During the war, Catra thought about She-ra as an entity separate from Adora. She didn’t look right, talk right, or even smell right. Everything about Adora was perverted by the magic that took hold of her the moment that she left the Horde. She-ra was the monster that stole Catra’s best friend from her – she wasn’t Adora, the girl that she grew up alongside, the only shining light in that dark and terrible place. It made it easier to fight her. She-ra was an enemy, She-ra’s wounds healed, and anything that Catra did to She-ra wouldn’t affect Adora, at least not in the long-term.
That separation held in Catra’s mind for some time, two separate entities with different names. Catra can’t say when they managed to become one person. It was probably slowly, but no matter when it happened, she knows the cause. She missed her best friend. Seeing She-ra on the battlefield was as close as she came to seeing Adora sometimes. For a few minutes, as they threw themselves at each other with blades and claws unsheathed, Catra would feel alive beneath Adora’s – She-ra’s – gaze. When Adora was so out of reach, Catra had to accept She-ra as another version of her.
It had long become clear that She-ra didn’t steal Adora away – Adora turned her back on Catra willingly and without a second thought for her. The careful separation that Catra had in her mind crumbled like all the rest of her resolve. Catra still tried to keep some things divided between them though. As much as Catra hated her love for Adora and how it was never returned, she couldn’t cast it out from her heart. Still, she didn’t extend those feelings to She-ra.
When Catra was weak, breaking in the middle of the night and imagining the affection that she desperately missed just to make it through, she always pictured Adora with her. To picture She-ra would be sacrilege. When she pictured another warm body in her too-big, too-empty bed, it was Adora, wearing the same uniform she always wore in the Horde and still does now, almost as if to mock Catra. She looks so much like her best friend, but she isn’t, not anymore. Adora doesn’t care about her – she never could have, not when she left like that without a concern for Catra.
No one else has ever shown her affection – shown her love – like Adora did before she left, though. Catra can’t let her go when Adora gave her the only kindness she ever knew. Scorpia tries – for some unknown reason - but it is a shallow imitation of the real thing. Catra will get through this war how she has to, and sometimes that means thinking about Adora when she is at her weakest. The real Adora isn’t there to pick her up when she falls anymore, but Catra can lean on the memories and raise herself up.
She should be ashamed of how often she thinks of Adora, but she is too busy being ashamed of the times she slips and thinks of She-ra. Catra hates the way that others look at She-ra, never seeing Adora beneath her skin and only caring about the warrior she can become, but she can’t deny that she knows what they find appealing about her, even if Catra doesn’t agree with them. Adora is better as herself than she is as She-ra, but it isn’t like Catra gets to experience Adora anymore.
So maybe Catra thinks of She-ra once or twice in her lesser moments when her mind is desperately flitting through fantasies that will be enough to fulfill her for the night. So what. It’s natural, apparently everyone else feels the same way about the warrior, and no one will ever know. Catra can forgive herself that, even if it leaves a bitter taste in her mouth sometimes. What she can’t forgive is the times she thinks of She-ra while she’s lying in bed and just feeling hollow.
Specifically, it’s the fantasies that are only of She-ra and have nothing to do with Adora beneath her. To be precise, it’s her fucking hair. Adora always keeps her hair up in a ponytail, out of the way and swinging as she walks. It’s mildly distracting, and sometimes Catra has batted at it over the years, but she never thought much about it. She liked the rare occasions when she would see Adora with her hair down, but it was just because it made Adora appear soft.
She-ra has hair. A lot of it. An improbable amount of it. Catra swears the amount changes based on her fucking mood or something. It seems to billow an inordinate amount in slight breezes and flows behind Adora like a golden cape. Whatever, Catra isn’t one to be impressed by good hair, especially not from her sworn enemy who has already rejected her.
The thing is just that- well, sometimes when Catra looks at She-ra’s hair, she can’t control her claws. They flex at her side, mindless and absent as muscles in her fingers that are rarely called on these days itch to knead into the golden mane. Catra has no idea where the urge comes from. At first she attributes the itching to rage, and during those times she tries plucking Adora’s dumb tiara from her head, but Catra doesn’t want to slash, or tear, or steal.
She wants to sink down on top of Adora, purring as she kneads against the golden hair haloing the two of them. It is her most shameful daydream, the one that makes her feel the most pathetic when it comes. She can do all this – she can fight the Rebellion, and gain ground for the Horde, and promise that she’ll lay her feelings for Adora to rest – but no matter what she does, she is still so desperate for affection, so bone-achingly lonely, that she pictures cuddling with the enemy.
Catra would sooner let She-ra take her to bed than cuddle her.
So Catra sleeps with She-ra. Repeatedly. And Adora. Well, Adora primarily and then sometimes also She-ra when Catra is feeling up to it. She has come a long way since the end of the war, but there is only so far that she can go. She-ra has changed too, with a new appearance. She has Adora’s ponytail, her hair seeming to be longer, but it’s more tamed.
It isn’t the golden, fluffy mass that Catra’s claws used to itch for. Catra sees her ponytail and wants to grab it, yanking Adora down and demanding a kiss before she will let her go, but it doesn’t make her yearn the same way she once did. Catra prefers Adora’s new form as She-ra over her old one by a lot, finding it far more comfortable for the both of them, but the texture to her hair is different from before. Catra doesn’t want the golden mass back, really, she just… thinks about it sometimes.
She gets plenty of attention now. Adora holds her, cuddling and petting her, and they spend every night in the same bed. Catra shouldn’t be yearning for the most pathetic fantasy she clung to during the course of the war – and she isn’t – but it just occurs to her sometimes when she feels the beaming warmth of Adora’s magic and turns around, the ghost of an old enemy flitting across her vision for a moment before it clears and she sees her girlfriend’s new form standing before her.
Adora has transformed for some stupid reasons before, Catra reasons. This wouldn’t even be chief among them, no matter how weak it feels for Catra to ask for this. She has just had a long day and she is yearning for the relief of collapsing into her girlfriend’s arms. Adora has even turned into She-ra so Catra can knead into her without worrying about hurting her before. This is just… a small tweak on that. It’s a thin justification, but it is the best that Catra has.
Adora doesn’t seem at all surprised when Catra crowds her against the bed after dinner. Catra and Glimmer were bitching throughout it about how their regional meeting had gone. Catra nuzzles against Adora’s neck as she pushes her back into the bed. Adora goes willingly, toeing off her boots and lying back for Catra to drape over her. Just cuddling Adora is calming in its own right – and sometimes it is all that Catra can handle – but right now she wants She-ra beneath her.
Catra’s claws are itching. She doesn’t just want She-ra, there’s more to it. She isn’t sure how she feels about the idea of cuddling She-ra’s old form, but she has something specific she wants. Catra sighs, pushing back to prop herself up on her hands and look down at Adora. Adora gives her a soft smile, reaching up to stroke Catra’s cheek and scratch along the edge of her jaw. Catra’s eyes flutter for a moment as she sinks into the attention.
“How much control do you have over She-ra’s form?” Catra asks, her voice quiet. It seems like a non sequitur, causing Adora to raise an eyebrow before a spark of mischief lights in her eyes. Catra can guess where her thoughts are going right now, but Catra has a goal in mind and she highly doubts that Adora can guess it. Adora hums softly as she considers it.
“I’m not totally sure? I don’t really try to control it. It was just different when she came back,” Adora replies, raising an eyebrow at Catra. She can tell that Adora is doing her best to straddle the line between a respectful reply and leering at her. Catra rolls her eyes.
“You looked different for the Battle of Bright Moon too,” Catra points out. Adora pauses, seeming genuinely startled as she blinks at Catra and then mulls it over. From her expression, Catra can bet that she genuinely never thought twice about her armored appearance during the battle. It certainly takes awhile for Adora to come up with a reply, at least.
“I think I can control it some like I can the form of the Sword of Protection. I’ve just never really tried, I guess. I think the old sword was probably complicating everything too,” Adora returns, shrugging a little as she peers up at Catra curiously. Catra considers that answer. It makes sense. Adora has told her about how the old sword was a piece of tech created by the First Ones to be the key to Etheria.
She-ra is older than the sword. She clearly isn’t tied to it anymore now that it’s gone. They don’t know how the sword was made, but they do know why, so it isn’t hard to imagine that it was limiting Adora’s abilities somewhat now that it’s gone and everything comes so much easier to her. Part of that is Adora embracing She-ra and herself as well, but she has a depth to her magical abilities that wasn’t there before.
“Do you think you can transform into the old form anymore?” Catra asks, because it’s step one and she doesn’t really know how to ask for what she wants without burning into a pile of ashes and shame. Adora’s brows draw together as she tilts her head a little. Her gaze is searching. She doesn’t seem to have guessed Catra’s intentions yet, but how could she? They’re ridiculous.
“Maybe? Do you really want me to try, though? I thought it would be… I don’t know, bad memories,” Adora tells her. Catra huffs, ducking down to bury her face in the front of Adora’s shirt. Yeah, it definitely would be, if it weren’t for this one, extremely dumb thing.
“I always wanted to touch her old hair,” Catra mutters. It isn’t just touching, but her tail is already lashing at admitting this much. Adora is silent for a moment, but Catra can feel the confusion radiating off her.
“You wanted to touch it?” she questions, seeming torn between amusement and confusion. Catra growls a low warning, raising her head to glare at Adora. Adora doesn’t seem cowed, but she raises her hands in faux-surrender. Catra drops her head down again, groaning. She really doesn’t want to talk about this, but if she is going to get it, she has to.
“I like the new She-ra. But when your hair used to be down, I always thought about digging my claws into it,” Catra grumbles. She has the probable deniability that maybe she was just thinking of tearing up her enemy’s mane, but Adora knows her. After a moment’s pause, she chuckles and pets down Catra’s back.
“I can try, if you’re sure,” Adora replies. Catra’s lashing tail goes deadly still. It’s not that she wasn’t expecting Adora to agree, she just knows that this is all ridiculous. After she has processed the words, she nods hesitantly against Adora’s neck. “Kiss me?” Adora requests. She doesn’t need it to transform, but it gives her a bit of a boost at least.
Catra’s cheeks are blazing as she lifts her head and quickly kisses Adora, not wanting to look her in the eye with this request hanging between them. It takes longer than usual, a slow kiss shared between them before the telltale golden glow begins to press against Catra’s eyelids. When it fades, she pulls back with an odd sense of trepidation, fluttering her eyes open slowly. She isn’t greeted by old She-ra – or new She-ra, for that matter.
Adora has grown beneath her, the strong figure of She-ra’s body well-defined, but for the first time Catra realizes that She-ra looks more mature now. It isn’t just her new outfit and hair, because even without those, she still looks different. Adora grew over the years of the war, and She-ra has changed to reflect that as well. Part of it is just that Adora seems more comfortable in her skin, but her body has also filled out the white leotard that she is wearing.
It’s her old uniform – kind of. The symbol is still on her chest, but the pointed shoulders are gone. It’s probably a good thing – they would be hard to cuddle around. Her mask – the new one – is still in place, but her hair is spreading out beneath her like a blanket of gold, a halo in the sheets beneath them. It looks soft, that same untamed mane that Catra used to think about in her weakest moments. Still, she can’t help but focus in on Adora’s face instead.
Adora glances down at herself, grinning a little as she realizes that she managed it. She drops her head back against the pillow, smiling warmly up at Catra. It’s a look of love and kindness that Catra isn’t used to from the old She-ra, but this isn’t quite the She-ra that stole Adora away from her. It looks more like Adora playing dress up as that She-ra. It isn’t right, but Catra still likes it better than her first form. She definitely prefers the new She-ra in general, but now all that hair is back.
“This what you wanted?” Adora asks her, just a touch cocky and smug. She knows it is. Catra blushes, rolling her eyes as she drops down onto Adora’s chest and then reaches up to bury her hands into her hair on either side of her head. She instinctively starts kneading, a satisfied purr rising up in her chest as she sinks down into Adora’s embrace.
She doesn’t even smell like old She-ra. The original She-ra was a weird mix of Adora’s scent and the electric crackle of magic. After the sword was gone, it just became Adora and warmth, life magic pouring out of her like love. Sure, She-ra still smells distinct from Adora, but it isn’t an unwelcome change, and it doesn’t grate on Catra’s instincts like the old form did. Despite the change back to her old uniform, Adora still smells like her new self.
“Yes,” Catra reluctantly grumbles, her words buzzing with her purr. She lets her eyes slip closed as Adora hums in response, seeming more than happy to let Catra drape over her and knead into the mass of golden hair. Despite Catra’s embarrassment, a deep-running contentment is beginning to soak into her as she relaxes on top of her girlfriend. This is an urge she has had for a long time and it feels incredible to finally give in to it.
She-ra’s hair is just as soft as Catra always imagined it would be. It’s thick in a way that Adora’s hair usually isn’t. Catra happily kneads into it, the sensation that meets her hands deeply satisfying. Adora seems happy to relax beneath her, though her smug aura hasn’t dulled by much. She doesn’t say anything at least, seeming to understand that this is something vulnerable for Catra and she doesn’t want to be teased about it.
Catra purrs as she drags her claws down through Adora’s hair, sighing softly when she curls them in to start kneading again. She never understood this urge that she has back when she was a cadet – she still doesn’t, but she has at least figured out that it’s a her thing, and maybe a magicat thing in general. It’s hard to tell when she doesn’t know any others of her kind. Adora has never questioned it though. She always just accepted it as a part of how Catra is.
Adora seems to even enjoy it when Catra cuddles into her, purring and flexing her claws. She hums happily and presses soft kisses against her ears as Catra fulfills her stupid fantasy that turns out to be just as satisfying as she always hoped it would be. Back when she first thought of it, it was shameful. Now, it’s embarrassing definitely, but she isn’t dreaming of an enemy who abandoned her. She is relaxing into the soft embrace of her girlfriend as Adora tries new things for her.
Catra’s purr rattles her chest as she sinks into the affection, the physical proof of Adora’s love for her beneath her hands. She doesn’t know if it’s actually a small or large thing for Adora to do this for her, but regardless, the ease with which she accommodated Catra makes her heart swell, the dozenth reminder today alone that Adora loves her – that these fantasies were always okay. Adora always cared, there was just too much of a chasm between them for Catra to see it.
“Thank you,” Catra breathes, between the rumbles of her purr. She dares to glance up, finding Adora smiling softly at her, squeezing her arms a little tighter around her.
“I love you,” she responds, her words loaded with affection. Catra flushes, a trill startling out of her as her claws dig into Adora’s soft hair.
“I love you too,” she responds, burying her face back down in Adora’s shoulder again. Adora doesn’t seem to mind, humming happily as Catra settles down to knead again. Catra can’t let the words go unanswered, but she didn’t actually need to hear them – she already knew it. It took her a long time, but now she knows it as a profound truth of the universe. Adora accepts every part of her, and she loves her.
And Catra loves Adora. That truth was always immutable – it just isn’t alone now. Now the word back can be tacked onto the sentence and it remains true. Adora loves her, and Catra loves her back.