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Hold My Girl

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New York City. The concrete jungle where dreams were made of. Where you could see dreams come true upon the stage on Broadway, where children’s eyes light up with the Rockefeller tree each December. It’s where you go where everyone lives in the hustle and bustle of people everyday but where you can relax under a tree at Central Park. Live in the history and art at the Metropolitan Museum.

New York use to be all this for Laura Hollis. Its where she got her first big break in journalism. She started as an intern at the New York Times in her last year of university before being offered a junior journalist position when she graduated. Its where her and her girlfriend, Carmilla Karnstein, got their first apartment. Yeah, it was a bit of a dump at first, but nothing a bit of work and love couldn’t fix.

It was bliss when they first moved here. Laura started her day waking up next to her beautiful girlfriend of three years. They would go about their day, perfectly in sync with each other. Laura would jump in the shower while Carmilla started making coffee and breakfast then they would swap and Laura would finish making breakfast. They would walk down to the subway hand in hand, talking about their plans for the day or something that had peaked their interest. At the subway they would kiss each other goodbye, Laura would head down into the subways to go to work while Carmilla would go about her day depending on what she had planned that day. Carmilla was a freelance photographer then, doing the odd job here and there trying to build her portfolio up. She was talented and wasn’t short on projects to choose from.

They always met up for lunch before parting and Laura would come home to Carmilla cooking dinner. Laura would occasionally cook, mostly on weekends, but they secretly agreed that Carmilla was the better book.

Six months after the couple moved to New York their university friends LaFontaine and Perry joined them. LaFontaine decided to continue their studies while Perry got a job as a teacher. They had also made friends in New York. Danny Lawrence met Laura at work and in turn they became friends with the puppy of the group, Wilson Kirsch. The gang often got drinks after work on Fridays nights and occasionally Perry would squeeze them all into her and Laf’s tiny apartment to have a family dinner.

 

Sunday’s were Laura’s favourite days. They could sleep in and enjoy each others company before being swept up by work the following day.

Laura out of habit would wake up early. This morning the sun filtered through curtains lighting up their bedroom. Next to her Carmilla was dead to the world, hair a mess and a slight trail of drool running from the corner of her mouth. She was lying on her stomach starfished across the bed with an arm draped across Laura’s stomach. A small smile graced Laura’s lips before placing a gentle kiss on the brunettes forehead and gently slipped out of the bed to make breakfast. It wasn’t til 20 minutes later that a pair of gentle arms wrapped around her waist and gentle kiss was placed on her cheek as she finished plating the omelettes.

‘Good morning,’ mumbled a sleepy Carmilla against her neck. ‘This smells amazing.’

‘I don’t know how but can never make a bad omelette and thats coming from someone who burns toast!’ Laura felt Carmilla chuckle behind her. ‘There's coffee ready for you, bub.’

Laura couldn’t help but pout from the lack of warmth as Carmilla went to pour a cup of coffee. She turned around to see Carmilla take her first sip of coffee for the day. A small smile instantly appeared as the caffeine became to fill her bloodstream, and slowly the sleepy broody Carmilla disappeared.

‘So what's the plan for today Cupcake?’ Carmilla asked as they sat at the table.

‘I was thinking the farmers market? I need to find something for Perry’s birthday and I really hope that stall with those amazing cookies is there!’

‘They were amazing cookies,’ smirked Carmilla.

‘Of course you would know, you stole half of them!’

‘I was trying to help your cookie addiction.’

‘I don’t have an addiction!’ Carmilla gave her a pointed look. ‘Yeah okay...I might have a slight one.’

Carmilla could help but laugh at the sheepish look that Laura had. ‘And I will forever make sure there is supply in the house for you.’

 

It was a beautiful spring morning when they left the apartment. The trees had started to sprout green leaves and the clouds had finally cleared about to allow the warmth of sun to warm up the cold concrete jungle. They made their way down to the markets, breathing the smells of food stalls in as they passed. There fresh fruit and vegetable stalls that Carmilla made sure they visited because someone had to make sure Laura ate something that wasn’t loaded with sugar. Small craft stalls were spread out filled with various handmade objects and of course there were stalls filled with homemade baked goods that as soon as Laura had spotted them, dragged Carmilla towards. Carmilla would occasional stop at stalls that had second hand books searching for something to add to her ever growing collection. There were books scattered everywhere in their apartment, one wall in the study was taken up with bookshelves and the random book here and there could be found where she had left them last time she was reading. It was a common sight to see Carmilla wrapped up in a blanket on the couch, coffee left forgotten on the table, reading glasses perched upon her nose and too devoted to the book that Laura would have to call her name multiple times before Carmilla would answer.

Once they had bought all they needed they took the long way home through the park. People had come out to take advantage of the beautiful day. Students had come out of hiding and were sitting in the sun taking in the warmth before having to hide away before their finals. Parents came hand in hand with their children to feed the ducks, while musicians filled the air with music.

 

Living in New York was the dream, and to do it with Carmilla just put the cherry on top. Never in a million years had Laura imagined she deserved someone like Carmilla. Her mother had left her when she was young, her first girlfriend had cheated on her with the “newer, better model”. Her dad became distant after her mother left. Laura’s whole life she thought that no one wanted her, that she wasn’t good enough for anyone. She left her hometown and moved to Silas University to get away from the town that had broken her to piece, that made her feel like a nobody.

It was at Silas where her life changed. She met the amazing Perry and Laf, the people responsible for showing Laura that there were people in the world that thought she was important and that believed in her. They stood by her through every all nighter pulled and whatever ridiculously dangerous article Laura had decided the pursuit that week.

It was at Silas where Laura met the broody, uncaring Carmilla Karnstein. They had been assigned each other as roommates and it wasn’t love at first sight. Carmilla was snarky, rude, arrogant, and somehow managed to cover the bathroom in a weird slime. She was out late most nights and barely acknowledged Laura unless it was to make some snide remark about her fashion choices or her sugar intake alone with some stupid pastry related nickname. But then something changed.

It was about fours months into their first semester when Laura had hit rock bottom. They had just finished mid-semester exams and mid-semester break had began. Laf and Perry had gone home to spend the break with their family while Laura decided to stay back. The couple had invited her alone to join them knowing that she would be spending the break alone but Laura shrugged it off as “a great time to catch up her TV shows” and that it was only a week long. Laf and Perry reluctantly accepted it and let her be. But later that night it all crashed upon her like a huge wave. It was the realisation that she may not have down that well on her exams, that her father hadn’t called asking if she was coming home, but most of, ever since she moved out of home she was truly alone. The darkness of her room only lit up by the light of her laptop casted the room in a cold glow and only made her feel even more alone. And it was the last crack in the dam holding back her tears that caused it break.

Heart wrenching sobs echoed off the walls of that lonely dorm room as Laura clenched her chest, tears streaming down and staining her pillow. And the thoughts that had been running in the back of her mind for months that she tried so hard to push away suddenly flood her mind causing another wave of chest aching, gulping for air sobs.

 

Her father didn’t care.

She didn’t have friends.

She was going to fail.

She would never be a journalist.

Her dreams were pathetic.

Stupid.

Unrealistic.

Give up.

You can’t do it.

 

It seemed to go on forever, the voices didn’t stop. That was until a gentle hand on her shoulder and a soft voice cut through the fog.

‘Laura?’ She could hear the voice. She wanted to go towards the voice. It was warm, caring, safe.

‘Laura? Can you hear me?’ She wanted to nod but her body wouldn’t respond.

‘Laura, sweetheart. It’s Carmilla.’ Carmilla. ‘I need you to take some deep breaths for me. Can you do that for me?’ The gentle hand started drawing soothing circles on her back. Deep breathes. That's what Carmilla asked her to do.

‘There we go Laura, keep going. Focus on the deep breathes.’ In. Out. In until her lungs were full, out until there was nothing left. She kept going until she didn’t have to think about it. She kept going until her clenched fingers relaxed where she was sure she would find crescent moon marks later on.

‘Can you sit up for me, Laura?’ There was her voice again. There was no snarkiness, no rudeness, none of those thing Laura had learn to associate with that voice. Instead it was filled with a gentle warmth, something calming and safe. Laura took a deep breath in and slowly moved to sit up, leaning up against the wall. The bed shifted and Laura looked up to see Carmilla sitting next to her, the worry clearly showing. And she looked beautiful. The cold, disaffected, broody Carmilla was gone. Laura threw her arms around Carmilla’s neck. It threw Carmilla of for a second before wrapping her arms around the tiny blonde, pulling close.

They ended up with Laura in Carmilla’s lap, wrapped around her like a little monkey refusing to let go. They sat in silence as Carmilla rubbed her hand up and down her back. And they sat like that for a good ten minutes before Laura mumbled something into the crook of Carmilla’s neck.

Carmilla couldn’t help chuckle before asking, ‘What was that sweetheart?’

Laura pulled back slightly. ‘Thank you.’

‘Its okay.’

‘I -’

‘You don’t have to explain anything okay. Just know I’ll be here for you and I’m not leaving.’ Laura looked at her in awe and just gave a small nod. ‘Good, let’s take a nap yeah? I think you deserve one.’

Carmilla laid them down, tucking Laura under her chin and made sure she had enough blanket covering her. Laura fell asleep to Carmilla humming a soft tune and rubbing gentle circles on her back.

 

When Laura woke up later she was alone. It was still dark outside and the room was filled with a warm glow from the lamp. Carmilla wasn’t anywhere in their dorm and Laura started to pace.

 

Laura thought she cared.

That she will be there for her.

She said she wouldn’t leave.

 

Panic started to fill her chest again, the bad thoughts starting to come back until she heard the door open. Laura whipped around to see Carmilla walking in with plastic bags in one hand.

‘You’re awake.’ Carmilla gave her a warm smile before walking to their small kitchenette bench and placing the bags on the counter. ‘I thought you might be hungry so I went out to get some food but the only place I found that was open was some Chinese place and I didn’t know what you liked so I got a bit of everything.’

Carmilla turned around and saw Laura still hadn’t moved from her spot just staring at her.

‘Laura?’ Is everything alright? If you don’t like Chinese I can get something el-’

Carmilla was cut off as Laura tackled her with a hug. ‘You didn’t leave. I thought you left, you came back.’

‘Of course I came back, I promised that I wouldn’t leave you.’

‘Thank you.’

‘Come on, lets get some food into you.’

 

They ate together on Carmilla’s bed shoulder to shoulder with a random movie playing in the background. The longer they sat there the calmer and safer Laura felt. She couldn’t help the warmth that spread through her chest as Carmilla silently picked out the corn out of her fried rice and pushed them onto Laura’s plate before taking the peas that Laura had picked out earlier.

She couldn’t help the way her heart fluttered when Carmilla would give her a reassuring smile when she caught Laura staring before turning back to watch the movie.

As Laura turned back to the screen she became confused. Why was Carmilla being like this? Why was she suddenly so nice?

Whatever the reason was she knew that Carmilla deserve an explanation for had happened earlier that night. Laura turned to face her and took in a deep breath. ‘Carm..’

And she let it all out. Everything from her mother leaving, her dad becoming distant, her ex cheating. Every raw emotion tied with those moments also came out, and Carmilla sat there and listened. When Laura started to struggle Carmilla took her hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze.

 

And that’s when it all started to change. After that night Carmilla didn’t stay out late any more, the rudeness with gone and a lot less brooding. After that night Laura started to believe in herself more, that people wouldn’t leave her, that people wanted her around. She spent more time with Laf and Perry and made new friends in her classes. With the encouragement of her friends she joined the school newspaper where they welcomed her and her writing with open arms.  

Then something strange happened. A strange feeling started growing within Laura. It started as flutters when Carmilla smiled at her like that night months ago on her bed. It was the nervous twitching she got around her when the over thinking started. And as the months grew by the feelings grew stronger but still unclear. Why did Carmilla make her feel this way? She was her best friend, the person she learnt to trust the most in the world. Why was she suddenly feel nervous around her?

It wasn’t until she asked Laf and Perry about it at lunch one day that the penny dropped.

‘Maybe you like her?’ suggested Laf and it all of a sudden clicked. And then the panic set in.

‘I like Carmilla,’ Laura repeated quietly. ‘I like Carmilla.’

‘I say it's pretty clear Frosh.’

Suddenly Laura started shaking her head. ‘No no no no no, this can’t be happening! I can’t like my best friend!’

‘Woah L, take a deep breath!’ Laura followed Laf’s movements. ‘There we go. Okay, walk us through what’s going in that little head of yours?’

‘I can’t like Carmilla.’

‘We gathered that.’ Perry slapped their shoulder. ‘Ow! What was that for?’

Perry glared at them before facing Laura, ‘What LaFontaine meant to say was, why can’t you like Carmilla?’

‘Because she’s my best friend!’

‘And what’s wrong with that? Don’t they say you should always be with someone who is like your best friend?’ asked Laf.

‘Because what if she doesn’t like me back? What if I tell her and she doesn’t want to be friends anymore? Laf, I can’t lose her, would rather me deal with the feelings then not have her in my life.’

Laf and Perry shared a look before smiling back at her.

‘Oh honey’

‘Oh L if only you saw we saw.’

‘What do you mean?’ Laura looked between the worried. What had she missed?

‘You’re scared of telling her because you think she won’t like you back?’

‘Of course! Laf, what is going on?’

Laf looked at Perry one last time, as if asking her a silent question before Perry gave them a small nod. They turned back to Laura and took a deep breath.

‘We have reason to believe that you won’t have to worry about the whole her not liking you back.’

Laura looked at them confused, did they already know that Carmilla didn't see her anymore than a friend? Did Carmilla already notice and told Laf and Perry?

‘What do you mean?’

‘Look L, we love you but sometimes your a little oblivious. Anymore from a mile away can tell how that girl feels about you.’

If this was Laf’s way of telling her gently that Carmilla didn't like her back then they needed some practice.

‘I'm still not following,’ Laura said slowly looking at Perry for some help.

‘Well dear, from what we can see, which is a lot by the way, is that Carmilla may like you back?’

‘There’s heart eyes L.’

‘Heart eyes…’ Laura repeated waiting for it to sink in.

‘Yeah, the way she looks at you, its like you had put the stars in the sky just for her.’

‘Sweetheart, I think it's best if you talk to her. Communication is key, maybe all you two need is to just talk it out.’

Laura could tell Carmilla anything, she trusted her like her life depended on it. But how come all of a sudden the idea of talking to Carmilla made her stomach knot up and her chest tighten? She liked Carmilla, to be honest Laura was already too far past like but she wasn’t going to admit that out loud. But she knew Carmilla. Carmilla didn’t do relationships. She didn’t think they worth it and rathered picking up the random girl at the bar, go back to her place and slip out the next morning. Carmilla didn’t do relationships. So why would she have one with Laura? It wasn’t worth the heartbreak to tell her how she felt onto to be told what she already knew.

The topic didn’t get brought up again for a few weeks. Laura threw herself into school, into the school’s newspaper. Anything that she could do to keep herself busy. She spent late nights typing away on her laptop, any waking moment outside of class in the library. When that wasn’t enough she took as many shifts at the restaurant she worked at as she could handle. She was slowly running herself into the ground without realising it, all to leave the feelings for Carmilla behind.

All her friends knew why she was doing this to herself but Laura denied it everytime they brought it up so instead they tried to help her get through it. Perry made sure she ate a decent meal, Lafontaine kept her company in the library and occasionally on the odd adventure after a lead for an article.

Carmilla however was constantly worried, not knowing the reason for the sudden intake of work. Laura barely talked to her anymore. She would suggest to watch a movie together but Laura would decline saying she had deadlines to meet. She would avoid Carmilla’s suggestion to meeting up for coffee (not that Laura needed anymore) saying that she had a meeting or a lead to chase after. Carmilla wasn’t dumb. It was obvious that Laura was avoiding her like the plague, but she didn’t know why.

Had she done something wrong? Was it something she had said? Carmilla had been racking her brain for weeks trying to figure out what she had done to make Laura not look at her in the eye. Of course Carmilla had managed to fuck up the one good thing in her life, the one person that she cared about. Carmilla wouldn’t say it outloud cause it would ruin her bad ass image but she missed her cupcake. She missed the nights in their dorm room with both of them tucked under a blanket watching a movie or some geeky TV show Laura conned her into watching. She missed meeting Laura at the campus in between classes to grab a coffee. Hell, she even missed when Laura dragged her to the ginger twins place for games night.

She had asked the ginger twins if they knew what was going on with Laura and they really terribly lied that they didn’t.

Carmilla was about the combust of frustration, anger and heartache one day when Laura blew off another offer for coffee when she got a text.

 

Lafonbrain: Talk to her.

 

Me: That’s what I’ve been trying to do you idiot!

 

Carmilla let out a sigh. She shouldn’t get mad at them, it wasn’t their fault, they were just trying to help.

 

Me: I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have snapped.

 

Lafonbrain: Its okay. Just talk to her okay?

 

Carmilla didn’t get back to the dorm until later that night. She had decided to go have dinner with her brother Will as a distraction and possibly for advice. Will knew first hand how much the small blonde meant to Carmilla, and how much it was tearing her up for the past week.

Carmilla quietly opened the door to find Laura working at her desk, deep in concentration. Carmilla knew she wouldn’t have heard her come in so she made hot chocolate in Laura’s favourite Tardis mug and placed it next to her on her desk. Laura seemed to snap out of her trance and looked at her. Her face softened and a small smile appeared, one Carmilla hadn’t seen in weeks.

‘Thank you Carm.’

Carmilla’s heart jumped at hearing the nicknamed. She didn’t realise how much she missed it.

Carmilla sat down at the end of the bed and faced Laura.

‘Laura, can we please talk?’ Laura almost didn’t recognise Carmilla’s voice. It was small, quiet, tired. It lacked the confidence that it usually had. There was none flirty undertones, no teasing, it wasn’t Carmilla.

Laura finally allowed herself to take a proper look at her roomate and her heartbroke. There she was sitting at the end of her bed, her shoulders slouched, the shadows under her eyes, her hair throw up into a messy bun. The mischievous sparkle that once shown in her eyes were gone. Laura was so caught up in avoiding her own feelings and trying to push them away that she didn’t realise what she was doing to Carmilla.

Carmilla took a deep breathe and kept her eyes trained at the floor before saying, ‘Did I do something wrong?’

Laura almost missed it, it was so quiet, but it knocked the wind out of her. The question wasn’t just a question but carried so much more. She sounded hurt, terrified, uncertain.

Laura dropped to her knees in front of the broken form of Carmilla that sat in front of her and took the brunettes hands into her own.

‘No, god no, you didn’t do anything wrong!’

‘Then why have you been avoiding me? I feel like I’ve done something wrong because you won’t talk to me, you won’t even look me in the eye! What have I done Laura? I need to know so I can fix it!’ Tears and started to fall down Carmilla’s cheeks, her voice thick with pain, her bottom lip wobbling. She looked and looked Laura in the eye. ‘I can’t lose you Laura.’ She had barely whispered but it was said.

Laura stared at her wide eyed, her heart broken into a million pieces. Not enough sorries could be said to fix this. Laura jumped up onto the bed and pulled Carmilla into her close as she physically could. She felt a pair of arms wrap around her waist and she pulled her even closer. Laura was overwhelmed with everything that she was craving for the past few weeks, the smell of Carmilla, having her this close.

‘It's not your fault Carm,’ she mumbled into the brunettes hair. ‘It's not your fault. You’ve done nothing wrong.’

Carmilla pulled back to look at her. ‘Then what is happening Laura?’

Laura moved her hand to cup Carmilla’s cheek, her thumb brushing away the stray tears as Carmilla closed her eyes, leaned into her hand and let out a sigh.

‘I’ve been a coward.’ Carmilla opened her eyes confused. ‘I’ve been a coward Carm and I dealt with it by doing what I always do, avoiding it, running away from it.’ Carmilla still looked at her confused.

Laura took a deep breath, ‘I have feelings that I can’t work out. And instead of dealing with them I’m trying avoid them.’

‘Let me help you, you don’t have to do this alone. Even if you don’t want my direct help at least let me be there for support!’ Carmilla was practically begging her at this point.

Laura looked down at her hands. ‘I can’t.’

‘Why not?’

‘Because it involves you.’

Laura didn’t hear a sound from Carmilla. The other girl was silent and still. She might as well tell her everything.

‘I like you. And I don’t know what to do with all the things you make me feel. But they scare me, they scare me so much and I don’t know what to do with all this so I tried to ignore it, tried to push it away, and obviously it didn’t work and I’ve hurt you in the process and that is the last thing I ever want to do to you Carm. I never wanted to hurt you.’

Carmilla remained quiet all through this so when Laura finally had the courage to look up expecting to find the cold, closed Carmilla she had first met she saw her Carmilla. The one with the eyes that warmed her soul, the one that had the small smile that was only reserved for Laura. She was looking back at her and Laura out a breath she didn’t know she was holding.

‘I’m so sorry Carm, I’m didn’t -’ and before Laura could even finish the sentence Carmilla leaned forward and cut her off with her lips.

It was everything Carmilla had imagined and her heart swelled when Laura started kissing her back. Her hands tangled in her hair, the taste of hot chocolate on her lips, the smell of her soap filling her nose. Laura was intoxicating. Laura was inviting. She made Carmilla feel safe, needed, wanted, dare she say loved.

When they both needed air the pulled apart and she tucked a strand on blonde hair back into place while searching those hazel eyes for any regret. Instead Carmilla found something else, she couldn’t put her finger on it but it made her happy.

Laura leaned her head against Carmilla’s and breathed out, ‘are we okay?’

Carmilla giggled, ‘Cupcake, do you really think I would have kissed you if we weren’t okay?’

 

And that’s how their story started. That was years ago. And it wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t always smiles and laughter. There was the occasional fight over something petty. There was the massive fights that left them both crying and begging the other to tell them what to do. But they always ended up in each others arms, not knowing what they would do without the other. But they did know that the other would always be waiting there at the end.

Things were going great by the time the third year of living in New York rolled around. They moved to a slightly bigger and much nicer apartment, and Carmilla got a job with a magazine. A travel magazine. And that's when the cracks started to show.

Chapter Text

When Carmilla got her new job at the travel magazine, she was over the moon. All the hard work that she had put in over the years was finally paying off.

It was her father that introduced her to photography, the idea of seeing something in a different light to everyone else and being able to capture that had grabbed her. The idea of making people feel things when they saw her work was what pulled her in further. But mostly it reminded her of her dad.

When she was five, the two of them would spend hours on the weekends at a new place playing around with her dad’s camera. Then on the way home he buy her an ice cream and made her promise not to tell her mother because this was their secret. When he passed away when she was 12 he had left his camera behind for her and it became the first camera of many she would own.

The day she told her mother she was going to university to do photography broke her heart, and there isn’t a day that she would forget the words her mother had said to her.

It was a hobby. It was a waste of time.

That she probably wasn’t talented enough to find a job.

To look at where it got her father, nowhere.

It was clear that her mother didn’t approve of her career choice among other things. Her mother wanted to her to go into the corrupt world of business or law, but Carmilla never wanted that. It wasn’t her.

So when the job finally came along after so long of doing freelance work it was like a big “suck it” to her mother. She would have said it to her face if they were still talking. Carmilla hadn’t talked to her mother since she left for university. She didn’t want to be associated with someone who didn’t support her, didn’t think she was good enough, didn’t accept who she was.

Laura on the other hand though, dear lord what did Carmilla do in a past life to deserve her, supported her through it all. Especially when they first moved to New York. Rent was expensive and freelance work didn’t really pay well or often. But Laura didn’t care, she kept working hard at the newspaper and they got by, sometimes barely, but they got by. And every time Carmilla wanted to quit and just pick up some boring retail job, Laura would say no. She would remind Carmilla of why she wanted to do photography in the first place and that there is job out there with her name on it.

Carmilla had told Laura immediately after she got the phone call. And that night Laura took them out for dinner to celebrate.

When Carmilla got her first paycheck she took Laura out to see a Broadway show as a thank you for everything she had done.

The job was amazing. She started off doing local trips. A couple days away the most. Within 6 months working there she had been to most of the East Coast. Soon after she started getting assigned destinations further away, LA, San Francisco, Vancouver. And while it was amazing to be able to explore these places she was also most excited to go home to Laura.

Laura would always be there to pick her up from the airport with some cute sign that she had made. The most Carmilla spent away from home was 5 days, and yeah it didn’t sound like much, but god they missed each other so much.

She would spend the first night back showing Laura just how much she missed her, how much she loved her, how much she adored her.

And then she started getting longer trips further away, half the time in places she had never heard of. The trips started becoming two weeks, then three weeks. And as the trips got longer the time back home between trips got shorter. And the time she was at home she was in the office preparing the photos for the next edition. It was late nights, early mornings. Going in on weekends if the boss wasn’t happy. But Carmilla did it, because she had worked her ass off for this, because she enjoyed seeing new places and sharing it with others.

But what Carmilla was starting to forget was home. And she didn’t know it.

But someone else saw it.

Someone else was slowly watching her girlfriend disappear.

---

Laura eventually got use to Carmilla being gone for 5 days, but when she came home it was like she had never left. The usual routine was Carmilla was gone for 5 days and Laura would throw herself into work to keep herself busy. Then Carmilla was back usually for 2 weeks before she had to go again. But those two weeks were amazing, they would wake up, have breakfast and then walk to the subway together before taking their respective trains. If they weren’t too busy they would meet up for lunch. Talk about their day, their latest project.

The couple would end the night making dinner together, before finishing of work or watching a movie. Laura would always get Carmilla to read her articles before sending them to her editor and Carmilla always valued Laura’s thoughts on which picture to use.

Laura was at the kitchen table editing her latest article, when she heard a huff from the couch. The brunette had photos scattered in front of her from her latest trip and had been huffing for the past hour trying to decide which photos to use.

Laura got up and walked behind her placing her hands on Carmilla’s shoulders and gently massaging them. She could feel her girlfriend relax instantly under her hands and let out a long sigh. The table was covered with beautiful photos of landscapes, buildings, people. They instantly made her want dive straight into the photo and be in it.

‘I don’t know which one to use Cupcake,’ mumbled Carmilla. Her chin had dropped against her chest and her eyes were closed. Laura walked around the couch and as soon as she sat down, Carmilla curled up against her.

‘They’re all beautiful Carm.’

‘That doesn’t help Cupcake.’ Laura chuckled lightly before taking a closer look.

Carmilla had spent the past week in Montreal, a beautiful city, but seeing it through Carmilla’s camera was a different experience. The young photographer had managed to highlight parts of the city that she would often not notice. The trees had started to turn red, brown, and orange, lining the old streets with colour. But one photo caught her eye.

It was of an old bakery with a couple of tables and chairs out the front. The window was filled with sweet baked goods that made you want reach into the photo and grab one. The cobble street was lined in a carpet of leaves that had started to fall, but in the middle of the show was an elderly couple. A cup of coffee in front of each other and a cake in the middle to share, and their heads thrown back in laughter.

‘This one,’ Laura said softly in awe of the photo. ‘Use this one.’

‘Really?’

‘Yeah, it shows love, happiness, history. There’s story behind this photo, and I think the thing about going somewhere new is learning the stories.’

Carmilla chuckled before pressing a light kiss against Laura’s forehead. ‘Always a journalist at heart Hollis, I’ll use it. I do need a couple more though.’

The couple decided on a few more photos before Laura led her girlfriend into the bedroom. She made missed the feeling of sleeping with Carmilla next to her, waking up to her wrapped around herself. A few heated kissed led to clothes being thrown onto the ground, wandering hands, hot breathes on bare skin. And love. The way Carmilla looked at her, eyes filled with love instead of lust. She looked at her like there was nothing in the world that mattered except her and everything was perfect.

But it didn’t last for long.

---

The best part of coming home was seeing Laura standing there at the airport, waiting to see who would spot who first. This time it was Carmilla and as she walked towards the blonde her heart was pounding from excitement, her chest tight in anticipation to finally wrap her arms around her girlfriend. When Laura finally saw her she ran and leapt into Carmilla’s arms and since stepping off the plane Carmilla felt at home.

The smell of Laura wrapped around her and Carmilla couldn’t help but pull her closer. She missed everything that was Laura. She missed her warm brown eyes, the loving smile, the gentle kisses. Carmilla pulled back slightly and rested her head against the blondes.

‘I missed you Cupcake,’ she whispered against Laura’s lips.

‘I missed you too Carm.’ Laura pulled her in for a bruising kiss that took her breath away before grabbing her hand and walking out the doors to the car.

Laura didn’t know what she was thinking that maybe this one time when Carmilla came home it would be different. That they would spend the first two days wrapped in each other before Carmilla would go back to the office.

Was she an idiot to think that Carmilla would for once come home to have dinner with her? Or to think that they could spend some time together before going to work?

The first week she was back wasn’t that bad. Carmilla still left before her but she made it back for dinner. Laura was proud that over the past year her cooking skills had improved. With Carmilla away most of the time she couldn’t reply on Perry to make sure she ate so she started basic. Pasta, steaks, soups. Even Perry mentioned how much she enjoyed Laura’s pumpkin soup.

So when Carmilla was back Laura was excited to show her new recipes that she had learnt.

And for the first week Carmilla was back in time for dinner, always commenting on how amazing dinner was and a kiss on the cheek as thank you for cooking. But just as Laura was getting her hopes up that maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t be like every other time Carmilla starts coming home later. But then the text messages started saying that she has to “stay late, sorry Creampuff.” And then it became no messages. And eventually Laura started cooking meals for her and the fridge that sometimes went uneaten. Any hope that this was going to be different was gone.

No more asking how her day was. No more asking what new article she was working on, or how the ginger squad was going. Laura spent more time alone then with her girlfriend, it was like Carmilla was back on another trip.

Eventually the cycle was coming back round and Carmilla was going to leave for another trip. As much as Laura was disappointed with how the past few weeks had gone she did want to spend one last night with her girlfriend.

So the morning before she got up early enough to catch Carmilla before she left. As Carmilla walked out of the bathroom Laura was waiting with a cup of coffee and a kiss on the cheek.

‘Morning Cupcake, isn’t it a little early for you to be up?’

‘It is, but I’m going to work from home today so I can nap later. I did want to ask you something though?’

Carmilla looked up from her cereal with a curious look.

‘I was thinking we could have a romantic night before you leave tomorrow?’ Laura’s heart pounded in her chest scared that Carmilla would say no, that she had work to finish up.

But instead the photographer took her hands and pressed a gentle kiss to her lips. ‘I would love that,’ Carmilla grinned against her lips.

After receiving a kiss goodbye, something that Laura had been craving for weeks, she started to plan the night in her head and everything that she needed to go buy. But first she was going back to bed because it was way too early to be organising anything.

Later on when Laura was shopping she received a text from Carmilla.

Carm <3: hey cupcake, what time should I be home by?

Cupcake: does 7 work for you?

Carm <3: 7 is perfect. I can’t wait to see you tonight, love you xx

Cupcake: love you too xx

Maybe Laura had been overthinking the whole night. There was a part of Laura that kept saying that Carmilla wasn’t going to show up or that she would cancel last minute. But she tried to push that doubt down, reminding herself that this morning was different. This morning she had received a kiss good bye and then received a text confirming tonight.

Tonight would be fine….maybe.

That night Laura had prepared a pasta dish and garlic bread that she was even impressed by. Sitting on the stove cooling was a chocolate cake. Laura had candles scattered around the room and a couple of roses sitting in a vase in the middle of the table. It was perfect.

Laura quickly looked at the time and realised that it was 5 past 7 already. Maybe Carmilla was stuck in traffic? Yeah, Carmilla was on her way, Laura thought to herself trying to bury the doubt in those words starting to build up.

Trying to distract herself, she settled herself on the couch and picked up the nearest book and started reading. She was coming, she was going to show up.

She didn’t realise that she had fallen asleep until she was woken up by someone shaking her shoulder. As she slowly sat up the blur in front of her cleared up and she realised that the the blur was Carmilla. The Carmilla that was supposed to be here at 7 for dinner. A quick look at the clock hanging over the TV brought every doubt that Laura had been trying to push away all day a reality. It was now almost 10. Anger and frustration and disappointed hit her in the chest like a tsunami.

It wasn’t going to be different.

Nothing had changed.

She looked at Carmilla who looked like she was about to apologise but Laura looked at her with disappointment and shook her head as she stood up and made her way to her office.

‘Lau-’ Laura spun around to face Carmilla, her hands clenched into fists, her eyes as cold as ice.

‘Don’t you dare you say that your sorry. Or that you lost track of time. I’ve heard it all before.’

‘What is that suppose to mean?’ Carmilla yelled back.

‘You are never home Carmilla.’ Hearing her full name felt like a punch to the gut. Laura always called her Carm or babe. Never Carmilla. ‘You leave early and you come home late. I never see you anymore. You’re here but not here, it's like you’re away on another trip.’

Laura turned around, her head hung down low so Carmilla wouldn’t see the tears starting to fall.

That night Laura stayed in the spare room, not being able to bare being in the same room as Carmilla.

That night Carmilla had the bed to herself and for the first time she felt alone. She had gotten use to sleeping alone during her trips but never when she was back home. When she was home she had Laura to come back to, Laura who unconsciously would move towards Carmilla when she got into the bed and wrap her arms around the brunettes waist.

Carmilla tossed and turned, the bed so empty and cold, knowing the woman she loved so much was hurting in the next room.

But she knew that Laura needed space. Laura rarely got so upset, rarely got angry that she would yell. The heavy weight of guilt sat on Carmilla’s chest. It was her fault that Laura felt like this. She had to fix this, but there was nothing she could do tonight. She closed her eyes and hoped tomorrow she could fix this.

When Carmilla woke up the next morning the apartment was silent. She wiped the sleep from her eyes and saw it was already 8am. Shit. Her plane leaves in two hours. Why didn’t Laura wake her up?

She made her way to the kitchen, her footsteps on the cold wooden floors seemed to echo through the apartment. Carmilla quickly popped her head into the spare room to find the bed already made. She then checked the office in case Laura was doing work, but still no Laura. By the time Carmilla had made her way to the kitchen what she had suspected since she woke up had been confirmed. Laura had left without saying goodbye. Disappointed, Carmilla sat down at the kitchen table, her heart breaking a little. Laura always said goodbye when she left, the only time she hadn’t was when she was covering a story in another city for another sick reporter. Did Carmilla really fuck up that badly? She looked down at the table and noticed a folded piece of paper with her name written on it in Laura’s handwriting.

 

Have a safe trip. Laura.