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What's Mine Is Yours... Always

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With a deep growl, Carmilla gave the coffee machine her best death glare, sending her heavy black boot into the base of the machine with a huff. The mint green machine that was easily older than her simply stared back, mockingly, refusing her the caffeine she so desperately required.

Heaving a deep sigh she turned away and shuffled on towards the room she’d, unfortunately, become intimately familiar with over the last week. She’d been forced out a little over two hours ago by a determined Perry who insisted she go outside to get some fresh air and head home for a much-needed shower. She’d rushed through it of course, desperate to get back as quickly as possible, despite the fact that the shower felt amazing and the fresh air was a much-needed break from the overly sterile air that clung to every inch of the hospital. But two hours away seemed like far too long and she’d rushed back only to realize how truly exhausted she really was. She hadn’t had more than a few hours sleep in days, afraid that if she closed her eyes, she’d miss something.

She’d been three hundred miles away, in the middle of a photo shoot with the most insufferable model she’d had the displeasure of working with when it had happened. She’d gotten the call from LaFontaine and at first, she was confused. LaF was all over the place, talking over themself a mile a minute without really saying anything that made sense. Something about bees and brownies and possible organ transplants. It wasn’t until Perry finally took the phone from them that she found out the real reason behind the call; Laura had been in a terrible car accident and was in critical condition at St. Peter’s hospital, just twenty minutes away from the modest condo they shared near downtown Silas.

She’d immediately grabbed her things and recklessly broke every speed limit and traffic law on her way back home, repeatedly redlining the Honda CB1000R that Laura had initially begged her to get rid of but secretly loved riding on the back of, especially during those crisp fall days when the breeze would hit them just right with the scents of autumn leaves and pine. The whole ride she’d been completely terrified of what awaited her at the hospital, or worse… that with the ‘critical’ describing Laura’s condition, she wouldn’t get there in time. It was awful.

This wasn’t how things were supposed to go. Things were supposed to be good. She was supposed to come home two days later after finishing the shoot and walk into their home, Laura there, smiling and jumping into her arms as soon as the door closed, thrilled that their dreaded five-day work separation was finally over. They’d planned to have dinner together that night and celebrate Laura’s latest political bashing article being printed in the Times. They would’ve ordered a fancy wine and made heart eyes at each other over the table while playing with each other fingers underneath it.

Instead, she was racing towards uncertainty, hoping against hope that what would greet her would be better than the worst-case scenario. When she’d arrived at the hospital a little after eight that night, LaF and Perry were there in the waiting room, both squirming in their chairs, apparently waiting for her.

“What the hell happened?!? Is she ok? Where is she?”

“They’re moving her to a room right now. She’s been in surgery,” LaFontaine explained, nervously wringing their hands in front of themselves. “There were some… complications and some internal bleeding. They’ve stopped it but, the doctor said the next few hours will be critical.”

Carmilla just stared at the two, digging her nails into her palms to keep the tears threatening to spill from her eyes at bay.

“Carmilla, she’s going to get through this,” Perry said, with as much conviction as she could muster. She tentatively reached out, placing a comforting hand on Carmilla’s leather-clad shoulder. “Laura is a fighter. You know this. She’s not just going to give up on you and her career and the amazing life she’s worked so hard for.”

Carmilla just nodded, staring down at the floor, terrified of what would happen if Perry was wrong. Terrified of the worst. Terrified of what would happen if she lost Laura.

It was thirty minutes later when the trio was finally lead to Laura’s room. If Carmilla was scared before, the sight that greeted her froze every muscle in her body. Laura lay in the hospital bed, bruised and broken. She had a set of stitches across her forehead that matched the set along the right side of her jawline, cuts and scratches littering her face and arms, tubes and lines hooked up to all sorts of machines that beeped and buzzed around her. The nurse had warned them that the sight may be shocking but Carmilla was not prepared for this. Laura was the strong one, the one that could carry the world on her shoulders. But laying there in that hospital bed, she looked so small and broken.

It had been eight days since that night. Eight days and Laura still hadn't woken up. Eight days of the doctors performing test after test, attempting to get any sort of response from the tiny journalist without success. Eight days of Carmilla never leaving Laura’s side for more than five minutes, spending her days begging Laura to wake up and her nights huddled in an uncomfortable chair to the right of Laura's bed, holding her hand and staring at the sleeping girl that had stolen her heart all those years ago. Today was the first time she'd left the room at all, having taken advantage of LaF, Perry, and even Sherman, who had arrived the morning after the accident, to bring her whatever she needed as she waited for Laura to come around. They'd both suggested that she take some time away but it wasn't until she was forced out by a persistent Perry that she actually left. Now that she was back, the guilt she felt from leaving was beginning to overwhelm her. What if something had happened while she was gone? What if she missed something? Rubbing her hands over her face with a sigh, she rounded the corner towards Laura’s room and was immediately met with an anxious Perry and overly exuberant LaFontaine.

“There you are! We’ve been calling you for the past hour, why didn’t you answer your phone? You and Sherman have both been totally MIA and it's really not ok!” The eager tone of LaFontaine’s voice caught her off guard.

“What’s going on?” Carmilla asked, glancing down at her very dead iPhone and realizing for the first time that she hadn't used it since she last talked to Mattie a few days ago. “Did something happen? Is she-”

“Awake! She’s awake!”

“Are you serious?”

She didn’t even bother waiting for an answer as she barreled past the two gingers and into the beige hospital room, her eyes immediately meeting those of the woman she loved. She was awake. She was ok. Hearing LaFontaine and Perry rush in behind her, she let out the deep breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding and felt her lips turn up in the biggest smile she’d had in weeks.

“Hey cupcake, about time you woke up. I’ve missed those gorgeous brown eyes,” she said, slowly walking towards the bed and taking Laura’s free hand, smiling down at the prone girl. It was taking everything she had to keep the tears welling in her eyes at bay, but she couldn’t break down now. Not when Laura was staring back at her expectantly. “How are you feeling?”

“Um, I don’t know. Sore. Confused. Tired.”

“I think that’s the fewest words I’ve ever heard you use,” Carmilla chuckled, tenderly brushing her thumb across a few bruised knuckles.

“Yeah… I just um… I’m sorry, I don’t understand.” Pausing, Laura looked around the room, briefly making eye contact with the two gingers at the foot of the bed.

“Don’t understand what cutie?”

Turning her gaze back to Carmilla, she momentarily floundered as she tried to find the right words. Briefly glancing down at their joined hands only seemed to heighten her panic.

“Laura, sweetie, you were in a car accident. But everything is going to be fine,” Perry anxiously chimed in, looking for some way to be helpful.

“Yeah, I know. I remember the crash. I was on my way back from that assignment about bee pollination and you’d just called to invite me over for movies,” she said, turning to back to Perry and LaF.

“Yeah, Per was starting a batch of double chocolate brownies when you guys hung up,” LaF chimed in helpfully.

“Right, I remember I told her I desperately needed a pick me up and she offered. I just, I don’t remember…” Laura paused, once again glancing back and forth from her hand gently clasped in Carmilla’s to the dark-haired girl's anxious eyes. Carefully pulling her hand away, she closed her eyes and briefly shook her head, seemingly trying to collect herself. When she opened her eyes again she was met with a confused look from the girl next to her.

“Don’t remember what? What is it, Laura?”

“Who are you?”

Chapter Text


 

“Post-traumatic amnesia? What the hell is that?” Carmilla glared at the doctor, her hands firmly planted on her hips, her face a mask of anger.

“I know this is scary for you Miss Karnstein. But considering how hard Laura hit her head, we knew there would likely be a possibility of complications following the accident. Unfortunately, amnesia was one of the complications we knew could possibly surface, but it’s not the worst case scenario. Be thankful for that.”

“Thankful?!?” Carmilla stared back at the doctor, looking like she was about to come unhinged. “I’m supposed to be thankful that my fiancé has no idea who the hell I am?”

“Carmilla, let’s just calm down, it’s all going to be alright,” Perry said, doing her best imitation of a comforting mother. The murderous look Carmilla shot her at the suggestion was enough to keep her from saying anything further and forced her to unconsciously step away from the seething girl.

“Again, I know this is upsetting for you Miss Karnstein. It’s upsetting for all of you, I understand, but please, let’s not do anything rash just yet. We’re going to run some more tests to confirm and to make sure that everything else is ok.”

“But doc, come on. Is this really that common? Seems beyond the realm of strange that Laura is only forgetting one person, let alone the person closest to her. It just doesn’t seem right to me,” Sherman Hollis chimed in, his overly protected dad exterior firmly in place. He’d arrived back to the hospital room only a few minutes after Laura had finally woken up. “Is there a chance it’s something else or that something else might be wrong with her? Is it something that happened to her here at the hospital?”

“I can assure you, Mr. Hollis, this was a possibility all along. Like I said, we’re going to run a few more tests now that Laura’s awake just to rule out anything more serious. It should only take about an hour or so. While we’re doing that, why don’t you all go get some coffee and just sit tight. It’s very possible that this will only be a short-term loss.”

“How short term?” Carmilla’s tone was beyond desperate at this point.

“We can’t say for sure. But let me get back to Laura and get started. The main thing right now is to not panic.” With that, the doctor turned on his heel and left the group standing at the end of the hallway.

“This can’t be happening. I mean, she can’t just not remember…” Carmilla trailed off, staring into the distance down the hall where the doctor had just vanished.

“Hey, come on kid. Let the doctors do their tests and see if they can figure anything else out,” Sherman said, stepping towards the dark-haired girl. “I know it’s scary now, but… well, let’s just see what happens.” Carmilla finally looked at the older man and saw the unmistakable fear clouding his eyes, which only sent her into a deeper state of alarm.

The group watched in silence as a moment later, Laura was wheeled out of her room in her hospital bed and down the hall, further away from them. An hour or so, that’s what the doctor had said. What was another hour or so of waiting for answers? After all, it had already been eight days. Eight long, excruciatingly awful days.

The group slowly made their way to the waiting room on that floor of the hospital, looking for anything to make the time go by faster. Perry placed a few more update phone calls to some of Laura’s other friends and co-workers while LaF scoured the internet for any information they could find on the amnesia Laura’s doctor had referenced and Sherman paced around the waiting room, reminiscing and rambling through any and all of the Laura getting into trouble stories he could remember. Danny and Kirsch had arrived with food and caffeine for everyone a half hour into the wait, looking for some way to be helpful until Laura returned and they could get some more answers. It was all too much for Carmilla as she sat in the corner, hunched over, her head in her hands, desperately trying to get her thoughts in order and keep the migraine she felt coming on at bay long enough to get through this mess.

“Dudes! What if we did like a little skit for her or something, maybe that’d help her remember everything!”

“Like what Kirsch?” Danny asked, already rolling her eyes. “She remembers us, it’s Carmilla that’s missing. You want us to put on a reenactment of their first date? Or their housewarming party? Or hey, how about the time Laura got so drunk at that Zeta party off of that ‘bitchin’ pilsner’ you guys were brewing that she ended up spending half the night singing Celine Dion karaoke? Drusilla over there had to carry her to the car to get her home.”

“Wait, what happened?” That stopped Sherman’s ramble about Laura’s obsession with ladybugs that took over much of her second-grade year.

“Or we could reenact the time she almost punched that girl out at that club when the girl wouldn’t stop hitting on Carmilla,” LaF spouted off with a laugh. “Carmilla had to literally carry Laura over her shoulder outside. She was kicking and yelling the whole time.”

“She did what?” Sherman stopped pacing the length of the room.

“Yeah! Or like that time we all went up to Mel’s parent's cabin and caught them skinny dipping in the lake because they thought we were all asleep so it’d be cool to swim after midnight. Morticia didn’t have to carry Laura in that one, but still, it was pretty funny when they realized all their clothes were missing.”

“Oh, I don’t want to hear this,” Sherman said, finally walking out of the room.

“Alright, all of you, that’s enough,” Perry scolded, attempting to reign in the three giggling friends. “That’s her father, he doesn’t need to know all the… intimate details of Laura’s life with Carmilla. And furthermore, the doctor said this could only be temporary. There’s no need to create a screenplay complete with sock puppets on Laura and Carmilla’s history. What we need to focus on right now is helping Laura get better, however, we can. LaFontaine, get back to your research. Danny and Kirsch, you two… well just sit quietly with your hands in your lap.”

Carmilla peered up for a moment to see the trio immediately follow Perry’s orders and couldn’t help but smirk a little. Betty Crocker sure did have a way of getting things in order and the ragtag team in front of her was no exception.

It was quiet for all of two minutes before Sherman popped his head back in and announced that they were settling Laura back into her room. The group instantly gathered their things and followed him down the hallway, all the while still keeping as quiet as possible until they reached Laura’s room and all breathed a collective sigh of relief to see her still there, sleeping peacefully. After all, it had been a long day.

As the nurses were settling Laura back in, they seemed pleased to provide the group with positive news that there didn’t seem to be any further damage beyond what they’d already discovered. The doctor wanted to keep an eye on her for another day or two but was hopeful that she’d be able to leave the hospital soon as long as nothing further came up. She was healing nicely from her surgery and beyond the broken left arm and a few cracked ribs, she seemed to have come through unscathed.

Sherman immediately pulled a chair up to the side of the bed, apparently intent on waiting there until his daughter woke up again. The others took his cue, quietly making themselves comfortable wherever there was room available. Carmilla, however, stayed glued to the door frame, her right hand fiddling with Laura’s engagement ring in her front pocket. One of the nursing staff had given it to her not long after Laura was settled into her room after surgery and she’d found herself frequently running her fingers over it for some sort of comfort over the last few days. Of course, it was more comforting when it was settled securely on Laura's finger, but at this point, she'd take whatever she could get.

“Hey, you coming in Bad Seed?” LaF asked from their spot near the window.

Carmilla looked up, seeing all eyes on her, all of them curious and quickly backed away, suddenly overwhelmed by the events of the last eight days. It felt like she’d just been slammed into by a freight train.

“Actually, I think I’m going to get some air. I’ll be back in a bit.” She didn’t wait for a response from anyone before quickly making her way down the hall, foregoing the elevator in favor of the nearby staircase. Ten flights down was way easier than waiting for the elevator and continuing to breathe in the stale air pushing down on her with twenty thousand pounds of pressure. Sprinting down them and through the hospital lobby, she roughly pushed through the front doors, taking in gulps of the cool autumn air the early evening offered. Putting her hands on her knees she realized just how close she was to a panic attack at that moment and swallowed hard to keep the bile rising in her throat from coming out.

Not now. Just keep it together Karnstein. You can do this. Taking one final deep breath, she pushed herself to stand and made her way over to a nearby bench, plopping down heavily.

She turned and watched the newly turned autumn leaves undulating softly against the gentle fall breeze, the air crisp and welcoming. Laura would have loved to sit here and watch them. Laura…

She’s awake. She’s awake. Just focus on that. She’s awake and ok, Carmilla thought as a few stubborn tears rolled down her cheeks.

 


 

“Who are you?” The words kept ringing in her mind, over and over, each time seeming more unbelievable than the last.

Carmilla stood near the doorway, out of sight from the others, staring intently as the group chatted animatedly with each other, eager to catch up with what had happened over the last week. She’d spent a good hour outside, collecting herself and making a few calls to her siblings before forcing her feet to carry her back inside and up to the tenth floor. Inside the room, she watched as a now much more awake Laura smiled and then laughed as Danny slapped at the back of Kirsch’s head, clearly displeased with whatever innocently inappropriate comment he’d made. On the one side of the bed, Perry scolded them and LaFontaine giggled. Sherman seemed to be trying to suppress his own chuckle from his post at the other side of the bed. It felt so good to see Laura awake and smiling, alive and happy to be surrounded by her friends and those she loved most. Carmilla tried to focus on that feeling and not the one heavily weighing down her heart at the possibility that Laura would never remember her or the life they’d built together.          

The last week had left her terrified to her very core, something she’d never felt before and something she wasn’t eager to feel again anytime soon. The whole time she’d been waiting for Laura to wake up, all kinds of horrible scenarios had crossed her mind, the worse being that the love of her life wouldn’t wake up at all. But Laura forgetting her had never been one of those scenarios and therefore, something she really had not prepared for.

Sighing deeply she thought back to what had happened just a few hours ago, thinking of how quickly she’d gone from ecstatic to have Laura back to devastated with just three little words.

*****

“Who are you?” The uncertainty with which Laura uttered the question stunned her because if Laura was anything, it definitely was not uncertain. The scrappy brunette was one of the most stubbornly sure people Carmilla had ever met, even when she was clearly wrong.

“Laura, cupcake, what are you talking about?” She knelt down further beside the bed, attempting to reach for Laura’s hand once more but finding it impossible with the tiny journalist keeping it closely clasped to her chest.

“You ok Frosh?” LaF and Perry both stepped closer to the bed, their faces both awash in concern.

“No. I mean yes. I mean…what-”

“Laura! Laura Eileen Hollis!” The commotion from the hallway was enough to draw the attention of all four members of the room towards the doorway. Less than a second later Sherman stood there, clutching at the frame, red-faced and breathless.

“Dad!” Carmilla turned back to watch Laura’s face immediately light up at the sight of her overprotective father, thrilled to see the smile that enveloped her features.

“Oh Pumpkin, I’m so happy to see you awake and ok.” He clambered towards the head of the bed, taking a spot next to Carmilla, and placed a comforting hand on Laura’s shoulder and a soft kiss on her forehead.

“I’m fine dad. Completely a-ok,” she giggled. The sound was like music to Carmilla’s ears and she felt her lips turn up uncontrollably.

“You sure about that L?”

“Positive,” Laura answered, turning back to her best friends. “I mean, as far as ways to wake up in a hospital after a car crash, this doesn’t seem too bad.”

“God, you are so amazing cutie. You take an eight-day nap and when you wake up, you’re already good to go and ready take on the world.” Carmilla watched the smile slip from Laura’s face as their eyes met once again. There it was; the complete confusion and lack of recognition that she’d seen just a few moments earlier.

“My name is Laura. I think we’re a little too new to one another for friendly nicknames. And again, who are you? Are you a nurse here or were you somehow involved in the accident?”

This must be what if feels like to have an anvil crush your chest, Carmilla thought, watching Laura reach for Sherman’s hand and pull him closer, almost as if she was trying to put more obstacles between her and Carmilla.

“Laura, sweetie, what are you talking about?” The obvious panic was lying just under the surface in Perry’s voice.

“Yeah L, don’t you recognize Carmilla?”

“Carmilla? Who’s Carmilla?”

Fuck.

 *****

Carmilla watched for another minute, before collecting the courage to quietly step into the room. Sherman was the first to notice her, her eyes meeting his and glimpsing something akin to hope.

“Hey there kid, we were wondering where you’d gotten off to.” She watched as the rest of group turned towards her, their eyes all wide and expectant. Well, all except one pair that stared back at her, filled with confusion.

“Uh, yeah, sorry,” she mumbled, shoving her hands into the back pockets of her trademark leather pants. “I just needed a minute. And I wanted to call Mattie and Will to let them know what the latest news was. They’ve been worried so…” She looked around the group once more before finally landing on Laura, feeling her heart skip a beat at the sight of those beautiful honey eyes looking back at her. “How are you feeling cutie?”

“Um… ok, I guess. Just still…” Laura trailed off, clearly trying to find the words.

“There there, it’s alright Laura. Don’t worry, it’s all going to be fine,” Perry said, standing and placing a comforting hand on Laura’s shoulder. “This is Carmilla.”

Seriously? The introduction felt like a sucker punch right to her chest but she forced a soft smile to her face.

“Right. Carmilla. And you are…?”

“Um, she’s kind of your fiancé Frosh.”

“What?!? No, that can’t be right. I’d remember if I had a fiancé! I’d remember if I’d promised to spend the rest of my life with someone! I’d remember that!”

“Sweetheart, calm down, it’s ok. We’re not sure why you can’t remember Carmilla, but the doctor said this sometimes happens. Just give yourself some time.”

“But how? How can I not remember something as important as that? I mean, how could I forget a major detail in my life like that? I don’t know her,” Laura said, her voice increasing in volume as she turned from one friend to the next, looking for an explanation. “I don’t know her at all. How did I meet her? How long have we been together? How did we get together? Where do we live? How did we get engaged? And how in the hell did I land her? I mean, come on, journalism nerds don’t get girls that look like that! There’s no way in hell I’m that lucky!”

Though it wasn’t exactly fun to hear, Carmilla had to smile at the last bit. Typical foot in mouth disease Hollis.

“Believe it or not, I think I’m the lucky one,” she said quietly, smiling again when Laura finally met her eyes. The blush that colored the small girl’s cheeks reminded her of when they'd first met and she felt her heart skip a beat at the sight. Taking a deep breath, Camilla realized that she needed to take the pressure off and calm Laura down. “Look cupc-, I mean Laura, it’s ok. I know you have a lot of questions and I’ll answer all of them for you. But maybe you should get some rest. It’s been a long day.” For once the tiny journalist kept her mouth shut and gave a slight nod after contemplating the suggestion. “We can talk tomorrow if that’s ok with you.”

“Ok, yeah. Tomorrow. Maybe… LaF and Perry could be here too?” Carmilla tried to shrug off the hurt the request left and just nodded softly at the suggestion.

“Of course. I’m sure the Bobbsey Twins can fit a Q&A into their schedule tomorrow.”

The group started to gather their things and leave the room, each sending Laura a soft smile and a good night as they passed.

“You get some rest. That’s an order young lady,” Sherman said, smiling and leaving a quick kiss on Laura’s forehead before exiting the room.

Carmilla watched the group make their way towards the elevators before turning back to her fiancé, surprised to see her staring back intently.

“Um, if you need anything… well, I’ll be around,” she said, realizing Laura might not be too keen to have a ‘stranger’ staying in the room with her while she slept. She was pretty sure that camping out on the chairs in the waiting room would leave her back in no worse condition than the chairs in Laura’s room had over the last week. Laura just nodded and pulled the blankets up to her chin with her good arm. “Goodnight Laura.”

“Goodnight.” It was said so softly, Carmilla almost didn’t catch it. She smiled gently at Laura one last time before slowly trudging her way down the hall.

Chapter Text

Ugh, worst coffee ever, Carmilla thought as she swallowed the mouthful of sludge with a grimace. After a week of attempting to stomach the disgusting liquid, you would think she’d have known better than to continue to consume the hospital's coffee, but desperate times…

She stared out the window at the view overlooking the city from her seat in the corner of Laura’s room, the sun having only risen a few minutes earlier. It wasn’t the most impressive city view she’d ever seen but Silas had become home and therefore had a certain beauty and charm to it that she’d never expected to find when she moved here a decade ago. In fact, the city itself had zero impact on her decision to move there. It was more what the local Silas University offered in the way of some of the best art and photography classes available. Well that and the added bonus that it had pissed her mother off royally that she was bucking expectations and making her own path.

Of course, her choice of university wasn’t the first time she’d upset or disappointed her mother. In fact the list had gotten so long she'd lost track of all her ‘wrongdoings’ since the adoption was finalized when she was twelve. She’d always been somewhat of a strong-willed and rebellious child, which was the main reason she was so surprised that after years of bouncing from one foster home to another, she’d actually been chosen by the wealthy, powerful Lilita Morgan. She’d expected to stay in the system until she aged out seeing as no one ever wanted her around any longer than necessary, but when Lilita officially took her out of the last filthy state-run home, she realized she wouldn’t have to spend any more time worrying about the bigger kids taking her few meager possessions, sleeping on an old worn out cot, or wondering where her next meal was coming from.

Being adopted by Lilita had it’s perks; her own room for starters, which she’d never had before, filled with anything she could ever think to ask for. Also the best education money could buy with lessons on any and all subjects she might find interesting, ranging from languages to arts to music. And finally two older siblings, who’d also been adopted, that she could spend time with and escape the loneliness she’d grown so accustomed to. Will was only a year old than her and had been part of the Morgan clan only six months when she showed up. He was inherently a complete goof yet utterly charming at the same time, always up for whatever mischievous plan the two of them could concoct and using his natural charisma to get them out of trouble when they were inevitably caught. Though he was nearly as rebellious as Carmilla, he’d actually decided to play along when it came time for him to go law school. After all, deep down, he’d always been a mama’s boy.  

While her relationship with Will was fun and playful, it was her sister Mattie that became her best friend. The two had their differences like any siblings sure, but also a deeper understanding of each other, having gone through the same hardships in their early years. Mattie was just as headstrong as Carmilla and like Carmilla, chose to do things her own way after she left the comforts of the Morgan estate at eighteen. Not that the road had been easy but after putting in her time as low man on the totem pole, she’s spent years working her way up and now successfully ran her own fashion line, traveling the world, showing her designs and gaining fame she’d never dreamed of.

With Will in New York in the middle of a high profile corporate case and Mattie currently in Paris for a prominent show, Carmilla was feeling the distance and loss even more since Laura’s accident. Though giving Laura a hard time was second nature to both her siblings, Carmilla knew they cared about the tiny journalist and were very worried about what might happen. Mattie had actually been speechless for the first time ever when Carmilla explained that Laura had no memory of her or their life together. Will didn’t have much more to say beyond how sorry he was that she was in the situation.

Lost in her thoughts Carmilla took another sip from the Styrofoam cup in her hand and almost gagged at the acrid taste.

“Ugh, Jesus!” She turned away from the window, intent on dumping the coffee when she noticed a pair of honey brown eyes staring at her. “Oh, shit, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“You didn’t. I’ve been awake for a few minutes,” Laura said, not breaking eye contact. “Have… have you been here long?”

“Oh, um, no not long,” Carmilla fibbed. Laura didn’t need to know that she’d ducked back in at around three in the morning after being unable to sit still in the waiting room any longer. “How are you feeling this morning?”

“Ok, I guess. My arm kind of hurts. And my ribs but I guess that’s to be expected huh?”

“Yeah,” Carmilla said with a small smile, standing and taking a hesitant step towards the hospital bed. “Um, can I get you anything?”

“No, I think I’m ok,” Laura answered, attempting to find a more comfortable position in the narrow bed. “Are the others here?”

“No,” Carmilla said, trying not to let herself deflate at the question. “But they probably will be soon. Your dad’s been showing up usually around eight or so. And LaF and Perry are always never too far behind.”

“Never too far behind what?” Perry asked as she and LaFontaine breezed into the room, their hands full of what appeared to be breakfast. “Good morning Laura.”

“Hey Frosh! Good to see you awake, though I have to say it is weird to see this one up before noon,” LaF said, handing Carmilla a fresh cup of delicious smelling caffeine. “I got you a double shot.”

“Oh bless you, Mad Scientist,” Carmilla said, taking a sip and moaning at the taste.

“Are you not a morning person?” Laura asked, accepting Perry’s help to sit up further on the bed.

“Carmilla’s not any anything person,” LaF offered, taking one of the vacant chairs in the room.

“LaFontaine, we talked about this last night and this morning. We’re here to be helpful, remember?” Perry scolded as she fluffed Laura’s pillows.

“You’re in trouble…” Carmilla sing-songed with a smirk before turning back to Laura. “And no, not a morning person. But I’ve been getting better over the last few years. Less noon, more ten o’clock. You um… you like that better. You like when we can spend the day together.”

Laura just nodded, seeming to absorb the new information but still unsure. The group settled in, LaF and Carmilla each grabbing one of the decadent baked goods out of the bags the gingers had brought with them while Perry went off in search of Laura’s hospital issued breakfast. She returned a moment later with a tray of yogurt, oatmeal, and juice, an encouraging smile on her face.

“Now, I know this isn’t exactly your typical Chokoa Crunch and hot cocoa, but you need to keep your strength up,” Perry said as she fussed about.

“It’s ok Per. I’m actually kind of hungry this morning so this is fine,” Laura said, cautiously eyeing the tray and then pouting as she caught a glimpse of the freshly baked chocolate croissant in Carmilla’s hand. The dark haired girl just smirked after catching the pout and placed the still warm pastry in front of Laura with a wink.

“Thanks,” Laura said bashfully, avoiding eye contact as she picked up the pastry and took a huge bite. “Oh my god Per, these are almost as good as yours,” Laura said, moaning around the buttery bread. Carmilla chuckled at the noise, causing the blush on Laura’s cheeks to deepen. She took another bite before turning back to the three visitors, brushing the crumbs from her hands. “So… um…” She finally met Carmilla’s eyes and frowned. “We’re engaged?” Carmilla just nodded, taking another sip of her espresso and taking her turn to avoid Laura’s gaze.

How was she supposed to have this conversation?

“So, then how long have we known each other?”

“Well, we met at the start of your second year at Silas, so about seven years now. You were nineteen, I was twenty.” Carmilla watched as Laura’s mouth dropped open in shock.

“Seven years?!? How am I missing seven years?” Using her good hand, Laura gripped the railing of the bed, her knuckles turning white under the pressure. “That’s crazy! That’s insane! How the hell is this even possible? I mean seven years, that’s almost a quarter of my life. How can it just be gone? How can I-”

“Hey! Laura, calm down. It’s ok,” Carmilla said, reaching out and placing a comforting hand on Laura’s knee for a moment before realizing what she was doing and pulling away as if she’d been burned. “Look, whatever you want to know, just ask, ok? It’s all going to be fine. You just… you need to trust me ok?” Carmilla’s eyes begged her to listen, racking her brain for any way to comfort the smaller girl without making her feel any more distressed.

“Laura, sweetie, why don’t you just finish your breakfast. Then we can talk ok?” Perry chimed in.

Laura just nodded, looking down at the tray of food in front of her. Carmilla watched for a moment, knowing exactly what the tiny brunette was thinking.

“Don’t say you’re not hungry anymore,” she said, as she stood, smirking at the shocked expressing that came to Laura’s face. “I’m going to go check in with the nurses. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

Walking out of the room, she smiled again at the pouting groan she heard coming from behind her and headed towards the nursing station. Seeing two of the familiar aids standing there she pointed towards Laura’s room, asking if someone could check in and kept walking further down the hall. Reaching the waiting room, she pulled her phone from her pocket and quickly sent off a couple quick texts to Mattie and Will, and an email to her agent that the upcoming shoot scheduled for this weekend would need to be put off until she was sure Laura was ok and safely home. It was a small shoot, JP should easily be able to work something out for a later date.

That done, Carmilla turned and headed back towards Laura’s room, catching a thumbs up from the aid that had gone to check on Laura as she passed. Stopping near the doorway, she heard the trio inside apparently in deep conversation.

“What do mean L?”

“I just am beyond overwhelmed at this. It’s unreal. It just feels like someone is pulling a prank on me or something. Seven years and a beautiful fiancé that I have no recollection of. It’s just unbelievable.”

“It is difficult. But remember, this may not be permanent dear. For all we know, you’ll wake up tomorrow and everything will come back to you.”

“But… what if it doesn’t? I mean, who is she, how did I meet her, how did we end up together, how-”

“Frosh, stop!” LaF said, apparently unable to keep their chuckle in. “Look, we’ll have story time from now until you remember if that's what you want. In the meantime, just know this is all very real, no one’s pranking you. Look, seven years ago, you were in middle of the biggest crush ever on Danny and she didn’t see you as anything more than a buddy. And then you met Carmilla. And while the Bad Seed doesn’t exactly fit into the Scooby Gang, she’s crazy about you and would do anything for you. She’s a good one L.” Carmilla was actually taken aback by the comment from the Bio Major. Though she’d spent countless hours with Laura’s friends over the years and LaF was by far her favorite in the gang of misfits, though she loathe to admit it, she secretly always thought that they’d prefer Laura with someone else. That they thought Carmilla wasn’t good enough. “She’s great. Just be patient and give her a chance.” Carmilla took a moment to ponder that advice, hoping Laura would listen and realizing she needed to be patient also. Taking a  deep breath, she stepped back into the room, taking back the seat she’d vacated only ten minutes ago.

“Alright, how you coming on that oatmeal?”

“I think I’ve eaten all I can,” Laura said, pushing away the mostly empty tray. “So, maybe we can talk now?”

“Sure. We can talk. Where do you want to start?” Carmilla asked, taking the last sip of her espresso.

“Well, maybe the beginning. How did we-”

“Hey sweetheart! How’re you feeling today?” Sherman asked, all smiles. Carmilla smirked as she watched Laura’s hopeful face fall in frustration for a moment before painting on a smile for her dad. Poor kid just can't catch a break.

“Maybe we can do this later?” Carmilla suggested, standing and heading towards the door. “Go ahead and catch up with your dad. I’ll be back in a little while.” She had to admit she took a little bit of pleasure at the small look of disappointment she saw in Laura’s eyes. Soon cupcake, soon.


Carmilla readjusted herself in the hard plastic chair, watching the news ticker crawl by silently on the TV in the waiting room. Laura’s room had been a hive of activity all day with the nurses and doctor coming in and out to do check ups, friends stopping and going with well wishes, and Laura herself frequently nodding off as her body continued to try and heal.

Carmilla tried to stay close but wanted to give the tiny girl her space, hoping to not overwhelm her any more than she already was. She’d been popping in and out of the room throughout the day, every time seeing Sherman sitting steadfastly at Laura’s side. She understood his desire to stick around. After all, she was just as eager to spend time with Laura. It was probably for the best that she not push for any alone time though. She didn’t think Laura was ready for that.

It was after six when Perry came looking for her in the waiting room apparently on a mission.

“Laura’s asking after you. Do you want to come in for a bit?”

“Is it still crowded as hell in there?”

“No, Kirsch and Danny took Laura’s dad for a bite to eat and Laura just woke up from her nap. LaFontaine and I thought it might be a good time to answer some of her questions.” Carmilla just nodded, standing and following Perry down the hall, her joints cracking along the way.

Damn these hospital chairs.

“Look who I found.” Perry’s chipper voice was a stark contrast to everything about the hospital but for once, Carmilla appreciated Betty Crocker’s positivity. She took the seat Sherman had been bogarting the whole day and smiled at her love. Laura for her part smiled back and for the first time, didn’t seem to shy away. Progress I suppose.

“Alright L, we’re all here once again and I’d say we’ve got a few minutes before any more visitors come barging in. What do you want to know? What do you want us to tell you about?”

“Well, I guess, maybe we could just start at the beginning? How exactly did we meet?” she asked, her eyes still on Carmilla.

The dark haired girl smirked once more, settling back more comfortably in her chair.

“I guess that’s as good a place as any other.” Turning to LaF and Perry, she let out a small chuckle. “You guys want to kick this one off?”

“With pleasure,” LaF said, rubbing their hands together with a grin.


 Seven Years Earlier

Walking in to the crowded bar that Saturday night, Laura was immediately taken aback by the incredibly loud music and the throngs of people, mostly women, taking up almost every available inch in sight. Anxiously she grabbed on to the back of LaF’s military jacket, thankful that her two best friends had agreed to come with her when Danny insisted she come by the annual Summer Society Autumn Mixer.

“This is slightly overwhelming,” she heard Perry call from behind her. “How are we supposed to find Danny in the middle of all these ruffians?”

“There she is. Thank God she’s so damn tall,” LaF said, pointing to the redhead near the bar, towering over the majority of the other patrons. Laura glanced in the direction and felt herself immediately beaming at the sight of her tall friend.

She’d had a crush on Danny for the last year now, finding everything about the athletic girl beyond intriguing. They’d met in Laura’s freshman lit class where she’d spent every period paying more attention to the redheaded TA than she did the actual material being presented. Though they’d formed a friendship outside of class, Laura had been hoping and hinting for more for months now, but as of yet, Danny hadn’t taken the bait.

The three sidled up to the bar, catching Danny’s eye as they did. Smiling she made her way over to them, bringing a thousand watt grin to Laura’s face as she wrapped an arm around the smaller girl’s shoulders.

“Finally! I’m so glad you guys made it. This is by far the best Summer’s mixer we’ve had in years.”

“It looks like quite the turnout,” Perry said, looking every bit as uncomfortable as she sounded.

“It’s awesome! We’re totally going to drum up so much interest in the Summer Society after this night. We’ll have our pick from the best athletes on campus. We’re going to crush the Zeta’s at the upcoming winter triathlon!” Her excitement was infectious and Laura felt herself laughing along, feeling her stomach flutter when Danny smiled back at her and squeezed her shoulder. “So, you guys are here, what’re you drinking?”

“Um, whatever you’re having is fine I’m sure.”

“Hey, Vampira!”

Laura turned toward where Danny was signaling for the bartender and froze. Standing there in black leather pants and a tight gray tank top was the most beautiful girl Laura had ever seen. And considering that was the thought that crossed her mind as she stood next to the girl she had the biggest crush on in the world, that was saying something.

“God, I hate this bartender, she always ignores me. She’s got like every lesbian, bi-sexual, and possibly questioning girl within fifty miles flocking here to stare at her. Personally, I don’t see the appeal but she’s really not my type anyway,” Danny said.

Laura watched the dark-haired bartender mixing drinks with an effortless flair, charming and captivating everyone standing near the bar. It was kind of overwhelming that someone could be that fascinating and hold so much appeal from afar, but that was a thought Laura would dissect later. Then and there she was just focused on how it was becoming harder and harder to keep from drooling all over herself and forming a puddle at her feet.

A moment later she felt her face heat up from an overwhelming blush at being caught staring when the girl looked her way, their eyes meeting. She looked away for a moment, hoping to collect herself before looking back up, surprised to find the dark-haired girl still staring at her and slowly walking her way.

“Thirsty sweetheart?” That voice… Laura felt her knees shutter as it reach her ears. Never had a voice been so appealing to her. Floundering, she continued to stare as the bartender leaned forward across the bar, smirking at her, her eyes holding an intensity that Laura had never seen before. “I’d be happy to get you whatever you want.”

“Just get us four more gin and tonics. And don’t forget the lime this time,” Danny said from somewhere behind her. Laura had lost track and honestly didn’t care at this point. The bartender continued their staring contest, her sly grin growing just the tiniest bit the longer it went on. “Hey! Seriously! Come on Morticia, I’m a paying customer here.”

“Oh my God Xena, you have got to take it down a notch. Or ten.” Laura watched the girl finally look away and completely change her facial expression from one of flirtation to complete annoyance as she looked at Danny.

“Just give us the four drinks.”

“Oh, make that three. I’ll stick with water,” Perry said quickly. “I’m driving.”

“Alright, three gin and tonics and one water for Susie Homemaker.”

“Why don’t you just do your job and make the drinks. We don’t want to listen to your running commentary.”

“Maybe you don’t but why not let the normal sized people make up their own minds,” she said, quickly filling the glasses with ice. Laura couldn’t help the quiet giggle that escaped her at the back and forth banter. Apparently this girl could hold her own against Danny. Of course, everyone heard it and she quickly attempted to cover it up with a fake cough. Danny just looked irritated but the bartender smiled up at her before going back to mixing the drinks.

With her attention elsewhere, Laura took the opportunity to peruse further. This girl really was the most gorgeous creature to ever walk the face of the earth and noticing the flocks of other eyes doing the same thing she was, she realized just how out of her league the bartender was. So why did the girl keep looking up to catch her eye?

“Here you go, three gin and tonics and a virgin.”

“Just put it on my tab Fang Face.”

“I’ll put yours on your tab but hers is on me,” she said, nodding to Laura and smiling.

“I said I’d pay for it!”

“And I said don’t bother. I want to buy the pretty girl a drink. You’re not going to stop me.”

Laura watched the exchange, completely enthralled and, wait! Did she just call me pretty?

“Hey, Lawrence! We got an issue over here.” The trio turned to another girl Laura recognized from the Summers. “A couple of Zetas are out front and it's becoming an problem. Let’s go.”

“Damn Zetas. Alright, Elsie, just a second, I’ll be right there,” Danny said before sending one last scathing glance at the bartender and walking away.

“It must be so hard to be that uptight all the time.” Laura turned towards the voice, surprised that the bartender was leaning further across the partition than before. “Are you two… together?”

Holy Hufflepuff, she’s talking to you! Alright Laura, just relax and play it cool.

“Together?” she squeaked. “Danny and I? No, we’re just friends. Good friends but that’s it. She was my lit TA last year and we kind of bonded over Sherlock Holmes and some other geeky stuff and now we just hang out. We watch a lot of Veronica Mars and Doctor Who. I mean she’s great. Fantastic even but no, we aren’t a couple.” The girl’s smirk grew more and more amused the longer Laura rambled, making her realize just how ridiculous she sounded. Ugh, wrap it up Hollis. “So yeah. Not together.” The girl nodded once, looked her up and down and stepped back.

“Good to know,” she said, smiling once more before walking away towards a blonde, practically spilling out of her top and apparently very eager for some attention.

Great. Just freaking great. Ugh, damn it! Sighing, she turned towards LaF and Perry, noticing a matching peculiar look on both of their faces as she did.

“What? What’s wrong?” Her friends glanced at each other for a moment before looking back at her and shrugging.

“Nothing crushes on bartenders.”

“LaFontaine, really! It’s nothing sweetie. Why don’t we just take our drinks and try to find somewhere to sit.” She nodded and followed her friends to a dark, back corner where she spent the rest of the night, nursing her drink and then the melted ice, watching as every single patron in the place alternated between vying for the hot bartenders attention or attempting to impress one of the Summer Society members in hopes of getting an invitation. It wasn't the best, but at least the view was nice.


The following Thursday Laura took her seat in the middle of the lecture hall, already dreading the next hour of her life. Art History was supposed to be an easy elective that she could breeze through, however the droning professor found it impossible to stay on topic, leading her to be unable to grasp any of the concepts he expected the class to learn. Looking over her notes from the previous lecture, she sighed, unable to make heads or tales of what she’d scribbled down. The upcoming test that week was going to be a disaster. She flipped to a blank sheet as Professor Vordenberg walked in and immediately began flip-flopping between Rembrandt, Delacroix and something about his great affair with the the Grand Duchess Anastasia. She really hoped that wasn’t going to be on the test. Thirty minutes later and having completely lost track of what Vordenberg was talking about, she found herself glancing around the room. Most of the students looked just as lost and uninterested as she was. Some were staring into space, some nodding off for a midday nap, others apparently using this as a study session for another class.

Looking towards the back corner she immediately felt her cheeks heat up when she recognized a familiar face. It was the bartender from the past weekend.

Oh crap! She immediately turned back to her notes which were nothing but scribbles and doodles. The bartender was in her Art History class. The incredibly hot bartender was in her Art History class!

She turned back, feeling her cheeks redden even further when she noticed the dark-haired girl staring back at her, that confident smirk that she was really beginning to find very attractive firmly in place. Unable to look away she watched as the girl lifted one suggestive eyebrow at her. Quickly turning back to the front of the lecture hall, she attempted to slow her breathing that she hadn't even realized had sped up. She tried to focus back on the nonsensical notes in front of her but noticed the others around her packing up. The class was over. Closing her notebook, she nonchalantly turned back to the corner but the dark-haired girl was gone. Sighing she shoved her things in her backpack and made her way towards the exit.

“Hey Frosh, over here!” She found LaF and Perry waiting for her across the way from her class near the best coffee cart on campus. Shrugging her backpack on, she dodged a few other Silas students, clearly not paying attention as they walked through arts building.

“So how was class?” Perry asked as she reached them, nonchalantly picking a piece of lint of Laura’s shoulder. “Any better today?”

“No, it was miserable,” Laura whined. “I literally cannot follow a word he says. He jumps from one topic to the next with no segues and keeps intermingling details on his personal life that have absolutely nothing to do with art history. I swear, I only took this elective because I thought it was going to be fairly easy, but I’m going to end up failing and having to retake the class or find a new elective. It’s a complete waste of time.”

“Well not entirely,” a sultry voice chimed in from behind her. She froze. She knew that voice. She’d spent the better part of the last few days replaying it over and over in her mind. Slowly she turned around, suddenly realizing how childish she felt in her animal print sweater and wishing she owned cooler clothes. There she was, even more beautiful than Laura remembered.

“Leather-clad bartender!” LaF chimed in with a smile before getting back to the topic at hand. “Wait, not entirely what?”

“It’s not entirely a waste of time. I mean, I get a lot drawing time in during those lectures. The kid who normally sit a few rows down from me with the mohawk is always a great subject. His anti-establishment t-shirts alone give me hours of inspiration.”

“Oh, are you in the class as well?” Perry asked. “How are you faring with the material?”

The dark haired girl quirked an eyebrow at Perry’s overly proper manner before motioning for the group to step up further in the diminishing coffee line.

“It’s not bad but that’s only because I’ve already studied most of this stuff. I just need the credit on my transcript at this point.”

“Well, Laura’s been having a devil of a time with it. Would you ever consider tutoring?”

Laura quickly shot Perry a look that she hoped conveyed her thoughts perfectly: Shut up right now or I will be forced to murder you.

“Hey, yeah, that’s a great idea Per,” LaF agreed, no more noticing the death look Laura was now throwing their way than Perry did a moment earlier. “How about it biker boots? Think you could help L here?”

Laura watched the dark-haired girl look back and forth between her friends, clearly trying to decide if this was a joke or not and desperately looked for a hole to crawl into for a week until her embarrassment was a manageable level. Finally, the other girl looked at her and smirked, clearly noticing the pink hue to her cheeks.

“I think we could work something out.”

“Fantastic! There you are, Laura. You have someone to help out with the material,” Perry exclaimed, clearly thrilled about the match before turning and stepping up to the coffee cart, finally able to place her order.

With her friends clearly sidetracked by their choice of beverage, Laura turned back to the other girl, fully intent on apologizing for their antics, but found herself cut off before she could speak.

“So… when do you want to... study?” Was she hearing things or was there a suggestiveness lying under that question.

“Um, well, you know you don’t have to do this. I mean, I appreciate it, really. But you don’t have to take time out of your schedule to help me.”

“When do you want to study?”

Yep, definitely a suggestive tone there. Of course, it didn’t help that the other girl was sporting a look like she was about to eat Laura alive. Would that really be such a bad way to go though?

“Well, um, I guess we could meet up. I’m free tomorrow night. I mean, if you are. I’m sure you have better plans that helping a babbling idiot learn about the differences between Baroque and Neoclassical on a Friday night. We can meet another time if you want. Anytime really. I mean since you’re doing me a favor, who am I to say-”

“Cupcake!” The chuckle that left the other girls lips left her weak in the knees. “Tomorrow night is fine. Here,” she said, reaching out and taking Laura’s hand in her own. The feeling of skin on skin sent Laura closer to the edge of sanity than she cared to be at this moment. She watched as the other girl uncapped a pen and gently scribbled something gently on the back of her hand. “Just text me what time and where.”

Laura looked down at the back of her hand, seeing the neat script marring her creamy skin.

Carmilla 555-926-6234

When she looked up, the dark haired girl was still smirking at her, clearly aware of the effect she was having. Giving Laura one final raise of an eyebrow (how did she do that by the way!) she moved past her to give her order to the bored looking barista at the cart.

“Here you go L,” LaF said, handing her a cup of hot chocolate and pulling her down the hallway. “Chocolatey goodness and a tutor. Things are looking up eh?”

“Oh they certainly are,” Laura said, glancing back and watching for a moment as Carmilla walked away. Those pants should be illegal.


 Present

 “So, that’s how we met? You hit on me at a bar and then my friends got you to tutor me for that awful Vordenberg class?”

“First of all, I did not hit on you. I used my incredibly charming wiles to entice you. And then, yes your friends got me to tutor you, which I was more than happy to do since I wanted to see you again but you’d left the bar before I could get your number. And secondly, don’t judge the story. You take great pleasure in telling that story to whoever will listen when they ask how we met.”

“I wasn’t judging the story.” Laura smiled softly, staring down at her fingers playing along the edge of the blanket. “It’s a good story. So did we start dating after that?”

“I think that’s enough stories for tonight Pumpkin,” Sherman said from the doorway. The group turned, having not even noticed him there. “It’s late and you should get some rest.”

Carmilla turned towards the clock on the wall and noticed just how late it had gotten. She hadn’t even realized it, so caught up in helping LaF and Perry tell the anecdote.

“Yeah, I guess so,” Laura said, suppressing a yawn. “But, you two… you guys talk about it like you knew I was already interested in Carmilla.”

“We did. You were totally freaking out the rest of the afternoon and all of the next day about what to wear and how it would go and what you would do if you stuck your foot in your mouth. Not to mention the fact that before all of that happened, you spent the entire night at the bar staring at her. We couldn't get your attention to save our lives. Danny even came over and tried talking to you and you completely blew her off."

“It was incredibly obvious sweetie.”

Carmilla laughed as Laura blushed once again and attempted to avoid eye contact. As she settled further into the bed the group grabbed their things, intent on leaving the room for the night, each saying goodbye and promising to be back the next day.

“If it’s any consolation, I already knew I was interested in you before I offered to help you study,” Carmilla said quietly, stopping just short of walking out the door. She watched as Laura finally looked up at her and smiled shyly.

"Thanks, Carmilla."

"Anytime." Cutie.

Chapter Text

Laura squirmed in the chair, bored out of her mind, wishing she at least had a book to read or something. She’d woken up early that morning, completely fed up with the hospital and the bed she’d been confined to for over a week. She’d gotten up carefully, hoping to avoid the pain in her ribs or the stretch of the stitches across her abdomen, and padded her way out of the room and into the hallway, surprised when the unfamiliar nurse on staff immediately shooed her back into her room with a glare. She’d looked at the bed in distaste and decided against climbing back in, opting instead for the plush chair one of the nicer members of the staff had dropped off the night before after everyone had left.

She was surprised that she was alone when she woke up. It was the first time she hadn’t seen Carmilla nearby and the thought made her feel a little lonely. Not that she needed the dark haired girl there. After all, she barely knew her. But she’d gotten used to her presence. It was calming and though unfamiliar, it was still nice and somehow comforting.

She must’ve finally gone home and taken a break. Home? Laura wondered briefly where that was.She assumed it was the same place she called home. But despite how hard she tried, she just couldn’t conjure up an image.

It was a little over an hour later, still sitting in that chair and gazing out her window at the rapidly turning autumn leaves that a soft knock on the door caught her attention. There stood Carmilla, looking as gorgeous as ever… Wait gorgeous? Whoa, slow down there Hollis.

“What are you doing up and out of bed?” Carmilla walked further into the room, a styrofoam cup in each hand.

“I needed to get up for a bit,” she answered with a shrug. “I’m honestly starting to go a little stir crazy I think.”

“Well, I have some possibly good news then,” Carmilla said as she sat down and handed Laura one of the cups, putting a finger to her lips to indicate that the contents were smuggled in. Laura just smiled her thanks before taking a small sip of the hot cocoa with whipped cream, just the way she liked it. She hummed happily and nodded for Carmilla to continue. “I saw your doctor just now. He’s very impressed with your recovery so far and said that if all goes well today, there’s no reason you can’t be out of here by tomorrow.”

“Really? Even with the busted ribs and stuff?”

“They’re healing. And as long as you have someone helping to change your bandages for a few more days before the stitches come out from your surgery, he said it should be fine. You don’t live alone so that’s helping your case.”

“I don’t live alone,” Laura repeated, realizing she’d just been having similar thoughts.

“Yeah, well…” Carmilla trailed off, looking uncomfortable and avoiding eye contact. “I mean, you and I… well, we kind of…”

“I assumed. I mean, we’re engaged and all, right?”

“Right.” Laura watched the dark-haired girl play with the label on her cup, obviously unsure of what else to say or do. Laura’s heart clenched at the sight, hating that this stupid amnesia wasn’t only hurting her. Unable to help herself, she reached out and placed a comforting casted hand on Carmilla’s forearm. The other girl looked up, surprise evident in her eyes.

“Well, that’s good. I’m happy I get to leave.” She watched a small smile take form on Carmilla’s face and felt herself go a little lighter at the sight.

“Me too cup-, I mean, me too Laura.” The two briefly smiled at each other before Laura retracted her hand, each nervously taking a sip of their drink.


It was a few hours later when Carmilla found herself in the same position she’d found Laura in that morning. Damn, why did no one think to bring this chair in when I was sleeping in here every night, she thought, briefly adjusting herself and setting down the book she’d been reading. She looked up and saw Laura was still asleep, having finally climbed back into the narrow hospital bed only an hour earlier. She’d insisted on staying up and visiting with her dad and then all of her friends as the morning wore on and they’d filtered in, one by one. Thankfully they’d all headed down to the cafeteria to grab a bite to eat, leaving her in peace for the first time in hours.

She studied the tiny brunette further for a moment. The cuts and scratches were mostly healed and the stitches in her face had been removed, leaving behind subtle pink scars that Carmilla had already memorized. Other than the small cast on her left arm and the super sexy hospital gown, you’d never know anything had happened. She just looked like Laura sleeping. Studying her face further Carmilla smiled at the tiny wrinkle she saw forming between Laura’s eyebrows, her face peaceful otherwise.

All morning she’d caught Laura staring at her out of the corner of her eye, her energy slightly reminiscent of the nervous bundle that Laura had been before they first started dating. She kept finding herself smiling at the memory. Or at least she did until Danny very bluntly asked her what the hell she was doing. Always the buzzkill Clifford, she’d thought before taking a break and leaving Laura to visit with the ginger squad.

“Why’d you make that face?” she heard Laura ask, her voice heavy with sleep. Looking back towards the bed, she realized the smaller girl was now awake, looking at her expectantly.

“What face?”

“You were all smiley and then all of sudden it was like you drove through Frown Town.” Carmilla chuckled at the simile, always finding sleepy Laura’s metaphors to be entertaining.

“No reason. Just thinking about stuff.” She held the other girls stare, surprised when Laura didn’t immediately look away.

“Little nerd hottie! Carm-sexy! You guys are missing some awesome pudding in the cafeteria. They’ve even got the swirly kind.” Carmilla rolled her eyes, realizing her moment of peace was completely shattered as she watched everyone file back into the room.

“Beefcake, how many times do we have to tell you? Those nicknames suck. Knock it off!” Kirsch looked mildly confused for a moment before losing his train of thought completely as Danny pushed him out of the way, causing some of said pudding to topple out of the container and onto his hand.

“Aw, come on D-Bear! Watch it.” Carmilla smiled as Danny glared at him but he missed the threatening look entirely, too intent on attempting to get the sticky goo off his fingers.

Carmilla moved to the corner and propped herself there, silently offering her chair to Sherman. She remained standing and silent, opening her book and continuing to read as the rest of the group chattered on with Laura for the next few hours, occasionally taking breaks and leaving the room for a few minutes at a time to stretch her legs and get rid of the claustrophobic feeling of having so many bodies in such a small space. It was a little after six when she came back to only Perry and LaF sitting with Laura, the trio laughing at one of their hundreds of inside jokes.

“Where are all your groupies?” she asked, plopping down in one of the many chairs available and using another to prop up her feet.

“Kirsch had a date, Danny had papers to grade, though I really don’t understand why she gives out essay homework. I mean she teaches gym.”

“Dedication. That’s what that is,” LaF joked, even while their face was completely serious.

“And I actually convinced my dad to go home early. I was hoping to talk to just you three again if that’s ok?”

“Fine by me,” Carmilla said with an indifferent shrug, hoping she was successful in hiding the little thrill of knowing Laura didn’t mind her around.

“Laura was actually asking about you two… how you started studying together,” Perry said, smiling fondly at both girls. Carmilla laughed out loud, remembering the first night she’d shown up at Laura’s apartment. “We thought you could maybe help out with your side of the story.”

“I’m happy to tell my side but are you guys sure you want to tell yours? I mean, you two were almost as bad as Sherman.”

“Excuse me!”

“We were not!” Carmilla laughed again as the two immediately refuted her accusation, raising an eyebrow at Laura when she smiled along at her friends.

“It just so happens that we care for Laura very much and we were unsure of your intentions initially,” Perry said with a huff.

“Yeah, we were just looking out for L. Besides, the first time wasn’t our fault, she asked us to stay. It was after that when we were a little more reluctant to leave you guys alone. I mean  it’s not like we didn’t have good reason to second guess your motivation behind agreeing to tutor her. What with all the flirting and everything.”

“Hey! I was on my best behavior when I realized she really did want to study.”

“Wait, when you realized I really did want to study? What did you think I wanted to… oh!” Carmilla just shrugged, unable to keep the smirk off her face.

“See? This is exactly why you two needed babysitting the first few times you met up!”

“And why my bag never actually contained any textbooks in it during those first few sessions.”

“Alright, enough, all of you,” Laura interrupted, attempting to reign in her giggles and avoid her stitches pulling any further. “Just start from the beginning.”


 Seven Years Earlier

“Laura, sweetheart, you need to calm down,” Perry said from her spot in the kitchen where she was arranging chocolate chip cookies on the fanciest platter she owned. “You’re going to end up wearing a hole in the floors if you don’t stop pacing.”

Laura rolled her eyes at the over exaggeration and continued striding back and forth, stopping every once in a while to tidy up a shelf or refluff a pillow, which was completely unnecessary as she’d cleaned the apartment top to bottom that morning, effectively ruining Perry’s plans for the afternoon.

“Seriously, what’s up with you Frosh? Why are you so nervous?”

“I’m not nervous,” she squeaked, causing both of her ginger-haired roommates to look at her in disbelief. “I’m not! Why would I be nervous. It’s not like this is a date or something. Just two people studying together. Nothing to be nervous about there.”

“You sure? I mean you did ask us to chaperone.”

“I did not! I just thought it would be better if the two of you were here.”

“Why? In case luscious in leather tries to put the moves on you?” LaF chuckled and ducked out of the way of the recently fluffed airborne pillow sent their way.

“No!” Laura sat down heavily on the couch with an indignant huff. “I don’t know this girl Like at all. What if she’s like a serial killer or a thief? What if she like came in here and tied me up to a chair or something?”

“No need to go into detailed fantasy land just yet L. After all, this is only your first time studying together. Wait until like the third or fourth session before you bring out the heavy duty stuff.”

“LaFontaine!” Perry effectively ended the next words about to come out of Laura’s mouth, which if her face was any indication, were going to be pretty scathing. Putting on her full-blown, scolding mother stare, the other two roommates sat in their respectful seats, looking thoroughly chastised. “We promised Laura we would stay here with her tonight. I understand her reluctance to be here alone with this girl. After all, she knows next to nothing about her, and erring on the side of caution is a good idea. So we’re going to sit here quietly and watch a movie while they study and not bother them or intervene in any way unless Laura asks us otherwise. End of discussion.”

LaF rolled their eyes as Laura childishly poked her tongue out at them once Perry turned her back. That’d teach LaF to tease her mercilessly. Her inner victory dance was short lived though as a sharp knock on the door sounded throughout the apartment, effectively throwing her back into a nervous tizzy. She looked at her two roommates, getting an encouraging nod from Perry and a teasing grin from LaFontaine. She slowly stood and brushed her hands down the front of her clothes, which she’d admittedly spent an exorbitant amount of time worrying over earlier. There was no way she was getting caught in one of her animal print sweaters again tonight and had opted for a simple striped blue button up, rolled to the elbows and fitted jeans. Not the sexiest outfit but then again, this was just a study session right? Though that hadn’t stopped her from curling the ends of her hair and putting on some subtle eyeshadow and lip gloss.

She looked back at her two friends one last time, getting an overly cheerful thumbs up from LaF and another supportive smile from Perry before opening the door, swallowing hard at the sight. Carmilla stood there, looking as amazing as ever, all in black as Laura had come to expect, her hair holding a slight wave, her makeup impeccable. Those pants are going to be the death of me.

“Hi! Hey! Hi Carmilla.” She heard a distinctly muffled giggle from behind her and rolled her eyes at just how high pitched her voice sounded. This night was going to kill her.

“Cupcake.” Laura blushed and stood to the side, holding the door open further and motioning the other girl to enter. Never taking her eyes off the tiny bundle of nervous energy, Carmilla entered the apartment, her trademark smirk faltering a bit when she saw two other people standing within its walls.

“Carmilla! Lovely to see you again.” Perry’s chipper voice sounded throughout the open space, smiling welcomingly at the new arrival. “Please, come in won’t you? Cookie?”

Oh God, strike me down now, Laura thought as she watched Perry offer Carmilla a cookie from the platter she’d just arranged, the dark-haired girl looking utterly confused at the situation.

“Um, thanks.”

“Chocolate chip are my specialty. They’re Laura’s favorite.” Ugh, I’m never going to live this down. It’s like meeting the parents only worse. Behind Perry Laura watched as LaF nearly doubled over trying to keep their laughter inside. “Would you like some hot cocoa? I was just about to make some for everyone.” At this point LaF could no longer control themselves, letting a few rounds of giggles escape as Carmilla silently stared back at an overly helpful Perry and Laura buried her face in her hands, her embarrassment beyond measurement at this point.

“Ok, ok, sorry about that,” LaF said after a moment, finally getting themselves under control. “Carmilla, hi, nice to see you again. I’m LaF and this is Perry. We weren’t formally introduced before.”

“Oh of course! Where are my manners? Lola Perry.” LaF giggled again when Perry put her hand out for a formal handshake. Carmilla stared at the two for a moment before politely nodding and giving Perry a half-hearted shake.

“Sure. Nice to meet you guys.” Laura heard the hesitation in Carmilla’s voice and was honestly waiting for the dark-haired girl to turn and bolt out the door. She was more than surprised when instead, she looked up to see Carmilla looking back at her, amusement dancing in those dark brown eyes.

“Well now that we’re all good friends, Per, why don’t you let go of Carmilla’s hand so she and Laura can get to work and I’ll help you in the kitchen for anyone who actually wants cocoa.” Laura sent a grateful look towards LaF as they steered Perry away, giving the two girls ten feet of privacy.

“Sorry about that,” Laura said quietly, still having trouble holding eye contact. “They’re just… crazy.” She looked up, hearing the chuckle that left Carmilla’s mouth, feeling her stomach do a little flutter at the honest to goodness smile she saw there.

“No problem cutie. I can handle a little crazy,” she said. Laura just smiled back and nodded.

“So, studying, us, art history. Um, do you want to study out here in the kitchen or…”

“Wherever you’re comfortable,” Carmilla answered, removing her messenger bag from her shoulder and taking her first bite of the chocolate chip cookie in her hand. She hummed in appreciation and then looked back up at Laura, waiting for an answer.

“Well, um, I guess the kitchen is fine. We can set up at the island.” Carmilla simply nodded and walked further into the apartment, setting her bag down and taking a seat at one of the stools in the kitchen. Laura followed, smiling her thanks at Perry who’d just sat two steaming mugs of cocoa down for them and then followed LaFontaine to their shared bedroom. She took the other stool, realizing she probably should have suggested the table instead as her knee brushed against Carmilla’s thigh.

Still better than studying in my room. Sitting on my bed would lead to nothing good at this point. Or all things good. Guess it depends on how you-

“... Death of a Virgin is a great example of this.”

“What?!?” Laura turned to Carmilla, realizing she’d missed what the dark-haired girl was saying. Carmilla just laughed and leaned over, opening Laura’s textbook for her.

“We’re talking about the Baroque movement Sundance. Caravaggio. Get your mind out of the gutter.”

“Oh! Oh, right, yeah. Death of a Virgin. Got it.” Out of the corner of her eye she saw Carmilla smirk at her. This is going to be a long night.


“Come on creampuff, you know this,” Carmilla said with a teasing smile. “The Stolen Kiss…”

“Ugh, Carmilla I can’t do this anymore! We’ve been at this for hours, my brain is fried,” Laura said, her voice muffled. The two sat on the floor of Laura’s living room, their books and notes spread across the coffee table in front of them. “Can’t we take a break? Just a little one?” She peered up from where her head rested across her forearms on the table, her eyes pleading. Carmilla just laughed and sat back, using the couch to lean against and stretching her limbs. Laura watched for a moment, enjoying the view.

They’d been studying together twice a week for a few weeks now and each time, Laura found herself becoming more and more intrigued by the mysterious Carmilla Karnstein. Oh come on, you’re not ‘intrigued.’ You’re in full on crush mode.

They usually spent half of their sessions actually going over the material from the last lecture and the other half, Carmilla would tease and flirt while Laura blushed and attempted not to say something completely stupid or embarrassing. She was proud to say her success rate was about fifty-fifty so far.

Admitting she found Carmilla unbelievable attractive had been easy but acknowledging that she legitimately liked the other girl and wanted to get to know her had taken a little longer. And Carmilla was proving to be a hard shell to crack. Laura had been more than forthcoming about her personal life; living with Perry and LaF, who she’d met the year before in her dorm and who’d almost instantly become her best friends. She was originally from Toronto, an only child, where she’d grown up with an extremely overprotective dad, her mother having passed away when she was only four. She was an aspiring journalist who’d just recently been accepted on staff at the Silas University Times and her knowledge of pop culture was apparently endless as was her adorable dorkiness. But as of yet, Carmilla had been pretty mum on any personal subject beyond her job at the bar, and the only reason Laura even knew anything about that was because she brought it up.

“Where’s ginger one and two tonight?” Carmilla asked pulling her out of her thoughts. This was the first night they’d studied together without constant interruptions from Perry making sure they had everything they needed and LaF trying to explain to Carmilla their latest experiment gone awry.

“They’re having date night. I think they were doing dinner and a movie,” Laura answered, finally sitting up straight and leaning back against the couch as well, feeling a small thrill when her shoulder brushed Carmilla’s.

“How does that work for you? Living with a couple. You feel like you’re constantly third wheeling?”

“No, not at all actually. They kind of keep that part to themselves. Not that they’re ashamed of the relationship or anything. It’s just how they’re comfortable. When it’s the three of us, it’s just the three of us, friends.” Carmilla just nodded, looking around the room without really taking anything in. “What about you? Any roommates?”

“No.”

“How come?”

“Do I strike you as the type of person who plays well with others?” Laura giggled at the obvious statement. “I spent enough time sharing rooms with others when I was growing up. I’m all set on that front.”

“Lots of siblings?” Maybe she’ll open up a little.

“Two.”

Laura stayed quiet for a moment, waiting for more but Carmilla seemed more fascinated with her cuticles than with the conversation. Sighing quietly in defeat, she leaned forward again, preparing to get back to cramming. She began reading through the notes Carmilla had helped her clean up during the last session, hating that the dark-haired girl’s reluctance to share hurt. She wasn’t asking for much, just a hint of something about the girl that she who had consumed her thoughts for weeks now.

“Mattie and Will.” Laura quickly turned back to Carmilla, her surprise clearly evident on her face. “They’re both older. Mattie is currently in New York, helping some designer I’ve never heard of with their line. They apparently were a hit at New York fashion week. And Will is in his fourth year at Stanford. He’s pre-law.”

Laura sat back again, angling her body towards Carmilla, hoping she’d continue.

“You guys are close?”

“I guess,” Carmilla said with a shrug. “I mean, yeah. We kind of grew up being all each other had.”

“What do you mean?”

“We’re all adopted and my mother isn’t exactly the warmest woman. I mean, she wasn’t a bad parent or anything. Just, we never had family board game night or anything like that,” Carmilla said with a sardonic laugh. Laura reached out, taking Carmilla’s hand without thinking. The dark-haired girl looked up in surprise, clearly not expecting that. She smiled and squeezed Laura’s hand once before continuing to hold tight, clearly thankful for the attempted comfort. “I haven’t talked to her much over the last few years. Not that we ever had super meaningful discussions or anything. But she’s not happy with me or with my choices. I’m supposed to be in my third year at Columbia, according to her plan, not here at Silas. And since I’m not playing by her rules and following her plans for me, I’m kind of on my own.”

“So how are you paying for school?”

“Mostly scholarships. Some student loans. The job at the bar pays for my crappy apartment.”

“That’s really brave of you, you know? Not taking the easy road and following your heart.” Carmilla simply shrugged, her eyes locked on where Laura’s hand still rested in hers. Laura smiled at the sight, feeling those damn butterflies bloom in her stomach when Carmilla’s thumb began stroking softly across the back of her hand. No, not now. She’s talking to you. Focus on that and not on how soft her hand is or how amazing her hair smells.

“So why art?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you’re an art major. Apparently, you gave up a life of privilege for it,” Laura teased. “Why’d you choose that?”

“Well it was going to be Philosophy but I have to be able to make a living after graduation right?” Laura laughed and continued to stare at the beautiful girl next to her. “I always loved art. Drawing, painting, photography. I don’t know, it just makes me happy.”

“Well, you’re really good.” That she could attest to having seen the drawings littering Carmilla’s notes every week when they met up.

“Oh really? How would you know cupcake?” Laura blushed at the insinuation and turned away, unable to stop the smile from coming to her lips.

Apparently, they’d reached the flirtatious part of the session. To be honest, Laura had stopped counting how often Carmilla teased her during their first lesson. She’d found herself either blushing quietly or trying to avoid the attention but this time, she found herself wanting to reciprocate.

“Well I wouldn’t object to finding out,” she said, turning slightly to meet Carmilla’s intense gaze.

“Really? Hmm… Well in that case…” Laura’s heart leapt to her throat as Carmilla leaned forward, reaching up with her free hand  and brushing a lock of hair behind Laura’s ear in a move that had the tiny brunette melting. Laura felt her eyes involuntarily flick down to Carmilla’s lips, taking in just how amazing they looked and realizing, not for the first time, just how much she wanted to taste them. She looked back up to Carmilla’s eyes, noticing the playful look there and the subtle raise of an eyebrow as Carmilla moved her head a little closer.

“Hollis!” The persistent loud knocking on her apartment door immediately killed the moment and she sighed, looking away towards the banging, only to look back and notice Carmilla not even looking at her. Frustrated and ready to kill the unexpected visitor, Laura got up and walked quickly to the door, opening it in a huff. Unfortunately she didn’t get a chance to inflict any pain as Danny barged past her, apparently already in the middle of a tirade

“Where the hell have you been? Why haven’t you been answering your phone? I’ve been calling and texting you all night!”

“Um, I’ve been here, in my apartment, where I live. And I was busy. My phone’s been in my room all night, I haven’t even checked it. What’s the big deal?”

“I was worried. There’ve been fights all over campus and I know you somehow always have a knack for finding trouble. I thought… I was just worried.” Danny stared back at her, her shoulders sagging in defeat.

“Well, I’m fine Danny, really. I’ve been here all night. So you don’t have to worry, ok?”

“Good, I’m glad,” the tall redhead said with a smile. “So, anyway, since I’m here, you want to order in and watch a movie?”

“Oh um… well actually…” Laura trailed off, looking behind Danny to where Carmilla sat, watching the exchange. Following her line of sight, Danny turned, immediately frowning at the sight of the dark-haired girl.

“What the hell are you doing here dead girl?”

“I could ask you the same thing about you hulk. At least I was invited,” she said, standing up and moving towards the pair.

“Laura? What the hell’s going on?”

“Danny, Carmilla and I have been studying together.” Why did it feel to Laura like she was trying to cover her tracks at that moment?

“What? Studying together? For what? For how long?”

“My art history class and for a few weeks now. It’s not a big deal, we’re just studying, that’s it.” Out of the corner of her eye, Laura thought she saw Carmilla flinch at her words but by the time she turned, the girl was composed, looking stoic and bored as usual.

“You couldn’t find anyone better to study with than her? Why didn’t you ask me?”

“Danny, what do you know about art history?” Laura asked incredulously.

“I can read a textbook, Laura.”

“Well so can I but I needed help. Carmilla’s in the class and she offered. Kind of.”

“Oh I’m sure she did.” Danny angrily turned from Laura to Carmilla, her voice continuing to rise in volume. “What, all those girls throwing themselves at you at the bar wasn’t enough? You had to go after someone a little more challenging? Did you give yourself a timeline on how long before you could get her in bed?”

“Danny! It’s not like that at all,” Laura cried, pulling the redhead’s attention back towards her. “Seriously, I needed help, Carmilla knows her stuff. That’s it, end of story. We are studying together, that’s all. There’s nothing more to this relationship.” Oh God, why did I say that?

“Look I hate to break up the fight of the century between this great love affair, but I’m going to go.” Laura looked over to Carmilla, seeing the girl had already packed up her things and was heading for her jacket draped over one of the kitchen stools.

“Carmilla, you don’t have go.”

“Oh, I think I do Laura.” Ouch. Laura. Not cupcake or creampuff or poptart.   Laura again watched helplessly as Carmilla threw her messenger bag over her shoulder and turned towards the door.

“Well, ok, if you have to. But we’re still on for Tuesday night right?”

“Sure.” Ok, fix this Hollis. Come on. At least get her to look at you.

“Well thanks again for coming.”

“That’s what tutors are for right?” Carmilla said as she opened the door and walked out without looking back.

Shit.


Present

“So I just let you leave? Just like that?” Laura cried indignantly. Carmilla just shrugged.

“Oh man. Danny was so mad when she found out you guys were spending time together. She hated it!” LaF said. “Almost as much as she hated it when you guys started dating.”

“Or when they first got serious.”

“Or when they got into the ‘I love you’ stage.”

Laura looked over to meet Carmilla’s eyes as Perry and LaF continued to riff off each other, looking for confirmation. Carmilla smiled softly and just shrugged once again.

“Excuse me,” a soft voice caught everyone’s attention from the doorway of the room. The group turned, noticing one of the kinder nurses standing there. “It’s getting late and we want to make sure Laura gets a good night's sleep before she’s discharged tomorrow.”

“Of course, we should get going anyway,” Perry said, standing and pulling on her jacket. “Sweetie, LaF and I both have some things to take care of tomorrow morning so, depending on when they let you go tomorrow, we may or may not see you until you get home, ok?”

“Sure, no problem. Thank you both for coming again. And for everything.” The two gingers smiled and quickly walked out of the room. Laura turned to Carmilla, who was gathering her things from the opposite corner. “Hey, can I ask you something?” She waited until Carmilla turned towards her, giving Laura her full attention. “Why?” she asked softly.

“Why what?”

“Why does Danny have such a problem with you?”

Carmilla sighed and looked down, scuffing the toe of her boot along the white linoleum floor. When she finally looked up, Laura saw something in her eyes that she couldn’t quite place. Fear? Apprehension? Anxiety?

“Danny has never and will never think I’m good enough for you,” Carmilla said, continuing to look away. “Apparently when I started coming around was the same time that she was starting to reciprocate your feelings for her.” Carmilla paused and looked up, finally meeting Laura’s eyes, seemingly searching for something there. “I think everyone was kind of rooting for the two of you. Since you’d liked her for so long.”

“Oh.” Clearly, that wasn’t the answer Carmilla was hoping for as she quickly looked away again and went back to gather her things.

Laura thought back to that first year at school and just how much she did like Danny at the time. She remembered that as clear as day. She also vaguely remembered when Danny did start to reciprocate those feelings, but by then it was too late, though the why behind that lateness was absent from the memory train. Of course that made sense as the missing piece was Carmilla; the amazing girl who’d been by her side constantly over the last few days, offering encouragement and assistance with anything Laura needed, whether she asked for it or not. Carmilla just seemed to know. It seemed like she knew Laura better than anyone else. Laura was suddenly overwhelmed by just how grateful she was for the dark-haired girl, even if she couldn’t put their past puzzle together quite yet.

“Hey.” Carmilla turned back to her having packed up the last of her things. “I just want to say thank you. For being here through all of this and, well just for everything. You’ve been really amazing and… well I really appreciate everything.” Carmilla smiled softly and nodded, stepping towards the bed, stopping when she was only a foot away. “You’ll be here tomorrow when they release me right?”

“I’ll be here.”

“I’m glad.” And Laura realized, she meant it.

Chapter Text

The papers were signed, the instructions were in a bag and Laura was still beet red from the nurse's demonstration for Carmilla on helping Laura change her bandages. Carmilla had honestly been so focused on the task, fearing she would mess something up and hurt Laura further that she didn’t even notice the obvious blush until after Laura was fully dressed in the sweats and a loose hoodie the dark-haired girl had brought with her that morning after quickly stopping at their house for a shower.

Of course, Sherman had stopped by to make sure everything was in order and ask the doctor a million and one questions earlier that morning before the discharge was final. Laura expected nothing less from her overprotective dad.  

“Mr. Hollis, I assure you, Laura is doing exceptionally well. She’s ready to go home. Just make sure she follows up with her regular physician.” With that, the doctor turned and walked away with a smile, clearly used to this kind of behavior from overzealous family members.

“I don’t know sweetie,” Sherman said, turning towards his daughter, a frown firmly in place. “Are you sure you feel up to this? Going home is a big deal now.”

“Dad I have to get out of this place before I completely lose it. The walls are starting to close in on me.”

“Alright but I need you to promise me that you’ll call the first second anything happens. You promise right?”

“Yes dad, I swear.”

“I wish I didn’t have to get back home but I promise I’ll be back as soon as everything is settled at work.”

“Dad, it’s fine,” Laura said, settling into the wheelchair that had been placed there only a few minutes earlier, already knowing being pushed out was the only way they’d let her leave. “You’ve already been here far too long anyway. You need to get back home and back to your normal life. Besides, it’s not like I’ll be alone.” She looked over her shoulder to where Carmilla stood nearby, reading over some of the instructions they’d been given for the fifth time, completely oblivious to the conversation. Sherman watched the interaction, clearly amused by both girls, but finally accepting the doctor and Laura’s words. When he leaned over to hug her tightly, she smiled brightly and thanked him once again, sincerely appreciating just how good he was to her. A moment later she smiled again, biting her lip to keep from laughing when he offered Carmilla an awkward one-armed hug, the clumsy, yet affectionate gesture clearly taking the dark haired girl by surprise.

About thirty minutes later, with Sherman long gone Carmilla wheeled her out the front doors of the hospital and Laura lifted her head to the sunlight, basking in its warmth for the first time in days. She felt Carmilla stop pushing the wheelchair and stood, thrilled to stretch her limbs in the early autumn air.

“Alright, you ready Hollis?” Carmilla asked, loaded down with all the things they’d accumulated over the last week. Laura just nodded and stretched, walking towards the cab waiting at the curb for them, taking note that Carmilla was never more than half a step away.

“So I’m assuming my car is not exactly up to snuff for transportation right now,” Laura asked a few minutes later into the drive.

“Not exactly,” Carmilla answered, her gaze focused straight forward. “I talked to the insurance company the other day and it’s totaled.” Laura felt the frown taking over her face and panic in her chest. What was she going to do now? She opened her mouth to ask what she needed to do but Carmilla cut her off immediately. “Don’t worry ok. I’m taking care of it. Once everything is settled down and paid for, we’ll go and get you a new one. Your little Civic had seen better days anyway. We’d actually been talking over the last few months about getting you into something different.”

“Oh. Well I guess that’s something. Thanks for taking care of that,” Laura said quietly.

“Occupational hazard,” Carmilla answered just as quietly as she turned and looked out the window.

Laura turned back to her window and took notice of their surroundings as they drove through downtown Silas. Everything looked familiar, nothing out of place. She saw her favorite bakery with the best vanilla chocolate swirl cupcakes within a hundred mile radius. There was the café where she frequently spent hours working on some her best articles, all the while sipping on delicious surgary mochas. There was the pizzeria that she frequented with LaF, Perry and sometimes Danny on Wednesday nights when they were usually the only customers there.

But no Carmilla. She’s not in any of these places. Why couldn’t she remember? It was killing her! No memory at all and now she was heading to God knows where with said girl, having no idea what awaited her.

She’d been so excited about leaving the hospital that she hadn’t fully considered the fact that she was going home, to a place she couldn’t remember with a fiancé that she’d forgotten every detail about. And it was kind of terrifying her. With just the two of them, what would they do? How would they actually live together over the next however long until she remembered? The panic over her car had clearly merged to a panic about her soon to be close quarters with the beautiful girl to her right.

“Hey.” She turned towards Carmilla, her thoughts derailed. “LaF texted me earlier and promised they and Perry would be at our place when we got there. We won’t be there… alone.”

Laura watched as Carmilla looked away once again, clearly as uncomfortable with the situation as she was.

“I thought they had plans this morning?”

“Well LaF had a faculty meeting about the upcoming science fair at school and Perry apparently decided she had to clean our house top to bottom and make sure our fridge was fully stocked,” Carmilla said with a smile, still staring out the window. “I caught her mid dust when I ran home this morning for a shower and a change of clothes for you.” Laura had to chuckle both at Carmilla’s attitude and Perry’s predictability.

She turned back to gaze out her window, noticing that the cab was slowing down. She had to admit, she was surprised at their surroundings; lots of new buildings, mostly contemporary and modern. Nearby she could see glimpses of the waterfront between the buildings. The whole area was like Laura’s ideal neighborhood but somehow didn’t seem to fit what she knew of Carmilla’s style. She didn’t seem like a fancy condo type of girl. More like the type of girl that lived in a low key studio apartment. Something dark and sparse. Or maybe some sort of old Victorian home that was undoubtedly haunted.

She was beginning to think they were just passing through when the cab began to slow and then stopped in front of one of the smaller, less imposing buildings at the end of the street, all brick and gorgeous windows. This was definitely a surprise.

“Wow.” From beside her Carmilla chuckled as she climbed out of the cab. A moment later the dark haired girl was at her side as she climbed out, her eyes still glued to building. “This place is… I mean… how in the hell do afford this place?”

“We were looking to move and we came here on a whim, just to see what it looked like more than actually being interested in the area. You saw it and fell in love with it,” Carmilla said with a shrug as she paid the cab driver and grabbed their things. “We make it work.” Laura stared at the other girl in confusion, waiting for her to elaborate but it seemed no further explanation was forthcoming. “Come on. Let’s go inside. You should rest.”

She took one last look at the exterior and followed Carmilla inside, noting she pressed the button for the third floor once they were inside the elevator. They exited the elevator only a moment later and slowly made their way down the hall. Laura took in every detail, hoping something would seem familiar but nothing was jumping out. With her gaze elsewhere she looked back just in time to avoid crashing into Carmilla, who’d stopped in front of a door. Number 307 she noted.

“You ok?” Carmilla asked with a grin.

“Yeah, sorry. I just got distracted. This building is beautiful. How long have we lived here?”

“Just a little over a year,” Carmilla answered as she fished for her keys. “We moved in after they remodeled the building.”

“Seriously Carmilla, unless I’m also forgetting that I’m like the next Hunter Thompson or you’ve failed to mention that you’re like the next Andy Warhol or Annie Leibovitz I don’t know how the hell we managed to land this place.”

“We’ll talk about it later,” Carmilla said as she unlocked the door and pushed it open, motioning for Laura to enter. “Welcome home kid.”

Laura stepped inside; into her home. Their home. And it was even more perfect on the inside. Light colored brick mixed with beige walls and hardwood floors. Across from the door she saw the most amazing kitchen, which she was sure she rarely used, and where LaF and Perry sat at a high top island, smiling and apparently waiting for them.

“Welcome home Frosh!”

“Oh sweetie, I’m so happy they let you out.”

“Hey guys, thanks,” she said, still looking around and trying to take everything in. Past the kitchen table she could see a door that she assumed led to a patio. To her left she could see a portion of the living room, which looking incredibly cozy and warm, more light color bases with bright colored accents and… This place seems very me, which I guess makes sense but… Continuing to look around she noticed little things here and there that she assumed were Carmilla’s additions. Heavy bookshelves filled to the brim with leather bound books, beautiful photos and paintings, vinyl records stacked on another shelf in the corner.

“What do you think L?”

“This place is amazing. I love it. It’s like my dream home.”

“That’s kind of the idea,” Carmilla said with a chuckle as she made her way further inside and disappeared down the hallway to Laura’s right. Bedroom? Laura wondered.

“Well let’s all go sit down. You may be out of the hospital but you still need your rest,” Perry said in full on caretaker mode. “I’ve already laid out snacks in the living room for everyone. Come, come.”

Laura allowed herself to be ushered into the next room, taking in more as she saw the room in its entirety. She smiled at the ‘This is a good sign’ print in the corner. And then she saw them; pictures of her and Carmilla all over the room. Some of them smiling at the camera, others with one of them looking at one another, all of them looking completely and totally in love. She focused on one wooden frame on the end table and found that she couldn’t stop staring at it. In the photo Carmilla stood behind her, arms wrapped around her waist, eyes closed, her lips pressed against Laura’s temple and slightly upturned in a small smile. Laura had the absolutely biggest, happiest smile lighting up her face.

“Laura sit, really. I know you’re feeling better but you still need to rest,” Perry scolded as she handed Laura a plate of cookies. Laura smiled and obeyed, doing a little dance in her seat when she saw they were double chocolate chip.

“Did your dad get off ok?”

“As far as I know,” Laura answered, her voice mumbled and a few crumbs escaping from her mouth. “It’s a long flight back but he needs to go home. He’s got his own things there to worry about. But he said he’ll be back soon once everything is settled at work.”

“That’s good. I’m sure he just wants to make sure you’re ok,” LaF said, chewing their own mouthful of sweets, gooey chocolate coating their bottom lip.

“You guys are disgusting,” Carmilla said as she entered the room, getting Perry to immediately nod at her in agreement. Laura and LaF just looked at each other and shrugged, each taking another huge bite of cookie. “And I’m supposedly the messy eater.”

“I could make so many inappropriate jokes right now.” Laura almost choked on a fudge chunk at that comment and noticed Carmilla shrug out of the corner of her eye.

“LaFontaine!”

“So what’s on the agenda this afternoon?” LaF asked, seemingly completely unaffected from the scolding, brushing crumbs from their hands.

“Napping,” Carmilla suggested as she plopped down on the couch, resting her feet on the old truck in the middle of the room doubling as a coffee table but leaving a decent amount of space between her and Laura on the couch.

“No offense but I’ve spent most of the last week unconscious. Kind of want to stay alert for a bit.”

“Well, we could watch a movie? Or play cards?”

“Or we could just chat? You know, catch up.”

“Catch up on what Per? We’re always together,” LaF said.

“Yes, we are. However, Laura might like to catch up,” Perry said, her eyes wide, clearly trying to get LaF on board.

“Huh?”

“It’s fine,” Laura said with a laugh. “You guys have been great the last few days with story time but I know everyone’s exhausted.”

“What did you want to hear about next Laura?” Carmilla asked, her head pillowed on the back of the couch, eyes closed. Laura couldn’t help but smile at her cavalier attitude.

“How about whatever you guys want to tell me since you’ve so graciously offered.”

“Well, what if we keep going in order?” Perry suggested. "Order is important."

“Sounds good to me,” Laura said, leaning further back into the couch and getting comfortable.


Seven Years Earlier

Carmilla stood, shifting from side to side staring at the heavy, opposing door in front of her, contemplating whether or not she actually wanted to knock. She’d been avoiding Laura since she walked out the previous week, although, not that there was much to avoid. Laura had only sent her one text about an hour after she’d left the week before, thanking her for her help and then one that afternoon, confirming if their study session was still on. Carmilla had replied with a simple ‘Yes’ and nothing more. No flirtatious innuendos. No cute nicknames. It felt odd but at the same time she wasn’t about to pursue this any further. She hadn’t even bothered to attend class that afternoon, hoping to avoid any further issues.

She knew she liked Laura. She knew she liked her a lot. She’d immediately been attracted to the girl from the very first night at the bar. And then noticed even more how adorable the tiny brunette was when she caught her staring at her in Vordenberg’s class. But after they actually started talking and spending some time together, she realized how amazing Laura actually was. Which was weird. She didn’t spend time getting to know girls, at least outside the bedroom. And up until last week, she was honestly starting to believe that she wasn’t alone in her feelings. Apparently she was wrong. And this is exactly why you don’t do fucking relationships.

Sighing in exasperation, she raised her hand and knocked twice, grateful when just a moment later LaF was the one who opened the door.

“Hey Bad Seed! Come on in, you’re just in time.”

“Just in time for what?” she asked, closing the door behind her and making her way into the apartment.

“We ordered pizza and it just got here. Ham and pineapple for me and Per and extra cheese for you and L.”

“You can’t study on an empty stomach right?” Laura joked from behind her, near the doorway to her bedroom. Damn that voice, if it didn’t make her stomach flutter. Keeping her attention on LaF, she attempted to ignore that feeling.

“Oh, um, thanks lab rat but I’m not hungry,” she said, dropping her heavy bag near the kitchen island.

“You aren’t?” Again, Laura. And that damn feeling in the pit of her stomach. She avoided answering beyond shaking her head and went to work pulling her books and notes from her bag, a task that she usually avoided when she was there. Setting everything down on the counter she moved one of the stools further down before taking a seat, making sure all accidental touching would be avoided before it could even happen.

“Oh, are you sure? There’s plenty here Carmilla,” Perry said, ever the hostess.

“I’m fine, really,” she said, offering a forced smile to Perry before finally turning to Laura. “But we should get started. I have plans tonight.”

It was a lie, completely and totally. She had nothing planned and had become pretty much a hermit over the last few weeks, only leaving her studio apartment for class, work, or Laura. No parties or clubs or visits to the long list of girls she kept on hand just in case she was feeling a little lonely. In fact, half of said girls had texted or called multiple times over the last few weeks, but she’d ignored them. Why? Because you thought for half a second that you might actually like someone that you wanted to spend more than an hour with? Because you thought she liked you too? Again, we’ve been down this road. This whole relationship idea is bull shit.

“Oh, right, of course. Let me just get my books and we can get started.”

Carmilla continued to stare at her notes, pretending to focus on them and not the sight of an uncomfortable Perry and LaF scooting out of the kitchen in her peripheral vision.

“So I guess we’re setting up in here and not in the living room?” Laura asked as she came back, book in hand and carefully sat down at the island.

“We get more done when we sit out here. It’s easier for you to focus. So… The Lessons of Love. Jean-Antoine Watteau. What does this piece represent and why is it important?”


It was only about thirty minutes later; thirty minutes of completely professional and mostly silent studying when the dam finally broke. LaF and Perry had gone out for ice cream, apparently too uncomfortable to sit in the tension-filled apartment and she’d been sitting there with Laura, only speaking when forced to and only about the textbook in front of her. There had been no accidental touching, no flirtatious smiles, no teasing. She could feel the other girls eyes on her but refused to meet her gaze, fearing if she did so, Laura would see the truth.

“Hey, are you ok tonight?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

“No, you’re not. Look, Carmilla… I’m sorry. What I said the other night… about us only being study buddies, I didn’t mean it. I never should’ve said that.” Carmilla heard the remorse in Laura’s apology but that didn’t mean it was any easier to hear the claim the first time around.

“It’s fine Laura,” Carmilla said, finally looking up, only making eye contact for a brief moment, knowing her gaze was cold before looking back to her notebook where she’d been doodling. “I mean we do study together. That’s what we have in common.”

“But that’s not all there is to it. You mean so much more to me than just that.”

“What?” Carmilla’s eyes snapped back to Laura’s just in time to see the embarrassment cloud them, followed immediately by a blush covering her cheeks. Apparently that little tidbit of information wasn’t supposed to be verbalized but with Laura being Laura, it had come out. Carmilla did her best to keep her breathing even and slow the rapid beating of her heart, hating that she was already peeking over the walls she had so carefully constructed to avoid getting hurt. Did Laura actually have feelings for her?

“No, I mean, yes, you do mean more to me than just a study buddy. I mean… we’re friends right?”

Oh. Right. Carmilla looked away again, her heart plummeting to her stomach in disappointment.

“Sure. Friends.” All of a sudden she despised that word.

“I mean it Carmilla. Yes, you’ve helped me so much these last few weeks and I really appreciate it. But more than that, I appreciate you. I like it when you’re around. I like spending time with you. I’d like… well I’d like to spend more time with you to be honest. I really would like us to be friends.”

That goddamn F-word. Carmilla sighed and looked back to Laura’s hopeful face, feeling her will crumble. She had absolutely no desire to be friends with this girl who’d captivated her thoughts non-stop for the last few weeks. Being friends meant spending more time together, getting to know one another, enjoying each other's company. She didn’t think she could do that and not end up feeling like there was constantly a knife in her heart. When the hell did these feelings for her get so damn strong?

“Please?”

Carmilla sighed, finally turning to the girl next to her and couldn’t help but chuckle at the earnest plea in her expression, the squeak in Laura’s voice just the icing on the cake.

“I know I screwed up but I want to fix it.”

“Ok,” she nodded resignedly. “Friends.” Maybe I’ll get lucky and she’ll get bored of me. Then I won’t have to worry about it at all.

She’d expected Laura to drop it after that and let them get back to their work. What she hadn’t expected was the tiny brunette throwing herself onto her side, arms wrapping around her shoulders in a tight hug. Damn it, why does she have to smell so good? Carmilla smiled softly, patting Laura on the forearm twice goodnaturedly as her arms were trapped under Laura’s anyway, and let her temple fall against the top of Laura’s head for a moment.

“Good, great, ok,” Laura said as she finally let go, smiling and retaking her seat, but something in her eyes… Carmilla wasn’t sure what that look was but she’d never seen it on Laura before. “So I guess we should call it a night huh? I mean... you have plans. Probably something way cooler than this and with someone way more exciting than me.”

Sadness. That’s what the look was. The tiny brunette looked so dejected at the prospect of the evening coming to a close and damn it, it broke Carmilla’s heart.

“I can stay a little longer,” she said, unable to help herself. The smile she got in return made it totally worth it.


“Where’s the princess of darkness? She bail on you again?” LaF asked as they dropped their purple Jansport with a thud near the door and stretched. From the kitchen Laura heard Perry sigh and knew it would only be a matter of seconds before the incredibly orderly girl went and put the bag away in its ‘proper place.’ If she could lift it that is. Laura knew with all the random stuff LaF carried around with them that their bag had to weigh half as much as her.

“No, not exactly,” Laura said from her spot on the couch where she was flipping through channels, trying to find something to hold her interest. Nothing seemed to be working. She hadn’t even lasted ten minutes on the Doctor Who marathon that was on. “She had to work. Again.”

It had been a week since she’d seen Carmilla outside of their class. The dark haired girl had cancelled their last two study sessions because of being called into work last minute. Laura had hoped to see her at a different time but so far their schedules hadn’t lined up. At least she knew she wasn’t getting frozen out as they’d been texting constantly. The texts weren’t as teasing or flirtatious as she was used to but she’d take whatever she could get at this point. Having Carmilla freeze her out before had been crushing and she had no desire to feel that loneliness again any time soon.

“Well that sucks,” LaF said, plopping down next to her and taking over on channel surfing duty. “I mean I know you have a test next week and you’ve been cramming but I know it’s harder without her.” Laura just nodded, the monumental pout on her face only getting worse by the minute. “That and you always get moody anyway when you don’t get to stare at her all night with those sucker heart eyes of yours.”

“What?! I do not do that.”

“Oh come on Frosh!” LaF said with a chuckle, muting the television and turning towards Laura. “You are so far in the middle of crush-ville you can’t see any of the neighboring towns.”          

“That’s so not true! I do not have a crush on Carmilla!”

“Oh I beg to differ. You’re totally into her. You get sad and huffy when she’s not around. You smile like an idiot when she is and you’re always nervous before she gets here. You stare at her constantly when you think she’s not looking and then blush like crazy when she does. You talk about her like all the time. It’s actually driving Danny nuts. And speaking of Danny, you’ve totally been ignoring her and blowing her off.”

“I have not!”

“She’s asked you out like four times over the last week for movies, dinner, coffee and you’ve found an excuse to get out of it every time. I’m telling you, you’re like a shiny new penny to her now that you’re all into Carmilla.”

“Ok, that’s ridiculously childish.”              

“And ridiculously right on with standard human behavior. Now that you’re no longer ‘available’ to her, she wants you. Not to mention the fact that the girl you want makes Danny’s skin crawl. If you’d have done this six months ago, you’d probably be living with her instead of me and Per. Though with Carmilla still in the equation, and you being totally smitten with her, it actually still probably wouldn’t have worked in Danny’s favor.”

“This is crazy! You are crazy! I’m not… I mean… Carmilla isn’t interested in me!”

“On the contrary, Carmilla is very interested in you. You’re just too blind to see it.”

“What? No! No, she isn’t LaF. Carmilla is the kind of girl who can have anyone she wants.”

“Precisely. And she wants you.” LaF smiled softly at Laura, unable to help it. “Think about it. She gives up her Tuesday and Friday nights to study with you every week. She flirts constantly with you, which before you go there, yes she is a flirt, I know this. But it’s different with you. She looks at you like you’re the only girl in the world when you’re not looking. And you said it yourself, she was starting to open up to you. That’s a big deal when she was completely closed off before. Plus, I’ve seen her around campus lately sans the usual groupies that seem to follow her from one spot to the next in case she needs something like coffee, a sandwich, or a quickie.”

“That doesn’t mean anything.”

“It means a lot actually. It means that she likes you and you like her.”

“I hate to butt in but LaFontaine’s right sweetie.” Laura turned in surprise to where Perry still stood in the kitchen, carefully mixing something that smelled amazing and chocolatey. “If you like this girl, there’s no sense waiting around and sulking.”

“Ok fine! I like her, yes! But what am I supposed to do?”

“Get off your ass and do something about it. I doubt the bar’s super busy tonight. Go see her. Talk to her, ask her out for God’s sake!”

Laura stared back and forth between her two best friends, taking in their encouraging smiles before sighing in defeat and slumping back into the couch.

“What if you’re wrong? What if she doesn’t have feelings for me and I end up totally blowing this?”

“I’m sure you’ll stumble and prattle on incessantly but trust me L. You won’t blow this. The worst that can happen is she’ll say no.”

“That seems pretty bad!”

“And if she does, Per will make you all the chocolate chip cookies you want when you come home upset.”

“Oh, absolutely. I can start them now if you want!”

“But if she says yes…” LaF let the statement hang for a moment, giving Laura a moment to see the possibilities. That was all it took for the start of a small smile to begin blooming on her face. “Go get changed. You can’t go down there in sweatpants and a Gryffindor t-shirt.”

Forty minutes later Laura stood just inside the bar, hidden in the dark, bouncing nervously on the balls of her feet. Glancing across the room she saw Carmilla there, cleaning a shaker and laughing at something one of the other patrons was saying, her smile literally melting Laura to the core.

LaF was right, the place was dead with only a handful of college kids sitting in the back corner and one guy, the guy Carmilla had been laughing with, sitting at the actual bar. Taking a deep breath she stepped out of the shadows and slowly made her way towards the bar. Carmilla laughed again and it caught her so off guard that she tripped on the leg of a nearby chair, catching the attention of everyone in the establishment, including the girl that she’d been distracted by. Ugh, way to go Hollis. Smooth as ever.

“What’re you doing here cutie?” Carmilla asked when she got close enough to finally be able to hear over the music from the jukebox. There was that smile again. Laura recognized it as the one that came out when the dark haired girl really was genuinely happy. It seemed to sneak up on Carmilla and explode across her face before she could stop it.

“I um… I came to see you,” Laura said, sliding up onto one of the stools, nodding politely to the tall guy next to her. “Hi there.”

“Hey little nerd hottie,” he said with a goofy grin.

“Don’t start beefcake!” Carmilla warned. “She has a name.”

“Oh, right, Laura. I know,” he said, seemingly unphased by Carmilla’s glare before turning back to Laura, still smiling. “You were in my lit class last year. We had to read that book about that Beo-bab guy.”

“Beowulf?”

“Yeah, him. I remember you had like a lot to say about it. You took up like one whole class discussing theories.” Laura thought back, trying to remember if she’d ever seen this guy before but it was a waste of time considering she spent most of that class staring at Danny and rarely noticed anyone else. “You’re like super smart.”

“Yes, she is,” Carmilla chimed in. “Which means she far too intelligent to fall for your Zeta bro bullshit lines.”

“Huh? Oh, no, I wasn’t trying anything,” he said, completely innocent and utterly serious. “You were dating that Summer Psycho girl right?”

“Danny?” Laura saw Carmilla look away at the mention of her tall friend and go back to cleaning. “No, we never dated. We’re just friends.”

“Oh cool. I’m Kirsch by the way,” he said, still smiling.

“Nice to meet you Kirsch.”

“You having another one meathead or you heading out for the night?”

“Nah, I’m going to go. Thanks for paper football. Rematch next week?”

“You’re on. I can totally take some time to kick your ass again.” He smiled once more at each girl before tossing some cash on the bar and walking away.

“So are you guys like friends?” Laura asked, the disbelief in her voice obvious once he was out of earshot.

“The giant puppy dog? He’s just one of the few people that comes in here that I actually don’t mind. Most of the time,” Carmilla admitted with a grin. “He lived down the hall from me my first year here too. He’s harmless for a frat bro.”

“Aw, Carmilla’s got a friend. How cute.” Carmilla chose to ignore that comment and instead went back to wiping things down behind the bar. Pointedly looking around, Laura turned back to the dark-haired girl, still smiling. “So yeah, this place is hoping tonight. They just had to call you in huh?”

“I’m sorry creampuff. I didn’t want to cancel on you again. But the other regular bartender’s been super sick and I need the money so…”

“Carm, it’s fine, really.” Laura paused as the nickname escaped her lips.

“So really, why are you here? You’re not a bar scene girl.”

“I wasn’t lying. I wanted to see you.” Laura paused again, taking a deep breath, attempting to gain some courage. “I kind of missed you this week.”

“Really?” There was that cocky smirk. “Because if memory serves I did see you in class this afternoon.”

“You did, yes. But… ugh, you’re going to purposely make this difficult aren’t you?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about cupcake.” The two stared at each other, both smiling flirtatiously, daring the other to look away. Laura broke first, looking down briefly at her hands on the bar before meeting Carmilla’s eyes again.

“So I wanted to ask you something?”

“Ask away creampuff.”

“Well… I was wondering if… maybe… you’d like to go to the movies sometime… with me?”

“The movies huh? With just you or with you and your chaperoning roommates?”

“With just me… like on a date?” Laura held her breath for what seemed to be the longest moment in history, taking in the shy smile on Carmilla’s face and wondering if she was going to ever be able to show her face on campus again.

“I think I’d like that very much.”


Present

“I’m sorry, are we boring you there Laura?” Carmilla asked with a smirk as Laura yawned for the fifth time in just as many minutes. “This history lesson not as riveting as the others?”

“No, no not at all,” Laura said with a giggle. “Apparently this day just took a lot more out of me than I thought.”

“Go rest dear,” Perry said, standing and motioning for LaF to follow.

They’d already cleaned up the cookie mess earlier during a brief break so thankfully, Carmilla was able to usher them out of the house fairly quickly, breathing out a quiet thank you as they made their way down the hall towards the elevator. She waved one last time as they got in before turning back and locking up the house for the night. Despite the fact that she definitely had had her share of issues with Laura’s friends, Carmilla was beyond grateful for everything they’d done for her and Laura over the past week. She wasn’t sure she’d have been able to get through it without them, though she’d never admit that out loud.

She finished checking that everything was secure before realizing that she was alone with Laura in their home. The awkwardness of the situation smacked her in the face and now she wasn’t sure what to do. She desperately didn’t want to do anything to make Laura uncomfortable but she realized it was going to be a hard line to toe.

“Hey.” She was taken out of her thoughts when she turned to see Laura standing there in the kitchen, sleepily rubbing her eyes.

“Hey. You ok?”

“Yeah, just didn’t realize how tired I was.”

“Well come on. We’ll get you settled.” Carmilla turned and made her way down the short hall that housed the two bedrooms. They’d immediately turned the smaller one into an office when they moved it. Laura mostly used it but there was plenty of space for Carmilla to paint in one of the corners when time or the inspiration struck.

Walking into their bedroom, Carmilla realized this was about to get even trickier. She turned back to where Laura stood behind her in the doorway, her arms tight across her stomach, looking like she was about to run away crying.

“Hey, Laura it’s ok. Come here,” she motioned, keeping her voice as calm as possible. Laura slowly walked towards her, the nervousness in her body palpable. “This is our room but you stay in here ok? I’ll take the couch.”

“No Carmilla, I can’t kick you out of your own bed.”

“Hey, amnesic injured fiancé trumps lower back pain. I’ll be fine, really.” She smiled reassuringly at the tiny brunette and then motioned towards the dresser behind her. “Your stuff is in the drawers on the left, since that’s the side of the bed you sleep on. Same with the closet. And pretty much everything in the bathroom. You really wanted us to be as efficient as possible in the morning.” She was grateful when Laura smiled and let a small giggle escape at that. “If you need anything just yell. But get some rest and I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Ok. Thanks Carmilla.” It took every ounce of her willpower to not reach out and wrap Laura in her arms and press her lips against her forehead. She was never affectionate before Laura, but damn did she miss those little bits of physical contact. It hurt so much to be so close and keep this wall between them.

Deciding to leave before she did something stupid, she nodded and made her way to the door.

“Hey, Carmilla?”

“Yeah?

“So I was the one to make the first move? Really?”

“I don’t know if I’d say that. I mean, I was laying down a lot of signals, waiting for you to ask me out,” Carmilla answered, earning another small laugh. “Goodnight Laura.”

Chapter Text

Laura woke up slowly, her face snuggled into something that smelled amazing. Like leather and moonlight and a cold breeze. She pushed her face further into the soft material surrounding her head and breathed in deeply. She’d been so nervous after LaF and Perry had left the night before and she was finally alone with Carmilla. But the dark-haired girl was so sweet and thoughtful. Remembering it brought a smile to her face and she relished in the comfort another moment before finally opening her eyes. The sun was high and it was obviously much later than she’d realized. Blinking as her eyes adjusted she turned and realized what she’d been hugging so tightly to; it was Carmilla’s pillow. She’d been very careful about sticking to her ‘designated’ side when she’d laid down the night before. Clearly she didn’t have the same reservations once she was no longer conscious.

Taking a deep breath she sat up and put her feet on the floor, realizing she could faintly smell something else delicious wafting through their home. Standing and walking out of the room, the scent became stronger and she smiled when she rounded the hallway corner to see a freshly showered Carmilla sitting at the kitchen island, coffee in hand, typing away furiously at a laptop covered with band stickers ranging from Le Tigre and Bikini Kill to The Doors and Guns N’ Roses.

“I thought you weren’t a morning person,” Laura said, shuffling further into the kitchen. Carmilla looked up, instantly smiling when they made eye contact.

“Well technically it’s now almost noon. And that’s the beauty of sleeping on the couch. It’s good for napping but not so much for overnight stays,” she said, taking another sip of coffee.

Laura’s smile instantly disappeared in guilt, looking away from those teasing brown eyes. Of course she couldn’t sleep on the couch. She opened her mouth to apologize but was cut off immediately.

“Hey, no, it’s fine, really. Besides I needed to get up early anyway. I had a few things to take care of.” Laura finally looked up, seeing the softness in Carmilla’s eyes and the small smile on her lips. “How’d you sleep? You want some coffee?”

“Great and yes, thank you, but I can manage,” she said, walking around the counter to grab the half-full french press and then staring blankly around the rest of the kitchen. Where the hell are the mugs?

“Far right cabinet Hollis,” Carmilla said, still staring at her computer but smirking nonetheless. “Sugar is in the jar on the counter and creamer is in the fridge.” She nodded her thanks and then opened the cupboard, immediately smiling at the blue Tardis mug sitting front and center. Pouring the dark liquid into it, she moved on to spoon an exorbitant amount of sugar into the cup as well before turning to the refrigerator. She stopped and gazed as she took in three more pictures of her and Carmilla. The first had them dressed to the nines obviously for something fancy, arms wrapped around waists, smiling politely. In the second they appeared to have been at a beach somewhere, the two of them partially hidden behind sunglasses and laughing into the camera. The last one was a little more intimate; the two of them clearly laying in the bed she’d so thoroughly enjoyed the night before, Carmilla on her back, eyes closed, hair mussed with a small smile on her face and Laura, clearly the culprit behind the photo if her outstretched arm was any indication, smiling directly into the camera, her head cushioned on Carmilla shoulder.

The girl in that photo seemed so happy wrapped up in the dark haired girls arms, and for a moment, she wondered if all of this was just some kind of horrible nightmare. Maybe she'd wake up any minute now, remembering everything that was true about her life and not feeling like a total jerk that she was putting Carmilla through this. It was too early to deal with this. She needed to at least caffeinate before she attempted to dissect what was going on inside of her. She shook her head a little, trying to rid herself of the confusing feelings warring in her brain and opened the refrigerator, topping her coffee off with a splash of cream before taking a sip and immediately moaning at the taste.

“Oh my God, this is the best thing ever.” From behind her she heard Carmilla chuckle and she turned towards the dark-haired girl, smiling and taking the seat next to her at the island. She watched Carmilla, still tapping away, her smile slowly slipping from her face and being replaced by a slight furrow between her perfect eyebrows. Laura felt the guilt wave hit again when she realized then and there just how much time Carmilla must have lost with staying at the hospital by her side over the last week and a half. “Are you working?”

“Yeah, sorry do you need something else?” Carmilla glanced up immediately, clearly willing to drop what she was doing if Laura asked her to.

“No, no I’m fine. I just… I’m sorry.”

“What for?”

“For taking you away from everything for the last few days.”

“Hey, no, none of that,” Carmilla said, completely turning away from her laptop and towards Laura, reaching out towards where the smaller girl’s hand rested on the counter but stopping just short of touching it. “Laura, I know you don’t remember me or us or any of this. And I don’t want to make you uncomfortable in any way. But I need you to know that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, by your side. I know it doesn’t mean anything to you right now, but you are everything to me Laura. I... I’d do anything for you. You're the only person I would do anything for.”

Laura felt the warmth from that statement warring with the guilt consuming her and looked away, unable to hold Carmilla’s gaze any longer. This was crushing her.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. I’ll just... just forget I said anything.” She turned to see Carmilla staring back at her computer, her brow still furrowed, looking both hurt and ashamed. Damn it. I hate hurting her like this.

“No, Carmilla don’t be sorry. I appreciate you being there and I appreciate you saying that. And it’s not your fault that my stupid brain has apparently decided to block out everything about us. If anyone should be apologizing, it’s me. I’m so sorry I’m putting you through this and I know it’s hurting you. And I’m sorry for that too because you don’t deserve-”

“Ok enough. We have to stop this. All this back and forth remorse is doing neither of us any good,” Carmilla interrupted. “How about instead of arguing over who is more sorry, you go take a shower, I’ll finish up this and we can go grab something to eat. It’s almost lunch time anyway and you still have to take your medication.”

Laura smiled and nodded, taking another sip of coffee before standing up. She walked around the island and into the hallway towards the master bathroom before remembering something and spinning on her heel, making her way back towards Carmilla.

“Towels are on the top shelf in the linen closet,” she said, taking another sip of coffee but not looking up. Laura giggled and went back on her way.


Laura stood in front of the foggy bathroom mirror, towel discarded to the side for the moment, fighting with the medical tape that seemed unwilling to cooperate. She’d been standing there for the better part of ten minutes trying unsuccessfully to get the bandages back over her stitches after her shower.

She only had a few more days of this before the stitches would come out but she’d yet to actually change the bandage by herself. Thus proving her dilemma. Though seriously, how hard is it to stick on a band-aid! She signed in frustration, attempting to throw away the tangled mess of sticky cotton, finding even that to be impossible as it stuck to her fingertips. She was about halfway through loosening the bonds when a soft knock on the door startled her.

“You ok Laura? You’ve been in there a while.”

“Um… yeah, fine, totally good,” she lied, flinging her hand up and down rapidly in a last-ditch effort to free herself.

“Are you sure? Do you need anything?” She looked in the mirror, sighing in defeat as she caught a glimpse of herself and even distorted from the condensation, the frustration on her face was clear as day. She grabbed her towel, carefully wrapping it around her torso as best as she could with her casted arm still covered in protective plastic. Moving towards the door, she opened it just a crack to see a concerned looking Carmilla staring back at her.

“I can’t get the stupid tape to stick so I can put my bandages back on,” she pouted.

“Well why didn’t you say something sooner?” Carmilla said with a smile. “I could’ve helped you, you know.”

“I just… I thought I could do it myself. I didn’t want to bother you.” That sounded better than the real reason.

“You never bother me Laura. Well, unless you're talking about Doctor Who in your sleep but even then, at least you're cute," Carmilla said, successfully trying to add some levity to the moment, making Laura smile. "Come on, let me help you.” Finally relenting, Laura let Carmilla push the door open and enter, immediately going to work and gathering what she needed. “It might be easier in the bedroom. Less steam,” she said after turning around and carefully ushering Laura to sit on the bed.

Laura felt herself pull the towel tighter around her torso, convinced that there was no way she could blush any harder than she was at that moment.

“Hey, what is it? What’s wrong?” Carmilla asked, noticing the change and kneeling in front of her.

“It’s just… um… I…” Laura looked up, meeting Carmilla’s warm, caring eyes and immediately felt like an idiot.

“Hey, seriously, whatever it is, you can tell me.”

“I’m just a little uncomfortable. With you seeing me.” Apparently, she was going to have to spell this one out because Carmilla looked as confused as ever. “Naked.”

“Oh!” Laura kept her eyes on her toes, waiting for what, she didn’t know but it definitely wasn’t the warm chuckle that reached her ears a moment later. Looking up she found a very amused Carmilla staring back at her, clearly much more at ease with the whole situation. “Well that I can fix. Come on. Get some clothes on and then I’ll help you.” She stood up, taking the supplies with her and left the room, closing the door behind her to give Laura her privacy.

Smiling gratefully to herself, Laura stood up, located what she assumed to be her clothes on the left side of the dresser and closet and attempted to dress as quickly as she could in a pair of worn faded jeans and a button up. She figured that’d at least make it a little easier on Carmilla. Throwing her hair up in a messy bun she finally made her way to the kitchen where Carmilla sat on one of the island stools, spinning around on it like a bored little kid.

“You ok?” Carmilla asked, locking her foot around one of the stool legs to stop herself and looking over at Laura. Laura just nodded and smiled, finding the sight of a clearly antsy Carmilla to be pretty damn adorable. “Alright then. Let’s get you all bandaged up so we can eat. I’m starving.”

“You know there’s a ton of food in the refrigerator right?” Laura said, sitting down on one of the other empty stools.

“That stuff requires preparation and I wasn’t in the mood,” Carmilla said, hopping up and grabbing the padding to put down the center of Laura’s torso.

“You don’t cook?” Laura asked, attempting to keep the conversation light and not let her blush overwhelm her as she let her shirt fall open just enough for Carmilla to work.

“Well I can cook,” Carmilla said, placing the gauzy pad in place and reaching for the tape she’d already cut. “I just tend to make a mess when I do. And then you tend to get grumpy because I’m not the best at cleanup.”

Learning new things here, ok. That’s good. Focus on that and not on how nice it feels to have her this close and touching! Oh there’s touching! Laura involuntarily jumped at the feeling of Carmilla’s fingertips gently pressing into her skin.

“Sorry. Hands cold?” Apparently Carmilla was doing a much better job at keeping this not awkward than she was.

“No, they’re fine. Um… so I know I’m not much of a chef. So do we eat out a lot?” Ugh damn it , she thought, immediately feeling her cheeks heat up when she saw Carmilla smirking out of the corner of her eye. “I mean-”

“I know what you meant. And kind of. I usually make us dinner like twice a week. You usually cover one night with something simple like grilled cheese or breakfast. And we normally end up over at the ginger duo’s place at least once a week and they feed us.”

“I am pretty good at breakfast food,” she agreed with a nod, looking down to where Carmilla secured the last piece of tape. “Thanks for helping with this.”

“No problem. Now, seriously starving. Let’s get out of here.”


They ended up seated outside a small hidden bistro off the beaten path, enjoying the early autumn breeze and sunshine. Everyone there was kind and smiling, almost like they knew her and strangely, the trendy little place with it’s blocky wooden tables, Edison lanterns and metal accents seemed… familiar.

“Do we come here a lot?” Laura asked after they’d placed their order with the young waitress serving them.

“You could say that,” Carmilla said with a chuckle. “Usually at least once a week. Why?”

“It just feels like I’ve been here before, even though I can’t exactly put my finger on when.” Carmilla raised an eyebrow, apparently intrigued.

“Well um… yeah, we come here a lot. We found it about two or three weeks after we moved. There was absolutely no food in the house and we decided to go explore the area some more and try to find something to eat. We found this place.” Laura just nodded, looking around some more to take in more of the surroundings and decor. “Does it really seem familiar?”

“It’s hard to explain. It’s kind of like a mild déja vu. Or like when you dream about somewhere you’ve never been and then you go to a place that kind of reminds you of it.” She looked back to Carmilla just in time to catch a shy smile gracing her perfect features.

“That’s good. Really good.” They sat there in silence for a moment longer, softly smiling at each other until the waitress set their drinks in front of them.

“So um… do we have any other regular places around here? Or things we do?” Laura asked, taking a sip of her strawberry lemonade, all of a sudden desperate for more information about her life with Carmilla.

“Well let’s see,” Carmilla said, leaning forward on the table surreptitiously, eyebrow raised, holding Laura’s gaze and making the smaller girl giggle. “We’re movie fans. Usually hit the cineplex on Cherry a couple times a month. You like nerdy science stuff and romantic comedies while I’m more sensible and prefer horror or action so we usually end up seeing two movies whenever we go. Then there’s the park on Madison. We go there and sit together and you write and I take pictures or draw. There’s also the little café on Ravenwood where we had our first date. We usually go there on Saturday mornings.”

“Café Au Lait? It’s one of my favorites in the city. I love that place!” Laura said, perking up in her seat.

“You do. You usually get one of their chocolate éclairs and a dark roast coffee. The first time you ordered it, it totally threw me off because I was so used to you getting your fudge brownie and hot cocoa with double marshmallows. You told me it was your grown up order,” Carmilla said with a chuckle. Laura smiled back, thoroughly enjoying the sound, letting it surround her with it’s warmth.

“So that’s where we had our first date? I thought I asked you to go to a movie with me?”

“You did. But then you decided we should have coffee first, even though you despised it at the time.”

“I was so silly and naive,” Laura joked with a smile. “Tell me about it.”

“About what? Our first date?” Laura just nodded and watched the beautiful smile bloom across Carmilla’s lips.


 

Seven Years Earlier

She was late. That wasn’t unexpected though. She’d never been that great at keeping track of time and there was no room for a watch on her leather-clad wrists. But that didn’t excuse the fact that at the moment, she was hustling down Ravenwood, hoping that Laura hadn’t thought she’d stood her up and left. She’d have texted her but of course her phone was dead once again. She really had to get better about putting it on the charger from time to time.

Finally seeing her destination in sight she slowed down to a normal pace and strolled up to the café, taking note that Laura was nowhere in sight. They’d agreed to meet outside the café for a quick coffee before the movie but it looked like she had already messed up and now Laura was gone. God damn cell phone! It was easier to blame technology than it was to own up to the fact that she shouldn’t have taken a nap earlier and overslept, causing her to have a much later start on getting ready. Not that she put that much effort into it. Retouching her eyeliner and combing her fingers through her long hair, leaving it with subtle waves at the bottom, she grabbed a breath mint and was out the door deciding that the ripped black jeans and red and black off the shoulder top she’d worn earlier would have to do.

She sighed and prepared to walk away, thinking she should stop by Laura’s apartment to apologize when something behind her caught her attention. There was a commotion as people angrily parted to reveal a tiny, frazzled Laura sprinting towards the café. She came to a loud, screeching halt in front of Carmilla, red-faced and out of breath.

“Oh my God Carmilla, I’m so sorry I’m late! There was this thing at the paper that went long and I didn’t even realize what time it was until I was already behind! I’m terrible. I’m a terrible date and I’m so so sorry.”

Carmilla smiled at the smaller girl, unable to stop her thoughts of just how cute she looked at that moment, her red flannel shirt slightly crooked, hair gently windblown, cheeks flushed.

“I tried to call you but it kept going straight to your voicemail.”

“Yeah, I kind of forgot about that whole charging my phone thing.”

“I really am sorry. This is definitely not how I wanted us to start out. Please, let me make it up to you.”

“Don’t sweat it cutie,” Carmilla said with a smile, deciding that there was no reason to make the tiny journalist feel any more guilty. Of course Laura didn’t need to know that she was also late. Better to just start their evening together. “Come on, I’m thirsty,” she said, still smiling and reaching out her hand for Laura to take. Laura smiled back gratefully and stepped closer, nervously taking the hand being offered. Interlacing their fingers Carmilla turned and pulled her in to the half-empty coffee shop.


“So then what happened?” Laura asked with a laugh.

“He walks in, still completely hammered from the night before, naked as can be.”

“Ew, he’s your brother!”

“Yeah, it’s not my fondest memory but at least he had enough sense to cover the one part of him I really didn’t want to see. Mattie and I were both traumatized for like a month afterwards. And he was so embarrassed when he finally sobered up that he didn’t call or text either us for like two.” The two girls shared a laugh before both taking another sip of their drinks from their almost empty mugs.

“So do the two of them visit you often?”

“No, actually last winter was the last time I saw either of them. Mattie’s been traveling pretty much non-stop, doing whatever she can to get her foot in the door and Will actually took summer courses this year so no one actually went back to my mother’s house over summer break.”

“I’m sure you miss them. It sounds like you guys have a lot of fun when you get together.”

“Or we just get into a lot of trouble. But yeah, I guess I do miss them sometimes. See what you miss by being an only child.”

“Eh, it wasn’t so bad. Even though my dad is like ultra crazy protective of me, he and I are really close. He’s like the best dad in the world. And even though I don’t really remember her, he always tells me how much like my mom I am.” Carmilla watched as Laura ducked her head for a moment, all of sudden nervous again, though Carmilla for the life of her couldn’t understand why. “You said you don’t really get along with your mom?”

Oh. That. It wasn’t her favorite topic, by far. In fact, she avoided talking about Lilita any time she could. But she didn't want to give Laura the wrong idea either.

"No, it's not that we don't get along. Again, she's not a bad mother or anything like that. I mean she fed me, clothed me, sent me to the best schools, paid for language and music lessons. She just never struck me as the type of woman that wanted children. So the fact that she adopted three of us has always confused me. Our relationship has always just been... professional is the best way I can think to put it I guess. There's a lot about me that she doesn't know and vice versa.” Carmilla paused for a moment, looking away to collect her thoughts. How much should she reveal to Laura? What if she scared her away? Only one way to tell. “I appreciate all she did for me growing up. It could’ve been a lot worse. And honestly before her, it was. So for that I’m grateful. I just… I guess there were some things I wish she’d have taught me. Things that I didn’t have to learn or hear about from books.”

“Like what?” Apparently she had Laura’s full interest and she had to chuckle at the rapt look adorning the tiny brunettes features. And while she appreciated the interest, she thought it was probably better to take baby steps on this. Maybe she wasn’t going to scare Laura away but this was new to her and she really, really didn’t want to mess this up.

“Like how if we don’t get going soon, we’re going to miss the movie,” she said, smiling when a small pout appeared on Laura’s face, but she followed when Carmilla stood.

“Fine.”


"Come on creampuff, I’ll walk you home,” she said with a smile, pulling lightly on the arm of Laura’s flannel.

“It’s only like three blocks Carm. I’m sure I can make it.”

“I’m sure you can. But how unchivalrous would it be if I left my wide-eyed maiden fair to her own devices on such a dark, mysterious night.” Laura just smiled back shyly and followed. They’d gotten to the movies later than they expected and had just grabbed their seats as the lights went down. The half-full theater meant that they didn’t have to worry about being squeezed in between strangers but also that any conversation would only disturb the other moviegoers. They’d settled on a drama, mostly because all the other films were already midway through or there was over an hour wait for the next showing.

When they sat down near the back of the theater, Laura been very conscious of the close proximity movie seats provided as the side of her arm and knee kept brushing with Carmilla’s. Not that they’d never had these accidental touches when they were studying but this was a date and took on a whole new meaning for Laura. She attempted to stay on her side without seeming closed off but felt Carmilla’s fingers brushing along hers about half an hour into the film. She looked to her left, but Carmilla seemed to be completely engrossed in the film and Laura wondered if she even realized what she was doing. Smiling at the gesture, she allowed it for another moment before boldly taking Carmilla’s hand in her own, pulling it into her lap and sandwiching it with her other hand. Carmilla turned to her in surprise, finally pulled away from the story and smiled once before letting her thumb rub across Laura’s and turning back to the screen. They’d sat like that for the rest of the picture, both seeming to enjoy the little touches here and there. They’d only separated once the lights came back on and they had to maneuver around the other patrons to get out of the theater. Laura had been trying to find the courage to reach for Carmilla’s hand again but so far had come up empty.

She looked over as they slowly walked back towards her apartment, smiling as Carmilla lifted her head, inhaling deeply when the soft autumn breeze tousled her hair.

“I love this time of year,” Laura said, breaking the silence. “Right when the leaves have turned and everything smells like pine. It’s all so calming.”

“Because your life is so stressful?” Carmilla mocked.

“Hey, you don’t know. I might be a cape-wearing superhero when I’m not hanging out with you.”

“Hmm… Are there tights and a short skirt?”

“You’re incorrigible,” Laura said, attempting to sound upset but the smile on her face gave her away. Carmilla simply smiled back, lightly bumping her shoulder into Laura’s as they walked closer.

Laura could see her building just ahead and already felt the loneliness invading her chest at the thought of saying goodnight to Carmilla. It had been an amazing night, one she hoped they could replay in the very near future. But did it really have to end? I could invite her in. We could have more coffee, talk more. Or is that too forward? Oh God, if I invite her in will she think that I want to-

“Well here we are creampuff. Home safe and sound.” Laura looked up as they stopped walking, noticing the intensity of Carmilla’s stare focused solely on her in that moment and she realized she didn’t care what Carmilla thought. She just didn’t want to say goodbye.

“You’re welcome to come in if you’d like,” Laura said, attempting to sound completely in control but the nervousness in her tone was obvious under the dark eyes gazing intensely at her. “I mean, LaF and Perry are home. But you don’t seem to mind them.”

“As much fun as it sounds to go up there and watch the lab rat freaking out about an impromptu science experiment gone awry and Susie Homemaker scurrying around after them trying to keep the disaster to a minimum, I think I’ll take my leave.”

Laura couldn’t help the immediate feeling of disappointment crushing her chest and looked down at her shoes, hoping that Carmilla wouldn’t notice her crestfallen look.

“Right, of course. Sorry.” Carmilla’s chuckle caught her attention and she immediately looked up to the very amused and beautiful girl. “What? What’s so funny?

“I’m in so much trouble because you have the most adorable little pout.” Frowning further she watched as Carmilla stepped forward, leaving only a few inches between them. She felt her hands being wrapped up in Carmilla’s, so warm and soft, pulling her closer and effectively eliminating any space between them. “I want to come up cupcake, trust me. There’s nothing more I’d rather do right now than to take you upstairs and into your room and continue… enjoying your company.” Laura felt the blush reach the tips of her ears this time as images of her and Carmilla ‘enjoying’ each other filtered through her brain. She caught the quick flick of Carmilla’s eyes to her lips before she took another breath and continued. “But I don’t want to screw this up Laura and rush into anything. I actually really like you and would very much like to take you to dinner this weekend.”

Laura smiled at the offer, immediately nodding her head and giving Carmilla’s hands a slight squeeze in affirmation. Carmilla was right, they didn’t have to run full speed ahead. They had lots of time.

Laura felt her smile slip as Carmilla leaned further into her, letting go of one of her hands to gently grasp her jaw, running her thumb along the skin just below Laura’s lip in a move that had her knees nearly giving out. Her gaze darted down to Carmilla’s lips, looking as amazing and kissable as ever. This was it. This was the moment Laura had been thinking about for weeks now every time the dark haired girl sent one of those sexy smirks her way. She braced herself and waited… and waited… and nothing. Looking up she met Carmilla’s intense stare, those dark brown eyes seeming to go on forever. She probably would’ve been content to continues staring into their depths but… well this wasn’t that moment. Why was Carmilla hesitating? Had she said or done something wrong?

“Carm?”

“Are you sure you want to do this cupcake?” That tone; it almost sounded like Carmilla needed reassurance. And that she was more than happy give. She nodded vigorously, gently placing her free hand on Carmilla’s hip, simultaneously pulling on the one behind her back where their fingers were still interlaced.

Apparently, that’s all it took because half a second later she finally felt Carmilla bring their lips together, the hand grasping her jaw sliding down further and wrapping around the back of her neck, fingertips tangling in the hair there.

Holy Hufflepuff, she thought as she felt Carmilla’s mouth open slightly and followed suit, relishing in the way their lips fit together so perfectly. She’d never felt so much from a simple kiss and if the way Carmilla’s left hand gripped hers so tightly while her right hand gently ran along the nape of her neck was any indication, she wasn’t the only one.

A moment later, Carmilla pulled away, resting her forehead against Laura’s and Laura had to remember how to breathe. Opening her eyes, she met Carmilla’s gaze, feeling herself smile as she took in the beautiful girl in front of her.

“Wow.” Ok she hadn’t meant to say that aloud and immediately felt herself blush as she attempted to backpedal. “I mean, I just meant, wow like, wow, or no, not like that but more like-”

She was cut off as Carmilla chuckled and captured her lips again in another short but still toe-curling kiss, leaving her just as foggy headed as the first one.

“Good night Laura. Dinner this weekend,” she said as she removed her hand from the back of Laura’s neck, much to her dismay.

“Um… yeah. Dinner… with food and… yeah.” Carmilla chuckled once more, leaving one last kiss on Laura’s cheek before she slowly turned and walked away. Of course Laura didn’t move, partly because she was trying to remember how her legs worked and partly because watching Carmilla walk- no strut away was an amazing view.


Present

“Aww that’s such a sweet first date. Thank you for telling me.”

“You are very welcome,” Carmilla said, glancing over to see her fiancé smiling at her, the smile almost as big as the one she remembered from that night when they’d walked back to Laura’s apartment.

They’d finished up their late lunch and then decided to walk around the neighborhood a bit after Laura had begged for more time outside in the sunshine. Carmilla had agreed only after making Laura promise to tell her if she got tired. They’d stopped a few times, taking their seats on whatever nearby bench was available whenever Laura asked, resuming their walk once she got some energy back.

“And how chivalrous of you, walking me home and… well not coming in,” Laura said with a laugh.

“That was new for me,” Carmilla admitted.

“What do you mean?” Laura asked, pointing to a nearby bench once again in question and receiving a nod from Carmilla.

“I wasn’t in a hurry with you,” Carmilla said as they sat and she saw she had Laura’s complete attention. She wondered how much she should reveal for fear of upsetting the other girl, but the attentive look in Laura’s eyes melted her and she found herself being completely honest. “I mean, trust me, I wanted to and I was kicking myself later when I was home alone. But, look, I had a reputation back then. The girls I went out with and stuff, they were a dime a dozen. I got what I wanted and most of the time, after I got it, I would ditch them. They were too clingy or they wanted more or I was just bored with them.”

She looked over to gauge Laura’s reaction, hoping she wasn’t scaring the girl away. Of course non-amnesia Laura already knew all this stuff. She knew that she was the first person in a long time that Carmilla had let in and the first girl that Carmilla had really and truly cared about. But staring back at her was amnesia Laura, a girl who didn’t know any of that and whose expression remained unchanged from the curious one she’d been sporting since they’d sat down. Nodding for her to continue, Carmilla turned back towards the street, watching the other people around them go about their days like normal. Nothing different for them.

“When we met, I was immediately attracted to you. But I wasn’t looking for a relationship. I wasn’t looking to actually develop feelings for you. I was just looking to get what I wanted and move on. But you were so different. You were smart and funny. Really dorky,” Carmilla said with a laugh, catching a slight blush and smile from Laura when she turned to meet her eyes. “You were kind and thoughtful. Compassionate and caring. You wormed your way into my subconscious and I realized that you were different and that I really did like you. When we started dating, I didn’t want to screw it up. Normally I didn’t care if I hurt someone because I was just looking out for me and getting what I wanted. But when it came to you, I cared.”

Carmilla stopped, looking away from Laura’s gaze when it became too much. She doesn’t remember you. She doesn’t know you. Don’t scare her. She continued to internally berate herself, wondering if she’d already said too much when she felt Laura’s fingertips on the back of hand, the rough plaster of her cast meeting Carmilla’s wrist. She looked up, seeing that kind and caring smile on Laura’s face that she adored.

“I think the old me was probably very happy that you cared. And the current me is really starting to agree with her,” she said, refusing to look away. Carmilla felt her lips upturn immediately, her smile completely genuine and uncontainable. Damn it, reel it in Karnstein. Traitorous heart!

“Oh yeah?”

“Definitely,” Laura said with a nod, finally looking away to take in more of her surroundings. Carmilla followed her line of vision, noting with a small smile that Laura’s hand stayed glued to the top of hers.

Chapter Text

 

Seven Year Earlier

Snuggled into Carmilla’s side as they slowly walked along one of the less crowded streets of Silas Laura wondered if it was possible to literally explode from happiness. Maybe she’s ask LaF later if there was any documentation of serious chemical imbalances resulting from too much bliss. Not that it would deter her into changing her behaviors because this was just too damn good to give up. But it might be interesting to know. And if anyone would know some obscure fact like that, it would be LaFontaine.

This was their fifth date if you counted the quick coffee/cocoa they’d grabbed the day before when they ran into each other on campus between classes. She definitely counted it. There was flirting and touching and it ended with a soft kiss that left her flying for the rest of the afternoon, so it definitely earned a tally mark in the date column in her book.

Tonight however was a planned outing. She’d agreed to meet Carmilla at the bar around seven when her early shift was supposed to be over and then they’d planned to grab a bite. Arriving right at seven so as not to seem too eager, Laura couldn’t stop herself from smiling and letting the butterflies in her stomach flutter when she saw Carmilla behind the bar, tight black v-neck, hair pulled up revealing that flawless skin, and looking all around amazing as always. Their eyes had met from across the half-full room and she felt her face heat up when Carmilla smiled at her, crooking her finger at her in a come hither motion.

“Hey there cutie,” she said when Laura reached the bar, leaning over it to meet Laura’s lips with hers.

“Hi,” she answered, sighing happily and taking a small amount of pleasure in the fact that Carmilla stayed halfway prone across the bar, keeping their faces close. “I thought you were done at seven?”

“I am. Just give me five minutes to close out my stuff and then I will take you for that cheeseburger with extra pickles that you’ve been talking about for the last three days.” She kissed her once more before leaning back and heading off to finish her work, looking damn good doing it too if Laura had anything to say about it.

They ended up spending a little over an hour and a half at the local greasy spoon where Laura impressively drank two chocolate milkshakes in addition to her ginormous cheeseburger, much to Carmilla’s amusement.

Afterward, with nothing more to do and both agreeing that they didn’t feel up to attending one of the typical Thursday night college parties that were a weekly staple, they’d found themselves walking around the campus, first hand in hand and then arms wrapped around waists as the night grew colder.

So engrossed in their conversation and Carmilla's hypnotic dark chocolate eyes, Laura didn’t even realize how close they were to her apartment until they were about a block away. And why roam around outside in the cold when they could go inside and get… warm? Oh my God, that’s so cheesy Hollis. Do not say that!

Maybe if she just steered them in that general direction. Maybe Carmilla would get the hint. Maybe she’d avoid putting her foot in her mouth for once. Maybe she should stop overthinking things and just do it.

Deciding to be bold in a quiet, unassuming sort of way, she turned them down the street, her apartment building immediately coming into view. Apparently Carmilla didn’t notice as she continued to talk about the punk rock girl that sat in the row in front of them in their Art History class. Laura had finally convinced her to move towards the middle of the lecture hall a few weeks ago, where they could sit together, and though Carmilla pretended to hate not sitting in the back corner like the rebel she was, she did admit that the new vantage point gave her a whole new crop of subjects to fill up her drawing pad with. Well that and she got to endlessly tease and flirt with Laura the entire time.

“I mean, how the hell does her hair change color every class? That can’t be good for it,” Carmilla said, wrapping her arm tighter around Laura’s shoulders to pull her closer. “One day she’s going to wake up and half of it will be gone.”

“I think you are focused far too much on another girl considering this is a date,” Laura teased, pretending to be offended.

“Oh really?” Carmilla chuckled, stopping and wrapping her arms around Laura’s waist, pulling her closer. “I’m so terribly sorry to have offended you. However can I make it up to you creampuff?”

“Oh, I’m sure I can think of something,” Laura said, leaning forward and capturing Carmilla’s lips with her own.

Carmilla’s lips, she’d discovered, were positively addicting. She couldn’t get enough of them in their soft, warm perfection. Even so, she’d expected this to be a fairly quick, mostly chaste kiss. After all, that’s all they’d really done so far. They’d go out, Carmilla would very sweetly walk her home and kiss her goodnight, usually keeping it well within the realms of public modesty. So when she felt Carmilla pushing her back against the wall of the neighboring building, her tongue running across Laura’s bottom lip, requesting entrance, Laura could to nothing but happily comply. Even the rough brick slightly digging into her back couldn’t ruin this moment. Carmilla tasted like chocolate and mint and… so damn delicious.

This was what she’d been craving; this closeness, this heat. It was what she’d been hoping for each time Carmilla leaned in when they said their goodbyes. And then again, each time, Carmilla pulled away, looking almost like it was paining her to do so. And then the night would be over. But this time it felt different and it wasn’t just the fact that Carmilla’s hands had crept inside her unzipped jacket and were now grabbing at her hips, thumbs brushing just under the material of her shirt.

“LaF and Perry aren’t home. Do you want to come inside?” Foot, meet mouth.

She’d blurted it out when they’d separated for half a second to catch their breath without thinking. And now it was out there and she really hoped she wasn’t going to get another rejection, but looking into Carmilla dark, half-lidded eyes, she saw a glimmer of something else there. And she was so focused on that and attempting to decipher what it meant that she almost missed the nearly imperceptible nod Carmilla gave her.

Oh God. She actually said yes! Shit, what do I do now? Laura felt herself momentarily freeze before once again, Carmilla’s lips were briefly on hers in a kiss just as passionate as before. Pulling away a moment later, Carmilla grabbed for Laura’s hand, gently pulling her towards the apartment building. Laura smiled, using her other hand to grab onto the front of Carmilla’s jacket to keep the other girl from tripping and falling as she continued to walk backwards towards and then into the building, her intense gaze never leaving Laura's.

“Where are the Wonder Twins tonight?” Carmilla asked when they reached the elevator. There was no one in the main entrance of the building Laura noted and she was grateful since once they stopped walking, Carmilla’s hands were inside her jacket again, their faces only a few inches apart. Not that she was embarrassed to have the hottest girl in Silas so close, but she wasn’t really in the mood for an audience either.

“They um… they were going to some play… or something. Perry had… tickets. And I think they were… grabbing dinner afterwards.” It was really hard to talk or answer any questions when Carmilla’s mouth had slowly descended on her, making its way along her jawline and down her neck.

“So they’ll be gone for a while?” Carmilla husked into her ear. Laura just nodded, no longer able to vocalize anything beyond a quiet grunt. “Good.”

The elevator doors behind her slid open with a ding and Carmilla pushed her inside, pinning her to the back wall, colliding their lips once again. Oh wow, yeah this was it. This was what she’d been thinking about for weeks now. Hell, she’d been thinking about this since the first night they’d met and Carmilla had practically purred at her in that silken voice.

It was too much and not enough all at once and Laura struggled to keep her footing as Carmilla’s tongue softly mapped every inch of her mouth, her hands once again wandering underneath Laura’s jacket, taking care as fingertips brushed the tiniest patches of available skin.

This girl… this girl was going to be the death of her, leaving her nearly undone with just a few kisses and some very strategic touching. Now, if they could just get upstairs...

“Ahem, you guys forget something?” Through the lusty haze she heard the distinctly amused voice of LaFontaine. She felt Carmilla pull away from her, her lips, her hands, and she heard the unmistakable groan of annoyance sound somewhere from within her throat. Opening her eyes she found herself staring at the back of Carmilla’s head and peered around to the side, catching sight of LaF and Perry standing just outside the open elevator doors, Perry looking incredibly uncomfortable and LaF smiling away.  LaF stepped in, pulling Perry along with them just as the doors closed. “You know the elevator works better when you actually select a floor.”

“Wow. You are so smart,” Carmilla deadpanned, now leaning beside Laura, arms crossed over her chest and frowning.

“Thank you. I’ve been tested.” Carmilla simply huffed in response and Laura’s brain finally caught up with the situation, only to feel the utter embarrassment flood her veins. What the hell was she thinking, getting caught in an elevator with her lips attached to another girl? You have a perfectly good apartment upstairs. You couldn’t have waited another thirty seconds to get up there?! And now LaF’s going to give you shit for the next week and Perry’s going to try to talk to you about being safe and-

“Hey, you ok?” She looked up to see Carmilla staring back at her, a worried expression gracing her features. Flicking her eyes to the door, she noticed the elevator had stopped and LaF and Perry had apparently already exited.

“Yeah. Sorry I just spaced for a second there,” she said, following them out and down the hall towards her door. She noticed Carmilla a few steps behind and stopped, turning to the still frowning girl. “So I guess they’re home early.”

“So it would seem,” Carmilla said, shoving her hands into her back pockets and kicking the toe of her right boot into the floor. Laura had to smile at the childish behavior, somehow finding Carmilla even more adorable in that moment and realizing, not for the first time, just how much she really did like this girl.

“I don’t suppose you’d still want to stay and watch a movie or something?”

“Are you sure you want me to?” She honestly seemed surprised by the invitation. "I mean, after that, don't think you have to be polite and still invite me in."

“I’m positive I want you to.” Laura said reaching out and taking one of Carmilla’s hands. “I know it might not be the night we’d planned and that LaF will probably be LaF and make lots of inappropriate innuendos for the rest of the night, which by the way, you're totally in charge of throwing back in their face because you can totally keep up with LaF, but… I’m just not ready to say goodnight to you yet.” Carmilla just smiled back at her and let Laura pull her into the apartment.


Present

“And that was the first time the lack wits interrupted what was sure to be an amazing evening,” Carmilla said dryly, focusing on the laptop in front of her her.

“The first time? Why do I not like the sound of that?” Laura asked, looking around the room to her friends faces. LaF and Perry had stopped by unannounced a little earlier, bringing dinner from Laura’s favorite Chinese place.

It had been a relatively quiet day up until that point. Laura and Carmilla had wound up getting back home the night before just around sunset, Laura exhausted but happy. After the first date story, they’d spent the afternoon roaming around the neighborhood they called home, Carmilla pointing out different things to Laura here and there but keeping the conversation light.

When Laura woke up that morning completely well rested, she wasn’t surprised to see Carmilla already awake, on her third cup of coffee and working on something on her computer. Knowing that Carmilla was still trying to catch up on everything, Laura decided to let her off the hook, asking if they could spend the day at home relaxing. Carmilla had instantly agreed and they’d spent the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon sitting in the living room, Carmilla working and Laura alternating between shows on Netflix, the conversation minimal but pleasant. She had just turned the television off and picked up her well worn copy of The Prisoner of Azkaban when she heard a loud bang on their front door, followed a moment later by laughter as her friends piled inside.

“Ugh. You know that key we gave you was supposed to be for emergencies only,” Carmilla grumbled as the two intruders made their way into the living room, food in hand. “You’d think after all these year, you guys would at least consider knocking.”

Thus leading to the latest round of ‘let's remind Laura of her past’ stories. On this episode, The Interrupting Ginger.

“Seriously,” Carmilla said, piggybacking off Laura’s comment and refocusing on her laptop as the others finished their food. “You’d think you were all born in a barn.”

“Oh come on! It’s not like we ever actually walked in on you guys mid-deed,” LaF chimed in, causing Laura to choke on the last bite of her shrimp egg roll. “I mean, it’s been close but…”

“Wait a second. So you guys really have made a habit out of this haven’t you? How many times have you guys interrupted us? And doing what?!?”

“Too many to count,” Carmilla muttered.

“There have been a fair amount, though it's never been intentional,” Perry said. “And it isn’t always us, so stop playing the blame game Carmilla.”

“Yeah, Danny, Kirsch, Mel. Even Mattie and Will have been subjected to you two and your inability to keep your hands off each other. Trust me, everyone’s had their fair share of awkward, oh god please let me unsee this moment when it comes to you two. Per and I just happen to be bigger stockholders.”

“So once in the elevator, when else?” Laura asked, unsure of why she was continuing down this road, but curious, just the same.

“Oh, the elevator happened a few times,” LaF said with a chuckle. “You guys really suck at selecting your floor once you’re in. But at least you’re too much of a prude to let Karnstein have her way with you in a hanging steel box. It’s once you’re behind closed doors that it gets a little more risque.”


 Seven Years Earlier

She smiled at the slight intake of breath escaping Laura’s mouth as she nipped gently just below the smaller girls ear.

“You smell so good cupcake,” she groaned, relishing in the feeling of Laura’s fingers tangling in her hair.

The evening had started innocent enough. Carmilla had shown up unannounced at Laura’s apartment after her shift ended at the bar, a half-dozen chocolate swirl cupcakes in her hand, earning an extremely grateful kiss from Laura. They found a movie that neither was really paying any attention to as they caught up with each other about their days and the tiny journalist polished off three of the sweet cakes before Carmilla was even halfway through her first.

“You enjoy those creampuff?” Carmilla asked with a chuckle.

“So much. You certainly do a know the way to a girls heart,” Laura answered as she snuggled closer to Carmilla on the couch.

“I’ve spent years honing my craft all in the hopes of one day impressing you,” Carmilla teased, smiling as she leaned in, placing a soft kiss on the other girls cheek. And then another further towards her lips. And then another on the corner of Laura’s mouth. She felt Laura smile into her teasing and reveled in the feeling for a moment before connecting their lips.

She’d only meant for it to be a fairly quick kiss. While she definitely wasn’t opposed to taking their relationship further, Carmilla had surprisingly discovered that she was ok taking it slow when it came to Laura. She was actually enjoying the time they spent together, whether that time was cuddled up watching something stupid or out to dinner teasing each other or times like this, with their lips pressed together, kisses simple and patient. She really was perfectly content at the moment. And then she felt Laura’s hands tangle in her hair, tugging slightly. God dammit, she thought as she simultaneously pulled Laura closer and opened her lips, deepening the kiss, feeling Laura immediately follow suit.

Fifteen minutes later they found themselves in their current position; Laura pinned flat on her back in her bed, hands roaming up and down Carmilla’s back while the dark haired girl continued to nip at the sensitive spots on Laura’s neck she’d been discovering.

She admitted it. It was her idea that they make their way into Laura’s bedroom when things had started to turn a little heated on the couch. And while she would have been ok if Laura had declined the offer, she’d desperately hoped the smaller girl would agree to the suggestion. Much to her elation, it had actually been Laura that pulled away and then pulled her into the other room after the proposition.

It really was fine with her that they’d been taking it slow. But who was she kidding? She was ridiculously attracted to the girl beneath her who happened to smell amazing and feel even better.

Deciding to test the waters a little further she adjusted herself, letting one of her thighs slide between Laura’s as the hand not holding her up crept up Laura’s torso beneath the loose t-shirt she wore. Skin. It was soft and warm and... so so fucking good.

Reconnecting their lips granted her another soft moan from Laura and Carmilla knew she wasn’t the only one who wanted to take this further. Still… Maybe I should ask her.

Pulling away from the lips that she’d come to crave, she looked down, noticing Laura’s eyes had darkened considerably, her pupils blown, breath shallow.

“What? What’s wrong?” Laura panted from below her.

“Absolutely nothing cutie. I just… I just want to make sure you’re ok with this. Because if this isn't what you want or you want to stop...” Her voice sounded strange in her ears. When had she ever asked a girl if she was ok? Never, that’s when.

Laura smiled up at her, moving her hands to grasp desperately at Carmilla’s shoulders and nodding once. That was enough and Carmilla crashed their lips together again, delighting in another small moan that escaped when her tongue brushed against Laura’s.

Just take it slow Karnstein, she thought, realizing that she actually wanted to enjoy this as long as she could. The kissing continued, waxing and waning before she moved back to Laura’s neck, once again finding that sweet spot behind her ear and then lower down to her shoulder where the loose t-shirt had slid off of. Allowing her hand to roam further up Laura’s torso, she felt her fingers come in contact with the thin material at the bottom of Laura’s bra. Moving back up to Laura’s lips, she smiled into the kiss when she felt Laura’s hips involuntarily start moving against her thigh.

“Hey Hollis, you got any- whoa, what the hell!”

“Ugh, Jesus, seriously Xena!” Carmilla felt Laura desperately trying to sit up from beneath her and took pity on the smaller girl when she turned and saw just how furiously she was blushing.

“Danny! What are you doing here?” she asked, finally able to escape her prone position.

“We said we were going to watch a movie tonight! It was supposed to be just the two of us! What is she doing here?” Danny asked, clearly beyond irritated that her evening alone with Laura had been ruined. Shocker, Carmilla thought, rolling her eyes.

“Ugh, we did plan that didn’t we? I’m sorry Danny, Carm stopped by and I just got distracted and forgot. Just... just give me a minute,” Laura said, attempting to gain some composure.

What??? Carmilla turned to Laura, seeing the honest to goodness guilt mixed in with her embarrassment and felt her stomach drop. So I guess that’s it. Guess I know where I stand, she thought moving to the edge of the bed where her boots had landed earlier when she’d kicked them off.

Carmilla felt Danny glowering her way and met the taller girls eyes in challenge, not looking away until she’d left the room. Fucking giantess. She shook her head, reaching for her boots and pulling the first one on.

“You’re not leaving are you?” The panic in Laura’s voice was clear as day at that moment but she didn’t care.

“Well you apparently had plans so yeah.” Why did she sound so pissy? Oh right, because you totally just got cut off from the girl you really like by the girl that really likes her and who you can’t fucking stand! And Laura chose her!

“Carmilla, no, you don’t have to go. I’m sorry, I was so happy to see you tonight that I completely forgot about the movie thing with Danny when you showed up. But you can stay. We can all watch something together, the three of us.” Carmilla knew Laura was trying to placate everyone but that was bullshit. And it definitely didn’t ease the sting that she was choosing to let Danny stay when they’d clearly been enjoying the night together, just the two of them. Why is she choosing her over me?

“I think I’ll pass on that,” she said, sliding on her other boot and quickly lacing them up. She stood, straightening her clothes and turned, hating that the hurt look on Laura’s face made her feel guilty. But why should she feel guilty? She hadn’t done anything wrong. “I’ll see myself out.”

“No, Carm wait!” Laura knelt on the end of the bed, grabbing onto Carmilla’s hand just as she was about to pass. “Please don’t be upset. I really didn’t mean for this to happen tonight.”

Which part? The part where you forgot about your date with Sasquatch or the part where we accidentally almost slept together?

Feeling the anger in her chest swelling along with some other emotions that she was less familiar with, she shook her head to clear it, desperate to just get out and away before she did or said something stupid.

“It’s fine, I’ll talk to you later,” she said, leaning in to leave a small kiss on Laura’s cheek before leaving, but not before sending a glare at Danny on her way out, who, she noted, looked beyond smug with her departure.

That fucking tree! This was the second time Danny had barged in on her time with Laura. And why was it that Laura felt compelled to play nice with her? Sure they were friends, she knew that. And yes, they’d known each other longer than she’d been around. And so what, if they’d made plans for the night before Carmilla showed up?

Fuming the whole ten minute walk back to her apartment only made her feel worse. Why was she letting this bother her so much? After all, they were just dating right? Just having fun?

Just having fun is usually enjoyable and doesn’t leave you feeling like you’re second place! she thought as she tossed her jacket off and plopped down on her threadbare couch. But that was it because she felt like she was just picked second and it hurt. Maybe she wasn’t ready for this. Maybe she was in over her head. Or worse, maybe she had all these stupid feeling for Laura. And maybe Laura didn’t feel the same way back.


 Present

Carmilla continued to pretend to look at the laptop in front of her but she could feel Laura’s eyes on her and at the moment, she wished the smaller girl would look somewhere else. Why the hell had she brought all that up? Why was that the next story that Laura had to hear? She remembered that night very well. It hurt like hell and the next morning when she'd woken up, it didn't feel any better because she'd realized she was too far gone over Laura to simply bow out. But Laura obviously didn't feel the same. So what the hell was she supposed to do? She'd thought and thought about it and kept coming to the same conclusion: she was going to end up getting hurt. And boy did that just fucking suck.

“Carmilla?”

“Huh?” She snapped out of her reverie, looking up to a confused Laura across from her on the couch. On the other sofa, LaF and Perry were laughing about something, lost in their own world of whatever hilarious memory had apparently come up.

“Are you ok?” She turned back to Laura, that confused look still locked on her sweet face.

“Yeah, fine.” She attempted a reassuring smile but apparently, Laura wasn’t buying it.

“You were upset when you left that night, weren’t you?” She said it quietly, apparently trying to keep the dynamic duo from hearing them.

“It was no big deal,” Carmilla said with a shrug.

“It was if I hurt you.” Carmilla stared for a moment, completely caught off guard by the comment. It had happened seven years ago and here Laura was worried about how a much younger Carmilla felt. Which of course, Carmilla did not want to talk about.

“Laura, it’s fine, really. It was a long time ago and you didn’t do anything wrong.” Carmilla turned more towards Laura, taking another moment with her thoughts and taking note that the others in the room still weren’t paying attention. “Regardless of my feelings about Lawrence, she’s your friend. I know that. Besides, it was still really early for us then. You didn’t owe me anything.”

She carefully watched Laura’s face, the confusion still there but also the disappointment, though she wasn’t sure who it was aimed at past Carmilla, current Carmilla or the situation as a whole.

“I’ve always been a rule follower,” Laura said after a moment, apparently trying to break the tension.

“That you are Hollis,” she said fondly.

“So… what happened after that? Did you ignore me again for a week like you did the first time she barged in on us?” Laura asked with a small smile and Carmilla couldn’t help but return it.

“Not quite.”


 Seven Years Earlier

Laura was going over her notes for the fifth time, sighing when she once again found herself sidetracked with thoughts of Carmilla and why she was late. The dark haired girl had missed class that morning and had only answered Laura’s worried text sometime that afternoon, claiming that she’d overslept but confirming that they were still on for a study session that night.

Laura looked at her phone once again, double-checking that she hadn’t missed anything, and of course since it hadn’t left her side all day, she was met with disappointment. Though she hadn’t seen Carmilla since the other night when she’d showed up unannounced, they had talked a few times. Laura had attempted to breach the Danny subject once but was immediately shut down when Carmilla told her it wasn’t a big deal and had then changed the subject.

It’s not like I did anything wrong. I mean, I had plans with Danny in the first place. Hanging out with her was the right thing to do. And I always do the right thing!

She was taken out of her thoughts by a knock on the door and quickly made her way to open it, taking in a nonchalant looking Carmilla on the other side.

“Hey cutie, sorry I’m late,” she said, stepping into the apartment and leaving a soft kiss on Laura’s cheek.

“Is everything ok?” Laura asked.

“Yeah, just running behind today, no big deal,” she answered with a shrug before pointing towards the kitchen where Laura’s books still lay spread out on the island. “You getting started without me?”

“Not really, I was just reviewing a few things.” Something was off. Carmilla hadn’t been this detached in weeks and if she had to guess the cause, she figured she could nail it on her first try. Deciding to test the waters, Laura stepped in front of her, taking both Carmilla’s hands in hers and giving them a gentle squeeze.

“What happened today?” Nothing. Carmilla glanced at her for a moment before looking away and shrugging again. “Come on Carm, talk to me. Is something wrong? Did I do something? Is this about the other night?”

“Laura, no. The other night… it happened, it’s over, it wasn’t a big deal.”

“But you seemed upset when you left and if you’re upset with me, I’d like to know.”

“I’m not upset with you. You had other plans. I shouldn’t have just showed up like that without at least calling or something first. I won’t do it again.”

“No, I like that you just randomly showed up!” Laura pulled Carmilla closer, holding tightly to her hands. “Carm I like having you around. I like spending time with you. You know that right?”

“Yeah, I do. I just…” Laura waited patiently, watching Carmilla look away for a moment, her gaze focused across the room. “It’s nothing you did Laura.”

“Well, is it Danny?” Carmilla scoffed at that, still avoiding eye contact.

“I’m definitely not the biggest Lawrence fan out there.”

“I know. But Carm, you’re going to have to find a way to deal with her because she’s my friend and I care about her.” Later Laura would swear she saw Carmilla flinch at her words but in the moment, she was too determined to notice. “You are both part of my life and, well I’m not asking the two of you to be best friends but, it’d be nice if you could at least be civil.”

She watched as Carmilla turned her gaze back towards her, taking a moment to stare into her eyes before nodding once. Laura smiled, wrapping her arms around Carmilla’s shoulders. She leaned in and placed a soft kiss on Carmilla’s lips, leaning their foreheads together at the end.

“I am sorry about the other night. I really was having fun with you and I would’ve much rather been with you than her, it’s just… we made plans and I didn’t want to welsh on that.” She took a moment to gather her thoughts, hoping that she wouldn’t say something that would end up hurting the other girl. “I like you a lot Carm and I know you don’t love my friends but I don’t want to have to choose.”

“I get that,” Carmilla said, finally looking up and meeting Laura’s eyes. “And I guess I’ll have to muddle through it if I want to keep seeing you huh?”

“Well… maybe not a ton of muddling. I mean, I kind of like it when it’s just the two of us.” She leaned in and placed a soft kiss on Carmilla’s now slightly smiling lips, sighing happily when she felt two soft hands squeeze at her hips. “So, how about we skip the studying, pop some popcorn and watch a movie instead.”

“Like you even have to ask cupcake,” Carmilla said, kissing her once more, seeming almost relieved but Laura wasn’t sure why. Deciding not to push any further, she pulled Carmilla into the living room and onto the couch before attempting to decide what to watch.

Half an hour later they were snuggled up there, Carmilla's back against her chest, her arms wrapped around Carmilla from behind, occasionally leaving soft kisses on the dark-haired girls temple. This felt different, it felt comfortable. It felt amazing. She inhaled deeply, taking in the scent of Carmilla’s shampoo and sighed happily, giggling at the feeling of Carmilla’s fingertips tickling along the back of her knee.

“This movie is horrible creampuff. I don’t know how much longer I can sit here pretending to watch it.”

“Well, you didn’t offer up any suggestions when I asked what you were in the mood for.”

“I did too. You just immediately vetoed my Dawn of the Dead request.”

“I am not about to watch some terrifying zombie movie and then be too scared to close my eyes tonight after you leave.”

“Was that your attempt to get me to stay?” Carmilla teased, turning slightly with a smirk, catching Laura’s eye. Laura smiled back, leaning forward and catching Carmilla’s lips with hers. It was an awful tempting idea, especially when she felt Carmilla reach back, threading her fingers through Laura’s hair, softly biting her bottom lip as she pulled back a moment later. “I mean, I’m more than happy to offer up my serv-”

“Oh, awesome, you’re both here.”

“Son of a bitch!” Carmilla turned and flopped back into her original position leaning against Laura, arms crossed and frowning. Laura couldn’t help the giggle that escaped her at the visual, wrapping her arms around Carmilla from behind once again and giving her a squeeze.

“Why is it awesome that we’re both here?” Laura asked, not bothering to turn towards LaF and Perry who were currently struggling into the kitchen, weighed down by grocery bags.

“We’re having an impromptu game night and we need more people. Danny and Mel are on their way now,” Perry said, setting down her bags gently on the counter while LaF dropped theirs unceremoniously in a pile. “Laura, could you possibly help me get some of these snacks together while LaF gets out the games? Carmilla, perhaps you could also help.”

“Oh yeah, that’s what I want to do,” Carmilla grumbled.

“What was that?”

“She said she’ll be happy to help,” Laura said with a smile, before leaning into Carmilla’s ear and lowering her voice. “I know this isn’t what you want to do tonight but I promise, I’ll make it up to you.”

Carmilla turned to Laura, heaving a deep sigh and kissing her once on the cheek.

“Next time, we’re hanging out at my place,” she said before getting up and following LaF.


 Present

Carmilla finally closed her laptop, exhausted from trying to play catch up with clients and rescheduling and portfolio work. She looked to her right where Laura was asleep, curled in on herself under the blanket from the back of the couch.

The visiting duo had left not long after the last reminiscence, both promising to visit later in the week. She’d noticed Laura had been yawning more towards the end but stayed focused throughout the tale. She’d even grabbed up her book once her friends were gone, surprising Carmilla by not asking more questions, but she didn’t press the issue. Maybe she’d heard enough for the day. Carmilla had to imagine it could be overwhelming trying to digest so many memories that you just couldn’t… remember. Still, she wanted to make sure that Laura was taken care of and sleeping on the couch was definitely not what her doctor had recommended.

Carmilla set her things aside and got up, moving towards Laura and kneeling in front of her. She gently reached up, half tempted to brush a stray piece of hair behind the smaller girls ear but refrained and settled on gently shaking her shoulder, carefully rousing the girl.

“Hey, what’s going on?” That sleepy voice. Carmilla had missed it.

“It’s past your bedtime kid. Come on.” She stood and offered her hand to Laura, unsure if she’d take it but grateful when she did. Squeezing once she walked them out of the living room and aimed Laura towards the hallway to their bedroom. “Go get some sleep.”

“Are you sure? I feel awful making you sleep on the couch again,” Laura said, apparently waking up a tad. “I can sleep out there tonight, really. I know you aren’t sleeping well on it and I know you didn’t sleep while I was in the hospital. You need to get some rest.”

“I’m fine on the couch Laura, really. In fact, I’m so tired tonight, I’m not even sure I have the energy to get out of these clothes,” Carmilla joked, pulling slightly at the hem of her shirt. “Go on. Go sleep.”

Laura looked at her one last time before nodding and turning away to make her way to their room. She stopped just before reaching the door and turned back, smiling softly.

"Goodnight Carm."

Carmilla watched until the door closed, smiling like an idiot and suddenly feeling a lightness that she hadn’t felt since before that god damned accident.

Carm. She called me Carm.

Chapter Text

Laura stood in front of their balcony door, taking in the beautiful surroundings and letting the sun’s early rays surround her in their warmth. She was half tempted to actually go sit outside on the wicker furniture she was sure she’d picked out to furnish their small patio but decided against it, not wanting to worry Carmilla if she woke up and didn’t happen to see her as she passed by the kitchen. She took a sip from the steaming mug in her good hand and sighed happily, feeling something close to normal for the first time since before the accident.

She’d woken up about an hour earlier and after taking in the quiet within the walls surrounding her and hoping that meant Carmilla was still asleep, decided to shower and get ready before venturing out for her morning coffee. She’d cut a whole thirty seconds off her shower time, which was fairly impressive and had even managed to dry her hair for the first time since being home.

Staring out at the gorgeous view, she wondered if this was the norm and smiled at the thought. It would be nice. Beautiful home, her dad and some of the most supportive friends she could ask for, a good job, which she was looking forward to getting back to soon. This could work.

She was pulled from her thoughts by the sound of a muffled grumble and the shuffle of feet behind her. Turning she saw Carmilla shamble into the room, rubbing the sleep from her eyes and looking very much not yet awake. The sight warmed her further as this was the first time she’d seen Carmilla without the makeup and fitted clothes, which she was really starting to appreciate. No, the girl before her stood, hair tousled, rumpled black tank top and soft cotton shorts, face free of any cosmetics.

And she’s still so beautiful.

“Good morning,” Laura greeted her softly, giggling a little as her voice seemed to startle Carmilla despite the fact that she was only a few feet away. The grunt she got in return only increased her amusement. Apparently she really isn’t a morning person. “I made coffee. Would you like some?” Carmilla simply nodded and stumbled further into the kitchen, still swiping at her eyes and pushing the hair out of her face. Laura laughed again, unable to help herself which caught Carmilla’s attention and she stopped completely, turning to face Laura, frowning in confusion.

“What’s so funny?”

“Nothing, sorry. Here, why don’t you sit down and I’ll get it for you,” Laura said, moving back towards the kitchen.

“Yeah, ok, thanks cutie.” Laura glanced over as she grabbed one of the many mugs available from the cupboard and saw Carmilla immediately cringe at her slip. Apparently her brain was at least a little awake but her mouth hadn’t quite gotten the memo. “Shit, sorry Laura.”

“No, it’s ok. Um, how do you take this?” she asked as she poured the roasted liquid into the mug she’d grabbed.

“Black.”

Carmilla sat at one of the stools and smiled her thanks as Laura sat the mug in front of her, seemingly still a little embarrassed at her slip-up.

“So exactly how many nicknames do you have for me?” Laura asked, attempting to lighten the mood as she slid onto the stool next to Carmilla.

“Too many to count,” Carmilla said with a chuckle, glancing at Laura for a moment before becoming serious again, turning her gaze back to the mug cradled between her hands. “I’ve really been trying not to… it just came out. Old habits.”

“It’s fine, really. I get it. You don’t have to apologize.” She reached out and placed a comforting hand on Carmilla’s forearm, watching the dark-haired girl turn to her curiously. “When I said what I did at the hospital… well obviously I didn’t know who you were at the time. I was confused and scared… and maybe a little feisty,” she said, happy when Carmilla finally genuinely smiled at her. “But you didn’t do anything wrong. And maybe it would help, you know? If I heard you talking to me just like you normally would, maybe it’ll spark something?”

“Worth a try,” Carmilla said with a shrug, finally taking a sip of her coffee and humming happily in response. “So, you’re all dressed and ready. You get your bandage back on?”

“No,” Laura muttered in frustration, causing Carmilla to chuckle once again. “And I did it exactly like you’ve been doing it the last few days. The damn tape still won’t stick right.”

“Don’t sweat it creampuff, I’ve just always had the magic touch when it comes to you.” Laura felt her face immediately heat up and looked away until Carmilla’s laugh brought her eyes back. “You said to talk to you like I normally would…”

“Oh... yeah... right.” Carmilla just smiled at her over the rim of her mug and stood.

“I’ll dial it back a little. Stay there. I’ll get the tape and help you,” she said as she left the room.


Sitting on the kitchen stool a little while later, reading through the headlines on her laptop that Carmilla had sat in front of her and so graciously given her the password to when all her old standbys didn’t work, Laura waited as patiently as she could for Carmilla to finish getting ready. The dark haired girl had helped her once again with her bandages and this time, there may have been more blushing than usual due to the magic touch comment that morning, but Carmilla had been polite as always, keeping the actual skin on skin contact to a minimum and making sure everything was properly in place before coming out of nurse mode, smirking at Laura and sauntering off to get ready for the day.

And it really was a saunter too. That girl can walk…

Her phone beeped at her, pulling her out of her thoughts on how good Carmilla’s legs looked under those tiny gray cotton shorts. Not now Laura. She picked it up and glanced at the readout, seeing a text from Perry asking if she was up to having a late lunch with her, LaF, and Danny at around two. As she sent back a quick ‘Absolutely!’ Carmilla emerged from the guest bathroom, fresh-faced and ready for the day.

“I’m going to ask Mel to take a look that shower. The pressure is terrible. And she was able to fix the one at our old place.”

“You know, you could just use the master bathroom. I’m not banishing you from it.”

“I know. Just thought you might like it for now,” Carmilla said with a shrug and Laura smiled at her. Another sweet gesture. “Alright, you ready?”

“Yeah, um, I just got a text from Perry though. She was asking for me to meet the gang for lunch later.” She watched Carmilla’s face carefully, noticing the other girl’s expression subtly changing from content to a blank slate and wondered why. “Do you think that would be ok?”

“Sure. I’ll drop you off after the doctor,” she said, dropping her gaze and walking away to grab her things, her voice flat and bored, devoid of the teasing tone she'd used earlier.

“Are you sure? Do you want to come too?”

“No, I’m fine,” she said, grabbing her jacket and keys, turning to Laura expectantly and nodding towards the door. Laura just nodded and followed her out, unsure of what else to do or say.


Laura pulled uncomfortably at the backwards hospital gown she’d been forced into and fidgeted on the bed for what had to be at least the eighth time since they’d entered the room, the waxy paper below her crinkling noisily in protest. Carmilla looked up at her anxiously from her spot in the corner, obviously picking up on Laura’s discomfort.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to wait outside?” Carmilla had asked her that three times now, the dark haired girl clearly finding Laura’s discomfort completely unnerving. “I mean, if you want me in here, I’ll stay. I just don’t want to make you more uncomfortable.”

“No, stay, please. Just in case something happens.” Laura appreciated the concern and she knew Carmilla was just trying to be helpful, but the thought of her leaving now left a little bit of panic creeping into Laura’s chest. Carmilla just nodded, continuing to fidget with the clasp of the leather cuff on her right wrist.

Hopefully things would go smoothly at the appointment. If everything was healing properly, her stitches would come out today and she was beyond grateful at the prospect of being able to remove one thing off the list. Or at least one thing off the list of all the stuff she had to ask Carmilla to help with.

She looked over once more, noticing not for the first time that morning that Carmilla seemed to avoid her gaze. Whatever it was that had happened between them getting ready and leaving the house that had caused the complete one-eighty in Carmilla’s mood was a mystery and she was completely lost. Shifting noisily again, she opened her mouth twice in an attempt to ask but was saved from any further conversation as her doctor entered the room at that moment.

“Carmilla, Laura, so good to see you both,” she said with a smile. “How are you feeling Laura?”

“Much better Dr. Petersen. Still a little tender with the ribs but they seem to be ok.”

“Well that’s to be expected but good news, nonetheless. The x-rays do indicate they are healing. How about the arm? I took a look at your x-rays from the hospital and it appeared to be a fairly clean break in your radius.”

“It’s ok,” Laura said, lifting her weighty casted forearm for inspection. “It mostly just itches.” She caught sight of a smirking Carmilla out of the corner of her eye and sent the dark-haired girl a small smile in return, elated to see Carmilla grin for the first time since they’d left the house.

“Very good,” the doctor said. “How about the memory? Any difference there?”

Laura felt her face fall and shook her head, once again catching Carmilla out of the corner of her eye, no longer looking so amused. She looked back to the doctor, taking in her nod as she made a note on the tablet in her hand.

“Do you… do you think this will be permanent?”

“Honestly Laura, it is a possibility, though it is far more likely that you will eventually recover some if not all of your memories. Don’t give up on that just yet. You have a great support system, rely on them, that’s what I recommend.”

“Is there anything else we can do?” Carmilla quietly asked.

“I’ve had patients in similar circumstances before. Stories from their loved ones, photos, visits to important places, all of these things seemed to help. I wish I had a magic answer for you but unfortunately this is a case by case basis. As I said, just don’t give up hope quite yet. It’s still early.” She smiled at each girl in turn before moving back to the examination. “Any pain anywhere else or any trouble mentally with concentration or anything like that?” Once again, Laura shook her head, taking in the promising nod and smile from her doctor as she made another note on her tablet. “Alright, excellent. Let’s take a look at the surgical incision then and see if the stitches are ready to come out.”

Laura quickly looked over to Carmilla, watching as she very sweetly turned and looked at the wall behind her as Laura’s gown came open. She couldn’t help smiling at the thoughtful gesture and allowed the doctor to make her inspection.

“Excellent, you’re healing exceptionally well Laura. We’ll go ahead and take these out today and then the two of you can be on your way unless you have any other questions for me.” Laura shook her head and then attempted to sit as still as possible as the stitches were removed from her torso over the next few minutes. “Alright, all set,” Dr. Petersen said as she finished the procedure, double checking the immediate area around the incision for anything out of the ordinary. “Now remember, still take it easy as your skin is not one hundred percent yet. But other than that, I think you are doing incredibly well under the circumstances Laura. Everything seems to be healing but please call the office if anything unusual comes up ok?” Laura just nodded, quietly thanking the doctor as she left.

Hopping off the table, she quickly grabbed her shirt, swapping it for the starchy paper gown. Finally turning towards Carmilla, she noticed she was still facing the wall, apparently very invested in the poster showcasing a diagram of a human nasal cavity with an advertisement for some new miracle drug at the bottom promising an allergy-free season. Smiling at the girl’s chivalry, she buttoned the last button on her shirt.

“Ok, I’m decent.” Carmilla finally turned and smiled quickly before making her way out of the room. Laura could’ve sworn she saw a slight blush creeping up her neck and smiled. Finally got her.

The two left the office in silence, quietly walking towards the worn Jeep Wrangler that Carmilla apparently drove in the colder weather when her bike was less than practical. After they climbed in, she pointed them towards downtown Silas where Laura was supposed to meet her friends. Laura kept throwing glances around, trying not to look like she was staring at Carmilla and the frown deeply etched upon her face. What had she done wrong?

Things had been so good since she’d been home. Carmilla had been so sweet and patient with her. They’d been getting along great up until this morning and she honestly had no idea what she might have said or done to cool Carmilla’s demeanor toward her. But damn it, she had a right to know! And almost as important, needed to break the uncomfortable atmosphere in the car.

She turned towards Carmilla, taking note that the other girl kept her eyes locked on the road, her hands perfectly placed at ten and two on the steering wheel, seemingly driving as carefully as possible, something that Laura had not expected, knowing what she did of Carmilla.

Say something!

“So, nice weather we’re having.” Great opening Hollis.

“Sure.”

“I love the fall. I mean, I’m sure you know that. You know lots about me and the fall’s just so great. The air is so crisp and there’s delicious fall snacks and you know I love snacks.” Do you have a point here???

“Yeah.”

“So um… can I ask you something?”

“Sure.”

“Are you ok? Did something happen? Did I do something to upset you?”

Carmilla just shook her head, still focused on the road and Laura felt her heart literally aching within her chest.

“Are you sure?”

“Yep.”

Frustrated and at a loss of what else to do, Laura turned her gaze away and out her own window, letting the uncomfortable silence once again take over. How was she supposed to fix something that she wasn’t even sure she’d broken? This side of Carmilla... this was new. She’d obviously heard about how quickly the girl could turn off the charm and shut down over the last few days from the different stories she’d been told, but seeing it first hand and aimed at her was completely different and left her feeling beyond desperate and helpless.

Carmilla slowed the vehicle and aimed towards the curb in front of their destination, which due to being so deep in thought, Laura hadn’t even realized they were so close to. Outside the restaurant she could see Perry, LaF and Danny standing there, talking and laughing, apparently waiting for her. She glanced back at Carmilla once, who she noted still wouldn’t look at her and sighed before opening her door and climbing out.

“Perry said they’d give me a ride home so…”

“Fine,” Carmilla grumbled, still avoiding her gaze. Sighing again, she closed the door and stood back, watching as Carmilla drove off. This was not at all how she’d hoped this day would go. It was supposed to be a celebratory day. A day one step closer to normalcy. Apparently that pipe dream had flown the coop with Carmilla’s sweetness early this morning.

“Frosh! Look at you all walking around looking human.” She turned and smiled at her friends, slowly walking towards them and greeting each one with a hug.

“How was your appointment?”

“Good. Stitches are out and the doctor thinks I’m doing fine.”

“Well that is fantastic news!” Perry jumped in, looping her arm around Laura’s good one and leading her into the restaurant.

A few minutes later after they were seated and had placed their orders, the three gingers took over, all smiling and talking excitedly over one another. Laura attempted to join in momentarily but her heart wasn’t in it.

“Sweetie, is everything alright?” Perry asked, reaching across the table to place a comforting hand on top of Laura’s.

“I don’t know,” Laura answered with a shrug. “It’s just been kind of a weird day. Carmilla and I… well I’m not sure what happened.”

“Did you guys have a fight?” LaF asked.

“No, not really. I mean, no we didn’t. Something is just up with her. She’s been broody most of the day and I’m not sure what to do or even really why she’s acting like that.”

“Carmilla’s being broody? Shocker,” Danny said, rolling her eyes.

“Did something happen after we left last night?” Perry asked.

“No. I ended up falling asleep on the couch and she woke me up a little while later. We said goodnight and that was it. She seemed fine. And then this morning, after we woke up, she was still all sweet and super nice. It was like a switch though and all of sudden something was just different. I honestly have no idea what though.”

“Are you sure she was fine last night? I mean… after everything you heard?” LaF asked.

“Yes, she was totally awesome up until walking out the door for the doctor. Why?” She looked to Perry and LaF across the table from her for help and they shared a nervous glance before turning back to Laura, sympathy clouding both of their faces.

“What am I missing here?” Danny asked.

“Last night, we were telling L about a couple of times we kind of interrupted her and Carm when they first started dating.”

“When they first started dating? Dude, I caught them about to get down and dirty on their balcony like three weeks ago,” Danny said, attempting to lighten the mood.

“Ok, first of all, Carmilla is right, you guys were all totally born in a barn. And secondly, why do you all use your emergency keys when it’s not an emergency?!?”

“It totally was. It was mine and Betty’s anniversary and we were doing the whole romantic dinner at home thing with wine and music. And I needed the Bluetooth speakers you’d borrowed from me the week before, which by the way, do I want to know why they were in your bedroom? Or why just one of your kitchen chairs was in there, smack dab in the middle of the room, surrounded by candles?”

“How in the hell am I supposed to know?!” Laura said, unsure why she was blushing but having a pretty good idea it involved something she was not ready to think about.

“Don’t worry about it Hollis. I disinfected them as soon as I got home.”

“Look, anyway, I really don’t know what it is. I’m sure if my stupid brain was working, I could figure it out but it’s not so I’m stuck at what the hell happened and what it is that’s really bothering her. Why are you guys convinced it was something that happened last night?”

“We aren’t convinced, it just seemed like there was some tension about halfway through the night.”

“Yes, there was definitely something in the air, but I thought maybe Carmilla was just upset by the memory. Maybe there was more to it than what she told you last night.”

“Like what? I mean I thought there was more but what exactly happened?”

“That’s not something we can really fill in for you sweetie. You have to remember Laura, back then Carmilla was still very closed off to everyone but you,” Perry added. “So if something more was bothering her, we wouldn’t know. You were the only one she really confided in.”

“Yeah, well apparently she’s not feeling very chatty.”

“What was the story last night about?” Danny asked.

“I guess it happened a few weeks after she and I started dating. We were in my room together and you apparently just barged in while we were in the middle of… something.” Laura could feel her cheeks heat up and rolled her eyes at her own embarrassment. “And then she left and I guess a few days later when I saw her again, there was still some strain there but that part, I’m still not completely clear on.”

“Well I distinctly remember the first scenario. Not the most pleasant thing to walk in on when at the time, I was really hoping you’d have gotten rid of her. And I do remember her storming out all pouty and pissed off. That was a good moment for me,” Danny said with an overly nostalgic smile, causing Laura to roll her eyes once again. “Oh come on Hollis, I’m just kidding. That was a long time ago and she was such a pain in the ass then. I mean she still is but it was different. Besides, if that night created a little rift for you guys, she better own up to being the reason behind the fight the four of us had afterwards.”

“What fight?”


Seven Years Earlier

“So thanks for hanging tonight Hollis,” Danny said, smiling gently at her from her seat near the middle of the couch. “I had a great time.”

“Yeah, sure, me too,” Laura said, smiling back but thinking that there were other things she would’ve rather done that night. She glanced at her phone once more, hoping to have a message from Carmilla but finding nothing. Of course, she’d told Carmilla that this was her plan for the night, also throwing in that she would have rather spent an evening with just the two of them together but since Carmilla had a shift at the bar, that wasn’t possible. The dark haired girl had simply kissed her on the cheek and told her to have fun, thought with Danny in the mix, Laura doubted she meant it wholeheartedly.

Apparently movie night with Danny was becoming a regular thing as this was the third night in the last week they’d spent together. And it wasn’t that she minded hanging out with Danny. After all, they were friends. But this was starting to feel less like friends hanging out and more like Danny attempting to insert herself further into Laura’s life.

“We should do it again, soon.”

“Yeah, sure.”

“You know, maybe we could even go out for a movie? And maybe have dinner too?”

“Um…” Laura turned on the couch towards Danny, once again wondering why she insisted on sitting so close and really hoping this conversation was not headed down the path it seemed to be. “I mean, yeah, I guess we could do that. We could see if LaF and Perry want to go and do a fun, friend night thing.”

“Well, I was actually thinking it could just be the two of us.” Damn it.

“Danny, I don’t think that’s such a good idea.” Please don’t push this Lawrence.

“But we have so much fun together. We’re like perfect movie buddies. Plus with dinner, we could go somewhere nice. Like maybe with candles or something. Why would that be so bad?”

“Because that sounds very much like a date and that’s not something we should be doing.”

“Why not?” Danny asked incredulously.

“Danny, come on. You know why.”

“Because of that vulture?”

“Hey!”

“Whoa, what’s going on in here?” LaF asked as they walked into the apartment, Perry only a step behind them.

“Danny’s being an asshole!” Laura said, hoping off the couch and storming towards the kitchen to put some space between her and her so-called friend.

“Care to elaborate on that L?”

“Look, you have no right to say these things about Carmilla. We’re dating, we’re together, you can’t talk about her like that.”

“You’re together, really? What she’s your girlfriend now? That’s the biggest joke ever Laura,” Danny said, getting up from her seat as well, her voice rising as she did. “Which number are you in her little black book of girls to call when she’s bored, like seventeen? Twenty four? Ninety three? That girl is just playing around with you and I can’t believe you were about to actually fall for her shit! I can’t believe you almost slept with her!”

“Wait, Laura, sweetie, you almost what?”

“That is such crap Danny!” Laura continued, completely ignoring the other two in the room. “You don’t know anything about Carmilla. And it’s none of your business if I do or don’t sleep with her. I’ll do what I want. If that’s Carmilla then that’s what I’ll do!”

“You are unbelievable Hollis! Pull your head out of your ass for five seconds! As soon as you sleep with her, she’s gone, we all know that. She’ll get what she wants and then she’ll have no interest in you. Ask LaF and Perry, they agree with me!”

“What?!?” Laura turned to her two best friends, still standing near the doorway, now doing their best impressions of a couple of goldfishes flung out of a bowl. “You are all unbelievable! You’re supposed to be my best friends!”

“We are Frosh and we never said we agreed with Danny.”

“Hey, you did too!”

“Now Laura, sweetie, we know how much you like Carmilla but we do have some concerns. We just don’t want to see you get hurt. Carmilla has a reputation for getting around, we all know this.”

“Oh my God! I cannot believe you guys,” Laura said. “I really like this girl and she’s been so sweet and good to me. We’ve been going out for a few weeks now and she hasn’t tried anything!”

“Sure as hell looked like she was trying something last week when she had you pinned to your bed!”

“She had you pinned to your bed?” Perry actually looked horrified at this point.

“Yes, she did! And until Danny walked in, holy Hufflepuff did it feel amazing to have an incredibly fun, sexy, exceptionally respectful girl, who I really like and who asked me if I wanted to stop, pinning me to said bed!”

“Aww, she was checking in with you? That’s really sweet Frosh,” LaFontaine chimed in, seeming genuinely happy for a second.

“Oh shove it LaF! You guys are all judging her and judging me for liking her and that’s so not fair! I get it, yes Carmilla has a reputation. Everyone here knows that. But for the last couple of weeks, have any of you seen her with anyone else? No! Have you heard about her with anyone else? No! Have any of you heard any incredibly noisy, gasping moans of ‘oh yes, right there Carm’ coming from my room? No! She’s been incredible and you guys are totally ruining this!”

Laura turned and stormed into her room, slamming the door behind her and turning her stereo on, Paramore blasting through the speakers and drowning out the fight continuing in the other room. Hearing LaF and Danny starting to go at each other, she turned the volume up and threw herself onto her bed.

Paramore did the job as she didn’t hear anything beyond the muffle of two more slamming doors for the next ten minutes. Jerks! What kind of friends did she have that they were all going behind her back, talking about her and the girl that she actually really liked? They had no right to say such horrible things about Carmilla. Carmilla who had been so patient and thoughtful and… she didn’t even realize that tears had started trailing down her cheeks until she felt one fall off her chin. Wiping angrily at her face, she sat up in her bed, pulling her knees to her chest and hugging tightly. Unsure of what else to do, she reached for her phone, sending off a quick text, a lifeline.

Laura (10:24PM): Hey, are you busy?

She stared at her phone for a few minutes before a message came back.

Carm (10:27PM): Bar’s so slammed tonight. What’s up? You ok cutie?

She sighed, knowing it wasn’t right to bring Carmilla into this. This was her problem and her stupid jerkface friends.

Laura (10:29PM): Yeah, fine. Just thinking about you. But I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

She tossed her phone to the end of her bed and flopped back dramatically. This was the worst night ever! As the last song faded out, she distinctly heard the sound of a soft knock on her door and rolled her eyes.

“Go away!”

“Laura, sweetie.” Perry cracked the door open and carefully stuck her head in. “I know you’re upset, but I just want to check on you.”

“Normally when people tell you to go away, you do that, you don’t just let yourself into their room.”

She lay there on her back for a moment, arm thrown across her eyes, noticing the silence surrounding her and guessing that Perry had probably turned off her stereo. Throwing her arm from her eyes and leaning up onto her elbows, she glared at the overly distressed girl standing there.

“What do you want Perry?”

“I owe you an apology. In fact, we all do but Danny stormed out and LaFontaine’s in our room throwing a conniption fit at the moment.” She watched as Perry took a few cautious steps before sitting carefully at the very edge of her bed. “Laura, sweetie, we were just looking out for you. We shouldn’t have went about it the way we did and we shouldn’t have talked about it behind your back. We should’ve voiced our concerns to you directly and listened to what you had to say in return.”

“Little late for that now Per, don’t you think?”

“Yes it is. Look, I don’t know what happened between you and Danny tonight. But I do know what happened between her and LaFontaine and I. Yes, we talked about you and about your situation with Carmilla. Danny has her own concerns about the relationship but that’s her place to tell you, not mine. As far as LaFontaine and I though, yes, we have some apprehension about Carmilla and her vast reputation.”

“Perry…!”

“But, we also have seen first hand how she is with you. She does seem different when you’re around. You seem to bring out the best in her and we just want you to know that we love you and we want you to be happy. If Carmilla makes you happy, that’s great. We just want you to be careful. And before you go off and yell at me again, just know that I’d be giving this same speech if you were dating anyone else, regardless of who they were. We just want what’s best for you Laura.”

“What’s best for me is to have my best friends supporting me,” Laura grumbled.

“Yes, that’s very true and you have our support, one hundred percent. I know it may not seem that way now but believe me, we are here for you and we don’t want to see you getting hurt or your relationship with Carmilla to fail. Again, we just want to see you happy.”

Laura looked at her friend, seeing the utter sincerity in Perry’s eyes and knowing she’d meant every word she’d just said, even if she was a pain in the ass and went about this whole thing totally the wrong way.

“This doesn’t mean I’m not still pissed at you guys,” she said with a pout.

“Understandable, we deserve that.” A soft vibration coming from the end of the bed caught both of their attention. Perry picked the phone up, glanced at it for a moment and smiled before handing it to Laura. “I’ll make pancakes in the morning. You can yell at us some more then.”

Laura watched as she quietly left the room before flipping her phone open and glancing down at the readout.

Carm (10:47PM): Thinking about you too cupcake.


 Present

“You know, on further review, we were kind of jerks,” LaF said, tapping their chin thoughtfully. The group had just left the restaurant, leaving a hefty tip for the server that had to put up with them long after they’d outstayed their welcome.

“You think?” Laura said, attempting to reign in her shock.

“Come on Hollis, we were just looking out for you. We care about you.”

“If it helps, you definitely made us pay. We deserved it, don’t get me wrong, but you were vicious L. You barely spoke to any of us for like a week. And when you did… well let’s just say you’d have shamed Sherman for life if he heard you talking the way you did.”

“That still seems pretty mild.”

“Trust us, it sucked Laur,” Danny said, glancing at her watch and grimacing. “Shit, LaF we have to leave now if we’re going to make it the faculty meeting on time.”

“Ugh, why do they insist on having meetings during off days!” LaF whined.

“Go on you two. I’ll drive Laura back and then I’ll see you later at home LaFontaine.” LaF smiled and leaned in, giving Perry’s hand a squeeze and in a rare show of public affection, a peck on the cheek.

Laura smiled fondly at the pair, having watched them together all these years now, seeing how respectful and kind they were to one another. Their relationship had begun not long after she’d met them, though they’d always seemed destined to be together. She remembered asking Perry about it once and admired the fact that the overly structured girl had simply let the coupledom grow naturally, giving LaF time to come into their own, waiting until they were completely ready before starting to date one another.

That respect was something she’d always admired and hoped for for herself one day. It seemed that maybe she had found it though, in Carmilla. At least, it sort of seemed that way. The dark haired girl had been beyond considerate and kind to her since she’d woken up in the hospital. And hearing all these stories about her from their formative years, it seemed like that thoughtfulness had always been there.

Still, that was only what she’d gathered. Her friends had clearly seen something else entirely in the beginning and it had her wondering if maybe there was something she’d missed.

“Can I ask you something?” she ventured. It was a few minutes later and she and Perry were now in the car. She took in the scenery out of the passenger window and observed the downtown view as they passed, noticing nothing else was out of place.

“Of course sweetie, what is it?”

“That whole thing… about you guys and Danny talking about Carmilla and I… about you guys feeling like she was just using me or not treating me right, do you guys still feel that way?”

“No. Laura, sweetheart, absolutely not.”

“Yeah but, if you guys never liked Carmilla-”

“Laura, maybe that wasn’t the best story to tell you today, but you have to know, at the time, we thought we had your best interest at heart. We thought that maybe because you liked her so much, you didn’t want to see anything else. But in all fairness, there wasn’t anything more to see. She only had eyes for you Laura. She was never just using you or counting you as a notch on her bedpost. She cared about you. And just to be clear, we never hated Carmilla.”

“Well Danny sure did… does… did? I’m still unclear on the tense of those feelings to be honest.”

“Danny was in a different position than LaFontaine and I were at the time. And if you want to get technical, yes, she hated Carmilla. She had her reasons and to her, they seemed completely valid. As far as LaFontaine, well they have always had a soft spot for you dear,” Perry said with a smile, keeping her eyes on the road, driving even more carefully than Carmilla had been earlier, if that was possible. “You are one of their best friends and you were so sweet and innocent when we all first met. They just wanted to keep you safe, that’s all. And again… it was Carmilla. Even when they encouraged you to go after her, they only did so because they hated seeing you so sad without her.”

“Well, what about you?”

Perry looked over, making eye contact for a moment, smiling.

“Well, yes, I worried about you just because I saw that same innocence LaFontaine did. And everyone knew Carmilla was anything but innocent,” she said with a small laugh, which Laura unconsciously joined in on. “But to be completely honest, I admit that despite my reservations about her past and her reputation, I was so happy when you found her.”

“Really?”

“Laura, you’d been head over heels for Danny for over year at that point. And while I love Danny, and you know I do, I had hoped for a long time that you’d find someone else and move on. Someone who deserved all the love you had to give. And Danny… she was never going to be the right one for you.”

“What do you mean?”

“You came to Silas, ready for anything. You wanted adventure and excitement and to see new things. You wanted someone to enjoy those things with you but Danny was too busy trying to keep you safe and out of trouble that she always just saw you as something similar to a little sister. And that’s how she treated you, like it was her job to take care of you. Carmilla didn’t do that. She stood beside you when you got your hands dirty and helped you up when you fell because she wanted you to keep going, not so that she could hold you back. She made you light up in a way I’d never seen before. She brought the adventure and excitement to you, but she held your hand the whole time so that you’d enjoy it together while still keeping you safe.”

“So you didn’t hate her then?”

“I’ve actually always liked Carmilla. Even though she’s moody sometimes and can be incredibly rude and sloppy, she’s done a lot, not just for you, but for all of us. She’s the hero in black. The one who does the good deed and then quietly slips away so that you never even know she was there.”

“A hero huh?” Laura said with a smile.

“She’s good Laura. She doesn’t necessarily like that we all know that about her but it’s true. So to balance the scales we put up with the snarky sarcasm and the moodiness.”

“I’ve seen the sarcasm. The moodiness, well that was new until this morning. How do I deal with all that?”

“Oh sweetie, what you do with Carmilla to keep that broody, biting tongue at bay is between you, her and your four walls,” Perry said with a blush, keeping her eyes on the road.


Carmilla heard the key quietly jingling in the lock of the front door and turned the page of the book in her lap. She wasn’t even focusing on the words. She’d been so caught up in her head all day that she couldn’t seem to focus on anything. She heard Laura creeping in and out of the corner of her eye she saw the smaller girl step into the living room, standing just inside the doorway, taking up as little space as possible.

“Hey.”

“Hey.”

“Sorry, I’m later than I expected. We ended up just sitting there talking for awhile,” Laura said, looking around the room uncomfortably before staring at her feet.

“It’s fine. You don’t have to run your schedule by me you know? You’re free to do whatever you want, whenever you want.” Way to sound like a dickhole Karnstein.

“Right… ok, well I didn’t mean to disturb you, I just wanted to let you know I was back.” She turned to leave, her face a mask of sadness and Carmilla felt it pull the at the last of her heartstrings. God damn it, why do I have to love her so much?

“Laura, wait.” She turned back towards Carmilla but made no move to come any closer. Carmilla set her book aside and ran a frustrated hand across her face, knowing she had to fix this somehow. “I’m sorry,” she said with a sigh. “I’ve been an ass all day and it’s not right. You don’t deserve that.”

“What’s going on? What happened this morning?” Laura asked, taking a small step back into the room. Carmilla looked up, meeting Laura’s gaze and hating the confusion and hurt she saw there, hating even more that it was there because of her.“Please Carmilla,” she pleaded as she slowly made her way into the room and gently sat down on the couch, leaving only a foot or two between them.

This girl. Carmilla would literally do anything for her.

“I don’t know. I guess everything just kind of got to me today.”

“What do you mean everything?”

“Look, I know this was a good day for you. I know you wanted the stitches out and you’re happy that you’re one step closer to everything getting back to normal.”

“Well don’t you want things to get back to normal?” Laura asked, appearing completely mystified. “I mean, I thought you’d want that too.”

“Of course I do Laura. I hate that you got hurt and I want nothing more than for that to go away. But… things aren’t going to just go back to normal. Sure, you got your stitches out today and you’re getting stronger. You’ve got a few weeks still but your arm and ribs are healing. You’ll be going back to work soon and you can go out with your friends and stuff. But even with all of that, there’s still… I mean…”She floundered then, finding herself unable to say the rest.

“How isn’t that normal Carmilla?”

“Because… I’m not a part of that normal.” The volume at which she said it was so quiet but the words… they screamed.

“Oh.”

Fuck. It hadn’t even crossed her mind, had it?

She hated how needy and useless she felt in that moment. Needy and useless were not feelings very familiar to her but damn it if they hadn’t been hanging around a lot lately. She looked away, wishing she hadn’t pulled her hair up earlier because right now she had nothing to hide behind and Laura’s gaze bore into her so deep that it was making it harder and harder to keep it together. Time to avert this crisis. Taking a deep breath she put on a brave face and sent a smile Laura’s way, hoping it was convincing enough.

“Look, forget I said anything ok. I’m just sorry about today.” She stood up, avoiding Laura’s eyes and slowly made to leave the room.

“Carmilla stop! Please!”

Her feet ceased just as she got to the entrance of the room but she didn’t turn around. She was weak and pathetic and weak and pathetic were two things that Carmilla Karnstein didn’t do.

“Look, I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking about that.”

See?

She took a deep breath and turned halfway towards Laura, refusing to fully meet her head on. She needed to put this to rest and get the hell out of this room.

“You don’t have to think about it Laura. It makes sense that you wouldn’t.”

“Why does that make sense?” Laura’s voice went up in pitch and Carmilla heard her stand and move towards her.

“Because you don’t know me, Laura.”

“But I want to! Carmilla, I want to remember so much. Every time you tell me another story, I keep waiting and hoping for something to come back.”

“Laura, I can tell you about us until I’m blue in the face, but that’s no guarantee that you’ll ever remember.”

“But you don’t know it isn’t helping! The doctor even said today that it was a good idea. Plus, isn’t it kind of nice, reliving all this stuff?”

“Laura, all this retelling of our past… sure there’s fun stuff. There’s inside jokes and dates and time together, just the two of us, getting to know each other and learning what we actually meant to one another. But there’s also some not so fun stuff. Stuff that I don’t particularly want to rehash. I’m having a hard time with that part. And that's not fair to you. It's not fair just to avoid that stuff just because I don't want to deal with it. You shouldn’t have to deal with my shit right now when you don’t even know me.”

“But just like it’s your job to deal with me, isn’t it kind of my job to put up with you?” She looked up into Laura’s sweet face and swallowed hard. “No, I don’t remember you. Or any of this,” she said, motioning around the room. “But I want to. I know you care about me and I want to remember what it’s like to feel the same way you do. I wish I was there, really, because I know this is hurting you and I hate that.”

“Maybe me being here isn’t helping though. Maybe it’s too much pressure on you and I just… I don’t know." She looked down, kicking her toe into the rug at her feet, hating that what she was about to say might be the best option. "Maybe it would be better if I just gave you some space. Maybe it would be better if I just left for a while. Then maybe you wouldn't feel all this pressure and you could just worry about you and getting better. That's what you should be focusing on anyway. Not on me.”

“I’m trying Carm, I really am. I don’t… I don’t want to lose you.” Carmilla finally looked up, hearing Laura’s voice crack and saw the tears slowly sliding down her face.

Oh shit, what did I do?

“Hey, no, Laura please don’t cry.” She started to reach out, intending to wrap the smaller girl in her arms but stopped as soon as she remembered herself, leaving her leaning awkwardly halfway towards the other girl. She was shocked when a second later Laura reached out herself, closing the distance between them and wrapping her arms around Carmilla’s waist, burying her face in her neck.

“You’ve been here almost since the minute I woke up in that stupid hospital bed. You’ve been so sweet and patient and helpful. You’re wonderful and… I don’t want to lose you.”

“Ok. Alright, it’s going to be ok,” Carmilla said, holding Laura tightly to her, feeling the slight sobs rack her small frame. She could feel the shoulder of her shirt sopping up the wayward tears and realized just how extremely unfair this whole situation was to both of them. Laura didn’t ask for this anymore than she did and while it sucked that she was in this position, she couldn’t just expect Laura to be her Laura again when the smaller girl had absolutely no idea how to do that. “I’m so sorry Laura.”

“No I’m sorry. I’ve been trying Carm but I need to try harder. I will, I promise, just… please don’t go.”

“I’m not going anywhere.” Carmilla pulled back, moving her hands up to cup Laura’s cheeks, her thumbs gently wiping at the tears still falling. She wasn’t sure if this was too much or not but in this desperate moment, it seemed to be what Laura needed as she tilted her head further into Carmilla's strong hands. Unable to help it, Carmilla wrapped her arms around Laura's shoulders again and pulled her close, burying her face in Laura's hair as Laura once again buried herself in Carmilla's neck. "I'm not going anywhere."

Chapter Text

It had been a long, mostly sleepless night. Laura had drifted in and out of consciousness, waking every hour or so, her mind wandering through the ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybes’ and ‘if onlys’ before slowly drifting off to sleep again. This whole debacle was beginning to weigh her down more than she could handle and she was starting to wonder how in the hell she would ever manage to get through it in one piece without losing her mind. After all, a person could only take so much before they snapped.

The last time she’d checked the clock on her phone it was around five in the morning and she’d been in the middle of making a mental list of all the different things she could try to do in order to speed the process of remembering along, like it was actually in her control, when she’d drifted back off to dreamland. Now as she looked at the clock again, she saw it was just after eight. She kicked the covers off and sat up, letting a loud sigh escape. She was exhausted and her limbs felt heavy but she couldn’t stay in that bed any longer. She needed to get up and do something, anything that might make her feel the tiniest bit useful. Maybe she’d offer to make Carmilla dinner that evening. Or maybe she could clean up around the house. It was starting to lose that illustrious Perry shine and it would keep her hands busy if nothing else. And if her hands were busy, maybe her mind would follow.

Getting out of the bed, she moved towards the bedroom door, which she’d left cracked open the night before, her fear of Carmilla escaping in the middle of the night apparently stronger than her need for privacy. Opening the door and stepping into the hallway, she took notice of just how quiet it was.

Maybe she’s still asleep. Hopefully.

She attempted to calm her heart, suddenly thudding loudly in her chest, feeling the desperation from the night before creeping in around it, squeezing relentlessly. She padded down the hallway, taking note that the office door and guest bathroom door were both open, the rooms both clearly empty. Rounding the corner into the kitchen, she exhaled deeply, swallowing down her disappointment at not finding Carmilla there. Calm down, it’s early still and she’s been exhausted lately. Walking through the kitchen, she moved towards the living room hoping desperately with everything she had that it wasn’t also deserted.

She peered around the corner into Carmilla’s makeshift bedroom, finding that mild panic kicking into full gear.

Shit!

Carmilla wasn’t there and the couch was neat and tidy, appearing as though it hadn’t been used at all, which was very different than the other mornings since she’d been home when she’d encountered rumpled pillows and blankets, unfolded and hanging halfway off the sofa and onto the floor. No, this was not normal.

Retracing her steps, she quickly doubled back the way she came, making sure to check the patio beyond the dining table, which was also empty and if the rain coming down in heavy sheets was any indication, had been all morning. Making her way back to the bedroom she checked everywhere in their small home but no Carmilla.

Oh shit, she left. She promised she wouldn’t and she did anyway.

She felt the burning behind her eyes and swallowed hard, trying to keep the tears welling up from falling. There was no point in crying, it wouldn’t do any good. Sniffling and attempting to calm her rapid breathing, she sat on one of the stools at the kitchen island, at a loss of what else to do. This was the same stool she’d sat at the night before as Carmilla had made her a cup of tea and honey, hoping it would help to calm her nerves after her breakdown. Carmilla had put the steaming mug in front of her and then quietly sat next to her as she nursed it, letting their knees brush every few minutes just to reassure each other that they were both still there. They hadn’t really talked about anything more the rest of the evening but when Carmilla cleaned up her tea mug and sent her to bed, she’d promised she’d be there when Laura woke up. She’d promised!

What the hell was she going to do? No, she still had no memory of Carmilla but after spending the last few days with her, it was becoming more and more apparent why she’d developed feelings for her all those years ago. They’d built this amazing life together and they were clearly in love. Why the hell couldn’t she remember? Why couldn’t she just get her memory back so she could fix all this, so she could stop hurting Carmilla?

Not that it matters anymore anyway. She’s gone.

Feeling the pressure building from all the emotions surging inside, she buried her face in her hands, pressing her palms into her eyes to keep some sort of grasp on herself. She couldn’t fall apart now. She had to keep it together and try to figure things out. So Carmilla had left. So now she’d have to figure things out on her own. She could do that. She could be strong. And she wouldn’t let it bother her that the amazing person she was actually starting to like had decided she just wasn’t worth all this hassle. Nope, it wouldn’t bother her at all. Crap. She felt a couple tears escape and laid her good arm across the counter in front of her, letting her head fall upon it with a quiet thud.

She was so focused on not completely losing it and keeping her breathing even so as not to hyperventilate that the sound of the deadbolt on the front door turning startled her. Quickly sitting up, she turned just as Carmilla came in, looking slightly damp and windblown, hands full of two styrofoam cups and a paper bag.

“Hey,” she said with a gentle smile, closing the door behind her. “Sorry, I was hoping to be back before you woke up. You ok?”

Laura realized her face was still a mix of utterly crushed and completely shocked and attempted to reign it in before she completely broke down under the Carmilla’s sweet gaze.

“Yeah… yeah sorry, I’m fine. Just not totally awake yet I guess.”

Carmilla stared at her for another moment, seeming to think through something before coming further into the house and setting everything down on the island near Laura.

“I promised you last night that I wasn’t going to go anywhere, Laura.”

Of course, she knows why I’m upset, Laura thought, hanging her head, ashamed, her hands nervously fidgeting in front of her.

“I’m sorry. I just… when I woke up I couldn’t find you. And it didn’t look like you’d slept on the couch so I just thought… I shouldn’t have assumed.”

“It’s ok,” Carmilla said, taking the stool next to her and gently reaching out, placing a finger under Laura’s chin to force her to lift her head and look at her. She smiled and dropped her hand once Laura’s eyes met her own and Laura instantly felt the absence it’s warmth left. “I couldn’t really sleep last night so I ended up just working on a few things. I um… I looked in on you before I left and it seemed like you were still pretty out, so I ran out to get us breakfast. I didn’t intend for you to wake up while I was gone. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“I’m sorry. It’s just… after last night…”

“I know. But I meant it when I was I wasn’t going anywhere Laura. I’m staying.”

Laura nodded, wanting nothing more in that moment than to feel Carmilla wrap her arms around her again. But that wouldn’t be appropriate, would it? After all, even if Carmilla had promised to stay, the situation hadn’t changed had it? We’re still in the middle of the same shit show as before. She nodded and opened her mouth to apologize again but her stomach growling beat her to the punch, making Carmilla chuckle.

“And it appears I got here just in time,” she said, reaching into the waxy paper bag and handing Laura a chocolate chip bagel. “Eat up Hollis.”


“Check.”

Laura sighed and rolled her eyes, looking up at Carmilla, her eyes teasing, a smirk firmly planted on her lips.

“You suck.”

“Actually, no, since I’ve won the last two games and am going to take your king in about… three moves, I think suck is not the word you’re looking for. Brillant? Yes. Ingenious? Absolutely.”

“Alright, enough Einstein,” Laura said with a giggle. She looked back at the board, biting her lip and contemplating her next move. “You know I’ve never been very good at chess.” She hovered her right hand over her rook but stopped when she saw Carmilla arch her eyebrow. Instead she moved her hand to her knight but then stopped again when the dark haired girls smirk grew. “Ugh, stop that,” she said, laughing again.

“You’re doing just fine Laura. Don’t worry. You’ve only actually beaten me once the entire time we’ve been together,” she said, leaning forward onto the kitchen table.

The weather had kept them inside for the day, the rain only coming down harder as the hours went on, the wind bringing the temperature lower than normal on the early October day. So far they’d managed to change into sweats, made it through The Half Blood Prince (Laura’s choice) and were on their second game of chess (Carmilla’s idea).

“You mean you’re actually able to convince me to play this with you on a regular basis?” Carmilla just shrugged, smirking further. “You know, my dad and I used to play checkers all the time. We never played chess though.”

“Well no because he doesn’t know how to play,” Carmilla said, sussing the board out.

“How do you… how do you know that?”

“Well, I was the one who taught you how to play.”

“You did?”

“Yeah, not long after we got together. You were at my place and we were trying to decide what to do for the night but it was a shitty night. Kinda like today, storming terribly.” Carmilla sat back in her chair, paused for a moment and then chuckled as though caught in the memory. “You were snooping around and you found my chessboard. Mattie, Will and I used to play all the time and I brought it with me to school. Anyway, you found it and begged me to teach you how to play. So I did.”

“I don’t remember that. I mean, obviously I don’t remember that but I still remember how to play,” Laura said, finding herself astonished at that fact. How could she remember something Carmilla had taught her but not Carmilla herself? She looked up, finding Carmilla smiling and nodding at her. Maybe this was something? Maybe this was good? She smiled at the thought, turning back to the board in front of her, attempting to find a way out of the pickle she’d gotten herself into. “So why didn’t we just watch TV or something? I mean, we were college kids after all.”

“I didn’t have one.”

“What?!? What, were you living in the Stone Age?”

“No,” Carmilla said with a chuckle. “I’ve never really cared about television. I’m more of a reader.”

Obviously. Laura thought of the leather-bound books lining the shelves of their living room and smiled.

“Ok, so what did we do when we hung out at your place then?”


Seven Years Earlier

Carmilla heard the knock on her door and swallowed nervously. Taking a deep breath and catching a glance of herself in the mirror across the room, she gave herself a quick once-over before moving towards the door to answer it. As she opened it, she couldn't help smiling at the bouncing ball of nervous energy on the other side.

“Hey, creampuff.” She reached out and grabbed onto Laura’s hand, pulling her inside the apartment and closing the door behind her. Wrapping her arms around Laura’s waist underneath her denim jacket, she leaned in, letting their lips find each other for the first time that day. She smiled at the tiny brunette as they parted but kept her close, not wanting to let go just yet.

“Hi,” she sighed dreamily, making Carmilla chuckle.

“You have any trouble getting here?”

“Silas isn’t that big Carm and I’m not completely incapable of following directions,” she said rolling her eyes but smiling just the same. Carmilla let her step away and watched as Laura looked around the room, taking everything in.

The apartment was small, she knew that. It was just the one room with a small bathroom off the back. She’d cleaned it up earlier, knowing Laura was coming by but now that she was reevaluating it through the eyes of the girl next to her, she was a little underwhelmed with her attempt. The dirty clothes had made it into the hamper but it was still overflowing. Her bed was made but still looked slept-in. She’d washed the mountain of coffee cups in the sink but now they’d overtaken the dish drying rack.

“It’s um… it’s not much,” she said, unexpectedly feeling a little flustered but unsure why. She’d had countless girls up here but had never given the apartment or it’s contents much thought. But this was Laura, the girl who she’d found herself liking more and more each day and who, she suddenly realized, she desperately wanted to impress.

She turned when Laura moved further into the room, taking her jacket off, and sitting on the edge of the bed that took up the nearest corner.

“It’s fine. It’s actually kind of what I expected. It’s very you.”

“Very me?”

“Yeah. Art stuff in the corner, books everywhere, not too much light. It kind of screams Carmilla,” she said with a giggle. “I like it.” Carmilla just smiled at her and moved towards the smaller girl, taking a seat next to her on the bed, watching as Laura still looked around the room. “You don’t have a TV?”

“Wow, nothing gets past you does it, Laronica Mars.”

“Seriously? Is that going to be your new go-to nickname for me now?” Carmilla just shrugged, smirking and leaning into the girl next to her, finding her close proximity comforting. Laura just shook her head, still smiling away. “So no TV, what do you want to do then?”

“Oh I have all sorts of ideas on that,” Carmilla teased, lifting a perfectly sculpted eyebrow and pulling Laura closer. Laura just blushed and allowed it, smiling into the soft kiss that Carmilla left on her lips. “How was your day cutie?” she asked after the kiss ended, reaching up and pushing a stray lock of hair behind Laura’s ear.

“Good. I got an A- on my journalism project and I talked to my dad. We ended up finalizing our Christmas plans. I’m so happy that I get to go home and see him.” Carmilla smiled at the clear excitement flowing off the smaller girl, finding it completely adorable. She kissed her cheek once and rose, moving towards the kitchen.

“I’m sure he’s thrilled that you’re coming too. What do you guys have planned?” she asked, grabbing a couple grape sodas from the nearly empty refrigerator. She should probably stock up better if she planned on having Laura over more often.

“Typical Christmas stuff. Making gingerbread and hot chocolate and watching the BBC Christmas specials. We usually go to the neighbors on Christmas Eve for this huge party they always have and then we’ll spend Christmas day together, stuffing ourselves with more sugar than any human should consume and watching Christmas movies.” Carmilla smiled as she handed Laura one of the sodas, taking notice of the excitement literally vibrating off the smaller girl in waves as she talked. She sat down cross-legged towards the middle of the bed, pulling Laura closer so they could sit comfortably together. “It’s not most fun and original plan, I know but it’s what we do every year.”

“It sounds like you’re super excited about it and that’s all that really matters, right?” Laura just nodded, looking away for a moment and suddenly seeming uncomfortable.

“So um… what about you? I mean, I know it’s still a couple of months away but what are your plans? Are you going back to Chicago to your mom’s house?”

Shit.

“Oh, well not exactly.” She paused, taking note of the eager look on Laura’s face, knowing the other girl was only trying to get to know her better. “Actually, mother and Will are going to Europe for the holiday,” she answered, opening the can in her hand and hoping that would be the end of the topic. Oh course this was Laura Hollis and she should’ve known better.

“Just the two of them? What about you and Mattie?”

“Mattie’s invitation came with the caveat that she was welcome but she’d have to pay her own way. And since she can barely afford the rent on her shit box apartment, that was definitely not feasible.”

“So your mother is paying for Will but won’t pay for you and Mattie to go?” Laura actually seemed shocked. “How is that fair?”

Carmilla just shrugged, looking away, finding Laura’s intense gaze bothering her far more than her mother’s latest rejection or the distinct lack of invitation she’d received.

“I’m sorry Carm, I don’t want to pry or make you uncomfortable. I just… I don’t understand.” Carmilla looked up, seeing Laura’s face transform into a mix of confusion and hurt and it made her ache to think this girl was hurting for her.

“Cupcake, it’s fine, really. I get that you have a really great relationship with your dad and that’s awesome. It just doesn’t work that way with my family though, ok? My mother, again, she doesn’t like certain things about me. And she doesn’t like certain things about Mattie. And… it’s ok. I’ve been dealing with it for a few years now,” she said with a shrug. “You don’t have to feel bad.”

“It’s not necessarily that. I just… I guess I can’t imagine that. I can’t imagine anyone just… rejecting you like that. You’re… you’re amazing Carm and she should realize just how lucky she is to have you as a daughter,” Laura said, reaching for her hand, interlacing their fingers. Carmilla looked down at their fingers, fitting together so perfectly, stunned by Laura’s words. No one had ever treated her the way Laura did. No one had ever been this kind to her without wanting something in return. And sure, there was a lot Laura didn’t know about her yet, but for the first time ever, Carmilla wasn’t terrified to let someone in. Slowly, of course, but she figured it was at least a start.

She looked up, smiling fondly at the girl that was slowly worming her way further and further into her life and chuckled when Laura only looked more confused.

“What?”

“Nothing. I’m just… I'm happy you’re here,” she said, squeezing Laura’s hand. Laura just smiled, a slight blush coloring her cheeks at the rare sentiment. And as much as Carmilla loved the sight, she decided to let Laura off the hook. “So, really what do you want to do tonight?”

“I thought you had all sorts of ideas on that,” Laura teased.


If she was being completely honest, this was what she’d been hoping for when she’d invited Laura over earlier in the day. Not that she was dead set against other plans if Laura had suggested something else or had seemed uncomfortable with the idea. And she really didn’t want Laura to think she was only after one thing.

However, it wasn’t her doing this time. They’d been sitting on the bed still, facing each other, knees touching, occasionally reaching out to one another for more contact, still talking, though the conversation had been considerably lighter and had steered away from any topic related to family. She’d been laughing at an incredibly dorky joke Laura had just told when the tiny brunette had kissed her. And then kept kissing her, winding her hands into Carmilla’s thick hair and pulling her closer.

They’d obviously been down this road before but as the kiss grew longer and deeper, and Laura had laid back, pulling Carmilla on top of her, Carmilla knew this time was different. First off, there would be no interruptions. No roommates or nosy friends had its perks. Secondly, Laura had initiated it this time, and while it wasn’t the first time Laura had kissed her, it was the first time that she’d done so on a bed… behind a locked door… seemingly intent on taking it beyond a few minutes of passionate lip-locking.

Carmilla allowed her weight to settle more fully on top of the prone girl and smirked when her right hand apparently hit a ticklish spot on Laura’s rib cage as it shifted to the hem of her shirt. Pulling her lips away, trailing them around Laura’s jaw and down her neck, she heard the sharp intake of breath above her as hips fell further between Laura’s legs, pressing more firmly into her.

Slow Karnstein. Remember you like this girl. She forced herself to pause for a moment, taking a deep breath and inhaling the sweet scent there at the juncture between Laura’s neck and shoulder. Pushing herself back up, she captured Laura’s lips once again, sighing at the quiet moan Laura let out. She adjusted herself so that Laura wasn’t holding up all her weight and found the hem of the smaller girl’s shirt once again, toying with the button there for a moment, just in case, before sliding it through its hole and slowly moving on to the one above it. This continued for the next three buttons, each time, Carmilla making sure to take a moment before moving along. She could feel the warm skin of Laura’s torso beneath her palm, so soft and tempting, and it would have been so easy to go faster but that would’ve ruined the moment. And it seemed she wasn’t the only one seriously enjoying this. She felt the smaller girl below her, still tugging insistently at her hair, hands then moving lower to run softly along the back of her neck, fingertips tickling, then across her shoulders. And then down her chest where she felt Laura pushing at her.

Wait pushing? That wasn’t right, was it?

“You ok cutie?” she asked as she pulled her lips away from Laura’s and met the smaller girl’s eyes with her own. Still caught up in the moment, she leaned back down to take a hold of those sweet pink lips again but felt Laura stiffen up. Immediately pulling back, she lifted herself up a few inches and met Laura’s gaze again, noticing that look of desire she’d seen only ten minutes earlier had now been replaced by something else entirely. “Laura? Hey, what is it? Are you ok?”

“Yeah… fine,” she said, pushing Carmilla back further and attempting to sit up. Carmilla sat back on her knees, allowing her some space. Laura moved out from underneath the dark-haired girl and moved to the edge of the bed, keeping her back to where Carmilla still knelt, her fingers quickly working to re-button her half-open shirt.

“Ok… are you sure?”

“Yeah, I just… I just realized how late it is. I should get going.” Carmilla watched, confounded, as Laura stood up and moved away from the bed, stumbling as she grabbed for her shoes and jacket, struggling to put them on.

“Laura, hey, wait. Are you really leaving?” Laura just nodded, avoiding Carmilla’s gaze. “But it’s just now ten, I mean… I thought-”

“I really need to go.”

“Well, let me at least walk you home.” Carmilla scrambled off the bed and took the few steps to land her immediately in front of the tiny brunette.

“No, it’s fine. It’s only ten minutes. I’ll be ok.” Laura finally looked at her, sending her a smile that was not genuine in any shape or form, left a quick kiss on her cheek and bolted out the door before she could even process the fact that she was now alone in her apartment.

What the fuck just happened?


The Next Day

She stood at the entrance of the fairgrounds, looking at the crowd around her with distaste. This was so not her scene. But since it was a chance to see Laura, she was game.

She’d woken up that morning, still utterly confused about Laura’s abrupt departure from the night before. Laura had texted her about ten minutes after she’d left to say she’d gotten home safely and then again a little while later confirming once again that nothing was wrong when Carmilla asked her again. But that was it. Honestly, she wasn’t sure when to expect to hear from Laura again but the text she’d gotten around noon, asking her to go to the Silas Fall Festival had been a surprise.

Maybe she just wasn’t feeling well last night, Carmilla thought as she stood there, continuing to search for Laura in the sea of bodies around her. That would explain the sudden rushing out of her apartment. And obviously Laura had wanted to see her again or she wouldn’t have asked her to this stupid carnival.

Grumbling and sending a snarl towards a couple who’d just bumped into her, she looked back just in time to catch sight of one beaming Laura Hollis… and a troop load of gingers.

What the hell? Wasn’t this supposed to be a date? Just the two of them.

“Hey!” she said once she was within earshot, still smiling wide at Carmilla, but keeping some distance. Carmilla just smiled, her gaze moving back to Laura’s friends. LaF and Perry seemed genuinely happy and smiled politely at her. Danny of course was sending daggers her way, which, honestly did she really care what Danny Giantess Lawrence thought about her? Nope, not even a little bit. And then there was another girl… one she remembered meeting before during some insipid game night at Laura’s apartment.

“You remember Mel, right?” Laura asked as they stood their awkwardly. Carmilla just nodded as Mel gave her the once over, her gaze hard.

“Citizen Fang.”

“Sporty Spice.”

“Alright, let’s get this show on the road! Come on! I heard the rides are insane this year,” LaF said, already taking off towards the ticket booth. Perry gave the rest of the group a polite smile and took off after them, clearly already in babysitting mode. Carmilla looked back to the others, catching the still unimpressed look from Mel and a hard glare from Danny. Rolling her eyes at the lame attempt of intimidation, she walked off, trailing slowly in the direction LaF and Perry had just vanished to, not caring if Xena or Wannabe Katniss Everdeen followed.

“Hey, wait.” She felt Laura reach her side and looked over, catching the girls curious gaze. “You ok?”

“Yeah, fine.” She looked back as they reached the ticket booth, pulling her wallet out and realizing this might get awkward. If this was supposed to be a date and she didn’t pay for Laura’s ticket in, she’d look like a jerk. But if this was supposed to be just friends hanging out and she did pay, it would be uncomfortable. She looked to her right, seeing Laura still looking puzzled and decided she’d rather be uncomfortable than a jerk. She held up two fingers at the tired looking woman behind the booth and handed over the cash to pay, taking note that her wallet was looking a little lighter than usual.

Have to see if I can pick up an extra shift at the bar this week.

“I could’ve paid for myself,” Laura said as the woman handed them their tickets and they walked through the entrance.

And here comes the uncomfortable. She opened her mouth, unsure if she was about to apologize or say something snarky, hoping it wouldn’t be the latter when Laura beat her to the punch.

“I mean, thank you. I appreciate it,” she said, gently sliding her hand into Carmilla’s and squeezing. Carmilla looked down at their joined hands and swore she felt her heart skip a beat.

What the fuck is going on here?

“So how about since you bought the tickets, I buy you a funnel cake later?” Laura said, smiling and leaning into Carmilla as they walked. Carmilla could only smile in return.


She hated to admit it but the festival had been fun. LaF had attempted to drag them onto every ‘thrill’ ride there, everyone but Carmilla eventually bowing out to avoid throwing up all the sugar they’d consumed.

“That time was so much better than the last,” LaF said as they stumbled off their second trip on the Gravitron, still laughing a little at the sensation of having firm ground beneath their feet.

“That’s only because you didn’t have that woman next to you screaming and praying the entire time,” Carmilla said.

“True. You know, I don’t even think the last one she was screaming was even in any real language.” LaF paused and looked around, searching for the others. Carmilla stopped too, looking in the other direction and seeing Laura standing next to Perry near one of the many apple tart stands, talking excitedly with her hands. Not too far away Danny and Mel sat on one of the available benches, both looking green around the gills. She turned and tugged on the arm of LaF’s jacket, pulling them in the general direction as she started walking.

“Another apple tart? Really cupcake? You’re going to be on a sugar buzz for the next six weeks after tonight.”

“But this one’s caramel,” Laura said, tearing off a piece of the dough in her hands and taking a bite. Carmilla just smiled and leaned in, intending to place a soft kiss on Laura’s cheek. Laura smiled and turned just in time to catch Carmilla’s lips with her own, tasting like caramel.

“Alright, if you two keep that up, I really am going to hurl again,” Danny said, standing and stepping towards the group. “Besides, it’s late. Mel and I are on rush duty tomorrow. The new pledges have a six mile run at five in the morning, so we should get going.”

“Us too actually. I have an early class,” Perry said, her voice a pitch higher than normal and Carmilla guessed it had something to do with all the sweets she’d consumed at Laura’s side over the last few hours.

They all said their goodbyes before walking off, everyone leaving with a friendly smile except for Danny, who continued to glare in Carmilla’s direction. It was almost starting to be funny, to be honest.

“What about you cupcake? You have early morning plans?”

“Nope. No class until ten,” she said, grabbing at the sides of Carmilla’s leather jacket and pulling her closer, most likely leaving some sticky residue from her fingertips, but Carmilla didn’t care. She leaned in, letting her lips softly graze Laura’s for half a second before pulling back with a smile.

“Well, then what would you like to do?” Laura appeared to think for a moment, which Carmilla found completely adorable before shrugging and leaning in to kiss Carmilla once again. And who was she to argue with such a great plan? Pulling away a moment later, she took Laura’s hand in hers and pulled her towards the exit. “Come on cutie.”

They walked on in silence, leaving the quickly emptying grounds fairly fast. Once outside, Carmilla turned and headed them in the direction of her apartment, which was only a few blocks away. It was then that she felt resistance on the hand holding Laura’s before the comforting grasp was gone. She turned, seeing a very different girl standing there; no longer excited and on a sugar high, the girl that stood before her now looked terrified.

“Hey, what’s wrong? Do you feel sick?”

“No, I just… um, I just remembered… I um, I have some stuff to do… back at my place. So I should… I should probably call it a night,” she said, backing up slowly, now no longer within Carmilla’s reach.

“Laura? Seriously, are you ok? I mean, I just thought since it was just the two of us, we could just go back to my place and-”

“I’m fine Carm, really. But I have to go.” And with that, Laura turned and practically ran off in the opposite direction.

Ok, seriously, what the fuck is going on?


 Present

“Wait, I just left? Just like that?” Carmilla just nodded, smiling softly at Laura’s disbelief. “Why? Why the hell would I do that?”

“I really had no idea at the time,” Carmilla answered with a chuckle. “It was the first time I’d ever had a girl blow me off like that. And two nights, back to back, not good for the ego. Plus since it was you, it honestly scared the shit out of me. I thought maybe you just weren’t interested anymore. I thought… maybe you just didn’t actually want to be with me. At least not in any sort of romantic way. I thought maybe you really did just want to be friends.”

“Oh my God, I was such a tease.” Carmilla burst out laughing at that, unable to help it and Laura smiled, loving the sound. She took in the way Carmilla’s face lit up, her eyes crinkling the tiniest bit and her smile completely genuine.

They’d moved from the kitchen into the living room not long after the story had started to be more comfortable. They’d ordered in, once again, Laura insisting that Carmilla continue the story as they ate from their respective ends of the couch.

Looking away from Carmilla’s beautiful face, she turned and took note of the clock on the wall, cringing when she realized how late it had gotten. Carmilla had already told her she had to work tomorrow and now here she was, keeping the poor girl up and making her tell her stories of their past.

“Ugh, crap. I’m sorry Carm, I didn’t realize it was this late.”

“It’s fine. I’ll be able to function after a few cups of coffee tomorrow. Don’t sweat it.”

“Well, I won’t keep you up any longer then. You need to sleep, I know you haven’t been sleeping much lately.” Carmilla just shrugged and looked away, suddenly seeming upset. “What? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. I was just thinking.” She paused for a moment before finally looking up at Laura. “You sure you’re going to be ok alone tomorrow? I mean, I can try to figure something else out or reschedule.”

“Carm, you’ve put your life on hold for weeks now. It’s fine. I’ll just hang out and maybe take a look at a few of those articles I was working on before… before the accident.” Carmilla cringed at the word and Laura unconsciously reached out, placing a hand on her blanket covered knee. “I’m ok. Really. If anything comes up, I promise I’ll call you, ok?”

Carmilla just nodded, sighing deeply before standing up and stretching. Laura followed suit, laying the blanket that they’d been sharing out for Carmilla to use that night. She looked up, catching a smirk from Carmilla and smiling back shyly. She stepped around the trunk in the middle of the room and walked towards the kitchen to grab a water. She heard Carmilla follow her, clearly having the same idea. Grabbing two bottles from the refrigerator, she turned and handed one to the dark haired girl before nodding and issuing a quiet goodnight. She walked away, getting ready to turn down the hallway before a thought crossed her mind out of the blue.

Feeling herself blush, she stopped at the entrance to the hallway, turning and leaning on the corner of the wall there, keeping her gaze low.

“Hey, can I ask you something? Something that I’m probably going to be super embarrassed about.” She looked up, catching the curious look on Carmilla’s face and a nod. “So um… when I had lunch with everyone yesterday, they were reminding me of some stuff but Danny said something about coming over here a few weeks ago. Something about a Bluetooth speaker I’d borrowed from her and finding it in our room… with a chair and some… candles…” Carmilla chuckled shyly and Laura swore she’d never thought the girl looked more beautiful. Shaking her head to rid herself of the thought, she looked away for a quick second before turning back. “Um, you don’t have to tell me, I was just curious.”

“Well, LaF fried your speaker a few months ago. Not on purpose but you know how LaF is and how they can’t ever just leave well enough alone. Anyway, about a week before… before the accident, you were flying to Los Angeles for this exposé you were working on. You were going to be gone a couple days but by the time you were supposed to get back, I was going to be in Portland for a shoot so we weren’t going to see each other for a little over a week. Which, we’d done before but it still sucked. You had this idea...” Laura smiled as she saw what she swore was a slight blush barely tint Carmilla’s cheeks. “You had given me something for my birthday earlier this year and you decided to… recreate that really fucking amazing gift before we both had to leave. I guess you wanted us both to have something to… think about while we were apart.”

Laura looked away for a quick second, knowing she had to be as red as Perry’s hair by this point. Oh wow. I can only imagine. She looked up, finding Carmilla shyly smiling at her for a moment before shrugging it off.

“Anyway, you borrowed the speaker from Danny because LaF has yet to buy you a new one. You should probably remind them of that the next time you see them.”

“Got it. Well then… ok…”

“Hey, you asked,” Carmilla chimed in, seemingly worried she’d crossed a line. “I was just answering you. I wasn’t trying to make you uncomfortable.”

“No, you didn’t. Thank you. I’m glad you told me. And it was probably a good idea to shoot for the PG-13 version.” Laura paused for a moment, unsure if she should continue or keep the thoughts rolling around in her head to herself. Ugh, what the hell. “Maybe we can talk more, later, about… what actually happened?” She looked up to find Carmilla starting back at her, smirking, eyebrow raised and shook her head, unable to meet the intense gaze any longer. “Goodnight Carmilla.”

“Goodnight Laura,” she heard Carmilla call after her as she made her way down the hall and into the bedroom.

She threw back the covers and plopped down on the bed, not even bothering to turn on the bedside lamp. Snuggling into the mattress, she smiled to herself, thinking not for the first time today just how incredible Carmilla was. Rolling onto her side towards the empty side of the bed, she sighed, taking note of the halfway burned down candles on the dresser. Candles.

Oh God, those are from… what did I do? she thought with a small, embarrassed giggle. Shaking her head, she looked away from the dresser and snuggled in further, thinking about the rest of what Carmilla had told her that day, wondering why she was so Jekyll and Hyde whenever they were together at the beginning. There was an obvious theme. Apparently she’d just gotten incredibly nervous at being alone with Carmilla. Or maybe the prospect of it. But that didn’t make sense. She’d been told by enough people how much she liked Carmilla in the beginning. And she’d obviously been fine being alone with Carmilla before the fight with her friends. Had something else happened in between? Had Carmilla done something or had her friends said something more or had-

Holy shit! Oh I’m such an idiot!

Carmilla was not the first girl Laura had ever dated. Her first girlfriend had been in high school. They’d done the whole puppy-love thing, spending time together whenever they could and being sweet to one another. But the girl had been very adamant about keeping anything physical above the waist and they’d ended things when the girl had moved away the summer before senior year. The second girl she’d dated had been the summer after graduation. She had really liked her but the girl had kept her at a distance, wanting to keep things casual. They’d been about to take things further physically when the girls homophobic parents walked in on them, effectively ending that and making it very obvious why the girl didn’t want to get serious.

After she got to college, she’d developed that stupid crush on Danny that never went anywhere and then… Then there was Carmilla. Carmilla who she’d fallen for and who actually liked her back without hiding. Carmilla who was sexy and fun and charming. Carmilla who…

Who was my first. Oh holy shit!

Chapter Text

Laura picked up the red leather photo album from the island where Carmilla had left it and sat it down on the kitchen table next to the quickly cooling cup of cocoa she’d poured herself earlier. In all honesty, she’d been avoiding it since she saw it that morning, sitting next to the note with Carmilla’s incredibly neat script.

Laura,

I thought you might like to take a look at this and maybe it’ll satisfy some of that natural curiosity of yours. I’ll be home around five. Remember we’re supposed to go to dinner with LaF and Perry but call if you need anything. Please.

Carm

The dark haired girl had been long gone by the time she’d gotten up and for the first time since the accident she was grateful to have some time to herself. She needed to process everything and after her big ‘a ha’ moment from the night before, she really needed a few hours away from Carmilla in order to avoid becoming a blushing, stuttering mess when trying to have any normal human interactions with the girl.

It was nearly four now but she’d run out of things to do to pass the time. She’d already spent most of the morning and a little of the afternoon cleaning up around the house, taking great care to avoid Carmilla’s side of the office and walk-in closet, just in case, before returning a few long overdue emails about different articles she was working on and finally cleaning herself up. She purposely took a long shower and then spent the next half hour drying her hair and looking through the clothes in her closet, finding the idea of sweats and a ponytail completely unappealing after nothing else for the last two weeks.

Truthfully, Carmilla was right, her curiosity was killing her. But more than that was her fear; fear of looking through the photos and finding absolutely nothing to be familiar. It was the same reason she’d been avoiding her phone, only checking any new emails and texts. The pictures around the apartment were bad enough, leaving gaping holes in her memory. But to be face to face with hundreds of those little holes was completely terrifying. And then what would happen? She’d feel about a million times worse, that was for sure. And she already felt useless enough in this whole scenario, why add fuel to the fire?

She fingered the cover of the book, taking a deep, steadying breath and opened it, feeling a small smile instantly take over her face. The page was full of pictures of her, LaF, Perry and Danny, all from her first year at Silas. Turning the page, she felt a little calmer as more photos of her friends popped up. These pictures were of times she remembered. There they were at the Summer Society Halloween party with Mel, the five of them dressed as superheroes. And then picnicking on the quad in the early spring. And having their own little Christmas soiree before the break in LaF and Perry’s room. There were pictures of her and Danny after one of the many sporting events the Summer’s participated in. And pictures of her and LaF, covered in something gooey and disgusting for one of LaF’s science projects gone wrong. And photos of her and Perry making cookies, or more accurately, Perry making cookies and Laura making a mess as she ate the raw dough.

Taking the final sip of her now cold cocoa, she turned the page, completely immersed in the memories of her and her friends that first year and stopped cold, the smile falling from her face. There on the page in front of her were pictures from the Silas Fall Festival. The same festival Carmilla had just told her about the night before. The one where she’d bolted away as soon as she was left alone with the dark haired girl.

The pictures in front of her showed no signs of bolting though. The Laura in these photos looked so happy and excited. And… there was one in the middle of the page, with just her and Carmilla. Clearly neither of them were paying attention when it was taken. Carmilla appeared to be looking off to her right and laughing at whatever was there, her arm wrapped around Laura’s shoulders, keeping her close. For her part, the Laura in the photo had both of her arms wrapped around Carmilla’s waist, smiling and staring at the beautiful girl next to her, looking like she was the sun and the moon and stars all rolled into one glorious ball of brilliance.

What the hell happened that night?

Shaking her head, she turned the page, thankful when it was filled with something she could remember: LaF’s birthday. Or rather the fancy dinner party that Perry had insisted on throwing for them a few days before their actually birthday. The day of their actual birthday was also fairly memorable as LaF had gotten shitfaced off cheap gin and jager bombs at the bar they'd picked to celebrate at.

Laura smiled, remembering walking out of her bedroom the morning after the night out, finding LaF draped across the kitchen island, still passed out into a bag of Doritos, using Perry’s good dish towels as a pillow and missing their pants. She’d never seen Perry so frazzled as she was when she woke up a few minutes later and found the same sight, now with the addition of an indifferent Laura, sitting on the couch with a bowl of cereal, watching TV.

She turned back to the photos from the dinner party, seeing the usual suspects: LaF, Perry, Danny and Mel. It looked like Mel had brought that Elsie girl she’d dated briefly. And then in the last photo, her and Carmilla.

Wait, how did she remember the dinner but didn’t remember Carmilla being there? Maybe this was something good. Maybe if she kept looking something would come back to her.

She ran her fingers along the edge of the page, comparing the two of them in this picture to the one she’d just seen of them at the festival. It didn’t even look like they were the same couple. They stood there, not touching, Laura smiling politely at the camera and twiddling her fingers nervously in front of her. Next to her, Carmilla stood, hands jammed into her back pockets, a barely there and clearly forced smile tugging at the corners of her lips, her eyes seeming to look past the camera. It was so cold and sterile.

“Laura!” She jumped in her seat, so wrapped up in the picture that she hadn’t even heard Carmilla come in.

“Jesus! Carm, you scared me.”

“I’ve been talking to you for like two minutes now,” she said with a chuckle, stepping closer and taking a seat at the table. “What’s up? You ok?”

“Yeah, sorry. I was just thinking… remembering I guess.”

“Remembering?” The hopefulness in Carmilla’s voice was overwhelming, as was the look on her face and she felt awful for unintentionally getting the girls hopes up.

“Just some stuff about LaF.” She watched Carmilla visibly deflate and felt even worse. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean… there’s just pictures of everyone in here and I was thinking about LaF’s birthday during my second year and all the trouble they got into the night we all went out. I didn’t mean to make you think… I’m sorry.”

“No, don’t apologize. It’s fine.” She watched Carmilla look away, clearly disappointed and wanted nothing more than to make it right but she had no idea how, so she stayed quiet. “So um… nothing looked familiar? In that whole book?”

“Actually I’ve only gone through about a quarter of it. The beginning is all just me and my friends. I’d just gotten to the part where you started showing up.”

“Just now?”

“I um… I kind of got a late start.” She looked into Carmilla’s questioning dark brown eyes and felt that guilt in the pit of her stomach. “Sorry. I just… I guess I’m nervous.”

“Of what? Are you worried you’re going to find something you don’t want to see?” Laura just shrugged, focusing on the intricate patterns in the wood grain of the table. “Laura, you don’t have to look through this. I just thought you might want to. I mean, it’s what your doctor recommended and I figured that even if this didn’t jog anything upstairs, at least you’d be happy to see your friends and remember all the times you guys spent together, that’s all. I didn’t think it would hurt anything to try.”

“It’s not that Carm, it’s just… I feel so… guilty.”

“What? Why? Laura you didn’t choose for this to happen.” Carmilla paused, clearly looking for some sort of reaction but Laura kept her head down, feeling worse by the second. “Hey, cupcake, come on.” She heard Carmilla shift her chair closer and then felt the dark haired girl carefully wrap her hands around her own casted one. She took a deep breath, finally looking up into those understanding eyes that she knew would be her undoing. “It’s ok Laura. You don’t have to feel guilty. About anything. Look, I know you want to fix this. So do I and if I could, I’d do it for you in a heartbeat. But, well, that’s not what’s in the cards right now. So don’t beat yourself up over something that you didn’t start to begin with. You haven’t done anything wrong, ok?”

Laura took in the sincerity of not only Carmilla’s words but her tone, beyond grateful for this incredible woman sitting with her. Reaching over with her good hand, she grabbed onto Carmilla, squeezing her wrist and giving her a watery smile.

“Ok,” she whispered. Carmilla just nodded, offering her own gentle squeeze before standing up and walking towards the refrigerator.

“Besides, if you were worried you are going to find something you might not want to see, you won’t find it in there.”

“What do you mean?”

“You store all your dirty pictures on your phone. Clearly you haven’t looked through those albums,” she said, obviously attempting to lighten the mood.

“What?!?”

“Oh come on Laura, we’ve been together for seven years. Let’s just say you’ve racked up quite a collection,” Carmilla said, turning back momentarily with a smile. “You’re especially fond of the snaps I send you from time to time.”

“You’re messing with me again, aren’t you?”

“Afraid not. Don’t worry, you give just as good as you get.”

“Oh my god!” She buried her face in her hands in embarrassment, hearing Carmilla chuckle from her spot, perusing the contents of the refrigerator.


She looked across the table at LaF and Perry, smiling warmly at each other and felt her own lips turn up at the sight, so sweet and loving. She turned to look at Carmilla sitting next to her, who sat staring around the restaurant, taking everything in, her expression blank and very Carmilla-esque. Apparently sensing she was being watched, she turned to Laura, raising both eyebrows in question.

“You ok?” She nodded, reaching up and playing with the corner of her napkin.

“Yeah, I’m good. It’s really nice being here with you guys.”

“Well we are thrilled you’re here too Frosh.”

“Absolutely dear. We’ve missed dinner with the two of you these last few weeks.”

“Oh yeah. Carm said we usually do this with you guys like once a week?”

“Usually at our place but we thought tonight you might like to get out.”

“So um… you don’t remember having dinner with us weekly L?”

Laura cleared her throat and shook her head sadly, looking down at the table. Carmilla was there. It was the four of us, so it’s gone.

“Hey, don’t do that to yourself,” Carmilla said, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder. She looked up into those kind eyes, finding so much encouragement it nearly broke her. “You’re doing great Laura.” And cue the watery smile.

“Sweetie, Carmilla is right. You’ve made so much progress. Please do not get discouraged.”

“Have you remembered anything at all Frosh?”

“No,” she answered dejectedly.

“Now that’s not true,” Carmilla interjected. Laura turned to her questioningly, wondering what in the hell she was talking about. She didn’t remember anything. “You do remember things. You remembered how to play chess even though you don’t remember me teaching you. You remembered something about the restaurant, Cornados.”

“No, I don’t remember it, I just said it felt kind of like déja vu, like I was there in a dream.”

“It’s still something Laura. You felt something familiar. And then just today, you remembered the dinner party Susie Homemaker threw for the Lab Rat. I was there and yes, you don’t remember that part, but you do remember the party.”

“That is progress L.”

“I just want it all back and I want it now.”

“Impatient as always cutie.” She felt Carmilla squeeze her shoulder gently before removing her hand and once again, Laura immediately felt the loss of its warmth.

“Was that the dinner party for your birthday?” Perry asked, turning to LaF. “That horrible birthday where you were a complete and total idiot a few days later?”

“Are you seriously still mad about that night? Come on Per, it was a long time ago.”

“It was a disaster.” Across the table Laura and Carmilla started chuckling as the other two went back and forth over the severity of LaF’s inebriation that night.

“Look, I was a mess, I know. But I would argue that something good did come out of that night?”

“What good could have possibly come from that LaF? Other than many pictures of you doing the running man and the cabbage patch in the middle of the club?”

“Oh, I forgot about those pictures!” Carmilla said with a deep laugh.

“Even though you are all jealous of my dance moves, that’s not what I was referring to. I was actually talking about the next day when L finally got her shit together and wrangled up Puss in Biker Boots.”

“What? What are you talking about?” Laura asked, looking at the smiling faces around her.


 Seven Years Earlier

“Why is it so loud out here Frosh?”

“It’s not,” Laura said with a laugh, looking around at the basically deserted street. Perry had kicked them out of the apartment so she could clean and, Laura suspected, not be tempted to punch LaF in the face every time they moaned or groaned about their headache. “Come on, you just need some coffee.”

She pulled LaF into the café, trying to remain as sympathetic as possible to her friend's plight but finding it difficult when she thought about the fact that both she and Perry had attempted to cut LaF off multiple times during the night out before and five minutes after each alcohol banishment, they found LaF with a new drink in hand.

“Why don’t you go sit and I’ll get us our drinks.”

LaF just grunted in response before shuffling off to the corner and slumping into one of the available booths there.

“What did they drink last night?” Smiling in recognition of the voice from the table behind her, she turned, immediately meeting Carmilla’s gorgeous face.

She’d missed that face. It had been two weeks since the fall festival and they’d only seen each other twice outside of class: once for the dinner party at her apartment, which was incredibly awkward, and again for a movie night at her place, where she’d kept at least six inches between her and Carmilla at all times and had sighed loudly in relief when LaF and Perry had come home early from their night out.

“Apparently all the gin in Silas,” she answered. Carmilla just chuckled and nodded.

“Dude, give them a cheeseburger, extra greasy, extra cheese, and a banana. Best cure for a super wicked hangover.” She turned as she realized Carmilla wasn’t alone and someone else had just walked up and apparently rejoined her at her table. “Hey little nerd hottie. How you doing?”

“Hi Kirsch, good to see you.”

“What do you do, just squish the banana between the buns and shovel it in?” Carmilla asked, apparently very interested in the answer.

“Yeah. I do it all the time dude. Gives it a little something extra.”

“That’s disgusting beefcake.”

“Dude you’re the one who mixes bacon and french fries into their mac and cheese when you’re hungover. Don’t judge.”

Carmilla just shook her head and shrugged before turning back to Laura.

“So you guys had fun last night then?”

Laura had asked Carmilla to join them but she’d had the closing shift at the bar the night before and had declined.

“Well LaF did,” Laura said, looking over and giggling at her friend who was practically lying on the the table. “It was ok. I um… I wish you hadn’t had to work though. It would’ve been nice to hang out with you there.” With people watching us. Gah Hollis get your shit together.

Carmilla just nodded and offered a small smile.

“Frosh! Can you flirt with your girlfriend later! I’m dying over here.”

Laura felt a hot moment of panic consume her followed by a sudden urge to bang the heaviest pots and pans she could find over LaF’s head.

Girlfriend! No! No! No! She turned to Carmilla, sure there would only be a puff of smoke where the other girl was just sitting but surprised when she found her still there, looking a mix of confused and slightly amused at LaF’s outburst.

“Whoa, girlfriend? You didn’t tell me that angry hottie. Nice,” Kirsch said, going in for a high five and getting left high and dry when Carmilla just stared at him incredulously.

“Kirsch, don’t you have something going on the frat house that you need to attend to? Maybe some stupid pledge that needs to be made into a moving trident target or something like that?”

“Oh yeah! Thanks for reminding me bro! Herring Week starts Monday. Got tons to do.” He took the final swig from the paper cup in front of him and ran out the door.

Laura turned back to Carmilla, taking in the now apprehensive look on the dark haired girls face and feeling horrible. Of course she’s freaking out. She’s probably worried now that you want to be girlfriends. Which duh! Of course you do. But you guys haven’t talked about that yet. And maybe she isn’t interested in being exclusive. I mean, she has all those other girls who want her-

“Frosh! Seriously!” She was pulled out of her thoughts, looking over to see an irritated LaF staring back at her and just nodded before turning towards the counter to order. But she could still feel Carmilla’s eyes still on her and took the moment of distraction to try and figure out how to get out of this jam.

Of course she wanted Carmilla. The other girl had become so important to her and she had never liked anyone else as much as she liked Carmilla. No one else even came close. But on the one hand, what if Carmilla didn’t feel the same way? On the other hand though, she’d never know if she didn’t put herself out there. After all, if she kept running off, eventually Carmilla would come to her own conclusions and she was sure that those conclusions would definitely not end in her favor.

She grabbed the cups the barista handed her with a hurried smile and twirled back having made her decision. It was time for Laura Hollis to be brave.

Carmilla had stood from her table, apparently already done and ready to leave, no longer looking worried. No, now she just looked defeated.

“Look, Laura, I get it. I’ll um… I’ll see you around.” She sent a sad smile her way and turned, walking out of the café.

What??? No!

“Frosh!” She didn’t stop as she rushed out after Carmilla, hands still full.

“Carm! Wait, please!” The dark haired girl stopped, turning back to Laura, still looking hurt but now also irritated with Laura’s abrupt interruption in her departure. “Look, I’m sorry. I’m just… this is really hard and it doesn’t have to be, I know that. I just, I really like you and I… oh crap. Carmilla, would you like to have dinner with me? Tonight?”

“What?” The confusion on the other girls face overtook all the other emotions Laura had just seen swirling around.

“If you’d like to, I’d love to take you to dinner. Maybe someplace nice?”

“You want to take me to dinner?” Laura just nodded eagerly. “Someplace nice?” Another enthusiastic nod. “Laura… I don’t get it. You actually want to keep doing this? I just gave you your out. Isn’t that what you wanted?”

“Carm, I don't want an out, I want you. I want… I want you to be my girlfriend.”

“Your girlfriend?”

“If you’d like to be… I mean I get it if you don’t. I’ve been a complete spaz these last couple of weeks. And even just now, I acted stupid inside. I really don’t want an out. I guess I was just scared you’d freak. That you weren’t interested in more than just dating and hanging out but… I really do like you Carmilla and I know you probably think this is totally out of the blue. And I get that because again… spaz but I just want-”

She cut herself off as Carmilla reached up, tucking a stray piece of hair behind her ear, smiling softly at her.

“You are entirely too much cutie.”

“So… is that a yes? Please say that’s a yes.”

“That’s a yes Laura. If you’re sure.”

“I’m positive. I-”

“Frosh seriously! What the hell!”

She turned, looking to see LaF had just come outside, looking absolutely miserable.

“Oh my god LaF if you don’t go sit down and shut up, I swear to god-”

“Hey, now don’t start making bodily threats,” Carmilla said with a chuckle, drawing Laura’s attention back to her. “You’re clearly on friend duty right now so go have your coffee and text me. I’ll see you later.”

“But… are you sure? You’re not going to leave and change your mind right?”

“Definitely not cupcake.” She leaned over, leaving a small kiss on Laura’s cheek and smiled before turning and walking away.


Carmilla parked Kirsch’s truck that she’d borrowed for the night along the street and looked up at the building to her right. She really hoped she hadn’t overstepped here. Laura had texted her earlier that she’d pick Carmilla up around seven and then they’d go to the rather nice French restaurant that the brunette had made reservations at. It had sounded like a wonderful plan but then Carmilla had come up with something different. And even though this was supposed to be Laura’s night to take her out, she figured she might be able to convince the tiny journalist to bend this one time after she revealed her own plan.

She made her way inside and up to Laura’s floor, taking a deep breath before knocking gently on the door in front of her, waiting for someone to answer. A moment later the door opened to reveal a beautiful Laura Hollis, staring back at her in surprise.

“Carm! What are you doing here? I was going to come get you in like half an hour,” Laura said as they made eye contact, before giving her the once over. “And why are you so dressed down? Did you… did you change your mind about tonight?”

Carmilla swallowed hard at the sight in front of her. Laura in a fitted navy dress that cut right at the knee and heels, hair pulled back. The half-eaten cookie in her right hand was just the icing on the cake.

“No, not at all I just… wow, Laura you seriously look incredible.” She smiled at the slight blush coloring the smaller girls cheeks and stepped closer, taking Laura’s free hand in her own. “And I definitely didn’t change my mind. I just, well, I actually had another idea for tonight, if you’re game. I know you’d planned dinner and everything but maybe we can do that another time?”

“What did you have in mind?” Carmilla reached into the back pocket of her ripped black jeans, pulling out the two tickets she’d just gotten ahold of less than an hour ago and handed them to Laura. Glancing down at the tickets in hand, Laura’s jaw literally dropped. “Cat Power? You got tickets to Cat Power?”

“Well yeah. I mean, I knew you wanted to go but couldn’t get tickets so…”

“So how did you get them?”

“A friend owed me a favor…” She trailed off, hoping she hadn’t just wasted the IOU she’d been holding over Kirsch’s head for months. “Do you want to go?”

“Yes! Oh my god Carm, yes, absolutely!” The smaller girl threw her arms around her neck, pressing their lips together in an excited kiss. “Let me just go changed really quick.”

And she was off, tripping on her heels as she attempted to run back to her bedroom, closing the door behind her with a loud thud.

Carmilla stepped into the apartment, shutting the door behind her, and stood there awkwardly, taking note of the two pairs of eyes currently on her but pretending to be fascinated with the blank wall to her right.

“Not bad Biker Boots. I don’t think I’ve seen her this excited since this morning when you agreed to be her girlfriend,” LaF said with a grin.

“Yeah, well...” Carmilla turned, taking in the two gingers sitting on the couch and shrugged.

“Carmilla, why don’t you come over here and sit with us while you wait.” It sounded more like a command than a suggestion and threw her even more that it was coming from mild-mannered Betty Crocker. Slowly she made her way towards one of the available chairs in the living room, still staring at the two gingers on the couch, wondering why in the hell they were sitting up so straight and looking so serious.

“We need to talk to you Bad Seed.”

“Yes, it’s very important.”

“Oh I’m sure it is,” she said, rolling her eyes. “What about?”

“About Laura. And since I’m sure she’s eager to get out with you tonight I doubt we have much time so here it is. You will not hurt her.”

“What?” What was this, a scene from a bad mob movie?

“You will not hurt her,” Perry continued on as if she’d never heard Carmilla speak. “You will not disrespect her. You will not do anything to make her uncomfortable.”

“You won’t pressure her in any way,” LaF chimed in.

“You will call her when you say you will and show up on time when you are supposed to.”

“You won’t blow her off if something or someone ‘better’ comes along.”

“You will not flirt with, call upon, or have any sort of inappropriate relationship with any other girls.”

“You will be honest with her and treat her the way she deserves to be treated.”

“Are we clear?”

“Did you guys like rehearse this?” Both just stared back at her, clearly waiting for a serious answer. Shaking her head with a huff, she sat forward in her chair and met their eyes in challenge. “Look, I get it. You both love Laura and you just want to know that she won’t get hurt. But I don’t want to hurt her. I actually really like that girl in there and regardless of whatever the two of you want to threaten me with, I have no intention of doing anything that would jeopardize her feelings for me. She is incredible and I don’t want to lose her.” She paused for a moment, taking in that their eyes stayed hard and hating that she felt the need to defend herself. But she didn’t want to lose Laura. And the two in front of her had a lot of pull with the tiny brunette. They could break her if they really wanted to. “Look, I know none of you are particularly happy that I’m around. I know you’d prefer her with someone else. Someone like fucking Lawrence but just… just give me a chance.”

“We never said we didn't want you around Carmilla.”

“You didn’t have to,” she said, her eyes just as hard. Laura’s bedroom door opened then and she stepped out, much more casual in sneakers, jeans and a button up, hair let down.

“Alright, you ready?”

Carmilla just stood and nodded, turning her back to Laura’s roommates. She understood they were just looking out for Laura because they cared but she had done absolutely nothing so far to make them distrust her, had she? She racked her brain, trying to come up with anything she might have done to hurt the brunette since they’d started dating but couldn’t think of a single thing. Maybe Laura had mentioned something to them but didn’t tell Carmilla? Maybe something she’d done completely inadvertently? Maybe it had to do with why the brunette didn’t want to be alone with her?

Oh fuck. ‘You won’t pressure her in any way.’ Shit, she feels like I’m pressuring her to sleep with me. God dammit.

“You ok?” Laura asked as they left the apartment and made their way down the hall to the elevator. “You seem kind of quiet.”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” She sent a reassuring smile Laura’s way and tucked her hands into her back pockets. Maybe she’d seem less threatening if she kept her hands to herself. “Thanks for being ok with the change in plans tonight.”

“Are you kidding? This is amazing Carm, I’m so excited. Thank you for getting the tickets,” Laura said, reaching out and grazing her hand down Carmilla’s arm, looking for her hand which she reluctantly offered.

Maybe if I just let her initiate any contact between us. Then she won’t feel so pressured. She felt Laura squeeze her hand softly and lean into her, the scent of her shampoo wafting around them. She’s going to make this nearly impossible.

“You are very welcome cupcake.”


“This is seriously incredible Carm!” Laura said as she leaned over, her lips brushing Carmilla’s ear as she spoke. Carmilla just smiled back and squeezed the hand in her own. Laura had refused to let go from the moment they’d gotten to the smaller venue and Carmilla found that she didn’t mind one little bit.

See? Just have to let her lead.

She’d been enjoying the show but found her attention mostly focused on Laura, watching the smaller girl simply light up in pure joy, smiling and laughing, singing along the entire time they’d been standing there. Clearly the IOU she traded in was worth it. She turned back to the stage, watching and listening for three more songs before the concert ended in a thunderous applause. Laura finally let go of her hand to join in for a minute but the lack of contact was short lived as she turned to Carmilla as the lights went up, wrapping her arms around the other girls waist and pulling her close.

“This was like the best date in all of the entire world, ever.” Carmilla laughed, bringing her hands to Laura’s elbows and softly rubbing her thumbs up and down.

“I’m glad you think so cutie. Come on, let’s get out of here.” She felt Laura grab onto her hand as they walked, keeping close. They made their way outside to Kirsch’s truck, hurriedly trying to beat the rest of the concert goers out to avoid the traffic but finding themselves stuck right in the middle.

Carmilla hit the breaks once again, waiting for the line of cars to move, tapping her fingertips on the steering wheel and gearshift along to the tune on the radio. She looked over, catching Laura staring at her, smiling wide, her eyes soft.

“What?” she asked with a chuckle.

“Nothing, I just… thank you again Carm. For tonight and for… everything. This was so much fun and I’m so glad I got to go and… be here with you.”

“It really wasn’t a big deal Laura. I just thought it would make you happy,” she said with a shrug.

“It did.” She scooted into the middle seat and reached over taking Carmilla’s hand from the gearshift and sliding their fingers together. She used her other hand to cup Carmilla’s jaw, running her thumb along her cheek. “You are kind of the best girlfriend ever, you know that?”

Carmilla just chuckled, leaning into Laura’s palm and hoping the rare blush she felt covering her cheeks wasn’t visible in the dark cabin. The look on Laura’s face told her it was though as the tiny brunette just smiled harder, leaning forward and capturing Carmilla’s lips with her own. The kiss didn’t stop until the blaring of car horns behind them pulled them apart.


Present

“So you guys just had to give the big ‘hurt her and we’ll kill you’ speech didn’t you?”

“I think our version was better but yeah, we did Frosh. Part of the whole best friend duty thing.”

“We love you sweetie and we just wanted to make sure she understood that this wasn’t just some fling for you.”

“Well, I do appreciate you both watching out for me. But I guess it was kind of a waste considering everything huh?”

“Maybe. But she still needed to hear it.” Laura just smiled at the thought of her protective friends, nodding once.

“So I guess something good did come out of your insanely over the top hangover.”

“Totally. Although, oh my god, you were so nervous that whole day, it was driving me nuts Frosh. I mean the hangover amplified it but you were a mess.”

“It was actually rather sweet I thought. You wanted that night to be so special.” Laura smiled at the thought of a younger her and Carmilla and how thoughtful they were to each other. She looked at the empty seat next to her, Carmilla having just excused herself a few minutes earlier to use the restroom and pay the bill, insisting it was her treat tonight for LaF and Perry being so helpful over the last few weeks, and thought of how amazing of a start they really had.

“And then you were so miserable when Carmilla dropped you off that night and went home alone.”

“Wait, why would I be upset? The date sounded amazing.”

“Oh come on L, get with it. You had finally worked up the guts and were totally planning on getting laid that night and then you didn’t.”

“How do you know that?!”

“It was kind of obvious L.”

“What!”

“Laura, sweetheart, I’m afraid that’s true. Once Carmilla agreed to be yours exclusively, it was like that fight between the four of us never happened. Or at least wasn’t that important anymore.”

“What did that fight have to do with me getting laid?”

“Well after it happened you were terrified of being alone with Carmilla. The very first night you went to her apartment, you came home and started barraging us with how you wouldn’t be able to measure up to all of her experience because you didn’t have any and how if you didn’t measure up, she’d lose interest.”

“Oh god!” Laura turned, catching sight of Carmilla on her way back to the table. “Does she know that? Does she know that’s why I kept my distance?”

Her two friends just shrugged.

“But why does that matter Frosh? I mean obviously, the two of you eventually got it on.”

“Oh my god LaF, do you have any tact?”


It was late by the time they arrived back home, both yawning widely as they slowly moved into the house. Carmilla tossed her keys onto the table by the door and locked up after Laura had entered. She simultaneously pulled off her jacket while kicking off her boots, finding herself exhausted as the events of the day finally caught up with her.

“You ok?” Laura asked from her spot in the kitchen where she was already getting ready to tuck into the piece of chocolate cheesecake she’d brought home. Carmilla smiled at the familiarity of the moment, though typically Laura usually tended to start in on her dessert before they even got in the door.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Stretching, she made her way over, taking the stool next to Laura’s. “How is it tonight?” she asked, nodding towards the fork poised at Laura’s lips.

“Mmm, so good. Do you want a bite?” Carmilla stared back for a moment, unable to stop the hint of a smirk forming on her lips. “I mean, you don’t have to if you don’t want. I just thought I’d offer. I um… I can get another fork if you don’t want to use mine.”

Carmilla shook her head with a smile. So fucking cute.

“Laura, you do realize I’m not worried about you or your germs right? I mean, we’ve shared… a lot over the years.” Laura just smiled, blushing slightly at the thought of all that might entail. Deciding to save her some embarrassment, Carmilla chuckled again, plucking the fork from Laura’s hand and taking a bite of the creamy cake in front of her before passing the fork back.

“So…”

“Yes…?”

“Nothing, just thinking I guess. Categorizing all the new information I learned tonight.”

“You know, if you ever don’t want to hear about something or… if something’s making you uncomfortable, you can always say so.” Carmilla turned to her completely serious, wanting Laura to understand that the last thing she wanted to do was to pressure her. “Before we left the restaurant tonight, it seemed like something might have gotten to you. Was it the date?”

“No, not at all, the date was really sweet. And I’m glad I got to hear about how we finally became official.”

“Yeah, not too many frills or fuss on that front.”

“I liked it. It seemed fitting. Simple” She paused for a moment, staring down at the swirling patterns of chocolate within the remainder of her dessert. “LaF and Perry just mentioned something while you were paying the bill.”

“Well, that cease and desist goes for all of us.”

“I know. I mean, I appreciate you saying that and I know you would stop. And I know they would too if I asked. So far, nothing I’ve heard has been too much to handle. It just gets harder sometimes… when it seems like the conversation is veering more towards the two of us being… intimate.” Carmilla kept quiet, letting Laura process. “I mean, I know we were. We’ve been together for seven years, you don’t just go that long with someone without kissing and cuddling and… other stuff. It’s just strange.” She paused again for a moment, twirling her fork around the container in front of her. “So, can I ask… were there other times that I avoided you? Other times where I wouldn’t be alone with you?” Carmilla nodded, eyeing Laura curiously. “I think I know why. I’m not sure if you do though."

“I might. What’s your thesis Sherlock?”

“You had all this experience and I didn’t. I was worried and apparently you made me nervous. Which I totally get. I mean, honestly, sitting here right now, I’m nervous around you.”

Shit, she thought, feeling the smile fall from her face. This is why you shouldn’t have started back with the nicknames or the touching.

“I didn’t mean bad nervous! I just... you’re beautiful and amazing and completely charming. I’m sure you’ve made a lot of girls nervous over the years. But it’s… it’s a good nervous. And mine was amplified back then I think because of just how much it seemed that I liked you. I um… I realized something last night.” She paused once again, looking down for a moment as if gathering her courage before turning back. “You were my first, weren’t you?”

Carmilla looked away for a moment, finding herself not at all surprised that Laura had figured out that little nugget on her own. Turning back, she met Laura’s gaze, staring into those beautiful eyes that she loved, and nodded.

“I was. But in all fairness, I didn’t know that until our almost first time together.”

“Man, am I smooth or what?” Laura said, attempting to bring some humor into the suddenly heavy conversation and Carmilla couldn’t help but let out a small chuckle.

“So I guess you made me nervous too. For many reasons. The first time we actually did though, you did tell me afterwards that that’s why you’d been avoiding being alone with me. That you didn’t think you’d be good enough.”

“Well according to my friends, I had a lot to measure up to.”

“Yeah, well your friends are dicks.” Laura giggled, and Carmilla felt her heart skip at the sound.

They sat quietly for a moment, Laura still swirling her fork around the container, Carmilla staring down at her hands in front of her. Finally Carmilla subtly glanced to her left, taking in the features of the beautiful girl next to her. She’d spent hours memorizing every inch of that face and it still wasn't enough. It would never be enough. She smiled softly when Laura looked up, meeting her eyes. Those goddamn honey eyes. Fuck.

“So in the future, I don't think I'll go for the full cease and desist, but I might need to call a timeout if those risque stories come up. Or maybe just get the milder version of them.”

“Laura, those stories don’t have to come up at all. I’m happy to tell you whatever you want but I’m not going to force you to listen to something you don’t want to hear.”

“I didn’t say I didn’t want to hear. I’m still sussing all of that out, to be honest.”

“Well whatever you want creampuff, I’ll give it to you.”

“I know.” She paused for a moment, taking a deep breath and then staring deeply into Carmilla’s eyes. “Thank you Carmilla. For everything. You have seriously been so incredible these last few weeks and especially since I’ve been home. I can’t imagine being in your shoes. I don’t know what I would do.”

“You’d probably do a better job than I am,” Carmilla joked. Laura giggled, picking up another piece of the cheesecake in front of her and handing the fork to Carmilla. Carmilla just smiled back and took the fork, taking the offered bite. “I don’t know what you’re talking about Hollis, this cheesecake is fucking amazing.”

Chapter Text

Laura pushed her laptop to the side and stretched, her fingers tired from the hours of typing that she hadn’t done for weeks. She had definitely fell out of practice during all her downtime. She stood up from her seat in the kitchen where she had set up her things earlier and walked around the island, intending on making a fresh carafe of coffee until she looked at the clock and realized it was already after seven.

Probably shouldn’t keep myself up any longer than necessary. It was her third day back to work and while she was happy to have that little bit of structure back in her life, she was definitely feeling the effects of the long hours after weeks of nothing. At least her freelance work meant she got to do most of her writing from home, which she was grateful for. Finally deciding against the coffee, she opened the refrigerator instead, thinking that she should probably eat something considering she hadn’t had anything since the chocolate muffin that Carmilla had picked up for her that morning before leaving herself for a meeting with her agent JP and a shoot that had already been rescheduled three times.

She couldn’t help but notice the incredibly dark circles under Carmilla’s eyes when she’d handed her the waxy paper bag that morning. The poor girl looked beyond exhausted. And now here it was looking like it was going to be another late night for her. Laura couldn’t help feeling guilty for that. She may not have caused the accident but if none of this had happened, Carmilla wouldn’t have been running around for the last few weeks on minimal sleep, doing everything she could to help take care of Laura. She really needed to find some way to thank the her properly, but she was at a loss for what to do. Everything she thought up just seemed far too small for the sacrifices Carmilla had made.

She continued to ponder the possibilities as she made herself a quick sandwich and was just getting ready to sit down again when the turning of the deadbolt on the door caught her attention. Looking up she watched as Carmilla literally hauled herself inside, dropping her messenger bag and falling back against to door tiredly once it was closed.

“Hey, you’re home.” Laura smiled at the other girl, feeling something in her stomach flutter unexpectedly just the tiniest bit.

“And apparently not a moment too soon if that’s what you were planning to eat for dinner.” Laura looked down at the PB&J in front of her and shrugged. “Think again buttercup. Let me just wash up really quick and I’ll make you something proper.”

“Carm, this is fine. I’m not that hungry anyway.”

“Tough, you still need to get your strength back and I’m sure you ate nothing but cookies all day.”

“That’s not true. I actually didn’t have anything,” Laura said, cringing and realizing after the fact that that sounded much worse. Carmilla just stared at her for a minute before shaking her head and making her way down the hall.

An hour later, they sat in the living room together having just finished up the quick dinner Carmilla had put together for them, attempting to settle in for the night after their respective days. Laura had insisted on cleaning up the dinner mess by herself as it was the least she could do and, as she’d discovered, Carmilla really wasn’t that great at cleanup.

Laura stretched her legs out along the couch, taking care not to intrude on Carmilla’s space who sat across from her on the other end of the sofa, legs propped on the trunk in front of them. The television was on across the room but Laura wasn’t paying much attention to it. Instead she kept looking over, taking in the dark haired girl next to her, book in hand, reading. It wasn’t even a conscious decision. She just kept finding her eyes roaming away from the Orphan Black episode and sticking to the girl next to her, taking in every detail. She was trying to be inconspicuous at least but apparently not doing a very good job at it.

“Something wrong cupcake?” Carmilla asked, not even looking up from her book.

“No,” Laura said, chuckling to herself at having gotten caught. Carmilla just turned her head, meeting her gaze and raising a questioning eyebrow. “Really, nothing’s wrong. Sorry.”

“Alright, we’ve both been busy and it’s been a few days since you’ve gotten to hear about any adventure from our past,” she teased, marking the page and setting her book aside. “What story do you want to hear next?”

Carmilla was right. They’d both been so invested in getting back to work and taking care of overdue odds and ends that they’d spent very little time together over the last few days. Usually by the time Carmilla got home, the only thing either of them had any energy for was to collapse.

“Carmilla no. You’re right it has been a few days but you’re also exhausted.”

“Come on, you haven’t asked me anything since you found out how you conned me into being your girlfriend. I know you’ve got more questions burning in that brain.” Carmilla sat back further on the couch, her eyes heavy, using the back to rest her head on. “What do you have Hollis?”

“Are you sure?” Carmilla just nodded. “Well, I was wondering about something you said the other night. About… our almost first time.”

“Really? You want to hear about that?” The surprise in Carmilla’s voice was obvious.

“I guess I’m just curious. After you mentioned it it just made me wonder. That’s all.” That was only part of the truth though. Yes, she’d felt a tiny spark of curiosity flare up as they sat together in the kitchen that night, sharing Laura’s cheesecake. But that tiny spark amplified big time when she’d accidentally walked in on Carmilla changing the previous day.

It had been an exceptionally beautiful mid-October morning and she’d taken her coffee out onto the patio to enjoy a few of the sun’s rays before she started working on the new article she’d just picked up the day before from an online magazine that had been scouting her for months. She’d just finished her coffee and had wandered back inside, intent on showering and getting ready for the day, not thinking even for a second about the fact that Carmilla had been getting into the guest shower when she’d gone outside. Walking down the hallway, she looked up as she reached the doorway to their bedroom and stopped short, her jaw slack and eyes wide, taking in the beautiful, half-naked form of Carmilla getting dressed for the day.

She knew Carmilla was gorgeous. Anyone with eyes could see that and honestly, she was still trying to figure out how she, tiny, nerdy little Laura Hollis had landed this girl. But did she have to be literally the sexiest woman on the planet? Standing there in her bra and underwear, making Laura feel things she hadn’t felt in… Oh, who the hell knows how long. And holy shit, she thought, taking in the view as Carmilla bent at the waist, pulling on the fitted, torn jeans she was so fond of.

Laura took in the plains of smooth, pale, perfect skin, feeling her heart beat a little faster and her breathing slow. This wasn’t right. She shouldn’t be standing there staring at the completely unaware girl when for all intents and purposes, she had no right to. A month ago she might have but not now. Not when everything had changed so drastically.

She turned to leave, attempting to sneak away as quietly as possible when Carmilla looked up and caught her.

“Laura?”

Shit…

“Hey,” she said, turning back slowly, her face a mask of guilt and embarrassment. Her eyes flicked to Carmilla’s face for a moment before turning away again, feeling her mortification kick up about ten notches when she saw the knowing smirk there.

“What’re you doing?” Carmilla deliberately asked, still smirking as she pulled on the soft gray sweater that had been laying on the bed.

“Nothing, I just… Ugh, I’m so sorry Carm. I came back here to shower and stuff and I totally forgot you were still getting ready. I wasn’t thinking. I didn’t mean to… ogle you like that. It just caught me by surprise.” She looked up when Carmilla chuckled, watching as she sat on the edge of the bed, pulling on her boots.

“Don’t worry about it Hollis, nothing you haven’t seen before. It’s not a big deal. Unless you’re like repulsed by what you saw. Then we might have a problem,” she said with a grin.

“Definitely not repulsed,” she said quietly, smiling and blushing harder. Carmilla had simply smiled and walked out of the room, leaving her to get ready.

She shook her head to rid herself of the image and turned back to a still surprised Carmilla.

“I mean, if that’s ok. If you’d rather tell me about something else, that’s fine. I’ll literally take whatever I can get.”

Carmilla looked away for a moment, taking a deep breath before turning back. “It was about a week after the concert…”


 Six Years & Eleven Months Earlier

Laura looked around the room, making sure everything was in place and… Perfect.

Everything seemed to be. She’d spent hours cleaning the apartment Perry-style with a toothbrush and had sent her two roommates out for the night with forty dollars from her latest care package from her dad and strict instructions not to come back until much much later. She really hoped she wasn’t overdoing it with the candles and the music but she wanted it to be romantic and special.

Things had been amazing with Carmilla and they’d somehow found a way to spend at least a little bit of time together every day for the last week. Even on the nights Carmilla worked the closing shift at the bar, she’d make sure to stop by and see Laura beforehand. They didn’t really do much of anything outside the norm; talking about their days, watching something nerdy that Laura had picked out on TV, cuddling up close on the couch, kissing. And oh the kissing. It had only gotten more addicting and Laura swore every single time that it couldn’t get any better but low and behold, the next time, it did.

Something had changed though, and certainly not for the better. While the kissing and cuddling and hand holding was great, it was all constantly Laura’s initiation that got them there. Carmilla seemed to be on a mission to keep her hands to herself and herself out of reach unless Laura pulled her in first and for the life of her, she couldn’t figure out why. This hadn’t been a problem before they’d became official and if she wasn’t so sure that Carmilla really did want to be in this relationship, she would’ve started to wonder if maybe Carmilla was losing interest. She was really hoping that tonight would be different.

Because there’s no way in hell I’m going to get through this on my own.

Tonight. Triple checking that everything was in its place, she lit the candles in her bedroom and checked the clock once more. Carmilla would be there any minute and if she were honest, her nerves were starting to get the better of her. So much so that when she heard a quiet knock just a moment later, she literally jumped.

Taking a calming breath she moved towards the door to open it, finding a smiling Carmilla on the other side, looking beautiful as always.

“Creampuff.”

“Hey, you’re just in time,” she said, opening the door for Carmilla to enter and making sure it was locked tight once she was inside.

“Just in time for what? And why is it so dark in here?” Laura turned to find Carmilla removing her jacket, revealing that off the shoulder fitted black and white striped top that she loved.

“Oh, no reason. I just was enjoying the ambiance.” Carmilla turned to look at her, quirking an eyebrow in question and Laura felt herself cringe at the answer. “Would you like something to drink or anything?”

“I’m good,” Carmilla said, still looking at Laura curiously. “Are you ok? You seem anxious or something. Your face is kind of flushed.”

Ugh, get it together Hollis and girl the hell up.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she said, stepping towards Carmilla and placing her hands on the other girls hips, pulling their bodies together. “I’m just glad you’re here. I missed you today.”

“Oh really?” Carmilla smirked and reached up, running her thumb along the side of Laura’s jaw, causing her to smile.

Steeling her nerves, she leaned in, letting her lips brush softly against Carmilla’s, sighing quietly when Carmilla responded. She didn’t have it in her to do the back and forth banter tonight. She wanted Carmilla and she wanted her now. Pulling away, she looked into those intensely dark eyes, grabbed on to one of Carmilla’s hands and pulled her slowly towards her bedroom. Pushing the door open and walking inside, she finally turned, taking in Carmilla’s surprised expression in the flickering candlelight.

“Laura… what is this?” Carmilla turned to her, meeting her gaze, her eyes still inquisitive. This was the moment she was supposed to be brave for. This was when she had to tell Carmilla what she wanted. And of course, her damn mouth refused for form words as she stood there, looking back, wide-eyed, crimson in embarrassment. “Hey. Are you ok? You look like you’re about to have a panic attack.” Carmilla pulled her further into the room, sitting her on the edge of the bed and knelt before her, her face a mask of concern.

Of course, this was how this was going to go. She’d worked herself up into this alarming frenzy and now she couldn’t form words so naturally, Carmilla would spend the night worrying about her and the whole thing would be a bust.

“Stay right there, let me get you some water.”

“No!” She grabbed onto Carmilla’s arm as she moved to stand, effectively stopping her from leaving and pulled her closer to the edge of the bed. The dark haired girl sat gingerly, tucking a strand of loose hair behind Laura’s ear and waited. “No. I’m ok. I’m fine. Just nervous I guess.”

“Nervous about what?”

“Come on Carm. Lights are down, candles are lit, soft music in the background. No roommates and I locked the door behind you…” Carmilla smiled at her, chuckling softly. “Isn’t it obvious?”

“Yes, it is but I just wanted to make sure before I jumped to the wrong conclusion.” Carmilla took her hand, interlacing their fingers and squeezing softly. “But Laura, if you’re this nervous about it, maybe we shouldn’t. I mean, I don’t want you doing something you don’t want to do.”

“Trust me,” Laura giggled. “I want to.”

She looked up into Carmilla’s beautiful face, smiling gently for a moment before pulling her close by the front of her shirt. Their lips met softly at first, as if testing the waters before diving in. She felt Carmilla’s hands tangle into her hair, tugging slightly, attempting to pull her even closer and she smiled against the dark-haired girls open lips. Apparently it didn’t take much to convince her. But what now?

Alright, you can do this Hollis. Be bold.

Moving her hands to Carmilla’s shoulders, she used them as leverage to hoist herself up and straddle the other girl, feeling Carmilla now smiling against her lips at the new position.

“Feeling daring cupcake?” she teased, moving her hands to Laura’s hips, pulling her closer.

“Just shut up and kiss me Carm,” she said with a smile, leaning down to meet their lips once more. Carmilla just chuckled into the kiss, doing as requested and opening her mouth against Laura’s.

Ok, this is really happening.

She felt Carmilla’s hands move from her hips to her back, under her shirt, her short black nails slowly tickling along Laura’s spine for a moment before disappearing.

What? Wait, there was touching, what is she- oh!

Feeling Carmilla’s hands move back around to her front, she sighed in relief when she felt the bottom button of her shirt being pushed through its hole as Carmilla tugged gently with her teeth on Laura’s bottom lip. God, this girl was turning her into a puddle and they’d only just gotten started. Carmilla’s mouth drifted down her jaw and neck, all lips and soft teeth, hitting that one spot under her right ear that always drove her crazy. And damn it, Carmilla knew that. So distracted by the perfect use of her mouth there, Laura didn’t even realize Carmilla had gotten through all of the buttons on her shirt and had slipped her hands inside, running them across every available inch of skin there before pushing the garment from her shoulders.

Carmilla leaned back, looking down at the skin she’d just revealed and Laura held her breath, feeling a little self-conscious at the moment. She watched as Carmilla’s eyes roamed for a minute before meeting hers, a flirtatious smirk slowly forming on her lips.

“Damn cupcake, you’ve been holding out,” she teased. Laura felt herself blush and looked away with a smile before meeting Carmilla’s eyes again.

“Yeah, well turnabout’s fair play,” Laura said, reaching for the hem of Carmilla’s shirt and tugging. She was not prepared for what lay underneath as Carmilla’s gorgeous, pale skin was revealed, contrasting exquisitely against the black bra she wore.

Jesus, she has to be the most amazingly beautiful girl in the world, she thought as her eyes roamed every inch available. She pulled her eyes back up to Carmilla’s when the dark haired girl started chuckling, watching as she leaned back on her elbows.

“You just going to sit there and stare all night?” Apparently they were going to do the back and forth banter tonight after all. They’d just do it with a little less clothing than normal. Laura just smiled and leaned down, meeting their lips again.

She let out an audible moan at the skin on skin contact, the warmth and softness of Carmilla’s torso finally meeting hers sending her to another level. She felt Carmilla nip at her jawline from below and shift their positions, pushing her flat on her back onto the bed. Reaching up to run her fingers through Carmilla’s hair again, she felt more than heard the small groan escaping the girl above her as their lower halves became entangled once again, thighs firmly pressing between legs.

Carmilla paused, leaning her forehead against Laura’s her eyes intense.

“Are you ok?” she asked.

“Yeah,” Laura nodded with a soft smile. She watched as Carmilla searched her face for any sort of reservation and felt her heart swell at the the thoughtfulness of the girl above her. “I’m good. I know I’ve bailed on you before Carm and, yeah I was nervous and scared. But I mean, I think most people feel that way their first time so…”

Ugh, Laura, you dummy!

She watched Carmilla’s eyes widen and felt her shift immediately, pushing herself up, their bodies coming apart.

No!

“Your first? Really?”

“Well… kind of… yeah.” Laura leaned up on her elbows as Carmilla pulled back further, sitting back on her heels looking completely spooked. “Carm? Are you ok?”

“Yeah, just…” Carmilla trailed off, rolling away, completely removing herself from Laura. She sat at the edge of the bed, reaching for her shirt where it had fallen on the floor just a few minutes earlier.

Laura felt the edge of panic in her chest, watching from the middle of her bed as Carmilla stood and pulled it back over her head.

“Carm? What is it, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” she said, frustratedly running a hand through her hair.

“It doesn’t seem like nothing. I mean we were just…” She trailed off, sitting up further and attempting to cover herself with her arms. This was so humiliating and all she wanted to do was crawl into a hole and hide her face for a week, maybe two. “I guess you don’t want to.”

“Laura, I think it should be fairly obvious from the way I was just grinding against your that I want to. If you reached into my pants right now, you’d realize just how much I do want to.” The frustrated look on Carmilla’s face caught her off guard. “It’s just, I didn’t know that you’d never… I mean, why didn’t you say something? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Well, why does that matter?”

“Because it matters Laura. I mean, were you really not going to tell me this?”

“No. I mean yes. I mean… yes, I would’ve told you but no, I wasn’t planning to just blurt it out like I just did all spastic and awkward.”

“Don’t you think you should’ve maybe said something before now?” Carmilla looked at her, her eyes pleading. Laura stared back for a moment, arms still firmly fixed across her chest, and tried to think of a way out of this situation.

“I’m sorry, you’re right. I should’ve. But Carm, honestly, why does it matter?”

“Because I want you to be sure.” Carmilla sat back on the bed, taking Laura’s hands in her own, her face serious but her eyes soft. “I mean, you’ve waited this long and we’re still kind of new to each other. I just don’t want you to regret jumping into this.”

“I’m not jumping! I’ve thought about this, like... a lot.”

“A lot, huh? Like every time you bolted when we were alone together?”

“Carm, no I’m sure. I’m not going to regret this. Not with you.”

“Look, Laura, this is a big deal. I mean, again, you’ve waited this long for the right person to come along. I’m not saying no. I’m just saying, maybe you should think about it a little more.”

Laura stared back into Carmilla’s pleading eyes, hating how this felt so much like rejection but realizing that Carmilla really was just trying to be good to her. I mean, that’s the real reason right? It’s not because she’s thinking something else?

“It’s not because you’re worried I’ll like, suck?” Laura felt every available inch of skin heat up in embarrassment at blurting out that question, but she had to know. After all, the thought had been rolling around in her brain ever since the blow-up with her friends.

“Cupcake, no.” Carmilla moved closer, letting go of one of Laura’s hands to cup her jaw, running her thumb along her cheek. “Look Laura, I like you. A lot. You know that. And trust me, I have spent a lot of time thinking about this moment. I’ve wanted you since the moment I first laid eyes on you. But then, after we got to know each other a little, well… you’re important to me, ok? I just… I honestly thought you just weren’t ready. I mean, you practically ran out of my apartment a couple weeks ago when we started. And after that it seemed like you were so uncomfortable being alone with me. Like you were terrified that I was going to pounce on you at any moment.”

“I freaked myself out. I definitely wanted to but then… well I got in my head and I thought about all the experience you have and that I have next to none and… yeah it just kind of snowballed from there.”

“Look, let’s just take a step back ok? We’ll get there when we get there. And in the meantime, I’m not going anywhere. I hope you aren’t either.”

“I’m not Carm,” she said, squeezing Carmilla’s hand. She looked down at their intertwined fingers, running her thumb across the back of Carmilla’s knuckles.

“What’s going on in the head of yours cupcake?”

“You’re sure you do want to? At some point?”

“I’m positive. Just, think on it for a bit ok?” Laura just nodded, smiling as Carmilla leaned forward, leaving a soft kiss on her lips before leaning back and pulling her off the bed. She bent down, grabbing Laura’s discarded shirt and handing it to the brunette. “Come on, get dressed and let’s get out of here. I’ll buy you a hot chocolate with extra marshmallows.”


 Present

“Too much?” Carmilla asked, attempting to catch the brunettes eye. Laura stopped fidgeting with her hands in her lap and immediately looked up, smiling softly at the girl sitting cross-legged  and facing her on the couch, their knees almost touching under the blanket they were sharing.

“No. No, not at all. You… it sounds like you were a really amazing girlfriend Carm. You were so sweet.”

“I was? Why are you using the past tense there?” Carmilla teased.

“Well, I'm pretty sure you always have been. I just don’t have the complete picture yet. There’s still a lot of time missing up here,” she said, tapping at her temple.

Carmilla’s teasing smirk fell a little and Laura felt her own soft smile slipping away. Why’d she have to say that? Was she hell-bent on hurting Carmilla?

“I’m sorry.”

“For what?” Carmilla asked with a shrug. “Again, you didn’t do this on purpose. And you’re right, there is still a lot missing. But…” Laura looked up, taking in the sweet but apprehensive look on Carmilla’s face, waiting patiently for whatever Carmilla wanted to say. “But I’m not going to give up on you Laura.”

Wow. She stared back into Carmilla’s amazing dark brown eyes, unwilling to look away despite the intensity in her gaze. How in the holy Hufflepuff did she win this girl? This incredibly wonderful woman that she’d fallen in love with all those years ago, who she had no memory of, was still sitting here at her side, holding on and refusing to let go.

She reached out, taking both of Carmilla’s hands in her own, causing Carmilla to smile at the awkward grip from her cast.

“I want you to know I’m not giving up either Carm. I know it’s going to be hard. For both of us. But I want to make this better. I’ll do whatever I have to.”

“How about, for now, you keep listening, I’ll keep telling you whatever you want to hear about, and we’ll go from there?”

Laura just smiled and nodded. Whether she figured this out or not, whether she ever got her memory back or not, at least…

At least I have Carmilla.


Carmilla sat on the couch, looking out the window behind her, watching the stars glistening upon the waters below. Laura had gone to bed half an hour earlier, leaving her alone in the dark with her thoughts.

The view was beautiful. During the warmer months, they had made a habit of sitting snuggled up on the balcony together, sipping wine, eating chocolate and watching the stars for hours. There were even a couple of times they ended up falling asleep out there, still wrapped around one another.

God, I miss her, she thought, sighing in frustration. Sure, they had spent time together and there had been smiling and laughing. There’d had even been some minor teasing on her part. And all of that was great. But she missed more. She missed the mutual flirtation. She missed waking up next to Laura. She missed the small touches. She missed the hugs, the kissing, the holding. Fuck, I miss the sex.

She sighed deeply. That was the last thing she should be thinking about and, honestly, it hadn’t been at the forefront of her thoughts lately. But the last two days… between the heated look in Laura’s eyes after walking in on her changing and the recap of their first almost time together tonight… well some things had started stirring.

Looking back out at the stars, she swallowed hard and her mind drifted off on its own, heading down memory lane.

This is going to be a long night.


 Six Years & Ten Months Earlier

“So you really do get bored here huh?” Carmilla said, running her fingers through the soft head of hair lying on her shoulder.

“No,” Laura said with a laugh, keeping her eyes on the laptop screen in front of them. “I came here straight from the library so I had my laptop with me.”

“And the Buffy DVD’s?”

“Never leave home unprepared Carm,” she said, snuggling further into her side.

It had been three weeks since the concert and two since the night of the ‘failed seduction’ as Laura had coined it, much to Carmilla’s chagrin, but things between them had been pretty fucking great in her opinion. They’d’ been spending as much time together as they could, enjoying every moment of each other’s company.

Tonight, they’d decided to just lay low after having been out and about their last few evenings together. Between the Summer Society triathlon celebration for Danny and Mel, the annual monthly game night hosted by LaF and Perry, and the Zeta Beer Bash that Kirsch had insisted they come to, it’d been a while since they’d just been able to sit quietly together and just… be. And Carmilla was surprised to discover that she’d missed that.

The staying home decision found them sitting on Carmilla’s bed, propped against the headboard with Laura snuggled into Carmilla’s side, head resting on her shoulder, laptop open in front of them.

“Well at least this is better than that last thing you made me watch. Whatever the hell that was with the phone booth or whatever.”

“It’s a Tardis Carm, and you’re only saying that because you think the girls on Buffy are hot,” Laura said with a chuckle.

“None of them are as hot as you cupcake,” she said, turning and leaving a soft kiss on Laura’s forehead.

“Hmm… I think you might need glasses.” Carmilla just chuckled, squeezing Laura tighter to her side.

Sugar. She always smells sweet, like sugar and… chocolate. Why is that surprising? Carmilla thought, smiling and burying her nose a little deeper into Laura’s hair as her lips grazed Laura’s forehead a few more times. This wasn’t exactly a position she was used to. Cuddling was not normally on her agenda. But feeling Laura along her side, head snuggled into her shoulder, hand teasing across Carmilla’s stomach, it felt pretty amazing.

And then it felt like something else.

She was trying to pay attention to the show, she really was. But unfortunately, Laura’s fingertips had made their way under the hem of her shirt, scratching low on her stomach which she was finding incredibly distracting. Honestly, she didn’t even think Laura realized what she was doing as she continued to giggle at the one-liners and jokes. It was after the fifth or sixth laughless punchline that Laura finally turned her head, looking up at Carmilla.

“Are you falling asleep back there?”

“No, I’m up.” Her voice was huskier than normal, she could hear it in her own ears. Damn it, she hadn’t even realized how affected she’d been by Laura’s touch until that moment. She felt Laura shift, turning as the smaller girl eyed her curiously, the moment of silence stretching on. Their eyes finally met and Carmilla used every ounce of willpower she had to keep from pouncing Laura right then and there.

But apparently Laura wasn’t feeling as patient because a moment later she crashed their lips together. And why in the hell should she fight that? Moving both hands into Laura’s hair, she ran her fingers through the silky strands as she opened her mouth, sighing quietly when Laura’s tongue met hers.

Kissing. Kissing was good. And feeling Laura pressed against her was even better. She settled back against the pillows as Laura rolled on top of her, their lips still locked, laptop near the end of the bed forgotten. She moved her hands to Laura’s hips, grabbing and pulling the smaller girl into her, the sensation apparently too much for Laura as she pulled her lips away with a gasp, her forehead resting against Carmilla’s and Carmilla swore those honey brown eyes had darkened at least ten shades in the moment.

“Cupcake?” She felt Laura grind down into her once more and she knew they wouldn’t be stopping this time. Still… “Are you sure?”

Laura just nodded, leaning in to kiss her again but stopping just short, their lips barely grazing each other. Carmilla just smiled and closed the gap, capturing Laura’s mouth and softly tugging at her bottom lip. Moving her hands from Laura’s hips, she teased at the hem of Laura’s shirt, taking a moment before giving a gentle tug. Laura pulled away for a split second as Carmilla pulled it over her head, immediately colliding their lips back together once she was free of the fabric with a moan. Moving her hands up Laura’s sides, she stopped, her fingertips grazing the thin material of Laura’s bra. Reaching around her back, she toyed with the clasp for a moment, smiling at the frustrated sigh Laura let out when she didn’t immediately unhook it.

“Don’t you want to enjoy this creampuff,” she teased.

“I think I’ll enjoy it a lot more when we don’t have clothes on.”

Carmilla just chuckled, finally releasing the clasp, the now useless material quickly sliding down Laura’s arms before it was tossed to the corner of the room. Rolling them over, Carmilla leaned back, taking in the skin she’d just revealed for a moment, shaking her head at the beauty of the girl below her before meeting Laura’s eyes and smirking again as she realized Laura’s hands were impatiently tugging at her shirt. Taking pity on her, she leaned back on her knees, quickly shucking both her shirt and bra, catching Laura’s wide-eyed look of appreciation before leaning back down, their mouths meeting again.

And there it was, that amazing sensation of skin on skin. Jesus, it felt incredible.

“Still… a lot… of clothes,” Laura gasped as Carmilla’s mouth moved around her jaw, down her neck, and along her collarbone.

“So, you’re saying… you don’t want your clothes?” Carmilla teased as she reached up and gently palmed Laura’s breast, running a teasing thumb across her nipple. Laura only nodded as she moaned loudly at the new sensation.

Reaching down, she moved her hand along Laura’s ribcage, stopping just short of her hip, giving the smaller girl a gentle squeeze. Below her she felt Laura grinding into her thigh insistently, clearly wanting her to move faster. Dropping her hand down further she quickly undid the button on Laura’s jeans, tugging at the zipper and reaching her hand in, teasingly running it over Laura’s cotton panties, finding them already damp.

Oh fuck this, she thought, feeling her own patience waning. Reaching for the waistband of Laura’s jeans, she tugged, Laura helping as she kicked the denim down her legs. What Carmilla didn’t expect was for Laura to immediately kick her panties off too and then reach for the button on Carmilla’s pants. Her over eager fingers couldn’t seem to connect through, causing Carmilla to smile down at the tiny girl. Wrapping her hands around Laura’s wrists, she gave them each a gentle squeeze, capturing Laura’s attention.

“Let me,” she said, leaning down to gently kiss her as she divested herself of the tight leather pants. She watched Laura’s eyes on her, gaze more intense than she’d ever seen as she kicked her pants towards the rest of their clothes and laid back down, holding herself just above Laura. The tiny brunette wrapped her arms around her neck, attempting to pull her closer but Carmilla resisted, moving her hand from Laura’s breastbone, down her torso, across her hips, and down her thigh.

“Carm,” she sighed, breathlessly. “ Please.”

Leaning down to capture the amazing lips below hers, she slowly ran her fingertips up the inside of Laura’s thigh, running her index finger along the seam between it and her hip, causing the other girl to buck. Unable to help herself, she smiled into the kiss for a moment before finally moving her hand just an inch to the left, feeling the copious amount of wetness already there and waiting. Gathering it on her fingertips, she found Laura’s clit, moving them just right against her.

Oh holy fuck. She wasn’t sure who moaned louder in the moment, her or Laura. Softly pulling back on Laura’s bottom lip, they separated, Carmilla staring down at the beautiful girl below her, watching as Laura’s gorgeous eyes fluttered open.

“You are so fucking beautiful cupcake,” she said, pressing their foreheads together, her fingers still swirling against Laura’s clit, making the smaller girls hips buck into her. She felt Laura’s short nails digging into her shoulder blades, holding her close.

Kissing her softly once more before meeting her eyes again, she pulled away, smiling at the frustrated sigh Laura released.

“Just relax cutie. I’ve got you,” she said, letting her lips trail down Laura’s neck, across her chest, and stopping briefly at her breast, taking a hard nipple into her mouth. Above her, Laura’s hand moved into her hair, tugging insistently as Carmilla lathed it with her tongue for a moment before moving to the other and giving it the same attention.

Laura’s breasts, she realized, were fucking fantastic and she probably could have spent hours doing this. She knew that wouldn’t fly with Laura though, especially with the heavy breathing she heard coming from above. Taking mercy on the girl, she moved further down, her mouth slowly making a trail down Laura’s stomach, biting gently at her hip bones before settling between Laura’s thighs.

She looked up, seeing Laura’s eager eyes staring back at her, biting her lip in anticipation. She had to admit that she was fairly impressed that Laura had been this patient so far. But there was no reason to prolong this. She wanted it just as much as Laura did. Reaching under and grabbing onto Laura’s cantering hips she leaned in and left a soft kiss just above where Laura wanted her the most before moving lower and swiping her tongue all the way up, ending at Laura’s clit, giving it a quick flick.

“Oh god Carm…”

Carmilla just smiled, leaning in, wrapping her lips around Laura’s clit, her tongue going to work to slowly drive the girl towards her orgasm. And if the speed Laura’s hips were bucking at was any indication, this wouldn’t take long.

Which is a damn shame because this girl is so fucking incredible.

Keeping the pace Laura seemed to be enjoying, she removed one of her hands from Laura’s hip, moving it down to the smaller girls entrance, teasing with just the tip of a finger before slowly sliding in. She looked up, watching Laura’s face for any sort of discomfort but the brunette only threw her head back further into the pillows, eyes closed, her face still awash in pleasure.

Carefully adding another finger and moving them in time with her tongue, she continued watching Laura above her, listening to her breathy sighs and moans growing louder and louder until finally, her entire body stiffened, back arching off the bed as her orgasm overtook her.

She felt Laura’s thighs attempting to close at the onslaught of the sensation, her fingers tugging at Carmilla’s hair, hips still undulating. She slowed her tongue, continuing to lap softly to get Laura though her orgasm. Finally feeling the girl below her jerking away as it became too much, she stopped, moving away and leaving a few soft kisses along Laura’s inner thighs before slowly crawling up the gorgeous, still heaving body below her.

“You still with me cutie?”

Laura just swallowed hard and nodded, the groan coming from her chest not really in the form of any words. Carmilla chuckled softly, placing a sweet kiss at the corner of Laura’s mouth, her thumb tickling the other corner. She smiled once more down at the girl below her, still clearly in recovery mode, and moved to the side, keeping half of her body on top of Laura’s, pillowing her head on the tiny brunette’s shoulder.

So this is different. I’m actually glad she’s still here. I’m not counting down the minutes until I can kick her out, she thought, softly tracing unrecognizable patterns across Laura’s stomach. Laura jerked as she hit a particularly ticklish spot along her ribcage, the two giggling as she purposely did it once more before pulling Laura closer and leaving a kiss upon the girls chest, just above her heart.

“Carm?”

“Yes?”

“Thanks for making us wait. It was so worth it.”

You’re worth it. The thought came from nowhere, unbridled and completely terrifying. But she didn’t voice it. She’d deal with its origins later.

“You are very welcome cupcake.”

“Although…”

Oh shit. What now?

“I wouldn’t say we’re completely done.” Carmilla felt Laura roll them over and looked up into her smiling face which was more beautiful than ever. “I think it’s your turn now.”

“Is that so?”

“Mm-hmm,” Laura hummed with a nod, biting her lip taking a moment to look down at Carmilla’s scantily clad body.

“Well you do like to follow the rules,” she said with a smirk, leaning up to capture Laura’s lips.


 Present

Carmilla ran her hand across her face, sighing as the memory left her. That had been such an amazing night. They’d ended up holding each other afterwards… and then going another round and then holding each other again.

When she woke up the next morning, holding Laura tight against her, she couldn’t help smiling down at the head resting on her chest, messy hair tickling her shoulder. It was a night of firsts: Laura’s first time, their first time together, the first time Carmilla had let a girl sleep over. She was the first one who Carmilla had actually wanted to wake up to.

She’d ended up drifting back off to sleep and when she woke up again, Laura was lying beside her, hair still tousled, eyes open, smiling wide. She had looked so beautiful at that moment.

She’d remember every inch of Laura’s face from that morning until the day she died. She rolled onto her side on the couch, catching sight of the picture of them from across the room. Arms wrapped around each other, smiling into a kiss. It was one of her favorites. Laura looked so incredibly happy and it was so spontaneous. It was perfect.

She smiled and sighed deeply as she felt her eyes get heavier and heavier. Finally giving in, she closed them, drifting off to dreams of her and Laura, happy and in love.

Chapter Text

Carmilla sighed deeply, propping her feet up in front of her and sinking back further into the comfortable confines of the beige sofa, attempting to focus solely on the book in her hands and not on the tiny brunette standing in the doorway, anxiously dancing back and forth on the balls of her feet.

“Are you sure you don’t mind? I mean, this is the first day we’ve both been off in a week.” Carmilla resigned herself to fact this the conversation wasn’t over and looked up from her book, taking in the hopeful expression on Laura’s face.

Honestly, she was beyond disappointed. Laura was right, this was the first free time they’d both had in days. But she’d seen how excited Laura had been when Perry called earlier that morning to see if Laura wanted to have a day out, just the two of them. And she couldn’t blame her. Laura had really only been getting out lately to write and work on her articles. She’d gotten a little cabin fever-esque after being at home by herself for days and she deserved some time out with her friends. Or at least that’s what Carmilla was trying to convince herself of. She just obviously wasn’t doing the best job.

“Yeah, it’s fine,” she said, shrugging and turning back to the book in her hand, not taking in a single word on the page.

“That doesn’t even sound the slightest bit convincing,” Laura said, walking over and sitting on the other side of the couch. Carmilla chuckled at the teasing lilt in the brunette’s voice and looked up, seeing  the adorable expression on her face and melting just the tiniest bit.

“Ok, yes, I’m a little put out that we’re not going to spend the day together, but… I do want you to go. You need to get out of the house and see your friends. I get that.”

“But you’re still going to pout about it?”

“Well obviously,” she teased, sticking her nose back into the leather tome in her hands. Beside her Laura giggled, the sound making her feel a little lighter even as the disappointment continued to push down on her chest.

“I’ll be home tonight then,” Laura said, reaching over and gently squeezing at Carmilla’s wrist. She looked up, taking in the beautiful smile on Laura’s face, relishing in the feeling of her soft skin and had to physically restrain herself from moving into the other girl as she continued on in her cheerful tone. “And maybe we can watch one of those awful horror movies you’re so fond of to make up for my absence this afternoon.”

“Careful creampuff. I’m going to hold you to that so don’t make promises you can’t keep. After all, you hate those movies.”

“I do. Ever since I secretly watched Halloween at one of my friends’ houses in fourth grade, they’ve just… ugh, they give me the heebie jeebies. However, since you’re being so sweet and not at all pouty, I’m willing to make a concession this one time in order to make it up to you,” Laura said with a smile before adding, “Or at least I am as long as it’s not a super scary one. Or insanely gross. I can’t handle that.”

Carmilla simply smiled back at her, doing everything she could to keep herself from reaching out and kissing those gorgeous, babbling lips that she’d missed so much. She was saved from herself though when Laura turned towards her phone as it chimed with an incoming text.

“Alright, Perry’s here.” She looked back at Carmilla once more before getting up and moving to grab her jacket and bag that had been laid across the club chair on the other side of the room. “So, what’re you going to do today?”

“Probably the usual. Rob, pillage, torture innocent souls,” Carmilla said, turning the page in her book. “You know, just cause general mayhem.”

“Alright, well try not to get into too much trouble,” Laura said with a smile. “I’ll see you later.”

And with that she was gone and Carmilla attempted to return to the story in her hands. After all, she really didn’t have anything else to do now. But… damn it.

The house was so quiet. Unnervingly quiet. She’d gotten so used to Laura’s constant noise in the background over the years, but now… Even though things had gotten a little more comfortable between the two of them over the last two weeks, any sound Laura made now was definitely fainter than before and much less frequent. Carmilla wasn’t sure if she was just trying to be more conscious of her noise level or if something was actually different. And that second thought was terrifying.

The distinct lack of clatters, clamors and constant prattle was actually driving her insane, but what was worse than that was the quiet nights. Every time she laid down and closed her eyes, the silence was overwhelming, feeling like it was slowly suffocating her. Sure there was still the mild muffle of traffic on the streets below and the neighbor’s television was just the tiniest bit audible through the living room wall. Usually it was tuned to an infomercial about hair regrowth or some new wonderful kitchen contraption that would cook out all the fat of even the unhealthiest of foods. And the soft hum of the refrigerator from the other room could always be heard as it kicked on and off every few minutes from the kitchen. Yes, all of these things added up to noise, obviously. But the quiet grating her nerves in the dark came from the lack of something else, or more accurately the lack of someone else.

Not only had she grown used to the constant din that seemed to follow Laura everywhere she went, but she’d also grown so accustomed to Laura’s presence by her side at night that it was deafening now that it wasn’t there. Sure, they’d spent nights apart over the years when work demanded it or during trips to see family when the other couldn’t come. Or on the very rare occasion when a stubborn fight would push one of them out of the bed for the night. But this was different. She desperately missed the soft sound of Laura’s breathing, the contented hums she sometimes made mid-dream, the quiet sighs she would release when Carmilla wrapped her arms around her and pulled her close.

Pulling her thoughts away from the lonely nights she’d been experiencing, she looked around the room, feeling not just the silence pressing down on her anymore. No, there was something else grating in the pit of her stomach now.

When they’d first moved in, Laura had taken over decorative duty in their new place. Granted they’d already had furniture, pictures and all the other possessions they’d accumulated over the years. But Laura had put the house together, deciding where to put each and every item so that it was just perfect. The tiny brunette had asked for her input, and of course, Carmilla would weigh in on the little things every now and then, just to make the other girl smile. Honestly, more than deciding together on which color curtains would best fit the bedroom, Carmilla took more pleasure in watching an excited Laura make this their home, putting together everything just right. Now of course, everywhere she looked was the memory of Laura… her Laura, the one that knew her, remembered her… loved her.

Calm down, Carmilla chastised herself, feeling her entire body tensing more and more as the seconds ticked by. She took a deep breath, attempting to relax and closed her eyes, slowly counting down and trying to focus on herself and not on everything surrounding her. It didn’t work. Shit.

She’d spun out. This was no longer just missing Laura, missing the little things about her and how they fit together so perfectly. And this was something more than just wondering if Laura was different.

No, this was something else intermingled with the similarity of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Here she was, back to being unsure about what their future would bring and if Laura would ever feel the same way about her as she did about the tiny brunette. She’d been here before. Years and years ago but she never forgot this awful feeling. The problem was, she was now dealing with a Laura that wasn’t crazy about her. This Laura looked at her sometimes confused, sometimes scared, sometimes curious. And behind all of that, that utterly in love look was gone. It was breaking her heart and she didn’t know how to fix it.

What would she do if Laura never regained her memory? What if days, weeks, months from now the woman she loved gave up and she lost her forever? The longer this went on, the worse it would get. Eventually, Laura would have no use for her and then what? Sure, they hadn’t talked about it in depth but she’d told Laura that she wasn’t giving up. But what if Laura didn’t fully understand that? What if Laura just thought she was talking about their newly forming friendship? What if one day, Laura decided she wanted to move on because she simply didn’t love Carmilla? It would crush her.

She hated how familiar this was, waiting for the pain to rip her to shreds. It may not have come all those years ago but how many times could she get lucky and dodge a bombing of emotional shrapnel? Eventually she’d run out of chances. Maybe this time would be it.

She felt the burning sensation behind her eyes and squeezed them closed, digging her nails into her palms to stop the stupid emotions surrounding her heart. Crying would do her no good. Neither would sitting there, thinking about it in a room surrounded by memories of Laura. She had to get out of there and she had to go now.

Standing quickly, she strode out of the living room, not caring to pick up the book that had fallen from her lap, grabbed a jacket and her keys and stormed out of the house, not knowing where she was going but not really caring either as long as it meant it wouldn’t hurt.


Carmilla made it to the door, attempting to balance the box of macaroons and the box of eclairs from the bakery next door, as she’d be unable to decide on which to get, and shuffled the keys in her hand, trying to find the one to unlock the door.

It had been one hell of a day. After leaving the house earlier she’d ended up taking her bike out, speeding through and out of Silas, hitting any road that lead somewhere that didn’t remind her of Laura or the two of them together. She’d ended up near the water about an hour south of the city, at a spot she hadn't been to in years. She’d actually been a frequent visitor to this little cove before Laura came into her life. She’d come here and read or draw or sometimes just sit and breathe and just be. It was always so quiet, the peace calming her as she listened to the rippling water trickling near the coast and the larger waves splashing in the distance.

She ended up spending most of the day there, staring out at nothing, attempting to clear her mind. She couldn’t keep thinking about what if this or what if that. Laura was Laura. She was still the bumbling, sweet, stubborn girl that had stolen her heart all those years ago. It didn’t matter if she was a little quieter. Or if she put her left shoe on first instead of her right. Or if she suddenly decided that dark chocolate was now superior to milk chocolate. Deep down, she was still the same person. And even if that person didn’t feel the same way about Carmilla as she had a month ago, her worrying over all these little issues wasn’t going to make it better. She was just going to have to be more patient. She was going to have to try and take her time. Let Laura come to her maybe.

But what if she never does?

No! You can’t think like that.

But what if she decides she’d rather just be friends?

Shut up!

But what if she falls in love with someone else because you aren’t good enough?

Fuck!

Sitting there on the rocks, watching the water, her mind internally warring with itself was exhausting. But anytime all those stupid doubts came crashing down, she’d get up and move to another spot to quiet them, still staring out at nothing the whole time. She’d had to move every few minutes when she first got here but had been sitting in the same spot for a little over an hour, enjoying the last of the sunset by the time she left. She probably could’ve stayed there all night but that definitely wasn’t going to solve anything.

She’d ended up calling Mattie before starting up her bike again, talking to her sister for a few minutes and receiving some uplifting news before heading back home. She hadn’t really talked to either of her siblings since she’d told them about Laura’s amnesia. Not that they were avoiding her. She still got those checking in texts every now and then but they knew her. They knew she needed to wrap her head around this and that if and when she needed something, she’d come to them. Today, she honestly just needed to hear Mattie’s voice. She just needed to hear something that hadn’t changed and thankfully, it had only calmed her further before she headed back towards Silas, only making one stop before going home.

Finally getting the key into the lock, she turned it and managed to get through the door without dropping anything. Kicking the door closed behind her, she turned and quirked an eyebrow at the sight in front of her. Laura stood in the kitchen, standing over the stove, the delicious scent of French toast and bacon lingering in the air.

“What are you up to Hollis?”

Laura turned, taking in Carmilla standing near the door and beamed widely.

“Hey! You’re here! And just in time too. I was starting to worry I was going to have to eat all of this by myself.”

Carmilla smiled softly at the familiarity of the moment, finding it gave her some peace after the awful day she’d had. She walked further into the house, setting the boxes of pastries in hand on the counter before stepping around the island and peering over Laura’s shoulder. This was the moment she’d typically wrap her arms around Laura’s middle, holding her close and leaving slow, teasing kisses along the column of her neck. But she refrained, settling for just standing to the side, leaning against the counter near the stove as she watched Laura carefully flipping the pieces of cinnamon bread in the pan atop it, making sure they didn’t burn.

“Seriously, what is all this? I didn’t even expect you to be home until late. Figured you’d stay with the ginger muppets as long as you could to avoid tonight’s screening of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

“Ugh seriously? That’s what you picked?” Laura cringed, her face scrunching up in distaste. “I’m going to have nightmares for a week.”

“Hey, you put the offer on the table,” Carmilla said with a smirk, enjoying the sight of a squirming Laura. “But seriously, how come you’re home so early?”

“Well, I just thought that maybe I could make us something tonight… just to kind of pitch in, you know?” Laura said, smiling softly and shrugging.

“Well, thanks.” Carmilla watched as Laura went back to work, her full attention focused on the feast in front of her. Moving to one of the stools at the island so as to give Laura some room, she sat and watched, taking note of each movement Laura made, searching intently for anything out of the ordinary.

She still bobbed her head side to side as she considered her next move in the meal. She still angled her foot back and tapped at the floor below her with her toe as she waited impatiently for the items to cook. She still chewed nervously at her thumbnail as she worried over making multiple things at once without burning them. She still did everything Laura would do. Nothing seemed out of place in the moment.

Carmilla sighed in defeat. Maybe she’d overreacted earlier, breaking down like that. Maybe she was trying to find something different or wrong just to make it easier to deal with the fact that so much had changed.

“So where’d you go today? You do anything fun?” She watched as Laura halfway turned towards her, spatula in hand, smiling sweetly, breaking her out of her thoughts.

“Oh, no not really. I um… I just took my bike out for a bit. It’ll be time to retire it for the season soon so…”

“Oh, yeah, I actually forgot you even have it.” Carmilla watched as Laura turned back towards the stove, seeming to consider something for a moment before looking over her shoulder and continuing. “Do you think… do you think maybe you could take me out for a ride?”

Carmilla froze, her mind running a mile a minute in every different direction it could. What if Laura got hurt again? What if she was the reason she got hurt? But what if it would really make Laura happy? What if it was a way for them to get closer?

“I mean, maybe just a quick one? Like, before it gets too cold…” Laura must’ve seen the apprehension on her face and she attempted to erase it, unsuccessfully of course if Laura’s disappointed expression was anything to go by.

“Maybe,” she forced out, not wanting to agree but hating the hurt look the tiny brunette was sporting. “If we get another really nice day and we’re both free…” It was enough apparently as it earned her a small smile before Laura turned away and started plating the food from the stove. She smiled her thanks as Laura sat a loaded plate in front of her, enthusiastically grabbing her fork.

“Thanks again for making dinner. I haven’t eaten all day and I’m starving,” Carmilla said with a smile as she took a bite of the toasted syrupy bread in front of her and moaned in delight. “Oh… this is damn good kid.”

“Thanks,” Laura said, smiling happily back at her and taking the seat next to her.

“So something did happen today that I need to talk to you about.” Carmilla  turned on her stool, noting she had Laura’s rapt attention. “I um… I talked to Mattie. Her and Will are actually coming for a quick visit in a couple of days. I know it’s short notice but…” Carmilla trailed off. How did she explain to Laura that her siblings wanted to come check on her and make sure everything was ok?

“Oh?”

“Yeah. Mattie’s in New York right now anyway and I guess she and Will have a few days to spare before she goes back to Paris and his next case starts, so they want to come see us…” Shit! “I mean, they want to come visit and catch up. With me. Don’t feel like you have to… do anything or… even meet them.” Meet them? Ugh, Jesus, she met them years ago!

“Did you… did you not want me to?” She looked up, taking in the curious expression on Laura’s face, unsure which answer would be the best in that moment.

“That wasn’t what I was saying, Laura. I just… I don’t want you to feel like you have to or that you need to do anything special while they’re here. They’ve booked a couple of rooms at the Waterfront so they won’t be crashing here or anything like that. And… if you’re not ok or comfortable with it, I won’t invite them here to the house to visit or anything like that. I’ll go out to meet them or just go to the hotel. I can even probably just crash with Mattie while they’re here if that’s what’s best.”

“No!” Carmilla was startled by the loud, vehement refusal. Laura shook her head and took a deep breath. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to just yell like that. I just… don’t stay at the hotel. Please. I… ugh crap, Carm.” She turned fully on her stool towards Carmilla, her face anxious. “This is your home too. I’m not going to kick you out of it because your family is coming to visit. And… thank you for giving me the option. It’s really sweet of you. I’d… I think I’d like to meet them again. If that’s ok?”

“It’s definitely ok,” Carmilla said, feeling her heart skip a beat in the moment and hating the fact that she’d immediately gotten her hopes up. “I just didn’t want you to think I expected you to or that I was forcing an issue here.”

“No, not at all. I mean thank you for being so considerate but… I’m ok. Maybe it’ll good for me… meeting some more people who I can’t remember. Maybe it’ll help… with remembering you since you’re all connected.”  

“Sure, whatever you want,” she said, smiling encouragingly and changing the subject before she got too hopeful. “So how’d your day with Betty Crocker go?”

“It was good. We went to brunch and then over to the farmers market. And then we just kind of walked around downtown. You know they’re already putting up Christmas stuff? The leaves aren’t even completely off the trees yet!”

“It comes earlier and earlier every year,” Carmilla said, shrugging and taking another bite. “You usually aren’t one to complain though.”

“Well I do love Christmas.”

“Yeah, I figured that out a long time ago cupcake.”

“Speaking of Christmas, I um… I actually picked something up today.” Carmilla turned, mouth still full of bread and bacon, taking in the suddenly nervous expression on Laura’s face and the fact that she had yet to touch the food in front of her.

“Ok…?”

Laura bowed her head, letting part of her hair curtain her face as she stood from her stool and moved towards the kitchen table, carefully sorting through a few small bags sitting there. Finally finding what she was looking for, she turned and slowly walked back to her seat. Carmilla looked down at the small, nondescript box in Laura’s hand, her own curiosity mounting.

“You ok?”

“Yeah, I just… I saw this today and I thought… you might like it.” Laura anxiously glanced up and carefully handed the small box over.

She got me a gift?

Carmilla carefully fingered the small package for a moment before removing the lid and smiling immediately at what she saw.

“Laura this is beautiful,” she said, pulling the small, glass ornament out of the box. It was flat and square in shape, depicting a beautiful snow covered scene, the painting immediately recognizable as Monet. “Snow Scene at Argenteuil. Seriously this is great.”

“I just saw it and thought of you. Do you… do you like it?”

“I love it Laura. This is…” Something the old Laura would d- Shut up brain! “This is very sweet of you. Thank you.”

Laura’s nervous expression immediately vanished into a beaming smile, shimmying on her stool.

“Good. I was worried that maybe you would’ve already had it or something similar. Or maybe… I don’t know. I’m just glad you like it.”

“I believe I said love,” Carmilla corrected, wondering what the maybe Laura had mentioned really was but deciding to let it go in the moment. She paused for a moment, setting the ornament back into its box and placing it on the counter. “You know, most of our ornaments are yours or you picked them out.”

“I don’t give you a say in the decorations or you don’t want one?” Laura teased, finally picking her fork up and preparing to dig in to her quickly cooling dinner.

“It’s not that simple. I just don’t really get that in to the holidays. I mean, the only reason I even like Christmas is because…” She trailed off, stopping herself just in time.

Do NOT say that. Jesus! Do you have foot-in-mouth Hollis disease now?

“Is because why?”

“Nothing. It’s… it’s not important,” Carmilla said, looking away and shaking her head. “You know, this reminds me of our first Christmas together. I gave you something similar. I don’t think it’s as beautiful as this but…”

“I’m sure it was amazing and that I loved it.” Laura stared at her for a moment before reaching over and squeezing the dark haired girls wrist. “Hey…” Carmilla turned back to her, their eyes meeting. “Tell me about our first Christmas?”


 Six Years and Nine Months Earlier

“How’s Toronto cutie?”

“It’s good. I’m having a blast with my dad. We made a gingerbread house this afternoon… and then ate the whole thing before dinner.” Laura smiled when she heard Carmilla chuckle softly.

“That sounds about right.”

“Yeah… it was delicious and I regret nothing,” Laura laughed. “How’re you?”

“I’m fine. Nothing new going on since you left.”

“Is work busy?” Laura listened to the mild commotion mixed in with soft music on the other end. “I don’t want to keep you if you’ve got stuff to do.”

“No, you’re fine cupcake. It’s not that bad tonight. Just the usual suspects. Everyone’s got a full glass right now so I have a few minutes.”

“I hate that you have to work tonight. I mean, it’s Christmas eve!”

“Yeah, but it’s not like I have other plans,” Carmilla said with a chuckle and Laura instantly felt awful, hating the fact that the other girl was alone for the holiday. She should’ve asked Carmilla to come with her to Toronto. But would that have been weird?

I mean, we haven’t been together that long and meeting the parents… oh no! No, no, no. Bad idea Hollis.

“Plus, the tips are always good around the holidays and… well it’s fine. I don’t mind.”

Laura knew what Carmilla had been about to say. She knew Carmilla had been picking up as many extra shifts as she could, needing the money.

“Right, sure. Well, have you heard from Mattie or Will? Or your mother?”

“Mattie and Will both sent me something. Mattie put together this awesome leather vest and Will sent me this incredible new camera. It’s amazing. I’m starting to feel absolutely horrible about my gifts for them.”

“But you got Mattie that gorgeous locket. And I’m sure Will loved the scotch you sent him.”

“The locket is older than fuck and the last thing Will needs is more booze,” Carmilla said with a chuckle.

“They were still really thoughtful gifts Carm.” She paused for a moment, debating on whether or not she should continue with the line of questioning on family and gifts. “What about your mother? Did you hear from her at all?” Apparently her mouth made the decision while her brain was still debating.

“Radio silence.”

“Well, maybe she’ll call tomorrow,” Laura suggested, desperate for anything to keep her mouth shut and not continue with this topic.

“Maybe.”

Laura felt her heart aching once more for her girlfriend. Carmilla may have been good at projecting that none of the stuff with her mother bothered her but Laura knew there was more to the story. She knew there was something Carmilla hadn’t told her yet.

“Laura, sweetheart, are you ready?” Laura turned towards the sound of Sherman’s voice at the foot of the stairs, effectively aborting her plan on further questioning Carmilla.

“Shoot, Carm I have to go, we have that Christmas Eve party at the neighbors.”

“Yeah, ok. Well, have fun.”

“You’ll still be working probably when we get back but… well can we talk tomorrow?”

“Laura, I think we’ve reached the point in our relationship where you don’t have to ask stuff like that. I mean, the title of girlfriend gives you some perks, like not having to ask if it’s ok to call me,” Carmilla teased.

“Alright, well I will talk to you tomorrow then,” she said with a smile.

“Alright, goodnight cupcake.”

Laura stared down at her phone after the call had ended, hating how much she missed Carmilla. After all it had only been three days since they’d last seen each other. And she was due to fly back to Silas the day after New Year’s. That wasn’t so terribly long, right? So why the hell did it feel like torture right now?

“Laura?” Sherman once again pulled her from her thoughts. Pocketing her phone, she grabbed her jacket and quickly made her way down the stairs towards her smiling dad.


 Nine Days Later

Laura bounded up the staircase, tripping at least three times before she got to Carmilla’s floor, smiling cheerfully over the load she was hauling in her arms.

“Jesus Hollis, it sounds like a herd of elephants out here,” Carmilla teased from her doorway where she stood, apparently waiting for her.

“It does not, I just… well your stairs are slippery from other people dragging snow in and I almost fell.”

“Well maybe if you weren't in such a hurry. Didn’t your dad ever teach you not to run in the house?” Carmilla teased as Laura finally reached the door and walked past her, sticking her tongue out for good measure. “Now, I know he taught you not to do that,” Carmilla said with a chuckle as she closed the door behind them.

Laura dropped her bag and the rest of her things onto Carmilla’s threadbare couch and turned, quickly wrapping her arms around the dark haired girls neck and capturing her lips in a scorching kiss. She felt Carmilla’s lips smiling against her own and attempted to pull her closer. God, she’d missed this girl. Two weeks apart was far too long and not something she was eager to repeat any time soon.

Pulling away a moment later to catch her breath, she leaned her forehead against Carmilla’s and opened her eyes, immediately meeting Carmilla’s darkened gaze.

“I missed you Carm. So much.”

“I missed you too cutie. Fuck, I didn’t realize just how much though until right now.”

“Oh really?” Laura teased, sliding her hands down Carmilla’s shoulders and arms, reaching for her hips and squeezing once before moving her hands up under the loose black shirt she wore. “Because I’d be happy to remind you of why you should’ve been missing me like crazy this whole time.”

She felt Carmilla shudder against her as she slowly moved her hands up further along her rib cage, meeting the lacy material of Carmilla’s bra a split second later, letting her fingers tease just under the edge. She watched Carmilla blink once, slowly, her breathing becoming shallower by the minute.

“Did you um… did you have plans for us tonight?”

Laura just shook her head, smiling at the sight of the girl in front of her who had so quickly lost her signature cool. Looks like I’ve got the upper hand tonight.

“Good.” Their lips met again at a feverish pace and she felt Carmilla’s hands move from her hips, grabbing onto the backs of her thighs and quickly hoisting her up. Wrapping herself tighter around the dark haired girl, she felt them take just a few steps before she was unceremoniously tossed onto the bed, Carmilla quickly following her down.


Taking in the colorful lights once more, she smiled harder and felt that squeeze in her chest that had been coming and going more frequently as of late.

“I can’t believe you got a tree!” Laura squealed, dancing in her seat on the counter. “You are the sweetest!”

“Well, I just didn’t want you to be all sad if we had Christmas here without a tree,” Carmilla said with a shrug, focusing on making sure the cocoa in front of her was hot enough.

But Laura knew it was more than that.

She’d noticed the pathetic excuse of a Christmas tree, lit up with a few strands of lights and zero ornaments soon after they’d finally collapsed, breathless, sweaty and thoroughly sated about half an hour earlier. She’d been staring at Carmilla, who lay on her back, still panting, eyes closed, hair a mess from Laura’s insistent tugging, and utterly beautiful when out of the corner of her eye, some multicolored lights caught her attention. The little tree could definitely give the one in Charlie Brown a run for its money. But knowing that Carmilla got it for her, to make her happy… well it made it the most beautiful tree she’d ever seen.

Carmilla of course had shrugged off her thanks, claiming it wasn’t a big deal as she’d thrown on an old Garbage t-shirt and a pair of sinfully small shorts before moving towards her two burner stove to make them each a cup of hot chocolate. Laura had slipped on the red flannel button up she saw near the hamper, relishing in the fact that it still smelled like Carmilla before following, hoisting herself up onto the counter and watching as Carmilla worked.

“I’m not going to let you just shrug this off Carm,” she teased a few moments later. “You did something incredibly thoughtful and you did it for me and I love it.” Carmilla just shook her head, a bashful smile creeping onto her lips as she finished the cocoa and handed a mug to Laura before walking back towards the bed and plopping down heavily in the middle.

Laura watched from her spot on the counter, kicking her feet back and forth and still smiling that smitten smile for another minute before Carmilla finally looked up, shooting her a mock glare.

“If you don’t knock it off, there won’t be presents,” she threatened.

“Oooh, that’s right, we still have to open presents,” Laura squealed excitedly, hopping off the counter and making her way towards the haul she’d brought in with her. Grabbing the bag of everything she’d gotten for Carmilla she turned and made her way back towards the bed, plopping down so that they sat knee to knee. Carmilla looked at the bag, her amused smile falling from her face almost immediately. “Hey, what is it? What’s wrong?”

“I um… I didn’t know that we were getting each other like… a lot of gifts,” she said quietly, still staring at the bag next to Laura.

“Oh, well no, not a lot.” Laura quickly took the four haphazardly wrapped packages out, setting three of them next to her knee and handing the last to Carmilla before tossing the bag off the bed. “See? Not a lot.”

Carmilla just swallowed and got up, slowly walking over to the tree and picking up the one small, expertly wrapped box that lay underneath it. She came back to the bed, sitting down gently and handing it to Laura.

“It’s not much,” she said, finally looking up to meet Laura’s gaze. Laura just smiled and nodded towards the package in Carmilla’s hand, watching as she carefully tore the paper off.

“Laura these are perfect,” she said, a moment later, smiling down at the three new additions to her vinyl collection.

Laura watched as Carmilla looked them over before moving on to the next package, the dark haired girls smile growing further with each gift she opened: a new drawing pad, complete with fresh charcoal sticks, a leather bound copy of Wuthering Heights, and a new set of thick leather wristbands.

“Hopefully they’ll go with that new vest Mattie sent you,” she said with a smile.

“Cupcake, seriously, I love it. All of it.” Carmilla stared at the gifts in front of her for a moment before looking up and smiling softly at Laura. “Thank you. But you know, you didn’t have to do all of this.”

“I wanted to,” Laura said, smiling back and finally starting to frantically rip the wrapping paper from the box in her hands, much to Carmilla’s amusement.

She opened the box, smiling as she pulled out a new gray beanie, instantly plopping it on her head and smiling up at Carmilla.

“It suits you Hollis.”

“It’s awesome, thank you,” she said, going to toss the box to the side before Carmilla grabbed at it in a panic.

“Don’t!” Laura stared at her confused for a moment. “Sorry, it’s just, there’s something in the bottom and I don’t want you to break it. The hat, while a gift, was mainly just for cushioning.”

“Oh, sorry I didn’t…” She trailed off as she looked into the bottom of the box, her smile vanishing and her jaw dropping slightly. She reached inside, gently fingering the round ornament there, trying to take in every detail she could. “Carm… this is amazing. How did you…”

“Well I know it’s a Christmas ornament but I thought you could maybe keep it up year round. If you wanted to, that is. You could even put it up next to the picture in your room. If that’s what you wanted to do. You don’t have to.”

The picture in her room was of her and her dad, fishing at the lake near his house in Toronto when she was five. In the photo, Laura had one on her pole and was giggling uncontrollably as Sherman knelt next to her, smiling at her and holding the line to keep her from dropping it. It was one of her favorite pictures of the two of them, one that she always kept in sight wherever she was because it reminded her of home and made her happier than she could explain. Somehow Carmilla had made it an even better memory now as she looked at the ornament in hand, the picture painted upon it so beautifully and perfect.

“Cupcake, you ok?” She looked up, feeling her eyes starting to water.

“Carm this is so amazing. How did you do this?”

“Well I know you love that photo. So I snapped a picture of it on my phone one night when you were in the kitchen. I was going to just make it a regular drawing for you but then I thought, you love Christmas, maybe an ornament would be better. So I found a plain one and just painted it on.”

Laura didn’t even say anything. She carefully placed the glass ball back into the box and scampered forward, wrapping herself entirely around Carmilla and meeting their lips in a grateful kiss.

“I love it. So much, it’s incredible,” she said as they pulled apart a moment later, keeping her arms and legs wrapped around the dark haired girl. “Thank you so much Carm.”

“I’m glad you like it. I was worried it was… maybe it was a dumb idea.”

“It wasn’t. It’s perfect.” She leaned her forehead against Carmilla’s, moving further into her lap. “Merry Christmas Carm.”

Carmilla just smiled, squeezing her closer.


 Present

“That’s… I…”

Carmilla looked over, taking in the surprised expression on Laura’s face, worrying something was seriously wrong when she just kept opening and closing her mouth.

“Laura? Hey, what it is? What’s wrong?”

“That ornament…” She trailed off once more for a moment, sniffling as tears sprang to her eyes. “I remember that ornament. It hung on a little hook next to that picture all year long in that apartment I shared with LaF and Perry. I… I loved them both so much and… I remember it… I mean…”

She trailed off again, apparently at a complete loss of what to say and for the first time in almost a month, Carmilla didn’t even think. She just reached over and put an arm around Laura’s shoulders, pulling the smaller girl into her side, happy when Laura didn’t even attempt to fight the offer of comfort and instead, laid her head on Carmilla’s shoulder. A moment later she felt Laura turn towards her on her stool and wrap her arms around her torso.

Nothing was said between the two of them, but Carmilla didn’t need to hear what Laura’s was thinking or feeling. Holding her close, she already knew. Right then and there, this was her Laura, wide open and raw, seeking the comfort that only Carmilla could provide. And as amazing as that felt, she absolutely hated the hurt Laura felt in that moment. She hated the sting and wanted nothing more than to destroy it.

Taking a deep breath, she rose off her stool and pulled the smaller girl closer, running a soothing hand along her spine and murmuring soft words of comfort into her hair for a few more minutes before letting the silence overtake them again.

Maybe they’d find their way back to one another. Maybe they wouldn’t. But Carmilla wasn’t willing to give up. She’d learned a long time ago that she would always fight for Laura. And that Laura would always fight for her. They may not have always had it easy and they might not have always gotten what they wanted. But one way or another, they always had each other. Now was not the time to question that. Now was not the time to bow out. No, now was the time to battle. Win or lose, she’d go down swinging for this amazing girl. It wasn’t going to be easy, but then again, when had she ever taken the easy road?

“Carm?” She was pulled out of her own head by the tiny voice buried in her neck.

“Hmm?”

“What’s the only reason you like Christmas?”

Carmilla sighed, taking in their reflection from the mirror across the room, Laura so small in her arms, holding onto her so tight, and felt herself melt.

“It’s because you love it. You literally light up with joy and it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.”

Please don’t freak out. Please don’t freak out. Please don’t freak out.

“What makes you light up with joy?”

She pondered the question for a moment, even though she already knew the answer. If she was going to do this, she was going to have to go all in. There couldn’t be any holding back or second guessing. She was going to have to be one hundred percent honest, terrifying as that may be.

“You,” she finally said, softly. “It’s all you, Laura.”

Chapter Text

Laura attempted to gracefully wrestle the keys out of her pocket with her good hand and not drop her laptop or the few bags of groceries, full of absolutely nothing healthy, that she’d picked up on her way home. She was a mess, that much she knew. She’d caught a glimpse of herself on the way out of the market and had immediately deflated. Messy ponytail, raggedy worn jeans and the torn Johnny Cash t-shirt she’d grabbed in her hurry, that she was pretty sure was Carmilla’s, did not scream posh or put together. If only she’d gone home earlier like she’d planned to and hadn’t gotten caught up in all that cross-referencing for her upcoming article.

You could’ve at least thought ahead this morning and prepared for the possibility that you would be late and maybe picked out a decent outfit. Maybe she could sneak into the bedroom with her jacket on and quickly change. But what difference would that make? Her hair was still a mess, she hadn’t bothered with makeup and she was pretty sure there was still some Oreo lodged in her teeth from her mid-afternoon snack. What a great way to make a first impression. Even if it technically isn’t.

Shaking her head in frustration she finally latched onto her key ring and opened the door to quietly let herself in.

“Well well well. If it isn’t the little ingenue that could.” The smooth, confident voice behind her caught her off guard and she immediately felt herself tense even further in the moment. She turned as the door closed, taking in the sight of Carmilla sitting at the kitchen table, smiling softly at her along with two other beautiful faces that she definitely did not recognize.

“Hey, I was starting to think you were going to ditch me and leave me alone with these two hoodlums for the night,” Carmilla said as she got up from her seat and quickly moved towards Laura to take the bags in hand from her.

“Oh, yeah, sorry. I um, got sidetracked with some research. I didn’t mean to hold you guys up.”

“Nonsense, we were just giving Carm here a hard time about the fact that she hasn’t come to visit in far too long.”

“Well it’s not like it’s a simple train ride away Matska,” Carmilla argued, sending a teasing wink Laura’s way. The tiny brunette bashfully smiled back as she set her laptop bag down and pulled off her jacket, realizing a moment too late she should’ve kept it on. “Is that my shirt?”

“Oh um… I think so. I’m sorry. I was running out of the house this morning because I was late meeting Danny and I just grabbed something from the left side of the dresser. I didn’t even realize until I was already at Café Au Lait that it was probably yours.”

“It’s not a big deal cupcake.” She felt Carmilla’s soft hand reaching for hers and looked down, watching their fingers interlace and swallowed hard.

There had been a lot more touching over the last week, ever since the night she’d desperately grabbed onto Carmilla and clung to her, tears in her eyes as the memory of the Christmas ornament flooded her brain. Or at least, a lot more touching on Carmilla’s part. They’d be watching television and she would reach over and gently run her fingertips along Laura’s arm or the back of her hand. They’d be eating dinner at the kitchen island and the dark haired girl would gently squeeze her knee and smile. They’d even gone out and walked around the neighborhood the day before and Carmilla had grabbed her hand and intertwined their fingers without any hesitance.

Laura, on the other hand had found herself avoiding the initiation of any obviously loving or intimate touches. There was nothing wrong with an accidental shoulder brush when they sat next to one another or a quick wrist squeeze every now and then. But beyond that, she found herself pausing.

She initially had felt a little lighter after the minor breakdown a week ago. She’d gone to bed that night feeling more secure in the knowledge that Carmilla wasn’t just going to up and bail on her and had fallen asleep with a small smile on her face. But when she’d woken up, the new day had her feeling confused and hesitant. How was she supposed to reciprocate unconditional feelings of love for someone who she still didn’t technically fully know? Someone who’d been in love with her for years? Someone who was willing to give up literally anything and everything for her? Carmilla had come right out and said it; she was all in.

And sure, she liked Carmilla. But she also liked LaF. She liked Perry. Hell, she liked Kirsch. They’d formed a great friendship. And she felt like maybe she’d formed that with Carmilla too.

Ok, maybe it’s not quite the same. There may be something more there with Carm. I mean, there’s definitely the attraction. And I do like spending more time with her than with my other friends. And she’s really sweet and good to me. But so what? That didn’t mean she was ready to jump head first back into a relationship that she still couldn’t remember and still had so many questions about. And as the days went on, it just seemed like that’s what everyone was expecting her to do. LaF and Perry had used the phrase ‘double date’ earlier in the week, Kirsch and Mel had asked what they were planning for their upcoming anniversary when they’d stopped by two days earlier with pizza and beer, and even Danny had been teasing her that very morning, asking if she was late because Carmilla had her ‘tied to the bed.’

And as for Carmilla, well she seemed to be the one putting the least amount of pressure on Laura. Outside of the touching here and there, the dark-haired girl had still been nothing but sweet and respectful. Even though she’d been very upfront about her feelings towards Laura, she hadn’t pressed any further or pushed for more. It seemed her goal was simply to be there for Laura and to be a good friend, which Laura desperately needed at this point.

She felt Carmilla gently squeeze her hand and steer her towards the kitchen table, pulling her out of her thoughts.

“So… Laura this is Mattie and Will.”

She could hear what sounded like hesitance in Carmilla’s voice and felt her shoulders slump in disappointment. This has to be so awkward for her. But then again, it was uncomfortable for Laura too. After all she’d already done this, years ago. Right???

Not even a hint of familiar, she thought, looking at the two sitting so prim and proper at the kitchen table, Mattie with her flawless dark skin and full smile, looking like she’d just stepped off a runway in Milan and not a six-hour flight in her high waisted dress and heels. And Will, looking like a typical model for GQ in his neatly pressed suit, hair the perfect look of purposely messy and the hint of three day stubble on his chin. Damn it. Nothing.

“Nice to um… meet you both,” she stuttered, feeling the weight of their stares in the pit of her stomach.

“So formal,” Mattie said with a teasing smirk. Laura stumbled back a little as Mattie gracefully rose from her chair and stepped towards her, bopping her on the nose once with her index finger before pulling the smaller girl in for a brief hug. The tiny brunette halfheartedly hugged back with one arm and unconsciously squeezed Carmilla’s hand tighter with the other.

“It is good to see you, Scrapper,” Will said, grinning over the rim of his coffee mug from the other side of the table after Mattie had sat back down.

“Um, yeah… thanks.” Jesus, maybe she should’ve declined this little meet and greet. She felt Carmilla gently squeeze her hand again and she turned towards the dark-haired girl, taking in the concern in her eyes.

“You ok?” she asked quietly. Laura just nodded, sending her a quick smile, hoping that would be enough before removing her hand, wiping her sweaty palm on her thigh.

“Again, I’m sorry I’m late. Let me just put this stuff away,” she said, motioning towards the bags on the counter, “and let you guys catch up.”

“I can do it,” Carmilla eagerly jumped in.

“No, it’s fine. Visit with Mattie and Will. I’ll take care of it.” She turned away, moving towards the cupboards to put everything in its place, hoping that would let her off the hook and the siblings could continue on with whatever they were doing before she got there. Then maybe I can sneak into the bedroom and barricade myself in there until the night’s over. I still have those maple shortbread cookies in my laptop bag. That’ll be enough for dinner and I can save myself from any further embarrassment.

“So how’s the writing coming along Nellie Bligh?”

“Oh, um… it’s fine I guess,” she stumbled. Apparently she wasn’t going to get out of this that easily.

“More than fine I’d say. I keep seeing your articles in The New York Times, The Tribune and Kitty here was just boasting that you’ve picked up an article for The Independent,” Will chimed in.

She was bragging about me?

Laura looked over her shoulder, noticing Carmilla still standing near the island, her eyebrows still knit together in obvious concern. She smiled softly as she put away the package of marshmallows in her hand and turned towards the trio.

“Yeah, they’d asked me a few months ago to write a few pieces for them but I was just too swamped at the time. I’m pitching them some new ideas now.”

“Well congratulations darling. It’s quite impressive.” She watched as Mattie took an graceful sip from the wine glass in front of her and realized Carmilla wasn’t the only one with that elegant appeal of mystery and charm surrounding her. Even though they weren’t related by blood, the siblings all seemed to have that same confident, cavalier quality.

In addition to all being incredibly beautiful. How is that fair?

“Yeah, Laura, if you keep this up, you’ll have your pick of writing for whoever you want, wherever you want. You could travel the world. Leave Kitty here all alone to pine for you,” Will teased.

“Stop it or I’ll break your collarbone Willy Boy. Again,” Carmilla said with a sickeningly sweet smile, making him chuckle and Mattie roll her eyes. Laura clearly had a lot of catching up to do when it came to Carmilla’s family history.

“Love you too sis,” he said with a smile. “Anyway, it is great Laura and you probably really could travel on the wallet of whatever publication you choose. Carm could take her camera with her and the two of you could see the world.”

“Yeah, maybe someday,” Laura said, looking away as the thought of being alone on the other side of the world with only Carmilla flooded her brain. Sure, it seemed like a romantic notion. But… also utterly terrifying. Ugh, god damn it, I’m so sick of these stupid indecisive feelings! What is wrong with me? Oh yeah, I’m supposed to be in love with a girl I hardly know! That’s what’s wrong with me! “Um, so what do you three have planned for tonight?” Please focus on something else!

“Nothing actually. These two were getting ready to head for the hotel for the night when you got here. Jet lag,” Carmilla explained. “Did you have plans? With your friends?” Laura just shook her head.

“So the Scooby Doo squad is all still in tact?” Mattie asked with a chuckle.

“I swear, as crazy as Carm was about you in the beginning, I kept waiting for the three ginger-teers to be the final straw and send her running for the hills,” Will added with his own laugh. “

“Shut up, both of you.” Laura watched Carmilla send them both a warning glance before leaning back against the counter, arms crossed, apparently ending the conversation then and there. Mattie and Will both shot her the same arrogant smile before taking the final sips of wine and coffee from their respective glasses and standing.

“Alright darling, we’ll see you tomorrow then for brunch. Will you be joining us Lolita?” Laura turned to Mattie in surprise, not expecting the invitation.

“Um…” Oh Jesus, that will be the most awkward brunch ever!

“We’ll see,” Carmilla answered for her, walking towards the door to escort the two out.

“Very well. Goodnight sis,” Mattie said, leaving air kisses against Carmilla’s cheeks as she floated out. Will followed, sending Laura a genuine smile and leaving an actual kiss on Carmilla’s cheek, his chin scruff making her cringe, before he exited.

Laura quickly turned away, busying herself with the rest of the groceries as Carmilla closed and locked the door. She’d been a spaz. Again. Classic Hollis.

“Hey.” She stopped what she was doing and halfway turned towards Carmilla who was slowly walking towards her. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing,” Laura sighed. “I’m sorry. I just… I guess I just didn’t realize how awkward it was going to be… re-meeting them.”

“Creampuff, I told you that you didn’t have to.”

“I know.” She stared down at her feet, fidgeting nervously and noticed Carmilla stop a few feet away from her.

“Well, you don’t have to see them again if you don’t want. I’ll meet them wherever but I won’t invite them to come back here.”

“Carm, no, that’s not… look I’m sorry, I just, I guess part of me was hoping something would be familiar. And that I wouldn’t be a stuttering idiot,” she said.

“Laura, you were fine. They know you don’t remember them. But that wasn’t going to stop them from being… well them around you,” Carmilla said with a chuckle. “You didn’t do anything wrong. Don’t worry.” Laura just nodded, finally looking up into Carmilla’s sweet brown eyes and smiled softly. “So, since you don’t have plans and I don’t have plans, do you want to hang out? Maybe order in? We can watch a movie or something?”

Laura took in the sweet and nervous tone in Carmilla’s voice and couldn’t help but giggle. Five minutes ago this girl was confident and kick-ass. And now…

“Sure. That sounds good,” she said with a genuine smile.


 Six Years and Nine Months Earlier

“Are you sure you can’t get someone to cover for you?” Laura asked as she wrapped her arms tighter around Carmilla’s neck and left a string of soft kisses along her throat.

Carmilla just chuckled and pulled the tiny brunette closer, releasing a deep sigh as Laura hit a particularly sensitive spot.

“I mean, you can’t just leave me here… alone… missing you.”

“You’re getting really good at this teasing thing aren’t you cupcake?” She felt Laura smile against her neck and ducked her head down further, capturing Laura’s lips with her own in a knee-trembling kiss. She pulled away a second later, smiling at the dazed look on Laura’s face. “Look, trust me, I’d much rather be with you tomorrow night than at work. And maybe another weekend I can make that happen and trade-off for another day. But if I don’t go in tomorrow, how do you expect me to buy you pretty things and take you places, like the restaurant we were just at.”

She’d meant it to be a light comment. She had absolutely no intention of bringing down the teasing mood that they’d been flirting with all night, but apparently her brain hadn’t caught up with her mouth.

“Carm…” She watched as Laura’s face fell and felt her slide her hands down her arms, grabbing onto her own hands and fitting their fingers together. “You know I don’t care about any of that stuff, right? You know that’s not why I like you. I’d be just as happy sitting at one of our places with a jar of peanut butter, doing nothing.”

“That’s just because you love peanut butter.”

“No, it’s because I…”

Carmilla tipped her head curiously as Laura cut herself off and looked away.

“Cupcake?”

“I just… I just don’t want you to think that I need or want anything but you Carm,” she said, finally looking back up and Carmilla felt herself melt into those honey brown eyes. She leaned forward, leaving a soft kiss on Laura’s lips, smiling as she pulled away and moved them further down the hallway towards Laura’s apartment door, stopping and waiting for Laura to locate her keys once they reached it.

She wasn’t trying to avoid the topic but the night had been so light and fun. We don’t need to get all heavy.

“Damn Hollis, what all do you have in that bag?” she asked as Laura kept digging, unsuccessfully for her keys. “Is that mace?”

“No, bear spray.”

“Bear spray? You say that like it’s just something everyone carries around.”

“My dad just likes to make sure I’m safe,” Laura said with a giggle, finally locating her keys and unlocking the door.

Fuck, if he ever meets me… nope not going to go there.

“Hey, you guys are here,” Laura said as they entered her apartment, taking in LaF and Perry seated together on the couch, engrossed in whatever they were watching on the television.

“Of course dear. Where should we be?”

“Anywhere but here so Frosh and Casanova can have the place to themselves,” LaF said with a chuckle, sending a toothy grin their way.

“Hey, you said it,” Carmilla pointed out with a smirk as she wrapped her arms around Laura’s waist from behind and pulled her close.

They’d been spending most of their time at her place where they could be alone so thankfully she hadn’t had to engage much with the two gingersnaps since before the holidays outside of the fucking insufferable monthly game night that they insisted upon continuing to have. She’d never admit it out loud but she still felt a little awkward being around them after the whole ‘hurt our best friend and we’ll kill you’ speech. They obviously wanted her gone and out of Laura’s life. They’d made that perfectly clear, and while she had played nice with them when she had to, that didn’t mean she had to roll over and play dead. She still had her pride.

“Now there’s no need to be rude Carmilla,” Perry chastised, eyes wide, mouth turned down, handing Laura a brownie from the plate the tiny brunette was eyeing. “We didn’t know you were planning on coming back here tonight. We don’t see much of the two of you together anymore.”

“The restaurant was just closer to here than to Carm’s place,” Laura explained. “And I never said I didn’t want you guys here. I just thought you might be out. I mean, it’s Friday night.”

“Yeah well, we’re clearly those boring college students your dad encouraged you to befriend.” Carmilla chuckled at LaF’s assessment, unable to help herself and leaned in over Laura’s shoulder to take a small bite of the brownie in her hand.

“Mmm. Not bad Betty Crocker.”

“Thank you Carmilla. That was almost polite of you.” Perry brushed the microscopic crumbs only she could see from her hands and sat back on the couch once more. “Now, would the two of you care to join us or do you have other plans for the evening? We’re watching some ridiculous movie that LaFontaine picked out, so if you want to save yourselves, I support you.”

Holy shit, would you look at that. Curly Sue cracked a joke.

Carmilla was actually tempted to join them, not really so much for the company but more so just to try and earn some good will points when Laura shot that idea down with the shake of her head and a smile.

“Sorry Per, you’ll be suffering through this one on your own,” she said as she gripped Carmilla’s arms still wrapped around her torso and shuffled them towards her bedroom. “We’ll be in here if you need us.

Carmilla looked over her shoulder at a frowning Perry and already enraptured LaF and chuckled as they entered Laura’s room.

“Damn cupcake, leaving your friend out there to suffer alone. That’s harsh,” Carmilla said once the door was closed and she’d removed her jacket and knit beanie.

“She’ll be fine. LaF will end up picking whatever the hell they’re watching apart in the next twenty minutes and then they’ll get too angry at the holes in the plotline and end up turning it off. Then Per can watch some rom-com and all will be right with the world.”

“Sounds like you’ve been down this road before,” Carmilla said with a chuckle as she sat back on Laura’s bed.

“You have no idea.” Laura shucked her own jacket and shoes before turning to Carmilla, smiling mischievously. “Besides, we can have a lot more fun in here. By ourselves,” she said, moving towards the bed and into Carmilla’s lap.

“Laura, I’m not objecting but you refused to have sex the other night when you saw my neighbors in the hallway coming in at the same time we were. There’s no way in hell you’re going to be ok with doing it now when your best friends are in the next room.”

“I didn’t say we were having sex Carm,” Laura giggled with a small blush and Carmilla gave her a questioning look. “But just because we aren’t having sex doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun.”

“Oh really. What did you have in mind cutie?” Laura didn’t answer. Instead she just kissed her.  


Thirty minutes had passed. Thirty minutes of the hottest make-out session in the entire history of make-out sessions and Carmilla would’ve been lying if she said she didn’t want more. But this was kind of fun. The teasing, the soft sighs, the incredible feeling of Laura’s amazing lips pressed against hers.

“You still taste like that chocolate espresso cake from the restaurant,” Laura said, smiling into a waning kiss.

“Oh? Well, you taste like Laura,” Carmilla said, latching back onto her bottom lip.

“What’s that taste like?”

“Mmm, fucking delicious.” Laura giggled into the kiss and Carmilla couldn’t help but smile and pull the smaller girl closer.

A quick rap on the door and the sound of creaking hinges caught her attention but not fast enough.

“Laura, dear, could you- oh! Sorry, I didn’t know you were otherwise… engaged,” Perry said, quickly turning her gaze towards the corner of Laura’s room and away from where the tiny brunette was currently straddling Carmilla in the middle of her bed.

“Seriously, does no one knock anymore?” Carmilla grumbled, staying prone as Laura shifted off of her.

“Oh, I did knock.” Carmilla propped herself up on her elbows and glared at the redhead, dumbfounded. She opened her mouth to release the snark on the tip of her tongue when Laura gently cut her off.

“What’s up Per?”

“Well, I’m terribly sorry to interrupt. I did my best to avoid it. But… Danny’s here and asking for you.”

“Oh! Um… ok.” Laura turned towards Carmilla, looking anxious as she rose off the bed and shuffled towards the door. “Carm, just give me a second, ok?”

Carmilla stared on as the door closed behind Laura, releasing a heavy sigh as she fell back onto the bed. Seriously? Fucking Lawrence! Again!

She’d known Danny, or at least known of her since her first year at Silas. It was late and she’d been on her way home from the library when she’d come across the tall girl and a gaggle of her overly-active friends coming from the other direction on some sort of campus patrol. Between the glaring headlamps pointed in her direction and the military like march, they were a hard group not to notice.

“Hey, you! What’re you doing out this late alone?” Danny had asked as they quickly approached her head on.

“What fucking business of it is yours Redwood?”

“Excuse me!”

“I said-“

“Hey, come on Lawrence. She’s got her bag and stuff with her,” one of the other girls chimed in. Carmilla stared at her for a moment, the blonde seeming very familiar but she couldn’t quite place her. “I doubt she’s out here causing any trouble.”

“That’s not the point Elsie. You know as well as I do anyone on campus at this hour on a Tuesday is most likely up to no good.”

“Yeah but she-“

“Looks like a troublemaker. We formed this patrol to protect the campus. How are we protecting the campus if we just let anyone wander around, doing whatever they want?”

“So studying at the library on a Tuesday is a problem? Man, you’re a real hard ass,” Carmilla snarked as she started back walking in the direction of her dorm.

“Hey! Get back here you little-“

“Danny, it’s fine, really. Just let her go.” Carmilla turned back once, catching the eye of the blonde girl defending her, Elsie, who gave a small smile and subtle wave. Shit, she thought, realizing why she looked so familiar. Fuck, that’s the girl from last weekend. Man, I’ve got to start keeping better track. She quickly turned back around and walked a little faster.

“Hey…” Laura’s hesitant voice cut through her thoughts as the tiny brunette finally came back, closing the door behind her and slowly stepping towards the bed. Carmilla smiled briefly before feeling her lips turn back down as she took in the regretful look on Laura’s face.

“What’s wrong cupcake?” she asked as she fully sat up and hauled herself to the end of the bed.

“Nothing, just… well… do you um, maybe want to watch a movie?”

What the fuck?

“With my friends?”

God damn it.

She attempted to keep her face from falling into total disappointment as she took in Laura’s pleading eyes but she doubted she was successful.

“I’m sorry Carm. Really, I just… well, Danny’s had a rough day. Some stuff happened at the Summer’s house I guess and she just really needs a friend right now.”

Of course she does. And of course she’s going to come running to you. She’d never considered herself to be a jealous person but, damn it, Laura was her girlfriend, not Danny’s. And it seemed like whenever the tall redhead called, Laura came running.

“Oh… ok,” she said, standing and adjusting her clothes.

“So you’ll stay?” The hopeful smile on Laura’s face literally made her heart ache. This was the last thing she wanted to do that night but if this was the only way she’d get to spend more time with Laura…

“Sure, I’ll stay for a little while.” She chuckled as Laura jumped and wrapped her arms around her neck, pulling her close.

“Thank you so much Carm,” she said softly, pulling back and meeting her eyes. She kissed her once before unwrapping herself and walking out of the room, Carmilla slowly following.

Stepping out, she took notice of the others in the room, LaF and Perry both seeming incredibly uncomfortable and Danny looking beyond irritated. Like I fucking care if she’s upset, she thought as she sat down on the other sofa, pulling Laura down next to her and wrapping an arm around the tiny brunette’s shoulders.

“So what’re we watching?”

“Wait, you’re staying?” Danny asked in disbelief.

Carmilla just shrugged and pulled Laura closer, taking notice that the other girl slightly tensed against her. Wait, what the fuck was that? She turned towards Laura, who sent her an overly cheerful smile before turning back to her friends, nervously pulling at a thread on her sweater with her free hand.

Fuck.


 The Next Day

Laura pulled apart the sprinkled donut in front of her, staring out the window at the snow gently falling outside, carefully blanketing everything in sight. She was exhausted and the caffe mocha she’d ordered in place of her regular hot chocolate wasn’t really helping with that.

The previous evening had been awkward. That’s putting it mildly. She didn’t want it to be. She was just trying to keep the peace and make everyone happy. Failed on that front, she thought with a sigh.

“Hollis, there’s going to be nothing left of that donut if you keep tearing it apart,” Danny said from across the table, taking a sip of her own coffee. She looked up to meet her friend's eyes, shaking her head in frustration and sighing. “What’s up with you today?”

“Nothing, sorry. I’m just… tired.”

At least that was part of the truth. She’d hardly slept last night.

After she and Carmilla had joined her friends the night before, she’d sat there nervously on the couch next to the dark-haired girl, watching her friends uncomfortably look at one another before Perry finally attempted to distract everyone and had turned on a movie. Some typical rom-com that Laura had expected. Over the next hour and a half LaF and Perry had sent out forced, over the top giggles, Danny had pouted and Carmilla had sat next to her, completely silent and still. The dark haired girl had readjusted herself about five minutes into the movie, removing her arm from around her shoulders and leaving a few inches of space between them. Laura had glanced over at her when she’d moved away but Carmilla kept her eyes on the television.

Once the movie was over, Laura excused herself to the bathroom and by the time she got back, Carmilla was standing near the door, jacket and beanie on, boots laced, apparently just waiting to say goodbye.

“You’re leaving?” she asked quietly as she approached. Her friends had already put on something else to watch and were halfway engrossed in the film.

“Yeah, it’s late so…”

“You know, you don’t have to. I mean… you can stay tonight.” Carmilla just shook her head and leaned in, leaving a brief kiss on her cheek.

“Goodnight,” she said quietly as she opened to door.

“Night Carmilla!” Perry and LaF called together from the couch, each smiling softly at her girlfriend as she left. Apparently they weren’t that enthralled with movie number two. Carmilla just nodded towards them and turned away, closing the door behind her. Laura stared at the door for a moment before sighing and returning to her seat on the couch. She kept mostly quiet the rest of the night, checking her phone every few minutes to see if she had anything from Carmilla but everytime, she came up empty.

“So do I need to buy you a new donut or are you actually going to eat that?” Danny teased.

“No, no I’m fine. You didn’t have to buy me this one,” Laura answered, popping one of the larger pieces into her mouth to placate the redhead.

“Well, I wanted to. You were such a good friend last night, I owed you.”

“It was no big deal. So um, are you going to go back to the house today? Try and patch things up with the other girls?” Maybe if she encouraged Danny, this little impromptu breakfast outing would be over faster.

She hadn’t intended on spending the morning with her friend. In fact, when she’d finally hauled herself out of bed, she’d been hoping to have some time to herself. TIme to think over things and properly arrange her thoughts. But then Danny had still been there, having crashed on the couch overnight and had insisted on taking Laura for coffee and donuts.

“I guess I have to. I mean, winter rush is getting ready to start. We can’t have the house divided right now,” she said with a sigh

“Good,” Laura said, smiling enthusiastically, taking another bite of donut and washing it down with the last of her mocha. Alright, get out of here now, go!

“How about another mocha? I think I’m going to get another cup. I’m going to need the caffeine to power through.”

Crap.

“Um… I don’t know if I need another one. Already kind of jittery.”

“Alright, how about just another donut? That one looks a little worse for the wear.”

“Well…”

“Come on Hollis, I’ll get you whatever you want.” She looked up into Danny’s smiling, hopeful face and felt herself giving in.

“Fine, I guess, maybe one of those sugarless hot chocolates they do.” Danny just nodded and quickly left the table. Laura sighed and took the opportunity of being alone to pull her phone from her pocket, noticing she had a missed text message.

Carm (10:13AM): Hey, you up? You want to grab a coffee? Maybe we can hang out for a bit before I have to go to work.

Shit. She looked up, noticing Danny still standing in the modest line that had formed and typed out a quick reply.

Laura (10:36AM): Sorry, I just saw this. And wow, you’re up early. I’m actually over at Jacked Up Coffee right now. You want to come by?

She knew it was stupid to ask as soon as she pressed send. But she definitely wanted to see her girlfriend. They’d ended the previous night so awkwardly and she’d felt so lonely as she’d laid down in her bed, desperately wishing she had Carmilla’s arms around her. As lame as it was, she’d missed her.  

Carm (10:37AM): Really? That’s not your normal go-to spot…

She had to be honest. She couldn’t invite Carmilla to come meet her and not tell her she was with Danny. That wasn’t fair.

Laura (10:38AM): Yeah, well it’s where Danny wanted to go.

“Alright, sugarless hot chocolate,” Danny said with a smile as she sat the mug down in front of Laura. “I got you extra whipped cream just like you like it.”

“Thanks.” She she wrapped her hands around the mug, relishing in it’s warmth as she nervously waited for a reply on her phone, knowing it wouldn’t be a good one. She attempted to be polite company and look interested as Danny started talking about the Winter Rush agenda, all the while sending periodic glances to her phone on the table next to her, blank and lifeless. Come on Carm. Please.

Carm (10:53AM): Oh. I guess I’ll just see you sometime next week.

God damn it!


 Present

“Why didn’t you ever say anything?!” Laura asked from her side of the couch, legs stretched out next to Carmilla, arms crossed over her chest, face full of frustration.

They’d ended up ordering in Thai and had put the television on in the background while they ate. But neither was really paying attention and Carmilla had ended up asking Laura about the articles she’d been working on. She smiled as Laura lit up in excitement, talking about her work. Talking about her articles led to talking about how Sherman was trying to figure out the best way to frame her online articles, because he framed everything, and that led to talking about how Mattie and Will were equally as impressed with her accomplishments. And that led to the inevitable; Laura asking if Carmilla’s siblings really believed Laura’s friends were going to drive them apart in the beginning. She hadn’t meant for the story to upset Laura but then again, it wasn’t the most fun memory of the two of them. And she had promised not to sugarcoat anything or avoid the tough topics.

“About what?”

“Carm, no wonder Will and Mattie thought my friends were going to be what broke us up. I was such a jerk to you when it came to Danny. I kept picking her over you and… that wasn’t right. Why didn’t you ever call me on that?”

“I guess I was just used to it.” Carmilla shrugged and looked up, catching the stunned look on Laura’s face before looking away, hating the embarrassment she still felt after all these years.. “Laura, I was never anyone’s first choice ok? I mean, that was the norm for me. My own parents didn’t even want me, they gave me up when I was six months old. I spent years bouncing from group home to foster home and back, one after another, not a single one sticking. No one wanted to keep me around and I was only useful for those assholes trying to get more money out of the system. And then, even after Lilita adopted me when I was twelve, it wasn’t like I was first choice for her. My mother always put herself first, then her business, then us. By the time I met you and we got together, it was just second nature to me. Plus, I knew that Lawrence was into you. She wanted you so much and I knew that you’d had a huge crush on her for so long before I came into the picture. I honestly didn’t know if those feelings were really gone back then and I guess, I just kept waiting for you to pick her instead and tell me to piss off.”

“Carm! How can you say that?” Carmilla turned back, taking in the horrified look on Laura’s face.

“Cupcake, I’m not telling you this to hurt you or to make you feel bad. That’s just the way it was.”

“Well, that’s stupid!”

“Laura, come on. She was your friend long before I came around and she was important to you. Plus, you’re just you. You so desperately wanted to make everyone happy and not hurt anyone’s feelings.”

“But I was hurting you the whole damn time!”

“But you didn’t know that cupcake.” Carmilla reached out, placing a hand on Laura’s blanket covered knee and gently squeezed, giving her a small, reassuring smile. “I mean, you knew something was up but… Laura, I hid a lot of my feelings from you. I’m honestly still not that great about vocalizing them but you’ve gotten used to that over the years so I don’t always necessarily have to. You just kind of learned to read my thoughts. But early on with us, you weren’t there yet. You didn’t know you were hurting me and it’s my own fault for not speaking up.”

“Who’s to say I would’ve chosen you though?” Laura pouted, throwing her good hand into the air in exasperation. “I mean, I’d like to think that I would’ve but apparently I was a giant asshole and didn’t care.”

“Laura, come on. That’s not true. You did care. You just didn’t know all the facts, so you can’t take all the blame, ok? Cupcake, yes, I’ve been hurt by you. I’m not going to lie about that. But I’ve hurt you too. We haven’t gone seven years without any war wounds. The hurt isn’t what matters though. What matters is that we came through it and we learned how to be better to one another. Like I said, I suck at telling you when I’m feeling a certain kind of way. But you’ve gone through enough with me that you learned how to speak silent, sulking Carmilla. So you just know and you try to make it better. And I’ve learned too. Just like right now. You’re pouting and fidgeting and, yes, you’ve vocalized some irritation at your behavior. But I know that even though you’re mad at yourself for how you acted way back when, you’re also a little miffed at me. Because I didn’t step up and tell you that your choices were hurting me. You always wanted me to talk to you and it just wasn’t that easy.”

She carefully watched Laura’s face, noting the slight widening of those inquisitive eyes in surprise and smiled at the small change.

“You have to remember that all of this was a really long time ago. And you did actually pick me you know? I mean, we’re sitting here… together,” Carmilla said with a smile.

Laura looked down at her hands in her lap again, apparently even more uncomfortable with the discussion now than before.

Shit, what did I say?

“Hey, come on,” Carmilla said, leaning forward a little and squeezing her knee again. “Yeah, shit wasn’t always sunshine and roses. And Lawrence was a giant pain in the ass back then. But we figured it out. You… you took care of it.”

“What did I do?” Laura asked, looking up, eyes full of curiosity.

“A story for another time,” Carmilla said with a small smile. “Besides, it’s late.”

“But I’m not tired yet.” Carmilla took in the adorable pout on Laura’s face and felt her lips turn up at how cute the other girl looked in that moment.

“Alright, how about this then. We said we were going to watch a movie. And you owe me one horror flick if you remember correctly.”

“Oh crap, I do,” Laura said, shrinking further into the couch, pulling the blanket up to her chin.

“Deal’s a deal cupcake,” Carmilla said as she grabbed the remote and quickly found an acceptable choice on Netflix.

“On second thought, I’m exhausted,” Laura said with an over exaggerated yawn.

Carmilla just chuckled and pressed play, sitting back into the couch and laying her hand back on Laura’s knee for good measure.


Carmilla turned the television off and looked towards the other end of the sofa where Laura lay, her body still sandwiched between the back of the couch and Carmilla’s legs. She’d snuggled in further and further as the movie had worn on. Carmilla had purposely picked one of those stupid over the top 80’s horror flicks so as not to scare the tiny brunette too much and apparently, her plan had worked as she’d watched Laura’s eyes growing heavier and heavier the further she sank into the sofa.

“It’s really late now cupcake,” Carmilla mumble, snuggling further into the pillow under her head. “You should get some rest.”

“Mmm hmm…” Laura pulled their shared blanket up further around her shoulders, her eyes already closed.

“Seriously Hollis. I know you’re feeling better but your ribs are going to hate you if you sleep out here.”

“But I don’t want to move,” Laura grumbled, rolling onto her side and propping her pillow onto one of Carmilla’s shins. “I’m comfortable. And that movie was scary.”

Carmilla just smiled at the adorable pout on the sleepy girls face, feeling her own eyes growing heavy and finding herself unable to keep them open any longer.

“Are you sure kid? Nice, big comfy bed just down the hall…”

Laura just grumbled again, already slipping into unconsciousness. Carmilla smiled once more and reached back, finding the switch on the lamp and clicking it off.

“Night cutie.” Laura didn’t respond but Carmilla felt her snuggle in even closer as she faded off.

Chapter Text

The first thing she noticed when she woke up was how much every muscle in her body ached in the worst way. Not that that was a new feeling. It had pretty much been the norm for the last few weeks.

Fucking couch. I’m getting too old for this shit.

The second thing she noticed was that it was early. The light drifting through the curtains was soft and cool, forcing her to pull the blanket lying low across her hips up over her shoulders and roll further into couch, nesting into the cushions. That’s when she noticed the third thing: Laura was no longer beside her.

They’d fallen asleep on opposite ends of the sofa late the night before and it was the first time in weeks that she didn’t toss and turn and struggle to close her eyes. She’d fallen asleep to the soft sound of Laura’s breathing, the smell of her brown sugar body wash and the amazing feeling of her soft, warm body.

She’d woken up sometime a few hours after initially drifting off and, despite her exhaustion, had fought to keep herself awake as long as possible in order to enjoy the moment she’d been presented with. As usual, Laura had stolen most of their shared blanket, but she really didn’t mind. The small brunette was lying on her side, turned towards her, arms firmly wrapped around her calf, holding tight. Carmilla felt the smile bloom across her face in that moment and Laura snuggled in further, nudging her own knee up and over Carmilla’s hip and onto her stomach. Like a little koala bear, she’d thought, attempting to calm her rapidly beating heart at the sensation of having Laura so close and the feeling of warm, soft skin touching in places it hadn’t for weeks. Unable to help herself, she’d carefully placed a gentle hand just above Laura’s knee, letting her thumb carefully trace back and forth for a moment, listening as Laura sighed in contentment, floating somewhere on a dream. She’d fought valiantly to stay awake as long as she could, because who knew when a moment like this would come again, but it was in vain and she felt her eyes forcing themselves closed just a few minutes later.

How’d she sneak out of here without me noticing, Carmilla thought as she turned away from the back of the couch and she sat up. Granted she was normally a heavy sleeper but she’d found between the uncomfortableness of the sofa and the constant feeling of being on edge the last few weeks, a pin drop could wake her up.

She put her feet on the floor and rubbed a tired hand across her face, attempting to focus on the clock along the far wall but finding the blurry face and numbers impossible to read. She really needed to make that eye appointment Laura had been harassing her about a few months earlier. The brunette had noticed her squinting more and more and had initially taken to teasing her about getting old in order to get her to arrange a visit to the ophthalmologist. When that didn’t work she changed tactics and started making comments along the lines of how sexy she thought Carmilla would look in a pair of spectacles. And when that didn’t work, she took to threatening, although Carmilla just found that more adorable than anything.

She stood up, carefully stretching her limbs as she did so, hearing a pop here and a crack there, and slowly shuffled towards the kitchen, which was also unfortunately empty. She stopped her shuffle, standing completely still, and strained, listening for any sound in the house to indicate Laura’s whereabouts. Focusing as much as she could for an early morning, pre-coffee day, she smiled when she faintly heard the sound of the shower from the master bathroom, happy to have located her fiancé.

Shuffling further into the kitchen she set about starting the coffee, making it a little stronger than normal. She was definitely going to need the boost today since she would be spending most of it with Mattie and Will and who knew what kind of trouble they’d find to get her into. Finally locating the time on the digital clock above the stove, she realized it was even earlier than she thought and contemplated climbing back onto the couch for some more shuteye, but quickly decided against it. After all, Laura was already up and it would be a wasted opportunity to spend some time with her if she just went back to bed.

She’d seen the hesitance on Laura’s face and heard it in her voice the day before when Mattie had asked her to accompany them to brunch. And part of her understood that reluctance. After all, Laura remembered her siblings about as well as she remembered Carmilla. There was absolutely nothing familiar there and she understood that it would probably be nerve-wracking and uncomfortable for the tiny girl. But on the other hand, she loved spending time with Laura and wanted to have as much of it together as possible, whether that was with or without other people around. Laura’s presence, she’d found, eased the bit of tension that had taken up residence in her chest over the last few weeks. Sure, things were different between them and she’d struggled to keep her hands to herself and her over the top flirtatious comments to a minimum. But she thought she’d done a decent job of not making Laura uncomfortable. She found herself constantly gaging Laura’s reactions anytime she got close to the tiny brunette and, if it seemed to be too much, she backed off. So far it seemed to be working. She didn’t think she’d missed any cues and Laura hadn’t complained or asked her to stop. It seemed like they were enjoying each other’s company. It felt familiar, reminiscent of those interactions they’d had when they’d started dating all those years ago.

She lifted the now full French press, pouring the dark liquid into two separate mugs and adding just the right amount of sugar and cream to the one for Laura before taking a seat at one of the island stools to wait. She’d heard the shower turn off a few minutes earlier and figured Laura would be out soon enough. Maybe they could talk and she could ask about brunch again. Laura might feel different after having slept on the idea. And having slept next to me, she thought with a small smile as she took her first sip of coffee. As lame as it was, she was pretty sure she’d be riding the high of feeling her sleeping fiancé next to her for a few days. At least.

Five minutes later, mug in one hand, the other supporting her head on the counter as she dreamily replayed the previous night in her head, Laura finally emerged, fully dressed and tiptoeing down the hallway.

“Morning cutie.”

“Jesus! Carmilla, oh god, you scared me,” Laura yelped, practically jumping out of her skin and holding her hand to her chest.

“Sorry,” Carmilla chuckled. “I didn’t mean to startle...” She trailed off as she noticed Laura laden down with her laptop bag on one shoulder and one of the duffle bags they kept in the back of their closet in her good hand, boots and knit beanie already on. “Um, are you going somewhere?”

“Huh? Oh… yeah. I am.” Laura avoided her gaze and kept moving towards the front door, hastily setting her things down once she got there to grab a coat from the rack standing nearby.

“I didn’t realize you had plans today.”

“Well, I didn’t… but now I do.”

“Well I’m still having brunch with Mattie and Will… I was kind of hoping you’d come with me. Kirsch and Mel will be there so you’ll have a few friendly faces.” She heard how hopeful and needy she sounded and cringed. Pathetic.

“I can’t.”

Shit, what is going on and why won’t she look at me?

“Ok, well, do you want a cup of coffee before you go? Or maybe something to eat?” She reached for the still steaming mug she’d sat at the stool next to hers and offered it up to Laura’s back, feeling even more pitiful and clingy as she did.

“No, I’m fine.” Laura had zipped up the light jacket and grabbed her things once more, reaching for her keys on the hook near the door without so much as a glance back.

“Hey! Wait a minute.” Carmilla hopped off her stool and quickly strode towards the other girl, taking in the hunched posture and slight blush. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.”

“Laura, come on. Something’s up. Please, just tell me,” she pleaded.

“I said I’m fine.”

“But you’re clearly not. Come on, just… talk to me cutie.”

“I… I don’t want to talk about it right now Carmilla. I just want to get out of here. I can’t… I just need some time to think about things.”

What the holy fuck???

“Think about things? What things? Laura, what the hell is going on? You were fine last night, what happened between then and-” Carmilla cut herself off, watching as Laura shrunk further in on herself, her head tilted towards the floor allowing a few stray strands of hair to cover part of her face. “Is this… is this because we both slept on the couch?”

“Carmilla, I’m fine.”

“Don’t lie to me!” It sounded so much harsher coming out of her mouth than she intended and she immediately attempted to back pedal when she saw Laura flinch. “Laura, come on. We just slept next to each other, nothing happened. And if it made you this uncomfortable, then I’m sorry. It won’t happen again, ok? Next time, I’ll sleep on the floor or something. It’s just, you were tired and you didn’t want to move so I didn’t push you to. But I swear cupcake, nothing else happened. You know that right?”

“I said I don’t want to talk about it!” Laura yelled, finally looking up and meeting Carmilla’s desperate gaze with an insufferable look of her own. “Just leave me alone Carmilla!” And with that she stormed out, slamming the door behind her.

Shit.


Bio-Nerd (7:33AM): Dude, what the hell???

Carmilla (7:34AM): I knew she’d run to you guys.

Bio-Nerd (7:34AM): What’s going on??? What happened?

Carmilla (7:35AM): I have no fucking idea. Last night she was fine and then when I woke up this morning she apparently hated me and wouldn’t talk to me.

Bio-Nerd (7:35AM): Alright, well Per’s trying to get her to simmer and I called in reinforcements. I’ll let you know if we figure out what’s going on with the little shit.

Carmilla (7:36AM): Just please tell me if there’s anything I can do. Or fix.

And then there had been nothing. For hours. Carmilla had kept her phone within reach the whole morning but nothing else had come up. She’d given up on trying to text or call Laura after LaF’s initial text, knowing that there was no way Laura was going to talk to her until she’d calmed down. But now, hours later… Well it had been way too long without answers and she couldn’t shake the nauseous feeling in her gut. She was half tempted to show up at the ginger twins house herself and demand some answers, but she knew that would only make things worse and possibly drive Laura further away. The wait was excruciating and, sitting there now, worrying over the entire situation, she had to at least know that Laura was ok, if nothing else.

Carmilla (12:06PM): I’m not asking for details. But just tell me she’s alright.

Her thumbs ran over the blank screen of her phone as she waited impatiently for a response. The restaurant around her bustled loudly with activity and laughter from other patrons enjoying their time with family and friends. She could think of about a million other places she’d rather be in that moment, but knew she couldn’t get away with ducking out of the gathering. Around her own table, the others chatted on amicably, laughing at different stories as they caught up with one another after not having seen each other in close to a year.

It was an odd group, anyone could see that and definitely not one you would expect to be sitting together on a Saturday brunching. But Will had taken an instant liking to Kirsch when they’d first met and bonded over their frat boy ways years ago. It had taken Mattie a little longer to come around but she’d eventually come to appreciate his innocent charm after a while, finally realizing that he was completely harmless and extremely easy to tease. Mel on the other hand was a harder shell to crack but that was no surprise. Her tough exterior clashed head on all three siblings at one time or another, not to mention the fact that Carmilla initially didn’t trust her simply due to her proximity to Danny.  It hadn’t been until Laura finally put the leggy redhead firmly in place and that whole issue had been resolved once and for all that she and Mel had actually started getting over their dissimilarities and became friends.

Bio-Nerd (12:15PM): She’s ok. Still a little upset but she’s calmed down some.

She stared down at her phone, desperate for more information but she knew there’d be nothing more forthcoming. Not knowing hurt. A lot. And what made it worse was that Laura clearly felt safer with her friends than she did with Carmilla at this point.

“Hey! Angry hottie!” She finally looked up, taking note of the four pairs of inquiring eyes looking back at her and realized she had been ignoring everyone at the table all morning.

“Sorry, what did I miss?”

“What’s going on with you Elvira? You’ve been even more broody and quiet than normal all morning?”

“Nothing.” She shrugged it off, putting her phone back in her pocket and leaning forward onto the table, pretending to be engaged in the conversation.

“Oh come on Kitty. You’re beyond mopey this morning. And quite frankly, it’s bringing down the mood.”

“You’re such a shithead Will.” She watched him arrogantly smile back at her and slouch further into his chair, apparently waiting for an answer. “Really it’s not a big deal,” she finally said with a sigh. “Laura is just pissed at me.”

“What did you do now Carm?” Mattie asked.

“Why do you assume it’s my fault! I didn’t do anything. I have no clue what the hell is going on with her. I tried to talk to her about it this morning but she clearly wasn’t up for it.”

“We’re going to need some context here darling.”

“You guys, seriously, it’s nothing.” She looked around at her two friends and siblings, taking note that they just stared back at her, apparently unwilling to let this go. “Ugh, fine. We were hanging out last night, just talking. You guys know I’ve been telling her stories about our past together.” She turned specifically to Kirsch and Mel, knowing only they’d understand the next part. “It was one of those ones where Xena was being a pain in the ass and it was before Laura finally put her in her place.”

“I can’t wait until you tell her than story,” Mel said with a wicked grin as Kirsch just stared between the two of them, blank-faced.

“Anyway, afterwards, we put on a movie and by the time it was over, we were both exhausted. She was already half asleep on the couch and you guys know that’s where I’ve been sleeping. I told her to go back to the bedroom but she didn’t want to move so… we both slept there.”

“This story better get interesting soon,” Mattie cut in, causing Carmilla to roll her eyes before continuing.

“Then this morning I woke up and she was already in the shower, so I made us coffee and waited for her. A few minutes later she came out, kind of like sneaking, with her laptop and another bag, planning on leaving. So I just tried to talk to her and I could tell she was upset about something. The only thing that I could think of that might of upset her was that we both slept on the couch together. And I told her nothing happened, just in case she couldn’t remember or was questioning it but she didn’t want to talk to me. She ended up just yelling at me to leave her alone and then stormed out.”

“So she just ran out? Just like that? She always got so mad at you for doing that. Not cool bro,” Kirsch said, shoveling an entire pancake into his already full mouth. “Are you sure you didn’t like accidentally feel her up in your sleep?”

“Oh come on brotein-shake. Don’t be a pig,” Mel said with a disgusted face from her seat next to him. Kirsch simply stared back, full mouth agape and eyebrows furrowed in confusion.

“He’s got a valid point sis. I mean, it’s been a while since you’ve gotten any right?”

“This isn’t fucking funny you asshole,” Carmilla snapped, earning a few dirty looks from the uptight couple brunching at the next table.

“Hey,” Will said, holding his hands up in surrender. “I was only joking around kiddo.”

“Yeah, well the next time you lose the love of your life, I’ll make jokes about how you’re not even allowed to hold her hand, let alone anything more, and we’ll see how funny you think it is.”

“Carm, calm down,” Mattie cut in, her face completely serious. “I know you’re upset but threatening to eviscerate William isn’t going to help anything.”

Carmilla heaved a sigh and slumped back in her chair, hating absolutely everything about the day from the moment she saw Laura come out of the hallway. Everything had been so good. They’d had a really great evening together and even though she felt like she’d been hit by a freight train when she woke up, at least she’d woken up to the memory of a sleeping Laura next to her.

But then this morning… It had been so long since Laura had talked to her like that. They didn’t fight too often. Bicker, squabble, clash sure, it happened from time to time. But the full-blown ‘go away’ combined with that livid look in Laura’s eyes… she couldn’t get it out of her mind. The last time Laura had looked at her like that had been years ago. And she’d been a total asshole and had rightfully deserved the wrath of her tiny girlfriend. But today… well she still had no idea what in the ever loving hell she’d done so wrong.

She reached for the Bellini in front of her and drained the rest of the glass in one go, rolling her eyes when Will gently nudged her untouched plate of food closer to her.

“Look, I’m not one to talk about… feelings and all that,” Mel said, leaning forward onto the table, wincing at the possibility of an emotional topic.

“I don’t think anyone at this table is,” Will cut in.

“But maybe you didn’t exactly do anything in particular. Maybe this is just Hollis trying to figure out her own shit. I mean, she’s still missing a big chunk of time.”

“And I get that and that’s fine. But something triggered it. And I just… I don’t know what the hell happened and it’s simultaneously driving me crazy and pissing me off.”

“Well aside from this morning, how has everything else been?” Will asked.

“Good. I mean, things haven’t been over the top amazing, but we’ve been fine.”

“You guys seemed good the other night when we stopped by,” Mel said.

“We have been.”

“Good? Fine? Those are the words you use to describe the relationship with the love of your life? God, this is why I stay single.”

“Oh shut up Mattie. I mean, give me a break. We’re taking it slow. She needs time. She’s still trying to figure herself out. I mean, she knows you guys,” she said, her anger all but dissipating as she looked across the table at Mel and Kirsch. “She looks at you two or those three dimwit gingers of hers and has all these great memories. She has years and years of time. And then… she looks at me and nothing. All that time together, all those years. They’re just gone. I can’t just… I can’t magically make that better.”

“Are the two of you spending much time together?” Mattie asked, casually sipping on her cappuccino.

“Yeah, we’re pretty much together any time we’re both free.”

“And what do you do together?”

Carmilla stared back at Mattie, confounded as to where she was going with this line of questioning and finding her irritation getting more and more overwhelming.

“What the hell does that matter?” Mattie just shrugged, raising an eyebrow and waiting for an answer. “We hang out. We watch movies and talk or we’ll go get coffee and walk around the neighborhood. Or we just sit together and she does stuff on her laptop while I read. Or… I don’t know. We’re just together.”

“When was the last time you took her on a date?” Carmilla faltered. “Or the last time you kissed her? When was the last time you did anything with some semblance of a romantic connotation behind it?”

“She’s not ready!”

“Or you have to face the fact dear that you’re no longer a couple,” Mattie said, matter-of-factly. “You’re not together anymore. Of course, you could argue that you never broke up but you have to realize that Laura simply isn’t in love with you anymore Carm.”

Jesus Christ.

It was like a bullet ripping through her chest and she immediately felt her eyes burn as she sagged into her chair under the intense weight of the comment. Laura wasn’t in love with her. Laura wasn’t in love with her . Laura wasn’t in love with her.

That was a sentence she never thought she’d hear. She and Laura were supposed to be forever, as fucking sappy as that was. And Laura was the only one she was ever willing to be a sap for. She was everything to Carmilla.

“Damn Mattie, way to shoot to kill.”

“Seriously, not cool bro.”

“Honestly Matska, you could’ve been a little more delicate.”

“I know it’s not fun to hear darling but that’s the truth,” she continued, undaunted with the other three’s concerns. “And the sooner you face it, the better off you’ll be.”

“So what am I supposed to do then? Just forget about all of it and move on? Give her up?” Carmilla heard the slight crack in her voice and swallowed hard . She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. How could Mattie suggest such a thing?

“Did those words come out of my mouth?”

“Well you’re as good as saying it! I mean come on Mattie. I’ve spent the last seven years with her. We’re engaged! We were going to spend the rest of our lives together. I can’t believe you think I should just accept the fact that it’s over.”

“That’s not what I’m saying at all Carm. I’m simply saying that maybe a bit more effort might be appropriate. Maybe she’s ‘not ready’ but how do you know? Right now, you’re basically starting with a clean slate. You starting from scratch. You don’t have to pressure her into anything and maybe you shouldn’t push for more if it’s not appropriate or it makes her uncomfortable. But what’s wrong with a little pull? Maybe that’s what she needs. Maybe that’s what she’s waiting for.”

“You’re talking in riddles.”

“Carmilla, she’s not going to simply fall back into your arms so that you can ride off together into the sunset like some disgusting romance novel. If you want her back, you’re going to have to earn her.”

“Earn her? What, is she part of some sort of prize package?”

“Despite her clear lack of tact, I think Mattie’s on to something here Carm.” Will warmly grinned at her. “This isn’t going to just start back up again. It’s not like you guys just called time-out and now you’re back in the game.”

“What the hell are you guys saying?”

“Come on Elvira, even the giant puppy dog knows what they’re saying,” Mel said as Kirsch just nodded eagerly, syrup dripping from the corner of his overly full mouth.

Carmilla continued to stare back at her friends, her face full of confusion.

“You made her fall in love with you once you little monster. Nothing is stopping you from doing it again.”


 Six Years and Nine Months Earlier

Carmilla propped herself up on her elbows, the dark red sheet falling down as she did just enough to expose her collarbones, smirking as she watched Laura scrambling around her small apartment, fruitlessly searching for her things.

It had been an absolutely amazing weekend and at that moment, she was finding that the saying ‘all good things must come to an end’ to be complete and utter bullshit because the last thing she wanted to do right now was to let Laura walk out the door. The tiny brunette had shown up after class on Friday and they’d spent the last two days and three nights completely immersed in one another. Carmilla had even traded off two of her good shifts at the bar for four incredibly crappy ones in order to spend more time with the younger girl.

“Crap! Carm have you seen my other sneaker?” Laura called from her spot on the floor, kneeling on her hands and knees in front of the couch in order to peek underneath it.

“I’m thinking you should forget the sneakers cutie and come back over her. Your side of the bed is starting to get cold,” she teased.

“Carm… You know I have class.”

“I know you do. You have Foreign Affairs this morning but I’m thinking, since it’s so early in the semester, you should probably skip it and stay here with me.”

“Don’t tempt me,” Laura said turning towards her and grinning ear to ear.

Carmilla arched an eyebrow, sitting up further and letting the sheet fall down around her hips, taking note that the grin on Laura’s face had slowly slipped away. She climbed out of the bed and slowly made her way over to where Laura was still kneeling near the couch, stopping a foot away, smirking at the smaller girl looking up at her. Laura’s expression had quickly shifted from determined panic to wanton desire in the last thirty seconds and Carmilla found herself wanting nothing more than to pull her back to bed, classes be damned.

“That is so not fair Carm.”

Carmilla just shrugged, continuing to stand there wearing nothing but a smile, her eyes never leaving Laura’s as the tiny brunette finally stood and stepped into her, leaving no space between them.

“Seriously, I really do have to go today. I don’t want to because you’re here and amazing and wonderful and… so sexy and naked but… we’re starting our correspondence projects today and I don’t want to get stuck with some awful topic just because I skipped to stay here and roll around all nude and sweaty with you. Please just, help me find my shoe and then I can come back later tonight and we can… pick up where we left off,” she said wrapping her arms around Carmilla’s waist and holding her close.

“Hmm that’s not going to work creampuff,” Carmilla answered as she wrapped her own arms around Laura’s neck and leaned their foreheads together. “I traded my Saturday shift for tonight remember? And then I have to work tomorrow too.”

“Ugh, this sucks. And now I can’t even see you during the day since we don’t have a class together anymore. When will I see you again?” Laura pouted.

“I don’t know cutie. I guess we’ll have to play it by ear and hope for the best.”

If it was possible, Laura’s lip pushed out even further and Carmilla could do nothing but smile at the adorable expression. Finally relenting, she leaned in, leaving a soft kiss against Laura’s lips before pulling away, taking a small amount of pleasure in the fact that Laura’s lips automatically chased after her, and slowly made her way towards the bathroom.

“I’ll see you later cupcake. Oh and your shoe’s on the counter in the kitchen.”

“How in the frilly hell did it end up there?” Laura called from behind her. She listened as the tiny brunette finish getting dressed, scrambled around for all her things and finally left, calling out a quick ‘bye’ as she ran out the door to class.

Carmilla just smiled to herself and turned on the shower, stepping in a moment later and sighing at the feeling of the hot water pelting her sore muscles. Totally worth it, she thought as she remembered the last few days with her girlfriend.

Girlfriend. Even though it had been almost two months since Laura had officially asked her, she still had trouble wrapping her head around the term and all that it entailed. Of course, it didn’t help that technically, Laura was her first girlfriend. Sure, she’d occasionally dated and had bedded far more women than she was currently comfortable admitting to. But a girlfriend was very different. Honestly, it had never really been a pressing issue and she’d never really wanted one. At least not since she was in high school. Not since Elle.

Haven’t thought about that name in a long fucking time, she thought as she rubbed the shampoo into her hair.

Elle Sheridan, the girl that had crushed her all those years ago and left her feelings towards a relationship completely corrupted and tainted black.

They’d been best friends for years, meeting when they were kids, growing up together, getting into trouble together, and then one day, they became something else.

She honestly wasn’t sure how or when it really happened but one day she was just her friend and partner in crime, Elle. And the next day, she was the girl that Carmilla wanted more than anyone else in the whole world. She’d tried to ignore her feelings. After all, one of the reasons she and Elle got along so great is that neither of them ever got attached to anyone. They both just liked having fun. But it wasn’t long before one night, drunk at a college party they’d snuck out to, she used her liquid courage to her advantage and had finally kissed Elle. Much to her delight, Elle had kissed her back.

Carmilla had hoped that one night together would get the girl out of her system but unfortunately, it had only made her want Elle more. They’d started spending more time alone together, going to movies, skipping school to go to one of their houses while no one else was home, driving around aimlessly and ending up in secluded areas where no one would look for them. It was amazing and she was so happy.

Until one day, about a month in, she wasn’t. She’d been walking through the library with Will, on their way to the other side of the building for one of their many unpleasant meetings with the principal when she’d seen her: Elle in one of the far dusty corners, pinned to one of the stacks by some blonde who’s face she couldn’t see due to the fact that it was buried in Elle’s neck.

She was so angry with herself. She’d let someone in and let herself have those stupid feelings and she’d gotten burned. She’d avoided Elle for the next few days, not answering her calls and skipping out on any classes they had together. It wasn’t until she came home late one evening to find Elle there, sitting in the living room, laughing with Lilita as they chatted about whatever the hell topic Elle was using to charm her with that she finally had to confront the other girl. Elle had demanded to know what was going on when she’d followed Carmilla upstairs and she finally caved, making some snarky comment about the rendezvous in the library, to which Elle immediately admitted to… along with three other trysts with two different girls that Carmilla didn’t even know about. Elle argued that they’d never agreed that what had happened between them was anything serious and that she was only having fun. She assumed Carmilla was doing the same. After all, they were just friends.

What could she say to that? The girl was right, they’d never agreed to anything more. So why did it hurt so much?

Elle had left that night, thinking everything was fine between them and that things would continue on as usual; they’d spend time together when they wanted to, sleep together when they wanted to, and just have fun. No strings attached.

Carmilla had tried to go back. She really did. She’d put on a brave face and pretended to shrug the entire thing off like it was no big deal. But that pain lingered. The rejection of her feelings, which she so rarely shared stung more than she cared to admit and she decided then and there, relationships weren’t worth it. If it meant getting hurt and trampled on, why bother?

Looking back now, it didn’t hurt as much. The sting had eased considerably over the years. Of course, it still didn’t feel great to be rejected but she realized that what she felt for Elle wasn’t the earth-shattering, all-consuming love that she’d thought it was when she was sixteen. She had feelings for the girl, sure. Was it more than a crush? Maybe. But love? No. No, she had never loved Elle.

And relationships were bullshit. Why let yourself feel something for someone who was just going to shit on you? No, it wasn’t for her.

But now… Now she had Laura.

Laura.

Sweet, silly, incredible Laura. Laura who made her happy. Laura who made her feel safe. She craved Laura in a way she never had anyone else, and not just physically. Her heart literally ached for the stubborn girl. She made her smile and laugh like no one else ever had. She was smart and goofy. She was…

Amazing.

They’d only been together a few months. Things between them were still new and exciting. They were still learning things about each other and making new discoveries. Everything was still fresh and shiny with possibilities.

No, she’d never loved Elle. She knew that now. But what she felt for Laura was so much more intense, so much more overwhelming than what she’d felt back then. So what did that mean? And just like a smack to the face, it hit her.

Shit. Am I… am I in love with Laura?


 Present

Carmilla leaned onto the balcony railing, staring up at the stars above. The night was cool but that was to be expected for late October. It didn’t matter though. The temperature couldn’t have been further from her mind.

No, the only thing she was focused on at that moment was the same thing she’d been focused on since brunch that morning: that her Laura, the one she’d loved for years wasn’t there anymore and the woman that stood in her place didn’t feel the same way. It shouldn’t have been a shock. After all, things between them were clearly different. But somehow, that didn’t ease the unbearable sting of hearing it said out loud.

And that left her here, wondering at Mattie’s words. Could she really get Laura to fall in love with her again? Sure, it had worked the first time. She’d been able to win the younger girls heart. But that was so long ago and what were the chances of being able to do it again?

She knew she’d never be able to live with herself if she just walked away without trying. But the circumstances were different this time. Seven years ago, they were both eager for each other. They both wanted it. Now though… did Laura even want to pursue something further? What if Laura didn’t want her anymore? If Laura never regained her memory, maybe she’d be fine with just moving on without Carmilla in her life. After all, it wasn’t like she’d know she was missing out on anything.

Her sweet and incredible Laura. Even after the last month, she hadn’t fully prepared herself for a life without the spunky brunette.

She sighed and ran a frustrated hand through her hair. In all her life, she’d never needed anyone. Not until Laura. And now… what if this was it? Was this how they ended?

Fuck. What am I going to do?

Chapter Text

Come on! I know you’re in there!

Laura continued to pound on the door incessantly, not caring if the neighbors out on their early morning runs or walking their dogs stared at her like she was a crazy person. They didn’t matter and she wasn’t crazy. She was pissed.

She’d stormed out of her own house twenty minutes ago in a haze of red, absolutely furious and fuming. She’d quickly hailed a taxi cab, as she still didn’t have a car, and had practically barked the address at the jumpy driver as soon as she’d settled into the back seat. The entire drive she’d focused out the window, ignoring the constant dings and rings from her phone tucked securely into her back pocket, her rage only growing as they passed through downtown Silas. She knew it was Carmilla calling and texting but she couldn’t handle that right now. She couldn’t deal with any more questions or explanations that she simply wasn’t prepared to give.

I can’t do this anymore! It’s too much and I just can’t!

Finally reaching her destination, she’d thrown some cash at the driver and ungracefully scrambled out of the car before it sped off. She’d marched up the newly stained cedar stairs in front of her in a huff, bags still dangling askew, and began the first chorus of ‘wake the hell up, this is an emergency’ on the bright red entryway.

“Open the damn door!” she yelled when she heard a loud clamor from inside. She continued banging on the strong oak planks in front of her with her fist, only stopping when a confused and half asleep LaF finally unlocked it and pulled it open.

“Frosh? What’s wrong? What’s-”

“I can’t do this!” Laura said as she plowed past her friend and into the house. “I can’t do this anymore!”

“Come on in L. Make yourself at home,” LaF said as they closed the door and slowly followed her into the modest two-story craftsman.

Laura stomped into the living room, dropping her bags at the side of the sofa and turned angrily to her friend, seething.

“I can’t do this!”

“So you’ve said. Want to elaborate a little further on that?”

“Laura, sweetheart, what are you doing here? What’s wrong?” Perry asked as she rounded the corner, pulling her robe tighter around her body over her matching pajamas.

“You two! You’re supposed to be my friends! You’re supposed to be on my side!”

“I’m sure we are Frosh, but just for shits and giggles, how about you tell us what we’re on the side of?”

“I don’t have a girlfriend! I don’t have a fiancé! I’m not engaged to some sweet and snarky supermodel! I’m not!” Laura ranted as she quickly paced from one end of the room to the other, her hands angrily flailing in front of her in patternless arcs.

“Well, I mean technically Frosh-”

“No! I’m not! I’m not going on double dates or planning romantic anniversaries or… well, I’m definitely not having sex with her! I got rammed into by some jerk who totaled my car, lost consciousness and when I woke up, I had this entire life that I never even knew about! That I had no idea even existed!”

“Laura, sweetheart, why don’t you sit down,” Perry said, walking further into the room and attempting to corral the steaming journalist.

“I don’t want to sit down,” she yelled, dodging the redhead and continuing to pace. “I want to know why my best friends are on her side and not mine?”

“L, seriously, what are you talking about? We’re on your side. But you have to tell us what the hell happened and why you woke up our entire neighborhood at seven on a Saturday,” LaF said, slumping heavily onto the couch and rubbing their eyes.

“Because you guys expect too much! And so does Danny. And Mel. And Kirsch. And Mattie and Will. And my dad. And… damn it, so does Carmilla. You guys all just expect everything to go back to the way it was even though I don’t know what that is. You’re all expecting too much from me. Me! Your friend! And I just… I can’t!”

“Laura, dear, what happened this morning? Did Carmilla do something to upset you? Did she say something?”

“I woke up this morning and there she was. Just sleeping away. Just like it was any other day. Nothing out of the ordinary for her. Nope. Nothing different.” She heard the bite in her tone as she rounded back towards the other end of the room but didn’t care. This whole thing had gone on for too long.

“You guys slept together? Like…” LaF attempted to make some sort of crude gesture with their hands but it just came off as bumbling and clumsy.

“What? Aren’t you listening? No! We both just fell asleep on the couch last night. Together!”

“Ok, seriously L, you’ve got to chill the hell out and help us. You’re all over the place and I don’t know-”

“That’s because you won’t listen!”

“Alright, enough.” Perry stepped in front of Laura, gently placing her hands on her shoulders to keep her from moving away. “Laura, sweetie, why don’t you go into the kitchen. I’ll be in in just a moment to make you a nice, hot cup of cocoa. LaF, dear, why don’t you run upstairs and grab a quick shower to wake yourself up. Then we’ll all sit down and we can rationally talk about whatever this is.”

“But-”

“No arguments Laura. Now go.”

Laura sighed and literally stomped into the other room, not bothering to listen to the hushed whispers behind her between her two friends. Probably just coming up with some new scheme to convince me I should feel one way or another! Some way to just get me to suck it up and just smile and pretend like everything is normal. Jerks!

She plopped down heavily at the kitchen table, her right hand clenched so tightly in a fist that her nails dug painfully into her palm, her left lying casted and useless beside it, still fuming. She heard her harsh breathing and felt the tension overtaking her shoulders to the point that they were starting to ache, but she didn’t care. This is so ridiculous. How in the hell did this happen to me? What have I done to deserve this?

She looked up, her jaw firmly set as Perry finally flittered into the room, immediately going about making coffee and her hot cocoa like it was any other day. She didn’t say a word, which if it was possible, made Laura even more agitated.

“Seriously Per? You’re just going to pretend like this is a normal day?” Laura again heard the anger in her voice and it only fueled her rage further. This was all her friends’ fault anyway. Why hold back?

“No Laura because clearly you are upset. And we want to help you in whatever way we can. But it might be better if we’re all here for you so that we can all understand.”

“You guys don’t want to understand! You just want-”

“Laura!” The tiny brunette sat back in her chair and huffed, crossing her arms over her chest with a pout. It was rare for Perry to raise her voice but when she did, she usually meant business and Laura realized if that was the case, she really wasn’t going to get anywhere with her objections. “We will listen to you, I promise,” she said, her tone much softer. “But for right now, let’s just calm down and we’ll talk once everyone gets here.”

“Everyone? Did you call Carmilla?!? Seriously, this is why you’re on her side! This is why-”

“No, we did not call Carmilla dear. You clearly are upset with her or about her so that would have been incredibly stupid of us to do so. Although, we don’t want her to worry about you.”

My friends don’t want her to worry!”

“Yes, your friends. But we’re her friends too Laura. You may be the one who’s known us longer, but we care about both of you. Now please, just be patient. I promise, we will hear you out.” And with that Perry turned her back, continuing on with her task of putting together the morning perk up kit, humming softly, nonchalantly as she did so.

Laura sighed again, staring down with a scowl at the table in front of her. This whole situation was completely ludicrous. Why had she even bothered coming here? This was a stupid idea that would only further confuse the situation. Her friends had clearly already sided with Carmilla. They didn’t want to help her, they all just wanted everything to return to what it was before the accident. But she just couldn’t do that anymore! She couldn’t deal with it!

She was pulled out of her thoughts at the sound of the front door opening and closing and feet slowly shuffling down the hallway towards the kitchen.

“Alright, I’m here. This better be good Per. Betty and I were out late last night and I’m running on about two hours of sleep.” She watched as Danny rounded the corner, rubbing at her eyes tiredly, still trying to focus on her surroundings.

“Oh perfect! Yes, let’s team up on Laura even more!” she growled, her eyes as menacing as she could muster.

“It is important, trust me,” Perry answered, ignoring her as she poured cocoa into one mug and overly caffeinated coffee into three others.

“Oh good, everyone’s here,” LaF said, finally coming into the room, energetically grabbing one of the mugs and taking the chair next to Laura’s at the table. Danny and Perry followed with their own cups, albeit a bit slower.

“Alright… oh shit, that’s good,” Danny said, taking a sip from her cup and nodding at Perry in approval before turning back to Laura. “Hollis, come on, talk to us. What’s going on with you? What happened this morning?”

Laura took a deep breath and tightly gripped the mug Perry had placed in front of her, her brow furrowing, her mouth opening wide to let another rant fly when LaF stopped her.

“Nu-uh. No no no Frosh. Talk to us. Tell us what happened to you when you woke up today that has you sitting here ready to rip our heads off before eight in the morning.”

“Carmilla happened!”

“Alright, and what did Carmilla do sweetie? You said something about waking up and she was there?”

“Because we both slept on the couch together!”

“Ok. And… Come on Hollis, I know it’s been a few weeks of separate beds but you’ve been sleeping next to the girl for years now.”

“And right there! That’s exactly it! See, I don’t know that! Don’t you guys get it?” She looked around the table at her three friends, all of them staring back at her, faces full of concern and confusion. Sighing heavily, she took a deep breath and leaned forward in her seat, using every ounce of control she had to keep her voice level and calm. “I know everyone just thinks that Carmilla and I are together and we’re engaged and happy and in love and that everything’s great. But it’s not! I don’t remember her. I don’t know her. I can’t be in a relationship with someone I don’t know… with someone that I don’t…” She trailed off, hating what she was feeling but knowing it was the truth. “With someone that I don’t love.”

“Whoa.”

She looked up, taking in the complete surprise on LaF and Danny’s faces and the utter sadness on Perry’s and felt the thousand pound weight of disappointment crushing her. If this was their reaction, how devastated would Carmilla be?

Oh Jesus, if this is their reaction then… crap, I’m going to absolutely break Carmilla’s heart. I can’t.

“I’m sorry you guys but-”

“No, Laura, sweetie, don’t apologize. You’re right. You don’t know her and we… forgot that,” Perry said, taking her hand from across the table and squeezing gently.

“I hate this! I hate this so much you guys,” she said, slumping forward onto the table, feeling that horrible pain in the center of her chest again.

“Hollis, let me ask you something. Honestly, do you feel anything for Carmilla?” Laura peered up at Danny from the crook in her arm, hating the pity she saw on the tall girls face.

“I…”

“Wait a minute, hang on.” LaF eagerly scrambled up from their seat and ran out of the room, tripping twice and returning after a loud clatter that made Perry cringe a moment later.

“LaFontaine, did you just-”

“I’ll clean it up later, I promise. But right now, pressing issues here Per,” they said as they sat back down, notebook and markers in hand. “Ok now, Frosh, think about this. It’s been a little over four weeks since the accident and almost three weeks since you’ve been home from the hospital. You remember us. You remember your dad and your job and all that good stuff. Fine, but you don’t remember Carmilla. You don’t know her. So think about it this way. You live with her right?” They stopped and looked up at Laura, waiting wide-eyed for a response.

“I know I’ve forgotten things but I haven’t gone completely off the deep end LaF!”

What the hell is wrong with my friends?!?

“Ok, alright, good. So Carmilla’s your roommate then, right? I mean, you guys live together so that makes sense,” LaF said as they opened the notebook and started drawing lines across the page. They wrote the word ‘Roommate’ at the top of one of the boxes they’d drawn before briefly glancing back to Laura. “As far as that goes, what do you know about your roommate Carmilla? Just things that you’ve observed living with her.”

Laura watched as three sets of anxious eyes turned from LaF’s chart to her, waiting.

“Seriously? LaF, what in the hell-”

“Come on L. Just let me try something here. If it doesn’t work, you can yell at us some more. Now, what have you noticed about your roommate Carmilla?”

“Ugh, I don’t know. I mean… she’s messy.”

“Ok, what else?” LaF said as they wrote down Laura’s answer.

“Um… she’s a photographer but she’s also really good at like drawing and painting stuff. She likes rock music and sometimes plays it really loud. And she has a lot of books because she likes to read.”

“Good, good. Keep going L,” LaF said as they wrote down each answer.

“She’s a good cook. The majority of her wardrobe is black. Um… I don’t know! What is the point of this?” Laura sighed in frustration.

“Just trying a little experiment ok? Now…” LaF turned to the other side of the chart and wrote the word ‘Friend’ at the top. “Would you say Carmilla is a friend of yours?”

“Well… yeah?” Laura said, testing out how the word sounded in her head. Friend? That kind of feels weird but… it’s a million times better than roommate. “Yeah, I would call her a friend.”

“So what do you know about your friend Carmilla? Not what you’ve observed because you usually know more personal details about friends so… what do you know about her?”

Laura paused for a moment, thinking about all of the things she’d discovered over the last month about Carmila from the stories she’d been told, all the little tidbits of information she’d learned coming to the surface and sitting on the tip of her tongue. But that wasn’t right, was it? No, what had she organically learned about Carmilla since she’d woken up in the hospital? What habits and details had she ascertained about the dark haired girl?

“She… she’s really sarcastic and snarky. And she’s really smart. She kind of has a dark sense of humor but she can be silly sometimes too. At least when no one else is around. She’s pretty. Like incredibly, over the top, unfairly gorgeous. She… she acts like a total badass but really she’s just a big softy. She’s really sweet and thoughtful. She’s… still messy.”

She looked up when her friends all chuckled.

“She… she smells really good. She’s super confident but can be incredibly vulnerable. She’s a total flirt. She can literally flirt just with a look. And she has all these nicknames for me. I don’t know where she comes up with all of them but they make me blush every single time. She does things for me without my asking or sometimes, without me even knowing I need it. She’s there for me when I’m sad and…” She glanced up at her three friends, noticing Danny and Perry smiling fondly at her and LaF giving her a big toothy grin. “What?”

“Laura, sweetie, I’m not trying to upset you again. We all understand we were wrong in just acting like nothing out of the ordinary had happened and that the two of you were just status quo. But do you think maybe you might have a little crush on Carmilla?” She looked at Perry, eyes wide, opening and closing her mouth like a fish out of water.

No, that’s not the point.

“Or… maybe more than a crush?” Danny asked.

“I… I mean…”

“Laura, dear, it’s ok. We’re not talking about anything more than a possible small romantic interest in her. If you do, that’s fine. It’s also fine if you don’t. If you only see her as a friend, we understand and you can be honest with us. We’re not going to judge you or run back and tell her everything you said today.”

“I… I…” She floundered again, already knowing what the answer was but that wasn’t the problem. “I know there’s something there you guys. I know there are feelings, ok? But it’s not… it’s just so confusing because I know it’s not what I’m supposed to feel for her. It’s not even a modicum of what she deserves or of what was apparently once there. She’s still a mystery to me and everything is so new and… guys how am I supposed to be madly in love with someone that I still don’t-”

“Wait Frosh, no! No one is saying you’re supposed to be madly in love with her ok? We were putting too much pressure on you.”

“But it’s not just that! I mean, honestly, yes there’s been pressure and it’s coming from every direction. And it’s so overwhelming and scary. I’ve been trying to keep my head up and roll with it but I just can’t take it anymore. I can’t. But more than that… guys I don’t want to hurt her,” she said, feeling the burning sensation creeping up behind her eyes. Damn it! No, I’m angry, I’m not sad. Stop it!

“Why do you think you’re going to hurt her?” Danny asked. “Yeah, it’s not ideal but… Hollis, you wanted her more than anything in this world. You don’t remember that feeling but it’s true.”

“Because even if that’s true, what if I never get back there? What if… what if I never remember?” She looked around at her friends, feeling worse at the nervous glances they exchanged. “I mean, you guys, what if I’ve lost absolutely everything? Everything having to do with her? With the two of us? Permanently?”

“L, honestly, it’s a possibility. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a future with her. Unless… unless you don’t want to.” LaF sat their marker down and turned further in their seat towards Laura. “Do you think you might not want that?”

Laura looked away, unable to take her friends intense stares anymore. What did she want? She knew she liked Carmilla. That part was easy. The hard part was having no idea if she’d ever feel what she felt before the accident. Not that she knew what those feelings felt like or were. But if she never regained her memory, she’d have to rely on developing those feelings naturally all over again. And what if that doesn’t work? What if it never happens?

She thought of Carmilla. Thought of her smile, her laugh. She thought about the way she got that little tingle in her chest whenever the girl’s intense dark eyes found her own. Thought of how happy she felt when she got to spend time with her, just the two of them. She thought of how her heart beat a little faster when she saw Carmilla first thing in the morning or when she walked through the door at the end of the day. She thought of that hopeful look in Carmilla’s eyes every time she reached for Laura’s hand and Laura didn’t pull away. She thought of all the things Carmilla had patiently done for her since she’d woken up in that stupid hospital bed, all with no strings attached.

Why did I have to lose her? Why is she the only thing missing?

“I… I don’t know where I’m going to end up. Where we’re going to end up. I… I don’t know what’s going to happen. But…” She trailed off, finally looking up at the three expectant faces in front of her. “But I don’t want to ignore the possibilities. I don’t want to just throw it all away. I don’t want to not try and just give her up.”

She watched as Danny and LaF smiled in relief, both opening their mouths to say something most likely encouraging when Perry stopped them, holding up at hand at each to silence them but keeping her eyes on Laura, her face completely serious.

“This is what you want Laura? Think about it, very carefully. If we weren’t sitting here with you… if you were completely on your own and had to make this decision, would you still choose Carmilla? Would you still want to try with her?”

Laura thought more about the dark-haired girl. Her sweetness and chivalry. Her thoughtfulness and caring nature. Her rare silliness and flirtatiousness. Her amazing intelligence and drive. Yes. Yes I want to try.

She looked back at Perry and nodded, still feeling that intense burning behind her eyes. She knew it wouldn’t be long before the tears couldn’t be contained any longer.

“Ok,” Perry said, once again reaching across the table and taking Laura’s hand in her own, squeezing it encouragingly. “If that’s what you really want, we’re happy for you.”

“But… you guys that’s not going to solve everything. I mean, I can’t be her fiancé. Or her girlfriend. I’ve never even been on a date with her.”

“Well maybe that’s where you start L. You start from the beginning. I mean, if there are no expectations from anyone, then that makes sense.”

Laura just turned her gaze back to the woodgrain in the table, clumsily tracing the patterns with her index finger, knowing it wasn’t that simple.

“But that’s not the worst part you guys. I mean, sure I can try to start over. I can ask her out on a date and we can try to start with a clean slate. But…” She took a deep breath, hating herself in that moment, not only for running to her friends like a coward but for everything that had happened in the last month. And for everything she’d done to hurt the woman she was supposed to love, despite the fact that she couldn’t remember causing the hurt all those years ago. “You guys, she keeps telling me about the two of us. About how we got together and started and all the stuff in between. I was definitely not winning girlfriend of the year awards back then. I hurt her so many times. No on purpose, but still… and now… now I’m going to do it all over again. I’m going break her heart.” Here they come, she thought, swiping at her wet cheeks.

“Laura, sweetie, it’s ok,” Perry said, quickly moving from her chair and around the table, wrapping Laura in a comforting hug as more and more tears leaked out. “Sweetheart, you can’t feel bad about being honest with her. I understand you don’t want to hurt her but Carmilla’s a big girl. She’ll understand.”

“This isn’t something that you just ‘understand’ Per.”

“The circumstances aren’t ideal but Hollis, give her chance to try.”

“But what if I’m not worth it? She’s already been through enough shit with me that-”

“No, L, come on. Carmilla would take a bullet for you. That girl loves you more than anyone else in this whole world. It might not be easy, for either of you, but she knows you’re worth it.”

Laura just hung her head, unable to argue any further, wiping at her now puffy eyes, completely unconvinced. This is never going to work. I’m going to lose the best thing that ever happened to me and I’m not even going to know all of what I lost.

“Ok, so… and don’t bite my head off here. I know that maybe a lot of this might be new revelations to you but have you talked to Drusilla about any of this? At all?”

“How can I? I mean, if I were in her shoes and the person I was in love with said any of this to me, it would crush me.”

“But just like it isn’t fair of us to put these expectations on you, is it fair for you to hide this from her?” LaF asked.

“But this is still going to hurt her so much.”

“What’s going to hurt her more though L? You telling her what you just told us or running away?”

She looked back down at the table, feeling her shoulders sag even further, the shame from her behavior increasing tenfold. No, she didn’t want to hurt Carmilla, she knew that. But she’d done it anyway. Carmilla’s face from that morning flashed in her mind, so confused and wounded. She’d done that. That was all her fault.

“You’re right. I know, I’m sorry,” she said, picking at the edge of her cast, feeling more and more quiet tears cascade down her face.

“You don’t have to apologize sweetie. We understand and we’re sorry too. We should’ve been more supportive and we will be, from now on,” Perry said, holding her tighter. She let herself rest her head on Perry’s shoulder, feeling the smallest amount of tension leave her body. At least she had her friends again. That was something, right?

Just keep telling yourself that. Maybe you’ll start to believe it.

“Hollis, I get that this isn’t the best situation. I mean, it’s completely shitty. But it’s been almost a month now since the accident. Why didn’t you say something sooner? What the hell happened this morning that tipped you over the edge?”

“I just… I woke up and there she was. We were sleeping on opposite ends of the couch but I was… I was completely wrapped around her. Like arms, legs, everything. And she… she was holding me too. I felt her hand on my hip and I honestly thought she was awake at first because I could feel her thumb kind of moving back and forth. And it felt… it felt so damn good you guys. And all I could think about was how this isn’t fair! Because I can’t…” She paused for a hiccup and a teary thankful smile to Perry who inexplicably pulled a tissue out of nowhere to sop up her tears. “I can’t remember what it’s like… to wake up to her and feel her around me. And then it hit me that apparently, I’m supposed to. I’m supposed to be engaged to this woman but… I can’t be. And now… now I have to figure out how the hell I’m supposed to tell her that… Oh god, how do I tell her?”

“Why don’t you stay here and rest for a little bit sweetie? Give yourself a little time to calm down. I’ll make us some breakfast and afterwards, you can relax. Maybe get some sleep. You look tired.”

“But Carmilla doesn’t know where-”

“I texted her already. She knows you’re here and that you’re safe L. I’m sorry. We didn’t know the situation this morning but we didn’t want her to worry.” Laura just nodded, still feeling horrible about the way she’d ran out of the house. But she just needed a little longer to collect herself. She wasn’t ready to break Carmilla’s heart again just yet.

“How about chocolate chocolate chip pancakes? With whipped cream?” Perry asked, squeezing her shoulders and smiling gently. Laura only nodded and watched as Perry stood and made her way towards the stove. “Danny, would you like to stay?”

“Actually I promised the wife I’d be home asap. So… you good Hollis?”

“We’ve got her. Go home to the missus. We’ll talk to you later,” LaF said, scooting their chair closer to Laura’s and squeezing her shoulder once. If she wasn’t so sad at the moment she probably would’ve laughed at the vast difference in styles of comfort between LaF and Perry.

“Alright, well let me know if you three want to do Wednesday pizza. We haven’t done that in a few weeks,” Danny said as she dropped her coffee mug in the sink and sent a small nod and a smile towards Laura. Laura attempted to smile back her thanks and watched as the tall girl meandered out.

“And then there were three…” LaF said with a small smile. “So, Frosh… tell us more about this girl you like. What’s her name? Camilla? Camille? Bad Seed USA?”

Laura couldn’t help the small, teary giggle that escaped. She leaned her head onto LaF’s shoulder, suddenly more than grateful for her friends.

“Thanks you guys. Really, I don’t… I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“Don’t sweat it L. We’re used to being your voice of reason. We’ve been here with you before.”


Six Years and Nine Months Earlier

Laura sighed happily into one more soft kiss, her eyes opening slowly, dreamily as Carmilla pulled away.

“Later cutie,” she said with a smirk before she turned and walked down the hallway towards the staircase. It was the first time she’d seen her in three days. Between classes, Carmilla’s job and her own work at the newspaper, they were hard-pressed to find much time together. She watched until Carmilla was out of sight, finally closing the door and leaning against it, smiling like an idiot.

“You are ridiculous,” LaF said with a chuckle, watching her from their seat on the couch.

“Don’t start in LaFontaine, she’s happy,” Perry called from the kitchen, softly smiling to herself.

“I’m not! I’m just making an observation.”

“You know what? It doesn’t matter. Make fun all you want. Perry’s right, I am so happy,” Laura said as she pushed herself off the door and practically skipped into the kitchen, settling on to one of the stools there and spinning around a few times.

“Yeah, we can see that Frosh.” Still chuckling, LaF stood up and walked towards the kitchen as well, taking the other available stool. “And we’re happy for you.” Perry just nodded in agreement, still smiling thoughtfully. “You know, I think this looks good on you L. Love suits you.”

“What?!” Laura stopped her spinning, her smile gone, eyes wide, staring in panic at her redheaded friend.

“Um… uh… well…” LaF stared back, sporting their own look of panic and turning desperately to Perry for help.

“Why would you say that? Why would you think that I’m…”

“Laura, sweetie, it’s ok,” Perry said, setting down the cookie sheet filled with still hot snickerdoodles and walking around the counter. “Calm down, deep breaths. You’re going to hyperventilate.”

Laura gripped the counter with white knuckles, realizing Perry was right and the choking feeling in her chest had taken over. But that didn’t matter because she couldn’t be… she wasn’t…

“No. No. No. I can’t… I mean… that can’t be right. I can’t be…”

“You don’t have to be L. We just thought-”

“We? You both… have you guys been talking about me behind my back again?”

“No, Laura, we just assumed… you and Carmilla just seem to be doing very well together. She seems to make you happy and we just thought that-”

“That what? That I’m in love with Carmilla? Why? Because she makes me happy? I mean, yes she does. She makes me incredibly happy. She’s incredible! She’s sweet and thoughtful, and kind and respectful, and yes, I love being around her. I love spending time with her. But that doesn’t mean… oh my god.”

“L?”

“I do. I love Carmilla. I’m in love with Carmilla. When the hell did that happen?!?”

“Laura, sweetie, it’s ok,” Perry said, rubbing a soothing hand over her back.

“But how in the hell did this happen? How did this happen and I didn’t even realize it? I mean, how did I fall in love without knowing?”

“Sometimes it just happens L,” LaF said, turning and smiling softly at Perry, who’s cheeks tinted slightly.

“Oh god you guys. I mean yes, you’re adorable and I love but you, but so not the same situation. You two have been destined for each other since birth. Carmilla and I just met last year. We’ve only known each other a few months.”

“Alright, but Laura dear, it’s true, sometimes it just happens. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Carmilla is very good to you.”

“I have to admit it Frosh, when you first started crushing on her, I definitely didn’t see this coming but Per’s got a point. She treats you right. And there’s nothing wrong with having feelings for her. I mean, it’s a good thing. Love’s great. And it’s not so scary. Especially after you admit it. Once you tell her-”

“No! I cannot tell her! I’ll send her running for this hills if I do.”

“Why do you think that? Who’s to say if you told her, she wouldn’t say it back?”

“You know we’re talking about Carmilla right?”

“Laura, dear, nothing has sent her running so far. Why would this be any different?”

“Because she’s Carmilla! She’s amazing and perfect and can have anyone she wants!”

“And she apparently wants you L. I  mean come on, you guys have been together for a bit now. Maybe she feels the same way about you.”

“Yeah well, unless you can prove that, I think this conversation is over and I’m going to pretend it never happened,” she said, hoping off the stool and tripping over her own two feet in her rush to get away from her two best friends and her terrifying revelation.

“Laura, sweetie, you can’t do that. You can’t just stop feeling a certain way because it’s a little scary.”

“And I may not be able to provide scientific proof of Carmilla’s feelings for you but anyone can see she’s crazy about you L. I mean, literally, the girl has nothing but disgusting heart eyes for you.”

Laura thought about that. She’d seen the heart eyes and the longing looks. And she knew Carmilla treated her better than any previous girlfriend. Not that she had a long list to compare to but even if she did, she knew Carmilla would still win that category by a landslide. And she wasn’t going to argue the fact that Carmilla cared about her. She knew that too. She knew she was important to the dark haired girl, but that didn’t meant Carmilla loved her. That didn’t mean Carmilla was in love with her.

“I see the wheels turning L. Don’t overthink this. You don’t have to tell her or say anything.”

“That’s right Laura, if you’re not ready or comfortable, you can wait. But you don’t have to be scared either. Carmilla’s a great girlfriend. And even if you did tell her and even if she didn’t say it back, she would never make you feel bad about it or run for the hills as you say.”

Laura wanted to believe that. She really did. But Carmilla…

I still don’t even know how in the hell I landed this girl. If I tell her I’ve fallen in love with her, she’ll be gone before I can blink. No. No, I can’t tell her. Things are so good between us and if I tell her, that’ll ruin everything.

She looked up into the eager faces of her best friends and felt an ache in her chest that she’d never felt before. She shook her head and turned, walking into her room and softly closing the door without another word.


 Present

It was after midnight when Laura quietly unlocked the door and stepped into the house, peering into the darkness and listening for any sound to indicate Carmilla was home. It seemed quieter than normal, which left her feeling even more disarmed.

She was tired and her entire body ached, partially, she guessed from being so emotionally stressed and tense all day and partly from sleeping on that godforsaken couch.

Poor Carm. She’s been sleeping on that damn this this whole time and it’s all my fault. Just another tick mark in the category of Laura’s screwups.

She hung her keys on the hook by the door and made sure to lock the deadbolt behind her. Kicking off her shoes, she stepped further into the house and turned on the light over the kitchen table, her eyes adjusting from the soft glow it cast over half of the room. She turned and quietly tiptoed towards the living room, peering around the wall and catching sight of the small form lying prone on the couch. Carmilla.

She leaned against the corner of the wall, watching the dark-haired girls chest slowly rise and fall. She took in the soft planes of her face in the moonlight, feeling something flutter in her stomach.

She’d been so angry at Carmilla. The dark haired girl had held back so much from her all those years ago. All those feelings of hurt and that painful vulnerability. And here Laura was, running out and hiding from her when her own feelings got to be to much to handle. She had so much to apologize for.

She liked Carmilla. A lot. She was absolutely amazing and she was lucky to have her in her life, regardless of how or what form that relationship was. But she had to bite the bullet and be honest with her. She couldn’t keep up the quiet charade. She owed her that much.

Sighing softly she glanced at the sleeping girl one last time. She wanted to try. She really did. She just hoped she hadn’t messed it up too badly.

I hope I’m not too late.

Chapter Text

Sighing once again, she looked back down at the note on the counter, reading it once more and feeling her stomach anxiously clench. She shouldn’t have been surprised to find it there that morning.

After all, it’s not like she owes you anything after the stunt you pulled yesterday. You should be ashamed of yourself.

And she was. She was utterly mortified and filled with relentless guilt but of course, there was nothing she could do about that now. She couldn’t turn back the clock and stop herself from running to her friends like a coward. She couldn’t erase the pained look on Carmilla’s face when she’d snapped at her. She couldn’t take back the sadness and distress she’d caused the dark-haired girl.

She’d finally fallen asleep the night before after tossing and turning for hours, her heart physically aching as she remembered what she’d done that day and at the thought of the anguish she was sure to cause the next. The clock on the bedside table had read 3:30 AM before she finally drifted off to a restless sleep. When she’d woken up hours later, she was horrified to discover it was already well after eleven. She quickly threw herself from the bed and tore into the hallway, sliding on the hardwood, only slowing down once she finally reached the living room. She’d peered around the corner, her heart dropping when she saw it was empty. Carmilla wasn’t there.

Shit! Well, where is she?

She helplessly walked back into the deserted kitchen, at a loss of what to do. Looking around she noticed her favorite tardis mug sitting alone in the middle of the counter. Definitely doesn’t belong there. She approached it, seeing the piece of paper underneath it and immediately released the breath she didn’t realize she was holding, her shoulders sagging in defeat.

Laura,

Spending the day with Mattie and Will, if it
matters.

Carmilla

It had been like a bucket of ice water to her face. Jesus, if it matters?! Oh my god, I fucked up so bad. And she’d signed the note Carmilla. Not Carm.

Laura slumped down at the counter, the air completely taken out of her. How could she start to fix this if Carmilla wasn’t even there? How could she make it right?

She’d picked up her phone at least a dozen times, tempted to explain everything but she couldn’t do that. She owed it to Carmilla to at least face her. She owed it to her to look her in the eye when she apologized and explained herself. However, she couldn’t leave Carmilla thinking all day that she didn’t care. That she didn’t matter. She had to say something and after more time debating than was necessary, she settled on something simple.

Laura (11:48AM): I saw your note. I’ll just see you when you get home.

She immediately regretted the text as soon as she sent it. It was so cold and impersonal, and not at all where she wanted this conversation to start. But it was too late. And really, what more could she do? She needed to have the older girl there, in front of her, face to face if she really wanted to try and repair what had been broken.

She stared at her phone for the longest time, willing Carmilla to respond with something, anything to give her an opening to at least let her know she wanted to talk. The minutes ticked by slowly, each one seeming to take longer than the last. Finally remembering the old adage about the watched pot never boiling, she made her way to the shower and spent more time than necessary getting ready for the day. After all, she had no plans to leave the house. She wasn’t going to miss the chance to catch Carmilla if and when she came home. After she was finally dressed, she walked back out to the kitchen and glanced at her phone, her heart sinking even further.

Carmilla (12:52PM): I’ll be late. Don’t wait up.

“Ok, alright. I deserve that,” she said to herself, anxiously fingering the corners of her phone.

What could she say back to that? Nothing. You screwed this up so bad Hollis.

“Shit.”

Aside from Carmilla’s text, there were a number of messages from her friends in a group text as well, all asking how she was, how things had gone, and if she needed anything.

I have to do this on my own. I can’t keep running to them. I need to work this out with just Carmilla.

Laura (1:06PM): Still working on everything but I’m fine you guys. I need to do this on my by myself. Consider yourself all officially dismissed from Laura babysitting duty.

Perry (1:07PM): Are you sure dear?

Danny (1:07PM): You got this Hollis.

LaF (1:07PM): Per, have you seen my stegosaurus socks?

LaF (1:08PM): Oops wrong text. Go get ‘em Frosh!

Laura felt the small giggle rumble in her chest for a brief second before frowning once again. She set her phone down and sighed, looking around the brightly lit room, feeling the unusual warmth of the late October sun streaming through the windows. It felt wrong for it to be such a beautiful day when the mood hanging over her was so dark and dreary.

She knew it was going to be a long day, waiting for Carmilla to come home but she’d wait. What else did she have to do?


Three loads of laundry, a complete once over cleaning on the house with a fine tooth comb, and four hours later, Laura finally sat down in the middle of the living room sofa. She pulled her legs underneath her and leaned forward, picking at the frayed edges of her cast as she stared down at her phone, sitting silent on the coffee table in front of her. She’d kept it nearby all day in hopes of hearing from Carmilla, but knowing deep down that she wouldn’t. And lo and behold, she was right.

“You reap what you sow Hollis.”

She’d, of course, heard the stories of Carmilla shutting down and shutting her out. And she’d even dealt with it to a minor extent when the situation had become too much for the dark-haired girl to handle. But right now, this feeling of being completely cut off from the woman she’d grown to depend on over the last few weeks was crushing her.

On the table next to her phone sat another photo album she’d found earlier that day. The damn thing had literally fallen down on top of her as she was struggling to put some of their clean clothes onto one of the higher shelves of the bedroom closet. She’d initially found it curious just how many physical photos they had in the house. After all, wasn’t it the twenty-first century? And then she’d walked into the kitchen one day, seeing Carmilla sitting there, cleaning her equipment and almost smacked herself in the face for her own ignorance.

You live with a photographer dummy.

Of course, Carmilla’s occupation only made things harder. Laura had found herself further avoiding photos since the day Carmilla had left the first photobook out for her to look at on her own. The fear of the unknown and the terrifying idea that nothing would be familiar kept her curiosity in check. But that curiosity had slowly been eating away at her over the last week and she needed to try and move forward. She couldn’t stay here in limbo forever, just hoping for a miracle. Whether her memories came back or not, she had to face the fact that life was still going on around her and she was missing out. Maybe looking at the pictures wouldn’t spark anything but that didn’t mean she couldn’t benefit from them.

She opened the book, smiling immediately at the photo on the very first page. It was definitely taken a few years after she and Carmilla had met. She could tell just by the way they both looked a little older than they did in the photos from the previous book as well as some of the other obvious additions in the picture. She also recognized the surroundings in the background as she’d been to the spot many times over the years. It was the lake near the cabin Mel’s parents owned. The group had spent many long weekends there during the warmer months but the trips had tapered off over the years as everyone graduated and it started to become more and more difficult to get everyone together at the same time for multiple days. Regardless, she still had many fond memories of long weekends there with her friends.

She ran her fingertips over the edges of the photo, taking in every little detail she could. It was a bright sunny day and the group had clearly been enjoying the beach and the water if the swimsuits and slight sunburns were any indication. LaF and Perry stood on the right side, arms around each other, both caught mid-giggle. On the left side, Danny stood, arms wrapped around Betty from behind, the two smiling sweetly at each other. Ugh, so gross, Laura thought with a small chuckle. In the foreground Mel and Kirsch made goofy faces at the camera, Kirsch’s outstretched arm clearly indicating he’d taken the photo. And right in the middle, standing ankle deep in the lake was Carmilla, laughing at the camera, keeping Laura aloft on her back, hands wrapped under her knees and Laura’s arms wrapped around her neck from behind. Despite the fact that her lips were attached to Carmilla’s cheek, she could still see the bright smile on
her face in the photo.

She turned the next few pages, taking in details from more pictures, apparently from the same trip, everyone laughing and happy. The final one she noticed was taken at sunset, though she had no idea who actually took the picture. But that didn’t really matter. She recognized the large deck off the back of the house, overlooking the water. It was one of the best places to be at that time of day as the sun glinted off the lake perfectly, reflecting back the subtle oranges and soft purples. The picture was just her and Carmilla, both of their backs to the camera, standing at the railing and watching the beautiful sight. They stood there, Carmilla behind her, holding her close, both of them tucked into the red and black flannel the dark-haired girl was wearing. Laura could see her own head tucked back into Carmilla’s neck as they watch the sun descend.

This… this is what I’ve lost, she thought as she felt her eyes begin to water. God, I’m so sick of crying! She angrily wiped at her cheeks, catching the first few tears before they made tracks down her face and leaned back onto the couch, the book still firmly nestled in her lap.

I can’t lose this. I won’t lose this, she thought resolutely, turning the page and continuing down non-memory lane.


Carmilla stared down into the glass, swirling the remainder of her high ball and mostly melted ice around it in soft, waveless patterns. She’d been nursing the same drink for the past hour, continually brushing off the offer from the smiling, overly flirtatious bartender to freshen it up for her.

The bar was loud but not overwhelmingly so. Of course, Mattie would find a place like this, having always had an affectionate flair for the past. It’s like we stepped back into the twenties, she thought, finally tossing back the remaining watered down liquor and softly setting the glass back down onto the ring of condensation it had left. Exposed brick, low lit chandeliers, grainy woodwork on the bar and tables, sultry jazz softly playing from the darkened corners.

She glanced up to her right, watching her sister smiling seductively and working on her victim for the night. Across the way, a little further, Will already had the girl he was hoping to snag on the line and had escorted her to one of the back booths.

There was a time when she would’ve been right there with them, singling out a pretty, unsuspecting target and using her undeniable charm and charisma to lure her in for the night, getting what she wanted before cutting her loose. That had been a long time ago though and looking back now, she really didn’t miss it in the slightest. No, the only thing she missed was Laura.

My Laura, she internally corrected herself with a frustrated shake of the head.

It felt weird to think of Laura in multiple contexts because it wasn’t like Laura had purposely gone out and changed herself into someone else or made a choice that would tear them apart. No, they hadn’t been given a choice. Either one of them.

But here we are, fucking stuck in this hell where she doesn’t want me anymore and I can’t do a damn thing about it.

And quite frankly, she was pissed. Pissed that she’d lost the girl she loved. Pissed that she had no control over whatever might come in the future. Pissed that Laura apparently couldn’t make up her mind. And damn it, she was wasn’t just pissed at the situation anymore. She was pissed at Laura.

Fucking hell.

She’d woken up that morning, exhausted after another mostly fitful night of sleep, grumpy and aching from her less than ideal accommodations. She’d contemplated taking the bed the night before but that had lasted about ten minutes before it became too much. The smell of Laura had enveloped her completely and, while normally she would’ve basked in it, it was not a normal night and she found herself quickly bolting from the room, her breathing fast and harsh in terrifying panic, and finding her way back to the uncomfortable confines of the couch.

She rubbed her still sleep filled eyes and stumbled up from her makeshift bed, groggy and a little disoriented, and out of the room, heading straight for the medicine cabinet in the master bathroom.

I should’ve bought stock in Tylenol before this shit show started, she thought as she cracked and popped her way down the hall. The door the to the bedroom was slightly ajar but she paid it no attention as she pushed it open and stepped into the room.

“Fuck!” She quickly slapped her hand over her mouth, realizing her outburst had been loud enough to wake the sleeping girl lying there in the bed.

Shit! Shit! Shit! Fuck, when did she get home? She quickly and quietly stepped out of the room, suddenly wide awake and on alert. Why is she here? She’s supposed to be holed up with the ginger squad, hiding out from anything remotely resembling me!

This was not the plan for the day. She’d been convinced that she wouldn’t see Laura again for at least another day. Maybe two. After all, Laura had taken an overnight bag with her the previous morning. Carmilla was counting on the time apart because she needed that time to wrap her mind around the entirety of the situation and figure out just what in the hell she was going to do. She still wasn’t sure how she was going to handle the situation. But now…

“Fucking shit!” she whisper yelled, running a frustrated hand through her hair.

Laura was there but now what? And why? She hadn’t heard anything more from LaF the previous day on Laura’s state of mind so she honestly had no idea what to expect when the tiny brunette woke up. Would she want to talk about what happened? Did she want to just pretend like it was a normal day and that the day before had never occurred? If she did want to talk about it, what would she have to say?

‘Oh, sorry Carm, I just realized I’m not in love with you anymore and since I can’t remember anything, oh well. Maybe we can be friends.’ Big smile. Soft pat on the shoulder.

“God damn it, this is so not fair!”

And it wasn’t just unfair to her. She knew that. She knew it was just as unfair to Laura. But that didn’t give Laura the right to just decide for both of them or to come and go as she pleased. She’d run off in a huff just twenty-four hours earlier, no explanation, and now she thought she could just come back and sneak in like it was no big deal?

She should’ve woken me up. She could’ve at least told me she was home. She could’ve at least just told me she was ok.

“God damn it!”

Now she was angry. It was her turn. Maybe Laura couldn’t remember the last seven years but Carmilla had spent the past few weeks telling the girl about their start and what they’d been through. She’d helped her in any way she could, whether Laura had asked her to or not. She’d stood by the woman she loved because that’s what you did when someone you cared about was hurt. She didn’t deserve to be treated this way. She deserved more. She deserved some kindness, some courtesy, some respect.

Practically growling she turned and quickly made her way to the other bathroom to get ready for the day. The Tylenol would have to wait.

“You sure I can’t get you another one?” She looked up, startled out of her thoughts to see the same bartender staring back at her, the girl’s seductive eyes and suggestive smile focused solely on Carmilla. “On me. I’d be happy to… offer you whatever you’d like.”

Carmilla smirked. She knew this game very well. She’d used the same tactics for years, sometimes for a bigger tip but mostly for some company later on that night. Shaking her head in amusement and smiling back at the girl, she reached into her pocket.

“Sure I’ll take another. But don’t bother wasting the charm on me doll,” she said as she threw a ten down on the bar and looked away, hoping to end any further flirtations pleasantries.

“You know, that’s no way to treat the help Kitty Cat.”

“Ugh, piss off Mattie,” she said, not even bothering to thank the bartender for the fresh drink she’d just placed in front of her.

“This whole moodier than thou attitude you’ve got going on is definitely not going to win you any favor points dear.”

“I’m not trying to win any favor points. Unlike you, I’m not here to pick up someone to take home for the night.”

“Then why are you here?” Mattie looked away for a moment, smiling charmingly at the man in the suit she’d left only moments before. Picking up the two drinks she’d just been served, she turned and stepped away. “Either go home and face Lolita or get over it. All this sulking is going to leave you with early frown lines.” And with that, she walked away, back to her company for the evening.

Carmilla just shook her head, rolling her eyes at Mattie’s predictable and brutally honest perspective. Of course, her sister thought it was that easy. But it just wasn’t, no matter how much she wanted it to be.

She pulled her phone out of her pocket, unlocking it and finding herself not at all surprised that she hadn’t heard anything more from Laura during the rest of the day. Part of her got even angrier about that. How dare Laura avoid her even further? She’d come home the previous night so everything was going to come to a head sooner rather than later. Why bother keeping Carmilla on edge? Why not just call a spade a spade and tell Carmilla the truth? Tell her that it was over. That they were over. The other part of her, however, was grateful she hadn’t heard from the tiny brunette. She needed some time and some space to calm herself down and figure out what she was going to do. Did she want Laura in her life? Of course. There was no question about that fact. But now that she knew that Laura was no longer in love with her, could she really handle a simple friendship between the two of them?

Mattie’s words from the previous day echoed through her mind: ‘You made her fall in love with you once you little monster. Nothing is stopping you from doing it again.’

Except that’s not true. She hadn’t made Laura fall in love with her before. They’d fallen for each other. No one had been trying, it had just happened, organically. And honestly, even after they’d admitted it to one another, it had taken Carmilla a while for her to understand that Laura really did love her. That she wasn’t just looking to get something out of Carmilla for her own gain. That Carmilla really was worth it.

She took a long pull from the glass in front of her and sighed. Regardless of whether Laura wanted her in her life or not, Carmilla knew she was going to have her heart broken. And she honestly wasn’t in a hurry to deal with that.


Six Years and Nine Months Earlier

Beautiful. So fucking incredibly beautiful. Carmilla turned onto her side and settled more comfortably, her hand supporting her head as she stared down at the tiny brunette next to her, sleeping soundly. She smiled as Laura murmured quietly in her sleep and snuggled further down into the pillow beneath her, pulling the sheet tighter to her chest. Carmilla’s eyes flicked down, tracing the contours of the exposed skin and perfect collarbones.

Laura had stopped by earlier in the evening, loaded down with her backpack, Chinese food, and an overnight bag, both girls ecstatic to be able to spend some uninterrupted time together. Not that she’d really need anything beyond clothes for the next day. Carmilla had placed an extra toothbrush in the holder the week after Laura had gotten back from Toronto and she absolutely never needed pajamas due to of the hours of extracurricular activities that never failed to completely overwhelm them into the early morning hours.

And tonight had been no exception. They’d managed to make it through the food, Laura managed to finish up an assignment for her Political Science class, and they were halfway into an episode of Firefly on Laura’s laptop before Carmilla had gotten bored and decided kissing Laura was a much better use of her time.

Now, hours later, Carmilla had woken up, untangled their limbs and trudged to the kitchen for a glass of water. When she’d returned, she’d been unable to look away from the sight of her gorgeous girlfriend lying there, sleeping so peacefully.

How in the hell did I get so lucky? she thought as she reached out and gently tucked a strand of hair behind Laura’s ear, lowering her hand down to the side of Laura’s neck, her fingertips gently grazing, her thumb gently stroking across her pouty lips. She smiled when Laura turned into her touch, the younger girl once again letting out a soft murmur.

Her eyes traced over the contours of Laura’s face, taking in every individual feature. Every freckle, every bump, every minute detail her eyes could find in the dark. The smaller girl was so absolutely perfect it made Carmilla’s heart throb.

It had been a struggle, keeping herself in check over the last week since the epiphany heard round the world. Even though they hadn’t had much time together, every time she was with Laura, she found herself practically biting her tongue to keep the words from leaving her mouth. She could not tell Laura that she was in love with her. It would ruin everything if she did.

This amazing girl… Carmilla stared down at her, terrified and frozen. Laura was the first girl she’d ever loved. Not only that, she was the first person Carmilla had broken down some of her walls for in years. The first person she thought she might be willing to break down all her walls for if given the chance. If she lost her, it would be devastating. If Laura rejected her, she’d be crushed. Completely shattered.

“Hey… Carm?” She looked up, seeing Laura sleepily blinking back at her. “What’re you doing?”

Busted. She felt the unpleasant thoughts melt away and smiled, leaning in a little closer and leaving only a few inches between their  faces as she got lost in those honey brown eyes she loved so much.

“Didn’t mean to wake you cutie. Just… admiring the gorgeous girl laying here next to me.”

“Mmm…” Laura giggled, reaching up and cupping the dark-haired girl’s cheek, running her thumb gently back and forth. “Charmer.”

“Go back to sleep cupcake,” she said, turning and leaving a soft kiss on Laura’s palm.

“But you’re awake,” Laura said, moving her arm to wrap around Carmilla’s torso, gripping her hip with the other and pulling the dark-haired girl on top of her with ease.

“That’s a terrible argument cutie. Besides, it’s late.”

“But I don’t want to lose out on time with you. You have to work tomorrow night and I’ll miss you,” Laura said, gently running her fingertips along Carmilla’s sides, smiling up at the dark-haired girl when she jumped from a particularly ticklish spot.

Carmilla stared down at her, eyebrow raised, noting the mischievous smile continuing to grow as Laura’s hands inched slowly back towards the spot.

“Don’t even think about it, Hollis.” Laura just giggled and wrapped her arms around Carmilla’s back instead, her lips changing to a softer smile.

“Seriously… I do miss you. I know that’s stupid but it’s been so hard since the holidays and our schedules changing. I feel like we hardly have any time together and it… it really sucks Carm.”

“I know.” She adjusted herself further, letting their legs tangle below the blankets, holding herself up on her elbows. “I… I miss you too.”

“Maybe I can come by tomorrow night? After you get home from work?”

“Creampuff, it’ll be after three by the time I get home. I don’t want to keep you up and waiting that long.”

“Well, maybe I can come by the bar and wait for you?”

“You’re going to sit there for hours, in a loud bar with a bunch of drunk idiots, and just watch me work? You don’t have anything better to do?” Carmilla asked with a smirk, leaning in to let her lips brush a soft kiss against Laura’s chin.

“I mean, it’s not ideal but at least I’d get to see you. You’re… you’re worth it Carm.”

She felt the smirk fall from her lips as she looked down at the beautiful face below her, Laura’s eyes soft and earnest.

I’m worth it? It was such a small thing but when had she ever been worth it to anyone else? When had she ever been enough?

“Laura, I…” She looked into the smaller girls eyes, feeling that overwhelming ache inside her taking over. But she couldn’t say the words. She’d only scare Laura away if she did and then what? She’d be all alone again.

“What it is?” Laura asked, looking up at her, soft eyes, gentle smile, blushing cheeks.

Fuck, I love her so goddamn much.

She just smiled at the smaller girl and leaned down, letting their lips meet in a soft kiss that quickly escalated into something more.


Present

Carmilla quietly entered the house, confused when she saw all the lights still on. It was well after  midnight and she honestly didn’t expect for Laura to be waiting up for her. Or at least, she’d hoped the stubborn brunette wouldn’t be awake and ready to talk when she walked inside. She closed the door behind her and listened, easily catching the sound of the television from the living room.

Shit. She sighed and kicked off her boots, realizing she couldn’t avoid this any longer. She was going to have to face Laura and deal with the very real fact that they were most likely over. That she had permanently lost the love of her life. She took a deep breath before she slowly rounded the corner and stopped at the sight.

It was a familiar one and one that usually made her smile. Laura lay on the couch, empty mug in front of her, Harry Potter book lying across her chest, remote in hand, asleep. Carmilla stepped closer, carefully taking the book off her chest and setting it on the table next to the smaller girls phone.

She stared down at the girl there, feeling her stomach flutter uncontrollably. God damn it. Laura was even more beautiful now than she was that night all those years ago. Carmilla’s eyes traced all the features she knew by heart before moving on to the light pink scars above her eyebrow and across her chin, additions that she’d already committed to memory. Those scars would always be a reminder of what had been lost. Of what they had lost.

She kneeled down beside the couch, continuing to watch as Laura’s chest gently rose and fell, none the wiser of Carmilla’s presence in the room. She felt her heart melt at the sweet sight. Her Laura… her sweet and wonderful Laura.

She closed her eyes tight and breathed in deeply through her nose, the anger she’d been holding on to all day warring with the undeniable love she had for the younger girl. The emotions battled back and forth, making her sick to her stomach.

Opening her eyes she watched for another moment before standing. Nothing was going to get solved tonight. It was late and she was tired. Laura could break her heart tomorrow.

Thinking over her options, she finally made a decision, selfish as it was and reached for the remote, tightly gripped in Laura’s hand to turn off the television. She switched off the lamp on the end table near Laura’s feet and grabbed the blanket she’d been using for the last few weeks, opening it and letting it softly flutter over Laura’s body. Making sure the smaller girl was completely tucked in, she glanced at her one more time before turning and walking out of the room.


Laura woke up slowly, confused and hazy.

Where the hell am I?

She looked around the room, attempting to make out anything familiar to indicate where she was. As her eyes adjusted and she took in her surroundings, she sighed and snuggled back further into the couch, remembering why she was there in the first place. She reached for her phone on the coffee table, noting it was almost dead, she had no missed messages and it was just after four in the morning. Sighing in defeat, she partially sat up, running a tired hand through her hair.

I guess Carm didn’t come home.

“Guess I deserve that too,” she whispered sadly. “How in the hell am I going to fix this?”

She put her phone back down and sat up more fully, swinging her feet onto the floor and pulling the blanket off.

Wait, where did this come from, she thought, still gripping it and looking at it curiously. She definitely wasn’t using it earlier. She’d thought about curling up with it, sure. But after Carmilla’s cold reaction that morning, she felt it would be an invasion of the dark-haired girl’s space and decided against it. And the TV and the lights… who turned them off? Suddenly curious, she stood and slowly made her way out of the living room, looking for any signs of anyone else in the house.

Carm’s boots. And her keys. With the soft moonbeams dancing across the room from the glass patio doors, it was easy to make out the objects in their places by the front door. Wait, if she came home… where is she? She quickly and quietly made her way towards their bedroom, anxiously peeking her head inside but noticing the bed lay empty.

“Where the heck is she?” She stopped and turned, listening for anything that would help guide her but the house was completely silent. Shuffling back down the hall, she glanced into the guest room and was just able to make out a figure curled up on the gray chaise lounge sitting in the back corner.

Carm.

She listened, hearing the soft, even breathing of the dark-haired girl who lay cramped and curled onto her side, using her leather jacket for a blanket. Turning and quickly tiptoeing back to their bedroom, she grabbed the spare throw off the end of the bed and tiptoed back. Carmilla didn’t move as Laura carefully pulled her jacket out of the sleeping girls grasp and softly lay the blanket over her in its place. She watched as Carmilla curled further into the blanket, unconsciously pulling it up to her chin. There were no windows in this room since it sat on the inside of the building. But that didn’t stop Laura from gazing at the dark-haired girl, her face so peaceful and soft.

She’s so amazing. So beautiful.

Damn it, she was going to fix this. How? She didn’t know. When? She had no idea. What was she going to do? She was drawing a blank. She had no idea how to make this work. And maybe she couldn’t. But she had to try. She couldn’t just throw Carmilla away. She couldn’t lose this
incredible woman.

She took one last look at her before she turned and quietly walked out of the room. She pulled the door closed behind her and slowly shuffled towards the kitchen knowing there was no way she was going to get any more sleep for the night, so there was no point in trying.

Starting some coffee, she slipped back down the hallway for the quickest shower she’d ever taken, coming back into the kitchen just as it was time to press the plunger down on her caffeine. She poured herself a full cup and sat down at the table to wait. It was just now after five but she wasn’t sure what else she could do while she waited. Turning to look out the patio doors, she watched the moon, seeming to take up half the sky in all its radiance. It still amazed her how life kept going when she felt like she was just standing still.


It was quiet but she’d been listening hard for the past hour. There was no way she was going to let Carmilla slip out again and she knew it couldn’t be too much longer before the dark-haired girl arose. She took another sip from the steaming mug in front of her, already feeling the jittery backlash, which wasn’t surprising.

Pile three cups of coffee on top of already being beyond nervous, what do you expect Hollis?

She fingered the handle of the mug, turning and glancing out the patio door behind her again. The sun was barely visible behind the clouds already forming in the distance and she could see the storm brewing on the horizon.

She could do this, she just had to be honest with Carmilla. She knew the dark-haired girl loved her and she wasn’t looking to use that as leverage, but it might work to her advantage if she could at least get Carmilla to see that she really did want to try. No, they couldn’t be engaged anymore. They’d be starting at the beginning. But there was still hope. Hope for a future, new and bright. If she could just get Carmilla to believe her because the thought of losing the amazing woman in the other room made her sick to her stomach.

She turned, pulled from her own head when she heard a quiet shuffle coming from down the hall. Sitting forward in the kitchen chair, she felt her nerves shoot up tenfold and she anxiously gripped the coffee mug in front of her, swallowing hard as she watched Carmilla finally round the corner.

Their eyes met and she felt her stomach drop dramatically as she took in the cold and indifferent look on Carmilla’s face. This was it. This was the moment she’d been waiting for. It was now or never. Swallowing once more, she attempted a soft smile, anxiously noting Carmilla’s
face didn’t change.

“Good morning.”

“Hey.”

Chapter Text

She knew Laura had found her as soon as she’d woken up. Her leather jacket gone and replaced by the soft throw covering her body was clue enough, nevermind the fact that the door was now closed. She’d purposely left it open the night before just in case. In case of what, she really wasn’t sure. But at the time it felt like the right thing to do.

She laid there on the chaise for a good twenty minutes, thinking over what was undoubtedly waiting for her outside of the office. Surprisingly, she just wanted to get it over with. She was sick of the push and pull, of the constant unspoken questions and lack of answers. It had been weeks of walking around on eggshells, worrying over if she was doing right or wrong by Laura, and honestly, it didn’t even matter. Her Laura was gone and when she went, their relationship went with her.

Carmilla felt the same anger from the day before sitting in the pit of her stomach, grinding away mercilessly as the seconds ticked by. She didn’t want to approach this with that venom in her chest but it wasn’t going anywhere any time soon. What else could she do besides lock it deep down inside? There was no other way to ease the frustration. It had been a long time since she’d blocked Laura off but given the circumstances, maybe it was best to just put on her blank face. No sense in making a public forum out of this. She would just rip off the band-aid as quickly and quietly as possible, and let it go. Let them go.

Yeah, like it’s really that easy. But it had to be that way. Laura wasn’t going to just fall back into her arms and, despite her enormous frustration, Laura didn’t necessarily deserve her wrath either. If she just cut her loose, maybe they could salvage something. A friendship? A rapport of some sort? You’re fucking dreaming Karnstein if you think you’ll ever be able to be just friends with Laura Hollis and not be head over heels in love with her until the day you die.

She threw the blanket off and slowly sat up, gripping the edges of the chaise tightly as she stared at the closed office door. Even though there was nothing but silence beyond it, she doubted Laura wasn’t up and waiting.

Years ago, she’d been the master of avoidance, but with Laura, things had been different. Of course, it had taken time to get to the point where she was confident enough to not push Laura away when things got hard or uncomfortable. They’d worked through it and Laura had become her rock but all of that was gone now. She had to stand on her own and face that. She had to face the fact that Laura didn’t love her, didn’t want her, and that their lives were about to change into something very different.

Fuck, she thought, rubbing her hand across her face. This is going to leave a mark.

Taking a deep breath, she left the room and shambled down the hall, rounding the corner to find Laura’s eager eyes already on her. She tried to ignore how beautiful the tiny brunette looked, sitting there in the dark blue sweater Carmilla had bought her for her birthday, hair pulled back, holding her tardis mug tightly within her grasp.

“Good morning.” She heard the hopefulness in Laura’s voice and steeled herself against it. Hope would do her no good here. It hadn’t been doing her any favors when it came to them over the past month. Today wasn’t going to be any different.

“Hey.”

Carmilla saw Laura flinch at her cool and distant tone, but as much as she didn’t want to hurt the other girl, she’d reached her end. Turning away, she walked towards the refrigerator, pulling out a fresh carton of orange juice and taking a healthy gulp as she stared out the kitchen window, watching the clouds move in. She could feel Laura’s eyes on her, burning into her skin, but it didn’t matter. She just couldn’t do this anymore. She never imagined it would be so incredibly painful to be completely head over heels in love with someone who didn’t love you back. Probably because she’d never been in this predicament. For some reason, the fact that it was Laura on the other side, made it seem even worse.

The silence grew as she took another swig, wiping at her mouth with the back of her hand and waiting for the inevitable. Old Laura, new Laura, it didn’t matter. The girl hated uncomfortable silences.

“Yeah, so, um… did you sleep ok?” Carmilla merely shrugged, continuing to stare out the window, the gloom of the day matching this moment so perfectly. “I um… I didn’t mean to take your bed. You know you could’ve slept in the bedroom. In fact, if you want, we can swap for a few nights so you can get some proper sleep. I mean, it’s really not fair… for you to have to keep sleeping out there in the living room and… I know it’s not ideal. I know musical beds isn’t the best solution in the long run… we need something better for a permanent arrangement. I mean, it’s not the best-”

“Laura, stop.”

The quiet calm in her voice was like a match, staring down a fuse, just ready to explode. She glanced over at the tiny brunette, seeing the worry on her face, her eyes anxious, her mouth slightly open, almost like she was waiting to say more but unable to. Sighing in frustration, Carmilla turned her back for a moment, putting the juice away before leaning forward over the counter, gripping the edges tightly. Taking a steadying breath, she finally looked up, meeting Laura’s gaze and shook her head.

“Just… just keep the bed. It’s fine.”

“But-”

“I said it’s fine Laura,” a little more bite to her tone. Gritting her teeth, she turned and looked out the window once more, watching the newly formed raindrops slowly starting to pelt against the glass and slide down in erratic paths. “I… I’m going to see if I can crash at Kirsch’s for a while. Or at least until I get my own place.”

“What?!” She heard the panic and when she glanced back, she saw the truly stunned look on Laura’s face. “You’re… you’re leaving?”

“I think that’s what’s best,” she said quietly. She felt the nausea turning her stomach inside out, the pain squeezing her chest. She wished with all her might that the disaffected tone in her voice wasn’t just a cover. That her emotions could catch up with the distant and uncaring sound of her voice. But with each word that left her mouth, it seemed her traitorous heart cracked a little more. Never in a million years did she think she’d be standing here, telling Laura that she was moving out and away from her.

“Carm…” Laura slowly stood from the table, stepping towards the opposite end of the island, standing across from Carmilla, her voice verging on desperate. “Please… please don’t. You can’t leave Carm. You… you promised. You promised you wouldn’t!”

“Well, the circumstances have clearly changed.” Stay calm.

“What circumstances? What’s changed?” She heard Laura’s pitch going higher with each word, the panic clearly sinking in.

“Everything’s changed.” Don’t yell. Don’t yell. Just keep your cool. “I mean, since the accident-”

“Carm, come on. I can’t help that!” Clearly, Laura was not going to take the cool and collected approach. “I mean, I can’t change the accident. Do you really think I wanted to wake up and not know who you were?” Carmilla glanced up quickly and then away, hating the fear she saw on Laura’s face.

“I’m not saying you asked for any of this. I’m not saying you wanted any of this to happen. But here we are and we just need to accept that and deal with it. I can’t keep… I can’t keep doing this.” She sighed deeply, looking down at her hands, knuckles white, tightly gripping the edge of the countertop. “I can’t keep pretending that this is normal and that everything’s fine.”

“Well, I get that. I mean, I know everything’s not fine and this is nowhere near normal for anyone. That’s… that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.” Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Laura hesitantly step around the edge of the counter, almost as if she were testing their boundaries. “Normal was a month ago and that’s gone. And I don’t know if it’ll ever come back but… that doesn’t… that doesn’t mean-”

“Laura, I get it,” she interrupted, loudly. She didn’t need to hear Laura say it. She just needed to end this now because the longer they talked, the less likely she’d be able to hold it together. “I… I know. Laura I… I love you. I think…” She moved her gaze out the window, feeling more hopeless than she’d ever felt. “I think I always will. You’ll always be important to me and, maybe after this, we can still be friends. Someday. But I know it’s over. I know… I know you don’t love me anymore.”

Jesus. She felt the air literally rush out of her in complete defeat. She had yet to say it out loud until that very moment. And even though hearing it before from Mattie had hurt, saying it herself, in her own voice, then and there absolutely crushed her. She stared down at the weathered patterns in the wooden countertop in front of her, feeling as though she could collapse at any second under the weight that had led them to this moment.

It was silent for a long beat and Carmilla thought maybe that was it. Maybe she could just walk away now. Then why the hell won’t your feet work!

“You’re… you’re right. I don’t,” Laura whispered.

Nope. That’s what just fucking broke you.

She flinched hard but continued staring down, unable to meet Laura’s eyes as the silence around them grew and stretched. She felt that stupid, weak burning sensation behind her eyes and bit the inside of her lip to keep the tears at bay. She could cry later. But not here, not now.

“Carm, I’m sorry.” She was surprised to hear Laura’s own voice was wet, her own tears apparently unwilling to hold off. “I… I wish I still did. I wish that everything was fine and when I woke up at the hospital that we could have just picked right up wherever it was that we left off but… I just can’t force myself to feel something that… that just isn’t there.”

Carmilla just nodded. Even though it stung, deep down, she knew Laura didn’t want to purposely hurt her. That if there was any other way, she really believed Laura would take a chance. But this was just the hopeless hand they’d been dealt and they’d apparently held on to it for far too long.

She shifted foot to foot, finally letting go of the countertop and wringing her hands together in front of her, unsure of what else to do.

This has to be the weirdest break up ever. She heard the sniffles coming from Laura, the tears apparently coming faster and faster for the smaller girl and it made her want to rewind this whole conversation. Maybe if she had just let Laura say her piece, tell her it was over herself, it wouldn’t have hurt the tiny brunette so much. Carmilla would still be utterly heartbroken, there was no doubt there. But if she had to shoulder that burden to protect Laura, it would have been worth it.

Too late now. She opened and closed her mouth a few times, hating that her voice apparently had decided to stop working and took a deep breath, realizing the tears were getting closer and closer. She had to walk away and she had to do it now. Clearing her throat once she stepped away and steeled herself one final time.

“Look, like I said, I’ll go to Kirsch’s. You can have the house. I’ll um… I’ll try to get my clothes and stuff out as soon as I can. You can… you can have everything else.” Carmilla risked one final glance up and bit so hard on her bottom lip she could taste blood. It didn’t matter, a tear still slipped out.

Laura stood there on the other side of the island, tears streaming down her pink cheeks, wide eyes red and puffy, bottom lip trembling. And for a moment, it was her Laura. It was her Laura that cared about Carmilla’s feelings and heart. Her Laura that never wanted to lose Carmilla. Her Laura that wanted nothing more than to make Carmilla happy and to take care of her. Her Laura.

This girl. She’d been the sun in Carmilla’s world for so long now. She knew she’d never love anyone else in this world even half as much as she loved Laura. But she couldn’t force the smaller girl to feel the same. She could fix a lot of things but this one…

Stepping back, she nodded once resolutely and turned, intent on leaving the room to start gathering her things. There was nothing more to be said.

“Don’t you dare!”

She glanced over her shoulder, caught off guard by the venom in that voice and the anger she saw in the honey brown eyes staring back at her. She stopped and turned, looking through her own watery eyes, her brow furrowed in confusion as Laura continued to stare back, hard and furious.

“You don’t get to make that choice Carmilla! You don’t get to just decide that this is all over and done! Yes, things are different but I thought we were better to each other than this! I thought I mattered more to you!”

Oh, you have got to be fucking kidding me. I try to do the right thing and this is what I get?! Now she wants to argue?!

“So what do you want from me, Laura? Huh?” She turned fully and stepped back towards the island, standing opposite the smaller girl. “To just stick around and be your buddy? Just pretend like you don’t mean everything to me and I mean jack shit to you?!” The anger was back and winning by a landslide, her voice rising with each word.

“I didn’t say that! I know I’ve asked a lot of you over these last few weeks. But you told me you’d do anything for me. You sat right here at this damn counter and said it! You said I was everything to you!”

“That’s right, I did. And yes, you are. But damn it, Laura, I can’t just keep sitting here, waiting for you to decide when the right moment to break my heart is ok? So now it’s done! I let you off the hook. Now it’s over and you can move on with your life. With your friends and your job and whatever the hell else you actually want in your life. You don’t need me anymore!”

If they kept this up, she was pretty sure the neighbors would be lodging a complaint very soon about the noise level.

“I didn’t think we were together because we needed each other. I thought we were together because we loved each other. I mean, that’s what I keep hearing from everyone.”

She watched Laura step closer, her body taut, the fury in her face unmistakable. Why was Laura trying to push this? Carmilla had given her what she wanted, so why was she still arguing? Why was she so angry? She didn’t know what they were losing!

“You’re right. We were together because we loved each other. But you just said it yourself, you don't love me anymore.” Damn it, still fucking stings. “So why are we going to keep doing this? Why should I stay here, so in love with you that I can’t stand it, waiting for you to crush my heart? Waiting for you to run away?”

“I’m standing right here!”

“Laura, you just took off! You ran! No explanation, no reason, no anything! You just left. And you ran to your fucking friends because of course, you trust them. You care about them.”

“I care about you!”

“No! You want me to leave you alone! That’s what you said since we’re parroting back each other’s words.”

“Carm, no! Look, I’m sorry ok. I shouldn’t have yelled at you the other day.” She heard the tone in Laura’s voice change back to desperate but she didn’t care anymore. She was pissed off now and Laura was going to hear it.

“Yelled? Laura, you didn’t just yell, you ran away! You packed a bag and you left. You tried to sneak out of here but I caught you. How is that ok? What did you think was going to happen? That I’d just wake up, you’d be gone and I’d think nothing of it? That I wouldn’t worry? That I wouldn’t be hurt? That I wouldn’t care?”

“I know, I-”

“And then you just sneak back in after completely blowing me off and saying nothing the entire day! I had to rely on LaF to let me know that you’re alive and ok! You think you can just leave like that and then come back like it’s no big deal? Like that’s alright?”

“It’s not alright, I know that. It was wrong and I’m sorry ok? I’m sorry I ran out like that. I’m sorry I tried sneaking out without you knowing. I’m sorry I yelled at you and just took off. I just… I freaked out. I panicked! When I woke up, we were laying there together, like it was normal and… I just… I needed to talk to someone.”

“So instead of talking to me, about something that concerns the two of us, and only the two of us, you ran off to your friends? What kind of sense does that make Laura?”

“It doesn’t! I know that! But does it make any more sense than you disappearing yesterday and doing the same thing? Running off with Mattie and Will and avoiding me?”

And now she’s angry again. Fuck, a broken heart and whiplash.

“I wasn’t avoiding you!”

“Oh really? What were you doing then? Because I waited here, all day, for you to come home. I sat here, hoping you’d walk through that damn door and I could make this better. That I could make this right!”

“Laura-”

“And then you sneak in. You come home and then what? Nothing! I get I messed up but damn it Carmilla, you did the same thing!”

“Laura-”

“And yes, maybe I deserved a little cold shoulder after what I did, fine. You want to punish me? Great. Mission accomplished because I sat here all day yesterday, alone, hoping to hear from you or hoping you’d come home and we could talk. And you never did!”

“Talk about what?! What, you want to figure out how this little roommate arrangement is going to work? You want to divvy up the bills now or what? Should we discuss chores? Noise curfews? Signals for when one of us has brought someone else home for the night?” She knew it was a low blow but she didn’t care anymore.

“What?! No! Damn it Carmilla, stop it! I get that you’re mad and hurt and frustrated. I really do. But I never said I wanted it to end. I never said I wanted us to end!”

“Aren’t we ended already? Jesus Laura, I went from having a fiancé who couldn’t wait to pick out a cake and was researching the best tours for our honeymoon to a girl who gets scared anytime I try to hold her hand! Hell, who panics anytime I try to even touch her! I’m pretty sure there is no us!”

“Just because I’m not ready to go pick out cake designs doesn’t mean I don’t want an us!”

“What the fuck does that mean? You can’t have it both ways! What do you want Laura, huh?” Carmilla growled. What, you want to go on a date? You want to go to the movies and hold hands? You want to go have drinks and get to know each other? You want to have dinner with me like it’s the very first time?”

“I would love to have dinner with you Carm!” Laura cried, her desperate voice ringing throughout the house.

“What?” Carmilla stepped back stunned, the frown on her face deepening around the edges. She wasn’t expecting that. “Laura, what are you talking about?”

She watched as Laura’s shoulders sagged and the fury in her eyes melted away, begging Carmilla to understand.

“I would love to go on a date with you,” she answered, her voice quiet but desperate, the anger completely gone. “I know that’s not what you want. I know, you want us planning our wedding and our honeymoon. Or, you want to sit back and watch and smile and laugh while I plan it because you don’t really care about what we actually do, you just want us to be together. But Carm I can’t give you that. I want to make you happy but I just can’t pretend to feel something I don’t… I need you to understand.” She paused, wiping at her eyes as the tears now flowed faster, and even in her anger, Carmilla had to physically restrain herself from reaching out and tenderly wiping them away for her.

She took a deep breath, feeling her fists balled at her sides relax just the slightest as she waited for Laura to continue, battling with her heart not to get her hopes up.

“Laura…”

“No, I get it. But Carm, I would. I would love to have dinner with you. I would love to go to a movie with you. I would love to go on a date with you. A real date. Just like, if we were starting right now. Starting fresh. Like, if we just met. I know that’s a lot to ask but…”

She stared at the girl in front of her as Laura anxiously picked at her cast, the dingy material worn and frayed from weeks of use and worry, waiting as patiently as she could.

“Carm, I know it’s not a big declaration. And I know it’s not where we were a month ago. But I do like you. A lot. And I know that probably sounds really stupid and empty but… you matter to me Carm. You matter so much. And I know you may not want to start over. You may think this whole thing is just a waste of time. You might think it won’t work. And again, I know it’s a lot to ask of you. And I’ve already asked so much of you these last few weeks. But I… I want to try. I may never remember, I know that. And I hate it but it’s something I just have to accept. But just because I may never remember, that doesn’t mean I don’t want you in my life. That I don’t… that I don’t want you. Because I do Carm. You’re incredible and amazing and so perfect and I think…”

She watched as Laura looked away for a moment, wiping at her tears once more before meeting her stare again, eyes so soft and sweet. She noticed just the slightest quirk of Laura’s lips, pulling up ever so slightly at the corner, and Carmilla felt her heart skip a beat.

“Carm I just... I don’t want to give up because… because I really think I could fall for you.”

Carmilla stood there, completely taken aback, speechless. That she had not expected.

“And… I know you might not be ok with this. That you might not want to start over. You might not even want to try. Maybe…” She watched as a fresh batch of tears quietly rolled down Laura’s face and the tiny brunette looked down at her feet, nervously wiggling her toes in her gray wool socks. “Maybe you don’t think I’m worth it but-”

“You’re are worth more than anything in this world Laura,” Carmilla said, stepping forward once more, leaving just a step between them to keep them from touching.

She felt the last vestiges of anger completely melt away and wondered why had she let herself get so frustrated before? Sure, Laura running out wasn’t right. But she’d done the same thing. And she still had the advantage here. She had the last seven years still accessible to her. All the memories, all the feelings. All the smiles and laughs, the fights and makeups. The years of love and support. But Laura was lost.

Mattie’s words floated around in her brain as they stood there, just a few inches apart. She couldn’t make Laura fall for her. It wasn’t that simple and it never would be. But if she tried…

She’d have to earn the small girls heart the old-fashioned way. She’d have to put in the time, the effort. She’d have to be cautious and patient. She was more than willing, she just didn’t think Laura would’ve been receptive at this point. She was so convinced that Laura was done with them, with her, that she hadn’t even begun to formulate a plan on how she would begin to win the girl back.

But she had to start somewhere…

“Have dinner with me?” she asked hurriedly.

“I… what?” Laura looked up at her, confused and shocked.

“Will you? Have dinner… with me?” It sounded so shy and nervous coming out of her mouth. Laura stared back for a moment, still completely caught off guard and leaving just enough room for her to doubt herself.

Shit. She felt herself deflate again, attempting to backpedal.

“I mean… I just… I thought you… forget it, neverm-”

“Yes,” Laura finally said with an eager nod. “I would love to have dinner with you Carm.”

“Really?” She watched a teary smile form on Laura’s face as she gave her that classic ‘duh’ look. “You know this is like… a date?”

“I figured that much Carm,” she said with a watery giggle. “Are you… are you sure you want us to try though? I mean, I want to, more than anything. Because I don’t want to lose you. But I also don’t want to force you into this. If you really don’t want this anymore-”

“That’s not even a question Hollis. I will always want you.” She felt the itch in her fingertips. She so badly wanted to reach out and wipe Laura’s tears away. To cup her rosy cheeks. To wrap her in her arms and hold her close. But the time where that was ok had passed. It had been so long since she’d been freely allowed to touch the smaller girl and she physically ached to do so.

Laura stared back at her, still smiling softly, her own hands twisting together in front of her. But Carmilla saw something in her eyes. Nervousness? Worry? Insecurity?

Why?

And then another doubt hit her. One so poignant and pitiful she immediately felt her stomach flip in shame.

“Are you sure this is what you want though?” Her voice was so quiet in her ears and it was so insecure and vulnerable, it didn’t even sound like her own. “I don’t want you doing this just because… just because you feel sorry for me. Or because you feel like you owe me something. Because Laura, if that’s why you’re doing this, please don’t. I can’t… if that’s why you’re doing this, just let me go now. Please.”

The smile immediately fell from Laura’s face and she saw the hurt take up residence in her eyes.

“Carm, no! Please just listen to me, ok?” She stood still as Laura took half a step closer, her hands flailing in front of her hesitantly for a moment before finally landing on to the sides of Carmilla’s tank top, gripping the material tightly in her fists and pulling the dark haired girl in. Her eyes were wide and desperate, her mouth firmly set. “I’m not doing this because I feel bad. Or because I feel like I owe you something. I’m doing this because I want you. I want to be happy and I want you to be happy and I think we could both kind of be the key to that for each other. And I know it’s going to be hard and it’s not ideal in any way, shape or form. But we can figure this out, ok?”

Carmilla stared back at her, seeing the truth in Laura’s eyes and knowing the smaller girl wasn’t lying. She nodded softly once, refusing to look away, feeling her heartbeat speed up with each second that passed. Without looking away, she cautiously reached up, her hands gently wrapping around Laura’s fists, testing it out for a moment before softly squeezing. To her relief, Laura softly smiled back, attempting to pull her closer.

“Wait, cupcake, I haven’t showered and I was at the bar last night and-”

“I don’t care.” They stared for another moment before Laura gently pulled once more. This time Carmilla let her, feeling the warmth envelope her as Laura pressed their bodies together and wrapped her arms around her as tight as she could.

Sighing deeply, she finally closed her eyes and wrapped her own arms around Laura’s waist, burying her face in Laura’s neck and breathing in deeply. Her senses were overwhelmed by the smell that was always uniquely Laura and it always felt like home. It always felt safe.

“I’m sorry I yelled at you,” she muttered, feeling the tears slowly streaming down her face, unsure of when they’d even started up again, but hating their vulnerability just the same. “I’m sorry for what I said.”

“It’s ok Carm. We were both idiots but we’ll make this right, ok? One way or another, and I’m not giving up on you,” Laura said as she gently combed the fingers of one hand through Carmilla’s hair and rubbed soothing circles on her back with the other casted one.

They stood there for a few minutes, holding tighter to each other than they had in over a month, the only sounds being the pelting of rain against the windows and the thunder in the distance outside, and the sniffle of slowly flowing tears on the inside. Carmilla felt Laura begin to gently rock them back and forth, continuing to hold her tight as all the emotions over the last few weeks came pouring out of her eyes, seemingly unstoppable and unfortunately, completely embarrassing. Carmilla had never been a crier but apparently, she’d been holding on to all of this for too long.

“I thought you were going to tell me it was over. I thought you didn’t want this anymore. That you didn’t want me anymore,” Carmilla finally said, her voice muffled into Laura’s neck.

“No, that was never on my agenda,” Laura said, her voice full of reassurance. “Carm, I panicked and ran out because I realized I do have feelings for you. But they’re not what you want or deserve. And I can’t give you those things right now. But… I do care about you. So much and not just as my friend. It’s so confusing because I know it’s not what I’m supposed to feel but-”

“No, I get it, Laura. I… I understand.” She attempted to get closer to the smaller girl, gripping tightly to her sweater, burying her face harder in her neck, but it wasn’t possible as there was no room left between them. Laura must’ve realized what she was trying to do though and giggled softly, turning and nuzzling into Carmilla’s hair.

Again, the silence enveloped them, but this time, it was more comforting. It was soft and sweet and Carmilla didn’t want it to end. Finally feeling her tears start to dry, she moved to pull away, thinking Laura might want some space or that she might be overstepping her boundaries. She smiled when she felt Laura refuse to let go and relished in the moment of having the girl she loved so close.

“So, we’re really going to do this?” She heard just a touch of nervousness in Laura’s voice and instantly felt the need to reassure her.

“I’m all in cupcake.”

“Good.”

She felt Laura sigh in relief and smiled again. She pulled back just enough for them to catch each other’s eyes, taking in the sweet smile on Laura’s face, and unable to help herself, reached up with one hand and softly brushed it along Laura’s chin.

“After all, how could I refuse such an offer from the girl who clearly has an enormous crush on me?” she teased with a smirk.

“Oh Carmilla, enormous crush doesn’t even begin to describe it.”

Chapter Text

She came out of the bedroom, freshly showered, dressed, and still a little out of sorts but feeling a million times better than she’d felt only an hour ago. It had been a hard morning, for both of them. If that isn’t an understatement… But if this could actually work, if they both were actually willing to try and put forth the time and effort, then she had a chance of getting Laura back. And at this point, she’d probably do anything in the world to get Laura back.

She nervously ran her hand through her long, wavy hair and took a deep breath before slowly rounding the corner, finding Laura standing at the stove, plating the breakfast she’d insisted upon making them after their hug-fest was interrupted by the sound of growling, impatient stomachs. The tiny brunette looked over at her, smiling softly, her eyes still a little red but no longer puffy, her tear tracks dried. And she looked so incredibly beautiful.

“Hey…” Carmilla said, cautiously, stopping in her tracks.

“Hey.” Laura nervously glanced away for a second before reconnecting their eyes, clearly unsure of what else to say or do.

The problem was, Carmilla was at just as big of a loss. She didn’t want it to be awkward but damn if it wasn’t. There really was no way around it. After all, they’d spent the better part of the morning alternating between sobbing and yelling at each other. And now… now they were what? Dating again? Thinking about dating again? Crushing on each other? The terminology didn’t quite fit in Carmilla’s mind but she wasn’t willing to waste time on semantics. If Laura was willing to try, she’d take it. She just wished they had some sort of roadmap to navigate just how in the hell this was going to work.

She looked down at her bare feet for a second before slowly taking a few steps forward and carefully sitting down at the island. She nervously scratched at the back of her neck, her eyes locked on her lap, the quiet room louder than anything she’d ever heard. Damn it, say something. The soft sound of Laura’s giggle brought her gaze back to the other girl, her eyebrows raised in question.

“What?”

“Sorry, I just… I don’t think I’ve ever seen you look so uncomfortable. And not that it’s fun to watch, because it really isn’t, but… well it looks kind of funny because it’s so different from the norm,” Laura explained, nervously playing with her fingers. Carmilla simply chuckled at Laura’s assessment and sagged onto the stool beneath her, the moment of levity freeing up a little of the pressure. “I guess this might be a little… awkward now, huh?”

“It would seem so creampuff.”

“Well… awkward or not, I’m still hungry. And, while you were in the shower, I actually changed my mind about breakfast. I suddenly wanted an omelet instead of pancakes. I know, that’s like super weird for me because who chooses an omelet over delicious, syrupy pancakes but I just had a craving. And I can’t remember the last time I had one so… I mean, I probably should’ve asked but you were in the shower and I didn’t want to bother you or make it weird, like I was intruding on your space, but… I hope that’s ok?” Laura anxiously asked, bouncing from one foot to the other, chewing her bottom lip, her soft brown eyes eager.

Carmilla cringed as she noticed the cutting board on the counter behind the other girl, fresh mushroom stems still sitting there, waiting to be disposed of.

Ugh, I’m going to have to grab a muffin or something later.

Taking another deep breath, she just nodded and gave Laura a small smile, not wanting to make a big deal out of it. No sense in making Laura feel bad or upsetting her over something that the tiny brunette couldn’t help and didn’t remember in the first place.

She reached for the fresh pot of coffee Laura had already set out, pouring them each a full cup, and took a long sip from her own mug, savoring the strong, bold flavors that danced across her tongue. At least Laura still made coffee the same as before the accident.

Laura came around the counter, setting both plates down and then ungracefully hopped onto the stool next to Carmilla’s, smiling softly at her before digging in with gusto. Guess she really was hungry.

Carmilla smiled back, slightly amused, before looking down at her plate and pausing, the smile slowly slipping from her face.

“What’s wrong?” Laura asked, looking at her curiously as she poured an excessive amount of sugar in what was sure to be umpteenth cup of coffee for the day.

“Uh, nothing.” Carmilla continued to stare down at the plate in front of her, nonchalantly comparing it to Laura’s sitting next to her.

One of these things is not like the other.


Six Years and Nine Months Earlier

She looked across the table, smiling at the sight of her dark-haired girlfriend, pulling thoughtfully on her bottom lip as she carefully looked over the menu in front of her, clearly at a loss. It was early, at least for Carmilla, and they hadn’t gotten much sleep after she’d woken up to find the dark haired girl staring down at her, smiling softly. But they both knew they probably wouldn’t have that much time to see each other over the next few days so Laura had been able to easily convince Carmilla to give up an extra hour of sleep in favor of breakfast at her favorite diner.

“Alright, you two decide yet?” Their server had come back three times now and each time, Laura had politely asked for just a little longer since apparently Carmilla was at a loss. But this was starting to border on ridiculous.

“I will have the mushroom and cheese omelet please. And white toast with Nutella.” The server wrote it down while she popped her gum, clearly bored, before turning to Carmilla.

“Um…”

“Oh come on Carm! It’s breakfast, not rocket science,” she said with a giggle.

“In case it’s failed to grasp your attention, I’m never awake for breakfast creampuff,” she snarked back. But Laura just smiled, raising an eyebrow in challenge. “Ugh, fine. I’ll have the same but no mushrooms, they’re disgusting. And wheat toast, please.”

“There, was that so hard?” Laura asked as their server snatched up their menus and walked away. Carmilla just rolled her eyes and sat back in the corner of their booth, propping her boot on the seat and leaning her head back, her eyes heavy but a soft smile on her lips. Laura stared, her girlfriend clearly the epitome of cool, and once again shook her head in wonder, still a little amazed that Carmilla was hers and only hers. How in the hell did that happen? Not that she was complaining, but she still was completely mystified on how she’d landed this girl.

Shaking the thoughts from her head, she leaned forward onto the formica table, hoping to distract Carmilla enough so that the dark haired girl wouldn’t fall asleep and they could enjoy what little time they had left together that morning. “So… you really don’t like mushrooms?”

“Ugh, god no. They are vile. And of course it’d be the one vegetable you actually don’t have an aversion to,” she answered, her face a mask of repulsion, taking another sip of the coffee in front of her.

“Hmm…”

“What?”

“Nothing,” Laura giggled. “I just… I like learning new things about you. I feel like I still have a lot to learn.”

“Oh, you have no idea cupcake,” Carmilla said with a smirk.

“So, tell me something else.” She reached across the table, loosely linking her fingers with her girlfriends and smiled when Carmilla let her thumb graze back and forth across her own, a move she was rather fond of and one Carmilla seemed to unconsciously do anytime their hands met. Carmilla gave her another smirk and side eye, before leaning forward just a tad as though she was about to share a scandalous secret.

“My favorite color is black.”

“Shocking but I know that already Carm.”

“Hmm… I enjoy reading Kierkegaard.”

“I know, you have an entire shelf dedicated to him. It’s starting to overflow and I seriously think you need more bookcases in your apartment.”

“Well…” Laura watched and giggled as she pretended to ponder for a moment, eyes roaming over the ceiling. Finally meeting Laura’s eyes again, she felt herself melt under the now sweet look in Carmilla’s eyes. “I think you are hands down the most amazing girl in the world, with the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen.”

Laura felt the heat immediately hit cheeks and looked away, unable to stop the shy smile that came to her lips. She hated how easily Carmilla could fluster her but at the same time, it always left her feeling special, like she was the only one Carmilla could see in the whole world.

Finally looking back at her girlfriend, she saw the teasing smirk was gone and in its place was the genuine, soft smile that she so rarely got to see but already knew she loved.

They stared at each other for another moment, lost in each other’s eyes, only snapping out of their daze when their server unceremoniously dropped their plates of food in front of them with a loud clink and walked away without a word.

“Ugh, seriously, I said no mushrooms.” Carmilla cringed as she looked down at her food but Laura just laughed and swapped their plates, giving Carmilla the cheese only omelet and wheat toast.

“You big baby,” she teased. Carmilla simply stuck her tongue out.


Present

“Seriously Carm, what is it? Did you want something else or… did I mess something up? I’m sorry. I should’ve asked you if this was ok. I… ugh I don’t even know if you like omelets.” Laura looked at her worriedly, still fidgeting restlessly in her seat.

Carmilla looked up and smiled gently at her, debating if she should say something or not. There had been very few things that Laura had remembered or that had seemed familiar to her over the last few weeks. And maybe that was a sign that Laura would never get back all that she had lost.

But every time one of those little moments popped up, Carmilla couldn’t help but get that hopeful feeling in the center of her chest and today was no exception. It may not have been a grand epiphany but it was something. And at this point, Carmilla would take any small victory they could get.

“No, everything’s perfect Hollis,” she said, picking up her fork and taking a bite of her mushroom-less omelet.


 

“So like I don’t get it angry hottie.”

“What part of this aren’t you getting beefcake?”

“The part where you guys are just dating. And the part where she’s not your fiancé anymore. So pretty much the whole thing.” Kirsch took a swig from the ponyneck beer in his hand and sat back further on the couch, looking as confused as ever.

Earlier, after their breakfast had been devoured and the dishes had been cleaned, a bit of awkwardness had still lingered in the air, and while Carmilla understood it, she was beyond grateful that she had some work outside of the house to take care of. Laura had seemed both anxious and hesitant for her to leave, most likely, Carmilla guessed, feeling just as uncomfortable as she was. And she didn’t want to run away again but she did need a little time on her own to clear her thoughts and wrap her head around the situation that had been presented to them.

Laura had been bouncing from foot to foot nearby, watching carefully while she laced up her boots and grabbed her things and Carmilla could feel the panic radiating off her small frame in waves.

“So um… I guess I’ll just… see you later then?” She heard the real question behind that and smiled softly at the nervous little bundle of energy only a few feet away.

“Are you free tonight?” Laura looked at her, completely puzzled and, much to Carmilla’s relief, stopped hopping around for a moment. At this point, Carmilla was pretty sure that at least half of the brunettes blood stream had been taken over by caffeine. “Dinner?”

“Oh!” Laura’s eyes widened in realization and the bouncing resumed. “Oh, yes, dinner. You um… you asked me to dinner.”

“That I did. Seven o’clock ok?” Laura just nodded, doing a terrible job of trying to curb the excited smile taking over her face and Carmilla couldn’t help but chuckle at the sight. “I’ll see you then cutie.”

And then she’d left, her emotions a jumble of nervousness and joy with just a touch of worry thrown in, tumbling around in her stomach as she made her way downtown. She recognized just how long of a road they had in front of them, there was no doubt about that. And it was definitely not going to be a smooth ride. But for the first time since the accident, Carmilla contemplated a life with Laura where the tiny brunette never got her memories back. A life where the two of them would have to work incredibly hard to rebuild what they’d once had. Rebuild? It might not work like that. It might be something completely different and new. It wasn’t what she would have chosen. The idea that Laura would permanently have a hole in her memory of all those amazing times they’d spent together over the last seven years made her ache. But the thought of no Laura at all… god, that was so much worse. And she would do whatever she had to in order to not lose the smaller girl.

“I’ve explained this like six times Kirsch,” Carmilla said as she stepped out of the small, grungy bathroom, straightening out her clothes and making sure everything was in place. She’d recruited his apartment to get ready in for the evening, hoping to make this as organic and realistic as possible, for both of them. “Yes, we’re dating. Or at least we want to try to start dating. She still can’t remember anything but she wants to work on it so, we’re kind of starting over, in a way. And I guess, for the time being, no she’s not my fiancé. I mean, she didn’t like call off the wedding or anything but she’s… she’s just not ready for that and I’m trying to respect that.”

She’d given Kirsch the bare minimum of details when she’d come by an hour earlier, messenger bag full of her equipment and the spare clothes she’d grabbed that morning, slung over her shoulder. Just because she’d agreed to this reset of sorts didn’t mean it didn’t still hurt. The pain still sat in her chest, its throbbing a constant reminder that things were different. But she wasn’t about to share that with her friend. This was about her and Laura and only they needed to know and understand the intimate details for this to work.

“So, you guys are just dating for now. But you’re still living together?”

“That parts a little muddier.” She honestly was still contemplating if that was the best idea. Probably not, but how do I tell her that without hurting her? “I mean, I don’t know if we should be or not, to be honest. When I brought it up this morning, she absolutely panicked. And I don’t know if that’s because she really doesn’t want me to not be there or because she’s still recovering and trying to figure things out and is just scared to be alone.”

“Well, if you do change your mind, you know you can always crash here. At least for a few days.”

“A few days? What, would I be ruining big plans that you have for your couch?”

“Nah dude. You know I’m always cool with you hanging. It’s just… well you guys are like… the best together bro.” Carmilla just chuckled at his eloquent way of putting it.

“Thanks chief.”

“So, where are you taking her tonight?”

“Dinner. This little place a few blocks from our house that she loves. She doesn’t remember that she loves it. Or, at least I don’t think she remembers. She hasn’t mentioned it but I don’t think she’d ever been there before we moved.”

“Alright, well let me know if you change your mind or whatever. I’m meeting SJ for a drink later but you still have your key right? You can just let yourself in.”

“Does your lock even work anymore after you got drunk and kicked it in doing your ‘karate’? You’ve still got freaking duct tape on it.”

“Oh yeah. Totally works fine bro,” he said, taking another swig and turning his attention back to the television.


Laura gave herself one more glance in the mirror, running her hand through her hair, which she’d left down, and nodded. She was nervous. That much was obvious. She’d been nervous all day and was even more so after Carmilla had left that morning, softly smiling at her as she’d walked out the door.

She wanted this. She wanted this so badly, but that didn’t stop the fear from sinking into her bones and making her pace around the house all day, worried that this wouldn’t work. Worried that she’d screw it up.

She’d attempted to get some of her own work done but found herself constantly distracted, her attention pulled away by a clap of thunder in the distance or a beep from her phone anytime a new notification came up. She’d glanced at the offending device around noon, noticing the group text from her friends had grown exponentially longer over the last twenty-four hours and figured she should probably nip that in the bud before she had a trio of gingers breaking down her door.

Laura (12:02PM): Guys, I’m fine. Everything is fine. Please stop worrying.

Perry (12:03PM): Laura Eileen Hollis, I’ve been worried sick about you!

LaF (12:03PM): It’s true, she’s been driving us nuts. So what happened? Did you talk to her? How’d it go?

Laura laughed, knowing she should’ve guessed Perry would be beyond worried about her but once again, she brushed her friends off. This was something between her and Carmilla only and she really wanted to respect that. Especially after Carmilla had made it so blatantly obvious just how much it had hurt her that Laura had ran off to her friends just a few days ago instead of sticking around and working it out with the dark haired girl. She wouldn’t make that mistake again.

Laura (12:06PM): I’m sorry, but really, I’m ok. I talked to her and… I have a date tonight. So stop worrying. I’ll talk to you guys later.

Ok, so maybe she wanted to revel in that fact. Just a little.

Perry (12:06PM): Oh, that’s wonderful Laura! I’m so happy for you.

Danny (12:07PM): Way to go Hollis.

LaF (12:07PM): You’re date’s with Carmilla, right?

Perry (12:08PM): LaFontaine!

Danny (12:08PM): Ha!

Laura just giggled and put her phone down, attempting to focus on her article. She lasted for about five minutes before she was sidetracked once again, this time by her own thoughts.

She had a date. A real date. With Carmilla. With Carmilla, the girl she had a huge crush on. With Carmilla, the girl who was in love with her and had already been down this road once before.

“Oh crap!”

What if the date was horrible? What if she screwed something up or said the wrong thing? What if Carmilla thought back to their real ‘first date,’ seven years ago, and compared the two of them? If she did, what would happen if she thought their real ‘first date’ was better? Would she change her mind? Would she think this plan was idiotic and bound to fail? Would she give up on Laura?

The worries had continued to plague her for the rest of the day, leaving her even more nervous about the entire situation than she was that morning when Carmilla had walked out the door. But she couldn’t mess this up. She couldn’t lose this. She needed to try.

She reapplied her subtle lip gloss, having already chewed half of it off over the last ten minutes and quickly made her way out to the kitchen to wait. Glancing at the clock over the stove, she frowned, feeling her stomach knot a little tighter.

It’s already seven o’clock. Where is she? Did she already change her mind? Did she-

A loud knock on the front door echoed throughout the house, startling her a little. Curious as to who would be knocking now considering everyone she knew just walked in like they owned the place, she made her way over to the door, taking a quick glance through the peephole and instantly smiling.

“What are you doing?” she asked, opening the door and taking in a stunning Carmilla on the other side, leaning casually against the doorway, dressed all in black; fitted dress pants, low-cut shirt and tailored blazer, holding a small bouquet  of beautiful lilies at her side.

“Well, I believe we have a date.”

“But you knocked,” Laura laughed.

“Yes, that’s typically what you do when you come to pick up said date. You find her door, knock to announce your presence, and then compliment your date on how amazing she looks. Now we haven’t gotten to that last part yet but…” Laura watched as Carmilla’s hypnotizing dark eyes slowly roamed over her figure from head to toe, taking in every detail. Laura felt herself blush slightly under the attention but was glad she’d taken the extra time to get herself ready for the evening. She was pretty sure the knee length skirt she’d chosen was new and she’d noticed Carmilla eyeing her a little longer than necessary the last time she’d worn the off the shoulder top she’d selected. “You look gorgeous cupcake.”

“I could say the same about you, Miss Karnstein,” Laura said, knowing damn well that she always thought Carmilla looked amazing. She smiled as Carmilla handed her the lilies, feeling her stomach flutter as their fingers gently brushed. God, this really is like a first date. “Thank you. You didn’t have to bring me flowers.”

“Cutie, you should know by now, I don’t do anything I don’t want to,” she said, stepping inside and closing the door behind her as Laura made her way towards the kitchen, looking for and hoping she’d find a vase there. “Under the sink Hollis.” Laura smiled and nodded, reaching for one of the glass containers sitting there, all the while watching out of the corner of her eye as Carmilla slowly approached the island, coolly leaning on it as she pretended to peruse the house. “So… nice place you’ve got here.”

“Well thank you,” Laura said with a giggle, deciding to play along.

“You live here all alone?”

“Actually no. I have an incredibly wonderful roommate,” she said, setting down the vase on the counter and placing the flowers inside.

“Oh really? Where’s she?”

“Oh, probably off being broody or doing something incredibly artistic. Taking photos or drawing or painting something. She’s very talented,” Laura said with a playful grin.

“Wow, really?”

“Oh yes. She’s kind of amazing.”

“Hmm… sounds like it. Do I have competition already?”

Laura just smiled and shook her head. Maybe this would be a little awkward. But at least it seemed like Carmilla was bound and determined to make it fun.

Finishing up with the flowers, she turned to face the dark haired girl, smiling bashfully as Carmilla slowly approached, that teasing smirk firmly planted on her lips. But she stopped just a few inches from her, an invisible line keeping them from touching, and Laura felt her breath catch at their proximity.

“You really do look beautiful Laura.”

The flirtatious confidence was gone and Laura watched as Carmilla’s lips morphed into a timid smile and she locked her hands behind her back, rocking back and forth a little on the balls of her feet, clearly just as nervous about tonight as Laura was. So adorable.

“So um… are you ready? We don’t want to miss our reservation.”

Laura just nodded, following Carmilla as she quickly strode to the door, grabbing her coat on the way out.

“Where are you taking me?” she asked once they were in the elevator, her eyes never leaving the restless girl standing next to her. It amazed her how Carmilla could go from so cool and collected one moment to sweet and shy the next. But it seemed like it was only around her. She’d never witnessed it with any of their friends or with Mattie and Will when they’d dropped by.

“Mmm. It’s a surprise cutie.” Carmilla turned and smiled at her once before the doors opened and she ushered them out.

The surprise turned out to be a five minute walk from their house and a charmingly quaint French restaurant with only a few other patrons dining within its walls. Taking a seat and looking around, nothing looked familiar but once again, she was feeling that odd sense of déjà vu that had affected her only a few weeks ago.

Was it the place or was it…? She looked up, seeing Carmilla gazing at her softly, sweetly. Maybe it’s just her.

She smiled briefly at the thought before burying her face in her menu, unsure of what she was really looking at or what the words even were. Crap. She knew she’d had French food at least once before with her friends, but it had been years ago and she’d remembered relying on the kind staff at the restaurant to just bring her ‘something with chicken.’

She blushed slightly as she heard Carmilla chuckling softly when her face registered slight panic as their server approached.

“Would it be ok if I ordered for both of us?” Carmilla quietly asked, prompting her to quickly and eagerly nod. Five seconds later she sat in awe as the dark haired girl conversed with the young man in what sounded like absolutely perfect French before placing their order.

“How in the world do you know French?”

“Mother insisted. Mattie, Will and I all had hours of lessons after school when we were younger. French, Italian, Spanish. I still even remember a little German.”

“Well it’s… kind of…” She swallowed hard. Really hot. “I’ll just have to send her a thank you note,” Laura teased, sending her a small flirtatious smile. To her puzzlement, Carmilla simply nodded, the sweet smile dropping from her face, though for the life of her, Laura didn’t understand why. Damn it, how did I already mess this up? “Hey, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean… I know you’ve said you aren’t close with your mother but… did I say something wrong?”

“No, not at all cutie. Just, well, can we maybe not talk about her?”

“Of course.” Laura nodded, wanting to avoid anything that would make Carmilla uncomfortable. Carmilla smiled gently before leaning back in her chair, raising one of those perfectly sculpted eyebrows, apparently shifting back into date mode.

“So Laura, tell me about yourself. You said you’re a writer?”

“Seriously Carm?” Laura giggled at the dark haired girls playfulness and leaned forward. “I know I said I wanted to try to start dating. But I don’t think we have to go all the way back to the beginning.”

“I’m just trying to make this as natural for you as I can cupcake,” Carmilla said with a wink that left Laura sailing. “So, really, how was the rest of your afternoon? Did you do anything fun?”

It was her turn to look uncomfortable as she remembered how she’d spent the majority of the afternoon worrying about the new situation they found themselves in and attempting to pep talk herself into not being a total spaz.

“No, I just… can I ask you something?” Carmilla simply nodded. Laura sat back as their server returned with the wine Carmilla had ordered for them, smiling in appreciation and patiently waiting for them to be alone again. Carmilla looked back at her after their server left, her attention completely on Laura. “That fight this morning. Was that like, a normal fight for us?”

“No, Laura, absolutely not. I mean sure, we have our spats and stuff. We argue sometimes. But this morning… no, that was a bad one.”

“I’m not in any hurry to repeat it.”

“Me neither, cutie.”

“But, even though it was bad, it kind of led us here… to tonight… on a date.” Carmilla just smiled at her. “And… I’m glad we were honest with each other. I mean, I know… I know it was hard to hear-”

“Hey, Laura, you don’t have to explain or justify anything ok?” Carmilla sat up, her face suddenly serious but her eyes remaining soft. “I understand that we can’t just go back right now. I know that this is scary and it’s going to be hard. And I know that it’s different from when we fell in love all those years ago because the situation has completely changed and we aren’t starting out on equal ground. But that doesn’t mean it can’t work. It doesn’t mean that we don’t care about each other. Because, Laura, you mean so much to me. And I know you care me about too.”

“I really do Carm. You have been so amazing to me since I woke up. You’re so sweet completely incredible. I’m so lucky that I have you. And I… I know it’s not going to be easy. But I really do want to try. I meant it this morning when I said…” She felt her face heat up with an easy blush but pressed on, her eyes never leaving the dark orbs of the girl in front of her. “When I said I really think I could fall for you.”

Carmilla smiled and leaned onto the table, her left hand reaching out and resting near Laura’s right but not touching. Laura watched, noting Carmilla was clearly leaving the ball in her court and felt her heart squeeze at the thought.

“You know, when we fell in love back then…” Laura trailed off, a soft smile on her face as she boldly let her fingertips graze against Carmilla’s, watching the other girls eyes light up just a touch at the contact. “LaF and Perry just told me about when I realized I was in love with you. Apparently I was a complete and utter mess.”

They both laughed softly, their fingers interlacing a little more. She smiled when she felt Carmilla’s thumb softly rub back and forth across hers, the sensation comforting.

“I wasn’t much better cutie.”

“Who said it first?” she blurted out, realizing a moment too late that she apparently had no control over her mouth. “Ugh, I’m sorry. I mean… nevermind. I shouldn’t have asked that.”

She looked up, seeing Carmilla still smiling gently at her, the soft candlelight between them flickering across her features and making her eyes shimmer mischievously.

Uh oh.


Six Years and Nine Months Earlier

Carmilla stared wide-eyed, mouth open in shock, glove covered hands in tight fists at her sides and Laura thought it was possibly the funniest thing she’d ever seen. She threw her head back, the laughter bubbling from her uncontrollably at the sight, her laughter filling the winter wonderland around them.

“I cannot believe you just did that! You threw a snowball at me! What are you, five?”

They’d taken a shortcut and crossed through the park on their way home from the movies, hoping to get back to Carmilla’s and inside where it was warm faster. A major storm had hit earlier that morning, keeping most people inside for the day and while the heavier snow had stopped falling a few hours ago, there were still soft flakes floating down upon them as they stood there under the streetlamps.

They’d been walking side by side, elbows occasionally brushing, their hands shoved deep into their coat pockets to keep warm when Laura had looked to her right and took in the sight of her gorgeous girlfriend, grinning softly, the fluffy snowflakes blanketing her coat and wool beanie. Carmilla always came across to everyone else as so serious and sullen. But with Laura… well she’d seen the playful side of Carmilla. And it was easily one of her most favorite things. The dark haired girl could be a total goof when she wanted and Laura absolutely loved it. Suddenly wanting to see that playful side, she’d come up with an idea and simply acted.

“Oh, come on Carm,” she started, still giggling. “Where’s your sense of advent-” She was cut off as a snowball smacked her right in the middle of her chest. Looking over she took in the challenging look on Carmilla’s face, both hands raised in the air in a bring in on motion, and smiled. “Oh, you’re dead!”

They spent the next twenty minutes chasing each other in the knee deep snow, laughing and shrieking, carrying on like idiots before Carmilla finally got close enough and wrapped her arms around Laura’s waist, pulling them both down into a nearby snowbank.

Laura looked down, unable to stop her silly giggles to see Carmilla laying below her, holding her tight, smiling up at her so beautifully, and felt her heart swell with love.

Things between them had been so amazing and Carmilla made her so unbelievably happy that sometimes she thought she might explode. She literally had the best girlfriend in the entire world and she’d never been so happy in her whole life. Carmilla was perfect, even with her flaws and Laura was so in-

“I love you.”

No! No! No! Shit!

She immediately stopped laughing, her eyes and mouth both snapping shut in utter mortification as she felt the world beneath her tip. She hadn’t meant to blurt it out like that. And now she’d gone and messed everything up.

What the hell am I going to do?!

She slowly opened her eyes, seeing Carmilla staring up at her, her face now a mix of shock and confusion, her mouth already partially open as if waiting to refute Laura’s claim.

Oh Jesus I messed this up so bad. She’s going to run now. She’s going to take off at any minute. She looked away, moving to sit up and pushed herself away from Carmilla, feeling the dark haired girls arms immediately let her go. She shuffled a little to the left, sitting in the snowbank, pulling her legs up to her chest and covering her face with her thick mittened hands, utterly humiliated.

“I’m sorry Carm,” she whispered. “I didn’t mean to say that. I mean… I did. I do. But I didn’t mean to just spring it on you like that. I shouldn’t have and I just-”

She was cut off short when she felt Carmilla pulling her hands away from her face with one hand and cupping her cheek with the other, their lips quietly meeting for just a moment in the sweetest, softest kiss she’d ever had, before Carmilla slowly pulled away. Laura opened her eyes, blinking quickly and taking in the beaming smile on the dark haired girls face, her eyes shining, cheeks pink from the cold.

“I love you too cutie.”

Laura stared back, completely mystified and in shock. There was no way Carmilla, her amazing and wonderful girlfriend Carmilla, who could have anyone in the world she wanted… loved her.

Carmilla chuckled, clearly amused by Laura’s bewildered face and moved a little closer, her thumb gently passing over Laura’s cheek as the brunette processed this information.

“You do? I mean, I know you just said it but… Carm oh my god. I’ve been trying to hold back for the last week, ever since I realized that I do. I didn’t want to say it and scare you off or… not have you say it back but… I love you so much and you make me so happy and… seriously Carm, do you really?”

“You’re killing me Hollis,” Carmilla smiled, leaning forward and slowly kissing Laura once again. Laura wrapped her arms around the other girl and giggled into the kiss, unable to help herself.  “Come on. Let’s get out here and get warm. This snow is starting to freeze my ass.” Carmilla stood up, brushing herself off, and reached down for Laura, pulling the tiny brunette to her feet and wrapping her arms around her waist.

Laura smiled and let girlfriend pull her along, both giggling and tripping over each other as they ran towards Carmilla’s apartment.


“Oh fuck… cupcake… don’t fucking stop…” Carmilla’s head fell back and her eyes fluttered opened, unable to really take in anything above her since all of her focus was on the amazing and wonderful girl she was currently straddling. Mustering up all the effort she could, she looked down, catching the sight of a smirking Laura Hollis staring back up at her and felt herself caught somewhere between laughter and losing her absolute freaking mind as the tiny brunettes fingers moved in and out of her at just the right pace.

After they’d raced back to Carmilla’s apartment, it only took about ten seconds for their laughter to die down, their lips meeting frantically, both quickly shucking their coats and pulling insistently at each other’s clothes. They’d stumbled and tumbled into the bed only moments later, naked and wrapped around each other in every way possible.

Now, a little while later after she’d thoroughly had her way with Laura, twice, and had given the tiny brunette a few minutes to recuperate, Laura was paying her back in full.

“Good?”

For as nervous as Laura was about her lack of experience, the smaller girl had been an A+ student and had quickly learned all the little things that drove Carmilla absolutely wild.

“Didn’t I just say don’t stop creampuff?” Carmilla said, breathless as she smirked down at the smaller girl. Laura was quick to wipe the smirk off her face though as her thumb hooked up just right to swirl against Carmilla’s clit. “Oh Jesus Laura…”

Laura just giggled, wrapping her free arm tighter around Carmilla’s back, moving them closer together and pulling the dark haired girl further into her lap, leaving open mouth kisses across Carmilla’s sternum and up her neck.

“You are so beautiful like this,” she whispered into Carmilla’s ear, biting softly at the lobe as Carmilla shuddered once more. Carmilla turned just slightly, finding Laura’s lips in a desperate, frantic kiss as her hips started to roll faster against Laura’s perfect hand.

Less than thirty seconds later, with their lips still urgently pressed together, Carmilla’s grip tightened in Laura’s hair, pulling a little harder than she intended, as a deep moan echoed from within her throat. She pulled back just the slightest, Laura instantly meeting her unfocused gaze with her own intense stare and felt herself fall over the edge into a storm of utterly intense bliss.

“Holy shit cupcake,” she exclaimed as she felt her muscles give out, her body going completely limp in Laura’s strong arms. Head nestled in the crook of Laura’s neck, inhaling the addicting scent of the smaller girl, she felt more than heard the small laugh the younger girl released. Unable to do anything else but smile she cuddled further in as Laura laid them back, resting against the pillows, limbs still tangled in every way possible.

She lay her head on Laura’s chest and listened, the room silent except for the soft panting inhales and exhales she heard coming from her own mouth as she attempted to come back to herself. Well that and the sound of Laura’s heart, beating just a little faster than normal below her ear. Laura’s heart… which now, for some unknown reason, belonged to her. The thought alone made her smile softly as she realized, for the first time, she wasn’t alone anymore. She was in love and the someone she loved actually loved her back. Like really loved her. And fuck, that was so unbelievably incredible.

She looked up to see Laura, still smiling and looking a little too confident and couldn’t help but chuckle.

“Pretty proud of yourself, aren’t you?” she asked. Laura simply shrugged, a slight blush tinting her cheeks.

The girl gives me mind blowing orgasms and then turns shy, Carmilla thought with a chuckle. She shuffled upwards, hovering over her girlfriend and leaving a lingering kiss on the smaller girl’s lips. She lay down more fully, resting their foreheads together, and looking into the incredible eyes she was so in love with, smiling softly.

“I love you Laura.”

Laura smiled back, absolutely giddy in the moment. She reached up and pushed some of Carmilla’s hair behind her ear, leaving her hand there and gently cupping her cheek.

“I love you too Carm.”

I’ll never get sick of hearing that.


Present

“Carm?”

Carmilla brought her gaze back to meet Laura’s, refocusing her eyes and snapping out of the apparent reverie she’d been lost in.

“Hey, are you ok?”

“Yeah,” Carmilla said with a shake of her head, averting her eyes and looking down at her hands knotted together in her lap.

“Are you sure? You drifted off at the end of the story there. And… are you blushing?” Laura said with a giggle.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen, she thought, unable to stop her giddy smile. Carmilla just grinned, still avoiding Laura’s gaze, but to her credit, had stopped the reddening on her cheeks from spreading.

Laura leaned forward on the small table, taking in the sight of a speechless Carmilla, which was easily one of the most incredible things she’d ever seen and giggled again.

“So after I stuck my foot in my mouth, as usual, then what happened?” Laura asked.

“Um, we left the park and just walked back to my place.” She watched Carmilla reach for her wine glass, tossing back the remaining liquid in one large gulp, her eyes still avoiding Laura’s.

Oh my god, she totally just went somewhere completely inappropriate!

“That’s it huh?” Seeing the opportunity to tease the dark haired girl open up, she immediately jumped on it. After all, it seemed that Carmilla always had the upper hand when it came to teasing her. It was only fair for the universe to reward her with a turn. “Did we go back and play board games? Or… sew a quilt together or something else equally wholesome?” She smiled further as Carmilla chuckled at her from across the table. “Did we sleep in side by side twin beds in full body nightgowns?”

“You know what we did Laura,” she answered, finally looking up and meeting Laura’s gaze, her eyes holding an intensity that hadn’t been there a few minutes ago.

Laura just nodded, feeling her own blush slowly brush across her cheeks. Of course. She reached over and grazed her index finger along Carmilla’s hand, smiling when she noticed the other girls eyes instantly snap over to take in their connection before meeting hers once again. She only pulled back when their server brought back Carmilla’s credit card and thanked them, breaking the connection between the two.

A few minutes later, she turned and smiled softly, taking in Carmilla’s profile as they slowly made their way home. The night was clear, a stark contrast to the storm that had raged on throughout most of the day, sky full of stars and a half crescent moon hung high above. A small chill crept through the air and she watched as Carmilla breathed it in, seeming to relish in the cold. She took in the pink on her high cheekbones, the way the flickering from the streetlamps caught on her long eyelashes and illuminated her dark eyes, the way her perfect eyebrows arched just so, and how the corner of her lips turned up into a knowing smirk… and Laura knew she’d been caught.

Oh well. There are way more embarrassing things than being caught staring at my beautiful… um… girl I’m hoping to date? Is that right?

“What’s going on in that head of you Hollis? You’re wearing your scrunched up face.”

“Nothing, just, trying to figure out what exactly I should call you. Like… well, I mean…”

“I know what you mean.” She kicked herself as she watched the dark-haired girl shove her hands into her pockets, the smile slipping from her face.

“Carm, I’m sorry, really. I’m so sorry. We were having fun and I had to go and ruin it and-”

“Hey, no. It’s ok Laura, you didn’t ruin anything. It’s… I just have to get used to it. It just might take some time. But… I’m happy that we’re at least trying.”

“Well, if it’s any consolation, this was a really amazing date and… I’d love to take you out next time,” Laura said as they reached the door to their building, smiling when Carmilla held it open for her as they walked inside.

“Next time huh? What did you have in mind?” She was relieved to see a small smile resurface on Carmilla’s lips once they reached the elevator and stepped inside.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Laura teased. She pressed the button for their floor and stepped back, leaning against the back wall, letting her shoulder brush Carmilla’s, who still stood there, smirking at her. “Maybe…”

Suddenly an idea popped into her head and she smiled at just how perfect it might be. If I can pull it off.

“When’s the next day you’re free? Like for the whole day?”

“I can probably make something work these weekend. Why? What harebrained scheme are you cooking up?”

“Oh it’s a secret,” Laura said as the elevator stopped. She smiled as she reached out, lacing her fingers with Carmilla’s and pulling the dark haired girl out and into the hall. “And really? Harebrained scheme? What kind of girl do you think I am?”

“Oh, I know exactly what kind of girl you are Hollis,” she answered with a teasing smirk. Laura smiled and shook her head, keeping hold of Carmilla’s hand as she unlocked the door and they made their way inside.

“You know… it’s really not fair that you get to remember… everything,” she teased. Carmilla chuckled and gave her hand a squeeze.

“Do you want me to draw you an illustration cupcake?”

“As realistic and incredible as that would probably turn out, no, I’m just saying… I mean…” Laura trailed off as she watched Carmilla close the door behind them while still holding tight to Laura’s hand. She stared as Carmilla turned towards her once she was done, smiling at her slip up. Deciding to ignore it and any further teasing, she looked into those dark eyes in front of her, feeling her nerves dancing in the pit of her stomach again. “So… now what?”

“Well, it’s the end of the date and I promised to walk you back. So…” She trailed off as she tugged on Laura’s hand, pulling her through the kitchen and down the hallway.

Laura felt her nerves completely take over as they slowly approached the open bedroom door. Was Carmilla really expecting something more? No. No, she’s been so sweet and respectful. She can’t actually expect-

She heard Carmilla chuckle next to her as they reached the doorway and looked up, taking in the amused expression on her face.

“Relax cupcake. I’m not going to pounce on you here and now. I’m just… walking you to your door.”

“You’re a gigantic dork, you know that,” she said with a giggle, feeling her worry slowly ebb away. She looked down at their still joined hands, savoring the feeling of Carmilla’s soft skin against hers. They seemed to fit together so perfectly. Almost like they were… Meant to be.

“Hey, Laura? Um… are you sure you don’t want me to stay somewhere else? At least for a little bit? Kirsch’s couch is vacant and...” Her eyes shot up, noting now just how nervous Carmilla looked, the dark-haired girl slightly fidgeting and staring down at her shoes.

“What?”

Carmilla looked up, a hint of sadness in her eyes as she attempted to hold Laura’s gaze and Laura felt her heartbeat halt at that moment.

“Carmilla, no!” Laura said her voice going up an octave, feeling that hint of panic squeezing in her chest. “I… why are you asking me that?”

“Because… I just want to make sure you’re ok. That you’re comfortable with all of this.” Carmilla nervously tapped the toe of her boot into the floor, her eyes unsure. “Laura, this is all new and different for you. And I don’t want to screw it up. I just thought, maybe giving you a little space and a little time might be the right thing to do. It’ll be less pressure on you.”

“Carm…”

Laura felt her heart ache so deeply at that moment, for Carmilla, for them. Honestly, the last thing she wanted right now was for Carmilla to not be there. This was their home and Carmilla belonged here, regardless of what their relationship was. She’d already spent the last few weeks being put out by Laura and this accident. And now…

“No. I don’t want you to go. I…”

Carmilla stepped closer, using her free hand to tip Laura’s chin upwards as she trailed off. Laura swallowed at the contact and gently squeezed their still linked hands, realizing they were now standing so close she could feel the warmth radiating off the other girl and it felt so good. So comforting.

“I know it won’t be easy. And that it might be a little weird… us living together while we try dating but… well lots of people date their roommates Carm. I mean we aren’t the first ones.” She stared back, her eyes meeting Carmilla’s and she still saw that hint of sadness but now it seemed to be mixed with a dash of something else, though she wasn’t sure what. She hated that she couldn’t read the other girl as easily as Carmilla could read her but she wouldn’t be deterred. She pressed on, hoping she could completely erase the pain lodged there in that moment and convince the other girl that this could work. “Stay, please.” Laura reached up, holding her casted hand under Carmilla’s, keeping her hand on her face. “I… I hate it when you aren’t here. And the idea of you not being here when I wake up or when I fall asleep… just please stay. I want us both spending our nights together.” She watching a small smirk form on Carmilla’s face and replayed her words in her head, rolling her eyes. “I mean, I’m not saying like… we should spend the night together, you know? But, I really do want you here.”

“If you’re sure-”

“You’re not trading our couch for Kirsch’s and that’s final! His couch is shit!”

Carmilla stared back, her eyes soft and loving, watching Laura intently for a moment before nodding once. Laura just smiled back, feeling the weight on her heart ease a little. The thought of Carmilla leaving… of her not being there made her squirm.

“We didn’t argue on our real first date, did we?” Laura said, suddenly feeling like she’d messed everything up.

“Hey cupcake, no, don’t do that.” Carmilla cupped Laura’s cheek, squeezing her other hand tighter. “This isn’t a competition. We said we were starting fresh right?” Laura just nodded. “So, it isn’t about what happened the last time we had a ‘first date.’ It’s about tonight. And tonight was great.”

“It really was.”

“Besides, I like it when you get all feisty and stubborn.”

“You do?”

“You’ve always been a firecracker Hollis. It’s one of my favorite things about you.”

Laura felt her lips turn up and let her casted hand fall to the crook of Carmilla’s elbow for a moment, relishing the feeling of Carmilla standing so close, still cupping her cheek and looking at her like she was the most beautiful thing Carmilla had ever seen.

“You know, this had been kind of a touchy first date,” Carmilla teased. Laura laughed as she felt Carmilla’s thumb brush across her cheekbone.

“Well, I think we’re kind of a step or two ahead. But I’m ok with that.”

“Good, because… honestly Hollis, it really is hard to keep my hands to myself when I’m around you.”

I’m starting to know the feeling.

“But… it is getting late. And I have a shoot early tomorrow morning.”

Laura just nodded, knowing they’d eventually have to end the date but hating it just the same.

“Please, take the bed.” Carmilla just shook her head and stepped back, letting her hand fall from Laura’s cheek. “Carm, fine, why can’t we just share it then?”

“I thought you didn’t want to sleep together yet,” she teased with a chuckle.

“You know what I mean. It’s a big bed. There’s plenty of space for both of us. We can sleep next to each other without it being… intimate.”

“I know we can Laura, I just…” Carmilla sighed once and shook her head again. “I can’t do that. I can’t sleep next to you when we aren’t…” She trailed off, looking away and Laura wanted to kick herself.

You idiot. Of course, she can’t sleep next to you. It’d be too painful for her. Get it together!

“Ok, alright, I understand. Um… well then thank you for an amazing night. I had a lot of fun.”

“Me too cupcake.” She squeezed Laura’s hand once more before letting go and shoving her hands into her back pockets. “Get some sleep ok?”

Laura watched as Carmilla moved to step away and, without thinking, quickly reached out, grabbing onto the lapels of her jacket to stop her. She caught the confused look on Carmilla’s face and smiled before leaning in and leaving a soft kiss on Carmilla’s cheek, centimeters from her mouth.

“Good night Carm.” She watched as a soft smile touch the dark-haired girls lips, her cheeks just a hint rosier before she turned and meandered down the hallway and for the first time in a month, Laura was happy with where they were. It wasn’t perfect by any means but for the first time since the accident, she could see a possibility for the future.