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“You’d better watch out, Olsen. Gryffindor may have won the Quidditch cup last year, but Hufflepuff is going to sweep the floor with you this year,” Kara Danvers crowed as she sat on a stone wall in the Hogwarts courtyard. Her shirtsleeves were pushed up to her elbows, and her Hufflepuff tie hung loosely around her neck as she passed a quaffle back and forth between her hands, fixing her best friend James Olsen with a challenging grin.

 

James Olsen, the broad-shouldered Gryffindor Keeper and new quidditch captain, scoffed incredulously and reached out to snatch the quaffle, but Kara snapped her wrist up, catching it above her head on an upturned palm.

 

“I clocked at least two-hundred miles on my broom, two hours of shooting practice, one hour of cardio, and one hour of strength training, every day, all summer. And on my rest days, I studied manoeuvres and devised top secret strategies for my team. This is going to be our year,” she declared proudly and gazed off into the distance, and the image of the Hufflepuff team holding the Quidditch cup high above their heads swam before her eyes. “Meanwhile,” she continued with a smirk, breaking her own reverie, “I’m afraid to tell you that your star beater spent most of her summer making goo-goo eyes at her new girlfriend, lazing around and getting all kinds of soft,” she teased and reached over to give her adoptive sister’s stomach a poke.

 

“I didn’t want to say anything,” James said, “but you do seem to have let yourself go a little, Alex.”

 

“Hey!” Alex protested indignantly, swatting Kara’s hand away. “It’s called being happy. You two shmucks should try it sometime,” Alex scowled, completely missing the awkward glance James and Kara exchanged. Because Alex definitely didn’t know about how Kara had tried to kiss James at the end of term party last year, but James had rejected her, saying that they were better off as just friends...and that he was interested in Lucy Lane.

 

In fact, Kara was pretty determined to die with that secret.

 

“Besides,” Alex continued obliviously, “I don’t need to train like a crazy person. Everyone knows the mark of an excellent beater, like myself, is in The Fury. You can’t train The Fury. Either you have it, or you don’t,” Alex said with a confident nod.

 

Kara quirked an eyebrow, and was about to say something about how she’d heard Maggie call her many things (babe, shnookums, honey bee, to list a few), but ‘The Fury’ had never been one of those things. However, what was sure to have been a severe burn was interrupted by a short, panting Ravenclaw jogging up to them with frantically waving hands.

 

Winn Schott Junior skidded to a halt in front of them, bracing his hands on his knees as his back arched with each breath. “This is why I don’t do cardio,” he gasped and tilted his head up to meet three perplexed looks. “Guys. Guys, come on, you’ve got to come see this. Follow me! Oh, Merlin, more running,” he groaned and turned on his heel to jog away. Realising no one was following, he spun on his heel to fix them with an impatient scowl. “Come on, guys! You know I don’t run for no reason!”

 

The three athletes exchanged glances before shrugging and running to easily catch up with Winn. Groups of students flanked them as they climbed the castle’s exterior staircases, all buzzing with excitement, and James put on an extra burst of speed, taking two steps at a time. Kara sprinted to keep up with his long strides, and shortly they came to an outcropping on the staircase that overlooked the Black Lake, where a crowd of students had gathered, all staring out across the lake as they tittered amongst themselves.

 

“What’s happening?” Kara asked, pressed up on her toes as she craned her neck to try and look over the crowd. The students in front of her jostled about, and she winced as a Ravenclaw boy stamped on her foot, and then everyone gasped and cheered at something she couldn’t see.

 

“Whoa!” James exclaimed, having no trouble seeing over everyone’s heads.

 

“What is it? What’s going on?” Kara asked impatiently.

 

“Oh, a pirate ship just emerged from the Black Lake, you didn’t miss much,” James replied.

 

What?!” Kara cried.

 

She frowned and tried to press forwards to get a better view, but the crowd of students was impenetrable. She sighed and crossed her arms over her chest, huffing out a breath, then tried for a different approach. She skirted around the edge of the crowd to where the stone ledge met the castle wall, and used a torch bracket to hoist herself up onto the ledge, only vaguely hearing Alex’s calls to “be careful!”.

 

Once she was up, gripping tightly onto the rough iron of the torch bracket to secure herself, she saw what everyone was staring at. A mysterious, dark ship sailed across the inky surface of the Black Lake, water spilling down its sides as it cruised towards the shore. Kara’s mouth hung open—she’d never seen anything like it.

 

“Look! Up there!” A student cried, and Kara turned her eyes skyward.

 

In the distance, she could faintly make out a small dot, which grew larger with each passing second. Kara adjusted her glasses on her face as the dot began to take shape, revealing itself to be a gigantic, powder-blue carriage, pulled through the air by half a dozen winged horses.

 

Kara let out a gasp, filled with exhilaration at the sheer sight of the spectacular creatures striding powerfully through the air. The carriage hurtled closer, and Kara could make out small figures hanging out of windows, all gazing at the castle with curious expressions.

 

Kara let go of the bracket to give a wave, but secured her grip with her other hand as the horses’ beating wings buffeted wind through her hair and clothes, stealing her breath. Once the carriage had disappeared from view, the crowd of students dispersed, chattering boisterously amongst each other.

 

Kara slipped down from the ledge, accepting James’ arm for support as she dropped to the ground. “That was amazing! Did you guys see that?” she asked, bouncing excitedly on the balls of her feet.

 

“We have eyes, Kara,” James chuckled.

 

“Told you guys it would be worth it!” Winn insisted proudly. “I wonder who they are? And why do you think they’re here?”

 

“Dad did keep letting it slip all summer that something exciting was happening at Hogwarts this year, remember Kar?” Alex asked.

 

“Ooh, maybe the Quidditch pitch is finally getting new goal posts! I’ve only been petitioning Professor Grant about it since second year.”

 

Alex rolled her eyes, but not without a fond smile. “Not everything is about Quidditch, Kara.”

 

“Not to you it isn’t. Maybe if it was, you’d have a chance of beating Hufflepuff this year,” Kara teased and flung an arm over Alex’s shoulders and they headed inside.

 

***

 

WHAT?” Kara shouted, and her voice echoed around the walls of the Great Hall.

 

She didn’t even realise she was standing, a half-eaten pudding still in her hand, until all of the eyes in the hall were staring at her. Professor Grant blinked back from behind the podium, a single brow raised, and Kara gulped.

 

“Miss Davies, if you’re done interrupting me, please sit down.” Alex tugged Kara back down into her seat, as Kara quietly mumbled ‘it’s Danvers’ to no one in particular. Professor Grant cleared her throat and addressed the rest of the students once again. “As I was saying, there will be no inter-house Quidditch cup this year,” she continued, and the words once again hit Kara like a blow to the gut. She made eye contact with James from across the table, who seemed to be facing a similar existential crisis as he stared back with hollow eyes.

 

“This is due to an important event that will be taking place throughout the year. It’s sure to be ridiculously dangerous and no doubt overtly extravagant, so I’m sure you youths will all enjoy it. It is my…absolute pleasure to announce that Hogwarts will host the somewhat antiquated Triwizard Tournament.”

 

There were gasps of excitement all around the room, as well as some cheers and frenzied whispering, but all Kara could think about was how there was no Quidditch this year. In an instant, her dreams of finally winning the cup for Hufflepuff—after a fourteen-year losing streak—and of being scouted in the crowd at a match to kickstart her professional career, all of it, was gone.

 

She barely registered Professor Grant’s explanation of the tournament, how one witch or wizard from each school would be chosen to compete for personal and school glory, pride, and a cash prize. James, meanwhile, seemed to have perked up at the news, especially when Professor Grant detailed how challenging and dangerous the tournament would be.

 

“I am supposed to tell you all that the tasks are designed to test you, and are not for the faint of heart,” Professor Grant said, and James puffed out his chest, his eyes shining with newfound determination. “Which I’m sure is of great interest to all you virile youth out there, clamouring for glory.”

 

“But,” she tutted, clapping her hands together, “more on that later. For now, please join me in welcoming our guests, the jocks of Durmstrang Institute!”

 

All of the students whipped their heads to the sound of the doors of the Great Hall creaking open, revealing about twenty witches and wizards who strode purposefully into the room. They wore thick, earthy-toned robes, and fur cloaks hung on squared shoulders.

 

“K-Kara!” James gasped, his eyes wide. “Is that…”

 

Kara followed his line of sight and her own dropped open. “No way. That’s Mon-el Daxam!”

 

“Ow! Watch it, Kara,” Winn complained as Kara unknowingly gripped his arm extremely tightly, but Kara wasn’t paying much attention. Her eyes remained transfixed on the figure who walked beside the Durmstrang headmaster. “What’s the big deal about him anyway?” Winn asked as he attempted to pry Kara’s fingers off.

 

“He’s the seeker for Bulgaria. You might remember him from, oh, I don’t know, the Quidditch World Cup final,” Kara hissed in his ear.

 

“Please, Kara,” Winn drawled and rolled his eyes. “I barely know what a seeker is. Don’t expect me to be impressed by that…oh.” Winn’s voice faltered as the handsome Durmstrang’s serious expression cracked to toss a charming grin their way as he walked past. “I see,” Winn mumbled and hid his blush in his goblet of pumpkin juice. 

 

Once all of the Durmstrang students had filed in and taken their seats, Professor Grant held her hands up again for silence.

 

“And now, please welcome the supermodels of Beauxbatons Academy of Magic!”

 

They all craned their necks back towards the doors, where another group of students began filtering in. These students wore robes of periwinkle blue, and moved with effortless grace down the corridor, like drops of water skating across a pane of glass.

 

Professor Grant gave a long-suffering sigh, growing weary as the Beauxbatons students took their time flouncing up to the front of the hall, but the rest of the student body didn’t seem to mind one bit. Alex let out an involuntary low whistle as a pack of girls drifted by, which earned her a chastising smack over the head from Maggie.

 

Kara cackled mirthfully at Alex’s rapidly spreading blush and sputtered protest, but the sound became stuck in her throat when she saw her.

 

Looking at her was like looking at the sun—she couldn’t look directly at her, at least not at first, not all at once. Piece by piece, she took in the flowing, dark hair that contrasted against the girl’s fair skin. At first glance, one might say she had harsh features, but Kara noticed a softness to the set line of her brow, a slight upwards curve to the firmness of her mouth.  And, golly, those eyes. Those eyes were such a captivating and mysterious green, Kara could hardly look away once she’d been drawn into them.

 

Kara was overcome by the desire—the need—to know her name, who she was, or just anything about her.

 

There was something almost regal in the cut of her jaw and the way she carried herself. It was purposeful and poised—but Kara could tell that she was really just imitating the walk of the boy beside her, who walked with the self-assured conviction that he could control whatever space he entered. She was a fair bit shorter than the tall, slender boy with a mop of brown curls, who smiled politely—but not exactly warmly—as they brought up the rear of the Beauxbatons students.

 

Now Winn’s mouth dropped open upon seeing the boy. “That’s…that’s Lex Luthor,” he whispered.

 

“Lex whothor?” Alex asked.

 

“Lex Luthor,” Winn repeated. “The guy is, like, a genius. His work on magical engineering is on another level. Some of it is a little controversial, but then again, most geniuses, myself included, are misunderstood.”

 

“Who’s that next to him?” Kara asked quickly, eyes never leaving the figure by Lex’s side.

 

“That must be his sister. Leanne, I think…no, that’s not right. It’s Lena.”

 

“Lena,” Kara hummed, rolling the name experimentally in her mouth, appreciating the way the syllables rolled off of her tongue and made her heart swell into an uptick.

 

She blinked back into the room and did her best to pay attention to Professor Grant as she explained some of the rules of the tournament, how entrants had to be over seventeen to enter (much to the dismay of the younger students), but her eyes kept drifting back over to where Lena stood. A dopey sort of smile subconsciously formed on her lips when she caught Lena tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, or fidgeting oh so subtly with her fingertips.

 

Kara barely noticed when Professor Grant revealed the goblet of fire, it’s blue flames thrusting the room into light and shadow. Instead, she watched the way the blue light danced across Lena’s face as she stared up into the flames with wonder.

 

Suddenly, Kara wasn't quite so upset about Quidditch being cancelled.

Chapter Text

Upon further contemplation (away from Lena Luthor’s mesmerising face), Kara decided that no, quidditch being cancelled was absolutely not alright. Her cheeks turned bright red as she paced back and forth in Professor J’onzz’s office, gesticulating wildly as she ranted and raved. She had gathered James, Alex, the rest of the Hufflepuff team and whoever else she could assemble from the other quidditch teams in order to mount her protest.

 

“We were counting on playing quidditch this season! Not just to fight for the cup—which Hufflepuff totally would have won by the way—” she directed to James and Alex, who rolled their eyes in response, “—but some of us were hoping to be scouted for the league after Hogwarts. Right, James? Barry?” she implored her friends, and they both nodded vigorously. “They can’t just cancel quidditch in our seventh year! They just can’t, it’s—it’s not fair! Who cares about this stupid tournament anyway?” Kara crossed her arms over her chest and resisted the urge to kick something like a child.

 

James grinned, a little bashful. “I mean, I do. I’ve already entered my name,” he announced proudly, and was met with murmured congratulations and pats on the back from the others.

 

Kara sighed impatiently, pinching at the bridge of her nose. “That’s great for you, James—really—and you’d make a great champion, I hope you get chosen—but what about the rest of us? What about the teams? And the school? Quidditch gives everyone something to look forward to between Snapper’s four-foot long Potions essays and memorising endless incantations and wand movements for Charms. Quidditch is more than just a sport. It brings the school together in the spirit of sportsmanship and competition. It gives us an escape from nearly figuratively dying from boredom in History of Magic, and from nearly literally dying at the hands of some venomous cactus in Herbology! Hogwarts needs quidditch! Hogwarts without quidditch is just—it's just—it’s just a castle!”

 

Kara gave her speech with such passion that tears sprung into her eyes and a lump formed in her throat. She swallowed it down and turned around to face her fellow quidditch players, arms beseechingly outstretched. “They’re not taking quidditch away without a fight. Who’s with me?!”

 

“I am!” James declared, standing abruptly. Alex, Barry, and the rest of the Hufflepuff team jumped up too, and soon enough, Kara had everyone in the room on side. She spun around to fix Professor J’onzz with a broad grin.

 

Professor J’onzz, Care of Magical Creatures professor and Hufflepuff’s head of house, was a serious man. He was kind, gentle, and there for his Hufflepuffs or any other student whenever they needed him.

 

Kara Danvers, however, had proven to be somewhat of a challenge for him ever since she trundled into his office in her first year, wearing slightly too-long robes and a frustrated pout. The girl had an unshakable sense of justice and, apparently, the fact that first years weren’t allowed to play quidditch was an injustice of the highest offence.

 

Since her first year, Kara Danvers had dragged a reluctant yet supportive Professor J’onzz into many campaigns against perceived injustices at Hogwarts, such as: the lack of a consistent detention policy, the fact that the kitchens were out of bounds to students (not that this ever stopped Kara), or there was the time when Kara discovered that a book she wanted to read was in the restricted section simply because it featured two witches in a romantic relationship (“What is this? The Muggle world??”).

 

Needless to say, Professor J’onzz was no stranger to being dragged into Professor Grant’s office by the young witch.

 

Now, he sighed wearily and glanced at Kara over the rims of his spectacles. “Let me guess…to Professor Grant’s office?”

 

“To Professor Grant’s office!” Kara declared imperiously, thrusting a finger into the air. “Barry, get the charts,” she added to the lithe Hufflepuff seeker.

 

Soon enough, Professor J’onzz and Kara marched the group of quidditch players over to Professor Grant’s office.

 

It was well known that Professor Grant kept a small horde of first years on retainer to do her bidding whenever she required it. When Kara and the others filtered into her office, Professor Grant was flanked by a small Hufflepuff boy, who intermittently fed the headmistress grapes, and a dark-haired Slytherin girl who fanned her with a large leaf. Professor Grant was clearly not expecting to be interrupted, and she fixed Professor J’onzz with a questioning stare and a deadly lift of the brow.

 

“J’onn…”

 

“My apologies for the interruption, Professor Grant,” he said quickly, tipping his head respectfully. “Miss Danvers and this group of students have some, ah, issues regarding the cancellation of the quidditch tournament.”

 

Professor Grant gave him a blank look. “Who?”

 

Kara’s brow furrowed. “Me, Professor Grant. Kara Danvers. We’ve had several conversations; I give you a Christmas present every year…” she said, unable to keep the hurt from her voice, and Barry patted her arm comfortingly.

 

“Ah, Miss Davies, what is it you’ve come to bother me about now?” Professor Grant said, finally acknowledging the fact that her office was now filled to the corners with students. Her Hufflepuff minion bumped a grape against her mouth, which she refused with an irritated scowl and dismissed the two first years with a wave of her hand. She sighed and slipped her black-framed glasses on, narrowing her eyes at Kara.

 

“Make this quick.”

 

Kara grinned and got Barry to set up an easel behind her, onto which he placed the charts and graphs she had prepared. What followed, was an eighteen minute presentation outlining the benefits of quidditch to the school, complete with visual aids and even an improvised role-play, courtesy of the Hufflepuff team.

 

“And that,” Kara declared, a closed fist over her heart as she gazed stoically into the distance, “is why Hogwarts needs quidditch.” The students around her clapped politely and she grinned as she turned her eyes expectantly to Professor Grant…who was totally not paying attention and was staring at the wall behind Kara with unfocused eyes. “Professor Grant?”

 

Professor Grant gave a small start as she blinked back into focus. “Oh, you’ve finished talking? I was enjoying my nap there.”

 

“Your eyes were open…”

 

“Sleeping with your eyes open is a skill one learns to perfect once they’ve been married to a boring, white, heterosexual male who greatly overestimates his own intelligence. Twice.” Professor Grant sighed impatiently and slid her glasses down her nose, eying the final page of Kara’s presentation (an enchanted drawing of the castle with happy students zipping around on broomsticks with a huge love heart around it), and sat back with an unimpressed hum.

 

“I think I get the gist of it,” she said flatly. “You’re upset that your little sports thing you care so much about had to be cancelled for the tournament. Well, I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do about it. We simply do not have the resources to facilitate both the tournament and the quidditch cup. That is the reality of the matter, and I am sorry. I mean, I’m not really, but that’s what people say in these situations, isn’t it J’onn?”

 

Professor J’onzz nodded dutifully and gave Kara a pained shrug, clearly struggling with being caught between his boss and his favourite student.

 

“But Professor—” Kara began, but was silenced by Professor Grant raising a hand sharply (the way the words stilled abruptly in Kara’s mouth made her wonder if Professor Grant had cast a silencing spell on her).

 

“Quiet, I’m getting an idea,” Professor Grant said abruptly. After an almost too-long silence, Professor Grant glanced up at Kara with a self-satisfied smile curling her lips. “Now, Miss Davies, what is stopping you from organising your own match with the other schools? Yes, indeed…a friendly inter school match could make the headlines. Only someone with my brilliant mind could have come up with such an idea. In fact, I insist that you do organise this,” she ordered with a nod. “And show that smug Durmstrang headmaster Perry White a thing or two about quodditch!”

 

“It’s quidditch…”

 

“Whatever! This project is in your hands now, Miss Davies. Let one of my assistants know if you require anything and we’ll see what we can do.”

 

Kara stared back blankly, not quite sure exactly what was happening, but Professor Grant didn’t seem like she was going to answer any questions.

 

“Run along now. My time is precious and you have wasted enough of it already. Away with you!”

 

**

 

The students from the visiting schools took part in classes with the seventh year students. For Kara and Winn, that meant charms class with Mon-el. When the handsome seeker spun around in his chair to ask to borrow a bit of parchment, both Kara and Winn simply stared back, all bulging eyes and gaping mouths until Mon-el slowly slid a piece of parchment off of Winn’s desk with a confused smile and turned back around.

 

Winn!” Kara hissed, knocking him in the shoulder. “What is the matter with you? I just made a complete idiot of myself in front of Mon-el Daxam!” she moaned.

 

For Kara, it made sense for her to be a little starstruck—Mon-el was, after all, one of her quidditch heroes. But for Winn, who didn’t care about quidditch in the slightest, this reaction made no sense at all. Unless—

 

“It’s not my fault he’s so stupidly handsome!” Winn snapped back and busied himself with setting up his workspace, the tips of his ears turning bright pink.

 

During the lesson, when they were supposed to be taking notes about concealment charms, Winn peered over to see that the only thing on Mon-el’s parchment were some badly-drawn stick figures flying around on brooms.

 

“Oh and he’s stupid too,” Winn whispered to Kara with a wistful sigh. “Handsome and stupid, that’s like my Kryptonite.”

 

“What’s Kryptonite?” Kara asked.

 

“Nevermind, it’s a muggle thing,” Winn said with a dismissive hand wave.

 

“Well, he’s not stupid, he’s just very dedicated to the sport,” Kara insisted defensively. She craned her neck to see the only distinguishable feature on the stick figures was an impressive quiff of hair on each one. Presumably, every figure was Mon-el.

 

Winn sighed and dropped his chin onto the desk. “I’m doomed,” he groaned.

 

Kara had Transfiguration with some students from Beauxbatons, and she caught herself scanning the small group of beautiful faces (seriously, did they only accept models into that school?) for dark hair and green eyes, but came away slightly disappointed when she wasn’t there. Kara was beginning to give up hope on sharing a class with the elusive Luthor—until it came to Potions.

 

Kara was setting up her cauldron when Lena drifted in, chatting amicably with another Beauxbatons girl, and set her books down just two tables away from her and James. For whatever reason, Kara immediately ducked underneath her desk, rummaging around for nothing in her bag while she suffered from a mini panic attack.

 

As it turned out, she needed at least some sort of warning before this girl entered a room and stole the air from her lungs and made her heart try to tap-dance its way out of her chest. When Kara poked her head back up again, sure enough, she hadn’t imagined it, Lena was there. Listening politely to her friend and then she laughed and that sound was so unfair—Kara just wanted to play that delicious sound on an infinite loop in her brain. She wanted to be the reason for that sound to exist.

 

It was with a sense of dread that Kara realised that, of all classes, Lena just had to be in Potions with her. Potions was, without a doubt, Kara’s worst class. She certainly didn’t need any more distractions…

 

Sure enough, about halfway through the lesson, Kara was busy studying the way Lena’s brow furrowed adorably with concentration as she delicately twirled her wand over her cauldron to stir her potion. Next thing she knew, Kara’s elbow slipped on the table and she had knocked an entire vial of flobberworm mucus into her cauldron. A purple cloud of smoke that smelled of burning hair and rotten eggs spewed forth from her cauldron, and gradually filled the entire classroom. 

 

“Everybody, RUN!” Professor Carr roared. Everyone around Kara started retching from the stench as they dropped their things and scrambled for the exit. Professor Carr gave a strangled shout of “fifty points from Hufflepuff!!” as he frantically waved his wand around to cast a repelling charm at the doorway of the classroom so the smoke remained contained within.

 

Kara grimaced and hid herself behind James’ broad frame, a human shield from not only Snapper’s rage, but from Lena’s green eyes, which were filled with concern as her potions partner coughed and leaned dramatically against the wall.

 

Kara sighed internally and gave a silent prayer that this crush she apparently had didn’t kill her.

 

 

*

 

“Ponytail!” Professor Carr snapped, appropriately demonstrating his nickname, at the start of their Potions lesson one afternoon.

 

“Gee,” Kara muttered out the side of her mouth to James, “you dissolve your ponytail in an anti- inflammation potion one time in first year, and the nickname follows you for life.”

 

“I am sick of seeing your poor excuse for potions class after class,” Professor Carr continued, though Kara really wasn’t paying attention. “Not to mention the fact that they are dangerous. Miss Luthor, please pair up with ponytail over there. Merlin knows, she’d benefit from observing someone of your talent.”

 

“Wait, why are you packing up?” Kara asked, tilting her head to the side as James gathered his books together and stood up to move.

 

“Didn’t you hear Professor Carr? You’re being paired up with Lena.”

 

“Wh…” Kara’s mouth dropped open, goldfishing as Lena Luthor herself floated down into the seat beside her, and no, Kara was most certainly not ready for this—not for the way Lena adjusted her books carefully on the workbench, or for the way she tapped her quill to her chin before neatly writing the subject of the lesson at the top of her parchment.

 

Of course, her handwriting was a perfect cursive script. Kara watched, mesmerised, as Lena’s quill danced effortlessly across the parchment, and found herself suddenly self-conscious about the childish scrawl that filled her own notebooks.

 

It was then that she realised Lena had set her quill down and was looking at her expectantly, head tilted slightly to the side. Oh Merlin, she had asked her something—she had asked her something, and Kara had no idea what it was.

 

She cleared  her throat and brought herself back into the present. “Uh…I’m sorry, could you repeat that?”

 

Lena smiled curiously, and if Kara thought Lena Luthor couldn't be any more beautiful than she already was, she had been dead wrong because that smile was just something else.

 

“I said, I’m Lena Luthor. And I’m guessing your name isn’t ponytail…” she said, the slightest hint of a smirk tugging at the corner of her mouth as her eyes twinkled.

 

Kara coughed and shook her head. “No. No, it’s not. It’s…it’s Kara. Kara Danvers.”

 

Lena smiled politely. “Nice to meet you, Kara Danvers.” Her eyes turned back to the chalkboard, where a piece of chalk was magically writing out a set of instructions, which Lena meticulously copied down into her own notes.

 

Kara took the time to calm herself down, to relax the vice grip she had on her robes, to smooth out her hair, to take a deep breath and do her best to be a normal person.

 

“I feel like I should warn you,” Kara said, impressing herself by how steadily she maintained her voice, “I’m really bad at potions. Like…really bad.”

 

“I’ve noticed,” Lena said simply, looking more amused than anything. “It was your potion that forced us to evacuate the other day, wasn’t it?”

 

“Er…Yes, that was me. Sorry,” Kara admitted, flushed with embarrassment and she bashfully pushed her glasses up her nose. “And last year, I mixed up wormroot and wormwood, and well—long story short, I didn’t have eyebrows for two weeks,” Kara mumbled and pouted slightly when she saw Lena hiding a laugh. “Hey, don’t laugh, it was a really tough time for me.”

 

Lena’s smile lingered playfully at the corner of her mouth for a moment. “Well, luckily for the both of us, I happen to be very good at potions. Your eyebrows will be perfectly safe with me.”

 

“Oh…great!” Kara said, somewhat shakily, but she couldn’t help beaming.

 

Over the course of the lesson, Kara discovered that Lena was not only incredibly beautiful, but also incredibly intelligent and incredibly kind. Which, again, was just unfair.

 

Unlike other potions partners she’d had, Lena didn’t make her feel dumb, or take over completely so Kara wouldn’t set anything on fire. Instead, she was patient, and explained things to Kara so she could actually learn.

 

There was one close call where Kara almost tipped in some snails before removing them from their shells, but Lena caught the mistake quickly, hand snapping out to swiftly catch Kara’s wrist as it hovered over the cauldron.

 

“Uh…” Kara stammered, blinking dumbly back at Lena as her entire arm tingled at the feeling of Lena’s grip, her thumb pressed against Kara’s racing pulse.

 

“The shells, Kara,” Lena reminded her gently, and gradually released Kara’s wrist when she eventually gave a slow nod of understanding.

 

By the end of the lesson, they had managed to produce a Befuddlement Draught even Snapper seemed to approve of. That never happened, especially not to Kara.

 

“You’re really good at this,” Kara commented, completely in awe, as she packed up her gear—five minutes early, too.

 

Lena shrugged the compliment off with a shy smile. “That’s nothing compared to my brother. He taught me everything I know.”

 

“Well…your brother must be a super genius then, because you are incredible,” Kara said plainly, and the pretty blush that coloured Lena’s cheeks at that was almost too much.

 

“You’re sweet,” Lena hummed, and it was Kara’s turn to blush as she grinned back.

 

They packed up their things, and Kara soon found herself trotting along by Lena’s side, struggling a little with the strap of her book bag as it slipped off her shoulder multiple times.

 

“So,” Kara huffed as she won the fight with her bag by slinging it across her chest instead. “Do you want to come to the library with me to start on Snapper—I mean—Professor Carr’s homework? I usually need to start on it right away,” Kara explained, then noticed the way Lena was looking at her almost sceptically, like she might have some ulterior motive for asking to study together.

 

(Which Kara didn’t. She definitely didn’t want to spend the rest of the afternoon sneaking glances at Lena as she wrote in that delicate cursive handwriting. She definitely didn’t plan on coming up with random things to ask her about, just to watch the way Lena’s eyes would light up as she talked animatedly about the differences Wiggentree bark and Wiggenbush bark, or something of that nature. And she absolutely, most definitely wasn’t hoping to catch a glimpse of the way Lena would bite her lower lip when she concentrated especially hard. No. Those thoughts hadn’t even crossed her mind.)

 

“…unless you’d rather not, that’s okay too,” Kara added once the silence had stretched out just that little bit too long.

 

“No,” Lena said quickly and shook her head. “I’d like to. It’s just—well, usually I study alone, or with my brother. I just…wasn’t expecting you to ask.”

 

“Oh,” Kara said with a perplexed but pleased look. That was a strange thing to be caught off guard by; Kara had assumed that Lena would be used to people clamouring to be her study buddy—the girl seemed to know everything. “Well in that case, let’s go. The library is this way.”

 

Kara turned to lead Lena down one of the hallways, but stopped sharply in her tracks when she heard a voice calling Lena’s name. Lex Luthor was striding purposefully towards them, and in a few long steps, Kara was craning her neck to look up at the tall boy.

 

“Lena, there you are,” he said with a stern frown. “We agreed to meet outside the Great Hall after class. I was worried.”

 

“Oh, sorry…I suppose I forgot.”

 

Lex’s frown deepened. “That’s not like you, Lee.”

 

Lena sighed, and irritation filtered into it. “I’m only a few minutes late, Lex. Relax, please.”

 

Lex huffed out exasperation, clenched his fists tight before he relaxed them and ran his fingers through his hair. “You’re right, you’re right. I apologise. Today is an important day, you know that. I suppose I’m a little tense,” he said, pushing out a curt laugh.

 

Kara shifted awkwardly from one foot to another as she was completely ignored throughout the entire exchange and wasn’t sure if she should just try to slip away…

 

Lex, however, finally seemed to notice her for the first time and gave her a sharp look, like she was some sort of small animal blocking his path. “Who are you?” he asked bluntly.

 

“Lex, don’t be rude,” Lena muttered, shooting her brother a pained look.

 

“It’s okay,” Kara said quickly with a laugh she hoped would diffuse the awkwardness. She smiled, aiming for friendly, and put out her hand. “I’m Kara. Kara Danvers.”

 

One of Lex’s brows quirked upwards at that and he eyed her hand suspiciously. “Danvers…any relation to Alex Danvers?”

 

Kara faltered for a moment. “Er—yes. I’m her sister.”

 

“Interesting.” There was silence for a beat, and Lena nudged Lex’s side. At his sister’s insistence, he finally shook Kara’s still-extended hand. “I just had Defence Against the Dark Arts with your sister. We duelled.”

 

“How’d it go?” Lena asked genially, and Lex’s expression darkened.

 

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

 

Kara grimaced, because she had a pretty good idea of why that might be. “She used the jelly-legs jinx on you, didn’t she?”

 

Lex’s lips tightened, and he didn’t relax until Lena patted his arm gently, at which point he gave an irritated sigh. “I admit I wasn’t expecting something so…juvenile.”

 

Kara chuckled lightly. “Yeah, that’s kind of her signature move. No one expects the jelly-legs jinx, or so she says.”

 

Lex frowned slightly, finding little humour in that. “I underestimated her. I’ll be sure not to underestimate a Danvers sister again.” He looked Kara up and down like she was some sort of weird plant one might find in the Herbology greenhouses, and it made Kara feel incredibly exposed.

 

“No need to do that with me,” she said with a forced laugh. “What you see is pretty much what you get.”

 

Lex quirked an eyebrow that made Kara feel even smaller. “Perhaps you are the one guilty of underestimating yourself, Kara Danvers,” he murmured, eying her closely.

 

Lena sighed and tugged insistently on Lex’s sleeve. She pressed up on her toes and Kara barely heard her hiss “Lex, you’re being weird,” into his ear before she sank back down and flashed Kara an apologetic smile.

 

Lex cleared his throat and smoothed back his hair. “We should be going,” he said, and the way he said it, it was quite clear Lena didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. He spoke to Lena when he said, “we have to do it today. I calculated when the probability of being chosen is greatest based on when previous champions entered their name, and today gives me the best chance, you know that,” he said firmly.

 

Lena sighed and nodded, patting Lex’s arm. “I know, I know.” She glanced back at Kara and gave her a brief smile. “I’ll see you in potions class. Good luck with the homework.”

 

Kara watched as the odd pair walked away, and she couldn’t help but get the feeling that, for whatever reason, Lex didn’t particularly like her. The wary glare he shot back at her over his shoulder only seemed to confirm her suspicions.

Chapter Text

Alex Danvers’ features twitched into a frown when Kara sighed glumly for the third time in as many minutes.

 

The Danvers sisters were the last two remaining in the library for a late night study session, the others having long tapped out in favour of bed, and sat huddled together around an oil lamp that cast flickering shadows across their work and their faces. Parchment and books piled high in complete chaos around Kara’s side of the table, while Alex’s workstation was neat and orderly as she worked on a Herbology essay about aquatic plants.

 

Kara sighed again.

 

Alex’s quill stilled on her parchment and she flicked her sister a look through narrowed eyes.

 

“What?” she growled, irate.

 

Kara’s head snapped up from her Charms homework, eyebrows arched as she was caught by surprise. “What? Nothing. I didn’t say anything.”

 

Alex sighed gruffly and set her quill down in its holder (it was a silver miniature bludger, a birthday present from Eliza and Jeremiah, and one of her favourite possessions).

 

“I can’t concentrate on Professor Isley’s homework with you thinking so loud. Go on, tell me already. What’s on your mind?”

 

Kara opened her mouth indignantly, thinking about protesting, but sighed in defeat and dropped her cheek into her palm. Alex was right, of course. Something was bothering her: she just couldn’t shake the way Lex had looked at her as he walked away with Lena that afternoon. It lingered in the back of her mind, unsettling her in a way she couldn’t quite place.

 

“You duelled Lex Luthor in class today, didn’t you?”

 

“How’d you know about that?” Alex asked and then grinned. “My victory against the great Lex Luthor is already the stuff of legends is it? Classic jelly-legs jinx. Never fails.”

 

Kara rolled her eyes at her sister and her affinity for that dumb spell. “Sure, Alex. Anyway…what did you make of him?”

 

Alex ran a hand over her chin thoughtfully and shrugged. “He didn’t seem too happy to lose. Said something about how I would regret making a fool of him. It was kind of hard to take him seriously though, what with his legs all jellified,” Alex noted, chuckling as she reminisced to herself. “Why do you ask?” she asked, lifting a questioning brow.

 

Kara sighed, fiddling with the feather of her quill in her fingertips. “No reason. I just…bumped into him today. He gave me a weird feeling, that’s all. I don’t think he likes me,” she said, lips pinching into a pout.

 

“And if there’s one thing Kara Danvers can’t handle, it’s not being liked,” Alex teased, giving her a knowing look.

 

“Not true!” Kara protested indignantly. “I didn’t do anything to deserve the way he glared at me. All I did was literally exist in the same space as his sister, and it was like I had insulted his entire family or something,” Kara scowled, remembering the way he had looked down his nose at her with those steely, grey eyes.

 

“You’re friends with his sister?” Alex asked, eyes widening a little.

 

Kara shrugged dismissively. “We’re in Potions together. She’s…she’s nice.”

 

(Nice wasn’t really the right word—didn’t even come close to capturing the way Kara felt like she was soaring through the clouds on her Nimbus 2000 when Lena had smiled at her over their shared cauldron. But Alex was looking at her strangely, so nice would have to do.)

 

“I see,” Alex hummed. She shuffled a little closer, bending into the lamp light as she spoke in hushed tones. “Don’t you think they’re a little weird? You’ve seen them, right? Walking around the castle together. They’re practically inseparable, except when they have different classes. She’s like…his little shadow.”

 

“Hey,” Kara snapped, perhaps a little sharper than she’d intended.

 

She felt an instant defensive reaction flare up in her chest. It was the same one she’d felt in first year when some fourth years were making fun of Winn’s lisp; the same one she’d felt when a Slytherin beater sent a foul bludger at Barry and nearly broke his arm; the same one she’d felt when she’d overheard a group of students snickering at Maggie and Alex holding hands as they walked through the hallways.

 

(All of those incidents had ended with some sort of hex or jinx and a lot of yelling on Kara’s part.)

 

“Lena is not weird,” Kara insisted, jutting her chin in defiance. “She’s not Lex’s shadow; she’s her own person. She’s kind, and smart and,” Kara sputtered, her ears turning pink, and Alex was raising an eyebrow at her so she quickly finished with “and you don’t even know her.”

 

“And you do?” Alex pointed out, and Kara just hated the knowing look her sister was wearing.

 

“Well enough to earn the suspicion of her brother, apparently,” she said glumly.

 

Kara decided she was done with homework for the night. She flopped the lid of her textbook shut, then proceeded to use it as a prop for her arms as she folded them on top of it and cradled her head in them.

 

“This is all your fault,” Kara muttered. “You and your stupid jelly-legs jinx. You just had to poke the Hippogriff, didn’t you?”

 

Alex chuckled to herself, but it gradually faded out to be replaced by a concerned frown that pulled her brows together tight. She fiddled with her quill holder, rolling the tiny bludger back and forth between her thumb and forefinger.

 

“Just…maybe be careful, okay? I might have won the duel, but it wasn’t easy,” she said, naturally slipping into serious big sister mode. “He was throwing some pretty advanced spells my way before I managed to get lucky.”

 

“Great,” Kara groaned, and blew a piece of loose hair out of her face with a puff of air. “He’s got it out for me and he’s a super powerful wizard who could probably curse me within an inch of my life if I make him mad—which, apparently I managed to accomplish just by virtue of being related to you and just by talking to Lena.”

 

Alex chewed on her bottom lip, hesitating in that way that meant she knew Kara wasn’t going to like hearing what she had to say.

 

“Maybe you should reconsider getting any closer with his sister.”

 

Kara’s face screwed up into a frown at the utter abhorrence with which she viewed that statement.

 

“Are you kidding me, Alex?” she exclaimed incredulously. “I’m not going to let some brooding, curly-haired, scary guy decide who I can and can’t be friends with. Besides, I’d like to think Lena might have some say in the matter.” Kara huffed, crossing her arms, and her lip stuck out in a pout.

 

Alex eyed her sister closely with the worry and care that burned in her eyes ever since Kara crashed—both literally and physically—into her life all those years ago. Her expression softened, warming with affection as she reached out a thumb to smooth out the crinkle that cinched Kara’s brows together.

 

“Always so stubborn, Kar,” she murmured and chuckled when Kara swatted her hand away with a scowl. She sighed, resigned to the fact that Kara was going to do what Kara was going to do.  “Just promise me you’ll be careful, okay?” Alex asked gingerly.

 

“She’s not a Grindylow, Al, she won't bite me,” Kara replied, rolling her eyes, but Alex fixed her with a stern look that she was hopeless against, so she folded with a huffed sigh. “Fine, I’ll be careful. Whatever that means.”

 

Alex gave a relieved sigh and rested her head against Kara’s. “Thank you. And if you need any help practicing your jelly-legs jinx, I’ve got plenty of tips.”

 

**

 

Kara hadn’t seen Lena since their last Potions class—not alone, at least. She’d seen the striking Beauxbatons girl in the library and around the castle, but always in the company of one Lex Luthor, who frowned as he pored over textbooks with this intense fervour that was just a little intimidating, if Kara was completely honest.

 

One afternoon, Kara had been studying a few tables away from the Luthor siblings and she found herself watching them every now and then. Lex brought his head in close to Lena’s, murmuring something intently. Lena’s face had lit up and she nodded eagerly, whispering animatedly back as she rifled through books to find something she was looking for, thrusting it under her brother’s nose when she found it.

 

Kara found herself smiling in spite of herself, endlessly charmed by everything this girl did, and the passion and excitement with which she did it. She wasn’t sure exactly how long Lena had been looking back at her, but when she eventually realised, Kara blushed and gave an awkward little wave, which Lena returned with a secret smile over Lex’s shoulder.

 

Lex, however, must have noticed the exchange, and narrowed his eyes into a glare over his shoulder at Kara. Moments later, the Luthors had packed up their things and were stalking out of the library. Lena trailed behind somewhat, a deep frown marking her forehead. Kara sighed as she watched them leave, a strange hollow feeling gnawing at her stomach.

 

A few days later, Kara bent down low into a squat out the back of the groundskeeper’s shack, reaching into the pouch fastened to her hip.

 

“Here you go guys,” Kara murmured gently, holding out a clump of dirt and wriggling grubs in her gloved hand. The blast-ended skrewts she had offered to help Professor J’onzz take care of all scurried towards her, snapping and snarling at her outstretched hand.

 

“That’s it, one at a time. Hey, hey, wait your turn, Alex Junior. Now, now, no biting, and no acid spitballs either, I’m only going to say this once,” she said sternly, withdrawing her glove slightly as she gave the offending skrewt a chastising look. “There you go, eat your grubs.”

 

“You’re good with them.”

 

“Aah!”

Kara gave a surprised cry as the unexpected voice materialised from behind her. She lost her balance and toppled backwards, landing flat on her back, only to see Lena Luthor looking at her upside-down, hiding a laugh behind her hand.

 

“Sorry,” she said with a soft laugh, “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

 

Kara grimaced, partly from embarrassment, and partly because one of the skrewts was sniffing at her face, a thin line of drool dribbling onto her cheek.

 

“You didn’t scare me,” she protested as she pushed the skrewt away. She pushed herself up into a sitting position, leaning back on her palms as she glanced up at Lena.

 

The afternoon sun was at Lena’s back, casting her in golden light as she stood there in her Beauxbatons skirt and blazer, her hair tied back in a low ponytail that swept over one shoulder, and toyed with her fingertips. Kara couldn’t help but crane her neck around behind Lena, and was pleasantly surprised not to see a tall, surly looking Luthor anywhere in sight.

 

Unfortunately, the other skrewts seemed to have clued on to the fact that Kara’s grub pouch was in reach and were now fighting each other to get into it.

 

Kara yelped when she heard her cloak rip (Winn was going to have to stitch it up, again), and quickly jumped up, unclipped the pouch and tossed it away from her before any more of her uniform or person could be damaged by the over-enthusiastic creatures. Kara huffed a sigh, frowning slightly as all of the skrewts immediately scurried over to the pouch, basically ripping it to shreds as they gorged on the grubs inside.

 

“And they were behaving so well,” she lamented, then smiled as she noticed the smallest in the group had stayed close to her heels, and was looking up at her with expectant, beady black eyes. “You’re a good boy though, Felix. Look what I’ve saved for you, for being so well behaved,” Kara said happily, crouching back down to feed the small skrewt a juicy worm.

 

Lena chuckled from behind her, then crouched down next to her, watching the skrewt as it snapped its pincers into Kara’s gloved palm with intense fascination. “You really like magical creatures, don’t you?”

 

“Hm?” Kara flicked Lena a distracted smile. “Oh, yeah, I do. Even the ugly ones. Right, Felix? Most people wouldn’t touch you with a ten foot pole, would they, you hideous angel,” she cooed, tickling the creature under his chin, and Lena chuckled.

 

“Is there anything I can do to help?” Lena asked.

 

Kara stared back at her for a moment before she nodded. “Um, yeah, actually. Getting them back into their pen can be a handful with just one person, if you wouldn’t mind…”

 

“Just tell me what to do.”

 

Kara handed Lena a pair of thick gloves and set about the task of herding the snarling creatures into their pen. She told Lena to stand by the gate, and passed her a clump of earth full of worms to use as a lure.

 

To Kara’s pleased surprise, Lena didn’t even grimace at the gross nature of the task—but then again, this was a girl who seemed to delight in crushing rhinoceros beetles and dissecting horned toads in Potions class, so perhaps Kara shouldn't have been all that surprised.

 

Lena more than happily took the clump of earth and worms and stood where Kara had instructed while Kara attempted to herd the skrewts from behind. Blast-ended skrewts weren’t particularly friendly from either end, but the rear was certainly the one to watch out for. The skrewts slobbered and scuttled their way over towards Lena, who definitely looked a little nervous now that she had their full attention.

 

“Don’t worry,” Kara encouraged, “just stay calm and they won’t hurt you.”

 

Lena yelped as one of the skrewts snapped up at her hand. Kara’s chaser reflexes instantly kicked in and she cast a quick shield charm in front of Lena, which the screwt bounced off of with an offended snarl.

 

“Just hold tight, Lena!” Kara called out as she jogged behind a screwt that had strayed from the group and guided it back towards the rest of them, ducking to narrowly avoid an acid projectile launched from its rear end. The skrewts were all huddled at the entrance when Kara ordered Lena to throw the worms into the pen.

 

She did so, and they all scurried in, which allowed Kara to pull the heavy wooden gate to the pen shut. The gate was almost closed when Alex Junior (the angriest of the skrewts) fired an acid blast in their direction. Kara only just managed to grab Lena by the wrist to pull her out of the way, drawing her into her side as she finished closing the gate, and they both collapsed against it breathlessly.

 

Kara quickly dropped Lena’s wrist once she realised she was still holding it, and cleared her throat as she shifted away, heart beating a little faster at Lena’s sudden closeness to her.

 

“Thanks for your help,” Kara panted, wiping a hand over her brow as she straightened up.

 

“You certainly have, ah, interesting creatures here,” Lena said, accepting the hand Kara offered her.

 

“They’re a far cry from those amazing horses you guys flew in on,” Kara admitted as she caught her breath. “But they still need to be cared for, so here I am.”

 

“Here we are,” Lena corrected her with a grin that made Kara’s stomach do a flip from the way she said ‘we’, like that meant something important.

 

Lena paused and looked thoughtful for a moment, biting lightly at her lip as she slipped her gloves off. “I’m glad I found you, Kara. I…I wanted to apologise about the other day,” she said carefully, with some trepidation entering her voice.

 

Kara tilted her head in question. “About what?”

 

Lena sighed. “About Lex. He can be quite protective of me, especially when it comes to me making new friends,” she said with a slight frown. “I’m sorry if he made you at all uncomfortable.”

 

Kara’s expression softened and she shrugged lightly. “It’s okay. I know a thing or two about protective older siblings.”

 

“Alex, right?”

 

Kara nodded. “Yeah. I swear, she would wrap me up in bubble wrap if it meant nothing could hurt me,” she chuckled, but the affection was obvious in her voice.

 

“Sounds like she really cares about you,” Lena hummed. “I think Lex would do the same, except he’d put me in a glass box. Somewhere I could be seen, and not touched,” she said wryly.

 

Kara’s brows pulled together at Lena’s sad tone. There was something behind it, something secret that chipped away at this mask Lena seemed to wear. Kara was witnessing it fracturing right before her eyes, and she just wanted to peel it back and see what was behind it, because something told her it would be a sight to behold.

 

“That sounds significantly less fun,” she said, a little cautiously, then— “At least bubble wrap makes those cool popping sounds.” And she grimaced at how dumb that definitely sounded, but laughed with relief when Lena smiled softly anyway. “So…we’re friends, are we?” she asked after a beat with a teasing grin.

 

Lena flushed a little, eyes darting away as she fiddled with the gloves in her hand. “Well, I didn’t mean to imply or presume, I just thought—” she began and faltered when Kara laughed warmly.

 

“It’s okay, Lena,” she said gently, smiling at the flustered girl. It was nice to know that Lena could get flustered. Kara was beginning to think she was the only one. “We can be friends, if you like. And if you answer this question correctly.”

 

Lena arched a perfectly sculpted brow. “Oh?”

 

Kara ducked down into her bag and popped back out with an armful of sweets. “Do you like sweets?” she asked, and her face split into a bright grin.

 

Lena laughed and bent over to examine Kara’s selection with a critical eye.

 

“I call dibs on the liquorice wands,” she finally decided, and a grin tugged at the corner of her mouth.

 

“Fine by me, I don’t like them all that much anyway,” Kara chuckled and happily handed them over.

 

They ended up walking by the lake, trading stories about their schools as they shared sweets between them. Kara grinned at the way Lena’s entire face scrunched up when they tried to see who could suck on an Acid Pop the longest (Kara won). Lena doubled over with laughter when Kara started gagging on a kale flavoured Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Bean.

 

(“It’s just a vegetable!” 

 

“It tastes like death!”)

 

Kara popped a wad of Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum into her mouth and wiggled her eyebrows at Lena as she blew a bubble the size of a quaffle. The bright, blue bubble detached from her lips and floated in the air a few feet in front of them.

 

“I’m not sure if that was supposed to impress me, Kara, but that’s super gross,” Lena drawled, wrinkling her nose as she swerved to avoid the floating blue bubble.

 

“What do you mean?” Kara asked, feigning offence. “I’m actually quite impressed with myself. How is that gross?”

 

Lena gave her a sideways look. “It was in your mouth, Kara.”

 

“What’s wrong with my mouth?” Kara asked, eyebrow raised in challenge.

 

Lena didn’t dignify Kara with a response, but didn’t break eye contact as she flicked her wand and created a puncture in the bubble, sending it whooshing off across the water, where it landed with an anticlimactic plop.

 

“Rude.”

 

They came across some rock pools by the edge of the lake and Kara helped Lena clamber on top of them.

 

“So,” she said, completely surefooted as she walked backwards across the rocks, arms slightly outstretched in case she needed to catch Lena. “What do you think about the tournament? You came all this way, are you going to enter?”

 

Lena frowned, only partly out of concentrating on keeping herself from slipping on the rocks. “Oh, no…I couldn’t.”

 

“Why not? You’re, like, crazy smart, and you faced those skrewts with no troubles, so you must be brave too. Sounds like champion material to me.”

 

Lena shook her head lightly, a soft smile on her lips. “That’s sweet, Kara, but…I’m here to support my brother. This is his dream, I have to do whatever I can to help him.”

 

Kara reached out suddenly as Lena looked like she might lose her balance, but Lena caught herself and gave her a nod that said she was just fine. They came to the edge of the rocks, and Kara hopped down with ease before turning around to offer a hand to help Lena down.

 

“You and your brother seem close,” Kara said, blushing a little as Lena smoothed out her blazer and they continued walking along the beach.

 

She breached the subject of Lex with some trepidation. Truthfully, she was burning to know what his deal was, why he seemed to dislike her so much without even knowing her. She wanted to know if Lena really was as subject to her brother’s whim as she appeared to be.

 

“We are,” Lena stated. “He’s always stood up for me, protected me, defended me when I had no one else.” Her eyes took on a faraway look as she looked out across the water, her dark hair blowing gently in the breeze. But still, Kara didn’t quite understand.

 

“You said he’d put you in a glass box if he could…that’s not exactly what comes to mind when I think ‘protection’.”

 

Lena sighed wearily and gave Kara a wan smile. “He’d do anything for me, Kara. I can’t say that about many people—about anyone, in fact. I’m lucky to have him.”

 

Kara frowned, thinking about the people in her own life. About Alex, James, Maggie, Winn, Clark, Professor J'onzz, Professor Prince, Eliza, Jeremiah…all these people who she would say, with a strong degree of certainty, who would do anything for her, and she would do anything for them. But from the sounds of it, Lena only had Lex. Kara couldn’t help but think that maybe Lex preferred it stayed that way.

 

Lena shivered a little and smiled brightly, in the way that said she wanted to talk about something else. “What about you?” she asked. “Have you thought about entering?”

 

“Who, me?” Kara asked, then chuckled as she shook her head. “No, I don’t really want to. Call me crazy, but risking my life for the sake of personal glory and fame isn’t what I’m all about,” she said with a wry grin. “I prefer to compete in a team, like with quidditch. And besides, Professor Grant has roped me into planning this quidditch tournament between our schools, so I’m going to be busy organising everything for that. Do you play?” Kara asked, a hopeful lilt in her voice.

 

Kara deflated slightly when Lena shook her head. “No,” she said, “I’m actually rather afraid of the whole flying thing. I had to take a sleeping potion before we traveled here in the carriage,” she admitted. “Lex is the quidditch player in the family. He’s a chaser.”

 

Kara couldn’t help but groan and roll her eyes in exasperation. “Is there anything your brother can’t do?”

 

Lena let out a knowing laugh and lightly bumped Kara’s shoulder. “I gave up trying to figure that out years ago.”

 

The sun was well and truly setting by the time they came to stop at a log by the edge of the lake. Lena sat down on it with a contented sigh, while Kara started skipping stones across the smooth, glassy surface of the water.

 

She launched a flat stone from her hand and impressed herself when it skipped beautifully six, seven, eight times before sinking into the water. The triumphant feeling was quickly deflated, however, when a small stone sailed out from behind her and skipped speedily across the water’s surface until it disappeared from view into the horizon. Kara angled her chin over her shoulder and narrowed her eyes when she saw Lena sitting on the log wearing a pleased smirk, her wand innocently held aloft.

 

“Cheater.”

 

Kara walked back towards her and flopped down onto the ground, resting her back against the log. “I shouldn't have eaten those chocolate frogs,” she moaned, placing a hand over her belly which was now swollen with sugary sweets.

 

Lena gave a sympathetic chuckle and patted her shoulder gently. “I’m supposed to be having dinner with Lex and mother tonight. I imagine mother won’t be pleased I’ve ruined my appetite with all these sweets.”

 

Kara tilted her head up to give Lena a questioning look. “Your mother’s here?”

 

Lena blinked at her. “Yes, of course she is. She’s our headmistress. Didn’t you know that?”

 

Kara shook her head. “Should I?”

 

A relieved sort of smile formed on Lena’s lips. “I suppose not. I’m just used to being known as the headmistress’s daughter, or Lex Luthor’s sister, so…” she stretched lazily back onto the heels of her palms, her eyes drifting shut. And Kara gazed at her face, mesmerised as she tipped it towards the final rays of sun and the light danced across her cheeks. “It’s a nice change to be here. Only a handful of people know who my brother is, and even fewer people know who I am, so,” she drew in a steadying breath, “I can get to know people as just me. It’s nice.”

 

Kara smiled happily as she looked up at her from the ground. “I’m glad to hear it. For the record, I’m liking getting to know just you,” Kara said sincerely.

 

“Likewise,” Lena replied, a brief smile flitting across her features as she tucked a piece of hair behind her ear.

 

Kara smiled to herself and let a brief silence settle over them.

 

“Still. Lex seems have you on a pretty tight leash,” Kara commented—thoughtlessly, in hindsight—and Lena stiffened up above her.

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

“Hm?” Kara glanced up from the stick she had been picking at to see Lena frowning defensively back at her, and she quickly realised she'd said the wrong thing. Kara swallowed nervously because that frown was…scary.

 

“Uh, no, I didn’t mean,” she exhaled in frustration, adjusting her glasses as she cursed her own stupid mouth, “I just mean you seem to go where he goes a lot of the time, that’s all. I never really see you two apart, except for when you’re in different classes.”

 

Lena was silent for a moment, her lips pursed tight, and Kara’s breathing caught in her throat until Lena spoke.

 

“I don’t see him anywhere now, do you?” Lena challenged, eyebrows raised.

 

“Er…no,” Kara said, glancing around. “Does he know you’re here with me?”

 

Defeated, Lena turned sheepish and refused to look Kara in the eyes, her stubborn chin jutted towards the lake. “No. I told him I was studying in the library. I…I lied. Sometimes it’s just easier that way,” she mumbled and shrugged.

 

Kara sighed and pushed herself up off the ground so she could sit beside Lena on the log. She scuffed her feet into the gravel beach as she looked out across the lake and a frown crinkled her brow.

 

“You shouldn’t have to lie to your own brother,” she said. “That’s just…wrong.”

 

Lena sighed, and Kara gave a start when she felt the soft brush of fingertips against the back of her hand. She glanced down to see her fists were clenched tight, nails digging into her palms. Lena traced a finger so lightly over each of Kara’s knuckles, and she found herself uncurling her fingers, slowly loosening her hand. It was like Lena had done this sort of thing before—with Lex, probably, Kara thought. She wasn’t quite sure how to feel about that.

 

“Sorry,” Kara mumbled, exhaling once her hand had relaxed. “I know it’s not my place.”

 

“It’s fine,” Lena said, shaking her head. “You’re just being a—a friend,” she said, and she hesitated slightly on the word ‘friend’, but smiled a bit once she got it out, as though she was settling into both the word and the idea.

 

“I don’t want you to think Lex controls me, Kara,” she said firmly. “Because it’s not true. In a way, I protect him as much as he protects me. Though, I protect him more from himself than anything else,” she said with a wry tut of her tongue. “He can get a little, ah, obsessed with his work. He’ll forget to eat or he’ll shout at an innocent first year. That sort of thing,” she said by way of explanation.

 

“That sounds…intense.”

 

“It can be,” Lena admitted with a shrug. “But we always have each other, no matter what. That’s the important part.” She sighed and twisted at the fabric of her skirt before looking over at Kara with a pleading expression. “Kara, can we—can we not talk about Lex for a bit? I’m enjoying just being here, with you.”

 

Kara swallowed at another question—what she really wanted to know—why didn’t Lex like her and what was she supposed to do to change that? But Lena really looked like she’d had enough, so she nodded her head agreeably and dropped it, for now.

 

She drew her wand and levitated a pebble off of the beach, making it float in front of them in a lazy figure eight. “Show me how to do that thing with the rock?” she suggested.

 

Lena relaxed, grateful and relieved for the change of subject. She shifted to adjust the angle of Kara’s arm slightly and got her to still the rock in front of them.

 

“It’s just physics,” Lena explained, “just focus all of your energy into the rock and imagine where you want it to go. From there, it’s a simple banishing charm.”

 

Kara nodded and furrowed her brow as she concentrated on the rock. It spun faster and faster in the air, until she murmured, “Depulso!” and the rock sped away from her. It soared spectacularly across the lake, skipping once, twice…and then took a wild curve to the left and shot straight into the hull of the Durmstrang ship with the loud crack of splintering wood.

 

Kara grimaced and scratched at her head. “Oops.”

 

A small head poked out of one of the ship’s portholes, eyes scanning the shore accusingly until they spotted Kara and Lena. “HEY!” the boy shouted.

 

Kara and Lena exchanged looks for only a moment before Kara just said “run.”

 

Kara scrambled to sling her bag over her shoulder and the pair of them sprinted away from the beach, laughing giddily the entire way up the hill back to the castle. Kara wasn’t sure exactly when their fingers threaded together, but they didn’t let go until they were safely in the entrance hall, breathless and with flushed cheeks that were sore with matching grins.

Chapter Text

In the weeks after the announcement, it seemed that the Triwizard Tournament was all the entire school could think or talk about. Excitement mounted as, day by day, more names were thrust into the goblet’s blue flames. 

 

Kara patted Barry on the back as he came away from the goblet with a toothy grin stretched across his face.

 

“I’ve got to give it a shot, right?” he said hopefully, and Kara beamed in response as she munched on an apple. Alex flopped into the seat next to Kara, eying the goblet strangely.

 

“Thinking of entering?” Kara asked and Alex shook her head firmly.

 

“No way. People die doing this thing, did you know that? I have a family to think about.”

 

Kara grinned slyly. “You and Maggie moving that quick, huh?”

 

Alex rolled her eyes and gave Kara a shove. “No, dumbass. I’m talking about you. You’d be lost without me, wouldn’t you?”

 

Kara chuckled and tucked herself into her sister’s side. “Of course I would be; you know that.”

 

Alex sighed and wrapped her arm around Kara’s shoulders, giving them a squeeze as she gave the goblet in front of them a wary look. “You’re not thinking of entering, right?”

 

“You know, for a Gryffindor, you sure are a worry wart.”

 

Alex scoffed. “Being a Gryffindor doesn’t mean throwing yourself into danger at every opportunity, you know,” she said defensively.

 

“I know,” Kara said with an affectionate grin as she leaned her head against Alex’s shoulder. “You’re the bravest person I know, Al.”

 

It was true: Alex had been her fiercest protector ever since she came to live with the Danvers as a young girl. When the dreams of fire and smoke and screams woke Kara in the middle of the night, Alex was always there in an instant, and she would hold her and run her fingers through her hair until she was able to eventually fall back asleep. To this day, Kara had no idea how Alex always seemed to be there the second she needed her, but it was some kind of magic for which Kara was infinitely grateful.

 

Alex sighed and rested her head on Kara’s, biting her lip as she looked up at the goblet. “Seriously, though. Are you?”

 

Kara followed her sister’s gaze to the goblet. She became lost in the flames for a moment, before she felt her stomach twist uncomfortably and she pulled her eyes away.

 

“No, Al, you don’t need to worry,” she promised softly. “I’d rather watch whoever the champion is battle their way to infinite glory, or whatever…Besides, I’m far too busy organising this inter-school quidditch tournament for Professor Grant.” Kara indicated the roll of parchment she was working on in front of her. It was a flyer she had designed to promote tryouts for the school team. Naturally, not all of the quidditch players in the school could play on the Hogwarts team, so they would have to hold tryouts to select the best of the best.

 

“I’ll get these copied at the library and put them up in the common rooms—and I’ll talk to the other schools to get them involved so they can put their own teams together. It’s going to be epic,” Kara explained animatedly, practically bouncing in her seat. “I just hope I make it onto the team.”

 

Alex gave her an incredulous look. “What do you mean? You’re organising this whole thing; of course you’ll be on the team!”

 

Kara tutted her tongue and shook her head firmly. “No way am I getting a free pass just like that. I’m going to try out just like everyone else. It’s only fair.”

 

Alex sighed, rolling her eyes. “You and your sense of justice, I swear. Well, you shouldn’t worry. You’re the best chaser Hogwarts has seen in years and you work twice as hard as anyone else out there—I mean it,” Alex said firmly when Kara just shook her head and laughed dismissively. Alex thought for a moment, tapping her chin. “You know, I bet you could get some talent scouts to the match, too. With Mon-el playing, that would definitely bring some media attention. The Daily Prophet would surely be interested, and I bet you could get some major quidditch magazines to report on the match.”

 

Kara’s eyes shone with excitement at Alex’s suggestion, and the fantastical image of herself posed on the cover of Quidditch Today flashed through her mind. “You’re a genius, Al! I’ll draft some owls.”

 

**

 

Kara was in the library when Winn came jogging up to her and doubled over by her table, panting and gasping for breath. She stared at him in complete bewilderment for a few seconds.

 

“Why are you always on the verge of an asthma attack whenever you enter a room?”

 

Winn shot her a dark look. “I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: this castle has too many stairs. Why do we have so many stairs? Seriously, even muggles can figure out elevators.”

 

Kara chuckled and waited for Winn to catch his breath as he collapsed into the chair across from her. “Well?” she asked, raising an expectant eyebrow.

 

“What?”

 

“What did you come running across the castle to tell me? It must be important, for you to do something that counts as cardio,” she smirked.

 

“Right—oh yeah, it is important,” Winn said, ignoring Kara’s jibe. He glanced over his shoulders before leaning across the table to speak in a whisper. “Let me preface this by saying I was just minding my own business, okay? I definitely wasn’t following Lex Luthor to get him to sign my copy of his paper on alchemy in the modern wizarding world, right?”

 

Kara quirked an eyebrow, her interest peaked now that Lex Luthor’s name had been mentioned. “What’s this about, Winn?”

 

“I think he’s interested in you, Kara.”

 

Kara looked at him disbelievingly. “Winn, I’m pretty sure the guy hates me, what are you talking about?” she asked.

 

“I mean, I only caught the end of the conversation. He was talking to the other Hufflepuff chasers, asking all these questions about you. All I’m saying, is if I was interested in someone, I’d be trying to find out as much as I could about them.”

 

“So that’s why you’ve been hanging around the Durmstrang students so much,” Kara noted wryly and Winn made an exasperated noise in protest. She flashed a grin and dropped it. “What was he asking, Winn?”

 

Winn shrugged. “Random stuff, really. What classes you take, what you’re going to do after Hogwarts, your relationship with Alex, if you have a boyfriend—or girlfriend, which is hilarious, I mean, you’re not—”

 

“Can it, Winn,” Kara snapped, suddenly irritable, but Winn kept rambling on like she hadn’t said anything.

 

“I don’t mean to tell you what you aren’t, but if you were you’d tell me right? I mean, you’re the first person I told, so the rules of friendship sort of dictate that—if you were, you know—you would tell me—”

 

Winn,” Kara hissed, with a pleading look that finally managed to shut him up. She sighed exasperatedly and ran a nervous hand through her hair in attempts to steel herself.

 

“Look,” she huffed, swatting a piece of hair out of her eyes. “Does Lena Luthor make me feel things I can’t explain? Maybe. Do I want to talk about it? Absolutely not. Besides. Alex gets first dibs on that conversation, and you know it.”

 

Kara’s heart raced in her chest as she finally acknowledged, even in some small, cryptic way, the way Lena made her feel. It was strange to hear herself say it out loud, and she watched Winn’s face closely for any sort of adverse reaction. But, of course, he simply smiled easily, like she’d just told him the sky was blue.

 

“Ah yes, sister privilege trumps the rules of friendship, I forgot about that,” Winn said with a knowledgeable nod, and then he grinned impishly. “I can’t believe you have a crush on Lena Luthor,” he teased and Kara shot him a dangerous glare.

 

“I’ve been hoping for someone to practice my Bat-Bogey Hex on, do you volunteer as tribute?” Kara asked, twirling her wand absently in her fingers.

 

Winn gulped nervously and shook his head.

 

Kara set her wand down and sighed, turning her gaze out the window. She couldn’t shake this unsettled feeling at the thought of Lex Luthor asking questions about her. Still, if anything, it just made her even more determined to spend time with Lena. Kara hated being told she couldn’t do something. 

 

Alex had always said her stubbornness would get her into trouble…

 

***

 

The tryouts for the Hogwarts quidditch team were held on a sunny Saturday morning. The turnout was excellent: most of the members of the former quidditch teams had gathered and were all eager to claim one of the spots. They filed out onto the quidditch pitch with their gear and brooms, and all looked at Kara expectantly.

 

Kara stood beside James in front of them. She was in her full quidditch ensemble: black pants with ‘Hufflepuff’ written in big yellow letters down the side, leather arm and shin guards, a sturdy pair of gloves Jeremiah and Eliza had given to her as a good luck gift for the season, and her hooded Hufflepuff training sweatshirt. She had swapped her glasses for a pair of prescription goggles, which sat atop her head, and her hair was tied back into a ponytail. It felt good to be back in her uniform, which was more like an extension of herself at this point.

 

James cleared his throat and gave her a nudge, a gentle reminder that everyone seemed to be waiting for her to speak.

 

“Oh, yes. Thanks, James.” Kara swallowed at the bundle of nerves and excitement bubbling in her chest and began to walk down the line of anxious players with her broom slung over her shoulder.

 

“Welcome, everyone, and thank you for coming. If you’re anything like me, I’m sure you were all devastated to hear the quidditch cup was cancelled this year. But, the Triwizard Tournament has brought an exciting opportunity. Those of you chosen at today’s tryouts will represent Hogwarts in a tournament against the other schools.”

 

Kara reached the end of the line and turned around with a slightly nervous smile. Her Hufflepuffs grinned encouragingly back at her, Barry even flipping her a double thumbs up, and she found herself easing into the role. In truth, it was a role she’d been preparing for all summer, as she'd been set to be Hufflepuff’s captain this year.

 

“Now,” she continued, with growing confidence as she paced back down the line, “the unfortunate thing is that there aren’t enough spots for everyone on the team. But, we will make the selection process as fair as possible. James and I have designed a series of trials for each position. Those who score the top points in the trials will secure a place on the team, and the final team will then vote on a captain. Sound fair?” Kara asked, searching each face to make sure everyone was happy with how she had decided to organise things.

 

Only cheerful and eager faces grinned back at her, so Kara nodded decisively and slipped her goggles down over her eyes. “Alright then. Let’s fly!”

 

The first trial was a series of flying challenges that tested the players’ speed, agility, and endurance. Kara had goaded Winn into enchanting some special practice bludgers that zoomed around the quidditch pitch, forcing them to dodge and weave to avoid them.

 

Kara sped around the long side of the pitch, laughing as she raced neck and neck with James. James gave her a challenging smirk as he put on a burst of speed and pulled ahead, but he didn’t see the enchanted bludger heading straight for them. Kara cackled as it caught him right in the chest, leaving an incriminating blue splotch of paint across his front.

 

After ten minutes, they all hovered in a circle in the middle of the pitch, and the three players with the most blue splotches were eliminated immediately. Kara, Barry, and Alex were the only ones who had completed the trial unscathed. After that, they broke into their seperate positions to compete for spots on the team.

 

Kara oversaw the seekers. She blindfolded all four of them and got them to fly around in dizzying circles while she released a dozen coloured balls that had been enchanted to drift around the stadium. Eight of them were yellow with orange spots, while the rest had red spots, and the seekers had to bring back as many orange-spotted balls as they could. Bringing a red-spotted ball would result in immediate elimination.

 

In the end, no one was a match for Barry, who streaked around the pitch in a blur, bringing back six of the eight orange-spotted balls. Kara grinned widely as she made him the first official member of the Hogwarts squad.

 

Meanwhile, James ran the beater trials, setting up a series of targets for the beaters to hit, testing for accuracy and power. By the end, naturally Alex was the top scorer, followed by a fifth year Gryffindor who simply went by Vasquez.

 

By the time the keeper and chaser trials were up, a small crowd of students had gathered in the stands below, all looking curiously up at the players in the sky. Kara noticed that Mon-el was among them, which made her bristle initially—something about the competition scoping out their practice tactics—but Mon-el seemed much too focused on chatting up Winn for Kara to be too worried.

 

On the outskirts of the crowd, Kara spied a pair of pastel blue robes: Lena, and the dark-haired girl who had originally been her potions partner. Kara jerked in the air in surprise and had to grip tightly onto her broom to steady herself. Sure, she had invited Lena to come watch, but she hadn’t expected she would actually show up—and without Lex in tow, to boot. 

 

Lena must have seen that Kara had noticed her, because she raised a hand and gave a cheerful wave. Kara swallowed and found herself waving back, but was snapped back to attention by James calling her name and tossing the quaffle her way.

 

Kara huffed out a breath, reminding herself to just focus on the quaffle and her broom, though she couldn’t help but notice she pushed herself to fly faster, throw harder, and just be better with the knowledge that Lena was watching.

 

She sped towards the goal posts and launched a shot towards the left hoop, which sailed in spectacularly, slipping past the Ravenclaw keeper’s outstretched hand. Scoring that goal simultaneously secured Kara’s spot on the team and knocked the Ravenclaw keeper out of the running, and Kara grinned happily as the small crowd cheered below.

 

Once the tryouts were over, the final team consisted of James as keeper, Alex and Vasquez as the beaters, Barry as seeker, and Kara, a serious looking Slytherin named Oliver, and a kind-faced Ravenclaw named Jack completing the team as chasers. The runner-ups for the trials were also chosen as substitutes and reserves.

 

Kara beamed at the team, hovering in the middle of the pitch. “Congratulations, everyone! You’re looking at Hogwarts’ first mixed-house quidditch squad,” she said proudly. “Now we just have to pick a team captain.”

 

“Well, obviously it’s going to be you, Kara,” Barry said, and was supported by enthusiastic nods from the rest of the team. 

 

Kara bashfully and scrubbed at the back of her neck. “I mean, of course I would be honoured, but perhaps someone else might have wanted to…” Kara trailed off, casting a hesitant glance at James, who shook his head with a wide grin.

 

“None of us would be here without you, cap,” he said.

 

Kara swelled with sheer joy. “All right, then, it’s settled. Practice will be on Tuesday and Saturday mornings and Thursday evenings. Until then, make sure you’re eating and sleeping enough and looking after yourselves. Er…dismissed!”

 

The team descended back to earth, clapping each other on the back as they headed to the change rooms. Kara and James, however, remained in the air. James spun the quaffle on the tip of his finger before tossing it over to Kara.

 

“Up for some more practice?” he asked.

 

“You know it.”

 

They spent the next fifteen minutes practicing Kara’s shooting and James’ keeping before they transitioned into just passing the quaffle between each other, more casual than serious now.

 

“Great work today,” Kara said as she tossed the quaffle across the pitch to James. “I think I spotted Lucy Lane in the crowd. She would have been impressed,” she said, wiggling her eyebrows.

 

“Really?” James asked, hope evident in his voice.

 

“Really. So…when are you going to ask her out?”

 

Kara’s teasing smile faltered when James held the quaffle still in his hands and he forced an uncomfortable laugh.

 

“Kara, come on…”

 

“What?”

 

James huffed a sigh, scratching awkwardly at his neck. “It’s…it’s weird to talk to you about that stuff, don’t you think?”

 

Kara arched her eyebrows. “What do you mean? Just because I told you I liked you last year?”

 

“Well…yeah,” James shrugged.

 

“I thought we agreed to be friends—you said we were better as friends. Friends talk about this stuff,” she said, and she hated the accusing tone that had slipped into her voice, but she was too annoyed to care all that much.

 

James sighed wearily, shifting on his broom. “We are friends, Kara. But…come on, don’t act like things haven’t changed between us.”

 

“They haven’t,” Kara protested stubbornly.

 

Kara felt the sting from wounds she’d spent the summer licking reopening all at once with just a few words. The thought that they could go back to being friends, just like they always had been, had been the one thing that had brought her comfort throughout her summer of getting over her crush on the tall Keeper. But here he was, telling her things couldn’t be the same. The hurt showed on her face, and she hated it.

 

“Kara,” James said, pained. “I just would rather not talk about that stuff with you.”

 

Kara held his gaze for a few long moments before she huffed and scowled at the ground. “Fine.”

 

James tentatively tossed the quaffle back to her, but she simply blocked it with a raised arm and let it fall down to the earth. Kara steadily followed the quaffle’s descent and landed on the ground harder than she’d intended, stumbling a few steps forwards. Back on solid ground, Lena and her friend were walking over to her, Lena carrying the quaffle she had dropped.

 

“You fly wonderfully, Kara. You could definitely give my brother a fun for his money,” Lena said with a warm smile. Although, perhaps for the first time, it didn’t manage to ignite that fluttering spark in Kara’s chest like it usually did.

 

“Thanks, Lena,” Kara mumbled, distracted, as James touched down on the ground behind her.

 

“Kara, don’t be like that—” James called after her as he landed, but Kara just shook her head.

 

She looked back at him over her shoulder, and the sight of his face softened something in her—melted the hardened shell she threw up haphazardly in anger, leaving a tender rawness behind that made her sigh and shake her head.

 

“Don’t worry about it, James. Just…just forget it, I’m being stupid. I’ll see you at dinner, okay?” She gave him a pleading look, wanting nothing more than to just be out of this conversation, which he seemed to understand because he headed for the change rooms with just an apologetic look.

 

Kara realised helplessly that all of her things were in the change rooms too, and she definitely didn’t want to walk in the same direction as James after that conversation. So instead, she ducked into one of the exits to the stands, sighing as she leaned back against a post with her eyes closed and pushed her goggles up onto the top of her head, holding back the tears she could feel prickling at the backs of her eyes.

 

She vaguely heard Lena say “I’ll catch up with you later, Jess,” to her friend, before padding footsteps grew louder until she must have been directly in front of her.

 

“Kara,” Lena said, and Kara lifted her lids slowly to see Lena looking back at her, concern filling her deep greens. “Is everything alright?”

 

Kara fidgeted with her gloves and gave a noncommittal shrug. “It’s fine, really,” she said, and she barely even convinced herself.

 

Lena chewed at the inside of her cheek, seeming to have a bit of an interior battle before she drew in a breath and stepped closer towards Kara.

 

“I know we haven’t known each other long, but you’ve spent a lot of time listening to my issues. If you need someone to talk to…I can listen, and I’m quite good at problem solving.”

 

Kara scoffed, but couldn’t help but be charmed by Lena’s earnestness. She softened at the edges and looked at her apologetically. “It’s complicated. I don’t think this problem has a solution.”

 

“Just let me listen then,” Lena pressed on. “You’ve done the same for me, and it—it helps.”

 

Kara hesitated. She couldn’t talk about this to Alex, because she would definitely turn into a Hungarian Horntail and beat James up. And if she tried talking to Winn or Maggie, it would definitely get back to Alex, who would be even more furious for Kara having not spoken to her in the first place.

 

But here was Lena. Sweet, caring Lena who, importantly, wasn’t at all connected to the people in Kara’s life. Lena, who was looking at her so kindly and so patiently, Kara couldn’t help but want to divulge her deepest feelings.

 

“I guess I liked James like that since about fourth year,” she found herself saying after a pause. “At the end of last year I actually plucked up the nerve to do something about it, but…he didn’t feel the same way. Which is okay, of course, I can’t control how he feels about me, and I spent the summer accepting it. I just…I feel so embarrassed, and I’m scared I’ve ruined our friendship.” Kara’s voice was barely above a whisper as she finally gave voice to what she had been worrying about in silence all summer.

 

Lena was quiet for a moment, her brow furrowed. “I’m really sorry, Kara,” she finally said. “For what it’s worth, he’d be a real fool to throw away a friendship with you. You’re…you’re really special, Kara. I’m sure he’ll see that.”

 

Kara lifted her head, giving her a short, grateful nod. “Thanks, Lena. It feels good to talk about it, finally,” she admitted, pushing a lungful of relieved air past her lips as an invisible weight on her shoulders eased off.

 

There was a brief silence, during which she just held Lena’s gaze, and her thoughts inevitably turned to what Winn had said in the library the other day.

 

“Why is your brother asking about me?” Kara asked, somewhat abruptly, and Lena blinked back at her in surprise.

 

“What do you mean?” Lena recovered quickly.

 

Kara sighed and folded her arms over her chest. “My friend overheard him talking to some of the Hufflepuff team, asking all these questions about me. Why would he do that? If he has a problem with me, he can just say it to my face instead of harassing my teammates.” Kara leaned against her broomstick, mouth set in a grim line as she looked to Lena for answers.

 

“Oh.” Lena averted her eyes down the the floor, her lips pressed together. “He always does this,” she murmured to herself and sighed wearily, rubbing at her temple. “Just, let me talk to him, okay? I’m so sorry about this, Kara. You must…you must regret being my friend.”

 

“Lena, don’t,” Kara frowned. “Don’t do that.”

 

“I wouldn’t blame you, honestly. It’s okay, it wouldn’t be the first time,” Lena insisted with a shrug of nonchalance.

 

Kara sighed in exasperation and Lena looked a little startled when she placed both hands on her shoulders and looked right into her eyes.

 

“I don’t regret being your friend,” Kara said firmly. “I have a lot of fun with you, and my potions grades have never been better,” she said, cracking a smile when Lena actually let out a surprised laugh. “I just didn't expect it to be so…”

 

“Difficult?” Lena offered.

 

“I was going to say complicated,” Kara returned assuringly. “‘Complicated’, I can handle. ‘Complicated’, doesn’t scare me.”

 

Lena turned relieved under Kara’s hands, the tension in her shoulders relaxing and the furrow in her brow easing.

 

“That’s…that’s good to hear. You know, that afternoon by the lake?” Lena said with a quiet smile, “I haven’t felt so normal in such a long time—maybe even ever. I really don’t want to give that up.”

 

Lena spoke quietly, and Kara couldn’t ignore the feeling that told her Lena had been abandoned more than once in her life. She rubbed her thumbs up and down on her arms, trying to show her that she was solid, she was real, she was there.

 

“You don’t have to,” she promised. “I’m not going anywhere, okay?”

 

When Lena gradually mirrored Kara’s smile, Kara gave her shoulders a quick squeeze and dropped her hands. The fluttery feeling was back in her stomach, her annoyance at James all but forgotten at the sight of the faint blush that was dusting Lena’s cheeks. Glancing down, she noticed that Lena was still holding the quaffle and grinned.

 

“Hoping for a few pointers?” she asked, arching her eyebrows indicatively.

 

“Hm?” Lena blinked down to the quaffle, then wrinkled her nose into a smirk. “Actually, I was hoping you’d sign it before you become some rich and famous quidditch star.”

 

Kara barked a laugh, happily caught by surprise by Lena’s playful tone. It was a good colour on her, one that Kara wanted to see more of.  She popped the quaffle out of Lena’s hands and caught it easily in one hand, holding it above Lena’s head.

 

“Of course, who am I to deny an adoring fan?” she asked dramatically. “Who should I make it out to? Lena Luthor, Kara Danvers’ biggest fan forever?”

 

“Kara!” Lena laughed and stretched up to try and swat the quaffle away, which Kara easily kept out of reach with a gleeful grin stretching wide across her face as Lena called her ridiculous.

 

And that was how Lex Luthor found them: Lena on her tip toes, practically falling against Kara’s chest as she reached for the quaffle; Kara’s head tossed back in a laugh as she kept it away from her.

 

They only noticed his presence when he cleared his throat loudly, and they snapped their heads over to see him standing at the mouth of the entrance to the stands, his arms crossed over his chest, and a single, unimpressed eyebrow raised.

 

Kara dropped the quaffle to the ground, where it landed with a thud, and Lena quickly jumped back, straightening out the front of her robes. Everything was still and silent as Lex approached with slow, confident steps, looking the pair of them up and down with steely, grey eyes.

 

“I was wondering where you were, Lena,” he said, his voice smooth and his smile tight.

 

“Well, you found me,” Lena said shortly, the slight pull of her brows the only indication that she was at all irritated.

 

“Indeed.” He angled his head towards Kara, studying her over. “Miss Danvers. Nice to see you again,” he said, and anyone else might have found him charming, with his calm voice and hint of a smile at the corner of his mouth, but Kara just felt completely unnerved, like she’d been caught cheating on a test or stealing from the cookie jar.  “Been playing a bit of quidditch?” he asked casually, nodding towards her broom.

 

“Tryouts,” Kara replied stiffly, watching him with wary eyes. “I’m on the Hogwarts team.”

 

“Ah, yes, I’ve heard about this little match you’re putting together. It’s a quaint idea. Perhaps I’ll see you on the quidditch pitch, if I’m not too busy preparing for the tournament, that is.”

 

(And oh, Kara would just love to fly circles around him if she got the chance).

 

She raised an eyebrow at him. “That’s a bit presumptuous, don’t you think? The champions haven’t even been chosen yet,” she said, and Lex bristled at the reminder, but the cool and calm mask slid back into place almost automatically.

 

“I have faith,” he said evenly.

 

Lena sighed enduringly and folded her arms across her chest. “Is there something you needed, Lex? We were kind of in the middle of a conversation here.”

 

Lex chuckled in amusement. “Yes, well you were certainly in the middle of something,” he said, his words weighed down with some hidden meaning that made the tips of Lena’s ears turn pink and her fingers dig into her upper arm.

 

Lex sighed and rested his hands on Lena’s shoulders, a sympathetic smile on his lips as he gave her a squeeze. “Come now, Lena, don’t you remember what happened last time? With Veronica? You were completely heart broken, if I recall correctly.”

 

Lena’s eyes flew wide, she flashed a panicked glance at Kara, and the red blush took over her cheeks now as she stepped away from him, shaking her head vigorously.

 

“I’m not—this isn’t—”

 

“It’s alright,” Lex interrupted gently, eyes softening with an affection he seemed to save only for his sister. “I’m here for you now, like I was before. I’ll never abandon you, Lena,” he said, and Kara could tell he was completely sincere in believing that what he was saying was true.

 

Kara watched as Lena froze, looking into her brother’s eyes, and...slowly, gradually...she softened her stiff frame with a short laugh, shaking her head a little.

 

“I know, Lex,” she said softly, chin dropping to her chest.

 

Kara watched in complete bewilderment as Lex put an arm around her shoulders, and Lena practically melted into his side, even curling her fingers into the fabric of his robes.

 

Lex smiled brightly, seeming to have gotten what he wanted and pressed a light kiss to the top of Lena’s head. “Now, remember you said you’d help me with my project? I think I’ve cracked it, Lee,” he said with a dazzling grin.

 

Lena tipped her chin up to him, eyes suddenly sparking with excitement as she came alive. “You figured it out?”

 

“I suppose we’ll have to see, won’t we?” he asked, an electric gleam in his eyes.

 

“I can’t believe you’ve done it, you’ve been working on it for weeks—” Lena began to babble enthusiastically, but cut herself off when she glanced back at Kara, her expression turning apologetic. “I’m so sorry, Kara, I’ve—I’ve got to go.”

 

Kara gave a small start, standing up straight as she gripped bracingly onto her broom. “Right, sure, that’s fine. I, erm, I should be getting changed anyway, I’m all…sweaty,” Kara trailed off, realising belatedly from the way Lex wrinkled his nose that she’d probably given too much information.

 

“We’ll leave you to it then. If you’ll excuse us, Miss Danvers,” he said, making a show of being overly polite.

 

(Kara grimaced internally at the way he called her ‘Miss Danvers’—like he was her professor or something).

 

“Lena has some more important things to do than…whatever this was,” he chuckled airily, waving his hand vaguely in her direction.

 

“Lex,” Lena hummed, a chastising edge in her voice, but Lex just laughed it off easily, shaking his head as he turned her around and began to steer her away.

 

“What?” Kara heard him ask innocently, “am I wrong? We’re only trying to produce a viable substitute for dragon’s blood, it’s not like we’ll be revolutionising the entire discipline of Potions or anything,” he drawled with a charming grin.

 

“I know, Lex, but still…”

 

Lena turned around as Lex continued to march her away and waved back over her shoulder. “You were awesome today, Kara! See you in class!” she called out before she disappeared out of the stands.

 

***

 

Kara was walking to Defence Against the Dark Arts when it happened.

 

(Which, Kara thought later, was a bit ironic: she certainly could have done a better job of defending herself).

 

One moment, she was innocently strolling along, and the next, she couldn’t move her legs. Within seconds, her arms were frozen too, snapped to her sides as if pinned by invisible elastic bands. All she could do was move her eyes, which were wide and darting as her entire body was levitated into an empty store closet, and her back spasmed as she was shoved roughly against the wall.

 

Her bag dropped to the ground, papers and ink and sweets spilling everywhere, but she didn’t worry about it too much because she was having a hard time breathing. Three boys in Beauxbatons blue followed her in, closing the door behind them.

 

Lex Luthor stood before her, wand held aloft as the other two boys kept vigilant watch at the door.

 

Kara tried to cry out, but her tongue was completely paralysed and her jaw was locked shut. She felt panic rising steadily within her, her heart drumming violently against her ribcage. Everything constricted around her as she was gripped by the most extreme Full Body-Bind curse she had ever experienced.

 

“This will be easier if you don’t struggle,” Lex said calmly.

 

Kara glowered at him as best as she could while trying to focus on keeping calm.

 

Lex seemed to pay no mind, and looked straight back into Kara’s eyes. “I thought it was time we had a little chat, just the two of us, wouldn’t you agree?”

 

Kara tried to retort something back, but the sound was trapped behind her clamped jaw, resulting in a stifled moaning sound.

 

“What was that? I can’t seem to hear you,” Lex murmured, eyes glinting with self-satisfaction at his own joke. He took smooth, slow steps back and forth in the small closet, his eyes never leaving hers as his wand remained completely still in the air.

 

“I know what you must think of me,” Lex said evenly. “‘Lex Luthor’, the overbearing, overprotective, controlling older brother, right?” He asked, a knowing smirk pulling at his lips. “I’ve heard it before. But, as far as I see it, there are worse things a man can be. You must understand, Kara, that everything I do, I do to protect my sister—to look after my family.”

 

Kara’s eyes were the only parts of her she could move in her state of complete paralysis, and she followed Lex’s every step. Her fists itched to be clenched tight, and her mouth strained with the desire to cry out.  Reaching the edge of the closet, Lex turned on his heel and paced back towards her until they were practically nose to nose.

 

“You see, I’m only reminding Lena of what her priorities should be.” His voice was barely above a whisper; he really didn’t need to speak any louder considering how close he was. “She’s a Luthor,” he said, “and that means she’s special. Lena is special, wouldn’t you agree? I can’t allow her to lose sight of that with any…distractions. You, are a distraction,” he said, and his grey eyes flashed with ice.

 

Lex twitched his wand subtly in the air, and Kara felt her jaw loosen just enough for her formulate words.

 

“I’m a friend,” she pushed past her stiff lips. “Can’t Lena have friends?”

 

Lex scoffed, and rolled his eyes. “Friend,” he tutted sceptically. “Don’t think I haven’t seen the way you look at her, like some sort of lovesick puppy,” he seethed, and Kara’s stomach twisted. “The last ‘friend’ Lena had nearly destroyed her. I won’t let anything like that happen to her again. Ever. Stay away from Lena, Kara Danvers. If you refuse to listen, I will take things into my own hands. Consider yourself warned.”

 

The spell released its hold on her once the boys had disappeared from the room, and Kara collapsed onto all fours, gasping and wheezing for breath. When she eventually regained control of her breathing, she shakily gathered her things and stuffed them messily back into her bag. Her mind raced, and she felt like she might be sick as Lex’s final words rung in her ears, over and over. Kara picked up her Potions homework, which was now completely stained with ink, and she felt hot, angry tears prick at the back of her eyes.

 

When she arrived late to class, pale and weak, she shrugged off Professor Prince’s look of concern and kept her head buried firmly in her textbook, her quill threatening to tear straight through the parchment as she gripped it tightly.

Chapter Text

“Kara? Kara? Earth to Kara?”

 

Lena must have said Kara’s name three times before Kara finally brought herself back into the room and blinked slowly over at her.

 

“Hm?”

 

Lena’s nose crinkled up into a perplexed laugh. “Gosh, Kara. You were up in space for a minute there, is everything alright?”

 

“Oh, yeah, everything’s…everything’s fine. I’m just a bit tired, is all,” Kara mumbled and glanced over her shoulder. A few Beauxbatons students sat at the desk behind them, happily chatting away as they worked on their potion, but Kara couldn’t help feel the hairs prickling at the back of her neck. Ever since Lex had cornered her in the store room, Kara had kept one eye on her back, unable to shake this feeling she was being watched.

 

Predictably, Alex had flown into a rage when Kara told her about what had happened with Lex. She’d had to hold her older sister back in an effort to keep her from going after the eldest Luthor with something presumably worse than the Jelly-Legs jinx.

 

“Maybe you should just stay away…is this all really worth it?” Alex had huffed once she’d calmed down to a gentle simmer, allowing for a little more conscious thought than her previously explosive state.

 

Kara frowned deeply in response, but couldn’t answer. She thought about her promise to Lena—that she wasn’t going anywhere. To Kara, a promise was a serious vow, and the thought of even thinking about breaking it tore her up inside.

 

Kara had read about Devil’s Snare in Herbology. The magical plant used its creepers and tendrils to ensnare anyone that touched it, slowly but certainly constricting and strangling its victims. Kara imagined this was what it would be like to have one of its vines wrapped around her chest, squeezing and crushing her until she couldn’t breathe.

 

When Lena smiled politely at her over their shared cauldron, Kara barely managed to send a strained, unconvincing smile in return. Pretending like nothing was wrong seemed an impossible task when Kara couldn’t so much as look at Lena without hearing Lex’s voice, sneering and accusing her of being a lovesick puppy.

 

Kara was not a lovesick puppy.

 

Did she spend an inordinate amount of time staring at Lena when she wasn’t looking? Admittedly, yes. (Spotting a hidden freckle just below Lena’s left ear had once made Kara’s entire day).

 

Did watching Lena’s loopy, cursive handwriting render Kara into a state of near hypnosis? Perhaps, on more than one occasion.

 

Did Kara compulsively watch Lena’s mouth while she was explaining the critical differences between counter-clockwise and clockwise cauldron stirring (none of which she could now remember for the life of her)? Had she been thinking about how soft those lips looked…wondering how they would feel pressed against skin?

 

(Kara couldn’t quite bring herself to answer that question.)

 

“I’m sorry, did you say something?” Kara shook her head lightly in an effort to concentrate on Lena’s words.

 

“I just asked if you wanted to work on the homework together this afternoon...”

 

“Oh.” Kara swallowed. She scratched at the back of her neck, eyes looking anywhere but Lena’s hopeful face. “I, uh…I can’t. I have a thing. A quidditch thing,” Kara excused vaguely as she busied herself with packing up her bag.

 

“I see. Maybe some other time, then,” Lena said. Dejection seeped into her voice regardless of how well she tried to hide it.

 

Kara forced a weak smile and did her best to ignore the guilty feeling thrashing in her stomach as Lena silently packed up her things.

 

***

Lena stopped asking if Kara was free to study or spend time together after nearly two weeks of Kara’s lackluster excuses. It hurt Kara more each time, when she told Lena she had to help Alex with something, or had emergency quidditch practice, or she had to do some extra work for Professor J’onzz.

 

Each time, Lena’s face fell, and eventually, they really only spoke during potions lessons, when Kara would ask a question and Lena would answer. More like acquaintances than anything more. Kara could feel their formative friendship slipping through her fingers with each passing day.

 

It was better this way, Kara thought. The last time she’d had a crush on someone, it hadn’t worked out well for her at all. Better to just ignore this one before anyone could get hurt. From what she could glean from what Lex had said, Lena was no stranger to heartbreak either. She was doing them both a favour; or at least, that’s what she told herself.

 

One afternoon, Kara was filled with an unfamiliar sense of accomplishment as she packed up her potions equipment. She never felt this way after potions, but this time Lena had handed her the reigns for the lesson, only providing general guidance and assistance here and there. By the end, Kara had produced a mildly successful invigoration potion. The final product was more of an aqua blue than the bright turquoise it should have been, but Kara was proud nonetheless.

 

“You did really well, Kara,” Lena insisted as Kara stuffed her books into her bag.

 

“I couldn’t have done it without your help.”

 

“That’s not true; you barely needed me,” Lena returned, with this polite yet altogether distant tone that characterised their interactions since Kara employed her avoidance strategy.

 

“You did have to stop me from using too much dittany,” Kara pointed out.

 

Lena shrugged. “The fire would have only been small, and I had a water-making spell at the ready.”

 

Kara couldn’t help but laugh at the joke, and so she gave in to Lena’s praise. She was smiling at Lena, and Lena gave a small smile back. The stubborn butterflies Kara thought she had trained into stillness over the past few weeks came to life at the mere sight of Lena’s curved lips, and she sharply chastised herself as she pulled her eyes away and focused on packing her things.

 

Suddenly, she found herself being pulled low and close to the desk when Lena tugged her down by the lapel of her robes.

 

Her eyes widened in alarm as she was brought very close to Lena’s face—close enough she could make out individual lashes that framed her eyes, close enough she could see that Lena’s eyes weren’t totally green like she’d originally thought. Flecks of hazel brown were dotted throughout her irises like points on a map…and Kara was hungry to explore each one.

 

“Hey, Kara…cut class with me, won’t you?” Lena asked in a low whisper that made Kara’s heart pick up speed in her chest and sent blood pulsing in her eardrums.

 

Kara was struck dumb by Lena’s request, by the pleading look that shone through her eyes—the fear of being turned down again. But there was something else in there, a resolute determination that the girl wouldn’t take no for an answer. Not this time.

 

“You have Care of Magical Creatures next, right?” Lena pressed on, sensing Kara’s trepidation. “I’m sure you’ve gotten more than enough extra credit with Professor J’onzz to earn yourself an afternoon off, what with all the extra work you do for him, right?”

 

Kara bit the inside of her cheek. She couldn’t deny it: the idea of skipping class with Lena certainly was tempting, especially when the young Luthor looked at her like that. Still. Lex’s warning played over in her mind, and she knew this was exactly the sort of thing she shouldn’t be doing if she was supposed to be staying away for both of their sakes.

 

“I don’t know, Lena…”

 

“Kara, please,” Lena said, and desperation edged into her voice. “I have something to show you. I think you’ll really like it.”

 

Kara swallowed. Lex’s icy voice echoed in her brain: “stay away from Lena, Kara Danvers…or I will take things into my own hands”. She shivered as a chill ran down her spine, down to where her back was still sore from being slammed up against the wall.

 

She gave Lena one last uncertain look, which was answered with the hopeful curl of Lena’s lips and an excited sparkle in her eyes as she could see Kara’s resolve crumbling.

 

So it was with a nervous laugh that Kara agreed. With Lena looking at her like that—like she held all the answers to every question Kara had ever thought to ask in those brilliant eyes—Kara really had no hope. She would follow this girl absolutely anywhere—intimidating, overprotective older brothers be damned.

 

Besides, everyone was supposed to be in class, how was Lex going to know she and Lena had snuck off? It’s not like he had spies, or had placed some sort of magical tracker on Lena or anything, right?

 

Still, that thought didn’t keep Kara from glancing over her shoulder as she followed Lena outside onto the sprawling grounds. She breathed in the cold October air as she pulled her robes around her for warmth. The sky was a dismal grey, with heavy clouds that hung low towards the earth, threatening to drown the world at any moment, and the smell of almost-rain thickened the air.

 

“Lena?” Kara called out to Lena, who was a few steps ahead of her as they descended down and away from the castle.  “where are we going?”

 

Lena angled her chin over her shoulder to look back at her. “It’s a surprise. It wouldn’t be a very good surprise if i told you, now would it?”

 

Kara sighed and continued following in silence. Gradually, however, Kara realised that they were headed towards the stables.

 

“Lena…” Kara breathed, eyes going wide as Lena turned around at the stable door and pressed a finger to her own lips.

 

“Quiet,” she whispered gently and unbolted the door. The door slowly swung open and Lena stepped back. Her touch was both soft and thrilling as she took Kara just by the fingertips to lead her in.

 

Dust particles drifted lazily through the air, glinting as they caught and reflected the dim light that filtered in through small windows. The earthy smell of hay and horses filled Kara’s nose and lungs, and her breath caught in her throat when she saw the six enormous winged horses that towered before them, majestic and proud.

 

“Kara, meet Ruby, Amethyst, Topaz, Sapphire, Opal, and Lillian,” she said, after giving Kara a moment to stare at the creatures in open-mouthed wonder.

 

Lillian ?” Kara queried, eyebrow quirked at the name that didn’t quite fit the theme.

 

“After my mother,” Lena explained.

 

Lena stepped towards Lillian and stroked her mahogany head affectionately. The horse tipped its nose down and Lena touched her forehead to it, smiling warmly as her eyes drifted shut and she gave a contented sigh, with such a peaceful look on her face, Kara forgot all the reasons she’d come up to stay away from this girl in the first place. After a moment, she glanced over at Kara and beckoned her over.

 

“Can I touch her?” Kara asked as she approached cautiously.

 

“Gently, yes,” Lena replied.

 

Kara placed her palm on the horse’s neck, smiling in wonder as she traced her fingers down the creature’s smooth mane. “Hi there, beautiful,” she murmured. “Hey there. You’re a good girl, aren’t you?” The horse shook its head slightly and turned to inspect Kara, and Kara laughed a little as she nuzzled into her.

 

“She likes you,” Lena said with an enamoured sort of smile. “She knows a kind soul when she sees one.”

 

“She’s amazing. Thank you for introducing me,” Kara breathed back reverently, grinning as she gave Lillian an affectionate pat. “Lillian, huh?” she wondered aloud. “After Lillian Luthor, your mother, headmistress of Beauxbatons Academy. Right?”

 

Lena quirked an eyebrow. “Right. Ten points to Hufflepuff for exceptional listening. Ironically, I get along better with this Lillian than human Lillian,” Lena remarked, though she frowned a little and sounded just this side of bitter.

 

Kara gave her a sideways glance. “Oh?” She didn’t want to push for more than Lena was willing to give, but she tried to show that she was open and willing to listen.

 

Lena gave a non-committal hum and a dismissive shrug in response, which indicated to Kara that she didn’t want to talk about it right then. With a flick of her wand, Lena summoned a pair of brushes from the other side of the stables, and pressed one into Kara’s hands before she demonstrated how to brush the horse’s flanks. Once Kara had gotten the hang of it, Lena rounded to Lillian’s other side and set about working there, brushing her with long, confident strokes.

 

The silence that fell around them wasn’t entirely comfortable. Too many unsaid things hung in the air between them.

 

“Kara…” Lena finally said, her voice small but strong as it carried over Lillian’s back. Kara looked up at her, eyebrows arched in question, to find Lena wearing a pointed expression. “Why have you been avoiding me?”

 

Kara’s hand froze mid-brush. “Er…what do you mean?”

 

Lena raised a no-nonsense eyebrow. “You’ve been avoiding me, and Lex is acting very pleased with himself. I’m smart enough to put two and two together, which the pair of you seem to have forgotten. I’m actually a little insulted,” she noted, irritation making the corner of her mouth twitch. “My observations lead me to hypothesise that he told you to stay away from me. How warm am I?” Lena spoke clinically, with a penetrating stare that made Kara feel like she had nowhere to hide.

 

“Lena…” Kara grimaced and shifted from one foot to another. “It’s nothing. It’s fine, really.”

 

Lena frowned, green eyes flashing. “No, it’s really not. Don’t lie to me, Kara. I—“ Lena faltered a little before she firmed up her expression. “I deserve better. What did Lex do?”

 

Defeated, Kara sighed and her shoulders sagged. Lena was right: she did deserve better than to be avoided and lied to. Kara felt the sting of shame—she really hadn’t been a very good friend lately.

 

“He…he told me to stay away from you. He thinks I’m going to hurt you, or something,” Kara rubbed uncomfortably at the back of her neck as the memory of being trapped against the wall flashed in her mind. “I’m not, by the way,” she added with a frown. “I don’t know why he would think that. I’m, like...a super nice person.”

 

Kara pouted, in that way that Alex said made her look like a confused golden retriever, and if Lena’s smirk was anything to go by, she at least found it somewhat amusing.

 

“Kara, it’s okay. You wouldn’t be the first person to be intimidated by my brother.”

 

Kara huffed in frustration, crossing her arms over her chest. “That’s not right, Lena. I just want to get to know you—to be your friend. What’s so wrong with that?”

 

Lena sighed, eyes turning downcast. “He’s always protected me, Kara.” Lena toyed with the brush in her hand, pausing as though she needed a moment to steel herself before she spoke again. “I…I’m not a Luthor. Not really, anyway. Lionel Luthor—my father—had an affair with my mother. She was a muggle. She—she died, when I was four.”

 

Kara’s stomach dropped and her chest constricted at Lena’s stilted words. She recognised that look she couldn’t quite place in Lena’s eyes now: of loss and pain, buried by time and distractions. She realised with a pang that it was the same look that was reflected back at her in the mirror every day.

 

“Lena, I’m so sorry…” Kara said, her meagre words doing little to convey just how much she wanted to reach out to her.

 

“It’s fine,” Lena said quickly. “It was a long time ago. I came to live with the Luthors after that, and Lillian…well. Needless to say, she wasn’t thrilled about the reminder of her husband’s infidelity with a muggle woman living under her own roof,” Lena tutted and rolled her eyes. “But Lex was always there for me. He was only six, but he took better care of me than my new mother ever did. He welcomed me into a house that was cold to me from the moment I stepped through the door. I didn’t know magic was real before he showed me things I never thought were possible,” Lena said softly.

 

Lena drew in a breath, allowing it to settle into her frame and fill it with the same straight-backed assuredness Kara had seen in her older brother. “I know it’s hard to understand,” Lena said, “but Lex has always protected me. It’s what he does”

 

Kara bit the inside of her cheek. She could see now that Lex must have been important to Lena, after all she had been through.

 

“But Lena…you don’t need protection from me,” Kara said tentatively. “I’m not going to hurt you.”

 

Lena lifted a single, sceptical brow. “How can you be so sure?”

 

“I don’t hurt my friends,” Kara answered straight away.

 

“No, you just avoid them instead of telling them the truth about their brothers,” Lena said, with a pointed look that made Kara turn sheepish.

 

They held each other’s gaze for a few moments—Lena, stern and lifted brow, and Kara, all stubborn chin—until Kara finally cracked and shook her head with a resigned sigh.

 

“Okay. Okay, you have a point there. I thought staying away was the right thing to do—I didn’t want you to get into trouble, either. I was wrong.” Kara chewed on her bottom lip. “Lex wouldn’t…he wouldn’t really hurt anyone, right?” she asked and chuckled naively.

 

The assuring smile Kara had been hoping for never came. Instead, Lena’s expression darkened, her eyes crystallising with concern as her lips tightened.

 

“Honestly, Kara? I’m not really sure what he’s capable of,” she murmured, her voice almost a whisper. “Lately Lex has this side of him…I don’t know. It’s dark. I’ve had to stop him from pursuing some projects that would have dealt with some dark magic. He wants to push his magic—just to see how far he can go—and, yes, his theories always benefit wizardkind, but the risks would have been too great, both to his mind, and to his soul, I couldn’t let him…” Lena trailed off with a shiver that made her pull her blazer close around her. “Sometimes I’m the only one he’ll listen to. It’s like I’m the only one keeping him from falling.”

 

“You’re right to stay away from me, Kara,” Lena said softly. “I can argue with Lex and tell him I don’t need his protection until I lose my voice...but I don’t think even I can reach that side of him. I suppose I dragged you here to know for sure if you were avoiding me because of something I did, or if it was really because of him. So...thank you for being honest with me, in the end. I understand why you did it. It’s dangerous to be close to me,” Lena said, and the sad smile she sent Kara’s way just about broke her heart.

 

Kara thought about how lonely she would be, if it weren’t for Alex, if it weren’t for her friends. If she was left alone, the aching emptiness in her chest for her lost family would surely have swallowed her up a long time ago. No one deserved to live like that. Especially not Lena, who held such deep sadness in her eyes, the likes of which Kara had never seen.

 

A searing wave of defensiveness flared up in her chest, and Kara clenched her fists and shook her head. “No,” she said firmly. “It’s not right. I’m sorry I freaked out about Lex without talking to you about it; I just panicked. I thought I was doing the right thing. But,” she inhaled, flexed her fingers, and spoke steadily, “You deserve to be able to be close to someone. I could to be that person, if you’d like. And if you’re willing to put up with me,” she added as a lighter afterthought.

 

Lena hesitated, though there was this hopeful flicker in her eyes that Kara took immense pride in having put there.

 

“Kara, you can’t. You could get hurt…” She was stern, but Kara could tell her resolve was weakening.

 

“I don’t care,” she persisted, her words ballooned by the bravery she felt surging through her. “It’s my risk to take, so I’ll take it.”

 

“Not for me--”

 

“Yes, for you,” Kara cut her off with a serious nod. “It would be worth it, so you wouldn’t be so alone. I mean…” Kara grinned slowly, deciding to risk a joke. “Your best friend is a horse. It’s kind of sad,” Kara deadpanned, and she chuckled shamelessly as her attempt was rewarded with Lena’s scandalised expression.

 

“That is so not funny.”

 

Kara chuckled and patted Lillian affectionately. “Lillian thinks I’m funny, don’t you, girl?”

 

The horse responded by turning her head and nuzzling insistently at Kara’s bag, making Kara bend over as she pushed at the strap.

 

“Oops, I forgot I have sweets in there,” Kara muttered.

 

Lena shook her head, a touch exasperated. “Honestly, Kara, when don’t you have sweets on you?”

 

Kara managed to wrangle her bag back into her possession, holding it up to her chest so she could peer inside. “Can I give her a sugar quill?” she asked hopefully.

 

“Just one.”

 

Kara beamed and drew a sugar quill from her bag, delighting in the way Lillian’s eyes zeroed in on the treat. She held it flat on her palm and giggled when Lillian’s soft, velvety mouth instantly gobbled it out of her hand, her tongue making happy slurping sounds as the sugar quill rolled around in her mouth.

 

“Good girl,” Kara beamed, patting the side of her neck. “I’d like to do this. Take care of magical creatures, I mean,” she said, in that soft tone of voice she used with creatures. “You know, if the whole quidditch thing doesn’t work out. Or maybe even after the whole quidditch thing does work out.”

 

Lena smiled softly. “You’d be really good at it. Lillian doesn’t like a lot of people, but she’s warmed up to you very quickly; I’m even a little jealous. It took me days to get her to let me pat her,” Lena admitted, her eyebrows pulling together.

 

Kara chuckled and blushed a little under Lena’s words. “You must have taught her good manners, is all. So...Can we try this again? Friends?” Kara’s eyebrows arched with hope as she extended the offer.

 

Lena hesitated a moment before Kara’s unwavering smile won her over and she nodded. “Okay. Friends.”

 

Lena’s lips tilted up into a smile that radiated fondness as Kara looked back at her--at this complicated, mysterious girl Kara just couldn’t stay away from, no matter how hard she tried to. The moment of pause felt significant, somehow. Peaceful, and safe, despite anything else going on in their respective lives.

 

It broke when Lena inhaled sharply and checked her watch, as if suddenly remembering the fact that space and time existed.

 

“I told Lex I’d meet him in the library now to do some work,” she said, much to Kara’s dismay.
“He’ll be wondering where I am.”

 

With a neat flick of her wand, Lena made the brushes zip back into their proper place and hurriedly lifted her bag over her shoulder. When she passed Kara, however, Kara surprised herself by catching Lena by the wrist. Lena’s alarmed eyes flicked up to hers, filled with questions Kara couldn’t quite answer, even to herself.

 

“Lena…” Kara nipped at her lip. “Can’t you stay? We only just sorted things out. The champions will be chosen tomorrow, and I just...I’m not ready to leave this yet,” Kara admitted, a hopeful look in her eyes as she secured her grip on Lena’s arm.

 

Lena looked sadly down at Kara’s hand and gently placed her own on top. “I can’t be late. Lex is on edge enough as it is,” she whispered. “I know you said you don’t care about what he might do, but I wouldn’t want to tempt any fates. We should be smart about this.” Kara held her eyes for a moment, before she sighed and slowly relaxed her fingers, Lena giving her an apologetic smile as she did so. “This is what I meant when I said being my friend is ‘difficult’,” she said ruefully.

 

Kara gave a hollow chuckle. “Complicated, Lena. Complicated,” she reminded her. She sighed and wrapped her arms around herself, just needing something to do with them more than anything. “At least let me get you up to the library. I know a shortcut,” she said, managing a pull out a grin from somewhere.

 

Kara heaved the stable doors open, and her face fell when the clouds above chose that exact moment to release their contents upon the world. Fat, heavy drops of rain splashed down to earth, blurring the image of the castle up ahead behind a curtain of water. But Kara didn’t want to let Lena see her discouraged, so she quickly beamed brightly.

 

“Just a bit of rain,” she said cheerfully. “Come on!”

 

Kara was completely drenched in a matter of seconds as she clutched her bag to her chest and ran out into the rain. The water rolled off her skin and soaked through her uniform and made her hair cling to her cheeks, but, in a way, it was all so delightful Kara didn’t even care. Kara had always loved the rain. It reminded her of peaceful nights at home—her home before the Danvers’—when her mother would brush her hair and tell her stories of their people as the rain fell outside. When she turned around to the sound of her name being called, it was with a huge grin on her face.

 

“Kara!” Lena jogged behind her to catch up. Her wand was pointed skywards, projecting a transparent dome above her that shielded her from the rain.

 

“Yes?” Kara laughed and held her arms out by her sides, the cool water splashing down on her upturned palms. The drops spattered all over her glasses and blurred her vision, so she took them off. “I’m not sure if it’s better with or without them,” Kara chuckled over the sound of raindrops splashing onto the ground.

 

Kara’s soaking stopped when Lena came to stand in front of her, bringing her under the protection of her conjured umbrella. Lena stood there for a moment as though transfixed, a curious look on her face that made Kara tilt her head to the side.

 

“What?” she asked with a grin, her cheeks flushed and dewy.

 

“Your eyes…they’re just—” Lena hesitated, and Kara froze as she bit on her lip to trap her words. “Give me your glasses.” Kara did, and Lena tapped them with her wand, casting an impervius charm that would repel water. She held Kara’s gaze for a moment before she slipped them back onto Kara’s face. “Honestly, Kara, did you forget you’re a witch?” she murmured.

 

Kara’s breath stilled in her throat, and she froze until Lena’s hands dropped back down and away. She slowly looked from Lena’s wand, to the magical umbrella, and drew her own wand with a grin stretching across her cheeks.

 

“…nope. Expelliarmus!”

 

Kara caught Lena’s wand deftly out of the air as it sailed upwards, and smirked gleefully at Lena’s indignant squeal as she thrust her arms over her head as the rain splashed down on them both.

 

“Come on! Don’t want to keep dear old Lex waiting,” Kara drawled, with a touch more sarcasm than she usually reached for.

 

Kara took Lena by the hand, pulling her up the hill towards the castle. The grass was wet from the rain, and they slipped over muddy steps and rocks, but Kara never once let go, and Lena seemed to be holding on just as tight, even threading their fingers together as they passed through a particularly muddy patch.

 

Kara couldn’t help but laugh—at herself, at themselves, at the ridiculousness of it all, of running through a torrential downpour with this girl’s hand in hers. But it was with a hollow ache  in her heart, that things felt like they were destined to change after the champions were chosen tomorrow...Kara tried not to dwell on it.

 

When they burst into the castle, they brought the rain in with them and left puddles in their wake as they tore down the hallways (Mr. Filch would not be happy).

 

“This way!” Kara exclaimed and jerked Lena along behind her. Their sodden shoes slapped against the ground as they ran through the passageways and staircases of Hogwarts, dodging students and ghosts and pet cats with hurried “excuse me!”s and “sorry!”s until they were around the corner from the library.

 

Kara slowed to a stop at the doors, steadying Lena when she took a few extra steps and pressed into her side. Lena’s dark hair hung around her face in thick ropes, drops of water balanced precariously on her long lashes. Kara swallowed as she traced a single drop’s path from her eyes when she blinked, down a flushed cheek, down the line of her jaw and the scoop of her neck, until where it finally disappeared into her collar.

 

“You’re crazy, Kara Danvers,” Lena panted, breaking Kara from her reverie. Kara simply grinned in response and circled her arms around herself, rubbing them for warmth. “Give me my wand,” she demanded.

 

Lena cast a quick drying spell on the pair of them before she had to go. It made Kara’s hair blow out ridiculously, and Lena laughed like it was the funniest thing she’d ever seen, and Kara wished and wished and wished that things could just stay exactly like this.

 

***

 

For the first time in all her years at Hogwarts, Kara just wanted a feast to be over and done with. She even wrinkled her nose when dessert had the audacity to emerge on the golden plates in front of her. And she didn’t seem to be the only impatient one. Every head in the hall sporadically swivelled towards the Goblet of Fire at the front, as though waiting for it to burst into flames or do a song and dance, or do…something.

 

Tonight, the champions for the Triwizard Tournament would be chosen.

 

However, Professor Grant didn’t seem to be in any rush to conclude the feast and put everyone out of their anticipation. She was taking her time with a piece of chocolate tart, delighting in taking frustratingly slow, deliberate bites.

 

Kara pushed her pudding around on her plate, too agitated to even eat, which was saying something. She barely tuned into the conversation around her, which had Alex, Maggie, and James debating over what they would do if they won the thousand galleon prize. She dropped her fork and instead let her eyes flit across the room until they gravitated naturally to the Beauxbatons table, where Lena sat next to her brother.

 

She wondered how Lena was feeling right now. Her expression, of course, gave nothing away, as she nodded politely along to whatever Lex was saying. Only the way she occasionally caught the flesh of the inside of her cheek between her teeth suggested she was at all nervous, and understandably so. Kara didn’t even want to imagine how Lex would react if he wasn’t chosen.

 

She looked at Lex for a moment, who was the picture of calm, all charming grins as he told a joke of some sort to those seated around him. But Kara noticed that his eyes kept flicking up to the goblet, his jaw tightening every time he did so.

 

Kara’s gaze drifted over to the teacher’s table, where the Beauxbatons headmistress—Lillian Luthor—sat. Kara never would have guessed she and Lena were related. They were nothing alike, apart from the way they held themselves: straight-backed, chin aloft.

 

But where Lena’s eyes were warm and curious, Lillian Luthor’s eyes were cold and sharp—she could probably give Professor Grant a run for her money when it came to icy glares. Still, Kara could see why Lena would crave her approval. The woman never seemed to smile. And if Kara’s relationship with Professor Grant had taught her anything, it was that the harder the smiles were to earn, the more a person would crave them.

 

Kara looked back over to the Beauxbatons table, only to find Lena was now looking back at her. Their eyes met, and Kara froze up a little before the surprise wore off and she smiled briefly. Lena looked more nervous than Kara had seen her before, but she managed to give Kara a quick smile in return before she dropped back into conversation with Lex.

 

Finally, Professor Grant finished her chocolate tart, the food vanished from their plates and the entire hall fell into an anticipatory silence, every pair of eyes trained on the goblet that stood before Professor Grant’s chair. The woman herself stood up and approached the goblet, and everyone sat forward in their seats, hushing each other until there was complete silence.

 

“I see you’re all more than ready for the evening’s main event,” she remarked. She flicked her wand in the air and extinguished the torches that lit the hall, so now the only source of light came from the blue flames emitted from the goblet. “It’s time to discover who will be blindly stumbling into danger for this death trap.”

 

Kara glanced over at James, who was grinning widely and was unshaken by Professor Grant’s grim words—and perhaps was grinning even wider because of them. He caught her eye from across the table and made her laugh by wiggling his eyebrows, practically bouncing in his seat. She hoped James was chosen: watching him beat Lex would be all too satisfying for her.

 

Kara couldn’t help but grin back, it was just infectious. “Good luck,” she whispered, only to be shushed by Alex, who sat beside her.

 

The goblet’s blue fire turned red. Sparks flew out, and eventually a charred piece of parchment burst out to be caught in Professor Grant’s fingertips.

 

“The Durmstrang Champion…my word, such terrible handwriting,” Professor Grant muttered, then announced, “Mon-El Daxam!”

 

The announcement that Mon-El had been chosen was met with little surprise and a chorus of whoops and cheers from the Durmstrang students and the rest of the crowd as he hopped up from his seat. He shook Professor Grant’s hand before taking his position at the front of the room, white teeth flashing in a brilliant grin.

 

Winn sighed wistfully, chin resting on the palm of his hand as he gazed dreamily up at the Bulgarian seeker.

 

Once the clapping for Mon-El died down, Professor Grant turned back to the goblet, which was glowing red once again. A second piece of paper was spat out and caught.

 

“The champion for Beauxbatons Academy,” she read and paused for effect. Kara crossed her fingers and toes, wondering if perhaps some other person would be chosen, no matter how unlikely it would be. She’d heard a rumour that Lex had intimidated most of the other Beauxbatons students out of even entering, but still—

 

“Lex Luthor!”

 

Kara’s chest deflated in an instant while The Beauxbatons table all clapped and cheered for Lex. Her face fell slightly as she watched him turn and gave his sister a tight hug before approaching Professor Grant. Lex pressed a light kiss to the back of Professor Grant’s hand (was Professor Grant blushing??) before he took his place next to Mon-El.

 

Lena found Kara’s eyes once Lex had left her side and they exchanged small, slightly sad smiles. Kara knew that this would change things; she could already feel Lena slipping closer to Lex, to do anything that would help him win. Her heart pained at the thought that her time with Lena would be even more limited now, by the fact that Lena would be busy working with Lex on the challenges, but the red flames of the goblet diverted her attention back to the front once again.

 

At least now, Kara could just relax and wait to see who from Hogwarts she would be cheering for against Lex. She flashed a brief smile at James, holding up her crossed fingers to him before Alex gripped onto her shoulders so hard it hurt.

 

“Ow, Alex, will you relax?” Kara hissed out of the corner of her mouth.

 

“No, Kara, I will not relax. My dumbass of a girlfriend went ahead and entered without telling me until all of ten minutes ago. If she gets chosen, she is going to be in so much trouble ,” Alex snapped back, and Kara stifled a laugh behind her hand.

 

Waiting until now to tell Alex she had entered was probably the smart thing to do. She couldn’t imagine how much Alex would have freaked out if she’d known any longer in advance. She probably would have dived into the goblet herself to try and pull Maggie’s name out.

 

The goblet’s flames turned red a third and final time. There were more sparks, and after what felt like an eternity, the third piece of parchment was coughed out. It floated lazily down towards Professor Grant’s awaiting hand, who snatched it out of the air and unfolded it slowly.

 

“The champion for Hogwarts is…” She paused, casting hey eyes over the crowd. Kara felt Alex tense up underneath her tight grip. Across the table, James was already half out of his seat. Kara grinned excitedly, relaxing in her seat as she waited to hear who the champion would be…

 

“Kara Danvers!”

 

(Professor Grant read the name out with a slight frown, murmuring “that’s funny, I don’t know of a ‘Kara Danvers’ at Hogwarts.”)

 

Kara remained still, unable to convince herself that she had heard correctly.

 

This wasn’t happening.

 

She sank down into her seat, praying to disappear into it as, slowly, every head in the hall turned towards her.

 

This wasn’t happening.

 

She cast a pleading look at James, who was looking at her with sheer betrayal in his eyes. Like she’d just snapped his broomstick right in front of him.

 

This wasn’t happening.

 

Professor Grant called her name out again, and all Kara could do was sit frozen in her seat. Her name was called again, more impatiently now, and Alex pushed her up.

 

This was happening.

 

“Kara, go ,” Alex hissed sharply, and when Kara looked back at her with lost eyes, the look she gave her said she definitely had more than a few questions for her—later, when they were alone, and there were no witnesses.

 

Kara stood on shaky legs, and was met with an explosion of cheers from the Hufflepuff table, who were all just excited that finally someone from Hufflepuff got to do something cool. She walked towards Professor Grant as though she was in a dream. The cheers reduced to a muted roar that buzzed in her ears, and her vision blurred before her. She focused on just making it to Professor Grant, and soon the woman was wrinkling her nose as she shook her hand with a sweaty palm.

 

“Congratulations, Miss Davies, even though it seems you can’t spell your own name” Professor Grant said.

 

“Professor Grant, you don’t understand, I didn’t—” she managed to sputter, but Professor Grant silenced her.

 

“Just stand over there and wave to your adoring public.”

 

Kara took her place between Mon-El and Lex. When she looked out, the whole crowd was a blur of cheering and clapping faces, and she desperately sought out someone to keep her grounded, to anchor her in this chaos.

 

Alex and James were out. They just glared back like they were going to murder her (both for different reasons, both of which just made her feel sick). Winn, meanwhile, was too busy making goo-goo eyes at Mon-El, and Maggie was already asking people at the table around her to “place your bets!”.

 

She looked, then, to the Beauxbatons table, seeking out dark hair and green eyes, but Lena refused to look at her. Instead, Lena kept her eyes trained firmly on Lex, bottom lip trapped firmly in her teeth, and Kara felt more lost than ever in the noise and the mess of everything that was happening.

 

From the corner of her eye, she caught Lex sneering at her, leering down his nose with an air of self-satisfaction. He bent down and murmured low in her ear, with a voice that turned her insides to ice.

 

“I did warn you, Danvers. I hope you enjoyed your little romp in the rain yesterday. Now Lena will see you for what you really are: a liar, and a coward.”

 

Kara felt her heart stall and stutter in her chest as she stared straight ahead with wide eyes, her stomach threatening to bring dinner back for an encore. The room spun around her, and Professor Grant’s voice sounded distant and echoey when she spoke.

 

“We now have our three champions!” Professor Grant declared when the applause eventually died down. “But in the end, only one will go down in history and win this shiny glorified teapot.” She pointed her wand behind her where a cloaked object had stood. The cloak swished away, revealing a glistening trophy underneath.

 

“Feast your eyes,” Professor Grant sighed, “you’ll all be risking your young lives for this thing in a very short time. For now, celebrate with your peers. There is a long and arduous journey ahead for the three of you...so celebrate while you can.”

 

Kara swallowed at Professor Grant’s somewhat ominous words, but wasn't given much of a chance to consider them as she was soon swarmed by Hufflepuffs all cheering her name. She was swept up by the members of the quidditch team, hoisted up on their shoulders as they carried her out of the hall.

 

Kara twisted herself around to catch sight of Lena standing between Lex and her mother as the Beauxbatons students gathered excitedly around them. She desperately wished for Lena to just look at her. She needed Lena to know that she hadn’t done this, she hadn’t lied to her. But Lena didn’t even cast her a glance as she was whisked around the corner and out of sight by the cheering Hufflepuffs.





Chapter Text

When they arrived in the Hufflepuff common room, the preparations for a party were well underway. Hufflepuffs could always be counted on to throw an amazing party, even with little-to-no warning at all.

 

Trays upon trays of food were smuggled out of the kitchens (thanks in no small part to the goodwill Kara had generated amongst the house elves over her years at Hogwarts), the couches and tables had been pushed to the side to make room, and music was reverberating off the walls as she was carried in to a chorus of cheers.

 

Kara was eventually set down in front of Winn, who grinned and clapped her on the back.

 

"Nice PR move there, Kara, don't tell anyone you’re entering and just sneak in from behind! The whole school is going nuts! I’ve got your merch all planned out already,” he announced gleefully. “Shirts, buttons, hats, the whole deal. What colours do you like? Besides Hufflepuff yellow, of course.”

 

“Uhh, blue and red are alright,” replied automatically, her brain still swirling with complete despair.

 

“I can work with that!” Winn grinned and scurried off into the crowd.

 

The crowd then parted (or rather, was pushed aside) by a very unhappy Alex Danvers, who looked like she might start breathing fire at any moment. It was like she didn’t know whether she wanted to cry or punch her…probably both.  

 

“Alex, I swear I didn’t—”

 

But before Kara could get her words out, she was interrupted by the loud, slow claps of James Olsen, who emerged from the crowd with a dark scowl on his face.

 

“Well done, Kara. Not telling anyone you entered, that was a nice touch. Really went for the element of surprise with that one. I’m sorry, should I bow in your presence, oh Chosen One?” He bent low in a sarcastic bow.

 

“James, I—”

 

“Why did you do it?” James continued, and hurt contorted his face. “You knew how badly I wanted this, so you just went ahead and entered without telling me? You’re already quidditch captain, isn’t that enough? Or do you need more attention?”

 

Kara blinked back at him in complete disbelief. First, there was the stab of his words that hit her right in her chest, and then, the red hot coil of anger that unfurled from her belly and flushed her cheeks and made her clench her fists.

 

“Are you serious? Is that what you think?” she snapped, her voice trembling with barely contained rage and frustration.

 

James shrugged stubbornly and crossed his arms. “It sure is what it looks like from here.”

 

Kara exhaled shakily and pinched at the bridge of her nose. “Will you stop for one second and just listen to me? No one is listening to me!” she yelled. The music and the chatter died down, but Kara barely registered that everyone was looking at them. “I. Didn’t. Put. My. Name. In. That. Cup. I don’t want this.”

 

James scoffed incredulously, shaking his head. “That’s crap, Kara. You just can’t handle the reality that you’ve been chosen. You’re not brave enough, and you know it,” he said coolly, and Kara shattered, feeling angry, hot tears spring to her eyes, but she held them back.

 

“I wanted it to be you, James,” she whispered. “I need you now, more than ever, but you won’t even listen to me.” She drew in a shaky breath and shook her head, wrapping her arms around herself. “Just…just stay away from me until you’ve decided to stop being a selfish jerk.”

 

She turned around before she could even see the look on his face, heading for the stairs up to her dormitory. She felt someone catch her by the elbow, and she quickly shook them off.

 

“Don’t, Alex. I can’t right now, just—just don’t.”

 

She darted up the stairs and flopped down onto her four poster bed, still in her robes. She braced herself and waited for the tears to pour forth, but they never came. Instead, her chest just boiled with sadness and hurt and rage as she rolled onto her back and rubbed her hands over her face, letting out a frustrated growl.

 

She laid there for a few minutes, hands over her eyes, pressing them back into her head until white spots appeared in her vision. She imagined how Alex used to sit behind her, her chest pressed to her back, counting her breaths when she woke up crying in the middle of the night, when the dreams of fire and burning threatened to take over her entire world.

 

When the anger slowly dissipated to leave only a residual hollow ache in her chest, Kara sat up in her bed and swung her legs over the side. She slid her glasses from her face and folded them carefully on her bedside table. She drew her wand from her pocket—hazel, unicorn hair, ten inches—and laid it down next to her glasses.

 

Lex’s voice still curled in her ears like snakes, his grey eyes burning behind her own closed lids. She couldn’t believe this was happening. Lena had said Lex was capable of some extreme things, but this? This felt like he wanted to ruin her, slowly, methodically, and very much publically. Kara couldn’t get the way Lena had looked at her--or rather, hadn’t looked at her--out of her head.

 

Kara suddenly felt sick; she could feel her lungs constricting as she struggled to get enough oxygen in. The air seemed to get thinner by the second, and she was halfway to a full blown panic before an arm snapped around her shoulders, a comforting presence at her side.

 

Alex always did have the magical ability to appear right when she needed her.

 

“Alex,” she gasped, and her sister just shook her head.

 

“Shh, Kar. Not now. Just breathe for me.”

 

Alex sat by her side, murmuring encouragement and rubbing soothing circles on her back until Kara managed to shift her shallow, jagged breaths into ones that were slower, deeper, and more even. Eventually, she shakily accepted the glass of water Alex had brought for her.

 

“Are you here to yell at me too?” she asked weakly. “I didn’t—”

 

“I know,” Alex said gently, laying a hand on her arm. “You said you didn't put your name in, and I believe you. I’m here to find out what the hell is going on.”

 

Kara swallowed and allowed relief that at least someone believed her wash over her, infinitely grateful for the human being that was Alex Danvers. She swallowed thickly, exhaling a racking breath past her lips.

 

“Lex Luthor did this. He put my name in,” she managed, growling low in her throat. Alex’s eyebrows arched at the fact that Kara even could muster up such menace in her voice. “He wants to—I don’t know—he wants to use it to keep me away from Lena, or make her think I lied to her, or something, I don’t understand—” Kara huffed, her words coming out in an exasperated rush, and cut herself off when Alex rubbed her back insistently.

 

“Calm down, Kar,” Alex murmured, though the tightness in her voice suggested she herself was far from calm. “We’ll get this sorted in the morning, okay? In the meantime, if Lex Luthor so much as looks at you, I’ll curse him into next century.”



***

 

Alex glowered as she slammed her hands down on Professor Grant’s desk. “What do you mean she has to compete?” she roared. “She didn’t even enter! That’s not fair. Surely there’s a loophole!”

 

“I’m afraid not, Miss Danvers,” Professor Grant said calmly, completely unaffected by Alex’s rage. “The Goblet of Fire constitutes a binding magical contract. Once you have been chosen, you must compete or suffer the consequences which I’m sure are quite terrible. The rules are absolute,” she said, enunciating each syllable very clearly, her piercing eyes flicking between the two sisters.

 

“This is ridiculous. This is ridiculous . How could this be allowed to happen?” Alex shook her head incredulously as frantic feet carried her back and forth.

 

Professor Grant sighed and rocked back in her chair, clasping her fingers beneath her chin. “Well, hundreds of years ago, some old wizards decided that this is the way it has to be, so that’s the way it is,” she said with a wry twitch of her brow.

 

She leaned forwards over her desk and fixed Kara with a firm look, no hint of snark or sass hiding in her clear blue eyes. “The Goblet of Fire isn’t simply a glorified lottery machine. It is an extremely old, extremely powerful artefact that senses potential in the entrants to do great things.”

 

Kara’s mouth was completely dry as she stared back at Professor Grant with bulging eyes. “That—that can’t be right. I’m just…me, I don’t even want to do this,” she said weakly.

 

Professor Grant’s fingers rubbed at her temples as she sighed. “I’m not here to give you a pep talk, but please don’t make the mistake of underestimating yourself. The Goblet chose you for a reason, Miss Danvers. You have to see this through until the end, I’m afraid.”

 

Hearing her name actually being said correctly, Kara knew she was serious. Kara’s nails scratched into the wood of her chair.

 

Merlin’s beard, this really was happening.

 

***

 

Things changed overnight for Kara.

 

Hogwarts students cheered and clapped for her in the corridors, patting her on the back as they passed. A tiny, blonde second-year student seemed to have memorised her class schedule, and asked her to stop and pose for pictures every time he ran into her.

 

Winn went ahead with his merchandise plans, and soon enough every other Hogwarts student was wearing a pin with her name on it: a blue background with a yellow ‘K’ and a red ‘D’, which swirled and transformed into a picture of her wildly grinning face every few seconds.

 

It was more than a bit overwhelming to be confronted with her own face everywhere she looked when she didn’t even want to be the stupid champion in the first place.

 

Kara still wasn’t speaking to James. Instead of joining the Gryffindor table at meals like she usually did, Kara kept to the Hufflepuff table, surrounding herself with Alex, Maggie, and the Hufflepuff quidditch team as a protective buffer. Meanwhile, James seemed perfectly happy to sulk at the Gryffindor table, and they both silently agreed to completely ignore each other at quidditch practice too.

 

On top of everything, Lena was all but impossible to get a hold of. If Kara thought she and Lex had been close before, now the Luthor siblings were practically inseparable, and Lena seemed intent on keeping it that way.

 

Kara walked into their first potions class since being chosen hoping to finally catch a word with Lena. However, Lena was back in her original seat before being paired up with her, eyes fixed firmly on her parchment as she copied down notes from the chalkboard.

 

Kara twisted at the straps of her bag, her lips pressed into a grim line before she sat herself down next to her. Lena didn’t react. “Lena,” she hissed. Again, more insistently: “Lena!”

 

Lena’s quill stilled on a capital ‘T’ when her eyes slid over to meet Kara’s, her face schooled into perfect neutrality. “Can I help you?”

 

Kara swallowed, Lena’s cool tone hitting her like a bucket of ice water. She refused to be shaken, and leant forwards in her seat until she was in Lena’s personal space.

 

“You don’t think I entered without telling you, do you? I didn’t--I wouldn’t lie to you like that,” she whispered, her tone pleading. Lena held her gaze for a long, searching moment before she silently returned to copying notes down from the board. Kara’s stomach dropped, and Lena tensed when she laid a firm hand on her arm. “Lena, please, you have to believe me.”

 

An irritated twitch of the mouth was the only crack in her mask. “I don’t have to do anything,” Lena said, tight lipped.

 

“I didn’t put my name in the cup,” Kara persisted, fingers applying solid pressure to Lena’s arm.

 

Lena turned to face her now, eyes boring straight into her. “Then who did, Kara?”

 

Kara’s tongue was halfway through saying Lex’s name before she stopped herself. She just...couldn’t do it. When Lena spoke of Lex, she could see how much she looked up to him. Even knowing there was this dark side to him, Lena loved her brother. Kara could see it in the way her eyes lit up when they were talking about their wacky genius experiments, in the way she stood so close to his side whenever he was around.

 

Kara couldn’t be the one to finally shatter whatever image Lena held of Lex in her own head. She doubted Lena would even believe her, this Hufflepuff girl she’d basically just met, over her brother, her shield and sword in her darkest hours.

 

“I don’t...I don’t know,” Kara eventually mumbled, her hand slowly withdrawing back into her lap.

 

A lungful of disappointed air pushed past Lena’s lips as she pulled her eyes away.

 

“It doesn’t matter anyway,” she said stiffly, returning her attention to her notes. “I came here to make sure my brother wins, no other reason. I lost sight of that for a moment there. Now that you’re the champion, I can focus on helping Lex, and you can focus on how you’re going to make it through the challenges. Perhaps it’s better this way. I didn’t come here to make friends.” Lena’s words came out stilted, her knuckles turning white as she gripped her quill.

 

Kara swallowed at the sick feeling in her stomach. “That’s Lex talking. Lena, you don’t...you don’t mean that.”

 

Someone cleared their throat behind her. Lena’s former Beauxbatons partner stood there, staring down at Kara through her spectacles with dark, suspicious eyes.

 

“You’re in Jess’s seat,” Lena informed her, and kept her eyes trained on her parchment as Kara slowly walked back over to her own desk.

 

***

 

Since Lena had gone back to being partners with Jess, there was no one else for Kara to pair up with but James (Triwizard champion or not, every other student knew it was better to refuse to be Kara’s partner, in the interest of their own personal safety). It was crushingly awkward to work in silence next to him, and the potions she produced were more horrible than ever.

 

Despite the fact that everyone in the school seemed to know her name, Kara had never felt more alone.

 

In an effort to keep herself busy, Kara spent hours upon hours buried in the library, reading up on spells, charms, creatures, and even potions—anything that could potentially help her in the first task she didn’t have a single clue about.

 

“This is hopeless,” Kara groaned, dropping her chin down onto Theories of Transubstantial Transfiguration one afternoon. “Am I just supposed to learn everything about magic ever before the first task? How am I supposed to prepare if I don’t even know what I’m preparing for?”

 

Winn gave her a sympathetic look from his own book before scribbling something down on his parchment. “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, Kara. You have to expect the unexpected,” he said sagely.

 

“Well..I’m hoping it’s a pumpkin pastie eating contest, but somehow I doubt I’ll be so lucky,” she mumbled glumly.

 

Winn snorted into his work. “Just keep studying, Kara. Books have never let me down; there’s bound to be something in here that will help you.”

 

Kara sighed and went back to reading, smooshing her cheek up against her palm. After a few minutes, she heard Winn tutting irritatedly, scowling as he shook his head at his transfiguration homework. “What is it?” Kara asked.

 

“He keeps staring ,” Winn muttered. Kara craned her neck around to follow Winn’s line of sight to see Mon-el extremely unsubtly eying Winn like he was the golden snitch at the Quidditch World Cup Final. “I’m trying to concentrate, but it’s hard with his dumb handsome face right there,” Winn complained and Kara rolled her eyes.

 

“You are so oblivious, Winn.” She flopped the lid of the book shut as she pushed herself up. “I’m getting a headache. I need fresh air,” she announced before she slipped the book into her bag and left.

 

As she walked out, she noticed Mon-el trot over to Winn’s table, grinning as he slid himself into her now unoccupied seat.

 

***

 

Everything was blinding light and burning heat and suffocating smoke. Fire roared around her, in her eyes, in her ears, burning her throat and her lungs as she choked on air that was thick with ash. Everything was aflame, cracking and snapping as her world burned and crashed down around her.

 

The screams filled her ears, and she gagged on smoke and on her own tears as she struggled against an invisible force that dragged her back, through the flames and out, the screams dissipating into silence.

 

And then there was nothing. Just crushing blackness, a timeless vacuum that weighed heavy on her chest, pressed in on her from all sides and simultaneously expanded out into infinity. Kara was drowning in the black. Drowning and lost and completely, irrevocably alone.

 

Kara sat up bolt upright in her bed, chest heaving with laboured breaths. She gasped and sputtered a few times, struggling to get air into her lungs, until she clenched her eyes shut tight, sheets balled in fists. She forced herself to count her breaths, focusing on getting air in and out of her body, just like Alex had taught her.

 

One…two…three…four...

 

Eventually, she was able to get her glasses on with trembling hands. Her nightshirt clung to her skin, which was damp with cold sweat.

 

“Damnit,” she whispered, eyes pressed shut.

 

Kara was only nine when everything she knew and loved was destroyed right in front of her.

 

Kara grew up in a small, secluded village called Krypton. Krypton laid in the shadow of a great mountain, Rao. Now, Kara couldn’t even guess where to point out Krypton or Rao on any map. That secret died along with all the elders that fateful night.

 

The legends spoke of ancient magic buried deep within Rao, that Kryptonians could access in extreme situations. It was said that Kryptonian magic could enable a person to fly without brooms, perform incredible feats of strength, see through walls, or hear across great distances. Of course, Krypton had been a peaceful place for many generations, and Kryptonians hadn’t needed to draw from Rao’s power for a long time, but Kara’s family still kept the stories alive.

 

Kara’s mother had told her stories of her people’s old magic, and the secret that lay in their deep connection to Rao and each other, in El Mayarah : stronger together.

 

“You’ll learn more when you’re older,” she’d said, a smile hiding where it always did, right at the corner of her lips. In her dreams, Kara still searched for that hidden smile.

 

Kara loved her home, where she spent the first nine years of her life happily with her father and mother, her aunts and uncles and her older cousin, Kal. She learned about magic the Kryptonian way: feeling and connecting with the power inside her, rather than focusing on the specifics of proper wand technique and incantations.

 

Kara could remember how it felt, practicing her magic in her family’s backyard, the sun shining high above Rao in the background. It was like there was a golden sun in her chest, burning bright with warm, radiant light. She hadn’t felt that light inside of her for a long time, not since her connection to her people was taken from her.

 

“You can’t rely on raw magic alone, little one,” Aunt Astra had said, smiling fondly when Kara crowed triumphantly after making a rock zip across the lawn. “You’ll learn how to control it properly at Hogwarts, like Kal. But don’t forget where your power comes from. It will keep you safe if and when you need it most.”

 

Kara stuck her chin out, her hands fixing themselves to her hips. “The magic comes from Rao, and from my connection to our people and our ancestors and our love for each other,” she parroted proudly, “And from my love for you, Aunt Astra,” she added with a grin.

 

“And my love for you,” her aunt returned with a warm smile...Astra’s smile didn’t hide. It was there, right on her face whenever Kara needed it. “But you’re only saying that because you know I have chocolate frogs from town,” she added with a smirk that came from knowing her niece so well.

 

“I did see some in your bag…” Kara confessed, and let out a giggling squeal as Astra poked teasingly at her ribs.

 

Krypton was beautiful; it was home. But it was also mysterious as it was isolated. Outsiders feared things they couldn’t understand, especially when whispers of the Kryptonians’ secret powers began to spread.

 

As the record of history shows, fear is all too often a precursor to violence.

 

The outsiders came at night, in dark hooded cloaks with fiendfyre spurting from their wands. Serpents, eagles, chimeras, and dragons of cursed fire ripped through the village, devastating everything in their path.

 

Kara had been shaken awake by her mother, and dragged downstairs to where her parents, her cousin, and her uncle and aunt scrambled around, desperately trying to fight off the flames with their magic, but there was just too much—it was overwhelming, and consuming everything. She was bundled into sixteen-year-old Kal’s arms and they were both pushed into the fireplace. Kara’s mother had to pry her fingers from around her wrist for her to let go.

 

She desperately sought out her aunt, who always told her the truth, even when it was hard to hear.

 

“Don’t look, little one,” Astra whispered. She knew what would happen, and she didn’t want her to see.

 

“We’ll be right behind you,” Kara’s mother said, and Kara would never forget the broken look in her eyes as she said those words. They weren’t coming after her, and she knew it.

 

Kal gripped her close to his chest, and she cried out as her father threw the Floo Powder into the fireplace. And then, her entire world was swallowed up in bright green flames.

 

The air was choked out of her lungs and everything was black and spinning before they tumbled out into the Danvers’ fireplace, covered in soot and sweat and tears. Kara pounded her fists on the fireplace floor, shaking and crying as a bleary-eyed, ten-year-old Alex Danvers came downstairs to find two strange children in her family’s living room.

 

Kara dreamed of Krypton every night for more than a year, and every night she watched Krypton burn over and over. Kal didn’t feel it like she did. He’d been to Hogwarts, so he knew what life was like outside of Krypton. But Krypton was all Kara knew; it was her whole world. And it was gone.

 

The dreams became less intense and less frequent when she started going to Hogwarts. She learned more about magic and about the world outside. She made new friends, and built a new family around her. The hole Krypton had left inside her would never be filled, not completely. But slowly, she was able to rebuild her life.

 

Now, she only dreamed of an all-consuming fire when she was particularly stressed or upset…and right now, it would appear that she was both.

 

A quick look at the clock told her it was just before five in the morning. Trying to get back to sleep would be a useless endeavour at this point. She saw the flames every time she closed her eyes.

 

Her legs shook when she stood on them. She used the cool press of her feet against the hardwood floors to ground her as she padded softly around the dormitory, slipping into a pair of jeans and her yellow knit quidditch sweater.  

 

It wasn’t long before Kara was striding onto the quidditch pitch, her Nimbus 2000 slung over her shoulder and a quaffle balanced on her hip. Her footsteps crunched on the frostbitten grass of the early November morning, and her breath materialised into clouds before her eyes. She came to a stop in the middle of the quidditch pitch and dropped the quaffle to the ground before she drew her wand and cast a charm that brought the quaffle to life.

 

The quaffle circled around her a few times with an almost playful spirit, before it zoomed off around the pitch. Kara watched it for a few moments, then gripped her broom and stood astride it.

 

She thought about the tournament, about the first task she wasn’t prepared for in any way drawing nearer with each passing day.

 

She thought about Alex, who looked like she wasn’t sleeping or eating properly, like the worry was keeping her up at night.

 

She thought about the bets Maggie and the other students were placing on her—all with the best intentions, but Kara felt every hypothetical galleon and hope on the line weighing on her shoulders like lead.

 

She thought about the entire school rooting for her—their supposed champion—and she couldn't help but imagine letting every single one of them down when she failed.

 

She thought about James, who was still sulking around the castle whenever she saw him. She thought about the way he spoke to her, his words laced with venom like he wanted to hurt her. She didn’t think he was even capable of speaking like that—not to her.

 

She thought about Lena, who she thought was her friend, but now was avoiding her. Lena, who seemed to have firmly aligned herself with her brother—with being a Luthor—despite everything. Her hands gripped especially tight around the wood of her broomstick when she thought about Lena.

 

She let these thoughts swirl around in her mind for a few moments, and when she kicked off from the ground, she simply…let them all go. As she rose higher and higher, the thoughts clouding her mind stayed on the ground, getting smaller and smaller as she soared up into the sky.

 

She let the cool morning air fill her lungs, and the feeling of flying filled her with inexplicable lightness because up here, she was herself. Up here, she was free. Tears prickled at her eyes, and the cold breeze was only partly responsible.

 

She came to a halt high in the air, pausing for a moment to wipe at her eyes and look out over everything—over the castle, sprawled out before her, the snow-capped mountains at her back, the glassy surface of the Blake Lake reflecting its surroundings, making everything look infinite.

 

Things made more sense up here. All Kara needed to concern herself with was her broomstick beneath her, and the air around her.

 

She did a few laps of the quidditch pitch to warm up, weaving between the goalposts as she passed them—a drill she had devised for the team over the summer. Her enchanted quaffle appeared by her side, and she reached out and plucked it easily from the air, steering her broom towards the goal posts.

 

“Danvers takes possession of the quaffle,” she murmured to herself. “She’s streaking down the pitch, no one can catch her—ooh! Great bludger dodge there,” she narrated, jerking her broom to the right as she barrel rolled to avoid an imaginary bludger. “She’s headed for the goal posts, only the keeper stands between Danvers and scoring, can she do it?” Kara pulled her broom up, lining up her shot, and launched the quaffle into the left hoop. “She scores! Danvers pulls the Harpies into the lead!”

 

Kara did a celebratory twirl in the air, and laughed at herself when she opened her eyes to find that she was in a deserted stadium rather than a packed out match. She streaked after the quaffle once again, and proceeded to drill her shooting as the sun came up over the castle.

 

Kara’s nightmare was all but forgotten after an hour of practice, replaced instead with tired muscles, rushing adrenalin, windswept hair, and cheeks flushed pink from the cold and her own exertion. Kara huffed as she released the quaffle and it sailed through the centre hoop.

 

It was then that she noticed that she wasn’t alone in the stadium. In the stands below, was a figure in pastel blue robes, looking up at her with an unreadable expression.

 

The quaffle zoomed back towards Kara, it was only thanks to her chaser reflexes that she reacted just in time, catching it in a backwards roll before it could knock her clean off her broom. She pulled her wand out and murmured the incantation that turned the quaffle back into an inanimate object, and slowly lowered herself in the air. She came level with Lena, floating out in the air in front of her as she watched her closely.

 

Lena simply looked back, completely unreadable in the silence. The only indication that she was at all uncomfortable was the way her fingertips pressed into the leather of the strap of her bag.

 

“I thought we were sworn enemies now,” Kara finally remarked, and she really wished she didn’t sound as upset as she did.

 

Lena ignored Kara’s comment. “You seem stressed,” she observed, and Kara scowled in spite of herself.

 

“Do I? That’s funny, I can’t think of why that might be. Oh yeah. I’m supposed to complete this stupidly dangerous task in a couple of weeks—a task that I have no information about and could potentially kill me, how does that even make sense? James hates me, my sister is scared out of her mind, and to top it all off, I melted a hole in my cauldron yesterday…” Kara listed off and finished with a glum sigh.

 

Lena tilted her head, sympathetic. “You used whole porcupine quills instead of crushed ones, didn’t you?”

 

“Maybe.”

 

Lena’s eyes lingered just over Kara’s shoulder for a silent moment. “I’m sorry things have gotten so complicated for you.”

 

Kara scoffed, eyes rolling. “I think ‘difficult’ might be the right word this time.” Lena pressed her lips together and ducked her chin in a short nod. Kara sighed, rolling the quaffle around to her front, where she held it like a protective barrier. “What are you doing here?” she asked quietly. Not in accusation, she just needed to know.

 

Lena softened, her fingers relaxing on the strap of her bag. “I was up early to feed the horses when I saw you here and...I don’t know. I wanted to see if you were alright.”

 

Lena’s admission came as a surprise, and Kara eyed her skeptically. “I didn’t think you cared.”

 

A frown flashed across Lena’s brow. “Of course I care,” she said, her voice straining against something Kara couldn’t quite identify.

 

Kara lowered herself in the air so she was hovering level with Lena from where she stood in the stands. “So...do you believe me? I’ve been set up by—” Kara stopped herself “—someone. I didn’t enter my name. I don’t want to do this, Lena.”

 

Lena’s gaze stretched out across the open air between them, eyes studying her features like she was figuring out how much of an ingredient to add to a potion. When their eyes met, Kara hoped her earnestness was shining through; she needed Lena to see she wasn’t lying.

 

“I’m very sorry you’re in this situation,” Lena said stiffly. “But what I think doesn’t matter. Whether you entered, or someone else did, you’re Lex’s competition now. He has to be my priority.”

 

Kara pressed her lips together, and wondered if Lena would feel the same if she knew what Lex had done to her.

 

“Of course,” she said instead. “You’re a Luthor, right?” she asked, lifting a brow.

 

“Right,” Lena said seriously, nodding once.

 

Kara sighed, exhaustion from lack of sleep and training seeping into her bones. She reclined back in the seat of her broom, her elbow by the tail, one leg dangling down. She pretended not to notice the sharp intake of breath from Lena as she adjusted into a position that was more comfortable, yet significantly more precarious.

 

“So,” Kara said. “How is Lex dealing with all the pressure and the uncertainty? I bet he’s doing a whole lot better than me,” she murmured, lips twisting into a jagged smile.

 

Lena clicked her tongue, and did a poor job of hiding an eye roll. “He’s been preparing himself for this for months; he couldn’t be happier to be pursuing his destiny. We’ve been staying up every night, studying and practicing spells to prepare him. I…I’m really tired.” Lena confessed this in a small voice, breath shaking as she drew her blazer tight around her.

 

Kara angled her head to the side, taking a moment to really look at Lena. Her skin was pale, even paler than normal, and provided stark contrast for the dark circles under her eyes.

 

“Yeah, you look it,” Kara commented, then grimaced at the way Lena’s lips pinched. “I didn’t mean, like, in a bad way, I mean you’re still beautiful, very nice on the eyes, no doubt about it, I just mean—” Kara cut off her flustered rambling with an exasperated huff and concluded lamely: “you look like you could use a good night’s sleep.”

 

Lena regarded her a moment, amusement tugging insistently at the corner of her mouth that stubbornly refused to give much away.

 

“That’s good advice,” Lena finally said calmly, and Kara exhaled lengthily while still wincing at herself. Kara tipped her head up to the sky, telling herself to get a grip, Danvers .

 

“He’s lucky to have you helping him,” she said once she’d recovered sufficiently from her embarrassment.

 

Lena laughed softly and shrugged her shoulders. “I’m doing what I can. It’s hard when we have no idea what he’ll be up against.” Lena cut herself off sharply, brow furrowing. “And I should really stop talking about our preparation strategy to the competition.”

 

Kara barked a laugh, sitting back up straight on her broom. “You think I’m competition?” she scoffed. “Winning this thing hasn’t even crossed my mind. Honestly, I’m just hoping I’ll make it out alive.”

 

“Don’t doubt yourself like that,” Lena countered. “Maybe didn’t choose this, but I think you’ll make a great champion. I hope you prove me right.”

 

Lena held Kara’s gaze for a long, meaningful moment, even allowing herself a smile to slip through the mask. Kara’s chest warmed in an automatic response to that smile, but it quickly disappeared when Lena stood decisively, adjusting her bag on her shoulder.

 

“I should go,” she said. “Hate to think what Lex would say about his baby sister giving words of encouragement to ‘the competition’.” The words came out wryly, meant to come across a joke, but the slight frown that creased Lena’s forehead told Kara she wasn’t entirely kidding. “Good luck preparing for the task, Kara.”

 

She gave her a small, tight smile, and Kara watched as Lena stepped down the stairs, going somewhere Kara could not follow.

 

***

 

It took nearly another full week for James to speak to her. Aside from the words they said to each other out of obligation from working together in potions class and quidditch training, they hadn’t spoken to each other at all, and it was killing her. They hadn’t gone this long without speaking properly in their entire friendship.

 

Not even when the Holyhead Harpies beat Puddlemore United in a nail biter of a grand final. (James was heard yelling “The Harpies’ beater fowled before the snitch was caught, IT WAS AN ILLEGAL CATCH” all throughout the East Wing that day).

 

But Kara had never known James to do things halfway.

 

With this in mind, she really shouldn’t have been all that surprised when James came up to her between classes one afternoon wearing a Hufflepuff scarf, a hat with her name in capital letters on it, several of Winn’s pins, and a t-shirt with a giant close-up shot of her entire face across his chest. The shirt was enchanted, so her giant face winked and laughed back at her in an endless loop. To complete the ensemble, he was holding up a giant banner that read “I SUPPORT KARA DANVERS” in huge red, blue, and gold letters (Team Kara’s official colours, as decided by Winn, her unofficial PR manager).

 

Kara’s eyes bulged at the sight of his ridiculous ensemble, her cheeks growing hot as students milling around them snickered and pointed, but James just wouldn’t stop beaming. Kara snatched the banner out of his hands and dragged him into an empty classroom.

 

“James, what in Merlin’s beard is this? ” she squeaked.

 

“This, is me being a supportive friend,” James declared with a wide grin. His expression softened towards sincerity, his brown eyes warm and apologetic as he bowed his head. “This is me being the friend I should have been, right from the moment your name came out of the goblet.”

 

Kara sighed and folded her arms, eying him apprehensively. “Is this the part where you give me some speech about how much of a dumb jerk you’ve been, how sorry you are for being such a dumb jerk, and that you want me to forgive you?”

 

James grimaced, scrubbing at the back of his neck. “Well, that pretty much sums it up. I really couldn't have said it better myself.”

 

Kara’s eyes narrowed. “Try.”

 

James sighed and nodded. “I’m sorry for how I’ve been acting, Kara. I’m sorry I didn’t believe you when you said you didn’t enter. You wouldn’t lie about something like that; I just let my own pride get in my way.”

 

Kara let his apology hang in the air between them, taking in his bowed head, his slumped shoulders. “Alex yelled at you, didn’t she?” she asked curtly.

 

James winced and rubbed tenderly at his ear, where Kara guessed Alex had yanked until he saw sense.

 

“She had some things to say to me,” he conceded. “But I’m not just saying this because of Alex. I miss you, Kara. I miss being your friend, and this whole stupid fight has made me nothing but miserable.” James exhaled sharply, rubbing a hand over his head as he smiled wryly. “And there I go, making this about me. This isn’t about me. You don’t want this, I can see it in your eyes. You’re scared, aren’t you?”

 

Kara broke at that, and under his knowing look that came from more than six years of friendship. Except for Alex, James probably knew her better than anyone at Hogwarts.

 

Kara nodded, biting hard at the flesh of her cheek, whispered, “I’m terrified.”

 

James’s eyes radiated warmth and sympathy and understanding. “Don’t be, Kara. You can do this, I know you can. I want to be there to support you. I’d be so lucky if you’d let me be by your side, cheering you on. So…what do you say? Can I join Team Kara?” He gave a small grin and pulled a flag with ‘TEAM KARA’ on it from his back pocket, giving it a hopeful wave.

 

Kara swallowed thickly. Being hurt and angry just took too much energy that she didn’t have, so she sighed and swiped at the warmth prickling at her eyes. “All right, you can join Team Kara. But on one condition.”

 

“Anything, Captain.”

 

Kara smirked deviously. “You have to wear my Harpies jersey for a whole week.”

 

James moaned, aghast. “Kara, you’re tiny! It won’t fit!”

 

“I know.”

 

James laughed, that deep, barrel-chested laugh that made Kara feel like she was home and nodded. “All right, Kara. Whatever it takes.”

 

Kara laughed and stepped towards him, folding herself into his arms and sighing as they wrapped around her. They stood there in the classroom, making up for lost time, until Kara finally pulled back, her chest full to bursting.

 

“So,” James said with a wide smile, “how are you doing with preparing for the task?”

 

Kara groaned, deflating in an instant. “Don’t remind me. I have no idea what I’m up against, James, I don’t even know what I’m doing,” she admitted, shifting from one foot to the other.

 

“Hey,” James said gently, squeezing her arm. “I’m in your corner; we can do this. Together. If you’ll have me, I can be your unofficial official coach,” he offered happily.

 

“I’d like that.”

 

“Excellent,” James said, all business. “We’ll start training right away. Let’s go work on your patronus. Your golden retriever’s leg was looking a little gimpy last time I saw it.”

 

Kara pouted. “His name is Krypto, and that’s just the way he is!”

 

James chuckled, shaking his head. “Sure, Danvers. Sure.”

 

Kara rolled her eyes. “Can you at least put a sweater on? I can’t take you seriously with my giant face staring back at me.”

 

***

 

“Dragons. The first task is dragons.”

 

Winn’s eyes were wide and panicked as he slammed his hands down on the breakfast table, making Kara’s tower of pancakes wobble dangerously. His hair stuck out at frantic angles, his clothes were in complete disarray (and slightly singed?), and he looked like he hadn’t slept a wink.

 

“Winn, slow down, what on earth happened to you?” Alex asked, alarmed.

 

Winn swallowed, his hands shaking as he attempted to smooth his hair down. “Well, I was in the forest with Mon-el last night—”

 

“Hold up,” Maggie interrupted with a sly grin, “what were you doing in the Forbidden Forest in the middle of the night with Mon-el ?”

 

Winn froze, sputtered, and shook his head. “That—that’s not important!” he snapped, turning a violent shade of red.

 

Maggie smirked and popped a strawberry in her mouth. “Forbidden, indeed…”

 

Winn gave her a furious glare and promptly ignored her. “Anyway—I was in the forest and all of a sudden, a torrent of fire came out of nowhere! I barely made it out alive!” He exclaimed. “Of course, Mon-el wanted to go check it out,” he sighed enduringly, then gave Kara a firm look. “There are three dragons, Kara. That’s one for each of you. It’s a pretty safe bet that’s what you’ll be facing.”

 

Kara put her fork down, suddenly not hungry. Of all things, it just had to be dragons. Giant, angry, fire-breathing dragons. Kara’s fists clenched, knuckles turning white. She could feel the flames already: blinding, hot and inescapable…burning, everything burning—

 

“Kara?”

 

Kara swallowed and turned to Alex who was looking at her with concern, the same concern that she had when she’d wake up screaming in the night, dreaming of her village’s screams.

 

“I—I’m fine, Alex. Don’t worry,” she said softly, relaxing her fists to lay an assuring hand on top of the one Alex had placed on her arm.

 

She let out a slow breath and looked back up to Winn and the others. “So all I have to do is fight a dragon. Great. I thought these tasks were going to be fun, like an obstacle course or something,” she said glumly.

 

James grinned widely. “A dragon sounds like fun to me.”

 

Kara shot him a glowering look. “Well, that’s why you’re in Gryffindor. You have zero sense of self-preservation.” She rolled her eyes when James and Maggie knocked their goblets together in hearty agreement. “I’m going to the library,” she decided, pushing herself up from the table. “Maybe there’ll be something useful in How to Train Your Dragon, Volume I .”

 

***

 

Kara wandered through the section in the library on dragons, pulling out any book that seemed like it might have something useful in it. She thumbed the spine of From Egg to Inferno: a Dragon Keeper’s Guide before pulling it out—and almost had a heart attack when she saw bright green eyes staring straight back at her from the other side of the shelf.

 

She cried out in surprise and staggered backwards, knocking into the shelf behind her. The shelf teetered dangerously, keening back before it froze in mid-air.

 

“Immobulus!” Lena exclaimed as she rounded the shelves, wand held high. She gave it a delicate swish and the shelf righted itself, groaning as it settled heavily back into the ground.

 

Kara blinked incredulously at her. “H-how did you do that?”

 

“…magic?”

 

Kara blushed and nodded hurriedly. “Right, right. A freezing charm, I knew that.” She cleared her throat and quickly stuffed the books she was holding in her bag. “Er, fancy seeing you here. In this section. The same one I’m in. What a…coincidence,” she said, acting casual (and failing miserably).

 

“Yes,” Lena said evenly. “A coincidence. I happen to be very interested in, um—” she turned to the shelf nearest to them and pulled out a random book, “—garden gnome poetry.” Kara quirked a sceptical brow, under which Lena gave an unconvincing smile. “Well, I should be going,” Lena said quickly. “Um—good luck with the first task and everything.”

 

Lena spun on her heel to leave, but something made Kara step forwards and catch her by the sleeve of her robes.

 

“Lena, wait—” she said, and when Lena turned back around with a questioning look, she wasn’t quite sure what to do with it—she hadn't really planned this out. “I…I miss you,” she found herself saying. “I miss Lillian, too. Horse Lillian, not human Lillian,” she clarified, “I miss being your partner in potions class. I think I’m failing,” she added, lips pinching into a frown.

 

Lena looked down at Kara’s hand on her wrist for a few moments before she looked up at her, her eyes filled with a sadness that twisted at Kara’s gut.

 

“We can’t, Kara,” she said softly. “I’m a Luthor. Helping Lex comes first, it has to. I’m sorry, I just—” she huffed, her features waging a silent war on her face before staunch determination won out, “it’s the way it has to be.”

 

Kara sighed and released Lena’s hand, biting at her lip. She hesitated, then drew one of the books from her bag, handing it to Lena. “Dragons,” she said quietly. “That’s the first task.”

 

Lena’s lips parted slightly, forming a small ‘o’ as she took the book and turned it over in her hands. “You’re sure?” she asked.

 

“Positive,” Kara replied. “There’s one for each of us. Mon-el knows about them. It wouldn't be fair if Lex didn’t know too.”

 

Lena nodded slowly. “Thank you, Kara. I really appreciate this. We knew it would be something challenging, but dragons—wow. This tournament is really serious,” she breathed and looked up at Kara with something like concern in her eyes. “Are you scared?”

 

“I’ll be fine,” Kara said firmly, although she wasn’t all too convinced herself, and Lena gave a small smile.

 

“Of course.”

 

“I know it’s a competition, Lena, but it doesn’t have to be like this,” Kara said. “There are more important things than winning: teamwork, sportsmanship, camaraderie. We can help each other.”

 

Lena blinked up at the ceiling as she scoffed bitterly. “There’s nothing more important than winning in my family. Thank you, for telling me about this. I’ll be sure to return the favour, when the time comes.”

 

“You don’t owe me anything.”

 

Lena’s lips twitched into an amused smile. “You’d be the first person to say that to a Luthor. You certainly are unique, Kara Danvers.” She paused at the end of the row of books, biting her lip slightly as she ran a slender finger down the spine of a leather-bound volume. “You’re good with creatures, Kara,” she mused into the shelves. “You should use that.”



Chapter Text

 

“Do you remember the plan?” Alex asked, hands wringing with nervous energy as she paced back and forth in the tent.

“The one we went over only a hundred times? Yes, I remember.”

Kara tugged at the sleeves of her new competitors robes. They were black, with a Hufflepuff yellow long-sleeved undershirt. It was a small comfort for her to be in her house colours. She could almost pretend she was gearing up for a quidditch match, and not about to face a giant, angry, fire-breathing dragon. She grimaced as a wave of nausea rioted in her stomach at the thought.

She opened her eyes to see Alex standing in front of her, hands placed bracingly on her shoulders. “You can do this, Kara. I believe in you, so much,” she said firmly. “I know I never knew them, but your parents…they would be saying the same thing.”

Heat pricked at the backs of her eyes and Kara swallowed at a lump in her throat. It was much too early to start crying, but Alex sure was making it difficult not to.

“Thank you, Alex,” Kara mumbled into Alex’s shoulder when she pulled her into a hug.

“If you get scared and you want out, just look at me, okay? Just look at me, and I’ll get you out, I promise,” Alex said fiercely as she squeezed her to her chest.

“I’m pretty sure that’s against the rules…”

“Do you think I care?”

A wet laugh bubbled out past Kara’s lips and she tucked her head into the crook of her sister’s neck. “Love you, Al.”

“I love you too, Kar. So much.”

Kara tilted her eyes up over Alex’s shoulder to see Lex and Lena huddled on the other side of the tent, heads pressed together as they whispered intensely between each other. They spoke with such keen focus, for all Kara knew their conversation was less about the first task and more about planning world domination.

When Professor Grant came in telling them it was time for their loved ones to join the other students in the stands, Kara didn’t want to let go. Reluctantly, Alex pried herself from Kara’s grip and gave her an assuring smile before she followed Lena out of the tent.

Kara inhaled shakily, wringing her hands out as nerves battled in her stomach. This was how she’d felt before last year’s quidditch final, only about ten times worse. She was running her plan over in her mind when she heard an insistent whispering sound coming from the corner of the tent nearest to her.

“Psst. Psst!”

Kara frowned and approached the wall, ducking her head down close to the fabric. She could see the silhouette of a person on the other side.

“Kara, is that you?”

Kara blinked in surprise at the voice. “Lena? What are you doing here?”

“Lex says I’m not supposed to talk to you.”

“Do you always do what Lex says?”

“Obviously not.”

“Just not when he’s looking, right?”

An exasperated sigh came from the other side of the tent, and Kara had a brief moment of panic thinking she’d pushed too far and Lena had left.

“Kara, please,” Lena said, strained. “I just wanted to wish you luck. I know we’re on opposite sides now, but...I really hope you don’t get roasted out there.”

The blood drained from Kara’s face and she choked a little on her own spit. “Thank you for that visual, Lena. Truly,” she said weakly.

Lena chuckled softly, and Kara sighed, closing her eyes at the pleasant sound. The tent wall rustled and the flap at the corner lifted up slightly.

“Take this,” Lena whispered. “It’s for luck.”

Kara glanced down to see Lena’s hand poking through the cloth of the tent. In it, she held a silver chain with a shimmering, metallic feather attached to it. Kara reached for it, her fingertips lingering over Lena’s as she held onto the necklace.

“It’s from Lillian’s wing. I enchanted it to preserve its shape. It won’t wilt or get crushed or anything,” Lena said softly. “You don’t have to wear it. I just thought—”

“I love it,” Kara said quickly, fingers closing around the feather. “Thank you.”

Lena was silent for a moment, and gave Kara’s hand a brief squeeze before she withdrew her own. “I’m glad. Good luck, Kara.”

And then she was gone, the touch of her hand ghosting still on Kara’s skin.

Kara gazed down at the necklace in her hands, running her thumb over the feather’s stiff ridges. She sucked in a deep breath and fastened it behind her neck, tucking it under her shirt. The feather pressed cool and solid against her chest, and the sensation managed to bring her some small comfort, even when Professor Grant called the champions to gather around.

“Come now, champions, make a circle around me. You know what a circle is, right?” Professor Grant said, and Kara, Lex, and Mon-el shuffled together around the petite woman. “Well, colour me impressed. The answer to what the three of you will be facing is in this bag. Mr. Daxam, you will be going first, let’s hurry this along.”

Professor Grant held a velvet pouch out to each of them in turn. Mon-el pulled out a tiny version of the real thing he would be facing: a Swedish Shortsnout. Next, Lex withdrew a Chinese Fireball. Professor Grant held the bag out to Kara, and she swallowed nervously as she stuck her hand in and a particularly angry looking creature climbed onto her glove, snapping its jaw like a grumpy geriatric who’d just spotted some kids on his lawn.

“The Hungarian Horntail, Miss Davies. Good luck with that one,” she said, and Kara grimaced as her tiny dragon screeched ferociously. “The task will begin at the sound of the cannon. When that happens—” Professor Grant was cut off by the loud booming sound of a cannon outside, and Mon-el turned pale. “Well, that’s your cue, Mr. Daxam. Off you go. Please do your best not to die out there; the cleanup alone would be an absolute nightmare, not to mention the paperwork.” Professor Grant sighed as she directed Mon-el out, leaving Lex and Kara alone together in the tent.

Kara shifted awkwardly beside the tall boy and distracted herself by watching her miniature Horntail, which was snarling and snapping its teeth as it clambered over her fingers.

She hadn’t been this close to Lex since they’d been chosen. Since he’d turned to her and said he was responsible for putting her name in the goblet. Since then, she’d mulled the reasons Lex would do something like this over and over in her head, trying to figure out why. The way he’d looked at her when he saw her with Lena was what she kept coming back to. He was jealous, like a child throwing a tantrum after another kid played with his toy.

That notion only made Kara angrier, because Lena wasn’t a toy, and now everything was ruined because of Lex’s misplaced possessiveness. He’d succeeded, for now, in cutting her friendship with Lena off before it could grow into anything substantial. The way he sauntered around the castle with Lena in tow told Kara he was quite pleased with himself for it. Kara knew this wasn’t what Lena wanted, she could see it in the girl’s eyes as she meekly followed after her brother from place to place. If she knew what Lex had done...she’d be done with him. Kara had to believe that.

Kara sighed, more than a little frustrated. This year was supposed to be about figuring herself out before graduation, about training for quidditch season, about spending time with her friends before they spun off in different directions all across the wizarding world. But no. Thanks to Lex, now she had to face a dragon. Great.

“Lena told me you informed her about the dragons.” Lex said, startling Kara out of her thoughts. His voice was cool, like the still water of a lake just before a storm. She tensed, staring straight ahead rather than looking at him.

“If there’s a thank you hidden in there somewhere, you’re welcome. I’m sure you’d have done the same for me,” Kara said stiffly.

Lex scoffed. “You really don’t know me at all.”

Kara’s tiny dragon climbed its way up to her shoulder, where it perched and narrowed its yellow eyes at Lex. Kara mirrored the mini dragon’s expression, feeling anger she’d kept a tight lid on since being chosen surging within her.

“This is all going to backfire on you, Lex,” she said curtly. “Lena won’t forgive you for what you did to me, and for keeping us apart. She’s lonely, Lex. You might think you’re enough for her, but you’re not.”

“You don’t know the first thing about my sister,” Lex growled, shoulders tense.

“You put me here,” Kara glowered, fists clenched. “And for what?”

“To keep her safe—”

“The only person Lena needs protection from, is you,” Kara glowered, heart thrumming in her chest as the words landed. They were practically nose to nose now, Lex’s steely grey eyes piercing into Kara’s fiery blues, and Kara’s dragon snapped at him from beside her ear. Kara ground her teeth together, exhaled harshly and dropped her shoulders.

“But...Lena still cares about you. You’re her brother, after all,” Kara conceded. “That’s the only reason I haven’t told her what you did, but I won't keep quiet forever. She has to know. She doesn’t deserve to be lied to, least of all by someone who is supposed to love her.”

Lex’s nostrils flared, his jaw grinding as he held Kara’s gaze. There was icy silence for a long moment. “If you’ll excuse me. I need to prepare myself,” Lex finally hissed. He strode to the opposite corner of the tent, where he sat cross-legged on the ground, his eyes sliding shut.

Kara stood tensely in the middle of the tent for a moment before she shuffled over to a bench, doing her best to ignore Lex as he meditated or psyched himself up or did whatever he was doing to prepare himself, his hands clasped under his chin as he murmured nonsensically under his breath.

She hoped maybe she’d scared him, just a little. Perhaps, blinded by his confidence in Lena’s dependence on him, he hadn’t seriously considered that Lena might not forgive him if she knew what he had done. Ultimately, it seemed to Kara as if Lena was the one person who had power over him...if only she could see it.

Kara rolled her eyes at Lex’s dramatic display of preparing himself, and instead listened to the roars of the dragon Mon-el was facing and the screams and cheers from the audience. From what she could piece together of Leslie Willis’ commentating, Mon-el had used a summoning charm to obtain his broomstick, which he then used to snatch the egg from under the dragon’s nose. Kara frowned slightly, almost wishing she had thought of that. She certainly would have felt better if she had her broom with her. Minutes later, a deafening cheer came from the crowd, suggesting that Mon-el had been successful in retrieving his egg.

The cannon sounded again, and Lex pushed himself up from the ground, rolling his neck around as he stretched his arms out. He caught Kara’s eye for a final glower before he disappeared from the tent, leaving Kara alone with her pounding heart and tossing stomach.

Now, with no distractions from her nerves, Kara’s nails suffered the wrath of her picking as she heard a particularly nasty growl from the stadium outside, followed by the unmistakable roar of flames. Leslie announced that Lex had used a fire protection potion, and was practically just walking towards the dragon to get the egg. He was in the ring for barely five minutes when the gong sounded, announcing his success. Show off, Kara huffed to herself, rolling her eyes.

But now it was Kara’s turn.

Suppressing the urge to throw up, she stood by the door of the tent and waited for the cannon. She closed her eyes, counted her breaths. Imagined Alex beside her, squeezing her hand when things got too loud, too bright, too much. Thought of her friends and her school, all cheering for her, probably dressed in some ridiculous ‘team Kara’ apparel that would make her smile despite its gaudiness. Pushed her hand flat against her chest, feeling the feather necklace through the fabric of her robes as she pressed it against her skin, and couldn’t help but think of Lena, silently wishing her well and giving her strength.

The boom of the canon rang out in her ears, and Kara shakily stepped out into the light.

*

The autumn sun was blinding, and Kara blinked in the light as she took a moment to gather her bearings. The arena was a large circle of rocky terrain. It was more exposed than Kara would have liked, with only a few jagged rocks jutting up from the earth and deep crevasses providing opportunities for cover. Rubble and scorch marks all over the arena evidenced Mon-el and Lex’s preceding battles.

Kara swallowed thickly at the sight of the destruction. She timidly scanned the new landscape before her in search of the Hungarian Horntail she was due to face. It wasn’t long before she locked eyes with the largest, most fearsome beast she’d ever seen, as it peered down at her from atop a tall roost of craggy rocks.

No amount of reading could have prepared Kara for the sheer size and monstrousness of the creature. The enormous dragon crouched low over her clutch of eggs, leathery black wings half-furled over her back like a battered umbrella, spiked tail thrashing in the air as she stared straight at Kara with dangerous, yellow eyes.

She was beautiful, Kara thought. Terrifying, but beautiful.

She was also a mother protecting her babies, and Kara was an intruder in her home—which was the absolute last thing any sane person would want to be with regards to a dragon.

Remembering her plan, Kara immediately thrust her head down in a deep bow, the force of it causing her glasses to slip down her nose. She’d learned that dragons were proud, regal creatures, so Kara wanted to make it clear she was merely a humble servant.

The Horntail bristled and snarled in frustration, torn between whether or not Kara presented a significant enough threat to warrant leaving her nest to attack—which was exactly what Kara was counting on. The other dragons wouldn’t have had much of a choice to make. The boys had launched into action, making their intentions clear. But Kara knew better. At the end of the day, dragons were creatures, just like her skrewts. They had patterns of behaviour and specific motivations, and Kara had made sure to learn them back to front.

The Horntail wouldn’t leave her nest unless she had a good reason. Kara planned to give her one; one that didn’t involve roasting her. Hopefully.

The crowd was completely silent, or perhaps Kara was just good at blocking them out. The only sound she registered was that of her own blood pumping in her ears. She looked up into the Horntail’s yellow eyes and slowly edged to the left, her hand gripping tightly onto her wand in her pocket.

“Nice Horntail,” she murmured under her breath as she took slow, careful steps, gravel shifting beneath her feet. “I know you think I’m here to steal your babies, but I promise you, I just want that shiny one. The one that definitely isn’t yours, okay?” A large stone protruded up from the rocky plane, and she inched her way towards it.

“I know you’re only protecting your babies,” Kara continued. The Horntail watched her closely, smoke curling out of its snout. Speaking in this low, calm voice helped keep Kara’s own nerves under control. She could almost pretend she was handling her skrewts, telling them about her day in the afternoon sun. “Trust me, I want to be here even less than you do.” The Horntail made a deep, rumbling sound in its throat.

When she reached the rock, it took every ounce of self control she possessed not to throw herself behind it and hide. But, that would have certainly resulted in agitating the dragon, so she remained in full view of the creature, no matter how much her every survival instinct screamed at her to do the opposite.

Thinking about it, drawing the Horntail had been a stroke of luck. While, yes, they were the more ferocious breed of the three, they also had the strongest hoarding instinct. Kara planned on making this instinct work in her favour.

Slowly, she drew her wand. She kept one eye trained on the Horntail as she transfigured the rock into a huge pile of treasure. Where the rock had stood, was now an alluring mountain of golden coins and shiny gemstones. Coins tinkled lightly as they scattered across the ground, rolling down into crevasses in the arena.

Kara didn’t get much time to admire the product of her work, as the dragon reared up on its haunches and let out a blood-curdling screech. The ground shook under the beast’s weight when it landed back on all fours. The dragon’s tail pierced the sky as, slowly, it clambered down from the nest, jaw snapping and talons scraping jagged scars into the earth.

Panicked, Kara sharply ducked back down into a deep bow, eyes trained on the ground in an overt display of submission. The hairs on the back of Kara’s neck stood on end as she felt the dragon drawing near. Each step was a minor earthquake that rattled Kara’s bones.

Kara was thrust into darkness. The dragon was right in front of her, and had blocked out the sun. Kara’s heart pounded in her ears as she felt the dragon steadily lower its enormous, spiked head towards her. Its breath was hot and humid on her back. A sticky gob of saliva landed on her neck, but still she did not move. A bead of sweat trickled down her nose, darkening the ground where it spattered. Kara screwed her eyes shut tight.

This is ridiculous, she thought. I can’t believe this is how I die. This whole thing is insane. Who even thought making seventeen year olds fight a dragon was a good idea?? I can’t believe Lena is going to watch me die, this is so embarrassing…

A low, rumbling sound came from deep within the dragon’s throat. Kara tensed every muscle in her body, bracing herself for the inevitable…

Cool air hit the back of Kara’s neck, and the oppressive heat from the dragon’s breath was gone.

She cracked one eye open to see the Horntail had moved to investigate the pile of treasure, and was running a sharp talon over the transfigured golden coins. Kara could have melted into the floor right then, and she had to clamp a hand over her mouth to stifle a sharp gasp of relief.

Her mind was reeling from how close she had just been, but she forced herself to remain calm. Forced three measured breaths in, and out, before she straightened and adjusted her glasses on her face with renewed focus.

The egg was only a short distance away. Making a run for it briefly crossed her mind, but that was far too risky. A dragon would beat her in a foot race hands down, not to mention the fact that it could breathe fire. Kara decided instead to stick to the outskirts of the arena.

Every rock she crept over felt like Mount Everest, and she kept shooting glances back over her shoulder to make sure the Horntail was still preoccupied with the treasure. Kara froze with one foot propped up on a boulder when the Horntail made a strange guttural croaking sound as it picked up a particularly large ruby. The dragon seemed pleased, however, and set the stone aside in a special pile, then continued rifling through the gold coins. Kara exhaled shortly, and continued her climb.

After what felt like an eternity (it was really only a minutes), she was almost there. Her arms ached and protested as she finally pulled herself up over a final ridge that put her on top of a large, slanted slab of rock that angled down into the nest. A quick glance back at the dragon confirmed that the creature was still happily preoccupied. All she had to do was shimmy down this rock, and the egg would be hers.

Kara lowered herself into a crouch and began to shuffle down the rock, inch by agonising inch. Her heart threatened to beat right out of her chest as she got closer, her eyes darting between the rock and the dragon and the golden egg. She she was so close it hurt. Just a little further—

Her foot slipped on a loose piece of gravel. Her forehead hit the ground as she twisted around in a last ditch effort to regain her footing, but her hands clawed uselessly at the flat rock, finding no purchase as she was sent sliding down and tumbled straight into the dragon’s nest.

The Horntail’s head whipped around at the disturbance and its eyes blazed furiously upon seeing Kara right in the middle of the nest, surrounded by her eggs. A horrible screech ripped from the dragon’s throat and it and opened its mouth to unleash a torrent of blazing hellfire right at Kara.

Kara acted purely on instinct, reflexes honed through years of quidditch training kicking in and she thrust her wand out in front of her body, shouted “Protego!”.

A transparent barrier burst out from the tip of her wand just as the roaring flames slammed into it. The force of the impact required Kara to grip onto her wand with both hands to maintain the spell. Scorching hot fire spewed relentlessly from the Horntail’s mouth, gushing up and around the defensive barrier as it endlessly buffeted Kara’s shield.

Kara clenched her eyes shut tight in the face of the orange flames and in a flash she was nine years old again, watching the village she would spend the rest of her life convincing herself she hadn’t dreamed up burn.

She was a child, and her world was in flames. Fire was everywhere. Licking at her skin, burning in her lungs, blazing even behind the lids of her eyes. The screams of her parents, of her friends, of her entire village echoed in her ears. Her home was destroyed, everything was burning, everything was gone. The screams rung out over and over, and Kara could feel herself drowning in them, could feel herself slipping away…

But something brought her back and kept her there, tethered to reality. Something solid, and cool, hanging around her neck. Kara’s eyes snapped open, wrenching herself out of the black chasm of her memories, and darted wildly past the flames that assaulted her shield, desperately searching the crowd until—there.

Alex.

The older Danvers’ eyes were wide and blown with fear as she stood out of her seat, practically dangling over the barrier that separated the crowd and the arena.

Then Kara felt something in her chest, a feeling she never thought she would feel again. Something she hadn’t felt since she practiced magic with Aunt Astra in her backyard in Krypton. A connection she felt when she walked through the woods at the base of Mount Rao, hand in hand with her mother and father. A warmth, a deep and ancient power, curling out from the chambers of her heart, making every cell in her body feel like it was an exploding sun.

Kara snapped back into herself, noticed her shield had reduced significantly in size with her brief slip in concentration. Crying out, she directed all of the white hot energy exploding inside of her into building the shield back up again, running her throat ragged as she screamed and screamed until the dragon closed its mouth and, all at once, the flames ended.

Kara’s cry rang out in the stadium and her shield shattered and disappeared. Her wand dropped by her side and she collapsed down onto one knee as her palm slammed into the ground beneath her, creating a network of deep cracks that spiderwebbed out from the point of impact. A warm trickle of blood dripped down the side of her face.

Everything around her was scorched and smoking. Everything, except for a small circle around her, where she and the nest remained perfectly safe, protected by her shield charm.

Kara lifted her chin to look into the dragon’s eyes, her shoulders rising and falling with the effort of laboured breaths. The fury seemed to slowly drain from the dragon, and Kara cautiously gripped her wand as the Horntail moved its great head…and lowered it, into what certainly looked like a bow—but it couldn’t be, could it? But it was. The dragon was bowing to her, there was no doubt about it.

Kara couldn’t quite describe it as anything else but a moment of silent, profound understanding passing between her and the beast as it slowly blinked its eyes at her, as though giving her permission. She crouched slowly and reached for the golden egg. It was smooth and cool in her hands, and she brought it close to her chest.

The gong sounded. Six dragon keepers rushed out into the arena, hitting the dragon with simultaneous stunning spells. The first task was over.

*

The moments just after she secured the egg were a chaotic blur. Kara was ushered out of the arena and into a small medical tent to the side, where Madam M’orzz fussed over her. She was stripped out of her dirty robes and smudged glasses, left in a plain cotton undershirt and her underwear, then steered to a bed and made to sit down as she was checked over for cuts and burns. She was unharmed aside from scratches on her arms a cut over her brow from her fall, to which Madame M’orzz applied a rather unpleasant smelling balm and some bandages.

Despite the adrenaline coursing through her veins from the event, Kara was completely spent. She felt weak and exhausted and incredibly small. She crossed her legs on the bed, drawing into herself as she cradled the golden egg in her lap. She remained there, still and silent, until James and Alex burst into the tent, getting in each other’s way as they rushed up to Kara’s bed.

“Kara!” Alex gasped and examined her thoroughly with intense brown eyes. “You’re alright,” she sighed, shoulders sagging with relief as she appeared to be satisfied that Kara was unharmed. “Kara, that was—I don’t even know what to say. I mean, you were amazing but—” Alex lost the battle with her trembling lip and sobbed into Kara’s shoulder, mumbling something about “my baby sister all grown up and fighting dragons”.

Kara sagged into Alex’s embrace and rubbed soothing circles on her sister’s back, concentrating on that single motion as everything around her remained hazy.

James beamed at her and Kara was grateful that he chose to hug his arms around himself instead of adding to Alex’s smothering. “That was incredible. Totally badass. You’re going to win this task for sure, Kara!”

Kara blinked back at him and his words didn’t quite compute. “I nearly died, James. Twice.”

(This reminder sent a fresh wave of sobs through Alex and Kara shushed her gently).

James’ grin widened gleefully. “None of the other champions got their dragon to bow to them. I don’t think that’s happened to any witch or wizard, like, ever. You’re amazing, Kara.” He ducked his head and looked at her with sincerity in his eyes. “There’s no way I could have done anything like that. You really are the best champion Hogwarts could have.”

“I just got lucky,” Kara said quietly. “But thank you, James. That means a lot to me.”

Alex emerged from Kara’s shoulder with puffy eyes and blotchy cheeks and swiped at her dripping nose with her sleeve. “All right. All right, I’m good,” she sniffed.

Kara’s eyes drifted down to rest on the golden egg in her lap. She ran fingers over its smooth surface, until her nails caught in one of the vertical grooves that ran the length of the egg.

“I saw Krypton, Alex,” she murmured quietly. “You brought me back. You...and this,” she tugged the necklace Lena had given her out from under her shirt, gripping it tight. She lifted her eyes up to Alex, who gazed back at her with worry sheening her eyes.

“Oh, Kara…are you okay?”

Kara swallowed thickly, nodding as her sister put her arm over her shoulders, pulling her close. “I will be,” she said. “I felt something, Al,” she whispered, chin tipping up towards her sister. “Something inside of me. Something I didn’t think I would ever feel again.”

Alex was puzzled by Kara’s vague tone. “What do you mean?” she asked gently.

Kara examined her palm, the one that had shattered the earth. By all reason, her hand should have broken. But here it was, completely intact. Kara sucked in a breath, gave her head a dismissive shake as she pushed it aside. “I suppose I’m just a little shaken. Seeing Krypton like that...it never gets easier.”

Alex gave her a squeeze, rubbing her arm up and down in that specific ‘Alex’ way that always managed to comfort Kara. “I know.”

James was standing at the entrance to the tent, gazing out into the arena. “Kara,” he said, head popping back inside, “they’re about to announce your scores. Don’t you want to come see?”

Kara hesitated before shaking her head. “I think I’d rather be alone for a bit,” she said, and Alex gave her a wary look before breathing an understanding sigh. She squeezed her shoulders one more time before getting up and settling her hands on her hips.

“There’ll be a party in the Hufflepuff common room tonight,” Alex said with a tight frown. “I can tell them to cancel, if you’d rather have some peace and quiet.”

Pure affection for her sister pulled Kara’s lips into a wan smile. “Hufflepuff party versus Alex Danvers? Immovable object, meet unstoppable force.”

“I have my ways, Kara, you know that,” Alex said seriously and Kara gave her head a light shake.

“I’ll be okay for the party. I imagine I’ll be starving by then anyway,” she said and flashed a grin for Alex’s sake. Alex finally softened and nodded in resignation. “Go on, I still want you guys to tell me how I scored,” Kara urged. James flashed her a quick thumbs up before he flung an arm around Alex’s shoulders and steered her back out of the tent.

Kara sighed and rested back on the pillows, finally allowing her eyes to drift shut. To her immense relief, there was no fire, no screaming, no terror. Just peaceful nothingness. The golden egg weighed comfortably on Kara’s legs, and she stroked its smooth surface, almost meditatively. In a way, she understood the dragon’s protectiveness of the egg. She, herself, wouldn't be happy at all if someone came along and tried to take it from her right now.

She reached for the necklace Lena had given her, holding the feather out in front of her so she could examine it. It was the same dusky pink colour of Lillian’s wings, only Lena’s enchantment made it rigid and shiny. It caught and reflected the light when Kara twisted it at certain angles.

She ran the pad of her thumb down the length of the feather, and the feeling of each ridge and groove instilled her with an inexplicable sense of peace. Her eyes closed again as she laid her head back, and she lulled herself into such deep calm—a calm she hadn’t felt ever since her name was spat out from the goblet—she almost fell asleep.

She certainly would have fallen asleep, had she not become aware that there was a person in the tent, and that person was watching her.

Kara glared out of one eye, ready to be irritated with somebody, but gave a small start when she saw who it was, irritation dissipating instantly.

“Lena,” she breathed, the name rolling effortlessly off her tongue.

“Hi,” Lena said. She appeared uncertain, which was an unusual look for the Beauxbatons girl who always carried herself with such poise. But now, she stood before Kara, all shifting feet and cautious looks in jeans and a chunky woollen sweater with the sleeves twisted into her fists. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb you. You seem…peaceful.”

A lazy smile stretched across Kara’s lips. “I was—I mean, I am,” she amended. “Funny how facing a dragon will do that to you. Very relaxing. You should give it a try sometime,” she said wryly with a lopsided grin.

Lena gave a little laugh, the kind that slipped out unexpectedly and made her nose scrunch up.

“I’ll pass, Kara. You made it look terrifying enough. Honestly, I think I aged about fifteen years just watching you,” she admitted with an anxious shudder. Lena’s cheeks were marked with half-moon shaped indentations from where she must have clutched at them in fear.

Kara couldn’t help but tease her for it. “You were worried about me? That’s a bit cute.”

Lena’s brows twitched together into a slight frown and she didn’t dignify Kara with a response.

“How’s your brother?” Kara asked, and Lena seemed relieved for the change of subject.

“He’s fine. The dragon caught his shoulder, which put him in a bit of a fowl mood—he’s quite the perfectionist like that,” Lena said with a lamenting sigh.

“Well, he has a reputation to uphold, doesn’t he?”

Lena tutted her tongue bitterly and rolled her eyes. “No need to remind me of that,” she muttered.

Kara shuffled over on the bed and nodded her head towards the empty space indicatively. Lena hesitated, but only for a moment, before she sat down next to Kara. Electric green eyes wandered over Kara’s person, softening upon seeing the necklace still caught between Kara’s thumb and forefinger. “You wore it,” she breathed, with something like relief and awe filling her voice.

“I did,” Kara nodded. Her grip tightened around it as she thought of how it had brought her back into the arena when her memories threatened to swallow her whole. How it had served as an anchor in the fiery chaos that surrounded her. “I suppose it really is lucky,” she murmured.

“Perhaps it is,” Lena said and took a thoughtful pause. “You did win, after all.”

Kara blinked back at her for a few seconds. “Really?”

“Really.”

Kara balked and shook her head in disbelief. “No way. I slipped and fell at the worst possible moment like an idiot, and I definitely took the longest out of the three of us.”

“Kara, you got a dragon to bow to you,” Lena stated plainly. “And that was an incredibly powerful shield charm too; the judges were very impressed.”

“Hm,” Kara hummed and took a moment to process everything. She had won the first task. If she was completely honest, she’d been so focused on surviving, the fact that winning was even an option had barely crossed her mind.

“It’s important to me that I can protect the people I care about,” she said quietly, thumbing the necklace in her fingers. “When we learned shield charms in Defence Against the Dark Arts, I got Professor Prince to work on them with me outside of class for two weeks. I guess I can say all that effort was worth it.”

“Definitely,” Lena breathed, nodding resolutely. She examined Kara carefully once again, brow furrowing when her eyes landed on the bandage over Kara’s brow. “You’re hurt,” she observed.

“Oh, it’s nothing,” Kara insisted, “I must have cut it when I fell.”

Lena’s hand reached out, but hesitated and stilled just inches away. “May I?” she asked, and Kara swallowed and nodded. Lena gently lifted the bandage up and examined Kara’s cut. Kara hardly dared to move, completely transfixed by the way Lena’s pink lips parted slightly as she looked her over.

Lena replaced the bandage and gave a satisfied nod. “Your healer is very skilled. You’ll heal up perfectly in no time,” she appraised.

Kara released a breath she didn’t realise she had been holding and gave a lame little laugh. “So, no badass scar then?”

“I’m afraid not,” Lena replied, amused.

“Damn. I really need some help in that department, too,” she joked, and Lena laughed. Kara sighed, a gentle smile in place on her lips. This was easy, she thought. Being around Lena, just being with Lena. Kara couldn’t bear the thought of not having this, not for anything, and the memory of her words with Lex came crashing down on her with new weight.

“Hey, Lena?” she asked, breaking the silence that had fallen around them.

“Yes?”

Kara shifted so she was in more of an upright position. Her hands ached to fiddle with her glasses which lay frustratingly on the bedside table, so she placed them on the egg in her lap instead as she looked into Lena’s eyes.

“You need to ask Lex why I’m in the tournament.”

Lena froze, her breath catching as she leaned away with a troubled expression. “Why?”

“Lena.” Kara spoke directly, her lips pressed together. “You must already know. Merlin knows, you’re smart enough. You just...you need to hear it from him.”

Lena’s throat bobbed as she swallowed thickly and whispered, “Kara…”

“Please,” Kara said, insistent, yet gentle. She laid a hand on top of Lena’s—and Lena surprised her by twining their fingers together, gripping on tight as she bit the inside of her cheek. “Just ask him.”

Lena exhaled shakily, and withdrew her hand sharply to swipe at barely formed tears when the flap of the tent lifted up and in walked Lex Luthor himself. The entire room took on an arctic chill as soon as he entered the space. His left arm was in a sling, and his grey eyes scanned over the pair of them, zeroing in on their proximity, and the way Kara’s hand was still extended towards Lena.

Kara didn’t react, other than by squeezing her necklace with one hand as Lex approached her bedside, glaring down his nose at her.

“Impressive performance out there, Danvers,” he sneered coolly. “You’re quite lucky you made it out alive. And, my my, that was an impressive display of power when you cracked the earth at the end. Tell me, what spell was that exactly?”

Lex’s eyes narrowed into slits, and Kara just stared right back, jaw taught.

“Residual energy from a shield charm. It’s been known to happen,” Kara answered, tone clipped.

Lex exhaled shortly as he stood over her, staring down his nose at her as he drew in close. “What are you?” he seethed, and Kara could feel his breath on her face.

Lex was forced back when Lena stood abruptly, inserting herself between the two of them. “We should let Kara rest,” she said, her voice making it sound like more of a command than a suggestion. “I expect the rest of our school will be having some sort of party to celebrate your performance.”

Lex scowled darkly. “I came in second, Lee. That’s hardly worth celebrating,” he muttered.

Lena gave a long-suffering sigh that said she was in no mood for this. “Just smile and drink your butterbeer, okay?”

“If you insist,” Lex said, rolling his eyes.

“I do,” Lena said, and Kara couldn’t see her eyes from where she was sitting, but they must have been flashing with something dangerous for Lex to shrug his shoulders like that. “Go on ahead, Lex. I’ll be right out.”

Lex gave a lengthy scowl before he turned on his heel and stalked out of the tent, the flap snapping in his wake. Lena exhaled shakily, her frame slumping as she turned around to face Kara again, drained from the effort it took to stand up to her brother. Kara couldn’t help but swell with pride.

“Sorry about that,” Lena mumbled as she pressed tenderly at her temples.

Kara swallowed, shivering at the way Lex had stared at her...like he was trying to see her insides, along with every secret about herself she had ever hidden away. She looked up at Lena with pleading eyes. “Lena, please. Talk to Lex.”

“I will,” Lena said, tight lipped, with a curt nod. “Congratulations on your win, Kara,” she said softly before she disappeared from the tent.

 

Chapter Text

When Kara and her golden egg pottered into the Hufflepuff common room after the task, the eagerly awaiting students cheered and begged her to open it to reveal the clue inside. Unable to resist the curiosity herself, she twisted the latch at the top of the egg—and instantly regretted it. What sounded like a chorus of screaming banshees ripped from the egg, making everyone in the room cover their ears until Kara struggled to clamp the egg shut.

“What the hell kind of clue is that supposed to be?” Alex gasped shakily, glaring out from the safety of underneath Maggie’s arm.

“Maybe…maybe I should try again,” Kara suggested optimistically, though altogether naively in hindsight. Winn always said something about ‘turning it off an on again’ to get muggle devices to work, so perhaps it would be the same with the egg. She undid the latch once again and the entire common room cried out when the screams erupted from the egg—only for a second as Kara immediately snapped it shut, casting a bashful glance around the room. “Nope, that didn’t work.”

“Okay, never open that thing near me again,” Alex seethed and rubbed sorely at her ears.

*

After a long night of celebrating, Kara was relieved to finally curl up in bed with the egg by her side. Inevitably, her thoughts wandered to the conversation she’d had with Lena, and she wondered if Lena really was going to find out the truth and how she would react when she did. Eventually, she settled into a restless sleep, her dreams filled with fire breathing dragons and Lex’s piercing stare, his icy voice echoing in her brain: what are you?

The owl was tapping on her window for almost a minute when she eventually blinked herself awake, scowling as she blearily swiped at the latch in complete disorientation. The cool night air shocked her out of her drowsy state as the handsome eagle owl hopped in and deposited the letter on her lap before flying off again.

Kara sat bolt upright. She would recognise that elegant handwriting anywhere, but only in her wildest fantasies had it ever spelled out her own name. After fumbling to place her glasses askew on her face, she tore open the envelope and smoothed out the paper, heart thumping as she read.

Kara,

I did as you asked. I can believe Lex would do such a thing, but I can’t believe how blind I was this whole time. I suppose I didn’t want to see the truth. I cannot forgive him for what he has done to you. The worst part is, he did it to protect me, or so he says. I don’t really know what to believe anymore. This whole thing is my fault, really. I’m sorry I pushed you away, when really you should have been the one pushing me away.
I can’t be in the same room as him right now, so I’ll stay with Lillian tonight, until I can arrange something more permanent tomorrow.
I just had to say I’m sorry. I am so sorry, Kara. I hope you can forgive me, but I understand if you can’t.

Lena.

Kara finished reading the letter once, and then twice, jaw clenching when she noticed the damp spots on the parchment. She read the letter until the words blurred before her eyes and she couldn’t think straight. Lena knew the truth now, and it seemed she was finally done with following after Lex. Kara’s thoughts ran furiously through her head, but one thing in the letter stuck out to her.

When Lena said she would stay with Lillian, did she mean Lillian as in her mother Lillian, or...no. Surely not.

Kara had to be sure.

Kara leapt out of bed and stuffed herself into her green Holyhead Harpies hoodie, grabbed her broomstick from under her bed and tiptoed out of the dormitory.

Kara was certainly no stranger to sneaking out of the castle at night (James and Alex had made sure of that throughout the years), so it didn’t take long for her to navigate the passageways, avoid the patrolling prefects, and slip out into the night. As soon as she was out in the open air, Kara kicked off on her broom and launched into the inky black sky.

The fifteen minute walk to the stables became a two minute flight, and in no time, she was touching down outside the doors. Orange light filtered out through the crack between the door and the floor. Kara hesitated for a second to take a steadying breath, before she pushed the door open and slipped inside.

The horses startled at her presence, heads poking up and nostrils flaring as she crept towards the source of the light: an enchanted flame flickering from within a jar at the entrance to Lillian’s stall at the end. Kara approached silently, and froze when she saw what was inside: Lillian, crouched on the ground, her wing folded protectively over Lena’s sleeping form as she huddled into her belly.

Kara’s chest clenched, and she propped her broomstick on the side of the stall before crouching beside Lena. Lillian snorted in indignant protest, and Kara patted her nose gently.

“Shh, shh, it’s me girl,” she murmured gently, and managed to calm her after a few moments. Kara indicated her wing tentatively. “Do you mind?”

Lillian blew out her lips as she lifted her wing, and Kara melted at the sight. Lena was soft and small, still in the jeans and sweater she had worn to the task, and hay stuck out of her dishevelled hair as she faced away from her.

“Lena?” Kara whispered gently and touched her shoulder—and then, a more strangled “Lena!” when Lena whirled around manically and pressed her wand to her throat.

“Kara?” Lena blinked, the wild look disappearing from her red-rimmed and puffy eyes.

“Yeah! Kara!” Kara gasped, rubbing at the point where Lena’s wand had pressed into flesh. “I got your owl,” she explained in response to Lena’s bewildered look. “You’re not spending the night here, on the ground,” she said, giving Lena her best pointed look (the one she learned from Alex and tried earnestly to replicate).

“I’m not going back to share a room with Lex. I’m not...I’m not speaking to him. I’d rather sleep on the floor. Lillian is perfectly comfortable, and at least she doesn’t lie to me,” Lena huffed stubbornly and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear, somehow managing to make it look dignified despite the straw that was jutting out at all angles.

Kara tilted her head to the side as she reached out a hand to gently remove a piece of straw sticking out just above her ear. Lena stilled, eyes wide and shining as the orange firelight danced across her face.

“You’ll freeze,” Kara said quietly.

“I have a fire.”

“You’ll get a sore back.”

“I’ll stretch it out in the morning.”

Kara gave her a stern look, which Lena answered with the stubborn tilt of her chin, a stalemate.

“I’m not leaving you here.”

“Well where else am I supposed to go?” Lena asked, throwing her hands up in exasperation.

Kara opened her mouth, and it was left gaping with a complete lack of a plan. She hadn't really thought about what her plan would be if she actually did find Lena here. But Lena was looking so downtrodden and Kara could not let that stand, so she folded her arms and puffed out her chest with faux confidence and answered, “With me, of course.”

“Kara…” Lena cast her eyes down, twisted at the sleeves of her jumper.

“I’m not leaving you here all night like some animal. No offence,” Kara tacked on when Lillian popped her head up and snorted indignantly.

Lena sighed, her resolve slipping from her shoulders. She bit her lip as her eyes wandered away from Kara, widening when they landed on her broomstick.

“You didn’t come here on that, did you?” she squeaked.

“Of course I did. It’s a long walk, and it’s freezing out there.” Kara stood up, brushing the dust and straw from her knees.

“I’m not getting on that thing,” Lena pouted, and Kara couldn’t help but laugh at the childish protrusion of her lower lip.

“Yes. You are. I’m not walking all the way back up to the castle in these.” Kara gestured down to her feet, which were encased in fuzzy black slippers complete with beady googly eyes and billed snouts.

Lena raised an eyebrow. “How stylish.”

“They’re Nifflers.”

“I see.”

“Come on.” Kara stifled a yawn as she tugged Lena up by the hand, picked up her broomstick and led her out of the stables where she stood astride her Nimbus 2000.

“Kara, I really don’t want to do this. Have I mentioned I hate flying?” Lena asked, her teeth chattering from both nerves and the cold.

Kara smiled reassuringly. “You’ll be fine, I promise. I won’t let anything happen to you. Just hold onto me really tight, okay?” Lena looked uncertain, but Kara really wasn’t giving her much of a choice, and then she was standing behind her, arms wrapping loosely around her waist. She angled her chin over her shoulder. “I said really tight,” she prompted gently, and Lena tightened her grip until her front was pressed flush against her back.

“That’s better,” Kara said, and focused her attention on her broom. “Hold on, and take a deep breath before we take off, and try your best not to slip off the back there. Three, two…”

Kara counted off, ignoring Lena’s shrill ‘wait, what?’, and on ‘one’, Lena let out a scream and clenched her arms even tighter around Kara’s waist, temporarily winding her. Kara gasped for breath, recovering once they were at her desired altitude and she levelled the broom out, glancing over her shoulder at Lena as they hovered in the air. Lena seemed to relax somewhat once the ascent was over, and loosened her grip just enough for Kara to breathe normally again.

“See?” Kara panted. “That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

“Tell me when it’s over,” Lena moaned, burying her head in between Kara’s shoulderblades.

Kara chuckled softly and directed her broom back towards the castle, travelling at a considerably slower speed than she normally would. She made the descent so gradual and smooth that when they touched down on the castle steps, Lena popped her head up with a surprised “Oh! We’re here already?”

Kara grinned smugly as she slung her broomstick over her shoulder. She tapped the nose of a lion statue by the wall three times with her wand. The lion became animated and made a noise somewhere between a yawn and a roar before it shifted lazily to the side to reveal a secret tunnel.

“After you,” Kara said, wearing a pleased grin as she dipped into a bow.

“Show-off,” Lena rolled her eyes, but not without a smile, and she brushed past Kara to enter the tunnel.

“Hey,” Kara chuckled, jogging a few paces to catch up as the statue slid the passageway shut. “I’m breaking like fifteen different rules to get you in here. A thankyou wouldn’t go amiss.”

Lena’s features were more striking than ever in the glow of wandlight, and Kara sucked in a breath when she turned to look at her, all cut jaw and bright eyes.

“Thank you, Kara. I mean it. You really didn’t have to do this...for me.”

“I did,” Kara replied, and her voice echoed down the tunnel.

Soon, Kara was tapping her wand on the barrel that revealed the entrance to the Hufflepuff common room, and she led Lena by the hand through the sloping, earthy passage until finally they were surrounded by warm honey tones of the common room’s decor and the cheerfully crackling fire.

“Uh, welcome,” Kara said, a little nervous now that the reality of what she was doing settled in. “Keep quiet, so we don’t wake the other girls.”

Kara eased the circular door that led to the seventh year girls’ dormitories open, and they tiptoed their way inside. She guided Lena to her four-post bed before rummaging around in her wardrobe to retrieve her Hufflepuff sweatshirt and a pair of tracksuit pants. There was no way she was going to let a hay-covered Lena sleep in her bed.

Kara thrust the clothes towards Lena and closed the curtains before she could protest. A minute later, Lena’s arm protruded from the curtains with her clothes neatly folded in her hand. Kara put them away before she, too, popped in. She drew the curtains shut behind her and cast a silencing charm around them before she turned back to Lena with a pleased grin.

“Not the first time you’ve brought someone into your bed?” Lena asked, and Kara sputtered.

“What? No,” She protested. “I’ve just learned from sneaking Alex in. Alex is my sister, in case you forgot,” she explained quickly, noticing the way Lena’s eyebrow inched higher towards her hairline, even in the dark. “I have trouble sleeping sometimes. Alex helps.”

“I see,” Lena hummed. “You two must be close. It seems...nice.”

“It is,” Kara answered, but didn’t say much more. She was overly conscious of the fact that Lena wasn’t in the best position with her own sibling right now.

Kara’s bed was spacious for one person, but unfortunately cramped for two, and they shuffled awkwardly around each other until they were laying down, shoulder to shoulder. When she devised her plan to get Lena out of the stables, she hadn’t really thought about the fact that Lena would be here. In her bed. Right next to her.

Gosh, she was warm. And soft. And so very close.

Kara’s palms were pressed to her side, and she stared straight up to the ceiling like she was under the effects of a full body-bind curse, hoping that Lena wouldn’t notice the marching band in her chest. Sure, she’d had sleepovers with girls before—Kara was a huge advocate for sleepovers as a bonding exercise—but this was Lena, and lying next to Lena felt unequivocally different. Other girls didn’t make Kara’s palms sweat, or her cheeks flush, or her pulse race, and for a moment Kara vaguely wondered if she was coming down with something because it certainly shouldn’t be this hot—

“Kara, you’re stiff as a board,” Lena murmured through the quiet, making Kara jolt in surprise.

“Yeah, well...you smell like horse,” was her reply, and she bulged her eyes at herself.

Thankfully, Lena just laughed softly, and shifted onto her side. Her face pressed up against Kara’s shoulder. “You smell like...maple syrup?”

“Oh. I probably have some on my jumper. Pancakes.”

“That doesn’t surprise me at all.”

Kara breathed a shaky laugh through her nose and it finally allowed her to relax, somewhat. Her shoulders loosened, and she settled more comfortably into the bed, taking a few calming breaths. In the quiet that enveloped them, everything that had occurred earlier in the day came flooding back. It hung over their heads like a dark cloud, and Kara felt the pressing need to say something.

“Did you yell at him?” is what Kara decided to lead with.

Lena was silent for a moment before she laughed sharply. “I’m more of a crier, to be honest.” She sighed and rubbed tiredly at her eyes. “He still doesn’t understand that what he did was wrong. He seemed to think I should be thankful to him, for whatever reason.”

“I can yell at him next time we see him, if you like,” Kara suggested helpfully, and Lena shook her head.

“I appreciate that, but it won’t help. He won’t listen. I just need to stay away, for now...it’s for the best. For both of us.”

“I’m so sorry,” Kara whispered. Lena went quiet, and Kara would have wondered if she had fallen asleep if not for the way the girl was twisting at the sleeves of her Hufflepuff sweatshirt.

“You’re sorry?” Lena finally asked. “Kara, you have nothing to be sorry for. I’m the one who should be sorry; I’m the reason you got caught up in all of this. You really should hate me.”

“Hate you? Lena, I couldn’t hate you,” Kara frowned.

“You should,” Lena said, much too insistently for Kara’s liking.

“But I don’t, and I don’t want to. Stop trying to convince me to hate you, it’s not going to work,” Kara said, and she could practically feel Lena scowling in the dark. She sighed and rolled onto her side, facing Lena now.

“I never wanted to be the champion. I still don’t want it, honestly. But if me going through this is what it takes for you to see that Lex isn’t the guy you think he is, then maybe...maybe it’s worth it.” Kara was braver in the dark; able to say things she struggled with when people could see her face, so she pressed on. “He might love you in his own head, Lena, but controlling you? Using you? Keeping you for himself? I’m sorry, but that’s doesn’t sound like love to me.”

Lena exhaled harshly through her nose and swallowed through the sting of the truth. “I suppose I don’t have much of a model for what love is. Nothing I do is ever good enough for Lillian, my father barely knows I exist, and I can’t even remember my real mother’s face.” Lena’s voice cracked through the dark, and Kara’s heart did too. “But when Lex looks at me...I don’t know. I feel special,” she admitted, shrugging her shoulders like she was ashamed.

“You are special. It doesn’t take much to see that,” Kara insisted. “But when you love someone, you want others to see how special they are, not hide them away.”

“I suppose…” Lena breathed. She was quiet for a moment, then hummed to herself. “There was someone. Someone who made me feel special, too. Her name was Victoria, and we were...close,” Lena murmured, and Kara’s ears pricked up at the hidden meaning in the word, but she didn’t say anything. Lena half laughed to herself, picking at a thread on the sleeve of Kara’s faded sweatshirt that she now wore herself.

“We were supposed to spend the summer researching together in the Alps. But on the day we were due to leave...she never showed up. Turns out, Lex offered her a position in father’s company—completely fake, of course—and she was gone, just like that. The second she thought she had what she wanted, she was gone. She got close to me for what I have, not who I am. Lex saw that. I didn’t. I became...a little distraught,” Lena confessed, with a self-deprecating laugh that made Kara ache. “Since then, I’ve always trusted that Lex knows what’s best for me. I’ve let him make my decisions for me for so long, but I just can’t do it anymore. All it’s brought me is loneliness and unhappiness. And now he’s hurt you, and I can't forgive him. I won't.”

Kara nodded, incredibly relieved to hear the determination in Lena’s voice. “You won’t be doing this alone. I’ll be right there with you,” she promised, then added lightly, “You can meet my friends too, if you want. They’ll like you.”

Lena took a thoughtful pause. “I think I’d like that very much.”

The silence they settled into was more comfortable this time, the air cleared by Lena’s newfound resolve and Kara’s support, and disturbed only when Kara let a yawn escape her lips.

“You must be tired,” Lena noted.

“A little,” Kara acquiesced, rubbing at her eyes.

“You did face a dragon today.”

“Just another Tuesday, really.”

“We should sleep.”

“Okay. Sleep. Let’s do that.” Kara shifted onto her back, adjusting until she was settled back into the pillows, hyper conscious of the press of Lena’s form into her side. “Um...are you comfortable?”

“Erm—yeah, sort of. Just—your elbow. Do you mind?”

Kara went limp as Lena removed her elbow from her side and, after a brief moment of not knowing what to do with the arm she now held, placed it behind her back.

Kara swallowed, tried not to let on how hot her cheeks were burning, or how her stomach was doing somersaults. “Is that better?” she asked, voice catching.

Lena nodded and hummed to the affirmative, Kara’s repositioned arm causing her to shift closer into Kara’s side. “Is this okay?”

“Definitely.” Kara curled her fingers loosely into the back of Lena’s sweater.

***

Kara took the egg from the task with her everywhere she went over the next week.

She even commissioned Winn to fashion a sling for it, so she could carry it around easier. In fact, she grew rather fond of it, and had taken to telling it about her thoughts and feelings, making sure it was warm and comfortable, and tucking it in next to her when she went to sleep.

Lena shuddered when she saw it sat on their desk in potions class one afternoon. “Get that thing away from me,” she said venomously. “I can’t even look at it.”

“Hey,” Kara pouted and held her egg protectively. “What did it ever do to you?”

Lena sighed as she dropped her books heavily on the table. “Lex is losing his mind over that cursed thing. He’s up all night, trying different spells and bathing it in different potions to try and get it to talk to him. Our whole school has been waking up every couple of hours to those horrible screams every night for the past week,” Lena moaned with a grimace. “But, of course, mother won’t make him stop. Nothing but the best working environment for the golden boy,” she muttered darkly and rolled her eyes.

“Oh,” Kara said sympathetically. After staying with Kara that night after the task, Lena had arranged to room with Jess. As far as Kara knew, she hadn’t spoken a word to Lex. Which would explain the even filthier looks Lex had been sending her way while Lena sat with her and her friends during meals and in the library.

Now that Lena brought it up, Kara noticed that Lena and the other Beauxbatons students did look significantly more…haggard than their usual supermodel states. Dark circles shadowed Lena’s eyes, wisps of hair fell loose from a messy bun piled haphazardly on top of her head, and her blue blazer was buttoned up all wrong. It was...altogether endearing, despite being a little worrying.

“Please tell me you’ve had some luck with your egg,” Lena asked, sounding desperate.

“Unfortunately, no,” Kara lamented with a sigh. She had opened the egg again a couple of times since that first night—alone, out in the quidditch pitch—but still only the unearthly screams rang out. “But,” Kara perked up cheerily, “I figure if I look after it like mama dragon would have, it’ll talk to me eventually.”

Lena eyed the egg skeptically and tutted her tongue with little confidence. “Good luck with that.”

“Speaking of which, budge over. Shelly likes to be close to the cauldron where it’s warm.”

Lena stared blankly at her. “Shelly?”

“Uh, yeah. Because of the shell?” Kara explained slowly.

“I get the pun, Kara. I’m just a little surprised you went with ‘Shelly’ when ‘Eggsavier’ was right there.”

Kara’s jaw dropped open in disbelief as Lena smirked and, nonetheless, scooted her chair over. “Well…too bad Shelly is a girl,” she huffed stubbornly and placed the egg by the cauldron, giving it an affectionate pat.

“You are so...strange,” Lena said, but it was with a certain amount of affection that made Kara blush. “I’m going to take a nap,” Lena decided, stifling a yawn. “You’ll be fine, Kara, it’s just a simple memory potion. I have complete faith in you,” she added, noticing how Kara’s eyes went wide with distress at the thought of having to make a potion without Lena’s guidance.

Lena laid her head down on her books, folding her hands under her cheek for support. Her eyes were already drifting shut. “There’s just one thing you need to remember. It’s very important that you…” Lena trailed off into a yawn, mumbled something nonsensical, and proceeded to drift off, her shoulders rising and falling with deep, heavy breaths.

Kara blinked at Lena in shock, not quite sure what to do. “Lena,” she whispered through her teeth. “What was the important thing I’m supposed to do? Or not do? Lena!” she hissed urgently.

“Stop talking,” Lena groaned. She frowned drowsily and swatted limply in the air, catching Kara right in the face as she pushed her away.

(Kara definitely ended up doing the opposite of whatever Lena would have told her. Lena had to spend three hours after class leading an amnesiac Kara around the castle, making sure she didn’t fall off any moving staircases or wander into the Forbidden Forest, answering questions such as “who am I? Why are those paintings moving? Who are you? Golly, you must be the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen...”)

*

An announcement one evening by Professor Grant saw to it that Kara had more to worry about than a hidden message contained within an egg.

“Attention, students, I am speaking, why do I have anything less than everyone’s undivided attention right now?” she raised a cool brow as she stood up abruptly, right in the middle of dessert. Within seconds, every student had stopped what they were doing and were completely focused on Professor Grant with equal measures of fear and respect. Kara, herself, had frozen with a huge bite of apple pie in her mouth, and didn’t even chew as Professor Grant spoke.

Professor Grant waited until every eye was trained on her, and then paused a few moments longer purely for dramatic effect. “Much better. Now, I am an incredibly busy woman so I may have neglected to mention an event that is coming up shortly—the Yule Ball!”

A collective intake of breath swept around the room and excited tittering burst up in little pockets at the tables until Professor Grant brought silence once again with a levelling stare.

“It’s Triwizard tournament tradition, I really shouldn’t have to explain it. It’s a ball, and it’s at Yule time, that’s really all you need to know. The event is open to fourth years and above who wish to stay over the Christmas Holidays. It will be a chance for you youths to expel some of your, ah. Restless energies. That’s all.”

With that, Professor Grant retook her seat, and the hall dissolved into delighted squeals and chatter about balls and dresses and dates. Meanwhile, Kara preoccupied herself with her pie.

“This is my chance,” James said, eyes filled with determination as he gazed across the room to the Slytherin table. “I’m finally gonna ask Lucy out.”

“Wanna bet James makes a stuttering mess in front of her?” Maggie asked, head ducked conspiringly towards Alex.

“You’re on, Sawyer. Five galleons says he trips over something,” Alex grinned.

Lena, who now sat with Kara and her friends more often than not, caught Kara’s eye across the table, a peculiarly shy expression on her face. Her lips tugged into a small smile that sent butterflies into Kara’s stomach, and Kara was blushing into her pie when a tiny first year pulled on the sleeve of her robe.

“Professor Grant would like to speak to you,” the tiny boy, who must have been one of Professor Grant’s minions, squeaked. “Please don’t keep her waiting,” he added, face turning pale.

“Right. Thank you,” Kara said, swallowing her last bite.

Professor Grant fixed her with a questioning look when Kara approached the teacher’s table. “Can I help you?”

Kara faltered and fidgeted with her glasses. “Er. You wanted to speak to me?”

“Oh yes,” Professor Grant said and dabbed delicately at her mouth with a napkin. “It’s about the ball. Miss Davies, you and your partner—”

It was a stupid thing to do, but Kara interrupted Professor Grant. “Wait a second, partner?”

Professor Grant’s lips tightened into an irritated frown. “Yes, your dance partner. For the dance. The Yule Ball is a dance. Honestly, is this an educational institution I’m running here or some sort of glorified daycare centre for magical teenagers?” she asked nobody in particular, and Kara really hoped she wasn’t expecting a response.

“I, erm…” Kara mumbled, shifting from one foot to another, “I won’t need a partner, Professor Grant, I—I don’t dance.”

Professor Grant raised an unimpressed brow. “Now that’s funny. I don’t remember me saying this was an optional activity, do you?”

“I, ah…no.”

“That’s what I thought,” Professor Grant said coolly and fixed Kara with a penetrating stare. “It is tradition for the champions and their partners to open the Yule Ball. You will find yourself a suitable partner and you will learn to dance in order to represent Hogwarts. I will not be embarrassed in front of that smug Durmstrang headmaster Perry White,” she scowled, then muttered, “He thinks he’s so great because his champion is some sort of elite sports person.” Kara watched as Professor Grant glanced down the table to catch the eye of the Durmstrang headmaster. He beamed brightly and waved, which Professor Grant returned with an obviously fake smile before rolling her eyes back at Kara. “Prick. Anyway. Don’t let me down.”

Kara blinked back at Professor Grant, mouth goldfishing for a solid few seconds.

Professor Grant returned to her strawberry cheesecake and glanced up at Kara as she sucked daintily on her fork. “Why are you still standing here? Shoo!”

*

It seemed that all anyone in the castle could talk about for the following couple of weeks was the Yule Ball. Specifically, about who was going with who. Kara watched as, one by one, all of her friends paired up around her.

James bucked up and asked Lucy the day after the ball was announced. Amazingly, he made it through asking—and she said yes. He did, however, trip over a suit of armour as he walked away doing a giddy sort of jig, and Maggie and Alex spent the better part of the afternoon arguing over whether or not that counted as a win for Alex in their bet.

Maggie slung her arm around Alex’s shoulders one morning at breakfast with a smug sort of grin on her face. “Boy I sure am lucky to have this one locked down. No need for me to worry about all this partner drama like you poor single suckers,” she drawled.

Alex shot her a filthy look and shrugged out from under Maggie’s arm. “Excuse you? You think you have me locked down? Who says I even want to go with you, Sawyer?” Alex huffed indignantly.

Maggie simply gave her a knowing look, dimples at their maximum power. “Danvers. Come on.”

Alex narrowed her eyes, but it didn’t take her long to crumble and sigh into Maggie’s side. “Fine. You could have at least gotten me flowers or some crap like that,” she grumbled.

Maggie smiled lazily and raised her eyebrows indicatively towards the ceiling, where Alex looked up to see a pair of owls carrying an enormous bouquet of flowers above her head, practically struggling with the effort of keeping it afloat.

“Oh,” Alex mumbled, bashful as the owls descended and dropped the flowers into her arms. “These are nice—” she paused when she saw something concealed inside the bouquet. “Is this firewhiskey?” she whispered conspiringly as she hid the contraband under the table.

“Yeah, babe.”

“Babe!”

“Babe.”

They grinned at each other and Kara suddenly became intensely focused on her waffles as they proceeded to make out at the breakfast table.

Not even a few minutes later, Winn trotted up to the table and sank down into the seat next to Kara with a contented sigh. Everything about him was uncharacteristically light and happy and his cheeks were an unfading shade of pink.

“What’s got you in such a good mood?” Kara asked.

Winn simply beamed and helped himself to some toast. “Oh, nothing. It’s just a lovely morning, wouldn’t you agree?”

James, meanwhile, had spied a lavender envelope sticking out of Winn’s robes and had sneakily pulled it out. “Ooh, what is this?” he asked, waving it in front of Winn’s face.

“Hey!” Winn exclaimed in protest, but before he could grab it back, James had popped up onto the bench and was clearing his throat to read aloud.

“My dearest Winslow—”

“If any of you ever call me Winslow, I will end you,” Winn threatened. “Mon-el gets away with it because he’s handsome and stupid and sweet.”

James rolled his eyes and continued reading. “When I first saw you, it was like I had been hit with a bludger. Not like a real bludger—those hurt, I would know. This was like a love bludger. It just hit me, like—kapow! And I was a gonner.
I’m not the sharpest twig in the broomstick, but getting to know you is the smartest thing I have ever done.
You’re the snitch I always dreamed of catching. Will you go to the ball with me?
Mon-el.”

James finished reading and closed the letter up, wearing a completely endeared expression as he dropped back into his seat and Winn snatched the letter away.

“Dude, that is so sweet! I’m not even making fun of you. Even I kind of want to go to the ball with him,” James said with a wistful sigh.

“Oh, he is so smitten with you, Winn,” Kara said, grinning widely at the thought of her friend being so happy.

“I know,” Winn sighed contentedly. “I do wish I understood more of his quidditch metaphors though…”

James grabbed Winn by the shoulders and looked him square in the eyes. “I have been waiting for this moment ever since I met you,” he said seriously, and launched into an in depth explanation of everything he knew about quidditch, much to Winn’s immediate regret.

Kara’s eyes wandered around the hall until they came to rest—as they often did—on Lena where she sat further down the table from her. She was reading this enormous tome of a book propped up against a pitcher of orange juice, her brow pinched into that slight frown she wore whenever she was concentrating especially hard. Kara’s heart swelled when Lena brought some cereal to her mouth but it all slipped off her spoon en route, and her lips closed around an empty spoon.

Lena didn’t even seem to notice.

Kara sighed and rested her chin on her palm. Fanciful images of Lena in a sparkling dress, spinning and twirling under a chandelier in the great hall passed before her mind, and she wondered absently: now that Lex was all but out of the picture, what was stopping her from asking Lena to the dance? Even if they just went as friends, Kara couldn’t think of anyone else she’d want to spend the night with.

And then, Kara thought of two hurdles.

First: she highly doubted her ability to even ask Lena without making a complete idiot of herself.

Second: Kara had no idea what she was doing when it came to dancing.

Just before the dread could settle into her very being, Kara realised she knew exactly who she needed to see about her predicaments.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 9

“I don’t know what I’m going to do when you graduate, Kara. How am I supposed to go on without my main ice cream supplier?”

Kara grinned around a spoonful of ice cream at her friend and teacher, Professor Diana Prince. She sat on top of a desk in the Defence Against The Dark Arts classroom, legs crossed underneath her with an enormous sundae in her lap.

Diana Prince had been in Kara’s life ever since she and Kal became best friends in Kal’s third year. Kal had convinced the elders to allow her to visit Krypton the summer before the village was destroyed, making Diana one of a handful of people in the world who remembered what it was like. For Kara, having Diana around in the years after was immeasurably important. Diana was proof outside of her and Kal that Krypton was real, it existed, and they could smile together about how the sun bathed the oak trees in orange light as it dipped behind Rao, knowing they were imagining the exact same trees. Having Diana helped her remember the beauty of her home, not just the pain.

“Don’t worry, Professor Prince,” Kara chuckled, popping a syrup-covered marshmallow in her mouth. “I’ll put a good word in for you with the house elves.”

“Hm, it won’t be the same though,” Diana hummed. “So, Professor Grant tells me you and your partner will be opening the ball with a dance. How goes the search?” she asked, eyes sparking teasingly.

Kara groaned and dropped her cheek glumly into the palm of her hand. “Do you and Professor Grant have lunch together just to talk about my own personal misery?”

“Sometimes,” Diana said with a light shrug, then smirked deviously. “And other times we’re otherwise too preoccupied to talk about anything at all.”

Kara wrinkled her nose in complete revulsion. “Gross, Diana, I do not need to hear about—about that!”

“What?” she asked innocently. “Professor Grant has an impressive record collection and we both happen to be music lovers. And that’s Professor Prince to you, Kara, at least until you graduate,” she chastised with a click of her tongue.

“Oh come on! I’ve known you for years. We’ve spent Christmases together! I’ve seen you in your nightgown for goodness sake!” Kara complained, and Diana tossed her head back with a musical laugh.

“And now I’m your teacher, and I will fail you if you don’t treat me with the respect I deserve,” she said imperiously.

“How am I supposed to take you seriously when I’ve seen you running around the Danvers’ backyard in your underwear, drunk off of eggnog, screaming about how you’re some sort of magical warrior demi-goddess?” Kara deadpanned.

“Who are you to say I’m not?” Diana challenged, stoic chin thrust in the air. “And you’re avoiding the question. Who will be the lucky man to take Kara Danvers, Triwizard champion, to the ball? Or woman, I’m not presuming anything,” Diana said with a casual shrug.

Kara hesitated with her spoon halfway between her bowl and her mouth before she set it back down and adjusted her glasses. “Well…there is someone I’ve been thinking about asking,” Kara admitted and drew in a nervous breath. “She—” Kara added a little emphasis, and Diana didn’t even flinch, “—is in my potions class. We’ve become close friends and I…I like her. A lot,” Kara confessed, and saying the words out loud filled her with an inexplicable combination of relief, happiness, and sheer terror.

“Not that it would matter anyway,” she mumbled glumly. “I don’t know how to dance, Diana. Like, at all. I’m going to make a fool of myself in front of the entire school. In front of…in front of Lena.”

Diana’s lips spread into a wide grin, eyes sparkling in a way Kara knew all too well. “Not if I can help it, my dear child.”

Kara’s whine went completely ignored when Diana took her ice cream away and fiddled with a gramophone by her desk. Music played, and the desks in the room slid to the side to create a space when Diana swished her wand. Kara barely hopped off of her desk with an indignant yelp before it whooshed to the other side of the classroom.

“Okay. Let’s see what we’ve got to work with first.”

Diana stood in front of Kara. Kara was above average height, but Diana was still half a head taller, making Kara crane her neck up to look at her. Without a word, Diana took her hands and placed one on her waist while she held the other. (Kara felt her face heat up. She’d be kidding herself if she said she hadn’t harboured a teeny tiny crush on the statuesque woman throughout her adolescent life).

“Come on, Kara, try not to make me feel like my hand is some sort of fish. Firm hold. Like this.” Diana squeezed her hand, and Kara blinked dumbly back until she did the same and Diana gave her an approving nod.

“Now what?”

“Honestly, Kara, have you really never danced before?” Diana asked incredulously.

“Not really, no. I mean, we had dances back home, but I was a kid so I didn’t have to do them seriously.” Aside from Kal, Diana was the only person who knew what Kara really meant when she said ‘home’. Kara’s mouth twitched into a sad smile, heart aching with memory. “I would just hop on my father’s toes and he’d dance with me like that. I haven’t really danced at all since then.”

Diana mirrored Kara’s pained smile and gave her fingers a squeeze. “He was a good man,” she said softly, and Kara swallowed hard, pushing down the feeling of loss before it could take hold of her.

“So,” Kara exhaled sharply, “are you going to teach me something or what?”

Diana chuckled softly. “If you’ll listen, I will. Just follow my lead, okay?”

Within the space of a few songs, Kara had stepped on Diana’s toes no fewer than six times, and caused them to bump heads twice.

“Wow, Kara, for an athlete, you really are bad at this,” Diana remarked, rubbing her forehead gingerly. “But, I am confident that you can get better, with plenty of practice,” she chirped, much to Kara’s dismay. The next song began, and Diana got them back into position.

“It’s just like flying, Kara. Except, in this case, your partner is your broom. You have to work together, feed off each other, and be perfectly in sync.” Kara’s frown deepened as she stared down at their jumble of feet, huffing in exasperation. “Hey, crinkle,” Diana said, and Kara snapped her eyes up. “Stop thinking so hard.”

“I hate that Alex told you about the crinkle,” Kara grumbled.

Diana chuckled as Kara unsuccessfully tried to mimic her graceful steps. “You’re thinking when you should be feeling. Just, listen to the music and try to relax.”

Kara sighed, and did her best to do as Diana instructed, but now she was just thinking about not thinking and it really wasn’t working well at all.

“So tell me about her,” Diana said, wrenching Kara from the impending spiralling of her thoughts. “This ‘Lena’,” she added, drawing out the syllables with a grin.

“Well…” Kara began, grinning a little in spite of herself. She was was full to bursting with all she could say about Lena, and her mouth could barely keep up with her head. “She's helped me a lot in potions—I mean, I'm actually doing okay at potions now, and that's saying something—and she likes magical creatures, and she's smart and kind and fun, and her family is pretty intense, especially her brother, who absolutely hates my guts. Her brother is Lex Luthor, by the way, and I guess we’re mortal enemies now?” Kara rambled, and Diana’s eyes widened as she tried to keep up.

“My, my,” Diana laughed breathlessly, “you certainly have been busy this year. Wait, did you say Lex Luthor? As in your competition in the tournament Lex Luthor?”

“Yeah. He’s the one who entered my name into the goblet, too.”

Diana narrowed her eyes. “That little...I’d fail him if I could,” Diana frowned. “I can find a reason to give him detention though,” she added brightly.

Kara barked a laugh, and not for the first time she thought how glad she was to have Diana on her team. “It’s alright. He’s not bothering us anymore, aside from glaring at us whenever he gets the opportunity, but I can handle that. Lena stood up to him; she told him she wants nothing to do with him. I’m really proud of her.”

“That’s good. The offer still stands, should you change your mind. So...is she pretty?” Diana grinned, wiggling her eyebrows.

“Devastatingly,” Kara sighed. “Diana, she's like looking at the sun; I'll go blind if I stare at her too long...not that it stops me.”

“I didn't realise I was in the presence of a poet,” Diana teased wryly.

Kara pulled a face and managed to twirl under Diana’s arm without breaking anything.

“Do you remember how we went on walks through the forest with Kal that summer you came to stay with us? We’d walk all day, following the streams to wherever they would take us? My feet got tired, so you and Kal took turns carrying me on your backs? Then, when night fell, we laid in the grass clearing and watched the fireflies come out?”

Diana’s smile was fond and warm, and Kara knew she was imagining the same forest and streams she was describing. “How could I forget? The look on Kal’s face when he got too close to a firefly and it set his cloak on fire? Priceless.”

“I was so happy on those days. Like I was right where I was supposed to be,” Kara said, then looked up at Diana with a soft smile. “That’s how I feel when I’m with Lena.”

“Guess what, Kara?”

“Hm?”

“You're dancing.”

***

Kara lost count of the number of times she tried to ask Lena to the ball. ‘Tried’ being the key word.

The first time, they were in the library, working alone long after the Alex and Winn had gone to bed. Truthfully, Kara had already finished what she was working on, but she kept that to herself as she absently read the same passage of her transfiguration textbook over and over, not really paying attention to the words. What was really taking up most of her concentration was stealing sporadic glances at Lena, whose brow was adorably creased as she pored over her homework.

Kara felt that floaty, fluttery feeling in her stomach; the one she’d read about in romance novels and magazine columns, and she thought about what Professor Prince had said to her during one of their secret weekly dancing lessons: “You’ve just got to be brave, and get the words out. That will be the hardest part, but I believe in you.” Kara inhaled sharply, shoulders lifting and dropping, and she straightened in her chair.

“Hey Lena?” Her voice was over loud and clunky through the quiet of the library, like a troll lumbering through a Ollivander’s wand shop. Lena barely looked up from her parchment when she gave an absent hum by way of response. “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure,” Lena mumbled, flicking back a few pages in her textbook.

Kara cleared her throat, wiping sweaty palms on her robes. Here goes nothing. “So, as I’m sure you know, the ball is coming up and I don’t know if you had any plans or anything, but I thought that maybe…” Kara trailed off, frowning when Lena continued scribbling furiously. “Lena, are you listening?”

“One second, I’ve just figured something out...there.” Lena finished whatever she was writing and looked up with an apologetic smile. “Sorry, Kara, I’m listening now. What were you asking me?”

Kara swallowed, feeling the air going out of her sails as her bravery left her, the moment blowing away on the breeze. She faltered, and her quill scratched a jagged line of ink across her parchment.

“Um...what did you get for question four?”

*

Kara nearly tried again, after quidditch training one night. Training was gruelling—it had to be, if Kara was going to crush Lex as well as impress the talent scouts when they faced up against the other schools in a few months’ time. Kara had made sure to push the team as hard as she pushed herself, ultimately leaving her as ecstatic as she was exhausted.

She touched down to earth with a big grin on her face and headed towards where Lena was waiting for her, as she often did after training. Kara’s heart was flooded with happiness when she saw the paper bag in Lena’s hands: food. Lena knew Kara was always starving after practice, and Kara thought she just might cry at the thoughtful gesture. In that moment, Kara knew she just had to ask her.

“Lena!” she exclaimed, practically running over. “Lena, I want to ask you something!”

“Not one more step, Kara Danvers!” Lena snapped sharply, holding a hand up in a stop command that made Kara halt in her tracks. She blinked back at Lena, perplexed. “You’re covered in mud!” Lena laughed, gesturing up and down Kara’s person.

Kara looked down at herself and, yes, she was covered head to toe in mud after she had rolled off of her broom when she flew a little too close to the ground in pursuit of the quaffle.

“I...oh,” she grimaced, scrubbing at the back of her neck. She couldn’t ask a classy girl like Lena to the ball while she was covered in mud like some peasant. Again, the moment evaporated into thin air, and Kara deflated.

“Well...can I have some of whatever you brought me?” If she was going to fail at asking Lena, she may as well get some food at least.

Lena tutted and held the bag close to her chest. “Not until you’re clean. Shower, now,” she commanded, and Kara sighed as she was marched towards the changerooms.

*

They were sitting outside after helping feed a family of Nifflers Professor J’onzz planned on presenting to his class that week. One of them was being stubborn and refused to eat, so Kara and Lena sat cross-legged opposite each other, giving the little guy some extra attention.

“Come on, eat your blueberries, they’re good for you,” Kara cooed, laughing exasperatedly as the small, furry creature clambered all over her, blatantly ignoring the blueberries she held in her hand. “Stop being so naughty!”

Lena giggled, thoroughly enjoying the way the Niffler made Kara twist and turn as it scurried around her back and climbed onto her head.

“Ow!” Kara yelped as the Niffler attempted to yank a golden clip from her hair. Lena reached over and plucked the creature from the top of Kara’s head, giving him a stern look as she held him out at arm’s length.

“That’s quite enough foolishness now,” she chastised, then set him down in her lap. She held some blueberries out in front of his snout, which he turned stubbornly away. “Oh, you’re not hungry? Well, I suppose I’ll just eat these blueberries all to myself, then.” Lena popped a few blueberries in her mouth and hummed with satisfaction. “Mm, delicious.”

The Niffler looked up at her with pouting eyes and finally reached for the blueberries with its little paws. Lena smirked victoriously and lowered her palm to the creature, and he took as many blueberries as he could carry before scurrying off into the corner.

“Reverse psychology,” Lena grinned. “Never fails.”

Kara looked impressed, and rocked back on the heels of her palms. She took a moment to appreciate the sight of Lena, with cheeks flushed pink from the crisp December air, wrapped up in a scarf tucked under her chin, flecks of white snow lazily drifting down to settle into her dark hair.

She was really going to do it this time, she decided. For real.

“Lena?”

Lena tilted her head to the side. “Yes?”

“I want to ask you something.”

“What is it?” Lena shifted forwards ever so slightly, an intensely hopeful look in her eyes, and Kara was emboldened by the thought that maybe, just maybe, Lena might want this too.

Kara drew in a steeling breath, fists clenching in determination. “Lena. Will you go to the—” Lena’s face fell and she cast a worried look just past Kara’s shoulder.

“Ah, Kara? I think he’s getting away…”

Kara whipped around to see the cheeky Niffler scurrying towards the Forbidden Forest with her bag, containing her wand, her snacks, and her potions homework, in its bill. “Oh, fudge!” she moaned and scrambled to her feet, kicking up snow as she tore off after it.

Lena howled with delighted laughter and let Kara chase the creature for a full five minutes before finally casting a freezing charm that allowed her to catch it, panting and gasping for breath, and completely furious at another missed opportunity.

*

“Alex…” Kara said her sister’s name in a frustrated whine, a strangled plea for the older Danvers to stop bothering her and just leave her alone.

“What?” Alex chirped innocently, crossing her arms across her chest as she leaned casually against a bookshelf. “I’m just trying to be helpful. Come on, there must be someone you want to go with. What about Adam Foster?”

Kara scoffed and pulled out a copy of Merpeople: a Comprehensive Guide to their Language and Customs, thumbed absentmindedly through a couple of pages then slipped it back. “My fourth-year boyfriend? I think not.”

“Or Oliver Queen?”

“He’s way too serious.”

“What about Maxwell Lord?” Kara made a face. “You’re right, forget I suggested it.”

Kara sighed as she snapped a volume by Gilderoy Lockhart (that pompous phony) shut and gave her sister an exasperated look. Kara really didn’t need to be reminded that she just had to buck up and ask Lena for goodness’ sake, before time ran out and she missed her chance. She’d given this pep talk to herself enough times already, and it still hadn’t changed anything. No, she was perfectly happy (read: miserable) dealing with this on her own, thank you very much.

Not to mention the fact that she didn’t know how Alex would react if she knew how she felt about Lena—more specifically, how she felt about Lena, who was very much a girl. Alex wouldn’t have a problem with it, that wasn’t what she was worried about. What she did worry about, was that Alex would think she was just copying her, or just doing it for attention.

Ever since Kara had come to live with the Danvers, she’d demanded more attention simply by virtue of her circumstances. Eliza and Jeremiah had dedicated a significant amount of their time and affection to the girl who lost everything, to making sure she felt as close to safe and happy as she could, especially in those first few years. It left little room for young Alex, who was left to silently come to terms with who she was on her own.

It had been a struggle for her sister to come out to Eliza and Jeremiah (who had accepted her with open arms, but that didn’t mean it didn’t take a few difficult conversations and some tortured soul searching on Alex’s part). Kara didn’t want Alex to think she was there to ride her coattails or steal her thunder or anything. Surely, she had enough of the spotlight between being their parents’ priority for several years, and now with being the Hogwarts champion, right?

Would Alex just see this as another way of her garnering attention for herself? Kara couldn’t fully convince herself that she wouldn’t.

“Can we just drop it? Please? I don’t...I don’t want to talk about it.”

Kara felt an instant stab of regret as hurt flashed across Alex’s face in response to Kara’s attempt to shut her out. “Sorry. I’ll drop it if it bothers you so much.” Alex’s expression tightened, brow furrowing in that way that told Kara she wasn’t mad, just disappointed. “I can tell something is bothering you though, you know. I’m your sister, Kar, you can talk to me. I just want you to talk to me.”

“Al…” Kara sighed, shifting her feet as she looked at Alex with pleading eyes, only to see Alex holding a silencing finger up, head cocked to the side.

“Do you hear that?”

Kara frowned, ear tilting into empty space, but before she could question it, Alex had disappeared around the corner. As Kara followed Alex past a couple rows of shelves, she heard it. A sniffling sound: soft, but definite. Kara quickened her pace to catch up to her sister, and when they reached the history section, they turned to see Lena stuffed between the shelves on Ancient Runes and the seventeenth century goblin rebellions.

“Lena…”

Lena startled when Kara said her name, looking up at her with blotchy cheeks and shimmering eyes, which she quickly wiped at with her sleeve. Kara moved to drop down next to her, but found a halting hand on her shoulder and a firm look from Alex that said ‘I’ve got this’.

Alex shuffled over to Lena and lowered herself to sit beside her, making sounds like a century-old woman getting into her rocking chair as she did so. She sat quietly, as though allowing the cautiously watching Lena to adjust to her presence. After a little while, she glanced at the book that Lena had (upside down) in her lap.

“A complete recount of the third goblin rebellion, hm?” Alex hummed. “Spoiler alert: the wizards won.”

Lena managed a laugh, weak and wet, and half-heartedly closed the lid of the book. “Only because wand legislation prevented goblins from using wands.”

Alex shrugged. “That’s history for you. The ones with the power usually win. But...I get the feeling you’re not here all teary-eyed over the valiant, yet ultimately unsuccessful, efforts of Urg the Unclean, right?”

Lena laughed again, with more weight behind it this time, and shook her head. “No.”

“What is it?”

With a long sigh, Lena dropped her eyes to her lap and shrugged her shoulders. “Oh, it’s nothing. Just...just family stuff.”

Alex tutted her tongue and gave an understanding nod. “Ah. The jackhole older brother. Say no more—or do. You know, I’ve been told I’m very good in the listening and understanding and advice giving department.” Alex glanced up at Kara with a meaning-laden look that made Kara drop her eyes down to her feet, the infamous crinkle pulling her brows together.

Lena squirmed, conflict playing out across her face. “It’s fine really,” she said, though the way her voice caught in her throat seemed to indicate that it most certainly was not fine. “I can handle it on my own.”

Alex looked sceptical, but didn’t move away and didn’t push further either. She just...stayed. Quiet, and patient. There. Eventually, Kara sighed and crouched down by Lena, offering her a hand. Lena stared at it in a moment of hesitation before she took it, and Kara ran her thumb across her knuckles.

“She’s right, you know,” Kara said softly. “Ever since we were kids, I’ve told her everything—absolutely everything—and she’s always stuck right by me. I know she’ll always be there for me...no matter what.” Kara’s words were to Lena but she was looking at Alex, who swallowed thickly and nodded once. A silent communication passed between them, that said Kara would be ready to talk when they had a chance.

Lena glanced between the two sisters, sensing the bond between them, and nodded slowly. “Okay. It’s not...it’s not Lex,” she sighed, and Kara’s brows peaked but she didn’t react otherwise. “It’s my mother. She says I’m turning my back on my family by cutting Lex off, that I’m a disgrace to the Luthor name, that kind of thing. She can be...hard on me. Normally Lex would be there, to placate her or distract her with his newest accomplishment, but…” she capped her sentence with a telling shrug of her shoulders.

Alex rubbed a hand over her cheek and tilted it to look at Lena with the kind and thoughtful eyes that made Kara feel like she belonged ever since she crashed haphazardly into her family.

“You know, family isn’t just who you’re related to or who you live with,” Alex said, speaking in that tone she used when she was about to casually drop some wisdom, like it wasn’t a big deal at all. Kara knew it all too well. “It’s who you choose, and who chooses you, right? I think it’s safe to say that Kara...Kara has chosen you to be her friend. Right, Kar?”

Kara’s cheeks heated at the sudden attention on her, but she nodded once. “Right.”

“And Kara’s a bit of a package deal. You get her, you get all of us—and I’m sorry to say it, but that includes Winn.”

“I’m telling him you said that,” Kara joked.

“You will do no such thing,” Alex snapped, then softened as she turned back to Lena. “So...don’t worry about what your so-called family says to you, alright? Kara’s got your back, and that means I do too. We all do. That’s what family does. That, and annoy the hell out of each other,” she tacked on with a teasing grin, which Kara reacted to in mock offence.

Lena stared down at her hands like she didn’t know what to do with them, like her mind was busy processing this new information and coming up blank. Kara nudged her gently to get her attention.

“You want to know something else about Alex?” Kara asked. “She gives the best hugs.”

Kara tipped her head in encouragement, because if anyone needed an Alex Danvers Best Big Sister Hug™, it was Lena Luthor. Lena was hesitant at first, but eventually, in her own time, she leaned into Alex’s side, and when Alex put her arms around her, she surrendered herself to it completely.

“You’re right. This is pretty terrific,” Lena mumbled, as she tucked herself into her chest and let Alex’s arms circle her fully, wearing a look of simultaneous relief and disbelief at what was happening as she peered back at Kara from between Alex’s arm and chin.

After walking Lena back to her and Jess’s room, Kara knocked her shoulder against her big sister’s and threaded their arms together. “You like to make people think you’re all tough with that jelly-legs jinx of yours, but you’re a big softy really. Don’t worry. I won’t tell Maggie,” she said with a wink.

“Damn right you won’t. I know where you live,” Alex responded gruffly.

“Thanks for doing that, Al. For being there for her, for just...being you.” Kara said, the teasing grin slipping into a sincere look more appropriate for a heart to heart. “I think she really needed that.”

“Just fulfilling my duties as world’s greatest big sister,” Alex drawled with a shrug, then turned thoughtful. “Do you remember when you were twelve and you found that owl with a gimpy wing? And you brought it home and we had to keep it hidden in my room so our folks wouldn’t find out we were harbouring a fugitive?”

“Oh, Hooty!” Kara said fondly. “I haven’t thought about him in years.”

“Yeah, Hooty,” Alex rolled her eyes, clearly having less fond memories of Hooty (which might have something to do with the incessant hooting by her bed that kept her up for a week). “Anyway, he had a broken wing, and I helped you keep him safe until he could fly again. Somehow I knew Hooty wouldn’t be the last precious thing I’d help you take care of,” she mused with a quirked brow and a knowing smile tugging at of her mouth.

“I want to take Lena to the ball!” Kara blurted out, and once she did, it was like the floodgates were open and she just couldn’t stop herself from unloading every Lena-related thought she’d kept to herself for so long. “I want to dance with her and make her laugh and even share my food with her and hold her hand and—oh gosh, Al—I want to kiss her so bad. I want to have her face on my face and just—just kiss the crap out of her!”

Kara’s eyes went wide and she hurriedly clamped a hand over her no-good mouth as her her probably-too-loud confession came pouring out (a few portraits gave her funny or offended looks as she startled them from their peace).

Alex’s expression remained unreadable. “Ah. There it is,” Alex hummed, just this side of cryptic.

Kara blinked owlishly. “You’re not mad are you? I swear, I didn’t plan it; it just sort of...happened.”

Alex scrunched her nose up incredulously. “Mad? Of course I’m not mad. I mean. I’m a little mad that it took you this long to tell me—and that you thought I’d be mad in the first place. Also now I owe Maggie five galleons, so I’ll bill you for that.”

“Maggie knew?”

“She’s annoyingly perceptive. God, she’s going to be so smug about it,” Alex commiserated with an irritated frown. “So...when are you going to ask her? You know the ball is only a couple weeks away, right?”

“I’m aware,” Kara said glumly. “I’ve tried more times than I can count, but I just...I get stuck, or the timing isn’t right. And what if she says no?”

Alex barked a laugh that made her toss her head back. “Oh, come on, Kar. You’re kind, and funny, and charming when you want to be, and now that puberty is done with you, you’re a good looking gal. Plus, you’re a Triwizard Champion—you faced a dragon for goodness’ sake! She’d be crazy to say no. Besides, Maggie says she looks at you like you hung the stars in the sky or something,” she added in casually, like that little tidbit of information didn’t completely turn Kara’s world on its head. Alex chuckled at Kara’s loosely dangling jaw and put an arm around her shoulders. “Just be brave; I know you can do this. If, on the off chance it doesn’t work out, I’ll have a stack of emergency chocolate frogs ready for you, okay?”

Kara bit the inside of her cheek and nodded slowly. “Okay. Can I...can I get a Best Big Sister hug?”

Alex chuckled and blushed a bit as she scratched at her head. “Sure. But don’t tell anyone we have a name for those.”

*

The ball was just over a week away, and Kara’s stack of missed opportunities and bumbled attempts mounted ever higher. But today was the day, she decided. Today, she was going to come right out and ask her. No distractions or obstacles or fear. Just pure determination, and one objectively simple question.

She gripped onto the necklace Lena had given her, which she had accidentally grown accustomed to wearing most of the time now, and stepped out with hardened resolve. After searching the usual spots—the library, the Great Hall, the stables, the lake—Kara eventually found Lena in the grounds, sitting under a snow-covered willow tree. She wasn’t doing much, just staring out into empty space. But knowing Lena, she was probably solving some sort of complex problem in her head, or just lost in her own thoughts.

Kara’s feet crunching through the snow alerted Lena to her presence, and she blinked out of her daze to find Kara standing in front of her, elbows locked out by her side, fists clenching and releasing with restless energy.

“Kara—” she began, but Kara interrupted, certain she would lose her nerve if she allowed herself to become at all derailed.

“Lena, hi. Hey. Listen, Lena, there’s something I’ve been trying to ask you, but it’s never been the right time or something has interrupted me or I’ve just chickened out...but I’m just going to come right out and say it.” Kara grimaced, really wishing she’d practiced this at least twice as many times as she already had. Still, she sucked in a lungful of air and set her jaw. “Lena. Will you go to the ball with me?”

Kara had mentally prepared herself for many of the ways this could possibly go. Practicing in the mirror, she had imagined Lena straight up laughing in her face, or giving her a sympathetic look of pity as she let her down easy (Kara wasn’t sure which one would be worse). When she was feeling more confident, she even indulged herself in the notion that Lena would say yes, eyes crinkling at the corners as she beamed at her and maybe even kissed her on the cheek or something crazy like that…

But she really hadn’t prepared herself for this. Lena burst into tears.

It was the kind of crying that shook her shoulders and made her hide her face in her hands, and Kara had no idea what to do but stand there, eyes bulging in complete panic. A sharp sob escaping from Lena’s throat snapped Kara back into herself, and she quickly dropped down to sit on an upturned root next to Lena. She rubbed circles on the girl’s back, soothing her gently as her own mind reeled at how terribly this was going.

“Hey, Lena, it’s okay...it’s okay, it’s fine, you’re fine, just breathe,” she murmured, more on autopilot really, until Lena’s sobs ebbed and subsided and she took in a few deep breaths and wiped at her now red eyes. Kara watched her warily, and cautiously took her hand off of her back once she was breathing somewhat normally again.

“You know, a simple ‘no’ would have been enough,” she said after a brief silence, punctuated only by Lena’s occasional sniffling.

Lena laughed wetly, and for a second Kara worried she was going to start crying again, but she just shook her head and sniffed, wiping at her nose with her sleeve. “Oh Kara,” she choked out. “It’s...it’s not that.”

Kara frowned. “It’s not? So...this is your way of saying yes?” Lena shook her head, and Kara half laughed as her heart sank. “I didn’t think so. What’s going on, then?”

Lena exhaled lengthily, as though willing herself back into a somewhat normal state. She gazed across the lake and smoothed the hem of her coat out over her lap. “I’m already going with someone.”

The words she had been dreading hit Kara like a rogue bludger, leaving her bruised and winded. She forced an uncomfortable grin onto her face. “That’s...I mean, that’s great!” she sputtered, an octave too high. “Really. Who’s the lucky person?”

“Jack Spheer. He’s in my year; we’ve known each other since we were kids. He gets good grades, comes from a good family.” Lena frowned to herself. “It wasn’t my choice.”

“What do you mean?”

Lena sighed, staring at her fidgeting hands. “Mother chose for me. She said...she said if I don’t go with him, she’ll send me home.” Lena’s voice tightened, and Kara braced herself for another wave of sobs, but Lena seemed to have gotten a handle on herself after her initial outburst, and she held it together.

“What? She can’t do that,” Kara said, angry now that someone else was controlling Lena’s actions, just after Lena had finally distanced herself from Lex.

“She can. And she will. Now that I’m not helping Lex, she says there’s not much reason to keep me around anyway.” Lena swallowed thickly, her fists clenching around her sleeves as she twisted them into her palms. She looked at Kara with a pained expression. “I’m so sorry. If things were different...I would have said yes, in a heartbeat. Please know that.”

Kara tried to focus on the fact that Lena actually would have wanted to go with her, and not the circumstances that made it impossible regardless. She pushed for a smile, attempting to stay positive, if only for Lena’s sake.

“Save me a dance?” she asked, eyebrows peaked in hope.

Lena chewed her lip, and nodded. “Of course. I’ll be looking forward to it all night.”

Kara couldn’t help but smile at Lena’s sincerity, despite the reality of the situation that left a hollow pit in her stomach. “I’ll warn you, I’m not very good. Like, think how bad I was at potions pre-Lena Luthor, and double it. Yeah, that bad.” Lena managed a slight laugh at that, shaking her head a little. “Well...I bet Jack is a great dancer,” Kara added and no, she was not bitter about it in the slightest.

“We’ve been to a few functions together because of our families, and I will admit, he’s quite good,” Lena hummed thoughtfully, and Kara scowled. “You’re not jealous, are you?”

Kara looked incredulous. “That he gets to take you to the ball while I...I don’t know, put a wig on my broomstick and take that as my date? Of course I’m jealous.”

Lena laughed, genuinely, and somewhat violently, and tucked her head into Kara’s shoulder, chortling until Kara couldn’t help but laugh too, even if it was hollow, and at her own expense. Eventually, Lena emerged and tipped her chin up towards her.

“While I would pay good money to see that, I’m sure it’s not true. You must have guys lining up to ask you,” she said, and Kara barked a laugh. Because, sure, she had a lot of friends, but none of them ever really looked at her like...like that. James was a perfect example. And Kara was perfectly fine with that, but it did leave her a little short of options when it came to the date situation.

“I’ll figure something out,” she said, shaking her head a bit, and squeezed Lena into her side, where they stayed until they thought their toes might freeze, and then a little longer still.

To say Kara was angry that Lena’s mother had taken away Lena’s ability to choose who she went to the ball with (and that she would have chosen her, no less) would be an understatement. Kara was furious. The reality of it all hit her as she trudged back up to the castle. Her feet sank clumsily into the snow, and that frustration finally caused the hot tears to spring forth, which she wiped at angrily with her sleeve.

By the time she reached the castle, her vision was blurry with frustrated tears and she really wasn’t looking where she was going, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise when she bumped headfirst into someone.

“Oof!” the figure grunted.

Kara winced and adjusted her glasses, blinking up into the face of the tall Hufflepuff seeker. “Barry?”

Barry pinched gingerly at his nose. “Watch it, Kara,” he moaned, then frowned when he caught sight of her face. “Kara, are you alright?”

Kara sniffed and nodded vigorously, halfway through an ‘I’m fine’ before she cut herself off and gave Barry an questioning look. “Barry. Are you going with anyone to the ball?”

Barry sighed, stuffing his hands into his pockets. “Well, I asked Iris, but she said she’s going alone. Something about protesting the patriarchy and conventional expectations of gender—which I totally support, of course,” he added quickly, palms up in his defence. “But, alas, it means I am flying solo.”

“Great. Want to go with me?”

“Do you plan on spending most of the night by the snack table?”

“Probably.”

“Then count me in, captain,” he grinned. “Oh, my robes are yellow by the way. Just in case you wanted your dress to match, or whatever.”

“Sure, sure, fine,” Kara said, not really paying attention until her eyes widened when she registered what he had actually said. “Wait a second—a dress?”

Barry gave her a perplexed look. “Well, yeah...I mean, it’s a dance, right?”

“Of course,” Kara sighed, running a hand through her hair.

So, not only did she have to dance in front of the whole school, she had to do it with someone who wasn't Lena, in a stupid dress. Kara didn't think things could get much worse than facing off against a cranky Hungarian Horntail... it turned out she was wrong.

***

The weekend before the ball was a Hogsmeade weekend, which, for Kara and her friends, meant last minute outfit shopping. The gang huddled together like penguins in an Antarctic blizzard as they shuffled down the snowy streets of the village, stopping sporadically to gaze into shop fronts (Kara and James had to be dragged away from ogling a Firebolt in Sprintwitches’ Sporting Goods’ store window before Alex lost her toes to frostbite).

Lena and her friend Jess had come along too, keen to explore the wizarding village. At some point along the main strip, Lena had looped her arm through Kara’s and tucked herself into her side, mumbling something about the wind chill and Kara running hotter than any person she’d ever met.

Kara was used to being physically affectionate with her friends, but this was Lena, and Lena was...different. She locked up when it first happened, until Alex dug her elbow into her ribs and jerked her head in a way that said ‘be cool!’. Kara caught on and mentally coached herself through her mild panic until she managed to soften by Lena’s side, squeezing her arm in hers and keeping her close.

It hadn't slipped Kara’s notice that things had shifted between them since she had asked Lena to the ball (albeit unsuccessfully). In doing so, she had shown her hand by acknowledging that maybe there was something more between them than friendship, and Lena...seemed to reciprocate that. It happened subtly, but not imperceptibly. Lena sat closer to her in class, knees brushing under the table, let her hand linger on Kara’s when demonstrating how to properly crush dung beetles, rested her head on Kara’s shoulder when she could barely keep her eyes open after studying late into the night. It was like she was running an experiment—and Kara couldn’t but wonder (hope) if her hypothesis was she same as hers.

Once Kara had replenished her sweets supply in Honeydukes and Maggie had bought a frightening assortment of items from Zonko’s, they made their way to a boutique store that sold formal wear for witches and wizards. Here, Lena slipped her arm from Kara’s.

“We already brought dresses from home,” Lena explained in response to Kara’s questioning head tilt. “Besides, Jess wants to see the Shrieking Shack, and I need a new quill,” she added. “Catch up with you later?”

Before Kara answered, Lena pushed up on her toes and pressed a kiss to her cheek. Her lips were hot lightning striking against Kara’s wind-chilled skin, and her cheek tingled long after Lena pulled away.

“Y-yeah, definitely,” Kara stammered in response, doing her best to maintain a calm exterior while it felt like fireworks were going off inside her. Lena tossed a glance and a little wave back over her shoulder as she and Jess walked away, and Kara just gazed back, fingertips dumbly brushing the burning patch of skin.

(She would no doubt replay this moment over and over in her head later, analyzing it from every angle to the point of obsession)

The rest of the gang was silent as they watched the exchange, but Kara could practically hear their gleeful grins as she turned back around.

“Whew,” Maggie snickered, “is it suddenly hot in here? Or is that just Kara?” Kara blushed furiously and gave her a shove as she brushed past her.

The shop attendant popped her head up from behind a desk when they walked in, adjusting half-mooned spectacles on her face. “Hogwarts students, hm?” she asked, perceptively eying Kara’s bright yellow Hufflepuff scarf. “Last minute shopping before the Yule Ball? You must be the last students to get yourselves organised, but we’ll have you fixed right up.”

Winn and James were ushered into the men's section, while Kara, Alex, and Maggie were directed towards racks of stunning and elegant dresses. The attendant loaded each of them up with dresses to try on and subsequently bundled them into change rooms.

It didn’t take long for Maggie and Alex to each find something. They both refused to show each other what they had chosen, so Kara was dragged into each of their change rooms to give a final nod of approval.

“Do you think Alex will want to ravage me in this?” Maggie asked, checking out her own ass in a black dress with a sheer bust and crystal detailing that shimmered across the front and down the flowing skirt.

“I am not comfortable answering that question,” Kara replied.

“Does she look hot? Tell my girlfriend she looks hot!” Alex called out from the adjacent change room.

“Tell her yourself!” Kara shouted.

“You look hot, babe!”

“Thanks, babe!” Maggie yelled back, and Kara laughed as she rolled her eyes at the pair of them.

“You look great, Maggie. This is the one,” Kara affirmed, and Maggie beamed.

Kara legitimately gasped when she saw Alex, who gazed uncertainly at her own reflection, wearing a red halter dress with lacework running across the entire thing. Alex’s head snapped up at the sound, and she craned her head over her shoulder.

“What? Is it too much? It’s too much, isn’t it?”

“No, not at all. It’s perfect” Kara assured. “I’m just used to the ripped jeans and leather jackets Alex Danvers. She sure scrubs up nice though.” Kara bit her lip as Alex turned back around to look at herself again, this time with more confidence.

“Okay. This will do. Now help me out of this thing, and then it’s your turn,” Alex grinned, and Kara’s face fell.

Kara had worn a proper dress all of three times in her life, and each time had been a struggle. The first time was for Kal’s coming of age ceremony when she was six. Her mother and Aunt Astra had to bribe her with her weight’s worth of chocolate frogs before she allowed them to stuff her into the scratchy, frilly number. She threw up all over herself by the end of the night. To her delight, the dress was ruined.

The second dress was a weighty, velvet thing in a shocking shade of magenta her mother had been so pleased to have sewn herself. Kara ended up ruining it pretty much instantly when Kal challenged her to a game of hide and seek, and she decided that inside a hollow, muddy log was the perfect hiding spot. Her mother had scolded her terribly when she came home, grinning sheepishly at the holes and dirt patches that inflicted the long skirt.

The last time, was just after coming to the Danvers’. Jeremiah and Eliza thought it would be helpful to conduct a ceremony—something like a funeral—to help Kara and Kal process everything that had happened. Kal had read the traditional Kryptonian rites, but what was the point with no bodies to send to Rao? Kara couldn’t say if the exercise helped at all. She spent most of the ceremony picking at a loose thread on the silk bow on the dress’s front.

Now, Kara avoided dresses as much as possible.

Regardless, Alex and Maggie pushed Kara into a change room, throwing dress after dress in after her. Kara tried them all on, miserably, finding some problem with every option.

“This one is too tight.”

“Too many ruffles.”

“Blue really isn’t my colour.”

Kara stared at the stack of bright dresses Maggie thrust towards her in complete dismay. Her eyes drifted enviously over to the boys, who admired each other in their smart, simple dress robes, happily adjusting each other’s collars and bow ties.

“Maggie, I don’t know. None of these feel like me…” Kara began to protest against Maggie’s pile of dresses, then whipped around as Alex cleared her throat from the other side of the shop.

“What about these?” Alex asked. Kara’s eyes lit up at the sight of the dark, navy blue dress robes Alex held up from the men’s section. Kara’s face providing all the response she needed, Alex addressed the shop attendant. “Could we get these taken in for her?”

The woman glanced between Kara and the robes. “That’s not exactly traditional…”

Alex arched an eyebrow. “Neither is my sister.”

A few minutes and some magical alterations later, Kara was staring at herself in the mirror, feeling more like herself in formal clothes than she ever had before. Navy pants sat snug on her narrow hips, a crisp white shirt tucked into them, and three gold buttons gleamed on a burgundy waistcoat. The jacket of the robes matched the pants, and melded around her shoulders before dropping down to about mid calf. Kara thrust her hands in the pockets (“I can carry snacks in these!”) and spun this way and that, grinning at her reflection.

“Told you blue was your colour,” Alex said smugly, beaming at her sister.

James and Winn’s heads popped out from behind, and they whooped and whistled in appreciation of Kara’s look.

“You’re so fancy! Gold cufflinks and everything!” Winn exclaimed, holding Kara’s wrist up to examine them closely.

James chuckled and rubbed his jaw as he looked Kara up and down. “May I?” He indicated the tie that hung loose around her neck, which she had fumbled over until she had eventually given up, deciding she’d figure out how to enchant it later.

“Please.”

Kara smiled up at James as he expertly did Kara’s tie up, delicately straightening out the fabric with his strong hands. “There,” he said and spun Kara back around to the mirror. “You look fantastic.”

Kara drew in a deep breath, smoothing the front of her dress robes down with her hands. “Thanks guys,” she murmured, her cheeks starting to get sore from grinning.

Maggie cackled gleefully in the background. “Lena’s gonna flip when she sees you.”

Kara’s heart sank slightly when she remembered that at the end of the day, Lena was going with someone else...no matter how good she looked. But, seeing herself like this gave her a boost of confidence, and she held onto hope for the dance Lena had promised her. “That’s the plan,” she murmured, and tugged at her lapels.

“Alright, everybody scoot, my sister’s going to get naked again and we need to pay for these clothes,” Alex commanded, shepherding the gang out of the change room.

Once everyone was back in their regular clothes, Alex ushered them towards the exit. “Alex, I still need to pay,” Kara protested.

“All taken care of,” Alex said, smirking at Kara’s chagrined pout. “Call it an early graduation present. If you really want to make it up to me, you can take me out after you win that prize money in the tournament. I have a few things to sort out here, I’ll catch up with you guys at The Three Broomsticks later. Go on, you don’t want to keep Lena waiting.” Alex grinned and made to dig at Kara’s ribs, but she dodged swiftly and engulfed her sister in a hug instead, ignoring her muffled protests.

*

Lena and Jess were waiting in a booth when they arrived. Kara’s jogged a few paces to slide in next to Lena, and crashed into her as she underestimated her momentum.

“Hello there,” Lena greeted, laughing a little as she righted herself from nearly falling into Jess.

“Hi! Sorry,” Kara answered, thrumming with positive energy from finding her perfect outfit. The others crammed in on the other side of the booth while James went to the bar to grab a round of butterbeers.

“How’d it go?” Lena asked curiously.

“Good. Really good,” Kara grinned. Kara rubbed her hands together and blew on them for warmth, complaining about how freezing it was outside. Then, Lena’s hands were around hers, warm and soft and pressing.

“Better?” Lena asked. Kara bit her lip, nodded, and let their hands remain joined, even when hers were warm again.

James returned with a tray full of butterbeers, and when Alex joined them shortly after, they spent the afternoon talking and laughing, making jokes at each others’ expense, and Kara settled into the safety and comfort of being in the warm bubble created by being close to the people she cared about most in the world.

By the time the conversation turned to a spirited debate over which Hogwarts house Lena would be in, Kara and Lena’s fingers were interlocked under the table. She tried not to make a big deal out of it, but still...she allowed herself to enjoy the feeling nonetheless.

“Oh, come on, guys, she’s obviously a Ravenclaw!” Winn insisted. “I’ve never seen her without at least three books on her, she’s wicked smart, and could think circles around the lot of you. Textbook Ravenclaw. Pun intended,” he said, taking a satisfied gulp of his drink.

“Just because she’s smart, doesn’t mean she’s automatically a Ravenclaw, Winn,” Alex argued. “It’s more complex than that. Me? I’d say Gryffindor. Kara’s told me how you two look after those nasty blast-ended skrewts for fun. You have to be brave for that, and a little nuts too. Sounds like Gryffindor to me.”

“I don’t know, Alex,” James contested, eying Lena closely. “Something’s telling me there might be some Slytherin in there. She’s determined and resourceful...it could fit,” he hummed thoughtfully.

“Is anyone going to make a case for Hufflepuff?” Kara pouted.

“No,” all three of them answered at once, and Kara huffed indignantly, scowling into her butterbeer.

Lena laughed, blushing a little under all the attention she was getting. “Sorry, Kara, but based on the common room decor alone, I’m not sure if it’s really my style. I mean, black and yellow? It’s a little...beehivey, don’t you think?”

“That’s the whole point: Hufflepuffs work together, as a team. Like bees. Why does no-one get that?” Kara grumbled.

Alex, meanwhile, was staring at them with a single eyebrow raised. “Lena, how do you know what the Hufflepuff common room looks like?” she asked, in that voice she used when she knew something was awry.

Kara swallowed in a panic, already anticipating the merciless teasing that would come if the gang knew Lena had stayed over that one night, and leaned over to urgently whisper “quick, change the subject!” in Lena’s ear.

Lena displayed her impressive ability to be completely unflappable under pressure, taking a slow sip of her drink. “We don’t have houses at Beauxbatons,” she said calmly, as if Alex had never spoken. “Don’t you think it’s a little limiting to spend most of your time with people who share the same traits as you? How can you grow as a person if everyone around you thinks and behaves rather similarly?”

“Spoken like a true Slytherin,” James grinned after a beat of dumbfound silence.

The debate that was about to swell up once again was interrupted by a short glass thunking down on their table, clenched in the hand of an extremely sullen looking Lex Luthor. The tall boy leered over the table, shoulders hunched, a dark scowl on his face. He reeked of whiskey.

“Greetings, all,” he murmured, now that everyone’s eyes were on him. “How nice that you’re all together. The Superfriends,” he spat, drawing out the syllables and lacing them with ice.

“Superfriends?” Winn questioned. “Hey, that has a nice ring to it.”

“Silence, imp,” Lex snapped, brown liquid sloshing out of the glass as he waved it in Winn’s general direction.

“You’re drunk, Lex.” Lena’s voice was quiet but firm, and Kara felt the pressure on her hand increase under the table.

“Very observant as always, my dear sister,” Lex drawled.

“What do you want, Luthor?” Alex asked sharply. She, as well as James, were half out of their seats, hands ready to grab their wands.

Lex chuckled, shaking his head. “Nothing to do with you. Not today, at least. I simply would like a word with my sister.”

“Anything you have to say to Lena, you can say in front of us,” Kara said firmly, and she gripped Lena’s hand tightly, trying to show her she wasn’t going anywhere.

Lex’s eyes narrowed, his jaw tight until he cracked into a weary sigh, thumb and forefinger pinching at the bridge of his nose. “Very well, then,” he glowered. “Lena...I need you. This blasted egg is putting me at my wit’s end. Just look at what it’s done to me.” Lex reached up and swiped his hood back, and the entire table drew in a collective gasp.

“Lex, your hair…” Lena breathed, staring wide-eyed at the gleaming expanse of Lex’s naked head.

“The result of a spell I tried to get that wretched thing to do anything other than screech at me. Mother had a fit, but it will grow back, in time,” Lex muttered, running a trembling hand over his newly bald scalp. “Don’t you see, Lena? I’m no good without you. But two Luthor minds, together? We’d be unstoppable. I can’t do this without you, Lee.” Lex looked different to how Kara had seen him before. He was desperate: she could see it in his eyes, in the slump in his spine, in the flex of his fingers.

Kara looked over at Lena, who was staring intently at her butterbeer. Her free hand gripped the glass, tracing a line through the condensation, silent until a soft “no,” escaped her lips. She looked up at her brother, jaw clenched and eyes set. “No,” she repeated, louder this time. “You don’t get to come here and tell me you need me, after all that you’ve done. You’re only saying all that because you want something from me. I thought you were supposed to be different, but you’re just like everybody you’ve ever warned me about.”

Lex’s nostrils flared, and he took a staggering step back from Lena’s words. “That’s not...that’s not true,” he sputtered. His eyes turned pained, and he twisted at the sleeves of his robes; a gesture that sent a flash of familiarity jolting through Kara, from how many times she’d seen Lena do the exact same thing.

Alex stood up fully now, arms crossed over her chest. James and Maggie jumped up too, completing the Gryffindor squad as they flanked Alex with equally stern looks.

“She doesn’t want to speak to you. I think it’s time you go, Luthor. Don’t think I haven't forgotten you're the reason my sister had to battle a fire-breathing dragon,” Alex said calmly, though her tone implied severe consequences if he didn’t follow her suggestion.

Lex balled his hands into fists before slowly relaxing them, uncurling one slender digit at a time. He drained the rest of his drink and slammed it down on the table before he headed for the door, turning over his shoulder to look at Lena with a dark expression.

“When this illusion of happiness falls apart around you, you’ll still be a Luthor. I’ll still be your brother. Don’t you forget that. One day, it will be all you have.” The candles by the door blew out with a dramatic swish of Lex’s cloak, and the door slammed shut behind them.

Quiet fell around the booth, everyone looking at Lena with concern, and Lena refusing to meet eyes with any of them.

“Man,” Maggie’s voice broke the silence. “What a dick.”

Lena’s hand went limp in Kara’s grip, and all of a sudden she was shifting and moving to push past Kara to get out of the booth. “Excuse me, Kara, I...I need some air.” Lena’s voice was shaking and Kara practically fell off the booth seat as Lena shuffled out and breezed through the door.

Once Kara had picked herself up, she darted for the door, catching it as it swung back from Lena’s exit. Lena was curled in on herself, chin tucked to her chest as she walked briskly towards the trees behind the pub. “Lena, wait!” Kara called, jogging after her.

Lena was sitting on a rock in the middle of a clearing in the trees when Kara caught up. She was a tight ball of potential energy, gripping onto her elbows as she stared at a fixed point on the ground in front of her. Kara’s boots crunched in the snow as she approached and crouched down in front of her.

“Lena? Are you alright?”

Lena clenched her jaw, shook her head. “No. Not really.”

“You stood up to him, Lena. You didn’t let him guilt you into anything, and that’s huge. I’m really proud of you,” Kara said, earnest as she looked up at Lena.

Lena bit at her lower lip. “It’s not that. It’s just...what if he’s right? What if I can’t escape being a Luthor, no matter how much I try to just be a normal person? Luthor’s don’t—I don’t—get to have all of...all of this.” Lena exasperatedly wrung her hands out in front of her, agitating the air between them.

Kara tilted her head, brow furrowing in question. “What do you mean, all of this?”

Lena laughed harshly, blinking up at the trees. “This. Everything. The friends, the banter, the laughing...your sister standing up for me. It’s too much, I can’t,” Lena trailed off into a shuddering breath, head shaking, and Kara reached for Lena’s hands. Lena was used to relationships being a systems of exchange, where kindness came with the expectation of retribution. It was no wonder she felt like she now owed some sort of unpayable debt to Alex.

“Alex stood up for you because she’s Alex,” Kara said firmly. “You don’t owe her anything for that. It’s just what friends do. She did it because she’s your friend, and because she loves me and I care about you. Very much. Remember? We’ve all got your back, Lena.”

Lena let out an aching sigh, like what Kara said only made it worse. “And then there’s you, too. You make me feel like I’m more than my brain, or my name, or my family’s money and power. You just see...me. There’s no way this can be real. there’s no way I can keep this. Beautiful things don’t last in Luthor hands.” Lena looked down to their joined hands with a tight frown.

Lena moved to withdraw her hands, but Kara only held on more firmly. She held Lena’s gaze before giving her a slightly playful smile.

“Lena...if you’re really so worried about being embarrassed by my dancing at the ball, you can just say so.” Kara’s eyes were bright and warm as she looked up to Lena, who blinked back for a full few seconds before she let out a shocked laugh.

“Don’t make me laugh, Kara, I’m being serious…”

Kara squeezed her hands. “So am I. But don’t worry; I’ve been practicing. For our dance. You promised, remember?”

Lena chewed at the inside of her cheek, her eyebrow slowly raising. “You have?”

Kara nodded. “Would you like a preview?”

Lena scoffed, then—”wait, you’re serious?” when Kara flashed an indignant look.

“Mhmm.” Kara straightened and held her hand out to Lena: an invitation that was accepted after a brief hesitation. Kara tugged her up so she was standing in front of her, her other hand hovering in the air before she settled it on her waist and she gave a flitting smile after a nervous breath. “You’re, ah, shorter than my instructor.”

“Should I ask?”

“Maybe some other time. Now hush, I need to concentrate.” Kara huffed out shortly, features sliding into determination as she met Lena’s curiously watching eyes.

She counted off under her breath and pushed off of her foot, guiding Lena back a few steps. Lena followed easily, moving with natural grace, and their feet sunk into the powdery snow as Kara softly hummed the song Professor Prince usually played in their lessons. Moving through the snow was slightly awkward, not to mention the press of Lena in her arms was more than a little distracting, but Kara managed to get the steps down, just like she’d practiced. Kara moved to get Lena into position for a spin, but stopped just short and dropped her arm with a grin. “And that’s all you get. You’ll have to wait for the ball for the rest of my moves.”

Lena exhaled slowly, and Kara was glad to see she had a small smile back on her face. Lena’s hands slipped down her shoulders and she shuffled forward slightly, tentatively looping her arms around Kara’s waist, then she tucked her head against her shoulder.

“You’re really not that bad, Kara,” she appraised. “I wish...I wish we could go together. I have the feeling mother won’t be happy if she sees us together at all. Fraternizing with the enemy, and all that.”

Inside, Kara felt her heart sink, but on the outside she smiled brightly and waved her hand dismissively. “I’m not worried. We’ll still get our dance; you’ve seen how sneaky I can be,” she chirped, and Lena laughed breathily.

“I’m sorry I panicked,” Lena mumbled, and her breath was warm as it tickled across the skin of Kara’s neck. “I’m not used to this.”

Kara rested her chin by the side of Lena’s head. “It’s okay,” she said softly. “You can have this, you really can. Friends, people who care for you...you just have to let them. Being a Luthor has nothing to do with it.” Lena hummed in response, giving a small nod against Kara’s shoulder. Kara wasn’t sure if she was entirely convinced, but this felt like a start at least. A shiver shook Lena’s frame, and Kara tightened her arms around the girl. “We should go back inside. We left our coats.”

Lena sighed, closing her eyes as her fingers twisted into the wool of Kara’s sweater. “Just a little longer.”

Kara’s nose felt like it might fall off by the time they finally went back inside, but the way Lena held onto her hand like it was a safety meant it was completely worth it.

Chapter Text

It was Kara’s first Christmas at Hogwarts. Every year before, Christmas had meant packing up and shipping back to the Danvers family home, where she spent the holiday with Alex, Jeremiah, Eliza, Kal—when he could get time off work—and Diana often made an appearance too.

Kara loved Christmas.

Krypton didn’t celebrate Christmas, so when she came downstairs during her first December with the Danvers, Kara had been incredibly confused to find a giant fir tree standing in the middle of the living room.

“Alex,” she’d whispered, shaking her sister awake.

Alex groaned, and blinked her eyes open after another of Kara’s insistent prods. “What? Did you have a nightmare?” she asked, rubbing sleep from concerned eyes.

Kara shook her head, fingertips pressed together. “I think Jeremiah’s gone crazy. There’s...there’s a tree in the living room.” Alex’s puzzled expression gave way to warm laughter, and she pulled Kara into her bed to tell her all about the holiday.

Kara instantly fell in love with everything about Christmas: the decorations, the presents, the food...everything was so bright and cheerful, which was exactly what she needed when her world was anything but.

So this year, waking up in her tinsel and holly-embellished bunk in the Hufflepuff dormitory on Christmas morning was a new experience. She was, of course, sad to be missing out on seeing Eliza and Jeremiah, but she was also incredibly excited to be spending her first Christmas at Hogwarts with her friends, who were really more like family now too.

Christmas morning was spent in the Gryffindor common room, Kara wearing her dressing gown and Niffler slippers, exchanging gifts and laughter with her friends. By the end of the morning, Kara had acquired a new pair of quidditch goggles from Alex, a pair of socks with cartoon dragons printed on them from Maggie (“much less terrifying than the real thing”), and about a years’ worth of sweets from James and Winn. Jeremiah and Eliza had also sent Christmas cards and matching leather-bound journals for her and Alex.

Lena met up with them after breakfast, as she had been forced to spend the morning with her brother and mother.

“How was it?” Kara asked when Lena joined them in the Great Hall. Her hair was loose from its usual ponytail or bun, and her Beauxbatons uniform had been traded for a pair of jeans and a huge woolly cardigan.

Lena sighed as she sank into the seat next to Kara, and helped herself to a pumpkin pasty from Kara’s stack. “It was...quiet. Mother barely said a word. Which was, actually, a bit of an improvement on how she usually is,” she hummed thoughtfully as she picked at the pastry with her fingers.

“Hey, Lena!” Winn exclaimed, sliding into the seat opposite them. “Check out my new chess set.” He lugged a wooden case onto the table, rattling plates and glasses as he thunked it down.

Lena’s eyes grew large as he began unpacking the handsome chess set. “No way,” she breathed reverently, “Is this the ChessMaster 2000 deluxe edition?”

“Yep,” Winn beamed, “with mahogany pieces and everything. So, what do you say? Want to help me break it in?”

Lena grinned, her eyes flashing at the challenge as she rolled up her sleeves. “You’re on.”

The morning passed lazily into afternoon, by which time Lena had beaten Winn three times and Kara was nearly full to bursting from lunch and all the sweets she’d eaten. After lunch, they trooped out into the grounds for a snowball fight, which saw Alex and Kara putting their quidditch skills to good use as they unleashed a relentless torrent of snowballs against the others, and culminated in Kara leaping—bodyguard style—in front of Lena to save her from a brutal wave of enchanted snow sent over by Winn.

As the sun dipped behind Hogwarts castle, Lena and Kara lay side-by-side inside of matching snow angels, watching their breath puff up in the air above them. With an airy laugh, Lena sat up and shook the snow out of her hair, smiling as she looked back over her shoulder.

“You know, this is probably the best Christmas I’ve ever had.”

Kara beamed back, about to agree when an owl screeched overhead and dropped a letter into her lap. Sitting up, Kara turned the brown envelope over in her hands. It didn’t have any writing on it, but it wasn’t the first time she’d gotten one of these letters, so she knew exactly who it was from.

“Everything alright?” Lena asked, head tilted to the side as she noticed Kara’s slight frown.

“Hm?” Kara’s head snapped back up and she nodded. “Oh, yeah. It’s from my cousin. Probably just a Christmas card,” she said, stuffing the letter into her coat pocket for later. “He’s an Auror. Goes undercover a lot, so I don’t hear from him very often...and I probably broke a few secrecy laws telling you that.” Kara grimaced. “Forget I said anything?”

“Your secret is safe with me,” Lena said solemnly, and affirmed the point by drawing a cross over her heart. “That is, if you think you can trust a Luthor,” she added wryly.

“I do. Completely.” Kara spoke seriously, her eyes earnest and sincere. Lena faltered and blushed bit under them.

“Oh. I...I was kidding. Sort of,” she mumbled, and Kara shrugged anyway, happy to stick by what she’d said. Lena sighed contentedly and turned her eyes back up towards the castle. “I told Jess I’d get ready for the ball with her.” Lena sighed heavily, looking wholly unenthusiastic as she gazed out across the lake.

Kara rocked back on the heels of her palms. “Here’s an idea. How about we just ditch the whole thing? I can sneak some food from the kitchens, and we can just stuff ourselves silly in the common room. It’ll be great.”

Lena’s expression was pained. “Kara…”

“Kidding,” Kara said quickly. “Professor Grant would give me detention for the rest of the year if I didn’t show.”

Lena breathed a laugh, eyes falling to her lap. “Plus, I want to see this outfit you were so excited about.” She huffed, her eyes steeling with frustration. “I wish I—I wish we could…” Lena failed to articulate the thought, but Kara understood. Or at least, she thought she understood.

“I know.”

“I’ll see you tonight?” Lena asked, biting her lower lip.

Kara swallowed, a whirlwind of nervous butterflies surging through her stomach as she thought that the ball was just a few hours away, and she quickly forgot all about the letter sitting in her pocket.

“Can’t wait.”

*

The Gryffindor common room was a bustle of students in elegant dresses and dashing robes when Kara followed James in through the portrait hole later that evening. Alex had held onto her dress robes for safekeeping, so they’d planned for Kara to get ready with them.

Kara entered the seventh year girls’ dormitory and raised an eyebrow when she saw Maggie sat on her bed in her gown, hands trapped firmly beneath her as she pouted stubbornly. “What’s going on?” Kara asked.

“Alex says I’ll ruin her makeup if I touch...and I really want to touch.”

“It’s not my fault this crap is so difficult,” Alex grumbled from where she bent in front of the mirror, valiantly attempting to apply mascara without poking herself in the eye. “You can touch plenty later,” she added, and Maggie grinned dopily.

“First of all, gross,” Kara wrinkled her nose. “Second of all, can I have my robes?” Alex directed Kara to where her robes were folded neatly on her bed, and Kara took them into the small bathroom to get changed.

Kara admired herself in the mirror once she was dressed, pleased to see the smart navy blue dress robes looked just how she remembered them in the shop. She even managed to tie the bow tie herself this time. She gave herself one last look over, and that was when she noticed the gold buttons on the waistcoat and her jaw dropped open.

“Alex!” she cried out, her voice strangled and echoing as it bounced off the bathroom walls.

“What? What is it?” Alex’s head popped in, eyes darting wildly as though looking for a fire.

Kara ran her finger over the buttons. They were different to when she had tried the waistcoat on in the shop. Now, they were embellished with a symbol she hadn’t worn for a very long time: a bold-faced S shape, the symbol of her house.

“Did you do this?” she whispered.

Alex stepped forward, looking over Kara’s shoulder in the mirror. “I...yeah, I did. I asked the lady at the shop to customise them for me. Did I get the symbol right? Please tell me I didn’t mess it up.”

Kara shook her head. “No, it’s right. It’s just how I remember it.”

Alex exhaled in relief. She took Kara’s blonde hair out from its ponytail and began combing through it with her fingers before she started making a delicate braid on one side. “I remember when you first came to live with us...you didn’t really talk much, did you?”

Kara closed her eyes, swallowing hard. “I couldn’t. It was like...like I didn’t have any words.”

“I know,” Alex said softly. “But one day, I was drawing and you got a hold of one of my papers, and you just drew this symbol over and over. I asked you what it was, and you said…”

“Family,” Kara answered.

“Yeah.” Alex finished the thin braid and pinned it back behind Kara’s head before starting on another on the opposite side. “I thought you’d like a little reminder of them tonight. You’re growing up and all, I just thought...I haven’t upset you, have I?”

Kara exhaled and waited for Alex to pin the other braid back before the turned around and pulled her sister into a crushing hug. “Thank you, Alex,” she whispered. Her eyes were shining when she pulled back, but she was smiling nonetheless.

“Don’t you dare make me cry, the stupid eyeliner only took me a century,” Alex chastised as she fanned at her eyes.

“Don’t be such a thoughtful sap if you don’t want to cry then,” Kara teased gently. She turned back around to look at herself and drew in a steeling breath. She could sense something shifting within her, wearing her family’s symbol for the first time since she was a child. She felt stronger, and braver with it on her front.

“Alex...I want to tell Lena about myself. About my past.”

Alex looked uncertain in the mirror. “Kara, are you sure? You know it’s risky. Kal says the people who did those horrible things to your people are still out there. The less people know about you, the better.”

“I know,” Kara said, tight-lipped and nodding. “I know that. I won’t tell her everything—I doubt I even could, it’s too...it’s too hard. But what happened is a part of me. I want her to know me.”

Kara stared herself in the mirror, like she was getting to know herself anew. She wondered what her mother would think of her now, standing on the brink of being a young woman. She wondered if Aunt Astra would be proud of her; if she would think she turned out to be strong and brave, just like she raised her to be. Aunt Astra probably would have gotten a real kick out of Kara facing a dragon, Kara thought, and she smiled a little at her reflection.

Alex’s face appeared next to hers, chin resting on her shoulder. She knew what it meant for Kara to say that she wanted someone to know her, for real, and it showed on her face. “Okay, Kar. She really means a lot to you, doesn’t she?”

“She does.”

Maggie poked her head into the room and grinned, wand held in the air. “Hey, little Danvers. If you need some help with Lena tonight, I’ve got you covered.”

Kara glanced up to see a bushel of mistletoe levitating above her head and turned a violent shade of crimson. “Please don’t,” she begged.

Maggie chuckled and broke the levitation charm so the mistletoe dropped unceremoniously down onto Kara’s head. “Offer’s there. Come on, we’re gonna be late!”

A steady stream of students filtered towards the Great Hall, all chatting excitedly and gasping over each other in their formal clothes. Couples walked arm in arm, and Kara poked her head above the crowd to try and catch sight of Lena, but couldn’t see her anywhere just yet. Suddenly, she was yanked away by the elbow and pulled into a corner. She looked up into the sparkling eyes of Professor Prince, who wore flowing velvet periwinkle blue robes and a golden tiara on her dark locks.

“Ow! That’s my shooting arm,” Kara complained, rubbing her arm gingerly from where her shoulder was nearly ripped from its socket.

“Sorry,” Diana chuckled lightly. “Guess I don’t know my own strength. My, my, now this is a look,” she said, nodding in approval as she straightened the lapels of Kara’s jacket.

“You like it?”

“It’s divine; I adore it. Do you remember what I taught you? Eyes up. Back straight.” Diana tapped Kara’s chin and spine into position. “And have fun. I promised Jeremiah and Eliza that I wouldn’t embarrass you, so you’re safe...for now.”

Kara rolled her eyes, and it was then that Professor Grant stormed past, all billowing magenta robes and an extravagant jeweled hat perched atop her blonde head. “Miss Davies!” she barked, and Kara winced. “Where is Miss Davies?”

“I think that’s my cue,” she grimaced, and Diana laughed as she waved her off, telling her she’d see her on the dance floor.

Kara broke into a jog towards the hall, the corridors emptier of students now that most of them had headed inside. She skidded to a stop at the top of the stairs, excess momentum causing her to hop a few paces. And that was when she saw her.

Lena stood in profile, her dark hair swept over to the side where it cascaded down her front. She was breathtaking, in a silver dress that hung off of one shoulder, with ornate gilded leaves detailing the strap and top of the bust. Her fingertips were pressed together, fidgeting and pulling, a deep red lip caught between teeth.

People started turning to look at Kara at the top of the stairs, but Kara only saw Lena. Only saw the way her eyes widened and her teeth released her lip to part and form a small ‘o’ when their eyes met. Kara felt her cheeks heat up and she hurriedly descended the stairs, definitely stumbling down the last three, but managed to right herself and pop up in front of Lena, blushing and breathless and beaming.

“Hi!”

Lena, maybe for the first time ever, seemed lost for words. Flustered, even. Before Kara could feel too pleased with herself, Lena blinked back into the room and righted her slackened jaw.

“Kara, hi. Hi. You’re looking very, ah...very handsome.”

Kara scratched shyly at the back of her neck. “You think so? I know it’s not really traditional—”

“It’s very you. It’s...it’s perfect,” Lena said earnestly, and Kara beamed.

“You too, Lena, I mean, wow. You look incredible,” Kara breathed in awe, making Lena blush faintly as she looked her up and down.

“Doesn’t she just?”

Kara blinked up at who had spoken, noticing the boy Lena had been standing with for the first time. Tall, handsome, with dark eyes and a beard that was far too well developed for a seventeen year old. He had a pleasant smile, eyes crinkling at the corners as he looked at Lena with nothing short of complete adoration.

Kara disliked him already.

Lena seemed to remember her manners all of a sudden, and hastened to introduce him. “Kara, this is Jack.”

“Pleasure.” Jack tipped his head into a polite bow, and Kara gave a strange little wave in response. She grimaced at her own hand and thrust it behind her back, and Jack flashed pearly whites as he smiled. “I probably shouldn’t be saying this—you know, school loyalty and all—but I was very impressed with your performance against that dragon. Really, I was on the edge of my seat.”

Kara’s attention, meanwhile, had been otherwise preoccupied by the way Jack’s hand rested far too comfortably at the small of Lena’s back. It took her a moment and Lena clearing her throat conspicuously to realise she was glaring through an overly long pause.

“Hm? Oh, thanks. Just did what I had to to stay alive, I guess,” she answered vaguely.

“Well, you certainly did so with style,” Jack said, and his charming grin was really getting on Kara’s nerves.

She supposed she should have been happy, really. That if Lena had to go with someone of her mother’s choosing, at least he wasn’t a jerk. He actually seemed quite nice, almost annoyingly so. Still, rationalising did little to stifle the gnawing feeling in Kara’s stomach. She wanted nothing more than to be in his position: to have Lena on her arm, to be smiling at her with such open affection, to walk into the Great Hall and have everybody see them and know that there was something...important, between them.

Whatever it was, Kara didn’t know just yet. But the way Lena looked at her through dark lashes, her skin shimmering with some sort of silvery glitter over her eyes, made Kara eager to fling this Jack person into space and find out.

A lanky arm thrown around her shoulders alerted her to the presence of her actual date for the evening.

“Oh Captain, my Captain!” Barry exclaimed cheerily, and Kara snapped out of it enough to smile at him and wrap her arm behind his back. “Nice threads,” Barry grinned appreciatively. “Hiya, Lena. Oh, I’m Barry,” he said to Jack, who nodded politely and introduced himself.

“Professor Grant was looking for us, Kara,” Barry informed dutifully, and Kara grimaced internally at the reminder that she was supposed to dance in front of the school, next to Lex Luthor, no less. Speaking of the literal devil…

Kara wondered if Lex was part Dementor, because he brought a chill into any room he entered. His hair had grown back, the mass of brown curls slicked back with dark gel, and his emerald green dress robes swept the floor as he approached with his regal stride. A pretty girl who looked positively giddy to be on Lex Luthor’s arm accompanied him as he came to a stop in front of the group.

“Lena,” he said curtly after a pause.

“Lex,” Lena replied, equally coolly.

There was terse silence for a beat, then— “Barry,” Jack said, wearing a wry grin.

“Jack,” Barry joked back, and the tension alleviated somewhat as Barry and Jack chortled good-naturedly.

Lex rolled his eyes, his features rearranging themselves into a chuckling grin as he reached out to shake Jack’s hand, clapping the back of it. “Good to see you, Jack,” he said, and he sounded almost...happy? It was a strange look on him, Kara thought. He seemed to reserve only his best sneers for her, apparently. Lex rocked back on his heels and looked Jack and Lena up and down, smiling in approval. “You two certainly make an attractive couple. Mother will be pleased.”

Jack beamed happily and slipped his arm around Lena’s waist, his hand settling on Lena’s hip, and Kara’s lips pressed together to repress a grimace. She wondered vaguely if anyone could hear the sound of her own teeth grinding.

Lex’s gaze softened on Lena. “Lena, you really do look lovely,” he murmured quietly, and Lena eyed him warily. “I do hope we’ll have some time tonight to spend together. Mother...mother would like to take some pictures of us, I’m sure. You know I don’t much like to take pictures, but it’s important to her...so.” He trailed off and cleared his throat, shifting slightly in his dress shoes, for a moment looking awkward and uncertain and very un-Lex Luthor indeed.

Lena held his gaze before she shrugged airily and tipped her chin. “If I have time.”

Jack chuckled warmly, like his laugh had some magical power to inject lightness into the most awkward situations, even between recently estranged Luthor siblings. “I promise I won’t take up all of her night, Lex.”

Kara crossed her arms, her frown turning into more of a scowl. “I think Lena can decide for herself how she wants to spend her time.”

Lex quirked an eyebrow, looking at her like he’d just noticed he’d stepped in something unpleasant. “Well, if it isn’t my sister’s valiant defender,” he drawled, then paused when he caught sight of Kara’s waistcoat buttons, and they seemed to garner all of his attention. “My, my, now that is an interesting symbol. I must say, I don't recognise it from any reputable brands. You must tell me where you got those.”

Kara hesitated, her thumb instinctively tracing over the top button. “They're...they’re custom.”

“I see.” The way his eyes transfixed on her family crest made Kara’s stomach churn with unease. “Well,” he said, smiling abruptly. “I hope we can all enjoy a civil evening tonight. Mother has made it quite clear she’d like to avoid any kind of scene.”

“We wouldn’t want to upset mother, would we?” Lena snipped.

“I’m just saying. It appears you have no problem with calling attention to yourself,” Lex chuckled, gesturing at Kara’s robes.

Kara felt Barry tense up beside her, and she was halfway to furious herself, but then Lena was leaning over and murmuring in her ear: “He’s just jealous that you look better in a tie than he does.”

Kara was successfully placated.

She relaxed a clenched fist and plastered on an overly polite smile. “Enjoy the ball, Lex. And you, too, girl who Lex was too rude to introduce,” she added, smirking to herself as Lex’s date shot him an offended glare.

Before Lex could retort anything back, Professor Grant appeared by his side looking very unimpressed indeed.

“Excuse me for interrupting whatever teen drama is going on here, but need I remind you the entire student body is waiting? Come now, let’s get this over with,” she huffed, grabbing Kara by the scruff of her jacket. “Lord, why couldn’t there be alcohol at this cursed event?” she muttered under her breath as she shepherded the champions and their partners to the entrance, where Winn and Mon-el were standing side by side. Kara couldn’t help but feel happy when she saw the way their fingers interlocked.

Before Kara knew it, they were striding into the hall to the sound of thunderous clapping from students and teachers alike. She ducked her head as she walked down the centre of the hall, arm in arm with Barry, and grinned when she eventually spotted Maggie and Alex giving her huge thumbs ups from the crowd.

The Great Hall was more extravagantly decorated than Kara had ever seen, with frost covered boughs of holly lining the walls, magnificent ice sculptures positioned by the pillars, and an exquisitely decorated thirty foot tall christmas tree at the front of the room. Snow fell down from the enchanted ceiling like it did outside, while the stars glistened above them.

The long tables had vanished, instead leaving an empty space in the middle of the floor which they entered into and took up a space, silence falling around them as they prepared for the first dance. Kara turned to stand face to face with Barry, and her eyes grew wide when he took her waist.

“What is it?” Barry asked.

Kara shifted awkwardly. “Uh…see, the thing is, I only know how to lead,” she explained. Her dancing lessons with Professor Prince had operated under the assumption that she would ultimately be dancing with Lena, and that she would be leading. “Do you mind?”

Barry stared back at her for a second before he shrugged, and shifted his arm to Kara’s shoulder. “Just don’t drop me.”

Kara placed her hand on Barry’s bony hip and grinned. “I’m stronger than I look.”

At the front of the room was a stage, upon which sat a troupe of instruments. With a swish of Professor Grant’s wand, the instruments levitated on their own and began to play.

It took Kara a couple of steps to find her rhythm, but once she did, they were gliding around the room. Thankfully, hours of practice and stubbed toes in Professor Prince’s classroom seemed to have paid off. In fact, Kara eventually enjoyed it, laughing when Barry had to stoop to duck under her arm for a spin.

Professor Prince caught her eye over Barry’s shoulder and flashed her a proud grin before she offered Professor Grant her arm and they took to the floor. Gradually, more professors and the braver students joined them. Much to Kara’s dismay, Jack and Lena were among them.

Lena hadn’t been lying: Jack was an exceptionally good dancer. They moved equally gracefully across the floor, like they’d probably done many times before at whatever fancy events they had attended together in the past.

They were perfectly in sync, matching each other’s movements effortlessly. Jack raised his arm, and Lena twirled under it. Jack placed his hands on Lena’s hips, and she smiled softly as he lifted her into the air for half a spin. (When Kara and Barry attempted this move, Barry jumped a bit to help Kara get him off the ground. Kara nearly launched him into another couple).

Kara clenched her jaw as she watched Jack and Lena dance, tightening when she saw the approving look on Headmistress Luthor’s face as she watched from the crowd.

“Hey Kara, big finish,” Barry hissed warningly to pull her from her thoughts. She wrenched her gaze away from Jack murmuring something in Lena’s ear and Lena laughing in that way that Kara loved, the way that scrunched her nose up and made her eyes crinkle, and she locked eyes with Barry instead. The music swelled into a crescendo and Kara turned her heel, bracing herself in a steady position where she lowered Barry into a dip.

The song finished, and everyone clapped. Kara was just glad it was over.

She glanced up at Professors Prince and Grant— Professor Prince seemed to find Kara and Barry’s role reversal to be the most hilarious and amazing thing she’d ever seen. Professor Grant raised her eyebrow in bemused question, until Professor Prince murmured something in her ear—probably something about antiquated gender roles in dancing—which resulted in Professor Grant sighing enduringly and giving Kara a nod of recognition. It was probably as close to approval from Professor Grant that Kara would ever get, so she was going to take it.

“Uh, Kara?”

“Hm?”

“Help me up?”

“Oh. Sorry.” She righted Barry and chuckled when he lowered himself into a curtsy. She bowed with a flourish of her hand in return. “Let’s go find the snacks,” he grinned.

“Now you’re talking.”

Kara earnestly focused her energy on having a good time with her friends...all the while doing everything she could to keep herself from looking at the dance floor, where Jack and Lena remained for what felt like an excessive number of songs.

James had gotten a new camera for Christmas from his parents, and he put it to good use documenting the evening. The camera flashed and whirred with every captured memory.

Kara and Barry racing to see who could drink a bottle of butterbeer the fastest. (Kara won, by a lot).

Maggie and Alex pulling Kara onto the dancefloor to perform an improvised three-person jig.

Winn grabbing Mon-el’s butt when he thought no one was looking.

Kara climbing up onto James’ shoulders to dip a strawberry into the very top level of the chocolate fountain (“the chocolate is warmer at the top!”).

Alex and Maggie spiking the punch with firewhisky while Professor Prince pretended not to see.

Kara was smiling in every photo, but every time she laughed uproariously at any of her friends’ ridiculous antics, she found herself turning to her side in hopes to share the laugh with Lena, only to find the space woefully vacant. It all ended up feeling...sort of hollow.

Then she would look across the room and see Lena either dancing with Jack, or sharing a drink with Jess, or in conversation with some Beauxbatons students Kara didn’t know, all under the ever-present stare of Lillian Luthor. And Kara would feel miserable.

Their eyes met across the room—once, over Jack’s shoulder, and Lena...looked just about as miserable as Kara felt. Kara wanted nothing more than to cross over to her and take her away, but she was highly conscious of the fact that Lillian was watching Lena’s every move.

Alex eventually found her sat at a table, feeling incredibly sorry for herself as she mindlessly chewed on a cauldron cake, barely tasting it at all. Barry had gone off to find Iris, who had been considerably impressed by his and Kara’s dance at the start of the ball.

So Kara was alone. With her pile of food. It wasn’t a very pretty picture.

“Now if this isn’t the meaning of Christmas, I don’t know what is,” Alex remarked as she pulled up a chair to sit next to her. Alex’s lips pinched as she adjusted herself in a rather unladylike manner, pulling the lace of the bust of her dress until she seemed to find the most comfortable placement.

Kara sighed glumly and took another bite of cake. “Forgive me if I’m not quite in the festive spirit, Al.”

Alex followed her line of sight to where Kara gazed longingly at Lena, who stood next to Jack as they were locked in conversation with Lillian and Lex. Lena’s fingers pressed into the flesh of her opposite arm while she stared absently into space, looking like she would rather be anywhere else on earth right then.

“I see your predicament,” Alex hummed. Her features stretched into an impish grin and she reached out to thumb some chocolate sauce off of Kara’s cheek. “But fear not, dear sister. The older, better Danvers has a plan.” Alex tapped a finger to her earring and raised her opposite wrist to her mouth.

“Come in, Dimples McGee. Dimples McGee, do you read me?” she spoke into a thin, gold bracelet.

Kara raised an eyebrow, but her eyes widened when she heard a voice—Maggie’s—emitting from Alex’s earring, which must have been enchanted. She leaned over closer to Alex’s ear so she could hear better.

“Loud and clear, Agent Hotstuff. I’m in position. The target is in sight.”

Kara scanned the crowd until she spotted Maggie on the opposite side of the room, lurking mysteriously in the shadows behind a hippogriff-shaped ice sculpture. Just a short distance away from the Luthors.

“Alex…” Kara whined apprehensively, her eyes bulging as she wondered what kind of crazy scheme her sister had planned.

Alex waved her hand in a brisk silencing motion. “Okay, Dimples McGee. You’re clear to move out. Be careful out there. Love you, babe.”

“Ditto, kiddo.”

Kara watched as Maggie casually strolled out from behind the ice sculpture carrying an astonishingly large ice cream sundae in her hands. She was walking straight towards the Luthors. Oh no. She wasn’t. She was. She did.

Maggie tripped on nothing and sent the entire sundae splashing straight onto Lena’s dress.

(As if Lena needed to be any more tempting. Now she was gorgeous and covered in ice cream).

The mess was atrocious, and Maggie wore a face of exaggerated horror, clutching at her cheeks with both hands.

“Oh my goodness, Miss Luthor, I am so sorry. I am just such a klutz! Here, let me take you to the bathroom to get you cleaned up. Come with me, over here, away from these nice people, right away,” Maggie insisted as she fussed over Lena, who stared at her in complete shock.

Just as Maggie took Lena by the hand to take her away, Lillian Luthor drew her wand sharply, and cleared her throat. “That won’t be necessary,” she said coolly. She cast a cleaning charm on Lena’s dress, and the mess was gone in an instant.

“Oh…” Maggie’s face fell. Lena’s, too, as it seemed she had caught on to the intentions of their hairbrained scheme. “Well, thank Merlin for magic!” Maggie beamed and chuckled nervously.

Lillian narrowed her eyes dangerously. “Lucky indeed. That dress is very expensive. What was your name, girl?”

“Uh...Siobhan Smythe. Gotta go, bye!” Maggie excused herself quickly and whirled off, and Kara could hear a panicked “abort! Abort!” blasting from Alex’s earring.

Kara deflated, sinking down into her seat, but Alex refused to be defeated.

“Don’t worry, Kar. When plan A fails, we deploy...plan gay! Plan Gay, that’s your cue. Plan Gay...come in, Plan Gay! Diana, quit flirting with Professor Grant right now or so help me!” Alex screeched into her bracelet.

“Okay, Okay, Plan Gay reporting for duty.” Diana’s velvet voice came out from Alex’s earring, and Kara spotted her sauntering across the ballroom, leaving a pink-faced Professor Grant standing under a mistletoe embellished archway. “For the record, Plan Bi is a more accurate codename for me, but I do respect the rhyme you’re going for.”

Alex rolled her eyes and leaned forwards in her chair. Maggie collapsed into a seat next to them, panting but exhilarated as Alex gave her knee a quick squeeze.

“Sorry, Little Danvers. I tried my best. Ah, the things I do for young love,” Maggie sighed, brightening up as she licked some leftover ice cream off of her index finger.

“Okay, Plan Gay. Do your thing,” Alex instructed.

Kara had to admit, Diana was good. She could really turn on the charm when she wanted to (sometimes Kara even wondered if she was part veela). Kara watched as Diana approached the Luthors and smoothly eased herself into their conversation, flashing white-toothed grins and tossing her head back with laughter at the appropriate moments. She batted her dark eyelashes at Lillian, and when the opportunity presented itself, said something about how she would just love to hear Lillian’s thoughts on the efficacy of corporal punishment as a disciplinary method for students. And then Diana was leading Lillian away, an arm delicately slipped through the older woman’s as she guided her off, and Kara swore she even saw Lillian giggle.

“Yes!” Alex cheered beside her. “Now, to deal with the other two. Gay Team, activate!” she commanded into her bracelet.

“I would like to make it known that I object to this ridiculous codename.” It was Winn’s voice now, and there was a brief pause. “Mon-el says he likes the name,” he added reluctantly.

“A-ha,” Alex smirked victoriously. “Alright, Gay Team. Move out!”

Across the room, Winn and Mon-el approached Lex, Jack, and Lena, and each seemed to have predetermined targets. Winn made a beeline for Lex, bombarding him with questions about some paper Lex had written and gushing about how much he admired his work, while Mon-el simply stood in front of Jack and grinned. He raised his arms in a triumphant V-shape, which Kara instantly recognised as his trademark victory pose for when he caught the snitch during quidditch matches. Jack’s jaw dropped open and he was completely starstruck, patting down his pockets in hopes of finding a piece of parchment for an autograph. Instantly, Mon-el procured a picture of himself from his jacket and chatted happily while taking his time signing it.

Which left Lena unguarded, for the first time all night. She raised an eyebrow, clearly figuring something was going on, as Lex and Jack were effectively distracted. Kara stared at a smugly grinning Alex, completely dumbfound as she watched the entire scene unfold before her.

“Operation Luthorgate: success!” Alex cheered, then fixed Kara with a serious look. “Now it’s all on you, Sunny D. Your mission, should you choose to accept it...go get the girl.”

Kara blinked back at Alex, barely able to comprehend that this was actually happening. But it was Alex, so of course it was. Her chair skidded backwards as she stood and brushed the crumbs off of her front, grinning and turning red when Maggie whooped and punched her fist in the air.

“You...are the best sister ever,” she gushed, and Alex just tossed her hand dismissively.

“I know. Hurry up, the window I masterfully orchestrated won’t stay open forever.”

Without further hesitation, Kara turned on her heel and cut across the dancefloor, narrowly avoiding being smacked in the face by twirling couples, and ducking swifty under levitating trays of drinks that floated around the hall. She appeared by Lena’s side, and one hand tugged on her wrist while the other settled at the small of her back, pressing insistently to slip away from her distracted companions.

Kara’s heart thudded against her ribcage as she led Lena back to the dancefloor, and they quickly disappeared into the crowd of dancers. The music playing now was more contemporary, the dancing less formal and more teenagers flailing roughly in time to the beat of drums and bass. Kara stopped Lena in the middle of the floor, thinking the press of students around them would keep them hidden, at least for now.

“Oh thank goodness, Kara,” Lena gasped, a little breathless with the effort and adrenaline of their swift escape. “I was about two minutes away from eating a puking pastille to get away from them.”

Kara chuckled and pushed her glasses up her nose. “Guess I got you just in time, huh?”

“Not a moment too soon.”

Space and time held little significance for a few brief moments as they stood in the middle of the floor, grinning at each other as the dancing students jostled them even closer together. Lena was so beautiful, Kara thought, her skin so soft where she still held onto her hands, and Kara could feel herself falling into the moment so perfectly until—

“Lena?” Jack’s deep voice carried over the music, his neck craning to try to see over the crowd.

“Shoot,” Kara cursed and ducked her head down, tugging Lena down with her. “Let’s get out of here?” she suggested, catching the vivid worry in Lena’s eyes.

“Thought you’d never ask.”

Kara nodded and glanced up to see Jack’s back was turned. “Here.” Kara hurriedly shucked her jacket and put it over Lena’s head and shoulders in an attempt to somewhat disguise her. “Okay, let’s go.”

Kara placed her hands on Lena’s back to shepherd her away from Jack through the crowd. They scuttled across the hall, ducking behind ice sculptures and pillars to keep out of sight of both Lex and Jack as they stalked around the hall in search of them.

Kara urged Lena towards the exit—they were so close now—and then Lex rounded a corner and Kara made the snap decision to pull Lena into an alcove just to their right. Lena let out a yelp of surprise, and Kara shushed her urgently as she pulled her into her chest to keep her from view in case Lex turned his eyes in this way. They remained still there, frozen and barely daring to breathe, until Lex’s robes finally swished past the alcove.

Kara exhaled in relief, a giddy laugh escaping her as she let her head fall back against the wall. With her eyes turned up to the ceiling, Kara spotted the mistletoe that hung playfully above them, dewy and pretty with a cheery red bow that fastened it to leafy garland. The pink tinge to Lena’s cheeks suggested that she had seen it too, as did the way she bit her lip and shifted uncertainly. There was a moment there, during which Kara hesitated and maybe even briefly entertained the thought of surrendering to tradition—then she quickly remembered herself and cleared her throat, nodding towards the exit instead.

“The coast is clear,” she whispered purposefully, and Lena gave a brisk nod, taking a slight step back as they made the simultaneous decision to ignore the devilish greenery above them.

Kara poked her head out from the alcove, sweeping the hall one last time, before she twined her fingers with Lena’s and tugged her towards the door. They were practically running by the time they reached the exit and burst out into the starry night, giggling with happiness and the relief of freedom at last.

The outside courtyard was quiet and still in contrast to the cheery bustle of the hall where the ball continued and the music played on. Torchlight bathed everything in an orange glow, and snow drifted lazily towards the earth, alighting softly in Lena’s hair and on Kara’s shoulders.

“I’m sorry you had to leave your friends to come get me,” Lena said, her voice quiet and clear through the stillness of the night.

Kara smiled her assurance. “I think they were all eager to pair up and slow dance anyway, so...I would have been by myself. I’m right where I want to be. Promise.”

Lena looked like she believed her, smiling softly as she nodded and said “okay.” An involuntary shiver shook her frame, and Kara shifted behind her to raise her jacket off of Lena’s shoulders so she could slip her arms through. Kara’s broader shoulders meant the jacket was a little big on her and the sleeves draped over her hands, but she smiled gratefully and pulled the material around her.

“So...what now?” Lena wondered aloud.

“Uh…” Kara realised she hadn’t really had a chance to think about what her plan was beyond getting Lena out. “Whatever you want,” she ended up improvising.

“Whatever I want, hm? That’s new.” Lena hummed thoughtfully, tapping her pointer finger to her chin. When she looked back up at Kara, there was a decision in her eyes. “Take me somewhere.”

Kara nodded in solemn acceptance of her mission and offered Lena her arm with a crooked grin. “As you wish.”

Lena rolled her eyes as she slipped her arm through Kara’s and followed her lead. The music and laughter of the Yule Ball was reduced to soft background noise as Kara took her up some stairs on the outside of the clock tower.

“Did you enjoy the ball?” Lena asked, her breath pluming before her as they walked.

Kara gave a one-shouldered shrug. “It was okay. The decorations, the music, the food was great, and I got to spend time with my friends but...I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have. I suppose was a little distracted.”

“Oh?”

Kara scrubbed at the back of her neck. “Yeah. You and Jack…”

“Are just friends,” Lena said calmly, and Kara grimaced and felt just a tad foolish.

“I—I know. Still. Seeing you dance together...it was kind of hard to watch.”

Lena appeared highly amused and interested by Kara’s admission, but mercifully chose not to tease her for it.

“I could say the same about Barry. The pair of you had some impressive moves,” Lena said, and the slight smirk pulling at her lips made it very hard for Kara to tell if she was joking or not.

“You’re just saying that,” Kara waved her off.

Lena chuckled with mirth, but stopped abruptly when her stomach let out a low, long growl. “Sorry,” she gasped, pressing a hand flat against her abdomen. “I never really got a chance to eat, what with all the dancing and mother not letting me out of her sight all night.”

Of all the things Lillian Luthor had done to Lena, Kara was positive that this was the worst; this was a crime of the highest offence. But, luckily, she was Kara Danvers, which meant she was prepared for situations such as these.

“Check your pockets.”

Lena lifted a brow, but slipped her hands into the pockets of Kara’s coat anyway. A laugh burst out when she retrieved a variety of napkin-enveloped parcels, which turned out to be some pumpkin pasties and cakes Kara had squirrelled away for later.

“Kara Danvers, you are my hero,” Lena said, with equal parts sincere gratitude and adoration as she bit into a pastie.

Kara tweaked her glasses and stumbled her way through an “oh—I, uh, gosh, it’s nothing really.”

Light shone out from the enormous Hogwarts clock, which ticked on dutifully high above their heads. The minute hand made a heavy, mechanical sound as it shifted over, slowly creeping towards midnight. They came to the top of the stairs, where a short bridge stretched across the two sides of the tower. Kara slipped her arm from Lena’s and crossed to the middle of the bridge, where she hopped backwards up onto the ledge and gave the spot next to her an indicative pat.

“Oh, um...I’m fine here,” Lena said, and kept a safe distance back.

Kara arched her eyebrows. “Oh come on Lena, I swear the view is so worth it. I do this all the time; I won’t let you fall.”

Lena inched a step closer, still eying the ledge with minimal confidence, like it might give way any second. “Promise?”

“Promise.”

Lena’s expression solidified into one of determination and she approached the ledge, chin tipped up towards Kara as she waited for instruction. Kara told her to turn around, to place her palms on the ledge, and when she gave a slight hop, Kara’s hands were there under her arms to give her an extra lift so she could settle back onto the thick stone. Lena exhaled shakily, arms locked out and trembling slightly, but when she met Kara’s eyes it was with a pleased look that said ‘I did it’.

“There you go,” Kara grinned, giving her arm a quick squeeze. “I’m going to spin around now, and then you go. I’m right next to you, okay?” she asked, and Lena nodded. Kara braced herself on the ledge and lifted her legs so she could spin around and face out into the open air.

The snow-covered grounds sprawled out before her, dark patches of shadow dotted with light from flaming torches or lights from the Durmstrang ship, doubled in the reflection of the glassy lake. The stars and a full moon shone brightly above, scattered dizzyingly across the clear sky, and Kara exhaled reverently. “You’ve got to see this, Lena,” she said, a soft laugh on her breath.

Two clunks on the stone floor told Kara that Lena had toed her heels off. “O-okay, I’m turning around now. You’ve got me, right?”

Kara shifted slightly so she could have her hands reassuringly close. “I’ve got you.”

Lena swallowed, and Kara swore she heard her murmur ‘I must be out of my mind’ under her breath before she grit her teeth and shifted around. Her dress made the motion a little awkward, but Kara was there with a steadying hand on her back and when Lena completed the rotation she let slip a soft gasp and a “wow” that made Kara feel like she’d just won the quidditch cup.

“Nice, isn’t it?” Kara asked.

Lena glanced down at their dangling feet, which evidently was a mistake, as she grimaced and clenched her eyes shut. “Yeah. The things I’ll do for a pretty view,” she muttered through a tight jaw.

Kara chuckled and laid her hand on top of Lena’s, hoping to ease some of the tension she found there. “The stars sure are incredible tonight,” she hummed in agreement.

Lena was quiet for a beat, and Kara felt her relax a little by her side, then calmly say: “I wasn’t talking about the stars.”

Kara choked on nothing, gave an exasperated cry of “Lena!” and a chastising bump to Lena’s shoulder. This only made Lena gasp in fear and grip onto Kara’s forearm.

“Kara, don’t!” she squeaked, her nails grasping at the fabric of Kara’s sleeve.

“Sorry!” Kara sputtered profusely, and over and over again until Lena calmed down enough to ease her vice grip on her forearm, sighed enduringly and dropped her head to rest against Kara’s shoulder. When the moment passed, Kara bit her lip, an attempt to stop herself from grinning too wide or too goofy, even though Lena couldn’t see it. “So...you think I’m pretty?”

Lena rolled her eyes. “Don’t ruin it.”

Kara chuckled, soft but still a little flustered from the way Lena had openly flirted with her (and pretty smoothly at that). She tentatively slipped an arm behind Lena’s back, her hand settling at her hip, and shifted herself closer so their was no space between their sides.

“You know what I just realised?” Kara asked after a quiet moment.

“Hm?”

“This is where I was when I first saw you.” Lena angled her head up, eyebrows pinched in question. “I mean, not you specifically,” Kara elaborated, “your school’s carriage though, with the horses and the whole deal. Quite the entrance; it really left an impression on me.”

Lena’s fingers toyed absently with the buttons on the cuff of Kara’s shirt. “Did it? I must admit, I missed the arrival entirely. I was conked out from the sleeping potion Lex gave me for the flight.”

“That’s a shame,” Kara hummed. “You would have seen me, standing right over there, waving like an idiot.”

“Oh, I can imagine that all too well,” Lena teased, amusement pulling her lips up.

Lena lifted her head from Kara’s shoulder and tipped her chin to meet Kara’s gaze. She was close enough that Kara could see flecks of hazel in her green eyes, and the sight alone was enough to set her pulse racing.

Kara was the first to break eye contact, her eyes dropping on their own accord to stare openly at Lena’s mouth, which parted for a pink tongue to dart out and moisten her lips, and Kara had read somewhere in one of Alex’s magazines that it meant...something important when a girl did that, but she couldn’t quite remember what, and oh gosh Lena was saying something now and Kara had to blink a few times because she might have been hallucinating but she was pretty sure Lena was asking—

“Would you like to kiss me?”

It took Kara a second to find her voice to respond, and there really was only one answer.

“I really...really would.”

Their bodies shifted to angle towards each other, and the air was humming with the energy of something about to happen. Kara felt Lena’s warm peppermint breath dance across her cheeks. Lena’s fingers tracked a path up Kara’s arm, finding a place to settle at the nape of her neck, thumb tracing along her jawline. Even that felt amazing. 

“I've never...I haven't done this before. With a girl, I mean,” Kara stammered. Truthfully, it was a bit of a disclaimer.

“I've found it helps if you stop talking.” Lena smiled, and it was slightly teasing but wholly kind, and it put Kara at ease.

Kara surrendered herself to the gentle pressure of Lena’s hand at the back of her neck, allowing it to guide her until she met lips that were soft and warm and, wow, okay, this was what kissing was supposed to feel like. Kara had to restrain herself from giggling giddily into Lena’s mouth as a rush of warm energy flooded her entire system from the point of contact, but she couldn’t help but smile blissfully against Lena’s lips as they found hers a second and third time. For a few seconds, Kara swore she heard the sound of rapid thudding in her ears—twin heartbeats, drumming at the same joyful rhythm, but certifiably distinct.

Lena was the one to pull back for a moment of air, and Kara kept her eyes closed and her grin goofy as Lena’s hands slipped from her cheeks to the collar of her shirt.

“Kara, you’re...you’re floating,” Lena said, and honestly Kara was on another plane of consciousness at the moment and didn’t at all detect the note of alarm in Lena’s voice.

“I know, I feel like I could just fly away right now,” Kara murmured giddily and tipped forwards to meet Lena’s lips again, only to pout when kept back by a pressing hand.

“No, Kara, I mean you’re literally floating.”

“Hm?” Kara blinked her eyes open, and the dopey grin on her face quickly rearranged into a look of complete panic when she realised she wasn’t on the ledge anymore.

In fact, she was suspended in the air, completely perpendicular to the ground, with a sickeningly long drop below her.

She let out a strangled yelp and snapped her eyes up to meet Lena’s, and she became extremely conscious of the fact that Lena’s hands on her collar were the only things keeping her tethered to the clock tower. There was a split second of indecision, of silent ‘what do we do??’s passed between them, and then Kara dropped about half a foot, her arms flapping frantically in the air before she came to a shuddering halt that snapped her brain into action.

“Lena, get back!” she shouted urgently. She couldn’t even begin to comprehend what was happening, but the one thing she knew for sure was that she had to make sure she didn’t bring Lena down with her. Lena blinked rapidly before she scrambled to get herself back behind the barrier, a stubborn fist clenched around Kara’s collar the entire time.

“Kara, what’s happening?” Lena asked, eyes blown with panic as Kara dangled precariously out in the air in front of her.

“I don’t know!” Kara gasped. She felt like her entire body was vibrating, thrumming with this foreign energy that was strangely familiar to her, that instantly reminded her of home, of sitting on the floor while Aunt Astra told her stories about her people’s ancient magic. Despite the fact that she was dangling a good hundred metres from the ground, Kara was...surprisingly calm. Or at least, she wasn’t afraid.

“It’s okay!” she insisted, holding her palms out in front of her. “You can let go.”

“Are you crazy?” Lena cried.

“It’s fine! I think...I think I can control it.” Kara furrowed her brow in concentration and, slowly, she turned in the air so she was floating upright. “Let go, Lena, I’ve got this. Trust me.” Kara could see the hesitation swirling in Lena’s eyes, eyes that reflected the entire night sky behind them, until she finally uncurled her fingers from Kara’s collar.

Inch by inch, Kara floated herself back towards the bridge. Her shoes were about to toe the ledge, and whatever magic that was keeping her in the air chose that exact moment to fizzle out and drop her out of the sky.

The cry Kara let out was expelled from her in a sharp groan when she slammed down onto the ledge, the hard stone catching her right under the armpits. Her smart dress shoes scrambled for purchase against the bricks, and then Lena’s hands were gripping at her arms, and Lena strained with effort to pull her up and over the ledge.

Lena toppled backwards and pulled Kara down with her. Kara did her best to break her fall with her arms rather than with Lena’s body, and gave a small start when they landed nose-to-nose. She couldn’t trust her arms to keep her up for much longer, so she pushed herself over to flop onto her back, chest rising and falling with remnant fear and adrenaline. They panted side by side for a few seconds until Lena sat up, wide-eyed as she swept her hair back over her shoulder.

“Are you okay?” Kara croaked.

“I’m fine, are you?” Lena gasped, eyes flicking over Kara’s person.

Kara grimaced as she extricated one of Lena’s discarded heels from the small of her back. “Just peachy.” With some effort, she pushed herself into a sitting position where she could rest her back against the stone wall of the bridge and rubbed tenderly at her chest where she’d caught herself on the ledge. That was going to bruise.

“Good,” Lena said. “Because I want to kill you myself.” Kara barely had time to raise an arm to deflect the cauldron cake that was launched at her head. “‘Let go??’ ‘I can control it’?? Are you completely insane?” Lena asked furiously.

Kara caught the next cake before it made contact with her face and blinked in bewilderment as Lena huffed in exasperation upon discovering that she’d used all of her ammo. Then she realised that Lena was absolutely terrified...which, of course she would be, after what had just happened.

“Hey, hey, hey,” she urged, her voice low and reassuring as she turned her palms up in front of her in surrender. “It’s alright, I’m alright, we’re alright. Just...come here, okay?”

Lena’s frown remained when she eventually shuffled over to sit by Kara’s side and ducked under Kara’s raised arm, curling into her side. Her hand latched onto Kara’s waistcoat, and her thumb traced meditatively back and forth over her top button. Kara breathed deep and even during the quiet, rubbing soothing circles on the small of Lena’s back.

“I must be a better kisser than I thought,” Lena eventually thought aloud, her deadpan tone cutting through the silence.

The snort that burst out of Kara was not ladylike in the slightest. It was followed by uncontrollable giggles that bubbled out past her lips. The strange sound broke Lena, and then she was giggling too, shaking against Kara’s chest.

Sobering up, Lena wiped away at tears that had formed at the corners of her eyes and straightened up to look at Kara with a look of complete bewilderment. “Kara, what was that?”

Kara’s cheeks heated and she scratched nervously at her head. “I don’t...I don’t know,” she said honestly. She thought of the stories she’d heard as a child, about Kryptonian magic and the things one could do with it, but it just wasn’t possible. Kara had lost her connection to that magic—to her people, to Rao— a long time ago. There had to be some other explanation, was what her rational mind told her, but something inside her told her that wasn’t true. Either way, she wasn’t ready to accept it.

“I mean, accidental magic happens under, ah, certain extreme circumstances, right? Well that...that felt extreme.” Lena cocked an eyebrow and Kara said hurriedly, “extremely good! Extremely good. I suppose I got a little, um...carried away.”

“Literally.”

“Well, yeah.”

Lena’s teeth left marks in her lip as she released it, and she sighed as she rested her head back down against Kara’s shoulder. “It felt extremely good for me too,” she mumbled into Kara’s shirt.

“You didn’t accidentally start flying though.”

“Luckily!”

“I suppose I’m not as good as you then,” Kara said jokingly, and Lena shook her head.

“Not true, Kara Danvers,” she admonished, and Kara definitely thought there was a risk she might take flight again at that. Lena resumed thumbing Kara’s button for a while. “What does this mean? This ‘S’?” she eventually asked.

Kara swallowed. She wanted to tell Lena about her past, and she figured now was as good a time as any, but the words weighed heavy in her chest from sitting there for so long, she wasn’t quite sure how she would go about getting them out.

“It’s my family’s crest,” she managed to start with.

“The Danvers’?”

Kara shook her head. “No. Not the Danvers’. I’m...I’m adopted. My parents, my family, my people...they were taken from me, when I was a child.” Kara’s mouth set in a grim line as she settled on the significance of the word ‘taken’. They weren’t gone, or disappeared, or ‘passed on’; they were taken from her, stolen away, and it would never be okay.

Lena’s hand stilled over Kara’s button and she felt her pulling away. Kara laid a hand on hers and brought it back to rest back on her stomach. “It feels nice,” she said by way of explanation.

Lena’s fingers curled into the fabric of her waistcoat once again. “Kara, I’m so sorry. I couldn’t even imagine...I didn’t know.”

“Not many people do. Just Alex, Winn, James, and Professor Prince. Alex only just told Maggie, too. It’s just...easier that way. I don’t want to forget my family, but I have to move on somehow. Being Kara Danvers is the best way for me to do that.”

“You’re amazing, Kara,” Lena breathed. “You’ve lost so much and while the family you’ve built here won’t replace the one you lost, they’ll do anything for you.”

“I’d do anything for them, too.”

“I know.” Lena was quiet for a moment, then she hummed thoughtfully. “I feel like I’ve seen this symbol somewhere before.”

Kara frowned a bit. “Really? Well...maybe you’ve seen me drawing it in my notebooks. I do that, sometimes.”

“Hm. Yeah, that must be it.” Lena sat up again and fixed Kara’s eyes with her own. “Kara, I can’t tell you what it means that you’ve told me this. You must really trust me.”

A bemused expression played out across Kara’s face. “Lena...of course I trust you. In case it wasn’t obvious, I really like you. Like, a lot. I don’t think I’ve felt this way about someone, like, ever.”

Lena melted and Kara could see it on her face. Her hands traced upwards to cup her face and she was drawing closer, but stopped just short.

“You’re not going to float away again are you?” Lena asked, a little wary.

Kara chuckled bashfully. “Can’t promise anything.” Lena quirked an eyebrow, but Kara didn’t give her much of a chance to reconsider and rocked forwards to close the distance between them.

She stayed on the ground this time.

Chapter Text

Naturally, Alex had several questions when Kara and Lena eventually reemerged well after midnight, wearing matching shy smiles and connected via pinky fingers. To Kara’s relief, she waited until the next day to unleash her barrage of questions under a shared blanket on Alex’s bed as they talked about everything that happened on the clocktower.

Alex giggled like a schoolgirl (which she was, technically) and gathered the blanket up to her chin. “I can’t believe you kissed Lena Luthor,” she said giddily, making Kara blush. “I’m so proud. You know, this is the first thing Maggie and I couldn’t bet on; we knew you’d turn on the charm. I mean...it runs in the family,” Alex said imperiously and tossed her hair back over her shoulder.

Kara chewed on her bottom lip to suppress a grin and buried her face into Alex’s stuffed Hippogriff, Sir Feathers. She was still in a bit of a giddy fog from everything that had happened at the ball, but something that remained clear in her mind was the question of her little...incident.

“Something weird happened,” she said, and Alex sobered at her worried expression.

“What?” Alex tilted her head. “Oh no. Did you say ‘I love you’? Please tell me you didn’t, because that’s something you would do, and while it’s very sweet, it might freak a girl out.”

“No!” Kara’s eyes went wide as she peered up over Sir Feathers’ head. She huffed outwards, frustrated that there really was no way of saying it without sounding completely insane. “I kind of...started flying?”

Alex had to thrust out a hand to keep herself from falling off the bed. “I’m sorry, you what?”

“Flying,” Kara repeated. “One second I was sitting there, and the next I was just...flying.”

Alex blinked slowly, as she methodically processed the information. “Is that a—” she leaned in close and whispered, “—Kryptonian thing?”

Kara shrugged, squirming a little. “I don’t know. Maybe? Or maybe I’m just hopelessly into Lena and Lena is a ridiculously good kisser? It’s Hogwarts. Weird stuff happens, right?”

Alex’s frown was sceptical. “Maybe you should talk to Kal.”

Kara groaned helplessly. Kal was elusive at best these days, always on some top secret mission with the Aurors in some corner of the world. “For all I know, he could be eating baguettes in Paris, or making friends with a penguin in Antarctica. Besides, I don’t need to bother him about...girl stuff.”

Alex eyed her closely, and Kara was clearly uncomfortable so she let it go. “Well, lucky for you, you have me to help in that department. Still, it can’t hurt to write him.”

Kara sighed. “I guess...Oh! I forgot, I got a letter from him yesterday!” Kara back-rolled off of Alex’s bed and dug around in her coat pocket to retrieve the crushed brown envelope she had stuffed in there.

She tore it open and paced back and forth as she read bits of it out loud. “Dear cousin, happy Christmas—he says happy christmas to you too, Al.”

“Thanks Kal!”

I hope this letter finds you in good health and that you are adequately prepared for the upcoming challenges in the tournament—ugh, don’t remind me—Your performance against the dragon made the Daily Prophet. Your parents would have been proud...um...can’t say where I am right now—of course—but I need to tell you something important...” Kara’s voice faltered as she read over the last words a few times, brows pulling together.

“What is it?” Alex asked.

Don’t trust the Luthors? What the heck!” Kara indignantly thrust the offending paper under Alex’s nose.

“Hm. Well that’s...cryptic.”

“He’s infuriating!” Kara threw her hands into the air. “What does he know? I mean, I already don’t trust Lex and Lillian at all; I don’t need his helpful advice to know they’re, they’re...mean people. But I’d trust Lena with—with everything! I’ve looked into her eyes, Alex. I trust her.”

Alex calmly folded the letter in half, and then half again. “Kal doesn’t even know Lena.”

“Exactly!”

“He’s not here; we are. I think Lena’s great, and so do you, obviously.”

“Darn right!”

“She may be a Luthor, but your girlfriend is definitely trustworthy.”

“I couldn’t agree more—wait a second, girlfriend?!”

Alex blinked up at Kara. “I mean...that’s what you’re going for, right?”

Kara shifted in her slippers, a crimson flush creeping steadily up her neck. “Well, I um...yes? Maybe? We haven’t talked about it. We should talk about it. Right?”

“I think that would be a good idea.” Alex chuckled, amusement dancing across her face as she pulled Kara down onto the bed and wrestled her into a headlock, blatantly ignoring Kara’s cries of protest.

*

Seeing Lena for the first time after the ball filled Kara with a unique cocktail of excitement and nerves that manifested itself into a face-splitting grin and quickened pace as she trotted across the Great Hall to where Lena was sitting, and practically fell into the seat beside her.

“Hi!” Kara said, perhaps a touch too loud, judging from the way Lena startled and blinked her eyes in alarm. Kara fidgeted a little, not quite sure how to act now that things had undeniably shifted between them.

Do I kiss her? Put my arm around her? Sit on her? Oh, I know! I’ll hold her hand. Nice and easy.

Lena pulled her hand back sharply like Kara’s was covered in slug slime. It was, quite frankly, a little hurtful.

The hurt must have shown on Kara’s face because Lena quickly turned apologetic and shook her head. “Not here,” she murmured, eyes flicking up to the teachers’ table where Lillian Luthor sat, watching over the hall with shrewd, hawk-like eyes. “Follow me out in five minutes.” Calmly, Lena dabbed at her mouth with a napkin and folded it onto her plate before she excused herself, leaving Kara blinking dazedly after her as she walked out without a backwards glance.

Kara never realised how long five minutes could feel until she was left alone at a table surrounded by food she had no desire to eat and a cluster of Beauxbatons students, who were eying her like she was a prophetic scattering of tea leaves sitting at the bottom of their collective teacup.

“Hi, Kara,” Jess said, smiling bemusedly at her from across the table. “Did you enjoy the ball?”

Kara pulled off an awkward smile, wondering how much Lena had told her and how much Jess had figured out on her own (sometimes Kara felt like Jess knew more about the goings-on in Lena’s life than Lena did herself).

“I, ah...yes I did. It was very, um. Festive? I...I have to pee.”

Five minutes definitely hadn’t passed, but she didn’t care. The bench scraped sharply back against stone floor and she walked briskly out of the hall in the same vague direction that Lena had taken. Her footsteps slowed, and she looked up to the portraits for a friendly face. Before she could ask Sir Cadogan which way the pretty, raven-haired girl had gone, she was jerked backwards by the scruff of her jacket into a nearby supply closet.

It was pitch black inside, until Kara heard a small click and a light bulb dangling just above her head illuminated Lena’s disarming eyes, just centimetres from the tip of her nose.

“Sorry,” Lena said briskly. “I don’t want anyone to see us.”

“Oh.” Kara shifted so a broom would stop digging into her spine. “Did I...did I do something wrong? Are you breaking up with me? Wait, are we even together? What’s happening??” Kara’s increasingly high-pitched whine was cut short by Lena pressing up on her toes and pulling on her jacket to unceremoniously crash their lips together.

Which answered one question, but left Kara with about a million others.

“I’m confused.”

“Hi confused, I’m Lena.”

“How am I attracted to you?” Kara groaned her exasperation to the ceiling.

Lena cringed at herself and dropped her forehead into Kara’s shoulder. “Can we start this over?”

“Sure. Should we start at the part where you kidnapped me into a supply closet or when you were being all cryptic in the hall?” Kara asked, quirking an eyebrow. “What’s going on, Lena?”

Lena sighed, thumbs tracing over buttons and fabric as her fingers stayed curled into her jacket. “It’s my mother. I don’t know—I can’t—If she sees us together, like...like this, she’ll send me away; I know it.” Lena worried at her bottom lip with a deep frown troubling her brow. “I know it’s far from ideal and I completely understand if you don’t want m—”

This time, it was Kara who cut off Lena’s panic with a swift ducking of her head to capture her lips before that sentence could even be finished, leaving Lena blushing and squeaking out a small “oh” when Kara pulled back.

Kara tucked a strand of hair behind Lena’s ear, a smile warming her expression as she swiped a thumb along Lena’s jaw. “So what you’re saying...is we have to be sneaky.” Lena nodded. “Sneaky. Right. I can be sneaky.” Kara’s elbow chose that moment to knock a jar off of the shelf behind her. “Starting now.”

**

Being with Lena meant a lot of things changed, while really not changing much at all.

It still meant sitting close together in potions class, only now Lena’s touches lingered longer as she showed Kara how to crush Christmas beetles under the flat of her knife, and Kara focused more on her mouth more than what she was actually saying.

It still meant studying late into the night in the library, only now their feet tangled beneath the table until Kara couldn’t take it any longer and dragged Lena off into the secluded arithmancy section.

It meant a smiling face waiting for her after quidditch training, accompanied by an armful of food (an ideal balance of protein, carbs, and healthy fats to optimise Kara’s training...plus a small treat because Lena knew she’d pout otherwise).

It meant hiding out in the stables, talking for hours about everything and about nothing (while Lillian looked a little annoyed that they kept rambling on while she was trying to nap).

It meant becoming very familiar with Hogwarts’ secret passageways and broom closets.

It also meant that unlocking the secret of the egg was the furthest thing from Kara’s mind.

December rolled into January, and if Kara thought December was cold and miserable, she clearly had forgotten that January was even moreso. Every day was freezing or wet or both, and the sun felt like a distant memory from a dream.

“Kara?”

Kara’s brow furrowed, tongue sticking out as she shaded in a diagram of a new quidditch play she was working on. She’d taken some artistic licence with the drawing in adding a brightly shining sun in the corner. It felt a little like wishful thinking, as the twenty-seventh day without seeing the sun lumbered on outside. Not that Kara was counting or anything.

“Kara…” Lena tried to get Kara’s attention again by gently brushing wisps of blonde hair back off of her forehead.

“Hm?” Kara arched her eyebrows, craning her head up and back to look at Lena from where her head laid in her lap.

Lena smiled at her like she always did, with her nose crinkling and her eyes softening. Like she was happy to see her. It made a fuzzy warm feeling bloom across Kara’s chest every time, even despite her current state of general surliness at the lack of sunshine. Now, however, there was clearly something on Lena’s mind.

“It’s been a couple of months since the first task, hasn’t it?”

Kara sucked in a breath, eyes widening a little. “I guess so. That went really fast.”

“I know. And I know you’ve been busy with studying and quidditch and, um...other things,” (Kara grinned to herself, thinking about how Lena was ‘other things’, and about the ‘other things’ they’d been up to in the astronomy tower the night before...) “but I have to ask,” Lena’s voice snapped Kara back to the present, “how are things going with Shelly?”

Kara’s brows cinched together in confusion. “Shelly?”

“You know...your egg?” Lena prompted and looked at her expectantly until realisation dawned on Kara’s face.

“Ooh, that Shelly... Um. Funny story,” Kara laughed skittishly and could feel her face growing hot. “So, I was taking excellent care of her, as per my brilliant strategy of playing Mama Dragon. And then one morning, I swear she felt warmer than usual. So I thought she was finally ready to speak to me, right? I took her outside, so she could have some fresh air, and she just...screeched at me. Again,” Kara sighed glumly at the memory of disappointment. “I, um...I got mad. I put her in a time out.”

(Shelly’s time out was at the bottom of Kara’s trunk, covered in books and magazines and candy wrappers, where she had long since been forgotten.)

Lena tutted her tongue with reproach. “Kara...that clue is important. How are you going to have any hope at the second task without it?”

“I know,” Kara whined, rolling onto her side to bury her head in Lena’s stomach. She cracked one eye open. “Maybe I could just wing it.” Lena narrowed her eyes in a way that said Kara was absolutely not allowed to ‘just wing it’. “Or not.”

Lena sighed and caught her lip between her teeth. “We need to figure out that egg,” she murmured, and the solidness in her voice and determination in her eyes told Kara she had very little say in the matter. Despite how badly she’d much rather be doing ‘other things’.

They started trying to figure out the egg in earnest. Which meant researching and testing a wide range of spells and enchantments to see if the egg would react in any way other than screaming. They tried opening the egg at different times of day, in different places, and Kara even took it up on her broomstick to see if it responded to being in the air.

Kara took to wearing a pair of pink, fluffy earmuffs she’d stolen from the Herbology greenhouse during their egg sessions. Eventually, Lena agreed to wearing them too, albeit reluctantly. She saw wearing them as an admission of defeat, but the persistent headache just behind her eyes was becoming too much.

The task was only days away when they they sat tucked in a corner of the library poring over books that might contain some clue. Lena had been caught up in a stroke of inspiration, thinking the answer might lie in the theory of sonic enchantment (whatever that meant), and was taking notes from a skinny, blue book she’d found.

Kara, meanwhile, sat with her chin on the desk, a large tome propped vertically up in front of her. The words swam before her eyes, and she huffed out a bored lungful of air that made her lips flap like a horse.

Lena glanced up from her work, frowning a little. “Find anything, Kara?” she asked.

“Huh? What?” Kara mumbled distractedly. “Oh, um...nothing yet.”

Lena narrowed her eyes. She swished her wand and Kara’s giant book flopped down onto the desk with a thud, revealing what Kara had actually been reading: the latest issue of Quidditch Weekly. Kara turned bright red and sat upright, meeting Lena’s eyes with a guilty look and a weak little laugh.

Lena didn’t seem amused. She snapped her book shut and started packing her things away. “You’re not taking this seriously.”

Kara pouted and slouched over the desk. “Lena, come on...we’ve tried everything,” Kara groaned, all the exhaustion and frustration of the past week filtering into her voice. “It’s impossible; even Lex can’t figure it out!”

Lena froze midway through screwing the lid onto her inkwell at the mention of her brother. Kara could practically see the gears turning in her mind for a few seconds before she huffed outwards and completed the motion.

Lena finished packing her bag and stood up. She bit at the inside of her cheek, hands twisting at the strap of her bag. “Kara...these tasks aren’t supposed to be easy. They’re designed to test you; relying on luck and quick thinking isn’t going to be enough. I’m...I’m scared for you,” Lena said, and the pure concern in her eyes made Kara sink down into her seat, guilty at the fact that she hadn’t been taking this seriously while Lena was worrying so much about her.

“We can’t stop trying,” Lena said, her brows pulling into a frown. “Lex hasn’t.”

“Lena…”

Lena shook her head with a tight jaw as she gathered the last of her things, telling Kara she’d see her tomorrow before she left the library.

Kara stared glumly at the cheerfully waving image of Mon-El zipping across the page of her magazine on his Firebolt. A part of her brain noted that that had probably been their first fight. Was that a fight? It felt like a fight. She slammed the magazine shut on Mon-el’s toothy grin.

**

Lena wasn’t in potions class the next day. Kara used too much powdered bicorn horn and caused a small fire.

When Lena didn’t show up for dinner either, Kara started to get worried. She was halfway through not really eating her spaghetti when Jess walked past and surreptitiously dropped an envelope next to her plate.

Kara’s face fell. So this was how Lena was breaking up with her. Here it was, the end of the best thing that had happened to her since the start of this ridiculous year would be over once she opened this innocuous little envelope. Well, there was no point delaying the inevitable. Kara glumly tore the letter open, preparing herself for her fate.

Kara,
Meet me tonight after curfew on the fifth floor by the statue of Boris the Bewildered. Bring Shelly. And wear your bathers.
Lena
xx

Huh. Perhaps not.

Kara was too distracted by the swooping flourishes and curves of Lena’s handwriting and the two x’s that completed the letter (‘those are kisses!’ some part of her brain helpfully supplied) to immediately process Lena’s strange request. Eventually, she did reach the understanding that Lena was asking to meet her in the middle of the night in her swimwear. Kara couldn’t begin to fathom why, no matter how many times she overanalysed every drop of ink on the paper.

So that was how she found herself sneaking down the fifth floor corridor after lights out, wearing a pair of polka-dotted boyshorts and matching crop top under a dressing gown she remembered to put on at the last second. The metal of the egg was freezing against her stomach, making her wish she’d thought to put a jumper on. Truthfully...she’d been a little preoccupied wondering if Lena would also be wearing her bathers to this late night rendezvous.

Kara was just about to turn down the final corridor when she heard a noise and froze in her tracks, ducking behind a suit of armour. Everything was quiet, and then there was the noise again: rustling, hushed whispering, and a muffled yelp she thought she recognised. With a frown, she approached a nearby broom closet, and yes she could definitely hear something inside—it sounded like someone was struggling! She opened the door, and immediately wished she hadn’t.

“Winn! Oh my god, my eyes!” she whisper-shrieked.

Winn’s eyes blinked wide as he whipped around, hair sticking up all over his head and robes in complete disarray. He cleared his throat and vainly attempted to straighten himself out. “Student!” he squeaked. “You’re, uh...you’re out of bed! That’s a detention for you!”

Kara rolled her eyes. “Nice try, prefect of the year. Hi Mon-el.”

Mon-el, wearing nothing but his boxers and a sloppily knotted Ravenclaw tie, grinned from behind Winn and waved happily.

Winn shot him a glowering look and shifted to block the athletic seeker from view. “What are you doing here, Kara?” he snapped, then his eyes bulged. “And why aren’t you wearing any clothes?”

“Huh?” Kara glanced down and realised her dressing gown had fallen open, exposing her bikini-clad state, and she hurriedly wrapped herself up again. “None of your business!” she hissed. “Besides, I actually have no idea myself.”

Winn’s eyebrows quirked upwards in question. Mon-el, however, seemed to be getting restless behind him and sneakily pinched his butt, making him whine and turn bright red. “O-okay Kara, whatever you get up to half naked in the middle of the night is your business. How about we make a deal? We never saw you, and you never saw us, okay?”

“Boy, do I wish that were actually true. Alright, deal. I’m...going to go now. Have fun boys. And be safe!” she snapped the door shut on Winn’s gaping face and jogged the rest of the way down to where she was meeting Lena.

Lena poked her head out from behind the statue and waved Kara over. She was in trackpants and a sweater (her favourite Holyhead Harpies sweater, Kara realised with a rush of glee), her hair in a loose braid over one shoulder.

“Did you bring the egg?” Lena whispered. Kara nodded towards the pregnant swell of the egg underneath her dressing gown. “Good.”

Lena moved to turn to the door behind them, but Kara caught her by the hand before she could. Lena blinked owlishly back at her, head tilted to the side in question.

“Lena, are we...are we okay?” Kara asked, shifting from one foot to another. “It’s just—I don’t like how we left things yesterday. I don’t want you to worry about me; I know I’m in big trouble if we don’t figure this egg out—I’m sorry I wasn’t being serious.”

“Hey,” Lena said insistently, her other hand reaching to grab Kara’s. “We’re okay.”

“Yeah?” Lena nodded in response, and Kara chuckled with relief. “That’s good. I thought you were breaking up with me.”

Lena rolled her eyes and Kara swore she heard her say something to the effect of ‘I’m dating an idiot’ before she murmured a password into the wood of the door. The door creaked open, and they slipped inside, Lena sliding the bolt shut behind them.

It was possibly the fanciest room Kara had ever set foot in, all marble floors and walls, Grecian columns lining the walls, a glittering chandelier hanging from the ceiling and a glistening stained-glass window at the opposite wall. The giant pool complete with diving board and a million taps was what really caught Kara’s attention though—what really made her turn to Lena with wide eyes and let out a low whistle that echoed off the walls.

“What is this place?” she whispered reverently.

“Prefects’ bathroom,” Lena answered. “Which they’ve kindly been sharing with the Beauxbatons students while we've been here.”

Kara’s eyes bulged. “Are you telling me you get to bathe here while I have to hunch under my dorm shower that may as well be for garden gnomes?”

“Er...yes?”

“Unbelievable.” Kara shook her head incredulously as she approached the edge of the bath and crouched by one of the taps. “How does it work?”

Five minutes later, the bath tub slash swimming pool was full to the brim with warm, lilac-coloured water, a generous layer of white foam, and giant pink and blue bubbles that floated off the surface of the bath and into the air. The scent of lavender and honey filled the room, and Kara’s toes wiggled in excitement at the prospect of cannonballing right off of the diving board.

“Hold Shelly. Oh, and these,” Kara instructed as she palmed the egg and then her glasses off to Lena.

Lena chuckled in amusement and pressed a kiss to Kara’s cheek. “Have fun.”

Grinning, Kara toed off her slippers and approached the diving board. Her robe dropped to the floor and she stepped onto the board, bouncing on it experimentally.

“Hey Lena, want to see me do a backflip?” she chirped, but when she looked over at Lena, Lena seemed to have broken. She was down on one knee, frozen halfway through rolling up the leg of her track pants, her eyes wide as saucers.

Kara flushed as she felt Lena’s eyes on her, tracing an obvious path down her torso and legs, with an earnest kind of awe Kara didn’t really know what to do with. Quidditch kept her in shape and she was well aware of that, but having Lena looking at her like...like that--like she was a perfectly glazed donut and Lena hadn't eaten in days--wasn’t something she could have prepared herself for. Lena’s mouth dangled open wide enough for one of the bubbles to float right inside. She sputtered as it popped in her mouth and she tasted lavender and soap.

Kara hid a laugh behind her hand. “You okay there?”

Lena wrinkled her nose and wiped her mouth with her sleeve. “I’m gay—I mean, I’m great!! I'm great.” she squeaked, her voice pitched a couple octaves higher. “Just...just get in the bath, Kara.”

Biting a lip to suppress a bashful grin, Kara stepped off of the diving board and plunged into the water. It was deep enough that her feet barely touched the ground when she broke the surface and pushed her hair back off her face. The water was warm and welcoming as it enveloped her body and she did a few laps of the bubble-filled bath. Floating on her back, she laughed happily and closed her eyes, completely content. “Now this, is a bath.”

Lena sat at the opposite end of the bath, waiting patiently with just her feet dipped in the water and the egg in her lap. Kara paddled over to the edge and folded her arms under her chin, where she peered up at Lena. “Aren’t you getting in?”

Lena shook her head seriously. “Believe it or not, we’re actually here to do something important.”

Kara pouted, toying with Lena’s sweatpants that were bunched up at the knees, dark patches forming where drops ran from Kara’s fingertips to the fabric. “Huh. Here I thought you were being romantic.”

Lena nudged Kara’s hand away and instead passed her the egg. Raising an eyebrow, Kara accepted it and floated away a little, resting the egg on her stomach. “Are you trying to tell me Shelly needs a bath?”

Lena sighed. “No, Kara. Just...open it underwater. You’ll see.”

Kara raised an eyebrow, but did as she was told and lowered the egg beneath the surface of the water, then twisted the latch open. Nothing happened really, save for some bubbles spewing out of the egg.

Lena rubbed at the bridge of her nose. “Put your head underwater too.”

“Oh…” Kara hummed, then stopped and grinned crookedly as an idea occurred to her. “So you want me to put my head underwater while I open the egg?”

“Yes.”

“Okay then.”

Kara ducked her head below the surface and held the egg above her as she twisted the latch open. When she rose again and shut the egg, Lena was holding her hands over her ears and giving Kara a furious look.

Kara feigned bewilderment, tapping at her chin. “Well, that didn’t seem to work. I’m sorry, Lena, I’m really not understanding this whole thing. I think you’re just going to have to get in and show me, this could take me a while.”

A devious glint sparked in Kara’s eyes as Lena narrowed hers right back. After a brief stare-off, Lena huffed and stood up. She pulled her sweater over her head and shimmied out of her track pants, leaving her in a t-shirt and her underwear. Kara caught a short-circuiting glimpse of legs before Lena slipped into the water and swam over, looking very unimpressed indeed.

“Hi,” Kara grinned, the triumph evident on her face.

“Give me the egg.”

Kara relinquished the egg and took the opportunity to circle behind Lena and slip her arms around her waist, pulling her back against her front. The wet kiss she pressed behind Lena’s ear seemed to ease whatever annoyance Lena may have felt, making Kara smile against her skin. “What now?” she asked.

Lena angled her head over her shoulder to look at Kara. “Like I said. Kara underwater plus egg underwater equals egg clue. Got it?”

“Got it.”

“Okay. So, on three. One, two…”

On ‘three’ they both took a deep breath and Kara lowered them down to the bottom of the marble pool, holding Lena in her lap as Lena twisted the latch open. This time, there were no screeches. Instead, a chorus of eerie-sounding voices sang from the open egg in Lena’s hands. Kara’s eyes went wide and she released a bubble of air from her lips as she realised the voices were singing words. Lena squeezed the back of her hand insistently, urging her to stay calm, and to listen.

The song ended, Lena snapped the egg shut, and Kara floated them back to the surface. She let go of Lena and wiped the water off of her face, a bit out of breath from how long they were down there. “Did you—what the—did you hear that?” she sputtered, trying to go over the words in her head. “Come seek us where our voices sound...how did the rest go?”

Lena passed Kara the egg and insisted she go back down to learn the words. It took Kara three more underwater renditions of the egg’s song before she had it committed to memory. After the third listen, she resurfaced and placed the egg by the side of the bath, grinning ecstatically as she paddled back over to Lena.

“The clue! We’ve got the clue! I’m so happy I could—heck, I’m going to do it anyway.” Kara grabbed Lena by the face and kissed her enthusiastically, making Lena laugh into her lips. “You’re a genius, Lena!” Kara exclaimed gleefully. “Seriously, how did you figure it out?”

Something shifted then, and the smile slipped from Lena’s face as she dropped her eyes like the blue soap bubble hovering by the surface of the water was suddenly the most interesting thing in the room.

Kara quirked an eyebrow and ducked her head to try and catch Lena’s eye. “Lena?”

Lena sighed, the water swishing around her as she crossed her arms and dug her fingers into her bicep.

“I went to Lex,” she admitted with a tight jaw. “He’s right, we’re good when we work together. Once I agreed, it didn’t take us long to figure it out. Lex could have kicked himself when we saw how simple it was,” she said, and an undeniably affectionate smile tugged her lips upwards.

Kara nodded slowly, processing. “Is that why you weren’t in class today?” she asked.

“Well...yes.” Lena sighed, biting at the inside of her cheek. “I was worried, Kara,” Lena explained. “We were getting nowhere with the egg, so I did what I had to. You’re not...you’re not mad, are you?” Lena asked uncertainly.

Kara’s eyes snapped up and she shook her head. “No, I’m not mad,” she said simply. “Are you...are you okay? After everything he did to you? To us? Did he say anything? Do anything?” she asked, and Lena noticeably eased under her concern, then reached out across the water for Kara’s hand.

“No. He was actually really good. Grateful, that I chose to help him, and when we were working together...I don’t know. It was kind of like old times.” A nostalgic sort of smile formed on Lena’s lips, followed by a deep frown that marred her brow. Kara drifted forwards in the water, pressed her lips against the frown until it eased. “I’m so tired of being angry. I miss him, Kara,” Lena whispered, eyes shut. “Isn’t that so screwed up?”

Kara sighed and slipped her arms around Lena’s waist, and Lena dropped her head to rest against her shoulder. “He’s your brother,” she said simply.

Lena laughed curtly. “For thirteen years, it’s just been us two. The two Luthor children, trying to unravel the mysteries of the universe together. It was nice to have that again. I’m not saying I forgive him,” Lena clarified, tilting her head up. “It was just...nice.”

Kara sighed. She didn’t pretend to understand the intricacies of Lena and Lex’s complicated relationship. What she did understand, was what it was like to lose family, and that she would do anything just for the chance to have them again. Lex was still here, so who would she be if she blamed Lena at all for wanting to have her brother back?

“It’s okay to miss him,” she finally said. Lena nodded her head against her shoulder. “So...did you two geniuses work out that clue?”

Lena smirked audibly and eased herself out of Kara’s arms, giving her a look. “Come on, Kara. You’re not expecting me to do all the work are you? You’re smart; I know you can figure it out.”

Kara pouted slightly as Lena caught her by the fingertips and led her to some steps step by the edge of the bath. Lena sat on the top step, half out of the water and her t-shirt clinging to her in a most eye-catching way, and motioned for Kara to sit between her knees. Kara did so.

Lena pumped some shampoo into her hands and started combing her fingers through Kara’s hair. She tried not to blush too hard when Kara rolled her eyes into the back of her head and made a noise that bordered on indecent. Kara hummed low in her throat and rested her head back into the heavenly sensation of Lena’s fingers scratching lightly at her scalp. The scent of tangerines haloed around her head.

“I’m...really happy right now,” she sighed contentedly. She didn’t realise she’d said it out loud until Lena’s fingers stilled in her hair, and she was halfway to thinking maybe she’d said the wrong thing but then Lena was catching some suds before they dripped into her eyes and resumed working a up a lather.

“Me too, Kara,” Lena said softly. “Just...think about the riddle, for now.”

Kara closed her eyes to think for a moment. “Come seek us where our voices sound…” she murmured to herself, brows pinching together. After a minute, her eyes snapped open. “Mermaids! Mermaids can’t sing above water,” she declared with confidence.

Behind her, Lena smiled proudly. “You figured that out faster than Lex and I did. And what about the rest?”

Kara sighed, murmuring the rhyme under her breath a few times as she puzzled through the words. Lena rinsed her hair off, and by the time she was working through her blonde tresses with conditioner, Kara thought she’d figured out the rest.

“Okay, I think I’ve got it.” Lena hummed in encouragement as she pulled her fingers through a piece of hair over Kara’s ear. “So, it’s mermaids, or merpeople or whatever, right? I’ve heard there’s a colony of them in the Black Lake, so that must be where the task is. And they’re going to take something important to me, and I’m going to have an hour to get it back or…” Kara swallowed. “Lose it forever. But...that’s got to be metaphorical, right? I mean. They’re not actually going to destroy our stuff if we don’t find it, right?” Kara twisted around to face Lena, worry jutting out her bottom lip.

Lena bent to rinse her conditioner-covered hands in the soapy water. “I mean, they did make you face a dragon for the first task, so I feel like anything is fair game. Lex thinks they’ll take his research journal. I wonder what they’ll take from you,” Lena wondered aloud. “Maybe your broomstick? Or maybe that stack of candy you think you hide so sneakily in your sock drawer,” Lena teased with a grin as she playfully flicked some water at her.

Kara angled her head away from the water, but the laugh she returned was weak. She felt troubled, for some reason. She was no stranger to having things taken from her, this was true. Her broomstick, some candy...those were things she could handle losing. But when she thought of what she couldn’t stand to have taken, things weren’t what came to mind. She thought about people—about Alex, or James, or Winn, or Diana...or Lena. She didn’t know what she would do if she lost any of them.

She submerged herself beneath the water, blowing bubbles past her lips until she didn’t have any air left. Lena was looking at her with a tilted head when she surfaced, looking a little curious and a lot concerned. “You okay?”

Kara nodded, found Lena’s fingers and tugged her through the water towards her. Lena was perceptive like Alex, and she was getting good at knowing when Kara wanted to talk about something, or when she just needed to be distracted.

With a small hop off the marble tile, Lena wrapped her legs around Kara’s waist, trusting Kara’s hands to find purchase on her hips and keep her there. Kara’s breath hitched, and she took a few steps backwards until her back hit the edge of the pool.

“Jess told me there’s a tap that pours creaming soda,” Lena said with a wry grin. “Want to try and find it?”

Kara scrunched her nose a bit. “Sounds delicious. But...impractical.”

Lena laughed softly and dropped her forehead against Kara’s. Kara watched through wet lashes as Lena looked her over, tracing each of her features with a curious eye, and then an exploratory thumb, charting the cut of her jaw, the apex of her chin, the plush of her lower lip. Kara’s fingers splayed at the small of Lena’s back and she let out a long breath that wavered at the end.

“Hey,” Lena said, hands shifting to bracket Kara’s neck. “Everything will be fine. All we have to do now, is figure out how you’re going to hold your breath for an hour.” Kara could already see the gears turning in her mind, probably already thinking of three or more different avenues they could explore.

“Does this mean more time cooped up in the library?” Kara asked, brow quirking.

“You mean the best place in this school? You bet.”

Kara made a face, which Lena leaned in to kiss at, languid and easy, until Kara was smiling like she couldn’t help it. They stayed pressed close together and passing unhurried kisses back and forth until the water turned tepid and the bubbles popped and faded into nothing.

When they eventually dragged themselves out of the bath, pruny-fingered and flushed-faced and thoroughly happy, Kara thought seriously that she would fight anyone, including an entire colony of merpeople, to keep this.

She didn’t even consider that she might have to fight Lena herself for it.

**

“This would be so much easier if wizards had Google.” Maggie’s voice floated over one of the tall stacks of books that obscured her and Alex from view.

“Maggie, stop making up words,” Alex grumbled, followed by the sound of her frustratedly flicking through probably ancient and priceless pages.

“Next summer, you’re staying at my place, and I’m introducing you to the wonders of the internet. Just wait until I get you on Tumblr, your little gay heart will explode,” Maggie cackled gleefully. “Oh! Hey, Luthor!”

Kara poked her head out from behind her own stack of books, her eyes screaming to look at something other than stupid words as they crept up on hour four of fruitless research. Lena was literally a sight for sore eyes, but as soon as Kara saw her, she knew something was wrong. Kara had never seen her jaw so tight, and her sleeves had practically disappeared into her fists.

Maggie swivelled around lazily in her chair, a lopsided grin hanging off of her face. “Nice of you to join us. We’re just trying to figure out how to help Kara hold her breath for an hour. Hey! Maybe you could help her practice,” Maggie suggested, eyebrows waggling annoyingly.

Kara all but fell out of her tipped-back chair, but managed to right herself at the last second and land heavily on all four legs.

Lena swallowed and ignored Maggie’s comment, looking instead at Kara with distraught etched across her face. “Kara...Kara, can we talk?”

Kara wrenched herself out of her chair and shot Maggie a scathing look as she followed Lena’s clipped steps out of the library.

“Lena?” Kara jogged a few paces to catch up. “Lena, what is it?”

Lena shook her head by way of response, a dark curtain of hair rippling around her to frustratingly obscure her from view. Kara followed Lena out to a balcony, where the elusive sun was finally shining past the grey clouds that had blanketed the world, but Kara was much too focused on the look on Lena’s face to appreciate it.

“Lena?” Kara tried again, reaching out this time, but Lena pulled away, maintaining distance. Kara dropped her hand.

Lena was silent for a moment, working her jaw until— “Mother found out about us.” She said it like she was pointing out that the sun would rise tomorrow. Like it was a fact, an inevitability.

Kara’s heart dropped into the pit of her stomach and her left hand tightened around the railing. “What? That’s not—that’s not possible.”

Lena spoke evenly, only a slight waver in her voice that gave her away. “I don’t know how, but she knows. Someone must have seen, or...or perhaps Jess, but she wouldn’t…” Lena grimaced and abandoned her train of thought to finally look at Kara. “It doesn’t matter. I’m leaving tomorrow, after the task. I...I came to say goodbye.”

A hot, angry flush boiled in the pit of Kara stomach, creeping up the back of her neck to turn the tips of her ears pink. “You can’t be serious. She can’t—she can’t do this!” she sputtered.

Lena pained, dropping her eyes to look away from Kara’s face. “She can, I’m afraid. It’s already done.” She sighed and angled her chin back up, stoic and with a distant look in her eyes. “It’s not like I was going to be here forever,” she said matter-of-factly. “I would be going home after the tournament anyway. Maybe...maybe it’s for the best, that I go now. Before we get too...attached.”

Kara couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Couldn’t believe that this unaffected, distant Lena was the same Lena who had literally kissed her into flight, and who looked at her like she made her day better by just existing. She had to believe that Lena was still there, behind this cold mask she was wearing. But right now, she was so far away, and Kara didn’t know how to reach her.

“You don’t mean that,” Kara grit out.

Lena’s shoulders sagged as her eyes slid over, defeated. “Does it matter?”

“Of course it does,” Kara replied hotly. “Whether it’s convenient or not, I’m already ‘attached’. Don’t even try to tell me—or yourself, for that matter—that you aren’t too.” Anger and frustration rose within her like a red tide, her grip impossibly tight and trembling around the wrought iron railing.

Lena crumbled and caught her face in her hands. “Kara, please don’t,” she whispered. “Just—try to understand, it’s for the best.”

“No,” Kara said firmly. “You don’t get to decide what’s best for me. There’s no way that—that this can be what’s best for me.” Kara gestured with her hand, contorting it in anguish over her heart like she could grip it back together. “I’m not stupid,” she said, her voice tight. “I know you have to go home eventually, and I was ready to talk about...about us, when the time came. But you can’t just leave now and pretend like we don’t matter. Like—like I don’t matter.”

Lena flinched at that, sorrow and regret flickering across her features before disappearing. “You matter, Kara. So much more than you’ll ever...than you’ll ever know.”

“Then don’t just give up.” Kara’s voice came out as a plea.

Lena looked like she was about to break, like she was just a nudge away from falling into Kara’s arms in surrender. But she didn’t. She gripped onto her own elbows instead. “I have no choice,” she whispered.

Kara ground her teeth, feeling like her entire world was falling apart and she just wanted Lena to look at her, but Lena kept her eyes fixed on the horizon. It was infuriating, and Kara could feel herself spinning out of control like she was losing everything all over again and all she could do was watch it happen.

“You know what?” she asked, and her voice trembled with anger and hurt that boiled just below the skin. “Don’t bother coming to the task tomorrow. You’ll just distract me.”

“Kara—”

“Don’t,” Kara shook her head. “I’m not giving you what you want. I’m not saying goodbye to you like this. It’s not fair.”

Kara released the grip she had on the railing. Neither of them noticed or mentioned the twisted metal that she left behind as she turned on her heel and strode out, blinking half-formed tears from her eyes and pretending she didn’t hear the whispered “goodbye, Kara” that fell from Lena’s lips.

 

Chapter Text

Kara blinked down at the substance Maggie had palmed into her hand. It was slimy, stringy, and gross-looking.

“What is this?”

“Gillyweed,” Maggie answered.

“And I’m supposed to do what with it?”

“Put it in your mouth.”

“And...eat it?”

“Yup. Right down the hatchet.”

“Great.”

Kara’s stomach was churning enough already, with less than an hour before the task was due to begin and Alex and Maggie coming through with their ‘leave it to us’ idea at pretty much the last minute. The slippery, green plant currently moistening her hand didn’t exactly help the nausea.

“What does it do?”

“Well, it’s supposed to let you breathe underwater. You’ll sprout gills, your feet will go all webby, the whole deal.”

“Huh.” Kara squelched the plant in her palm. “Cool.”

“According to Alex, it should let you breathe underwater for an hour.”

“Wait, what do you mean, should?”

Maggie chuckled skittishly and scratched at her head. “Well, Alex says there’s debate amongst herbologists about the effects of saltwater versus fresh…”

“Great. Let’s hope we don’t find out when I’m at the bottom of the lake,” Kara muttered.

“That’s the spirit.”

Kara sighed, pulling her dressing gown closer around her to fend off a breeze. They were standing on the gravelly shore, just near a fleet of rowboats ready and set to carry them across to stands that floated out in the middle of the lake. Groups of students pottered into the boats, which glided across the glassy, black surface of the water once they were full.

Kara swallowed as she stared out across the lake. She thought of all the times she had nagged Alex about wanting to go for a swim during the summer, when the muggy heat made her robes cling to sweat-soaked skin. Right now, the water reflected the dreary clouds above, heavy with almost-rain. Diving into the lake was a thoroughly uninviting prospect, especially considering whatever might be lurking beneath the surface.

“Where is Alex? She should be here,” Kara said, toes shifting the gravel in agitation. She hadn’t seen Alex since the library, since Lena...since Lena left. When Kara had returned to their desk after their...conversation, Alex and Maggie were scrambling together excitedly, a paper clutched in Alex’s fist, telling Kara they had the answer before sprinting, full pelt, away from the library without further explanation or pause to ask why Kara’s eyes were so red.

“Oh, she was called to Professor Grant’s office last night for some reason...huh. Come to think of it, she never came back to bed.”

Kara blinked. “You’re...not a very good girlfriend.”

“I fell asleep!” Maggie whined in protest. “I’m sure she’ll be here. Maybe Professor Grant needed her help setting up or something. You know how much of a teacher’s pet she can be,” Maggie chirped and nudged Kara’s arm.

Kara pursed her lips and stood on her toes to look over the mass of students piling into the little boats, straining her eyes for a glimpse of auburn hair, but to no avail. Maggie nudged her arm again, reassuringly this time rather than teasing.

“Hey,” she said, smiling gently. “She’ll be here. When has your sister ever let you down?”

“Never,” Kara murmured, though the inside of her cheek remained firmly trapped between her teeth. There was a storm raging on inside her, lightning bolts of nerves and fear and anxiety striking against her skeleton. She knew that if Alex were here, she would be able to calm down enough to believe she could actually do this. Alex was her refuge, the eye of the storm when everything around her was falling apart.

“Miss Danvers.” Kara gave a slight jump, but eased when Diana’s slender fingers landed on her shoulder and were accompanied by an arm across her back.

“I hate it when you call me that,” she groused, but leaned into Diana’s side anyway, breathing in the scent of her perfume. Sandalwood, with a twist of citrus.

“Your chariot awaits, kiddo,” Diana announced. She was gesturing to a rowboat, smaller than the others, that floated towards them and nudged itself onto the shore.

“Not a huge fan of ‘kiddo’ either,” Kara muttered under her breath as she allowed Diana to gently steer her towards the rowboat.

Diana sat across from her, and the boat sailed smoothly across the water with a tap of her wand. They were heading towards a raised, flat platform in the middle of the lake. It was flanked by several similar structures that had multiple levels. Students dangled out from the edges of the railings, all cheering and shouting and waving banners for their chosen champions. Kara caught sight of her own giant posterised face grinning at her and flashing a thumbs up, and it made her grimace and look back at the inky black water, trying to block the sounds out from her ears.

As they drew closer to the champions’ platform in the center, Kara’s stomach was weighed down with a heavy sense of dread.

“How are you feeling?” Diana asked gently.

“Like I could hurl at any second.”

“Not in the boat, if you don’t mind. The paint job is new.” Kara rolled her eyes, but appreciated Diana’s attempt to make her feel better. “So, what’s your plan?” Kara revealed the gillyweed in her hand, and Diana hummed in recognition. “Ah, gillyweed. I became quite familiar with this plant during my vacation in the Greek Islands. Don’t worry, you get used to the webbed feet quite quickly, and it’s not as gross as it looks. It tastes kind of like...slimy kale.”

Kara grimaced, and she felt pathetic for feeling a sharp pang in her chest at the mention of Lena’s favourite vegetable (how that devil’s leaf could be Lena’s favourite anything, Kara would never understand).

“That doesn’t make it much better, Professor,” she returned weakly. Diana smiled kindly and sat back in her seat, getting the hint from Kara calling her ‘professor’ to remain quiet for the rest of the ride so that Kara could brood.

The boat slowed to a stop as they reached the champions’ platform.

“Here we are. Oh, just a moment.” Diana leaned across the boat and lightly tapped the bridge of Kara’s glasses. Kara felt a slight pressure just behind her ears where the arms of her glasses met her skull. “So they don’t fall off,” Diana explained. “You only just found a pair that work for your face. We can’t repeat those awkward dad glasses you wore in fifth year.”

“Alex said they made me look mature…”

“Alex would do anything to spare your feelings, dear,” Diana chuckled. She gave Kara a last look over before nodding approvingly. Her hands bracketed Kara’s neck and she leaned over to press a warm kiss to her forehead. “Good luck,” she murmured, then added in a “kiddo” and a ruffling of Kara’s hair that had her scowling and twisting away to clamber up the wooden ladder.

Lex and Mon-el were already on the platform. Lex sat cross-legged in the middle, eyes closed and hands folded in his lap, while Mon-el alternated between sets of jumping jacks and situps over to his left. A kink in Lex’s brow was the only indication that the flurry of movement and heavy breathing that was Mon-el was irritating him.

Kara decided she should warm up too, if only to do something with this restless energy she could feel building inside of her. Goosebumps appeared on her skin as she shucked her robe and slippers. She was in a pair of swim shorts and a Hufflepuff yellow and black tank over a crop top. Slipping the gillyweed into her pocket, she hopped a little on the balls of her feet before walking back and forth on the platform to get her blood flowing.

She pretended she was preparing for a quidditch match, going through a modified version of her standard warmup routine. She jogged in place, lunged up and down the length of the platform, and did some pushups and dynamic stretches. As her body began to wake up, she focused solely on the harmonious push and pull of muscles and tendons, of bones and ligaments. It calmed her mind somewhat, and helped to ground her.

Kara was midway through pressing herself off the floor into a cobra pose when Lex cracked his eye open and caught her gaze. Kara froze, blinked back at him, unsure of how to respond with him just staring at her like that. After a moment, Lex planted his palms on the platform and swivelled around so he was facing her properly. He brought his knees to his chest, and for the first time...he actually looked his age. He looked like a teenager, concerned about an uncertain future.

“Morning,” he said cordially.

Kara arched an eyebrow before pulling her gaze back out over the lake, trying to focus on the stretch she felt through her core muscles. “Morning,” she returned, more out of social convention than actually wanting to speak to him.

Lex shifted slightly, clasping his slender fingers together around his knees. He seemed to be struggling with something; his mouth opened and closed a few times before he eventually spoke. “Have you...have you seen Lena?”

Kara stilled through her stretch for a moment as her heart stalled in her chest. The defeated and broken look on Lena’s face the day before flashed before her eyes, making her breath hitch. She swallowed it down and moved into her next stretch.

“No,” she responded as she sat on the floor and lowered her head down towards an extended knee. “Why should I?”

“Don’t play dumb,” Lex snapped. It was sharper than he intended, and made him grimace and run an agitated hand through his hair. “I know my sister. I know the two of you are...close.”

Kara held his gaze for a while, thinking about ignoring him or pretending she didn’t know what he was talking about, but it was just exhausting. She was so incredibly tired.

“Not anymore,” she said stiffly. The words wounded as they left her lips. “I don’t know where she is. Why don’t you ask your mother?”

Lex’s eyes dropped down to his hands. “She’s doing what she thinks is right,” he said quietly. So he knew that Lena was being sent away.

Kara sighed and pushed herself back to her feet, crossing her arms as she looked pointedly down at Lex. “Do you think it’s right?”

Lex’s jaw tightened and he averted his gaze towards the lake. “Believe it or not, I only want Lena to be happy,” he said, just loud enough for Kara to hear. “All her life, she’s been happiest when she’s with me. Or so I thought, until this year at least,” he coughed a bitter laugh and shook his head. “Turns out, she doesn’t need me at all, does she?”

Kara thought of how Lena spoke of her brother, of how he had welcomed her into an unfamiliar home, protected her against the harshest of Lillian’s criticisms, encouraged her potential. At the end of it all, she knew Lena missed him, that she loved him, even in spite of everything he was.

“She does,” Kara answered.

Lex’s head snapped up, eyes filled with a hopeful sort of glimmer that spoke of so much wanting. He quickly extinguished it, however, as though adamantly refusing to even entertain such hope.

“Perhaps,” he hummed. “But this year she’s been...happy. Happier than I’ve seen her before. All the evidence suggests it has something to do with you,” he explained calmly, as though his words weren’t making Kara’s eyes bulge and heart hammer against her ribcage.

Kara blinked back at him in shock, struggling to find her voice for a few seconds. “Wow, Lex. That was almost nice; I didn’t think you were capable of that.”

Lex tossed his head back with a laugh, stretching lazily into a golden shaft of sunlight that burst through the clouds at that exact moment. He sighed contentedly and hopped up, surprisingly agile, to his feet.

“No need to flatter me, Danvers. If you’ll excuse me, I have a task to win.”

When Lex returned, he was strapped into a full-body mechanical suit. The metal of the suit’s boots clanged against the wooden floor with each step, and Lex smirked out at them from behind a glass-bubble helmet.

Kara’s hands sat on her hips as she looked the suit up and down. “What is this? Is this even allowed?”

Lex grinned smugly. “It’s a suit of my own design, all perfectly within the rules. You’re looking at the genius synthesis of magical and mechanical engineering—a prototype, of course. I was rather pressed for time. The pressurised system will keep me safe and allow me to breathe, while the enchanted thrusters will ensure I’m the fastest. There’s even a snack compartment.”

Mon-el, who was staring at the suit with complete fascination, pulled on a tiny lever by Lex’s shoulder. His face lit up when a stream of nuts fell into his palm, and he munched on them happily.

“What’s your plan, Danvers?” Lex asked.

“Uh…” Kara reached into her pocket and showed them the gillyweed. Mon-el made a face while crunching down on an almond.

“Interesting,” Lex remarked. “Well, good luck with...whatever that is.”

Professor Grant’s amplified voice booming across the lake brought silence to the crowd.

“Finally, it is time for the second task. The three champions have each had something important stolen from them, which is now at the bottom of the Black Lake. They will have an hour to retrieve their treasures and return to the surface to complete the task...so, we’re going to wait around for an hour watching the lake doing nothing? How fascinating. I am so very glad this spectator event is completely underwater; who do I have to fire for coming up with this garbage?”

“Professor—” Diana’s voice, quieter and sounding further away, “you’re still broadcasting.”

“...Blast. Whatever, the people should know I think this whole thing is nonsensical. Champions! Your hour begins on my count of three. One…”

Kara set the timer on her sportswatch to an hour, and tried not to think about Lena.

“Two…”

Kara shoved the gillyweed into her mouth, grimaced first at the taste and then again at the consistency, and tried not to think about Lena.

“Three!”

Kara thought about Lena, and then she couldn’t breathe.

Kara tried to draw breath, but it was like an invisible pillow had been clapped over her mouth and nose. Her lungs were empty, her chest screamed for air, and she suddenly felt a piercing pain on either side of her neck and the only thing she could reasonably think to do was get in the water.

So she did, pitching headfirst off of the platform to flop rather inelegantly into the lake.

The shock of the freezing cold water hit her like a thousand knives, pricking at every exposed millimetre of skin, but, miraculously, she could breathe. Gradually, the water stopped feeling so cold; in fact, it was even rather pleasant. The pain in her neck was subsiding, and she touched a hand to the affected area to feel two large slits in the skin just below her ear and discovered she had gills. Looking down at her bare feet, kicking automatically below her, she saw her toes were elongated and webbed, as were her hands when she held them before her eyes.

Cool?

Kara gave a few experimental kicks, and was delighted when her new flipper feet propelled her powerfully through the water. She could only see about ten feet in front of her; beyond that, all she could see were blurry shapes that came into focus as she drew closer. Logs, patches of seaweed, and even a couple of sunken Hogwarts rowboats loomed into view; but for all she knew, they could have been the giant squid before she came close enough to properly see them.

(Part of her secretly hoped she would see the giant squid, just to prove to Alex it was real.)

Mon-el had disappeared from their original starting positions, but in the distance she could see faintly glowing lights, which she presumed came from Lex’s diving suit. She followed them.

Deeper and deeper she swam, down and down into the depths of the lake where the sun’s light couldn’t reach her, the water growing colder with every kick. The sheer volume of water above her was oppressive, and she tried not to think about it as she kicked her way down, always following the distant lights. Lex must have been moving fast, because she only just managed to keep the lights in view.

Then, the lights started behaving erratically. They flashed and jerked through the darkness, and when Kara kicked harder, she actually began closing the gap between her and the lights. Something must have slowed Lex down.

She rounded a craggy rock formation and came across a vast patch of seaweed. Lex and the lights were here, and he was struggling. He thrashed wildly as about a dozen grindylows latched onto his arms and legs and pulled him down towards the lake bed where he became tangled in the weeds.

Without hesitation, Kara swam over, drawing her wand from the holster she had strapped around her calf. She fired off a few quick stunning spells (silently apologising to the mildly demonic-looking yet altogether innocent creatures) that sent them scattering rather quickly. As one of the creatures whirled away, it caught hold of a tube from Lex’s suit and pulled, unleashing a forceful stream of bubbles.

Lex’s air supply.

Lex was still trapped. Long strands of seaweed snagged on the buttons and levers of his suit, and the more he flailed, the worse it became.

“Hold still!” Kara shouted, her voice warbling but still audible in the water.

She could see the panic in his wildly darting eyes when she looked in through the glass of his helmet. She clapped both hands to his helmet and forced him to look at her, her eyes wide and determined. She needed him to stay calm, or they would just waste precious seconds on panic. Something seemed to click in Lex’s brain and he met her gaze, nodding once.

Kara made a jerking motion with her thumb, indicating that he needed to get out of the suit. Lex’s trapped hand pointed at a red handle on his chest. Kara ripped the seaweed away from the handle, gripped it, and twisted. The suit popped open from the front, and Lex floated out, a frantic tangle of arms and limbs.

Lex kicked around to the back of the suit, wand drawn, and fussed with the disconnected tube. He was trying to fix it, Kara realised.

“Lex, don’t! There’s no time; you’ll drown!” she garbled, grabbing for his hands to stop him.

He whipped his head around to her, brown locks drifting into wild, desperate, furious eyes. I can fix it, they said. He moved to turn back to the suit, but Kara drew her wand and pointed it at him.

Ascendio!

Lex let out a strangled cry as the spell hit him in the chest and he rocketed to the surface.

Kara watched him until his form disappeared from view. Lex’s suit keeled over, kicking up a cloud of sand and weeds.

Everything was still.

He would be alright, Kara told herself. She’d gotten to him in time; he would be alright.

Kara stared at the ghostly shell that had housed Lex only moments ago, and it reminded her that she still had a task to complete.

Kara swam on.

The silence pressed down on her ears as she swam over a strange, dark landscape. She swam through trenches and around moss-covered rocks, under logs and over vast plains of mud and tangled, black weeds. She had lost all concept of time when she heard them.

An eerie chorus of voices, singing the song she had heard from the egg. The memory of holding Lena close to her in the Prefect’s bathtub—safe, happy, together—flashed through her mind’s eye. She clenched her jaw and kicked on towards the sound, pushing the thought from her head.

The song grew louder with each kick, to the point where she could make out words.

‘...Your time’s half-gone, so tarry not; lest what you seek stays here to rot…’

Huh. That wasn’t ominous at all.

Kara followed the mer-song until it was loud and clear in her ears. She was definitely close. A large rock emerged out of the murky water. It had paintings of merpeople on it, Kara realised as she approached. Then, out of the corner of her eye, she saw a flash of silver: a tail, disappearing as it whipped around another rock.

Kara followed it. Past the rock, she entered into a wide open space, interrupted by mossy pillars jutting out from the lake bed. Merpeople drifted between the pillars, their haunting song echoing all around. Up ahead, was an archway. Tethered underneath the archway, were three distinct figures.

Kara put on an extra burst of speed and kicked towards the archway. She approached the first figure, floating in front of it.

Winn.

The boy’s impish smile was missing and his thoughtful eyes were closed as he bobbed up and down in the water. His face was pale and ghostly, and the sight of one of her best friends tied up at the bottom of a lake like this chilled her to the bone. Winn was Mon-el’s treasure, which meant...

In her peripherals, she saw that flash of auburn hair she had desperately sought out before the task began.

It was Alex, and then Alex was all she could see. Kara swallowed, thinking of all the times Alex had saved her. All the times she had woken up from a nightmare, only to find Alex sitting there already with a glass of water and a warm embrace at the ready. All the times she had struggled to understand something, because that wasn’t how Krypton had done it, and Alex was there to explain everything and show her the way. Alex had saved her more times than she could count. Now, it was her turn.

Kara reached for the thick ropes around Alex’s ankles and pulled at them. When that didn’t work, she dove down to the lake floor and rummaged around until she found a sharp rock. She swam back up and started hacking at the ropes, dragging the edge of the stone backwards and forwards.

Kara drew in a sharp breath when the stone sliced across her palm. A few drops of blood floated in front of her face. Some corner of her brain offhandedly hoped there was no such thing as lake sharks.

Kara worked at the ropes for what was really only minutes but felt like an eternity. All the while, she was extremely conscious of the third body that floated just an arm’s length to her right.

She knew exactly who the third figure was. She just couldn’t look. She knew that if she looked, she wouldn’t think straight, and if she didn’t think straight, they would all be stuck here, at the bottom of the lake, forever. She didn’t look.

The rope split and severed, drifted towards the lake floor, and Alex floated free. Finally, she looked.

Lena’s raven hair was loose, and formed a haunting halo around her head. Her usually bright green eyes were hidden behind greyish lids, and her normally pink lips were pale, as was the rest of her porcelain skin. Kara gently cupped Lena’s cheeks in her hands. Her skin was ice cold. For all the world, she appeared to be...dead. It made Kara feel sick.

Rock in hand, she turned her attention to the ropes at Lena’s feet, but before she could start, she felt the press of sharp metal against her throat.

A merperson, truly walking the line between fish and human with sharp teeth and yellow eyes, held a trident to Kara’s flesh. “You may only rescue your own hostage,” the creature hissed.

Kara thought of Lex, shooting up to the surface of the lake. Lex, who had failed. Lex, who wasn’t coming for Lena.

“No one’s coming for her!” she gasped urgently, craning her neck away from the trident.

“Then she stays with us,” the merperson replied.

Like hell she does.

There was a crack of light as Mon-el appeared above her and shot a severing charm at the ropes around Winn’s ankles.

Damnit, Kara! Even Mon-el thought to use magic instead of a stupid rock!

The merperson let a screech and darted away, leaving the imprint of its trident pressed in Kara’s throat. Kara remembered reading that merpeople had very little contact with magic, and were likely to be afraid of it.

She looked up at Mon-el, who had a bubble of air around his nose and mouth, and was already scooping Winn up in his arms. Mon-el caught her eye and tapped at his watch. Kara nodded in understanding and glanced at her own. Ten minutes left. Mon-el swam away, arms firmly around Winn as he ascended.

Cursing herself for getting so caught up in emotion from seeing Alex and Lena and forgetting all about magic, Kara drew her wand and cast a severing charm at Lena’s ropes. Kara seized Lena around the waist, grabbed hold of Alex, and kicked off towards the surface before the scattering merpeople could say or do anything to stop her.

(She made a mental note never to tell Alex how exactly she carried her up: unceremoniously, and by the neck of her robes.)

It was slow, arduous work. Kara kicked relentlessly with her flippered feet, but Alex and Lena in their robes weighed her down like potato-filled sacks. Her lungs and muscles strained with the effort as she propelled the three of them upwards. She had no idea how far she had left to go, but she must have been deep, still. The water above her was still so dark…

Lena and Alex were going to owe her big time when they got out of this.

If they got out of this.

Her legs were seizing up with the effort of swimming; her shoulders were aching with the effort of holding Lena and dragging Alex...how much further could there be?

There, above her head, a murky ball of light. The sun. It must have broken free of the clouds for a brief moment. Clouds...air...sunlight. These thoughts spurred her on and she kicked harder, but somehow her kicks were less effective than they had been a minute ago, She looked down to discover that her flippers were nothing more than feet.

That sharp pain was back in her neck, and she knew it meant her gills were closing over. She drew in one final breath, and water seeped into her throat at the tail of it. Water was flooding through her mouth and into her lungs, but the darkness was thinning above her, the surface was so close…

But still so far away. She kicked her feet hard, and every muscle screamed in protest. Every kick made her more lightheaded. Water was filling her lungs, and she became increasingly dizzy and disoriented. She didn’t know where the sun was anymore. Had it dipped behind a cloud?

She wasn’t going to make it.

The thought occurred to her, and she thought she would panic, but she felt calm. She knew what she had to do. With the last reserves of strength she had left in her body, she launched Lena and Alex upwards. She stopped kicking. Instead, she watched them float the remaining metres to the surface. Content, knowing they would be safe.

Black spots appeared at the edges of her vision and her eyes drifted shut. She started sinking.

The sun came out. It broke free from the clouds and pierced down through the surface of the lake, bathing Kara in a shaft of golden light as she was suspended in the water.

Then, she felt it. That feeling, of warmth starting in the center of her chest and slowly spreading outwards, of miniature suns exploding in every one of her cells. The same feeling she’d felt as a child in Krypton, the same feeling she’d felt facing the Horntail, the same feeling she’d felt kissing Lena for the first time. It was almost familiar to her now. Truth be told, she had been expecting it, somehow.

Ah, there you are. About time.

Kara exploded out of the water, sailed in an arc through the air and slammed onto the champions’ platform, coughing and spluttering and breathing and, oh, that’s what breathing feels like.

Hands were all over her—whether it was one pair or several, she couldn’t tell—wrapping a towel around her shoulders, touching her face and arms, checking her over, pulling her back firmly into a front, holding her close like their life depended on it.

“You’re okay, Kar, you’re okay, I’ve got you.”

Alex.

Kara coughed up more water, and her entire body shook as she collapsed back into Alex’s solid presence.

“I thought I was the one who saved you,” Kara rasped out, and Alex made a noise that was somewhere between a laugh and a sob as she gripped onto her so tight it hurt, pressing a firm kiss to the side of Kara’s head.

Alex eventually released her and grabbed a robe and an armful of towels from Professor Prince. She jammed Kara’s arms into the robe and swaddled her up like an overstuffed burrito, which Kara was actually pretty grateful for, because perhaps it would stop her body from shivering.

Finally getting her bearings, Kara was able to start making sense of the commotion going on around her on the platform.

Alex was behind her, hands bracing her shoulders, yelling at people to give her space.

A puffy-eyed Maggie was attempting to force a towel around Alex’s shoulders, but each towel she gave her ended up being added to Kara’s towel-burrito. This made Maggie wring her hands in exasperation as she (futilely) tried to remind Alex that she, too, had been at the bottom of a freezing cold lake for over an hour.

James’ camera flashed sporadically. He was ducking in and out of the crowd, narrowly fleeing from Alex’s murderous glare with a shouted apology when he took a picture of Kara that made her grimace and turn her head away from the sudden bright light.

Professor Grant paced up and down the platform, raving about how ridiculous it was that one of her students had nearly drowned “for a sport, of all things!” (Perhaps nearly drowning was making Kara imagine things, but it almost sounded like Professor Grant was genuinely upset.)

Mon-el had one arm wrapped protectively around Winn while the other gripped onto a mug of marshmallow and whipped-cream topped hot chocolate.

Madame M’orzz appeared beside Kara in a crouch and meticulously checked her over. She extricated Kara’s injured hand from the towels so she could wrap it in gauze.

While her hand was being bandaged up, Kara’s eyes landed on the Luthor siblings.

Lex sat on the floor with his back against the railing, ashen-faced and staring out into space. Lena crouched beside him, wrapped up in a robe and a towel, her wet hair clinging to her face and even more strikingly dark against her pale skin. Her hand was on Lex’s shoulder, and he was clutching it like it was a lifeline, like it was the only thing keeping him tethered to reality.

But Lena wasn’t looking at Lex. She was looking at Kara, and when their eyes met, her jaw tightened and her throat bobbed with a swallow. Lena gripped Lex’s shoulder to get his attention. He blinked back into the present and looked up at his sister, following her gaze to where Kara sat, and he gradually eased his grip on Lena’s hand, nodding his head as if to say he’d be okay.

As soon as her hand was free Lena rushed over, practically tripping over herself and her robes before she dropped to her knees in front of Kara, eyes wide and darting over her person.

“Kara,” Lena breathed her name like it was an answered prayer, like she couldn’t believe what she was seeing right in front of her. She blinked her eyes and shook her head quickly, shucking the towel she had around her shoulders. “You’re shaking; you must be freezing,” she said as she added another layer to Kara’s cocoon.

Lena sat back on her heels, fists clenched on the tops of her thighs, jaw working overtime.

Kara felt like she should say something. Like how she would do anything for her to stay, like how she couldn’t bear the thought of losing her, like how she was absolutely, irreversibly falling in love with her.

“Lena—”

But Kara didn’t get to say any of those things, because Lena had practically launched herself at her. Kara was knocked backwards by the force of Lena’s momentum, only kept upright thanks to Alex sitting behind her and bracing against her back.

Kara’s whole body was tender and aching from the entire ordeal, so she couldn’t say that Lena crashing full-force into her face didn’t hurt, but Kara honestly couldn’t even begin to care. When Lena’s lips were pressed against hers, nose knocking Kara’s glasses askew even despite Diana’s enchantment, Kara felt everything melt away to the point that the only thing that mattered was kissing Lena back, hard.

Kara was gasping for breath when Lena pulled back, her lungs nowhere near close to recovered, but she chased Lena’s lips anyway, catching them briefly before Lena turned her attention to the rest of her. Lena’s hands found purchase on the neck of Kara’s robe, and she murmured somewhat nonsensically as she covered Kara’s cheeks and forehead in frantic kisses, which Kara was more than happy to endure, until she caught hold of what Lena was saying.

“Lena, are you calling me an idiot?” Kara asked.

Lena plucked her head back, wearing an exasperated expression. “Yes. Did you honestly think I’d be left down there if you didn’t save me? That’s completely insane, Kara, you should have just rescued Alex and left me behind!”

Kara blinked at her in bewilderment. “Lena, for once I think you might be the idiot, for thinking there was any way I would have just left you,” she argued stubbornly.

Lena laughed wetly and sniffled, wiping haphazardly at her nose. “Kara...I’m not going anywhere,” she said resolutely. “I’ll do anything; I’ll fight Lillian, I’ll hide, I’ll run away....I just, I can’t lose you again. I thought you were—” Lena’s breath caught in her throat, and she shook her head instead of finishing that thought. “I’ll figure it out.”

“We’ll figure it out,” Kara amended, relief flooding through her and manifesting itself into a wide grin. She craned her neck to look back at Alex. “Think we could lose some of the towels, Alex? I...kinda want to use my hands.”

Alex rolled her eyes as she unravelled the mass of towels from around Kara’s shoulders, muttering something about ‘useless gays’ under her breath as she bundled them up in her arms.

Finally free, Kara was able to cup Lena’s face in her hands, glad to feel how warm and soft and alive she felt now that she was out of the lake. Her chest still hurt, so she simply brought Lena’s forehead to rest against hers, swiping her thumbs back and forth on her cheekbones.

Kara wasn’t even aware that Professor Grant had begrudgingly announced the scores while all this was going on. She and Lena were busy gazing adoringly at each other, fingers inextricably twined together, when a pair of outraged footsteps approached.

Second place?

The footsteps were accompanied by a voice, and that voice did not sound happy. Kara, still with one hand buried in Lena’s hair, snapped her eyes up to see a fuming Lillian Luthor looming over them.

“This is an outrage!” Lillian thundered. “She should be disqualified! This—this girl sabotaged my son! And,” Lillian’s eyes narrowed on the pair, huddled close together on the floor, “corrupted my daughter. Lena,” she snapped coolly, “that’s quite enough of this embarrassing display. It’s time for you to go; the carriage is ready.” Lillian grabbed Lena by the wrist, and she cried out in protest as she was pulled from Kara’s arms.

“Hey!” Kara croaked. She tried to stand, but her legs refused to work and she landed back on the floor with a thud, Alex’s hand appearing on her shoulder as she urged her to take it easy.

Lena wrenched her hand free, stumbling back a few steps. “I’m not...I’m not going,” she said firmly.

Lillian’s eyes widened for a second, as though her daughter’s defiance had been a slap in the face. She quickly shook her expression free of the shock, a haughty smirk sliding into place instead. “Oh, Lena. Did I say you had a choice?”

Lillian moved to grab her again, but was blocked by a tall, broad frame: James. And then Alex scrambled up, and Maggie, and Winn with Mon-el in tow. They all stood in front of Lena, cutting off Lillian’s path.

“She said she doesn’t want to go,” Alex said, with a look that contained far more seriousness than any teenager should reasonably possess.

Lillian arched a perfectly manicured brow, eying the barricade of people. “And who are you supposed to be?”

“Her friends,” Alex answered.

“My, my, haven’t you been quite the social butterfly this year, Lena? No wonder your grades have been slipping,” Lillian mused, tutting her tongue against her teeth. “I didn’t think you had friends, Lena. Well, aside from that irritating Jess girl you pay to follow you around.”

Lena’s hands clenched by her sides, a red flush creeping up her neck. “Jess isn’t irritating,” she grit out.

“And I sure as hell am not being paid!” Jess piped up from the small crowd of students that had formed.

Lillian sighed, rubbing wearily at her temple. “I knew bringing you here was a mistake. But Lex insisted on it. He is, unfortunately, quite fond of you, I really can’t imagine why.”

“That’s enough, mother.”

All heads turned to who had spoken: it was Lex, who was now standing, though supporting himself with one hand on the railing. His face was drawn, and his posture weak, but he held his chin up stoically.

“That’s enough,” he repeated. His voice was soft, forcing everyone bustling about to become still and silent to hear what he had to say. He flicked his grey eyes up to his mother.

“Danvers...Kara. She didn’t sabotage me. She saved me; she saved both of us. Don’t you see, mother? Lena is happy here, with these...people. Safe. I know that doesn’t mean much to you, but it does to me. If you send her away, I…” Lex drew in a breath, hand gripping the railing as he solidified his expression. “I’ll withdraw from the tournament.”

Lillian’s expression barely shifted, but her eyes were livid. “You would dare bring such shame to the Luthor name?” she hissed.

“I would,” Lex replied.

Lillian held her son’s gaze for a long moment, but he didn’t back down. Eventually, she let out a snarl and whipped around, her robes swishing behind her as she stormed into an awaiting rowboat. “This isn’t over,” she seethed, and the menacing glare didn’t leave her face as she sped back towards the shore.

Everyone released a collective sigh as soon as Lillian was gone, though the air remained thick with tension. Kara struggled to get up a second time, and kicked at Alex’s shin to get her attention. “Help me up, would you?”

Alex hauled Kara to her feet, slipping herself under Kara’s arm to support her. Kara’s legs shook with her first few steps, but Lena was quickly at her side, propping her other arm up over her.

“Are you alright?” Kara asked, and Lena nodded, but she was staring at Lex in complete disbelief.

“Lex...you didn’t have to do that,” she whispered.

Lex managed to push a half smile onto his face. “Yes, I did.” The smile slipped, exhaustion settling in instead, and his arm trembled from the effort of keeping him upright. “I feel...I feel unwell.”

He pitched sideways, caught at the last second by a startled James before he crumpled to the floor.

Chapter Text

Lex’s fever didn’t break for six days.

Madame M’orzz tried every potion in her store cabinet, but his temperature refused to come down. The healer’s diagnosis was that he was overworked and under-rested, and it probably wouldn’t hurt for him to eat some vegetables. Rest, relaxation, and time were prescribed for his recovery.

Lena was at his bedside whenever she had a spare moment. Between classes, before mealtimes, and every evening right up until visiting hours were over. She’d bring her homework, or sometimes she would just sit by him, looking him over with her hand tentatively slipped into his.

As Lex gradually healed, so did their relationship. Slowly, tentatively. Kara was happy for Lena, she really was, but still. She wasn’t ready to speak to him. When she thought of Lex, she thought of the boy who had put her under the full body bind curse in a store closet, the boy who spat venomous words at her and her friend’s in a drunken haze, the boy who thought she wasn’t good enough for his sister. She didn’t know the caring version of Lex Lena spoke about, so she kept her distance. Let Lena navigate how she was going to rebuild a relationship with him as she saw best.

When Lex was properly awake, Lena and Lex played chess together, and Lena would coax him into eating hearty soups with plenty of vegetables.

“Honestly, he’s worse than you, Kara,” Lena commiserated one night at dinner.

“I guess our mutual dislike of healthy food is one thing we have in common,” Kara mused as she dug into an overflowing bowl of spaghetti. “Is he doing any better?”

Lena sighed wearily, rubbing at her eye. Worrying about Lex was exhausting her, and it was starting to show.

“His temperature is still high, but he’s awake more and eating, so...that’s a good sign,” Lena said with a smile that flitted and faded, like it took too much energy to maintain. “I can’t help but feel like this is my fault. He’s been getting worse since I pushed him away, and I saw it happening, but I didn’t do anything. Defying Lillian like he did at the lake...that’s not something I thought he would ever do, but he did it for me. I think that’s what pushed him over the edge.”

“Hey.” Kara put her fork down so she could find Lena’s hand under the table and interlock their fingers. “Don’t do that. Don’t blame yourself for putting your needs first. You’re here for him now, and he will get better. That’s what matters, okay?”

Lena sagged a little, allowing herself to lean into Kara’s side. “Okay. You’re right, I just...old habits, I suppose.”

Kara smiled with affection and gave Lena’s hand a squeeze. Kara looked Lena over, taking in the slouch in her spine, the wisps of hair flying free from her ponytail, the way she rubbed at her temples where Kara knew a headache was burrowing its way into her brain. “Lena, don’t take this the wrong way, but you look terrible.”

Lena ducked her head, eyes widening. “Sorry,” she mumbled.

“Hey, I didn’t mean it like that,” Kara apologised quickly and tucked a piece of Lena’s hair behind her ear. “I’m worried about you, is all.”

Lena sighed, closing her eyes as she dropped her head down onto Kara’s shoulder. “With all that’s happening, I haven’t really been sleeping well. Or...at all, for that matter.”

Kara’s heart ached at the weariness in Lena’s voice and she rubbed her thumb in small circles over the back of her palm. “Would it help if you stayed with me tonight?” she asked, a hopeful lilt in her voice.

“I suppose...it couldn’t hurt,” Lena said, smiling faintly.

***

Sneaking Lena out of her quarters and into Kara’s Hufflepuff dormitory was a matter of taking two secret passageways, hiding behind three suits of armour, and bribing Peeves with the promise of revealing the location of Maggie’s secret stash of stink bombs. With the journey completed, Lena pulled Kara’s quidditch hoodie over her head from where she sat in Kara’s bed, smiling like she was incredibly pleased with herself as her head popped out.

Kara chuckled softly, keeping her voice down even despite the silencing charm she’d cast around her four-post bed. “I won’t have any sweatshirts left pretty soon,” she teased, poking at Lena’s ribs.

Lena squirmed away and swatted Kara’s hand. “I don’t own anything this comfortable. Plus, they...they smell like you,” she confessed, a barely audible mumble, like Kara wasn’t fully aware of the drawer stuffed with sweatshirts Lena had in her room. “You’re more than welcome to steal one of my blazers,” she added.

“I’m not sure I could pull it off like you can,” Kara said, and Lena rolled her eyes in response. Kara took her glasses off, folded them up, and passed them to Lena. Lena let out a small “oh!” as she rolled over to place them on the bedside table. When she rolled back, she was holding a picture in her hands.

It was from the lake: Kara sitting with her back against Alex’s knees, Lena kneeling beside her. Kara’s hands were on either side of Lena’s face, their foreheads knocked together. Kara’s thumbs traced over Lena’s cheeks while Lena smiled softly on an endless loop in the photograph.

“This is...this is good,” Lena murmured, delicately holding the picture above them as she laid down next to Kara.

“James took it; he wants to be a photographer,” Kara said, and turned her eyes away from the Lena in the picture to the Lena who laid beside her.

Lena caught her lower lip with her teeth, eyes scanning over the picture. “I was so scared you weren’t going to come up again,” she whispered. “I thought...I thought I’d lost you.”

“You didn’t,” Kara said. She lifted her arm so she could put it around Lena’s shoulders, and Lena automatically tucked herself into her side. “I came back for you. I’ll always come back for you.”

Lena’s fingers curled into the fabric of Kara’s shirt while Kara rubbed small circles on her back. Lena continued to study the photo, and everything was quiet until she asked: “can I keep it?”

Kara scoffed a laugh, shaking her head a little incredulously. “No way, it’s mine!” Lena pouted; Kara could make out the jut of her lower lip even in the pale moonlight filtering in through the window. “Oh, alright, you can have it. I’ll get James to print another copy.”

“Good. I want to have something to remember you by...for when I do go back home.”

Kara’s laugh died out, and she wrapped her arm closer around Lena. They hadn’t spoken much about the fact that Lena would be leaving once the tournament was over, but neither of them were naive enough to think it wasn’t going to happen. Lillian’s threat to send her away, however, made it hard to ignore.

“Hey, Lena?” Kara chirped into the silence that had fallen around them. “Did you know my Nimbus has a top speed of 120 miles per hour?”

Lena quirked an eyebrow. “I guess I do now.”

“And how far away is Beauxbatons from here?”

“Oh...about 800 miles. Give or take.”

“So, according to my calculations, it would take me…” Kara scrunched up her face with the effort of running the numbers until eventually giving up with a huffed sigh. “Help me out here?”

“6.6 hours,” Lena answered readily, like she had known the whole time. “Or, 6 hours and 36 minutes.”

“Thank you. Lets add in a half hour for a snack break. So...when you go home, I’ll only be 7 hours and 6 minutes away from you. That’s nothing! You could fall asleep, and I’d be there when you woke up,” Kara said animatedly. “Not to mention, I’m only an eyebrow away from passing my Apparition test.”

Lena smiled softly and rolled onto her stomach, her chin on Kara’s chest as she ran a thumb over Kara’s right eyebrow, which refused to join the rest of her across the great hall during Apparition lessons. “Stubborn thing,” Lena murmured.

“See? Being apart should be the least of our worries.”

“Hm, I suppose you’re right,” Lena hummed thoughtfully. “My brother is sick, my mother is crazy, and you still have a whole other task to survive. And let’s not forget about exams. Wow, there really is so much more to worry about. I feel so much better,” Lena’s half-joke was accompanied by a wry smirk that made Kara grimace and give Lena an admonishing squeeze.

“That’s not—that’s not what I meant!”

Lena grinned through a poorly stifled yawn, right in Kara’s face. “I know.”

Kara rolled her eyes, but she was glad to see Lena smiling, properly smiling, for the first time in days.

“All I’m saying, is that I’m not letting go of you just because you’ll be far away. I’ll be right there, whenever you want me, for as long as you’ll have me.”

Lena looked over Kara’s face for a moment, then shimmied up to press their lips together. “Is always an option?” Lena mumbled, and Kara could hear Lena losing her fight with sleep with each passing moment. Kara kissed her one more time and guided her back onto her side, where she curled up against Kara with her arm slung around her waist.

“Always.”

Lena hummed in contentment and Kara waited until her breaths were deep and even and consistent until she closed her eyes and joined Lena in sleep.

***

“He’s asking for you.”

Milk from Kara’s cereal splashed onto her Charms textbook.

“Huh?”

“Lex. He’s asking for you.”

“Oh. Can I finish my cereal?”

“Nope.”

Kara managed to cram one last spoonful of chocolate beetle crunch into her mouth before she was plucked up by the elbow and dragged up towards the hospital wing.

“Lena,” Kara whined, wiping milk from her mouth with the back of her hand. “What if I don’t want to speak to him?”

“Honestly? I don’t really care.” Catching Kara’s pout, Lena stopped just outside the doors to the hospital wing and spun around. “You and Lex are both important people in my life. I know you haven’t always seen eye to eye—”

“Understatement.”

“—but it would mean a lot to me if you would at least try to get along. He’s changed, Kara. He’s more like the brother I used to know. Just...hear what he has to say.”

Kara sighed, settling into her hip as she crossed her arms. “Unless he says the word ‘I’m’ followed by the word ‘sorry’, I’m not interested.”

“Kara...please? For me?”

And with Lena asking like that and giving her that pout, she really didn’t have much of a choice.

Kara groaned, throwing her hands up in defeat. “Fine! Fine.” She headed for the door and stopped when she realised Lena wasn’t following her. “Aren’t you coming too?”

Lena snorted and shook her head. “No, I have homework to catch up on.”

Kara shifted uncertainly, a pit of dread opening up within her at the thought of being alone with Lex, and she fiddled with the arm of her glasses. “Your brother...he’s kind of scary.”

Lena looked sympathetic for all of one second. “Oh, Kara. You’ve faced dragons and merpeople; don’t tell me you’re afraid of my brother. Be brave, like I know you are.” With that, she pressed up on her toes to kiss Kara’s cheek, tossing an airy ‘bye!’ over her shoulder.

Kara’s mouth goldfished for a few seconds as she watched Lena trot away. When she eventually realised she was just standing purposelessly in the middle of the hallway, she trudged inside, albeit reluctantly.

Lex was sitting up in his bed, one hand folded over the other in his lap. The sun filtered in through creamy white curtains, alighting on his closed eyes and unusually peaceful expression. Kara didn’t make much noise as she approached his bedside, but Lex opened his eyes just as she was about to take a seat anyway.

“Hello, Kara.”

Kara froze, hesitating briefly before she completed the journey into the chair by his bedside. The same one Lena had spent countless hours in over the past week.

“Lex,” she said cordially. “Using my name now?”

“I am. Would you prefer that I didn’t?”

“I, uh...no. It’s fine.” Kara shifted awkwardly, eyes flitting around the room while acutely aware that Lex’s never left her. “How are you feeling?”

“Oh, much better. Your healer has taken excellent care of me.”

“And Lena too,” Kara reminded him.

Lex gave a firm nod. “Yes, Lena too.”

Kara’s hands fiddled with the buckles of her bag, becoming increasingly agitated with each passing second. The boy before her was different to the Lex she had come to know and dislike. His trademark snarl was gone, his hands were relaxed, and his grey eyes were more sky than steel. Kara was so used to being on edge around him, but right now, sitting before her in a linen hospital gown, he seemed almost harmless. Perfectly innocuous as he looked at her with patient, curious eyes. Lex seemed perfectly happy to sit in silence, but every second of it made Kara more restless.

“You wanted to see me?” she finally asked, impatience edging into her voice.

“I did.”

Kara tightened her jaw. “And?”

Lex drew in a weighted breath, running a hand through his hair. “And I think it’s time we talked.”

“About Lena?”

“About Lena, yes. And about you, me, about everything. I’ve had a lot of time in this,” he gestured wanly around the hospital wing, “fine establish to think about things. About my actions this year in particular. I feel like we got off on the wrong foot.”

Kara’s eyebrow shot up on its own volition. “Lex, you’ve been rude to me since the moment we met. You threatened me, tried to keep me away from Lena, insulted my friends, oh, and let’s not forget the time you entered my name into the freaking Triwizard Tournament!” Kara huffed, cheeks turning redder as she spoke.

Lex simply flashed a boyish grin and gave his hand a casual wave. “Oh, but that was all so long ago, can’t we just let bygones be bygones?”

“No!” Kara all but shrieked, dropping her voice halfway through when she remembered they were in the hospital wing.

Lex ran a hand thoughtfully over his chin. “To be fair, you are doing unexpectedly well in the tournament. You might actually win this thing, so perhaps you should be thanking me.”

“I nearly drowned,” Kara said flatly.

“Ah, but you didn’t.”

“You’re more impossible than your sister,” Kara muttered, and Lex’s light chuckling only aggravated her further and made her rub at the headache she could feel building behind her temple.

Lex sat back in his bed, a faraway look in his eyes as he gazed out the window. Kara sighed, settling back into her chair for what she highly suspected would be a Lex Luthor monologue.

“Before Lena, I was alone.”

Yep, definitely a monologue.

“I had my parents, of course. But even as a child, they had incredibly high expectations of me. The Luthor name and legacy is both a blessing and a curse; it is as heavy as it is rewarding. I believed I was destined to bear the weight of it alone...until Lena.”

Kara frowned, thinking of how Lena had once defined herself by how much of a Luthor she was; it seemed to guide her every thought and action before she’d slowly started to truly find herself over the year.

“The Luthor name weighs heavier on her than you know,” Kara said.

Lex nodded gravely. “Perhaps because she was adopted, she’s always felt the need to prove herself, like she has to earn the name. Lena was this scared, curious, and remarkable little thing when she first came to us. From the moment I saw her, I wanted to make sure no harm would come to her. Ever. Admittedly, perhaps...I may have gone a little overboard with that oath.”

Kara couldn’t hold back an incredulous snort. “A little?”

Lex gave her a serious look. “I won’t compromise when it comes to ensuring Lena’s happiness.”

Kara returned the look. “Neither will I.”

Lex held her gaze for an almost uncomfortably long time before he finally nodded. “I see that now. I’ve analysed the situation, and I believe I was wrong in thinking that I was the key to her happiness. Turns out, it’s you.”

Kara shook her head firmly at that, casting the notion away before it even had the chance to land on her shoulders. “It’s not me,” she insisted. “It’s everyone: it’s my sister, our friends, it’s Jess, it’s even you, when you’re not being a total jerk. It’s Lena herself: her passion, her humour, her ambition, her creativity. Lena doesn’t need me, or anyone, to be happy. She just needs to be free.”

Kara could practically see her words turning over in Lex’s mind, his eyes thoughtful like she was actually getting through to him.

“That is...an interesting perspective,” he hummed, hands clasped beneath his chin. “I am afraid to say, however, that Lena can’t be truly free. Not with our mother in the picture.”

Kara straightened in her chair, leaning forwards to listen intently. Lena didn’t talk much about Lillian, but Kara had been able to piece together that she was a controlling, harsh presence in her life. Lillian’s behaviour at the lake only confirmed what she already thought.

“Mother has always been especially hard on Lena,” Lex said. “She says it’s to push her, to make her better. More like me,” he said dryly with an accompanying eye roll. “And I allowed myself to believe that, until I saw how she spoke to her when she threatened to send her back home. It was...rather cruel.” Lex’s frown was deep, and Kara’s hand gripped around the edge of her seat with simmering anger at Lena’s mother. Lex sighed and looked back up. “Nothing Lena does will ever be enough for her. But she will always crave her approval, even if Lena denies it.”

Kara pushed a lungful of air past her lips, sitting back in her chair as she tried to wrap her head around what Lex was saying. It made sense: now that she thought about it. The times that Lena had been really upset over something, it wasn’t Lex; it was Lillian.

“Some family, huh?” Lex remarked, a crooked grin dangling from his lips.

“Yeah,” Kara breathed, eyes widening.

Lex directed his gaze to her, his hands twisting subtly around the bed sheets. “Kara, I do want to say that I’m...very...sincerely...truly…” Lex’s face contorted and he huffed out in exasperation.

Kara quirked an eyebrow, her lips turning up at the corner in amusement. “Are you trying to say you’re sorry?”

“Yes. That word.”

“Say it.”

Lex clenched his jaw, teeth grinding together. “I’m sorry,” he grit out, and Kara smirked as she finally got to hear the words she wanted. “I hope we can get along in the future. For Lena’s sake.”

Kara sighed, crossing her arms over her chest. “Bringing Lena into it? That’s low, even for you.”

Lex’s eyes sparked, as did his teeth when he flashed a grin. “What can I say? I am a Luthor.”

“I suppose we can try to start over. For Lena.”

“For Lena,” Lex echoed, and when Kara looked into his eyes, it felt like they had reached some sort of understanding. A ceasefire, at least, which would have to do for now.

Kara sat back in her seat and tried to look at Lex as if for the first time. She liked to think of herself as a someone who gave people second chances. The thought of extending that same policy to Lex, however, sparked resistance in her bones, but she internally repeated the mantra for Lena, for Lena, for Lena until it ebbed and subsided.

“You know,” she said, giving him a challenging look. “Just because you’re sick, don’t think I’ll go easy on you in quidditch. I hope you’ve been training.”

“Rigorously. You’ve beaten me at every task, there’s no way I’m letting you beat me at quidditch too,” Lex smirked, but it wasn’t the same lip-curling, chilling smirk Kara had come to expect from him. It was almost playful, his competitive side shining through.

“We’ll see, golden boy,” Kara rolled her eyes.

Lex sighed lengthily, resting back against the pillows. He seemed tired, clearly still recovering, but less troubled than Kara had seen him before. Having Lena back in his life was doing good things for him already.

“One more thing, Kara,” he said, pulling Kara from her musings. “I would very much like to get to know who Lena has been spending her time with this year. Do you think...do you think you could introduce me to your friends?”

Kara shifted uncertainly. “I don’t know, Lex, you’ve kind of been a huge jerk to us all year.”

Lex’s eyes cast downwards. “Of course. I understand.”

He sounded so dejected, and once Alex had to physically restrain Kara from buying an entire cage of hamsters just because one of them looked at her sadly, so Kara’s resistance didn’t stand much of a chance.

“But...it would make Lena happy,” she sighed, resigned. “We’re having a game night on the weekend. I guess you could come, if you promise not to call Winn an imp, and if you keep your glaring to a minimum.”

A thoughtful look crossed Lex’s face as he considered the idea. “A game night? Is there some sort of prize?”

“No, it’s just for fun. You know, what friends do? Is everything a competition with you?”

“Fun…” Lex hummed, like the word was in a foreign language, then gave a decisive nod. “All right, then. I’ll wear my suit.”

  

 

Chapter Text

Lex didn’t wear his suit. Lena gave him a bit of a briefing and clarified that game night was a very casual event—specifically, pyjama attire.

Lena and Kara walked hand-in-hand down the Hogwarts hallways in sweatpants and hoodies. Kara’s had a giant cartoon owl on it, while Lena favoured Kara’s Holyhead Harpies sweatshirt (and seeing Lena wearing her team’s merch made Kara all kinds of giddy). Kara’s arms were laden down with food she had smuggled out of the kitchens and snacks from her secret stash, while Lena’s free arm was hooked around a fluffy pillow and blanket combo.

Lex followed a couple steps behind, the sound of glass clinking together in the bag he was carrying. Each step he took was accompanied by the sound of swishing fabric from his monogrammed satin pyjamas. Kara had clapped a hand over her mouth to stop herself from laughing out loud at the ensemble: sheeny green satin with black piping on the lapels, so crease-free it looked like Lex didn’t even move when he slept, with two flourishing ‘L’s stitched above the breast pocket.

“I thought you’d be wearing your matching set, Lee,” Lex remarked innocently, and Lena burned with embarrassment.

“Oh, I have got to see these,” Kara chortled.

“In your dreams, Kara Danvers,” Lena seethed, nudging Kara’s side a little too hard.

“Do you think they’ll like me?” Lex asked, sounding a lot like a hopeful kid on his first day at school.

Kara shot him a glowering look over her shoulder. “You antagonised us for the better part of this year; of course they’re not going to like you!” she snapped.

“Fair point.”

“Your little present should help win their favour, though. Especially with Alex,” Kara said, indicating Lex’s bag, which contained a few bottles of elderflower wine and some firewhiskey.

They rounded a corner into the seventh-floor corridor where they were supposed to meet the others, and saw Alex, Maggie, James, Winn, and Mon-el there waiting for them, all wearing an assortment of pyjamas, dressing gowns, and slippers. Winn was carrying his chess set, James’ arms were piled with a collection of other games they’d amassed over the years, Mon-el had disappeared behind a huge pile of blankets and pillows, and it looked like Maggie and Alex had brought more food.

Kara gripped Lena’s hand and quickened their pace to meet them. As they approached, Alex stopped talking abruptly and whirled around, her wand drawn. Next moment, all of them had their wands raised and pointed straight at them.

“Kara, look out!” Alex shouted.

“What are you doing?” Kara asked, wide-eyed as she and Lena stuttered to a halt.

“Lex Luthor is behind you!” James exclaimed.

“Oh, right. Yeah, I invited him.”

“You did what?” Alex’s eyes threatened to bulge out of her head.

“Greetings,” said Lex, unhelpfully.

“Did you seriously invite Lex Luthor to game night?” Alex hissed, a furious glint in her eyes.

“Our most sacred of events?” Winn clutched at his chess set as he eyed Lex warily.

Kara sighed, giving Lena a long-suffering look, which she returned with a squeeze of her hand and an encouraging smile.

“Look guys,” Kara said, “I know Lex hasn’t been very nice to us this year—”

“He entered you into the tournament,” said Alex.

“He made Lena cry,” said Maggie.

“He called me an imp!” said Winn.

“—but we’re trying to put it all behind us. Lex has apologised to me, and to Lena, and we’re all making the effort to get along. You know. Be the bigger people.” Kara spoke through clenched teeth, trying to subtly glare everyone into agreement. Alex was definitely much better at this than she was.

The gang all exchanged sceptical looks, shifting and murmuring in dissent until Lex popped forwards, showed his bag and said “I brought drinks.”

“Okay, he’s in, all is forgiven,” Maggie said as she snatched the bag from Lex’s hands, ignoring Alex’s sideways glance and resigned sigh.

Kara sighed with relief and returned Lena’s grateful smile, glad for the comforting presence of her hand in hers throughout the confrontation.

“So...where are we, exactly?” Lena asked, looking around for a door of some sort, but it seemed they were standing in front of a blank wall.

“Shall I do the honours?” Maggie asked, stepping into position in front of the wall. She paced back and forth three times, eyes closed in concentration, and then a door materialised out of the brick.

“Fascinating,” Lex murmured.

“Welcome to the Room of Whatever the Hell You Want,” Maggie announced as she pulled the door open with a grin.

“It’s actually called the Room of Requirement, but...y’know,” Alex shrugged, giving Maggie a love-laden look as she led them inside.

They stepped into a cozy room furnished with plush couches, multi-coloured beanbags, and a low-set table in the middle. A fire crackled cheerily to the side, filling the room with warmth and light. It was the perfect spot for a night of board games and shenanigans.

“You’ve outdone yourself, Sawyer,” James said appraisingly as he set his pile of games down on the centre table.

Kara and Alex placed their food and snacks down on another table that had plates, napkins, and cups at the ready, courtesy of the room.

“Are you sure about this, Kara?” Alex whispered out the side of her mouth. “I mean, Lex Luthor? Really?”

Kara sighed and looked over her shoulder to where Lex was perched stiffly on one of the beanbags, straight-backed and awkward, like an owl about to take flight. Lena was giggling as she demonstrated flopping into a beanbag next to him. Taking the hint, Lex rocked backwards and sank into the depths of the beanbag, flailing his arms around until he found a maintainable position, all to Lena’s apparent delight.

“I’m sure,” Kara said, smiling softly as her eyes rested on Lena’s laughing face.

Alex sighed, and resigned herself to trusting her sister’s judgement. She pulled the bottle of firewhiskey from Lex’s bag and let out a low whistle. “I’ll say one thing, the guy has good taste.”

Kara carried an overflowing plate back to one of the couches, where Lena quickly hopped over to join her. They bickered a little over how big of a bite Lena took of Kara’s pumpkin pastie; the dispute quickly solved by a well-timed Lena pout followed by a kiss to Kara’s cheek: a one-two punch that usually meant Lena got her way.

They all acquired snacks and a spot to sit and from there...it was a little awkward, in all honesty. Lex was a misshapen cog in the well-oiled machine that was game night. He stuck out like a sore thumb, everyone hyper aware of his presence.

Lena glanced uncertainly between her brother and the others: at Alex, who didn’t seem like she was going to stop glaring anytime soon; at Winn, who was keeping himself busy by talking at Mon-el; at James, who was intensely fascinated by his plate of food. She twisted her sleeves into her fists, and blinked wide when Kara laid a hand on top of hers.

“What if this was a mistake?” Lena whispered, eyes fearful and anxious.

Kara sighed, rubbed the back of Lena’s palm and then slapped a hand down on her thigh to get everyone’s attention. “Come on, guys, is this game night or lame night?” Kara ignored Alex’s eyebrow shooting up in judgement. She rocked forward to rifle through their assortment of games on the table and retrieved a deck of exploding snap cards. “Something easy to start us off?” she suggested.

Silence hung in the air for a moment, before Alex finally broke with a sigh and scooted on the floor around the table. “Fine. But let me shuffle; you suck at it.”

The others gathered around the table while Alex shuffled the deck, and Kara sighed with relief as everyone settled into their usual patterns and rhythms. Lena’s chin appeared on her shoulder, a thankful smile on her face. “You’re my favourite,” she murmured, and Kara decided she’d go out on any limb of any tree (even the Whomping Willow) for this girl.

Mon-el turned out to be alarmingly good at exploding snap, and within a few rounds, he had claimed the entire deck for himself. It was a good game, all around, and served its purpose as the social lubricant Kara had hoped it would be. Everyone seemed more acclimatised to Lex’s presence, and even started cracking some jokes back and forth.

“Better luck next time, Luthor,” Winn smirked, preening over his boyfriend’s success.

Lex shrugged lightly. “You played well, Mon-el. I haven’t played this game before.”

“Me neither,” Lena agreed.

Maggie cocked her head to the side, looking at the Luthor siblings like they were animals in a zoo exhibit. “Let me guess: ‘fun’ in the Luthor household consisted of debating the finer points of Merlin’s theory of Magical Relativism?”

Lex and Lena exchanged looks, and nodded. “Pretty much,” Lena said.

“Some of those debates got pretty wild, didn’t they?” Lex asked, smiling fondly.

“Yeah! Like remember the time when—”

“Picture Fairy!” Kara piped up quickly, before her girlfriend and her girlfriend’s brother could nerd out all over their game night and bore everyone to death. “Who wants to play Picture Fairy?”

“Only if we can all agree that it’s is a total ripoff of Pictionary,” Maggie said.

“Yeah! Muggles did it first,” Winn insisted.

“Muggle-borns rule,” Maggie grinned, and they performed a weird handshake they’d probably spent weeks perfecting.

“And no sibling pairs,” James piped up. “It’s not fair when sibling telepathy comes into play.”

“You’re just scared Alex and I will crush you with our artistic skills like we did last time.”

“No normal person could guess ‘Hippogriff’ from just a squiggle!”

“It was a very good squiggle,” said Alex.

“Thank you,” Kara smirked.

“Anyway, the no sibling pairs rule still stands,” James maintained stubbornly.

“Fine,” Kara agreed. Then she—as well as the rest of the group, it seemed—realised that if sibling pairs weren’t allowed...someone other than Lena would have to pair up with Lex. They all glanced at each other awkwardly, no one wanting to say anything, until Kara sighed and broke the silence. “Lex, you’re with me,” she grumbled, pulling herself up from the couch to flop into the beanbag next to him.

“Good thing, too. Lena is a terrible drawer,” Lex said, smirking in response to Lena’s scowl.

They got into their pairs: Lena with Alex, Maggie and Winn, and James and Mon-el, and began the game. As it turned out, Lena really was an abysmal drawer, but she made up for it by being quick to guess Alex’s drawings.

Kara nearly laughed out loud when she picked up her first card to draw and it read ‘mermaid’. Lex guessed the answer from Kara’s cartoon mermaid with flowing hair easily, and she thrust her pen in the air triumphantly with more than half the sand left in their timer.

“They’re nowhere near this cute in real life,” Kara commented, thinking of the creepy fish-people in the black lake as she help up her drawing up to examine it. Her cartoon mermaid animated itself (as the drawings did when the answer was guessed correctly), brushed her hair and swam around on the page.

Mon-el nodded his head in agreement and Lex crossed his arms. “Shame I didn’t have the pleasure of finding out for myself,” he said wryly, and Kara didn’t miss the implied accusation.

“Don’t make me regret chasing those grindylows off,” Kara snipped.

“I could have handled it,” Lex insisted stubbornly, making Kara scoff in disbelief.

“I think what Lex is trying to say is thank you. Right, Lex?” Lena asked, eyebrows arched pointedly at her brother, who ducked his head sheepishly..

“Right. Of course.”

They played on until Maggie and Winn won the game, citing their muggle powers for leading them to victory. In the end, being on Lex’s team wasn’t that bad, although he had the tendency to overcomplicate his drawings and obsess over the details (more than one round had ended with their time running before Lex had finished his drawing). That being said, Kara was glad to sink back into the couch next to Lena, put her arm around her and pull her close, hooking her chin over Lena’s shoulder.

Lena was frowning down at a paper in her hands: one of her drawings from the game. “This looks like a centaur, doesn’t it?”

Kara glanced down, and pressed a kiss to Lena’s jaw. “Sure it does.”

(It didn’t.)

It was halfway through a spirited game of Cluedo (which aspiring Aurors Maggie and Alex probably took far too seriously) that they decided to break into the elderflower wine Lex had brought.

“Want me to get you some?” Lena asked as she extricated herself from the comfy tangle of Kara’s limbs she had wrapped herself up in.

Kara shook her head. “I don’t really like the taste,” she said in response to Lena’s questioning look. “I’ll have some pumpkin juice though. Oh, and some sour strips.”

Truthfully, Kara preferred not to drink.

Kal had found comfort in it in the aftershocks of Krypton’s destruction. Kara couldn’t blame him for it, of course, but it made him slow, and sad. It made him forget.

Lena settled back in next to her with their drinks and popped a sour strap in Kara’s mouth, tucking her knees up into her chest as she tried to balance being close to Kara while also not flashing her cards. She did a poor job of it, but Kara did her best not to look.

After Detective Alex solved the case (Screech the house elf, with the cursed necklace, in the astronomy tower), Winn pulled out his chess set with a face-splitting grin which was met with the sound of a collective groan from the group.

“What? Chess is a classic game!” he insisted in a whine.

“No offence, Winn, but we’re all getting pretty bored of watching Lena beat your ass,” Maggie drawled, drinking deeply from her cup as she stretched herself out all over Alex’s lap like an entitled cat.

Winn scowled, but thunked his chess set down on the table anyway. He unclasped the lid, and the pieces dutifully marched into their positions on the board.

“Well if you’re all so bored of me, perhaps Lena should face another opponent?” Winn cocked an eyebrow towards Lex, who looked around as though Winn could possibly be referring to someone else.

“What do you say, Lex?” Lena asked, flashing him a grin.

“Best of two hundred and twenty-seven?” Lex said with a returning grin.

“I call black!”

Kara barely kept her pumpkin juice from spilling all over herself as Lena leapt from the couch to plant herself in front of the black pieces.

“Please,” Lex scoffed, rolling his eyes as he sat cross-legged opposite Lena. “Your little superstition was cute when we were children, but now it’s just foolish. Everyone knows the first mover has an inherent advantage. It’s just statistics.”

“Maybe I’m just trying to give you a chance,” Lena said haughtily. Kara was extremely interested by this cocky side of Lena she hadn’t seen much of before. It seemed Lex brought it out in her.

What followed was unquestionably the most thrilling chess game they’d ever witnessed. This was helped by the fact that they invented a drinking game to go along with it: Maggie and Alex drank when Lena took a piece, and James, Mon-el and Winn drank whenever Lex took a piece. Kara played along by eating a sour strap whenever anyone took a piece...and at multiple points in between, too.

Lex and Lena were remarkably evenly matched, so by the time there were only a few pieces left on the board, everyone was equally tipsy.

“Crush him, Lena!” Maggie exclaimed, wine sloshing over the side of her cup as she thrust it around wildly.

Lex frowned down at the board, his hands clasped under his chin as his eyes darted over the checkered squares. Lena rocked back onto the heels of her palms, a wolfish grin spreading slowly across her lips.

“Damnit, Lee!” Lex eventually huffed in exasperation, pinching at the bridge of his nose. “King: concede defeat.” With that, Lex’s king turned his sword on in himself, and stabbed it through his ceramic chest.

“W...what just happened?” Winn asked, his jaw dropping open.

“Lena was going to win in four moves anyway. I can’t believe I opened myself up to that,” Lex muttered, shaking his head in disbelief.

“Drink up, losers!” Alex grinned, thrusting a finger at the boys, who grumbled as they drained the rest of their cups.

“Better luck next time, brother,” Lena said, tossing a casual smirk, and Kara would be lying if she said that watching Lena dominate at chess wasn’t incredibly attractive.

Kara caught Lena by the fingertips as she made her way back to the couch they had claimed for themselves, tugging her the last couple of steps so she fell into her lap. Lena’s hair was loose from her ponytail and spilled over her shoulder as she landed and clasped her fingers behind Kara’s neck.

“That,” Kara said, her lips finding Lena’s between words, “was amazing.”

“Really? Is this my prize?” Lena laughed, a healthy mix of love and wine colouring her cheeks.

“Mmhm.”

Lena tasted of sweet wine, and Kara could feel the curve of her smile as she kissed her back, languid and a little haphazard. Lena’s fingers found their way into Kara’s hair, scratching lightly at her scalp. Kara wrapped her arms firmly around Lena’s waist, pressing her into her lap, and honestly they’d completely forgotten anyone else was in the room until they were being pelted from all sides by Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans.

“Knock it off!” Alex yelled as they broke apart, dazed and blinking.

Lena burned with embarrassment, turning to hide her face in the crook of Kara’s neck. Kara made a face at Alex as she popped one of the jellybeans into her mouth and eased Lena onto the couch. She couldn’t resist ducking her head and catching Lena’s lips again.

“Ooh, cherry?” Lena wondered at the taste of Kara’s lips.

“Cherry pie,” Kara grinned.

“Hey Lex, I know a spell that causes temporary blindness. We can cast it on each other,” Alex said through a wrinkled nose.

“Aspectus nox? I’m familiar with it. Ready when you are,” Lex replied.

“Lex!” Lena whined at the same time as Kara groaned “Alex!”

And for the briefest of moments, Alex forgot to glare at Lex.

Naturally, Maggie was the one who suggested they play a drinking game.

Even though she wasn’t drinking, Kara put herself in charge of coordinating one of their more complicated drinking games. It involved a pack of cards, gobstones, an oldschool pointy wizard’s hat, and an extremely convoluted set of rules.

“Drink!” Kara declared gleefully when Winn was sprayed in the face by a gobstone.

“But I have a hearts card—that gives me immunity!” he protested as he wiped his eyes of green goo.

“Doesn’t matter; Lena is wearing the hat, so drink! Actually, let me see your hand Lena? Ooh, it adds up to more than seventeen and you have a Queen, so everyone except Lena, finish your drinks!”

“I hate this game,” Winn muttered into his cup.

It didn’t take long for the group to become too sloppy and confused to keep up with the rules, so after Lena spun around in circles while draining her cup to finish the game, Kara called it quits and everyone sighed with relief.

“I forget how brutal that game is,” Maggie hiccupped, her face an alarming shade of red.

Kara packed up the game while everyone dragged themselves into comfortable positions. James sprawled himself out across two beanbags, Winn sat in the V of Mon-el’s legs on the floor, while Alex had taken up an entire couch with her head in Maggie’s lap. Lex was in an armchair by the fire, looking very paternal with the glass of firewhiskey he had been nursing all night in his hand.

Kara scooped the gobstones into their velvet pouch and glanced over her shoulder at Lex. “Didn’t want to try and keep up with these guys?” she asked, nodding towards his single drink.

Lex chuckled shortly and gazed into the fire. “Believe me, I most certainly could, but...the last time I drank in excess, I said some very hurtful things to Lena. I don’t want to be that person. The kind of person who hurts people, especially Lena.”

Kara regarded him for a drawn out moment. His face was marred with regret, his jaw tight as his thumb traced the rim of his glass.

“Good,” Kara said to conclude her examination. She believed him, and that would do for now. Kara finished packing the games away and grabbed a glass of water before joining Lena on the couch.

“Here,” Kara said, nudging the glass into Lena’s hands.

“My hero,” Lena mumbled, syrup-voiced and slow blinking as she sipped the water. She pushed the glass back towards Kara when she’d had enough, and Kara held it steady just in time before Lena pulled Kara’s arm over her shoulders. Lena was a human niffler, burrowing herself into her side, and Kara was endlessly charmed.

“How are you?” Kara asked, pressing a kiss to the crown of Lena’s head.

“Hmm…” Lena hummed, giving the question some thought. “Comfy,” she decided.

Kara smiled warmly down at Lena, looking up only when Alex made an inhuman sound and weakly lifted her head up from Maggie’s lap.

“No,” Alex groaned, doing a valiant impression of a soldier dragging herself from battle. “Game night can’t end like this. I refuse to be taken out by that ridiculous game. One more game...just one more.”

“I can barely formulate a thought right now,” James’ voice carried over from his beanbag pile.

“How about an easy game? How about truth or dare?” Maggie suggested.

“Okay,” James said. “I’ll go first. I choose dare. I dare myself to pass out,” James said, and promptly did just that.

“Idiot,” Maggie muttered, rolling her eyes.

“I’ll play.”

All heads turned (some more slowly and drunkenly than others) towards Lex, who offered a tight smile.

“Really?” Alex asked, perking up.

“Sure,” Lex shrugged. “The premise is simple enough. I choose truth or dare, you ask me a question and I must answer truthfully, or you dare me to do something of your choosing, correct?”

“Uh...yeah, that’s about it.”

“We’ve never played truth or dare before, on account of our childhoods being completely friendless,” Lena stage whispered to Kara, but still loud enough for everyone to hear.

“You’re not being as quiet as you think, pumpkin,” Kara murmured low in her ear. It made Lena giggle and hiccup a little as she burrowed impossibly further into Kara’s side.

“Oh. Sorry Lex, but it’s true,” she loud-whispered.

Lex rolled his eyes, but with obvious affection for his sister. “Indeed. So, Alexandra? Is this the part where you ask me truth or dare?”

Alex’s eyes narrowed and she wrangled her wand out from her pocket, limply thrusting her arm out towards him. “First of all: if you ever call me Alexandra again, I will hex you so hard your Luthor descendants will wake up with slugs pouring from their mouths and nostrils for six generations.” Her arm grew tired of holding itself up, so she let it dangle to the floor. “Second of all...truth or dare?”

Lex blinked a few times in the wake of Alex’s very descriptive threat, recovering to shake his head and answer, “dare.”

“Taking an Alex dare? That’s brave,” Kara remarked.

“Hmm,” Alex hummed, drawing out her decision before she grinned wickedly. “I dare you to say something nice about everyone in the room.”

The colour drained from Lex’s face, despite how hard he tried to school it into neutrality. He gave a fractured smile, his hand gripping his glass.

“Sure. No problem. Easy.” Lex huffed a breath and started with James’ unconscious form closest to him. “James. You probably can’t hear me, but you are very handsome and your shoulders are very broad. Mon-el, you are a fine Quidditch player, and your performance in the second task was remarkable. Winslow, you are not an imp. And your chess set is very nice. Maggie…”

Maggie gave Lex a shit-eating grin, cupping a hand behind her ear as she waited for her compliment.

Lex sighed and said, “You gave me the chance to join your game night. Even if it was because I brought alcohol, I appreciate it immensely. You must be a very warm and kindhearted person to welcome me like you did.”

Maggie clapped her hands gleefully. “Hear that Danvers? Warm and kindhearted.”

Lex turned his attention to Alex, who glared at him sideways from her position in Maggie’s lap.

“Alex.” Lex firmed up his expression, stilling his hands. “I thought I was the most protective sibling on earth, until I saw you with Kara. It’s clear that you love her fiercely, and I know you’ve extended that same love to Lena. I...I would very much like to be as good a sibling as you.”

Alex’s expression softened, only for the briefest of moments before she narrowed her eyes again. “Just don’t be a dick, Luthor. It’s that easy.”

“Noted,” Lex said with a nod of his head before he looked over at Lena. “Lena, to me you are perfect in every way, and I would, quite literally, kill for you.”

Lena’s cheeks flushed and she let out a wavering laugh. “He’s, uh, he’s kidding guys!” she squeaked.

The look on Lex’s face said otherwise.

“And Kara,” Lex said as he reached the last of the group. Kara braced herself under the directness of his gaze. They had made progress in the past few days, sure, but there was still so much between them that still felt unresolved. If whatever he had to say was anywhere near as sincere as what he’d said to Maggie and Alex, Kara was pretty sure she wasn’t ready to hear it.

“I like your sweater,” Lex said.

With a sigh of relief, Kara met his eyes and he gave her a knowing smile that said he understood. They weren’t quite there yet.

Alex made a raspberry noise and said, “boo, that was a copout,” she drawled.

“I accept it, no need to say anything else,” Kara insisted quickly. “Lex, now it’s your turn to pick someone.”

Most of them chose truth, as they were all too comfortable and lazy to actually get up and do anything. After a few rounds, they all learned about Maggie’s secret stamp collection, that Maxwell Lord was the worst kisser in the school (according to Alex), and Mon-el described how to have sex on a broomstick in scarring detail.

To shake things up, Kara chose dare when it was her turn. Mon-el dared her to take a shot, and Kara answered Alex’s worried look with an assuring smile as she headed over to the food table. She squeezed a generous amount of ketchup into a glass, then knocked it back to a chorus of disgusted protests from the group.

Grimacing as she swallowed it down, Kara flashed a red-toothed smile. “You didn’t specify what kind,” she said imperiously as she sank back into her seat.

“Don’t you dare kiss me with that ketchup mouth,” Lena warned. Kara ignored it.

Lena opted for truth when Maggie chose her. Maggie grinned and asked, “What’s your favourite thing about Kara? Physically, I mean. And don’t give us some flowery crap about her baby blue eyes or her million dollar smile. We all know Little Danvers has a slamming bod underneath those heinous sweaters.”

“Hey! That’s my sister you’re talking about,” Alex protested while Kara turned a furious shade of red.

“Her biceps,” Lena answered, candidly and without hesitation, and it was that exact moment that Kara’s glass exploded in her hands.

“Whoa there, Incredible Hulk!” Winn snickered as Kara displaced Lena in her haste to stand up.

“Damnit,” Kara muttered, and pulled her now soaked sweater up over her head.

“I, uh, I change my answer,” Lena said, smiling dazedly up at her from the floor. “Her abs.”

Belatedly realising she’d very nearly removed her shirt along with her sweater, Kara made a flustered squeaking sound and hurriedly yanked it back down to cover herself. She blushed impossibly harder while everyone howled with laughter, and directed her attention to the mess she had made.

Water and glass was all over the couch, and her hands were shaking as she drew her wand and cast a repairing charm. The pieces of glass reassembled themselves into a slightly dodgy looking version of the original cup, but it would have to do. Kara magicked the water from the couch back into the glass and put it on the table far away from her before sitting back down.

“So...is anyone going to comment on how Little Danvers just shattered a glass with her bare hands?” Maggie asked, then groaned when Alex sent a warning elbow into her side.

“Kara’s amazing,” Lena slurred and hiccupped as she clambered back onto the couch. “She can do all sorts of amazing things. Did you know Kara can fly? I kissed her, and she flew. I’m so good at kissing, I made her fly...”

Kara glanced around the room in panic, particularly at Lex who was eying her curiously.

“Metaphorically speaking, she means!” Kara insisted, her voice pitched high. “I, uh, I can’t fly, not without a broom of course, that would just be ridiculous,” she said with an overcompensatingly loud laugh.

“I think you’ve had a bit too much wine, Lena,” Alex swooped in to rescue her, much to Kara’s relief, as it looked like Lena was about to debate the point.

Lena frowned, swayed a little in her seat, then conceded with a nod. “You’re probably right.”

Kara eyed Lex carefully, but if he was thinking anything devious, his face wasn’t giving anything away.

Kara ushered Lena down so she was lying with her head in her lap, where she gently combed her fingers through Lena’s dark hair.

“I should probably take her home,” Lex said, motioning to get up from his armchair.

Lena made a noise of protest, balling the fabric of Kara’s sweatpants into her fists. “I am not moving,” she grumbled into Kara’s thigh.

“Looks like game night just turned into a sleepover.”

At Alex’s words, the room transformed the couches and beanbags into beds. James snorted violently at the sudden change that saw him occupying a king sized bed along with Mon-El and Winn. He blinked around in dazed confusion, then flopped back down, asleep.

Kara slid herself out from under Lena (despite her protests) to tuck her in.

“You should probably stay too,” Kara said to Lex over her shoulder. “It’s after curfew, and you’ll get in trouble if you get caught walking back.”

Lex looked a little uncertain, but nodded in the end. He slid down into the bed, laying flat on his back, arms crossed over his chest.

Winn’s eyes bulged at this, and he whispered across the room to Kara, “he sleeps like a vampire.”

“This position promotes optimal blood circulation and facilitates a most restful sleep,” Lex retorted with his eyes closed.

Winn snickered, laughing harder when Mon-el pulled him down into bed and wrapped his legs and arms around him.

“Oi, no funny business you useless gays,” Alex snapped, poking her head up from Maggie’s arms (which answered something Kara had always wondered: Alex was the little spoon). “That goes for you too, useless gays numero dos.”

“Alex!” Kara protested indignantly as she got into bed next to Lena. She felt a little strange, with Lex in the next bed over, wondering if it was a good idea for them to be sharing a bed. She made herself relax, however, when Lena scooched over and pulled her hip towards her.

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Lena said innocently while her hand settled itself on Kara’s butt.

“Lena,” Kara hissed in warning, but was made to laugh through it when Lena squeezed her hand and pressed a sleepy kiss into Kara’s collarbone.

“Goodnight, superfamily,” Winn’s voice sailed over from his bed. “And you too, Lex. You know what? For a vampire, you’re pretty alright.”

 

Chapter Text

February bled into March, then sped into April which disappeared in what felt like an instant. Hogwarts thawed, and came alive. Snow melted off the trees, leaves grew back on their branches, and flowers burst open across the grounds.

Kara broke her scoring streak during quidditch practice, passed her apparition test on the fourth try, failed a potions project, slaved over a cauldron for nine hours straight to make up for it, broke Alex’s telescope, did Alex’s Charms homework for a week to say sorry, tried (and failed) to teach Lena how to ride a broomstick by herself, snuck into Hogsmeade with the Superfriends via the one-eyed-witch’s tunnel for a pancake eating challenge at The Three Broomsticks (and won), and properly felt like a relatively normal student for the first time all year.

Even things with Lex were on the up and up. He started joining them occasionally during meals and for study sessions, they had two more game nights (a round of Wizardopoly that ended with Winn flipping the board when Lex bankrupted him in one go saw that game banned from all future game nights), and he joined Kara, James, Barry, Alex, Maggie and Mon-el for some friendly casual quidditch practice every now and then.

That being said, he did spend a lot of time on his own, working on some project or another that he was all very hush hush about. It worked out alright though; it gave Lena space to be her own person, to pursue her own interests.

One evening, Kara walked in on Lena at their table in the library, poring over a stack of papers with a look of intense concentration on her face. It was the look that had made Kara fall for her at the start of the year, really: brow furrowed, lips pinched to one side. Kara melted a little when she saw it, and sank down into the seat next to Lena, where she hooked her chin over her shoulder.

“Whatcha got there?”

Lena finished the sentence she was writing before she answered. “It’s an application...for an internship program at St Mungo’s Hospital.”

“Really?”

“Mmhm,” Lena hummed and filled out another box. Her long eagle-feather quill batted Kara in the face as she wrote. “Everyone has always just assumed I would work at Luthor Corp after graduation, but I don’t know. There’s a whole world outside of my family; I have so many options I haven’t considered.”

Kara smiled warmly, tracing circles over the small of Lena’s back. “You can be anything you want to be. St Mungo’s would be lucky to have you,” she said. In the back of her mind, she was thinking about how St Mungo’s was just around the corner from the Holyhead Harpies’ training ground, which, if everything went according to plan at the quidditch match, would be where Kara would be heading after Hogwarts.

Lena smiled and turned her head to peck the tip of Kara’s nose. “Plus, it would make Lillian furious,” she added cheerily.

All in all, things were pretty great.

And they got even better when Lillian had to fly back to Beauxbatons for a little while to take care of some important matter or another.

Kara had never seen Lena so carefree. She was practically skipping into the great hall on a Saturday morning during breakfast, making Kara miss her mouth with a forkful of waffles as she flung her arms around Kara’s neck from behind and her face appeared on Kara’s shoulder.

“Morning, darling,” she said, her voice bright like the sun that streamed in through the windows.

“Someone’s in a good mood,” Kara laughed, and her waffles found their mark on a second attempt.

Kara felt Lena grinning against her cheek, and when Kara turned to her with a bemused expression, Lena kissed the crinkle that must have been pulling at her brows. It was strange for Lena to be so openly affectionate like this in the great hall, where anyone could see them. But the chair where Lillian usually sat and judged everyone from above was blissfully empty. Lena didn’t have to surveil herself, or hold herself back. She could just...be.

“It’s a beautiful day!” Lena said happily. Indeed, the sun was shining, and fluffy white clouds dotted a perfectly blue sky in the enchanted ceiling above. “And, I have a surprise for you.”

“Oh?” Kara’s interest was peaked enough for her to abandon her plate. “What is it?”

Lena didn’t answer. Just smiled and took a few steps backwards with her hand outstretched. Kara nearly tripped over the bench in her haste to swivel around and take it.

Lena took her out into the grounds, into the glorious sunlight. The path down to the stables was familiar, but Lena had to have something special planned for her to be grinning like that.

Lena dropped Kara’s hand to slide the big, wooden door open. She disappeared into the stable, and when she emerged, Kara’s jaw fell open.

“Ta-da!” Lena sang, jazz hands and all.

“Lena, what—are you serious?” Kara asked, completely shocked because Lena had trotted horse Lillian out, and she was wearing a saddle. Kara could barely contain her excitement as she bounced over to Lillian, knocking her forehead to the horse’s nose. She ran her fingertips over the leather saddle, and looked up at Lena when she noticed it was designed for two riders. “But...you hate flying.”

“I know,” Lena sighed enduringly, eyes warmed with unbridled tenderness. “But you love it.”

*

“This is amazing!” Kara shouted at the top of her lungs for maybe the fifth or sixth time since they’d taken flight.

“You’ve said that already!” Lena yelled over the sound of beating wings and rushing air.

“Because it is!”

Kara’s face hurt from grinning and tears from the wind flooded her eyes. Lena’s front was pressed flush against her back, her arms wrapped unapologetically tight around Kara’s waist as they soared high above the grounds.

And sure, Kara had no shortage of experience with flying via broom (and maybe she could even fly without a broom, given the right circumstances), but this was something else. This was a living, breathing, wild creature. Lillian didn’t respond to Kara’s slightest touch and insistence like her Nimbus did. The best Kara could do was guide her in a general direction, and even then Lillian took her own liberties, free to stretch her wings like she knew best, and Kara and Lena were simply along for the ride. It was exhilarating.

Kara felt vibrations against her back from Lena murmuring something in her ear.

“I love you, Kara.”

Kara’s stomach swooped, and it had nothing to do with the flying.

A giddy grin danced across her lips as she felt tingles all the way to her toes. “What was that? I didn’t quite catch it,” she teased.

Lena rolled her eyes and shouted right into Kara’s ear, “I said I LOVE YOU!”

“Damn, Lena! Not so loud!”

“Idiot,” Lena said under her breath.

Kara trusted herself enough to let go of the reigns with one hand so she could twist around in the saddle. Lena’s hair was blown back, her cheeks flushed pink from windchill and she was so, so beautiful.

Kara cupped Lena’s cheek and kissed her. Lena panicked for a second, torn between keeping her eyes open and returning the kiss, but ultimately decided to risk it and pressed back, solid and happy.

“I love you too—” The end of Kara’s sentence morphed into a long scream as Lillian decided she wanted to fly down towards the lake. Kara whipped back around and gripped the reigns while Lena squeezed the air right out of her chest and shrieked her head off. They plummeted towards the lake until Lillian pulled out of the dive at the very last second, seeming quite pleased with herself as her hooves skimmed the surface of the water.

“Merlin’s ballsack!” Lena cursed. Kara wondered if she’d gotten that particular phrase from Winn or Maggie. Probably Maggie.

Kara laughed out in relief, though she was a little shaken, too. Lena’s nails were digging into her stomach, even through her t-shirt. “Lena—you’re hurting me,” she gasped.

“I’m scared,” Lena countered. She didn’t loosen her grip, but she splayed her fingers flat against Kara’s stomach instead.

Cool water sprayed up from Lillian’s hooves, landing on the skin of Kara’s arms and cheeks. She closed her eyes, tipped her head up towards the sun, and let go of the reigns, stretching her arms out to her fingertips. It felt incredible.

“Kara, are you insane?” Lena squeaked, her head buried firmly between Kara’s shoulderblades.

“Try it! I’ve got you. I promise.”

Gradually, Kara felt Lena straighten up behind her, and then her arms were outstretched too, her arms shadowing Kara’s. Kara laced their fingers together and let out a whooping cheer, the sound of it carrying across the lake.

In that moment, with the air rushing through their hair and their fingers interlocked, they were free.

***

Kara should have known the period of bliss wouldn’t last long. That seemed to be the recurring theme of the year.


A couple of months had passed since the Second Task, and she and Lex had reached a truce of sorts. Their mutual love for Lena forced them into getting along, and eventually Kara found that there were things about Lex that she liked, and even admired (not that she would ever say it to his face). They had moved from being each other’s nemesis and into a place of friendly rivalry, particularly when it came to quidditch and the tournament. Kara was even looking forward to the third task; she couldn’t wait to see the look on Lex’s face when she hoisted the Triwizard Cup in front of him in victory.

Despite the fact that they were getting along, she didn’t take too kindly to Lex when he interrupted her breakfast one morning, demanding to speak with her. Lena was allowed to come between Kara and her food, but Lex was an entirely different story.

“Can’t a girl finish her breakfast peace around you Luthors?” she complained.

“I need to speak with you,” Lex repeated curtly.

Kara sighed, defeatedly jamming what she suspected would be her last spoonful of cereal into her mouth. “I told you, Alex will finish her section of the project when she feels like it. It’s your fault for wanting to pair up with her,” she grumbled around the chocolatey pebbles.

“It’s not about the assignment,” Lex shook his head. “It’s about, um...Lena,” he said, and Kara didn’t catch the way his eyes shifted.

Kara’s spoon clattered to the table and she heaved a groan as she stood up. “That’s not fair, Luthor.”

Lex simply shrugged his shoulders, palms up, and turned on his heel, blue robes swishing behind him as he left the Great Hall. With a sigh, Kara trudged after him.

He didn’t say a word as he led Kara up the steps to the clocktower. Kara’s brows knit together as she followed, wondering what on earth Lex could have to say...and what did it have to do with Lena? Kara started to get worried.

Lex stopped in the middle of the bridge and whipped around. They were in the same place where she and Lena had shared their first kiss, Kara realised. The memory pleased her at first, but then she was annoyed that Lex might ruin one of her favourite spots in the castle with whatever was going on.

“Enough with the theatrics, Lex, what’s this all about?” she asked, arms crossing over her body in impatience.

Wordlessly, Lex drew his wand.

Kara tossed her head back with an incredulous laugh. “Seriously, Lex? Come on. I thought we were past all this.”

Lex’s eyes were pools of cool water as he raised his wand. “I need you to know that I do care about you, Kara, after all we’ve been through. I’m doing this for your benefit. You’ll thank me, in the end.”

“Lex, wha—”

Levicorpus!”

Lex brought his wand swishing down, and suddenly Kara’s world was upside down as she was yanked up into the air by her ankle. Her stomach fell into her head and she twisted around in vain to try and get her bearings. Her cloak flipped upside down so she couldn’t see, but she could feel that she was moving.

Finally disentangling herself from her cloak, she screamed in alarm when she saw she was floating out from the clocktower (again), upside down, and completely at the mercy of Lex’s wand. Kara’s glasses slipped off of her face, and her wand, some random bits of parchment, a chocolate frog trading card, and a handful of sweets fell out of her pockets, aptly demonstrating the sickeningly long drop below her.

Kara snapped her head up when her wand clattered to the ground, eyes blown with panic. “Lex!” she gave a strangled cry. “Lex, what the hell are you doing?!”

“Testing a theory,” he answered calmly, and Kara’s insides turned to ice, her eyes blowing wide.

“Lex. Lex, please don’t. Whatever you think I am or think I can do—it’s not true, I can’t—you’re wrong!”

“Come on, Kara,” he said quietly. “Prove me right.”

Lex broke the curse with a flick of his wand, and Kara fell to earth, screaming all the way.

The air whipped past her as she fell, blowing her hair into her face and mouth. She whirled her arms around in a frantic helicopter motion, as if that might help, and clenched her eyes shut tight.

Come on, stupid powers! Come on, you’ll work when I’m trying to kiss Lena but not when her idiot brother tries to kill me?!

Kara opened her eyes again and the ground was rushing towards her. She thrust her hands out in front of her as if to break her fall, bracing herself for impact—but it never came.

Kara came to a stomach-lurching halt and when she opened her eyes, she was suspended in the air, hovering six inches off the ground. A relieved cackle burst deliriously from her lips.

“Oh, thank Rao,” she gasped, grateful enough to invoke a name she hadn’t said in years.

“Come on, Kara. I know you can do better than that.”

Kara snapped her head up to see Lex coming down the stairs, a frown on his face and his wand held aloft. Her blood boiled at the sight of him—at the fact that he'd just dropped her off a tower and he was acting like she’d failed some sort of test. Lex flicked his wand and she fell the final six inches to the floor with a sharp grunt.

Lex’s leather oxfords appeared in her vision. She clenched her fists, knuckles scraping against the stone ground and seethed, “what were you thinking?”

Lex crouched down into a squat, hands clasped between his knees as he looked at her with a blank expression. “You know exactly what I’m thinking.”

Kara swallowed—swallowed fear, swallowed rage—and her eyes focused on her glasses a few feet in front of her. They were broken. One of the arms bent, and the left lens completely shattered.

“You broke my glasses.”

“Come on, Kara, let’s just cut to the chase,” Lex ignored her, “I suspected it at the first task, and everything since then has only confirmed my hypothesis. Lena practically revealed it at that first game night, even though I doubt she understands exactly what she’d done. I know about your magic, Kara. But I just want to help. I can help you understand it; I can help you control it. You just have to admit what you are.”

But Kara hardly heard what Lex was saying. The words didn’t make sense, and she could barely hear anything over the sound of her own blood pumping in her ears.

“You broke my glasses.”

“I know what you are, Kara. Just...just say it!” Lex was beginning to sound agitated, his hands in fists on his knees.

“You broke. My glasses.”

Kara wasn’t really mad about her glasses. Not really. They could be fixed, she knew that. No, this rage ran deeper, so much deeper, as Lex threatened to intrude upon pain she’d buried down so deep inside her just so she could survive.

“Oh all right, I’ll say it. Kryptonian.”

Kara saw red. She saw red, and she launched herself at Lex. Heat burned behind her eyes, an itching sensation that blurred her vision until she was on top of him, hands fisted into the lapels of his robes. There was surprise on Lex’s face when his back hit the floor.

“That’s it, Kara. Show me,” he said, eyes focused and determined.

Kara shook her head, and the burning feeling was gone. She clenched her jaw, looking down at Lex. She had him pinned, one knee on either side of his hips.

She could hit him. She wanted to hit him. She must have hit him, because his lip was now split and bleeding.

“You don’t know anything about me,” she whispered, her voice trembling.

“I know more than you think,” Lex persisted, even through a bloody lip. “I’ve read everything. I know about Krypton, I know about Kryptonian magic, I know about El Mayarah, I know about Rao, I know—”

“Shut up!” Kara roared, squeezing her eyes shut. Because hearing someone—someone other than Kal, or Diana, or Alex, people who understood what she had lost—say those words out loud ripped open wounds she’d haphazardly stitched up years ago. “Shut up, shut up, shut up!” she cried. The burning sensation was back, and this time it was consuming, pulsing behind her eyes with an intensity she couldn’t control.

“Kara!”

Lena’s voice was followed by hands gripping her shoulders, wrenching her off and away from Lex. The burning overwhelmed her, and she let out a cry as heat fired from her eyes and she scuffled back into Alex’s arms that clutched her tightly.

When Kara’s vision came back into focus, she saw the scorch marks marring the stone of the castle wall. Lex was propped up on his elbows, head craned around to observe the damage behind him, and he barked out a laugh.

“Ha! I knew it! Kryptonian magic...” he murmured.

Lena stood frozen between Kara and Lex, eyes wide and panicked and darting between Kara, Lex’s busted lip, and the burned wall.

“You shouldn’t know those words,” Kara gasped. Her chest felt tight, like her lungs weren’t working right. She looked up at Alex, who was crouched behind her with her hands on her shoulders, and gripped onto her. “He shouldn’t know those words, Alex, no one’s supposed to know,” she said desperately.

“It’s okay, Kar, I’ve got you,” Alex said soothingly, but for probably the first time, it didn’t work. Alex’s hands felt too close, too overwhelming, and Kara shrugged herself out of her hold, staggering to her feet.

Lena seemed to have unfrozen herself and she ran over to Kara, eyes full of concern as she caught her arms, but even Lena was too much and Kara pulled away.

“What did you do to her?” Lena whipped her head around to shout at her brother.

“What was necessary, Lee,” Lex snapped back. “None of you understand what’s happening here. Kara, you can try to deny it all you want, but you have a power inside of you. It’s dangerous, but I can help you control it.”

Kara’s fists balled at her sides, everything inside her trembling and about to break. “You have no idea what this means. You don’t—you couldn’t even begin to imagine.”

“Look at that, Kara. Look at what you did.” Lex pointed to the scorch mark on the wall. “Look what happens when you can’t control yourself. What if you lose control like that around Alex? Around Lena? You could hurt someone!”

Kara followed his finger to the black, deep burn that cut across the wall in a jagged line, and her stomach turned hollow. Her face crumpled into her hands; her entire body was thrumming with energy she didn’t know what to do with. She felt like she was going to explode.

“Just...stay away from me.”

*

She ran.

She ran from Lex, from Alex, from Lena, leaving them calling her name far behind her. She barely noticed that she ended up on the opposite side of the lake in a matter of seconds.

Kara didn’t recognise the forest she was in; she’d never been this far away from the castle. When her legs stopped running she collapsed on all fours, gasping through sobs that wracked her chest and made her ribs feel like they might snap.

She cried.

She cried for Krypton, for her dead family, her friends, her people. She cried for what was happening to her; these powers she couldn’t understand that seemed to just pop up whenever they felt like it. These powers that she couldn’t control, that scared her.

Most of all, she cried because Lex was right. Without knowing how to control her powers, she could hurt someone. She could hurt Lena. She cried for the fact that Lex Luthor, of all people, said he could help her understand what was happening to her, that he knew more about her magic than she did.

Kara thought she’d run out of tears for Krypton. Cried them all out into the sheets of her twin-size bed at the Danvers’, or into Alex’s pyjama shirts in the middle of the night when she was a child. Apparently she was wrong, and the tears poured forth with no sign of slowing down.

The sun was low in the sky when Lena found her.

Lena flew in on a broomstick, wobbling through the air as she descended towards her and landed roughly on the ground, making her stumble a couple of steps.

By this time, Kara’s tears had run dry and left her raw and exhausted. She had settled herself under a tree, knees folded beneath her and her eyes closed. She’d unclasped her feather necklace—the one Lena had given her before the first task—from around her neck and held it in her hands, her thumbs tracing over the grooves and ridges. At some point, she’d started murmuring under her breath; words she hadn’t said in almost ten years.

It was a Kryptonian meditation, to calm the mind. Aunt Astra had taught it to her, when she was overwhelmed with nerves before singing at Kal’s naming day. It helped, somewhat. She didn’t feel like she was about to explode anymore, at least.

She didn’t open her eyes until Lena said her name, like it was a question.

Kara opened her eyes. Lena was crouching in front of her—close, but not too close. Kara caught sight of the broomstick she’d propped up on a fallen log and slowly raised an eyebrow.

“You flew? By yourself?” Her voice was raspy from disuse, cracked and broken.

Lena nodded. “Hated every second of it. But I had to find you.” Lena reached into her pocket and held Kara’s glasses out to her. She’d fixed them. “Here.”

“Thanks.” Kara accepted the glasses and held them in her hands a moment before she slipped them on. The world became clearer, the leaves and trees around her sharpening into focus.

“You know, I didn’t need glasses before I came to the Danvers’,” Kara said quietly. “No one in Krypton did. Our magic made us strong.”

Lena eyed her closely, not quite understanding, but she nodded anyway. She shifted slightly, fallen leaves crunching around her, and cleared her throat.

“People thought my father was crazy. A secret people who could fly and do all these impossible things? Even I thought he was crazy. I snuck into his office after he died. It was full of these strange books...half of them were so burned you could barely read them. All these weird maps, pages of his own writing. He was obsessed.”

Lena spoke softly, but her words twisted Kara’s stomach. She imagined this man, Lena’s father, holed up in his study with books—stolen books—from Krypton’s library, studying them, misinterpreting them, putting his own spin on Rao’s word. It made her sick.

She balled her fists on top of her knees, whispered “why?”

“Power, I imagine,” Lena answered. “He didn’t speak to me about it while he was alive. I pieced together what I could about his little side project after he died. From what I could tell, he wanted to figure out how to harness Kryptonian magic...commodify it.”

Kara tightened her jaw, and breathed sharply through her nose. “People like your father are the reason we kept ourselves hidden.”

“I know. But I’m not him. I’m not my family, remember?” There was pleading in her voice as Lena inched closer, desperate for confirmation.

Kara finally looked up at Lena. Reached for her hand. Softened just a bit. “I know that. Of course not, I would never—”

“And neither is Lex,” Lena said, the words exhaled on a hurried breath. Kara flinched away, a frown flashing across her face.

“Lex forced my secret out of me,” Kara said angrily. “He—he just wants to study me, like one of his experiments.”

“No, Kara,” Lena argued, shaking her head. “No, he shouldn’t have dropped you off the clock tower. Alex was still chewing him out about it when I left to find you. I’m glad you punched him in the face. If you hadn’t, I certainly would have. But he’s not like our father, I promise you. He wants to help you control what’s happening to you. He’s...he’s scared of you. Even I’m a little scared, after today,” Lena said, ending in a whisper.

Kara’s eyes snapped up to hers, her nails pressing into the flesh of her palm. She thought about the burst of heat from her eyes, the burn in the wall. “I scared you.”

“Yes,” Lena said, and even though it hurt, Kara found that she was relieved for her honesty. Alex would have sugar-coated it, said everything was fine. But it wasn’t; she needed to hear this. Lena tentatively came forward again and reached for Kara’s hands. Kara didn’t flinch away this time.

“I know you would never hurt me, or anyone, on purpose. You scared me, but only because you weren’t in control and I could see how scared you were. You need help; you can’t do this alone.” Lena squeezed Kara’s hands, biting the flesh on the inside of her cheek. “Kara...I need to tell you something. I only put everything together this afternoon; I promise I didn’t know before. And I need you to remember something. Lex and I...we’re not our family. You’re the first person who said that to me, and now I need you to believe it, and I mean really believe it. Can you do that?”

Kara looked down at their hands then up into Lena’s eyes, and all she saw was the girl she loved with her whole heart. It was what she always saw; nothing could change that. Kara nodded.

Lena looked relieved, then breathed in deep, firming herself up for what she was going to say.

“My father is responsible for what happened to your people. He might not have been there himself, but he gave the order. Lex has his journals, all his research...I made him tell me everything just now. My father thought he could harness Rao’s power, and to do that, he…”

“Destroyed my entire world,” Kara supplied, her voice stone cold. Unfeeling.

“I’m so sorry, Kara. I can’t even begin to imagine—”

“Don’t. Don’t even try.”

Lena regarded her a moment before she nodded, smoothing down the front of her skirt. “It didn’t work. Obviously. Some powerful magic expelled the wizards he sent once Krypton was destroyed, and no one has been able to go back to the same place since then. Lex has a theory, about what’s happening to you.”

Kara felt like she should be crying again, but it was like that part of her was broken, cried out over the course of the day. She was just...numb. Numb to the fact that Lena’s father was responsible for the destruction of her entire world. She remembered what she had promised to Lena, repeated it over in her own head.

Lena is not her family. Lena is not her family. Lena is good, and kind, and I love her with everything I am. And she says Lex wants to help so...I have to believe her.

She looked up at Lena, swallowing thickly. “What’s his theory?” she asked, surprised at the steadiness in her voice.

“He explained it to me, but I’m not sure if I understand it completely. Your power comes from Rao, right?”

Kara sighed, shaking her head a bit. “Not exactly. It comes from Rao, yes, but it’s nothing without El Mayarah. Our bond to each other, that was...that was everything. I thought I’d lost it when I lost—everything. Everyone. But this year I can feel it inside me, stronger than I ever remember feeling it back—back home.”

“Right,” Lena nodded, “which does fit his theory. He thinks that because you—and, your cousin too, I’m guessing—are the last Kryptonians, you got all of Rao’s magic. Which makes you the most powerful beings on the planet. Probably. That’s the theory, anyway.”

Kara swallowed, and looked down at her own hands. The legacy of her people had always weighed heavily on her, but she’d never felt it more than she did at that moment.

“I just want to be me,” she whispered, sniffing as an errant tear dropped from her lashes.

“You are,” Lena insisted, gripping Kara’s hands firmly in her own. “This changes nothing; you’re still you, you’re still Kara, you’re still the unbelievable dork I fell in love with,” Lena said, managing to coax the tiniest of watery smiles out of Kara. “But you need to learn how to control what’s happening to you. Lex can help you, and I’ll be right there too. Let us put our Luthor brains to work for you. You’re not alone, Kara.”

Kara swallowed and wiped at her nose. She held Lena’s gaze for a long moment before she nodded once.

“I shouldn’t be learning these things from Lex,” she said quietly. “I should be learning from mother, or father, or Aunt Astra or Uncle Non or Uncle Jor-El or—” her voice wavered and she finally broke, everything inside bubbling up and spilling over, “— oh Rao they’re dead, they’re all dead, Krypton is dead, I’m never going to see them again—”

And she was crying again, fresh new tears, like she hadn’t already cried everything out of her all day. But this time, Lena was here, and she broke down into her arms, shoulders heaving and shaking as she curled her fingers into the back of Lena’s shirt.

Lena held her as Kara mourned everything she’d lost, all over again, like it just happened yesterday. She’d gotten so good at stuffing everything down, not thinking about it, living like it happened in a distant dream, that facing everything again was just overwhelming. Lena held her close, murmuring words of love and assurance until the sun was almost gone and Kara was ready to be a part of the world again.

 

Chapter Text

There was a proverbial storm cloud over Alex’s head when they got back. Everything about the eldest Danvers was tense: she was a coiled up spring that released as soon as Kara and Lena touched down back to the ground in the courtyard.

Kara waited until Lena had unclasped her fingers from around her waist before she dismounted the broom and propped it up against the fountain. No sooner had she done so, Alex was all over her, hands on her shoulders, inspecting her for some sort of damage.

“Kara,” she breathed, “are you okay?”

Kara nodded, and let Alex complete her examination until she was satisfied. “I’m...I’m fine,” she said, casting a quick glance over at Lena. A day of confronting everything she’d buried inside her had left her emotionally exhausted and raw, but there was still something she had to do. “Where’s Lex?” she asked.

Alex jerked her head over her shoulder to where Lex was sitting on a bench, his head bowed in thought and his fingertips pressed together. Kara approached him, too tired to feel angry or anything else, really.

As her feet crunched the gravel in front of him, Lex snapped his head up, like he’d been somewhere else until then. He went to stand, but let out a surprised yelp as his legs wiggled comically then crumpled beneath him, causing him to topple to the ground with a groan.

“Oops,” Alex said, a wry smirk on her lips. “Must still be under the effects of my jelly-legs jinx. Professor Prince says it’s the most powerful one she’s ever seen.”

Kara felt a surge of warmth from her sister’s idea of defending her, and she gave Alex a light touch to her arm. “Let him go,” she said quietly.

“As you wish.” Alex flicked her wand, and Lex managed to push himself to his feet.

Kara looked him up and down, folding her arms over her chest. He looked tired too, probably from the earful Alex had given him while Lena was out searching for Kara. His lip was busted and swollen, which gave Kara a flicker of satisfaction.

“So. You know about me now, mission accomplished. What was your plan from there, exactly?” Kara raised an eyebrow at him. Slow, like Lena did when she was at her most intimidating (usually in the throes of a chess game).

Lex cleared his throat, shifting uncomfortably as he ran a hand through his hair. “Well, I, um...I thought we could work together. I want you to be able to control your powers...for your sake and for Lena’s. I’ve spent years reading about Krypton and Kryptonian magic, and I want to learn more from you, if you’ll let me.”

Kara tensed her jaw, apprehensive about the idea of being studied. “I’m sure your father thought the same thing. Before he destroyed my world.” She spoke quietly, but her voice cut easily through the evening air.

“My father was wrong,” Lex said. “If I could go back, I would have tried to stop him but I was only a child. I didn’t know what he was doing until after he died and I found all his research. I’m not like him, I swear.”

Kara looked at him skeptically. “How can I trust you? You dropped me off a tower so you could force my secret out. How does that make you different to your father?”

Lex flinched, but remained firm in his convictions. “I didn’t see another way. You’ve kept everything buried inside you for years. You were never going to tell anyone willingly; you wouldn’t even tell Lena. I did what had to be done. I’m different to my father, but I’m still a Luthor. We make difficult choices when we must.”

Kara looked into Lex’s steely grey eyes, trying to find it in herself to hate him, but she just didn’t have the energy. Her eyes flicked over to the burn in the wall, evidence of what could happen if she lost control of her powers. As much as she didn’t like it, she needed help, and Lex was offering it.

“Fine. I’ll let you help me with my powers,” she said stiffly. “But we’re doing this on my terms. I decide what you learn about me and about my people, understood?”

Lex looked relieved, as he gave a quick nod. “Understood.”

She flexed her fingers, gradually feeling like she was regaining some control of the situation. “I need to see it. Everything you have on Krypton.”

“Of course,” Lex said.

Behind her, Kara could practically feel the worry radiating off of Alex and she turned to give her a reassuring look that said she could handle it.

“Let’s go now then,” she said firmly before stepping into Lex’s space, nose to nose with the boy. “And one more thing. If you ever pull something like that again...I won’t miss next time.”

Lex’s eyes slid nervously to the scorch mark from Kara’s heat vision and he gulped audibly. “Got it.”

*

Lex’s study was exactly what Kara expected it to be, if a little smaller. It was immaculately organised, with potions equipment sitting neatly on a table to the side, a bookshelf stuffed with various texts, a display case for quills and parchment on his desk, and a view of the lake from its position in the north tower.

“Please, sit.” Lex indicated to a sofa on the side. Kara sat in the middle, with Alex on one side and Lena on the other.

Lex dragged a heavy trunk out from under the table and set it in front of them. “This is it. This is everything father retrieved from Krypton—”

“—stole, you mean,” Lena interjected with a frown, and Kara agreed. It felt better, Kara thought, to acknowledge it for what it actually was.

Lex cleared his throat, a flush at the back of his neck as he shifted awkwardly. “Well, yes. Stole, I suppose you’re right. Um...here.” He tapped out a pattern on the lid of the trunk with his wand and it popped open.

Kara sank to her knees in front of it. Inside, were mostly books from Krypton’s library. Some she recognised, others she didn’t. All of them were damaged or burnt. Slowly and silently, she picked through the texts, flipping through some before she set them aside in a pile.

There were books about Krypton’s history and people—these seemed to have taken the worst of the damage; some were burned beyond comprehension. Eventually Kara stopped at a book that had her family’s symbol on it. She hesitated, tracing over the cover with her fingers.

“I knew I’d seen that symbol before,” Lena said over her shoulder, breaking the silence that had fallen over them. “At the Yule Ball, you had that symbol on your buttons.”

Kara finally cracked a small smile at that. “Yeah. It’s my family’s crest: the House of El.” She drew in a breath, fingers splayed out across the book. “Kara Zor-El. That was my name, before I was Kara Danvers.” She looked back at Alex and Lena, the smile more secure on her face now. It felt good to say her old name out loud again. And yet, it was like she was talking about a different person—maybe she was. So much had changed since she was Kara Zor-El, but she still didn’t want to forget her. “I’m keeping this one,” she decided.

“It’s yours, Kara. All of it,” Lex said.

“Oh.”

Kara looked into the trunk where there were still more books, as well as some artefacts she recognised from Rao’s temple. Kara had nothing from Krypton, aside from the clothes she’d worn when her mother had pushed her into Kal’s arms in the fireplace they’d used to escape. And now, she had an entire trunk full of things from her home. It was a lot to take in.

Kara felt heat prickling behind her eyes, and for a second she worried she was going to burn a hole in the wall again until she realised they were just tears. She sniffed and swiped them away with the back of her hand.

“I’m fine,” she said quickly, feeling Alex’s hand on her shoulder. “It’s just a bit overwhelming.”

With a shaky breath, she set the book aside and kept looking through the trunk, occasionally explaining what certain artefacts were and what they used them for. Kara hadn’t spoken this much about her home since she’d lost it. It was almost cathartic, in a way. But it was also exhausting.

Almost an hour later, she set the Kryptonian marriage bracelet into the small pile of things she was going to keep for herself. “I think I’m done for tonight,” she decided and turned to Lex. “You can take care of the rest of the books, for now. The Book of Rao will probably be the most useful to learn about my magic. I want to start as soon as possible.”

***

They called it the Super Project.

Kara and Lena did, at least. Lex wasn’t totally sold on the name, but that didn’t really matter much to them.

They commandeered the Room of Requirement for their work. A chalkboard occupied the entire front wall, and a piece of chalk floated in front of it and took notes as they spoke. They began by compiling a list of Kara’s powers that they knew about, as well as the circumstances under which they were triggered.

There was super strength, from the first task, flight, from Kara’s incident with Lena and from the second task, laser vision and super speed, from Kara’s argument with Lex.

Lex paced back and forth, tapping his chin with a long, slender finger as he looked up at at the list, holding the Book of Rao in one hand. “So,” he said, “it seems that your powers kick in when your body is under physical or emotional stress. When your life's in danger, or you’re upset, or ah…” His eyes landed on the kissing-induced flying incident. “excited.”

Lena and Kara exchanged grins, and Lena squeezed Kara’s knee under the desk, which made paying attention to Lex a bit of a challenge.

“You need to get used to experiencing your powers,” Lex continued, oblivious. “Right now, they’re incidental. You don’t choose when or how they manifest themselves, which means you are not in control. Perhaps, if we recreate the scenarios that triggered your powers, we could get you used to the feeling, and eventually you could summon them yourself.”

Kara looked over at Lena, a sly look on her face. “Well. You heard him, Lena. Pucker up!”

Lex cleared his throat loudly, and Lena and Kara blinked over at him. “Not that, please. For my sake. I had...something else in mind.”

That was how they found themselves on the roof of the astronomy tower, clutching onto a weather vane as the wind threatened to blow them off.

“Are you sure about this?” Lena shouted uncertainly over the wind.

“We have to test the theory!” Lex called back. “The spike of adrenaline from the fall should trick Kara’s body into thinking she’s in danger, and that should jumpstart her powers,” he explained.

Kara, meanwhile, stood at the edge of the rooftop, her robes flapping around her. “It didn’t work so well last time you tried this!” she reminded him snappily.

“Well...we’re higher up this time. Just try to focus on that feeling you told us about—that tingling warmth. That’s your magic kicking in. If you feel it, lean into it, try to channel it and make it listen to you.”

“And if it doesn’t?” Kara asked.

“I’ll use arresto momentum on to before you, ah…”

“Splat?”

“Well, yes. But I won’t let that happen. Do you trust me?”

“No.” Kara sighed, then looked pas Lex him to Lena, who gave her an encouraging smile. “I trust Lena,” Kara relented and turned to face the drop below. It was very long. “Alright, Luthor. Let’s fly.”

Kara jumped off the astronomy tower a total of seven times before Lena grabbed her by the back of her robes and dragged her away from the ledge, shaking her head, mute and pale-faced. There were only so many times a person could watch their girlfriend plummet towards the earth before losing their mind.

“Oh, but I thought I felt it last time!” Kara protested as Lena dragged her back into her arms.

“No,” Lena said firmly, looking up at Lex. “We’re trying something else.”

***

“Come on, Kara. Think about how mad you get when Lex is just...himself. Oh! Or when Maggie steals the last pumpkin pastie!”

Kara’s fists were balled up by her sides, eyes narrowed focused on the target Lex had set up across the room. She clenched her teeth, cheeks gradually turning red with effort. She tried to get angry, she really did, but putting herself back into a place of pure rage, like she had been when Lex dropped her from the clock tower, it was just too painful.

She huffed in exasperation and dropped her eyes, shaking her head. “It’s not working. I don’t feel it.”

Lex, however, refused to be discouraged. “No matter! I have more ideas.”

***

None of Lex’s ‘ideas’ worked. These included launching a plethora of projectiles at Kara in hopes she would block or crush them with her super strength, pelting her with bits of paper thinking she’d get so annoyed she’d use her laser-eyes, and submerging her into a tank of water until she nearly drowned (again).

Kara was not enjoying this.

She gripped onto Lena’s arm as she walked on shaky legs to the Room of Requirement, fearing whatever laid behind that door. Flaming hoops and a pit full of spikes, probably.

“I can’t do this,” she said weakly, stopping in her tracks. “I can’t take another day of this, it’s going to kill me. Powers be damned, I’m done.”

Lena turned to her, wearing a frown as conflict played out across her face. “I don’t like it either. Whatever we’re doing...it’s not working.” She sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose in thought. “There has to be another way. I’ll speak to Lex, I promise you won’t have to do anything crazy today.”

Kara looked into Lena’s eyes and she knew she was looking out for her. She sank into her arms, head dropping into the crook of her neck. “I love you,” she exhaled in relief. Kara felt Lena’s lips curve into a small smile as she pressed them against her forehead.

“I’ve got you,” Lena said softly, giving Kara a reassuring squeeze before pushing into the Room of Requirement.

The death traps Kara had been anticipating, however, weren’t there.

Instead, there was a couch, surrounded by candles, with a trail of rose petals leading up to it, and—“is that jazz?” Kara wondered aloud.

“Lex? What’s going on?” Lena asked warily.

“Huh?” Lex whirled around, a flame he had been using to light more candles still flickering from the end of his wand. Lena’s brow crept up towards her hairline. Lex cracked under her penetrating stare and extinguished the flame.

He indicated for them to sit down on the couch. The scent from the candles was overwhelming: a nauseating mix of floral and pastry scents that made Kara’s head spin as she took a seat.

“What is this?” Lena asked flatly.

“This,” Lex sighed, “is a last resort. We’ve tried everything, except…you know.” He shifted uncomfortably, gesturing vaguely between them.

Kara stared in confusion, while Lena narrowed her eyes. “You can’t be serious,” Lena said.

“What’s he talking about?” Kara whispered.

“He wants us to make out,” Lena answered, and suddenly the candles and roses made a whole lot of sense.

“Oh,” Kara blinked. “Well, if he thinks it will work.” She was halfway to Lena when there was a hand pressed against her chest, keeping her back.

“Kara, no,” Lena said firmly. “We’re not making out in front of my brother.”

“Don’t think I want to be doing this!” Lex protested vehemently. “It’s for science!”

“Yeah, Lena, for science!” Kara whined.

“No,” Lena snapped. “There has to be another way. Take today off, Kara. Lex and I will figure something out.”

***

They were back on the roof of the astronomy tower the next day, and Kara was increasingly agitated.

“Why are we here again?” she snapped irritably at Lex. “I should never have agreed to work with you; nothing you’ve done has worked. Face it, Lex, you don’t know what you’re doing!”

“This process has been one of trial and error, yes—”

“Exclusively error, you mean—”

“—but please, just give this one more chance.”

Kara sighed, folding her arms. She was so over this. She was tired, and sore, and sick of failure. It was then that she noticed how close Lena was to the edge.

“Lena?” she called out to her. “Lena, get back!”

Lena looked up, right into her eyes, and gave her a small smile the moment she lost her footing and disappeared over the edge.

“Lena!” Kara cried.

Everything blurred around her—all sound, all vision—until one sound became crystal clear: a heartbeat, thrumming fast and insistent in her ears. Without thinking, Kara dove off the edge of the tower and she was falling, falling, falling after Lena, her hand outstretched like it could reach across the distance between them, but it wasn’t enough.

“Come on!” she shouted out loud, squeezing her eyes shut tight as she prayed to her parents, to her people, to Rao. She couldn’t lose Lena.

Then she felt it, her magic bursting through her veins from the centre of her chest—finally!

Kara didn’t have time to revel in the feeling, however. Her eyes snapped open, and she put on a burst of speed that caught her up to Lena’s falling form.

They were so close to the ground when Kara scooped her out of the air. Lena let out a little gasp when she thudded into Kara’s arms, safe, and secure. Kara swooped to avoid the ground and rocketed them back up to the astronomy tower, where Lex was on all fours peering over the ledge in wide-eyed terror.

Kara slowly lowered them to land on the rooftop, legs shaking as they hit the tiles, but she kept Lena clutched to her chest, too afraid to let go.

Lena, for her part, was grinning like a madwoman. “You did so well, darling,” she said, kissing a stunned Kara on the cheek. She turned her head to smirk at Lex. “Told you it would work.”

Kara’s jaw dropped open and she gawked at Lena. “You...you did that on purpose?”

“I knew you’d catch me,” Lena shrugged. “You said so yourself, your magic comes from the connection you have to the people you care about. I’m glad you care about me,” Lena said, with a grin that said she was very pleased with herself. “Besides, if you didn’t catch me, I knew Lex would be able to stop my fall.”

“Didn’t make it any less terrifying,” Lex said shakily.

“You didn’t have much of a problem watching me fall a hundred times,” Kara muttered, brows pulling into a frown.

“You’re not Lena,” Lex answered.

“Fair point.”

“So,” Lena said calmly, like she hadn’t just fallen almost 300 feet, “that’s flight covered. Let’s see what else we can do.”

Kara gave Lena a look that conveyed complete and utter dread. “Oh no,” she said.

Lena grinned. “Oh, yes.”

***

By the end of the week, Kara had stopped a giant statue from crushing Lena with her super strength, superspeeded Lena away from a colony of vampire bats Lex had antagonised in the Forbidden Forest, and tested what Kara suspected was super hearing with an elaborate game of hide and seek on the quidditch pitch. Kara had blindfolded herself, and eventually managed to find Lena crouching in the Slytherin stands using only the sound of her heartbeat.

“This is incredible,” Lena gasped when Kara reached out into empty space and found her fingertips with a triumphant smirk.

“Found you,” Kara grinned, tugging her blindfold down around her neck.

“Incredible,” Lena repeated, awestruck. “Just with the sound of my heart?”

“Mmhm. It’s the first sound I heard with my super hearing, so...maybe I’m attuned to it?” Kara shrugged.

“What does it sound like?” Lena wondered.

“It’s steady. Strong. It’s like…” Kara closed her eyes, pressed a hand over Lena’s heart. “Ba-bum, ba-bum, ba-bum...it’s beautiful.” Kara’s grin turned teasing. “And it’s getting faster.”

“Stop,” Lena laughed, pulling Kara’s hand to wrap around her neck instead so Kara fell forwards where she cupped her cheeks and brought their lips together.

Kara kissed Lena to the soundtrack of her heart. Happy, spirited, in love. Ba-bum, ba-bum, ba-bum.

“Hey! Kara!” Lex’s voice echoed out from the middle of the quidditch pitch, hands cupped around his mouth. “Did you find her?”

Kara groaned and rolled her eyes as they separated and popped her head up from the stands. Lena’s hands were grasping for anything she could reach as Kara yelled back, “Yeah, I found her! Super hearing confirmed! Now go away, we’re busy!”

Lena grabbed onto the tail end of Kara’s blindfold and yanked her back down to her lips, hands filling with blonde hair until Lena’s back was on the floor of the stands and Kara didn’t quite know what do with her hands so she settled with putting them, well, everywhere.

Lex, meanwhile, didn’t even want to know, and left the quidditch pitch grimacing and shaking his head.

***

“All right! All right! You’re strong now, I get it!” Alex’s laugh was pitched high and coloured by surprise as Kara hoisted the young Gryffindor above her head. With one hand. “Can you put me down?”

Grinning, Kara set Alex down on her bed and bounced in next to her, kicking the blankets and cushions around until she’d made herself a nest and settled in.

Alex watched, smiling faintly as she gave her head a light shake. “Merlin’s beard, Kar. You and Luthors one and two have been busy. What else can you do?”

“Well,” Kara hummed, wriggling over to the side to make room for Alex as she laid down. “There’s the strength thing—which seems to be more linked to my emotions, and it’s the one that slips up the most. Though I’m starting to get a handle on it and call on it at will, as I just demonstrated.”

“Indeed.”

“Then there’s the speed and also flying, which I’m finding the easiest to control, now that I’ve got the hang of it. It’s super fun, Al, we should go for a ride back home,” she said giddily.

“As long as our parents don’t see. Dad would have a heart attack,” Alex grimaced. “What about the...you know.” She made a gesture that mimicked her eyes exploding and Kara swallowed.

“The laser eyes thing? I haven’t really gotten a hold of that one yet. I don’t know if I want to...I was so angry when it happened the first time. I don’t like that side of myself.” Alex curled onto her side, eyes patient and protective as she looked her sister over. Kara sighed, fidgeting a little before she decided to change the subject. “I have super hearing too. It takes some concentration, but it’s pretty cool. Like, I can hear your heartbeat.”

Alex’s eyebrows shot up in interest. “Oh yeah?”

Kara nodded and closed her eyes, focusing her hearing in on Alex. “Yep. Yours is...I want to say sharper, than Lena’s.”

“You know Lena’s heartbeat?”

Kara blushed, suddenly very interested in her Hufflepuff tie. “Uh-huh.”

“That’s gay.”

“Shut up.” Kara punctuated the sentiment with a cushion to Alex’s face. Her ears then picked something up and she froze, brow furrowing to listen. “Speaking of gay, Maggie is sneaking up the stairs right now. She’s got water balloons.”

“What the hell Maggie,” Alex rolled her eyes as she sat up and drew her wand. “Rictusempra!” she said, shooting the tickling charm through the open door.

There was a screech, followed by a splash, then the sound of Maggie laughing and gasping for air. “Damnit, Danvers!” she wheezed.

“Nice try, Sawyer! Make sure you clean up your mess!”

With a wave of Alex’s wand, the door slammed shut and she turned back to Kara with a satisfied smirk.

“You two are just adorable. When’s the wedding?” Kara asked wryly.

“Can it,” Alex snapped, but there wasn’t any real heat behind her words.

Kara chuckled, tucking her hands beneath her chin as Alex laid down on her back. A comfortable silence settled around them, turing which Kara picked at a loose thread on Alex’s bedspread and thought about something that had been niggling at the back of her mind for a little while. “You don’t think I’m like...a freak, do you?”

Alex’s expression sharpened, lips pinching into a frown. “What?”

“These powers...you don’t think I’m weird?”

Alex rolled onto her side, shaking her head so hard Kara worried she’d give herself a headache. “Of course not. Kara, these powers are a part of who you are, part of where you come from. How could I possibly think that?”

Kara shrugged and made the universal ‘I don’t know’ sound.

Alex softened, pulling Kara into a hug. “You’re not a freak. You’re my sister.”

Kara cracked a smile, folding herself into Alex’s hug, relieved in the knowledge that she had Alex no matter what.

***

Kara got used to using her powers. It felt like coming home, in a way. Flying through the air felt like being in her childhood backyard, learning from Aunt Astra how to make rocks zoom into her hand using Rao’s magic, only much more intense.

Kara opened her eyes, banking right to curve around the Room of Requirement, which was now as big as the quidditch pitch with thirty-foot ceilings. Of all her newly discovered powers, flying was probably her favourite. Nothing compared to the feeling of leaving the world behind and taking to the sky.

Still, she did prefer her broom, just the slightest bit.

Kara completed a final lap and swooped down to the ground, stumbling a little as she ran to catch herself. “Still working on the landing,” she chuckled, tossing a grin Lena’s way.

Lex stopped his pocket stopwatch and scribbled something down in a journal. “You’re getting faster,” he noted with an approving nod. “We’re seeing some great results. Strength, flight, super hearing—these gifts are all in the books, and you’ve made a lot of progress controlling them. Now how about that heat vision?”

Kara swallowed, and shook her head. Her anger, and her pain had triggered her heat vision last time. She didn’t want to go back to that place, if she could avoid it.

“I don’t think it’s going to work. I have to be angry, and I don’t want—I can’t—” Kara faltered, and Lena stepped in.

“It’s okay. I think that’s enough for today,” Lena said firmly, laying a hand on Kara’s arm as she looked at her brother. “You’re doing great, I mean...you can fly, Kara,” Lena breathed in awe.

Lex, meanwhile was wearing a troubled frown. “You have to learn to use your heat vision, Kara. According to Krypton’s books, it’s the purest expression of Rao’s magic.”

Kara sighed, exasperated, and crossed her arms. “I’ve done everything you’ve asked of me these past couple weeks. I’ve saved Lena from all sorts of ridiculous situations, I’ve flown in circles for hours on end, I’ve lifted statues and furniture and Lena sitting on furniture and I am exhausted.”

Lex mirrored Kara’s arm-crossing motion, a stubborn set to his jaw. “It’s the most volatile of your powers, which means it’s the most dangerous. You have to be able to control it.”

Kara clenched her jaw, feeling her temper flaring. She’d learned a lot about herself and about her magic thanks to Lex, but she felt like she had a breaking point, and this was it.

“No,” she said firmly. “I might have these powers now, but I’m still me. I’m still Kara, and I have a quidditch match to train for. And so do you,” she reminded Lex, her eyes hardening. “I’m done with the Super Project for today.”

With that, she turned on a heel and left. She slammed the door a little too forcefully as she did so, a bit of stone cracking on the wall above it. Kara walked briskly down the corridor, not quite caring where she was heading as long as it was away from that room.

It didn’t take long for Lena to catch up, running the last few steps and finding Kara’s hand, thumbs kneading at the tension that balled it into a fist.

“Sorry,” Kara mumbled, slowing her steps so Lena didn’t need to jog to keep up. “I didn’t mean to go off like that. I’m just…”

“Tired?” Lena supplied, and Kara nodded. She felt a tug at her hand, and it was because Lena had stopped. Kara pivoted, seeing Lena had her lip caught in her teeth, brow slightly creased. “He’s right, you know,” she said softly, but steadily.

Kara deflated, sighing long and low. “I know. Doesn’t mean I have to like it,” she grumbled.

Lena offered a small smile as a comfort, and squeezed her hand. “Another day. We don’t want to push you too much. You’re doing amazing...Supergirl,” Lena grinned as she called Kara the playful nickname that made her roll her eyes every time.

***

“Can I ask you something?” Lena asked after Kara’s final quidditch practice before the big match. They were the last ones in the locker room as Kara had stayed back after training to spend some extra time practicing her shooting. One of the downsides of her newly discovered super strength was that she had to recalibrate her force with the quaffle—she’d put a dent in one of the goalposts with a superpowered shot earlier.

Kara fussed with the buckles and straps of her protective pads and answered, “sure.”

“Promise you won’t get offended.”

Kara paused midway through shucking a wrist guard and raised an eyebrow. “O...kay?”

Lena firmed up her expression, a cute frown appearing on her brow. “So, when the seeker catches the snitch, the game ends and they get 150 extra points. I’d imagine it’s rare for a team to have a score differential greater than 150 points, so usually the team that catches the snitch wins, right?”

“Generally, yes, though not always,” Kara answered, not quite sure where this was going, but she was glad her girlfriend seemed to have done some reading on the rules of quidditch.

“Well, if that’s the case, then what’s the point of you? The chasers and keepers are basically playing a different game—an inconsequential game, really. I mean, in the end, the points you score are essentially...pointless.”

Kara blinked back at Lena for a long moment before she tossed her head back with a bemused laugh. “Oh, Lena. That’s what makes quidditch so great.”

“Care to elaborate?”

Kara propped her foot up on the bench Lena was sitting on so she could undo her knee and shin guards. “Quidditch is unpredictable; you never know what you’re going to get. The seeker might catch the snitch in ten minutes, without a single goal being scored, or they could catch it in ten hours, and who knows what the scoreboard might look like in that time?”

Lena looked mildly horrified by the notion of a ten hour long match.

“The point is,” Kara continued, “Quidditch is as much a mental game as a physical one. You have to be prepared for every possible outcome. What we’re doing while the seekers are looking for the snitch, that’s the psychological game,” Kara said knowledgeably. Lena looked confused, so she decided to use something more Lena’s speed: numbers. “Let me put it this way: 76% of catches come from the team that is ahead in points at the time. The stats don’t lie; even though we don’t catch the snitch, we have an impact.”

Lena sat back on the bench, nodding slowly as she seemed to accept the fact.

“Besides,” Kara disappeared into her jersey as she wrangled it over her head and it muffled her words. “Imagine how boring a quidditch match would be if you just had to watch the seekers floating around waiting for the snitch the whole time. The chasers are the real entertainment.” Kara’s head popped out and she gave Lena a lopsided grin. “The eye candy, if you will.”

Lena wasn’t really listening anymore, her eyes wide and focused on Kara’s newly exposed torso. “I’ll say,” Lena murmured, her voice dropping into that lower register that usually led to Lena’s back on the floor or bed or wall and Kara’s covered in nail marks.

Lena’s fingers found the drawstring of Kara’s track pants, and Kara went willingly when Lena tugged her over to stand in the space between her knees. Lena placed her hands on Kara’s hips and when she looked up at her, Kara swore she was pouting. The reason behind it was revealed when Lena said, “I can’t reach you.”

With a laugh, Kara remedied the situation by dropping to her knees, now half a head shorter. She wore a crooked grin as she tilted her head up to look at Lena.

“Better?”

“Much.”

Lena moved her hands up to the tops of Kara’s shoulders, thumbs running up and down the columns of her neck, raising a trail of goosebumps under her touch. Kara barely had time to moisten her lips before Lena closed the distance between them, kissing her hungrily.

Kara’s hands were on either side of Lena’s legs, gripping onto the bench for support as she eagerly kissed back, which was fine until Lena hooked her legs behind Kara’s waist and squeezed and, yep, that was the sound of a metal bench warping under Kara’s fingers.

“Oops,” Kara blushed, pulling away to inspect the damage.

“It’s fine, I’ll magic it fixed later,” Lena said hurriedly. She pulled her sweater up over her head, locked eyes with Kara and dove forward, tackling her to the floor.

By the time they left, the bench wasn’t the only thing Lena had to fix.

***

Kara poked her head out of the flap to look out into the quidditch pitch. It was fuller than she’d ever seen it, with the combined Hogwarts, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang student bodies, as well as scouts and press people who had been invited to watch the match.

“Gosh, that’s a lot of people,” Kara croaked, wishing her knees would stop shaking.

“Full house,” Barry agreed, his head poking out above Kara’s.

There was a scuffling, after which James’ head popped out on top of Barry’s, on his toes to peer out into the crowd. “No way! The scout from Puddlemore United is here!”

“And from the Harpies!” Kara piped up, nerves and excitement making her feel like she could levitate at any moment. She had to concentrate extra hard to make sure that didn’t literally happen. “We have to win this,” she said, voice hard with determination.

The three of them retracted their heads back into the players’ tent, which was a flurry of activity. The centre of the commotion was at the front, where Mon-el was fielding questions from reporters and posing for photographs.

The Hogwarts team was warming up in another section of the tent, and James put his arm around Kara’s shoulder as he steered her towards the team. “C’mon, captain. Time to rouse the troops with an inspirational speech,” he said with a teasing poke to her ribs.

Kara laughed and twisted away, only to barrel face-first into a tall man, the impact of it knocking her back into James. Which was strange, because it took a lot to destabilise her these days.

“Oh! I’m sorry!” she apologised, blinking away at the shock. She adjusted her glasses as she peered up at the man, brow furrowing a little. He was broad-shouldered, and had dark hair and blue eyes framed by thick, black glasses, and Kara felt like she recognised him...but before she could look closer, he smiled widely, showing gleaming white teeth.

“Careful, kiddo,” he said good-naturedly. “Hey, you’re Kara Danvers! Hogwarts champion, right?”

Kara swallowed, face heating. “Um...yeah?”

“Mind if we take a picture?”

Before Kara could properly give an answer, a flash went off and she blinked at the sudden blinding light.

“Thanks, kid! Good luck in the match, and the tournament!” he chirped, then he and his camera man pushed past her to join the swarm of reporters around Mon-el. Kara watched his retreating form, unable to quite place the feeling she got about him, until James tugged her by the elbow to join the rest of the team.

Kara’s pre-match speech was equal parts rousing and inspirational—as it should have been; she’d practiced it all summer the year before. Really, she’d practiced it in hopes that Hufflepuff would be competing for the quidditch cup, but looking at the mixed team that included James and Alex, she couldn’t have been happier. They’d all worked so hard, and now it was time to see if it had paid off.

“In conclusion,” she finished with a grin, “let’s kick some international butt!”

The team cheered and clapped each other on the backs before they swung their broomsticks onto their shoulders and filtered out onto the field. They lined up opposite the opposing team—a mixture of Durmstrang and Beauxbatons students. Mon-El was captain, and he grinned when he and Kara shook hands and wished each other good luck.

Kara shook hands with each of the players until she got to Lex, who smirked and gripped her arm to pull her towards him. “No powers, Danvers. That’s cheating,” he said into her ear.

“Like I’d need them,” Kara scoffed with a returning smirk.

Within moments, the players were floating in a circle around Professor Prince, who was refereeing the match. The quidditch pitch was awash with noise: cheering, shouting and clapping from the crowd, Leslie Willis’ commentary above it all, the wind rushing through the trees, the sound of Kara’s own beating heart. It filled Kara’s ears, disorienting her as she struggled to filter out what sounds were important and what was just noise.

Kara’s heart hammered against her ribcage, and she could feel herself starting to panic as all the competing sounds threatened to overwhelm her. Exhaling sharply, she closed her eyes, concentrated hard on seeking out that sound, that familiar and consistent drum that she’d taken to concentrating on when she needed to ground herself.

She filtered through the cheering, the spirited arguments between students, the crunching of spectators eating snacks until...there, there it was.

Ba-bum, ba-bum, ba-bum.

Kara listened to the sound for a few moments, let it occupy all of her focus until she felt herself calm down. She allowed herself to expand her field of hearing outwards, and smiled to herself when she heard Maggie’s voice.

“You’re the worst sister ever, Luthor.”

Kara opened her eyes and turned to where the sound was coming from, quickly spotting her friends in the stands. Maggie and Winn stood next to Lena, who had Jess and Jack on her other side. Lena was beaming, wearing Kara’s Hufflepuff scarf, a jersey with DANVERS written across the back in bold letters, and was holding up one side of a Hogwarts banner with Winn.

Maybe, but at least I’m the best girlfriend,” Kara heard Lena reply.

Lena turned back to the field, and she must have seen Kara looking because her smile brightened and she waved cheerfully.

A happy warmth unfurled deep within Kara’s heart as she waved back, feeling calm and determined and ready. She pulled her goggles down over her eyes and turned back to Professor Prince, who was bringing a whistle to her lips.

The whistle sounded, the quaffle tossed high into the air, and Kara shot off into the sky.

 

 

Chapter Text

Kara grunted as a Durmstrang chaser collided into her in an attempt to steal the quaffle. He gave her a wide-eyed look, surprised that she appeared unaffected by the impact, which she returned with a cheeky grin before she sped off towards the goalposts. A bludger zoomed across her path, but she ducked under it easily, winding her arm back to launch the quaffle past the keeper and into the left hoop.

The crowd erupted into thunderous cheering, and Kara sailed around the stands with a fist punched into the air.

Kara’s goal pulled Hogwarts ahead by twenty points. They were nearly an hour into a tight match, the points almost neck and neck since the moment Professor Prince blew the whistle. Lex was as good as Lena had said he was,

At this rate, it would be down to whoever caught the snitch: Mon-el against Barry. Barry was the best seeker at Hogwarts, sure, but Mon-el was a professional at the national level. The pressure was certainly on, and it was evident from the grim look on Barry’s face as he circled high above the field in search of the snitch.

Kara was playing her absolute best, highly conscious of the fact that talent scouts were watching—and Lena was watching, too.

A Durmstrang chaser lobbed the quaffle towards Lex. Kara zipped up towards the quaffle, plucking it easily out of the air before it could reach him. She chortled to herself, imagining the dumbstruck look on Lex’s face as she sped away and palmed the quaffle off to a teammate before he could catch up to her.

The scores were still roughly even when Kara heard it. It started as an annoying rustling sound that buzzed persistently in her left eardrum, no matter how hard she shook her head to get rid of it. It took her a few seconds to realise that her super hearing had picked up on the snitch, and it was zipping around the Hogwarts goalposts.

Eyes widening, she looked up to see if Barry had seen it, but he was looking in the opposite direction. Mon-el, however, had definitely spotted it, and was about to shoot off into a dive.

“Alex!” Kara cried, pointing up at Mon-el.

Alex was quick to catch on to what was happening. Her bat was thunder against the bludger as she sent it rocketing towards Mon-el, forcing him to pull out of his dive or risk a broken nose. By the time Mon-el had recovered, the snitch had disappeared again. Kara heard Winn scream something about staying away from his boyfriend’s pretty face, and breathed a sigh of relief before she played on.

The beaters really weren’t letting up on her.

Kara had been forced to dive, loop, or roll out of the way of a bludger six times on her way to the goalposts with the quaffle.

“Vasquez! Alex! Can you do something about this?” She called through grit teeth as the bludger whipped over the top of her head.

Alex and Vasquez flanked her in the air, beating the bludger away whenever it came at her.

“What the hell!” Alex grunted as she batted it away again. “They’re really going for you!”

Kara was getting frustrated. Flying with Alex and Vasquez alongside slowed her down considerably so she couldn’t pull any quick flying maneuvers to misdirect the keeper, but when she reached the goalposts she had no one to pass to. With an exasperated growl, she launched the quaffle straight at the keeper.

And maybe she used a bit of super strength.

Okay, she definitely used some super strength, because the force of her throw sent both the quaffle and the keeper through the hoop. It still counted. Kara offered the keeper an apologetic smile as he reemerged, wincing and rubbing at his chest, and he gave her a slightly shaky thumbs up in response.

“Hey!” Lex appeared by her side as they flew back to the middle of the pitch to reset. “Watch the strength, okay? People might ask questions,” he said, his voice dropping into a conspiring tone.

“Your beaters didn’t give me much of a choice!” Kara replied irritably. “Tell them to knock it off, will you?”

Lex looked confused, then his eyes widened in alarm. “Watch out!” Kara barely ducked her head in time before the bludger came whizzing at her from behind, coming so close it ruffled her hair as it blew by. “You alright?” Lex asked as Kara steadied herself on her broom.

This shouldn’t be happening; the quaffle wasn’t even in play. “Something’s not right,” Kara said with a frown. She was about to call on Professor Prince when two things happened. First, the whistle was blown and the players entered a skirmish over the quaffle, and second, the bludger did a one-eighty in the air and came zooming back straight at Kara.

“Oh Rao,” Kara muttered under her breath before turning her broom and shooting away. She could hear the bludger whistling along behind her, no matter how many turns and dives she made. People in the crowd were starting to notice the aerial ballet Kara was performing around the pitch, and pointed up at her as she darted around, trying to shake the persistent bludger.

“Perhaps we should name that bludger Lena Luthor; it’s not leaving Danvers’ side,” Leslie Willis commentated, snickering to herself over the microphone.

Kara shot high up into the air, where Alex was waiting. Kara ducked as Alex gave a mighty swing at the bludger, knocking it off course, at least momentarily.

“That should do it!” Alex proclaimed, but Kara wasn’t so sure. She was distracted, however, by commotion down the other end of the field.

“What’s this? Barry’s gone into a dive after the snitch—Mon-el is right on his heels—they’re neck and neck—and—”

At that moment, Kara’s whole world exploded into pain. The bludger caught Kara square in the chest, and she felt more than one thing break and snap before she was unseated from her broom and everything went black.

All she could hear was the frantic drumming of Lena’s heartbeat pounding in her ears—why was Lena so scared right now? Kara must have passed out for a few seconds because when she opened her eyes, she was pitching headfirst towards the ground. Kara blinked her eyes open wide and she let out a cry when she realised what was happening.

Acting on pure instinct, she called on her magic to stop herself from crashing and then she was soaring in the air, careening haphazardly towards the sound of Lena’s panicked heartbeat as she just held onto consciousness.

She barrelled into the stands, toes catching the edge as she tumbled onto the wooden floor of the space between the seats and the barrier.

Voices echoed all around her, sounding more distant with each passing second— “Is she okay?” “Did you see that?” “Did she just fly?”—but one rang clear: Lena’s, as she crouched down on the ground and took Kara’s head into her lap, saying “I’ve got you, I’ve got you,” until Kara groaned and promptly lost consciousness.

***

The first thing Kara was aware of when she first came to, was pain. The right side of her ribcage felt like it was on fire, pricking and grinding at her very bones.

Blurry shapes moved around her field of vision, sharpening a little but never quite becoming clear—someone had taken her glasses off—and their voices sounded muffled as they spoke in hushed tones around her.

A groan escaped her lips, alerting her audience to her conscious state. “Did we win?” she croaked, wincing as she pushed herself up into a sitting position.

“Kara,” Lena breathed, her voice awash with relief.

“Take it easy, Kar,” Alex murmured from the other side of her bed, and Kara felt a hand on her shoulder, easing her back.

Kara grimaced against the colossal pounding in her head. She imagined this must be what it would feel like to be hit by a train. “What happened?” she asked, slowly trying to piece together her fractured memories. “What was with that bludger? It’s like it was possessed, or something.”

Alex wore a tight frown as her fingers drummed against her thigh. “Something was up with it; Professor Grant is inspecting it now to see if it was tampered with. Kar, I’m....I’m so sorry, I was supposed to keep you safe and I—I failed.” Alex’s voice wavered and Kara shook her head, wincing through the motion.

“Stop right there, Alex Danvers. It’s not your fault,” Kara said firmly. “My glasses?” Kara asked when she reached up to push the glasses that weren’t there up her nose.

“Here.”

Kara accepted her glasses gratefully from Lena and slid them on, blinking as the world came into focus. Lena and Alex were on either side of her, wearing matching concerned expressions. Maggie stood by Alex, and Kara caught sight of the small circles she was rubbing into the back of Alex’s hand with her thumb, no doubt alleviating some of the tension there. Lex stood by Lena, still in his pastel blue quidditch robes, and at the foot of the bed was, inexplicably, the handsome man from before the match.

“What’s that guy doing here?” Kara asked, her face scrunching up.

Before anyone could answer, the door to the hospital wing swung open and Diana swept in, taking long strides and grinning broadly as she walked straight into the stranger’s arms, squeezing him tight. A look that was nothing short of adoration was on her face when she eased back, giving the man’s glasses a teasing tweak, and now Kara was really confused.

“Diana? Since when do you have a boyfriend?”

Diana frowned back at Kara, shooting the man a sideways glance. “You must have hit your head pretty hard.”

“Kara, are you kidding?” Alex asked and thrust a hand towards the stranger. “That’s Kal!”

Kara’s mouth dropped open while the man removed his glasses and looked back at her with eyes she’d known since she was born.

“Kal? Kal!”

Kara moved with the intention of scrambling across the bed to him, but a shooting pain in her side kept her from getting anywhere at all, and she flopped back onto the pillows with a wince.

“Stay still, Kara,” Alex frowned. “Did you really not recognise your own cousin?”

“I’m in disguise,” Kal said.

“You’re wearing glasses,” Alex said flatly.

“Disguise.”

Kara rubbed at her throbbing temple as she attempted to process everything that was going on. It had been nearly two years since she’d last seen Kal. He was always busy or undercover, off saving the world as an Auror. And now here he was, standing at the foot of her bed after she’d been knocked off her broom by a possessed bludger and—oh no.

“Everyone saw me,” Kara said, her stomach hollowing out. “Everyone saw me fly, everyone’s going to know what I—what I am, what am I going to do?” Kara rambled, her words coming out faster and more panicked as she went on.

“Everything is fine, Kara,” Kal said calmly. “I used a memory-altering charm to erase the entire incident. Only those who knew about your powers should be able to remember what actually happened. As far as everyone else is concerned, Barry caught the snitch and you are in the hospital wing from falling off your broom.”

“Oh. So we won,” Kara breathed a contented sigh of relief.

That’s what you took away from all that?” Lex asked, eyes going wide.

“Kara, this is serious,” Kal frowned. “You could have exposed us to the world today. It’s bad enough that Lex and Lena Luthor know about you, of all people, even after I specifically told you they couldn’t be trusted—”

Hot anger flashed through Kara then and she snapped her eyes up to meet Kal’s. “You don’t get to just disappear and then come back and tell me who to trust. You don’t even know them,” she snapped.

Kal folded his arms across his chest, his brow furrowing. “If you knew what I know about the Luthors…”

“I do know. I know everything—thank you for leaving me to figure it out all on my own, by the way,” Kara said bluntly, and Kal blinked back at her in surprise before dispelling it with an angry shake of his head.

“That makes it so much worse! How could you even think to trust them, knowing what their father has done?”

“First of all, Lena is my girlfriend and I would trust her with my life. Second of all, people aren’t their family, Kal. Lex and Lena have been helping me understand my magic; they’ve been helping me control my powers so I don’t kill anyone—and who knows, maybe I’ll be able to help people with them someday. Meanwhile you’ve been Rao knows where when all this was going on—where have you been?”

I have been trying to protect what is left of this family, Kara Zor-El.

It took Kara a few seconds to realise that Kal wasn’t speaking english. The syllables and sounds of her first language were unfamiliar to her ears, and hearing it for the first time in years sent a shock of memory straight through her. Kara furrowed her brow, frustrated by how clunky the words sounded in her own mouth, how she had to stretch for the vocabulary.

“You left me alone. I had to figure out what was happening to me on my own. All Lex and Lena have done is help.”

“If your parents saw you working with the son and daughter of the man who destroyed our home—”

“They would be proud of me, for not letting anger blind me. For choosing hope.”

Kal gave Kara a long look—twin pairs of sapphire eyes meeting somewhere in the middle—and sighed, the fight going out of his shoulders.

“Your mother always said you had the heart of a hero,” he said quietly.

They were oblivious to the confusion of everyone standing around them, until Maggie piped up: “so...are you two mad at each other or not?”

Kal looked at her like he was wondering that too, and it made Kara soften, just enough.

“No. Just arguing, like family,” she said, a hint of a sad smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. “It’s good to see you, Kal.”

Kal brightened, splitting into a wide smile. “You too. You’ve grown up so much. What happened to the big glasses you used to have?”

“Oh, we got rid of those, thank god,” Alex chuckled at Kara’s expense.

Kara tried to join in on the laugh but groaned loudly as something in her ribcage shifted—bones grinding and moving into place.

“Are you alright?” Lena asked worriedly, doing a good job of masking a wince when Kara gripped her hand in a vice grip.

“Fine,” Kara gasped, eyes bulging. The pain passed, and she sank back into the pillows, spent.

“You need to rest,” Lena said with a frown.

“Yeah,” Kara agreed, exhausted both physically and emotionally.

“All right, everybody out,” Alex said firmly, making a shooing motion with her arms. “My sister is busy mending her bones; we can yell at her about nearly dying—again—later.”

Everyone shuffled towards the door, but when Lena turned to follow, Kara gripped her hand, keeping her in place. “Where do you think you’re going?” she asked.

“Do you want me to stay?”

“Of course. Play with my hair until I fall asleep?”

Lena smiled, and did exactly that.

~~~

When Kara was all healed up and out of the hospital wing the next day, Kal immediately pulled her into a hug and Kara sank into it like the ocean. It really was good to see him again.

As it turned out, he had powers too. They’d started up right around the time he disappeared two years before, but had gotten stronger around the same time Kara started discovering her own powers. Lena and Lex tested out their powers in the Room of Requirement, and Kara was delighted to discover that she was better and faster at flying than him. He was stronger, but Kara didn’t care about that as much.

They spent a considerable amount of time together, catching up and getting reaquainted with each other. Kal warmed up to Lena quickly—he saw how happy Kara was with her. The jury was still out with Lex.

Kal told Kara that he had spent the past two years looking for Krypton. Krypton’s location was a mystery to the world since its destruction, and Kal’s theories were correct, Rao had put up a host of defensive magic to keep it that way.

A few days into Kal’s stay, Professor Grant summoned the champions down to the quidditch pitch—except it didn’t look like the quidditch pitch anymore. A maze of hedges had sprung up seemingly overnight in place of the flat, green expanse that was so familiar to Kara. Professor Grant informed them that the maze was the third task, and to prepare themselves for anything.

Kal stayed for at Hogwarts for just over a week before he had to leave again. One of his contacts had a lead on Krypton he had to follow up on. He kissed Kara on the forehead, promising he’d be back for the third task before winking and shooting off into the sky.

~~~

It was over breakfast one morning as the third task drew closer that Maggie and Alex received matching formal-looking letters from a pair of handsome brown owls. Their spoons instantly clattered into their bowls as they dove for the envelopes and gave each other wide-eyed stares.

“You go first,” said Maggie.

“No you,” said Alex.

“Together?”

“Together.”

Kara peered up from her cereal to watch Alex and Maggie mirror each other as they tore open their envelopes—shakily at first, and then all at once—their eyes darting wildly back and forth to read their letters. Maggie’s eyes crinkled up with an accompanying megawatt grin, while Alex...Alex’s mouth turned down at the corners, which Kara knew couldn’t mean anything good.

“I got in!” Maggie squealed, rereading her letter as if to make sure it was real. “Babe! We’re going to be Aurors!”

Alex’s jaw clenched, her fingers curling into the edges of the paper. “No, we’re not,” she said tightly.

Maggie looked confused, but she was still smiling as she looked at her girlfriend. “What do you mean?”

“I mean,” Alex said, and the bench made a harsh scraping sound as she stood up, “I didn’t get in.” She dropped the letter on the table, where Kara could just make out the Alexandra Danvers, we regret to inform you that headed it, and stormed out of the Great Hall, drawing her robes tightly around her as she did.

Maggie was on her feet in an instant, but so was Kara as she said, “let me talk to her. Please.”

Maggie balled her fists, and it took everything she had not to go after Alex. After a moment, she sat down with a huffed sigh and grumbled, “you’ve got ten minutes, Little Danvers.”

Kara found Alex outside, sitting on a ledge with her head tipped back against the castle wall. A frown was cemented on her face, knees drawn up to her chest. Kara hoisted herself up to sit next to her sister, and the stony silence that hung between them made it clear that Kara was going to be the one to break it.

“Do you think this is fair?” Kara asked.

Alex looked at Kara over the tops of her knees. “Fair? Of course not. My grades are better than Maggie’s, my application essay was perfect—how did I not get in? It doesn’t make any sense.”

Kara shook her head quietly. “Not to you. To Maggie.”

It took Alex a few moments to understand, but when she did it was written all over her face.

“Oh. Fuck. I’m such an ass.” She dropped her forehead down onto her knees with a groan. Kara waited patiently until Alex reemerged, red in the face and wiping at stubborn tears in her eyes. “I’m happy for her, of course I am. I just—it was the plan, you know? We’d go into Auror training together, we’d become Aurors together, and we’d just be...together.”

Kara smiled gently and scooted over closer to her sister. “Just because things didn’t go according to plan doesn’t mean you won’t be together. Is that what you’re worried about?” Alex gave a sniffly nod. “Come on, Al,” Kara rolled her eyes as she shoved Alex’s knee. “You’re Alex and Maggie, Danvers and Sawyer. You can get through anything, even if you’re doing different things next year.”

“What am I going to do?” she asked in a small voice.

“You’re brilliant; you can do whatever you want. You can always reapply next year, and maybe you’ll find something you like even better!” Kara said optimistically, then gave her sister a pointed look. “I’ll tell you what isn’t helping: storming out on your girlfriend’s achievements.”

Alex smacked her palm to her forehead. “I’m the worst. I have to go find Maggie.”

Before either Danvers sister could make a move, the sound of ripping parchment came from the doorway, and they whipped their heads to see Maggie standing there with half a page in each hand.

“If you’re not going, I’m not going. You absolute ass,” she said, hands fixing themselves to her hips.

Alex’s eyes flew wide and she scrambled off the ledge to stand in front of Maggie. “Maggs, why did you do that?”

Maggie shrugged, stubborn frown on her face. “Romance? Because I love you?”

Alex made a sound that was somewhere between a groan and a sob and buried her face in her hands. “I’m so sorry, Maggs, I shouldn’t have reacted like that. Being an Auror is your dream; it’s all you’ve talked about since before we started dating. I’m so proud of you, and I’m sorry if I made you feel guilty about it for even a second. I want to support you, I want to give you backrubs for when training kicks your ass, I want you to follow your dream. Don’t you dare give up on it because of my stupid ego, are you insane?”

Maggie brought her hands up to cup Alex’s cheeks, smiling warmly as she twirled her fingertips into auburn hair. “Good thing I ripped your letter up, not mine.”

Alex barked a laugh of disbelief and knocked her forehead against Maggie’s, hands settling on the shorter girl’s hips. “You’re going to be an amazing Auror.”

“You’re going to be an amazing whatever you choose to be, Alex Danvers,” Maggie replied.

“I love you,” Alex said, and ducked her head to catch Maggie’s lips.

Kara, meanwhile, was the owner of a grin that was far too big for her face, and couldn’t stop herself from clapping and letting out a squealed “Yay!” Maggie and Alex broke apart and looked at her in surprise like they’d forgotten she was there. Kara hopped down off the wall and gathered them both in a tight hug that might have been a touch too tight, judging by the contorted grimaces on their faces.

“Bring it in,” Kara said happily, oblivious to their discomfort. “You guys are my favourite. Alex and Maggie forever!”

Alex groaned, cheek smooshed up against Maggie’s as she struggled uselessly in Kara’s grip.

***

The third task was tomorrow, and Mon-el had organised a final hurrah onboard the Durmstrang ship. Kara wrapped her arms around herself, leaning slightly over the bow of the ship, gazing down at the lights from the ship reflected back at her from the glassy lake. The sound of music and laughter carried up from lower in the ship, muffled by the thick wood of the deck. Kara had stepped out after easily beating Mon-el in a handstand competition, just wanting a moment of stillness.

Kara wondered if she should be more nervous. She’d barely slept before the first and second tasks, but tonight she felt strangely at peace. In a way, she was looking forward to it, no matter the result (though she wouldn’t mind winning, in all honesty).

The noise from the party grew louder and then faded again, and Kara spun around to see Lena picking her way across the deck towards her, a mug in each hand.

“Found you,” Lena said, a soft smile on her lips.

“Found me,” Kara said. “What have you got there?”

“Hot chocolate.”

“Have I mentioned I love you?”

“Once or twice.” Lena handed a mug to Kara and leaned against the railing of the ship. Kara shuffled around next to her, shoulders brushing up against each other as she took a sip. “What are you doing up here all by yourself?” Lena asked.

“Oh, you know...brooding,” Kara shrugged with a little smile while Lena rolled her eyes.

“Good call. Maggie and Winn were about to break into a Muggle boy-band medley when I made my escape.”

“Do you remember what you said to me when I first got chosen for the tournament? ‘I’m Lena Luthor, and I didn’t come here to make friends’,” Kara teased, brow flattened and voice deepened in mock seriousness.

“Don’t,” Lena nudged her side with a wince.

Kara set her mug down before sliding her arms around Lena’s waist, chin settling into the crook of her neck. Lena’s skin was warm and smelled of lilacs, and when Kara pressed a kiss below her jaw, she felt Lena’s pulse against her lips.

“I’m glad you didn’t stick to that policy,” Kara hummed.

“Me too,” Lena sighed, leaning back against Kara’s chest.

“So you’re not going to break up with me if I beat Lex tomorrow?” Lena began to laugh, but something stopped it halfway, and worry pulled her features into a slight frown. “What’s wrong?” Kara asked, poking her head around to try and see Lena’s face better.

Lena shuffled around in Kara’s arms, laying her hands on Kara’s shoulders as she worried at her bottom lip. “It’s...it’s nothing, really. I just have a strange feeling about tomorrow. It’s probably all in my head and I’m just being crazy, but I just,” Lena trailed off with a shake of her head, like she didn’t want to finish whatever thought was going on in her head.

“Hey,” Kara said, ducking her head to catch Lena’s eyes. “Tell me what you’re thinking. This whole year has been crazy, I want to know what’s going on.”

Lena seemed surprised, but ultimately relieved to be taken seriously. “It’s just...I keep thinking about Lillian. She’s been quiet ever since the lake, and that’s never been a good thing in my experience. Even her and Lex not being on the best of terms right now, I know she’d still do anything to help him win. He is representing the family name after all. Just...promise me you’ll be careful. The woman isn’t above sabotage.”

“You really think she’d try and pull something? Just over a game?” Kara asked.

“Oh, she’d do a lot more for a lot less,” Lena scoffed, tutting her tongue. “Besides, as far as she’s concerned, you’ve corrupted her two children with your sunshine smiles and puppy-dog sweaters. You’re enemy number one, Kara Danvers.”

Kara smirked, pressing Lena’s body flush against hers as she wrapped her arms tighter around her waist. “Corrupted, huh?”

“I’m being serious,” Lena said flatly, but her firm expression couldn’t conceal her breath hitching or her pulse quickening—at least, not to Kara. “You need to be careful. I don’t want to see you in a hospital bed again, okay?”

“Okay, okay, I’ll be careful,” Kara laughed, grimacing a little, as she definitely agreed with Lena on that front.

“Promise me. Promise me you’ll even use your powers if it will keep you safe.” Lena laced her fingers behind Kara’s neck, and Kara’s smile slipped into something more serious when she met her eyes.

“I promise,” Kara said.

“Okay.” Lena exhaled sharply, expelling some of the worry and she was smiling again when she looked back up. “Do try to win, though. I’d love to see the look on Lillian’s face.”

“I’ll try my best,” Kara chuckled, “but it’ll be to see the look on your face.” Lena’s smile widened, bright and solid and there, and it made Kara’s heart happy to know she was the reason for it. “That’s the look,” she said, and grinned when Lena pressed up on her toes to kiss her.

No, Kara wasn’t nearly as nervous for this task as she had been for the others. Not only did she have everyone she cared about there to support her, she was a woman who could fly and punch anything that tried to hurt her. What could possibly go wrong?

 

 

Chapter Text

A cacophony of noises thumped over Kara’s head from the stands above. It was easy to get lost in it all, especially since Kara was getting better at filtering out specific sounds with her super hearing.

When she closed her eyes, she could hear each instrument in the school band—the trumpet was a little flat—and the war cries for each of the champions—Winn was dutifully alternating between chants for Kara and Mon-el—and the sound of a student munching happily on some cockroach clusters—which reminded her, she was kind of hungry.

A hand settled on her shoulder and Kara opened her eyes, bringing herself back into the room. Which wasn’t really a room as much as it was the space beneath the stands, with a sloping ceiling that dropped the occasional sprinkling of dust from footsteps overhead.

Kara’s face lit up when a snack bar appeared in front of it.

“You’re probably hungry,” Alex said.

“How’d you know?” Kara ripped open the wrapper and bit into it with enthusiasm.

“I’m your sister. That, and you’re always hungry.”

Alex glanced up over her shoulder to see Eliza and Jeremiah standing together, like she wanted to know if she was doing a good job. They beamed back at their two girls, and Alex seemed to relax a little when Jeremiah put an arm around her.

The space was small, just enough for the three champions to have their own semi-private area with their loved ones. Mon-el was off to one side, flanked by a broad-shouldered man sporting an impressive moustache who rubbed his shoulders and kept telling his son how proud he was, and an elegant, slender woman, who was a little more reserved but her pride shone through just as strongly.

Kara felt a dull ache watching them, wondering how her own parents might have acted if they could be here. She imagined her mother braiding her hair and pinning it back, her father reminding her to make sure she kept her wrist strong when casting a spell.

With a slight shake of her head, Kara glanced down at the snack bar instead. It was chocolate chip, peanut butter and marshmallow—it was her favourite, and it was perfect. Eliza sat her down in front of the mirror and gathered her hair back into a low bun. It wasn’t half as intricate as the braids her mother used to weave into her hair, but it would keep her hair out of her face just as well.

“I’m really happy you guys could be here,” Kara said, looking at Eliza in the mirror.

“We wouldn’t miss it, sweetheart.”

“Eliza was going crazy after not seeing you two over Christmas break,” Jeremiah grinned, ducking his head to avoid the glare Eliza shot back at him.

On the other side of the room sat Lex and Lena, both looking serious and stiff in stark contrast to the rest of them. They stood close together, shoulder to shoulder, Lex gripping his wand tightly while Lena rubbed the back of his palm with her thumb.

Notably absent, was Lillian Luthor. She’d made a brief appearance before, all swishing black robes and a cold stare. When she spoke to Lex, it was like she was dealing with a business partner rather than her own son. Kara had tried not to listen in on their conversation out of respect, but she couldn’t help catching Lillian say “don’t ruin this for us,” before sweeping out of the room. Lex had looked slightly unwell ever since.

Kara caught Lena looking over at them in the mirror, and she smiled at her reflection on instinct—she really couldn’t help it if she wanted to. Eliza’s cheek appeared next to Kara’s, a wry grin on her lips as she witnessed the exchange.

“Aren’t you going to introduce us?”

Kara startled a little, cheeks growing hot. “I, um...what?”

“That girl. Don’t think I haven’t noticed the way you look at each other,” Eliza said with a knowing look in her eyes that made Kara’s blush deepen. She hadn’t expected Eliza and Jeremiah to be here—the families being invited to the third task had been a complete surprise—and while of course she wanted Lena to meet them, she didn’t think it would be so soon.

“Oh, um...just give me a minute, okay?” Kara scuffled over to Lena and Lex, hands shaking a little with nervous energy as she pulled up and said, perhaps a little abruptly: “hi. My parents want to meet you.”

Lena blinked at Kara, glanced over at the smiling Eliza and Jeremiah, and swallowed. “Really?”

Kara nodded. “If that’s okay with you, of course. I’d...I’d like them to meet you.”

Lena shifted nervously, apprehension written all over her face. “All right, if you’re sure.”

Kara looked at Lena, then back at Eliza and Jeremiah, and she’d never been more sure of anything in her life. “I’m sure. Come on.” She took Lena’s hand, fingers interlacing, and led her back towards her family. She halted halfway to toss a look over her shoulder at Lex. “You may as well, too,” she said, and Lex shuffled along after them.

Kara wiped her free palm on her trackpants as she presented Lena to her parents. “Eliza, Jeremiah, this is Lena. My girlfriend.”

Lena stuck out a hand and smiled politely. “How do you do?”

Alex groaned, rolling her eyes. “Christ, Luthor, they’re not the King and Queen of England.”

“Alex,” Eliza scolded. “Be kind.” Eliza looked over Lena—appraising, but not judging—eyes warm and welcoming. Lena’s hand still hovered awkwardly in empty space, and Eliza took it, much to Lena’s apparent relief. “It’s lovely to meet you, Lena. It’s nice to finally put a face—and a name—to Kara’s ‘friend’ she’s been writing about all year,” Eliza said, giving Kara a teasing look that made her bury her head into Lena’s shoulder with a whine.

“Don’t worry, Kara. We’ve seen that trick before with Alex her ‘friend’ Maggie,” Jeremiah winked. He folded Lena into a hug—one she didn’t seem to be expecting, if her wide eyes peering out at Kara from between Jeremiah’s arms were any indication. “We’re huggers in the Danvers family, I hope that’s alright.”

“I suppose I could get used to it,” Lena said, a little breathless, but smiling nonetheless.

“And who is this?” Jeremiah asked.

“Oh, that’s Lex. Lena’s brother,” Kara said, like it was an afterthought. Lex cleared his throat, shifting a little. Kara sighed. “And my friend. Sort of. It’s been a complicated year.”

Eliza smiled warmly and shook Lex’s hand anyway, and Lex didn’t escape a bear hug from Jeremiah either. He went stiff as a board throughout the duration of it, but Kara swore she saw the tips of his ears turning a pleased shade of pink when Jeremiah released him.

They chatted together until Professor Grant swept into the room, announcing that the task was about to begin.

“We’d better go find our seats,” Eliza said, then glanced between Kara and Lena with a kind smile. “We’ll give you two a minute alone.” She kissed Kara on the forehead, Jeremiah flashed her a huge grin, and Alex pulled Kara into a tight hug.

“Do your best out there, Kar. But if you hurt yourself, I swear I’ll—”

“I know. I think you’re scarier than whatever is in that maze,” Kara teased, squeezing her sister back.

“Damn right I am.” Alex finally let her go, casting one last glance over her shoulder before she dropped the tent flap closed behind her.

Which left Kara alone with Lena, at last.

“Hi,” she said.

“Hey,” Lena responded on a shaky exhale.

“Nervous?”

“Shouldn’t I be asking you that?”

“My heart’s not beating a mile a minute.”

Lena sighed sharply and leaned herself into Kara’s chest. “I just really wish you weren’t doing this,” she whispered.

“Hey,” Kara hummed, arms circling around her. “It’s going to be fine. In no time, we’ll be drinking smoothies on the private island I’m going to buy with that thousand galleon prize money.”

“One-thousand galleons really isn’t that much,” Lena mumbled into Kara’s shirt.

“Alright, billionaire,” Kara scoffed, and she felt Lena laugh a little in her arms.

“I’m just saying, it’s not enough to buy an island.”

“Well, we’ll start with the smoothies then.”

“Deal.” Lena eased herself back, eyes tracing over Kara’s face as she thumbed her cheekbones. “Remember your promise?”

“Yeah,” Kara nodded. “I’ll be careful.”

Lena sighed and allowed herself a small smile. “I am proud of you, I hope you know that, I don’t know if I’ve said that before or enough or—”

Before Lena could talk herself in circles, Kara ducked her head down and caught her lips, which Lena seemed pretty grateful for as she kissed her back ardently. The cheers grew louder from outside as Professor Grant introduced Mon-el and Lex, and Lena pulled back with a sigh.

“You should get out there.”

“One more for luck?” Kara asked, eyebrows peaked.

A tug of Kara’s jacket brought them together once more, but they had to part all too soon as Professor Grant was calling her name, and sounding more than a little annoyed.

“I should go,” Kara breathed, though her hands stayed on Lena’s hips.

“You should go,” Lena agreed reluctantly, and gave Kara’s chest the slightest push that separated them. Kara held onto Lena’s hand until they were at the doorway, when Lena pressed up on her toes and said “I love you, Kara Zor-El,” squeezed her hand and scurried off into the stands to join Alex and the others.

With a steadying breath, Kara stepped out into the cheers of the crowd, arm raised to block out the light at first, but it turned into a wave when she spotted Winn and James shouting and waving like maniacs, flanked by her family and Lena.

Kara gave a small start upon seeing a tall-broad shouldered man in glasses picking his way through the seats until he reached Eliza and Jeremiah and sat down. Kal, in disguise, Kara reminded herself. She’d been beginning to think he wouldn’t make it, but here he was. He caught her eye and flashed her a grin, which Kara returned happily.

“Nice of you to join us, Miss Davies,” Professor Grant sighed enduringly as Kara stepped up onto a small stage to stand beside Lex and Mon-el. While Professor Grant gave her speech recapping the tournament and describing the task ahead, Kara took in the great maze sprawled out before them.

The hedges had grown since the first time she’d seen them, and now towered at three times her height. The maze was completely still and silent, doing an excellent job of concealing whatever laid within. As it turned out, Kara was in first place after the first two tasks, which meant she would be first to enter the maze, with Mon-el and then Lex following a few minutes behind.

Before she knew it, Professor Grant was giving a short blast on her whistle, and Kara hurried into the maze, leaving the cheers and the lights and her friends and family behind her.

Once she was in the maze, the sounds of the crowd were silenced. The hedges were probably enchanted, Kara thought to herself. Experimentally, she reached out with her super hearing, hoping to catch hold of the steady drumming of Lena’s heart that was an ever-present source of comfort to her now. It was with a slight jolt that she found she couldn’t reach it, even with her powers. She really was alone.

The silence left Kara with only the sounds of her breathing and her footsteps as she jogged down the first narrow stretch until she came to the first fork in the maze. Lena had told her that there was generally a trick to most mazes: if she stuck to one wall, eventually she’d find the solution. Kara stuck her hand out to graze the right wall of the maze and followed it down the right fork.

This strategy demanded a certain amount of patience from her. Within ten minutes she’d hit seven dead ends, followed them around and looped back, her right hand always trailing along the leafy hedges. Kara grew more tense as time passed and she didn’t encounter a single obstacle, or even Mon-el or Lex. Kara was beginning to wonder if the maze itself was going to be the biggest obstacle when she rounded a corner and came face-to-face with a wall of fire.

It erupted from nowhere and roared wildly, making Kara’s heart leap into her throat and her legs begin to tremble. She gripped her wand tightly and thrust it at the flames, channelling all of her energy into keeping her voice steady.

"Aguamenti!

A powerful stream of water burst from Kara’s wand, jetting towards the torrent of flames. It had no effect. Kara swallowed—the fire must have been enchanted. She tried a few more spells in attempts to break the enchantment, but nothing worked.

Kara was starting to panic; the fire was all she could see and hear and feel and for a second she was back at the first task, barrelled down behind a shield as the dragon’s fire assaulted her, and then she was nine years old watching her home burn and why did the first obstacle she came across have to be her greatest fear—and then Kara had a thought.

She straightened her back, hand trembling as she raised her wand. “Ridikkulus!” she exclaimed, swishing it down.

The flames exploded into a shower of rainbows around Kara before the boggart disappeared entirely, leaving her shaken, but alone. Kara swallowed thickly, clenching her teeth before she moved on.

Right turn, left turn, right turn, right again, dead end, right turn...Kara kept her hand glued to the wall, trusting that eventually she’d get through the maze. Her mind started playing tricks on her—she swore she’d seen that rock before, or was it a different one?

Kara took a left turn and heard a cry a short distance away, then put on a burst of speed and followed the sound. When she rounded a corner, she saw Lex on the ground, scuttling backwards away from an enormous blast-ended skrewt. His wand had rolled a few feet away from him, and the skrewt’s scorpion-like tail was inches away from Lex’s nose.

Kara stuck her thumb and forefinger in her mouth and let out a sharp whistle. “Hey!” she barked, voice full of authority. She frowned in disapproval, hands fixed firmly to her hips. “Now is that any way to behave, Alex Junior? I thought I taught you better manners than that.”

The skrewt with the yellow markings on its back that Kara recognised turned several beady eyes towards Kara and dipped its head before backing away from Lex. Lex grabbed his wand and scrambled to his feet, breathing sharply as he eyed the beast warily.

Kara walked over and petted Alex Junior on the head. “That’s a good girl. You’ve gotten so big since I last saw you. I don’t have any food for you right now, but I promise you I’ll give you the biggest, juiciest worm when we get out of here,” she cooed with an affectionate smile. The skrewt keened into Kara’s hand before it huffed and scuttled away, turned a corner and disappeared out of sight.

Kara glanced over her shoulder to see Lex staring back at her in wide-eyed disbelief. “You okay?” she asked, feeling just a little smug.

“Y-yeah,” Lex stammered. “That thing caught me by surprise.”

Kara looked Lex up and down. He looked like he’d been through a war: his originally pristine powder blue tracksuit was covered in dirt and rips and scorch marks. “What happened to you?”

“Oh, just a fire crab, a pit of lava, a giant boulder that chased me for about two minutes, a swarm of cornish pixies, and now this beast. What have you come across?”

“A boggart.”

Lex’s mouth clacked open, eyes bulging in disbelief. “How is that fair?!” he exclaimed.

Kara shrugged her shoulders. “Any sight of Mon-el?”

“Once, a little while ago. I think he’s been walking in circles since we started.”

“At least he’s staying out of trouble.”

They shared a laugh, forgetting for a moment that they were in a giant, monster-filled maze and supposed to be competing against each other. They seemed to simultaneously remember where they were, and Lex regarded her with a serious nod.

“Thanks for your help.”

“Don’t mention it. See you on the other side.”

They parted ways at the next fork, Kara still following her right hand against the hedges. She continued jogging, glad she had such good cardio, and came to a sudden stop when she found the next passageway she turned down was filled with white fog.

It was thick, far too thick to see through. Kara levitated a rock and when she launched it into the fog, she only heard it clunking to the earth a few feet away. Going back would mean losing all her progress with sticking to one wall, and she might become lost in the maze. She couldn’t risk that.

Kara sucked in a steeling breath and stepped into the fog.

She braced herself for a change in sensation—burning, or cold, or a strange smell, anything—but there was nothing. It just made her blind, and she kept her hand fixed to the wall as she stumbled through. Illuminating the tip of her wand did nothing; all she could see was white, and it pressed down on all sides.

Kara focused on keeping her breathing steady, putting one foot in front of the other, hoping the fog would end soon. Kara’s foot got caught on an upturned root, and she flopped onto her chest with a sharp grunt.

Kara picked her head up and groaned, and realised with a panic that she’d dropped her wand. She scrambled to her knees and felt blindly around, hands becoming more frantic until she finally closed her fingers around it and gripped it tight.

Kara’s head was spinning when she stood up again, and she put an arm out to the wall of the maze to steady and guide her as she kept going. She ran face first into a hedge as the path veered to the left, and followed it around. She had no way of knowing how long she’d been in the fog—it felt like hours—when she saw something in the distance. A person.

“Lex?” she called out, not really thinking straight with how relieved she was to see something other than an endless white expanse. “Mon-el?” Kara jogged to approach the figure, but skidded to a halt when she saw who it was. “Lena?” she called out into the mist. She blinked her eyes and shook her head in confusion; this didn’t make any sense.

But it was her, she’d recognise that figure anywhere. What was she doing here?

“Lena!” Abandoning all thought, Kara sprinted after Lena. Lena’s image flickered before her, always just a few feet ahead of her, disappearing around the next corner. Right turn, left turn, left again, right turn, left turn…

By the time Kara burst out of the white mist, coughing and extremely light-headed, Lena was gone and Kara was completely lost. Kara braced her hands on her knees, chest heaving with laboured breaths as she gulped in cool, clean air.

After a minute when her head started to clear, she noticed a light, shining out of the corner of her eye. Kara turned her head, looking down a long, narrow path and she saw it: The Triwizard Cup, gleaming in the distance.

Kara gasped, and bolted down the passage. She couldn’t believe it—she’d done it, this whole crazy journey was finally over, she could finally get back to a somewhat normal life, and she’d won, no less! Clark, Eliza and Jeremiah were going to be so proud, Maggie and Alex were going to clean up nicely from their betting earnings, and Lena was just going to be so happy she’d come out of it unscathed.

Kara burst out of the passage, ready to claim the cup as her own, but stopped sharply when she saw there was someone else there already.

“Lex? Damnit, you beat me!” Lex was standing in front of the cup, head bowed and brow furrowed. “What are you waiting for?” Kara asked as she approached behind him.

Lex looked up at her, his eyes looking incredibly tired and hollow, like he’d faced six more skrewts on his way to the cup. “For you.”

“Oh, I see. You wanted to get the cup in front of me so you could gloat, right?” Kara chuckled lightly, and took a seat on one of the steps of the cup’s podium. “Okay, Lex, go ahead. You’re the better wizard; you win.”

Kara rocked back onto the heels of her palms, a contented smile on her face. As far as she was concerned, making it to the end would be a victory in itself. She couldn’t wait for the superfriends sleepover in the room of requirement they’d planned for after the task; she could practically taste the pumpkin pasties already.

Lex, apparently, had other ideas.

“That’s not what I’m doing.” Kara quirked an eyebrow at him as he sat down next to her with sigh. “You should win, Kara. You’ve been outperforming me all tournament; I don’t feel like I deserve it. Besides, that skrewt would have finished me off if it weren’t for you.”

Kara gave Lex a look of complete bewilderment. “Lex, are you feeling alright? Winning this tournament is the whole reason you came here. I don’t even care about it; I just want it to be over, honestly.”

Lex shook his head with a short laugh. “I can’t even remember why I cared about it so much in the first place. Eternal glory, or something silly like that. Whatever it was, it doesn’t feel so important anymore.”

“We could wait for Mon-el to get here,” Kara suggested helpfully.

“There’s a good chance we’d die of starvation first,” Lex deadpanned, and Kara tossed her head back with a laugh. “Take it, Kara. Seriously, you deserve it.”

Kara pushed herself up to stand in front of the Triwizard cup, gleaming on its pedestal. The glowing light brought out the shadows on Lex’s face as he stood beside her.

“Together,” Kara finally decided. “We’ll tie for it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah,” Kara said, and cut a grin over at him. “A Luthor and a Kryptonian sharing the victory? Your mother would hate that.”

“She really would,” Lex hummed thoughtfully.

“So let’s do it. On three?”

“On three.”

“One...two...three!”

On three, Kara and Lex each clapped a hand on the cup. Instantly, Kara felt a sharp jerk somewhere behind her navel as her entire world tunnelled into howling wind and swirling colour, the cup pulling her and Lex on and on and on and away.

Chapter Text

There were marks in the shape of crescent moons on the back of Lena’s wrist from where she had been clutching at it since the start of the task. Scenarios played out over and over in her brain—Kara hurting herself, ending up scared and lost in the maze, or Lex, losing himself in the desire to win. She tried to join in on the cheering and animated speculations about who would take the title, but she was just too consumed with worry to do anything but stare at the at the hedge maze, waiting for green or red sparks, or anything really.

It took her a few seconds to realise someone was saying her name, giving her a gentle nudge to get her attention.

“Sorry, what?” she asked distractedly.

“I asked if you were alright,” Kal said gently, hinging at the waist so he could speak into her ear. “I don’t need super hearing to know you’re worried. Kara is more than capable of taking care of herself; she’s going to be just fine.”

Lena swallowed and pulled her eyes away from the maze for the first time in almost an hour. “I know that. I just...I can’t help but feel like something is going to go wrong, like I’ve missed something…” Lena trailed off as her eyes scanned over the crowd and a pit hollowed out in her stomach when she realised the chair that was supposed to hold Lillian Luthor was conspicuously empty. “Oh no,” she breathed, but before she could do anything, the entire audience erupted into deafening applause and shouts.

Lena whipped her head back to look at the maze, where green sparks were shooting up from the centre.

“See?” Kal said brightly as he clapped his hands beside her. “Everything is fine; it’s all over now.”

Lena swallowed thickly and couldn’t bring herself to clap—not until she saw Kara and her brother in front of her, alive and unharmed and safe. The cheering continued, and went on and on while the maze remained completely silent and still before them. Lena barely moved a muscle as she watched the entrance of the maze, waiting, waiting, waiting.

There was a rustling sound, and then two figures burst out—Mon-el, led by a weary looking Professor J’onzz.

“Did I win?” Mon-el asked, grinning in the light while the Durmstrang students stamped their feet on the stands and pounded their chests. Winn vaulted over the stands and launched himself into Mon-el’s arms, laughing as he explained that no, Mon-el hadn’t won, but he was so proud of him anyway.

“Where’s Kara?” Lena heard an agitated Alex asking on her other side.

The crowd was beginning to murmur speculations around her, and Lena was gradually consumed with a heavy sense of dread.

A figure approached from the skies above—Lena’s stomach flipped for a moment thinking it might have been Kara—but it was Professor Prince, who had been patrolling the maze during the task. She touched down gracefully on her broomstick, and the grim expression on her face as she whispered something in Professor Grant’s ear told Lena everything she needed to know.

Lena sprang into action, grabbing onto Kal’s arm. “We have to go.”

Lena’s exit was halted abruptly by a hand gripping her shoulder, and she turned around to see the panicked look on Alex’s face. “Where are you going? What’s going on?” Alex asked, voice strained.

Lena swallowed thickly as she pried Alex’s fingers from her shoulder. “I don’t know, but something’s wrong. We’re going to find out what,” she said grimly.

“I’m coming with you.”

“No,” Lena shook her head. “You need to stay here, with Maggie and your family. Kara needs you safe, okay?”

Conflict played out across Alex’s face until she grit her teeth and nodded. “She’s my sister, Lena,” she said tightly.

“I know. We’ll get her, I promise.”

After a curt nod from Alex, Lena turned briskly out of the stands and left the arena, Kal taking long strides to follow behind her.

“Fly us back to the castle,” Lena ordered.

“Lena, you know I can’t, someone could see—”

“That doesn’t matter! This is Kara.” Her voice was solid and commanding, despite how much she felt like everything was spinning out of control, but she must have seemed desperate enough for Kal to understand because he slipped his arms around her and shot off into the sky.

Within moments they were in Lillian’s study, and Lena was rifling through the draws in her desk, looking for...she wasn’t exactly sure what she was looking for, but she’d know when she found it. She yanked open the bottom drawer, and her heart jolted when she saw a leather bound book with strange symbols written on its cover. Ink wells and a set of brass scales rattled about when Lena slammed the book on the desk and flipped feverishly through it until she came to a page covered in Lillian’s handwriting in the margins.

“Here,” she breathed, tracing the words with a fingertip.

“Rao,” Kal gasped, looking over Lena’s shoulder. “Is this—did she figure it out?”

“Looks like it.” Lena snapped the book shut and folded it into her arms. “Fly us away from the castle so I can apparate us there.”

Lena entirely forgot how to be afraid of flying as they soared over the lake, treetops whizzing past their toes. All she could think about was stopping Lillian, and getting Kara back.

They touched down after a few minutes once they were far enough away from the enchantments that surrounded the castle, and Lena stumbled out of Kal’s arms, setting the book on a rock.

“Lena, are you sure this is right?” Kal asked, folding his arms across his chest as he bristled with restless energy.

“I know my mother. I’m sure. Now let me concentrate, this isn’t a standard apparition.” Lena told Kal to hold her hand, and she looked into his eyes when he did so. “You’re going home.”

***

The world stopped spinning and Kara hit the hard ground with a sharp thud. She landed on her back, a lungful of air rushing out of her chest as she blinked up at a dizzying array of stars above her.

Lex groaned from over to her right. “Where are we? Is this another task?” he asked, his voice muffled from his cheek pressed flat against the cobblestones.

Kara blinked a few times and managed to push herself into a sitting position, where she took in her surroundings. Wherever they were, they had to be far, far away from Hogwarts, for even the mountains surrounding the castle were gone. Instead, they were in what looked to be a town square—or at least, what was left of it. The buildings around them were essentially rubble, blackened debris lying everywhere. The only thing intact was a fountain that towered above them, a jet-black three-tiered statue at its centre that sent water tumbling down into a wide basin below. Behind the fountain, was a huge black shape—a mountain, that Kara recognised from her memories and dreams.

Suddenly, Kara was sideswiped with the shock of memory pummelling into her gut. She was six, sopping wet and squealing with delight as she and Kal sprinted away from her father after they’d decided to take a swim in the fountain on a swelteringly hot summer’s day. She was eight, sitting in Rao’s shadow, wondering how something could possibly be so magnificent. She was nine, pestering Aunt Astra to skip council meetings and take her hiking instead.

Kara scrambled to her feet, eyes darting around as she looked at the wreckage that surrounded her. She could picture everything so clearly: the temple of Rao, the council hall, the library, the market where Aunt Astra would buy her treats when she’d behaved. It was all here, the hollowed out skeletons of buildings Kara could fill out perfectly with her memories.

“Lex, what is this?” she asked, her voice trembling. Her fists clenched at her sides, and she whirled around to face him. “You tricked me!” she shouted. “I trusted you, how could you do this?”

Heat pricked at the backs of her eyes, and Lex scrambled backwards, palms up in surrender. “Kara, I swear I have no idea what’s going on, you have to believe me!”

The heat built and built, almost blinding her, but Lex remained where he was, wide-eyed and terrified until Kara squeezed her eyes shut, turning away from him.

“It’s Krypton, isn’t it?” he asked quietly.

Kara nodded her head. “Yes.”

Lex accepted Kara’s hand when she eventually extended it out to him and helped him to his feet. He nodded his head in thanks and looked around, taking in the destruction of Kara’s home around him.

“Kara...I’m so sorry. This is all so…”

“Don’t,” Kara said, turning her eyes away from the gutted ruins. “Let’s just figure out how to get out of here.” The Triwizard Cup lay at the edge of the fountain, and Kara crouched down beside it. “It’s a portkey,” she murmured. “Maybe we can use it to get back; come over here.”

They grabbed the cup together again, but nothing happened.

“There must be enchantments on this place,” Lex hummed thoughtfully.

Kara stiffened suddenly, hearing approaching footsteps. “Someone’s coming.”

They both gripped their wands, standing their ground as Lillian Luthor rounded the fountain. She swept in in long, black robes with a high-collared neck, looking every bit the maniacal villain with a jewel-encrusted necklace around her throat and menacing hold on her wand, which was pointed straight at Kara, and a smirk which was directed at Lex.

“Perhaps you’re not the traitor I thought you were, my beautiful boy,” she smirked, voice dripping venom.

“Mother?” Lex staggered back a step, eyes wide.

Lillian scoffed, bitterness on her tongue, and with a flick of her wand Lex’s arms snapped to his side and he floated a few inches off the ground, grunting as he tried to jerk himself free, but it was no use.

“Or perhaps not. Let me guess, you were aiming for a tie? How very sweet...and predictable. The Kryptonian has corrupted you quite thoroughly, it appears.”

“Let him go,” Kara said through grit teeth, her words carrying steel.

Lillian laughed icily. “I will admit, at first I just wanted to knock you off your silly broom for taking my son away from me and turning Lena into even more of a disappointment—an embarrassment to the Luthor name—but then you started flying and, my goodness, I couldn’t believe my luck. A Kryptonian, right under my nose!” She strode over to Lex, and he flinched as she ran a hand through his hair and grasped his chin. “You were getting close to her so you could bring her to me, weren’t you? Please tell me that’s what you were doing.”

Kara’s breath caught in her throat as she saw the hesitation in Lex’s eyes, the desire to make his mother happy instinctual. Then he caught Kara’s eye over Lillian’s shoulder, firmed up his expression, and shook his head. “She’s my friend,” he whispered.

“Then you are no son of mine.” Lillian released his chin roughly and stalked back a distance from Kara, her wand raised. “I’m going to do what your father was too weak to do—what every Luthor has been too weak to do. I’m going to take your magic.”

Kara toed her foot into the ground, clenching her fists. She felt her whole body thrumming with energy; it was like Rao’s magic was flowing through her. She’d never felt stronger.

“Don’t do this, Lillian,” she said, thinking she could give peaceful resolution one last chance. “I will fight you.”

Lillian smirked, wicked and gleaming. “Oh, I sincerely hope that you do.”

A bolt of red light shot out from Lillian’s wand, scorching the ground where Kara had been standing before she took off into the sky. Kara dodged another round of spells, fired off in quick succession, and landed on the remnants of the roof of what used to be a small school. Kara shot a few spells back at Lillian, which were easily deflected, and then took off again.

Lillian was an incredibly powerful witch, and Kara knew she couldn’t best her in a duel. She used her powers to dodge most of Lillian’s attacks, flying from one rooftop to the next, hoping to tire her out.

Kara zoomed out of the way of a stunning spell, creating a small crater around her as she landed back on the ground. She looked up just in time to see Lillian had levitated a statue dedicated to one of Krypton’s elders and had launched it at her. Kara gasped and crossed her arms in front of her, and the statue crumbled upon impact, debris flying everywhere.

“Give up, Kryptonian,” Lillian sneered. She levitated the pieces of the shattered statue and they swirled around Kara before snapping around her body, encasing her up to her neck in stone. Kara struggled against its hold, but the combined force of the marble and Lillian’s magic was too strong.

Lillian smirked, then procured a book from her robes and began chanting a long spell—in poorly pronounced Kryptonian, Kara realised, and she strained even harder to break free from her confines. Green light was swirling around Lillian’s wand, Lex was shouting for his mother to stop, and Kara felt the stone cracking just by her elbow.

Suddenly, there was a popping sound like a small explosion from over to her right, and Lena and Kal materialised into existence, shaking their heads of disorientation as they pieced together what was happening.

Lena shouted Kara’s name just as Kara broke free of her marble prison, and just as Lillian completed her spell and shot a powerful green current right at Kara.

Something took over Kara, then, a power stronger than anything she’d ever felt before, and white-hot energy streamed out from her eyes. Lillian’s spell and Kara’s heat vision connected in the middle, sending a powerful blast of energy that radiated out around them. It pushed Kara a step back, but she stood her ground, heels digging into the pavement as she maintained the connection.

Lillian let out an alarmed cry, holding onto her wand with two hands as the ball of energy they had created in the middle shifted towards her. Howling furiously, she directed her energy back at Kara, hatred and rage fuelling her spell. Kara faltered under the sheer violence of it, her heel cracking the stone ground below her as she grit her teeth and tried to hold on. Lillian’s curse was almost reaching her, Kara wasn’t strong enough to fight against such anger, such evil, not on her own.

And then, she wasn’t alone.

Kal was by her right, Lena on her left, gripping onto her hands. Lex, too, freed from Lillian’s full body bind, stood by Lena.

El mayarah,” Kal said, and twin lasers shot out from his eyes, joining onto Kara’s beams.

“You really are a terrible mother,” Lena muttered and added a red spell to Kara’s side, shortly followed by one from Lex.

Kara gripped onto Lena and Kal’s hands, drawing on the strength they gave her to stay strong, to keep fighting, and cried out as she pushed more power behind her heat vision and the ball of energy gradually pushed back towards Lillian. Slowly, it inched backwards, and the last thing Kara saw was Lillian’s face, completely livid, before the ball reached the tip of her wand and light exploded all around them.

Lillian’s scream pierced the night and she fell backwards into the fountain, and then everything was quiet. Kara shut her heat vision off and leaned forwards with her hands on her knees, spent.

“Mother,” Lex said to himself and ran over to the fountain. “She’s alive, just unconscious,” he reported as he gathered Lillian’s wet form and dragged her onto the ground.

“I’ll make sure she’s properly restrained,” Kal said and jogged over to help Lex.

Kara straightened and put her hands on Lena’s shoulders, gripping her tight as if to make sure she was really there, that she wasn’t imagining things again.

“Lena,” she gasped, “Lena, what are you doing here?” She cupped Lena’s cheeks and pulled her towards her, tasting the salt from tears on her own lips and feeling the relieved smile on Lena’s and it felt like ‘hello’ and ‘I missed you’ and ‘I’m sorry’ and a little bit like ‘I told you so’, but mostly it was ‘I’m so happy you’re okay’.

Lena pulled back, thumbing the tears Kara couldn’t remember crying off her cheeks. “I thought you might need reinforcements,” she said, then laughed humourlessly.

“What’s so funny?”

“Oh, nothing. Just that, I met your mother today and she’s probably the sweetest woman I’ve ever known, and mine...well, she kidnapped you and tried to destroy you,” she said with a laugh that quaked and broke halfway through, and Kara loved her so much she could burst.

“Hey,” Kara said softly, and pressed a kiss to Lena’s forehead, “your mother is going to be locked away for what she’s done. She won’t be able to hurt us anymore. You’re free, Lena.”

Lena eased into Kara’s touch, gripping onto Kara’s jacket. “You made me believe that I could be—oh!”

Lena’s eyes flew wide, and with a gasp her legs gave way and she fell into Kara’s chest. Kara’s arms wrapped around her on instinct. She was taking all of Lena's weight and nothing felt right about it at all.

“Lena? Lena, what’s wrong?”

Lena’s brow was furrowed as she pressed a hand flat against her abdomen. “Damn it,” she muttered, and when she pulled her hand away, it was shining with blood.

“Lena!” Kara guided Lena to the ground and went down with her, cradling her against her chest.

“I thought that apparition didn’t feel right. Must have s-splinched,” Lena’s voice faltered and Kara lifted her blood-soaked shirt, gasping at the serpentine strip of flesh that was missing from just below Lena’s navel.

“What do I do?” Kara asked, panic rising in her voice as she cried out for Lex and Kal. The boys sprinted over, Kal carrying Lillian flung over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes, and Lex dropped to his knees when he saw his sister.

“What happened?”

“Would any of you have any essence of dittany on you, perchance?” Lena asked, faintly. They all gave each other blank looks, shook their heads. Lena winced. “That’s unfortunate.”

“We have to get her back,” Kara said sharply, fists clenched around Lena’s denim jacket.

They couldn’t risk apparating back with Lena in the state she was in. As gently as she could, Kara shifted Lena into her arms and held her close as she shot up into the sky. Kal followed behind, carrying Lillian in his arms Lex on his back like a koala with his legs wrapped around Kal’s waist, shouting out directions every now and then.

Kara willed herself to fly faster than she’d ever flown before—she couldn’t lose Lena, not after everything they’d been through, and she could feel her getting weaker in her arms with each passing moment, her heartbeat beating fainter and fainter.

“Kara?” Lena whispered, barely audible over the sound of rushing wind.

“Save your strength,” Kara urged gently as she swallowed at a solid lump in her throat.

But Lena was nothing if not stubborn, and persisted. “I just—I’m glad I got to see your home...what’s left of it. It must have been so beautiful.”

Kara blinked away tears that stung in the cold wind and shook her head. “It was. But it’s not my home anymore, Lena. Just...just stay with me, please. I can’t lose it again.”

***

The sun rose over Hogwarts the next morning like it always did, completely indifferent to the night’s events. The sun didn’t care who won the Triwizard tournament, or if Lillian was defeated, or if they made it in time, if Lena lived or died.

(They made it in time.)

Kara’s tired eyes creased when Lena’s fluttered open and she was the first thing Lena saw. It had been a long night, the longest in Kara's life, but the sun was rising and it was all finally over.

“Hey you,” Kara said, her voice carrying over a ray of golden light that filtered in through the window by Lena’s bed.

“Hey,” Lena croaked, slowly pushing herself up to sit. “What happened?”

Stifling a tired yawn with the back of her palm, Kara answered, “We got you back. Just in time, according to Madam M’orzz. But you’re okay, you’re safe. It’s all over now.” Lena sighed, resting back into her pillows. Kara shifted a little so she was sitting closer to her head, and tucked a piece of raven hair behind her ear, smiling softly as Lena hummed her contentment with the action. “I’ve gotta say, I much prefer being on that side of the hospital bed,” Kara eventually thought aloud.

It brought a tired, but genuine, smile out of Lena as she opened her eyes again. “Think we can agree not to put each other here again?”

“I’ll try, but I can’t promise anything,” Kara joked, and turned indignant under Lena’s sharp look. “What? It’s not like I go looking for trouble—most of the time, it just finds me!”

“Uh-huh, right,” Lena tutted, skeptical eyebrow raised. “Speaking of trouble...what happened to Lillian?”

“She’s in custody. There’ll be a hearing; we’ll probably have to testify, but I’ll be right there with you, through all of it.”

Lena nodded slowly, her lips pursed as she thought for a quiet moment. “So...technically, I’m an orphan. Again.”

“Hey,” Kara rocked forwards, scooting her chair in even closer. “You’re not alone. You have Lex, and Alex, and Maggie, and heck, Eliza and Jeremiah just met you and they’d probably adopt you too if you weren’t already my girlfriend.”

Lena sighed, found Kara’s hand and she interlocked their fingers. “And you. I have you, too.”

“Of course you have me. You’ll always have me.”

Lena nodded, squeezing Kara’s hand in acceptance of the fact.

After a minute, Lena peered under her shirt up to examine her stomach and let out a slightly alarmed “oh!”. Kara followed her line of sight down, to the warped strip of raised skin that curled across the lower expanse of Lena’s abdomen.

“Madam M’orzz did the best she could,” Kara said, lips pressed together in a grim line. “She had to regrow the flesh you left behind, and she used dittany to reduce the scarring as best as she could, but…”

“It’s okay, really. It’s just...different.” Lena frowned slightly as she curiously prodded at her wound.

“Don’t do that,” Kara winced and trapped Lena’s hand again.

Lena hummed, adorably disgruntled, and tugged her shirt back down. She absentmindedly traced her thumb across the back of Kara’s thumb, lost in her thoughts until she glanced over at Kara and asked, “do you think you’ll go back?”

“To Krypton?” Kara shrugged. “I’d like to pay my respects, properly. I never really got to say goodbye. But...there isn’t anything for me there anymore, just hurt. I carry the most important things from Krypton with me now: in my memories, and in my heart. My life is here now. With Alex, with the Danvers’, with my friends. With you.” She returned her gaze to Lena, who was smiling a little sadly, but with understanding and squeezed her hand.

Lena nodded once, letting out a long sigh that seemed to at last replace her worry and fear with ease and relief. “It’s really over then,” she said, sounding a little disbelieving even still. “So...what now?”

Kara dropped her head to where their hands rested tangled upon Lena’s stomach, and kissed each of her knuckles in turn. “Well...now, we live.”

“Hm. I like the sound of that.” Lena smiled, and Kara felt it in her toes.

“I can’t wait for all the adventures we’re going to have,” Kara whispered against Lena’s skin, eyes bright with visions of all the things they would do together.

(Her mind wandered back to the Kryptonian marriage bracelet she had tucked safely in the side pocket of her trunk—and yes, she knew they were young and it was much too early to be thinking about that, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t imagining it on Lena’s wrist.)

“This whole year hasn’t excitement enough for you?” Lena asked, eyebrows arched.

Kara grinned, wide and bright, and stood to press her lips to Lena’s. “Love, I think our adventures have only just begun.”

Chapter Text

Twelve years later…

Sure, Kara could have apparated. But flying was so much more fun.

Problem was, as her beeping wristwatch helpfully informed her, she may have spent a bit too much time on a detour flying alongside a flock of migrating swallows, swooping and barrell-rolling over the countryside, arms stretched wide like her toothy grin.

And now she was late.

“Shoot,” Kara muttered and silenced her watch’s insistent beeping. “Excellent flying, guys! Have a safe trip!” she crowed cheerily to the swallows, and yelped as she narrowly dodged some falling poop.

Kara veered mid air to point herself east, and was soon flying over familiar pastures and rolling hills that meant she was nearing home.

She grimaced, realising that not only was she late, she also reeked of smoke. Lena wasn’t going to be happy about that. The smell of smoke had made Lena nauseous the entire time she’d carried Elly, and she still couldn’t stand it. But what was Kara supposed to do? It was hard to work with dragons and not get just a little singed from time to time.

A smile formed on Kara’s lips as her home came into view. It was on a quiet street in a wizarding neighbourhood (so there couldn’t be too many questions about a strange woman flying in and out—or the winged horse in the yard), with two storeys, and a backyard big enough for Theo and Luce to get into all sorts of trouble.

Kara swooped down onto their balcony—stopping to snag a bunch of flowers from a neighbour’s garden (she’d repay them with a batch of freshly baked cookies later)—and tiptoed into her and Lena’s bedroom. Luce, their huge white dog popped her head up from where she’d been curled up on the floor, ears twitching curiously.

“Shh,” Kara whispered, patting Luce’s great head. She shed her robes and showered quickly before changing into a pair of brown, fitted slacks and a loose, white linen shirt, grabbing the flowers from the bed before she headed downstairs with Luce on her heels.

She found Lena in the dining room, lighting candles with her wand and levitating plates and glasses onto the table. Silently, Kara snuck up behind her and slipped an arm around Lena’s waist, squeezing gently when Lena startled at first.

“Hey,” Kara said, pressing a kiss to the familiar freckle just below Lena’s ear. Her fingertips skated along the scar across Lena’s belly—it had faded, over the years, but still echoed the memories of everything they had been through when they were younger. Lena eased back into her wife’s arms, almost forgetting to be annoyed until—

“You’re late,” Lena hummed, stern. Kara whipped the flowers out from behind her back with a hopeful grin. “And very sweet,” Lena decided, and Kara was off the hook.

Lena kissed Kara on the cheek and conjured some water into a vase for the flowers, while Kara set about the well-practiced routine of picking up Theo’s blocks and books scattered around the living room.

“How was the lab?”

“Busy. How were the dragons?”

“Testy. It’s mating season.”

“Ah, say no more. Remember last year?”

“Mmhm. Lucky you had hair regrowth potion on hand.”

“I kind of liked it short.”

“But you like braiding it more.”

“I do.”

A happy gurgling sound diverted Kara’s attention, and her entire being lit up upon seeing her daughter waving her chubby arms in a plea for freedom from the baby bouncer on the floor.

“There’s my best girl!” She released Elly from her prison and swept her up into the air, blowing open-mouthed raspberry kisses into the baby’s cheeks and tummy. “How are you doing today, Elly belly?” she cooed while Elly squealed with delight and batted Kara in the face with her thrashing arms, knocking Kara’s glasses askew. Kara cradled Elly in her arms, deeply inhaling the waxy smell from the crown of her head. “Gosh, you smell good. What is your secret?”

Lena watched her family from the side of the room, with that look on her face she sometimes got. Like she couldn’t believe this was all real, that this was all hers. She shook her head lightly and pushed off from the wall to join them, where she placed an arm around Kara’s waist and swept wisps of Elly’s blonde hair back.

“She didn’t smell so nice when she got into Luce’s food today. Did you, Eleanor?” Lena quirked an eyebrow at her infant daughter, who was completely unaffected by the same Luthor stare that could reduce grown men into quivering lumps when Lena so decided to exercise her secret power.

Kara gasped, looking into blue eyes that seemed almost too big for the baby’s head. “Naughty, El.” Elly wriggled around a bit until Kara settled her onto her hip and gave her a pinkie finger to grab a hold of. “Where’s your brother, Elly?” she asked, then turned to Lena, who was considerably more capable of answering. “Where’s Theo?”

“He’s in his room. He said he’s working on a project—top secret, you know how it is.”

Kara grinned and tapped the side of her nose. “He’s so much like Lex sometimes.”

“I know; I think he wants to be him when he grows up. Can you go check on him? The others will be here any minute.”

Kara shifted Elly onto Lena’s hip and took the stairs up two at a time until she was face to face with Theo’s closed door, a sign that the mini-genius was hard at work. She rapped a staccato rhythm on the door three times, waited for the small voice that answered “enter.”

Gently, Kara pushed the door open and edged inside. The room was dark, despite the late afternoon sun. All the blinds were drawn, the only light source a fluorescent lamp that illuminated her son’s small form. Theo didn’t even move as Kara pulled up a chair and sat by his desk, taking a moment to observe him.

Theo was serious, for a six year old, with dark eyes and hair that was always falling in them. He always had something in his hands: a quill or a book or the practice wand Lena had gotten for him. This time, he was hunched over a notebook, hands alternating between safety scissors and a glue brush. A small stack of precisely cut sheets of parchment sat to his left, and he was gluing the papers on top of the notebook pages.

“What are you working on?” Kara asked.

“Presents, for Gabbie and Sofia,” Theo answered, his tongue sticking out as he aligned the corners of the paper.

“That’s very thoughtful; I’m sure they’ll love it.” Kara beamed, and Theo made a distracted humming sound. Kara took a moment to examine the parchment Theo had acquired, and there was something familiar about the pale pink pages. “Theo...where’d you get this parchment?”

Theo shifted a little. “Mother’s desk,” he eventually answered.

“Oh? Did you ask if you could take it?” Kara asked, watching in mild amusement as the tips of Theo’s ears turned pink, just like Lex’s did when he was caught something he probably shouldn’t be doing.

“She only used it to write to you when you were away. You don’t go away anymore, so she’s not using it,” Theo rationalised, his lower lip jutting out into a stubborn pout.

So that was where Kara recognised the parchment from. During the quidditch season when Kara had played for the Harpies a few years back, Lena and Kara had written to each other using this parchment: it was enchanted so whatever one person was writing would appear instantly on the other person’s paper, no matter how far apart they were. Kara’s cheeks flushed red when she remembered a great deal of those letters weren’t exactly kid friendly.

“You didn’t, ah...find any of our old letters did you?”

“No,” Theo answered, much to Kara’s relief.

While Theo continued his furious pasting, Kara surveyed his desk. There was a stack of already completed notebooks, with Theo’s surprisingly neat handwriting on the spines: Potions, Transfiguration, Charms...and then Kara realised what he was doing.

“Theo,” Kara said, gentle but firm, and laid a hand on his. He stilled and blinked up at her, brown locks falling into his face. “Are you trying to steal Gabbie and Sofie’s notes from Hogwarts?”

Theo averted his eyes, fidgeting with his fingers. “It’s not fair that they get to go,” he said in a small voice.

Kara’s expression softened and she gently eased the glue brush from Theo’s hand. “When you’re eleven, you’ll get your letter and you’ll join your cousins. But for now, you’re six, and that means you get to spend five more years hanging out with your mother and me, and Luce, and Lillian, and being the best older brother to Elly. That’s a very important job, you know,” Kara said seriously.

Theo sighed and nodded in solemn acceptance of his responsibility, albeit somewhat reluctantly. “I suppose.”

Kara smiled and leaned in to speak conspiringly into his ear. “Do you know what six year olds get to do that eleven year olds don’t?”

“What’s that?”

“They get to play hippogriff.”

Theo considered Kara’s point for a moment. “I do like hippogriff,” he finally conceded.

With that, Kara scooped Theo up onto her shoulders and sprinted out of the room, Theo laughing and gripping onto her head as she tore down the stairs and skidded into the kitchen. There she found Lena putting the finishing touches on a cake Kara would absolutely devour later, angling her Elly-laden hip away from it so it wouldn’t end up covered in baby-shaped handprints.

“Ah, he emerges,” Lena remarked as Kara set Theo down.

“Can I get our model out to show Uncle Lex?”

“Yes, I’m sure he’d love to see it,” Lena said, and Theo trotted off into the living room.

Lena gave Kara an admonishing look as Kara stole a strawberry from a fruit platter, but before she could hear anything about it, there was a loud popping sound from outside that made Lena huff a steadying sigh and check Elly’s bow was straight. “They’re here.”

A modest town car had materialised in front of their house, rumbling contentedly until the driver cut the engine and James popped out of the driver’s seat.

“Luthor-Danverses!” he cheered, thrusting his arms in the air.

Kara pulled James into a hug, her arms barely fitting around his broad shoulders. “James,” she grinned. “How’s Lucy?”

“Very pregnant. She sends her love.” James crouched down in front of Theo and ruffled his hair. “Hey, champ! High five!”

Theo frowned and smoothed his hair back down before sticking his hand out for a handshake instead, which James accepted with a bemused chuckle.

Meanwhile, Kal had gotten out of the passenger side and zipped around to the back seat to open the door. Out spilled Winn, Mon-El with thee gurgling babies strapped to his front and back, Jeremiah, then Eliza, then Alex, who had been booted out by Maggie, who turned around and pulled Gabriela and Sofia out after her.

Last to exit the car was Lex, who one day had decided that maintaining his curly locks took too much time away from his work, and had promptly shaved his head. It looked good on him, once they got used to it. Kara and Lena secretly feared that Theo would have wanted to shave his hair off once he saw Lex’s new look, but fortunately it hadn’t happened.

Theo ignored everyone else—even Gabbie and Sofia who were cooing gleefully over his little button-down shirt—and walked straight up to Lex, mimicking Lex’s pin-straight posture perfectly.

“Theodore,” Lex addressed him with a formal nod.

“Uncle Lex. I’ve been working on a new model. Would you like to see it?”

“Of course. Lead the way.”

Lex waited for Theo to turn around to say a quick “hello” to Kara. He paused on the doorstep to kiss Lena’s cheek and bend down to let Elly slap a hand on his bald head before following Theo inside.

At the sound of some strained grunting, Kara whipped her head around to see Maggie wrenching heavy trunks out of the boot of the car. Kara hopped around the back and easily carried both trunks with one arm, flashing Maggie a cocky grin.

“Yeah, yeah, Little Danvers. We get it, you’re strong,” Maggie rolled her eyes as she slammed the trunk shut.

“Nice to see you too, Maggs,” Kara chuckled. “Ready for the big day tomorrow?”

“Not at all. Alex has cried three times already.”

“What about you?”

Maggie scuffed her shoes, avoiding Kara’s eyes as she mumbled “seven.”

Maggie had never wanted kids.

Alex did, more than anything, but she respected Maggie and her reasons, and thought she could let it go (and perhaps she hoped that Maggie would eventually come around, maybe when they got a bit older).

Still, seeing Kara and Lena with Theo when he was a baby had been hard for Alex. She loved being an aunt, but she couldn’t shake the desire to have her own: to raise and nurture and protect someone, and teach them about the world.

But Maggie was clear about what she wanted, and Alex loved her too much to let her go. She told herself she could cope with being the world’s best aunt if she had Maggie by her side.

For a while, it seemed like the world’s best aunt was all Alex was going to be—until Maggie went on assignment to Venezuela and came back with two identical wide-eyed eight-year-old girls and a troubled frown, saying they’d been abandoned, that they had no one else.

Alex loved them immediately.

It was, after all, not the first time a child had fallen into Alex Danvers’ life just needing someone to be there for them, to love them.

Now, Gabbie and Sofia were due to go to Hogwarts the next day, and Alex looked just about as strung out as Kara imagined she would.

“I feel like I’ve forgotten a million things,” Alex said as Kara hefted the trunks inside.

“You haven’t, not with all the checklists I know you’ve made. As long as we have enough tissues for the train station we’ll be just fine,” Kara teased. Kara dropped the trunks off in the spare room before rejoining the party downstairs.

Everyone had made themselves right at home, chatting and eating in the kitchen or sitting in the living room. New fathers Mon-El and Winn looked particularly exhausted, and were nodding off against each other on the sofa while the triplets had found their way into Alex and Eliza’s arms.

Lex and Theo were huddled around a table, working together on a scale model of Hogwarts Theo and Lena had been working on for weeks.

“Is this where you pushed Mama off the tower to see if she could fly?” Theo asked, pointing a finger at the clocktower.

Lex winced. “Let’s not talk about that. It was a long time ago.”

“I can’t wait to go to Hogwarts. Did you know there are mermaids in the lake? My Mama fought off a hundred of them to save you, Uncle Lex, and then she saved my Mother, too! And Aunt Alex!” Theo declared, his chest puffing out with pride.

Lex raised an eyebrow, giving Kara a sly look. “Did she now? Is that what she told you?”

Kara blushed and she patted Theo’s head. “Kids, right? Always exaggerating,” she said and laughed overly loudly.

“Mmhm,” Lex smirked. “You’re absolutely right about one thing, Theo. Your mothers are very brave. Both of them.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Theo said impatiently then returned to his model. “Did you know Hogwarts has heaps of secret passages? And a hidden room that turns into whatever you ask for?”

Kara nodded her head to Lex with a warm smile before tiptoeing out, leaving Theo to regurgitate the entirety of Hogwarts: A History to an attentive Lex.

She found Lena and Elly outside with Gabbie and Sofia, showing them how to feed Lillian pieces of carrot. Elly had half a carrot clenched in her fist—she had a remarkably strong grip for a baby—and was gnawing toothlessly on it with enthusiasm (though not making much progress besides coating it with drool).

“Want me to take her?”

“Thanks, darling. She’s getting heavy.”

Lena offloaded Elly into Kara’s arms, the exchange not bothering Elly in the slightest as she was properly fixated on her carrot. “Are you girls excited to go to Hogwarts tomorrow?” Kara asked.

“Yes!” Sofia chirped back, grinning wide enough Kara could see one of her molars was missing.

“I’m gonna be on the quidditch team!” Gabbie reported proudly, puffing her chest out.

“Yeah? Do you want to be a beater like your Mom? Or a chaser like your Aunt Kara?” Lena asked.

Gabbie shook her head and answered right away. “I wanna be a seeker, like Mon-el. He’s just the coolest,” she said a dreamy look in her eyes.

“Gabbie has a crush on Mon-el,” Sofia whispered, much to Gabbie’s apparent horror.

“Do not!!” she squeaked and proceeded to chase her sister across the yard.

Kara chuckled and slipped her arm around Lena’s waist, easing her into her side to press a kiss to her temple.

“Alex and Maggie are going to be complete wrecks tomorrow, aren’t they?” Lena asked, resting her head on Kara’s shoulder.

“Yep.”

“I suppose we won’t be any different when Theo heads off too,” Lena said with a slight frown.

“Yeah...we’re still going to tease Alex and Maggie about it though, right?”

“Obviously.”

Elly babbled nonsensically, waving her carrot around. Lena kissed the crown of Elly’s head, then pressed up to kiss Kara, one hand tangling lazily in the hairs at the nape of Kara’s neck.

“Hey! You two should get married.”

Kara turned to see Maggie hanging out from the back porch, drink in one hand and somehow she’d ended up with one of the triplets.

“Been there, done that,” Lena grinned over Kara’s shoulder, holding her wrist up so the Kryptonian wedding bracelet she was wearing sparkled in the setting sun.

“Best thing I ever did,” Kara said, quietly, so only Lena (and Elly) could hear. She ran a thumb along Lena’s bracelet, the simple wedding band she wore on her ring finger shining in the light too, and smiled into Lena’s lips when she kissed her. “Except for winning that pancake eating contest at the Leaky Cauldron—that was also a highpoint,” she added as an afterthought.

Lena gave Kara a pointed look. “You know we have two children, right?”

“Yes, I’m aware. But also: free pancakes, Lena. For a lifetime.” Kara waggled her eyebrows.

Lena rolled her eyes and eased Elly back out of Kara’s arms. “I’m confiscating your daughter, since it seems pancakes are your first love.”

Kara’s mouth dangled open as Lena headed back towards the house, until Lena winked back at her over her shoulder. Kara jogged a few steps to catch up and put an arm around Lena as they walked back inside.

“You know I’d give up all the pancakes in the world for them, right?” Kara asked, a little worriedly.

Lena laughed, eyes bright and loving. “I know.”

After dinner, and dessert, and a few drinks, and everyone giving Gabbie and Sofia gifts for their first year, Kara found Kal standing over in the corner, arms folded over his chest as he surveyed the room, a pensive look on his face.

“Whatcha thinking about?” Kara asked, nudging his side.

Kal hummed contentedly. “Just thinking...about how this feels like Krypton used to feel. At your house, with Aunt Astra and Uncle Non, my parents, your parents. Everyone together, happy…” Kal trailed off, and the two Kryptonians winced simultaneously under one of Elly’s particularly exuberant squeals.

“It was a lot quieter though,” Kara laughed.

“Not the way I remember it,” Kal ribbed with a smirk. “You’ve built something really special here, Kara. A real home. It makes me think...maybe I could have something like this too, someday.”

“Is that right?” Kara peaked her eyebrows in interest. Kal had been a lone wolf for as long as she’d known him. He seemed to show no interest in settling down, maybe because he was afraid of losing everything again. But on his face, Kara saw hope, and it made her smile. “You know...Lucy has a sister your age. She’s cute: brown eyes, gorgeous smile. Wicked smart too; she won’t let you get away with anything,” Kara teased.

“Oh? Huh.” Kal turned thoughtful, and ran a hand over his jaw. “I just remembered, I need to talk to James about...something.”

Kara chuckled and gave Kal a playful shove as he made his way over to James, where he tried to bring up James’ sister-in-law as subtly as possible.

The night ended with everyone except for Lex, Maggie, Alex, and the girls piling back into the car to head home.

“Thanks for tonight, Kara,” Winn said gratefully as he strapped a third baby onto Mon-el’s front. “We haven’t slept that well in weeks.”

Kara waved Elly’s chubby hand as the car pulled away before heading back inside to complete the usual bedtime rituals. Lex was sleeping on the floor in Theo’s room, and promised he’d happily read Theo his latest journal article as a bedtime story. Lena had already put Elly to sleep when Kara popped into their room and found Lena slipping into a nightgown.

“I’ll be up in a bit,” she promised, kissing the skin of Lena’s bare shoulder before she headed downstairs to take Luce out and check everything was locked up.

Downstairs was empty except for one Alex Danvers, who had dragged the girls’ trunks out into the living room, and was obsessively checking their contents. Kara leaned against the doorframe, watching in mild amusement as Alex murmured under her breath, unfolding and refolding clothes and rearranging books in the trunks.

“Remember our first year?” Kara asked, and Alex snapped her frazzled head up at the sound. “I forgot to pack socks.”

“Yeah,” Alex breathed, running a shaky hand through her hair. “You borrowed—or should I say stole—mine until we went home for Christmas. Shoot, did I pack socks?” Alex asked herself and rummaged through the trunks. “Yes, I did,” she reported to no one in particular.

Kara crossed to sit by Alex and put a hand on her sister’s shoulder. “They’re going to be fine, Al.”

“I know they will,” Alex frowned, teeth indenting her lower lip. “That’s what scares me. Do you think...they won’t need me anymore?”

Kara couldn’t help but laugh at the suggestion.“Of course they will. Heck, Al, even I still need you,” Kara admitted. “You’ll be there for them, just like you’re always there for me. Hogwarts won’t change that.”

Alex sighed and slowly put everything back into the trunks before joining her sister on the couch. “I guess...I just can’t help but worry. You know that.”

Kara nodded and put an arm around Alex. “I’ve got it covered. I’ve already arranged for Diana to send you weekly owls; we’ve got a woman on the inside,” Kara winked.

Alex’s frame softened with relief, allowing her to lean into Kara’s side. “You’re the best, Kar.”

***

Despite all of Alex’s planning and lists and schedules, the morning was complete chaos.

Kara may have gotten a little ambitious with promising everyone she’d make pancakes in whatever shape they wanted, and may have spended half the morning trying to make a Grindylow-shaped one for Sofia with very little success.

At ten-eighteen (a full thirty-eight minutes behind schedule) they had loaded two trunks, an owl, three kids, five adults, a baby seat, and a baby into the car. Kara twisted around from the passenger seat and grinned at everyone in the back, who had plenty of room thanks to the enchantments on the car.

“Everyone buckled in?”

“We’re going to miss the train!” Alex said in a strangled voice.

“Oh no,” Maggie said flatly, “Then our daughters won’t be able to leave. How terrible.”

“Mama!” Gabriela and Sofia cried in unison.

“Floor it, Lena!” Kara urged manically, then amended— “but responsibly. Our baby and son are on board.”

With Lena driving like a (responsible) speed demon and Kara in the passenger seat magically switching every traffic light to green, they arrived with fifteen minutes to spare. Kara hoisted both of the girls’ trunks onto her shoulders, calling out “they’re lighter than they look!” to any baffled muggles as they speed-walked to the barrier between platforms 9 and 10.

“Nervous? It’s okay to be scared on your first time,” Kara grinned at Lena when they approached the barrier.

Lena shifted Elly on her hip and held onto Theo’s hand as she looked up into Kara’s eyes. “Not even a bit.”

They strode confidently towards the barrier, right into the wall, and then they were faced with the brilliantly red Hogwarts Express and swept up in the bustle of students and parents and cats. Kara deposited the girls’ trunks on the train and returned to a sobbing Maggie with her arms wrapped around a mildly suffocating Sofia and Gabbie.

When Maggie eventually eased back (only to cry more into Lex’s shoulder—Lex looking like he had no idea what to do with the crying woman), Alex crouched down in front of the girls with a stern look for each of them.

“I need the both of you to look out for each other. You’re sisters; you’ll always have each other’s backs, okay?” She asked, and Kara smiled tenderly when Alex’s eyes flicked up at her over Gabbie’s shoulder.

“And if you end up in Slytherin, don’t bother coming home,” Maggie emerged from Lex’s shoulder to say.

“She’s kidding!” Alex said quickly. “We’ll love you no matter what house you’re in.”

“But seriously, please be in Gryffindor,” Maggie added. “There’s this special couch in the common room where your mother and I—”

“OKAY!” Lena interrupted loudly, snapping her hands over Theo’s ears. “Time to get on the train!”

After a final round of hugs and farewells they were watching the girls disappear into the crowd as they headed for the train. Alex and Maggie held onto each other, both teary-eyed but holding it together, for the girls’ sake.

“Kara?” Lena gripped Kara’s arm, eyes darting about. “Where’s Theo?”

“Hm?”

“Where’s Theo?” Lena asked, more urgently as she scanned the crowd.

“Hold Elly.”

Handing Elly off, Kara closed her eyes and focused her hearing, seeking out the light, spirited beat of her son’s heart. It didn’t take long to find it: it was beating fast, but with excitement, rather than fear or any sign of danger, which was a relief. Kara crossed the platform in a few quick strides and tapped on Gabbie’s retreating shoulder.

“Stop right there, Gabriela Alvarez-Danvers-Sawyer.” Kara crossed her arms, a stern look on her face. Gabbie grimaced and turned around, blushing with guilt as she swept her cloak aside to reveal Theo had been hiding underneath. “Harbouring a fugitive are we?” Kara asked, quirking a brow. “Come on, Theodore. It’s not your turn yet.”

Theo pouted and hung his head as he shuffled back to Kara, slipping his small hand into hers.

“You nearly scared your mother to death,” Kara frowned.

“I’m sorry. I just...I want to see the places from your stories,” Theo mumbled.

Kara sighed and squeezed his hand. “You’ll see them all someday. I promise.”

Kara brought Theo back, safe and sound, and hoisted him up onto her back to get a better view. He sighed, a despondent puff of air that agitated the loose strands of hair around Kara’s face. Kara’s heart ached with sympathy, and she turned to Lena with a hopeful look as the train’s whistle blew.

“You think I could…?” Kara trailed off, jerking her head and arching her eyebrows indicatively.

Lena thought for a moment before she nodded. “Take Elly. Up, up and away, Supergirl.” She smiled as she kissed Kara’s cheek as she handed Elly over, and Kara held the baby tight against her chest.

“Hold on tight, Theo,” Kara instructed over her shoulder. Dutifully, Theo tightened his arms around Kara’s neck and his legs around her waist, and then Kara was running, running down the platform as the train pulled off.

She picked up speed with each step, faster and faster until the platform ran out, and then she jumped and she was flying, keeping speed with the train. Elly squealed with delight, and Kara shielded her tiny face from the wind with her hand.

Students pressed their amazed faces up against the train windows as they flew past, and Theo gave them a cheery wave from Kara’s back. Eventually, they found Gabbie and Sofia’s compartment, and Kara flew alongside them, waving and blowing kisses until the train took a turn and veered off and away. Kara stopped in the air, hovering until the train disappeared from view.

Theo’s cheek was pressed against Kara’s, and she could feel him smiling. “I love you, Mama,” he said. Elly made a gurgling sound, and Kara liked to think that she echoed her brother’s sentiment.

***

After dropping Alex and Maggie off they returned home, where Theo and Lex were right back to working on Theo’s model in the living room.

Elly was beginning to fuss, so Lena wordlessly took Kara by the fingertips and led her upstairs. Lena was curled up on the bed with Elly by the time Kara had taken her shoes and belt off and undone the buttons of her shirt. A muffled sound came from the bed, and Kara turned to see Lena making limp grabby hands for her.

“Coming,” Kara said softly as she slipped out of her shirt, leaving her in a cotton undershirt as she slipped onto the bed, on top of the covers. She picked up Elly and laid her on her chest, closing her eyes as she inhaled the baby’s warm scent. They didn’t usually sleep with Elly like this, but her back was rising and falling with sleep already, and they were so comfortable Kara couldn’t bring herself to move.

Lena rolled onto her side, scooting up to Kara and curling into her, one finger grazing the soft skin of Elly’s leg before she wrapped her arm around Kara’s waist and laid her head on her shoulder. Kara felt Lena breathing against her neck as she slipped an arm behind Lena’s back.

Kara exhaled—long and tired, but happy—the weight of the day’s activities rolling off her chest as she settled in with her family. She felt Lena’s warm lips press a kiss to the spot just beneath the hinge of her jaw, and “I love you, Kara Luthor-Danvers” was the last thing she heard before falling asleep.

*

The sun was still up when Kara opened her eyes again, but it wasn’t the sun woke her.

It wasn’t Elly crying either, which was what it normally was.

No, it was a vice grip on a shoulder, and a shaking movement. For a second, Kara thought she must have been on a boat or something and ignored it, until it came again, rougher and more pressing.

“Kara!”

Lena’s urgent whisper cut through Kara’s sleep and then Kara was awake and rubbing at her eyes. “What is it, Lena?” she croaked, her voice gravelly from sleep. However, the wide-eyed look of panic was enough to wake Kara up fully.

“Where’s Eleanor?”

Kara patted her chest and, sure enough, the baby was missing. She sat bolt upright in the bed, brow furrowed as she listened out for Elly’s presence and—

“She’s here, Lena, I can hear her—she’s asleep.” Kara patted the bed around her, as though she’d misplaced her keys or her wand, and stopped when Lena was gripping onto her upper arm and pointing at the ceiling.

Kara followed her finger, and her jaw dropped open when she saw their baby, floating above their heads, blowing bubbles with her own drool.

Kara and Lena looked at each other, eyes wide as they gripped each other’s hands, and whispered simultaneously:

“Oh, Rao.”