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Four years less for a hundred more

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On the last Saturday before the start of the year, Zazzalil hauled her suitcase up three flights of stairs. In a way, she was grateful that the new buildings were finished and that she could move out of the old, half-destroyed one she had been staying at for the last four years, but it also meant that the elevator wasn't functioning yet, and that she had to move all of her things by climbing three flights of stairs. It was in these moments that she really hated her poor stamina. She would have loved to be able to go running in the morning and climb stairs without feeling half-dead. Like a vampire, that would have been cool.

In two days, she would start her senior year of college, and in less than a year, she would graduate and be an adult for real. It was both terrifying and exciting.

When she entered the room, it was empty. She knew she would have a different roommate, her previous one having just graduated, but it was still strange. The left side of the room had already been claimed by someone. Books lined the shelves, clothes filled the closet. Everything was neatly placed, and clean. Zazzalil frowned. She wasn't used to living with someone organized anymore. In her first year of college, she had shared a room with Jemilla, a very uptight girl who liked things to be tidy and perfect. Zazzalil felt a tinge at the memory. The older girl had disappeared with no explanation in the middle of the year. They hadn't really gotten along, but they were still friends, and it hurt a little not to know. She was very probably dead.

Zazzalil emptied her suitcase, filling the right side of the room with her things. She let her notebooks and pencils fall on her desk, shoved her clothes in her closet, and tried, with much difficulty, to make her bed. At last, she went into the bathroom. A huge mirror covered the wall over the sink. Zazzalil looked into it and examined her reflection.

She looked tired. There were deep bags under her eyes, her skin nearly purple. Her hair was messy. The first week of senior year would probably be exhausting.

Ever since she was old enough to notice that sort of things, Zazzalil had realized that mirrors never showed her reflection. It had taken a while, but after some experimenting (involving, but not limited to, cutting off half of her hair when she was eight year old), she had understood that what she could see was what she would look like a week later, which had been a source of comfort throughout the years, but had also led to strange or fun experiences.

She had taken a look in the school bathroom's mirror one day when she was sixteen and seen purple streaks in her hair. She had smiled: it meant that she had either convinced her mother to let her die her hair, or found a way to sneak out and do it anyway. It was good news. And indeed, on that Friday, she had snuck out to hairdresser's after school and died some of her hair purple with the money her father had gotten her for her birthday. He had died soon after that, and it was weirdly comforting to know that her last birthday present from him had been the hair color that she had kept for nearly four years.

She had caught her reflection in the mirror once in her first month of college and seen a dark bruise on her cheekbone and a wound on her lip. She had walked around ready for a fight for four days, wondering how it would happen. She was ready for it, ready to win the fight and prove that she was tough. She was nearly buzzing with excitement. After four days, she had fallen down the stairs at a party, drunk out of her mind. She had hit her head against the floor and split her lip. She felt rather ridiculous.

And on that Saturday, two days before the beginning of her senior year, she saw herself, but more tired.

She finished unpacking her things and let herself fall on her bed, taking out her phone and scrolling through her notifications. Time passed slowly. In the evening, she went to the common room, caught up with her classmates who had already moved in, and joined them in their enthusiastic contemplation of the kitchen parts, way better than the old ones. After a couple of hours, she went back to her room, still empty. Changing into gym shorts and an over-large t-shirt, she untied her hair and let it fall on her shoulders as she sat on her bed, resting her back on her pillows. An other hour passed, the sun set.

Then, the door opened. Probably her roommate, back from wherever she had been. Zazzalil sat up and raised her head, getting ready to greet the woman who would spend the next 10 months with her.

Her heart skipped a beat. She didn't know what she had been expecting, but it was certainly not that. There, in front of her, stood a woman she thought had died four years ago.

She looked exactly the same as before: same pretty round face, same glowing smile, same confident posture, same curly hair, same warm brown eyes. She was a lot paler, but Zazzalil didn't notice.

“Jemilla?” she finally breathed out, confused. Silence filled the room for a minute, deafening.

“So your hair's not purple anymore, uh?” the taller girl finally croaked, her throat dry, looking down at her hands.

Zazzalil stared at her, mouth agape, confusion showing on her face. She had no idea what she was supposed to say. Questions filled her mind, each feeling more stupid than the other.

“Where have you been?” she asked in a whisper.

“Somewhere else,” Jemilla answered, looking uncomfortable, “but it doesn't matter, I'm here now!”
She laughed awkwardly, anxiously.

“I thought you were dead!” Zazzalil cried out, standing up, feeling too loud yet too calm. “You just left, deleted your number, and nobody ever knew what happened to you!”

She didn't answer, looking down, wrapping her arms around herself.

“Why did you do that?” the shorter girl murmured.

Jemilla moved towards her bed, sat down on it, making no noise, and looked up at her roommate, searching for words.

“It's complicated,” she stated, trying to find a way to explain her absence. Zazzalil snorted, obviously angry. “Things happened. I couldn't stay. I had to leave for a bit. I'm sorry.”

She looked like she meant it, and Zazzalil looked away, clenching and unclenching her jaw.

“I thought you were dead,” she repeated, her voice cracking. “Do you understand that, Jemilla? We weren't the best of friends, but I still cared about you, and I thought-”

She breathed in deeply, sitting back down.

“I thought you'd died,” she insisted on the last word, trying to meet the eyes of the other girl, who was still stubbornly staring at her hands, “I thought you were gone, forever. And I didn't know how, or why. You were there, and when I came back from winter break, you were gone. Nobody knew anything. Not your friends, not the administration, no one.”

“I'm sorry,” the other girl whispered again, “there was no other way.”

Zazzalil kept looking in the other girl's direction, hoping for more. When it was clear she wasn't going to talk, the younger girl furiously laid down on her bed, facing the wall. She heard movement behind her, Jemilla going to the bathroom. She had already fallen asleep by the time the girl came back to their room.

 

Chapter Text

As the weeks passed, Zazzalil was surprised to find out that they effortlessly fell back into their old rhythm.

Jemilla, like before, woke up early. She used to set her alarm at six in the morning to get ready, but it didn't matter to Zazzalil: she stayed in bed until seven. To her utter stupor, though, she found out that Jemilla had slightly changed her routine: she set her alarm at 5h30 and went running. Even worse, Zazzalil sometimes had the impression that her roommate was already awake, and reading over her notes, before the alarm even rang.

Jemilla, like before, was good at school. She paid attention, took notes diligently, and always got the best grades. It did seem like she had found an ever better working method in the time she was gone. Every day, she read her notes and rewrote them, using color pens. They looked like works of art. She also wrote the best essays their teachers had ever seen, and read more books than anyone around, wrote, drew, painted. She was very talented. Zazzalil was both impressed and kind of furious: she had no idea how anyone could have time for that.

Although she never seemed to sleep, Jemilla was always dynamic, always happy, always ready for group activities, always there to help the younger students with their work. Her eyes were always bright with excitement, her skin fresh, her smile wide, her shoulders pushed back. She didn't even drink coffee.

Zazzalil, on the other hand, was still a mess. She still woke up late, never did any kind of exercise (unless running across campus to avoid being too late counted as exercise), still drank too much coffee until she felt somewhat alive. Making sense of her notes was still an adventure, her grades still stayed average, no matter how much work she put in trying to be one of the best. The bags under her eyes got darker and darker, and her reflection in the mirror never showed any sign of change.

She was still, even after four years, on the edge of falling in love.

She had fought against it in her freshman year, desperate to not fall in love with her straight roommate, and had succeeded (or so she tried to convince herself). Then Jemilla had gone, and she had lamented the loss of a friend, of a roommate, of a great woman. Nothing more.

When Jemilla had come back, Zazzalil had been angry at first, but she soon found out that she couldn't be. There was just something about the other woman that made it impossible to hate her. In their freshman year she had been a little arrogant, a little self-centered, a little boastful, but the years had passed and she had grown out of that. She was kind, helpful, and selfless. She was beautiful, pretty and gorgeous. She was awkward, anxious and funny. She was strong, confident and bold. She was a little flawed and a little perfect. Except Zazzalil was pretty sure she was straight, and there was no way she was going to fall in love with a straight girl.

So Zazzalil was certainly not in love. Sure, she did appreciate Jemilla's presence, and sure, she did feel a little (a lot) better when she was around, and sure, her heart did skip a beat whenever the other girl put her hand on her shoulder, kissed her cheek and told her “you're the best”, and sure, Jemilla did that to everyone, but Zazzalil was very gay, and it was perfectly normal to feel a little weird in a torturously good way when a cute girl complimented her, or just looked in her general direction. That didn't mean she was in love with her. Certainly not.


On a very cold Monday morning, Zazzalil was walking to class, wearing one of her most comfortable sweaters, a cup of coffee in her hands, listening to “we fell in love in october”, even though it was November. It was delightfully cold, and she relished in the relaxing feeling of the wind rushing down her neck and curling around her ankles. She loved the cold. She was thriving.

She heard her name being shouted from a few feet behind, and she tried to believe that the temperature was the reason for the shiver than ran through her body, and not the way her name sounded in Jemilla's voice. She turned around, trying not to smile too wide at the sight of the other girl, engulfed in a thick deep blue scarf, holding her beige trench coat close to her body.

“Aren't you cold?” she asked, concern showing on her face.

“A little,” Zazzalil smiled, “it's nice. I've missed it, summer was too long this year.”

Jemilla frowned. She watched as the other girl raised her coffee to her lips and drank a little, before wrapping both hands around it and holding it close to her chest. A hair was flowing around her face with the wind, unkempt in a beautiful way. She looked at Jemilla with a glint in her eyes that she couldn't decipher, a small smile curling her lips.

“We should get going, you don't want to be late” she finally said, and Jemilla nodded, walking up to her and adjusting to her pace. Their elbows brushed a few times, and they pretended not to notice.


When she got back from Christmas break, Zazzalil saw Jemilla decorating her wall with polaroids. There were a few dozens of them. The older girl smiled at her when she entered the room, holding up her brand new Polaroid camera proudly. Zazzalil walked up to her and looked at the pictures. They were beautiful, obviously, like any art Jemilla ever tried.

“There's no one in these pictures,” she remarked, “Why didn't you take pictures of your family? You said you went with them for the holidays.”

Jemilla looked down for a second.

“They, um,” she paused, “they don't like it when people take pictures of them.”

Zazzalil frowned. The other girl continued.

“I don't like it either. Please never take any pictures of me.”

“Why?” Zazzalil asked, “you're so pretty, don't tell me you're self conscious.”

She congratulated herself at how casual she sounded. Good job Zazz, just a friend complimenting a friend, nothing weird here. Jemilla frowned.

“I just really don't like being photographed.”

She sounded very nervous and a little upset, so Zazzalil didn't push it further.

“Okay” she murmured.

There was silence for a few moments, while Zazzalil tried to decide whether she should keep talking or do something else. It was definitely because she was bad at social interactions, nothing to do with a crush, that would be ridiculous. Jemilla finally raised her head and smiled. It was a little forced, but also a little genuine.

“I could take a picture of you, though!” she exclaimed excitedly, “That way there'd be a picture of a person on my wall.”

Before Zazzalil could begin to think of an answer, Jemilla had already raised her camera and pressed the button. She smiled mischievously as the machine printed the picture. Silence filled the room again, but a comfortable silence this time, as they waited for the colors to appear.

Zazzalil sat on the bed next to her friend and they stared at the little picture. She looked very pretty in it. Her hair flowed around her face, and the feeble light from the window shone on one side, making it look like gold. There was that glint in her eyes again, complementing the small smile that she hadn't been aware she was showing.

Jemilla stared at the picture for a few seconds, her lips curling in a delicate smile. She caught Zazzalil's eye and blushed slightly, though the smaller girl didn't notice. She put the picture next to the others.

Chapter Text

One night, Zazzalil woke up at 2 am and saw that Jemilla was reading again.

“Couldn't sleep” she muttered, as usual, when Zazzalil raised her head questioningly at her.

Zazzalil often woke up in the middle of the night to see Jemilla, sitting pressed against the wall, a book in her hands. She understood insomnia, but she was exhausted even after a full night of sleep, and she really couldn't understand how her roommate was still alive.


“Why do you never eat with the rest of us?” Zazzalil asked one evening.

There were eighteen students sharing the small kitchen, and they had found a nice rhythm so that everyone had their turn cooking for everyone. Jemilla often refused to eat with the rest of them, and ate some salad and a yogurt while the rest of them devoured some duck legs with mountains of potatoes. It was kind of sad to observe, in Zazzalil's opinion. Even the vegetarian kids enjoyed at least the potatoes.

Jemilla shrugged.

“Come on, join us for once!” Zazzalil pouted, “Evan's making pasta with garlic bread, and they're the best cook ever, you can't skip that.”

Jemilla looked uncomfortable.

“I don't really like garlic.”

“What?” the shorter girl exclaimed, “That can't be true!”

She was met with silence, so she gave up and went towards the kitchen.


“Ouch!” Zazzalil exclaimed, one afternoon in December.

Jemilla turned around, worried.

“Are you okay?”

“That's one hell of a paper cup!” Zazzalil chuckled, holding up her finger from which a bit of blood was dripping.

Jemilla turned around abruptly, and cleared her throat.

“You, um, you should get that cleaned,” she said, her voice trembling slightly.

“Yeah, there's blood everywhere,” Zazzalil stated. She didn't see her roommate clutching her pen a little too tightly.


On December 20th, someone knocked on their door. Zazzalil opened the door to see one of their floormates jumping excitedly.

“We finally found a fun idea for New Year's Eve!” she explained, a huge smile on her face.

“Awesome!” Zazzalil exclaimed, “What have you got?”

“You know we didn't want to do something stupid and possibly dangerous like last year,” she exclaimed, “so Evan found something: we're doing something stupid but safe! We're doing a Twilight marathon. Everyone's motivated, it's been a while since any one of us has seen any of the movies, so we though it'd be cool to make fun of them together.”

“Sounds fun,” Zazzalil chuckled, before turning to Jemilla, “Hey, J-Mills! You said you'd join us if we chose something safe.”

The girl sighed, looking unsure.

“Come on!” Zazzalil pouted, “Group activities are good for morale! Where's your sense of team building?”

Jemilla seemed to gave up and murmured a half-hearted “okay”, her eyes still fixed on her paper.


December 31st came, and with it eighteen young adults crammed in one room. Its residents had rearranged the furniture so that everyone could sit on the beds with their backs on the wall, and so the projector they had borrowed (“it's not stealing if you bring it back, right guys?”) from one of their teachers could show the movies on the opposite wall.

Needless to say, watching a movie with eighteen people in a room for two wasn't ideal. Everyone tried to get comfortable while Evan attempted to get their computer to read the DVD. They had confessed that they were such a fan in their early teens that they had bought all of the books, DVDs, and a certain amount of merchandise, which they had brought for everyone to use for the night.

Zazzalil had managed to get Jemilla to wear a “Team Jacob” t-shirt, and was shouting “Movie night!” over and over again with the others. Jemilla was sitting on the edge of the bed, pouting playfully, looking like she was trying to hide her discomfort.

Zazzalil sat next to her roommate (she couldn't fit anywhere else, she really hadn't done it on purpose). There wasn't much room, so their arms were pressed together. They pretended not to care.

Everyone had a lot of fun, and even Jemilla laughed at times (she seemed to find the sparkling skin thing very funny). Evan dramatically acted out at the same time as the actors, proving, in fact, how much they knew the movie. Jemilla sat the closest to them, and ended up having to be their Edward.

“I know what you are...” Evan whispered, deep anguish twisting their face. “You're... a vampire.”

Zazzalil could feel Jemilla tense, although she was smiling. Did she have a crush on Evan?

Eventually Evan got tired and sat on the floor, only acting along the most iconic lines. Chuckles answered each of them, Evan always was the life of the party.

Zazzalil noticed Jemilla's discomfort, even though she insisted she was fine. She was holding on to her right arm so tightly that her nails dug marks on her skin.

“Who here loved Alice more than anyone else as a kid?” Evan asked while they were putting the last DVD in their computer, brushing their hand through their light pink hair. Every one was half-asleep, and questioning their decision to watch all of the movies in one sitting.

Five of them raised their hands.

“You're all queer women, right? Or non-binary peeps attracted to women?”

A chorus of “yep” answered their question. Zazzalil looked at Jemilla, who had in fact whispered yes at the same time as her.

“I- um,” she explained under her breath, “I'm pan.”

“Cool,” Zazzalil smiled, “I'm a lesbian.”

They smiled at each other. Except it was only the friendship smile you do when you meet a fellow queer person, right? Not the “I have a crush on you and now we're a possibility” smile. Obviously. Jemilla didn't have a crush on Zazzalil, that would be ridiculous.

“I low-key have a crush on the dad, to be honest,” one of the boys announced hesitantly.

“Well I high-key have a crush on him,” his roommate replied. They locked eyes for a second and blushed before looking away. Evan snorted, looked eyes with the first boy, raising an eyebrow at him amusingly. His eyes widened in fear and he stared at them menacingly. The second boy seemed oblivious.

Zazzalil could feel Jemilla's arm, delightfully cold against hers. She risked a look in her direction, just to see her beaming at Evan. It hurt a little. She tried to ignore the feeling.


The movie ended and everyone walked back to their rooms, exhausted. Zazzalil threw herself on her bed as Jemilla walked to the bathroom.

“Wouldn't it be cool if vampire existed?” she mumbled.

“I guess so,” Jemilla answered hesitantly after a few seconds.

“Imagine it,” Zazzalil continued, sitting up “you could be a vampire and I wouldn't even know it.”

Jemilla turned away.

“You should sleep, Zazzalil.”

“Buzzkill,” the latter murmured. Jemilla closed the door behind herself.


It was mid-January, and Zazzalil walked into the kitchen to see Evan and Jemilla talking. They were close, a little too close. Evan was blushing profusely. Zazzalil walked out of the room silently, but couldn't stop herself from listening.

“I'm sorry,” she heard Jemilla whisper before taking a step back.

Evan looked down, looking sad, embarrassed, resigned.

“I never stood a chance, did I?” they whispered.

“That's the sad part,” Jemilla replied, “you did once.”

She immediately looked like she regretted saying that. It probably made it worse.

“I'm sorry,” she repeated.

“You don't have to be sorry,” Evan muttered, “it's not like you owe me feelings or anything.”

“I'm still sorry.”

Evan nodded slightly.

“Thank you for being honest with me, at least.”

Zazzalil left, knowing she shouldn't have been listening.

So Jemilla didn't have a crush on Evan? Zazzalil was divided between empathy for her friend, who really deserved everything they ever wanted, and a strange feeling she couldn't name. Didn't want to at least.

There was a possibility. Small, maybe, but still there. She wished it didn't make her feel so good.

 

Chapter Text

Zazzalil was sitting on the kitchen counter the next morning, waiting for coffee to be ready, scrolling through her phone. It was a Saturday morning, a lazy one. Jemilla was at her parents' for the week-end, and she felt pretty lonely. So there she was, at 10 am, awake before everyone, waiting for her first coffee of the day.

Evan walked in, wearing an overlarge t-shirt tucked in high wasted jeans and a green jacket at least two sizes too big. Their pink curls were messy, eyes still half-closed. They yawned and sat on the counter across from Zazzalil.

“Hi,” they murmured sleepily.

“Hi,” she replied, taking her eyes off of her phone. She felt like she needed to offer comfort to her friend, but realized that she wasn't supposed to have heard their discussion with Jemilla.

“You know I told Jemilla I liked her yesterday,” Evan announced after a while, voice even.

“Oh?”

Zazzalil thought she did a good job at sounding surprised.

“She doesn't like me back, though.” Evan sighed.

“I'm sorry.”

“Don't be. It's okay.”

Zazzalil raised an eyebrow questioningly. Evan shrugged.

“It's not your fault, it's not Jemilla's fault either. She sees me as a friend and I can't blame her. I'm a little sad, and disappointed, because I would have loved for her to be my girlfriend, but, you know,” they shrugged again, “that's life.”

They took at apple and took a bite, looking somewhere in the distance.

“I'll get over it and find someone else. And I know Jemilla will too. I mean, she's perfect.”

Zazzalil tilted her head, shrugging with one shoulder, as if to say “obviously”, and didn't notice the grin that briefly took over Evan's face before they bit into the apple again.

“Besides, I knew she liked someone else. I just,” they paused for a second, “hoped, I guess. I don't think I could have lived with myself if I never told her. Never tried.”

“She, um,” Zazzalil said, frustrated to hear her voice waver, “she likes someone?”

“Yeah,” Evan scoffed, “it's pretty obvious, actually, she's pretty bad at hiding it.”

“Oh,” Zazzalil breathed out. She didn't want to sound disappointed, but something in the way the corner of Evan's mouth shot up for a second told her they probably realized.

Because Zazzalil was definitely, desperately in love with Jemilla, and there was no point in lying to herself anymore. She didn't feel that sad when her previous roommate left for the week-end, didn't feel that burst of nerves and joy whenever she walked in, didn't overthink all of their interactions to that extent. It only happened with Jemilla. Last time it had happened, she was in love. And it hadn't been that bad.

Zazzalil had never been so deep in love, and she had no idea what to do. Except ask her friend who Jemilla liked. So she did.

“What the fun in telling you,” they answered, “try to find out by yourself, it'll be fun.”

They finished their apple and threw away the core, hopping down from the counter.

“Why did you tell me?” Zazzalil asked in a small voice. “Did you tell anyone else?”

“You're a good friend, Zazz,” Evan answered, “I needed to tell someone in real life, and you're the only one I'm not uncomfortable hanging out with, apart from Jemilla, and my roommate, who are both away for the weekend.” They sighed. “It's not like I was going to talk about it with Jemilla anyway.”

Zazzalil nodded understandingly.

“Plus you're the only person who's even tinier than me, I feel tall when I'm with you.”

“Fuck off.”

Evan shook their head, chuckled and left. Zazzalil grabbed her coffee and wrapped her hands around the mug, sighing.


In the afternoon, they had organized a giant Nerf battle. They did that often, taking advantage of the absence of the serious kids, like Jemilla. There were eight of them left for the weekend, and they split into four teams. Zazzalil had been paired with Evan, which meant certain victory.

They were allowed two guns each, and took it very seriously, choosing team colors and war cries.

Ten minutes into the fifth and last round, they found themselves hiding in the staircase, discussing strategy in hushed voices. They had won all four previous rounds, and there was no way they were going to lose this one. There were only two players left, on different teams. Hopefully, one would shoot the other before reaching them.

Evan and Zazzalil shared a look, nodded solemnly, and Zazzalil walked up a few steps, making no noise. Evan stayed behind. Her plan was to walk out and shoot anything that moved, accepting that, if she got shot, it would reveal the opponent's position to Evan so they could have a chance.

She walked up the stairs, and out of the security of the staircase. She threw one last look at Evan, planning to keep on walking, but something caught her eye.

There, down the stairs, was Jemilla. She was beautiful, and Zazzalil's breath caught in her throat, her mind completely leaving the game. Jemilla smiled at her shyly, and the shorter girl smiled back, a stupid grin. She was so far gone. She took a step towards her, down the stairs. To say hello, Jemilla was her friend. Something in her eyes made it impossible to stay away from her.

But before she had time to realize what happened, she felt something hit her side, heard a shout of victory from one of her roommate, and felt herself falling,

falling,

She was falling down, towards the stairs, with nothing to hold on to. She was going to land on her back, and there was nothing she could do-

And a second later, she felt arms catch her, felt her head hitting a shoulder, grasped the closest thing she could.

It was Jemilla. She was in Jemilla's arms. Jemilla had kept her from falling. And their faces were very, very close.

“Wow, you're fast.” Zazzalil whispered, her voice weak. It was true, she had no idea how she had gotten up the stairs so fast. It was almost superhuman.

Jemilla cleared her throat, blushed, looked away. She did that often, Zazzalil thought it was cute. Not that she would ever tell her. They stood up straighter, put more distance between each other, avoided eye contact.

“While you guys were doing whatever, I shot Steve,” they heard Evan call out, “only one player left, come on, Zazz. We have a war to win.”

“I got shot,” Zazzalil mumbled, and Evan sighed.

A mischievous smile made its way on Jemilla face. When her friends frowned, raising eyebrows at her questioningly, her grin widened.

“I haven't been shot yet,” she whispered so the others wouldn't hear her, “pass me the gun, Zazz.”

Zazzalil didn't understand, but she obeyed automatically, handing her best Nerf gun to her friend, who walked up the stairs silently, followed by an amused Evan and a confused Zazzalil.

Then, the last remaining player walked out, ready to shoot Evan who had their back to him, ready for victory. Jemilla, in one swift movement, raised her Nerf and shot him in the middle of the chest.

“You lost,” she stated, her voice even, a small smile at the corner of her lips.

Zazzalil was aware she was staring, but she couldn't tear her eyes away from her friend. She had never been more attracted to her than in that moment, as the other girl brushed a strand of hair behind her ear, a smug smile on her face as all of their friends protested. From the corner of her eyes, she caught Evan's grin.

“You're so in love,” they whispered to Zazzalil, and she only looked away and blushed. She was a disaster.


In the end, they decided to let Evan and Zazzalil win, accepting that Jemilla was too cool to lose, even if she wasn't playing in the first place.

“Jemilla's too cool to lose!” Zazzalil had exclaimed, when they had protested against cheating.

“But she wasn't even playing!” Steve had shouted.

Jemilla had simply stared at him, a neutral look on her face. It was unsettling, but Zazzalil was smiling, a dumb smile. She loved that woman, and she understood why. Steve had looked down, accepted his defeat. Jemilla had turned to Zazzalil and the corner of her lips had shot up in a happy smile, her eyes shining with joy, excitement and pride, and Zazzalil's heart had melted a little more.


A week passed and Zazzalil was still in love, not really doing anything to change that fact. Evan walked up to her one day, when they saw her sitting on a couch, a book open on her lap, staring into the distance, a dumb look on her face, daydreaming about Jemilla.

“Zazz, you're a smart woman, but you really don't have brains.” Evan stated, plopping down next to Zazzalil on the couch. She turned to them, a little disorientated and very confused.

“How are you and Jemilla still not dating?” they asked, “I mean, I've already won two bets against overly optimistic people, but if you're not together by February 1st, I'm the one who'll start loosing.”

Zazzalil frowned.

“February 1st is less than two weeks,” Evan added, “you need to do something.”

“Were you taking bets on... when Jemilla and I would potentially start dating?” Zazzalil questioned, confused.

“There's no “potentially” going on anymore Zazz,” Evan protested, “you guys are obviously in love with each other.”

“Jemilla isn't in love with me,” Zazzalil murmured, looking down, “she sees me as friend.”

Evan snorted, raising an eyebrow at their friend. They shook their head.

“You're hopeless, Zazz.”

“Why are you doing this?” Zazzalil asked, “aren't you supposed to be in love with her too?”

Evan shrugged.

“In love is a strong word. I really liked her, but I already knew she didn't like me back, it wasn't too hard to move on. You, however,” they pointed a finger at her, “are very in love with her, and actually have a chance, because I'm 100% sure she likes you back.”

Zazzalil looked down at her book.

“How can you know?”

“It's obvious,” Evan stated, “but if you don't want to hear it, I'll give you time to think about it.”

They stood up.

“But don't forget,” they said, walking backwards towards their room, “February 1st.”

They shot finger guns and Zazzalil and left.


Zazzalil looked at her reflection in the mirror one last time. It wasn't really useful, considering that it showed what she would look like a week later, and not the state of her present self. Her future self looked happy, a smile plastered across her face and a glint in her eyes. It had been so for six days, and Zazzalil wished she knew what would make her so happy.

In that moment, though, she didn't really care. She just wished she could tell if her makeup looked good, like everyone else. She would have to ask Jemilla.

Zazzalil adjusted her dress, tried to fix her hair, and left the room.

“Hey, Jemilla,” she called, “is my eyeliner symmetrical?”

Jemilla sighed. She had gotten used to her roommate asking this, and had stopped wondering why she couldn't figure it out herself. She turned around in her chair to look at Zazzalil, and froze for a second, her breath catching in her throat at the sight of her friend, looking absolutely stunning. Not that she wasn't gorgeous every day of her life, Jemilla couldn't recall a single moment when she had thought anything negative about the way Zazzalil looked. That day, however, ready for a night out with some friends, she did look exceptionally beautiful.

Jemilla tried not to blush as she looked away, unsure whether she would be able not to stare.

“You're, um,” she murmured, “you look really pretty.”

Zazzalil seemed taken aback, and a small smile briefly appeared on her face.

“Er, thanks,” she replied, her voice trembling slightly, “but you didn't answer my question.”

Jemilla looked up, meeting Zazzalil's eyes, and felt her heart burning in her chest. The eyeliner was slightly longer on the left eye. Jemilla stood up, approached her roommate slowly and raised her hand, removing a bit of makeup from her left eye so it was symmetrical.

“There,” Jemilla whispered, “all good.”

She locked eyes with Zazzalil again, seemed to remember that her hand was still on her friend's face, brought it closer to her chest and looked away for a second, blushing slightly, before looking back into the other girl's eyes. Zazzalil's face was red too, and it looked like she had been holding her breath for way too long. Her eyes were planted in Jemilla's, and it seemed like she was unable to move.

“I-” Zazzalil breathed out, “I told Evan I'd meet them at seven.”

She still didn't move, her eyes flicking to Jemilla's lips. She breathed in, parted her lips, probably unconsciously, seemed to realize how close they were. Her pupils were very dilated, and Jemilla wondered if she could trust the internet.

Zazzalil saw it happen almost in slow motion. She was trying to tear herself away from Jemilla's gaze before she did something stupid, like kiss her, which was very tempting, but also a bad idea, since Jemilla didn't like her back ; she saw Jemilla's hand move towards Zazzalil's face, her fingers lightly brushing her cheek, she saw Jemilla's eyes go to her lips and stay there, saw her face getting closer, closer, until their lips met. She felt Jemilla's hand settle on the back of her neck as they deepened the kiss. It felt unreal and too real at the same time, but Jemilla's lips tasted like vanilla and she never wanted to let go.

Eventually, they pulled apart, Zazzalil untangled her hands from Jemilla hair, and they smiled shyly.

“That's new.” Zazzalil breathed out.

“Is it bad?” Jemilla whispered.

Zazzalil shook her head, and leaned in again. And they kissed again. And again. And again.

It was new, and it was perfect.

 

Chapter Text

Zazzalil pulled away slowly, almost out of breath. She looked in Jemilla's eyes, and her breath caught in her throat, captured by the glint in the Jemilla's hypnotising brown eyes.

“You should go, you don't want to be late to the party,” Jemilla said, her voice low, vibrating slightly, and Zazzalil wanted nothing more than to kiss her again, to stay by her side forever.

“And look more normal,” Jemilla continued, “or Evan is going to suspect something.”

Zazzalil frowned, confused. Who cared about Evan?

A devilish grin made its way on Jemilla's face as a mischievous glint started shining her eyes.

“They don't have to know anything. If people don't know, Evan's going to lose their bet.”

Oh, right, the bets. Zazzalil was still a little upset about that. Her smile matched Jemilla's. Messing up with the bets sounded like a fantastic idea.

“Go, then,” Jemilla chuckled, “and pretend nothing ever happened.”

Caught up in her mischief, Zazzalil left the room, fixing her lipstick while she walked. It was only when she reached the bar that she realised that she didn't know whether or not Jemilla would pretend it had never happened too.

She sat down next to her friends and smiled naturally, greeting them cheerily as a feeling of uncertainty settled more strongly in her chest.

“So,” Evan asked teasingly, “did anything happen with Jemilla yet?”

“No,” Zazzalil answered.

The lie came naturally, but she wondered if it really was a lie. What if it meant nothing? Jemilla had been the one initiating the kiss, and she hadn't seemed too inconvenienced by Zazzalil's enthusiastic response, but what if that was it, just a kiss?

“Oh, come on!” Evan whined, “It was the last day! Now I lost the bet!”

“Sorry, pal,” Zazzalil answered automatically, chucking, as her heart got heavier in her chest.

The evening went well, all things considered. Her friends were good people, and she had a lot of fun, but there was always that tinge of anxiousness in the back of her head. She knew she would probably have to talk to Jemilla about it, but she had no idea how to do that.


When Zazzalil got back to her room, it was empty. She let herself fall on her bed, sighing loudly. She couldn't help but think about Jemilla. Kind, smart, beautiful, funny, gentle, strong, perfect Jemilla, who had kissed her, but probably didn't want them to be in a relationship.

Zazzalil wanted them to be girlfriends. Hell, even wives! Thinking about the possibility of it made her heart burst with happiness. It was too ambitious, too soon, too reckless, but she couldn't help but hope. She loved Jemilla more than she had loved anyone. It was what it felt like in that moment, anyway. She was terrified.

The door opened and closed quietly. Jemilla was delicate, never making too much noise if she could avoid it. Unless she was in charge of something or very angry, she never talked loudly, and she would probably rather die than slam a door. Zazzalil sat up and looked at her roommate, unsure how to start a conversation. Where was her fucking Gryffindor spirit? She wasn't a coward, talking to a girl shouldn't be that difficult.

Jemilla smiled shyly at her.

“Did you have fun?” she asked hesitantly.

Zazzalil nodded, looking down at her hands.

“So...” Jemilla continued, sitting down on her own bed, “Evan lost the bet.”

Zazzalil nodded again.

“There aren't any more bets, right? No more money involved?” Jemilla asked, “we could let them know tomorrow, if you...” she hesitated, “if you want them to, you know, know about it.”

Seeing Jemilla so unsure of herself made Zazzalil feel a little more confident.

“Why not,” she answered, “what should we tell them?”

Jemilla looked up, her eyes torn between anxiety and determination.

“What do you want it to be?”

Zazzalil just looked at the other girl for a moment, eyes trailing across her face, a small smile making her way on her face.

Fuck it, she thought, it's now or never.

“I really like you,” she stated, sounded more uncertain than she wanted.

Jemilla's eyes lit up slightly, and she smiled a little.

“I really like you too, Zazzalil,” she answered excitedly.

“So...” the shorter girl hesitated, “should I tell Evan that you're my girlfriend now?”

Was it too fast? Too slow? Zazzalil had no idea how these kinds of discussions were supposed to go.

“I'd like that, yeah,” Jemilla breathed out, her smile widening.

“Okay,” Zazzalil said.

“Okay,” Jemilla repeated.

That went well, Zazzalil thought. She stand up and walk towards Jemilla, kissing her gently. Jemilla kissed her back happily.

“Girlfriends,” Jemilla whispered on her girlfriend's lips, “that's a nice word.”

Zazzalil agreed.


They were sitting on a couch with a few of their friends, celebrating a birthday. The only one without a beer in her hands was Jemilla, but at least she was there, which was already a change.

It had been two weeks since the end of the bet, and Evan was still pissed.

“I'm just so fucking pissed!” they complained once again, “I could have won that bed and you guys just went and pretended nothing had happened.”

Jemilla chuckled and Zazzalil grinned. They shared a look and let out a laugh.

“You guys are so fucking in love!” Evan groaned, “You look so sappy.”

Zazzalil blushed and Jemilla hid her face in her girlfriend's shoulder. Evan threw their arms in the air dramatically, rolling their eyes with a loud exasperated sigh.


It was almost two in the morning, and they had stopped drinking, instead laying on the couch as a pile of bodies, looking less like separate human beings and more like a mess of body parts, talking about the universal and unstoppable coming of death.

“I really don't want to die,” Evan stated, “I went through all of that trouble to enjoy the life I'm living, I want to live forever.”

“That's impossible,” a girl groaned, half asleep, “you're going to die at some point.”

“But I would do anything not to,” Evan countered. “I”m not just saying this because I'm a little drunk, it's a thing I think when I'm sober too. I would rather live a half-life than die. You guys are lucky horcruxes don't exist, or I would make one.”

“Wouldn't you get bored?” Steve asked, “I don't want to live forever, eighty years is enough, don't you think?”

“Nah,” Evan answered, “no amount of years is enough.”

“So like,” Jemilla muttered tiredly, “if you were dying and a vampire was there, you'd rather be forced to be a vampire forever than die?”

“I mean, fuck yeah!” Evan exclaimed, “it sucks that vampires don't exist, because I really want to be one! I'm not kidding! Eternal life, eternal youth, eternal coolness, I would die to become a vampire with no hesitation!”

“Yeah, I know they don't exist,” Jemilla blurted out, “but like, hypothetically.”

“Yeah, sure, hypothetically,” Evan grumbled, “I'm not just hypothetically ready to become a vampire.”

“But like, how cool would it be to be a ghost?” Steve interrupted them.

“Oh, yeah, that'd be fucking awesome,” Zazzalil reacted too loudly, almost falling off the couch.

“Less cool than vampires, but okay,” Evan yawned.

Chapter Text

Blood was rushing to Zazzalil's ears. For a second, she considered running after the car, but she knew it was useless. That fucking coward was running away. She didn't even have time to read the license plate. She ran to Evan instead.

They were laying on the floor, looking like a puppet with broken strings, their arms and legs twisted in abnormal ways.

“Fuck fuck fuck fuck,” Jemilla was muttering, kneeling by their side, trying to stop the blood from leaving Evan's body. The crash had been brutal, intense. Evan's body had been ejected of the ground, and they had fallen with a an unnatural sound, a crack and a crunch. It would have been funny had it not been so terrifying, and had it not been the cause of Evan's obviously inevitable death.

“I don't want to die,” they cried, “please, don't let me die.”

Zazzalil couldn't move. It felt too real and too unreal. She regretted not having taken these first-aid training classes when Jemilla had suggested it. Even if they called an ambulance, they wouldn't come soon enough. Her body refused to accept the fact that it was happening, her mind screaming for her to just wake up. It had to be a nightmare, it couldn't be real.

Jemilla looked at Zazzalil, and in her eyes she saw fear, hesitation, and a bit a regret. Zazzalil wasn't sure what it meant.

“I don't want to die,” Evan pleaded again, sobbing, as blood dripped in their eyes from the wound on their head.

And Jemilla lowered her head. What it for mouth-to-mouth breathing? Zazzalil was confused, Evan didn't seem to have trouble breathing. That was certainly not the problem. And Jemilla found Evan's throat, sincking her teeth in their flesh.

Zazzalil stopped thinking. Her brain froze, and she stood there, unable to process what was happening, as she saw Evan stop moving, their eyes glazing over, the tension in their face disappearing as their breathing seemed to stop. She felt something in the back of her mind screaming for her to move, to do something, anything, but she stayed still as Jemilla sat up and licked the blood from her lips, her eyes still on Evan as there body suddenly tensed again, shaken by a coughing fit, and they sat up, though most of their bones were supposed to be too broken to allow movement.

“Am I dead?” they asked in a shy voice, bending and folding their arms, looking confused.

“There are huge debates amongst vampires about that,” Jemilla answered, trying to sound casual, though her voice was wavering a little, “technically, I would say yes, but it's up to your interpretation. Lots of people say that, since we're able to use our bodies and minds, we can't really be dead. But we did die, so...”

“What?” Evan breathed out, confusion twisting their face.

“So,” Jemilla muttered, “you were dying, and since you said you'd rather be a vampire than be dead, I thought, you know, since I'm a vampire, I could make you a vampire. Would you rather have died?”

Evan said nothing. They looked puzzled, but not particularly upset.

“What the fuck?” Zazzalil exclaimed, finally regaining control over her body.

Was Jemilla a vampire? Was that even possible? Was it some sort of elaborate prank? It couldn't be, Evan injuries couldn't have been fake.

“I'm, er, I'm a vampire?” Jemilla repeated, hesitantly, looking at Zazzalil anxiously.

But vampires don't exist? she thought. She obviously would have to rethink everything she knew. The more Zazzalil thought about it, the more it seemed obvious. She realised she really should have figured it out earlier. Jemilla wasn't that good at hiding it.

“Is that why you never ate my garlic bread?” Evan asked.

“Yeah, sorry about that,” Jemilla nodded.

“Wait,” Evan exclaimed, “does that mean I can never eat garlic ever again?”

Jemilla nodded again, smiling apologetically. Evan seemed upset.

“Why did you never tell me?” Zazzalil asked.

“You know why,” Jemilla answered softly, and Zazzalil couldn't disagree.


It was still very strange to be dating a vampire. It had been a week, and Zazzalil was still not getting used to it. She figured it would take a while, since all of her beliefs had been dismantled in the course of several short minutes.

Jemilla had stopped hiding the fact that she did not sleep. She admitted, in a quite murmur, that the only reason she had time to study so much, tutor, read, write, draw, paint, and do so many things, was that she could take advantage of every hour of the day, and not just two small thirds of it.

Evan also had some troubles adapting.

“You never get a break,” they told Zazzalil one afternoon, “but you also never feel like you need one! It's awesome! But so fucking weird, you can't imagine.”

Zazzalil nodded, too tired to really take part in the conversation. Oh, how she wished she could be fully awake all the time. She loved sleeping, but she would also love to be able to stay up all night and feel perfectly awake.

It was a Friday evening in late February, and she had to get some work done. She wouldn't have much time during the week-end, since she would be meeting her girlfriend's family.

“Now that you know that we're vampires, you can meet them,” Jemilla had explained, “plus I need to introduce Evan to them, there's some things they need to know.”

“Wait,” Zazzalil had answered, “your entire family is vampires? Is it hereditary?”

So Jemilla explained everything. She told her about how her mother and her had gone to the sea for Christmas in their first year of college. She told her how her mother had been her last remaining family member.

She told her about the car crash, about how her mother had died on impact and Jemilla had stayed there, crying for help while she was bleeding out, unable to get out of the car. She told her about the woman who had come and helped her out of the car. She told her about how she had felt herself slowly dying.

She told her about the moment when she had woken up, in the exact spot where she had died, and how that woman had held her hand and smiled down at her.

“You'll get used to it,” she had told her, “it took me a couple of centuries, but you new generations are tougher, even though you're all so fucking privileged, you'll be okay soon enough.”

She told her about how she hadn't gone back to college, how she had been too afraid to leave her new house, following classes from home, trying to get used to being dead, to her mother being dead. She told her how she had slowly grown attached to Molag, how she had come to consider her a mother, how she had gotten to the other protégés, whom she came to consider siblings.

Zazzalil had nodded, and they had made plans to go there over the weekend.

Chapter Text

“Hey guys!” Molag exclaimed.

The drive to Jemilla's house was two hours long, and Jemilla had spent most of the time trying to stop Evan and Zazzalil from putting the music on too loud, or resting their feet on the dashboard, or taking bathroom breaks every half-hour, or begging to stop at every McDonald's they saw on the way.

“I swear to God,” she had sighed, “you guys are fucking children.”

They had just laughed, and Jemilla had considered getting a black coffee. That would teach them.

But as she stood in front of Jemilla's mother, Zazzalil wished she were a responsible adult. If she continued like this, she'd make a bad first impression.

“Come in, come in,” Molag said, smiling, as she led the way inside the way, “I'm very excited to meet you! Jemilla's been talking our ears off about you guys. Especially you, Zazzalil, you really are as beautiful as she said.”

She laughed softly, contently, and Jemilla blushed slightly.

The entire family was standing in the living room, ready to meet their sister's girlfriend and her friend. They introduced themselves, one by one.

“Hi! I'm Keeri, she/her. I died in 1890. I fell off a cliff and in the sea in Normandy. Molag turned me.”

“Hello, I'm Emberly, she/her I died in a fire in 1967. Forgot to turn off the stove. Molag turned me.”

“Good morning! I'm Grunt, he/him. I caught some weird disease in 1982, Emberly turned me.”

“I'm SB, he/him. Don't ask what it stands for. I did not die, since vampires aren't technically dead. We talked about this, guys. Someone turned me in the 1400s because he was fucking hungry. I joined Molag in the 1830s.”

“I can't remember what my name was, but you guys can call be Schwoopsie, she/her/they/them. I was burnt at the stake in the seventeenth century and was saved by a group of vampires. The entire village was convinced I was a witch, and that didn't help, but I killed a bunch of 'em. That's the pros of being a vampire, I guess. I met Molag a couple hundred years ago.”

“Good morning. My name is Ducker, he/him. I was turned by Schwoopsie in the Duck Lord's year 5,301. To the unfaithful, it means 1798. The Church tried to kill me for my beliefs, and my sister here saved me.”

“Hi, I'm Tiblyn, she/her. Someone shot me in 2006, Molag saved me.”

“Chorn.”

Zazzalil tried to remember everyone's names, but was mostly trying not to feel too overwhelmed by the realisation that she was the only mortal in the room. Next to her, Evan seemed to be having a good time.

“Hi guys! I'm Evan, they/them. I got hit by a car last week, Jemilla turned me! That's the right way to say it, right?”

“Hell yeah!” SB exclaimed, “welcome, kiddo!”

“Don't call me kiddo,” they whined, “I'm 24! Even if I look 14.”

“I'm over six hundred years old,” he countered.

“Oh, yeah, you're right,” Evan accepted.

Everyone turned to Zazzalil expectantly, and she smiled awkwardly.

“Hi, I'm Zazzalil, she/her. I'm alive.”

“Someone got it!” SB exclaimed, “Vampires aren't dead! I thought I was the only one who knew it!”

“No, I'm,” Zazzalil sighed, “I'm not a vampire. I'm a useless mortal. I didn't even know vampires existed until last week! It's fucking wild.”

“Oh.”

Silence fell on the room for a moment, before Molag slapped her hands together.

“Well, I'm over a thousand years old. I can't remember how I died-”

“You didn't.” SB interrupted.

“-but I'm very happy to have you in the family. Why don't we go eat?”

“So are we going in the garden to hunt some wild boars or something?” Evan asked cheerfully.

Emberly frowned.

“No, we're going to eat normal food, like normal people,” she answered, confused, “this isn't Twilight, this is real life.”

Evan stopped in their tracks, frowning slightly. After a second, they simply shrugged.

“Fair enough,” they said, “to be honest, when I found out that I couldn't eat garlic anymore, I sort of gave up.”

They stopped for a second.

“Wait. Do we actually need to eat? I ate all week because I love eating, but do we need to do that?”

Grunt chuckled.

“Of course we do, how else do you want us to get nutrients? Blood? That was just to counter iron deficiency because we can't be in the sun too much, but there are meds for that, it's not the Middle Ages anymore.”

Evan shrugged again.

“And I guess we don't have a feud with werewolves?”

“Oh, we do,” Tiblyn said, “but it's because our neighbors are werewolves and keep having parties at ungodly hours. Just because we don't need sleep doesn't mean we don't like to lie down and relax a little at night. Fucking assholes.”

“Don't say that,” Jemilla muttered, “they're not that bad.”

“You're just saying that because you had crushes on Clark and Claire,” Schwoopsie snorted, “you haven't been here long enough to hate them.”

Zazzalil was starting to have a good time.

Chapter Text

June came by, and with it, the end of the year, the end of college.

In the past four months, Zazzalil and Jemilla had gotten closer. They went to Molag's every once in a while, not always with Evan. Zazzalil got used to spending time with all of them, got used to their weird sense of humor and strange habits.

She got used to falling asleep and waking up in Jemilla's arms. The other stayed awake the whole time, and Zazzalil liked knowing that she chose to stay with her even though she could do literally anything else.

She got used to kissing her, to telling she loved her and hearing the words being said back to her, fondly. She got used to doing everything she could to make Jemilla feel loved, got used to enjoy her girlfriend doing the same for her.

She had gotten so used to living with Jemilla, in their small room in one of the new buildings on campus, that she almost forgot that it was almost over. That soon, they would graduate.

Zazzalil wondered whether Jemilla would still want to live with her. She didn't seem to dislike their life as it was, but would she really be willing to get an apartment together?

Zazzalil was lying on her bed, busy questioning her entire life and re-thinking everything Jemilla had ever told her, when her girlfriend walked in.

“Hey, Zazz,” she murmured quietly, in case the other woman was asleep. When it was clear she wasn't, Jemilla sat down next to her, running her hand through the shorter girl's hair.

“What are we going to do once we're out of here?” Jemilla asked, her voice still low, calm, sounding a little unsure.

“I don't know, babe,” Zazzalil groaned, half-asleep, “get a job?”

“I don't mean 'we' as college graduates,” Jemilla sighed, “I mean 'we' as a couple, and also as roommates.”

“Oh,” Zazzalil breathed out.

“Oh indeed.”

Zazzalil sat up, looking in Jemilla's eyes.

“What do you want us to do?” she asked.

“Whatever you want to do,” Jemilla whispered, not knowing why she didn't speak louder, “I just want to be with you.”

Zazzalil smiled. Maybe she should stop doubting Jemilla's love. Maybe she should trust her commitment more.

“We could move together somewhere,” she suggested, her voice quiet, matching Jemilla's, “we know we make a good team, and we already live together.”

“It'd be the same,” Jemilla agreed, “just without Evan's cooking.”

“That's a shame,” Zazzalil chuckled.

They kissed. Just because they could. Zazzalil had gotten used to that too, but it still made her happy.

-

It had been almost ten years, and Zazzalil was enjoying her life.

Sure, being an adult with no institution looking after her, not even college, felt strange at first. She was a little lost, a little disorientated, but she had a job, and she had Jemilla.

She had gotten her first job a few weeks after graduation: the perks of studying for a job in a field that suffered very little from unemployment. Jemilla found one two weeks after she did, which was satisfying in a way: for the first time, she had done something better than her girlfriend. She had showed her the e-mail, beaming proudly, and Jemilla had kissed her happily.

“I'm proud of you, Zazz,” she had said, genuinely, and Zazzalil had never felt happier.

She had moved from firm to firm, gaining experience, gaining respect, gaining money, and Jemilla had too.

They had found a routine, learning how to truly live together, and Zazzalil thought they were doing well. Jemilla seemed to think the same.

At some point, Zazzalil turned thirty. At some point, she realised she was less young than she had been. As time went by, she started thinking more and more often about death. She knew she had time, but she felt herself age, and saw Jemilla stay the same. She still looked eighteen, although she did behave like a woman in her thirties.

One day, while they were over at Molag, SB had turned to them.

“You should turn Zazz into a vampire, Jemilla,” he had exclaimed, “you don't want her to die before you do.”

They had brushed it off, pretended he hadn't said anything, just like when he had said “how do lesbians even have sex, anyway?” Sometimes, people's questions weren't worth answering.

But Zazzalil still thought about it. She thought about how she would grow old, her body and her mind changing through time, until she died.

She thought about how Jemilla would stay the same, throughout the years, how her hair would keep its chestnut color and the skin on her face would stay smooth, how her muscles would stay strong and her articulations would keep working, how her heart wouldn't fail, her vision and hearing would stay sharp.

And next to her, Zazzalil would turn forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty. She would grow old, and she would die.

Maybe SB hadn't been wrong after all. Zazzalil wanted to stay with Jemilla forever, and she was starting to think that dying wouldn't been such a big sacrifice. She had nothing to lose, everything to gain.

Chapter Text

On a cold April morning, Zazzalil walked in the bathroom, ready to take a shower. She looked up at the mirror, like she did every morning, to see what she would look like a week later, and frowned.

She turned on the light, turned it off again. Moved, put her hand on the mirror. It wouldn't change.

There was no reflection.

She took her phone, tried to take a picture of herself. She wasn't in it.

She looked in the mirror again, trying to get used to the lack of reflection. Only emptiness looked back at her. After a minute, she smiled a little.

“Huh,” she said, “I guess I am gonna go through with it.”

“What?” Jemilla's voice called from their bedroom.

“Tell you later,” Zazzalil said.

A week. That was what was left for her to live. A week later, she would be a vampire.


She spent the next seven days doing the things she would never be able to do again. She ate garlic, probably too much of it. She spent hours in the sun, she complained to her colleagues about how she felt her body getting older. She took extra care not to die, to be safer than she had ever been in her life.

Saturday came, and Zazzalil braided her hair before going to bed, like every time she washed her hair in the evening. In the bathroom, Jemilla was applying some moisturiser on her face. She couldn't see her face in the mirror, but she still stayed in front of it. It was the routine they had kept for the past ten years. It felt like home.

“Hey, babe?” Zazzalil called, and Jemilla looked up at her, washing the rest of the cream from her hands.

“I want to be a vampire.”

She could have brought it up more slowly, gently, but she had never been known as a slow person.

“Do you, really?” Jemilla asked, anxiously, “You know this isn't a small choice, you need to-”

“I know,” Zazzalil interrupted her, “and I've thought it through. It's been on my mind for months, and I really want it.”

She paused for a second.

“I don't want to die and leave you behind. I wanted to stay with you... Unless,” she hesitated, “unless you don't want me too.”

Jemilla walked back into their bedroom, and sat down next to her girlfriend.

“No, I want that too,” she said, firmly, her eyes planted in Zazzalil's, “I just want to make sure you know what you're doing.”

“I do.” Zazzalil confirmed.

They stayed still for a moment, looking in each other's eyes, not sure what to do next.

“When?” Jemilla murmured eventually.

“Now?” Zazzalil whispered, searching for confirmation in the other woman's eyes.

Jemilla sat closer to her, and brought their lips together. She kissed her slowly, softly, gently, bringing a hand on the back Zazzalil's neck and the other on her hip, like always. Then, she moved down her jaw, brushing soft kisses on the way. She reached the crook of her neck, just over the collarbone.

Zazzalil stopped breathing. Jemilla didn't move, leaving enough time for her girlfriend to move away if she wanted to. Then she planted one last kiss, and sank her teeth in the flesh.

It didn't hurt. Not in the way Zazzalil thought it would. The feeling in her body was like nothing she had ever experienced, and nothing like she had thought it would be. She closed her eyes and felt the blood in every vein in her body burn. It didn't hurt. She stopped thinking, her mind entirely focused on the feeling of Jemilla's teeth in her throat.

After a while, the burning stopped, and Jemilla raised her head. Zazzalil opened her eyes and met Jemilla's. The other girl ran her tongue over her lower lip, removing the blood from it, and Zazzalil felt more alive than she ever had. She caught Jemilla's lips in a kiss, and the taste of blood woke her body again.

“Welcome to death,” Jemilla whispered, and Zazzallil silenced her with a kiss.

If that was what death was like, it really wasn't that bad. They kissed, and didn't have to stop to catch their breath.