The bleeding words and the pain fade over the next few days. The memory of them doesn’t. Lex’s threats burn on her irises every time she passes Kara in the corridor, or catches sight of her in class.
They haven’t talked yet, about what happened. But they will. Because whether they’ve had a choice about it or not, plenty of people have abandoned Kara before, and Lena will not, will never, become someone who leaves. Lena loves her too much to do anything but stay away from her, but also too much not to tell her why.
It’s hard to find a moment, a place, though, because if Lex could see into the hidden workshop, there’s almost no way to know the real limits of his eyes and ears. Except – except, when she was little, and he’d come home from school on break, he’d whisper to her all the castle’s secrets that he’d found. For when it’s your turn, he’d said. There had been mentions of quiet alcoves, disappearing corridors, and even something called the Room of Requirement (which, she is beginning to suspect, is where she took Kara). He never spoke about the secret passageways that run in and out of Hogwarts like tunnels in a hive, though, and she crosses her fingers that in all his years here, he never came across them. He wouldn’t have had a need to – with all that Luthor privilege, the money, the authority, he could walk in and out the front gates whenever he pleased; arrogance was always an ugly colour on him, but now, she’s thankful for it.
A part of her also wonders if the castle kept parts of itself concealed from him on purpose, sensing that subtle darkness about him, and guarding the last of its mysteries.
It gives her one last hope, an untouched space, where she might be able to see her girlfriend without throwing her in the line of fire.
She knows that Lex will be watching far too closely right now for her to try anything, so they wait. The eye contact she has with Kara across crowded rooms is brief and rationed, but she uses it to say, I’m sorry and I love you and trust me.
She keeps her distance from Winn and James, too, lest Lex set his sights on them. The loneliness, the avoidance, it all reminds her of those awkward few weeks in fifth year, except it had been relationships at stake back then, not lives.
It aches, in every sense of the word. It somehow hurts more, knowing Kara is there and that she wants her, than it did when Lena had thought there was nothing between them. She’s more within reach and still even further away.
Her skin still tingles with visceral, tangible memories of that night, before they were interrupted, and that makes her angry at Lex for a whole lot of other reasons. Her mind has a very frustrating habit of imagining possibilities that keep her awake and staring at the ceiling well after curfew, trying to drown out loud what-ifs that make her heart race and her brain fog over.
A week goes by, then two. Lena can see the way Kara itches to walk over to her whenever they enter each other’s line of sight; she’ll take a half step in Lena’s direction, before she jerks to a halt. Lena knows what she’s remembering – the few words Kara saw, her own voice begging for the blonde to stay away from her.
Her girlfriend might not understand what’s happening – hell, neither does Lena, really – but she knows enough to keep her distance.
They haven’t been apart this much in years, and it burns.
She calls Alex on the Floo powder phone; with only two in existence, she knows Lex can’t listen in, like he could intercept her letters. She hides in a broom cupboard in the bottommost parts of the dungeon, retelling it all in whispers so urgent that the words bump into each other, jostling for space in her mouth. Lena doesn’t mention exactly what she was doing (or rather, who) right before Lex’s words arrived, and Alex doesn’t ask.
“I can get an Auror taskforce together, we can be there in -”
“No!” Lena hisses. “Didn’t you hear me? He’s going to come after Kara. I’ve bet it all on the Ministry before, Alex, remember, and all that got me was into a coma. I’m not letting the same happen to her. Besides, do you really think Lex wouldn’t find out in about six seconds if you decided to bring a hoard of Aurors to Hogwarts? That’s his green light to go for Kara.”
She hears Alex sigh on the other end of the line. “You’re right. But what the hell are we supposed to do? I can’t leave you there alone to face him, and there’s no way on earth I’m leaving Kara unprotected.”
“He only wants her because of me,” Lena mumbles. “I am protecting her. By staying away.”
Alex pauses. “Does she know that? Does she know what’s going on?”
“Not all of it, not yet. I’m waiting,” Lena explains. “I had to hold out for two weeks before I could even call you. I’d rather she was upset with me than dead, Alex.”
She can almost hear the eldest Danvers nodding. “Okay. And you’re right. Lex has probably got informants riddled throughout the Ministry, and Hogwarts. So I won’t make a move. But the second he contacts you again, the stalemate it over, and we won’t hold off any longer. You’ve always said this has got to end somehow, Lena, sometime. You can’t keep this up forever.”
“I know,” Lena says, because this year has been about leaving – Hogwarts, her mother, her old self – but here is an ending, and she tries to ignore the taste of finality, heavy on her tongue.
She has a lot of time to herself these days, and only so much of it can be filled with mindless studying. She’s learned her textbooks back to front, and eventually, the words just hang limply in the front of her mind, memorised to the point where they cannot help as a distraction anymore.
After a while, once she’s run down all the one-way streets and seen that there’s no way out of this, never will be unless something breaks, Lena opens that compartment in her mind that she’s long since learned to close. In it, neatly filed and locked up tight, are the thoughts she keeps of her family. Not her Hogwarts one, her real one, but the Luthors. Lex, Lillian, even Lionel, even though his face is becoming a little vaguer, warped by the teeth of time. She takes out each memory of them and examines it in the sunlight: how she was never good enough, couldn’t ever be; their hatred of Muggles rubbing against the fact that their daughter was born to some; their conviction, their Luthor righteousness, their belief that she would come to her senses one day.
At the base of her skull is a hatchling idea, a terrible plan, hiding under mental scab she is afraid to lift. It is something that they all, perhaps, would not quite recover from. That she might not even survive.
But when the alternative is keeping away from Kara, hurting Kara, losing Kara, there is no question at all.
After three weeks, she’s willing to bet Lex’s eyes will have wandered; nothing interesting is happening at Hogwarts, there is no reason for his attention to remain fixed on her, unwavering. She’s done her best to be as uninteresting as possible, and it’s beginning to pay off.
In the Slytherin dorms that morning, she hides a note in the pocket of Jess’s robes as she hands them to the other girl. Jess puts it in the textbook she loans to Winn in first period. Winn passes it off to James, from palm to palm in one of their dramatic bro handshakes. James slips it into a Keeper’s glove that he gets Kara to wear, ostensibly to help him practice.
It doesn’t say much. Just: remember nightmares, third year, the statue? 11 o’clock. But it’ll be enough for Kara, and not anyone else.
After her last class, she calls Alex again. Outlines her plan, which feels rough, but inevitable. It was probably always going to end this way.
Alex yells at her for about five minutes about how much of an idiot she is, how she’s going to get herself killed. About what the hell is she supposed to do with Kara if Lena’s gone, about what would Alex be able to do with herself, knowing she let it happen.
But Alex understands things like odds and stakes and finishing what you started, and when Lena waits her out, she caves.
Her last effort is: “Lena, this doesn’t have to be your battle.”
“It is mine. You all tried, remember? You locked him up, you lured him out, but it always comes down to Lex and me.”
“I’ll be there,” Alex says, because she will forever have Lena’s back. Always, the protector. Lena will never stop being grateful to the universe for giving Kara someone like that.
At ten thirty, Lena taps the One Eyed Witch and mumbles “Dissendium”, dropping neatly down into the secret passageway that leads to Honeydukes. Even though she’s almost completely certain that Lex never found any of these tunnels, she still wants to check the area before Kara arrives, just to be safe. It doesn’t occur to her for a second that Kara won’t come, because of course she will – that’s them. It wouldn’t matter if Lena was angry, or Kara was upset, or if they hadn’t seen each other in years; if one of them wanted the other, they’d be there in a heartbeat. Because it’s not fate or gravity that keeps them together, nothing so easily severed as that. It’s trying hard, every day; it’s loving someone like you’ve never learned not to.
She lights the torch brackets in the wall, illuminating the corridor, checking each inch of darkness, and casting every protective charm she can think of that might not have carried over from the spells already upon the castle.
Once she’s certain that they’ll be alone, she leans against the wall, and waits. Her pulse is out of control, pounding irrationally, leaping at the idea of seeing Kara again, of touching her. She stuffs her hands in her pockets, curls them into fists, because otherwise, she’s going to grab Kara the second she comes down here and kiss her until neither of them can breathe, and they really need to talk first.
At five to eleven, the statue above her slides open, and a robed figure lowers themselves into the passageway, landing gracefully beside Lena. Then the air smells like vanilla and everything is bright blue eyes and tangled blonde hair, and screw hands in pockets because it’s been so long since she held Kara that she literally can’t wait another second.
Lena reaches over and wraps her arms around Kara’s waist, pulling her into a hug that could probably crack ribs, whispering in her ear how much she’s missed her and how much she loves her, will always love her.
“I know I’m early but I couldn’t wait any more,” Kara mumbles into her neck, fingers digging into Lena’s shoulders. “God, Lena, I’ve been so worried about you. Has your arm healed? Are you okay? What’s going on, really?”
Lena isn’t willing to entirely let go, but she negotiates herself into pulling back slightly, just enough that she can see Kara’s face while still keeping them pressed together. She stares at her for a moment, her stomach flipping, before she answers.
“Lex sent me a warning. Well, he carved it into my skin, but you saw some of that. It was about you.” Lena launches off into a ramble, explaining Lex’s penchant for finding exactly which broken beam will collapse the whole building, and how his idea for targeting Kara is the evolution of the cruciatus coma – his desire to find a way to kill Lena without actually killing her.
Kara tucks a lock of raven hair behind Lena’s ear and listens quietly, her thumb softly skating along Lena’s jaw, as if tracing her sentences before the enter the air. Lena nearly loses track of what she’s saying at the look in her girlfriend’s eyes, but she pushes on.
“- and so that’s why I told you to keep away from me. Because if he thought I didn’t care about you, he might not want you anymore.”
And then Kara voices exactly what had occurred to Lena a few days ago, which forced the plan to slither into existence. “Lena, babe, we’ve been best friends for seven years, and together for two. He knows you, even though we wish he didn’t. He won’t think that you’ve just decided that you don’t love me,” Kara murmurs, mouth twisting sadly at the idea of it.
Lena wants to freeze time here, to never say what she has to say next, to live indefinitely in a loop of the two of them alone, to lock the world out and just pretend. But she can’t, because Lex is a hurricane, destroying everything in his path, and they might’ve found themselves in the eye for now, but they won’t be for long. And she cannot act based on the lives of the two of them when there are hundreds of other people at stake, if not thousands.
Lex is her family. She was there when he slipped into madness, and she’ll be there to try one last time to pull him out of it. It has been years, and she is not a scared little eleven-year-old anymore. There is no one asking her to, no prophecy declaring it must be so; Lena has every out in the book, and she will not take any of them.
“That’s why we have to break up, Kara,” she tells her softly, feels her girlfriend flinch in her arms. “Not for real,” she hurriedly adds. “Never for real. But loudly. Publicly. Everyone has to know. It’ll get back to Lex. And then -”
“You have a plan, don’t you?” Kara whispers. She looks completely unsurprised an entirely heartbroken, because maybe Lex has a habit for firing bullets but Lena has just as much of a habit of stepping into their path. “You’re going to do something stupid to stop him. To save us all.”
“Yeah,” Lena smiles weakly.
Kara nods for a few seconds, wavering on the edge of tears. Lena can see them swimming about in her eyes, refracting the blue and making them shimmer impossibly. Her girlfriend’s hands fist in her Slytherin robes, as if she fully intends to never let go.
After a while, they sink to the floor, Kara in Lena’s lap, her arms draped loosely about her neck, blonde head resting against Lena’s collarbone. She can feel the whisper of Kara’s breath across her skin, hear the hum of her heart.
“Explain it to me,” Kara begs, dissolving the silence. “All of it.”
“Will you promise to stay out of the way? To not step in and try and save me?” Lena’s fingers trace soothing patterns across Kara’s back, as if she is drawing nautical maps for uncharted waters.
There’s a beat. “I don’t think I can promise that.”
“There’s nothing I can do to make you tell me, is there?”
Lena thinks she understands that Lena loves Kara more than she loves being loved by Kara, and because of that, she can’t back down. “I have to do a part of this on my own, Kara, or it won’t work. I wish you could help me, I do. We’ve always helped each other. And I trust you more than anyone. You’re the best witch I know, and the best person. But it has to be me. It has to be a Luthor.”
Kara eyes her. “I wonder what it would be like if you never had that name.”
Lena thinks of all the math, all the variables, all the things she might not have done and most importantly, the people she might not have met. And it doesn’t total out as worth the risk, not anywhere close. “I don’t wonder. Anymore.”
Kara sighs. Kisses her cheek. “So what now?”
“Well, I might not be able to stop you, or even know what you’re trying to do, but I can make sure it goes exactly to plan, right? If everything goes perfectly, you’ll stay safe. So, I guess we’re breaking up?”
“Yeah,” Lena says, holding her tighter. “Tomorrow, maybe. In the courtyard. Remember when James and Lucy split there? Everyone was talking about it for weeks.”
Kara groans. “This is going to suck.”
“It really is. But you just have to remember that it isn’t real. That I love you. But Lex has to believe it. You need to look like you hate me.” Lena’s jaw clenches. There are other things, terrible things, that need to be said to her, that Lex needs to know were shouted at her face. But she won’t force Kara do be the one to do it.
They discuss it a while longer, ironing out the details, the fake whys, how to play it.
“Can we just ignore we have to do this, for an hour?” Lena mumbles. “I want to talk to you. About you. I’ve barely seen you in three weeks. I want to forget about Lex for a second.” Who knows when they’ll be able to again.
So they do. Kara tells her about classes and studying and how Winn and James are doing, how they’re confused but hoping she’s okay. Lena recounts what she knows about Alex and Maggie from their phone calls that have been forgotten in letters.
“I turn on your star machine every night,” Kara adds. “It makes me feel kind of like you’re there.”
Lena wishes she had something like that, innocuous but meaningful that she could take with her when she goes into the belly of the beast.
When she gets to back to her dorm in the early hours of the morning, she tears a familiar page out of her old Herbology book, folding it up and slipping it into her pocket.
Their break up is messy, public, and everything Lena needs it to be. It’s also vague, draped in ambiguity, as if everyone overhearing has walked in halfway through a conversation. They amass a strong, eager crowd, having always been that couple people assumed would still be together at the reunions. The whole school is buzzing by the time Lena storms off, her head full of the fact that it’s working, it’s only a matter of time before Lex finds out, and also how ridiculously hot Kara is when she yells.
That night, they meet up in the secret passageway behind the mirror on the fourth floor, and admittedly, this time, there’s a lot less talking. While the corridor to Honeydukes it narrow and long, this one is almost cavernous. Lena suspects it was used for meetings once, because there are chairs scattered around, and a large, heavy oak desk at the front of the room.
The second Kara walks in, they’re kissing, finally allowing the simmering tension to boil over, bubbling and burning. The words we’re over that have echoed between them all day are chased into oblivion with teeth and tongues; they were founded on nothing and now they’ve faded back into it.
They never fight but they are good at it, at blazing and exploding and tearing up the world around them, and all Lena has wanted since the courtyard is to have Kara moaning her name instead of angrily shouting it.
Kara’s got one hand buried in her hair and the other tugging her half-undone tie, gasping softly while Lena kisses her, tugging on her bottom lip and letting her own hands wander, taking an inventory of all the clothes in her path: robes, a skirt, a blouse, stockings.
They stumble backwards, until they hit the edge of that ancient desk, and Lena lets Kara push her into it for a moment before flipping their positions, the blonde sliding up to sit on the counter and Lena moving to stand between her legs, fingers leaving marks on thighs as she presses closer, harder into Kara.
Lena’s robes are shoved off her shoulders, and she kicks them from where they pool at her feet to some distant corner of the room, literally unable to care less about where they end up when she’s so focused on tugging off Kara’s, too.
This is probably too fast, she thinks, as her shirt buttons are fumbled open, leaving nothing between her and Kara but her bra and her tie. It’s amazing, incredible, but neither of them has breathed in, like, a minute, and -
Kara does that thing with her tongue that has Lena kissing her neck, sucking on the skin, has her hands ignoring hemlines and skating higher and higher. She traces the top of her girlfriend’s stockings before forcing herself to imagine ice cold water and pull her hands away, not wanting to push Kara, not wanting to rush.
It doesn’t seem to work, though, because those now-unoccupied hands take it as an opportunity to rid Kara of her shirt, eventually getting impatient and ripping the last few buttons, which is hopefully okay because she’s pretty sure Kara’s never really liked this blouse anyway.
Her fingers trace down abs and she lets one nail go just that little bit farther, dipping a few millimetres below the waistband and dragging down the curve of her hipbone, feeling Kara shiver against her. Lena kisses her hard, and Kara leans back to rest on her elbows, all flushed cheeks and closed eyes.
Then her fingers are threaded through the belt loops of Lena’s jeans, pulling insistently forward, until she gives in, sliding up onto the desk to hover over Kara, pressing into her, so she’s lying against the oak, hands skating up Lena’s sides.
It occurs to Lena that the hardwood can’t be very comfortable, must be unforgiving against her bones, but Kara isn’t protesting, just mumbling inarticulately at that thing Lena’s learned to do with her mouth against her neck.
Lena stopped actually thinking about the time Kara’s lips touched hers, but almost all brain function has gone out the window now in favour of instinct. Her leg slides up between Kara’s and she can’t really stop the way she grinds down when Kara makes a sound like that.
Kara’s fingers dig hard into her back, nails probably leaving little crescent moons in the skin. Lena’s breathing has completely lost rhythm, and she’s somehow both a bit numb and completely, dangerously aware of every little tensed muscle and heartbeat.
She’s about to ask do you want to stop when Kara’s hips rock up into hers, and the words evaporate into stuttered syllables and a stumbling gasp. Her hands clench into fists on the desk top, but after a moment and Kara’s soft blue gaze, she manages to relax enough to rest most of her weight on one arm, the other hand tripping down to exactly where -
Her phone makes the loud, fiery, roaring noise that means she’s got a call incoming, brutally shattering the soundscape of hushed sighs and stolen moans.
Lena growls, dropping her head to rest against her girlfriend’s collarbone and letting every single expletive she knows run quietly through her mind, not voicing any because Kara hates cursing.
She’s horribly worked up and turned on; her whole body is humming, and she wishes desperately that whatever that call is about could’ve waited an hour.
“I am going to punch Alex,” Kara grumbles, palms still warm against Lena’s hips, the pads of her fingers brushing over the contrast of rough denim across to smooth skin.
Lena laughs; she’s pretty sure Kara’s never said anything that violent in her whole life.
She kisses her girlfriend’s cheek gently before carefully climbing off her, dropping onto the floor and snatching up the phone. She stands up again, leaning back against the desk, and feels Kara push up to sit behind her, arms wrapping around Lena’s waist and her forehead lowering to rest between Lena’s bare shoulder blades. Kara’s slowly steadying breaths are warm against her spine.
Lena covers Kara’s hands with one of her own, the other raising the phone to her ear.
“What the hell took you so long to answer?”
“Umm… I was doing homework.”
“It was important.”
“Has something happened? Why are you calling?”
Alex pauses. “It’s reached Lex. What happened with you and Kara today. Our double agent just came back asking did I know that my little sister broke up with a Luthor.”
“You can’t tell them the plan. They have to believe it.” Lena can almost feel the way Kara is listening furiously, trying to figure out exactly what they intend to do. She dusts her thumb in gentle circles along the inside of Kara’s wrist in understanding.
“I know. Are you okay?”
Lena thinks about how no matter how fake it had been, acting out a break up with Kara had burned her like acid. About how not telling Kara absolutely everything for the first time ever is sickening, and the only thing that stops her explaining what she plans to do is the knowledge that Kara would try to help her, and helping her would get Kara killed. “Yeah. I’m fine.”
“…She’s with you, isn’t she?”
Lena swallows. “Yeah.”
“And you’re not going to tell me anything other than I’m fine as long as she is, right?”
Alex doesn’t fight her on it; even though she loves Lena, Kara is her baby sister, and Lena knows that Alex is just as dead set as she is on keeping the youngest Danvers out of this whole mess. The further from Lex they can get Kara, the better.
“I’ll let you get back to your homework, then.” There’s a teasing lilt to Alex’s voice that is a welcome hint of normality.
Lena clicks end call and turns in Kara’s arms so that they’re face to face. They’re both silent, and she takes the opportunity to let her eyes over Kara, every line and edge and curve. Neither of them have shirts on, Lena’s jeans have been pulled low on her hips and Kara’s skirt is still ridden up past the point of inappropriate, but she does her best to quell the hormones warring in her veins.
“I really, really want you,” Lena sighs out. “But this isn’t how it should be. You deserve for it to be perfect and romantic and slow and all of those things.”
“You do, too,” Kara agrees softly, but neither of them moves to step away, to redress. “But if Alex hadn’t called you just then I don’t think I would’ve stopped.”
Lena grins. “Me neither. You’re pretty hot.”
Kara rolls her eyes, but she’s smirking, too. “Thanks, babe.”
They stay there, holding each other for a while longer, pretending that maybe Lena could walk Kara back to her dorm, that they could sit next to each other in class tomorrow, that outside in the hallways, they aren’t broken up.
“I miss you,” Kara pouts a little into the crook of Lena’s neck.
“We’ve been split up for less than six hours,” she notes. “And also, I miss you more.”
It’s stupid and cheesy and normal, and Lena clings to it with both hands. She’ll be pushing forward with her plan tomorrow, but it’s easy to drown that knowledge out with Kara in her arms.
Finally, after what feels like hours but also only seconds, Lena pulls back and says, “We have to leave.” Leave here, leave each other, leave this little sanctuary.
She needs her Gryffindor for this.
Lena won’t ask Kara to do it and she doesn’t think Winn would be believable, so unfortunately, the weight falls on James’ shoulders. She’s seen him angry before – it’s always the protective kind, like that day in the dungeons with Donovan – but she’s almost sure he could conjure it to play aggressive if he needed to. And she needs him to.
She drags him into the hidden alcove behind the statue of Gregory the Smary and explains what she wants him to do, before apologising at a mile a minute.
“I can’t tell you why. I know this kind of thing isn’t you, James, and I’m so sorry. But someone has to do it. And I trust you, so much. You’ve always had my back, and I need you to have it now. Well, actually, I need you to stab it, but -”
“I’ll do it, Lena,” he agrees, rubbing the back of his neck in discomfort. “But I’ve never really said anything like that to anyone. And, I mean, I can be scary if I want to be, I guess. But I never want to be.”
“That’s why you’re a Gryffindor, James,” she tells him. “You have all that power – your magic, your strength – and you use it to be kind.”
They wait a few days, until there’s some new gossip to dilute the debate over Kara and Lena’s breakup. This can’t all happen too fast, or it’ll seem staged, and Lex will realise what’s going on.
While she and Kara fought in a very public arena, she and James fake an attempt at privacy, choosing an empty classroom next to a crowded hallway to have their row, leaving the door open just enough for raised voices to carry, but not so much that it seems they’re inviting spectators.
“God, I should’ve known better!” James shouts, pointing at her angrily. His face is pulled tight with rage but his eyes are still full and calm, the patient eyes of a boy who’s been her brother for the last seven years in all ways but blood. “I don’t know why I expected more from a Luthor. Your whole damn family is evil and you’re a coward. They should throw you in Azkaban like Lex!”
She yells right back at him, and they get closer and louder until a professor bursts in to break it up, and Lena only lets him get halfway through his monologue about how disappointing it is to see this kind of behaviour from seniors before stalking out, burning through the corridors and skipping the rest of her classes.
Finally, it is Alex’s turn to play her part.
She and a small team of Aurors storm into Hogwarts, and instead of going to get Lena directly, they send a student to collect her from class, citing that they’re here to “question her under suspicion of aiding her brother”. Alex might’ve graduated a few years ago, but she still knows who the real rumour mills are, and is sure to give this errand to one of the biggest gossips in sixth year.
Once Lena’s dragged into a vacated office to be interrogated, half the school is discussing where her real loyalties lie. She wonders if anybody is bothering to question it, to defend her, or if they’re all talking about whole nests of bad eggs and once a Luthor, always a Luthor.
They have no way of knowing if Lex’s reach extends even to the teacher’s quarters, so they can’t risk talking openly. Alex does squeeze her hand comfortingly when she pats her down, supposedly searching for communication devices. When the eldest Danvers tugs them chest to chest to “threaten” her, Lena takes advantage of the curtain of their robes to slip a piece of paper into Alex’s jeans.
It reads: I’m going tonight.
After the other girls in the dorm fall asleep, Lena pulls the rucksack she packed earlier out from under her bed, and leaves quietly, weaving her way through familiar corridors and down well-trodden staircases.
She’ll miss this place. Doesn’t know if she’ll ever get to come back.
More than anything in the world, she wants to sneak into the Hufflepuff dormitories, to tell Kara a proper goodbye. But she can’t even risk meeting her in one of their secret passageways, now, because after the events of the last couple of days, Lex will be watching her like a hawk. So Kara will wake up tomorrow and Lena will no longer be at Hogwarts, and she might be able to guess, but she won’t know why.
It makes Lena a terrible girlfriend and an awful best friend, but all this isn’t so much a choice as an inevitability.
“I love you,” she whispers out, as if the stone walls of the castle will carry it back to Kara, remind her of it in her sleep. She shoves her hands in her pockets, letting her fingers close around the folded-up textbook page about the Saviour Vine, her talisman to carry with her.
Lena moves like a ghost out of the castle doors, across the grounds, enchanting a small pebble to disable to Whomping Willow. She slithers through the hidden tunnel, eventually arriving at the threshold of the Shrieking Shack. She wonders if it’s ever been haunted, ever held more than just students searching for lost things they will never find.
The second she steps out of the passage, the heartbeat in which the last of Hogwarts’ protective spells release her, her forearm burns again. It’s less sharp, this time, the words carved into the first few layers of skin, rather than all the way down to the bone.
It’s an address. Not a familiar one, but Lex is far too smart to use anywhere predictable.
When she materialises, she realises that Lex has directed her to a wasteland. It’s the burned out remains of what could’ve once been a village, with the charred shells of houses forming tragic streets. There’s no smoke, no embers. This place has been dead for a long time.
She looks up, and the stars are different, but still tug at her memory somehow. She can’t place them.
“Hello, Lena.” His voice echoes, and she spins to turn and face the only other thing in this place that is still alive. “What are you doing here?”
Lex grins at her, pale in the moonlight, resting casually against a sign that is too blackened by fire to make out anything but the first three letters: K R Y. Suddenly, she starts to add up the recognisable cosmos, the destruction, the sign, with a hundred tiny stories mentioned in passing.
This is Kara’s wizarding colony, the one utterly wrecked by the last war. He must’ve known that she would work out where they are. It’s a test. He’s checking to see if she still cares, if she’ll flinch in the face of the cemetery of Kara’s childhood.
God, her heart aches with it all.
But – “I’m a Luthor,” she tells him, full of artificial arrogance and a little genuine bitterness, “the real question is why wasn’t I here sooner?”