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To Hell With Light and Casual

Chapter Text

The last thing Laura had expected to see in the crypt was a body. In this area, mausoleums were a sign of wealth, not a place to stick your ancestors. You’d be more likely to find a body in the walls of the castle than in a crypt. 

And this body was… fresh. Laura could barely keep her flashlight trained on the young woman. Had she walked into a murder scene? Was this some kind of twisted re-enactment? Her clothes were period perfect to the crypts creation, which was somehow even creepier than if Laura had found a mangled corpse. Laura was debating taking her phone out for pictures or fleeing and then-

And then it sat up.

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It was the arm that got her. Carmilla had always touched Laura so carefully — not because she was afraid of hurting her, but because she was afraid of hurting herself. Laura had promised she would never leave but-

The chasm. The pit. Carmilla had fallen into the terrible light with that terrible sword and she was gone. They’d searched and searched but the only thing left was a burned out handprint and the blade of Hastur, buried in a stone. 

Having her back was just as painful as letting her go.

Chapter Text

“Do you know how fast you were going?”

The woman in the car only sighed, her dark hair fluttering around her face. She was definitely one of the more attractive people Laura had pulled over- but that didn’t matter. Lawbreaker. Right. “Listen, cupcake, that has got to be the lamest opening line ever. Been watching too many cop shows?”

Laura’s hand went to her earrings - cupcakes, oops, not the most professional - and then scowled. That only widened the woman’s smile. “I want think the best of everyone, and in this case that means assuming you didn’t mean to be going eighty in a fifty zone. Thirty kilometres an hour is a lot, Miss…”

“Karnstein. And it could have been more, cutie.” Miss Karnstein’s lips were positively wicked, smiling like that. Laura flushed just looking at her, the sunglasses still riding low on her nose. “Don’t suppose you’d want to take me for a ride? I know how to show a girl a good ride.”

“Ticket!” Laura yelped, and stuffed it into her hands. Miss Karnstein seemed almost disappointed, signing it quickly and handing it over before Laura could catch her breath. Clearly, she’d done it before. “Um. Thanks.”

She just winked. “Thank me later, Officer.”

Laura looked down at the ticket and saw a number scrawled in place of a name. Her jaw dropped. “That’s not how you’re supposed to sign a ticket!” Laura yelled after the car, but the woman had already peeled away, leaving gravel scattered in her wake. 

Chapter Text

The name made everything worse. Laura slumped in her arms, the words dying in her mouth an insult to injury. She had so much to say and it had been taken from her. 

Laura's name was still dark across her collarbone, but already Carmilla could feel the burning across her wrist as Laura’s name started to fade. Already, it was turning the colour of ash, and eventually, it would be gone. Like it had never existed. Like Laura had never existed. 

So she stumbled to her feet, leaving Laura so still on the floor, and said into the darkness where Mattie waited, “I have something your death goddess wants.”

(The burn of Laura’s name filling back in was a sweet pain, even more so than the new breath in her chest that told her of a future.)

Chapter Text

Laura slammed the manuscript down in front of Carmilla. The other woman barely looked at it, but Laura knew she could still see the red pen. “I did my research, Karnstein. You can’t tell me that I’m doing this wrong!”

Carmilla stayed the way she was, unimpressed, until Laura sat back down. Then, she leant in and flipped through the pages, coming to a stop halfway through chapter five, at what Laura recognized as the ball scene. 

“The Vordenburg mansion did have a basement, cutie,” Carmilla drawled, “and they did torture girls in it. Ignoring that for whatever your amateur research has told you is just a failure. The fiction in historical fiction is supposed to be about the romance, not the glaring historical inaccuracies.”

Laura scowled, and tried to seize on what might have been a positive. It was hard to tell with Carmilla. If she didn’t give such in-depth critiques… “What do you think about the romance, then?”

Her editor shrugged. “Mediocre.” She licked her lips, and Laura’s breath caught. “I could show you how to make it better, if you like.”

Laura brightened. “Really?”

Carmilla seemed almost surprised, leaning onto her elbows on the desk. “Don’t sound so surprised. We can get drinks later, discuss it.”

Laura grinned. That was what she’d always wanted - it was so hard to find someone to talk about her writing in person with. Maybe Ell needed a little more yearning, or maybe SJ should be more aloof. “I look forwards to it!”

(When Carmilla grabbed her in the bar, she was confused, but she kissed her back.)

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“Are- are you sure this is the right way?” Greyson said, then gulped as Carmilla draped her arm back around his shoulder. He was large, and not just compared to them. Lots of muscle, lots of mass. “I mean, it’s awful dark here.”

The alley was dark, the streetlights on the adjoining lights flickering or out entirely. The fire escapes around them looked like ragged teeth or ancient spiderwebs against the aged brick. 

“I’m sure,” Laura purred, and smiled as seductively as she could. Carmilla, from Greyson’s other side, winced, and she turned it down a little. Greyson was still tipsy, but he was starting to get a little suspicious that his perfect night wasn’t as perfect as first sold. “Just a little farther, and we’ll be back at our place.”

Carmilla’s hand brushed against Laura’s behind Greyson’s back, cold even in the sticky heat. Laura squeezed it, then let it drop away. “We’re here.”

Greyson barely had time to sputter out a, “what, the dumpster?” before Carmilla lunged in. Laura only managed to catch a glimpse of Carmilla’s fangs with her enhanced vision before they were buried in his neck. Carmilla drank, following Greyson’s drop to the alleyway road. Then she drew back, her lips scarlet, and beckoned Laura down. 

“Your turn, cupcake,” Carmilla said, and kissed her, tasting like iron. Laura turned to Greyson, grey and scared, and she smiled, her own fangs dropping into place. “Happy hundred and first.”

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Say what you would about the intricacies of the universe, but the time travelling alien with a phone box for a space ship looked uncannily like her grumpy college roommate. “Carmilla?”

The woman turned, caught sight of her, and the next thing Laura knew she was swept up in her arms. It was Carmilla, the scent of old books and something mechanical but unidentifiable. “Laura!”

“I missed you,” Carmilla whispered. Then slowly, carefully, she let Laura go. Laura stared at her, wide eyed. “Sorry, cupcake. Timelines. Out of sync. All that.”

Even though Carmilla’s eyes were rimmed in red and Laura could tell there was something very, very wrong, all she managed to blurt was, “You stole my entire stash of cookies!”

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“Hey.”

Laura looked up from her book, suddenly realizing why the text had been so dark. Carmilla loomed over her, a smile on the usually-grumpy librarians face. It was a hard earned smile, from months of returning books in good condition and long conversations. “Hey.”

Carmilla held out a book, angled so Laura couldn’t see the title. “Found another for you.”

Laura reached for it, but Carmilla tucked it into the sizeable pile beside her instead. The dark book looked odd in the pile of lit textbooks and colourful Doctor Who novels. “Oh! Thanks.” She waved at the book in her lap, nearly dwarfing her. “I’ll get to it as soon as I can.”

Carmilla sounded and turned back to her cart, and shoved it away faster than Laura had ever seen her movie the ancient thing. It creaked menacingly, the wheels rattling this way and that. Laura sent one last odd look Carmilla’s way, then picked up Carmilla’s selection.

She was surprised to find that it wasn’t an actual book. It was a notebook, an aged leather one. Curious, Laura flipped it open. The first page was near blank, other than a title in slanting script. 

The book of things unwritten, by Carmilla Karnstein

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“Make sure you keep that vamp tied up good and sturdy, Hollis,” Danny said. The look in her eyes was almost pitying. “I don’t like the way she looks at you.”

“Right!” Laura said. She knew she was fidgeting her hands, but she couldn’t seem to stop. “Definitely. I comprende.”

“Comprends,” Danny corrected. “If you’re going for french, the correct conjugation is comprends.”

“Right! Gotta keep that conjugation… conjugated.”

Danny gave her a funny look, but finally, finally left. 

“I gotta say, cupcake, you rival the Vampire Diaries in terms of torture,” Carmilla drawled, and then huffed as Laura flung herself into her lap. “Whoa there, ladykiller. Give them a minute to forget a cookie or something before we get back into it. I’m an evil, evil vampire, remem-”

Laura shut her up with a kiss, Carmilla smiling against her lips. 

Which was of course when LaF opened the door.

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Some days, Laura would do nothing but hum to herself. Carmilla would find her, one in the morning, two in the morning, sitting at that desk by that damned camera and humming. 

The first few times, she coaxed Laura to bed, her heart breaking at how easily Laura gave in. Laura would stare at the ceiling for hours, not sleeping, barely blinking. After that, Carmilla left her to it. 

She still watched, though, shrouded in shadows. 

And over the weeks, the humming evolved. Laura would stop and start and stare, beyond the lens of the camera. One night, she turned up with a pen and paper and started scribbling away. When she’d finally gone to sleep, her frown eased more than it had been in a long time, Carmilla pored over the scraps of paper. 

Bars of music, written in a shaky hand. Half lyrics, scribbled and rewritten. Carmilla had no idea Laura knew anything about music, but she’d been learning she didn’t know enough her for a long time now. 

She wrote her own addition, left it under a pile of yarn scraps. 

In time, Laura sang. And Carmilla’s face ached from how much she smiled. 

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“Okay, I’m sorry, but I clearly got here first.”

The other thief just stared at the necklace in her gloved hand, then back up at Laura. Even with a cliched bandit mask over her eyes, Laura could see the taunt. “Really, cutie?” She weighed the necklace, the rubies glinting in the dim light of the museum. “If you got here before I did, he come I have the Countess’s necklace?”

“I was busy disabling the cameras!” Laura hissed, pointing at the offending lens, drooping towards the floor like it, along with Laura, had just had a very long day. 

“Thanks,” the other thief said, and Laura stomped her foot, the sound echoing through the marble entryway. They both froze. “Careful there, buttercup, don’t want to alert anyone”

“I wouldn’t be alerting if you hadn’t stolen my steal!” Laura said, and had to force herself not to fling herself at the other woman. She could drop the necklace, and that wouldn’t end well. 

The other thief swung the necklace lazily around her fingers, and Laura’s inner historical preservationist died a little. “The way I look at it-”

She didn’t get a chance to finish her sentence. The camera peeked back up, fixing on their faces, and an alarm started blaring. Laura yelped and grabbed at her face, momentarily forgetting that she had a ski mask on. Oh good. She wasn’t totally screwed, then. 

The other thief grabbed her hand. “Run!”

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“You know, I wouldn’t be mad about this whole ‘I was secretly a vampire this whole time’ thing if you hadn’t just killed our professor,” Laura whispered, ignoring the dragging noise of the body and the way his ankles felt against her skin. “You just killed our professor, Carm! I mean, I know he was a raging bad person-”

“-to you,” Carmilla corrected, and ducked her head around the corner to see if anyone was coming down the hall of the Karnstein Science Building. 

“To me, and probably at least one other person,” Laura admitted. She was panicking less than she thought she would, which was good. Being chill was always a good thing. Laura had lots of chill. “But that’s no excuse to murder someone.”

“Actually,” Carmilla said, and started dragging again. Laura followed after her, glad that she was with someone. Carmilla was a vampire - she didn’t need a measly human to help her drag away the body. Still, either way Laura was her partner in a really serious crime. “It’s a perfectly good reason, cutie.”

“Is not!”

“A bit late to argue with me, buttercup. Here, help me get the dumpster lid?”

Chapter Text

The girl looked positively terrified of her. Usually, Carmilla would take that as a compliment, but there was something very off about her new cellmate. Laura Hollis was supposed to be a hardened murderer, but she looked scared of Carmilla, like she was about to lean down and take a bite. 

“Listen, cutie,” Carmilla said, and winced at how high Laura jumped. Jeez. “You don’t need to huddle in the corner. I’m sure whoever framed you will get caught soon, and you’ll be high and dry.”

Instead of that being reassuring, Laura’s petrified face turned into a scowl. “What, you don’t think I really could’ve done it? I-I could have definitely m-mudererered,” and she stumbled over her words, hilariously, “Vordenburg! I’m a hardened murderer.” She focused her eyes on Carmilla, and they were such a soft brown behind all the bluster that Carmilla had to smile. “You should be the one scared of me.”

Chapter Text

“Is that mistletoe?”

Carmilla looked up, and then immediately looked back down to glare at the other side of the room. LaF grinned from their perch atop the buffet table, where their foot was only a few precarious inches from the mashed potatoes.

They were hanging up mistletoe on what looked like every square inch of the ceiling, and they didn’t even have the decency to look guilty about it. 

Laura dropped Carmilla’s hand. “You don’t have to kiss me. Mistletoe is a stupid tradition anyway.”

Carmilla raised an eyebrow. “What, you don’t want to kiss me? That’s new.”

Chapter Text

“AND, HOLLIS SNAGS THE QUAFFLE- AND KARNSTEIN TACKLES IT RIGHT BACK, LITTLE MORE BODY CONTACT THAN NECCESARY THERE-”

“Lafontaine!”

“-THE FASTER THEY FIGURE IT OUT THE FASTER HOLLIS HANDS OVER HER DORM FOR EXPERIMENTS- AND HOLLIS IS IN HOT PURSUIT, NICE FLYING THERE WISH YOU WERE SO SKILLED IN EMOTIONAL MATTERS-”

“LAFONTAINE!” 

“Distracted, cutie?”

Laura swerved her broom hard, but only managed to ruffle Carmilla’s hair as the Ravenclaw dropped fast. “Not as much as you, Karnstein!”

Carmilla’s face warred between smugness and confusion for half a second before Kirsch barrelled right through her, the Quaffle falling to Sarah Jane waiting below. Laura took a moment to grin at her before bending low over her broom and cutting off Theo’s desperate attempt and-

“HUFFLEPUFF SCORES!”

Even from a distance, Laura could see the pointed finger and mouthed, “Next time.”

 


 

 

Laura’s panther stayed after the dementors were gone, winding it’s way through Laura’s legs. She seemed to take comfort from it — that is, until she noticed Carmilla looking.

“What happened to the robin?”

“Things change. I’m… not really a robin girl anymore.” Laura folded up in herself a little, so different from the outgoing player Carmilla met on the pitch. The more time Carmilla spent with Laura, the less she felt like she knew her. “And panthers are nice! They’re fluffy! Cute!”

Carmilla smiled, and twirled her wand. “Expecto patronum.”

Her own patter flew from her wand, coalescing in wisps of silver. Laura grinned in her mind’s eye, victorious, and even in the memory Carmilla didn’t mind losing the Cup so much if it meant Hufflepuff would be winning against Gryffindor. 

Carmilla’s panther curled up against Laura’s legs and patronus, and even though it couldn’t make any noise, Carmilla knew it was purring. Laura stared at her, wide eyed and suddenly vulnerable, and Carmilla stepped in and held her until her shaking breaths came easier. Laura’s nose was cold against her neck in the night, but with the glowing light of their panthers padding around them, Carmilla couldn’t bring herself to care.

 


 

 

Potions was always an interesting class. Their teacher looked sort of like an owl and sort of like she should be in the hospital wing for getting a feather in her Polyjuice. She taught well, though, so Laura suspected nobody had mentioned it. The wizarding world might’ve had actual magic, but they had a distinct and disappointing lack of investigative reporting. Laura was looking forwards to changing that, no matter how many times everyone laughed at her for it. 

“Amortentia,” she trilled, and it took Laura a couple seconds to stop scribbling down observations and realize what she’d said. “Now that you’re preparing for your O.W.L.S., it’s time you learn to make a truly complex potion.”

LaF, who was usually blowing things up by this point in potions, went white and leant away from Perry. Laura rolled her eyes. Honestly. Amortentia wasn’t a real risk. It created false infatuation, nothing more. Why was LaF worried?

“You think you can swing it?” Carmilla whispered, and Laura elbowed her seat mate, her newspaper aspirations forgotten as the teacher rambled on about ingredients and specific preparation methods. “Hello? Laura? You think you can do this.”

“Not if you keep distracting me,” Laura hissed, and very pointedly turned in her chair to face the front. Carmilla growled something, but subsided, still pricking with nervous energy from beside her. 

Laura paid close attention to her textbook, only glancing up every few moments to make sure Carmilla was properly preparing her items, her hair frizzing up around her face in the smoke. LaF had already made their potion explode, somehow, to Perry’s consternation. 

Carmilla ditched right before the last ingredient, her hand red and weeping from a reaction with one of the ingredients. Laura put the last drops of lavender in, gave the potion one last stir, then sat back. The scent wafted up, nothing like the essences Laura had doled out. She leaned in, curious. Amortentia didn’t smell like lavender, or ground pearls, or any of the other varied ingredients. It smelled like fresh grass clippings on the Quidditch pitch in early mornings, like old books and… Carmilla? Had Carmilla spilled her perfume on the desk?

“What’s got you so entranced, creampuff?” Carmilla said, and dropped back down on the bench with a thud. The rash had gone down on her hand, Laura was glad to see. “What does it-”

Carmilla’s eyes widened, the smoke drifting closer, tangling in her hair. Her hand jerked, so close to the cauldron, and Laura dove but was too late. The potion splashed all over the floor and over Laura’s robes. Carmilla stood, trying to sop up the spill with her spare robes. The air was thick with the impossible smells, but Laura barely noticed, too entranced with the flush high on Carmilla’s cheeks. 

It took years to get an explanation out of her. 

 


 

 

”Bro why was angry hott- i mean Karnstein wearing a Hufflepuff Quidditch sweater at breakfast yesterday? Isn’t she a Ravenclaw?”

LaF, who never sat at the right table anyway, adjusted their stolen Slytherin hat and squinted at the Ravenclaw table. “Yeah, I’d say six years of evidence says she’s a Ravenclaw.”

The cuffs were a little short on Carmilla and she was tugging at them absently, but other than that she didn’t seem to notice her giant gaffe. She was too intent in talking to the person next to her, an uncharacteristic smile gracing her face. 

Then Carmilla leant forwards to grab something,  laughing, and Kirsch’s jaw dropped, LaF’s right along with him. Laura was sitting at the Ravenclaw table, huddled in tight to Karnstein’s side, a blue and black scarf wound around her neck. 

“Gotcha,” LaF said, with great satisfaction, and snapped a picture. Beat that for reporting, Hollis. The castle might not care about the plight of the wannabe reporter, but everyone had a share in the betting pool on her and Karnstein. LaF was going to be rich.

Chapter Text

“Didn’t you ever think it was cliché to have such a small owl?”

Laura cooed at Lophii, the minuscule owl looking irritated to be seated on her arm and not some sort of gold throne. It suffered from the same affliction as small dogs — Lophii had the countenance of a roc. “If you’re calling me short again, Carmilla, you could get more inventive than that.”

Carmilla just snorted. Laura wasn’t sure if she even had an owl. The beast that usually delivered letters from her horrible mother was the only one she ever saw, and it always flew right back out. “I don’t need to call you short. Surely you’ve noticed it by this point.”

“Uh huh,” Laura said, and wrenched her father’s letter out of Lophii’s grip. It was good to hear from him. She could use something to keep herself distracted with all the exams coming up. 

The silence from Carmilla made her look up, halfway through trying to tear the envelope open. The other girl looked nearly wistful, and Laura registered the untouched food on her plate and the lack of any letters whatsoever. When was the last time she’d gotten one from someone that wasn’t trying to tear her down?

“Here,” Laura said, and transferred Lophii to Carmilla’s shoulder before she could think any more about it. The owl fluffed its wings and bit at Carmilla’s hair, apparently offended with it’s new accommodations. “Aww, look, Lophii likes you.”

“Lophii wants to eat me,” Carmilla grumbled, but Laura knew she was smiling. 

Chapter Text

It was maybe a little weird to be hiding on the catwalk and watching the star of shows, but Laura was just studying, okay? She needed to know how the acoustics worked with the theatre and Carmilla’s voice.

Her voice was practically a character all of its own, purring and then glassine all in the same song, and her scales seemed endless. 

Carmilla liked singing, too, not like some of the stars Laura had worked with. Tech week was always demanding and she never blamed the stars for lashing out, but Carmilla only complained about the dancing. Never once had she complained about singing the same strains, over and over again while Kirsch fiddled up in the booth, Laura taking notes from the second row.

Laura liked being behind the scenes, but sometimes she thought it wouldn’t be so bad to be onstage if she had someone like Carmilla staring out at the blackness of the audience with her. 

Laura scribbled that thought down on her clipboard, with the rest of her pipe dreams, and got back to fine-tuning the blocking.

Chapter Text

An overheard conversation:

“Who’d you get for philosophy?”

“Karnstein.”

“Oh. Rough luck.”

“What, why? My sister loved her.”

“Your sister is gay, buddy, and she actually took notes. You wouldn’t know what a book was if you lived in a library.”

“Oh, fuck you. I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

“She owns a sword.”

“She what.”

“Yeah, Beatrice saw her fighting Professor Hollis with it yesterday. That history teacher is wicked with a poker.”


 

Also overheard, a few tables over:

“What did you pick for your history elective?”

“Silas History, why?”

“Ooh, you’ve got Hollis.”

“What’s so great about Hollis?”

What’s so great about- okay clearly you don’t have eyes, because if you did you would have noticed the skull on her desk?”

“A skull? You’re messing with me.”

“Nope. George got a close look at it once when he was getting help on his essay and get this — he says it isn’t human.”

“What the fuck.”

“I know, right? And the best part is that there’s all sorts of weird stuff in her class. She talks like she actually knew who managed to save the campus.”

“So does Karnstein. Do you think…”

“Nah.”

“Nah.”

“They hate each other, morons. Didn’t you hear? Beatrice saw them sword fighting behind the Colosseum.”

Chapter Text

Nobody believed Laura when she talked about space nymphs.

It had been a long journey to get on the Silas. Space travel was becoming more and more common as the EM drives improved, but it was the same sort of thing as being a lawyer, or maybe an investigative journalist. It was elite, but achievable if you were stubborn enough about it.

Laura just wanted to know. What stars looked like up close, the exact science of a nebula, if the weaker artificial gravity would make her taller.

She hadn’t expected to be the first person to learn there were people living in deep space but hey, she’d left an extra section open in her journal.

Carmilla smelled like the spacesuits fresh in from the void, like ozone and metal and electricity. She was cold, but soft, and even though it was a little unnerving she didn’t need to breathe, Laura always felt better tucked into her side.

And that was another thing Laura hadn’t expected to find in space. Love.

Chapter Text

In the middle of the night, a panther dropped through Laura’s ceiling. It landed light, claws skittering off the wardrobe and chair and floorboards.

Laura made a mental note to reinforce the charms on her furniture, but pulled her blankets back anyway. Carmilla curled up against her, warm against the chill emanating from the stone walls.

“You’re not supposed to mess with the floors, Carm,” Laura said, and cuddled in a little tighter to the big black cat. It was too early in the morning to chide herself for mixed messages. “Remember last time? You sent Perry plummeting into the-”

Shadow flickered under Laura’s pile of blankets, and Carmilla pressed a gentle finger to her lips. “Shhh.” She sounded sleepy, which she nearly never did. “Can’t we sleep?”

“No,” Laura said plaintively, but she was already fading away. Carmilla purred softly, a safe haven at her side.

Chapter Text

Carmilla was the worst at parties. 

Not just because she would never drop all the stalking Laura had done, back when they had met. She had been a very suspicious vampire, okay? Laura was totally within her rights to find her in pictures of parties. It wasn’t weird!

Carmilla could hear over the music easily, which was the most annoying thing Laura had ever experienced. She’d only muttered one thing about stupid sexy vampires, but Carmilla’s face had lit up with that sly little smile she always had when Laura managed to embarrass herself. 

“You’re cute too, cupcake,” Carmilla said, her voice pitched just enough over the crowd, and leaned in. Laura felt addicted to her kisses, the soft ones, the ones between laughs, the ones at the party when they were anonymous in the crowd. Laura felt like the flashing lights, a rainbow of sparkling colours.

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Laura’s dragon nipped her ear. It was a clumsy thing, more liable to send Laura off balance than curl comfortably in her ear like it was supposed to.


Laura reflected that was probably true of herself, too. She was more liable to stumble into things and mess them up than to sit where she was supposed to be.

“Now, Miss Hollis,” the Dean drawled. Her earrings glittered in the dim light of the caves. Most people chose study hoops or other things their luck-Dragons could hang off of, but the Dean’s earrings were diamonds cut sharp enough to slice a tiny foot to ribbons. The hollow of her ear was blackened. “I think it’s time to tell me what you and your little gang of dropouts has been up to.”

Even Carmilla, an undead duchess from a million years ago, had still had a skeletal dragon asleep in the shell of her ear. Laura remembered how happy she’d been when it had finally lifted it’s head.

But this? More than anything else, the Dean’s scorched-out ear made her realize just how much danger she was in.

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“Hello, gentle viewers! It’s been a month, but I’m back!” Laura stared down her camera lens with determination. A tiny, bubble-head Laura looked back at her, colours twisted to a rainbow sheen. “I did not get trapped in the library, or eaten by a giant evil anglerfish, as some of you had suggested.

“I broke my laptop! And then stepped on my camera lens.” Laura did her best to make that sound worse than being eaten by a semi-sentient light tentacle, but it was hard to manage. If LafWhenItExplodes didn’t become some sort of fantasy author or idea-person for late night TV, they were wasting their life. “The camera lens of my camera, Not the lens on my laptop, the special one for my camera.” Laura glanced over st the sad pile of electronics in the corner. “Although I may have broken that too.”

Someone laughed, too quiet to be picked up by the mic, and Laura jumped. “But! I have amends!” Laura ducked out of the way, revealing Carmilla perched on her short, teetering stool. She was still grinning fondly at Laura. “Behold, Carmilla Karnstein, space major-”

“Astrology.”

“And also philosopher!” Laura grinned at the camera, her hair falling into her face. She could imagine the caption she would be putting over this moment. And pretty.

Chapter Text

“When you said royalty, I pictured something like a castle,” Laura said, and managed to duck fast enough to not die. The other vampire snarled at her, maw dripping in gore. Laura snarled back, or tried to. It came out as more of a strangled, pathetic hiss. “You also didn’t say vampire! I’m a hundred percent sure you didn’t say vampire royalty!”

“Listen, cutie, I was flirting —down” and Laura dropped, barely missed by the sweeping claws. She rose as Carmilla shredded away their rival’s face, the blood falling sweet on her lips. “— and to be fair, you didn’t ask.”

Laura straightened fully, stepping clear of the pile of vampire. It was mostly parts, the largest being a torso. “Who asks if the cute girl at the bar is a vampire? Seriously, Carm.”

Carmilla shrugged, much more settled into the unearthly grace than Laura was. It came with practice. Laura hoped that the week wouldn’t get much worse — she was looking forwards to centuries of pretending to be careless. “To be fair, you’re officially vampire royalty now too.”

Laura scowled, or tried to. Like the snarl, it didn’t quite work. “I don’t plan on springing that on girls in clubs, though.”

“I sure hope not,” Carmilla said, and kissed her with berry-blood lips.

Chapter Text

It was maybe sort of a problem that the negotiator hadn’t shown up yet. 

Laura eyed the door again, slumping as best she could all laced up in her corset. It was much less work than trying to sit up straight on her own. “Do you think they’re just not coming?”

Even in a stiff gown the grey of budget meetings and advisors that thought princesses should marry men, Carmilla looked disreputable and alarming. And gorgeous, but that had been a given for the years Laura had known her. “You never know. Maybe they wanted to see the sights first.”

Laura sputtered. Kirsch, at the door, peered at her in concern, his armour clinking. She waved him off. “See the sights! What sights do we have to see that are more important than the princess who is trying to sign a treaty!”

Carmilla smiled at Laura, her eyes crinkling. Laura wanted to die. She was unfairly pretty. “Something riveting, I’m sure.”

“I’m glad you could wait with me, at least,” Laura said. She shuffled the parchment in her lap. If she looked at Carmilla, she knew she would blush. “Why are you here, anyway? Did you say?”

“I didn’t,” Carmilla said, and her voice was gleeful enough to draw Laura’s gaze. Her best friend’s smile had flipped to something wicked. “So, Laura, how do you feel about border tariffs?”

Chapter Text

To say Laura was unlucky was like saying space was cold. Sure, it was accurate, but somehow the words didn’t seem to capture the extent of it.

Space was frigid enough to burn. Laura was unlucky enough to feel that, in the spare second before her ship crashed.

When Laura woke up, it took her a few seconds to realize she actually hadn’t dreamt it. Not that she didn’t believe that her shuttle had managed to hit an ion storm at precisely the wrong stage of warp field calibration — that
seemed plausible enough. It was where the shuttle had landed, and how.

The top of the Rio Grande was peeled back and smoking, the edges blackened into shards of deadly looking metal. One of the seats had burst, scattering scraps of foam all over the interior.

And Laura was alive. That was what kind of seemed like the unrealistic thing. She was alive, and she wasn’t cold at all. In fact, she was on the verge of overheating, an alien sun warming her hair.

Laura picked herself up from the ground, only swearing a little bit when she saw her phaser lying cracked on the floor. It was impaled with what looked like a piece of the ceiling. At least she hadn’t been the one impaled? Laura liked her body very much un-impaled, thank you.

The second Laura made it out the door, she started to reconsider whether or not she’d been stuck with a part of the shattered shuttle. There was a girl standing just outside the wreckage, staring out at the craggy walls of the canyon like they’d personally offended her.

Unless Laura was incredibly mistaken, she’d been on a solo mission out from the star base. Luck or not, she thought she might have noticed an entire other person on her mission.

“This is what I get for stowing away on a shuttle,” the girl grumbled, and ran a hand through her wavy hair. She didn’t pay much attention to Laura, gaping wordlessly. “One person on board, they won’t leave the cockpit and notice me. It’ll be fine.”

“I’m sorry,” Laura sputtered, indignant as she’d ever been. “But who the hell are you?”

The girl looked at her, finally, her hair tumbling down around the side of her face in way that looked way too pretty to be the result of a tragic shuttle crash. She gestured to the wide canyon around them, the wildflowers bobbing in the slight wind, their innocuous beauty an insult to injury. “Carmilla. Looks like I’m your new roommate, sweetheart.”

Chapter Text

It had been the greatest disappointment of Carmilla’s life to live through the centuries and see music evolve just out of her sights. Harps went from creaky old trees and strings that broke in a half moment to things of gilded beauty. Instruments of every shape and kind were invented — strings, reeds, and then after another handful of decades and a sleep in a coffin of blood, brass.

Carmilla went to operas, sometimes. They were still beautiful things, even if all sound but the rustling bodies around her was wiped from existence. The emotion on the faces of the performers was clear enough even without the benefit of music.

Sometimes, Carmilla wondered if the actors onstage could hear what they were producing — there was certainly more than one tale, truth or not, of performers deaf to their own talents.

Though the world may have intended to be kind, in giving its citizens a concrete way to mark their happiness, it was crueller than Maman in its ways. Surely, Carmilla would have met her by now. Surely, there could have been one person to lift the veil from her senses and pour the liquid gold of music into her ears.

Orchestras were an entity all of their own, sawing arms and booming drums and flying fingers on keys. That was the closest Carmilla got — vibrations, cupped against the palm of her hand. At Maman’s instruction, she learned the ways of the conductor, of the sheets of marked music, the leaping chords of notes trying to free themselves from their lines. She could pretend at music, at understanding tempo and rhythm. Carmilla was a deafened artist at playing the broken strings of girls hearts.

It made her sick, somewhere far off, to act the same things again and again. But that just made it easy for the centuries to blur, for the girls to melt into one and the same. The same eyes, hopeful, and wanting to be something more than half matched, half broken. 

Then, Laura. Carmilla had intended to put on her routine all over again — stage a piece of music, blasting rock loud enough to feel through the soles of her feet. It was a favourite piece of hers, if she could be said to have a favorite piece of something she could never know. She’d flicked the switch, ignorant of the volume to only—

This time, Carmilla was the melting pot. Sound swarmed from the speakers, a cacophony of vibrations in tones approaching nothing Carmilla could ever have imagined. It beat like her heart once had, alive again in her chest and her soul. Carmilla could feel it in her very being.

“Music,” she whispered, lost in the sound, and nearly missed the sound of Laura toppling off her stool. It was everything she had ever said and nothing. It was every farce she’d pretended at, every amazed reaction she’d ever made a pass at, and it was all grounded in a reality in her bones. 

This time, Carmilla’s world dropped from around her the way every book had foretold. And it wasn’t following a script, laid out by Maman like a skeleton for her to build her miserable self upon. 

“Turn it down!” Laura shouted, angry enough to make herself heard over the din. Carmilla blinked at her, like she’d never heard anything else, like the rest of the world had been drowned along with the art of careful noise. Laura’s voice was music in and of itself, a dimension built on beauty like an underwater cavern blinking in its first daylight.

Music,” Carmilla whispered again, and clicked the stereo off.

Chapter Text

It was quite honestly the weirdest flower Laura had ever seen.

Well, at first. After a couple years it was a pretty ordinary sight, but the first time she’d looked down at her hands in class to see the bright little white flower she’d tried to throw her arm away from herself. Which, amazingly, didn’t work. It did, however, hit her teacher, which made a bunch of candygram receipts fall out of his pocket that didn’t match up with the figures on the blackboard, and well, the rest was history.

The flower was still a little weird, no matter how long Laura stared at it. It wasn’t that it was rare to get an uncommon flower — there was a Flower Identification 101 class in the first grade for a reason — but roses tended to be common.

Personally, Laura thought having a rose would have been annoying. Sure, you would identify your soulmate by the precise shade and shape of their flower, but it just wasn’t worth the heart attacks every time you’d come across someone with a similar flower. Her father loved to tell the tale of the time he’d thought he was in love with Bob from up the road, just because they both had long stemmed roses.

(He was in love with Bob from up the road, but neither of them figured that out until years later. Both of their first soulmates had died. Sherman had explained to Laura that they’d eventually just gone with close enough, and that was good enough for him. Roses, indeed.)

She figured out, after a few weeks on the internet, that her flower was from a holly tree. And not that you were supposed to put too much stock in where your flower was from, but Laura applied to university in Styria anyway.

There had been a particularly bad attempt at bullying, when Laura was in ninth grade, where someone else figured out what kind of flower she had and that it was an invasive species in many parts of the world.

Laura had thrown an encyclopaedia at her, and then informed her (and the whole school, gathered around the spectacle), that Ell was poorly informed and that the actual native area of the holly tree was in Europe and that she was talking about the wrong subspecies anyway.

She hadn’t been. But Laura didn’t particularly care. Journalism was about truth, but it was also about putting a spin on the truth if it came down to it. For all that it probably was an ecological nightmare, it was tenacious. Strong. And lived well in the shade. Like journalism. Really, it was perfect. And holly was lucky. Whatever else Laura knew or didn’t know about herself, she wanted to be lucky in life. She could take a hint when she saw one.

Laura had almost been disappointed when she’d seen Betty’s tattoo, a beautiful, sprawling acreage of peonies down her left arm. A roommate seemed like the perfect place for the universe to throw her together with her soulmate.

Then it was easy to forget all about that. Betty went missing, and SJ and Natalie were pod people. Laf was having the time of their life, but though the mystery could be thrilling, Laura was miserably trying to eke out a passing grade and hoping she wouldn’t be the next.

Next murderer on campus, too. Carmilla, the roommate from hell, seemed to be clogging the drain on purpose. And how many books could she fit in that sack?

It wasn’t until Carmilla walked in with champagne, wearing a corset she’d conjured from nowhere, that Laura realized that she would have had a soulmate too. That had never managed to pass through her mind, in between all the vampire speculation and libraries that wanted to murder everyone when the sun went down. Carmilla was an entity just as much as the university — a mystery and an enigma. She hadn’t seemed normal. Not like Perry. Certainly nothing like Laura.

Carmilla had a spray of tiny, faded holly flowers draped over the curve of her chest, just the same as Laura. She smiled, guileless for once, and Laura’s heart gave a final sounding sort of falling thump. “Don’t you look like a virgin sacrifice.”

“I am!” Laura blurted, and cursed her entire life and also Laf and Danny for putting her up to this. “It’s a trap! Also, you’re my soulmate! Is it better if I we thought you were a vampire that wanted to eat me?”

Chapter Text

The zombie part of the zombie apocalypse was overrated. Laura practically could have written her memoir about the thing before it happened. There were a few key adjectives everyone knew about zombies, even back when they’d been a trope scattered in movies both rich and poor. Shambling, that was a given. Dragging legs, rotted limbs, dead eyes. 

Dead. Laura hadn’t expected to be able to use that as an adjective as liberally as this world insisted. Plants were dead in yards, keeled over in brown stalks and shrunken leaves without the care of their owners. More often than not, those were the houses that still stank, even months after the apocalypse had clattered into being. 

Lots of things were still alive, though. Like mint. Without people to beat it back with blowtorches, it had spread across lawns. If the climate was right, mint would eat everything else alive. 

Laura was alive, too, surprisingly enough. Krav Maga wasn’t super useful on zombies with the whole they-can-bite-at-close-range thing, but it was good for warding off all the other still-alives. Not everyone was kind after the world had ended. 

Downside to the apocalypse — Laura was too prone to Krav Maga these days. 

Carmilla staggered back, coughing, and Laura stared at her elbow in horror, like it had acted alone. “Carm! I’m so sorry. I thought you were-“

Carmilla waved her off. The leather jacket had cushioned the blow somewhat, and her vampiric constitution had done the rest. She straightened, as much as she ever deigned to. Her hair tumbled over her shoulders, the vampiric lack of sweat having rendered it far cleaner than Laura’s. She was jealous, but not enough to admit it. Yet. “It’s okay, cutie.” She coughed, though Laura knew full well she didn’t need to breathe. “Do you put that much effort into everyone you hit, or am I just special?"

Laura scoffed, then softened. She stepped in closer, kissing Carmilla on the cheek in apology. To her credit, the vampire didn’t flinch away. They were used to the close quarters and close calls these days. And the dead. The shambling dead with dragging legs and rotted limbs. “Sorry anyway.”

Carmilla smiled, as soft as she’d been before any of this had happened. Before she could speak, though, her head snapped up. Laura could see her concentration in the tilt to her head, how hard she was listening. That was how they’d survived this long — forewarning. “Three of them. West.”

Laura sighed, kissed Carmilla again while she still could, and bent to grab her chainsaw. A million years ago, she would have felt guilty for the gasoline fumes, but right now, that meant staying alive. The earth could give her the bill. “I’m ready.”

Carmilla grinned at her, cracking her knuckles. “Bet you I’ll get them all before you get there.” 

Then she vanished, Laura shouting a “superspeed is cheating!” after her.

Chapter Text

“Sorry, do you know the way to the Parade?”

Carmilla refused to look up from her book. It had taken an age to get the pages positioned just right in the sunlight so she could see what she was reading, but not scorch her fingers. “If you’re looking for Santa Claus, I’m afraid you’re a little late.”

The girl huffed and leant over Carmilla, her shadow casting over the book. Carmilla looked up, finally, and found a sight before her the likes of which she’d never encountered before. The girl was decked out in rainbows like she’d soul her soul for them. If she’d had a doubt about what parade the girl was intending to attend, they were gone. “I meant Pride! The website said it was today, but I haven’t managed to find it? Did one of your streets go missing?”

The girl was so earnest about it that Carmilla nearly didn’t mind her reading being interrupted. “I’m afraid you’ve been looking at the wrong town, cutie. It’s a common mistake because someone in City Hall won’t get it sorted out, but we don’t actually have a website.” Carmilla considered it, then plucked a rainbow streamer from the girl’s hair and used it as a bookmark. This was shaping up to be an interesting day. “Pride is in Silas, Alberta today. Not Ontario.”

No.”

Carmilla grinned, and snagged a rainbow sticker for herself, patting the girl’s hand in a conciliatory way. This was going to be fun. “Oh, yes.”

Chapter Text

“I’m very smooth, thank you.” Laura blinked up at Carmilla for emphasis, doing her best at the fluttering eyelashes that Carmilla levered at anyone and everyone. It was harder than it looked. “Super smooth! I can pick up girls!”

“Laura, I know what you’re trying to do, but your mascara has glued the edges of your eyelashes together so...” Carmilla waved a hand at her face, her own makeup behaving perfectly. Of course it was. Even the melting body heat of the club hadn’t been enough to ruffle her best friend. “You should probably sort that out first.”

Now that Carmilla had mentioned it, Laura could feel her sticking eyelashes. She grimaced. “Oh, whatever. Minor issue.” She squinted, but her eyelashes stayed stubbornly where they were. This was the worst timing ever. She was trying to be seductive! “I can seduce anyone, okay? Anyone!”

Carmilla snorted, and swirled her drink. It was hypnotizing, which was unfair. Carmilla wasn’t even trying. “Why don’t you try to pick her up, then, if you’re so confident?”

Laura looked over at the bar, where Carmilla had indicated. She was beautiful, Laura thought, but there was something nervous in the set of her shoulders, under the glittering blue fabric. “Carm, that’s just mean. Why would I try to pick up someone if I didn’t make it.”

“To prove your point?” Carmilla winked at someone behind Laura, probably. She crossed her arms, Carmilla watching with that predatory gaze. Her friend smiled only when she was hungry, for one thing or another “Or are you giving up already, cupcake?”

Laura squeaked, and delicately pried her eyelashes apart. “Fine!” She fluttered again, more effectively this time. Carmilla still looked unimpressed. “She’s not enough of a challenge, though.”

“Oh?” There was enough meaning packed into that one word to write an article off of. 

Laura smiled, letting it grow slowly, picking up every hidden thought she’d ever had. Carmilla swallowed, and Laura’s smile only grew. Hyperaware of her body, her legs stretched to the rungs on her tall stool, she leaned in a little closer. Enough that Carmilla would notice, but not enough that she’d be able to reach out and grab her. Either of them. The temptation was too great. And it was just a game, right? “You’re 

“Even over her?”

Laura didn’t even look. She let her eyes flicker up and down Carmilla’s body the way she’d always wanted to. This was permission for everything — all the things she’d always wanted and could never have. The perfect excuse. The perfect get out of jail free card. Laura never gave up in Monopoly, and she wasn’t going to give up this bet, either. “Over everyone.”

There was a moments pause, where Carmilla barely seemed to breathe, and Laura was afraid that she’d gone too far. Had she messed everything up? Did she not want to be friends anymore?

Then Carmilla leaned in, too, abandoning her drink on the table. Lights pulsed over her skin, her shadowed eyes sparkling with want. The game was on. “Oh, Laura. You’re mistaken. You’re the one that’s on a whole other level.” Carmilla wet her lips, and Laura let her gaze linger. She wanted to know what Carmilla’s dark lipstick tasted like — wax and sweetness and Carmilla. “Nobody here compares to you.”

“Or you.” Laura leaned even closer. “You beautiful-”

“Stunning.”

“Gorgeous.”

“Funny.”

“Brilliant.”

“Nerdy.”

“Smug.”

Before Carmilla could say one more thing, Laura’s resolve crumbled. Her fingers found Carmilla’s hair, artfully tousled, and pulled her down. Carmilla was electric, her hands settling on Laura’s waist, her fingers lines of heat. By the time she drew back to catch her breath, Laura was made from flame. 

“Smooth,” Carmilla muttered, and Laura leaned in to laugh against her lips. 

Chapter Text

Laura was usually better at telling others thoughts apart from her own. She had a policy — if the thoughts weren’t dangerous, disengage. People deserved privacy in their heads most of all. 

And that had worked pretty well. Until today. 

The stray thoughts had a depth to them, layers of understanding about the world that Laura had only noticed before in older people, but without any of the cloudiness. They thoughts were also grumpy. Could you blame her for thinking they were her own? And she’d run out of cocoa, too. It just wasn’t a good day in general.

Useless, the thoughts grumbled. Anyone who’d picked up a book could know the opposite.

Now that Laura had realized they weren’t hers, she could feel the slight tenor to them that was different. A nuance she didn’t have. Slightly more morbid, too. She peered down at the person in front of her, dipping just deep enough into their thoughts to check if they were the mystery person.

She didn’t bother checking Kirsch, though he was close enough he bumped elbows with her every couple minutes. Just… no. 

Not caring of how weird it would look, she swivelled her chair around as far as it would go, and stared at the girl behind her. As soon as she made eye contact, she knew that was who she’d been hearing. The thoughts jumped into high definition, the undercurrent of murky images fading away as suspicion flooded in. The girl sat up straighter, her hair slipping forwards over her face, and everything in her focused on one, specific thought. 

Are you the one who’s been listening in?

Chapter Text

Carmilla had been following her around ever since she got back to their cabin, the ship finally hauled out of the danger zone. As much as any ship could get out of the danger zone, at the moment. Wolf 359 still lingered on everyone’s minds. “It was just a close shave, Carm. I’m fine.”

Her wife snorted, and laid a hand on her shoulder. What was usually a comforting weight felt near numb. The nerves still didn’t quite know how to interpret the different input. “Laura, look at me.”

Laura kept her eyes locked on her hands. There were tiny red marks between her metacarpals, that she had been assured wouldn’t scar. The semi-conversion hadn’t been effective, or long lasting. There wouldn’t be any physical reminders. Thank the stars that Perry was as good a doctor as she was. If she hadn’t—

Laura didn’t want to think about it. “I’m fine, I swear.”

“Laura, you were assimilated. That’s not fine. You should ask Starfleet for some time off — surely Commander Callis can take over for a while.” Carmilla dropped to the bed beside her, leaning in. Laura remembered that she’d always found it comforting, but right now it just felt claustrophobic. She shifted away. “Creampuff. Really. You don’t have to pretend.”

“It wasn’t awful,” Laura whispered. She ran a thumb over the faint marks again, wondering how she was able to pick them out in the dim light of her quarters. Had the nanobots upgraded her eyes? “It wasn’t awful when it was in me. Only before. Only after.”

Carmilla reached for her twitching hands, but stopped, and offered her own flat palms instead. She knew how trapped Laura had to feel. “That’s enough. You can’t find a counsellor in the fleet that wouldn't recommend some time off. Seriously, cutie. There’s no shame in it.”

“I’m not saying there’s any shame in it!” Laura’s words cracked out, and she could practically see the dent in her wall. She swallowed, the sensation alien. “I’m just not the only one that this happened to. The whole bridge crew had this happen to them, and I know deck sixteen had it even worse. I’m not something special.” Her voice cracked, and all over again Laura could hear the smooth, dulcet tones the Borg had talked through her with. “Oh, it was quiet.”

“What was quiet?” Carmilla’s hand was still held empty. Waiting. 

She shrugged helplessly. Shadows played off the wall, the flickering light on her bedside table casting formless shapes on the wall. “Everything. Me. God, Carm, it’s been so loud out here. I can hear the klaxons in my sleep. They just keep advancing, and it only takes one ‘if’, one failure in our science, for our miracle to drop away. If Laf hadn’t-”

“But they did.”

“If,” Laura repeated. “It was so quiet. I didn’t have to think. I barely had to hear. I didn’t have to say anything, I didn’t have to do anything. However much I retained about myself it was just- just- floating. Waiting.” Laura took a shuddering breath, and gripped Carmilla’s hand. “Quiet.”

Carmilla wrapped both hands around Laura’s cold one, and in the silence, Laura felt warmth for the first time in hours. “You’ll find that again. The war will end.”

Laura tried to believe that. She really, really did. 

Chapter Text

“Cutie, what are you doing?”

Laura spun, hands behind her back. The green bin lay open behind her, laughing. “Uh- nothing! Disposing of coffee grinds!” Her arm twitched, as she went to wave a distracting hand and remembers she was trying to hide something. “If I leave them in the sink, everything smells like coffee and

“Laura,” Carmilla said gently. She stepped closer, ignoring her wife’s squeak and failed attempt to nudge whatever was in her hands into the sink. “You haven’t drank coffee in a month. Remember?”

Laura ramped up her smile, like that would be distracting. It was, but not enough. “You know me and procrastination- hey!”

Carmilla stared at the vegetables, trying to choke back a laugh. “Laura, honestly, I’m not going to put the peppers in the soup tonight.” She’d gotten good at cooking with and without ingredients, over the years. Rationing made catering to Laura’s weak tastebuds simple. “I know you don’t like them. Put them back in the fridge.”

“I don’t- it’s not that I don’t like them!” Laura swelled with indignation. “They’re horrible! They make me sneeze! And they burn my tongue!”

“We’re discussing generic red peppers, creampuff, not ghost peppers.” Carmilla handed Laura back the vegetables, and leaned in to kiss her cheek. While Laura was otherwise occupied, she clicked the lid to the green box shut. “There’s no need to get worked up.”

Laura’s cheeks were nearly as red as the peppers. “Thats easy for you to say! Somehow, the vegetable from hell doesn’t seem to bother you!”

“My tastebuds are dead,” Carmilla deadpanned. “Comes with the whole vampire thing.”

“Ex-vampire.” Laura stuck out her tongue.

Carmilla smirked, a baring of her teeth. It was a shame her stint in undeath hadn’t given her interesting teeth, but she always knew how to make the best of it. And this was the best of it: Laura, flushing, her gaze caught on Carmilla’s lips, her tirade against spices forgotten.

“Now, if you’re quite done, I think I have some pepper-free soup to make.”

Chapter Text

“So,” Carmilla said, without preamble, “tell me a secret.”

Laura looked over at her friend, sliced into pieces of dark and light by the streetlights through the sturdy boards of her treehouse. Her dad had made it pass the city building codes, but he hadn’t built it with any sort of aesthetic in mind. “A what.”

“A secret.” Carmilla clasped her hands on her stomach, like she knew Laura had wanted to reach for her. “Something deep and dark, or a light that nobody else sees in the sky.”

I love you. I wish you loved me. I wish you’d turn your head as I turned mine and I could stare into your eyes and you would look into mine like there would be a universe in them.

“I still sleep with a nightlight.” Laura said, which was technically a secret in that she hadn’t told anyone, but it wasn’t her secret. The one that nestled under her sternum and ached whenever Carmilla was near. “I used to have entire lamps on when I slept? Because the dark sucks and contains lots of murderers probably but because the energy industry is making a shift away from incandescent lights I went with a baby nightlight?” She had to pause to take a breath, but she didn’t stop. “Because then it wouldn’t look like a spaceship just tried to land through my wall.” Another pause, this one longer. “And that image wasn’t exactly helping me sleep.”

Carmilla hummed something, then said, “You know what I’ve heard about secrets? The more you say, the less is true.”

Laura stared at the slats in the ceiling, the stars peering down between them. “Have I ever lied?”

“No,” Carmilla admitted, but there was a burning intensity to her voice that hadn’t been there before. “But that doesn’t mean you’re always telling the truth.”

Chapter Text

Carmilla was nearly as winded as Lophii as she finally trotted out of the ring. The horse seemed nearly indignant to still be on his feet, like after scaling jump after jump he thought he should just float back to his stall. His flanks were heaving, much the same as his rider.

Laura gave Lophii an appreciative stroke, and laughed as the horse nudged her away with his nose. “Nice job in there!” She had won, and everyone knew it. Going last may have given Carmilla plenty of time to freak out, but it also had the fortunate side effect of knowing exactly where she would place. “Gold medallist, huh?”

Carmilla grinned, exhausted. She bent quickly to kiss the top of Laura’s head, one of the things Laura would never have been able to do without falling off the horse. That was why she had been in gymnastics, not show jumping. Carmilla’s eyes gleamed with wicked humour, and Laura knew what she was going to say before she opened her mouth. “Well I guess this makes you-” 

“Don’t say it-” Laura warned, but it wasn’t very harsh. Her lips were turned up at the sides, though she fought it.

“My trophy wife,” Carmilla finished, dramatically. She patted the top of Laura’s head. “My tiny, short trophy wife.”

“I’m filing for divorce.” Laura told her, and her mouth cracked into a real smile. She gave Lophii another pat, the horse huffing with irritation. “After you get your medal, of course. I want it in the split.”

“You have three!” Carmilla protested. She cued Lophii invisibly, and the horse started to amble forwards. Laura followed, grinning and washed with second-hand elation.

Laura waved a hand, slow and careful. She knew better than to startle the horses. Well, she knew now at least. “Gymnastics medals! Not equestrian!”

“Small detail,” Carmilla agreed. She made as if she tipped her helmet, and sent another invisible cue to Lophii, who picked up the pace, easily outstripping Laura. “See you after!”

Laura watched her go, Lophii’s tail swishing as he trotted away. He seemed to think he was heading for the stables, which was hilarious. Her phone buzzed — probably a student from her yoga studio — but she didn’t reach for it. 

“You know,” she decided, out loud. “I think I might enjoy being the trophy wife.”

Chapter Text

Nothing appeared in Laura’s summoning circle. Which was… not great. Okay, it was terrible. Laura knew she’d summoned something. She’d felt the tug at the other end of her firmly imagined cord. Her heart still sputtered in her chest like an engine running on fumes. She’d used her powers before, she knew what the drain felt like.

Life to bring life. Laura didn’t quite have a grasp on what she was trading, but she knew it was important. Hopefully it wasn’t years off her life. Though at this point, it may as well have been. If whatever she’d summoned wasn’t contained, she’d likely kick it here and now.

A cheerful thought. Laura was great at those, ever since she’d accidentally brought back her roommate back from the dead a year ago. She’d practiced — the necromancy, not the pessimism. Though the two seemed to be inextricably linked. Maybe Laura was trading positive energy?

Laura took a deep breath, held it, and released it in a gush. In the silence after, she paused, gathering her senses. If she was lucky — ha — she might be able to sense the cord that bound her to the-

Crinkling. Someone was in the warehouse with her.

Laura spun. And there, at the table where she’d set all of her materials, was a girl. Her age, about, though she seemed to have a serious case of fake 1800s, given the ridiculous corset she was wearing. Was it made of leather?

“Cupcakes?” the girl said. Laura couldn’t quite place her tone. It was somewhere between amused and disdainful, with a nice dash of mockery. “You come to an abandoned warehouse in the outskirts of Styria and you bring cupcakes as your one food item? Listen, cutie, that’s just not practical.”

“Hey!” Laura stormed forward and ripped the half-eaten cupcake out of the girl’s hand. The girl raised an eyebrow at her, and reached beside them to grab another one. “Those are mine!” A moment later, when the sheer irritation had faded a little, Laura stepped closer and prodded the girl. “And how did you get in here? I thought I locked the door you… you raging bad person! You broke in!”

“Carmilla,” she said, and popped the whole next cupcake in her mouth at once. “How did you get in?”

Laura’s mouth malfunctioned. Carmilla just snorted, and licked icing off her finger. It was… distracting. Which was ridiculous. People who broke into Laura's magic spells had no right to be distracting looking! “I- That’s not the point!”

Carmilla nodded, and went for another cupcake. Laura slapped her hand away. “You’re right there, cupcake.” Carmilla smiled, and Laura didn’t like the look of it. “That isn’t the thing you should be worried about. How about you try that summoning circle? Have you realized what went wrong yet?”

“Okay, listen, you can’t just barge in and try to tell me how to do my job!” Laura paused. “My skill! Ability. Life calling?” She shook her head, a few more wisps of hair flying free of her tight braid. “It doesn’t matter. How would you know-”

That’s when Laura noticed the closed door. The chain was still in place, and the thick dust on the floor still contained only one set of footsteps. Her gaze swung back to Carmilla, and then down at the half-eaten cupcake in her hand. The outline of teeth was marked clearly in the stiff icing — many, many teeth, all needle sharp.

Cold trickled down Laura’s spine. She hadn’t thought of that. The cupcake inside the circle was from the same batch as the ones she’d brought for a snack — the same ingredients, brewed and cooked at the same time, and wrapped in paper cups from the same package. Magically speaking, she’d basically offered whatever she’d summoned a ticket out of the circle.

This was why Hogwarts needed to exist. Learning magic on your own sucked.

Carmilla just grinned at her, and now that Laura was paying proper attention, Laura could see the edges of inhumanity in her. The way her chest wasn’t moving with breath, the chill that seemed to emanate from her skin, and of course, her numerous razor-edged teeth. “Well, you’re the last person I’d expect to be a necromancer, cupcake, but yes. I’m one of the undead you summoned.” She tossed a third cupcake up, and caught it, somehow without letting a single rainbow sprinkle go flying. “And yes, the contract is binding.”

Chapter Text

“Drown yourself,” Laf suggested. They took a sip of their lemonade, the paper umbrella only half-scorched from whatever they were doing before they came to the beach. They seemed to think this suggestion was helpful, somehow. “It’s foolproof.”

“Um,” Laura said, and took a huge gulp of her lemonade to keep from saying something inadvisable. “In what way, exactly?”

“A fool couldn’t do it.” Laf winked at Laura. Laura felt vaguely complimented, but the potential for disaster overruled the emotion. Handily. 

“That’s…” Laura said weakly. “That’s not what foolproof means.”

“Sure it is.” Laf stirred their lemonade, then set it down. Laura saw the umbrella catch fire briefly, but Laf didn’t seem to notice, so she didn’t say anything. Maybe coming to the beach with the inventor of the world’s best technology and the world’s worst ideas wasn’t the smartest thing Laura had ever done. “It’s foolproof because no fool would try it.”

“Uh huh.” Laura sighed, and resisted the urge to stare off at the lifeguard stand again. It was ridiculous, and something out of an Archie comic, but she really, really wanted to talk to Carmilla. Maybe talk was an understatement. She wanted to kiss Carmilla. She wanted to make out with Carmilla. Sleeping through the first half of the summer had been amazing because it had given her energy for the second half, but Laura was beginning to think it was too much energy. “Laf, I think I’m going to buy you a dictionary for the nearest possible occasion.”

“Sweet! I needed some more tinder for the alchemy club membership creation.” Laf looked pensive. “Not that you need to know about that.” They grinned. “Now,” Laf said sternly, “Drown. You’re not a fool, Hollis. You can do this.”

“As a lifeguard,” the person behind Laura drawled. It was a very familiar voice. One Laura had been listening to from a distance for going on a week now. “I’m going to have to advise against purposefully drowning. See, I’ve heard it’s unpleasant. And then if you were dead, I couldn't get your number, could I?”

Laura wondered if it counted as fulfilling Laf’s plan if what she drowned in was embarrassment instead of the ocean.

Chapter Text

Purr took the hit hard, the fish man belting her sideways into the building. The glass shattered around her, and though Laura was a fair distance away she winced at the blood that splattered her fellow hero’s dark costume. 

“Hey!” she shouted, and sent a crackling bolt of electric humming for the fishy menace. To all rights, it should have fried him, given he was still dripping river water, but it glanced off and went into the nearby neon sign, shattering it. “Hey ugly! Have you heard of physics?”

If only Carmilla could see her now, she wouldn’t laugh so much about Purr and Shimmer, Styria’s top notch crimefighting duo. Carmilla always had a dig at one name or the other, especially for Purr. She had originally tried to brand herself as the Cat Burglar, but had been on the right side of the tracks often enough to earn her the fond, mocking nickname of ‘Purr’. Laura had had more luck with her own secret identity — Shimmer stuck easily. 

She would make it home to Carmilla. Laura always did. Laura always swore she could all but feel Carmilla at her side when she was out here, fighting the supernatural nasties that Silas seemed to attract. 

Lophii shed another blast like the water from it’s brow, and Laura swore. Time for a change in tactics. She send her next burst of electricity into the wires for the streetcars that hung above their heads, sending a mental apology to the city councillors that would have to budget for repair. 

She had timed it perfectly. The wires had never been made to hold up under this kind of stress, and they frayed near-instantly, dropping a net of electricity and heavy weights onto Lophii’s head. The police descended, guns all pointing at the newest loser of the night. Laura’s job was done. 

But Purr wasn’t there. Laura hurried to the shop where she lay, motionless among shards of glass. They reflected the tiny blue sparks of electric crackling in Laura’s hair, a sign of her nerves. 

Before Laura could properly think about it, she was tugging her partner’s full-face mask off to check for broken bones and swelling. For a moment, she avoided looking, but the shape of the face under her fingers was all too familiar. Laura’s heart dropped out of her chest, a bottomless chasm opening under her feet. “Carmilla?”