Catra lazily tried to open her eyes, waking up from a deep and comfortable sleep. The sunlight beamed through her spacious Bright Moon bedroom. She squinted, as she reached her arm across the bed for comfort, only to find an empty space greeting her. Adora is gone .
Catra opened her eyes in a flash, a wave of anxiety flooding across her skin. Where did she go?
“Adora?” Catra called, but there was no answer. Adora was not in their room, not in any of her usual places. The familiar dread spread across Catra’s body as she threw the covers off her body and jumped onto the floor. Melog mewled at the edge of the bed, raising their head with concern before bounding after Catra. Catra burst out of her bedroom and ran towards the kitchen, the thoughts racing in her head. Why did she leave so early? Why didn’t she tell me? Is she in danger? Catra stumbled into the kitchen, her eyes wide with fear, only to be greeted by a smiling Castaspella, sitting across from a calm King Micah.
“Oh dear, Catra! You startled me! We were both wondering when you would wake up. It’s already so late in the day!” Castaspella spoke with sincere naivety, missing the mocking tone of her own voice as Catra scowled at her in return.
“Where is Adora?” Catra reached down and pet Melog’s fur for comfort as she awaited their response.
“Oh, didn’t she tell you? I’m sure she must have told you.” Micah looked with concern at Catra before continuing. “Adora and the other princesses are dealing with a problem in Salineas this morning. Adora and Glimmer both mentioned that you had agreed to sit this one out, but the problem couldn’t wait. The gate needed mending, and as I think we all know, She-Ra is required for that task.” Micah rose from the table and approached Catra, the concerned look in his eyes never wavering. He placed his arm on Catra’s shoulder and squeezed it reassuringly. “Adora will be back soon. Don’t worry.” Catra looked up at Micah’s soft face before allowing herself to smile. Micah returned the gesture. “And when I say soon, I really mean it. You’ve slept through so much of the morning already!” Micah let out a small laugh, before Catra let herself relax enough to process what he told her. Oh, right.
Catra stepped backwards and rubbed her hand against her arm, her ears drooping shyly. “I’m… sorry for bursting in here like that. I remember where she is now. Thank you for telling me.”
Catra turned to walk back towards her room, before Castaspella chimed in. “Oh, Catra! You don’t have to leave. You could always join me and Micah for a bit of party planning! There’s so much to do - the 100th anniversary of the first Bright Moon princess prom is coming up, after all! And sure, you don’t have magic, but I’m certain that my brother and I could find something useful for you to do!”
Catra nearly hissed at the casual insults before taking a deep breath. She turned to face Castaspella, forcing a grin. “Oh, uh, no that’s okay. I’m not very good at parties. I mean, we didn’t really have them in the Horde.
Castaspella looked down with disappointment. “Catra, you really ought to try something new - you live in Bright Moon now. But suit yourself! If you change your mind, you’ll know where to find us!”
Micah gave Catra a knowing wink, as Catra turned back towards her room and walked swiftly down the hall, slinking back through her bedroom door. Melog followed her onto the bed as Catra sank her head into the pillows.
Salineas. I remember now. It had been more than a year and a half since Horde Prime’s defeat, and Catra had more than proved herself as a friend to the princesses, but Salineas was still a place Catra was neither welcomed nor eager to return to. The memories were too painful. Catra knew nothing of that place except for images of Adora’s mocking abandonment, combined with her own destructive rage. The only times she had seen Salineas were filled with despair, and she knew that the residents of Salineas felt the same way about her.
Adora and Glimmer had offered to bring Catra along in the mission briefing, but Catra and Mermista gave each other a look that everybody immediately acknowledged, taking the possibility off the table. The planning continued with the assumption that Catra would not come. I can’t believe I forgot that was today.
Catra raised her head from the bed and changed her position, sitting cross-legged. She took deep, meditative breaths to center herself, trying to focus on positive thoughts. Adora loves you. You agreed to sit out this time - and it was for the best. Everything will be fine.
Catra began to relax before meddling thoughts interrupted her. Although, Adora has been acting strange lately. She was so eager to go on this Salineas mission, even without you. Especially without you. She doesn’t need you. Catra tried to slow her breathing, but her heart raced as the thoughts kept bombarding the edges of her mind. Remember how bored Adora has been? She’s grown tired of you. She said that she was so excited that somebody needed She-Ra again. She missed feeling specifically needed, feeling useful, feeling like a hero, in the way that she used to. Catra closed her eyes tighter. The way that she felt before you came back. You ruined it. You ruin everything.
Catra opened her eyes and audibly groaned, tossing one of the pillows towards the wall. Meditating wasn’t working, and she needed to slow her mind down. She rose from the bed and walked towards Adora’s work desk. On a better morning, Adora would have been here when I woke up, scrawling at her maps. Adora sometimes stayed up late charting as Catra gazed lovingly at her from their bed, the soft pencil sounds lulling Catra to sleep. When Catra awoke, sometimes Adora was already back up, scribbling again. Catra couldn’t help but smile as she looked down at all the work Adora had done. She’s such a nerd. Catra started moving the maps around, looking at all the charts Adora drew. She saw some of the planets they visited when they were on their space road trip - Adora made sure to get the names of every mountain, river, and town as they traveled, and she marked them down meticulously. She saw star charts, mapping the distance between worlds and the constellations one could see from various vantage points. She saw incomplete works, papers with only vague outlines, that Adora clearly had to return to.
Weighing down one of her most recent works-in-progress, barely concealed under a completed chart, a small journal was peaking out. Catra looked puzzled - Adora had never told her she was keeping a journal, at least, not since they returned from their road trip. Catra snatched it from the table and held it in her hand. It was clearly handmade, bound with twine and decorated with stitched lettering on the front. Catra was surprised she’d never seen the book before - and she began to worry Adora was keeping it from her for a reason. The cover read My Greatest Adventure. Catra halted, putting the book back down on the table. This isn’t her journal - this is her memoir. She’s reading about her old adventures at night. I was right. She is bored. She misses how things were before I came back. She’s tired of me.
The familiar wave of rejection flooded Catra’s chest, and she ran to her bathroom, barely able to conceal her claws as anxiety surfaced across her body. She looked in the mirror, hurt by her reflection, the exhaustion and worry radiating out of her own eyes. She ran her fingers along her scalp, before placing her shoulder-length hair into a ponytail. I need to get a grip. She took deep breaths with her hands pressed against the side of the sink, her claws digging in the porcelain. I’m overthinking this. Adora would have told me… right?
Catra’s ears perked up, a thoughtful expression on her face, and she released her hands from the sink and returned them to her side. Maybe… maybe if I read the book… I can think of something to do that will make Adora happy. Whatever she wrote there… I’ll just look at what she’s reading, and I can make sure that her life is exciting again. I can fix this... I can fix myself. Catra walked slowly out of the bathroom and reapproached Adora’s work desk. Melog stared at her from the bed, their red mane startling Catra. “It’s okay, it’s okay. I’ll figure this out.” Catra spoke to herself as much as Melog as she retrieved the book from the desk and sat down on the bed.
She took a deep breath before opening the book, starting from the end. Catra was surprised to see blank pages staring back at her. She flipped backwards, noticing that at least a third of the book was entirely empty, before seeing text start to appear. She started reading.
Today, Catra and I went on a walk through the whispering woods. Catra insisted on putting flowers in my hair the whole time, mocking me for being a princess… She's such a dummy. Oh, but I eventually returned the favor. I forced her to wear a whole flower crown for the entire walk back. I kept telling her that she is just unbearably cute. When we reached the edge of the woods, she threw the crown on the ground and called me an idiot. I told her that I was her idiot, and that I loved her. She told me that she loved me too.
Catra squeezed the book tighter, surprised to see something so intimate and recent. That walk had happened a few weeks ago. Catra felt herself get taken away by the memory, the smell of the whispering woods lingering on her nose, before returning to the book. So… maybe it is a journal. Is it?
Catra flipped backwards, landing in the first half of the book. She started reading again.
Today, I tried to enlist Glimmer and Bow’s help in getting Catra to ride on Swift Wind with me. Glimmer even tried teleporting her directly onto his back before Catra freaked out and pushed herself off! Glimmer and Bow couldn’t stop laughing. Swift Wind nearly lost his mind laughing. I looked at Catra’s defeated face and couldn’t help but laugh along with them. Catra looked up at me from the ground, a small scowl on her face… but I swear, I could still see so much trust radiating out of those eyes. I’m still just so happy she is here. I will get her on Swift Wind eventually!
Catra felt a small laugh coming through her throat. That had happened months ago - not too long after they had returned from space - but she still had a hard time riding on Swift Wind. Adora finally got her to do it once, and while Catra appreciated being up so high, she did not appreciate the dizziness. Good luck getting me to do that again, Adora. Catra couldn’t help but smile now. This is a journal. This is a journal about…
Catra couldn’t finish the thought before returning to the book. She flipped all the way back to the beginning, noticing that the first page was decorated extensively, small doodles adorning the margins, with the words “ALWAYS REMEMBER THIS” written in large letters at the top of the page. Catra began reading again.
Remember how it felt, that first night in space, after the war. When everything was calm, and nothing was required of you, but everybody was so happy to be with you. Everybody played games together. Catra won, of course, and everyone couldn’t stop laughing. Glimmer and Bow joked with you before you went to bed, smirking at each other, letting you know that your best friends were always with you. And Catra held onto you so tightly, whispering that she loved you over and over again. Remember how that felt. Never forget that feeling.
Catra felt the tears gathering in the corner of her eyes. She didn’t know how much that night meant to Adora. She gripped the book tightly as she began to understand what this book was.
Her ears perked up, a small shuffling noise coming from the door. She looked up to see Adora standing at the foot of the bed, her hand on her hip and a smirk adorning her face.
“Gee Catra, if I knew you were going to snoop in my stuff while I was gone, I would have hid everything better.”
Catra barely had time to react, moving the book behind her back and blushing. “Whoa, hey, I wasn’t snooping! I was… uhh... ”
Adora moved toward Catra and hugged her tightly. Catra let herself relax. Adora whispered into Catra’s shoulder. “I missed you.”
Catra returned the tight embrace. Adora sat down on the bed beside Catra. Catra started to speak. “So, how was Salineas?”
“Oh, uh, pretty standard stuff. The Sea Gate just needed a recharge after those sailors tried to ram the thing down, trying to get to Sea Hawk. He told me it had something to do with his personal history, but I didn’t really wanna get too far into that. Mermista agreed that it was for the best if I didn’t know.”
Catra laughed. “Oh, I’m sure Sea Hawk will let us know in one of his annoying shanties soon enough.”
They both giggled, before Adora returned her eyes to Catra. “I really missed you. I know that Salineas brings back a lot of painful memories for you - and I know that the people there still don’t, uh, know you, in the right way, but I hope that one day we’ll be able to go there again, together. Make some positive memories instead.”
Catra squeezed her hands together in her lap, nervous energy erupting from her body. “Yeah… yeah, hopefully someday.”
They sat together in silence, before Adora turned and gave Catra a taunting smile. “So, are you gonna tell me why you were reading my therapy journal?”
Catra’s eyes widened. “What? Is that what that is? Look, I didn’t mean to… invade your privacy or anything. I was worried that you wanted to leave. I was, um, having a bad morning.”
Adora gave Catra a knowing look. This wasn’t the first morning that Catra had like this. Adora reached out and squeezed Catra’s hand. “Did you try meditating? Like Perfuma said?”
Catra sighed. “Yeah, and that wasn’t working. I was trying to distract myself. I saw this book and I thought… I thought it was something else. A therapy journal?”
Adora nodded. “Perfuma said it might be a good idea for me to write down the memories that make me feel loved, particularly if they make me feel, uhh, unconditionally loved. We were talking about my… you know, my need to constantly prove myself worthy of affection. My need to sacrifice my happiness for everybody else. She said that if I wrote down when I didn’t feel that way, it would help me remember how to love myself.”
Catra gave Adora a confused look, speaking before thinking too hard. “But the things I read were just silly memories of us...”
Adora put her hand on Catra’s cheek and gave her that dopey, hopeful smile. “Yeah, I know.”
A realization spread across Catra’s face. Oh. I’m such an idiot. Catra smiled back at Adora, before burying her face into Adora’s body. “I love you so much, Adora.”
Adora put her arms around Catra, pulling her closer into herself. “Oh Catra, I love you too.”
Catra purred for a moment, before pulling away and giving Adora a small smirk. “But c’mon, ‘My Greatest Adventure’? That’s such a sappy name! For a journal? Where did you come up with that?”
Adora elbowed Catra softly. “Hey! It’s not that sappy! And it’s my journal! I can name it whatever I want!”
They both laughed, before Adora pulled Catra down onto the bed, and they curled into a cuddle. Adora started running her fingers through Catra’s hair. “Perfuma actually gave me the idea for the name. In one of our therapy sessions, she said that our greatest adventure is the one that we don’t want to end. We wouldn’t want to sacrifice ourselves for it, because we love it so much that we want to return to it. I figured, if I was just going to fill this with my favorite memories, it would be appropriate to name it something like that.”
Catra smiled. “It’s still a dumb name. But I guess that suits you.”
Adora scoffed. “Oh really? Is that how you feel about me?”
Catra joked. “C’mon Adora, haven’t I made it clear enough that I think you’re a dummy?”
Adora grabbed a pillow and smacked it into Catra’s face. “Oh yeah? And you’re so smart?”
Catra returned fire with her own pillow, landing it right on Adora’s hair poof. “Yeah, maybe I am!”
They both couldn’t contain their laughter as they rose from the bed, pillows in hand, tactical pillow strategy erupting in their minds behind the gleeful expressions on their faces. They both exchanged blows before a beeping sound interrupted their giggling. Adora looked at her table to see her trackpad lightning up.
“Oh, that’s probably Glimmer. There’s a debriefing meeting I’m supposed to go to.”
Catra’s smile faded as she stepped away from Adora. “Oh… okay. Well, hurry back.”
Adora looked down thoughtfully, before smacking Catra in the face with her pillow again. “Aren’t you going to try and stop me?”
Catra looked puzzled. “No… no, I know this is important. I’ll just be here when you get back, okay?”
Adora smirked, before dropping her pillow and teasingly placing her arms behind her back as if she were detained. “Oh dear, it appears that I have been captured by Force Captain Catra. I am unable to attend my boring meeting.”
Catra felt a rush of joy erupt in her chest as she realized what Adora was doing. She dropped her pillow. “Oh no, I’ve lost my weapon. Hopefully my prisoner doesn’t pick it up and attempt to escape!”
Adora grabbed the pillow and smacked Catra’s face again, while Catra ran and grabbed the pillow that Adora had dropped. Catra returned fire, and they started laughing again, their joyful voices echoing throughout the halls of Bright Moon.
Today, I played hooky and had a pillow fight with Catra. Glimmer wasn’t happy since it took me away from my meeting, but something tells me that hearing Catra laugh so much made it all worth it. It felt so good to remember how loved I was after feeling a lot of pressure this morning. I’m so glad Catra is always here to remind me.