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In sickness and in health

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The night was just like any other in room 307; Carmilla was lounging on her bed with Laura's yellow pillow tucked behind her head as she leafed through the pages of an old favourite. She would much prefer to have Laura lying next to her, her warm body curled into Carmilla's side while she read her own book or browsed the internet on the tablet Carmilla had bought her, but that was not an option tonight. Laura had an English essay due and was spending the night in front of her computer, muttering curses and the letting out the occasional sigh of frustration. It was a refreshing change of pace to have something as mundane as a deadline looming over them instead of an impending apocalypse but even so Carmilla was not a fan of anything that cut into her alone time with Laura.

“Ow!” A pained groan from her girlfriend pulled Carmilla's attention from her book. She looked up to find the younger girl with her head on the desk and her hands clutching her stomach.

“Something wrong, buttercup?” she asked, furrowing her brow at the scene before her.

“My stomach, it really hurts!” she groaned again, stamping her feet as the pain shot through her abdomen.

“I told you your attempt to subsist on nothing but grape soda and cookies would come back on you,” she tried her best to be snarky but she couldn't mask the tone of sympathy in her voice that came from seeing her girlfriend in pain. Laura used her feet to propel the the computer chair backwards and basically rolled from the chair onto her bed where she curled into the foetal position.

“I'm serious! It really hurts!” she whimpered and the sound pierced Carmilla's unbeating heart. In a second she was beside Laura, reaching down to brush her dark blonde hair from her face. Her eyes widened at the heat that met her fingertips. She placed her palm flat against Laura's forehead; it was hot and damp with sweat.

“Cupcake, you're burning up!” she said, concern evident in her voice. Laura managed to roll onto her back to look in her girlfriend's worried eyes, keeping her knees clutched tight to her chest.

“Where does it hurt?” Carmilla asked cautiously, she had a sinking feeling she knew what was causing Laura's pain but she hoped she was wrong.

“Right here,” she held her hand against the lower right side of her abdomen.

“I'm really sorry about this, but I have to check something,” Carmilla frowned apologetically as she placed her hand over Laura's and applied a gentle but firm pressure.

“Ow!” Laura cried out, whimpering again. “That didn't help!”

“I know, I know,” she soothed, rubbing the younger girl's arm placatingly. “But I had to be sure. Now I'm going to pick you up, ok?”

“Why?” Laura managed to look confused despite the fact that her face was still contorted in pain.

“Because we need to get to the hospital before your appendix ruptures,” she explained plainly. Her mind was fixed on her plan as she tried to put her arms around Laura to pick her up but the younger girl resisted.

“The hospital? I mean is that really necessary?” she tried to sit up and play down the pain but she wasn't convincing anyone. “I mean like you said I do eat a lot of sugar; it's probably just a stomach ache!”

“Nice try, Creampuff,” Carmilla smirked. “Better to be in the hospital with a stomach ache than here when your appendix bursts!”

“Can't we just go to Student Health Services?”

“We could, if we wanted to make things worse,” Carmilla replied pointedly, rolling her eyes at Laura's desperate desire to avoid the hospital. “We're going to the hospital!”

“But-”

“Laura please,” she looked deep into Laura's hazel eyes and tried to soothe her fears. “I know you're scared but trust me, you're going to be fine. I promise, I will be right beside you the whole time.”

Laura stared back into Carmilla's dark eyes and was stunned by the sincerity she saw there. She bit her lips together, she was still scared but she knew with Carmilla by her side she would be alright.

“Should we call a cab or an ambulance or something?” she asked through gritted teeth, the pain shooting through her stomach again.

“No need,” Carmilla announced, scooping her girlfriend up in her arms in one quick movement. “I can get you there much faster and as I mentioned before – time is of the essence, so hold on tight!”

Before Laura could protest or even question the validity of vampire as a method of transport she felt cold air hit her and saw the Silas University campus blur before her eyes. It was strange to be travelling at such speeds and not being inside a vehicle but she felt entirely safe in Carmilla's arms. She had no idea of the route they took, it seemed that most of it was through trees and over fields judging by what she could make out in the blur. In no time at all they were standing outside the hospital building. Laura attempted to climb out of Carmilla's arms but the vampire refused to let her go. She carried her inside and approached the nurse behind the front desk.

“We need to see a doctor,” she spoke urgently in flawless, if slightly outdated, German.

“What is the problem?” the nurse asked, regarding them strangely, quite possibly because Carmilla was cradling Laura in her relatively small arms without exhibiting the slightest bit of strain.

“It's her appendix. She has appendicitis and it needs to be removed immediately,” she remained calm but the undertone in her voice and look on her face showed that she meant business. The nurse paged a doctor and assured Carmilla a doctor would be with them soon.

Carmilla moved aside but still refused to release Laura from her arms. Laura had lost all desire to argue for her release; the combination of increasing pain in her belly and the fear over being in the hospital had her clinging to her girlfriend, burying her face in her neck and taking comfort in the familiar scent. Carmilla planted soft kissed against Laura's hair and uttered promises that everything would be ok. A voice over the intercom called Laura's name and asked them to follow the yellow line to bay 8. Carmilla carried Laura along the hall and gently laid her girlfriend on the bed inside the cubicle. The doctor, a middle aged, balding man, introduced himself and asked a series of questions about Laura's symptoms. Carmilla answered most of them as Laura squeezed her girlfriend's hand and fought the urge to vomit.

“I'll need to examine her,” the doctor said. Carmilla nodded as though giving permission. “In private,” he added when he realised the dark haired girl had not taken the hint. Carmilla stood up straight and looked him square in the eyes, she was about to inform him that under no circumstances would she be leaving her lover's side when Laura interrupted her.

“It's ok Carm,” she assured her, stroking the back of her hand with her thumb. Carmilla stopped glaring at the doctor to look at Laura. “It'll only take a second and you can call LaF and Perry and let them know what's going on.”

Carmilla remained still for a minute, keeping her eyes on Laura the whole time, before conceding. She raised their linked hands to her lips and kissed Laura's fingertips then turned on her heels to leave, giving the doctor a warning look as she passed him.

She walked out into the corridor and pulled her phone from her pocket, scrolling through the contacts Laura had programmed in until she found LaFontaine's name and hit call.

“Carmilla?” they sounded confused and just woke up when they answered; it was the middle of the night after all.

“Yeah, it's me,” she replied, biting her lips together before she delivered the news. “So I'm at the hospital with Laura-”

“What?” they screeched in shock. In the background Carmilla could hear the noise had startled Perry awake and she was demanding to know what the meaning of all the noise was.

“Relax, she's sick. It's a 100% natural illness, nothing supernatural involved. I think she has appendicitis,” she explained. LaFontaine breathed a sigh of relief and relayed the information to Perry.

“How is she? Is she going to need surgery?”

“She's in a lot of pain and running a fever. Yes, she probably will have to have her appendix removed. The doctor is examining her now but it should be fine, it's a fairly routine procedure.” Carmilla heard LaF repeat the information to Perry and then she heard a lot of shrill worried sounds.

“Should we come down there?”

“If you want, although if she's heading into surgery there might not be much point,” then a thought occurred to her. “Actually, would you mind stopping by our dorm before you come here and grabbing her a pair of those pyjamas she's so fond of and anything else you think she might need? We kind of left in a hurry.”

“Sure, no problem.”

“I better get back to her – I'll keep you posted about the surgery,” she promised and bid them a quick goodbye before hanging up and rushing - at an appropriate human speed – back to Laura's cubicle. She didn't bother checking if the doctor had finished before she slipped inside and returned to her previous position at Laura's side. The doctor huffed and gave her a disapproving look as he continued talking.

“I have to have surgery.” Laura spoke in a small voice that tore Carmilla's insides to shreds. She hated seeing her girlfriend so scared and helpless and knowing there was precious little she could do to make it better.

“I thought you might, but don't worry about it Cupcake! You're going to be just fine!” she promised, kissing Laura's hand again.

“Who is the surgeon on call tonight?” Carmilla addressed the doctor who appeared shocked by the question.

“Dr Hayder will be performing the surgery.”

“Good. Hayder is good,” she nodded. “I just hope that he has a competent team assisting him and not one cobbled together from sleep deprived medical students.”

“Excuse me, young lady! I don't know who you think you are but we are not in the practise of letting patients put together their own surgical team. After all I think we're far more qualified to be making those decisions than some child,” he snapped angrily, outraged at the nerve of a girl half his age trying to tell him how to do his job. Carmilla shot him a withering look and pulled a black leather wallet from her back pocket and showed him something inside it.

“That's who I think I am,” she answered with a scarily sweet smile. The doctor's eyes widened and the air of arrogance around him vanished. “I take it I don't need to remind you the name over the East Wing of the hospital, do I?”

“No Miss,” his tone had changed completely when he spoke to her now. “And to address your earlier concern; no it will be myself and a team of seasoned nurses assisting Dr Hayder.”

“Excellent,” Carmilla gave a nod of satisfaction. “I'm sure you understand – my girlfriend is very important to me and I want to be sure she's receiving the best care.”

“Of course,” he nodded curtly then quickly excused himself to page Dr Hayder and prep for surgery.

“What was that?” Laura asked, having watched the whole exchange with wide questioning eyes.

“It was nothing,” Carmilla shrugged, reaching out to tuck a strand of hair behind Laura's ear.

“That wasn't nothing, that was...something,” Laura argued, her lips pulling into a confused pout. “What did you show him?”

“Just my driver's licence,” she replied, flashing the inside of her wallet as proof. She could practically see the wheels turning in Laura's head as she tried to figure it out.

“Carmilla...do you...do you own part of this hospital?” she narrowed her eyes suspiciously at her girlfriend.

“Carmilla...” she pressed when the other girl didn't say anything.

“No, technically I don't own the East Wing but I did make a rather sizeable donation a while ago and they insisted on recognising it,” she tried to play it down. It wasn't a big deal really. Centuries of gathering interest and wise investments had left her with a sizeable amount in her bank account and she liked to give back. She had figured donating to the hospital would be a good way to offset some of the wrong doing in her past, especially considering the amount of people who ended up visiting this place as a result of her mother's deeds. “What good is it having your name on a plaque in a hospital if you can't use it to make sure the people you care about get the best medical attention. Besides I believe the good doctor probably thinks that the generous Marcilla Karnstein was my grandmother or great-grandmother – I can't remember how long ago I made the donation.”

“Wow,” was all Laura could say, although the second part of it came out as a groan. “Did you call LaFontaine?”

“Yes, they want me to keep them informed about your progress,” she nodded. “I think Perry reached a whole new level of high pitched. I expect our dorm room will be spotless and pine scented when we get back.”

A few minutes passed between them in comfortable silence during which Carmilla continued to stoke Laura's hair soothingly.

“Carm, I'm scared,” she admitted in a small voice. There were tears welling up behind her hazel eyes when she looked up at Carmilla. Carmilla felt her heart shatter at the sight. She reached out and pulled Laura into her embrace and held her tight.

“I know love, but there's nothing to be afraid of. It's a straight forward procedure and I've made it very clear to the doctors that you are to receive the best care possible,” she reassured her, planting a kiss against the top of her head. “You'll just go to sleep for a little while and I will be right beside you when you wake up.”

“I'm glad you're here,” Laura gave a weak smile.

“I'm not going anywhere, sugar!” she gave Laura a bright smile and Laura knew she meant those words.

It wasn't long before the doctor returned with an orderly to bring Laura down to surgery. Carmilla walked with them down the hall, never letting go of Laura's hand. Laura's grip on her tightened as the neared the doors to the operating room.

“I'm very sorry Miss Karnstein but you really can't go any further,” the doctor said when they stopped outside the theatre doors, he genuinely looked a bit frightened of the girl. She rolled her eyes at him before looking tenderly at Laura.

“You'll be fine, Creampuff. I'll see you when you wake up!” she leaned down to kiss her on the lips. “I love you, Laura.”

“I love you too,” Laura smiled nervously as they wheeled her through the double doors.

Carmilla sighed heavily; all she could do now was waited. She quickly fired a text to LaFontaine to let them know Laura had gone into surgery. She lowered herself into a crouched position with her back against the wall as close to the OR as possible, her super sensitive ears trained on the steady beeping of Laura's heart monitor.

-

The surgery didn't take long, although Carmilla wasn't measuring the passing time in minutes, but rather in the number of steady beats of Laura's heart. When a pair of middle aged nurses wheeled Laura out of the OR and towards recovery Carmilla jumped up from where she had been crouching and followed them. They brought Laura into the empty recovery ward and drew the curtains around her cubicle.

“The surgery went well,” one of the nurses smiled at her. “She should wake up soon but she might be a bit out of it until the anaesthesia is out of her system.”

“Thank you,” Carmilla gave the woman a grateful smile and it struck her just how much she meant those words. This woman had helped to take care of Laura and that meant everything to Carmilla. It suddenly hit her just how deeply she had fallen for the girl currently lying unconscious in the bed beside her. She pulled the nearby chair closer to the bed and sat down, taking Laura's hand in her own. She felt infinitely better now that she could see and hold Laura again. She was absent-mindedly stroking the back of Laura's hand with her thumb when she registered a vibrating sensation against her leg. Her phone was ringing, the caller ID flashing Laf's name.

“Hello,” she answered in a quiet voice.

“Hey Carmilla, how's it going? Is she still in surgery?”

“No, they just brought her into recovery. The surgery was successful, now we just have to wait for her to come round from the sedation,” she smiled at some sleepy noises that Laura was making.

“That's great news! Well Per and I are on our way to the hospital now, where will we find you?”

“We'll probably still be in the recovery ward.”

“See you soon!”

-

Laura hadn't woken up when LaFontaine and Perry arrived. The nurses assured Carmilla that it was perfectly normal for it to take this long for someone to come round because sometimes they just needed the rest. Technically there was a one visitor per patient rule in force in the recovery ward but since it was the middle of the night and Laura was the only patient in recovery, the nurses looked the other way and even provided LaF and Perry with chairs. Carmilla recounted the full story about how they had ended up at the hospital; she skipped over the part where she had carried Laura to the emergency room at superhuman speed because frankly Perry was wound up enough. As she spoke she felt Laura's hand twitch under her own and she looked up to find the blonde's eyes fluttering. She was waking up. The relief that washed over Carmilla when her favourite hazel eyes looked back at her was overwhelming. Laura blinked a few times, her face scrunched up as she adjusted to the harsh glare of the overheard florescent lights.

“Hey Laura,” Carmilla said softly. LaFontaine and Perry quietly echoing her greeting. Laura looked around, taking in the unfamiliar surroundings. Perry hurried off to tell the nurses she was awake.

“You're in the hospital; you had to have an operation,” LaF explained when Laura looked at her with confusion written all over her face.

“Oh,” Laura frowned thoughtfully. She blinked a few times, finding it difficult to focus her eyes.

“How are you feeling, Cutie?” Carmilla asked tenderly.

“Are you my doctor?” Laura asked with a furrowed brow.

“What?” Carmilla was surprised by the question. LaFontaine watched with great interest in the proceedings, they quickly took out their phone and opened the camera app because they had a feeling that whatever was going to happen should definitely be recorded.

“Are you my doctor?” she repeated the question, her head rolling slightly as she faced Carmilla. “You're like the hottest doctor I have ever seen!”

“I'm not a doctor, Cupcake,” Carmilla laughed.

“Probably too busy being a supermodel to go to medical school,” she nodded in understanding. LaFontaine bit back their laughter. “But if you're not my doctor then what are you doing here?”

“I'm your girlfriend, Cutie,” she gave Laura her patented blend of seduction eyes and smug smirk.

“You're my GIRLFRIEND?” she gasped, repeating the sentence a few times emphasising a different word each time. “My girlfriend – you?”

“That I am Creampuff,” Carmilla grinned, thoroughly amused by what was going on.

“Wow!” she gasped, throwing her head back against the pillow and bringing her hands up to her temples. “Damn I hit the freaking jackpot!”

The laughter LaFontaine had been holding in burst out of their mouth; they were so glad they were filming this, it was pure gold!

“How long have we been dating?” Laura rolled her head to look at Carmilla again.

“A few months.”

“And have we like...kissed and stuff?”

Carmilla nodded and Laura's eyes grew wide with delight.

“Holy crap! I get to kiss you. I actually get to kiss you! How do I get anything else done?”

“You don't, really,” LaF chimed in; the affectionate displays between them had generally been increasing proportionate to the duration of their relationship. It had taken some getting used to and Perry had learned the hard way to knock before entering room 307.

The curtain around the cubicle opened and Perry returned with the nurse and a tray with coffee for herself, LaFontaine and Carmilla, and a glass of water and some toast for Laura. The nurse checked Laura's vitals and told her that she had to eat the toast and drink the water before they could move her to the general ward.

“Hey Perry, have you seen my super hot girlfriend?” Laura asked her friend excitedly, waving her arm in the general direction of where Carmilla was sitting. Perry gave LaFontaine a confused and incredibly concerned look.

“Residual effects of the anaesthesia. She didn't recognise Carmilla. It has been priceless,” they explained, the camera in their hand still trained on Laura.

“Alright Cutie, you have to drink your water,” Carmilla prompted, picking up the plastic cup and holding it out to her.

“If you say so – you're the doctor.” Laura took the cup from her and held it to her lips.

“I'm not the doctor. I'm your girlfriend,” Carmilla laughed.

“Oh yeah!” Laura grinned happily. Carmilla reached out and guided the hand holding the water back to Laura's lips and she took a few gulps.

“That's great sweetie,” she nodded encouragingly. “Now try some of the toast.”

“I don't want toast,” she huffed shaking her head before it flopped back onto the pillow again.

“I know but you have to eat the toast.”

“Can't I have a cookie instead?” she asked hopefully.

“There's my little sweet tooth,” Carmilla chuckled. “Eat the toast first and then maybe you can have a cookie later.”

Laura stared at the toast for a second, bringing it to her mouth and taking a small bite which she found difficult to swallow. She rolled her head against the pillow again, returning her gaze to Carmilla. “I really get to kiss you?”

“You do indeed,” she nodded, an idea occurring to her. “In fact if you eat all your toast I will definitely kiss you.”

“Really?”

“I'll gladly take any excuse to kiss you,” Carmilla shrugged, her eyebrow raised suggestively making Laura's cheeks flush as she quickly took another bite out of the toast. LaFontaine and Perry shared an eyeroll at the sickly sweet scene before them; it was like they had gone back in time to the early days of the girls blossoming relationship when it was almost impossible to be in the same room as them without getting a cavity.

“I've eaten half of the toast,” she declared proudly, “does that entitle me to half of a kiss?” Laura asked with an amused smirk on her face.

“I'll allow it,” Carmilla nodded, leaning in to press her lips against Laura's. When the kiss broke Laura let out an excited squeal that, in Carmilla's opinion, was entirely too cute. “Now eat the rest!”

-

When the toast was finished and Laura had drained two glasses of water the nurses were happy enough to release her from the recovery ward. They brought her to a private side room in the medical ward and urged her to get some rest. LaFontaine and Perry bid the couple goodnight promising to return at a more reasonable hour to visit Laura. After they left Carmilla dimmed the lights and sat down in the chair beside Laura's bed.

“So now that the fun drugs have worn off, how do you feel Cupcake?” she asked with a soft chuckle.

“Kind of sore but in a much more bearable way than before, my stomach just feels kind of tender around the...incision,” she gestured to the area of her stomach that had been cut into. “But I feel better than I did 4 hours ago.”

“Good,” she nodded, shifting in the chair trying to get comfortable. Laura picked up on this immediately and motioned for the vampire to join her in the bed. Carmilla resisted at first, afraid that if she joined her in the bed she might move and accidentally hurt Laura.

“Come on Carm, I want you beside me!” she pouted. “I'll feel better with you holding me.”

There was no way Carmilla could argue with that, she climbed into the bed beside her girlfriend and all at once the small hospital room felt like home. She carefully wrapped her arms around Laura's waist, avoiding the sensitive area of her abdomen.

“This is much better,” Laura sighed contentedly, turning so they lay face to face. She traced her fingertips lightly up and down Carmilla's bare arm. “Thank you for taking such good care of me!”

“No, need to thank me Cutie,” she shrugged. “Isn't in sickness and health part of this whole girlfriends deal?”

“Maybe but I think subtly threatening the doctors goes above and beyond the call of duty,” Laura laughed.

“Like I've said before, take any advantage you can get,” she raised her eyebrows pointedly at her girlfriend.

“Well I'm very grateful,” she smiled, looking lovingly into Carmilla's dark eyes. Carmilla leaned in to place a gentle kiss on her lover's lips, resting her forehead against Laura's when they parted.

“I was so worried about you,” she admitted quietly. It shocked Laura to see the vampire looking so vulnerable, she reached out and brushed the hair out of Carmilla's eyes. “God I just felt so helpless. I mean eons old demonic entities and overgrown Alchemy Club experiments I can do something about, but when it comes to appendicitis or any mortal illness really, and I'm pretty much useless.”

“But you weren't useless,” Laura argued. “It was you who recognised the symptoms and insisted we go to the hospital. Carm, you literally picked me up in your arms and ran the whole way to the hospital! You kept me calm the whole time and fought with doctors on my behalf. You were by my side pretty much the entire time and you put up with my drugged up nonsense. I'd say that is pretty useful behaviour.”

“When you put it that way,” Carmilla drawled, a smirk playing on her face. “Maybe I am the hero of this piece after all.”

“Well you certainly are my hero!” Laura beamed at her.

“Good, because you know I do all my heroic vampire crap for you, right?”

“I had noticed,” Laura laughed, pulling Carmilla in by her t-shirt to kiss her.