Catra walks back into the room. Her first instinct was to look at the injured cadets who looked up at her worriedly. “I think… Dana has taught you enough of a lesson for your,” she narrowed her eyes “wise choice of words, don’t you think?”

The two cadets nod hastily. “We’re… we’re sorry –”

“I don’t want to hear it.” Her growl made the two cadets clamp their mouths shut. “Doc, if you’re done with here, I want all of you out of this room. Except for you, Dana.” She nods towards Dana.

“What? Are you kidding me? You’re just going to let them go?” Catra didn’t bother glancing at her. She can wait. She can throw a fit if she wants, but she can wait.

As soon everyone else was out of the room, Catra dragged her focus back to Dana. “You went too far, kid –”

“No, I didn’t,” Dana’s argument caused Catra to lash her tail. “They started it, I just proved to them that I can be better than them. Now, if I could just –“

“No, sit back down,” Catra commanded; and when Dana didn’t listen, she felt a tightening ball in her throat. “Dana, I’m not asking you again –”

“Then don’t. It’s not your job –”

“This is literally my job.”

“If this was your job, then act like it is!” Dana yelled, throwing out her hands as she did so. The second Dana did, Catra could mentally picture herself dumping whatever patience she had left into the nearest drain. “You’re barely here, Catra. You’re always out in the Rebellion, doing your stupid mission. It was fine before, but now you… It’s like you don’t know which side you want to settle on. You’ve got both foot on either side –”

“And why do you care?” Catra could feel it boiling over.

 “I care because the Horde needs you –”

“No, no, that’s not it. You know that’s not it,” Catra stepped towards her. Every hair on her arm went up as she held the young girl down with her mismatched eyes; Dana held her down. Stupidly stubborn. “You don’t think I saw how you looked at those kids when I came in? you were waiting for me to take your side, Dana. Is that all I am to you? A shield? Someone to train with?”

“That’s not –”

“Than what?!” Catra yelled as loudly as she could. Enough to get every bit of her frustrations out.

That… that was her third mistake.

Her worst mistake.

She didn’t realize it at first, because all Dana did was take a step back and widen her eyes; but, the moment Catra noticed them filling very quickly with fear instead of anger, that’s when she knew. That’s when she could see her shaking in fear, maybe in shock, maybe in both. That’s when she recognized what she had done.

She shouldn’t have yelled. She shouldn’t have lost patience… Her day had been stacked up with so many responsibilities from either side of the this stupid war and being dragged into unnecessary situations like this...

It’s no excuse.

Catra should have known.

For fucks sake, she lived through this.

“Dana –”

“Forget it,” the young girl whispered, and Catra could see her hold back her tears. “Are we done here?”

Catra opened her mouth to say ‘no’ but… it didn’t feel too right to say. So, Catra steps aside. “Yeah. I guess we are.”

“’Kay,” Dana’s curt response shot a bullet of guilt right into her stomach.

The minute Dana left the room, Catra lets herself lean against her hands flat against the surface of the medbay’s  brick-hard beds.

Great, Catra scolded herself, the one kid who believed in you and you fucked that up too.

She could have hurt her. It could have gotten worse if she hadn’t kept her stupid anger in check. She should have known better, she should have been more patient. Dana’s just a kid and she almost… she could have done something…

She digs her nails on the bed, leaving deep lines of three.

She could have hurt her.

“You know,” Catra inhales at the gurgling voice she hears entering the room. She didn’t need to turn around to know who it was. “I never thought I’d see the day that a short-fused brat like her would cry over something like that.” Catra scoffed at her comment, but she could tell Octavia didn’t sound very happy. “I’m not shocked it’s because of you, though. That’s for sure.”

Catra glances over her shoulder. “You want to piss me off too?”

Octavia howls a laugh. It stops abruptly, though. “You know how to make your words sting, Catra. Your words are meant to hurt. Most of the time, you say them just to piss someone off. You know how to turn their guilt against ‘em, and it’s torture.” Catra turns herself as she heard Octavia list off. Then, the fish woman gives her a once over. “You get that from Weaver.”

 “I’m not her –”

“But you sure got something from her, didn’t you?” Octavia says, narrowing her eyes.

“Do I have to remind you who you’re talking to?” Catra let herself hiss.

“Yeah, I’m talking to the brat who clawed my goddamn eye out.” Octavia pushed away from the wall, her arms crossing. She towered over Catra with her lips bared to a snarl. Catra would have pounced at her right then but she didn’t. She doesn’t know why. “You think your rank matters to me, kid? You’ll always be an annoying fucking pipsqueak to me.”

Catra almost chuckled.

“All I’m saying is that you’ve got a bad temper. I haven’t seen Dana behave in class since she started spending time with you. She looks up to you; thinks you’re some sort of hot shot – some sort of hero. Anything you do or say to her, will shape who that kid’ll become. To that girl,” Octavia lifts her hand to put it on top of Catra’s shoulder “you’re more than just your title.”

Their eyes hold together for a moment before Catra shrugs her hand off. “Where in First One’s name is this coming from?”

“Try living life long enough.” Octavia smirks “I have to run, commander. I’ve got some fresh meats to beat into shape. And hey,” she starts walking away, pulling the door open “take my advice with Dana and be careful with what you say.”

She didn’t get to respond. When the door clicked to a shut, Catra sighs heavily.

“Stupid Octavia,” she whispers to herself, pressing her finger along the rips she made on the bed.

She walked out of the room minutes after. Catra marched through the halls with the same gallant confidence that she would normally have. Guards would greet her, and she’d nod at them. Children would run past her as they greeted her, she yapped at them to slow down just as she normally would. She cut into a hallway all too familiar to her.

It used to hurt walking through it.

She would always feel a sense of fear whenever she walked through it. She always felt herself writhing, tail lashing, and ears constantly picking up anything out of the ordinary.

Now, it feels like a safe haven.

She steps into the room at the end of the hall, expecting something along the lines of ‘insolent fool’; but, it’s never that. Not anymore, at least.

“Catra, hey!” Kyle greets her “C-can I help you?”

Catra eyes him. His uniform, hands, and face were covered in reflective, black splotches. The same ones that she’d see all over Entrapta after working on Emily. Grease – is the name. Easy to get, hard to get off.

She eyes whatever Kyle was working on. Some sort of humanoid bot. “What are you doing?”

“O-oh, that robot? Entrapta told me I had to start practicing rewiring and sequencing. It’s really fun! I didn’t know that building things required math and chemical reactions. Y-yesterday, E-entrapta showed me how to build a robot’s version of a heart. It looked like a board with a bunch of circ –” She noticed him stop and raise his hand to ruffle his blonde hair “I’m… I’m sorry I’m talking a little too much again. I already gave Rogelio an earful last night.”

Catra pursed her lips. “I’m not much of a tech fan, but hey, at least you’re smart at something now.”

Kyle smiles and chuckles. “I th-think that’s the first compliment you’ve ever given me.”

“Shut up or I’m putting you and Rogelio in separate beds.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

A smile eases itself into her face. She paces around the room. “So, where’s Entrapta?”

Suddenly, a heavy weight drops onto her shoulder.

“Right here!”

“Woah, hey!”

Catra manages to keep her balance even with the dumb princess practically slamming her weight right on her back. Her extra set of hair limbs fall on her shoulders to hold her down. “Defection log, hour twenty-six: my angry feline friend is finally back from the Rebellion! Though, she smells like home –”

“Entrapta, get off –”

“Wait,” Entrapta grips Catra’s head and she takes a whiff of her hair “you smell like Perfuma! It seems that she had also met of with a friend of mine! I haven’t seen her since our plan of escape failed!”

“And now,” Catra gently plucks the hair fingers off her shoulder “we’re going to make one that’ll work. How’s the cure going?”

Entrapta hurried past Catra to her screen. Catra could see shapes and words that she couldn’t quite understand. The biggest being a moving image in the color of red; it looked like something infecting another object. “The virus, if we infect She-ra, will spread to all things that have the same technological bands as her runestone through direct contact. We don’t really need a cure, but what we do need is a filter. I call this,” she hits a button and another image pops up “a vaccine.”

“Lovely. Now, just… tell me what I need to find for you.”

“That’s where we get the little ol’ bump on our little project,” Entrapta sits on her hair “what we need is a tech strong enough to match a runestone but doesn’t harness power the same way that a runestone does. A different band of wiring. We found one, but we changed its bands to… well,” she this another button and an image of the life crystal shows up.

Catra lashed her tail. “Oh, you’re fucking kidding me…”

Entrapta thins her lips. “Nope. A hundred percent serious. The life crystal would’ve worked out perfectly. It took power from life.”

“But the First Ones made Life Crystals too. Wont it just… get infected?”

“Catra?” She hears Kyle call out behind her “Have you ever had a cold?”

That’s… an odd question. “N… no?”

Kyle shrugs. “Well, I have.”

Entrapta interjects right then. “Just like that. Different species, different results. If we are going to make a cure, we have to find another piece of technology from your people that’s different enough.”

“There was nothing else there. Just… old buildings, dust, and a few dead –”

“W-well, what about your crown?” Kyle wonders “Do you think it’s a life crystal too?”

Catra blinks. She slips it off and eyes it carefully. Her hands gliding over the green eye holes. “It… this is the last thing of my family that I have. I can’t just –”

“If those are life crystals, then that means its been draining your life force ever since you slipped it on.” Entrapta announced just a little too happily. She immediately clicks her recorder on, “Supplementary defection log, hour twenty-six. We might have a struck a breakthrough of some sort. It seems that the theory of Catra’s crown being a life crystal might explain the repetitive pain she feels every transformation. It might also explain the early deaths in the Magicat’s royal line –”

“What?” Catra sneers “most of the queens died from sickness and-and some stupid thing called cocoa!”

“The life expectancy of a Magicat, based on that book I stole form your room –”

What?”

“—is a hundred and forty-five. Yet… all the other queens died very early on in their life. The only one who didn’t die from some sort of external factor is the first C’yra, and even then, she died at a hundred and thirty-six –”

“That’s pretty close to our expected life span, isn’t it?”

“For a commoner, maybe. But this is a monarch, and trust me, rulers are put into top priority when it comes to their health.”

Catra opened her mouth but nothing came out.

“How about we run some tests and confirm our little theory? I promise nothing back will happen to it,” Entrapta had her hand outstretched.

She frowns, but hands over her crown anyway. “If I so as see a single scratch on that thing, I’m going to cut your hair.”

Catra doesn’t wait for her to reply. She swivels around and walks out without another word.

C’yra would have told her about this. She would have told her about recklessly transforming for no reason. If Entrapta’s theory is true, how much of her own life has she shaved off just by using it as a quicker way to get to the Rebellion? If Entrapta’s theory is true, then why didn’t her mother just say something?

A tip?

Just something.

Was it a norm for parents to hide things from their kids?

Was it –

Catra didn’t know how she ended up where she did. It was a mindless journey, but… she ended up at the top of the Fright Zone, hoping to be alone.

No dice on that.

Because Dana was sitting over the rails, letting her legs hang off as she watched the glow of Bright Moon from the far distance.

Maybe… parents hid things form their kids to protect them?

“It’s after hours. You should be in bed,” Catra started.

Dana didn’t move.

There’s a lump in her throat. Catra choked on it whenever she opened her mouth. “Look, I’m…” she swallowed “I’m sorry. I y… yelled at you. I shouldn’t have scared you like that. I should have known that… I’d remind you of her.”

Dana moved her head ever so slightly. “What?”

Catra cringed at how strained her words were. Had she been crying? “I, uhh, reminded you of Shadow Weaver. That’s why you stormed off, right?”

Dana sighs. “It was more than just that, but yeah. You… sounded disappointed,” Catra notices the way her knuckles clenched the steel railing. “I thought…”

I thought I failed you.

Catra approaches her, stopping to lean her back on an empty space right next to Dana. “I wasn’t disappointed. I was worried –”

“Oh, please don’t use that excuse –”

“Let me finish,” Catra scoffed, “I was worried that you were becoming too much like me. That… you’d do things you shouldn’t do, say things we shouldn’t say, and” the memories came back: when she kidnapped Bow and Glimmer, when she left Adora to die in the First One’s temple, and when her nails dug onto the flesh of Adora’s back. Catra sucked in a ragged breath “hurt people you would never hurt. I did a lot of shit that I don’t want you to do. I’m your ‘hero’, kid. But… like I said before, I really shouldn’t be.

And, I know they said things about you. Said things about Vera. Said things about me. But, sometimes, you just…” Catra shrugs “gotta’ learn to let go.”

“But they called you weak.”

“So? My entire squadron said the same thing and look where I am now.”

Dana chuckles, and Catra lets herself laugh along.

A silence passes them. A comfortable one.

Until it wasn’t.

“I know about your plan to defect,” Dana turned her head to fully look at Catra for the first time since their argument. “That secret mission Hordak sent you out on? You just… went out to Half Moon, didn’t you? To look for your family?”

“How did you –”

Dana shrugged. “Lonnie was talking to Kyle this morning. I was going to ask where you were, but I heard them mention you, and defecting, and… leaving. That’s why I got mad. I didn’t want you to leave. You… may have found your family, but I only have you.”

Catra lowered her ears at the confession. It was her turn to look away this time.

No more secrets.

Dana only watched her. The gears were turning in her mind, and it all clicked together in perfect unison when she opened her mouth and sighed. “Look, if you –”

“I want to take down Hordak.”

“I… want to change the Horde. For the better. So that no one else gets ripped away from their families. No one else loses the kind of life I could have had.” She looks up at the empty night sky, the only thing visible was the moon and the clouds looming right above them.

Catra explained what happened in Half Moon. What she saw. She relived every moment and tried her best not to drift away from the truth. She told her about Marcus – a man who left the Horde to pursue happiness, the commander before Shadow Weaver, the fact that he was Catra’s father. C’yra – a magicat who broke her allegiance to live her days with the man she loves, the woman who sacrificed her life to protect their last hope, and the queen Catra would have called mother.

Catra told her about Adora, her feelings, her emotions. The part of Catra that didn’t want to lose her again. The part of that wanted to stop being angry. The moments of happiness, forgiveness, and silent promises. Their care for one another that didn’t completely go away after the Battle of Bright Moon. The pain they both felt growing up under the close watch of Shadow Weaver.

Catra kept talking.

Dana listened.

Eventually, Dana left her spot on the railing. Catra didn’t see her, but she heard the shuffle.

The brat didn’t say a work. She only took a step forward Catra and hugged her tightly. Catra let a few seconds go by before crouching down and scooping the young girl up in her arms to reciprocate it.

The act washed away the heaviness in her chest. It rinsed it clean.

It was amazing how one single success managed to wipe away the weight of her mistakes.

Chapter Text

Adora knew there would be some sort of backlash. Glimmer warned them the first day Catra officially joined the Rebellion, but it hadn’t really sunk until she stood face to face with a group of trainees who looked beyond uncomfortable in her presence.

Catra had less interactions with the people of Bright Moon on her first week.

Most of the initial work was with Queen Angella and Glimmer. They had a private meeting of their own to plan out how to train the soldiers and how to bring Bright Moon’s defenses back up.

From what Catra had told her, they agreed that the first set of ten soldiers will be hand chosen for raw potential. They will be trained rigorously in basic combat for four hours a day for an entire week. Once done, each of the ten soldiers will receive ten other trainees which they will train for a week; and, the cycle continues. It would make it so that she, Catra, and Glimmer aren’t the only coaches.

As for the defenses, Catra crosses contacts with Entrapta. They can’t set up video calls – due to the Fright Zone very closely supervising what signals come in and what comes out – so Catra has resorted in learning what she can from Entrapta and giving it to Glimmer and Queen Angella. On some visits, however, Catra just brings in a file written by Entrapta for the monarchs to decipher.

During the nights that Catra stayed in Bright Moon, Adora saw something she hadn’t ever seen her do back in the Fright Zone: work.

More specifically, Digi-pad work.

Adora first noticed it when she went around looking for Catra. She checked in with one of the royal courts, and they said that someone was standing guard in her room to make sure that Catra didn’t leave. Adora was ready to bicker with them, stating that Catra was free to roam around the castle if she wanted to, but when the guard mentioned that Catra went there willingly…

Adora went up to her room that night and saw Catra on the desk, reading what looked to be reports.

Catra explains that Scorpia and Lonnie split the work when she’s gone. Lonnie – now a Force Captain – deals with discipline while Scorpia went through whatever instructions Catra left for her for the day. Sometimes, even Octavia would be part of it. They give Catra their reports at the end of the week, and she brings it with her to the Rebellion so she could work on what to tell Hordak.

It was odd, really.

Every now and then she’d hear Catra –

“Scorpia, what in First One’s name does that… fuck? That’s not even a word!”

“Oh wow,’ stacking books on their arms while they’re outstretched until they apologize’? Good job, Lonnie.”

Once she’s done, she’d either join Adora on the bed to read a book. Or, they talk softly about each other’s day. One night, Adora fell asleep before Catra finished her work. Adora woke up the next day to the feeling of Catra’s breath on her shoulder and the feline’s arms around her waist.

Catra hadn’t bothered waking her up.

It didn’t take long, however, for even more work to fall on lean shoulders.

Adora, transformed as She-ra, stood in front of the trainees. Catra was sitting on a tree stump, legs crossed, and tail wrapped around her own waist. The trainees were all grouped together – men and women of different ages and species – and paid their full attention to Glimmer who read through what they were going to work on.

Catra would, every now and then, say a piece of information Glimmer missed.

Adora didn’t miss it when some of the group members narrowed or rolled their eyes. It made Adora’s blood boil and her hold on her sword tighten.

Catra, though, looked rather… calm.

Was she just putting on a front? Was she trying to hold herself back because all eyes were on her?

“Are there any questions?” Glimmer asked.

One of them, a man whose build and muscles almost matched She-ra’s, raised his hand high above his head. Adora concluded that he would be the most confident of the group. “Yeah, just one,” Glimmer nodded for him to speak. He turns his head to Catra, and Adora immediately knew what was coming. “What is she doing here?”

Glimmer glances at Catra.

Adora wanted to open her mouth and defend her, but…

Stop trying to be the hero!

She didn’t. Instead, Adora hung back and watched the situation play out.

Catra sighs and stands up from the stump. “Helping the Rebellion so that Horde won’t be able to squash ‘em,” the answer was clear and simple.

That answer wasn’t enough.

“Yeah, well, why’d you suddenly change your allegiance?”

“Personal reasons,” Catra shrugged, her calm patience still evident in her tongue.

“And you think that’ll be enough to pay for what you did to us?”

“You said you were going to ask one question, Simon.” There was a challenging smirk that lifted Catra’s lips.

“All I’m saying is, we are strong enough.” Simon threw an arm pointing towards the group. Adora’s lip twitched; he’s trying to rally them to his side. “We have She-ra to train us and we have our princess. We don’t need your help –”

“With all due respect to you and your personal opinion,” Adora flinched at the sudden venom in Catra’s teeth. Still, her demeanor looked calm. Her tail lashed once, but she didn’t grit her teeth. Simon visibly flinched. “I managed to break Bright Moon’s defense and nearly destroy it on my first try –”

“But you didn’t succeed. The princesses and She-ra stopped you –”

“And where were you when it was happening? Did you help defend your home or just your selfish possessions?” Catra challenged.

The man clamped his mouth shut.

Catra scowls when Simon didn’t reply. “Whatever you feel about me? Keep it to yourself. But I’m going to do what I promised Queen Sparkles I would do, and I really think you should all do the same.” her eyes lingered on every single one of the trainees, waiting for another one to step up and challenge her.

When they didn’t, she nods towards Glimmer.

Adora noted Glimmer’s reaction. Something… Something glowed in her eyes. Maybe it was respect towards Catra, but it could have also just been Adora’s imagination. Still, Glimmer continued.

They trained.

Catra started them off with work outs, correcting their posture every now and then. Glimmer would keep score of how much each of the trainees could do. Catra had this great idea to use a broken log as a way to do curl ups, and shockingly, Glimmer agrees. Adora easily carried the log over for them to use, not missing Catra eyeing her as she passed by.

The next training involved plenty with balance and speed. Catra drew circles in the sand and told the trainees to step on each circle as fast and as accurate as they can, but by the end of it, none of the circles better be erased. The trainees flew through it perfectly at a pace slower than usual. They cheered happily, but then Catra erased everything… then drew the circles smaller than before, and ever Adora gritted her teeth at how difficult it looked.

That’s when they messed up on every single retry.

The next one was just a simple one-mile run, and every single one of them couldn’t reach the six-minute mark. By the time it was over, all the trainees were breathless. Glimmer asks for a break and Catra agrees.

 “I have to say,” Glimmer whispered to her as she leaned against the tree adjacent to Adora “she’s doing better than I thought. Is training part of the second-in-command’s job?”

Adora watched as Simon approached Catra. They start engaging in small talk. Catra’s tail started curling, and the bulky man started smiling. “She supervises, but she doesn’t directly teach. It’s her job to pick out the strong from the weak.”

Glimmer shifts awkwardly. Adora could basically hear the gears of her mind crunching up information. “So, she’s training the soldiers for both sides of the war?”

The question made Adora turn her full attention to Glimmer. There was nothing malicious in her question or her eyes, but it was definitely leaning to figure out where Catra’s true loyalties lie. It didn’t bother Adora. In fact, none of the trainees doubting Catra’s loyalty would strike Adora as truly malicious.

Afterall, Catra was the person who almost destroyed Bright Moon.

And Glimmer, who almost lost her only family left in the progress, is right to feel doubtful.

Adora shifted her attention back to Catra. She watched as Simon laughs, lifting a hand up to run the back of his head; Catra let herself smile a little. “She’s not going to do betray us, if that’s what you’re trying to ask,” Adora shrugs “she’s… tricky to deal with, but the one thing I’m sure about Catra is that she never breaks a promise.”

Glimmer scoffs.

“What?”

“Nothing, just,” Glimmer huffs, throwing her hands up and mocked Catra’s voice “I’d never break my promise, and Adora would agree with that’ was literally what she told us on the first meeting.”

Adora laughs. “Yeah, well… she’s not wrong.”

“I’m… trying to do what Bow does, and honest to the First Ones, I don’t know how he does it so easily.” Adora looked back at Glimmer whose pink eyes shined with annoyance “He trusts so easily. He did it with you, and he did it with Catra too.”

“Catra talks to Bow?”

“Catra spends her early mornings with Bow.”

Now this was a shocker.

She had never seen Catra talk to Bow outside of Adora’s room. Adora knows Catra doesn’t interact much, just because she is all too bust doing her reports. Bow would make a joke every now and then, and Catra would chuckle. Sometimes, the feline would say two things before falling silent again.

Actually, another shocking fact is that Catra spent plenty of her time talking to Perfuma. Perfuma, at first, would ask about her wounds, and Catra would update her. But now their relationship has escalated past just doctor and patient; Perfuma would see Catra and greet her casually, and Catra would fire a smirk and greet her back.

Adora would eavesdrop. Most of their talk revolved around Entrapta. Sometimes, it was flowers. Other times, it would be something as simple as… asking about each other’s day.

Other than that, Adora didn’t really know anyone else Catra talked to.

Bow is a shocking one. The two had diverging beliefs – Bow liked safety, and Catra loved recklessness. A friendship between them would be a gran sight.

“It’s crazy. Like they’re making another… ‘best friend squad’ of their own.”

Adora lets her voice dip threateningly lower. “Glimmer –”

“I’m not jealous! I promise! Just… I didn’t think she’d be part of their little friendship.”

“Is it really that hard to believe?”

“Bow is a sweetheart, Perfuma is a bigger sweetheart, and Catra is…”

“—also a sweetheart.”

Glimmer snorts.

“I’m serious! She’s nicer than she lets on.”

“Maybe to you –”

“I was scared of a mouse once and she killed it for me,” Glimmer immediately shoots her a look and Adora rolls her eyes. “Okay, well, we had a mouse once in our barracks and turns out… I was scared of mice. I saw it crawling up the pipes, and I screamed my lungs out. The other cadets, well, they laughed. Loudly. And made fun of me for it.

I mean, I laughed along, but Catra didn’t like the idea of me being picked on. So, she hunted down the mouse and left it headless in my shoe.”  Adora chuckles at the memory. Catra’s proud face, and Adora’s mortified but thankful one. “Then, all the teasing suddenly went to Catra, and… it was a lot more sour.”

Glimmer hums before returning her attention to Catra and the trainee. “How’d she handle that..?”

“Well, she… threw herself to me, I guess? I was her only friend there since there wasn’t really anyone else. She didn’t care much about everyone else so long as I was there by her side.

When she hears Glimmer hum again, it set off a weird sensation in her mind. Enough to cause the blonde to narrow her eyes at the much shorter woman. There was something dancing under the layer of her pretty pink eyes. The same look she had when Catra stood her ground against Simon.

Adora watched, tilting her head.

Perhaps… she was wrong.

Maybe it wasn’t respect. Maybe it was kinship.

Glimmer, being raised under the constant watchful eye of the Queen, grew up in an environment that casted her away from kids near her age. Bow miraculously became her friend, and he was the only one Glimmer attached herself to. In fact, losing him for a minute to Perfuma incited a side of Glimmer that Adora had never seen before.

Maybe, the same could be said to Catra.

Raised in the Fright Zone with no one but Adora to hold onto. And when Adora left, everything fell to her shoulders – the blame, the hatred, the responsibility.

Like Glimmer lashing out at Bow, Catra lashed out at Adora.

Adora lightly pushes Glimmer’s side, breaking her from whatever trance she was in. “Talk to her. You’d have a lot more in common than you’d expect.”

Glimmer gives her a gentle smile before rolling her eyes. “Fine, but if she pounces on me it’s on you.”

Adora rolls her eyes.

A few minutes pass, and they were back to training. It was Adora’s turn to teach this time, and sword-wielding was one of the main courses of the training. The trainees were very attentive. They started off with basic poses, they’d hold it, while Glimmer and catra waled around to correct their stances as needed.

By the end of it, most of the trainees were slicked with sweat from the heat of the sun. Adora, despite being She-ra the whole time, felt her own energy draining. She hadn’t done something as extensive as this since she left the Horde. Glimmer looked like it as well; her eyes looked drained of her usual energy.

Catra looked perfectly fine aside from the dust clinging on her mane and the peach fuzz of her skin.

“That’s it for today,” Adora announced and a chorus of sighs left the recruits’ lips “if you have any questions, speak to me, or Glimmer, or Catra.”

Adora transforms back, and the exhaustion hits her hard right then. She lets out a sigh of her own. Glimmer is next to her, typing down what looked to be a report. Adora busies herself collecting the wooden training swords the trainees had been using and putting them away.

But one of the swords slip from her grip, and it lands to Adora’s feet.

She hears a familiar cackle, and she shoots her head up.

“Hey, Adora,” Catra mews as she helps her pick up the sword and put it away.

“Hey dummy.” Catra seemed to have picked up on the strain of her voice.

Catra flicks her tail, wrapping it around Adora’s arm. “Tired?”

“Gosh, exhausted. I haven’t done training like that in a while…” She groans.

Adora notes the way the feline looks at the trainees walking away then eyeing Glimmer who sat on the stump with her back turned to them. Soon after, Catra leans forward to press a chaste kiss on her lips.

Well… it was new.

good new... but still new.

She had never shown any affection like that in public.

“What was that for?” Adora raises her brow.

Catra only hums before running a thumb over her cheek and leaning back in to press a kiss long enough for Adora to return for half a second. “Just… felt like it,” Catra whispers “do you want to have dinner?”

Adora was about to respond, but Glimmer’s barely audible murmur caught her ears. She looked over Catra’s shoulder to see her laser focused on the digi-pad. “Actually,” Adora starts “do you mind if we spend time with Glimmer?”

She blinked, before bobbing her head left and right. “I’ve never done it with three people before, so I wouldn’t mind – Ow!

“Catra, no! Get your head out of the bin!” Adora blushed furiously as she tugged on Catra’s ear.

“What? You don’t wanna share?” She purrs.

Adora rolls her eyes, kissing her again as she smiles. “Go ask Glimmer to eat dinner with us.”

“Ugh, but Sparkles doesn’t want to get along. She thinks I’m this… evil bad guy who tried to kill her mother”

“You did try to kill her mother.”

“That’s true, but has she considered how sorry I am?”

“Have you told her how sorry you are?”

“Ye –”

In a non-condescending way?”

“…No.”

Adora grinned victoriously. “Go.”

Catra groans before doing as she is told.

Adora softened as she saw the microscopic smile playing at the edges of Glimmer’s lips. It was all she needed to see that maybe… just maybe… Catra joining the rebellion won’t be that complicated after all.

Chapter Text

To say that Glimmer is a good soldier didn’t sit well with her. It’s too general. Too simple. It doesn’t encompass just how good she is in a fight.

Ever since their first dinner, Catra and Glimmer swung in this weird pendulum of hating each other to being friends, to wanting to murder one another, to being each other’s inspiration. They would bicker one second, share food the next; they would hit each other, and hug the next; they would complain to Queen Angella on every single on of their fights, and hide silly secrets from the monarch from time to time.

They’ve spent time training together. Sometimes, it would be just the two of them; claws, glitters, staff, and a fight that could go on for hours if left unattended. Other times, Adora and Bow would join in and it would be a team battle. Shocking no one, Adora and Catra together could easily take down Bow and Glimmer’s cute little tag team. Teaming up with Bow was fun, just because Catra has grown to love his voice-cracking screams; they’d win some and lose some.

Glimmer and Catra?

It was a combination that was so bad that it worked out too. They were erratic. There was no pattern, or team moves, or whatever. They worked as a team but independently. Whenever Catra struck, Glimmer would be leap for another offensive strike. Every time Catra took a step back, Glimmer followed would teleport elsewhere. Other times, Glimmer would lead. Catra wouldn’t follow, but she’s there to pull her out in case of trouble. Sometimes, Glimmer would toss Catra her staff with no warning when Catra needed something long enough to fend off Adora.

With that said, Glimmer’s resourcefulness is the best she has ever seen.

She’s a quick study. Learning Catra’s battle moves in a day and learning it in an hour. It took the feline by surprise when Glimmer fired off a round house kick followed by an all too familiar pounce; even Adora pointed it out.

Catra didn’t really learn much from Glimmer.

There… really wasn’t much to learn about in the first place.

It had been a week and a half since their dinner.

After one of their routine morning meetings with Queen Angella, Glimmer pulled Catra aside to speak –

“Can I ask you something?” Catra remembers hearing the slight wariness in her voice. “How did you know you were in love with Adora?”

She almost scoffed.

Love.

The weight of the word alone terrified Catra but allowing it to describe how she felt was… more than that.

Catra could have said a million things. She could have told Glimmer that she’s not even sure herself if she loves her. That she doesn’t know what love would even feel like or what it’s supposed to look like. She doesn’t know why Adora is so sure that she’s in love.

Catra has read several books with Adora, but she still doesn’t get it.

What defines love?

Flowers? Chocolates? Making someone a bowl of soup when they’re sick? Holding their hand? Kissing their lips? Sex? Being there for them through narrow and wide? That magnetic collision in both party’s gut? Choosing to stick together despite all odds, despite all reason, despite all obstacles?

Was it pain? Was it sacrifice? Was it torture? Leaving someone because it’s what’s best for them even though the other person disagrees? Letting someone go despite wanting to hold on? Yelling at each other, hitting each other, spitting venom at each other’s face?

Catra sighs.

“I don’t love her.”

“Y-you don’t?” Glimmer’s shock was almost out of offense.

Catra shrugs, leaning over the balcony on the hallway. The pink-haired girl does the same. “I care about her a lot. I… I want to be by her side until either the Rebellion or the Horde manages to put me down,” Glimmer chuckles at that comment “and… I don’t know… Love?... I’m not sure. The word’s too… broad, I guess?”

The girl next to her didn’t reply for a second.

Then two.

Then three.

Eventually, she sighs. “I’m scared that I might be immortal like mom. That I’ll be alone once Bow, Adora, my own kids, Roosevelt, the princesses…. Once they go away like my dad. I don’t – I don’t really know how I’d be able to handle losing people I love. I don’t know how mom does it,” Glimmer turns to look at her, and those pink eyes burned with some sort of vulnerability.

Catra flicked her ear and frowned. Now that the princess brought it up, how would she feel losing Adora? Losing Dana? Or Lonnie, or Scorpia, Entrapta, Kyle, Rogelio, the Horde?...

“Love is,” Glimmer starts “different for everyone.”

“I’m probably scared of love,” Catra scoffs.

“Maybe, but from what I’ve learned about you,I think you’ll figure it out.”

“Figure what out?”

Glimmer smiles sadly. “What love means to you.”

They didn’t really say anything else after that.

Catra only wrapped her tail around Glimmer’s hand.

One of the royal guards grabbed Glimmer’s attention soon after, and Catra had to leave to go back to the Horde for the night. It’s been two days after the talk, and she didn’t really think about it until now. Of everything that Glimmer said. Of all the people she’d lose.

All the people she loves.

One name stuck out in her mind.

“Roosevelt?” Adora sounded mildly annoyed “Yeah, apparently, they’re dating.”

“This is bonehead, right? The same guy that bothered you in the Mermista’s birthday party?” Catra lashed her tail. “Does pinky know about that? Or did she fall for his pretty face?”

“Ugh, he is not pretty.”

“Mmmh, I gotta’ disagree there,” Catra sang “he’s pretty handsome.”

Adora shot her a cold look.

“What? I’m trying out this new thing called ‘being honest’. Queen Angella told me to try it out so I am.”

Adora plucks Catra’s earring off her desk. “Roosevelt doesn’t deserve the truth even though he says he tells the truth,” her voice trembled from the hidden anger “he’s rude to literally everybody. He thinks he’s so high up that he can get whoever and whatever he wants whenever. He acts like he cares about Glimmer but… I really don’t think so.”

Huh.

Catra flicked her ear.

She hasn’t heard this much animosity in Adora’s mouth since she stole Adora’s favorite limited-edition rations back in the Horde and ate all of it in one night without sharing.

That being said, Catra can’t put together what kind of guy Roosevelt must’ve been for her to talk like this. “Sounds like my type. Can’t wait to meet him.”

Chuckling, Adora approaches her. She slides the earring into Catra’s left ear, and the feline instinctively flicks it as she adjusts to the pressure. “Well, we might meet him today.”

“Why?”

“We’re headed to Plumeria. I wanted to get your ear done properly so you can just… I wear the earring the way it should be worn. Glimmer wants to come with so she can get her mom some weird herbal tea. And you –” Adora leans down to kiss Catra’s ear. Catra looks up to meet her ocean blue eyes. “Behave.”

She feels a tug in her chest that she buries deep into her heart. Catra laced their fingers together. “Always am.”

“Okay, let’s get on swift wind –”

No.”

“Catra, we’ve talked about this –”

“I am not going on a flying, four-legged monstrosity –”

“A horse?” Adora blows air out of her lips.

“—that talks.” Catra puts emphasis as she stands up from the edge of Adora’s bed.

Adora giggles, pulling at her arm when she tries to head for the balcony. “Please?”

Catra scoffs. “If you think begging will work, you should try something else –”

On cue, Adora pouts. She makes her eyes big, and somehow bluer, and watery, and it set Catra on edge. She felt something crunching in her gut. She knew this feeling. She knew it too well. She literally dealt with it the past month and a half.

Guilt.

Fucking Guilt.

She starts remembering all the times she did Adora wrong. All the times she messed with her head. The day she tired to blatantly kill Adora and the following month where she tried to plan on destroying Bright Moon by using her. The scars on her back. The scars Catra must have left in her mind.

And just like that, Catra caved.

Fuck you, I hate you.”

Adora’s frown turned into a big, toothy smile. Catra thinned her lips at the sight of it. She snaps out of her trance when Adora steps forward to press a chaste kiss on her cheeck. “Ugh, you’re gross,” Catra says “let’s just go.”

“I prooomise to get you fish once we get there,” Adora sang as they walked through the door.

Catra perked her ears but shrugged off the sudden excitement she felt.

“Whatever,” she says.

She hates it.

She absolutely hates it.

Catra clutched for dear life the entire ride there. Adora anchored her down with her muscled arms around Catra’s hips, but Catra didn’t relax. At all. She practically gripped Swift Wind’s mane enough to pull some strands of his hair. Glimmer was on the back, laughing at Catra’s pain.

Once they landed – or really, the minute Catra knew she’d survive a drop – she leapt off.

“Roosevelt!” She heard Glimmer call out.

The familiar sound of her teleporting and Adora’s very heavy sigh caught Catra’s ear. The next thing she realizes is that a man standing a few inches taller than Catra – a whole foot if she counted his horns – whose brown hair was long enough to brush over his eye brows, had his arms wrapped loosely around Glimmer.

Catra observed.

He’s certainly handsome. Dark eyes, full of nothing but charisma and a play of kindness. A smile was plastered on his face, his hands careful when it comes to the much shorter princess. He dressed well, carried himself well, and acted well enough that Catra thought for a second that Adora might have been overreacting.

But Adora wouldn’t lie. Adora wouldn’t overreact.

Overreact was her and Glimmer’s thing.

And really, it wasn’t until Glimmer turned her back at him that she saw a split second of it –

His face dropped. His smile replaced by a neutral – almost bored—expression. The shine of his charisma, his well-mannered demeanor, his kind expression disappeared faster than anything Catra had ever seen. It was like a switch. He had his hand on the switch, flicking it on whenever Glimmer looked at him and off when she turned her back. It sent a chill right up Catra’s spine. The display reminded her of…

“Shadow Weaver.”

“I—what?” Adora said next to her.

“Roosevelt,” the feline nods towards the man “he reminds me of Shadow Weaver.”

Flipping from one personality to another depending on who was watching.

Manipulation.

Shadow Weaver mastered that.

And Catra? Well… She’s done a bit of it as well.

Almost instantly, Catra let a toothy grin spread across her face. “Roosevelt, right?” She asks, approaching the young man.

Immediately, his dark eyes light up. They roamed her up and down; from the top of her head to the tip of her tail. Catra can’t figure out what it was, but he looked like he was trying to decide what move to do and how to do it. Like this is some sort of game that he has to win. Like Catra was someone he has to win.

He raised his hand toward Catra, grinning from ear to ear. “Queen C’yra, I believe? Glimmer told me plenty about you.”

Ah.

He even sounds like slime.

Catra works. Not much a fan of that title,” Catra swished her tail as she took his hand.

Right before Catra could pull her hand back though, he gripped her. And before she could warn him, he lifted it up to place his lips on her knuckles. Those eyes never leaving her mismatched ones. “Wear your title proudly. It makes you better than anyone else… And whoever you choose as your King should wear it proudly as well.”

Catra’s eyes never left his as those words lingered in her mind. “Yeah,” she plucked her hand off his “whoever I choose.”

His demeanor fell again, and for a second Catra saw something very dark swirling in his eyes. Right before he could speak, Glimmer stepped in. “Anyway, you and Adora do your thing. Roosevelt promised to take me to this restaurant. Didn’t you?”

“Well, dear,” Roosevelt said easily, his smile returning “I was… hoping we could have it with your friends. The more the merrier, hm?”

“Actually –”

“Yes.” Catra started, muffling Adora with her tail. She glanced at the blonde who raised a brow. “We’d… love that. Maybe… get to know each other?”

Catra made sure to say it a tiny bit shily. She glances to the ground before looking back up to Roosevelt’s dark eyes. He pauses for half a second before smirking.

He took the bait.

“Perfect,” His voice dripped with genuine interest.

“Cool,” Hers was dripped with a façade of excitement “lead the way.”

The second he – with Glimmer in hand – turns his back, Adora yanks her by the arm. “Catra,” she pretty much sneers “what was that?”

“You’re right and I don’t trust him, Adora,” Catra whispers, yanking her arm back. “Do you really want that creep to be with Glimmer and potentially be King of Etheria?”

“No, I don’t,” Adora sighs “just… be careful. He’s… persuasive. He could probably turn all of Etheria on you if he wanted to, King or not.”

Catra scoffs. “I’d love to see him try,” she says, “now let’s go.”

To say that Roosevelt knew how to play with a woman’s heart was probably the understatement of it all. He didn’t just play the game; he wrote it. Word for word.

She watched his interactions with Glimmer on the table. He had his arm resting on the back side of Glimmer’s seat – not quite of the princess’s shoulder, but also laying across it. The tips of his fingers skimmed Glimmer’s arm every now and then which made the girl beneath his touch shudder; Catra shuddered too… out of sheer disgust. He commented on everything Glimmer said. Smiled at her whenever he said it. He spoke smoothly, breathed easily, and worked his magic…

But he also had his eyes set on her the whole time.

And since she has noticed, she kept hers on his as well.

She played the game he wrote, but she bent every rule he had set down. When he complimented her eyes, Catra told him that seemed to be the only thing people knew how to compliment. When he orders her a fish called tuna in hopes that it was her favorite – and it was – Catra tells him she prefers Salmon. When he brushes his foot against her leg under the table, she met his eyes and saw him wink.

When she decided to move her tail against his leg in the middle of his monologue, he jolted enough for the silverware around them to clatter.

When Glimmer asks him what happened, he tells her he felt a sudden chill.

After that, it seemed like Roosevelt knew he was dancing with another kind of fire.

After that, Catra whispers to Adora to find a way to drag Glimmer away. Adora tells Glimmer to help her pick out something from the market –

“It’s fine,” Catra shrugs “we’ll keep each other company. Besides, I’m used to Adora ditching me for new friends.”

Adora smacks her.

“Ow.”

“Not funny,” the blonde scolds her “we’ll be back in a flash –

Horde language. She’ll be back in five minutes.

“—Can you keep her out of trouble, Roosevelt?”

“Whatever the warrior princess says?” he shoots a lingering glance towards Catra “I will follow.”

Catra didn’t miss the twitch of Adora’s brow. Still, the blonde manages to control herself. She tugs Glimmer by the arm they both leave out the door.

As soon as they do, Roosevelt chuckles. “I don’t think,” he starts, eyes roaming Catra “I’ve met a princess quite like you.”

She forces a cackle. She leans against her arm, watching him take a sip of his drink. “I’m not like these brainless idiots.”

“You’re better than them,” he starts, eyeing the rim of his glass. For a second, Catra felt him tugging at something in her mind, and she could tell he caught it. He wrote this game. “I’ve spent my fine time speaking with the queen’s daughter and She-ra herself. Both of them are blunt. Too honest, too emotional, too… reckless. And you, my dear,” he leans closer “you are powerful.

You’re smart, talented, brave. You’re sharp, strategic, and skillful in what you do. You almost took over Bright Moon had it not been for the other princesses, and I don’t think Queen Angella or her daughter fully understood that.” He says with a smile. “From what Glimmer told me about Shadow Weaver, you must have had it rough. Especially trying to get away from She-ra’s shadow.”

She felt her heart thundering in her chest. How does he know this? Catra starts to pull her hand off the table, but he catches it. “But what I want you to understand,” he says very carefully “is that you’re not in her shadow.” He releases his hold on her, but… Catra couldn’t move. “You’re too bright for that. Far better than her.”

Catra…

Catra felt like laughing.

All the right words. All the right praises. Everything she ever needed to hear for years of her life. From every single person she had ever met. From Shadow Weaver, Hordak, Adora, Lonnie, Kyle – everybody

And it came out of the lips of a liar.

As good as it felt, it was like a slap to her face.

“You’re a liar,” Catra says.

“Darling, I don’t lie,” his words felt like needles against her skin. “I just hide part of the truth.”

“Then how do you truly feel about Glimmer?” Catra asks, taking a piece of her fish with her fingers.

He smirks. “I like her, but she’s… how do you word it…”

“Bitchy?” She means it teasingly, but Roosevelt only nods in agreement. “and suddenly, you find me appealing?”

“Hard not to see how She-ra has taken a liking to you. I started wanting you too the minute I laid my eyes on you.”

 “You don’t want me, you only want the title -- King.”

“And you wanted to be force captain,” he says, swishing the water in his cup “Perfuma ran her mouth and told her citizens that you had a nasty plot to destroy Bright Moon from the inside. I mean… using She-ra herself? A plan so deviously vile that I wouldn’t have thought of it,” he then points at Catra “are we really so different?”

Catra wants to disagree, but… he was right.

They weren’t so different.

Catra used people. She used Scorpia’s naivety and friendship to get what she wants. She used Entrapta’s ingenious intellect to make a weapon strong enough to beat down Bright Moon’s defenses and lied to her about what really happened to her friends. She used Adora to get to Bright Moon. To earn their trust so that she could destroy it from the inside.

Manipulation is a powerful weapon. It’s a poison that no one can see until it’s too late.

They weren’t so different.

“Cat got your tongue, your highness?” She hears him say.

She cackles. “Adora was right about you.”

“Oh?”

Catra’s laughing face pulls to a sudden frown. “You’re all looks and no substance.”

Roosevelt only fires her a mischievous grin. An evil one. One that, if Hordak were to wear it, would look as evil as evil can be. Catra almost shuddered. “The game you’re playing is a dangerous one, kitten. You don’t know what I am capable of.”

Catra leans towards him, a breath away form his face. “And you already know what I can do.”

“What’s going on here?”

Catra jolts back at the sound of Glimmer’s voice. She strides forward, carrying the same kind of authoritative aura as her mother. She opens her mouth to give an excuse, but Roosevelt beats her to it. “The Queen and I were planning on stealing more fish from the kitchen. We didn’t want any prying ears to hear of our… schemes.”

Now, why did that sound like a threat towards Catra?

“Not my fault their stupid fish tasted so good,” Catra shrugs casually, returning to her usual I-hate-you demeanor. “Hey, shimmer, can you ask shimmer senior to get me some of this fish?”

Ugh,” Glimmer rolled her eyes “I don’t know how Adora can spend even an hour with you. You’re so annoying.”

“So are you princess. Speaking of, where is she?”

Glimmer thrusts a thumb towards the exit. “She said she’ll wait by Swift Wind. You can go with her, I’m staying the night with Roose.”

Catra glances over to Roosevelt who looks just about as sly as sly can be. He fires a wink towards Catra’s way, and she only responds by flicking her tail. “Well,” Catra sighs heavily “have fun with that.”

“That’s the nicest thing you have ever said to me.”

“It’s all you deserve.”

“Just leave.”

Catra scoffs. She takes one last look at Roosevelt… before turning around and walking out.

Adora was waiting outside with Swift Wind as promised. She looked busy, holding a bag full of things that she scoured through, but even from the distance Catra could tell what she bought: fish. As promised.

Adora didn’t notice her approach until Catra flicked her tail.

“Oh, hey! I got Salmon and….” She pulled the package out of the bag “tuna!”

Catra let a smile rise. “Wow, you actually kept a promise for once.”

Wow,” Adora let it draw out, but she still smiled “why are you so mean?”

“Shadow Weaver.”

They both laugh, and Catra let herself pull her into a tight hug.

You are powerful

A plan so deviously vile that I wouldn’t have thought of it.

Are we really so different?

Catra held on tighter.

“Catra?” she heard Adora whisper.

They weren’t different, yet they weren’t the same.

She used, she lied, she manipulated. She did everything he did, but she is working to change.

Catra saw Scorpia as a nuisance; a child in a body of a grown woman whose love towards everyone gets the best of her. But now… she’s a comrade. Someone she could trust with her life and know that she will do everything in her stupidly kind power to protect it.

Entrapta? A girl whose mind was easy to twist, yet at the same time, hard to figure out. Catra pulled her every string to get her to join the Horde. She was easy to turn… but she was also easily forgiving. And now, Catra entrusted her with resetting the mess they had started.

And Adora…

Despite pushing her away, despite refusing to change, despite wanting to destroy everything she currently held dear? Adora kept loving her. As a friend. As her partner. Adora leaving was what started this heap of mess, but Adora’s love for her is what will end it.

And Catra...

Catra pulls away and smiles gently, taking Adora’s hand.

She has changed.

Because instead of hate, the only emotion she felt brewing in her body is happiness.

Kindness, care, adoration, lightness…

She leans forward to drop a light kiss on Adora’s temple.

“Let’s go home.”

Adora’s smile was brighter than anything she has ever seen. The blond girl pulled her up onto Swift Wind, and the whole ride back, Catra rested her head against Adora’s chest. And when they got home, they spent their night together in each other’s arms, whispering promises into the night.

And maybe that’s what love is. That’s what it’s capable of.

Love changed her.