Adora doesn’t let go of her once.
She can still feel Catra trembling in her arms, holding onto her with a desperate tightness that made every muscle in her body tense. It lasts this way for hours.
Bow and Glimmer leave them to get some rest. Even Entrapta gives them space, dragging Wrong Hordak with her and rambling on about how fascinating and technologically advanced he is. Adora remains on the floor, holding Catra tight to her chest.
Eventually, Catra succumbs to exhaustion and the shaking stops. Ice cold panic flashes through Adora’s nerves. She shoots upward, but Catra’s breathing is even. Not like before. Slowly, Adora lets herself relax, shifting so that Catra can rest more comfortably. In a moment, she’d get up, and put her somewhere more comfortable where she could properly recover. For now, though, she just sits on the floor and holds her.
Her mind is a mess. She’s physically drained, but every time she closes her eyes she watches Catra scream in pain before falling off the cliff. If it wasn’t for She-Ra, Catra would be dead. Later, she’ll ponder over She-Ra’s reappearance. She’ll join Entrapta and Bow and Glimmer in figuring out their next step and how to return to Etheria. That’ll all come later. At the moment, she doesn’t want to think about anything other than Catra’s breathing.
Catra twitches in her sleep, her face scrunching as she does so. “You’re okay,” Adora whispers, tightening her grip. She lets herself think that by doing so, she’s keeping the nightmares away. When they were kids, Catra would sleep at the foot of her bunk and demand that Adora scratch her head until she fell asleep. She’d said it kept the nightmares away.
The thought makes her eyes well up again. Her eyes are so sore, she doesn’t remember the last time she’s cried so much. It doesn’t matter. The hard part was over, now.
Taking a shaky breath, Adora brushes a strand of hair out of Catra’s face. It’s unnerving to see it cut so short. The jagged strands at the back of her head brush against Adora’s fingers; she smooths them down, hoping that even asleep, it’ll provide Catra with some comfort. Just like before.
Prime said that Catra had been afraid. That she’d suffered. Glimmer had told them about Prime’s twisted ways of torture, but she’d never mentioned anything painful. Despite being asleep, Catra’s face looks troubled. Her skin is paler than it should be, and she’s thinner than before. If Adora hadn’t arrived when she had, what would have become of her?
No. No, she can’t think about that. Catra’s right here, she’s here, and in her arms, and she’s okay. She’s okay.
When Adora’s legs fall asleep, she stands, shakily bringing Catra with her. Thanks to She-Ra’s healing, neither of them had physical wounds, but her muscles are still spent. She can’t imagine what kind of pain Catra will be in when she wakes up. Adora forces herself to move slowly as she picks her up, careful so as to not wake her. There’s only one bedroom left on the ship, and it’s hers, but Catra needs it more. She doesn’t need to sleep yet, she can wait.
Catra doesn’t stir when Adora sets her down. Adora covers her with the blanket and takes her hand, refusing to let go of her just yet. There were so many things they had to talk about. So many things that she wanted Catra to know, and so many answers that she needed to hear.
Instead, she holds Catra’s hand tighter and presses it to her cheek. “How could you think that you don’t matter?” she breathes. “You matter so much.”
A few hours later, Catra starts thrashing.
Her body burns with fever, and she doesn’t wake up no matter how hard Adora tries. Despite her shivers, the blanket and her clothes are soaked with her sweat. Catra claws at them mercilessly, managing to tear quite a bit until Adora takes them off her.
Catra doesn’t feel Adora beside her, her hand digging into her shoulder. Instead she relives the memories, playing on a loop and tearing her apart.
It starts with the portal, as it always does. Entrapta’s unconscious form haunts her, followed by Adora’s wrath over activating the portal. She runs, she always runs, clawing at the ground and trying to scramble to her feet. Unlike before, it doesn’t end.
You will be of use to me yet.
Catra’s mind jerks right into the throne room on the ship, and everything’s sharper. Horde Prime’s face is right in front of hers, his cold, metal fingers digging into her jaw. Her heart beats a mile a minute, but not from fear. No. From victory. Glimmer was safe, and thus, so was Adora. She saved Adora, whatever happens to her next doesn’t matter. So long as Adora is safe.
Two clones drag her away and deposit her inside Glimmer’s old cell. It’s almost comforting. Catra curls up in a ball on the floor, her tail wrapped around her. She isn’t quite certain what Prime will do to her, but she knows it won’t be pleasant. The image of Hordak, screaming in agony as he’s electrocuted in the green pool, flashes in her mind, and she resists the urge to whimper.
“It’s okay,” she remembers telling herself, arms around her knees protectively. “It doesn’t matter. You’ll be okay.” She always is, or, finds a way to be. Why should now be any different?
I’m always gonna be your friend.
Catra closes her eyes, playing back Adora’s voice from their quick conversation. She’d sounded so worried; why was that? They both knew that Catra had destroyed any chance at salvaging their relationship the moment she activated the portal. So why…?
I’m sorry. For everything.
She wishes she’d had more time. There were so many things she wanted to say to her. So much more than just four short words. She deserves so much more than an apology— they all did. Adora, Entrapta, Scorpia. She’d even apologize to Kyle if it means getting to see Adora one last time.
On Mara’s ship, Catra whimpers, shaking violently as she relives the remainder of her short time in captivity in rapid succession.
They leave her in the room, for hours. No food. No special treatment, not like Glimmer. It feels like days have gone by when the clones finally drag her out. Catra attempts to fight, but her body is weak. Her brain is tired, and her heart hurts. Everything hurts.
She’s taken to a room, just as sterile and eerie as all the others. They rip her mask off her face and shear her hair. She keeps her teeth clenched and refuses to react, repeating to herself that it doesn’t matter. Every sensation is heightened, but the pain when they chip her is by far the worst. A hiss escapes her throat before she can stop it, and the clones quickly grab her arms to keep her from clawing at her neck.
The chip leeches into her as they half-drag her to the purification room. She’s so focused on the slithering, tingling sensation in her neck, she doesn’t even realize where they are, until she’s standing at the ledge of the green pool.
Horde Prime stands at the center of the room, waiting for her. His mouth stretches into a grin, staring her up and down as if he’s pleased with his handiwork. Her thrashing grows more restless, clawing at the bed so urgently that Adora has to physically hold her down.
Catra’s neck burns with a white-hot rage, and she desperately wants the chip out. This isn’t right. She doesn’t want this. The pool bubbles, growling at her. Thoughts race through her mind, and that’s when she realizes that Prime is about to wipe her.
Every instinct yells at her to look for an escape route, any attempt to evade this. But her mind knows better than her instincts. It’s too late. Her punishment is inevitable— and frankly, deserved. She doesn’t get to escape. Not this time.
Horde Prime begins his speech, but Catra doesn’t hear it. The clones chant their malicious words, and her blood is pounding in her ears. Everything is spinning. Before she realizes what’s happening, she’s pushed into the pool, and immediately electrocuted.
Catra’s screams of agony shake Adora to her core.
The pain of the electrocution isn’t the worst part. Catra’s used to pain. Her vision fades and the chip takes over, letting her see black. Every thought at the front of her mind is pushed far behind, so far that Catra can barely make them out anymore.
She desperately tries to recall a memory, just one. It appears at first but fades with every second the chip gains control, and she has to fight to keep it for as long as it remains. She only needs one. Every attempt to grasp it is rewarded with a sharper, intense series of shocks, forcing her to let go. Catra doesn’t want to let it go, not this time.
Adora’s face, smiling and innocent, is the last thing she sees.
It slips away. No matter how hard she tries to hold onto it, she can’t remember how it ends.
“Adora, you need to sleep,” Bow tells her, resting a hand on her shoulder. She hadn’t even heard him enter.
“It’s okay. I’m fine where I am,” Adora says, but she couldn’t make the words sound true. Her voice is hoarse with exhaustion, and though Catra had stopped thrashing a while ago, she still clutches her hand in a vice grip.
“Adora.” Bow squeezes her shoulder, and she finally lifts her eyes to meet his. “She’s going to be okay. Wearing yourself out isn’t going to help anything.”
She shakes her head. “I can’t leave her.” It felt odd to say those words. Days ago, Catra was her enemy. “If she starts having flashes again…” she trails off, checking the damp cloth on Catra’s forehead. She isn’t shaking as hard anymore, and the cloth was still cool. Her fever must have broken. “I need to be here when she wakes up.”
Bow sighs. He crouches down and takes her other hand. “I understand,” he begins, trying to pick his words carefully. “But we need you, too. Entrapta needs your help in repairing the ship. And we need to go over the plan for when we get back to Etheria.”
“I’ll do all that,” she insists.
“You can’t. Not without sleep.”
“Bow, I can’t leave her,” Adora insists, more broken than before.
Bow has seen Adora at her worst plenty of times before. But not like this. She is coming apart to pieces right in front of him, and the worst part is that he doesn’t know what to do to help bring her back together again.
“Is her fever gone?”
Adora nods, checks again to be sure, and then nods a second time.
“Okay.” Bow grabs Adora’s shoulders with the gentlest, most careful of touches. “If her fever has broken, that means that she’s recovering, and sleeping. If she’s sleeping, she probably isn’t having the flashes again.” He can feel when his words start to sink in, because Adora’s shoulders soften from being hard as rocks to something he can coax. “She needs to rest, uninterrupted.”
Adora lifts her head to look at him, but she’s listening. “What if she needs me?”
“Then I’ll come get you.” He reaches up to tuck a loose strand of hair behind Adora’s ear. “Go sleep next to Glimmer. Let me keep watch for a while.”
“No, that’s too far. I…” she trails off before she looks to the corner of the room. “I can stay there.”
Bow shakes his head and squeezes her shoulders a bit tighter. “I know you want to be there for her. But right now, Catra needs space.” They both turn as the feline whimpers in her sleep, and Bow has to hold Adora back from grabbing Catra again.
“Let me go,” she snarls.
He shakes his head no, gripping her tighter. “Adora, please, listen to me. Catra’s still chipped. She’s been through something none of us can understand, and we don’t even know if she’s still dangerous. She may…” Bow exhales, building up his nerves. “She may not want to see you.”
“Of course she’ll want to see me!” Adora insists, trying to pull away again. He doesn’t let her. “I saved her life, she’ll want to see me when she wakes up.”
“Imagine if it were you.” This makes Adora pause. “How would you feel, going through everything she did?”
As Adora mulls it over, her body slumps. She would feel guilty. Guilty for causing everyone so much trouble and having them risk their lives to rescue her. Catra grimaces in her sleep and despite every instinct telling Adora to go hold her, she hesitates. She knows Catra more than she’s known anyone, or at least, she used to. If Adora is there the moment she wakes up, Catra will immediately attack.
She nods, defeated. Bow is right.
“If you don’t want to sleep in my room, you can sleep right outside the door,” he tries again, pulling her into a hug. “I’ll set up the mat myself.”
This is an acceptable compromise. She allows Bow to help her up, glancing at Catra again as she does so. Bow keeps his hands on her shoulders and slowly guides her to the door. “She’s strong, Adora. We all know that. She’s going to be okay, but she just needs to rest. And so do you.”
Once she’s turned away from Catra, Bow sees Adora’s eyelids start to droop. Exhaustion is starting to catch up with her and she sways on her feet. He holds her steady all the while, leading her out of the room and setting her down right by the door. “Stay here. I’ll get you something to sleep on.”
He’s gone barely five minutes, but she’s dead to the world when he returns. Bow has only seen her out cold like this once, when she was having the visions of She-Ra. He doesn’t blame her, though. She needs the rest. Just like he promised, he sets up the mat and carefully moves her so that she’s atop of it and sleeping comfortably.
Glimmer’s already asleep back in their room, and at the moment, he’s pretty sure he’s the only one awake. He’s never too sure about Entrapta, but there are no sudden crashes or manic laughter, so he can at least assume. He glances back inside Catra’s room to make sure she’s still asleep, and then back at Adora to make sure that she’s okay.
Bow slides down on the wall opposite Adora, closing his eyes as well. He would keep watch over both her and Catra and make sure they made it through the night okay. They both deserved to rest, and he will ensure that they get it.
“You can stop pretending you’re asleep, it’s just me.”
Catra’s ears twitch at Glimmer’s familiarly shrill voice. She doesn’t move, or open her eyes, but the footsteps come closer anyway. Her face remains perfectly still, even as she hears Glimmer sigh, short and huffy.
“You’re not fooling anyone.”
She cracks her eyes open, just enough to see the pink-haired queen standing right in front of her. Back on the ship, she had made sure to keep her distance, even while Catra saved her. Guess all it took was her, well, dying, to grow comfortable. “Adora seemed to buy it,” Catra mutters, turning to the other side of the bed.
Glimmer scoffs, following her with her eyes narrowed and mouth set into a hard frown. “She’s worried sick about you. What do you have to gain by avoiding her?”
It wasn’t exactly something she was gaining, but rather preserving. In between the nightmares and the flashes, there are dreams. She dreams of Adora’s face, crying over her after she regained consciousness in her arms. She feels her arms around her, holding her as if she’d never left, as if the past three years hadn’t happened.
As much as she wants that to be the case, it isn’t. The moment Catra is better, the consequences will start to set in. Adora wouldn’t so much as look at her again, let alone touch her. She’d just said those things… rescued her, held her, out of pity. And that’s what made her stomach lurch and eyes shut tight when Adora came to check on her. She didn’t want to face that just yet; she needed to keep living in the dream, just for a little while longer.
“I don’t think it’s any of your business, Sparkles.” Catra fluffs up her pillow and sticks it under her head, trying not to feel alarmed when her cropped hair brushes against the palm of her hand. Right, that was new. It would take a lot of getting used to. “Just leave me alone.”
“Adora’s my friend, so it is my business.” When Catra doesn’t answer, Glimmer pinches the bridge of her nose and takes a deep breath. “I won’t tell her you’re awake. Whatever you two have to work through, you can do that on your own terms.”
Catra scoffs. “Thanks for your blessing.”
“That’s not what I was getting at. Look, I came in here to check on you. I…” She pauses, looking away and pulling at her fingers. “I wanted to say thank you. For saving me.”
“I already told you, I didn’t do it for you. I did it for—”
“Adora, I know,” Glimmer finishes for her. She hesitates and then sits on the edge of the bed. Catra watches her every move, her ears standing straight up and at the ready. “It doesn’t matter who you did it for. You saved me, Catra.”
For once, the feline is lost for words. Her tail tucks underneath her legs, and she finds herself unable to look at Glimmer directly. There was the truth, out in the open. She’d saved her. Now what was she supposed to do with it?
Glimmer glances over at her, noticing her apprehension. “You don’t… need to say anything. I don’t expect you to. I just wanted to say thank you, and to make sure you’re okay.” She cocks her head to the side, glancing at the chip embedded in Catra’s neck. “Are you? Okay, that is.”
She chokes out a guttural hiss from between her teeth. “What kind of dumb question is that?” she asks, holding her arms. Of course she isn’t okay. She has Prime’s damn chip in her neck, thus, he still has control over her. No sooner does she think about it does her body start to shake. She hates that Glimmer sees her like this. That everyone has seen her, so weak and defenseless and utterly vulnerable. It was a far cry from the Catra they once knew.
Instead of snapping back, Glimmer nods. “I know. What Prime did to us— to you, especially, is horrible.” She narrows her eyes in determination, staring right at Catra. “We’re going to make him pay.”
The words were meant to offer Catra some comfort, but instead they only make her stomach curdle. “Good luck with that,” she mutters, closing her eyes again. “I’m tired. Can you go now?”
Glimmer raises a brow. “That’s all you have to say? He hurt you!”
“I’m well aware of what he did to me,” Catra growls, careful to keep her voice low lest someone come to investigate. “Last time I checked, I’m the one who has his chip stuck to my neck. I’m the one who still has to hear him, and see him, and remember how he almost killed me.” Her voice wavers near the end of her sentence and she digs her nails into her skin to keep from shaking again.
Through her peripheral, Catra notices Glimmer trying to scoot closer, attempting to offer some comfort. Without thinking it through, she whirls upward and hisses, bringing her claws out to stop her from coming any closer. Her heart pounds with the confrontation, but it works, as Glimmer stays rooted in her spot.
The two glare at each other for a few moments, but Glimmer plays the bigger person and stands, heading for the door. Before she leaves, she rests her hand on the frame and glances back. “Sometimes, Catra, you make it really hard to like you.”
She leaves right after she says it. Catra ignores the familiar gnawing ache of guilt in her stomach and lies down again, closing her eyes. There are no good dreams, this time. Just the memories.
Even after the chip is removed from her neck, Catra can still feel it burning.
It’s gone, but she doesn’t feel different. The memories remain. Her vision is clear of flashes, but they remain crystal clear in her conscience. When she closes her eyes and tries to sleep, she hears his voice, smooth and leaching into her soul, echoing a cold darkness on everything it touches.
Those aren’t the only feelings. When it’s not Prime clouding her mind, it’s Adora. Adora’s blush when she asked her to stay. Her warm hands, holding hers tight and feeling just as comforting as Catra remembers them being. The kind smile she’d given her when Catra sat across from her at dinner.
She growls, flipping over to the side and trying to dismiss the thoughts from her head. Pleasant as they are, she doesn’t want to feel those feelings either. Not when she is still so consumed with guilt. Not when she doesn’t know how long this will last.
With a huff, Catra sits up and swings her legs off the bed. She can’t stay in this room anymore.
Her mind is too restless for sleep, which is understandable considering she’s been recovering for days. Truth be told, she’s still hungry. The taste of dumplings is still in her mouth, and as much as she hates to admit it, she wants more. Until she ate those, it hadn’t occurred to her how good food could taste. She wishes that she ate more during dinner, but she was too nervous to eat more than one around everyone else.
When she can no longer hear Entrapta running around, Catra ventures out of her room and wanders around looking for the kitchen. She doesn’t know if the ship even has a kitchen, but she figures that she’ll find her way to the main hull and work her way from there. Maybe there’s a leftover dumpling or two she can claim for her own.
For once, the ship is silent. Almost peaceful; everyone else must be asleep.
Catra approaches the door to the hull of the ship, but it opens before she can trigger the sensors. Adora stands before her, holding a plate. The blonde’s eyes widen in surprise, but she smiles. “I was just coming to check on you.”
“I’m fine,” Catra says quickly, running a hand over her hair. She’s so used to smoothing down her long mane, it’s unsettling that she no longer has it. “Just needed a walk.”
“Yeah, I figured.” Adora clears her throat. “I can join, if you want.”
“You don’t have to do that.”
“No, I know. I want to.”
Her kindness grasps at Catra’s heart, squeezing so hard it hurts. She doesn’t deserve Adora’s kindness. Not after everything she’s done. Catra turns around, her quest for food suddenly deemed unimportant. “There’s no point. I was just going back to my room.”
“Oh.” Catra can’t see Adora’s expression, but she hears the disappointment in her voice. Her ears perk when she hears her take a step closer. “Can I… come sit with you for a bit? If you’re tired, you won’t even know I’m there.”
It’s on the tip of Catra’s tongue to ask if she promises, but she holds herself back. She knows she should say no. There’s no logical reason that would explain Adora’s desire to spend time with her. And yet… her mind wanders back to their embrace, their hands intertwined, the certainty in Adora’s voice as she told her that they would go home. Maybe just a little while wouldn’t hurt.
“Okay.” She pretends she doesn’t notice how her tail starts swishing and starts to walk back to her room without waiting for Adora.
As expected, the blonde keeps up.
“It’s good to see you up and walking,” she admits. Adora’s always been good with breaking the tension. It really shouldn’t surprise Catra that she’s so natural about it, even now. “You really had us worried.”
“Us?” Catra narrows her eyes. “Didn’t think I meant so much to Arrow-Boy and Sparkles.”
Adora doesn’t have an answer for that, so she remains quiet. The walk back to the room is short and tense, but Adora meant what she’d said. She was glad to see Catra moving again. After everything with Prime and all the time she’d been having flashes in bed, it almost felt like Catra, this Catra , would never come back.
The two enter the room and Catra immediately hops on the bed, pulling her knees to her chest. Adora sets the plate down by her feet, a peace offering. “I noticed you didn’t eat much with everyone,” she says, her voice hesitant. “I saved you some dumplings in case you got hungry again. They’re cold by now, but I bet they still taste good.”
Catra glances down at the plate, only now noticing the food she’d been offered. She thinks about refusing, but really, what’s the point? Adora knows her far too well, and she’d probably do a bit better with enough food in her stomach. Without hesitating, she picks up a dumpling and takes a careful bite. They definitely tasted better when they were hot, but she’s had worse.
After swallowing the first bite, she wordlessly holds the other dumpling out to Adora. It was something they’d always done, growing up. Smuggling out extra ration bars from the kitchen, always sharing their loot. It didn’t feel right to be eating without her.
Adora shakes her head, laughing a bit to herself. “I had like, four during dinner. Those are for you.”
“I’m okay with one. My appetite isn’t exactly normal.” As soon as she’d said it, Catra knew that she should have kept it to herself. Adora’s brow immediately furrows in concern, and she comes closer.
“Is it the chip? Do you still get the flashes?”
“Not really.” Catra sets the remainder of her dumpling back down on the plate, letting out a shaky breath. “But the memories are still there.”
“If you want to talk about it—”
“I don’t.” She pauses, her ears tilting downward. “Not about that.”
Adora picks up on the hint and she sits on the edge of the bed. “I’m here,” she affirms, her voice soft and unwavering.
“Why are you here, though?” Catra holds her mouth taught to keep her lip from trembling. “You shouldn’t want to spend time with me. Don’t you remember what I did?”
“Of course I do.” Adora inhales, deep and steady. “But I meant what I said before. You matter to me, Catra. And despite everything, that’s never changed.”
If it were anyone other than Adora, Catra would push them away and call them a liar. But Adora is a terrible liar, so Catra knows she’s telling her truth. “This isn’t right,” she insists, balling her hands so hard that her fingernails prick her palms. “So what, we sweep everything under the rug? Pretend that it never happened and just… move forward?”
“No. Of course not.”
“So what comes next? We go back to Etheria and everyone hates me. They’ll want to kill me for everything I’ve done.”
“We’re the good guys, we don’t kill people,” Adora scoffs. “At most they’ll just lock you up for life. No big deal.” It’s meant to be a joke, but Catra’s mentality is a little past handling jokes at the moment. She hops off the bed and starts to pace, shaking her head back and forth.
“I’m not being funny, Adora. I’ve hurt people. Caused irreparable damage to… to kingdoms, and communities, and…” She trails off, her tail curling around her body as she does so. “I don’t deserve anyone’s forgiveness.” Especially not hers.
Adora bites her lip. It’s hard to argue with Catra when most of the things she’s saying are true. “You’ve made bad decisions,” she says, looking away. “I’m not going to deny that. But you’re not a bad person. A bad person wouldn’t have saved Glimmer.”
“I did it for you.” Catra’s shoulders slump as she says it. She stops pacing, her back to Adora, and just takes a moment to breathe. It felt better unlocking her heart, even if it was just a little bit. “I didn’t want Prime to hurt you.”
“But he hurt you instead.” Adora stands and makes to grab her arm, but stops herself at the last minute, just like she had earlier. Her hand trembles as she pulls it away. “Do you know how worried I was? I thought I lost you.”
Catra bites her lip as she feels her eyes welling. “You would have gotten over it.”
Despite her efforts, Catra feels the tears escape. She wipes them away as quickly as she can even though she knows Adora probably sees them anyway. The blonde takes a step forward, and pushing her thoughts aside she wraps Catra up into her arms, holding her from behind. Neither of them move in the embrace, they just stay there, bonded together as if not a single day had passed from being cadets in the Horde. “Not ever,” Adora repeats, softer, more broken than before.
Catra sniffles and just nods, finally letting herself accept it.
Nobody says anything when they notice Adora and Catra start sharing the bedroom. Mostly out of fear. Bow and Glimmer aren’t exactly comfortable at Catra yet, at least not comfortable enough to poke fun at her sleeping arrangements. If she notices, Entrapta certainly doesn’t care; she’s too busy having her fun with Wrong Hordak.
Adora and Catra didn’t speak about their arrangements, it just kind of happened. Catra did not ask her to stay and Adora didn’t offer, but every night when Adora announced she was tired, Catra would trail after her into what was now their bedroom and they’d sleep side by side. For the most part, it worked out. Adora always woke before Catra and she was long gone before the feline opened her eyes.
She does her best not to let it bother her, but every time she wakes up and the spot beside her is empty, Catra feels another part of her crumble.
It’s hard for her not to withdraw. The group gathers during meals, but everyone has their own tasks as they chart a course towards Etheria. Entrapta spends her time repairing the ship with assistance from Wrong Hordak. If Bow isn’t supervising her, he’s with either Glimmer or Adora, working on their battle plans.
For the most part, Catra just lingers. The group doesn’t shut her out, but after being on her own for such a long time, just taking the steps to connect with the group is daunting. They’re all so close. At times, it’s actually sickening. Bow and Glimmer are always laughing, and joking around. Adora will join them, sneaking glances towards Catra to check if she’s laughing too, blushing all the while. That part isn’t so bad. She figures if she hangs around long enough, it’s bound to feel more natural at some point.
That’s what she hopes, at least.
“I’m going to make lunch,” Catra announces once Adora’s wrapped up the planning session.
The three exchange a look before Glimmer smiles, the first to offer the olive branch. “Lunch sounds good.”
“I’m starving,” Bow adds, rolling up the map they’d be using. “Did you find anything good in the kitchen?”
“It’s kind of hard to tell. All the food is labeled in First One’s writing.”
“I can go with you.” Catra looks at Adora, who just shrugs. “It’ll be faster if you know what you’re looking at.”
It’s on the tip of Catra’s tongue to say no, but Adora was right. If she didn’t take her help, she’d just be ripping bags open left and right and wasting food. “Okay.”
“You sure that’s a good idea?” Bow cocks his head to the side, glancing between them before turning to Glimmer. The queen raises a brow, so Bow sighs and continues. “They both grew up on ration bars.”
Adora scoffs, nudging Bow with her elbow. “I’ve had plenty of food since then.”
“Yeah, if you have a problem with it, you go make food, then,” Catra adds, picking at her nails.
Bow looks as if he’s about to do just that, but a clanging comes from the side of the ship, followed by Entrapta’s shrieks of delight. He groans and swipes a palm down his face. “I’ll go get her,” he sighs, bringing Glimmer along with him to inspect the damage.
“Looks like it’s just the two of us.” Catra’s tail begins to swish as she glances back at Adora, who rolls up her sleeves. “I bet we’ll make something great, Bow doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
“I don’t know, he kind of has a point.”
“He does not.”
Catra grins, walking past her and letting her tail brush against Adora’s leg as she does so. “Whatever. You coming?”
“Race you to the kitchen!” Before Catra can respond, Adora dashes ahead of her, laughing all the while. Catra quickly catches up, yanking on Adora’s ponytail to give her leverage and for a second, everything feels like it used to be. To anyone who didn’t know them, their roughhousing would probably be cause for alarm. But for them, it’s completely normal. Catra shoves Adora against the wall and in turn, Adora trips her so that they both come crashing to the floor, bursting with laughter.
“You’re a cheat,” Adora manages to say in between her laughs. “I forgot that you always play dirty.”
“Next time don’t forget.”
It takes a minute for the two to recover from the fighting and the giggles. With Catra sitting on top of her, it’s like nothing had changed. Adora reaches up to brush some hair out of Catra’s eyes, but pauses before she does. Their eyes meet as if Adora is asking for permission, something she never had to ask for. The mood dims, and they both shrink back from each other as they remember that everything has changed.
Catra picks herself up, her ears falling as she busies herself by grabbing every bag of food that she can. It’s hard for her not to get sucked in by these little moments. Every day it becomes easier and easier to lose herself to Adora and pretend like nothing ever happened. They make up for lost time, they hold each other and caress and look at one another. It was everything Catra ever wanted.
So why wasn’t she happy?
It would be so simple, so easy to just let go of her own cares and allow herself happiness with Adora. But was that what Adora wanted? Did Adora even have feelings for her, or was she just being nice to her, as a favor? It gave Catra a headache just thinking about it.
“Did I do something?” Adora asks, breaking the silence.
Catra hands her a few boxes of food to decipher, keeping her face blank. “What are you talking about?”
“I don’t know, it’s just… we were close, and you pulled away. You did the same thing earlier, when you were sitting in my lap.”
When Catra doesn’t answer, Adora puts down the food in a nearby basket and walks over to her friend, taking her hand. “I’m trying to understand, and not… let things be like they were before. If I’m doing something that’s bothering you, I want to know.”
“So then why are you pulling away every time we get close?”
“Why do you leave the bed before I wake up?” Catra shoots back. Her eyes widen when she realizes that she’d said it aloud. Adora’s grip on her hand loosens and Catra hates herself for even saying anything. She pulls away. “Forget it. It doesn’t matter.”
“Of course it matters. I wasn’t doing it to hurt you, I just thought you needed some space.”
“We’ve had nothing but space for three years.” Every instinct is telling her to get angry, to fight. But she’s tired. She’s been fighting for three years, and despite the ache in her chest, she just wants to feel happy. “Everything’s different, Adora. And I’m trying.” She lifts her head to look at the blonde. “But it’s not easy.”
Adora takes a step closer to her. “I see that you’re trying. With planning, and Bow, and Glimmer and… me. And I’m so proud of you,” she begins. “I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings by leaving. You’re right, things are different, but weird. A good weird,” she emphasizes, starting to smile again. “I’m so happy that you’re here.”
“Of course I am. I missed you, Catra.” Adora holds her hand out, and Catra takes it without hesitation. “I want things to feel normal between us.”
Catra wants that too. She wants it so much that her heart is just about pounding out of her chest, and she prays that Adora can’t hear it. “I’ll work on it.”
“We both will.” Adora squeezes her hand. “Together.”
Entrapta enters the room, humming to herself as she searches for something. She doesn’t blink twice upon seeing Catra and Adora holding hands and just moves past them. “Have you seen my blowtorch?”
The two jump back, both letting go of each other's hands and blushing. “Blowtorch?”
Catra crosses her arms and wishes her face wasn’t so hot. “Why would your blowtorch be in the kitchen?”
“I always keep a spare blowtorch in the kitchen. How else do you make tiny s’mores?”
“Entrapta,” Adora sighs, her left eyebrow twitching. “I thought you were with Bow and Glimmer.”
“Oh, there was a little explosion… Bow started doing that weird laugh again, so I went looking for my blowtorch to fix things.” Entrapta trails off before she shrugs. “You wouldn’t happen to know where I can find it, would you?”
“Maybe Wrong Hordak knows.” Entrapta takes one last glance around the kitchen before looking again at Adora and Catra. “Bow said you were making lunch.”
“Where is it?”
“We haven’t started yet,” Catra grits out.
Entrapta examines the both of them, her expression blank. “Oh. Will you start soon?”
“Yes. We will start right now.” Adora picks up the boxes of food from the basket and starts decoding what they are. She shakes a box at Catra. “Think we can make something good out of protein flakes?” She picks up another box and grimaces. “It’s either that or tinned mystery meat.”
Catra makes a face; she hadn’t had much food other than ration bars, but the two things Adora mentioned didn’t sound particularly appealing. “Maybe Bow had a point.”
The night before they’re set to land on Krytis, Catra’s nightmares return full swing.
She shoots up with a scream, gasping for air as she struggles to breathe. Adora wakes up when she does and follows her, touching her shoulder. “What happened?” she asks, alert with just a hint of disoriented sleep.
It takes a moment for Catra to collect herself and steady her breathing. She knows where she is. Not on Prime’s ship, but Adora’s, in their bedroom. She’s okay. Her body relaxes once it catches up with her mind and she shakes her head. “Just a nightmare.”
“Oh.” Adora reaches up and brushes some of Catra’s hair off her clammy forehead. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. Go back to sleep.” She lies back down, turning away from Adora. The memories of Krytis had triggered the nightmares. Thinking back to Prime always triggered some type of reaction. Even now her hands were shaking.
Adora doesn’t go back to sleep. She scoots closer to Catra and wraps her arms around her small waist. By now she knows how her friend works. Catra will keep everything bottled inside until Adora coaxes it out of her. “Is it Prime?” she asks, nestling her head in the crook of her neck. It fits perfectly, snug and comfortable, so much that Adora could see herself falling asleep in this position.
“It’s always Prime.” With Adora holding her like this, she can’t be mad. Any irritation or unease had dissipated the moment her arms wrapped around her. Biting her lip, she slowly turns around to face Adora. “I’m okay,” she says, because when she’s lying next to her, she is. For the most part.
“Do you have nightmares a lot?”
Catra nods. “Even without the chip, I still remember everything.” She glances into Adora’s eyes, shrinking a bit at the intensity behind them. “They’re not new, though. I’ve been having them for a while.”
“Since the portal.”
As understanding sets in, Adora’s face starts to change. No longer soft and comforting, it hardens, as it always does whenever someone brings up the portal. Catra can’t blame her for it.
“Adora, I’m sorry.” Her throat grows tight but she forces herself to keep going. “I’m so sorry about the portal.” Her mind races with every guilty thought she’s ever had. Guilt has eaten at her for so long, but she hadn’t ever let herself feel sorry.
Catra’s body tenses, preparing for Adora to pull away and leave her there on the bed, alone. But she doesn’t. Instead, Adora scoots closer, putting her hands on Catra’s face and cupping her jaw in her palms. “Thank you.”
It couldn’t be that easy, could it? Catra keeps her head stiff in Adora’s palms, unwilling to accept her softness just yet. “You don’t have to forgive me.”
“I know, and… I don’t. Not yet.” Adora smiles, her thumbs lightly caressing Catra’s cheeks. “We’ve both hurt each other. But in time, we’ll make things work. Okay?”
Catra finally allows herself to relax in Adora’s palms. “Okay.” She closes her eyes again, and Adora lists one hand to the top of Catra’s head, scratching it affectionately until the feline is purring.
“You haven’t done that in a while.”
“I know. It feels kind of weird now.”
“Weird?” Catra opens her eyes and makes herself more comfortable. “How come?”
Adora bites her lip and shrugs, pausing to scratch so she can stroke Catra’s hair. “Your hair is so short. Why’d you cut it?”
The words weren’t meant to hurt her, and yet they do. Catra flashes back to Horde Prime’s ship, and the clones who had mercilessly hacked at her hair before they’d chipped her. When it happened she hadn’t let herself feel anything; she’d only been focused on saving Adora. But when she thinks about it, really thinks about it, it stings. Something that was so ingrained in her identity had been forcefully and painfully stripped away with no care or concern.
“I didn’t,” Catra mutters, lowering her eyes.
“What do you mean you didn’t do it?” It takes a moment for it to click. Adora’s eyes widen in shock, and she lifts Catra’s chin so she’s looking at her. “Prime did this?”
“Well, technically his clones did it.” She swallows thickly. “But yeah.”
Not a moment passes before Adora pulls her close, holding her as tight as she can. “I’m so sorry. I thought maybe you’d done it before…” she trails off and bites her lip, squeezing Catra even tighter. “If I’d known I wouldn’t have said anything.”
Catra doesn’t respond right away. She moves her head so it’s laying against Adora’s chest, listening to the sound of her heartbeat. She can’t exactly pinpoint her feelings on the matter. Honestly she tries not to think about it too much. If she does, she’ll think of Horde Prime, and the moment she does she gets this jerk reaction that makes her body freeze and go into a round of tremors.
Still, it’s weird to scratch her ears and be met with jagged tufts. When she passes by mirrors, she hardly recognizes herself. Maybe that’s a good thing, though; she’d grown to resent her reflection. “Do you hate it?” she finally asks, her head still buried in her chest.
“ No , of course not. It’s just different.” Adora buries a hand in her hair, stroking it with a feather-light touch. “I’m sorry he did that.”
Her too. “It’ll grow back.”
“I think it looks kind of cute, actually.” Catra lifts up her head to find Adora grinning down at her. “It’s nice to see your face without that dumb mask.”
Catra scoffs, shoving herself off Adora. She’d always hated her mask. From the moment she’d made it in the Horde, Adora had expressed her distaste for it. “You’re such an idiot.”
“Yeah, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m right.”
The feline shakes her head, moving back to her position at the foot of the bed, turning away so that Adora can’t see her smile. “Just shut up and try not to kick me in your sleep this time.”
Catra usually likes to have Adora’s attention all to herself. But even she can’t deny that seeing her get excited and reunite with friends is nice. After formally introducing Catra to them all, Adora let herself get distracted and started catching up with everyone. Normally, this would make her jealous, but she’s working on it.
She stays to the side, petting Melog and sneaking glances to Adora every now and again. Melog mewls at her and Catra grins, scratching behind his ears. “I know. She’s such a dork.”
In Catra speak, that roughly translates to ‘she’s pretty damn cute’.
For once, she’s not bothered by being alone. Maybe it’s because Melog is with her, cuddled against her side. Or maybe it’s because the lingering, bitter feelings of loneliness and despair are no longer eating at her insides. Adora is just a few feet away from her, and all Catra has to do is close the distance and they’ll be together again.
“How are you doing?” Catra glances up as she hears Bow’s voice.
The archer grins and plops himself down beside her, crossing his legs. Melog quickly bristles and Catra has to remind herself that he’s no longer an enemy. Bow is her ally. A very annoying ally, but she could tolerate that. “I’m peachy.”
“You seem a little out of your element,” Bow notes, not unkindly. “It’s a lot to take in.”
“No kidding.” Melog calms and resumes his spot beside her. It’s a little weird, having all her emotions out on display via a magic alien cat, but no one else has seemed to catch on yet and that suits her just fine.
Boy nudges her foot with his own. “I wanted to apologize to you.”
“For poking fun at you when we were on Krytis.” He rubs the back of his neck, smiling sheepishly. “I may have gotten a little carried away.”
It’s the last thing Catra could ever expect an apology for, but she gives a good-natured smile and shrugs. “I pushed you off a cliff. So I guess we’re even.”
“Guess so.” Bow leans forward a bit and stretches out his back. “It’s good having you in the group. If it wasn’t for you, we never would have made it back to Etheria.”
A blush creeps up on Catra’s cheeks. It is weird to be appreciated, especially by Bow, no less. A good weird, though. “That’s old news, Arrow-Boy.”
“Still. You’re really smart. I don’t think you get enough credit for that.”
“What is this, compliment hour?” She doesn’t know what to make of this. Words of affirmation aren’t exactly a thing she’s used to. “Thanks, I guess.”
Bow chuckles. “Anytime.” The two sit in comfortable silence, just watching the group. Catra’s eyes automatically go to Adora again; she’s speaking animatedly with Frosta, but every now and then she’ll glance at Catra and offer her a smile. Bow watches the two of them before chuckling to himself.
He smirks. “I think you like her.”
Catra jerks back, ears high on her head and her tail straight out as if someone had just doused her with water. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Don’t I? I know cats are colorblind, but I didn’t think you’re actually blind.”
“Shut up!” she hisses, immediately tackling Bow to the floor. “Don’t you have any dumb arrows to make?”
“Not at the moment, no.”
“Everything okay?” Their heads snap up, and they soon realize that everyone’s eyes are on them. Adora is right beside them, brow raised in confusion.
Catra growls, only growing more flustered as Bow laughs at her predicament. She leaps away from him, spewing out a hiss and storming out to the woods. Melog follows after her, quick on her tail.
Adora crosses her arms and shakes her head at Bow. “Were you messing with her again?”
“Something like that.”
He watches as Adora follows after Catra, humming to himself. It would seem that Adora liked her too.
With Catra gone, nothing makes sense anymore.
Adora lies in bed, radiating with a loss she cannot fully comprehend. Everyone else is fast asleep, but sleep is the farthest thing from her mind. The failsafe is hot in her chest, burning her to the point where she feels like she wants to scream.
It isn’t fair. Nothing is fair. One moment, Catra is here and they’re laughing and for once, everything is right in the world. And the next, she’s gone, and Adora’s head is swirling to the point where she can hardly see straight.
When do you get to choose? What do you want, Adora?
She knows what she wants. Adora wants it so much, it brings tears of frustration into her eyes just thinking about it. But she can’t admit it to herself. She cant, because it doesn’t matter what she wants; not when she’s She-Ra. Not when the weight of the entire planet is on her shoulders and hers alone.
The look of disappointment in Catra’s eyes is seared inside her mind. No matter how hard she tries to think of something, anything else, the image comes right back. It reminds her that yet again, she’s let Catra down.
When will she stop doing that? They had finally reached a point of understanding, where everything was getting better between them. Adora had been happy. Why can’t she allow herself to be happy?
Adora grits her teeth together, turning around on her mat so that she’s facing Catra’s. Just a couple of hours prior, she’d been there, sleeping next to her. How is she supposed to save Etheria without Catra by her side? She knows she has no choice, but she can’t fathom how she’s supposed to just continue as if the past few weeks hadn’t happened. Adora needs her.
No, you don’t. You never have.
The failsafe shoots a painful sensation that punctures Adora’s chest every time she remembers Catra’s words. She does need her. Being with her, spending time and laughing with her, it made everything make so much sense. With Catra by her side, life didn’t seem as dark.
And now she is gone.
“Adora?” A small hand, Glimmer’s, touches her shoulder. “What’s going on? You’re shaking.”
She rolls around to face her friend. “Catra’s gone,” she whispers, her voice hoarse.
“What?” Glimmer takes her hands, trying to offer her an encouraging smile. “I’m sure she just went for a walk or something. She’ll be back soon.”
“No, she’s…” Adora swallows thickly, her hands shaking as she remembers Catra vanishing along with Melog. “She’s gone, Glimmer. And she’s not coming back.” Tears roll down her cheeks and she doesn’t do a thing to stop them.
“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do,” she sobs as Glimmer pulls her onto her lap. “I messed up everything .”
Glimmer shushes her, rubbing small circles into her back. “We’ll figure it out. You, and me and Bow. Just like we always have before.”
In the past, those words probably would have worked. But the heart continues to sear into her chest, and she can’t stop thinking about letting Catra, letting herself down. The three of them… It’s not enough.
She wants Catra there, too.
Etheria never looked as beautiful as it does after Adora had released the magic. Everything is green, and blooms with a promise of hope. She’d done that.
And not alone.
She turns back to see Catra, calm as she’d ever seen her before, and holds out her hand. Adora holds out her hand and Catra takes it, uniting them for the first time since they’d saved Etheria. “It’s over,” Adora breathes, resting her forehead against Catra’s. “He’s gone.”
They take a moment for themselves, just savoring the quiet in the brightness of it all. So much had happened in such a short time. So for now, the two just bask in each other’s company.
It doesn’t last long. Bow and Glimmer pounce on them and they all roll down a hill, laughing as they do. What was just so heavy now seems lighter, and the four of them soak it up as much as they can. When they recover, Bow sits up a bit and twists to face them all. “So, what are we gonna do now?”
“We can bring magic back to the universe.” Adora doesn’t even need to think before she says it. Etheria isn’t the only place where Horde Prime extended his ruin. The other planets need help too, and with Prime gone, she can’t think of a better way to spend her time.
Catra nuzzles against her chest, purring softly. Well, maybe she can. But there’s no reason she can’t do both. “What do you guys say to one more Best Friend Squad road trip?”
They all stand up, but Adora keeps her hand entwined with Catra’s, and she doesn’t intend to let it go for a long time.
“Well of course I’m going with you, Dummy.”
As the four of them embrace in a hug, Adora finally understands what Mara was saying back at the heart. She deserves love too. And despite being She-Ra, there’s no reason she can’t have both. “Then let’s do this. Together.”
The plans they make all blur together. At some point, Bow and Glimmer leave them and then it’s just her and Catra, alone on the grass. “Should we go to the others?” Catra asks, nodding to the dissipating crowd. “Knowing this crowd, there’s probably a celebration brewing. Better savor it before they all come to their senses and lock me up for life.”
Adora laughs, but she shakes her head no, taking both of Catra’s hands in hers. “Not just yet. I want to sit here with you.”
Catra’s cheeks turn pink, but she doesn’t say no. The two sit on the grass, staring out into the new world that they’d changed together. “I don’t know where to start,” she admits.
“Neither do I.” Adora squeezes her hands, feeling lighter than she has in a long time. “Thank you, for coming back. None of this would have been possible without you.”
“Yeah, well…” The blush grows deeper, to the point where Catra has to turn her eyes away. “Please don’t make this weird.”
“But weird is our trademark.” Adora bites her lip. “Can I ask you something?” She doesn’t wait for a response and inches herself closer, just slight enough so that Catra won’t be able to notice. “Did you mean what you said, back at the Heart?”
Catra laughs, a light, hiccupy sound that sends shivers down Adora’s spine. “Do you really think the failsafe would have worked if I didn’t?” She smiles, her eyes softening. “Of course I love you, stupid. I always have.”
It’s insane what those words do to Adora. Her heart pounds in her chest and her head is so light she feels like flying. Without giving it a second thought, she pulls Catra to her and kisses her swiftly, smiling at her quiet yelp of surprise. There’s just as much magic as the first time, even without the Heart or the fate of the world relying on them.
Adora pulls away first, breathing hard. “You have no idea how long I’ve been wanting to do that.”
“You’re so annoying.”
“I mean, if you don’t want me to—”
“Shut up, of course I want you to.” This time Catra closes the gap, giving her a quick peck that leaves Adora wanting more. Much more. For so long she’s restrained herself from this idea of love, like it was something she couldn’t have. Something that was above what she was allowed. But now, with Catra, she doesn’t care. It just feels so good to have her, she can’t imagine another possibility.
Catra lightly knocks her head against her before she stands. “Come on. They’ll be wondering where we are.”
“Almost sounds like you care.”
“You know what, I kind of do.” Adora takes her hand, and Catra drags her to follow in the group’s direction. “I’m kind of hungry, and food sounds pretty good right now.” Melog waits for them by the battle site, mewling excitedly once they’ve caught up to him. He walks under their hands, and oddly enough, it feels like this is the way things are supposed to be.
Later, there will be plenty of time to talk, and play, and reconnect. But for now, just holding Catra’s hand, knowing that she loves her, is more than enough.
The morning of Princess Prom, Adora wakes up nauseous.
There’s something familiar about this day, like a memory she can’t exactly put her finger on. She sits up, reaching for Catra, but the feline is nowhere to be found. “Catra?” she calls out, her voice dripping with sleep. No answer. Melog isn’t around either. She flops back down in their bed, unable to shake the unease. As she does so, something crinkles under her hip. A note. Adora grabs it and reads through it, feeling at ease almost instantly.
Went to pick up clothes. Having breakfast with Netossa right after.
Took Melog with me. Be back in time for the ball.
She smiles, setting the note down on the nightstand. Catra had mentioned something about picking up her clothes last night, but truth be told, Adora had been too exhausted to really listen. She’d been feeling a little off, lately. Glimmer had been sending her and Catra on diplomatic missions to check up on the progress of the other planets, in addition to the towns of Etheria. They were low-stakes missions, but exhausting nonetheless.
Princess Prom is supposed to be the start of their vacation. After the ball, she and Catra were going to do absolutely nothing— their version of nothing, at least. That meant helping out around Bright Moon, spending time with their friends. Just relaxing and enjoying each other’s company without any political distractions.
And maybe, just maybe, finally starting a family.
Before Glimmer had sent them off, they’d sat down with Micah and told him they were ready to start a family. Given that they couldn’t have children the natural way, they needed a little magical assistance. Catra and Adora had talked it over and agreed that Adora would take the first spell. Catra will never admit it, but she wanted a legitimate reason for Adora to relax and withhold from being She-Ra as much. Micah had performed the spell and given them instruction to wait a few weeks. If nothing took, they would try again.
The weeks passed. They’d gone from planet to planet, and nothing seemed to change. Neither of them had really talked about it, yet. Truthfully, they’d been too busy traveling to worry about whether the spell had worked or not.
Now that they have the chance to settle down and relax, Adora was looking forward to trying seriously. Glimmer and Bow already had two kids, always running around Bright Moon and causing some kind of trouble. Catra always watches them with a little twinkle in her eye and Adora can’t wait for it to be their turn.
She picks herself out of bed, cracking the muscles on her back. This year’s ball is being held in the Scorpion Queendom, by none other than Scorpia. When Glimmer and the Princess Alliance met to discuss the ball’s location that year, there was no debate to be had. Scorpia had been working hard on reclaiming her kingdom and transforming the Fright Zone into a welcoming place that anyone would be happy to call their home. Plus, the look on her face was just too good to pass up.
As a result, Scorpia keeps herself busy by planning every miniscule detail of the ball. She describes them all to Catra in her weekly letters, which she then shares with Adora. Catra pretends to be annoyed by the letters, but it’s just for show. Both she and Adora know that she treasures each one and keeps them in their own special box.
A knock comes at the door. It’s not Catra, it’s too early for it to be Catra. “Come in,” Adora calls out after she’s wrapped herself in a robe.
Glimmer enters, laughing a bit when she sees Adora still in her pajamas. “Hey Sleepyhead. You just woke up?”
“Yeah, I’ve been tired lately.”
“You look it.”
Adora lightly shoves her friend with a grin. “I wouldn’t be so tired if you stopped sending me on all these She-Ra diplomacy missions.”
“Oh come off it.” Glimmer picks up one of Catra’s shirts off a nearby chair and tosses it to the side so she can sit down. “You’ve gone on plenty of missions before and I’ve never seen you look this peaked. Are you feeling okay?”
“I’m fine. Just been feeling… I don’t know, weird? I haven’t been eating much, and my sleeping schedule is—why are you smirking like that?”
The queen laughs before she stands and moves to take her friends hand. “Adora, how long has it been since my dad did the spell on you and Catra.”
“I’m not sure.” Adora quickly does the math in her head, trying to remember how many places they’d been to. Thaymor, Salineas, Elberon, a week just in the Crimson Waste… “Maybe about a month?” Her mouth opens slightly as it finally hits her to what Glimmer is implying. “You think it worked?”
“All I’m saying is that I was exhausted when I was pregnant with Angel.” She smirks, grabbing Adora’s arm. “Please let me tell Catra.”
“What? No. She’s my wife and the mother of our potential kid. I’m telling her.”
“Oh come on. If you were really my friend you’d let me freak her out.”
Adora laughs. “I am your friend, but no. If this is true, I want to tell her myself.” She looks at the clock on the wall, biting her lip. The ball started in a couple of hours, and Catra would be back any minute. “Maybe after the ball.”
“Fine. But just know that you’re absolutely no fun.”
Glimmer leans over and kisses her cheek. “We’ll head to the ball together?”
“Of course.” They’re interrupted by the crash of something heavy. Glimmer sighs, shaking her head. “I better go. Angel keeps getting her hand on Bow’s arrows and it hasn’t been pretty. The castle suddenly has way less vases than it used to.” Before Adora can bid her goodbye, Glimmer disappears in a flash of sparkles.
Once she’s alone, she takes a minute to let the news really sink in, resting a hand on her stomach. Maybe it really was true. Catra would be thrilled, and immediately start taking bets with the rest of the Princess Alliance on whether their baby would have ears and a tail. Adora sighs; she can already see it now, Frosta and Mermista would be placing heavy bets.
Still, Adora is happy. She’ll tell her tonight, after the ball, when they have a chance to be alone. This was something she wanted to savor without the rest of the world knowing just yet. Bow will know, because Glimmer will tell him the moment she isn’t distracted by their kids or her queenly duties. Hopefully they can keep it between the four of them.
She bathes and slips into the dress that’s been hanging in her closet for a week. The white gown is similar to her wedding dress, only with more elements of She-Ra. Everything about the dress is familiar, but she can’t quite seem to place it.
When her hair is combed and the tiara is in place, the door bursts open again and Catra and Glimmer run in.
“Just let me brush it!”
“No!” Catra runs and ducks behind Adora with Glimmer following after her. “Don’t let her touch me, she’s gonna torture me.”
Glimmer has a brush in hand, in complete Mom-mode as she chastises Catra. “Do you always have to be this dramatic?”
“Come on, guys.” The three of them turn towards the door, seeing Bow enter the room. He joins his wife, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “If we’re late to Scorpia’s first ball, she’s gonna kill us.”
“Fine.” Glimmer leans her head against Bow’s shoulder before shooting a look at Catra. “You’re off the hook. This time.”
Catra holds onto Adora and sticks her tongue out. There wouldn’t be a next time.
It’s all so familiar, it leaves Adora in a daze and barely able to react. Bow and Glimmer say something about them being ready to go, and while Catra answers, Adora can’t quite make out what she said. The two leave to give them a bit of space.
The feline flops onto a chair, scoffing at the door. “You need to tell her Highness to lay off. My hair’s fine.” She glances over at Adora, pausing when she sees her expression. “You okay?”
Adora takes a deep breath. “Yeah. Yeah, I am.” She looks over her wife, smiling when she sees her old rebellion pin on Catra’s shirt. “You look nice.”
“Just nice?” Catra plucks herself from the chair and does a little spin for Adora, making her laugh.
“Fishing for compliments?”
“You know, today I am. I look amazing.”
“You do.” Adora couldn’t deny it even if she wanted to. “Will you put the jacket on?”
Catra pouts. “But it looks so much better as a cape.”
“It does look pretty good.” Adora lifts her hands and places them on Catra’s shoulders, giving her a quick kiss. “I love you.”
“Feeling’s mutual. Now come on, we have to go. I kinda want to see this shindig that Scorpia’s worked so hard on.” Catra takes her hand and gives it a peck before letting it go. “You didn’t hear it from me, but a little birdie told me that tonight’s the night Scorpia will ask Perfuma to marry her.”
Adora hesitates. Seeing Catra from behind triggers a memory, something lodged so far back in her mind, it disappears the moment her wife turns around.
When Adora doesn’t follow her, Catra turns and holds out her hand. “You coming?”
The memory returns, distant and more faded. Adora remembers now. Back at the Heart, when Prime had control and everything was crumbling to pieces. Everything looks the same. She’d reached for Catra’s hand then, only for the scenario to glitch and dissipate into emptiness.
Adora smiles and takes her wife’s hand. Nothing fades away. Catra’s hand is warm and feels just like it had for her entire life.