“Sparkles, we have got to talk,” Catra says, with all the seriousness of someone either about to tell a punchline or deliver a eulogy. Glimmer narrows her eyes, turning away from the papers scattered before her to look at Catra.
“About?” she asks, cautious. They are surrounded by a maelstrom of papers and scrolls, sat on the floor of the Queen’s office. Catra is tearing down her old management system – not well-designed for a war, much less peace – and building a new one from the ground up in its place. She may not be able to make much in the way of public appearances, post-war, but she can help Glimmer with the logistical nightmare that is leading a kingdom out of war. She is good at this, two years of experience in the Fright Zone suddenly worth something.
“Adora’s clothes,” Catra says, deadly serious. Glimmer blinks, then laughs so hard she drops the scroll she is holding. Catra just waits, slowly blinking at her, because this may be something they can joke about, but she is also deadly serious. “She has been wearing them for three years, Glimmer,” Catra adds when the other woman’s laughter dies down a bit. Glimmer looks up at her, wiping tears from her eyes, still grinning broadly.
“Oh, I agree. I mean, it hasn’t been at the top of my priorities, but I agree. She refused anything else though – said that was what she knew how to fight in,” Glimmer tells her, laughing a bit at the memory as she feels around on the floor for the dropped scroll.
“Well, she is not fighting now. She can wear something different,” Catra counters. She watches Glimmer freeze, staring blankly down at the ground. After a moment, she sits back on her haunches and looks up, her eyes shining.
“You’re right. We’re not fighting anymore,” Glimmer whispers, voice reverent. Catra would make a joke about how yeah, that is the whole reason they are here now, drowning in paperwork, but-
But she gets it. Sometimes it just hits, an unexpected moment you never thought would happen.
The war is over, and the world is beginning.
“This is stupid,” Adora argues.
“This will be fun!” Glimmer counters, voice dripping with enthusiasm as she steers Adora through the doors of the tailors. Catra trails behind them, hot on their heels for fear of getting caught apart.
She has a place in this brave new world now. She is an advisor and assistant, unofficial but clearly needed, to the queen of Bright Moon and the post-war reconstruction project. She organizes logistics, points out flaws in plans, and sorts proposals. She has the personal task of organizing the tearing down of the wreckage of the Fright Zone so the Scorpion Kingdom can replace it as something new, something better.
That does not mean she is not wary of the open streets – does not know there are people out there made uncomfortable by her presence, with good reason. It is partially why she feels so at peace in her new role – Adora may be able to help in broad daylight by hauling supplies as She-ra and carrying out the building of Bow’s new road designs, but she is the one who ensures those necessary supplies get sourced and sent to their location to be transformed to new housing.
She is helping. It is a nice feeling.
Ahead of her, Adora tears out of Glimmer’s grip, and for a moment Catra honestly believes Adora is going to run as she turns back to the door. Instead, she clutches Catra like a lifeline, tucking her close against her side. Catra feels her entire face heat. At her heels, Melog begins a traitorous purr.
“Catra has never done this before, Glimmer. We need to ease her into it,” Adora says, clearly deflecting. Glimmer crosses her arms, fixing Adora with a raised eyebrow and clearly unimpressed look.
“Catra will walk out of here looking so hot she wouldn’t have needed heat grenades to bring down the Ice Palace at Princess Prom. You, on the other hand-“
“Wow, Sparkles, keep it in your pants. Adora’s right here,” Catra drawls, rolling her eyes. The effect is ruined by Adora, because Adora is still holding her like if a gap appears between them she will die on the spot, and she can only keep it so together between the being in public, and being touched by Adora, and knowing she is about to be touched by strangers.
It’s called taking measurements, Adora had warned her. Catra’s fur is already itching at the thought. The last time strangers' hands were on her, they were forcing her suddenly complacent body into new clothes as her mane fell in a halo around her feet.
Catra snaps herself to the present, forcing the memory down to the bottom of her stomach, where it sits like a lead weight.
“You two are impossible. Look, can we get started?” Glimmer groans, throwing her hands in the air.
Being in the tailors is uncomfortable. Catra stays pressed to Adora’s side, though she realizes as time passes that – stupid, considerate, sweet – Adora is doing it to offer her comfort in the unfamiliar setting. Maybe she noticed Catra zoning out earlier - maybe she just knows her that well. Glimmer leads the pair around the store, between racks of sample designs in all colours as they discuss what they need. A few new outfits each – especially something that won’t look so Horde, Glimmer says – and new formal wear for them both. Adora’s old dress permanently ripped from climbing back to the palace at Princess Prom, and Catra’s suit likely ash somewhere in the Fright Zone.
“Royal advisors need to look presentable. And Adora you need to – hmm, loosen up,” Glimmer tells them as she holds a jacket up in the general direction of Catra’s body. She had tried to lay her first selection directly on top of Catra to compare it to her, but Adora, sensing claws incoming, had quickly turned them to angle Catra away and give her space to breathe. After a brief, whispered discussion mostly about the word overwhelmed, Glimmer had taken to holding pieces of clothing a few feet in front of Catra and squinting. Catra stares back, unimpressed. She knows exactly how she got roped into this, but she still does not like it. New clothes sounds wonderful – the process to getting there seems like a nightmare.
“Can I just – look a bit? And I’ll check with you if I find something?” Catra asks, ears flat to her head. There are six different sales assistants, stationed around every corner of the store, waiting for the moment they give a beck and call. It reminds her of the clones on Prime’s ship, always watching to provide some perverse service – she feels a shiver run down her spine and unconsciously lifts a hand to her neck.
Glimmer’s eyes soften from their excitable spark to a look of understanding as she follows the movement. Catra drops her hand, scowling, carefully turning her gaze away. Her eyes land on Melog, housecat-sized to navigate the store and curled carefully around her leg, looking up at her with soft, blue eyes. Breathe. Count.
Right. She takes a deep breath, then counts. Releases it. Takes another. Counts again. She feels Adora’s arm drop from around her, taking a half step back. Giving her space to work through her exercises but staying close enough for Catra to reach for her.
For several long moments, Catra just breathes. Eventually, when she feels the calm blue of Melog’s mane washing over her, Catra opens her eyes and meets Glimmer's gaze again. “Okay, can we start over, maybe?”
They backtrack to the front of the store. Glimmer has a hushed discussion with one of the shop staff that, if her gestures are anything to go by, may or may not contain threats. Catra isn't listening. A few minutes later, the assistant heads to the back of the store, and the others follow after. Only one aid remains, stationed near the back.
“Okay,” Glimmer says when she returns to them. “They are going to give us some space so we can take as long as we need to look around. I’m sorry about that – they wanted to have everyone on hand when we told them members of the court would be coming for a fitting, but, well, we don’t want that so-“ Glimmer cuts off with a shrug. Catra sends her a small, grateful smile.
Glimmer starts her explanation of the process, again, now that Catra is not so overwhelmed she cannot hear it, and Adora is actually paying attention. When Adora came before, she just ordered replicas of the clothes she wore. Now, she enters the process along with Catra.
Browse the sample racks, find a design they like. Take measurements, pick fabrics and colours, and make any adjustments to the style if desired. In a few days’ time, the new outfits will arrive at the castle, the royal court’s orders given priority tailoring.
Catra has almost always just worn what was issued to her. Even as Second to Hordak, her outfit had been a design she threw together with little in mind but intimidation, confidence, and practicality before she sent off for it. Despite these designs not being her own, she feels a level of freedom here she has never had before.
It is fun, Catra realizes, when they are halfway through the sample racks. She picks out things for herself, noting adjustments as she goes – this top and pants, but as a bodysuit; that top, but with a cutout; this jacket with paneling added; pants should have stirrups; there need to be belts to hook things to, how are you even supposed to use these shallow pockets? – but also keeps an eye out for Adora as well.
They talked, before. After Catra and Glimmer had plotted this day, she had cornered Adora in their room to warn her. She had been uncomfortable with the idea – it took Catra awhile to get Adora to explain why. Adora does not get clothes – does not often think about herself beyond her purpose, her job, her duty. Her clothes have always reflected that.
“They still can. They can look all She-ra and royal, if you want,” Catra had offered, cautiously, “but aren’t you working on accepting love? Accepting yourself?” she asks. Accepting me? she doesn’t say – doesn’t need to. They both have a lot to work on.
So whenever she sees something she thinks Adora can fight in - because despite everything, both of them have a need to be prepared - and would look nice, she pulls it out, draping it over her girlfriend with a considerate hum.
“It would look striking,” she tells Adora, flattening a tight top across her shoulders so she can drape a loose crop top over it. The tight piece would mold to her body in a way Catra will appreciate, the crop top offering an illusion of decency. The crop top is see-through – as she said, it is only an illusion.
Adora turns red but accepts both samples to hang off her arm without complaint. Glimmer cackles in the background.
Catra picks up a sample piece, a fitted top made of paneling with a diamond-shaped gap above the chest, and hums as she lets Glimmer hold it up to her body. The contact isn’t so bad now she does not feel trapped.
“I’m surprised you would pick that up,” Glimmer says, offhand.
“Why? It is basically what I’m wearing right now,” Catra points out, plucking at the side of her bodysuit.
“Just not your colours, I guess,” Glimmer says. Catra blinks slowly at her.
“Well, we can fix that when we order my size,” she says, carefully. In her periphery, she makes eye contact with Adora and nudges a step closer to her.
They end up with over two dozen styles, between them. They take them to the measuring room, holding up tops and bottoms together and weeding out candidates before they get down to their final styles. Catra is gearing up to finally get fitted, teeth clenched, when Glimmer pops up where she is standing, letting out an exclamation.
“We forgot formal wear!” she announces, already turning and marching back towards the rest of the store. Adora shoots Catra a tired look. Catra sends her a smirk back and follows after Glimmer.
She finds her among a rack of suits. Adora trails after her, a cautious hand on the small of her back to offer her a reassuring presence. Glimmer’s earlier mention of Princess Prom presses against the back of Catra’s mind and she leans into the touch. Taking a steadying breath, she begins to fiddle with the designs. After a moment, she realizes Adora’s warmth at her back is gone and she looks up to find Adora, overly cautious like she thinks she might break something, running her fingers over the dress shirts. Catra slinks up behind her, wrapping her arms around her waist as she gives an appreciative hum. Adora jumps slightly but leans back into the touch.
“You ditching the dress for a suit?” Catra purrs, ignoring how the mental image of Adora in a suit makes her face flush. Adora gives a small shrug.
“Maybe? A suit seems better for fighting if I need to, but I was thinking for you, actually. It looks like- when I thought about us. In the future,” Adora explains. Catra swallows, thinking back to that night, curled up in their bed with Prime only a day dead, as Adora had whispered to her everything she had gone through at the Heart, before and after Catra arrived. She still hasn’t told the full story to anyone but her, Glimmer, and Bow. It feels too private – something just about her, and the four of them.
“I was going to get a suit anyway. Why not try it?” Catra says, aiming for casual as she reaches around Adora to pick up the top. She does not want to sound dismissive – she also does not want to put too much importance on this.
We were married, I think, Adora had admitted, face flushed, before she floundered as she rushed to explain it was many years in the future. Catra had cackled to cover up how hot her face had become.
In Adora’s defense, the top she picked is low-cut. Catra is going to look fantastic in it.
They select a simple, white suit for Adora. Glimmer insists she is going to get a custom vest, all white and gold, and look fantastic in a three-piece. Glimmer also waves a hand in front of Catra’s face when she zones out, picturing it. Catra responds by sending a half-hearted swipe her way. Her claws aren’t even out.
They make their way back to the dressing room. Some of the samples they have picked up are near their sizes. They try some of them on, carefully, and are forced to stand awkwardly still as the tailor approaches them to take measurements and mark changes that need to be made. Catra laughs at how stiff Adora looks, standing there in an ill-fitting top with her arms held out as an unknown elf flits about her.
When it is Catra’s turn, she stands stock-still, tail lashing behind her and ears flat to her head. It feels like the assistant takes forever wrapping his little ribbon around her body, taking notes on a pad he keeps tucking behind his ear. Nothing happens, but the fur on the back of her neck keeps rising like she expects it to. Eventually, the aid steps away and tells them they can move on to make customization notes and select fabrics. She stops him, surprising herself, and asks if she can try on the suit she has picked up.
“I’m not sure about the style,” she counters when he says they always tailor those, anyway.
She feels awkward and stiff after the interaction, but she pulls on the suit in the small changing room. Forgoing the jacket, she tucks in the shirt, just a bit too big, and unbuttons it to a frankly indecent point – Adora had talked about how there weren’t buttons, just a pin fastening it. She hadn’t elaborated more than that – Catra thought she understood, anyway.
When she steps out of the dressing room, Adora gapes at her, and for a moment she thinks she has done it. Then Adora gestures at her and rushes out, “You can’t get that.”
Catra freezes, tail frozen in the middle of a self-satisfied curl. Beside her, Melog turns a deep shade of blue. Adora had been so shy about the vision, she realizes she must have crossed a line. She opens her mouth to apologize when she sees understanding dawn on Adora’s face and suddenly the other woman is rushing forward, gathering Catra’s hands in hers and looking at her pleadingly.
“I’ll be walking into walls, Catra,” she explains, practically whining.
Catra blinks back at her, wide-eyed, before an absolutely feral grin breaks out across her face.
“You two are disgusting,” Glimmer tells them as they settle on a bench, rings of swatches before them. Catra is practically in Adora’s lap, Adora’s arm thrown over her shoulder as Catra happily leans into her touch. She cannot help it – it has been a trying day, they are finally settled in a relatively private nook at the back of the tailor as it reopens to the public around them, and maybe, just maybe, she needs the comfort for this final step, too.
Catra merely gives a self-satisfied purr in response, watching carefully as Adora flips through swatches and selects colours for the designs she has chosen. Every now and then the assistant steps in to advise on the correct type of fabric to use, and Catra notes the interactions carefully, watching Adora’s hands as they move about the scraps of cloth.
Melog raises their head, bumping it into her stomach. She looks down at the cat, finds them blinking at her before looking to her right. She follows their gaze to find Glimmer sending her pointed looks. Catra heaves a sigh.
“What’s wrong, Sparkles?” Catra asks, rolling her eyes. Adora, focused on the task before her, raises her head to glance between the two of them.
“I just thought you would have more of an opinion on what your girlfriend is going to be wearing,” Glimmer says, faux-innocent. Prodding with the smugness she usually has when she goads them about their relationship.
Catra’s tail whaps heavily against Adora’s back as she flicks it. “I’m pretty sure I expressed my opinion when I picked out that low-cut vest. I’m not bothered by what colour it is,” Catra bites, a bit too defensive, a bit too fast. She sees Glimmer’s eyes widen at the sudden heat in her voice. Catra quickly looks away, swiveling her ears down and curling in on herself. Backing down, apologizing without words. Glimmer should be able to recognize her regret when it surfaces by now.
Progress, but sometimes her old defense mechanisms still get the better of her.
“We’re almost done,” Adora cuts in. Catra is grateful. “Let’s just pick out Catra’s fabric and then we can go home and rest,” she adds. Catra is no longer grateful.
Catra can feel Glimmer watching her, like she has been ever since the fitting room. She ignores her, leaning in closer to Adora despite the fact she is already in her arms, listening to her explanation.
“The purple is really close to black, but it has those hints of red and blue. It goes with the red paneling here, but the blue trim cuts the – I don’t know, Hordeness of it?” Adora rambles, holding three swatches out to Catra.
“I think it would look nice. Plus, I look great in black,” Catra agrees, nodding as Adora sends her a smile and then hands the samples off to the shop assistant for him to add them to his notes. It has been like this the entire time they had been picking fabrics. Catra flips through the colours, pausing here and there and waiting for Adora’s opinion. Sometimes Adora will stop her before she even pauses, pointing to one of the scraps and telling her what design it would be good for. All the while, Glimmer watches silently, her eyes getting narrower and narrower. Catra is doing her best to ignore her.
“What about this for the suit?” Adora asks, picking up a dark swatch to show to Catra. She tilts her head, considering it. Very blue for her, but-
“Suits require special kinds of fabric,” the assistant cuts in from nearby, moving some samples aside to make room for the right kind before them. “I would recommend one of these if you wish the suit to have the same structure as the sample.”
Catra just absorbs it, watching as the swatches are moved around her. She sees Adora open her mouth to speak again, but Glimmer decides to finally speak again first.
“Adora, wait,” she tells her, placing a hand on Adora’s arm to cut her off. Adora and Catra turn her twin quizzical looks. “I know you weren’t comfortable out there on the floor, so you let Catra lead. And I know you’re probably trying to make up for it now or something, but Catra really has not chosen any of the colours herself? And I think it is important for her– agency, or growth, or whatever that she picks out what she is wearing now, don’t you?”
Catra stares at Glimmer, dumbfounded. This whole time, in the back of her mind, a fear had been niggling at her about what, exactly, was eating away at Glimmer. No part of her considered it would be concern for Catra’s agency.
Adora, for her part, also seems stunned. She stammers some uh sounds, stopping and starting, gaping like a fish.
“Adora, relax,” Catra assures her, placing a hand on her chest. The anxious breath that had been blocking Adora's throat seems to release, shoulders slumping with dropped tension. Glimmer's words are a stark reminder that, despite the last three years, she and Adora still know each other inside and out. Still understand and compensate for each other without thinking. She appreciates Glimmer’s concern, she does, but she knows it was completely unwarranted.
It also sets her teeth on edge, but that is a different story.
“I know that isn’t what Adora was trying to do! That doesn’t mean it wasn’t happening,” Glimmer adds, concern flooding her face as she rushes to assure Adora. “I know this kind of stuff does not matter so much to you, but it matters to a lot of people, so I thought it was important that Catra chooses herself.”
With Adora’s arm still thrown over her shoulder, Catra shrugs, saving Adora from floundering for a reply. “I don’t care about colours, so much. I like certain ones but – what is important to me is the style. Adora is just helping with the part she gets,” Catra tells her, dismissively. She can practically hear Glimmer having a silent battle with herself. Beside her, Adora is stiff and uncomfortable. Catra chances a glance at her face.
Adora looks mildly pained, mouth pressed in a line to avoid speaking. As soon as Catra makes eye contact with her she holds it, sending an almost pleading look her way. Catra understands her meaning, knows the silent request behind the look. She looks down at Melog, small but reassuring across her lap all the same. When she looks up at Adora again, the pleading look has been toned down to questioning.
I won’t judge you either way, it seems to say. But Catra knows where her preference lies. She sighs heavily.
“Catra?” Glimmer calls to her right. Oh, right, there is a reason they are having this silent conversation.
When she looks at Glimmer, the queen looks confused. She and Adora may have been friends for a few years, but she cannot speak to her the way Catra can. She knows a conversation just took place, but she understood no part of it. She just seems confused as to its purpose.
But Glimmer is also getting better about pushing Catra. They have been working together a lot, lately, and though it took some hastily-snapped words and a few small fights, they have learned decently well how to understand each other. When buttons can be pushed – when it would be one step too far.
“Do you want to pick out a colour for your suit?” Glimmer asks, an obvious out. Let Adora pick it, Catra could say. I like the sample colour, would also be an acceptable answer, even if it was a lie. There are a dozen different ways she could get out of a question worded like that – they all flit through her mind before the option of the truth even crosses it.
“No, I can’t,” Catra sighs, feet slipping out from where they are curled beneath her to hit the floor. “Pick what you like. I need some air,” she directs at Adora as Melog jumps from her lap. She slinks away quickly, weaving out from the back of the store. Two of the assistants are out on the floor again, hovering about as a pair of old ladies wander around. Catra dodges them, stalking towards the front door. Even from this distance, her ears swivel to pick up the familiar notes of Glimmer's and Adora’s voices.
"I didn't think she had the issues with getting to choose that you did," Glimmer says, voice dipping low. Adora's reply is something about finishing quickly.
Catra is so focused on escaping her confession it does not occur to her until she is standing out on the empty street that she is here, in public, alone now. She glances down at Melog. They shake their shoulders out, body pulsing out to their normal size now they are free of the confining racks of the store. They look up at her, blinking once, and then the pair of them vanish from sight.
If Catra wanted to run from this forever, she never would have confessed in the store. Still, that was only the opening line of the truth. The rest needed to be said before it would truly be aired, but it was too much, too fast, to do all at once.
She hurried back to the castle, taking up a spot in the rafters of the dining hall when she returned. Melog draped themselves across the beam beside her and quickly went to sleep.
Catra likes it high up like this, always has. When she was a kid it was the only place the other cadets could never follow. Even Shadow Weaver could not reach her when she really put her mind to climbing – not without using her magic, anyway. The height gave her clarity, clear advantage, and privacy, something rarely found in the Horde. It was safety, or at least the illusion of it.
Even now, years later, she finds herself climbing atop furniture and half-walls, hanging from ceiling beams, and lounging in high windows whenever she needs the room to think. The only one who can follow her is Sparkles, and if the area she has chosen is small enough even that might not be possible. They would also have to find her first.
She does not make herself difficult to find, today. It is late in the afternoon by the time she returns to the castle, dinner not far off, and she does not bother Melog with concealing them. She does not need to hide – she just needs some room to think. Room to come to terms with what she is going to have to say, soon.
Perfuma keeps pushing her for honesty, but it is so much more than that that is the problem. Vulnerability is terrifying, and lies often protect it. They are merely a defense mechanism around the true fear. Weakness hidden under armor. She is learning, slowly, that vulnerability is truly not considered bad here. That some vulnerabilities are even celebrated. This one surely is not, but maybe that is okay. Maybe she can be okay with that. She can add it to her collection of truths she has shown the world and not been instantly tossed aside for.
Adora finds her before dinner is even called. She wanders into the room, head craned up as she examines the ceiling. She knows Catra will be high up, right now. Catra watches the pinched concern on her face slide away, replaced with a bright smile, when her gaze lands on her. Catra feels a smile twitch at her lips.
“I know you have the appetite of horse, but it isn’t even mealtime yet, Adora,” Catra calls down as she slowly stretches out her limbs.
“I could go for dessert,” Adora calls with a suggestive leer. Catra almost falls off the beam, scrambling to find her balance before she rights herself. She glares down at Adora and is greeted by a shit-eating grin. She did it on purpose, the asshole - the only time she has the confidence to say things like that is when it is inconvenient for Catra.
“You’re the worst,” she tells her girlfriend as she disengages herself from the rafters, dropping silently down by her side. A moment later, Melog lands next to her. Adora’s grin softens to a gentle smile as she reaches out, taking Catra’s hand.
“Our room, or you want to talk to Glimmer before dinner?” Adora asks. Catra huffs, looking away for a moment as she considers it.
“Pretty sure you’re supposed to wait until after the meal for dessert,” she purrs, cheeks heating. Adora tugs her close through their interlinked hands, wrapping an arm around her waist and leaning her forehead down to press it against Catra’s bangs.
“I can work with that. You’ll deserve a treat by then, anyway.”
Catra’s face feels like it is on fire. Distantly, she wonders what Perfuma would think of using sex as bribes to have emotional conversations. Not that she wasn’t going to do it either way, both of them know that, but that does not mean she is going to turn Adora down.
Catra finds Bow, first, because she only wants to have this conversation once, thanks. She does not announce herself as she walks into his workshop, grabs him by the hand, and drags him back out. There is a lot of sputtering about being in the middle of something and where are we going? but he follows her without much resistance.
When they reach Glimmer’s office the door is already open. She drags Bow through the threshold, only dropping his hand after she has kicked the door closed before her. Carefully, she surveys the territory.
Glimmer, at her desk, blinking up at them in surprise. Some documents are out before her, as well as a trackerpad, but she appears to have been ignoring them before Catra and Bow entered. Adora stands behind her, one arm braced on the desk as she leans over the papers. Her eyes are soft when they meet Catra’s. Catra scowls, for show more than anything else, and crosses the room to climb up Glimmer’s ridiculously large cabinet. It is only just above eye level for the taller inhabitants of the room, but it makes her feel better.
Like she said, she likes to be high. It is comfortable.
“Uh, hi guys?” Bow says, rubbing a hand on the back of his neck. “Is there a reason I’m here?” he questions, eyes darting between the three of them. Glimmer turns to look her expectantly. Adora just gives her an encouraging smile.
Catra crosses her arms, staring down at her legs dangling over the edge of the wardrobe for a long moment before she forces herself to speak.
“I don’t see like you guys,” she admits, watching the tip of her tail twitch.
“You have scary good vision, we know that. Adora warned us about it back when we were enemies,” Glimmer says, slowly, like she is trying to put together a puzzle without any pieces. She at least has more to go on than Bow, who looks completely lost. Glimmer is careful, considering.
“Yes, I can see really far. I can pick up small movements others miss. Darkness is pretty much nothing to me. But I also can’t see the way- normal people do. I can’t see what they see,” Catra huffs, glancing up at Adora for confirmation. Making sure she is doing it right. Adora smiles at her, encouragingly.
She can see the moment Glimmer puts it together. The dawning realization on her face before she snaps her fingers, magic sparkling out from it in a small shower glitter. “You’re colourblind! That’s why you weren’t picking colours in the store!” she exclaims. Catra blinks at her.
“I’m what?” she asks, gaping at the other woman.
“There’s a word for it?” Adora clarifies, expression wrinkling. Bow makes a dramatically-sad noise.
“The Horde didn’t even tell you that much?” he asks, distressed, but they all know the answer. Catra and Adora make eye contact, a silent thread passed between them, and both shake their heads.
“The Horde didn’t know,” Adora tells them.
“We have been hiding it ever since we were kids. Once I realized there were things I could not see- I knew I couldn’t risk Shadow Weaver finding out,” Catra explains, bitterness tinging her voice.
The silence that follows is stunned, for everyone. Bow and Glimmer look – well, okay, Glimmer looks sad but unsurprised. Bow looks mildly distraught at the information. Adora and Catra, though, they keep sending looks back and forth to each other.
There is a word for it. It was not something wrong with her. It was – it was something other people could understand.
Catra remembers back to that first conversation with Adora, gap between her teeth whistling just a bit with every word as she asked why Catra had handed her the gray one when she asked for red. Catra had just stared at her for a long moment before asking, “Aren’t they the same?”
In the present, Glimmer smiles up at Catra with a gentle expression that reminds Catra of something, someone, but she can’t imagine who because no one has ever looked at her like that. It is a look of caring reserved for a child – caring was never directed at cadets.
“Some people are just born with it. They can’t see the different colours other people can. It might cause some misunderstandings but it isn’t a problem. And it isn’t something you have to hide, Catra. Not here,” Glimmer assures her.
The sound of Catra’s tail nervously flicking against the wooden cabinet is a thud, echoing through the room. She feels raw, exposed, naked before the entire room. The words wash over her like the warmth from the sun. It isn’t so bad against her exposed skin.
She slips down from the cabinet, joining the rest of the room on their eye-level.
After some careful discussion they will determine she is red colourblind, a partial variant. Something in her chest, coiled tight, will loosen at the continued assurance that this is normal, this is known. Adora will wrap an arm around her waist, pulling her close, and Catra will find herself leaning into the contact just because she enjoys it, not because she feels she needs it to feel safe.
In a few days’ time her new clothes will arrive, along with Adora’s, and she will shred Adora’s old compression top with glee to prevent her from falling back on it. Adora will pout about it, but her eyes will light up with interest when Catra slips the resulting crop top over her own shoulders.
Catra told her secret, her weakness - and yet the world will keep spinning, and her friends will keep loving her.