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On the first day of the rest of her life, Catra woke up with the light of day creeping in through the tent seams and Adora wrapped around her back. When she spoke, Adora’s voice was gentle but alert. She’d been awake for a while. Catra could tell. She knew what Adora sounded like sleepy.

‘Are you awake?’

‘Getting there.’ Catra stretched carefully, loathe to dislodge the blanket enveloping them both. Her body ached. Not as much as it might have, given what she’d put it through. Her heart ached more. A good pain: the pain of a muscle finally put to its proper use. ‘You didn’t have to wait for me.’

‘Yes, I did. Today, I did.’

Catra rolled over on the spot. It was harder than it should have been. She’d forgotten how to share a bed with someone else.

‘You’re here,’ she said.

Adora’s hair was still down. Her eyes were bright, right on the verge of spilled tears. Before yesterday, Catra wouldn’t have believed a body could hold so many tears without bursting. Now she knew. Now they both knew.

‘Always. I’m never leaving your side again.’

‘Figuratively or literally?’

Adora blushed. Catra began to purr, which only made the blush deepen.

‘Figuratively.’ Adora raised one hand and wiped away the tear Catra hadn’t bothered hiding. ‘Today, maybe literally.’ The hand moved upwards, into Catra’s hair, massaging her scalp right behind her ears. ‘What are you going to do with your hair?’

Catra pressed her head into Adora’s hand; pressed her whole body into place against Adora’s front. It was so easy to fill the space. So easy to minimise the distance between them.

‘Grow it out. Cut it all off again. You know, keep you on your toes.’

‘Ever consider a ponytail?’

‘Have you seen how thick my hair gets?’

‘I think it would look good.’ Adora cleared her throat. ‘I know it would look good, actually.’

‘What? How?’

The tiniest pause. ‘Ask me another day.’

Catra let it go. That’s what rest of her life meant. There would be another day, and another, and another, until the whole series of them blurred into each other, until she had not just a good day, not a good week or month or year, but a good life. And it’s not that she was naïve enough to think there wouldn’t be bumps along the way.

But they would keep another day.

‘Can I kiss you?’

Catra blinked away her thoughts. Adora’s face was so close she could only focus on one of her eyes at a time, one blue-grey iris or the other. Her lips were parted.

‘Always,’ Catra said.

*

The camp was quiet in the way of an early spring morning. Further away, Catra could see people going about the business of dismantling it, moving it all back to Bright Moon or Thaymor or wherever else they came from. No one seemed to be in a hurry. It was as if all the urgency had been sucked out of the world.

One tent over, Bow sat by a campfire, humming to himself over a black iron pan of fried dumplings.

‘Good morning! Breakfast?’

‘Yes, please.’

Adora grabbed a plate and bent to the task of assembling breakfast. Catra met Bow’s gaze across her back and tried not to laugh.

‘Sleep well?’ Bow asked, handing her a small earthenware cup of tea and, once Adora finally relinquished the implements, a plate of dumplings.

‘Never better,’ Catra said, truthfully. She took a bite, paused, focused on not purring. It was absurd. She hadn’t purred in years, and now the slightest thing was setting her off—but the food was good. The air was clear. Adora was smiling at her. She made an exception.

‘You know,’ Bow said, ‘I think this whole war could have ended much sooner if you’d focused on your cute side.’

Catra threw a dumpling at him. He plucked it out of the air and shoved it in his mouth.

‘And I should warn you,’ he said, mouth full, ‘Frosta got up very early this morning. She’s threatening to have the designs for the ice monument on your desk by evening.’

‘The what?’ Adora said, finally looking up from her plate.

‘The monument. To your love,’ Bow clarified.

Catra spat out a mouthful of tea. ‘The what?

‘Well, it did literally save the world. Your love, I mean, not the monument. And it was beautiful, and she’s such an impressionable child, and also, I may have signed off on the plans.’

‘You people are all insane!’

Catra reached for more ammunition. The plate was nearly empty. Glimmer chose that moment to emerge from the tent she’d shared with Bow, yawning. She paused, surveying the scene in front of her.

‘That was quick,’ she muttered. ‘Come get me when there’s a truce again. I think I’ve had enough fighting.’

‘Food fights don’t count,’ Adora volunteered from the other side of the fire.

Glimmer blinked at her. ‘As long as I can eat some of it.’ She took a seat next to Bow and rested her head on his shoulder, to all appearances intending to go right back to sleep.

‘Truce?’ Bow said, grinning.

‘Truce,’ Catra agreed. The log she was using as a bench was growing uncomfortable. She propped herself up, depositing her legs in Adora’s lap as she went. Adora’s eye-roll was practically audible. ‘Is it weird,’ she added, ‘to… find that weird? After all this time? We’re just… not fighting.’

‘Not fighting anyone?’ Bow said. ‘Or each other?’

‘Well. Both, I guess.’ Catra examined her claws. ‘You’re lucky, obviously. Fighting you was embarrassingly easy.’

‘Hey!’ Glimmer said, eyes flashing open. ‘That’s not true.’

‘Yeah? Name one time.’

Adora snapped her fingers. ‘Easy. The time with Mara’s ship. I pinned you to the wall with that cage thing—’

‘What? I have no idea what you’re talking about.’

‘Yes you do! It was amazing, I was all, “ha, it was fun distracting you!”, and you were like “oh no, once again I have been outwitted by my staggeringly attractive nemesis!” and then we all escaped—’

‘No, seriously. No idea what you’re talking about. Where was this supposed to be?’

‘The Valley of the Lost!’

‘Oh. Oh. Yeah, sorry, that was Double Trouble. Not me.’

‘I—what?’

Catra almost laughed at the look of betrayal on Adora’s face, then reminded herself she was trying not to laugh at people so much. ‘I can let you pin me to a wall with a cage some other time, if it would make you feel better?’

The sound of Glimmer choking on her food distracted Catra from the exciting new variety of blush blooming on Adora’s face. Bow rubbed her back for her as the fit subsided, and the four of them lapsed into meditative silence.

‘Is it weird,’ Bow ventured after a while, ‘that we can joke about it?’

‘Better than agonising over it,’ Adora said quietly.

‘Yeah. Yeah, you’re right.’

‘Can I ask you both something?’ Glimmer said. ‘Something—personal?’

Catra glanced at Adora, got a shrug by way of response. ‘Sure.’

‘You really did—you never stopped loving each other? The whole time?’

Adora reached for Catra’s tail, twining it gently around her wrist. ‘Never.’

‘Catra?’

The words came easily. ‘I’d have jumped off the edge of the world before admitting it. But yes.’

‘That is beautiful,’ Bow breathed. ‘Although, technically, world doesn’t have an edge.’

‘You never said.’ Glimmer looked at Adora, smiled, looked away. ‘Not once.’

Catra grimaced: Adora’s hand had tightened around her tail.

‘Take it from me,’ Catra said, running one foot along Adora’s thigh, feeling her relax again. ‘Sometimes it just seems impossible. To admit it to yourself. Never mind anyone else.’

‘How about you guys?’ Adora said, and the brightness in her voice was entirely unfeigned. ‘Are you…’

‘Uh, duh?’ Catra said before either of the other two could so much as blush. ‘Have you seen the way they act around each other? Wait, are you telling me they weren’t already a couple?’

Glimmer cleared her throat. ‘We had… other things on our minds. Recently. But—’ She glanced sideways at Bow, smiled, reached for his hand. ‘Yes. Now we are.’

‘Well, hey, good for you!’ Catra let her grin show teeth. ‘And you’re in luck, because I know the best ice love sculptor in all of Etheria—’

She caught the dumpling in her mouth. Bow stared at her.

‘And that,’ Catra said, ‘is why you could never beat me in a fight.’

*

‘It’s weird,’ Catra said, afterwards. The two of them were up on a hill, overlooking the meadows where they’d made camp. It still looked unreal, the colours all too bright. Like a painting. ‘I keep… counting.’

‘Counting what?’

Catra twined her fingers with Adora’s and brought her hand to her lips. ‘Kisses,’ she said, breathing a line of goose bumps along Adora’s knuckles. She cupped Adora’s cheek with her other hand, tilted her head to the side. ‘The number of times I’ve cried.’

‘What are you at?’ Adora said, lips quirking where Catra’s thumb rested at their corner.

‘Six. Thirteen.’

Adora kissed her. Somehow it still came as a surprise, every time. Every time but that first time.

‘Seven.’

‘I think that number should be higher than the other one,’ Adora said. ‘Don’t you?’

The shiver went all the way down Catra’s spine and to her tail. Before she could stop herself she was pushing Adora over, straddling her, pinning her arms above her head the way they used to do when they were younger. Adora’s breath caught.

And Catra would have forgiven her, in that moment, if there had been a flash of fear in her eyes. A sign of discomfort. She would have gotten off Adora. Apologised. They’d have talked it through. The second number would have gone up again.

Perhaps, another day, there would be. A bump in the road. A burr in the cloth. Catra wasn’t so naïve to think there wouldn’t.

But it would keep another day.

‘I think,’ she purred, watching Adora’s eyes fall to her lips, ‘that I want to lose count.’

Chapter Text

It was three days to Bright Moon on foot.

Glimmer could have had them back in an instant, but why rush? No one objected when Catra suggested they take it slowly. It would be weird enough being in Bright Moon. At least this way she could get used to the idea. And if she couldn’t, they’d be on their way soon enough. Travel: that was the plan. Aimless travel. When was the last time Catra had done anything aimless? She couldn’t remember.

On the second day, they stopped in a clearing in the Whispering Woods. The Woods shone in a way they hadn’t before, warm and welcoming, banishing the sadness that had clung to them for a millennium. Like she had the first night, Catra helped Bow with the tents. Afterwards, he and Glimmer disappeared for a walk while Adora poked through their supplies in search of dinner.

An hour later, Catra was half asleep in Adora’s lap, watching the fuzzy glow of moonlight framing Bow and Glimmer as they emerged from the trees. Their hair was wet. It reminded Catra of the day they took her captive. A long time ago. Bow had been friendly even then, she remembered that.

‘There’s a hot spring a few minutes that way,’ Glimmer said, snapping Catra out of her reverie. ‘You would not believe how badly I needed a bath.’ She groaned in relief. ‘I feel like a new woman.’

‘What do you think?’ Catra said, glancing at Adora. ‘Bath time?’

*

The moment Catra saw the steam rising from the hot spring, her body began to itch.

‘It has been,’ Adora said, ‘way too long since I felt hot water.’

‘You and me both.’ Catra tested the water with one toe. The temperature was a hair below intolerable. All at once she was consumed by the desire to be clean, properly clean, and it took all of ten seconds to pull off her outer layer of clothing.

‘Catra?’ Adora’s voice had gone oddly high-pitched. ‘What are you doing?’

‘Uh.’ Catra looked around. Nothing seemed out of order. ‘Getting undressed?’

Adora was peeking at her through her splayed fingers. ‘Don’t you want some privacy?’

Catra glanced down at herself. She was wearing her usual grey underwear. ‘Adora, I sleep in this.’

‘Well, I know, but, that’s sleeping. It’s different.’

‘Huh.’ Catra grinned. ‘Just wait until you see me in, like, literally anything else.’

She’d expected a blush, but Adora surprised her. The embarrassment cleared from her expression, leaving the soft, faraway look she sometimes directed at Catra, the look that told her Adora was seeing her and remembering her at the same time. Catra knew the feeling. She found herself doing the same, sometimes: replaying every moment she’d ever shared with Adora, like she’d done a thousand times alone in the Horde, then looking up. Seeing Adora. Meeting her eyes. And knowing that every one of those moments had been real, that she hadn’t imagined a single part of what they’d meant.

‘I can’t wait.’

Catra startled. She had to stop being so inattentive. Magic or no, the wildlife could be unfriendly. Still. The pool was inviting. A little more inattention wouldn’t hurt. She swung her legs over the edge and slid into it, letting the warmth settle over her. Everyone thought she hated water. That wasn’t true. She hated the wrong kind of water.

‘You can look,’ Adora said softly from behind her. ‘I didn’t mean you couldn’t look. It’s just… new.’

Catra turned around. Adora was already in her underwear, folding her clothing and placing it carefully on a rock above Catra’s own scattered garments. Then she plunged into the pool, sending Catra spluttering as the waves of her entry splashed across her face.

‘Hey! You did that on purpose.’

Adora surfaced, water running through her hair and down her shoulders, grinning. ‘Aww, my kittycat doesn’t like water after all?’

‘Do not call me that.’

‘You are, though, aren’t you?’

Catra rolled her eyes skywards. ‘Don’t make me regret anything.’

‘This is all part of the Perfuma Twelve-Step Vulnerability and Openness Plan.’

‘The next intergalactic threat cannot come soon enough.’

‘You don’t mean that.’ Adora was still grinning. ‘There’s a thought, though. No one left to fight. Who knows when I’ll have to transform into She-Ra again? That’s weird. Why is everything weird now?’

‘Everything is always weird with you,’ Catra said automatically. ‘I’m sure you’ll find opportunities to show off. Whenever you want to make half the Princesses on Etheria insanely jealous of me, for starters.’

What? What does that mean?’

‘Oh, come on, don’t tell me you haven’t noticed the way they look at She-Ra.’

‘That’s just—she’s inspiring.’

‘You’re inspiring,’ Catra corrected.

Adora sank into the water up to her nose. It did nothing to hide her smile. ‘You’re one to talk,’ she said after she re-emerged. ‘I saw how you were looking at me.’

‘Yeah, well. It’s not hard to feel swept away when the love of your life rescues you from a brainwashed cult.’ Catra delivered this statement without the slightest hitch in her voice, only to ruin the effect a second later when she ducked her head to avoid Adora’s gaze. ‘Besides, I’m very selfish. I like that you look like me now.’

‘That I look like you?’

‘You know, with the—’ Catra frowned. ‘Wait. Have you even seen yourself yet? The new and improved She-Ra, I mean?’

‘Mirrors weren’t exactly high on my list of priorities,’ Adora said defensively.

‘Well, what are you waiting for?’ Catra gestured at the water’s surface, sending ripples through her reflection.

‘What—here? You want me to transform here?’

‘Yes!’

‘But—’

‘Come on, Adora, it’s only me here. I want you to see.’

Adora’s mouth opened and closed. ‘I’m not even sure if it’ll work,’ she said eventually.

‘If you need me to kiss you again…’

There it was. Catra could practically see the blush progressing across Adora’s face.

‘And what if I do?’

Catra pushed off her side of the pool, meeting Adora in the middle. She leaned in and delivered a chaste kiss to the side of Adora’s mouth. Adora made a tiny contented sound.

‘You get a proper one afterwards,’ Catra said, not quite winning the battle to stop herself laughing at the look of indignation on Adora’s face.

‘You just want to kiss She-Ra,’ Adora mumbled. Then she sighed, more dramatic than strictly necessary, and raised her hand out of the water. ‘This feels dumb.’

‘No different than usual, then.’

Catra.’

‘Adora?’

Adora glared at her a moment more. Then, in surely the quietest voice she’d ever spoken those particular words, she said, ‘For the honour of Grayskull!’

Somehow, the exclamation mark was still obvious. Catra would have rolled her eyes if she hadn’t closed them, the light of the transformation blinding when she was this close to Adora, and when she finished blinking it away, Adora had already turned to the side, where open water reflected her face back at her.

‘Oh,’ she breathed.

‘See?’ Catra couldn’t quite reach without wrapping her legs around Adora’s waist from behind, but eventually she managed to trace the heart motif between her collarbones. ‘Bow, too. And you’ve got Glimmer’s wings on your boots.’

‘Yeah,’ Adora said. ‘Yeah, I saw those, but I didn’t make the connection…’ She swallowed. ‘I’m sorry about your mask.’

‘It’s okay. It meant something to me once, but…’ Catra tightened her hold for a second, then relaxed and manoeuvred herself around to face Adora. ‘I don’t need to hide my face anymore.’ She smiled. ‘I’m glad it’s part of you now.’

‘I thought you didn’t like She-Ra.’

‘I don’t,’ Catra murmured. ‘I love Adora.’

Adora breath caught in a half-sob. ‘I don’t understand when you got this good at telling me exactly what I want to hear.’

Catra pressed her forehead against Adora’s. There were tears in her eyes, too, mingling with droplets from the pool.

‘When I started listening.’

Catra kissed her before Adora could reply. Properly. Adora made another of those cute noises, half surprise and half pleasure, then wrapped her arms more firmly around Catra’s back and deepened the kiss, and even the wind through her wet fur couldn’t stop the purr rising in Catra’s chest.

‘It’s weird kissing you when you purr,’ Adora whispered.

Catra smiled against her lips. Adora’s tongue darted out, testing the point of one of Catra’s fangs.

‘Everything’s always weird with me,’ she said, and breathed in the sound of Adora’s laughter.

Chapter Text

On the two occasions on which Catra had come within a finger’s width of conquering Bright Moon, she’d never imagined that when she finally stood before the castle gate, it would be with the Queen of Bright Moon at her side.

‘Third time lucky,’ she whispered.

Bow and Adora were already halfway across the courtyard, laughing at a joke Catra was too far away to have heard, but still she found herself rooted to the spot. Right on the threshold: neither in nor out.

Glimmer placed a hand on her shoulder. Her grip was firmer than Adora’s, Catra noted idly.

‘None of this would be here without you. I wouldn’t be here without you. I asked you for one good thing and you gave me more than I ever expected.’ Glimmer didn’t look at her, but Catra knew her well enough by now to know when she had tears in her eyes. ‘Bright Moon is my home. Come on. Let me show you around?’

*

The tour concluded in Adora’s room. Their room, now. That was a strange thought. They’d never had a room before. Only a bed. What else might they have? Would Adora want to live in Bright Moon forever? Maybe they could get a house. Or a castle. A bigger, less sparkly one than Glimmer’s.

‘Hey, kittycat,’ Adora whispered in Catra’s ear, not quite as quietly as Catra might have liked. ‘Welcome home.’

Aww!

Catra winced. ‘Don’t you dare,’ she said, pointing a claw at Bow and regretting her other hand was otherwise engaged around Adora’s waist and could not be deployed to forestall Glimmer. ‘Don’t you dare.’

‘That is adorable!’ Glimmer winked at her. ‘You’re adorable. Kittycat?

Catra extricated herself from Adora and took a step towards Glimmer. ‘What of it, Sparkles?’

‘Oh no,’ Adora said, deadpan. Out of the corner of her eye, Catra could see her throwing her hands up theatrically and staring at the ceiling. ‘It’s been less than a week and my girlfriend is already flirting with my best friend. What did I do to deserve this?’

The ceiling didn’t reply. Glimmer, meanwhile, looked confused. ‘I wasn’t—I didn’t—’

‘No,’ Bow chimed in, ‘you totally were.’ He placed a hand on his heart and made his voice melodramatic. ‘I cannot tie you down, my love, for I know you will always return to my side when all is said and done.’

‘I dunno,’ Catra said. ‘You might want to ask Double Trouble for some lessons.’

Alright,’ Glimmer said, only partially hiding her blush, ‘I think the two of you need some time to settle in. What do you think, Bow, are we moving into my room or yours?’

Adora shut the door on their voices echoing down the hallway. ‘Oh no,’ she said when she turned to face Catra again. This time her tone was normal. ‘I don’t like that look.’

‘Don’t you see? A whole new way to torment Glimmer.’ Catra bounced on her heels. ‘Is it my birthday?’

Adora groaned. ‘Flirting with my friends is better than threatening to kill them, I guess.’

‘And so much more fun.’

‘You’re exhausting. I’m exhausted. I’m going to take a nap.’

‘Aww, don’t be like that—’ Catra froze mid-sentence, at last taking in the whole of Adora’s—of their—bedroom. ‘This is where you sleep? All of this? You had all of this for one person?’

‘You get used to it.’

‘I bet you do!’ Catra threw herself on the bed and rolled over three times. She was still a foot from the edge. ‘I apologise in advance. Pillows this soft are not going to get along with my claws.’

Adora sat down next to her. ‘I’d rather share a torn-up bed with you then have a pristine one all to myself.’

Catra’s pulse quickened. Would she ever get used to it? The way they could simply say those things to each other now? Probably. She couldn’t imagine it, but probably. Still: that didn’t mean she ever had to take it for granted.

‘Catra?’

‘Tell me more.’ It came out as a whisper, her playfulness mingling with the softness she now felt whenever she was alone with Adora. It was embarrassing. But in a good way. But not so good she could admit it was embarrassing? Whatever. She was working on it.

‘About—sharing a bed?’

‘Yeah.’

Adora looked down at her. There was distant sadness in her expression but she was smiling, too, and she reached out and ran a hand along Catra’s ears as she spoke.

‘I was so lonely when I first got here. I couldn’t sleep properly for weeks. I kept dreaming—imagining—that you’d turn up. Appear in my bed overnight. Climb in through a window. Show up at the castle gates. Anything. Eventually I got used to it, but…’ Adora’s breathing was ragged. ‘Giving up on that dream was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.’

‘Hey,’ Catra said gently. ‘It’s okay. You got me in the end. I can even leave and climb back in through the window, if you want.’

Adora snorted. ‘It has to be late at night.’

‘Oh, I see—’

Catra.

‘You were lonely—'

Anyway,’ Adora said. ‘We don’t have to talk about this stuff yet if you don’t want, but… I think it helps? A little?’

It did. It did, because now it was real. Because they knew how it ended. The promise of a happy ending made even the darkest memories palatable.

More palatable, at least.

Catra sat up and wrapped her arms around Adora’s shoulders. One of her hands slipped beneath Adora’s shirt, settling on the soft-hard of her collarbone. She undid Adora’s ponytail. Her hair looked better down, anyway, and it was easier to rest her cheek on it that way.

‘Are you done?’ Adora said, amused.

‘Just making myself comfortable.’

‘Well...’ Adora sounded nervous. ‘There’s something I've been wanting to ask.’

Catra nipped at the exposed skin of Adora’s neck. ‘I don't mind. Go on.’

‘When did you... When did it start, you know, turning around? For you.’

It wasn’t the clearest question. Catra considered making fun of her for it. But she knew what Adora meant.

‘Do you remember when we used to say we’d rule the Horde together one day?’

Adora laughed under her breath. ‘Yeah. You were always so keen on it.’

‘Well. Turns out, ruling the Horde sucked.’

‘I could have told you that—hey! That’s gross.’

Catra licked the back of Adora’s neck again for good measure, making her squirm. ‘Deal with it. It's how I show affection. Besides, you don’t mind so much when it's in your mouth.’

Catra.’

‘Ooh, two “Catras" in five minutes. I'm on a roll.’

‘You were saying?

Catra closed her eyes. How long had she wanted to hear Adora make those indignant noises again? To watch Adora pretending she didn’t want Catra to climb into her lap and tickle her face with her tail? That was the question.

‘Once I took ruling the Horde out of the equation,’ she said softly, ‘it was pretty obvious what was left. With an assist from Double Trouble. Admittedly.’

‘Double Trouble? Really?’

‘They made a frustratingly good me.’ Catra frowned. ‘Less good at you, though. Not like the real thing.’ She poked Adora in the stomach.

‘I almost wish I was Double Trouble, just to see the look on your face.’

‘Knowing them, they probably recorded it at the time. Anyway, you know the rest.’ Catra had no desire to relive her time on Horde Prime’s ship. It was too fresh. ‘How about you?’

Adora huffed out a breath, the way she did before attempting something she wasn’t entirely sure she could accomplish. It was achingly familiar. Adora never let uncertainty stop her from accomplishing things.

‘I think I always knew I wanted you. The hard part was... letting myself want something like that. Something selfish.’

‘I could have told you that. Wait, I did tell you that.’

‘Ugh, I know, I know, you were right. But when has that ever stopped me?’

‘I'll say,’ Catra muttered.

‘And then, in the Heart, I... saw things.’

Catra stiffened. ‘Like with Light Hope?’

‘No. I don’t think so. I think it must have been the magic. They weren’t memories. They were… true things.’

‘Like what?’

‘You,’ Adora said. ‘Obviously. Just... you, soft and gentle and right there, and you disappeared the moment before I’d have kissed you, and—ugh, why am I crying now? You're literally right here, I—’

Catra shut her up with a kiss. ‘It's okay. I’m not going to disappear. It's okay.’ She licked the tears away, revelling in the way Adora grimaced but did not recoil. ‘You don’t have to go on. If you don’t want.’

‘No, it's okay. Tears are okay.’ Adora laughed raggedly. ‘Then I saw Mara, and she said exactly the same thing. Asked what I wanted. Told me I was allowed to want it. And when I finally—when I finally let myself answer the question... I saw the future. A future? The future I wanted.’

Catra’s ears perked up. ‘Is this where the ponytail comes in?’

‘You,’ Adora said, shoving her away playfully, ‘are way too smart for your own good.’

‘Yep. Tell me more?’

‘It was... Scorpia was hosting Princess Prom, I think. We were getting ready. Glimmer and Bow were there, too. It was nothing special. But we were happy. It was like... I'd never let myself imagine, before, because I thought it would be too painful. Better to stay in the present than imagine a future that could never happen. You know?’

‘I know.’

‘Next thing I knew, there you were. Giving it to me.’

‘Giving you the future? I like the sound of that.’

Adora smiled. ‘Giving me exactly what I wanted.’

This part, Catra didn’t mind remembering. ‘I didn’t know, you know.’

‘I know. I could see it in your face.’

‘There was a point where I—where it just didn’t matter anymore, whether you loved me back. Telling you was more important. There’s probably a lesson in that.’ Catra frowned. ‘Nope, it’s gone. Oh well. When was I any good at lessons?’

‘Ask Glimmer. She seems to have taught you quite a few.’ Adora ran her fingers through Catra’s hair, close to the scalp. ‘Not how to brush your hair, though, if the magic was any good at predicting the future.’

The stroking made Catra shiver. Would she ever get used to it? In all her memories of Adora’s tenderness, Catra’s hair was wild and untamed. That had been nice, too. Having someone to work out the tangles. But this was different. Intimate. Catra’s memories of Horde Prime’s ship were hazy towards the end, but she remembered Adora’s fingers right on her skin, tracing the contours of her skull. She remembered Adora’s gentleness like a barrier between her and the sharp angles of the clones.

Maybe growing out her hair could wait.

‘Seven years,’ Catra said slowly. ‘Right?’

‘What?’

Adora sounded like she was coming out of a haze. She had a smile on her face, one of those dopey ones Catra had once teased her mercilessly about. I did that, Catra thought. I made her that happy, and all I did was lie here and let her stroke me. And: I’m enough.

‘The next Princess Prom.’

‘Oh! Yeah. I think so.’

Seven years. How long had they been together? Less than a week. Less than seven days.

‘We’re going to go together,’ Catra said. She felt like she was floating. Like the words were forming in the air around her, and all she had to do was pluck them one by one. ‘You’re going to look gorgeous. A dress, I think. Maybe something other than red for once. Hair down, obviously. I’ll be in a suit. Something totally over the top. Do you think I could pull off a cape? Doesn’t matter. There’s time. The important thing is, we’re going to break every heart in the building. We’re going to dance, right at the peak of the ball when everyone’s watching. They’ll talk about it for years. And at the end, I’m going to dip you, and then I’m going to kiss you. Just like I wanted to the first time. In front of everyone. And they’ll know that you’re still mine. And I’m still yours. And nothing, nothing will tear us apart. I know. I know because the universe has done its worst and failed. I love you, Adora, I love you, I love you.

‘Is it weird,’ Catra whispered into the stunned silence that followed, ‘how sure I am?’

Adora hands were reverent around Catra's shoulders. She pulled Catra into a sitting position, wrapped her arms around her, and hugged her, fierce and tight. Her voice when she spoke in Catra’s ear was the same voice with which she’d defied the conquerors of a thousand thousand worlds: the same determination; the same utter certainty.

‘No,’ she said. ‘No, I don’t think that’s weird at all.’