The golden rays of a new day streamed through the white curtains of the bedroom. Catra felt the warmth on her face and groaned as she turned away from it. She didn’t want the day to begin, not when she could continue to feel the warmth of Adora’s chest against her back. She reached out and thread her fingers with Adora’s and purred at the physical touch.
The Best Friends Squad (though Catra continued to groan at the name) had wasted no time in beginning the effort of returning magic to the known universe. However, that meant most nights she and Adora would be squeezed in a less than comfortable twin bed on Darla. It wasn’t the end of the world by any stretch, and neither of them were complaining about the closeness. If anything, growing up in the Horde and surviving a war had made the two of them professionals when it came to finding comfort in a harsh environment. It was just that the larger-than-life bed in Bright Moon the two shared was hard to leave behind. Catra intended on taking full advantage of it anytime they were back home.
That was still a foreign word to Catra. For so long, the Horde was home, but being around the Rebels had taught her that home was so much more than just a place to stay; it was a sense of belonging that she wasn’t sure she had ever experienced.
‘Ah, shit,’ Catra thought. She was thinking. That meant she wasn’t going back to sleep anytime soon. She shimmied herself away from Adora so she could look at her. Really look at her. Look at the hook of her nose and the small curl of her eyelashes and the way her mouth frowned slightly anytime she was dreaming.
Catra had prided herself for so long on just seeing Adora. When they were growing up all anyone ever saw was a Force Captain in the making, the perfect Horde soldier.
But Catra saw Adora.
When the war was ravaging Etheria and the citizens turned to She-Ra for hope and protection, the world saw a superhero.
But Catra, begrudgingly, saw Adora.
When magic is returned to the known universe, people see a mythical legend forged in salvation and the supernatural.
But Catra sees Adora. She sees the same bull-headed girl from the Horde with a heart of gold and the self-preservation of an ant.
She looked at the knot in Adora’s brow, omnipresent anytime she actually slept. Catra reached out and smoothed it and smiled at the groaning sound her girlfriend made as she rubbed into Catra’s hand and rolled onto her stomach.
Now it was Catra’s turn to frown as she ran a thumb over the scars on the bridge of Adora’s nose. She had done that, years ago, when they were just kids and first learning their place in the Horde. Catra had lashed out, terrified that she was losing her one friend. ’I hurt you,’ she thought with a heavy heart. She did that over and over again, it seemed.
Catra rolled onto her back and rubbed her eyes. ’Fuck.’ She then propped herself up onto her elbows and looked at Adora once more, this time focusing on the deep grooves of claw marks on her girlfriend’s back. Her work, once again.
She wondered how many scars were her doing.
She had discovered thigh marks one of the first nights they had shared a bed after the war was over. At the time, neither of them were ready to talk about their past fights. From there Catra was faced with the fact that She-Ra, in all of her mystical power and glory, was still skin and bones and was broken and scarred all the same. How many times did she hurt Adora and leave her to lick her own wounds just so they could continue fighting another day?
She hadn’t realized she was crying until she tried to breathe in and felt a ball in her throat force the air back out. She sat on the edge of the bed and pressed the palms of her hands into her eyes, trying to breathe.
Melog perked up from where they usually lay on the floor just below the foot of the bed and rubbed their head against Catra’s knees. Catra counted up to five, held her breath for the same amount of time, and breathed out, just like Perfuma had taught her. She did it a few more times until she felt the bed shift and heard Adora groan as she sat on the edge of the bed. Catra turned around and watched as her girlfriend stretched and tied her hair up into a ponytail, the scars on her back visible once more. She felt the lump return to her throat and crawled across the bed until she was kneeling behind Adora. She lined up her hands with the marks and felt her face contorting in sadness. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.
“Hm? What’s wrong?” Adora whispered out, voice sounding like gravel and filled with sleep.
Catra shook her head and counted again. “Sorry-” she choked out, finding the simple act of speaking still too hard. She felt weak.
Adora hummed and grabbed her sports bra from where it was discarded at the foot of the bed the night before. She then sat back down and patted the space next to her. Once Catra sat with her, she placed an arm around her. “I’m here as long as you need me. Until you’re ready,” she said with more clarity. All she got was a nod in response, but it was enough.
She knew Catra would be okay, this was just part of her process. Adora had learned that in place of Catra’s anger, she turned her expression inward. Still not perfect, but less volatile. It still gave her a sense of control, but instead of intimidation tactics she exercised restraint on herself. She controlled herself.
It was… different to see it happen the first few times, especially as Catra worked out the kinks in her new problem solving system. But now Adora felt nothing but pride towards Catra. She wanted to tell her that but feared it might be the wrong words to say.
Adora had learned something new herself. She shouldn’t force words and ideas upon people and expect them to agree all the time or listen all the time. She shouldn’t control situations just because of her authority and strength. Looking back, the way she did that just reminded her of the Horde. She smiled softly. She was proud of both of them. They were slowly but surely dismantling years of abuse and there was a visible difference from their efforts after just a few months.
Catra sniffed and took in a few shaky breaths before laughing. “Shitty way to wake up, huh?”
“Catra…” Adora started but was cut off by her girlfriend shaking her head.
“Your scars...” She could feel Adora stiffen next to her. “I can’t stop thinking about them. I just hurt you over and over-” Catra started and could feel tears going to her eyes again.
“No, you can’t blame yourself for-”
“Adora. Let me… I don’t know how to not blame myself.” She ran her fingers through Melog’s mane. “Yeah, I was fucked up because of what Hordak and Shadow Weaver had done to us but, honestly, you were too. You didn’t want to fight me but I still hurt you! On purpose! Again and again and I don’t get how you’re not pissed about that!” She started to feel tears of anger spill out instead and bunched her hands into fists. Melog mirrored her attitude and their mane turned a pulsating red. Catra stuttered a few times before sighing and threading her fingers through her own hair and squeezing down. As her breathing slowed, Melog’s mane began to flow calmly once more as it usually did. “I am so sorry, Adora,” she whispered hoarsely. She shut her eyes and brought her hands down to Melog once more. “I see your scars and I feel like a monster. I’m so sorry I hurt you.”
The bed shifted once more and when Catra looked up Adora had turned her back to her and was removing her sports bra. “Put your hand on my left shoulder,” Adora instructed and her girlfriend numbly complied. Melog lied down, placing their large head on Catra’s feet. “Now move down to the two big marks on my back.”
Catra shakily brought her hand down and felt the grooves. She remembered that fight all too well. She remembered feeling triumphant as she heard She-Ra cry out. “How much did it hurt?” she questioned, her ears flattening downwards.
Adora shrugged and wrung her fingers in her lap. She knew lying wouldn’t do anyone any good. “As soon as it happened? A whole lot. But being She-Ra has its perks. Everything heals pretty fast so I’m not left with anything open for longer than a day or two.” She let the two of them sit in silence for a moment, feeling Catra slowly trace the pale lines. “I wasn’t innocent in that fight either, by the way. Or any of our fights, for that matter. I was fighting back just as fiercely as you were. I remember slamming you into a wall at some point.” She tried to say the last part lightly.
That did get a snort out of Catra. “Yeah, I remember. I bitched about a bruised rib to Scorpia for, like, way longer than necessary,” she said with a smirk and wiped at her eyes again. “The thing is, you were always doing a good thing while I was always destroying.”
Adora frowned. “I was following a destiny I had no choice in ignoring,” she countered pointedly. “If I had never found the sword, I’m not sure if I ever would have left the Horde. At least not without you. Catra, you were just doing what we were raised to do: you were being a good soldier.”
Catra hummed and leaned forward to rest her forehead on the back of Adora’s neck. She breathed in her scent and realized that her own breathing had evened out since being able to focus on tracing Adora’s scars.
“There’s the one from when you were chipped just above if you want to touch that one,” she offered and could feel Catra run her hand upwards and then softly run her fingers down the marks as well. “And that one, you better not blame yourself for at all. You had just freed Glimmer and were under mind-control so that one is completely on Horde Prime.”
“I barely remember that fight,” Catra whispered. She wasn’t sure if she’d ever be able to clearly remember those moments of being chipped and trying to break free from it all. She wasn’t sure if she even wanted to remember. All she knew was the feeling of free fall and nothing after hitting the floor. “Fuck Horde Prime.”
Adora smirked. “Fuck Horde Prime,” she agreed. She then turned around to face Catra once more and reached forward to grab one of her girlfriend’s hands. She placed the hand on her left thigh. “This one is from when you were chipped as well. Not your fault.”
Catra ran her thumb over the lines and closed her eyes. “Not my fault.” She was trying really hard to believe what she was saying.
“Not your fault,” Adora repeated. She lifted the hand up to her lips and pressed a kiss to Catra’s palm. She then moved the hand up to her own cheek. “This one I remember you being such a brat-”
“But Mermista hit you with a huge wave right after so I’d call it even.”
“You did not just call me a brat!” Catra spat out incredulously with a flick of her tail. Melog’s head perked up at the shouting and twitched their tail around curiously.
“You totally were, though. It was so annoying,” Adora said with a grin.
Catra rolled her eyes. “I can’t believe I love you! Brat. That’s so fucked up.”
Adora fully laughed. “But you do love me,” Adora purred out and leaned forward and pressed a kiss to Catra’s lips.
Catra sighed into the kiss. “Yeah, I do. Idiot.” She leaned her forehead onto Adora’s and sighed. “Thank you for this.”
Adora smiled softly and ran a hand down Catra’s cheek. “I love you, Catra. We both made a lot of mistakes not too long ago, but I’m here for you through it all. As long as you’ll have me.”
“Look at you, acting like I wasn’t the one begging you to stay alive just so I could make you mine,” Catra whispered. “I love you, too.” She leaned forward to kiss her girlfriend again. “You wanna know something that hasn’t changed from the Horde?” Catra asked sweetly.
Adora was too busy trying to kiss Catra’s neck to give her a verbal response. She hummed in response instead.
“Your rank morning breath.”
“What!” Adora leaned back and shoved her laughing girlfriend onto her back. She breathed onto her hand and raised an eyebrow. “Okay. You might have a point.” She stood up and stretched her arms above her head, not missing the way Catra’s eyes raked over her torso. “I can’t believe I was kissing you with my shirt off and you had the audacity to complain about my morning breath.”
Catra lazily grinned at her from where she was still on the bed. “Until we brush our teeth, I’m going to check out my hot girlfriend from a distance.” Melog took advantage of Adora standing up and jumped onto Catra’s lap, purring loudly as they rubbed their large head against Catra. “Good morning, Melog,” Catra groaned out from the sudden weight. She pet the large animal for a bit before getting dressed and switching places with Adora so she could also brush her teeth.
“Kiss?” Adora asked, holding her arms out. She smiled too hard and made the kiss more teeth than lips but neither of them really minded. Adora slowed down and kissed her properly before grinning again as she felt Catra’s fingers inch their way under her shirt. “Not so fast,” she said and lightly batted the offending digits away, “I remember Wrong Hordak promising us a big breakfast after he and Entrapta blew up the oven last night.”
“What, you want food more than me?” Catra purred and went towards the shirtline again.
Adora groaned as she felt her stomach rumble. “I love you.” All she got in response was a raised eyebrow. “Please don’t make me answer that.”
Catra laughed and bumped her hip against Adora’s as she made her way towards the hallway door. “Yeah, yeah, you and your appetite. Come on.” She pushed open the door and motioned for Melog and Adora to walk out. As Melog made their way down the hallway, sniffing curiously at the air, Catra reached out for Adora and leaned against the doorway. “Thanks for this morning,” she muttered shyly, her eyes fixed on their joined hands.
Adora stepped forward and rubbed softly at the back of Catra’s ears. “Thank you for being honest.” She leaned forward and pressed a kiss to a freckled cheek. “Hey,” she said softly, “I forgive you, you know that, right?”
Catra hummed and furrowed her brow. “I think… I’m starting to believe it. I’ll get there.”
“And if you start blaming yourself again I’m going to get Mermista to hit you with another wave,” Adora whispered in response and then took off running towards the dining room.
Catra blinked for a second, realized what she had just been told, and then sprinted after her girlfriend with a grin. “Was that a threat, She-Ra?” she called out. When the two of them arrived in the dining room, breathless and giggling and surrounded by the knowing looks of their friends, Catra knew exactly what the word home meant.