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In Love and War

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It was as if a darkness loomed over the entire chamber. Droplets collected and dripped, ringing against hollow metal walls. A gentle hum rattled from the runestone. The pulses illuminated the chamber with a dull red hue and with every flicker of light, the Commander could see deeper into her own reflection.

The pool of water toyed with her sight below her. Each fade of light, her eyes glowed in the darkness. She concentrated on the ripples that flittered across the still surface. Each pulse of light shifted the water moreso. Shadows climbed and raced up the walls, escaping out of the cracks.

Catra... the venom of her own name made her stomach churn.

It was the voice, the whisper. Almost as if the shadows on the wall melded in her mind. A thick bloody liquid dripped from thin matted fur into the small pool. Her claws scrapped into the hard mineral as the giant screen behind flickered with static. Lord Hordak’s pale face flashed onto the monitor.

“You’ve disappointed me today, Shadow Weaver.”

A slick smirk met Catra’s lips. Turning to face the massive screen, she discarded the stand balancing Shadow Weaver’s seer pool. Hordak focused down on the woman below. He took note of the rough nature she stood in. Somewhere, deep down, it made him smile pridefully. Small sections of her fur matted with what he couldn’t discern as her blood or something else. From the disarray in the room he guessed someone else.

“We’ve all been disappointed today...” Catra’s voice was flat, even.

Like a scratching post, Catra dug her claws down the sides of the pulsing runestone. The crystal revolted back sparking painfully against her. It hummed brighter. Lightening arced red streaks across the room, not a shadow hidden.

It was a disaster in the chamber. In a slump on the far wall, laid a broken corpse. Shadow Weaver was a feeble woman without her magic. Her robes were torn, mask was shattered all over the floor, and the dark tendrils that had caused Catra such grief in her youth, were nothing more than shielding for the rather filthy display of the once witch.

“Commander Catra, you’ve returned?” Lord Hordak matched the feline’s tone. Metal fingertips drummed out of view on his throne. “I expected you to report back to me.”

A chuckle escaped while a growl lowered in her throat. Hordak’s small demon curled into his lap. Catra’s smirk expanded to a full grin. The pin that was the embodiment of her status flashed the same red as the Black Garnet. On a heel she rounded herself, gracefully finding footing on a pipe higher up on the wall. The room was bare to Hordak’s view.

“Oh milord,” Catra cooed removing the pin, “your expectations are no longer my concern.”

—————
The crash of ceramic echoed between the fine crack in the door.

“Dammit Adora.”

Bow lowered his hand where he had attempted to knock and forced his best friend’s door open.

“Dammit Bow!”

Glimmer wasn’t one for swearing, but the night had carried onto the day and she simply didn’t have the energy. With a gasp Adora pulled the sheets to cover her bare body. At least the front that Bow could see. His carmel skin burned a flushed pink.

“S-sorry. I’m so sorry” he stuttered turning round and fixing the door closed.

He could hear the rustling of Glimmer’s bedding as Adora tried to cover more of herself. Not that she cares if Bow saw her naked but-

“If you get blood on my covers one more time....”
the princess sounded more than tired. Past a brink of exhaustion.

Bow made himself useful and once again worked to tidy Glimmer’s room. The bowl that had shattered on the floor splashed over the half dresser. He collected remnants.

“I’m sorry...” Adora met Bow’s apologies. “Ah-“

Gimmer pressed wraps against Adora’s war torn shoulder. Yet another list of scars by the Horde. And she was never the good patient. Glimmer mumbled obscenities between her teeth. There was a startling silence that fell over the room. It brought a shiver over Adora's skin. Bow forced a half smile looking up to his friends.

The war was weighing on the young adults. They won most of their defenses- most.. They couldn’t bring the strategies to attack. The Horde’s reach was far wider than She-ra could travel in a day. At this point they we’re scrambling for vantage points.

“The list came in.” Bow’s voice was dry.

Adora sighed, her eyes closed. Glimmer forced down the sickening feeling that was rising in her stomach. “Bow....” she tightened the wraps, Adora winced. “Not now...”

“How many.” Adora’s voice was barely a whisper.

There was silence again. Bow tried to mute a sniffle.

“Your mother wants to speak with us.”

It certainly couldn’t be good. Glimmer straightened her shoulders and blinked down closer to Bow. Her eyes were soft. Bow’s head hung low. They melded into an embrace that pained Adora’s heart. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t even just...or fair... or...

Adora collected her shirt and shimmed into it. She wondered if they knew of the guilt she couldn’t swallow. Every loss. Every heart break. All of it reverberated Light Hope back into her mind. She shook her head clear of the memories. With careful steps she made her way down to her friend’s embrace, holding them tight enough it ached in her wounds.