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The Quarantine Series

Chapter Text

Merel hated Joey. Apparently it was too hard to just have his goddamn phone on him and respond. Had he not seen the messages she’d sent him? Couldn’t he see that this was an emergency and she needed him to call her immediately? It had been 2 whole minutes, what could he possibly be doing that was more important?

Merel’s nerves and panic grew with every passing second. She kept staring at her screen, impatiently waiting for Joey’s answer. She needed her best friend more than ever, how dare he take so long to answer? This was a goddamn crisis.

Finally there was a response. No text message, instead her phone started vibrating while Joey’s name appeared on the screen. Quickly Merel reached for the device, her hurried movements failing to accept the call two times before finally succeeding.

"WHAT DO I DO?!"

There was no time for greetings or friendly hello’s. This was an urgent matter that needed to be solved right now.

"First of all, you need to chill." Joey answered calmly, making Merel even more impatient. How could he not see how serious this was? There was no time to chill!

"SHE ASKED ME TO MOVE IN WITH HER!"

"Merel calm down! She did not!"

"SHE DID!"

"Look, you’re going to take a deep breath now or I will hang up on you."

No, she could not afford Joey hanging up on her. He was the only one that could help her, and if she just silently needed to breathe to get his help, that’s exactly what she would do. Surprisingly enough, it actually seemed to work.

"Alright, there you go." Joey said after a few seconds of silence. “Are you ready to stop screaming at me?”

"Yes."

"Good. Now Merel, think about Charlotte’s text again. What does it say?"

“‘Would you want to spend the quarantine at my place instead of at your parents? It might get lonely.’" Merel quoted the text word for word. "That means she’s asking me to live with her!"

"Just for a few weeks, you lovesick idiot! You’re not permanently moving all your stuff into her apartment."

"So you think I should do it?"

"Put it like this. Do you want to spend several weeks with or without Charlotte?"

Merel was silent. She hadn’t looked at it like that. At least once a week Merel and Charlotte met up for coffee or a movie night. None of that would be possible if she turned down Charlotte’s offer. Was she really not going to take the chance to spend several weeks with the woman she had a huge crush on?

"Merel?"

"Hmm?"

"With Charlotte, or without Charlotte?"

Merel took another deep breath before she answered, fully aware that Joey already knew what she’d say.

"With Charlotte."

"Glad I could help."

Merel ended the call and tossed her phone next to her on the bed. Joey was right, as he always was. Her meetings with Charlotte always were the highlights of her week, and the few weeks they didn’t see each other were pretty lonely.

Spending several weeks alone with her parents, or alone with Charlotte?

Spending a few weeks with Charlotte, or without seeing Charlotte at all?

How had this been a hard choice to make at all?

Merel grabbed her phone again, now calm enough to unlock the screen on the first try. Her fingers were still slightly shaking when she typed her message. There was no way back now.

“I’ll be there at 5!”

Chapter Text

Charlotte’s couch wasn’t as comfortable as it looked. Sure, it was more than big enough for Merel’s small frame, but it wasn’t the greatest place to spend an entire night. It was only 7 in the morning when Merel woke up. The flashes of light from the other side of the room immediately caught her attention when she opened her eyes. Last night, dinosaurs had been walking and roaring on the television screen. All that remained of them now, was the menu of the DVD.

Merel rubbed her eyes, cursing herself for falling asleep while watching the DVD once again. Sleep still hazed her mind as she got up and turned off the tv before making her way to the bathroom. The possibility of Charlotte already being awake only crossed her mind when she stood in front of the wooden door, her hand hovering above the door handle.

It was undeniably Charlotte’s voice that rang through the bathroom. The lyrics got lost in the sound of the falling water, and Merel couldn’t immediately make out the melody of the song. For a few seconds she just stood there. Frozen, listening to one of the most beautiful voices she’d ever heard. Then an idea popped into her head. With a smile growing on her lips Merel silently made her way back into the living room, where most of her stuff still stood unpacked. She carefully unzipped the case in which she’d brought her acoustic guitar, quickly silencing the strings as she took the instrument in her hands and walked back to the bathroom.

Charlotte’s voice still sounded through the door. As quiet as possible, Merel pushed down the handle and opened the door before stepping into the bathroom. Charlotte probably hadn’t heard her, as she just kept singing without a worry in the world. Perfect. 

“When we first met
I will never forget
"Cause even though I didn’t know you yet”

Merel bit her lip as she sat down on the closed toilet seat, her hands still on the strings to keep the instrument quiet. By now she’d recognized the song Charlotte was singing, and she wasn’t one bit surprised. Eurovision had always been one of Charlotte"s secret pleasures. She brought her guitar into position and waited for Charlotte to reach the chorus of the song.

“We were bound together, then and forever
And I could never let you go

Baby,...”

Merel’s hand moved down and hit the chord perfectly timed. Charlotte paused and laughed when she spotted Merel’s figure. Then she sang on, Merel happily accompanying her on guitar. 

“I can’t wait to know
What do you think about things?
Believe me, I will always be there, so
You can tell me anything and I’ll listen”

Another laugh sounded from inside the shower, but Charlotte still sang on. Together they made their way through the song. Charlotte’s voice as beautiful as it always was, Merel’s fingers dancing over the strings as if they played this song every day. 

Merel’s last note still sounded when the shower was shut off. It was then that she realized the mistake she’d made. Why did she think it would be a splendid idea to step into the bathroom where Charlotte was showering? Charlotte was naked, with only a semi-transparent piece of glass between them. And now naked Charlotte was about to step out of the shower.

There was no way she could handle seeing Charlotte’s naked form. Quickly Merel got up, almost running into the door on her way out of the bathroom. Quiet curses sounded while she made her way back to the living room, where she put her guitar in its case again and sat down on the couch as if nothing had happened.

A towel was still wrapped around Charlotte’s hair when she stepped into the living room several minutes later. Her smile was still present, and it only grew when she shook her head before joining Merel on the couch.

“You know, sometimes I also don’t understand how you think about things.”

Chapter Text

It had begun as a mere curiosity thing. Born from needing a 3 am snack and a break from a drawing she had been working on all day. 

Opening the door to her room, Charlotte slowly crept out on her tippy toes into the hallway and towards the kitchen, passing a snoring blonde on the way. The living room was illuminated by the harsh glow of the tv, the light casting eerie shadows across the furniture and the many plants occupying the space. 

With her mind set on grabbing the remote and turning off the tv, Charlotte paused as she saw what was playing on it. The music of a DVD menu was playing, heavy stomps and bellows fading as rustles of bushes gave way to chatters and clicking noises.

Charlotte never knew Merel to be much of a dinosaur fan. Merel had confessed it to be a childhood obsession, but not something that was still very much present in her life. Charlotte had preferred the mysteries of ancient Egypt than the mysteries of long extinct chickens, reading about the gods and the old rituals, watching as many movies as she could about the subject. 

Intrigued by this new revelation about the blonde guitarist, Charlotte grabbed the remote and pulled Merel’s duvet up over her shoulders so she was snuggled tight under the fabric before settling on the armrest on the other side of the couch.

Turning down the volume even more, Charlotte clicked play and watched the screen with interest, once in a while moving her eyes to the sleeping blonde and forcing herself not to think about waking her up and joining her under the covers for an impromptu movie night like they used to when the blonde was still in Delain. Forcing away the feeling of hurt at the blonde’s departure, Charlotte turned her face back towards the screen.

Deep into episode three, Charlotte felt sleep tugging at her eyelids but the events taking place on the screen were far too fascinating for her to stop. Creature designs mixed with the deep voice of the narrator pulled her right in. The lack of an understanding of how big some of the dinosaurs were was not lost on her, and it only fascinated her more. If only the sound was higher so she could hear the noises the dinosaurs made…

As the episode came to a close, Charlotte turned off the tv and stood, already planning the teasing she would bring down upon Merel in the morning at this new discovery. And maybe listen to the soundtrack of the series ‘cause that shit was good.

------------

“Dammit. God fucking dammit.” Charlotte cursed under her breath as she clicked away from yet another youtube clip with illustrations of dinosaurs with feathers instead of scales. 

She was sitting at the kitchen table while Merel was playing guitar near the living room window, deep in thought as the strings of the guitar moved rhythmically. 

Angling her phone so it was impossible for Merel to see the screen, Charlotte grabbed the closest paper and pencil and started the outline of an Erlikosaurus. The compact body and the long neck formed effortlessly, as did the famous claws. She was close to adding rough outlines of feathers when she heard a loud gasp behind her, making Charlotte jump slightly in her chair.

“Daaamn, that looks amazing!”

Trying her hardest to will away the color that was slowly rising on her cheeks, Charlotte huffed and tried to look as annoyed as possible as she faced the blonde. 

“It’s your fault.”

“Oh?” Merel said in amusement as she sat down on the table, her hand picking up the drawing that Charlotte had been working on. 

“Yeah… I… saw some episodes of the documentary you’ve been watching and I… wanted to make you something special.” 

The last part was totally a lie. Charlotte was a person to obsess over something. Hard. And then not letting it go for weeks at a time. Thinking that Merel would see through her bullshit lie, Charlotte was surprised to see an adorable smile gracing the blonde’s lips as she looked at the drawing. 

“Well shit, thing is that, I don’t know… I like watching them. It’s nostalgia and all that shit. Makes me feel safe I guess. And warm.”

Feeling how her chest filled with warmth, Charlotte leaned her head against her hand as she looked up at the blonde, letting this brand new information sink in. 

“You’d be the smallest paleontologist the world has ever seen.”

“Hey!”

Laughing as Merel tried her hardest to fake offense, the blonde shoved Charlotte playfully as she got off the table, drawing firmly grasped in her hand. 

“Watching the last parts tonight?”

Rolling her eyes before getting up to make some well needed coffee, Charlotte replied;

“If you make the popcorn.”

Chapter Text

"Shh! Not so loud!”

This was unbelievable. Merel had done her best to be as silent as possible ever since she woke up. Tiptoeing through the apartment, closing cupboards extra slowly, not tripping over the cat, avoiding that one piece of wood in the kitchen that squeaked when you step on it,... She’d done it all, and now this stupid coffee machine was ruining everything.

The short nights were taking its toll. It had been a week since she temporarily moved in with Charlotte, a week since she’d properly slept. The pain in her neck and back woke her multiple times during the night, resulting in Merel giving up and just staying awake around 7 each morning. Her body was almost begging for sleep by now, and Merel was about to give it just that. In a hot, liquid form, that was.

Charlotte’s coffee machine was much noisier than she expected, almost sounding like a loud truck roaring through the silent apartment. There was no way Charlotte would sleep through this. Everyone who’d ever toured with Charlotte knew she was a light sleeper. A snoring bandmate, the roaring of the motor, even the swaying movements of the bus kept her up all night. And today she was woken by her own coffee machine.

Once again Merel silently cursed the device when she heard the door of Charlotte’s bedroom open. Footsteps followed, first making their way to the bathroom and later continuing their journey to the kitchen. There they revealed a surprisingly awake Charlotte.

“I’m sorry if I woke you up.” Merel immediately apologized, trying to look as innocent as possible.

“It’s fine. What are you doing? And why are you up this early? You look exhausted.”

“Couldn’t sleep.” Merel mumbled, fighting a yawn only a second later. Great, now Charlotte knew she was lying. She might as well tell her everything now. “Your couch isn’t exactly comfortable. Or well, it is, but not to sleep on.”

Charlotte sighed, and Merel looked down at the coffee that was still running through. She didn’t want to look the other woman in the eye, not after just insulting her couch. Charlotte was probably very proud of the piece of furniture, as she was of almost everything in her apartment.

“Merel?” Charlotte asked with a serious tone “Are you telling me you have barely slept since you got here?”

“Maaaybe?” 

“Why didn’t you say something? You can just sleep in my bed! I promise you, it’s very comfortable.”

“What? No!” Merel nearly shouted. “I won’t let you sleep on the couch in your own apartment!”

“Of course not, idiot. We can share the bed, it’s no problem.”

Merel froze. ‘No problem’, Charlotte said. Maybe not for her, but for Merel it would be a huge problem. She’d lay awake all night, very aware of Charlotte’s sleeping form right next to her. She wouldn’t dare to fall asleep. What if she cuddled up to the other woman in the middle of the night?

“Merel? Still awake?” Charlotte asked with a smile after almost a minute of silence.

“I… I can’t. I snore. I would just keep you up all night.”

“How much can such a small person possibly snore?” Charlotte laughed while running her hand through Merel’s hair. “I’m serious, just move your stuff to the bedroom. I’m going to take a shower, and I don’t want to see anything left in the living room when I’m done!”

And off she went, leaving Merel no choice but to comply. They were going to spend the night together, in the same bed. Merel probably wouldn’t be able to get any more sleep than she did on the couch, but at least her back and neck would be thankful.

Merel looked down at the coffee machine when it suddenly fell silent. Eagerly she poured herself a cup, needing it even more now than she did several minutes ago. She really had to clear her mind. Her first sip was careful, the coffee slightly burning her tongue and reminding her that this whole situation was real. Having to share a bed with your crush is such a cliche, only happening in people’s fantasies. And yet, it was exactly what was happening to her.

Merel put her coffee down, giving it time to cool while she moved her belongings to their new temporary home. She’d felt bad when she turned Charlotte’s vintage coffee table into her nightstand, but luckily she hadn’t brought too many things. Her watch, water bottle, book, phone charger, notebook, pens, headphones, and peppermints were quickly shoved into the same bag as they’d arrived in. She neatly folded the blanket and rearranged the pillows into their usual positions. It was almost as if she hadn’t even been there.

A flowery scent surrounded Merel the second she opened the door to Charlotte’s bedroom. The source stood in the corner next to the singer’s nightstand. Merel didn’t know the name of the white flowers, but she recognized them as one of the many plants Charlotte had given her over the years. The poor thing hadn’t survived longer than a week.

Carefully Merel placed her bags at the end of the bed, wondering where she would put it all. The closet against the wall looked fairly big, but then again, Charlotte owned a lot of clothes. A good amount of them were draped over the chair next to the dresser in the counter. Maybe there would be some space for Merel’s clothes after all. She’d have to ask Charlotte about that later.

The nightstands that stood on either side of the bed were a lot smaller than the one Merel had at home. There was no way she would be able to fit everything on top of it, but maybe if the drawer was still empty…

Hoping to find a suitable space for her belongings, Merel grabbed her bag and sat down next to the nightstand. She’d only taken half of the items from her bag by the time the surface was completely filled. Only her headphones, peppermints, and watch were left. Surely she would be able to fit them in the drawer.

Boy, was she wrong.

Technically there was some space for her items, but the drawer was far from empty. Several sex toys, varying in color and size, were neatly placed in the drawer. Merel was surprised by her discovery and just stared down, her heart beating rapidly. Some of the toys looked pretty expensive, mostly the ones in shapes she’d never seen before. 

Curiously Merel picked up one of the bigger ones to take a closer look. The white vibrator in her hand seemed to have a bunny attached to it, and she could already guess what its purpose was. She never expected Charlotte to own anything so big, leave alone she would have such a wide collection.

“Do you see anything you like?”

Merel’s heart skipped a beat when Charlotte’s voice sounded from the doorway. She nearly dropped the toy, and accidentally turned it on trying to save it. The buzzing sound filled the room mixed with Charlotte’s laughter. Merel looked down in shock when even the top part of the vibrator started moving in big circles. Blood rushed to her cheeks as the blonde frantically tried turning off the toy again. God, this was so embarrassing.

“I was just trying to put my stuff away… I’m so sorry...” Merel mumbled after finally silencing the toy.

She didn’t dare to look Charlotte in the eye. Her heart was still hammering in her chest, and her cheeks were probably still colored red. Charlotte on the other hand, seemed perfectly fine with the situation.

“You don’t have to apologize.” She said, while walking over to Merel. “You probably would have found them eventually. Or heard, most likely.”

Merel’s cheeks turned into an even deeper shade of red just by the thought. The other woman didn’t seem to notice. She just collected the rest of the toys from the drawer and stood up with a smile.

“Tadaa, a whole drawer for your stuff.”

Merel mumbled a thanks and focused on filling the drawer again while Charlotte walked towards the door. The singer was already standing in the doorway when she turned around again.

“Oh, Merel?”

“Hmm?” Merel eventually looked up.

“Just let me know if you want to borrow anything.”

A wink followed, and Charlotte walked off once again.

Chapter Text

“I need to ask you for a favor.”

The words by themself were innocent, but the way they left Charlotte’s mouth sent shivers down Merel’s spine. The singer was biting her lip, trying to use her most innocent look. Merel feared the favor had to do with her discovery of a few days earlier, and her imagination already went wild.

“Euhm… What do you want?”

Merel barely dared to breathe while waiting for the answer. Would it include that weird vibrator Merel had found? Secretly she hoped it would. It would probably kill her, but she’d die happily.

“Can you help me put together some Ikea?”

“You went to Ikea?!” Merel gasped. “Charlotte, I’m very disappointed in you.”

“I didn’t,” Charlotte answered after sticking out her tongue. “my mom did. And she brought me a small cabinet for my art supplies. I don’t have the heart to tell her I don’t like it, or that I’ve never assembled any Ikea furniture before. So are you going to help me or not?”

Merel smiled and felt a weight fall off her shoulders. Ikea didn’t involve vibrators. Ikea was easy. Yes, she could handle Ikea. 

“Of course I’ll help you.”

Charlotte’s eyes seemed to fill with relief, and Merel swore she saw a small skip in her steps as the singer led them to her art room. Just as any other room in the apartment, this room was also filled with various plants. Drawings and paintings adorned the walls, the old rug on the floor stained with paint. Merel imagined that this was also what Charlotte’s mind would look like.

A flat box lay on the desk under the window. The font and drawing were unmistakably Ikea. Apparently Charlotte’s mom had decided that an ‘Alex’ was a perfect contribution to the art room. Merel wondered what plant would have to move for the cabinet. 

“So, you have experience with this, right?”

“Absolutely! I’m an Ikea-expert!” Merel said confidently, thinking about the afternoon she’d spent cursing while putting together her new nightstand.

Merel took the lead. The manual greeted them as soon as the package was open, but the blonde just tossed it aside. Who even followed the manual? One by one Merel lifted the pieces of wood from the box and arranged them. She got this, they would be done in no time.

“Okay, so we need two screwdrivers and a hammer. I have some in that box in the corner. And then we need those big panels and the medium screws.”

Merel looked up with a frown. Charlotte was inspecting the first pages of the instruction manual, taking in the drawings as if she was studying for a test. It was obvious the singer was an Ikea-virgin.

“You want to follow the manual?”

“Well, yes.” Charlotte said, confused. “The instructions seem very clear.”

“The instructions are liiiiiies. I don’t need a manual.”

“I’d really prefer it if we could use the manual…”

“Why don’t you trust me on this?” Merel asked, slightly frustrated. “Okay, you know what? You build the casing with your manual, I’ll build the drawers.”

“Fine, whatever.”

Both women started collecting their pieces from the box. Charlotte settled on the floor with the manual, Merel taking the desk to build the drawers. It was just five pieces of wood, she really didn’t need a manual for this.

Connect the back with the side panels using a few screws, add the front panel to that, and then push in the… wait, that didn’t fit. For a second Merel just stared at the bottomless drawer in front of her. How had it worked with her nightstand again? Maybe she had to slide it in before attaching the front part? Frustrated she unscrewed the front panel and slid in the bottom before reattaching it.

There. A successfully assembled drawer. Without instructions. Now she just needed to do this four more times.

The second drawer was easier, as were the other three that followed. Only ten minutes later Merel was surrounded by fully assembled drawers, and Charlotte had just finished the casing. Amateur.

“So, how did it feel to put together your own furniture?”

“I see why people like it, but it’s still not my thing.” Charlotte said while getting up from the floor. “Are you ready with the drawers?”

“Jup! And I even have some of these wooden thingies left!”

“I… don’t think you’re supposed to have spare parts… And, why are those two bottoms in a different color?”

Merel looked down at her drawers. Charlotte was right. While three of the bottoms were white, two of them showed the traditional wooden texture.

“It doesn’t matter.” Merel shrugged. “Once they’re in, no one will notice it anyway.”

“Merel, I really think you should start over. Just use the manual, it’s really easy.”

“I know it’s really easy! That’s why I don’t need a fucking instruction manual!”

“Then fix it without the manual!”

“They’re perfectly fine like this!”

“No, they’re not!”

“Then you fix it with your studpid manual!”

“Fine!”

“Fine!”

Merel didn’t look back. She just walked out of the room, leaving Charlotte behind with her stupid drawers and her stupid instructions.

-------

An hour had passed since Merel had stormed out of the art room. Charlotte was still in there, and the apartment had been quiet for quite some time. Merel had calmed down by now, but a guilty feeling had settled in her chest instead. Was Charlotte still mad at her? Maybe she was having her first Ikea-breakdown? She’d warned the other woman that the instructions were lies, but she also had to admit they held some truth. Charlotte’s casing seemed to be perfectly assembled after all. She just hated being told what to do, especially by a piece of paper. Couldn’t Charlotte understand that?

Merel looked over at the door again. Her guilt had been gnawing at her, and the feeling grew with every passing minute. God, she really hated it when Charlotte was mad at her. She really shouldn’t have reacted that way. Merel got up. Carefully she listened for sounds coming from inside the room, and knocked when it stayed completely silent. She opened the door a bit and peeked in. At first Charlotte was nowhere to be seen, but then Merel spotted a few red strands of hair peeking out from behind the now fully assembled Alex.

“How is it going?” Merel carefully asked, not daring to enter the room.

“I finished about ten minutes ago.” Charlotte’s answer was calm, but with a hint of irritation. “I’m now trying to decide where to put it.”

“Do you want any help with moving it?”

“I don’t know. I might give you instructions.”

“I think I can handle it if the instructions come from you, and not from a piece of paper.”

Charlotte turned around. She seemed to study Merel for a second and then lightly smiled.

“I’m sorry.” Merel said, fully opening the door and entering the room. “For putting the drawers together like that, and for acting like that. I made coffee, in case you want some? When we’re done?”

“That better be some damn good coffee.”

Chapter Text

The government had extended the quarantine for an unknown period of time. That’s what the media had been full of all day. Charlotte’s Facebook feed was filled with outrage and worry about the future, the number of deaths only increasing in what almost felt like a countdown clock to utter chaos. Feeling the anxiety tightening in her chest, Charlotte put down her phone and drained the last of her coffee from her cup.

Two weeks of isolation hadn’t broken her spirits yet, but the worry for her family and friends only grew. 

The insomnia she usually only experienced while being on tour was ever present even in the comforts of her own home, surrounded by her own comforts in life she just couldn’t rest. She had tried to put on a brave face for Merel, the blonde seemingly walking on eggshells around her. Charlotte didn’t know what it was that made the blonde act like this, but the incident with the sex toys and the ikea disaster surely hadn’t helped. And trying to have a serious talk with Merel was like… breaking down a wall with a spoon. A plastic spoon. 

Giving Iggy one final pat before she jumped down from her owner’s lap, Charlotte hugged her legs against her chest as she looked out across the apartment buildings nearby from her place on her balcony.

She had missed Merel terribly and Charlotte desperately wanted everything to feel like it did when Merel was still in the band. When they could joke around with each other and laugh off whatever stupid thing that happened. But those days were most likely gone now. Just the whole pandemic stuff seemed to throw them both off in general. 

Dragging her fingers through her hair and scratching her scalp in frustration, Charlotte jumped in her seat as she heard a shriek coming from the kitchen followed by a loud crash. As if acting on autopilot, Charlotte got up from the seat and stepped in from the balcony directly into the kitchen, nearly cutting her feet on some shards as she went. 

Two of Charlotte’s flower pots had dropped from their place on the window sill to the ground, their contents spilling everywhere. 

“What ha-” Charlotte began saying but stopped herself when she saw the pure panic written all over Merel’s face. She seemed frozen in place, Charlotte carefully walking up to the other woman slowly to check if she was okay. 

“Merel?”

The blonde was shaking as Charlotte put her hands on her shoulders, confused as to why she would react like this. It was only two avocado plants after all. Merel seemed to come back to planet Earth as soon as Charlotte touched her, eyes frantic and breaths coming out in short spurts. 

“I accidentally stepped on the cat’s tail and she just freaked out and jumped into the window and and got in between the pots and and then she ran off and I’m so so sorry for breaking everything and…”

As she stopped to take a breath, Merel’s lower lip began wobbling as her arms started hugging her middle. She looked so small and uncertain that it broke Charlotte’s heart.

Slowly stepping forward while moving her arms to encase the blonde into a hug, Charlotte kissed the side of the blonde’s head before squeezing her tight.

“It’s just a pot.”

“Nooo it’s not “just”. You’re this perfect plant mom and I’m just stomping into your life like a dumbass and fucking it up.”

Smiling sadly, Charlotte squeezed the other woman even tighter, feeling how Merel recuperated the hug just as fiercely. 

“You’re not.” 

Moving her hands up and down Merel’s back, the blonde relaxed against her, nose nuzzling into her neck and making Charlotte shiver. 

“Your stupid ass is making all of this bearable.”

Hearing how Merel burst out laughing, she pulled back and quickly wiped the tears from her cheeks. The light had returned to her eyes. Lifting her hand and placing it on Merel’s cheek, Charlotte heard the intake of breath as she wiped an escaping tear away. 

“I love having you here. And I’m sorry if I’ve made you feel awkward and not welcome into my home.”

Something passed by Merel’s eyes before relief took hold. Tomorrow they would start anew. But first they would clean all of this up. And by then, maybe Charlotte would have figured out what emotion was hiding behind Merel’s blue gems.

Chapter Text

It was still dark when Merel opened her eyes. Sleep hazed her mind, but she was still sure her eyes were actually open. The moonlight was weak, only illuminating a few outlines of the surfaces around her. Was there even a reason to be awake?

Sleep lured her in again, pulling on her eyelids and settling itself over her as an extra blanket. Merel closed her eyes, and then felt the same sensation that had abruptly pulled her from her sleep. A kick in her back.

Merel turned around. Charlotte lay next to her, her hands gripping her pillow and a frown settled on her face. Her breathing was uneasy, some muscles seemingly spasming every few seconds. Another kick. Apparently it had been Charlotte’s knee that kept bumping into her.

The pain on Charlotte’s face even hurt Merel. She’d had her own fair share of nightmares over the years, keeping her awake entire nights. She never dared to close her eyes again after waking up from them, not without anyone next to her to pull her out when it happened again. But she was here for Charlotte.

Carefully Merel lifted her hand and reached for the singer’s shoulder. Charlotte’s eyes flew open before Merel had even touched her, apparently scaring both of them equally. Charlotte sat up, her breath and body shaking while she looked around the room. 

“Hey, hey, it’s okay.” Merel said as she also sat up and placed a hand on the redhead’s back. “It was just a nightmare, you’re safe.”

Charlotte didn’t respond. She just stared at a point in the room, trying to slow down her breathing and processing what just happened. There was nothing Merel could do except gently rubbing her back. She was very aware of that, but it hurt her to see Charlotte like this. What kind of demons had been haunting her mind to make her so upset?

It took nearly a full minute for Charlotte’s mind to calm down. She turned around, the moonlight barely illuminated a face, but Merel still recognized a small smile on her lips.

“Thank you.”

Her voice was barely more than a whisper. It sounded small, vulnerable even, and that was exactly what the singer looked like as well. Merel felt a piece of her heart break. She’d been so busy with herself and her own feelings that she’d completely missed the other woman’s struggles. Charlotte had done nothing but comfort Merel for two weeks now. Not once had it occurred to her that Charlotte might need some comforting as well.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“Not really.” Charlotte shook her head, but continued anyway. “It was just very… weird. There were sharks, I think… I don’t know.”

“It’s okay, you can go back to sleep.” Merel assured her. “If you want to anyway. I can also stay up with you? Either way, I’ll protect you from the sharks.”

Charlotte snorted.

“Protect me? You’re not even wearing pants.”

“I don’t need pants, I have these.” Merel answered, flexing her arm to show her close to non-existing muscles. 

Again Charlotte snorted. She shook her head as she lied down again, Merel following her example.

“Okay, I might not be able to fight sharks, but I can at least hold you?”

For a second it stayed silent, then Charlotte turned around to face Merel.

“I would really like that.”

Merel opened her arms, the other woman immediately taking the hint. Charlotte crawled closer and rested her head against the blonde’s shoulder. A warm feeling spread through her body and she smiled while protectively wrapping her arm around Charlotte’s waist. 

Only a few minutes had passed by the time Charlotte was asleep again. This time she seemed peaceful and Merel smiled in relief. She would do anything to protect the singer from any harm. She couldn’t battle Charlotte’s demons, but she would stand by her side until the very end.

Merel realized that something had changed. What she felt towards the woman in her arms went deeper than just a crush. Far deeper than anything she’d ever felt. And she would never tell Charlotte about any of it.

Chapter Text

Charlotte felt like she was going crazy as she cleaned the same bowl for what seemed like the 20th time that week. Cleaning supplies were spread out across the living room and kitchen, every surface perfectly scrubbed and waiting to dry. Her flowers and indoor grown spices had been taken care of, clothes folded and bed made. Nothing interesting was left to stream and she didn’t feel creative enough to create. 

There was so much going on inside of her. Rage, confusion, worry, loneliness… a hunger. But for what she didn’t know. For freedom, most likely. But until she knew what, Charlotte kept scrubbing. 

She had just gotten done with the coffee table when Merel appeared in the doorway, food bowl and cutlery clutched in her hand, eyes meeting Charlotte’s as she scanned her face to see if she was welcome. An hour ago, Charlotte had all but shoved the blonde off the couch, not wanting to see her breakdown. Especially since Charlotte didn’t know why, the mere sight of Merel triggering something within her.

“Don’t touch anything!” Charlotte shouted, stopping the other woman dead in her tracks. Charlotte’s heart was pounding as regret seeped into her veins. This wasn’t her. This anxious monster. Or maybe it was, and she had let Merel see her true self. No it definitely wasn’t. Couldn’t be. Everything was just spinning too quickly, everything was out of her control. Why couldn’t it just stop?

Charlotte had just begun feeling her hands shaking when Merel walked over, bowl placed roughly on the coffee table before placing herself on Charlotte’s lap. That seemed to snap Charlotte out of her stupor, eyes blinking rapidly as the weight of another person seemed to register in her mind. 

It wasn’t long before Charlotte felt the light squeeze of her hand, dropping the rag she had been holding and tangle her fingers with the ones curling around her own. Blaming a need for comfort and the instinct to keep Merel from falling, Charlotte snaked her arm around Merel’s waist and placed her hand on the other woman’s stomach. 

Their eyes met. 

There was a reassuring smile playing on the blonde’s lips, the warmth of her body matching the intensity of her smile. Charlotte felt grounded, safe. Just like she felt after a nightmare and Merel had cuddled up to her. But this wasn’t in the cover of night. It felt like more. They had done this before, this close contact. So why did it feel different now?

Then Merel leaned in to kiss her forehead. 

“Please be careful with yourself.”

Charlotte felt her stomach drop through her ass, heart threatening to break out from her chest and bounce up and down the walls. 

Shi t shit shIIIIIIIt

“I’m going to the store. Do you want anything?!” Charlotte said hastily, nearly throwing Merel off her lap as she got up from the couch. Looking like a kicked puppy, Merel brought her bowl to the kitchen and placed it in the sink, Charlotte placing her hand over her heart to try to calm it down. 

“Nah it’s okay. I can go. Text me a list, okay?”

Grabbing her car keys from the top of the fridge and some shopping bags, Merel was out the door without looking back. Taking a photo of what was written on a note on the fridge, Charlotte took a deep breath while staring at her phone. There was only one more thing she really needed right now.


Bring alcohol she wrote under the picture before sending it. Now she had at least an hour to figure out what the fuck had just happened between her and Merel.

Chapter Text

Charlotte knew that basically inhaling glass after glass of whisky and wine probably wasn’t the best idea. Not when she knew how clingy she could get while being drunk, how light her steps seemed to be as she danced to the music that played. Charlotte could feel her lips moving, but in song or in conversation she didn’t know. 

All that mattered seemed to be the reaction she could draw from Merel. The blonde was seated on the couch, beer in one hand while the other rested on her inner thigh, the fabric of the shorts she wore travelling up her legs slowly the longer the evening wore on. The observation had Charlotte’s insides burning, both in delight and embarrassment. 

Charlotte didn’t know what mystical creature had taken ahold of her, but she felt alive whenever Merel smiled or laughed in her direction. She had missed her funsized friend. And now with the quarantine Charlotte realized that more than ever. 

“Please be careful with yourself” , a sweet melody whispered in her ear. ” I’ll protect you from the sharks” came another, so hungry and terrifying. Charlotte stopped, Merel’s hollering breaking through the deep. Her face looked flushed, lips turned into a half smile as their eyes met. 

Merel was beautiful. Breathtakingly so. 

“Now come here before you fall over.” the blonde said, ugly snorts escaping Charlotte’s lips as she made her way towards the couch. The whole room was spinning as warmth spread to her limbs. Charlotte vaguely saw how Merel held her arms up as she caught her way too heavy body, Charlotte slamming her front against the blonde’s chest while giggling. 

“Im heeere!” Charlotte proclaimed way too loudly in the small space they were in, quickly silencing herself by putting her hand over her mouth.

“Oops, did I hurt you?!” 

Relieved as she saw Merel nod, Charlotte got up on her knees, not even noticing that she was straddling Merel’s waist as her hands tangled in blonde locks. 

“Why did I even like start this, it’s like so good and all this feel good and you feel good.”

Charlotte was barely aware of what she was saying anymore. There were no guards guarding the castle. They were all neck deep into a barrel of ale. VERY strong ale. 

Suddenly there were hands on her waist, firm and strong after years of playing guitar, the beer discarded during Charlotte’s trek towards the other woman.The feeling was nothing new, but when Charlotte met Merel’s dark blue gems her breath hitched in her throat as the hands began burning. The sheer longing she saw had her insides turning, heart speeding up dangerously fast. The alcohol felt like a distant memory as Charlotte’s hand went from a stray lock of blonde hair to a soft cheek. Charlotte felt more clear than she had done for years as she looked into Merel’s eyes. She wanted her… in every way possible.

Charlotte felt a pair of lips on her own, the taste of beer invading her mouth as she kissed Merel back. Charlotte didn’t know who had been the first one to moan but the sound had her melting, the first bite on her lower lip making her stomach flop. Merel’s hands were on the move from Charlotte’s waist to her thighs and further up to skim the underside of her breasts. Charlotte did moan then as her own hands scratched the blonde’s scalp, moving her fingers inside the shirt that Merel wore. The fact that she was straddling Merel’s waist became apparent as her sex made contact with the other woman’s stomach, Charlotte doing her best not to grind against her. 

A surprised squeal freed itself from Charlotte’s throat as Merel flipped her over so that the blonde was on top, her lips attacking Charlotte’s neck as her hand moved along Charlotte’s thigh while the other one supported her weight next to the other woman’s head. The pleasant swipes of Merel’s tongue and small bites of her teeth had Charlotte’s insides in an uproar, begging for more and more and more. 

“Oh, Merel...” Charlotte said in a whisper, seemingly breaking the moment they were in with those two simple words as Merel jerked her head up, looking more confused than Charlotte had ever seen her before. 

“I’m...I’m… fuck! Stupid fucking alcohol!”

Hearing how Merel’s voice cracked the more she spoke, head turning away from Charlotte and eyes looking at anything but her. But not before she had seen the tears in them, the droplets and devastation in the pair of blues breaking Charlotte’s heart.

Merel ran. A door was slammed shortly after as sounds of crying filled the apartment. She had missed the warmth of the other woman as soon as she had left, her lips, her touch. Her smile, her laughter, how she put locks of hair behind her ear, the look of concentration on her face when she played guitar…

Charlotte felt her heart beating furiously in her chest as the thoughts passed in her head, the organ knowing two things before her head did.

Merel loved her. 

And she felt the same.

Chapter Text

The restrictions have lifted

The headline seemed to jump out across the screen of Charlotte’s phone, quotes from interviews with ministers and the common folk describing a strong relief for the country and its economy. 

But to Charlotte it felt anything but.

It was morning. And Charlotte hadn’t gotten a wink of sleep all night, the couch already making her muscles ache whenever she needed to change positions. How had Merel put up with this for a week?! “ She did it for you” , the voice in Charlotte’s mind reminded her and made the lump in her stomach sink even further. The lump had changed positions so many times during the night, from Charlotte’s heart where it clenched in longing and sadness to her stomach where it painfully reminded her of the nervousness and uncertainty of what was to come. 

She had never thought of Merel being in love with her and she had never considered Merel to be a potential girlfriend. They were both out and proud, but the thought of them together had never crossed her mind. Charlotte had replayed instances of when they might have crossed the line between friendship and something more and she had felt so stupid for not picking up on the signs sooner. Even after two months of living together.

And now Merel might leave. Charlotte had heard movements from their room all morning, the blonde probably packing her stuff now that she could go back home to her parents. Charlotte hadn’t checked up on her ever since she had slammed the door closed the night before, opting to give her space. Or rather, Charlotte giving herself space so she could process everything that had happened. She had tried to distract herself from the thought of love by scrolling through the internet and watching various videos, but when the sun broke through the horizon, Charlotte still felt her heart reaching out for the other woman. Such a cliché to fall for your best friend...

The door to the bedroom was suddenly pulled open as stomping feet made their way towards the end of the hallway. Swallowing down the merciless pounding of her heart, Charlotte sat up so she was peeking up from behind the couch. 

Whatever amount of  tiredness she felt could not compete with the sadness that she saw in Merel’s eyes. It looked like she had been crying all night; eyes red and face puffy with tear tracks still visible on her cheeks. Even from a distance, Charlotte could see how much the other woman’s hands were shaking.

“I’m leaving.” 

Merel’s voice was hoarse and cracked as she spoke, Charlotte now noticing the bags by Merel’s feet. Not waiting for a reply, the blonde went around the living room to collect her guitars, avoiding Charlotte’s gaze entirely.

It was like something broke inside of Charlotte, a desperation she had never felt before as she stood up on shaking legs and grabbed Merel’s arm before twisting her around. A sound of protest came from the blonde but was soon smothered by Charlotte’s aching lips upon her own. Charlotte kissed Merel hard while she tangled her fingers in long, blonde tresses, letting all that she felt pouring into that one kiss. The small overprotective, dinosaur loving, clumsy idiot wouldn’t go anywhere. 

She was home.