Laura Hollis doesn’t always get sick, but when she does, it ties her to her bed for an entire week.
It starts right after her lit mid-term, which probably tipped the entire proverbial glass of water and all of its proverbial drops and made an entire mess. She at first only had to blow her nose a bazillion times a day and swallow a ginormous amount of flu pills, hoping against all hope she’d get back on her feet soonishly.
So now, after three days and becoming practically a walking pharmacy, Laura Hollis, superheroine extraordinaire, doesn’t even try getting out of bed.
Lafontaine and Perry come by with home-baked goods and words of comfort, but they don’t stay long. Not that Laura could stay awake through visits for more than 10 minutes, not with the supernatural level of exhaustion she has been feeling. She’s really gonna need to look into that once she’s back on her feet again, maybe Silas has its own supernatural flu virus or something.
She wouldn’t be surprised.
Even Danny comes by, all sad eyes and trembling voice, telling her she’s sorry for how she acted out when Laura requested an extended deadline for her latest assignment. Laura mumbles out something she hopes is a coherent thank you, though she can’t be sure.
And when all is said and done all that’s (who’s) left is Carmilla Karnstein, worst-crush-ever extraordinaire, whose classes all got mysteriously cancelled.
“Who knows,” she says, shrugging, “maybe the giant fungus finally realized there aren’t only students worthy of attack around here.”
(Laura knows she stays to keep an eye on her. Laura also knows she’d rather spend another 80 years trapped inside a coffin than admit that out loud.)
She surprises herself by letting Carmilla do it. For all of her fight for agency, Laura becomes incredibly clingy and needy and, really, just plain vulnerable whenever she gets sick. And to get the chance to have your crush take care of you in such a situation?
Well, she’s not gonna hold back now.
Of course Carmilla complies with all of her requests, from “Carm, can you make some more tea, please?” to “Hey, can I take your blanket as well? I swear my side of the room has the temperature of the Arctic.” only with obviously fake groans and drawled-out responses like “Don’t forget you aren’t royalty, princess,”
It’s at night when it gets a little trippy.
The first time it happened, she seriously didn’t know what to expect.
Laura has been lying awake for one hour know and it was slowly driving her inside. She has already hogged all the blankets in the room, her yellow pillow has been put under her head, with a blank expression but gentle hands, Taylor Swift has been playing softly from her computer to the entire room, even if Laura had seen how it physically pained Carmilla to have to listen to it as well.
(“Well, I already have a killer headache,” Laura pointed out through sniffs when Carmilla shoved the headphones into her face, “do you want to have to take care of me for the rest of your life?”
“It would fortunately be only for the rest of yours,” Carmilla shot back, but there was no malice in her voice; and when the words finally filtered through Laura’s foggy mind she felt bad enough to almost ask Carmilla to give her the headphones back. Before she got the chance to do so, however, 1989 had already started playing from her computer.
Carmilla went afterwards straight to her bed, mumbled out a good-night, and hadn’t looked Laura in the eye ever since.)
So, really, what is the problem? There isn’t anything left for Laura to ask Carmilla to do for her, and even if there was, the vampire has been so considerate and tolerant to the whole thing Laura would feel too bad to ask.
On the other hand, Laura really needs to sleep.
A few more minutes of uncomfortable shifting around in her bed, and Laura hears Carmilla sigh, resignation sipping out her every pore.
“So are you planning on telling me what’s keeping you from sleeping and making you act like a dying fish on the shore, or am I going to have to guess?”
“It’s nothing.” Laura’s voice is anything but convincing.
“You may be good at many things, but lying isn’t one of them.”
“I just,” Laura huffs, frustrated, “I know there’s something missing, but I can’t figure out what it is.”
Laura can practically hear Carmilla roll her eyes. “Well, thank God then you didn’t want to become a private detective.”
“You are the worst.” Laura groans.
But Carmilla’s bed shifts, and Laura hears soft pads across the floor. She braces herself for Carmilla to lie down next to her, or even just sit down on the side of the bed, hell, she’s even anticipating Carmilla simply coming closer to tell her to stop acting like an annoying child.
What she absolutely does not expect is a black cat jumping from the desk to the foot of her bed and simply lying down over her feet. It’s not like Laura didn’t figure out that Carmilla is the giant cat thing she has been dreaming about lately, but it’s an entirely different thing to see her like this while conscious.
The cat’s head is still up, contemplating her with something that looks too much like wisdom. Laura doesn’t take her eyes off of it – her – and the cat slowly rests its head over its paws. Laura sucks in a breath, but when it seems like nothing more is going to happen she lets it out slowly and closes her eyes.
She tries really hard to fight the smile off of her lips.
They don’t talk about it the next day, as in Laura tries really hard to make Carmilla talk about it and Carmilla pretends it never happened. She still makes Laura tea and gives her the entire pack of cookies, though, so Laura holds some hope in her heart that it will happen again tonight.
She slept really, really well.
But night falls, Laura has already stuffed her face with medicine and Taylor Swift is already playing on her computer, even though Laura didn’t ask this time. Laura looks over to Carmilla’s bed, where the other girl is nose-deep is a philosophy book that’s probably as old as she is, but Laura doesn’t say anything. She’s not that desperate (at least that’s what she tells herself) to ask Carmilla to come over two nights in a row.
Laura turns over so she’s facing the wall. Maybe not having to actively see how soft Carmilla’s hair looks and how delicate her fingers are would make everything more bearable.
But she still can’t fall asleep.
Laura has just put another pillow over her face, when she feels something land softly in the middle of her bed, right next to her stomach. A tail tickles her hand when moving over it and Laura has to bite her lip to keep from making any sounds. She’s certain she fails, especially with Carmilla’s overly human good hearing, but the weight is still there, making an unnoticeable dent into the mattress.
With the hand that’s not inches away from petting the cat on its head, Laura moves the pillow slightly from her eyes and chances a glance downwards. The cat has coiled itself like a snake, sleeping peacefully right next to Laura’s outstretched hand on top of the blanket-mountain.
If Laura stretched out her hand just a little more she’d be able to stroke the cat’s tail, where it’s resting around in front of its head. With a laudable show of self-control she restrains herself, knowing that doing anything to acknowledge Carmilla’s presence so close to her would do more harm than good.
What Laura doesn’t notice, having already fallen asleep, is the way a small sticky tongue pokes out later and touches the tip of Laura’s middle finger, before a furry head brushes up against her knuckles, and meows quietly.
The third night it happens Carmilla doesn’t even try to be subtle about it. Laura has barely gotten herself under the blankets before cat-Carmilla moves over to Laura’s bed. She pads over the mattress confidently, until she’s right in front of Laura’s face.
The cat yawns, big enough to make Laura wonder if it could eat a mouse whole. She then proceeds to realise that’s, in fact, her roommate and snorts out loud.
The cat looks at her questioningly and Laura shakes her head, murmuring, “Nothing, it’s nothing.”
The cat doesn’t move from where it sits, and Laura brings out a hand tentatively, before laying it on top of its head. When cat-Carmilla doesn’t immediately run to the other side of the universe, Laura lets her hand travel down the length of its body. She does this a couple of times, and then, out of all the things Laura expects, the cat moves closer to her head and purrs.
Its small head is now pushing into Laura’s bare neck, effectively petting itself.
“Ow, it tickles,” Laura laughs and catches hold of the cat with both hands and raises it into the air, but doesn’t move it further away from her body, simply holding it in front of her face.
They look at each other for a moment, before cat-Carmilla stretches forth and slowly bumps Laura’s nose with her own.
Laura smiles, whispering “You’re just a big cuddle-softie, aren’t you,”
The cat blinks slowly, and when Laura finally puts it down it moves right up next to Laura’s chest before lying down on the mattress and closing its eyes.
Laura shifts slightly so she’s completely on her side again, before stroking the cat’s head a couple of more times.
Her grins widens. She’ll never let Carmilla live this one down.
When Laura wakes up the next morning the space next to her chest where the cat fell asleep is painfully empty. Her senses come back to her slowly, and it’s only then she realizes there’s a hand holding her waist and a very, very human body behind her. She starts dancing internally, but doesn’t make a sound.
Laura tries relaxing again, but Carmilla is cuddling her, and really, she deserves an award for simply not dying on the spot.
But Carmilla must have felt she’s awake because she shifts behind her, and Laura is already preparing herself for the heartbreak she’s going to feel when Carmilla moves away to her own bed.
What she’s not prepared for is warmth flowering inside her chest at the question, “Do you want me to move?”
It’s so small and vulnerably said, Laura would never guess a centuries-old badass stays behind it if she didn’t know Carmilla personally.
She laces their fingers together instead of answering with words, and Carmilla must certainly hate her and wish her head because soft lips are pressing against the back of her neck, and how’s a girl supposed to survive that?
Laura shakes her head vigorously because she never wants to Carmilla to move, ever ever again.
“No,” Laura manages to get out between thundering heartbeats, “you’re perfect right where you are.”