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tell me something nice (like flowers and blue skies)

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Some people think that walking into your local “apothecary” store to gather an assortment of herbs and other odd materials knowing full well you’re going to be using them later to hex the fuck out of the old lady who screwed over your childhood would be a bit weird. Those people are cowards. Catra pushes open the door of Garden of Etheria with all the confidence of a young woman just looking to buy six black candles for her room aesthetic and her room aesthetic alone, idly scanning the store.

At the front are regular things one might expect from a store like this. Barrels of flowers and packs of mason jars, a few different tarot decks, and a book about learning about energy and pendulum readings. But the really interesting things, the things that Catra’s here for, are always further back.

She winds her way through the aisles of various packaged herbs and finally reaches the place she’d come for— spell supplies.

The Garden, as it’s often called by other witches in the area, is technically run by the city’s main coven. Though it fronts as a tourist’s new age store, their supplies are always legitimate and most witches within several miles buy their supplies there. Sometimes though, Catra’s not entirely sure if all their employees know it too.

When she strides up to the counter with a few candle bundles, a tin of black salt, a sharp rusty spike, and one big knife, the cashier who’d been doodling on a napkin looks looked slightly alarmed. Catra’s not seen her around before, but she’s quite pretty, in a completely confused but adorable jock kind of way.

“Oh,” she says, hand going to her blonde ponytail as she surveyed Catra’s haul. “I uh, I wasn’t aware we sold those… very sharp shrapnels. Heh, the more you know I guess?”

Catra’s face remains bored as she watches the cashier, Adora according to her nametag, fumble with the scan gun. When she’s put the candles and salt into a paper bag, she pauses, looking between Catra’s last two items. There’s no sticker on either of them and Adora’s smile becomes a bit more pained, eyes widening just a bit. Catra wants to laugh. “Er, give me a moment please.”

Adora speed walks to the door leading back to the office, rapping frantically on the frame. “Glimmer,” she hisses in a not quite whisper. “This girl has two very sharp objects she wants to purchase. I’m not even sure if we sell these, there’s not even a sticker to scan, am I supposed to like put this in bubble wrap for transit or…?”

Catra’s lips were twitching up into a smile at Adora’s panic, but when she hears Glimmer’s name it drops. She holds back a sigh. Fantastic, of course she had to come to the Garden on the day that Sparkles is in.

“Oh my gosh, of course! Adora, I’m so sorry,” comes the response. And then Glimmer comes out of the office, brows furrowed in worry and hands waving in that obnoxious way of hers as she strides towards the abandoned counter. “I totally forgot to warn you that some customers buy some uh, other things from us that aren’t really up at the front. There’s a chart under the counter with weights and stuff that should— Oh. Catra. It’s you.”

Suddenly Glimmer’s voice is stiff and distasteful as she looks up and sees Catra leaning on the other side of the counter. She tries to hide it, but Catra can see the grimace before Glimmer wipes away the expression to smile sweetly.

“Hey, Sparkles,” Catra says, brow raising like she’s not just as uncomfortable.

Back when they were apprenticing for Weaver, they didn’t get along too well. Words were exchanged, supplies were thrown, and it ended with Catra fucking off to live in a cottage in the forest bordering the city that’s outside the coven’s lines. It’s far enough away that she is out of the coven as well, and never will have to be shackled to one again.

She still goes to the Garden for supplies since it’s still the closest store, and days like this she highly regrets it. Curse her haste for not checking with Scorpia about shift schedules first, but the new moon only comes once a month.

Glimmer rolls her eyes. “Whatever, let’s just see what you’ve got here,” she sighs, moving to stand next to a once again baffled looking Adora behind the counter. She digs around under the counter for a moment then sets a laminated piece of paper down, pointing to it. “The price for these,” she picks up the spike, “are based off item and weight. You can just use the herb scale. Daggers, just look at the picture on the chart.”

“Wait, there’s more of those?!” Adora interrupts, staring at the knife Glimmer’s now delicately picking up and rolling in newspaper.

Catra giggles. “Don’t you work here?”

“I mean yeah, I have for a few months but I’ve never seen… this variety of merchandise,” Adora says defensively, crossing her arms with a pout.

“But you’ve never looked entirely in the back corner?” Catra asks, leaning her elbows on the counter and looking up playfully at Adora.

A bloom of red spreads across Adora’s face and she looks away. “I mean, not really? I’m just here to work the cash register here, Catra.”

Catra opens her mouth to reply, smirk on her lips, but is interrupted by an exasperated Glimmer. “And if you’re done flirting with Little Miss Rogue here, that’s still your job, Adora,” she says pointedly.

“Psh, what? I’m not flirting with her,” Adora says unconvincingly, eyes sliding back to Catra as she does so. Catra winks and Adora blushes harder. “We’re not flirting,” she says again, this time to Catra. “Are we?”

Catra shrugs. “Do you wanna be?”

“I don’t,” Glimmer interrupts. “I don’t care what you choose to do outside my store, even if it’s… her, Adora, but for now you’re still kind of working here and I want her and whatever hex she’s about to do out. That’ll be $67.35, goodbye Catra.” She picks up the bag and practically shoves it at Catra’s chest, impatience clear in her voice.

“Wait, did you say hex? Like a Hocus Pocus deal?” Adora exclaims, concern in her voice.

Catra ignores it and snorts as she pulls out her wallet and hands her card to Glimmer. A few seconds later she gets it back and tucks her wallet into the back pocket of her jeans, adjusting her grip on the bag of supplies. “Yeah, yeah, whatever, Sparkles. It’s not even your store, it’s your mommy’s so unless she’s about to get sucked into a time compressing vortex, I’ll be around if I want to. But alas, I do have some things to do, so see you around, Adora.”

She strides out of the store without a second glance, feeling Glimmer and Adora’s eyes on her as she leaves. Catra walks down the street to where her car is parked and idly plans out her ritual for tonight. It’ll have to be perfect the first time around. The moon takes a while to cycle back around and the bad luck bounced back on you in a spell gone wrong isn’t worth anything.

But Catra’s confident in her abilities as she unlocks her car and drives back to her home, as she puts all her supplies away, and then when she pulls everything out later that night. She’s so confident, and usually that would be enough. Not this time though.

“Fuck!” she exclaims, leaning back from the flame in front of her. “Fuck, fuck, fuck.”

The hex failed, it doesn’t take too much to know it. The energy is the exact same as before, the flame of her central candle is weak, and the magic isn’t listening. Catra leans back, rubbing a wax covered hand over her face.

There’s no point in moping around about the failure, but Catra lets herself feel like shit for a moment. What was she missing? Her intent is strong as it could be, her focus was almost solely concentrated on the spell, her supplies are all charged and useable. And yet, it seems like Catra’s just not a good enough witch.

“Alright, pity party’s over,” she mutters to herself after a moment. Catra pushes these thoughts far, far away.

She’s back at square one, but at least she’ll have a month to do some more research. Her candles are nearly gone and now she’s low on a few different herbs though, so at the very least it means there’s another trip to the Garden in her future. Catra still doesn’t like Glimmer, but there’s something about Adora that draws her in, something different.

Catra folds that thought away for later and stands to clean up.

It’s a week and a half later when Catra makes a reappearance at the Garden, and luckily— or just thanks to checking in with Scorpia beforehand, which was a mistake that led to a ridiculous amount of teasing about Catra having some sort of crush— Adora is back behind the counter when she comes in. Adora looks up when the bell above the door rings and the start of her automatic greeting falls from her lips when she sees Catra.

“Oh, Catra, right?” she says, smiling a bit more genuinely. “I haven’t seen you around here too much recently.”

“Hey Adora,” Catra replies. “Miss me?”

Adora blushes. “Pfft, no. I was just worried Glimmer might’ve scared you off or something, though I don’t know why, she’s usually so nice, you know?”

Catra scoffs. “Nice is not quite the word I’d use to describe her.”

“Oh come on, Glimmer’s not that bad,” Adora defends.

“Alright, whatever you say, princess,” Catra says, sighing dramatically. “I’ve got shit to buy but I’ll see you in a few.”

“Don’t bring back any more iron spikes for me to wrap,” Adora teases as Catra walks deeper into the store. “I’m half convinced you’re trying to murder someone with that thing.”

“Don’t count on it,” Catra replies, brows raised. If only Adora knew what she’s about to attempt again in a few weeks. Her heart leaps a bit at the giggle she receives in reply and bites back a smile as she navigates towards the candle aisle.

She’s revised her ritual since her failure, added a few things here and removed a few things there. There’s still some time until the next new moon comes along but she’s been experimenting and looking for the right balance nonstop. Catra’s been walking into her job on only a few hours of sleep, distant as she thinks about the ritual. This small interaction with Adora is the most present she’s felt in over a week, she realizes as she grabs a large white candle. It’s not healthy, Catra can admit that much, but everything will be okay once she completes it. It has to be.

The constant experimentation has been depleting all of Catra’s resources, which is why she’s back at the Garden again. Usually she’d hate this and be moaning about it to Scorpia over the phone the entire twenty minute drive, but her short interaction with Adora when she walked in and when she finishes her shopping almost makes it worth it.

“Where do you live anyway?” Adora asks, bagging Catra’s supplies with more ease than the last time. “Oh god, that sounds creepy, doesn’t it? I mean, like, I haven’t really seen you around town here. I go to Brightmoon University and you’re around my age, I think, but I definitely would have noticed if you went there too.”

“And what does that mean?” Catra asks in amusement.

“Er, nothing, nothing!” Adora says quickly. She looks down shyly, toying with the handle of the bag. “Just that you’re uh… very unique. Pretty. It’d be hard to miss someone like you.”

Catra feels her cheeks warm and tries to stamp down the hopeful flutter in her chest. She wants to say something cool, maybe something funny, but all that comes out of her mouth is a soft, “Oh.”

Adora laughs nervously and turns to the cash register, hand running through her hair. “Uhh can we just forget I said that? Ugh, I can’t believe I just said that… I mean, it’s true, yeah, but saying it, and to a customer at your place of work? Talk about creepy. And I know that we’ve met twice now and you could totally play it off as some girls complimenting each other thing, but it wasn’t and I don’t know if you hadn’t caught that but oh man, I’m rambling again so now you do and I will just be quiet now.” Adora winces, pushing a few buttons on the cash register and pointedly looks down.

“Oh,” Catra says again, unsure what else to do. “Well uh—”

“Your total is $32.04,” Adora blurts out a bit too chipperly. She tears the receipt from the machine, tosses it in the bag, and hands it to Catra. “Haha, have a nice day, bye Catra.”

Catra takes the bag instinctively but holds up her card, trying to ignore the voice of Weaver whispering she wants you to leave, she doesn’t actually like you like that, she wants you to leave. “Uh, you forgot this. I haven’t paid yet.”

Adora winces. “Oh. Right. Er, I’ll take that, aaaand now you’re done. See ya.”

“Goddamn,” Catra mutters to herself, turning to leave. “I need to find a different store or something if I’m gonna keep getting kicked out.”

“Catra, wait,” Adora says quickly from behind her. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to do that, I just thought I made you uncomfortable saying all that but I just made that even worse, ugh. That was really unprofessional of me and I’m sorry.”

Catra turns to see Adora burying her head in her hands, looking so ridiculously sad it’s adorable. Though she was feeling like shit a second ago, Catra can’t help but smile at it. “You’re so dramatic,” she says, shaking her head. And cute, she thinks. “It’s fine, really. That was kind of a dick move but I’ve got tough skin.”

“But I just—” Adora starts.

Catra puts up a hand. “You’re good, and you even apologized so I’m not going to sit around here holding a grudge. Fuck it, to prove to you that I don’t hate you, here.” Though it feels like she’s watching herself on a screen, she readjusts her grip on her shopping bag to reach the zipper of her purse, ripping off a small piece of paper from her travel journal then grabbing one of the pens on the counter. Catra scrawls her name and number on it, handing it to Adora with a confidence she doesn’t actually feel. “Call me sometime, maybe we can get dinner or something. I think you’re pretty too.”

Adora stares at her for a long moment, not making any movement, and Catra fears she read this very wrong. “Only if you want to though,” she adds. “It’s… it’s whatever. I don’t care if you throw it away or something, you and Glimmer look kinda close so I don’t want to be some bump in the road and it’s not cool to ask someone out at their place of work so that was really shitty of me. Uh, later. Sorry.”

“No!” Adora practically shouts. The few others milling around the shop all look up at her and Adora blushes, then quieter says, “Er, I mean yes. I’d love to go out with you sometime. Glimmer and I aren’t together like that, but you’re really sweet for caring, Catra.”

Catra snorts, but only to mask how flustered she feels right now. Her head is swimming and dizzy and the moment she gets into her car she’ll probably lose her shit, but for now she tries to keep it together for Adora. “That’s, that’s not usually something that people say about me, but thanks I guess. You’re pretty cool too. Really do have to get going though so uh, text or something I guess.”

“Yeah,” Adora says, a stupidly sappy grin creeping onto her lips. “Bye, Catra.”

“Bye, princess.”

When Catra leaves, the bells over the door sound like joyous laughter.

It’s the day before the new moon and Catra thinks she’s finally got the ritual right. She won’t know for sure until tomorrow, but there’s something different this time, a feeling of rightness that wasn’t there last time.

She and Adora have been talking nearly nonstop since Catra’s visit to the Garden, texting each other throughout the day with idle thoughts and stories. Although Catra’s only just met Adora and they’re only just starting to learn each other, the way their conversations flow so easily, it’s hard not to feel like Catra’s known Adora her entire life. Maybe even before then.

They’ve gone on two dates so far, the first to an art museum and the second to the concert near Brightmoon. Adora has some friends in a band and they sat huddled together for a few hours listening to heavy metal sea shanties. Both times, Catra had been entirely enthralled by Adora. Her mind blanks on everything, even the ritual, when they’re together. She can’t bring herself to mind.

Catra knows the effect Adora has on her— and much to her chagrin, Adora knows too and gets ridiculous about it— how much of Catra’s attention gets sucked away, and yet she invites her over today anyway.

The first two dates had been good, of course, but Catra wants to show Adora more of her world. Maybe not the whole witch thing yet, though there’s no way she doesn’t have at least a small idea, working at the Garden and being friends with Glimmer, who’s the daughter of the coven leader. Still, Catra’s beginning to find that Adora can be a bit oblivious at times so maybe she doesn’t know.

Either way, Catra really, really likes her and wants to show her some of her world. They’re going to have a picnic in a clearing near Catra’s cottage in about ten minutes.

Their lunch is already packed and good to go, sitting with a blanket on the kitchen counter, but Catra’s frantically trying to clean up the rest of her house before Adora arrives. It’s not exactly dirty, Catra does clean up after herself thank you very much, but there’s still something embarrassing about the thought of Adora seeing all the stacked plates by the counter, the pair of pants casually slung over the arm of the couch with a large red stain from rowanberries, the cactus with googly eyes sitting in the window from Scorpia.

It’s not a bad sort of embarrassing, she supposes as she folds up a blanket, just a big kind. The kind that exists because this is you being vulnerable, letting someone see the small things. Small things that don’t even matter in the grand scheme of things but still matter for some reason.

“It’s gonna go great,” Catra mutters to herself, taking a deep breath as she steps back to examine her work. According to her phone, Adora should be here in fifteen minutes so Catra slips on a cardigan and flip flops to pick some flowers from the garden. She’s thinking about which ones she might get— perhaps tulips? No that’s too direct, maybe dahlias would work better. Or perhaps snapdragons since the connotation can be warped— when Catra walks straight on into someone.

“Oh shit,” she exclaims, stepping back. And then she blinks in confusion when she sees Adora standing there, stuttering out an apology and hopping from one foot to the other. “Adora,” Catra says, “you’re here early.”

“Ha, yep,” Adora says. “And I totally wasn’t just standing in front of your door waiting to knock for the past few minutes, haha.”

Catra can’t help but smile at that. “Dork,” she says fondly. “Here, you can come inside and sit for a minute, I was about to grab one last thing from outside if that’s alright.” Catra steps back inside, gesturing for Adora to follow.

“Oh, of course,” Adora says. “It’s my fault for getting here so early when you weren’t ready yet.”

Before she can go into another apology, Catra takes one of her hands, which was waving in the air, and intertwines their fingers with a reassuring smile. “No, it’s fine, really. This was a last minute thing anyway.”

“O-oh,” Adora says, blushing.

If Catra was less of a coward, this is the part where she’d kiss her sweetly, wrap her other arm around Adora’s waist and tell her she’s excited for this. But there’s only one problem with that. They haven’t even kissed before. Sure when they went to the concert they held hands for a bit, but there’s not been anything more beyond that. There’s something that’s always held Catra back even when she’s sure that Adora wants to kiss her too.

Despite the fog that blankets her every thought when Adora is around, Catra still has had the ritual in the back of her mind. If she lets herself go completely right now, there’s no way that she’ll be able to focus on any spell ever again, and she needs the ritual to work.

When she was still under Weaver’s mentorship, Catra was always scolded that emotions have no place in magic. It doesn’t matter how much you think it might help, feeling things only muddles your intent and weakens your magic. And weak magic makes for a weak witch.

It’s taken a lot of therapy with Perfuma for Catra to have gotten to this point, where she can be going on the third date with a girl she really, really likes, a lot of painful discussions about vulnerability and self worth, but healing is never a linear path and Catra is not immune to falling back on bad habits. Going out with Adora now instead of spending the entire day preparing and isolating to perform this spell is a milestone for sure, but the voice of Weaver still creeps into the back of Catra’s head the moment she craves a deeper level of intimacy with her.

Everything will be okay when I’ve completed the ritual, she reminds herself as she steps back and leads Adora to the sofa. It’s messing with my brain and once it’s done I’ll kiss her if I fucking want to.

“Would you like some water or something?” Catra asks. “It’ll only take me like three minutes.”

Adora smiles, looking around the small cottage. “Nah, I think I’ll be fine.”

“Cool, be back soon,” Catra says. She opens the door again and makes her way down the steps to the cobblestone path to the back garden. Perhaps garden is a bit of an understatement for such a large variety and large space, but Catra doesn’t care. She pulls the piece of ribbon from her pocket and sets off to the corner with flowers.

Catra stands there for a few long moments, debating and weighing the pros and cons of various flowers before she finally decides to settle on some calla lilies. She carefully severs the stem of six pink ones, tying them in a neat bundle with the ribbon. “Beauty and regality,” she mutters to herself, smiling softly, and heads back towards her cottage.

When Catra pushes open the back door and strides into the living room, Adora jumps from her seat where she’s huddled over a small notebook. “Gah, Catra! How’re you so quiet?”

“Don’t you know? I’m part cat,” Catra says sarcastically, grinning. “These are for you, they’re calla lilies. I grow them in my back garden.”

Adora’s expression lights up as she takes the small bouquet, holding them like Catra had plucked her favorite constellations from the sky, still burning bright. “They’re lovely, thank you so much,” she says, looking up through her lashes. “I didn’t know you were a gardener.”

Catra opens her mouth to reply but then catches sight of the book Adora had been looking over. In simple serifed letters, the front of the paperback reads Hexes and Other Charms for the Vengeful Soul. Well shit, it seems she forgot to put away one of her more… eccentric books. The sticky note with Catra’s brainstorming is still bookmarking the page she’d been referencing for the ritual and she winces, hoping Adora didn’t read it.

Adora follows her gaze and looks back to Catra guiltily. “Sorry, the book was sitting here and I was kind of curious. You have, uh, a very interesting book collection. Not sure I’ve read anything from Aleister Crowley before, I’m more of a Dickens kind of gal.”

“What did you read in that one?” Catra asks quietly, trying to stop her hands from shaking.

“Uh, nothing,” Adora says awkwardly, shifting uncomfortably. The lie is clear on her face and she must know it too because then she says, “Glimmer told me some… witches did some darker magic but I didn’t really expect something like this. Is the person bad? Do they deserve it?”

Silently, Catra nods and Adora looks up at her again, shoulders set. “Good. I hope it works for you tonight, then.”

“It better, I don’t want another repeat of last time,” Catra snorts quietly.

“You’ve tried it before?” Adora asks, head tilting.

“Yeah, when we first met that’s what I was trying to do,” Catra confesses. “I’ve been trying to figure it out for weeks now but I’m not sure what’s missing.”

“And that’s why you’ve looked so tired and stressed,” Adora says, nodding. Her hand comes up to brush some hair from Catra’s face. “I’m sorry, I’d try to help you if I could.”

Catra blushes but she can’t help but smile. God, how’d she end up so lucky to be dating someone so lovely? “I know you would,” she says teasingly. “I’ll just have to try and make it work this time around.”

“Can I see it? The whole ritual, I mean,” Adora says. “I can’t actually do magic or anything but maybe I could see if there’s, I dunno, something big missing?”

Catra shrugs. She’s still trying to wrap her head around the fact that Adora does know she’s a witch— one trying to perform some dark fucking magic— and is completely okay with it too. “No harm in it, I guess. Do you know much about the craft?”

She stands up and goes to the bookshelf to get her journal of notes on the ritual, rifling through the pages as she joins Adora on the couch again.

“Er, not really? Glimmer gave me the basic rundown on how it works with covens and magic from the universe and stuff after the first time you came in, but that’s about it,” Adora says. “But I’d like to think I can still offer a good new perspective for things.”

Catra smirks, looking up at Adora. “You were really freaked out about the spike, weren’t you?”

“How could I not be!” exclaims Adora, but she’s smiling. “I didn’t know if you were planning to murder someone with it. I didn’t know why we even have stuff like that.”

“Not murder, just hex,” Catra corrects. She hands over the journal, trying not to think too much about the way their fingers brush. “Here’s what I got.”

Adora takes the notebook, reading through the pages with concentration. Catra watches as her face morphs into surprise a few times, amusement in others. After a few minutes, she looks up at Catra again. “You are incredible, did you know that?”

Catra blinks, taken off guard. “Huh?”

“There’s so much work you put into this, so much passion and effort,” Adora says. “I’m proud of you.”

“O-oh,” Catra stammers out, face warming. “Thanks. So uh, what do you think? Wanna run away yet?”

“You can’t get rid of me that easily,” Adora says, leaning closer with a grin. “You’ve still got a picnic to take me on.”

Catra nearly forgot about that. “Oh right,” she says, glancing at the packed basket.

“As for the spell,” Adora continues, “I think it’s pretty good, but where’s the, I dunno, emotion in it? Glimmer told me that intent really sways any spell, especially one so high stakes like this, but I don’t see any notes channeling anger or a countering emotion in your notes. Maybe that’s it?”

Catra tenses. “Oh. That,” she says quietly, looking down. “Figures that comes back to bite me in the fucking ass.”

“Hey, hey, did I say something wrong?” Adora asks. “I’m sorry if I overstepped, you’re the witch here, I was just trying to help, I’m sorry.”

“No, it’s not you,” Catra says quickly. “I… the person I’m trying to hex, she was my mentor when I was younger, the one who made me such an advanced witch despite only being in my twenties. She’s not a very kind person though, like, at all. She was… cruel to me. Said that emotions weaken your craft and when I did channel, any I would be punished. I wasn’t able to let in any emotions anywhere for a while, actually. And I’ve been getting help since I left but old habits die hard. Sorry to dump all this on you, way to kill a date, huh?”

Catra lets out a bitter laugh, running a hand over her face before letting it drop in her lap again. “You can go if you want, I understand.”

There’s a heavy silence, but then Adora’s hands come to rest over Catra’s, squeezing. “I’m not going anywhere unless it’s what you want. I might not have been in the same situation but I really get it, thank you for sharing. And hey, if the key to making this work is channeling some emotion, maybe I can help out. When are you planning to do the ritual?”

“Tonight,” Catra says, confused. “Why?”

“Bring all your stuff with us, I’m gonna help you do the ritual,” Adora says.

“What— what do you mean you’re gonna help?”

Adora shrugs, standing up. “Since she’s a shitty person, maybe we can like, combat it with good energy like it’s a shounen anime. Power of friendship and pre-ritual cuddling to help hex her and stuff. We can just hang out for a little longer and you can perform it there and I can cheerlead the demons or something.”

Catra giggles. “That’s— that’s actually not a bad idea. You’re brilliant, you absolute nerd.”

Adora’s grin is bright, blinding as a dying star but so much more vibrant. “I know,” she says cheekily.
“Now c’mon, I want to see this place you’ve been telling me so much about.”

The rest of the afternoon is spent in the quiet clearing a short walk from Catra’s cottage. The trees are strong and tall, framed by snapdragons and other wildflowers and long grass. Nearby where the two women are lounging is a creek that flows by languidly, glistening with rocks and plants.

Catra loves it here, and it brings a sensation of warmth to her stomach when she looks to Adora and can see that she loves it, too. They’re lying on the blanket with long abandoned plates with the crumbs of their lunch, sides touching as Adora tries to braid a few blades of grass and Catra idly doodles in her sketchpad.

It’s the most at peace she’s felt in a while. Sitting here with Adora, she can almost forget what task is approaching her once the sun sets in an hour. Catra sighs, trying to push it back out of her mind, but it won’t leave.

Adora looks up, turning to fully face her. “What’s up?” she asks. “And don’t lie to me, there’s definitely something bothering you right now, you just got that look.”

“What look?” Catra asks, miffed.

Adora gestures at her face. “The look. The one that’s like I’m a broody and sad cat, come pet me.”

Catra lightly pushes her. “I do not look like that.”

“Do too,” Adora replies, pushing back.

“Shut up, I’ll hex you too,” Catra says, leaning into Adora instead. “I’m a rogue witch, I’ll do it.”

Adora leans back just as hard, and Catra has to put out her hand to steady them before they fall to the ground. “Oooh, hot. A girl’s ultimate dream,” Adora says teasingly as she turns to face Catra directly.

Catra’s hand slips from under her and they fall over into the grass, Adora’s face mere centimeters from her. Her pulse flutters frantically as she stares into Adora’s eyes, utterly entranced. She wants to kiss her.

And this time, she does.

Catra pauses for a brief moment as she leans in, waiting for Adora’s small nod before closing her eyes and finally pulls Adora in to capture her lips. It’s short and sweet to begin, but that’s still enough for Catra’s head to swim and her heart to burst. She opens her eyes and meets Adora’s for a brief second, and then they’re colliding once more, Catra fully lying down in the grass and pulling Adora after her.

Adora’s lips are soft and taste vaguely of the peach chaptstick she keeps in her purse when Catra takes the lower one between her teeth. Catra is one of the best witches in Brightmoon, she has more knowledge under her belt than some sixty year old coven leaders. And yet, there is not a single spell that can hold a candle to the absolute magic that is Adora, her selfless soul and sharp wit, her entrancing kiss and cherry blossom shampoo. She thinks she could lie there forever, kissing Adora in the middle of her forest.

But of course, they have to pull back eventually. Time is finite and oxygen is crucial. When Adora pulls away, there’s a small, giddy grin on her lips, one Catra can feel mirrored on her own. “Wow,” she half whispers.

Catra rolls her eyes. Still she says, “I wanted to do that for a while, you know. But it was… hard, given everything. It still is, but I dunno. I’ve been so focused on just getting this ritual done and had no time to really think about anything else, but then suddenly you’re here to remind me that there’s more than just anger. Call me a fool, but I think you’ve been good for me.”

“Oh,” Adora says. She looks down, twirling a strand of Catra’s hair around her finger then letting it go. “You know, I think you’ve been good for me, too. I’m adopted, and my family is lovely but I do have a bit of a hard time letting myself get to know people and thinking of myself as more than just a tool or something to help others. But you don’t think of me like that, you’ve stuck around just for me, for whatever reason.”

“Because you’re worth it,” Catra replies easily, catching Adora’s eye. “And you always will be. Thank you for sharing.” She presses a quick but tender kiss to Adora’s forehead.

Adora stares at her for a few moments, bewilderment all over her face. “You are unreal,” she breathes out.

“I am a witch, after all,” Catra grins.

“Oh hush, you know what I mean, don’t ruin it,” Adora whines, pressing her head into Catra’s shoulder. “You’re insufferable.”

Catra sighs. “Yeah, yeah. Are you gonna kiss me again, or what?”

“You don’t need to ask me twice.”

The next hour passes quickly, composed of kisses and banter, of watching the sun set and the stars arrive and lighting candles for both light and Catra’s ritual.

As she sets everything up, Catra can feel Adora’s curious and supportive gaze on her. They get everything done pretty quickly with Adora helping, and soon enough Catra’s sitting back on her heels with nothing else to do but cast.

She’d never admit it, but she’s terrified it won’t work again. Terrified that Weaver was actually right and having Adora here, squeezing her hand and pressing a calla lily into her free hand is a mistake. Catra pushes it away and turns towards Adora with a small smile.

“You ready?” Adora asks.

“As I’ll ever be,” Catra breathes out.

Adora scoots closer, pressing a kiss to her cheek. “You’ll do great,” she says against Catra’s skin. “Now metaphorically kick this old hag’s ass.”

A surprised laugh escapes Catra’s lips and she grins. “I will,” she says. Catra begins to gather everything, precise with her movements but not the same jarring anxiety as the last time she attempted. This time, the nerves are a quiet jittering, quelled underneath the calming presence brought by Adora.

Even if it doesn’t work this time, Catra can hardly bring herself to mind. After all, every trip to the Garden seems to be bringing her a bit more luck, a bit more growth, a bit more love. She squeezes Adora’s hand and begins the chant.