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the way she looks

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Laura double-checks her day of the week planner for the sixth time within the last ten minutes. Clear as day, she wrote down ‘Camus Hall, 13:00’ in her neat printed letters under today’s date. Though to be fair, Camus Hall isn’t really a hall, but a room in the Philosophy building. Silas likes themed hallways, so Laura is currently walking down the hall of the existentialists. Laura passes by the Heidegger common room, the Beauvoir Hall, and a few more.

 

Pushing the door open, Laura pokes her head in the cavernous hall and finds it empty.

 

She walks in anyway, nervous as heck and worried that philosophy majors will walk in and see her, a journalism student, in their haven. Laura sinks on a divan and rifles through her bag. Might as well read something for class while she waits.

 

A few pages in, the door into the room bursts open and in steps a plaid-wearing black-haired girl in ripped skinny jeans. She is pale as the night is dark, and her bag is bulging with books. Her eyes meet Laura’s. Her mouth curls.

 

“You Laura?” She asks, pulling out an easel from her duffel bag, followed by a stack of pencils and charcoal pencils. “I’m Carmilla. That bio major told me you’re the model they found.”

 

“Hi,” Laura puts her book down and faces Carmilla. She’s seen her around before, usually with a girl by her side, faces changing like the fog that enshrouds the campus after six pm. “You know, I’ve seen you around campus before,” she tells Carmilla while she sets up her art materials. “Why did you need to ask LaFontaine for a model? Don’t you have a string of girlfriends who can do this for you?”

 

Carmilla hums. “No, I don’t. I asked the bio major because they suggested you in the first place. If you don’t want to be here, I can find someone else.”

 

Laura thinks about it for a second but ends up shaking her head. “No. I’m doing this because LaF asked," she says. “How should I pose?”

 

She’s never done this before, never really thought she was model material. But LaF said something vaguely flattering like her body is symmetrical or something along those lines. Anyway, she’s here, and Carmilla is paying her fifteen bucks an hour for as long as she wants Laura to model for her.

 

The dark-haired girl hums and scratches her chin. She’s staring so much at Laura that she’s sure that if she stares for longer, she will combust. There’s something intense in Carmilla’s eyes that both thrills and terrifies her. As if she has seen hundred years’ worth of girls but Laura is the first one she truly saw.

 

The thoughts make Laura scrunch up her face. There must be something in the air in the philosophy building that’s making her think like that.

 

Carmilla walks up to Laura to stand behind the divan. “Lean back a bit,” she murmurs. Her hands on Laura’s shoulders, she draws her towards her. Laura tenses at the cool fingers grazing her pulse. “Relax. You look weird all tensed up like that.”

 

Taking a deep breath, Laura sags against the divan. Carmilla walks around the couch and lifts Laura’s legs up on it. “I need you to look natural. Like I just walked in on you sitting here and I decided to draw you.”

 

Laura shifts into position, her back half-slouched and one leg up on the divan, the other flat on the ground. Her palms rests on her stomach, fingers lightly laced together. “There, I’m ready.”

 

“Very nice,” Carmilla flashes a half-second grin and she’s behind her easel with a large sketchbook shielding her face from Laura.

 

For the better part of the hour, Laura preoccupies herself with mundane thoughts. The scratching of Carmilla’s charcoal pencils on her paper fills the room, along with the occasional sigh from Laura. “The bio major tells me you’re a journalism student,” Carmilla breaks the silence with a lazy drawl. “How’s that going for you?”

 

Unsure whether she can speak, Laura looks at Carmilla who looks back, waiting for her response. “It’s going just fine, thanks for asking. LaF didn’t tell me what your major was. Is it art?”

 

Carmilla chuckles and shakes her head. “No, this is just a thing I do on the side. I’m a philosophy major.” She twirls a pencil between her fingers and takes it between her teeth. Laura watches her drag her thumb against the cream-coloured paper, her fingers coming back smudged with charcoal. “Art as a major is not for me, though don’t get me wrong. I love art,” she looks at Laura as she speaks, her pencil gliding across the page. “But I would rather study it on my own terms.”

 

“I get what you mean,” Laura murmurs. She catches Carmilla’s eyes, and the dark-haired girl holds her gaze. It fills Laura with indescribable warmth and she is not the first one to look away.

 

“Anyway, that’s it for today,” Carmilla says, closing her sketchbook. She walks up to Laura as she stretches her stiff joints. Pulling a twenty from her pocket, she hands it to Laura. “I’ll see you next week. Same time and place.”

 

She’s out of Camus Hall before Laura can protest. LaF told her that it’s fifteen dollars, not a whole twenty. But it dawns on her that she shouldn’t complain, that Carmilla probably wanted to give her a twenty because of some reason or whatever. How would Laura know? Artists are very temperamental. Maybe next session, she’ll only give her a ten or something.

 

Laura picks up her stuff and walks out of Camus Hall, feeling oddly light on her feet, finding herself excited for next week.

 

///

 

“So I take it the modelling session went well?” LaF asks Laura that same night back in her dorm.

 

Looking up from her textbook, Laura nods. “What gave it away?”

 

“Carmilla doesn’t hate you, for one,” they say, arms crossed and a grin on their face. “And I caught her staring at her sketchbook when I was walking back home from class. I think she likes you.”

 

Laura flushes but she shrugs it off. “Maybe she’s just admiring her artistic skills. I’m just the model. No one praises great historical figures for modelling. They praise the artist at how good they are at rendering their subjects.”

 

 “Tell that to our budding art historians and you will never hear the end of it,” LaFontaine says, snorting. They get up to leave. Now alone in her dorm room, Laura does a little dance, her hips wriggling, as she gets back to studying. She sighs, imagining Carmilla. Air of mystery about her, dark locks framing a pale face.

 

“Oh, before I forget,” LaFontaine pops their head back in Laura’s room, making her jolt. “I don’t need to tell you that Carmilla’s a vampire, right?”

 

“She’s a what now?” Laura frowns.

 

“A vampire. Bloodsucker who uses seduction eyes?” LaFontaine says, motioning to their neck. “She’s not necessarily evil, as in villain-y evil—”

 

“I think that’s beside the point! I can’t believe I modelled for a vampire and... and...”

 

“That you have a crush on her?” LaF quips. Laura glares at them.

 

“I know you’re enjoying this, but what if during our hourly session she decides she wants a snack? And I’m the only one in that room for miles around?”

 

LaFontaine laughs and shakes their head. “Okay, you’re being a little swept up in the stereotypes. I don’t think all vampires are like that.”

 

“The same way not all hungry lions won’t eat a nearby gazelle?” Laura snaps.

 

“Good point. But Carmilla’s civilized. She won’t eat you. Not in the way you’re thinking, anyway.” LaF waves and they’re out the doorway before Laura can protest.

 

She slumps on her chair with a groan, face in her hands. Sure, she’s worried about seeing Carmilla again, but she just cannot deny that her crush (she scathingly thinks) trumps her internalized fear of supernatural beings.

 

///

 

“So, LaFontaine told me something interesting last week,” Laura begins when Carmilla walks into Camus Hall the next time she saw the artist. She watches the vampire shrug off her leather jacket to hang on a coat hook, her heavy duffel bag landing on the floor with a dull thunk. Carmilla shoots Laura a glance.

 

“They told you what I am, then.” She drawls, lazy as ever. Once her easel is set up, she brings a high stool and leafs through the heavy pages. “Is that going to be a problem for you, buttercup?”

 

“It won’t be an issue if you swear you won’t eat me,” blurts Laura.

 

Carmilla grins, her shoulders shaking from laughter. “I won’t,” she says as if it’s the easiest thing in the world. “But if you don’t hold that pose I just might.”

 

///

 

“Morning, cutie. Put your jacket back on, will you? I want to go somewhere else for today.”

 

“Where are we going?”

 

“Outside,” Carmilla says, tapping her foot against the marble floors while Laura shrugs on her coat and grabs her bag. “It’s overcast and the lighting is perfect outside right now. I thought I could paint you. I can use a different lighting and backdrop this time.”

 

It’s the first time Carmilla mentions paint and Laura’s interest is piqued. She follows Carmilla out to the sparsely-populated quad where the vampire’s art stuff is already set up. Canvas on an easel along with a wooden crate filled with tubes of paint and cases of watercolour. “You can paint too?”

 

Carmilla shrugs and pulls out a blanket to spread on the grass. She motions for Laura to sit on it while she conjures up a stool to place behind her easel. “I’ve had a lot of years to experiment with art styles and mediums,” she explains.

 

“What’s your favourite?”

 

The artist hums and stares at Laura while Laura stares back. “Art deco, but I wasn’t really around for when it started in France. And I love charcoal and pastels,” she says. “Now stop fidgeting,” Carmilla shoots Laura a glare. “I’m trying to paint you.”

 

“I thought vampires can’t go out during the daytime though,” Laura says, a soft breeze rustling through the leaves and mussing up her hair. “Won’t you melt or something?”

 

“Direct sunlight just weakens us. It’s all that vitamin D,” Carmilla dips her paintbrush and she mixes the paint on her paint plate. “We won’t be here if it isn’t overcast, you know.”

 

“Right,” Laura nods. She shivers faintly from the cold gust of wind. Pulling her coat closer around her body, she watches Carmilla alternate her attention to the sketchbook and then towards her.

 

Something about the intensity of Carmilla’s gaze inspires Laura to look back with the exact same intensity. She hasn’t seen any of the vampire’s art, especially not the ones with her as the subject. Laura leans back on her hands, the wind fluttering her hair, as she looks at Carmilla. The focus in her eyes, the furrow of her brow. She bites her lip occasionally whenever she dips her brush into a bit of paint. Laura stifles a smile, resists the urge to mentally call Carmilla adorable because that’s just not her aesthetic. She’s too punk rock to be called cute, but at the moment, in the middle of cold Styrian November, in her grey beanie and leather pants, Carmilla looks more adorable than punk rock.

 

The hour passes by with Carmilla talking to Laura about the philosophy lecture she went to earlier that day on the notion of spiritual life. “Not that I believe any of it. I’m not a spiritual being. It’s kind of hard to be, if you’re undead for three hundred and something years,” Carmilla says, her fingers coated with paint, and some ending up streaked across her jaw. “Suffering as an essential part of life is true, there’s no denying that. But that awareness barely helps an immortal being like me.”

 

“Sure, but to say it in those terms is just really sad and defeatist, you know? I’m not saying you should deny the existence of your suffering. But maybe instead of focusing on it, you can take refuge in the little things.” Laura squints as a beam of sunlight pierces through the clouds and warms her face. She catches a glimpse of Carmilla, whose features seem to watch over Laura with renewed fascination. Carmilla paints faster, and from where Laura sits, she sees more yellows on the paint plate. “But how should I know? I’m not a philosophy major.”

 

“No, I think you make a fine point,” Carmilla washes her paintbrush and puts them back in her case. She walks up to Laura and pays her another twenty. “A little too positive and too much like a balancing act to be anything, since philosophy likes to make cases for the extremes.” Carmilla smiles and crouches down while Laura stretches. “But you’re right. Refuge in the tiny things, huh?”

 

She pinches Laura’s cheek gently with her knuckles. She helps Laura to her feet before she goes back to her easel. Laura can still feel the artist’s icy fingers on her skin. She stretches and folds the blanket, bringing it to Carmilla while she’s still packing her stuff.

 

“We should get coffee,” Laura suggests, stuffing the blanket Carmilla brought into her duffel bag. A quick peek and she sees tomes of books and sketch pads packed within.

 

“You asking me out, cutie?” Carmilla asks, brow raised. “I’m not really big on coffee, being a vampire. The caffeine makes our stomach do weird things.” Carmilla pats her belly and hefts her stuffed bag over her shoulder.

 

“Neither am I. We can go back to my dorm and I can make us cocoa. Or you can drink some of your blood. I won’t judge.”

 

Carmilla stares at Laura as if listing a rundown of pros and cons in joining her in her dorm room. Which, Laura thinks, shouldn’t even be that much of a problem, right? It’s not like she’s the one who’s an undead being with centuries of experience with a myth of kidnapping and murder in her hands or whatever.

 

Eventually though, Carmilla nods her assent and they walk side by side to the all-girls dorm room at the end of the campus.

 

///

 

Days later, they’re sitting side by side on Laura’s bed, back pressed against the wall with a laptop Laura’s computer chair. A movie is playing, but it’s not like either of them are watching it, what with the constant knee-nudging and cocoa and blood-sipping.

 

“So what’s it like, being a vampire?” Laura asks, eyeing the travel mug in Carmilla’s hand. She can see streaks of red around the rim of it and the way Carmilla smacks her soft-looking lips distracts her.

 

“Nasty, brutish, and long,” Carmilla sighs, her legs and hips wriggling so she can slouch. She puts her blood mug on the shelf of Laura’s headboard, hands drumming on her stomach. “Sometimes my Mother makes me kidnap a bunch of girls for a ritualistic sacrifice every twenty years, but hey. Parents, right?”

 

Laura looks affronted and Carmilla bursts in laughter. “Maybe in another lifetime, cutie. T’was a joke.” She pats Laura’s thigh, cool fingers lingering on her pyjama leg. “I gotta say. You’re not as freaked out about it as I expected you to be.”

 

“What, did you expect me to panic and stake you right in the heart upon knowing you were a vampire?”

 

“Usually, yeah.” A ghost of a smile lingers on Carmilla’s mouth. “It’s not every day you get to say you slew a vampire.”

 

Laura snorts and a moment of comfortable silence blankets them. In the corner of her eye, she sees Carmilla’s duffel bag on the floor, and curiosity strikes her.

 

“You know, I haven’t seen any of your artwork yet,” she says lightly. “Don’t I get first peek? I mean, you are drawing me, after all.”

 

“I can do one for you right now.” Carmilla reaches for Laura’s notebook and she takes out a pen from her pocket. She studies Laura for a full minute and begins sketching. This time, while sitting beside Carmilla, Laura witnesses the deft, clean strokes as the vampire draws the shape of her. She seems to make no mistakes. Every line is just right to add definition to Laura’s features.

 

Carmilla doesn’t look up in the five minutes that she sketches Laura in her own notebook. “There,” she finishes, signing the corner of the artwork with flourish. “Happy?”

 

“That’s me?” Laura takes the notebook and inspects it. She’s awed by the detail, the realism of the drawing without forgetting the fact that it was something Carmilla did within a few minutes. “That’s... It almost doesn’t look like me. It looks stunning.”

 

The artist smiles and her cool fingers brush the inside of Laura’s wrist where she’s sure that Carmilla can feel the fluttering of her heartbeat. “I only draw what I see, sweetheart.”

 

///

 

After every modelling session since that day, Carmilla would follow Laura home to hang out for a few hours, having Chinese takeout in boxes and sipping at blood packs while alternating between watching shows, talking, and dancing.

 

Right now, Laura is stuffed with egg rolls and General Tso’s chicken to do much dancing, so she’s drinking steaming hot chocolate despite Carmilla’s suggestion that she drinks green tea instead.

 

“But ‘green’ is such an ambiguous word! I don’t even know what plant this tea comes from because it’s so vague.”

 

“There’s this thing called the tea plant, you know.” Carmilla licks her lips and chucks the emptied blood pack and it lands in trash bin. “That’s what it’s made out of, and green tea helps your metabolism so you won’t feel bloated.”

 

Laura makes a noncommittal noise and Carmilla does too. They keep watching the new episode of How to Get Away with Murder and she notices that the vampire’s eyelids are beginning to droop. Laura doesn’t ask, though she knows enough about Carmilla’s habits and the fact that she’s nocturnal to know she needs sleep even though it’s only one in the afternoon.

 

Pulling up the blankets over their bodies, Laura reaches over her desk to pause the episode and to put her laptop in hibernate, its fan whirring, a constant noise in the room before it shuts off. Laura squirms in beside Carmilla, her body curling into her shapely frame.

 

Outside, the sun is breaking through the clouds. It’s midday and as Laura slides her arm around Carmilla’s waist, careful not to wake the sleeping girl, she sighs and nuzzles the slope of her shoulder.

 

Laura falls asleep to the rhythm of the Summer Society running laps outside the dorm room. She’s a second away from falling asleep when she feels Carmilla’s arm loop around her shoulders, ghost of a kiss against her brow. The touch so ephemeral that Laura isn’t sure if it was a dream or if Carmilla did pull her close and kiss her forehead.

 

///

 

So, another thing added to the list of things Laura and Carmilla did together was take naps. Aside from having meals together and reading together and just hanging out in general, Laura thinks that napping with Carmilla is one of her favourite things to do.

 

But that’s before they started kissing.

 

And in fact, Laura doesn’t even remember how she reacted the first time it occurred. All she remembers is that she was in her dorm room, on her desk, writing her assignments when Carmilla bursts in, carrying a plastic bag, her leather jacket drenched and tracking puddles across the floor. She hears the vampire curse in muffled German while she strips off her jacket on her way to Laura’s bathroom.

 

“You okay in there?” Laura asks with a smile. She didn’t even notice that it was raining outside. Was it raining outside? “What happened?”

 

“I got caught in the middle of a water balloon fight between children,” she hears Carmilla hiss. She walks out, her torn jeans and shirt still dripping, and Laura hands Carmilla her only spare towel. “It’s the moronic Zetas picking another fight with the Summer Society over who gets to use the gym for… whatever reason.

 

“Okay, one. Everyone is a child compared to you,” Laura says, leaning against the doorframe of the bathroom. “And two, you could’ve just avoided them.”

 

Carmilla emerges from the bathroom, only in her bra and panties, drenched clothes hanging up to dry. She sighs, the towel wrapped around her neck and sits on Laura’s bed while the owner of the room has her brows raised, undecided whether to put a stop to Carmilla prancing around her room pretty much naked, or just… enjoy it.

 

Laura bites her lip and avoids Carmilla’s gaze. The vampire tugs at her seat though, towards her bed. “The cookies you like were on sale.”

 

That’s Carmilla-code for ‘I was passing by the university bakery and thought of you’ and Laura knows it. She grins, sits beside the minimally-clothed vampire, a box of cookies upon her lap. “Thanks,” she says, and Carmilla does a half-shrug, half-nod thing as she scoots back to lean against the wall. Laura sits beside her, their bare legs touching.  “Shouldn’t you put on a shirt or something?”

 

“Vampires don’t get cold. Or a cold.” Carmilla says, plucking a cookie from the box on Laura’s lap. The human girl takes one too and the cookie snaps beneath her teeth, sweetness melting on her tongue. “But hey, if you’re planning on cuddling me for warmth, I won’t deny you, cutie. You know I’d do anything for you.”

 

Carmilla’s teasing her. Laura knows that lilt in her voice all too well. She blushes anyway, her ears burning white hot. She chews her cookie while deliberating her next move.

 

In the end, Laura forgets her line of thought, why she did what she did. She licks her fingers free of crumbs and she swallows. Carmilla has her book of Rimbaud’s poetry open on her lap, her eyes darting across the page. The artist only ever mouths the words to what she’s reading when it’s poetry, and this time is no different:

 

‘Qu’il vienne, qu’il vienne,
Le temps dont on s’éprenne.’

O may it come, the time of love,
The time we’d be enamoured of.

 

The ghost of those words is what Laura tastes when she presses her lips against Carmilla’s. The vampire tenses for a split second, and in the next, she’s kissing Laura back. Her cool hand curls behind Laura’s neck and draws her in deeper. It’s different from what Laura imagined to be—didn’t taste like blood nor of fear. Carmilla’s mouth, she finds, tastes like cookies and French poetry.

 

“Well, well.” Carmilla drawls when Laura pulls back, breathless. “When I said I’d do anything for you, I definitely didn’t expect that.” She’s smirking and Laura huffs.

 

“You know, when people say anything, it’s assumed that they do mean anything.”

 

“I know,” Carmilla is grinning. The book is on Laura’s bedside table. The vampire’s hand is curled around the human girl’s wrist. “And really, it’s something I intend to do over and over again for you, sweetheart.”

 

///

 

Laura, perched on a stiff-backed chair, holds a heavy tome of a collection of philosophy readings open on the desk before her. She’s supposed to be pretending to read, but the words are blurred across the page and she’s been reading the same line over and over again, to the point where the letters look like scratched lines and nothing else.

 

“Carmilla,” she whines softly, hearing the gentle scratching of pastels against the vampire’s sketchbook. “My neck’s starting to hurt.”

 

“Just hold on for one more second,” she says. Laura groans. Keeping still has done wonders for her attention span, but very little for her joints. “Okay, you can move now.” Laura sighs in relief and she stands up to stretch.

 

“Gosh, whoever’s chair this is, it’s terrible.” Laura says, her arms over her head in an attempt to reach the ceiling. Carmilla walks up to stand behind her and her fingers graze the nape of Laura’s neck. The girl shivers and melts into Carmilla’s body, her thumbs working on the sore and stiff muscles of her neck and shoulders.

 

“That’s a chair originally from the Palace of Versailles,” Carmilla says, her lips against the back of Laura’s head. She keeps massaging Laura’s neck, but eventually instead of her fingers there, her lips, warm unlike the rest of her, replaces them. Laura’s breathe catches, and the vampire twists her hips so she’s facing her. “For all you know, the Sun King sat on it.”

 

 “He’s also been dead for three hundred years. His—or anyone’s—butt imprint doesn’t really appeal much to me.” Laura’s arms wrap around Carmilla’s waist. The vampire chuckles and she runs her fingers through Laura’s hair, kissing her cheek, and then her mouth. “Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask.” Laura glances at the sketchbook Carmilla has been using for the past few months since she started modelling for the older woman. “Why are you still drawing me?  We’ve been hanging out pretty much every day you’d think you’ve memorized what I look like.”

 

“Because I want to? And I have.” Carmilla cups Laura’s neck, thumbs rubbing in soothing circles against the girl’s skin.

 

“You have? Then why am I still posing?”

 

“Because,” Carmilla sighs, her hands on the small of Laura’s back. “I get to stare unabashedly when the truth is, I can just close my eyes and I can see the details of your face. Your eyelashes, the crinkles of your brow.” Her knuckles brush the skin of Laura’s cheek. “I have it all in my head. I just really like to stare.”

 

Laura is beaming and she pecks Carmilla’s lips. “Still doesn’t answer my question as to why you’re still drawing me though. Other than the fact that you’re totally and completely in love with me, of course.”

 

Carmilla snorts and pokes Laura’s tickle spots, making the girl squirm in her arms. “I really don’t have a reason,” she admits. But then she’s silent for a minute, just admiring Laura. At the intensity of her gaze, Laura flushes. Carmilla’s not looking at her with Seduction Eyes™—though she knows what that looks like. She’s looking at Laura like she’s the universe all wrapped in one. “There could be a reason, cupcake. I just don’t know if you’re interested.

 

“Tell me about it and I’ll tell you if I’m interested or not.”

 

“There’s an art show at the end of the month,” Carmilla says, her fingers bumping against Laura’s, and instantly, she laces them with hers. “And the committee’s bugging me for a submission because I used to submit things for the gallery every year. I didn’t really plan on sending anything because the theme is just… stupid. But maybe now, not so much.”

 

Laura chews her bottom lip and swings their joined hands together. “What’s the theme? Because if it’s something that mocks me, obviously I won’t say yes.”

 

“Of course it’s nothing that mocks you.” Carmilla looks affronted and Laura giggles, kissing her as an apology. “It’s uh… ‘heart eyes, motherfucker’.”

 

“What?”

 

“That’s the theme, cupcake.” Carmilla’s tone becomes testy and Laura strokes the back of her hand with her thumb to sooth her. “It’s a student-run thing in the Rembrandt building. It’s mostly for students and no university donors were invited so there’s no pressure from the faculty and the theme isn’t something tacky like, ‘beauty in destruction’ or whatever.”

 

Laura is still grinning. Her knowledge of internet memes tells her all she needs to know, but she still wants to hear Carmilla explain it to her in her own words. She asks, and Carmilla huffs, a smile tugging at her lips.

 

“It means,” she heaves a sigh, her arms sliding along Laura’s hips to pull her close. She kisses the side of Laura’s head and the shorter girl burrows against Carmilla’s pale, sweet-smelling neck. “That I am someone who looks at you with hearts in my eyes, cutie. I hope that keeps your ego afloat for the next century or so.”

 

“It will, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to stop throwing me compliments in your silly, not-even-sneaky way because I know you so well.”  

 

Carmilla rolls her eyes and pulls Laura in for a kiss. One that the smaller girl feels from her lips to the ends of her toes that curl in her shoes. She’s glad for the support of Carmilla’s body, or else she would’ve collapsed, weak at the knees and short of breath from being in love with a vampire.

 

///

 

The end of the month comes and Laura is thrumming with anticipation. Carmilla told her earlier that she’s coming over at six pm to take Laura out, so she dressed in casual jeans and a sweater Carmilla left behind. Whatever, it’s comfier than her burgundy hoodie and it smells faintly of the vampire, which she likes. Laura reads while she waits for Carmilla, only for her to appear once Laura picked up a book from her shelf.

 

“Hey, let’s go—nice sweater, Hollis.” Carmilla sticks out her hand and Laura takes it with no hesitation. Fingers laced together, Carmilla leads Laura out of the dorm. They cross the quad, filled with party goers since it is Friday night and the frat houses are filled with smoky dry ice courtesy of the Alchemy Club.

 

“Where are we going?”

 

Carmilla is silent until the Rembrandt building is in sight. “Art show.”

 

Laura’s eyes widen and her heart rate picks up by just a tad, but Carmilla notices. She brings their locked hands to her lips and kisses Laura’s fingers. “You’ll like it. I hope.”

 

They climb the marble steps of the Rembrandt building and through the hallway is a room where people—mostly art majors, but there are others too, like a few people Laura knew from her intro to journalism class—are milling around, holding champagne flutes and eating cheese cubes stabbed with toothpicks. Upon entering the room, Laura’s gasps.

 

Before her is the painting Carmilla made of her when they were outdoors. The clouds were thick over Laura’s head in the painting, the grass perfectly rendered to depict the way it bends beneath Laura’s legs. Odd as it sounds, Laura remembers the exact moment she looked at Carmilla the way she’s looking out at the viewer of the painting. The curious, furrowed look, the sunlight brightening her features. She stares at it and would’ve stared longer if Carmilla didn’t start fidgeting beside her.

 

“Do you like it?” Carmilla’s voice is soft. Unsure. Her black hair curtains her face, her bangs hiding a side of her features. It takes all of Laura’s will power not to cup her cheeks and kiss her. For now, she thinks, words would have to do.

 

“I love it,” whispers Laura. “You make me look so... Beautiful is the only word that comes to mind.”

 

Carmilla grabs two champagne glasses and hands one to Laura. “Don’t be an idiot,” she says. “Didn’t I tell you that I only draw what I see?”

 

Together they walk around the gallery, drinking champagne, sneaking kisses in between paintings. Laura tries to appreciate the submission of other artists but every time they pass by Carmilla’s painting, Laura finds herself admiring it all over again. It may sound vain, but the fact that she’s the subject of the painting only comes second. Carmilla did this. Sees her in this light. It’s flattering, Laura won’t deny that.Because Carmilla is centuries old and Laura is so young. She must’ve seen more beautiful things in her lifetime, yet here is a piece of artwork in a gallery. A painting of Laura done by Carmilla.

 

“I think,” Carmilla pulls Laura close, her arms looping around her waist. “That if I paint you again I can make you look so much better.” She glances at the painting then back to Laura. “I think I’m a little off on your lips there, but now I know how they feel like...”

 

“You’re such a smooth talker,” Laura laughs and downs another glass of champagne. She’s on her third and she is giddy. Not buzzed, but getting there.

 

“I’m just saying. Once you get a feel for something, you tend to draw it better.”

 

“I bet you say that to all the girls you paint.” Laura teases.

 

“Nah,” Carmilla shakes her head. “Just you.”

 

Laura feels brazen then. She licks her soft mouth and realizes that not once has she released Carmilla’s hand since she took it in her dorm room hours ago. Her eyes, trained on Carmilla’s lips, flickered to the vampire’s eyes. There she sees unbridled adoration, and Laura smiles.

 

“Let’s steal a bottle of champagne and go back to your place.” Carmilla whispers against Laura’s cheek.

 

“But this is your art exhibition!”

 

“It’ll still be here until the end of the week,” Carmilla walks by the table of refreshments. She conceals an unopened champagne bottle in her leather jacket and Laura couldn’t stop the snort at the bulk of it poking against the vampire’s stomach. “Come on, Laura.”

 

Laura takes Carmilla’s hand and they flee the gallery, giggling and cheeks red from the cold wind that should make Laura shiver, but with Carmilla by her side, all she feels is an inexplicable warmth. They walk back to Laura’s dorm room, arms looped together. They climb unsteadily up the stairs, distracted by the kissing that Carmilla initiated upon entering the building. Laura shudders, Carmilla’s lips now gliding along her jaw, tracing the shape of her ear with its heat.

 

“God... W-wait,” Laura shifts and Carmilla looks at her in alarm. The girl kisses the vampire, allowing her lips to linger. “It’s just... Is that a champagne bottle in your jacket or are you just happy to see me?”

 

They’re on the second floor landing when Carmilla bursts into loud laughter. One that is so infectious that Laura giggles, her face pressed against Carmilla’s neck, her shoulders shaking in attempt to hold in her cackling.

 

“You’re such a dork,” Carmilla removes the champagne bottle from her jacket and hands it to Laura. She then lifts up the smaller girl and pins her against the wall. Laura’s legs instantly wrap around Carmilla’s hips, her arms around her neck. The champagne bottle bumps against Carmilla’s back, but that doesn’t stop her from slipping her tongue to taste the remnants of stars on Laura’s tongue.

 

Carmilla carries Laura up to room 307 and lowers her on her bed. Laura pulls her on top of her, arms around Carmilla’s neck, not a hint of space between their bodies.

 

“We’ll drink this later,” Carmilla murmurs, taking the bottle from Laura’s hands. She rises off the girl to put the bottle in the mini-fridge despite Laura’s noise of protest. Laura watches Carmilla move around her dorm room, shrugging off her leather jacket and hanging it up over her computer chair. She kicks off her boots, the entire time, a smile is on her lips, like she’s aware of Laura’s eyes on her.

 

Laura, getting impatient, huffs and grabs Carmilla’s hand to pull her into bed with her. Laying on their sides, she drags her hand along Carmilla’s hips and pulls her against her. Her weight is so soft, so pliant in the way the vampire’s body melds with her. “Do you maybe want to...?”

 

Carmilla doesn’t respond with words. She leans in for a kiss, Laura’s fingers burying in her hair to grasp the back of her head. Moans spill out of her lips and Carmilla swallows them greedily. Her tongue slips into Laura’s mouth like a thousand times before but it drives her breathless nonetheless. Her fingers curl against Carmilla’s pale neck. Lower, lower, her hands wandered. Laura’s palms slide up Carmilla’s shirt and takes it off.

 

She’s seen Carmilla naked in a variety of ways before, and she’s always been tempted to touch (and she has). But there’s a look that crosses Carmilla’s eyes, as if she’s been waiting for this for a long time. Laura licks her bottom lip, her breath catches in her throat.

 

They work together to get rid of one another’s clothes. Their limbs tangle together and Laura laughs when Carmilla’s head gets stuck in her shirt. “Hold still,” Laura giggles and she manages to remove Carmilla’s shirt and her bra. Her throat bobs, her mouth waters. And with Carmilla looking at her the same way, her heart titillates something fierce.

 

“You’re so…” Carmilla starts but Laura surges forward and kisses her. Rolls on top of her, knees planted on the bed, on either side of Carmilla’s hips. Her palms are on her breasts, giving them a gentle squeeze. Laura kisses down Carmilla’s neck and she gives her sharp collarbones a hard suck. Carmilla arches, the tips of her fingers digging into the swell of Laura’s ass.

 

Laura wedges herself between Carmilla’s legs, her mouth dragging lower, leaving a trail of hot kisses along pale skin. She looks up at Carmilla to admire the wrinkle of her brow, her crimson lips parted, her shoulders trembling from her excitement. Laura grins, her mouth sucking in her nipple into her mouth. She gives it a light nip and a gentle suck.

 

Beneath Laura, Carmilla is squirming, her hands insistent, roaming all over Laura’s back. “Please,” Carmilla gasps, her eyes darker than ever.

 

It makes Laura’s heart flutter to see Carmilla willingly succumbing to her kisses and her touches. She imagined that the vampire is more dominant. Laura pictured Carmilla just taking her, which is something Laura would definitely enjoy. But right now, she wants to have first taste.

 

So Laura shifts lower. Removes Carmilla’s black lacy panties, her mouth trailing heated kisses and nips along the defined line of her hip. Carmilla shivers, even as Laura spreads her legs wider. Laura groans at her scent. Her mouth parts, she tastes Carmilla for the first time. Her tongue drags through the vampire’s folds and she moans at the taste. Laura’s tongue curls around her clit, her lips pulling it as she sucks. The taste of Carmilla is heady, and Laura eagerly devours her, tongue sliding inside her to taste her cum from the source.

 

“Oh fuck!” Carmilla gasps, her legs hooking over Laura’s shoulders, the girl’s tongue pushing deeper, curling against her spot. Her nose bumps Carmilla’s clit and it makes the vampire tremble. She grasps the wooden beam of Laura’s headboard, thighs shaking, her chest rising and falling rapidly.

 

The breathy moans Carmilla makes sound so heavenly in Laura’s ears. She sounds so desperate, so eager, with her hips rising and bucking into Laura’s hungry mouth. The steady flow of Carmilla’s cum makes the smaller girl moan, and when she feels the tightening of the vampire’s legs around her head and her walls around her tongue, Laura wraps her mouth around Carmilla’s clit and sucks.

 

Carmilla’s back rises off the bed and her body is a curved bow, nocked and ready to fire. Laura flattens her tongue on her stiff bud, and a few more licks, the vampire is quivering hard. She comes with a broken shudder of ‘Laura!’ her grip on the headboard is so tight that the wood breaks with a loud snap.

 

Laura looks up in alarm, though her mouth is still latched on Carmilla’s pussy. She eases into a more gentle suction before pulling away from Carmilla’s core. She licks her lips and sees Carmilla looking at her with a mix of disbelief and arousal, hot and bright in her black eyes.

 

“You are unbelievable,” she releases the headboard and the piece of splintered wood clatters to the floor. “I’ll buy you a new bed. Just get up here, cutie.”

 

Laughing, Laura crawls up on the narrow twin bed and plops herself on top of Carmilla who catches her, arms wrapping around her torso. “I guess that’s one way to make you say my name.” She teases.

 

The vampire leaves kisses along Laura’s cheeks and jaw. She switches her position so she tops. Carmilla wastes no time bringing her cool fingers to tease Laura’s slick folds, dipping inside her entrance while she kisses her, hard and deep, her teeth sharp against Laura’s lip. Hard enough to draw blood, Carmilla sucks on Laura’s mouth, two fingers sliding inside her. She strokes the girl’s walls gently at first, enough to make Laura feel the drag of wetness against her thighs. She clings on to Carmilla, her eyes squeezed shut.

 

“Look at me,” Carmilla whispers against her lips. There is something primal in her voice and Laura shudders, swears she’s another step closer to coming. Lust is in the forefront of Carmilla’s beautiful eyes, blacker than the night sky, but Laura stares harder, even as the vampire cups her mound, her palm pressing against her sensitive clit. “Tell me how you’re feeling, Laura. I want to hear everything.”

 

Laura throws her head back and she grips the sheets, Carmilla’s fingers speeding up in fucking her. Her arms flail and she ends up clinging to Carmilla. “Oh my god, Carmilla!” The veins on the column of her neck tenses and she notices the way Carmilla’s eyes dart to her neck. “So good, so good, so good…”

 

Laura’s hips rise, her toes curl, and the bed squeaks beneath her. Carmilla continues to look at her with such intensity. Laura’s heart thunders in her ribcage, and she pulls Carmilla for a kiss that sends her coming. Shaking and gasping. The pleasure almost unbearable.

 

The vampire smiles against Laura’s mouth. Her fingers slip out of Laura and she licks them clean before settling her palm on the human girl’s hip. She presses a kiss on top of Laura’s chest, lips lingering where her heartbeat is still rapid and strong as she catches her breath.

 

“I’m… gonna go pass out now.” Laura says, her arms and legs wrapping around Carmilla’s body. Above her, the vampire laughs and she slides halfway off Laura, her arm slung over her stomach, her face buried against her neck. Laura turns to her side and tangles her legs with Carmilla and closes her eyes. She’s mere moments away from losing consciousness when Carmilla kisses her forehead. Laura sighs, content, and melts into Carmilla’s embrace.

 

///

 

The sun streams brightly across the hardwood floor of Laura’s dorm room when she wakes up. Instead of finding Carmilla curled up beside her, Laura opens her eyes and sees the vampire, back against the broken headboard, sketchbook on her lap.

 

“Hey,” Laura sits up, her hair curtaining half of her face. She drags her fingers through it in an attempt to tame her bedhead. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you awake this early before.”

 

Carmilla’s cheek twitches and she continues drawing on her sketchpad. Laura scoots over beside her and sees that she’s drawing Laura fast asleep. This time, however, Laura’s not alone in the drawing.

 

“You know, you’re basically leaving hardcore proof that you’re a big softie,” Laura says, her head resting against Carmilla’s shoulder.

 

“Yes, well. Let me be a softie if it’s with you.” Carmilla kisses the top of her head and tosses her book and charcoal pencil on Laura’s desk. She slouches on the bed and Laura throws her leg and arm over her body. “God, you’re such a clinger and I love it.” Carmilla kisses Laura and pulls the covers over their bodies once more.