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She moves in on a Thursday.

The left side of the room has been empty for close to two weeks and Laura was starting to wonder if the Office of Student Affairs was ever going to send her a new roommate. Not that she would be terribly opposed to that. Having the room to herself has some certain…advantages.

She’s in the middle of a lit assignment when the door swings open. She jumps and her head swivels. Standing in her doorway, doused completely in bright orange light from the weird hallway light show happening, is a girl just a few inches taller than herself. She’s carrying a duffel bag across her shoulder, which she drops almost immediately after she crosses the threshold of the room. She’s got a scowl on her face and her only greeting is a casual eyebrow raise in Laura’s direction. She walks to the empty bed and sits. She bounces up and down a few times, a semi-satisfied look crossing her face. Laura stares. The girl is paying no attention to Laura. So she clears her throat and the girl’s eyes finally meet hers. They’re dark – like the rest of her. She’s wearing all black. From her tied t-shirt down to her ridiculously impractical leather pants. Laura raises an eyebrow. “And you are?” It comes out harsher than she intends and the girls own eyebrows raise in surprise. Her arms are at her sides, palms face down on the bed. Her shoulders push together as she leans forward. She tilts her head toward Laura. She licks her lips, her eyes traveling the length of Laura’s body. Laura shifts. She’s wearing only a loose green tank top, her bra off after a long day and flung somewhere across the room, and short athletic shorts. Her hair is piled up on top of her head in a bun, leaving most of her skin exposed. Every inch of it feels the intense heat of the girls stare. Her eyes finally return to Laura’s.

“Carmilla. I’m your new roommate, sweetheart.” Her mouth curls around the word sweetheart and the last syllable is dragged. It sounds filthy, like it’s been dragged through dirt before landing on her tongue. Her voice is low and guttural, raspy in the best way. Laura gives her a tight smile and a nod, her curiosity satisfied for the time being, before turning back to her computer. Carmilla makes a tsk noise with her teeth.

“Not going to introduce yourself cutie? Where’s your manners?” She drawls and Laura clenches her teeth. This assignment is due in two hours and it’s still not perfect. She doesn’t have time for this. She sighs.

“I’m Laura.” She responds shortly, once again returning her attention to the bright computer screen in front of her. Carmilla eyes still don’t leave her.

The stare is…unsettling to say the least. Laura feels like Carmilla is attempting to burn holes through the back of her head with only the intensity of her gaze. She feels the piercing gaze for a few more moments before the girl stands. Laura watches her in the reflection of her computer screen. She leans down over her duffel bag. She digs something out of it which she proceeds to shove into her back pocket (and Laura is most certainly not watching the curve of her legs as she bends over) before walking out of the door without a second glance.

She forgets to shut the door.

-

The first few days of living with Carmilla teach her quite a bit about her new roommate.

First, she has no concept of personal boundaries. Her things always end up on Laura’s side of the room and Laura makes a show of kicking the dirty pants and flannels across the floor and back onto their proper side. Carmilla, generally, sneers behind whatever book she’s got covering her face whenever Laura makes that signature huff of annoyance.

Secondly, she has no sense of shame whatsoever. She walks around, completely topless, for much longer than necessary following her showers. She walks out of the bathroom, her hair still dripping wet, clad only in whatever pair of probably dirty pants she decided to recycle that day and a nearly see through black lace bra.

(Of course, Laura doesn’t watch as water drips from the ends of her hair and trickles down to disappear between the swells of her breasts. That would be incredibly inappropriate.)

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, she is remarkably unpleasant. She’s grumpy all of the time. She sleeps at the strangest hours. She sneers whenever Laura makes an attempt at pleasant conversation. She steals Laura’s hot chocolate and doesn’t even ask. Laura swears it’s like this girl was raised in barn. And she was the one talking about manners the first time they met!

Honestly, Laura would have preferred the half of the room stay empty.

She does her best not to think about Carmilla very much at all. Her strategy toward life tends to be to keep her mind clear of any unpleasantness and her roommate certainly falls into that category.

It’s the Friday after Carmilla has moved in and she’s sitting in front of her mirror, carefully applying mascara to her eyelids. Carmilla is sitting on her bed, carefully chewing on one of Laura’s stolen cookies. Laura can see her in the reflection of the mirror. She’s dressed in all black, as she normally is, and she’s paying Laura no attention. They’re silent – as they usually are because despite Laura’s few attempts at pleasant conversation, Carmilla doesn’t seem very interested in speaking to her. She finishes off her makeup with one last flick of the mascara wand and she stands from her seat. Carmilla still doesn’t look up. Laura turns tentatively. She clears her throat. No response. She tries again, louder this time. Still nothing. She tries one last time. Finally, Carmilla looks up from her book, aggravation written on her face. “Do you need something?” She asks shortly and Laura internally curses herself for trying to talk to her at all. She shifts her body weight onto her left foot, crossing her right foot over it.

“I was just wondering if you were planning on doing anything tonight?” Laura asks. Carmilla lowers the book down into her lap now. She looks up at Laura with a raised eyebrow, her eyes once again scanning the length of her body. Laura shifts. Carmilla meets Laura’s eyes and she smirks.

“Why, you got an offer for me cutie?” And that tone from the first night is back and Laura feels a flush creeping up her cheeks. She shakes her head.

“No, sorry, I’m going out with Danny tonight.” She pauses and makes eye contact with Carmilla, whose face has dropped slightly though she still manages to look completely disinterested. Carmilla doesn’t ask who Danny is but Laura feels compelled to say, “She’s my girlfriend. In case you were curious about who she is. She’s the one in like, all of the pictures I have on the wall.” She rambles and the only noticeable reaction from Carmilla is the small raise of the corner of her upper lip.

“Fantastic. Want me to throw you a pride parade?” She snarks and Laura rolls her eyes. She sighs.

“No. I was just trying to tell you something about me so we could start, I don’t know, getting to know each other. Like roommates are supposed to.” Laura explains. Carmilla picks her book back off of her lap. She looks at Laura, eyes narrowing as if she’s examining her. Their eyes connect and when they do, it seems like there’s no shield across Carmilla’s eyes this time. They’re not warm and inviting by any means but they are less...guarded. If Laura squints, she swears she can see the ghost of a smile beginning to pull at the corners of her lips. Laura is the first to look away when her phone vibrates in her back pocket. She pulls it out, a blush strangely creeping up her neck. It’s Danny, telling her that she’s waiting downstairs. She types out a quick, ‘I’ll be right down’, before glancing back to Carmilla who is now looking back down at her book, no trace of a smile. Laura sighs. She turns to leave the room, pausing just before exiting. “Have a good night, Carmilla.” She says. No response.

-

She’s profoundly annoying. It’s her only distinguishing quality as far as Carmilla is concerned. She’s the human equivalent of a fly hitting a light bulb. She’s passive aggressive (if the post it notes attached to the grape soda that say, in all capital letters ‘MINE’ are any indication) and easy to rile up, which is one trait Carmilla really enjoys taking advantage of.

She’s ridiculously possessive over her only slightly better than subpar hot chocolate and extremely unhealthy chocolate chip cookies. Carmilla finds the easiest way to get a reaction out of her is to sip, loudly, a stolen cup of coco while the other girl is in the room. It makes her nose wrinkle and her cheeks flush an irritating shade of red.

Carmilla finds, very early in their cohabitation, that her naked body makes the other girl extraordinarily uncomfortable. She twitches anxiously and her eyes start to jump, her attempts to look anywhere but at Carmilla are painstakingly obvious.

She does it accidentally the first time.

She’s running late for her art lab and she doesn’t know Laura’s schedule. She rushes out of the bathroom following her shower without a shirt on and Laura makes a squeaking noise that has Carmilla freezing in her tracks. She’s moving slower now, making a show of getting a clean shirt from the wardrobe, occasionally glancing back to find Laura diverting her eyes. She doesn’t comment, enjoying the way Laura’s cheeks flush and her brow furrows as she walks slowly back into the bathroom, deciding to leave the door open while she puts her shirt on.

She starts to do it purposely after that.

As annoying and pestering as the girl might be, Carmilla can’t deny the twinge between her legs that she feels whenever Laura’s eyes hover for too long on the line of her cleavage.

Personality aside, Carmilla can’t deny that the way she wears those prissy little button ups has her imagining what it would be like to tear them off of her. To figure out what’s beneath all of those layers she hides underneath. She got a glimpse that first night when all she was wearing was that tight tank top that left very little to her imagination and shorts so short they may as well have been underwear.

(That night, when her hand drifted down beneath the band of her underwear, she imagined everything she would do if she got those little shorts off of her).

She’s familiar with this – the physical attraction. The desire to brush her hand across a girl’s bare stomach. The need to feel warmth and tightness around her fingers. She’s no stranger to lust. It’s just never burned so bright when she’s been in such close quarters with someone so…unavailable.

(Well, almost never).

She knows Laura’s taken. She’s known that since the moment she decided to snoop through her side of the room when she was out. There are enough pictures of her kissing the cheek of some gargantuan red head that her relationship status is rather easy to surmise.

She know it ought to stop her – lusting over a girl she can never fuck always leads to trouble. She convinces herself that she doesn’t need to touch her but then, then she’ll bend over in front of the wardrobe and Carmilla will remember, all over again, why she felt like this in the first place.

Her stomach drops when Laura tells her that she’s going out with Danny. She assumes that’s the name of the redhead in all of the pictures. As soon as Laura leaves the room, Carmilla’s book is face down on her bed and she’s walking over to Laura’s side of the room. She climbs onto Laura’s bed, staring up at the pictures of Laura and Danny. Her nose wrinkles. She’s not even that attractive anyway. Laura could do better. Carmilla’s sure that the obvious height difference makes it hard for Danny to kiss her, to touch her. But those long fingers….they probably do wonders. Carmilla bites down hard on her bottom lip, a feeling bubbling deep in her stomach that she’s not very familiar with. She imagines, somewhat unwittingly, Danny having to lean down to kiss Laura’s neck. Laura having to stand on her tip-toes to give Danny a proper kiss. Danny lowering herself, resting on her knees, her nose nuzzling into Laura’s bare stomach before she lifts Laura’s leg over her shoulder and starts to use her mouth as a weapon. A growl escapes her mouth then and she realizes why the image is bothering her so much.

She wants to be the one kissing Laura’s neck. She wants to be the one sinking down to her knees in front of Laura, gripping her ass with her thin fingers while Laura writhes and moans above her.

Her next exhale is shallow and shaky and she leans back on her knees. Her heart is racing and now that she’s not staring at pictures of Laura and her overgrown babysitter, the smell from Laura’s bed begins to run through her. It’s fruity. It smells of lavender and vanilla and exactly like the air after Laura brushes past her. A shiver goes down her spine. Her eyes are closed and her legs fold out from underneath her. There’s pulsing between her legs as her imagination takes her into a world where she’s the one in this bed next to Laura, giving her orgasm after orgasm. She licks her lips and she feels wetness pooling in her underwear. She looks behind her. The door is closed. With a long, shaky sigh, she reclines so her head is resting against Laura’s yellow pillow, her smell seeping into every one of Carmilla’s pores. She’s overwhelmed by it in the best way possible. Her knees rise up and one of her hands drags down her own body until reaches the button on her pants. She undoes it and within seconds, her hand is underneath her underwear, her fingers dipping into the wet warmth to find her clit, which reacts immediately by sending sparks of pleasure up through her. She rubs it slowly, her mind beginning to put together a picture of Laura between her legs, teasing her with light kisses to her inner thigh. Her fingers speed up as her fantasy continues with Laura fucking her hard with her fingers and her mouth sucking her clit with enthusiasm. Her breath is shallow and tiny, quiet moans are coming from her mouth the harder she rubs. Her teeth are clamped down on her bottom lip, her hips arching upward. She’s close. She grinds down against her own fingers once, twice, three times until the friction she’s created comes to a head in an explosive orgasm punctuated by Carmilla’s loud moan of “Laura.

-

Danny insists on walking Laura to her door after their date. She’s a little drunk and she can’t keep her hands off of her. Her hand is running up and down Laura’s side, her face falling and resting on the side of Laura’s forehead. She kisses her temple. Laura is biting down on her lip, willing the elevator to move faster. Danny’s giggling into her ear. The elevator finally stops at the 5th floor, the doors flinging open. Danny leads them out, pulling Laura quickly out of the doors. As soon as they’re out of elevator completely, Danny pins Laura back against the wall. Her arms are positioned next to her head and she leans down to kiss her. Their lips are barely connected for more than a moment before Danny pulls away. “Wait…you have a roommate now. Is she here?” She asks and Laura sighs internally. The last thing she wants to be thinking about right now is Carmilla. She leans up off of the wall.

“I’ll check.” She’s over at her own door in seconds. She turns the knob. It’s locked. Her roommate is either out or asleep. She mentally crosses her fingers as she turns the key in the door for the former. The lights are off when she opens the door. She flicks them on. No sign of Carmilla. She lets out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. She turns back to Danny, who is waiting with wide eyes, and she gestures toward the door. “Coast is clear.” She says and within seconds, Danny is crashing into her, backing her up so quickly they nearly bump into the shelf in front of her bed. Laura laughs but it’s quickly swallowed as Danny’s lips cover hers completely. Her hands are drifting up Laura’s shirt, feeling every inch of her bare skin. The back of Laura’s knees hit her bed and she falls down on it, Danny landing on top of her a few moments later. Their lips are connected again and Laura leans up, attempting to keep their mouths together while Danny’s hands pull her shirt up. Laura breaks the kiss just long enough for Danny to pull the shirt over her head. It’s cast across the room somewhere, and in the back of Laura’s mind she wonders if it lands on Carmilla’s side of the room. The girl would probably have a lot to say about that. Danny leans back on her knees and Laura rises to her own, gripping the back of Danny’s neck with her hand. Their mouths connect again and this kiss is slower, more passionate. Danny’s tongue takes its time exploring her mouth, as if it hasn’t spent months occupying it. Danny’s hands are snaking around Laura’s back to unhook her bra. It doesn’t take her more than two tries. She pulls the straps carefully down Laura’s shoulders and Laura drops her hand from Danny’s neck. Their mouths separate but Danny’s immediately connects with the crook between the base of Laura’s neck and the top of her shoulder. She smatters kisses across Laura’s now fully bare shoulder as she pulls Laura’s bra off completely. Danny discards it, her hands rubbing up and down Laura’s arms. Her lips are still attached to Laura’s shoulder. Laura throws her head back, exposing more skin for Danny to kiss. She immediately takes advantage. She kisses up Laura’s neck, pausing just below her pulse point, paying extra attention to that spot of skin, taking it into her mouth and sucking hard. Laura whimpers. Her pants are still on and Danny has all of her clothes on. Laura shifts, just slightly, so her hands are on the pale skin of Danny’s lower back. She brushes her hands around so they grab slightly at Danny’s hips. Danny’s lips are still on her neck and she wants the girl to pull back, just for a second, so she can finally get Danny’s fucking shirt off.

It takes a few tries but finally, Danny’s shirt joins Laura’s on the ground and her bra quickly follows. Danny pulls Laura close to her, their breasts pushed up against each other. Danny cradles Laura’s face, kissing her gently. The kiss is slow and languid and each time Laura tries to speed it up, Danny brings it back down. Laura wants to growl in frustration. Danny loves to take it slow. To explore every inch of her. Normally, she loves it. Loves feeling worshipped. But tonight? Tonight she just wants her girlfriend to fuck her as hard she can. She can cherish her body later. After she’s covered it in hickeys and bruises.

Danny’s head lowers to take one of Laura’s nipples in her mouth and Laura’s moan is loud. Danny raises a hand and rubs the other nipple between her fingers, switching after a few moments. Laura’s hands entangle in Danny’s hair and after a few moments, Danny comes back up to Laura’s mouth and kisses her. “I love you.” She whispers against Laura’s mouth, smiling. Laura bites down on her lip.

“I love you too.” She responds, stifling a frustrated groan.

After a few (excruciatingly long) minutes, their pants are finally off and Danny is kissing down Laura’s stomach. Laura’s back is arched and she’s soaking wet now. She’s sure there’s a stain beneath her, she’s practically dripping. Danny kisses the tops of her thighs and around her public bone, up to her hips. She puts her mouth everywhere but where Laura wants it. Her breath is getting shallow, she’s so turned on and ready for release. Through breaths she says, “Danny, please.” Danny looks up with a smirk. Finally, finally, her mouth attaches to Laura’s clit, sucking it lightly once before letting it go to use her tongue to spread her open.

A finger is in her and she nearly screams. Danny’s mouth is back on her clit and she’s finally moving fast enough for Laura. Another finger is inside her now and a breathy, “Fuck.” Comes from her mouth as she grinds her hips down against Danny’s face. The pressure inside her is building quickly and she knows it won’t take much more for her to come. Danny’s got three long fingers working their magic now. She curls them up and Laura’s eyes widen. She throws her head back, her hands grasping desperately at Danny’s hair. “Fuck, Danny, I’m so close.” She yells and Danny curls her fingers upward again, this time pairing it with a well timed suck on her clit. Danny pulls her face away then but leaves her fingers where they are. She hovers just above Laura’s mouth, one hand pushing hair away from Laura’s forehead. Danny’s fingers are still pumping in and out of her. Her thumb is on her clit, rubbing it in fast circles.

“Come for me, Laura.” She whispers and Laura’s eyes clench closed. Danny leans down then and kisses her. It’s the taste of herself on Danny’s tongue that puts her over the edge. She moans loudly into Danny’s mouth as her orgasm flows her through her. Her body unclenches slowly as Danny pulls away from her mouth pulls her fingers out of her. She brings them up and brushes them across Laura’s lips. Laura’s tongue darts out, getting a taste of herself on Danny’s fingers. Laura opens her mouth then and takes one of Danny’s fingers in her mouth, going all the way down to the base and back up again, taking every drop of herself off of Danny’s fingers. She does the same with the other two and Danny is looking at her with lust blown pupils. Laura raises her eyebrows and takes advantage of Danny’s mesmerized state long enough to get between her thighs. Without even a thought, she pushes two fingers into Danny, whose eyes widen with shock and pleasure. She goes quickly, whispering into Danny’s ear how fucking gorgeous she looks when she’s about to come.

Danny’s orgasm comes quickly and she watches as Laura licks her off of her fingers.

She pulls Laura down next to her, bringing her in tight to her chest. She kisses Laura’s temple. “You’re the best girlfriend I ever could have asked for.” She whispers, sleep peppering her voice. Laura nods against Danny’s bare chest.

She doesn’t respond.

-

She leaves after her little….indiscretion. She can’t bear to look at Laura’s empty bed that she had just gotten off in. It seems incredibly desperate in hindsight. She had been overwhelmed, the smell of Laura taking over and making her do things she otherwise wouldn’t.

She doesn’t know where she’s going. It’s dark and while she knows the campus like the back of her hand, it’s still risky. She wanders, hoping to find anybody with alcohol that’s willing to share. She just needs something to help her forget….all of this.

She runs into a group of absent minded frat brothers that almost instantly start hitting on her. One of them sidles up next to her, taking a strand of her hair around his finger. She glares so harshly she’s sure she could have frozen hell over. He backs off but still offers her a drink from his flask. She glances at it skeptically. She knows the dangers of taking drinks from strangers but she needs to be out of her own head. She’s willing to take a risk. She takes a long swig from the flask before handing it back to the dumfounded frat boy, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. She raises an eyebrow at him, “Is there a party or not?” She asks harshly, bite infused in every word. The frat boy just stares back at her dumbfoundedly. “Then why aren’t we moving, bro?” She curls the last word around her tongue with considerable contempt. He starts to move and Carmilla keeps pace with him. He tries to strike up conversation but Carmilla shuts him down with a quick wave of her hand.

She hears the bumping of the bass before she sees the moving bodies. The moment she’s through the door (no charge of course, her tight black pants do more than just make her ass look good) she ditches the frat asshole and makes a beeline for the keg. She’s able to move quickly through the line, flashing a flirty smile to a few boys she has no interest in speaking to, and she fills her cup. She chugs it and fills it again while she’s still at the front of the line.

She’s four beers and three tequila shots into the night when her vision starts to get blurry. She’s dancing with a blonde sorority girl she’s never seen before, her hips moving against her in time with the thumping bass. Her hands on the exposed skin above the girl’s jeans. Her mind is anywhere but with Laura for the first time since she moved in.

They go back to the girls (Elsie, she thinks her name is) room. Carmilla’s got her hand down her pants and Elsie’s begging for it within minutes.

She makes the other girl come four times that night, each time, Carmilla’s imagination taking her to a place where the moan above her is an octave higher.

She sneaks out before the run rises. She thinks (or hopes, rather blindly) that all she needed to do was get laid to get her annoying roommate out of her head. She’s just been sexually frustrated and it’s not the other girl she wants, it’s sex.

She isn’t quiet when she comes into the room, nearly knocking into something when she does. Her eyes are immediately drawn to Laura’s side of the room where her tiny brunette roommate is curled into a giant redhead. Laura is facing her and they’re kissing as if they never heard her walk in the door. Her chest constricts and the feeling from last night bubbles through her again. She clenches her teeth and clears her throat. “Isn’t there normally some kind of formal notice when a porn-o is being shot in your place of living?” She remarks and Laura separates from Danny with a blush. She looks down at the sheets and pulls at them, making sure she and Danny are both covered. Carmilla just rolls her eyes. “Don’t mind me. Feel free to keep going, just let me get some popcorn first.” She says, sarcasm dripping from every word. She’s facing away from them and she hears the bed creak. She tries her hardest not to peek but she catches a glimpse of Laura’s bare skin in the picture frame above her bed. She watches the reflection as Laura sits up, the sheet slipping down just enough to reveal the top of her breast. A shiver runs down Carmilla’s spine. Laura’s covered again quickly and Carmilla averts her eyes. Her body isn’t Carmilla’s to view, no matter how much she clearly wishes that it was. She rustles through some things on her bed, her eyes scanning the length of it for anything that might keep her attention for more than a moment. Near the edge of the bed she spies a lacy pink bra is that is definitely not hers. A wicked smirk spreads across her face and she picks it up, dangling it off of her pointer finger. She turns around with a quick spin. Luckily, both Laura and Danny seem to have shirts on now and Laura is leaning into Danny, who has an arm around her shoulder. Carmilla ignores the twinge in her gut. She clears her throat and both of their eyes glance up to Carmilla. The bra is still hanging from her finger. She looks over to it, wrinkling her eyebrows. “Well, this is a little too pretty to be mine. Belong to one of you?” She asks and she sounds a little menacing Laura’s blushing and biting down her lip. She shifts, as if she’s going to stand, before she remembers she’s still not wearing any pants. Instead she huffs.

“That’s um….that’s mine.” She mumbles and there’s a swooping feeling in Carmilla’s stomach. She ignores it. She drops it back down on the floor.

“Wouldn’t have pegged you for a lace kind of girl, Hollis. Guess people can surprise you.” She says, moving toward the door. She pockets a few dollars that are laying on her desk. She’s in the doorway when she turns around and says, “Next time put a sock on the door.” She hears a groan as she saunters down the hallway.

She doesn’t close the door behind her.

She stands near the elevator, her heart rate climbing. Heat flows through her veins and her fists are clenched. Her breath is catching in her throat and she feels the overwhelming urge to punch something. The image of Laura tucked in close to Danny makes her quiver.

She’s jealous.

She’s so, incredibly jealous.

She wants to be the one to make Laura moan. To fuck her until her legs are jelly. She’s jealous that Danny gets to touch her in the way that Carmilla can only dream of.

But that’s all.

And she can get over that.

-

She’s on the bed reading a book, her very familiar snarl on her face when Laura walks in from her last class of the day. The floor is cluttered and she nearly steps on at least three different pairs of leather pants on her way to her desk. She carefully sets her book bag on the back of her chair. She notices that the box of cookies sitting on her desk looks ransacked and she’s ready to turn around and tell Carmilla exactly where she should shove her – fingers when her phone starts to vibrate in her pocket.

She pulls the old Nokia flip phone out with quick fingers, answering with an exasperated sigh. “Hello?” She says and Carmilla is looking up from her book now.

Danny’s voice is on the other line. “Hey, you back from class?” She asks and Laura looks at Carmilla out of the corner of her eye. She’s looking back down at her book, a disinterested look on her face, but her head is tilted. She’s doing a rather poor job of pretending not to eavesdrop. Laura rolls her eyes. She sits on her bed, crossing her legs.

“Yeah. I just got in. Why, you want to come over and help me with some extra credit?” She teases, her eyes wandering to her roommate. The barest hint of a sneer ghosts over her face when Laura speaks but disappears so quickly Laura wonders if she even saw it at all. There’s laughter on the other side and it brings a smile to Laura’s face and grounds her back in the moment. God, she loves her laugh.

“With your roommate in the room? I don’t think so.” Laura’s expression sours and she shoots a glare to the girl who is once again enthralled in her readings, apparently having lost interest in Laura’s conversation. “I wanted to make sure you got in okay. There was an accident with one of the buses, toxic mushroom fumes were released into the air vents I guess, and I wasn’t sure how you were getting home so I wanted to check in.” Danny explains. Laura’s smile grows and she tucks her chin into her shoulder.

“I rode my bike today. I’m safe from any and all rogue alchemy club experiments, at least for the time being.” She responds and Danny breathes a sigh of relief that’s loud enough to register through the receiver.

“Good.” There’s silence for a moment before Danny speaks again, “The house is pretty empty right now…if you, you know, wanted to come over here and work on that extra credit.” Her voice is teasing and suggestive and it brings a blush to Laura’s cheeks.

“Yeah. I like the sound of that.” She says. “Want me to bring anything?” She asks, standing up, her free hand patting her back pocket, looking for her key.

“Just your beautiful face.” She says and it’s cheesy but it still makes Laura smile.

“I’ll be there in a few.” Laura replies and hangs up, her heart beginning to race just a little bit faster at the thought of spending some alone time with her girlfriend. Her phone buzzes just before she puts it back in her pocket. There’s a new text message on the screen that reads I can’t wait to touch to you. Show you all of the things I was thinking of doing to you during class. It’s signed with an xo and Laura’s flush creeps up from her chest. She bites down on her bottom and she begins to type out a response. Halfway through, she hears a scoff and the squeaking of the bed. She turns and sees Carmilla staring with a raised eyebrow. Laura sighs and rolls her eyes. “What?” She asks harshly and Carmilla shrugs.

“Red really isn’t your color.” She says and Laura can’t help but feel like she’s talking about more than just her blush. She turns and walks to the fridge, presumably to steal another one of Laura’s grape sodas. Flustered, Laura slips out of the room before Carmilla can turn around and say anything else.

She rides her bike to the Summer Society house and tries to shove any thoughts of her roommate from her mind.

She’s greeted with a passionate kiss as soon as she’s through the doorway. All thoughts of her broody, antisocial roommate are gone as soon as Danny’s tongue grazes her bottom lip and her hand slips underneath her shirt to brush her bare hip.

It’s not until later in the afternoon, when Laura is laying on Danny’s bed, hands gripping her dark blue sheets while Danny’s mouth works to bring her over the edge that Carmilla enters her mind again.

For some reason, the brunette is the one she pictures when the tension in the pit of her stomach is released and a loud moan of pleasure escapes her mouth.

When Danny emerges from between her legs, a grin on her face and Laura on her lips, she kisses her and pretends it never happened.

-

It’s incredible, how much time the redhead spends in their room.

The pangs haven’t gone away, if anything they’ve gotten stronger. Seeing Laura in various states of undress every day hasn’t been helping.

Danny is in their room almost every single day. She glares at Carmilla whenever Laura isn’t looking and Carmilla makes sure to glare right back.  Carmilla makes it clear that Danny’s presence is unwanted though Laura seems oblivious to the heated looks and barbed exchanges that occur between her girlfriend and her roommate. That or she’s incredibly good at ignoring it.

The jealousy bubbles underneath the surface of her skin at every moment. She wants, desperately, to reach out and grab Laura by the wrist and do everything she’s been imagining. The fact that she has a girlfriend is beginning to matter less and less. She just wants the feeling to go away.

She can’t get her out of her veins. She tries. She drinks herself stupid and forces herself to stay away from the room because she knows that if she goes back, she won’t be able to keep her hands to herself. She’s slept with more girls than she has in her whole lifetime in the few weeks that she’s lived with Laura. She’s willing to try anything to get the annoying little brunette out of her head.

But Laura isn’t making it easy for her. Carmilla knows she isn’t doing it on purpose but their banter….it reels her in every time. Carmilla won’t deny that sometimes, she does things that she knows will annoy Laura just to see her face burn bright red and scrunch up while her fists clench. She’s still passive aggressive but she’s much more…vocal about her concerns now and the way her voice raises sends shivers down Carmilla’s spine. She’s attracted to every inch of her, no matter what mood she’s in.

Most days, she’ll rile Laura up and then need to retreat into the bathroom to….calm herself down. It’s a horrible cycle, one she desperately wants to break, but she knows that it won’t stop until she gets…just a taste.

It’s a Saturday night and Danny is reclining on Laura’s bed. Laura is sitting in front of her computer, typing furiously away at her keyboard. Carmilla has a book in front of her face but every few moments, she peeks over the top of the book and watches the way Laura’s lithe fingers move across the keys. She bites down hard on her lip to prevent a moan from escaping her lips. It seems that every time her eyes flit up, Danny’s eyes move over to her. They narrow and Carmilla sneers.

Carmilla gets a kind of sick satisfaction from knowing that clearly, Danny sees her as a threat or there would be no need for the harsh glares. A smug smile settles on her face and Danny shifts so she’s sitting up next to Laura. Carmilla watches from the corner of her eye. Danny’s hand is dancing on Laura’s bare arm but Laura’s attention hasn’t shifted away from her screen. She mumbles, “Danny, I’m almost done.” From the corner of her mouth and Danny sighs. Carmilla snickers. Now Laura’s concentration breaks and she glares over at Carmilla.

“Don’t you have buddy you could be studying with right now?” She asks, the quotations around the words buddy and studying overwhelmingly obvious in her tone. Carmilla smirks.

“Oh no, I’m good here.” She comments, her attention not diverting from the page. Danny’s huff is loud and Carmilla’s smirk only grows. Carmilla vaguely hears Laura whisper something along the lines of ‘Just ignore her, I’ll talk to her later’. Carmilla’s smirk falls just slightly. She hears the sound of a kiss and her smirk falls completely. She makes a gagging noise. They both ignore her.

Danny leaves the room twenty minutes later, after a few more well timed gags and scoffs. Laura and Danny linger in the doorway for a few moments, kissing each other goodbye. Carmilla hears Laura say goodbye and fires her own, “Have fun climbing your beanstalk, Jack.” Which was met with a glare from both parties. Danny says a final goodbye to Laura and then Carmilla hears the door slam. Her grip on the book she’s holding tightens. She hears Laura take a deep breath.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Laura explodes and Carmilla bites back another smirk. She slowly lowers the book and puts it down on the bed. She shifts so her legs are dangling off of the bed. She shrugs her shoulders.

“You’re going to have be a little more specific, cupcake.” She responds and Laura groans, her shoulders falling. Her head falls back in a show of frustration.

“You know exactly what I’m talking about Carmilla. Danny is my girlfriend. I have every right to have her in the room and she deserves to feel comfortable while she’s here.” Her hands have moved up to her hips now and Carmilla’s tongue darts out of the corner of her mouth. She licks the corner. Carmilla brings her shoulders in and leans forward.

“Sorry, I just can’t help myself. She really makes it incredibly easy.” Carmilla comments and she tries to sound as nonchalant as possible. Carmilla watches as the muscles of Laura’s face tense. Her lips fold into her mouth, creating one straight line, and her nostrils flare. Carmilla’s stomach swoops. There’s color creeping up into Laura’s cheeks and Carmilla knows she’s got her riled up now.

“Listen! This was my room first. And Danny is my guest. You have to start being nicer to her or find somewhere else to read your philosophy books.” Laura exclaims and Carmilla feels her heart sink. Her fingers clench the sheets of the bed and her eyes close tightly. A slow shiver spreads down her back. The words have to echo through her brain, the voice morphing from Laura’s sweet one into a lower pitched, hoarse one.

“How old are you, five? The ‘I was here first’ bullshit is a moot point when you live in a dorm. In case you haven’t noticed there are two beds in this room and this one belongs to me. I have as much say in what goes on in here as you do and if I have a problem with your girlfriend sitting pretty on your bed all of the time, then I’ll damn well make it clear.” Carmilla’s voice rises as she speaks to Laura and Laura seems taken aback. Carmilla knows it’s because she’s never given Laura’s complaints the time of day. Usually she shrugs them off with a sarcastic comment or a snort but she can’t let this one go. She can’t.

“Danny’s my girlfriend and I want her here. I really don’t think it’s too much to ask that you at least be civil to her. Or just pretend she’s not even here. I’m sure we’d both be okay with that.” Laura retorts and Carmilla rolls her eyes.

“She takes up half of the oxygen in the room whenever she takes a breath. The feeling of running out of air is a little difficult to ignore.” She looks Laura in the eye and raises a quick, disapproving brow. “Though I suppose it’s a feeling you’re probably used to. I’m sure she sucks all the air out of you when you’re lip locked.” Laura scoffs and takes a step closer to Carmilla, her hands resting on her hips.

“Like those study buddies of yours don’t deplete your oxygen supply?” She shoots back and Carmilla lowers herself so her feet are on the ground. She doesn’t stand up yet.

“But I never bring them back here. I, at least, have the decency to screw them where nobody can walk in.” Carmilla spits the word screw at Laura and Laura’s jaw clenches.

“We weren’t doing anything when you walked in. You were out when we came back. I apologized for that.” She responds and she has the decency to look a little embarrassed.

“Yeah, I remember your little grumbled apology where you couldn’t look me in the eyes. Really great. I absolutely believed you were being genuine. Keep it up and you might reach the level of the ‘designer’ watch your girlfriend gave you.” Carmilla gestures to the bulky thing hanging off of Laura’s wrist. Her hand quickly covers it.

“I don’t care about labels. It’s the thought that counts.” Carmilla snorts.

“She shouldn’t be buying you knockoffs and trying to pass it off as real, sweetheart. Makes you wonder what else she could be faking.” Carmilla teases and the color floods into Laura’s face.

“That is….that’s none of your business!” Laura exclaims and Carmilla is on her feet now. Laura’s only a foot in front of her and she stares as Carmilla slowly lifts herself off of the bed. Her eyes are wide and Carmilla suddenly feels everything all at once. Her anger at Laura’s earlier words begin to morph back into the desire she’s very much used to feeling when she looks at Laura. Laura’s flush spreads across the length of her neck and into her cheeks. The redness brings a familiar twinge back between her thighs.  Carmilla bites on the corner of her lip. They’re standing just a few inches apart and Carmilla swears she can see flecks of gold in the irises of Laura’s eyes. Carmilla stares into them. Laura’s back is the wardrobe and Carmilla’s eyes travel down to Laura’s lips. She’s fixated on them as Laura pulls her bottom lip between her teeth. Carmilla’s breath hitches. She takes a step toward Laura.

“Cutie, you made it my business the second you decided to fuck your girlfriend in here, when you knew I could walk in at any second.” Another step. Laura takes a step back. “Did that turn you on? The thrill of knowing you could get caught?” Laura swallows and Carmilla smirks.

“W-what are you doing? This isn’t what this is about. This is about Danny and why you seem to be so...so jealous of her!” Laura exclaims and Carmilla pauses. Her eyes travel the length of Laura’s body. Laura’s hands open and slide down from her hips, wiping her palms on the side of her dress. Carmilla watches the movement. Her eyes flit back up and meet Laura’s own. Her pupils are blown wide and something in Carmilla snaps. She takes another few steps toward Laura and Laura keeps moving back. Within seconds, Laura is backed against the wardrobe and Carmilla’s hands are on either side of her head. Carmilla leans in. Carmilla can feel Laura’s breath against her face. Carmilla’s hand moves off of the wall and she tucks a few strands of hair behind Laura’s ear. Carmilla keeps her eyes locked on Laura’s. She waits for Laura to move away. To tell her that she’s uncomfortable. To tell her that she wants Carmilla out of her space. But she doesn’t. Carmilla’s head shifts and her mouth hovers right next to Laura’s ear. She whispers,

“Maybe I am jealous. Jealous of how she gets to kiss you.” Carmilla plants a light kiss on the lobe of Laura’s ear. She can hear Laura’s breath hitch. “Maybe I’m jealous of the way she gets to touch you.” Carmilla’s hand drags through Laura’s hair and down to her shoulder. “Jealous because she’s the one who gets to hear what you sound like when you’re just about to finish.” She kisses the base of Laura’s jaw. Carmilla shifts her body and pushes one of her thighs between Laura’s open legs. Laura makes an audible gasp. Carmilla smirks. She’s at the side of Laura’s mouth now. “She gets to see all of the best parts of you. Of course I’m jealous of her.” Her voice is husky and low. She catches the corner of Laura’s mouth in kiss. Laura turns her head and her lips collide with Carmilla’s own.

Laura’s lips are soft and they taste like the cookies Carmilla steals from her desk.

The kiss isn’t soft but it’s everything Carmilla had imagined it would be. One hand buries itself in Laura’s hair and the other slides down Laura’s arm and grips her hip. Laura bites down on Carmilla’s bottom lip and in turn, Carmilla grinds her hips down against Laura’s. Laura is still sucking on Carmilla’s bottom lip and Carmilla moans into her mouth. Laura’s hands are on the backs of her shoulders and she’s kissing back with fervor Carmilla had only been able to imagine.

Their lips separate for a moment and Carmilla fears that Laura’s realizing what she’s done. Instead, through heaving breaths she says, “Bed, now.”

-

Laura’s head is foggy the second Carmilla backs her up against the wardrobe. It seems like every ounce of morality she possesses has flown out of the window. She forgets about Danny and the reason they were having this argument in the first place. Carmilla’s in her space and suddenly, her smell is everywhere. Her perfume is permeating the air and it’s intoxicating.

She never expected this.

Danny told her that Carmilla was attracted to her. Laura didn’t believe it. There was no way her broody, insensitive roommate was attracted to her. If anything, she’s sure that Carmilla hates her, judging by the sarcastic and biting responses she often gets to her attempts at extending the olive branch.

But. She did stare. A lot. And maybe Laura got a bit of a thrill out of seeing Carmilla’s eyes widen and rake up and down her body when she walked out of the steamy bathroom in nothing but a towel. But it didn’t mean anything. She wasn’t attracted to Carmilla. And Carmilla was not attracted to her. She had her barrage of study buddies to keep her occupied.

So Laura shrugged Danny’s concerns off, shutting her girlfriend up with a kiss and a promise that there’s no way she would ever, ever betray Danny.

And yet.

Here she is, backed up against a wardrobe, with Carmilla planting light lines of kisses against her jaw.

She isn’t even thinking of Danny. All she can think about is how warm Carmilla’s mouth feels against her skin and the shakiness she feels in her knees. Carmilla mouth catches the side of her own and Laura’s head turns on its own accord. Their mouths meet and Laura sees stars.

Carmilla’s mouth is warm and hot on hers and Laura thinks she’s never been kissed more thoroughly in her life. She takes Carmilla’s bottom lip between her teeth, fighting Carmilla for power and control.

She’s wrapped up, completely. Her hands are resting on Carmilla’s shoulders and Laura just wants to be closer. She’s sure if it were possible, she would let Carmilla consume her just to be closer to her.

The kiss is broken and Laura knows that she should take this opportunity and she should leave. She should break free from the (surprisingly) light hold that Carmilla has on her and she should run. She should go find Danny and tell her how much she loves her. But she can’t. All she sees when she pulls back is Carmilla’s eyes and the lightness that’s shining through them and she doesn’t want to be anywhere but there. She takes the moment to lean up and whisper exactly where she wants to take this: over to the bed.

Carmilla doesn’t let go of her and she wonders if Carmilla thinks she’s going to leave. She isn’t.

Carmilla backs them up until they’re next to Laura’s bed. Carmilla wastes no time in pushing Laura back onto and Laura squeaks. Laura is lying flat on the bed and Carmilla is straddling her, her thighs tightly hugging her hips. Laura’s hands immediately find Carmilla’s hips as Carmilla bends to kiss her lips. The kiss is hard and fast and Laura presses her fingers against the protruding bone of Carmilla’s hip, which elicits a moan from the girl hovering above her. Carmilla drags her mouth away from Laura’s and attaches it to the base of her throat. She bites, gently, and Laura whimpers. Carmilla pulls back and sits up on the base of Laura’s thighs just long enough to pull her own shirt over her head. She discards it and Laura sits up, attempting to undo the zipper of her own dress. Carmilla shakes her head. “Oh no. I’ve spent too much time wondering what it would be like to undress you to waste the opportunity.” And for a split second, Laura is afraid that she’s going to be like Danny. That she’s going to want to take her time and that’s not what she wants out of this. She wants Carmilla to go fast and to just give her what she wants.

Her fears are, clearly, unfounded, as Carmilla yanks the zipper of the dress down and nearly breaks it off completely. Laura laughs as Carmilla moves off of her lap so Laura can sit up onto her knees. “Careful. You’ll have to buy me a new one if you break it.” Carmilla growls and takes Laura’s face between her hands.

“Do you ever shut up?” She says before connecting their lips again, Laura’s squeal swallowed by Carmilla’s lips. Carmilla’s hands drift down to the hem of Laura’s dress. Her hands drag up the sides of Laura’s thighs and the dress bunches around her wrists as she does. Her hands never leave Laura’s skin as she drags the dress up and off of Laura’s body. She throws it somewhere and her hands snake around to Laura’s back. Laura’s own arms rise and rest on Carmilla’s shoulder and she arches her back so they’re closer to each other. Carmilla tries to make quick work of Laura’s bra but as Carmilla’s fingers graze Laura’s back, she realizes that she can feel them trembling. Was Carmilla nervous? The thought alone was pretty…endearing. She gets the clasp undone on the third try and pulls it off of Laura’s arms with as much smoothness as Laura’s ever encountered. Danny’s never been that good at getting her clothes off of her.

Laura’s hands wander back up to Carmilla’s shoulders and Carmilla lowers her head and bites at Laura’s collar bone. She licks the patch of skin in the middle of the middle of the bone before taking it into her mouth. She releases quickly and Laura’s grateful. That last thing she needs is to have to explain to her girlfriend why there’s a hickey in the middle of her chest that she definitely did not give her.

Carmilla’s mouth travels down the length of Laura’s torso, stopping for a few moments to pay extra attention to Laura’s nipples. Laura throws her head back when she feels Carmilla’s mouth on them, “Fuck, that feels so good.” She nearly yells and Laura can feel Carmilla smirking against her skin.

Carmilla keeps her mouth moving though, kissing down Laura’s bare stomach. Her hands follow suit. They drag around her back and underneath the band of her underwear. She squeezes and Laura whimpers. Carmilla’s head comes back up and she kisses just below Laura’s ear. “Lay down.” She whispers and Laura’s eye flutter closed. She nods and shifts, Carmilla’s hands pulling out of her underwear. As soon as Laura is horizontal, Carmilla is between her thighs. She’s kissing her hip bones and the tops of her thighs, her fingers working at pulling the underwear down her legs. Laura is bare open in front of her now and Carmilla wastes no time in putting her mouth on the spot that’s begging for it. A loud moan of pleasure escapes from Laura’s mouth and the more Carmilla’s tongue flits against her clit, the more she realizes that staying quiet is an impossibility. This just feels too good.

Carmilla doesn’t take her time. There’s a finger pushing inside her quickly and Laura’s hips push up. Carmilla puts her free hand on Laura’s hip, gripping it tightly. Another finger joins the first and Laura throws her head back against the pillow with a loud exclamation of, “Carmilla, fuck.”

One of her hands is gripping the sheets on her bed so tightly her knuckles are white. The other is woven in Carmilla’s hair. Her grip is tight and every so often, something will feel so good that she pulls. It makes Carmilla whimper but her tongue never stops moving. If anything, it speeds up whenever Laura’s hand constricts.

There’s sweat on Laura’s brow and every so often, her hips will rise and grind down against Carmilla’s face. Carmilla never tries to stop them. Her fingers move quickly and Laura’s loud, moans of pleasure continue to echo throughout the room. She’s wrapped up – completely. Her head is thrown back and her eyes clenched tightly closed in ecstasy. The tension is beginning to pool in her stomach and her grip in Carmilla’s hair tightens. Her hips rise. Carmilla curls her fingers upward and she’s tumbling over the edge, “Fuck, fuck, right there, god yes, Carm.” Are the words on her tongue as she has one of the best, most powerful orgasms of her life. Carmilla’s fingers work her through the orgasm and it’s only once Laura’s body has relaxed and sigh of content has escaped from her lips that she pulls them out. Through heavy lids, Laura watches as Carmilla puts her fingers into her mouth and takes every last drop of Laura off of them. Laura shifts so she’s reclining back against her elbows and she watches Carmilla. She’s still mostly clothed and her hair is a mess from Laura’s hands being raked through it but Laura swears she’s never seen her look so…..peaceful. There’s no guard around her eyes and her shoulders are relaxed. She thinks maybe Carmilla would be easier to get along with if she was like this all of the time.

“Think you can lend a hand or are you too blissed out?” Carmilla quips when she notices Laura staring. Laura laughs. She sits up and brings their mouths together in a kiss.

“I think I can help you out.” She says and this time, it’s her smirk that’s wicked.

-

Laura learns a few valuable things about her roommate that night.

Like what she looks like when she’s about to come.

And what she sounds like when she’s begging for Laura to keep touching her.

And how she looks just emerging from between Laura’s legs, cheeks flushed and grinning.

And just how lovely her own name sounds coming off of her tongue.

-

Carmilla wakes just before the sunrise. Her eyes flutter open and she’s greeted with the sight of caramel colored hair smattered across the pillow (and some pieces even in her mouth).

She fell asleep curled behind Laura. She remembers being too tired to go back to her own bed and Laura had told her, “We’ve just spent the whole night…..fucking. Falling asleep next to each other is hardly the worst thing we can do.” So she slept. She’d fallen asleep facing away from Laura but when she woke, her arm was around her waist and her face was buried in her shoulder. She shifts so she’s sitting up. Laura moves a bit in her sleep.

She looks down and she thinks that she really should feel bad. She’s just fucked somebody else’s girlfriend. Laura’s body was never hers to touch and she had done it anyway. She’d lost all self-control. She should feel guilty. But she doesn’t. All she feels is satisfaction and a little bit of something else she can’t quite place. Carmilla watches Laura, a soft kind of smile on her face. She moves a little in her sleep and grumbles something unintelligible. She thinks that maybe Danny’s lucky. She gets to wake up to that every morning.

After a few more sleepy grumbles and a toss and turn, Laura’s eyes begin to flutter open. Carmilla pulls the blanket up over her chest and crosses her arms. She watches Laura with careful eyes. Laura blinks sleep slowly from her eyes, an easy, well-rested look on her face. It morphs into one of panic when she spots Carmilla, still naked, in her bed. Carmilla watches the realization sink in. Laura sits up, grabbing the sheet and pulling it over herself. Carmilla raises an eyebrow. Laura’s eyes clamp shut. “Please tell me last night didn’t actually happen.” Carmilla’s heart drops.

“Sorry to disappoint.” She remarks and it doesn’t carry as much bite as she wishes it did. This shouldn’t bother her. This was just sex. Something she needed to do to get her roommate out of her head. It didn’t mean anything to either of them. And yet, it still feels like someone is digging their fingernails into her heart. Her eyes flit down to Laura’s covered torso.

“No need to cover up, cutie. It’s nothing I haven’t seen before.” She says with a smirk and Laura’s jaw clenches. She moves to stand and takes the sheet with her. She’s facing away from Carmilla.

“Oh this is not happening.” She murmurs, mostly to herself Carmilla thinks. “How could I let this happen?” She turns around then and points an angry finger at Carmilla. “How could you let this happen? You knew I had a girlfriend and you still pushed me back up against the wardrobe!” She exclaims and Carmilla leans forward.

You knew you had a girlfriend and you let me push you back up against that wardrobe anyway. Which one of us does that say more about, hm?” She says and she moves to stand up off of the bed. Her feet are on the ground and she stands in front of Laura, who is staring at something deliberately over her shoulder. Carmilla picks up a shirt, that’s she’s pretty sure is Laura’s, and pulls it over her head. Laura looks at her now.

“You’re a terrible person.” She practically spits and Carmilla’s jaw clenches. She doesn’t react. She shrugs and she pulls on a pair of underwear from her side of the room.

“So are you.” She replies and walks toward the bathroom. She slams the door but she still hears Laura’s loud sob as she does. Carmilla sinks back against the door, her head hitting the wood. She buries her face in her hands and tries to get rid of the twisting feeling in her gut. Laura’s last words echo through her head and her hands grip tightly at her hair. She hears Laura crying on the other side of the door.

This shouldn’t bother her.

It was just sex.

She thinks that maybe, if she keeps repeating that, she might believe it.

Eventually, Carmilla hears the tears stop and the slamming of a door. She stands up off of the bathroom floor and opens the door slowly. The room is empty. She steps out into it. It still smells like sex and Laura’s perfume.

Her heart skips a beat.

Shit.

Chapter Text

She needs air. She needs to get out of that room because the smell of sweat and sex is overwhelming. She can’t breathe. Once Carmilla retreats into the bathroom, a sob passes her mouth and she tries to wipe the tears off of her face violently. She can’t cry. She doesn’t deserve to cry. She did this.

Carmilla’s clothes are still scattered on her side of the room and Laura’s stomach turns. She didn’t even think about Danny last night. Her girlfriend never once entered her mind. She sobs again. She should have pulled away. She never should have let Carmilla back her against the wardrobe. Her breaths keep getting caught in her throat and she piles on layers of clothes. Tears flow freely down her cheeks and she doesn’t attempt to wipe them away. Maybe the salt will wash the taste of Carmilla from her lips.

It’s still early fall but the temperatures are turning and the air outside is crisp. She can tell by the small gusts of air that come through the slightly open window of the room. She doesn’t put a jacket on. She leaves the dorm with a slam of the door and she runs down the stairs. She pushes out of the dorm and the cold air hits her the moment she’s out of the double doors. Goose pimples erupt all over the bare skin of her arms but she doesn’t pay attention to them. She takes a deep breath and inhales as much of the bitter, cold air as she can. It hurts her lungs. She welcomes it.

Her gait starts off slow and she shivers each time the wind hits her bare skin. She figures she deserves this at least. She wanders. She isn’t sure where to go because the place, no the person, she always goes to when she feels like this is Danny. And she can’t go to her. Not yet. Her chest still feels tight and constricted and her breathing is shallow. She shivers as the turns down the path that leads to the old Lustig building. It was burnt down in 1904 but the rubble is still there because it, apparently, makes a good backdrop for the photography students. There’s bare bones of a structure but the real beauty is behind it – the lake. It’s vast and you can barely see where it ends. The leaves are changing colors and falling into the water and it’s one of Laura’s favorite spots on campus – especially this time of year. There’s a rock halfway around the circumference that she made hers during freshman year. She often comes here when she wants to work on a project. The atmosphere helps open her mind and let the ideas flow freely. It is, generally speaking, her happy place. She hates to ruin it but it’s the only place she can go.

She trudges through the muddy trenches that surround the lakeshore, not caring when she steps in a particularly deep puddle that causes mud to splash on her pant legs. Her arms are shaking from the cold and tears have yet to stop spilling down her cheeks. She sits on the rock and swings her legs to the front of it. Her feet are dangling just a few inches above the water and if she didn’t have shoes on, she would try and dip her toes into the surely ice cold water. She grips the side of the rock tightly. Her knuckles go white. Suddenly, she’s bought back to last night – when her knuckles went white from gripping the bed sheets too hard. She sobs again. What had she been thinking?

She hadn’t, she realizes.

She’d been intoxicated by the smell of Carmilla’s hair and the feeling of her hands against her. Her mind and any sense she’d had went out the window.

Worst part of it was, when she thinks of it, her stomach still swoops and she momentarily feels thrilled before her mind takes over and the disgust and anger towards herself sets in.

She’d lost herself. It was a mistake. She knew that. They’d both been caught up in the heat of the moment – the heat of the argument. Carmilla only wanted her because she couldn’t have her.

(8 times).

And Laura didn’t want her, of course she didn’t. It was a mistake.

The clouds are dark and she watches them roll closer. They sky had already been grey but these clouds are so dark they’re nearly black. She knows they mean a storm.

She sees the drops hit the water of the lake first. She watches as the small droplets create ripples in the otherwise calm water. She focuses on them. She wonders, if she had a notebook with her right now, how she would describe them. The drops are disturbances to the calm, to the routine. Like Carmilla is to her. They’re an intrusion. A foreign object pushing to change the landscape.

But rain is only temporary. It will soak the grass and make the mud pliable but rain doesn’t last forever. It’s a passing disturbance. After a few hours, the sun is shining again, the grass is dry, and it’s like it never happened at all.

It doesn’t take more than a minute before the drops start to hit her. She feels the first on her collar bone and she turns her head up toward the sky. A few drops hit her face then. It starts slowly but then the clouds are opening right above her and the rain is pouring. It soaks her completely. She keeps her face turned upward at the sky. She lets the rain hit her face. The water washes away the salty tear tracks from her cheeks and as water continues to drip down them, she stops trying to figure out if it’s rain or tears.

-

She doesn’t cry.

She thinks that maybe she wants to, she feels a prickling behind her eyes, but she bites down on her bottom lip hard and focuses on that instead. She stands in the middle of the room for longer than necessary. She thinks that under different circumstances the smell that fills the room would excite her but instead it merely makes her stomach churn. She reaches, with shaky hands, for the bottle of Febreeze that rests on Laura’s headboard. It smells like lavender and does nothing to make Carmilla stop thinking of Laura.

She walks on shaky legs over to her own bed. She sits on the edge and she looks at the messy, unmade bed across from her. The sheets are wrinkled and it looks like Laura had haphazardly thrown her blanket back onto the bed before she left. Carmilla clenches her eyes closed. Behind her eyes, she’s seeing an instant replay of last night. She sees Laura’s head thrown back, her neck exposed. She feels Laura’s fingernails dragging down her back. She hears Laura’s breathy moan of her name that escaped her lips when she was ready to come. She forces her eyes open. A shiver runs down her spine and she can’t look at the bed anymore. Her fingers are tightly gripping at her sheets. Her stomach is turning and there’s a lump in her throat and she thinks that if she stands up, she might vomit.

She didn’t feel guilty when she’d still had Laura next to her. She thinks about the quiet, peaceful moments just before Laura had woken up. How the light that was shining through the cracks of the curtains hit her shoulders and illuminated the small mole she had at the base of her shoulder blade. She wanted to reach out and touch it – touch her but she’d kept her hands to herself. She had figured they’d done enough wandering the night before but god, that didn’t stop the ache. She’d pretended that nothing outside of this room – hell, outside of the bed, existed.

In the early hours of the morning, they weren’t this complicated mess.

They were two girls who had just spent a night together.

She was naïve to think that she could carry that mentality outside of the moment.

When Laura woke up, when she flashed her that look of disgust, it hit her all at once.

It hits her even worse now.

Her eyes wander from the messy bed up to the line of polaroid pictures that hang from clothes pins. They’re all of Laura and Danny.

She looks at each of them. They look happy.

They wouldn’t be anymore.

She did that. She ruined that. And then she feels it.

The guilt.

 She’d been selfish and unable to control herself. She’d taken something that didn’t belong to her with no regard to how it could hurt anybody else. She’d become the person she’d hated.

And the worst part of it was, she knows that if it came down to it, she would do it again.

-

She’s drenched and shivering. The rain hasn’t quit and she feels the effects down to her bones. Her clothes, which are now saturated through with water, feel heavy on her frame and she wants nothing more than to curl up next a fireplace and sleep until she stops feeling.

The guilty knot in her stomach hasn’t gone away. It twists and tightens when she thinks of Danny. She should tell her. No, she has to tell her. She can’t keep this to herself.

But then she imagines Danny’s broken face and she loses all her nerve. This would break her. Crush her. Kill her.

It only happened one time. What could it hurt to keep it to herself?

She shakes that thought from her mind. No. That would be the Carmilla thing to do. Sneaky and conniving and manipulative is not how she plays her game. She and Danny have always been honest with each other and this ought to be no exception.

She shifts and moves her legs off of the rock. The ground is covered in little puddles and she doesn’t try and avoid them. She’s already soaking wet, what harm could it do? She crosses her arms across her chest and buries her hands in the crooks of her folded arms. She keeps her head down as she begins to walk to the familiar path to the Summer Society house. She finds her feet feeling heavier and heavier with each step she takes forward. The desire to turn and run in the opposite direction bubbles within her but she fights it. She has to do this. Otherwise that guilty lump in her stomach will never go away.

She’s shivering and her teeth are chattering by the time she reaches the front steps of the house. She’s stopped crying. She thinks that maybe she’s run out of tears. She bangs on the front door of the house. Her phone won’t turn on. It’s probably water damaged. She beats on the door and with every hard knock against the wood, she feels her anger build. The door finally opens, revealing a Summer Society sister Laura doesn’t recognize. Her brows furrow and she says, “Hey, Laura. Are you looking for Danny?” Laura can’t open her mouth. If she does, she knows she’s going to cry. So she just nods.  “She’s in her room.” She says and she looks at Laura with a confused and concerned expression. Laura doesn’t look at her for long. She pushes past and practically sprints up the stairs, leaving a wet trail behind her.

The door to Danny’s room is closed and she knocks on her door the same way she’d knocked on the front door. When Danny opens the door, she’s still in sweatpants and she’s wearing one of Laura’s t-shirts (that Laura had given her because it was always too big on her). A sob escapes her mouth and Danny is looking at her with concern in her eyes. She opens her arms and Laura crashes into them. She rests her head against Danny’s shoulder and wraps her arms tightly around her waist. Danny strokes her hair and kisses the top of her head. Laura doesn’t say anything.

As Danny holds her, tenderly, she realizes that she can’t. The moment she tells Danny what she’s done, she loses this. She loses the person who loves her completely and who will comfort her without asking why she needs to be comforted. She pulls back. Danny brings a hand up to her cheek, brushing her thumb over Laura’s cheek. She bends her head down so she’s looking her eyes. She smiles. “You’re soaked. Go take a shower. You can borrow a hoodie or something.” She suggests and Laura nods, turning her face into Danny’s hand. Danny leans in and kisses her forehead. “I love you.” She says and Laura feels like vomiting again. Laura slips out from Danny’s grasp and she doesn’t respond.

She walks to the bathroom and locks the door behind her. Shaking, she takes off her wet clothes. She’s still shivering as she bends to turn on the shower. She waits for the water to warm up and she catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Her face is puffy from crying but other than that she looks the same. She doesn’t look dirty. She wishes she did. She wishes she looked as filthy and horrible as she felt. Maybe if the words ‘adulterer’ or ‘cheater’ or ‘whore’ were written on her body, visible to everybody, including Danny, she could wash the guilt off of her like she could the mud on her legs. But they weren’t. They were only swirling around in her head.

She tears her eyes away from her reflection, unable to stand looking at herself for another moment. She goes into the shower and lets the scalding water wash over her. She herself harshly with Danny’s body wash, hoping that if she scrubs hard enough, she could wash Carmilla off of her.

Danny’s sitting at her desk, grading papers, when Laura comes out of the shower. She looks up at Laura with a lopsided smile. She gestures to her the bed with her head. “There’s a sweatshirt on the bed.” Her smile turns into something of a smirk. “And pair of your underwear you left here last week.” Laura smiles but it’s weak and she can tell it doesn’t reach her eyes. She changes quickly behind Danny. The sweatshirt is long on her. It goes past her hands and falls just below her butt. It’s comfortable and worn and smells like Danny. It smells like home. She sits down on the bed, which makes a familiar squeaking noise that has Danny swiveling around in her chair. “How are you feeling?” She asks softly and Laura doesn’t deserve this – the kindness. She shrugs. She can’t answer.

“C-can you just. Hold me? For a little while?” She asks and her voice cracks. Danny nods. She moves over to the bed and climbs behind Laura, who lays down and rests her head on the pillow. Danny buries her face in the back of Laura’s neck and presses gentle kisses there. She pulls Laura tightly against her, her hand resting on her stomach. They lay together in silence and as Danny draws absent minded circles on Laura’s bare stomach, Laura digs her teeth into her bottom lip while silent tears trickle down her cheeks.

-

Carmilla watches as the rain hits the window sharply.

She tries not to worry about Laura. It’s not her place.

But then her eyes drift over to their closed door and she notices that Laura’s jacket is still hanging from the hook there. So is her umbrella. Carmilla bites down on her bottom lip. She knows Laura’s angry, at her especially, but it’s pouring out there and maybe she should call her. Make sure she’s safe. Carmilla reaches for her phone. She thumbs through her contact list until she hovers over ‘Tiny Annoying Roommate’. She pretends she doesn’t feel her hand shaking as she presses the call button and she holds her phone up to her ear. She digs her fingernails hard into her knee as she listens to the dial tone. She releases when it goes to voicemail. She thinks about hanging up, pretending she’d never called at all, but the missed call would show up anyway, what would a voicemail hurt? She listens to Laura’s cheery voice and something in her aches. She wishes she were still just across the room where she could reach out and touch her. Grab her by the wrist and pull her flush against her chest. Tangle her fingers in her hair and press their lips together. Her bottom lip quivers and the beep sounds. She clears her throat. “Hey. It’s raining. Which I’m sure you know. I don’t know where you went. You’re probably with Danny, confessing our little indiscretion, but uh. You forgot your coat. And your umbrella. So I hope you’re not getting soaked.” Carmilla pauses. “I don’t know why I’m even calling, you made it very clear earlier that you don’t want to talk to me. Which is whatever. You can be mad at me all you want but we both did this.” She stops again. “Just. You should come get your coat. So you don’t freeze to death. Bye.” She hangs up and tosses her phone face down on her bed.

She lays down on her stomach and buries her face in her pillow.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. She was supposed to fuck her and forget about her. That’s how this worked. That’s how it always worked. She wasn’t supposed to screw her and start thinking about her more. She wanted her out of her system. She wanted to stop thinking about her.

She shouldn’t want more. She’s already (in all likelihood) destroyed her relationship.

There’s no way Laura would want her anyway.

That doesn’t stop her from thinking about how Laura’s warm body felt pressed against hers as her eyes flutter closed and she drifts to sleep.

-

Danny falls asleep with her arm still thrown across Laura’s waist. Laura doesn’t stop crying until she runs out of tears. As gently as she can, she slides out from beneath Danny’s arm. She finds her phone, which was still buried in her pile of wet clothes, and she mentally crossed her fingers for some kind of miracle. Something had to go right for her today. She tries to turn it on. Nothing. She sighs. She goes to Danny’s desk and roots around to find her charger. She finds it, plugged into the outlet closest to the ground next to the desk. Laura sits down and crosses her legs. She plugs it in. She holds her breath and waits. She exhales and says a light, “Thank god.” When the light goes on. She holds it in her hands, wiping a few rogue water droplets off of the screen. She presses the power button and waits for it to boot up. Her lock screen, a photo of Danny she’d captured accidentally over the summer where the light is hitting her just right, comes into view. She smiles faintly at it. Her attention drifts from it when she notices the missed call notification in the corner. One missed call. From Carmilla Karnstein. And a voicemail? What could she possibly have to say? With a shaky finger, she presses the voicemail icon and plugs in her password.

Carmilla’s shaky voice fills her ears and Laura can’t quite explain the feeling that flows through her when she hears it. “Hey. It’s raining. Which I’m sure you know. I don’t know where you went. You’re probably with Danny, confessing our little indiscretion, but uh. You forgot your coat. And your umbrella. So I hope you’re not getting soaked. I don’t know why I’m even calling, you made it very clear earlier that you don’t want to talk to me. Which is whatever. You can be mad at me all you want but we both did this. Just. You should come get your coat. So you don’t freeze to death. Bye.” There’s a small smile on Laura’s face as she listens to Carmilla’s voicemail. It fades though, when she reminds herself exactly why she left that morning in the first place. Carmilla wasn’t supposed to do this. Carmilla wasn’t supposed to care. Carmilla was supposed to look at Danny with a mocking, ‘I know something you don’t know’ grin and hold this over her head for as long as they lived together. She wasn’t supposed to care if she got cold. She thinks about calling her back. It’s a fleeting thought though because the bed is squeaking again and Danny is waking up. She slides down off of the bed and sits down on the ground next to Laura. She nudges her with her shoulder and Laura smiles.

“How are you feeling?” Danny asks softly. Laura shrugs.

“Better, now that I’m with you.” She says truthfully. Danny grins.

“I don’t want to pry or get into your business but I do want to make sure you’re safe. Did she do something to you?” Danny spits out the word ‘she’ with disdain and for some reason, Laura’s back stiffens and she wants to defend Carmilla. Say she’s not all bad. But she doesn’t. She just shakes her head.

“Nothing more than usual. It just affected me today. I’m sorry for scaring you.” She doesn’t look Danny in the eye. Danny wraps a comforting arm around her and Laura leans into it. Danny kisses her temple. Laura looks up. “Do you think I could stay here for a few days? Just until this blows over?” And Danny smiles and it’s bright and beautiful and excited and Laura feels the guilt hit her all over again.

“Of course. You know I love it when you sleep over.” She says and leans down and plants a light kiss on Laura’s mouth.

She tries not to think about the fact that it just doesn’t feel right.

-

Carmilla’s been trying not to look at the door.

It’s been over a day now. Carmilla hadn’t slept well the night before, jumping at the slightest noise (which really, isn’t anything new) and shooting glances toward the door in case Laura decided to sneak in in the middle of the night.  She hadn’t. It’s nearing noon now and she can’t focus on this stupid book that she’s reading because all she can think about whether or not Laura is okay. She never called her back. She never texted. She could have been kidnapped for all Carmilla knew.

She tries to talk herself out of caring. That it’s not her responsibility to care about Laura. But it doesn’t work. Her foot is bouncing anxiously against the frame of the bed and her finger is lingering on the corner of page that she hasn’t turned in over half an hour. She glances down at her phone, for the fifth time in the past two minutes, and wow, this is not who she is. She’s never been this girl. She’s never waited for anybody. She directs her eyes back down the book and tries to force herself to focus on the words in front of her. Within another moment, they’re all blurring together and she’s glancing over at her phone again. She picks it up. She wonders if it would be going overboard to shoot her a text. Probably. She puts the phone down. Read. She tells herself. Focus. She’s finally able to fix her attention on the page long enough to read a paragraph when she hears the door creak open. She jumps. She turns her head and she feels relief flood through her as Laura walks through the door. She’s wearing a too big sweatshirt and a pair of sweatpants that seem to fit her but definitely don’t belong to her (not that she knows everything Laura owns – she just pays attention). She figures the sweatshirt must belong to Danny and she ignores the sour feeling in her gut when she realizes that’s where she’s been. Carmilla swings her legs over the bed and she poises herself to stand. Laura makes eye contact with her for a brief moment but she looks away quickly. Carmilla is on her feet now. She stands in the middle of the room as Laura bustles around, grabbing a bag from her closet. She drops the bag on the bed and Carmilla watches incredulously as Laura continues to move around the room without even a glance at her. “Okay, seriously?” Carmilla asks and Laura stills. Carmilla watches her eyes close and her shoulders fall. Her jaw clenches.

“What?” She snaps and Carmilla rolls her eyes.

“Were you not going to say anything?” She questions and Laura shrugs.

“That was the plan.” She responds coldly, turning back to the bag on her bed, shoving more clothes into it. Carmilla snorts.

“How childish of you.” She sneers and Carmilla thinks that really, this shouldn’t hurt as much as it does. Laura pauses again, throwing her hands down to her sides.

“What is there to talk about, Carmilla? I cheated on my girlfriend. With you. I’m not exactly eager to relive it.” She exclaims and there’s that fire that Carmilla’s always been so intrigued by. It flicks some kind of switch in Carmilla, who smirks and takes a step toward Laura, who seems to be frozen in her spot in front of the bed now.

“Speaking of your girlfriend, did you tell her about the other night?” She looks Laura in the eye and watches as she turns, facing Carmilla full on now. She bites down on her lip, shaking her head.

“No.” She pauses and she looks away from Carmilla. “I couldn’t do it.” And Carmilla takes another step closer to her. Their position echoes their first from the previous night and Carmilla’s fingers twitch as she desires to reach out and touch Laura. She resists. She tilts her head and clicks her tongue.

“Oh but you felt so guilty? What stopped you?” She practically purrs and something in the air changes. Carmilla looks into Laura’s eyes and watches as her pupils dilate. Laura tries to look away.

“My reasons are none of your business.” She breaths out and it lacks any kind conviction. Carmilla, again, moves closer to her. They’re only inches apart now. Laura has nowhere else to look except directly at Carmilla and Carmilla revels in that. She looks down at Laura’s lips for a moment.

“You want to know what I think?” She asks, looking back up to Laura’s eyes, which close. She shakes her head.

“No. I really don’t.” She says and her lips are parting and Carmilla steps closer once more, pushing her knee between Laura’s legs and raising her fingers to Laura’s chin. She feels her shiver. Carmilla leans in, mouth hovering just in front of her ear.

“I think you didn’t tell her because if you did, it couldn’t happen again.” She pulls back. Laura’s breathing is shaky and her mouth is wide open. Carmilla drags her finger down her cheek. “And I think you want it to happen again.” Her finger is underneath Laura’s chin now and Laura’s eyes open. Carmilla leans in and rests her forehead against Laura’s. “I think you liked the way I fucked you.” She buries her hand in Laura’s hair. Their lips are just centimeters apart. Carmilla leans in, snaking her free hand around Laura’s waist to pull her in close. Carmilla’s eyes flutter shut and their lips are about to touch when suddenly, Laura is pulling away. She yanks her head away from Carmilla’s hand and she shifts so there’s at least a foot of space between them. Carmilla takes a deep breath. She drops her hand and faces Laura, who looks as if she’s trying to collect herself.

“You can’t keep doing that Carmilla!” She yells, gesturing to her wildly with her hands. Carmilla crosses her arms. “I have a girlfriend. That I love. And who loves me. You can’t keep backing me up against furniture and putting your knees where they don’t belong!” Carmilla wrinkles her nose and makes a disapproving face.

“Please. Do you really think what you have with Danny is special? That you’re going to be happy with somebody like her for the rest of your life? She doesn’t challenge you! She’s boring and she’s safe.” Her voice is hard and she knows she sounds accusatory. Laura’s face hardens.

“Oh and who do you suppose would be better for me? You?” Laura sneers and Carmilla’s face falls for just a moment.

“I never-” She interjects but Laura stops her.

“You know what, it doesn’t matter. You are in no position to judge my relationship. You don’t know me and you don’t know Danny. We love each other and that’s what counts.” Laura’s voice is raising and Carmilla’s anger is bubbling within her.

“You keep saying you love each other like you’re trying to convince somebody. Is it me or is it you?” Carmilla shoots and Laura freezes, her face crumbling. It only stays that way for a moment before she’s steeled up again, an angry fire lighting up her eyes. She starts moving toward Carmilla and she stops just inches in front of her. She looks so angry and for a moment Carmilla thinks Laura might slap her. She thinks she might deserve it. Instead, Laura grabs her face between her hands and leans up, pressing their lips together in an awkward, uncoordinated kiss. It takes Carmilla by surprise but after a second, she’s pressing back and wrapping her arms around Laura’s waist and bringing her closer. The kiss deepens and Carmilla wants to breathe a sigh of relief when she finally tastes Laura again. The kiss lasts a few more moments and then Laura pulls away slowly. She drops her hands to Carmilla’s shoulders.

“Fuck.” She whispers and Carmilla wants to laugh. Or grin. Or both. Laura tucks a piece of hair behind Carmilla’s ear. “What is it about you?” She asks and Carmilla knows she doesn’t want an answer. She lets her hands fall to her side and Carmilla drops her own as well. “I-I have to go. Danny’s waiting.” And there it is. The other shoe. Carmilla clenches her jaw. Laura must notice because she gives her a lopsided kind of smile. “I’ll be back. I’ll tell her we…made up. You apologized for upsetting me and we’re on good terms again.” Carmilla rolls her eyes and is about to open her mouth to retort when Laura speaks again. “When I come back, we have to talk about….this. Whatever this is.” Carmilla nods. Laura gives her one last smile before turning around walking through the door.

Carmilla stands in the in the middle of the room, with a half-dazed grin on her face for much longer than she’s willing to admit.

-

Her hands don’t stop shaking until she’s out of the building.

That hadn’t gone according to plan. She’d hoped Carmilla would be sleeping or out or doing anything that would enable her to get in and out of the room quickly and without disturbance. Clearly, that was not in the cards.

Her lips still tingle and she swears her skin is on fire where Carmilla had touched her. She’d gone dizzy the moment she’d pressed her lips against Carmilla’s. A kiss had never made her feel like that before.

She wanted more.

The moral half of her knows that she’s just dug herself an even deeper hole. One indiscretion was easy to explain away but two? Two meant something.

The guilt, somehow, is easier to deal with this time. It still stings beneath the surface of her skin, bubbling through her fingertips, but there’s some sort of thrill to it this time.

It’s clear to her now that she can’t stay away from Carmilla. She made the first move in there. She’d walked up to her and kissed her (which, frankly, she’d been thinking about doing since the moment she’d walked into their shared room again. Maybe it was just the atmosphere). And everything with Carmilla was fire. It was passion and it was heat. It wasn’t soft and it wasn’t loving. It was exciting.

It was everything she didn’t have with Danny that she wanted.

Danny is solid ground, comfort, safety, and home. Carmilla is living on a fault line and never knowing when an earthquake might hit and destroy everything. She’s a house on fire that Laura can’t help but wanting to walk right into, willing to risk getting burned just for the chance to feel alive.

She’s torn. She loves Danny, there’s no part of that that she doubts, but Carmilla wasn’t wrong. She was….safe. She didn’t challenge her. With Danny, Laura was complacent. And most days, Laura thinks she could be okay with that. Hell, she’d never even questioned whether or not she could be okay with it before Carmilla.

When did this get so fucking complicated?

The door to the Summer Society house is still unlocked and Laura slips in, climbing the stairs with her head down, trying not to draw attention to herself. Danny’s door is still wide open and Laura stands in the doorway. She clears her throat and Danny looks up from her pile of papers. She greets Laura with a smile. “Hey.” She looks down at Laura’s empty arms. “Where’s your stuff?” She asks, sounding slightly puzzled. Laura’s gut twists.

“Oh. Uh. Carmilla was in the room. She apologized. We’re on good terms now so my side of the room is habitable again.” Laura tries to joke but she can tell she sounds flat. Danny’s smile fades and her shoulders drop. Her pen falls from her fingers and she moves to stand but Laura shakes her head and moves out of the doorway. “I don’t feel so great, I think I’m coming down with something – from being out in the rain and all. I’ll call you?” Laura says and the air in her is starting to feel suffocating. Danny nods, though she looks confused. Laura looks away quickly and turns out of the doorway. She hears a faint,

“Bye.” From Danny’s room just before she starts to head down the stairs. There’s a twist in her gut and her feet start to move faster. Before she knows it, she’s running.

She doesn’t know what she’s feeling right now. All she knows is that the air in the Summer Society house felt like it weighed a hundred pounds and it was crushing her. She had to get out of there. If she spent one more moment there, with Danny, she was sure she would explode.

She’s back in her building, in her room, faster than she expected. Carmilla is sitting her bed, thumbing through a book with her legs crossed. Laura stands in the doorway, chest heaving and out of breath. She wants to talk, she does, but there’s something about the way Carmilla looks right now that awakens some kind of hunger in her. Maybe it’s the fact that she still tastes her on her lips or that her skin hasn’t forgotten where she last touched her. All she knows is that she needs her. She watches as Carmilla puts her book down, swinging her legs over the side of the bed. Laura reaches behind herself to close the door, locking it. Carmilla is on her feet now. Laura doesn’t waste any time in crossing the room over to Carmilla. Carmilla’s got a smirk on her face and maybe Laura’s angry that for some goddamn reason she can’t stay the fuck away but she wants to get that smirk off so she does the only thing she can think of – she kisses her. Laura reaches up and buries her hands in Carmilla’s hair, grabbing tightly at the roots. Their lips push together and it’s not pretty by any means. It’s messy. Laura’s still out of breath and she caught Carmilla with her mouth wide open. But it feels good. Right, even. After a moment, Carmilla pulls back. “I thought we were going to talk.” She says breathlessly and Laura moves her mouth down to her jawline and the side of her neck.

“Do you really want to talk right now?” Laura hears throaty laughter above her, feels it even as her mouth is pressed against the pale skin of Carmilla’s throat.

“No, I don’t.” She whispers in response and leans her head back, exposing more of her neck for Laura to kiss. Carmilla’s hands slide down Laura’s sides, reaching the hem of her hoodie, moving them underneath and gripping her bare hipbones with cold hands. Laura shivers. She bites at Carmilla’s collar bone, taking the skin there between her teeth. Laura hears a sharp intake of breath above her and Laura smirks as she releases the skin, her mouth moving back up Carmilla’s neck. She pulls back, just enough to get her hands to the edge of Carmilla’s shirt and pull it off. Laura slides her hands around Carmilla’s back, connecting their lips, hoping that kissing Carmilla distracts from the fact that her fingers are shaking and maybe she’s not as sure about doing this as she was when she walked in. Carmilla’s bra is unclasped quickly and Laura pulls it off of her arms, throwing it to the ground. While her hands are unoccupied, she pulls off her own sweatshirt and discards it on the ground next to them. As soon as her hands are free again, she puts them on Carmilla’s bare skin, her fingers dancing along her sides. Laura feels something swell in her when she feels Carmilla shiver against her touch. Slowly, Laura sinks down to her knees. Her hands follow suit, fingers never leaving Carmilla’s skin. Carmilla looks down at her. She’s biting down on her bottom lip, which is swollen and red both from kissing and Carmilla’s own assault on it, and her cheeks are nearly the same color. Laura thinks she’s never seen her look more beautiful.

With still shaking hands, Laura moves her fingers to the button on Carmilla’s leather pants. She undoes it as quickly as she can, pulling them down to Carmilla’s ankles. She looks up at Carmilla with raised eyebrows, asking in a silent way for her to step out of them. She seems to get the message as she pulls her feet out of the legs of the pants, stumbling just slightly as she does so. Laura bites down on her lip to keep her giggle from escaping. Laura brings her hands up to Carmilla’s hips, thumbs digging into her hipbones. Laura leans up and kisses the spot next her first thumb and then she trails a line of kisses across to where her other thumb rests. Laura grips Carmilla’s hips tightly and shifts them so her back is facing the bed. She looks up. “Sit.” She says and Carmilla looks down at her, a mixture of surprise and lust in her eyes. She does what she’s told though and sits on the edge of her bed, Laura’s hands never leaving her hips.

Laura shifts, spreading Carmilla’s legs so she’s resting on her knees between them. She drags her hands down from her hips to her inner thighs. She leans in, kissing the tops of Carmilla’s thighs. She thinks back to the other night, and while the attention had mostly been on her, she remembers just how sensitive the tops of Carmilla’s inner thighs were. Her hands move back up to Carmilla’s hips as she takes the sensitive skin between her teeth – sucking long and hard. She hopes she leaves a mark. Once she’s confident that she’s paid enough attention one side, she shifts to other, mirroring her previous actions. Laura feels one hand weave into her hair as she pulls off of her thigh. She looks up, grinning. Carmilla’s head is thrown back and her eyes are closed. She’s responding to every little touch, like Laura’s fingers have some kind of magic. This never happens with Danny.

After a few more teasing kisses to the inside of her thigh, Laura decides it’s time to give them what they both want. Slowly, Laura spreads Carmilla’s legs as far open as they’ll go. She licks her lips. Carmilla’s bare open in front of her, no masks or walls or pretenses here. This is the most vulnerable she’ll ever be. Fingers gripping firmly at her hips, Laura finally uses her tongue. She licks a straight line from the bottom to the top, tasting her as much as she can. She pauses at her clit, pressing her tongue against it and Carmilla. Fucking. Mewls. It’s one of the most satisfying sounds Laura has ever heard and god, she’d do anything to hear that again. Carmilla’s hips move to rut against Laura’s face but Laura uses her hands to push them down and keep Carmilla from moving. She’s got the control now. Laura’s tongue works with fervor and she wonders, for all kinds of sensitive that Carmilla is, if she could get her off with just her tongue.

So she tries.

And a few minutes later, Carmilla’s hands are buried in her hair and her thighs are squeezing her head as she comes hard with a cry of, “Laura.”

Laura doesn’t bother wiping her mouth as she comes out from between Carmilla’s legs and kisses her right on the mouth.

-

Laura makes her come four times.

Each time, she thinks there’s no way her orgasm can come any stronger but somehow it does. There’s something about the way Laura takes control that does something to her. She’s spent though, after the fourth orgasm. Carmilla is reclined in her bed, head resting on her pillows, and Laura sits at the opposite edge, near her feet with her legs crossed beneath a blanket, and they’re silent. “Feeling guilty yet?” Carmilla asks through still labored breaths. Carmilla props herself up on her elbows, picking her head up off of the pillow. She pokes the side of Laura’s thigh with her toe as she watches Laura through her eyelashes. Laura laughs, though it’s hollow, leaning her head back. It hits the wall. Her eyes close for a moment and there’s tension in her face but god, she’s so beautiful. It hits Carmilla, all at once, that she could get used to this. Laura looks…incredible right now. She thinks that maybe if they were both different and they were in a different place, they could be something. Maybe.

“I haven’t stopped feeling guilty. I don’t think I ever will.” Her eyes open and her head falls to the side, resting on her shoulder. She looks over at Carmilla. “I just can’t stay away from you either.” Carmilla ignores the flutter in her stomach at the words. Carmilla hasn’t bothered to cover herself, shame, especially in her body, being something she’s never quite felt, but Laura has a blanket pulled up under her arms, covering herself completely. There’s a small sheen of sweat across the top of Laura’s brow and she looks…peaceful. Carmilla can’t stop the smile from stretching across her face. Laura is looking at her and smiles, a little insecurely, in response. “What?” She asks. Carmilla shakes her head.

“Nothing.” She forces the smile down. They go silent again. Laura looks away.

“We do still…have to talk.” She says. Carmilla sighs. She doesn’t want this to stop. God, one taste of Laura only succeeded in making her hungrier for her. She never wants to stop touching. She never wants Laura to stop touching her. She thinks that places where Laura touched her will never stop burning. She doesn’t think she wants them to.

“I like you better when you’re not talking.” Carmilla mumbles and Laura rolls her eyes, sitting up off of the wall.

“I’m serious, Carmilla! This is serious.” Laura shifts so she’s facing Carmilla. “I love Danny.” Carmilla huffs.

“So you’ve said.” Carmilla interjects and Laura glares. “Over, and over, and over.” Carmilla continues, her head bobbing with every repetition.

But,” Laura continues, glaring at Carmilla and ignoring her interruption,“I clearly can’t stay away from you.” She pauses, looking away from Carmilla. She uses her fingers to pick at a few fraying pieces of the blanket. “And I don’t think I want to.” She looks up again, vulnerability shining through her eyes. Carmilla bites down on her lip. She can’t stop the butterflies now.

“Well that’s quite a dilemma you’ve got there, cutie.” Carmilla quips. She’s hopes she sounds disaffected – she doesn’t want Laura to know that she cares if she decides to drop her now. “C’mon. This is just sex. I’m giving you something you can’t get in your relationship and that’s a damn good orgasm. You’ll probably be a little less uptight if you’re having good sex on a regular basis. I’d be doing everyone, including your girlfriend, a favor by pulling that stick out of your ass on occasion.” Carmilla states and Laura snorts. She looks back down at the blanket, leaving Carmilla to stare at her profile. Laura pulls her bottom lip into her mouth and Carmilla watches, her fingers twitching. She wants to lean over, grab her face, and take her bottom lip for herself. But she doesn’t. This isn’t the right time. She does, at least, have enough sense to recognize that. Laura looks back to her.

“I don’t know if I could do that to Danny.” She whispers and Carmilla groans. Carmilla sits up. She smirks to herself as she watches Laura’s cheeks color as she tries not to look at Carmilla’s breasts, which are still exposed. Carmilla puts a hand on Laura’s knee.

“Look, cupcake. You either get both of us or you have to make a choice. I know, as well as you do, that Strawberry Shortcake over there beats me out because of history or whatever, but she can’t give you everything you need. And you can’t keep your paws off so you might as well just take the best of both worlds.”  Laura’s eyes are focused on Carmilla’s fingers and she lets out a long breath.

“This isn’t Disney. I’m no Hannah Montana, Carmilla. I can’t live two different lives. The guilt of cheating on Danny, twice, is practically eating me alive already. I don’t know if I could keep doing this.” Laura admits. Carmilla’s gut tightens and she feels a bit dizzy. She knew. She knew this would be her choice.

“You can’t keep your emotions in check? Fine. Go be with Danny and settle for your vanilla sex life. But remember, if you do, you can’t touch me anymore.” Carmilla snaps and Laura looks hurt. Carmilla moves to slide her hand off of Laura’s knee but Laura brings her hand down to rest on top of hers, successfully stopping any movement. She grabs it and squeezes. She looks up at Carmilla.

“I can’t do that.” Reluctantly, Carmilla meets Laura’s eyes. She looks conflicted for a moment before she nods resolutely. “It’s just sex, right?” Carmilla nods.

“Just sex.” She confirms. Laura smiles.

“Okay.” Carmilla raises her eyebrows.

“Yeah?” Laura nods.

“Yeah.” Laura says. Carmilla wants to grin, but she figures that’s a little much, so she settles for a small smile. “Now kiss me before I change my mind.”

Carmilla’s happy to oblige.

-

It’s hard, Laura starts to realize, to juggle a girlfriend, a fuck buddy, a million pounds of guilt, all on top of finishing her essay’s on time.

Every time Danny brings her coffee and kisses her temple, she wants to vomit. Every time it happens, she tells herself that she should end things with Carmilla. She should be with Danny one hundred percent. After all, Danny loves her with her whole heart. That really should be enough.

But should is the operative word.

Laura always steels herself up to do it. She has a speech in her head and everything, but then she walks into the room and Carmilla looks at her with those ‘Fuck me’ eyes and Laura’s sunk again. Carmilla’s got her in her web and she doesn’t really want to escape.

Being with Carmilla is electric. Every nerve ending is set on fire when Carmilla dances her finger tips across Laura’s body. It’s everything.

It is, honestly, the best sex of her life.

No orgasm Danny has ever given her could compare to what Carmilla could do to her.

And it didn’t hurt that Carmilla actually enjoyed when Laura went down on her. In fact, she preferred it. Laura wasn’t used to being the dominant party during sex. Danny had a naturally dominant personality – that especially showed in bed. She wasn’t a particularly large fan of receiving, so Laura spent a large amount of time on the receiving end. Not that she minded – she appreciated every orgasm, but she always had the desire to put her mouth someplace Danny would never really let her put it. Carmilla loved it. Laura always rode a high after hearing Carmilla moan for her to ‘just keep going, fuck Laura, harder’. It was exhilarating.

When she’s with Carmilla, nothing else exists. They’re just two girls – wrapped up in each other. And maybe that’s fucked up. This whole thing is fucked up.

But Laura’s come realize that the only way she can deal with all of this is to put Danny in a corner of her mind. To pretend that as soon as she walks in the door of her room, she doesn’t have a girlfriend. It works. She feels free when she’s confined to the four walls of her dorm room (or the four walls of the bathroom, depending on how adventurous she and Carmilla feel).

It’s only when she steps out of her room, and her self-imposed bubble, that reality hits her like a ten thousand pound boulder. She’s lost track of the amount of times she’s nearly started sobbing in the elevator on the way to class. That number has nothing on the amount of time the words, “I’ve been cheating on you with Carmilla.” Have been on the tip of her tongue while she’s been with Danny.

And Danny’s not stupid – Laura knows that. But she’s trusting. She believes Laura every time she says she has a paper to write or that she’s feeling a little sniffle-ly and just needs to lay down for a little while. It feels like a punch in the gut every time she hears Danny say, “Feel better” with a swift kiss to her forehead. She hates herself for doing this to her. But she loves her. She can’t just give that up.

But she doesn’t want to give up this….thing with Carmilla either.

It’s a mess.

She’s walking with Danny to, thumbing around on her new phone. She managed to convince her Dad that in order to really be safe on the Silas campus, she needed a phone with a navigation system in case the pathways decided to play games late at night. He’d agreed.

(She didn’t mention that the real reason she wanted a smartphone was that Carmilla convinced her that an app called Snapchat was necessary. She’d said that she wasn’t going to send her nudes to a flip phone. High resolution nudes or none at all.)

Danny’s arm was slung around her shoulder and she was chatting animatedly about something but Laura, admittedly, wasn’t paying that much attention. Carmilla had just texted her.

Carmilla: Class was canceled – can you come back?

Laura smiles, though she bites down on her lip to tone it down. She looks up at Danny, who has her eyes trained on the pathway in front of them. Laura figures that she can let Danny lead and as long as they don’t come to any sudden halts, Danny won’t see what’s on her phone.

Me: Can’t. W/ Danny. Sry :(

She clicks the phone screen off but less than thirty seconds later, it’s lighting up again.

Carmilla: Boo. Ditch her. I’ll make it worth your while ;)

Laura licks her lips.

Me: Oh yeah? Tell me how.

They’re coming to stop and Laura looks up. They’re at the restaurant, one they frequent, and Danny is talking to the hostess, who smiles brightly at Danny but grimaces over at Laura before beginning to lead them to a table. Danny finally takes her arm off from around her shoulder once they reach a table. Just as they’re settling into their seats, Laura’s phone lights up again.

Carmilla: Check your snapchat. That’s what’s waiting for you.

Laura wants to open it right now but Danny is looking at her and she knows she can’t. So she clicks her phone off and tries to pay attention to Danny, but her mind is on what on earth could be in that Snapchat.

Danny talks about the class she’s TA’ing and Laura nods appropriately, only half listening. Their waitress comes around, serving their water to them, a few more smiles directed toward Danny. Laura thinks she should care. She doesn’t.

Laura orders herself a salad and hands off the menu to the waitress. Laura tries to focus more on what Danny is saying to her. She can’t.

After ten more minutes of vague noises and ‘Ohs?’ Laura is grateful when Danny excuses herself to go to the bathroom. Finally, Laura thinks to herself. As soon as Danny is a respectable distance away, Laura is clicking open her phone and loading Snapchat, eager to see what picture Carmilla had sent her. Laura bites her bottom lip in anticipation.

She presses Carmilla’s name and the picture opens. Laura gasps.

Carmilla’s wearing a sheer, black bra that leaves nothing to the imagination. Her free hand is shoved down her underwear. The caption says, ‘Thinking of you’. The picture disappears quickly and Laura taps it again, trying to get it to come back. She replays it once. She thinks there’s a chance she’s drooling. Her face is flushed and she feels a twinge between her legs. She crosses them. She pulls up her text messages and opens Carmilla’s thread.

Me: You. Are. So. Cruel.

Laura reaches over and takes a sip of water, trying to calm herself down. Her phone lights up with another notification. Another Snapchat. Laura looks in the direction of the bathroom. Still no sign of Danny. Laura opens the next picture. Carmilla’s pulled down the cups of her bra, exposing her breasts. Her nipples are erect, like she’d been touching them just before she’d taken the picture, and her underwear is off now. She’s still touching herself and this caption says, ‘I’m starting without you’.

Laura’s breath hitches and oh god, she’s turned on now. Her phone lights up again. A text, this time.

Carmilla: I’m thinking of you while I fuck myself. My fingers feel good but yours would feel better.

Laura groans, out loud this time. She can’t do it, she can’t wait. The waitress comes by and drops their plates off just as Danny comes out of the bathroom. Laura gives her an apologetic look. “I’m sorry.” Laura says, “I feel like I’m going to be sick.” Danny looks confused.

“Oh…okay. Sure. Do you want to take your food?” She asks and Laura shakes her head.

“No. I can’t eat anything. You take it. I’m sorry.” Laura stands and walks over to Danny’s side, kissing her cheek. “I’ll call you.” She says as she rushes off and leaves a very confused, very hurt Danny behind.

Laura grins as she opens up her phone.

Me: I’m on my way. Don’t do anything else until I get there.

-

Carmilla hates being in the room by herself.

Laura still has all of the pictures of she and Danny hanging up and Carmilla feels like they’re haunting her. When she knows Laura will be out, she turns them around. She can’t deal with seeing them together. It’s half jealousy, half overwhelming guilt.

She knows she has no right to be jealous – Laura doesn’t belong to her. Laura doesn’t belong to anybody, but she is with Danny. For all intents and purposes, she’s Danny’s. Carmilla just gets her body at nights and the occasional morning.

And at first that was enough.

It was.

And some days, it still is. Some days, she can deal with just having Laura after she comes back from class, smelling like Danny, full of complaints about her day. Carmilla shuts her up quickly with kisses and then everything falls into place.

And other days? Other days, it’s really not. Some days, after Laura’s given her her third orgasm of the night, she just wants to take her hand, look into her eyes, and tell her that she makes her fucking world go round. But she can’t. Because that’s not what this is. They’re fucking. It’s just sex. Nothing more.

Even if Carmilla wanted something more. Laura has Danny.

That’s the bottom line.

It doesn’t matter how much of her aches for what Danny has – the little things, the smiles and the lunch dates. She’ll never have it. The sooner she accepts that, the better off she’ll be.

If only Laura didn’t make giving up on her so goddamn difficult.

So she takes what she get, and that’s the amazing sex.

Her art class, which is her only class of the afternoon, is canceled for the day. She gets back to the room and it’s one of those days where she can’t fucking stand to see the pictures on Laura’s wall so she walks over to her side and turns them around. While she’s on this side, she lets the smell of Laura flow through her and god, it makes her heart flutter.

She’s so fucking sunk.

She tries to snap herself out of it. She goes back over to her side, picks up a book from the shelf, and tries to immerse herself in it but she can’t. Anything that reminds her of Laura seems to send an instant signal to her fucking vagina to turn her on. She knows Laura has a lunch date with Danny, but as she slowly rids herself of her own clothes, thanking her past self for choosing something sexy this morning, she wonders if she can drag her away. She shoots her a text and reclines on the bed, waiting for an answer. Laura responds incredibly quickly. Carmilla huffs at the reply. She rolls her eyes and tries to ignore the twist in her gut. She decides that maybe a picture might be more enticing. At the last second, she slides her hand beneath the band of her underwear. She snaps the picture and types out a quick caption. And she waits.

And waits.

And waits.

She decides that Laura is taking entirely too long and she’s too riled up now to just keep waiting. She pulls down the cups of her bra, taking her nipples between her fingers, twisting and pulling and trying elicit the maximum amount of pleasure from the littlest touches. She reaches down and pulls off her underwear, throwing them off the side of the bed. She bends her knees, one of her hands sliding between her thighs, the other sliding up her torso. She slides her fingers through herself, wetting her fingers as much as she can, lightly teasing her clit. Her phone buzzes. She uses her free hand and opens the message. She grins when she reads it. She decides that another picture might just be the last push Laura needs. So she snaps another quick picture and shoots Laura another teasing text. Laura’s response is quick and it turns Carmilla on even more. But she does what she’s told. She pulls her hand from between her legs, licks her fingers clean, and she waits.

Carmilla’s a patient girl – that’s always been one of her strong suits. But her overactive imagination coupled with the anticipation is nearly killing her. Her fingers linger near the crease of her thigh, touching every possible sensitive patch of skin without touching anything else. She’s soaking wet and so turned on, she knows it won’t take more than a few touches for Laura to send her over the edge. She thinks that if Laura doesn’t hurry her ass up, she’s going to take care of herself.

Luckily, not more than a minute later, Laura is pushing through the door and slamming it shut. Carmilla looks at her with a smirk. “Finally.” Laura looks at her with raised eyebrows as she drops her stuff. Her eyes don’t leave Carmilla’s as she walks across the room. Laura wastes no time in climbing onto the bed, and on top of Carmilla, straddling her hips. She leans down and kisses her. Carmilla smiles into the kiss. She feels like melting. Laura pulls away. She sits up and drags a hand through her hair, pulling a hair tie off of her wrist and pulling it back.

“Oh no, you don’t get to complain right now. You dragged me away from a date.” She leans down again, her lips attaching to Carmilla’s jaw. Her hand travels down and she doesn’t waste any time in touching Carmilla exactly where she needed to be touched. Laura’s fingers find Carmilla’s clit and she rubs. Carmilla arches her back. Laura’s mouth has moved down to her neck and she’s sucking hard at the skin there and Carmilla knows she’ll leave a mark. She’s fine with that. Laura’s fingers move and then one is inside her. Carmilla lets out a moan and she feels Laura smile against her neck. Laura’s head moves up and she connects their foreheads. “You’re close, Carmilla, I can feel it.” One of Carmilla’s hands is gripping the sheet beneath her, the other is free but she drags it up and weaves it in Laura’s hair. Carmilla leans her head up and brings their mouths together. Laura adds a second finger and moves her thumb to rub at her clit. Carmilla groans into Laura’s mouth. Laura’s fingers are moving fast and she’s close. Her hips buck and then Laura bites down on her bottom lip and she comes, whimpering into Laura’s mouth.

Laura disconnects their mouths, pulling her hand from Carmilla’s legs and she makes eye contact with Carmilla as she slowly licks her fingers clean. Though still out of breath from her orgasm, Carmilla pushes herself up, so Laura is sitting in her lap. Laura squeals and Carmilla smiles. Carmilla leans up and kisses her. She pulls away after a moment, “Worth it?” She asks and she hopes she doesn’t sound desperate but god, she wants to know exactly what she’s worth to Laura. Laura smiles. She gives her a quick peck.

“Yeah. Worth it.”

Chapter Text

Sometimes, in the dark of the night, after everything, Carmilla pretends that they’re more than this.

When they started this, after sex, Laura would slip into her pajamas and into her own bed. She doesn’t do that anymore. Carmilla doesn’t know if it’s because she’s comfortable now or if she’s just too worn out to go. Carmilla hopes for the former.

That first orgasm wasn’t the last that day. They spent the rest of the afternoon exchanging orgasms. The sun has set now though and they’re both spent. Laura is tucked underneath Carmilla’s arm, resting her head in the crook of her shoulder, just underneath her chin. Carmilla’s fingers are drawing light circles on Laura’s bare arm while Laura does the same on Carmilla’s stomach. It’s nice. They’re not saying anything but Carmilla is okay with that. They don’t have to talk. Carmilla is content just to lay with her like this. When they do, she can pretend.

Carmilla is staring up at the ceiling, focusing in on the feeling of Laura’s skin against hers, when Laura breaks the silence. “What class of yours was canceled this afternoon?” She murmurs against Carmilla’s skin. Carmilla laughs.

“What, are we pillow talking now?” Laura turns her head up, narrowing her eyes at Carmilla.

“No. I just.” Laura shifts herself so she’s sitting up and looking down at Carmilla. Carmilla props herself on her elbows. “We’ve been doing this for weeks and I still don’t know anything about you. Except for what it takes to get you to come.” Carmilla chuckles, leaning her head back.

“Isn’t that all you really need to know? Cupcake, this isn’t a relationship. The only person you need to know the little details about is your girlfriend.” Carmilla says and Laura looks down.

“I know. But I think that I’d like to be your friend.” She says tentatively. Carmilla stares at her. They make eye contact and Carmilla searches her eyes for something, anything to tell her that she doesn’t mean this, that she doesn’t actually want to know her, but finds nothing but honesty there. Carmilla bites down on the corner of her lip. She should say no. That if they start to get to know each other past this it gets complicated. Or more complicated. But she wants to know. So she nods.

“Okay. It was an art lab. Figure drawing.” Carmilla says and Laura smiles.

“Are you an art major?” She asks. Carmilla makes a face, wrinkling her nose and pulling her top lip upwards.

“No. Philosophy. Art’s more of a hobby.” She comments. Laura looks satisfied.

“I can’t believe I’ve been living with you for five weeks and I didn’t know what your major was. Or that you were an artist.” Carmilla laughs.

“I’ve been told I have an air of mystery.” Carmilla comments haughtily. Laura giggles, slapping her shoulder gently.

“You’re ridiculous, you know that?” Laura says softly. Carmilla shrugs, biting down her smile.

“I’ve been told.” She pauses, looking up at Laura. “Mostly by you.” Laura throws her head back, laughing. Carmilla watches her, unable to stop smiling. God, she’s something. Laura’s laughter quiets and the air between them settles, for a moment.

“Would you…would you draw me?” Laura asks, tentatively. Carmilla looks up at her. She shrugs.

“Would you want me to?” Carmilla counters. She tries not to think of the last girl that asked her to draw her and how that ended. Laura nods, grinning.

“Yeah.” She throws a dramatic hand over her forehead. “Draw me like one of your French girls!” She says. Carmilla wrinkles her brow.

“But I’ve never been to France?” She replies, confused. Laura drops her hand. Her mouth opens.

“Are you…have you never seen Titanic?” She asks incredulously. Carmilla shakes her head, blushing. She’s a little embarrassed.

“No.” She replies, a little curtly. Laura starts to laugh and Carmilla’s face floods with color. Carmilla drops herself down from her elbows and leans her head back against the pillow. Through clenched teeth she says, “Are you finished?” Laura snorts, though she doesn’t stop laughing. She taps Carmilla on the shoulder lightly with her fingertips.

“Are you embarrassed?” She asks. Carmilla glares. “Don’t be. It’s kind of cute, actually.” Laura lays back down, keeping herself propped up with her head resting in one of her hands. Carmilla’s got one hand resting on her stomach and Laura reaches across with her free hand to grab it and intertwine their fingers. She strokes the back of Carmilla’s knuckles. Carmilla tries to calm her suddenly very rapid heartbeat when Laura speaks again. “Out of curiosity, how haven’t you seen that movie? It’s on TV all of the time. I used to watch it with my Dad like, once a month when I was a kid.” Carmilla shrugs.

“There wasn’t…a lot of TV where I grew up.” Carmilla says and hopes that Laura will accept that as an answer. She doesn’t want to get into details now. She doesn’t ever want to get into details, especially not with Laura. She turns her head away from Laura and hopes that she’ll get the message.

“I think you need to be properly educated.” Laura says after a moment of silence. Carmilla turns her head back and raises her eyebrows.

“And what exactly does that mean?” She asks, though she has an inkling. Laura leans in, connecting their foreheads.

“We’re going to watch Titanic.” She leans in, kissing her quickly, “And then you’re going to draw me like one of your French girls.” She says, starting to smile. Carmilla groans.

“I’m sure there are better ways we could be spending our night.” Carmilla says suggestively. Laura shakes her head.

“Nope, you’re not getting any until you watch Titanic.” Carmilla stares at her, waiting for her to continue. She doesn’t.

“Are you..? Ugh. Fine. But you’re making the cocoa.” Carmilla grumbles. Laura squeals in excitement. She kisses her again.

“I’m so excited!” Carmilla makes a face and Laura detaches their hands, sitting up in the bed. “I’m going to take a shower.” Carmilla raises her brows.

“Can I come?” She asks and Laura snorts.

“We’ll waste all of the hot water. I’ll be quick and then you can go.” Carmilla sighs.

“You sure want to risk coming back out here and finding me gone? Because I could run away while you’re in the shower.” Carmilla says, leaning up in the bed as Laura climbs out. Laura smirks.

“Nope. I think you’ll be right there when I come back.”

And it’s true.

Carmilla’s not going anywhere.

-

Laura convinces Carmilla to wear actual pajamas (though for her that’s actually just a loose t-shirt and flannel shorts). She doesn’t look happy about it but Laura thinks she looks adorable. Laura tells her as much. She glares and it makes Laura laugh. Laura is settled at her desk, trying to find a good quality stream of the movie. Carmilla is sitting on her bed. She makes a noise.

“Can we move this rendezvous over to your side? My bed smells like sex.” Laura snorts.

“Since when has that ever been a bad thing?” Laura retorts.

“Do you want me to actually watch this movie or do you want me to imagine fingering you while pretending to pay attention to the screen? Because that’s what’s going to happen if we sit on this side of the room while it still smells like sex.” Laura rolls her eyes.

“Won’t you just do that anyway?” Carmilla snickers.

“Probably.” Laura shakes her head. She’s found a good link so she picks up her laptop and moves over to her side, putting the laptop down on her bed.

“Fine. Get over here. Let me get the cocoa and then we’ll start.” With a bright smile, Carmilla bounds over from her side of the room and she jumps onto the bed. Laura prepares the cocoa, making whipped cream smiley faces in both of their cups. She grins down at them. She grabs the handles, walking carefully back over to the bed. Carmilla looks as if she had just settled back down onto the mattress. She’s looking up at the pictures of her and Danny hanging on the wall. “Here.” Laura says, mostly to pull Carmilla’s attention away from the photographs. Carmilla drags her eyes away and takes the mug from Laura, giving her a small, grateful smile. She looks down at the smiley face and chokes out a laugh.

“Really?” She says. Laura shrugs as she settles down into the bed. She brings her knees to her chest, resting the mug against them.

“Yeah. My mom used to do it when I had a bad day.” Laura says, looking down at the floating bits of whipped cream. Her smile is bittersweet. Her memories of her mother are all positive, though she wishes there were more of them. Carmilla makes a ‘huh’ noise.

“Oh yeah? What does she do now?” She asks. Laura laughs, a little bitterly.

“I thought we weren’t pillow talking?” She teases and Carmilla elbows her.

“This isn’t post-sex conversation. Besides, you’re the one who said you wanted to be friends. This is how friendship works. It goes both ways, cutie.” Laura sighs.

“She doesn’t do anything. She’s dead.” She responds curtly. She moves her free hand to bring the laptop closer. She feels Carmilla’s stare but she doesn’t want her pity. She’s gotten quite enough of that over the years. She doesn’t need it from Carmilla too, of all people.

“Mine too.” Carmilla says. Laura pauses. She looks over at Carmilla, who is looking down at her mug. She smiles. She moves her knees down, so her legs are lying flat. She brings the laptop up so half the laptop is resting half on her leg and half on Carmilla’s. Laura scoots in, as close as she can get to Carmilla. They’re shoulder to shoulder and thigh to thigh. Laura’s arm brushes Carmilla’s as she moves to press play on the movie. She blushes. She doesn’t know why. Her fingers have literally been inside of her. Maybe it’s because they’ve never done this before, spent time together outside of bed. Normally, that’s where they exist. That’s their bubble. They fuck and then they sleep. Nothing more than that.

This feels different.

They sip their cocoa as the beginning of the movie plays. Laura has her cocoa in her left hand and her right hand is settled right to Carmilla’s. They’re touching. Laura can’t quite focus on the movie because Carmilla’s pinky is twitching and it’s hitting hers and Laura thinks that maybe she wants to grab her hand. She doesn’t know why she’s so goddamn nervous, she had literally been holding her hand only an hour ago while they were in bed, but this was different. For some reason, things were easier when they were naked. She decides just to go for it, reaching for her hand and intertwining their fingers. She doesn’t look over at Carmilla, not wanting to know what kind of face she might be making.

After a second, she feels the stroke of Carmilla’s thumb across her knuckles and then a gentle squeeze. Laura smiles. It hits her then that she kind of doesn’t want to let go.

As the movie goes on, Laura moves, if possible, closer to Carmilla. She leans her head down on her shoulder, laughing whenever Carmilla made a witty quip about the acting.

When the scene turns and Rose tells Jack that she wants him to, “Draw me like one of your French girls”, Laura blushes. Carmilla laughs. Laura turns her head into Carmilla’s shoulder and Carmilla can barely contain her laughter. Once the scene is over and Carmilla’s laughter has calmed down, she says,

“Do you really want me to draw you like that? Naked?” She asks, once again rubbing her thumb across Laura’s knuckles. Laura shrugs.

“I don’t know? If you want to. I think it would be…fun. I’ve never had anybody draw me before and I’ve always dreamt of being a Rose. This might be my only chance.” Laura responds lightly. Carmilla chuckles.

 “Alright. As long as it’s something you’re comfortable with, I’ll do it.” Carmilla replies. Laura brightens.

“Yeah?” Carmilla nods.

“Yeah. It’ll be good practice.” Laura grins.

“Thank you.”

“No problem.” She pauses, looking Laura in the eyes. “But for the record, I think you’re already a Rose, cupcake.” Carmilla says gently and Laura raises her eyebrows.

“Does that make you my Jack?” She teases

“If you want me to be.” Their faces are close together and Carmilla’s eyes flit down to look at her lips. Laura lets out a shaky breath. She wants to kiss her. She thinks she might when from the other side of the room, she hears her phone ring. Her eyes fall shut as Carmilla pulls back. Laura has to pull their hands apart to pause the movie. When she looks over at Carmilla, she’s got her head against the backboard. She gives Laura an impatient look. “Well? Are you going to answer it?” Laura sighs. She gets off the bed and moves to her phone. Danny. Of course. She answers.

“Hey!” Danny says and god, the sound of her voice feels like a punch to the gut. Laura’s back is to Carmilla and she’s glad because she doesn’t think she could handle hearing her girlfriend’s voice while looking at the girl she’s cheating on her with.

“Uh, hi. What’s going on?” Laura asks, trying not to sound jumpy or guilty. She doesn’t know if she’s succeeding.

“Nothing. I just wanted to check in. You left really suddenly during lunch and I wanted to make sure you were doing okay.” She says and Laura feels tears prickling at the back of her eyes. She doesn’t deserve this. She doesn’t deserve this. Danny cares so much for her, even when she’s been short and neglectful, she still cares enough to check in and make sure she’s feeling okay.

Laura thinks she’s never felt guiltier than she does in this moment.

“I’m fine.” Laura responds, keeping her response simple because if she says anything more, she’s going to break down into tears and tell Danny everything. That’s not a conversation to have over the phone.

“Are you sure? Because you’ve been acting little weird the past few weeks, and I know your work has been stressful, so I’ve tried to back off.” Danny is talking faster than normal and Laura knows that means she’s upset. Her gut twists.

“Yeah, I’m sure.” She responds and it’s empty. Hollow.

“Okay. You’d tell me right? If there was something bothering you? Like if I did something to upset you?” Danny sounds almost broken when she speaks and Laura nearly breaks then. She wants to tell her that it’s nothing she’s done. In fact, she’s perfect. Just not for her.

“No, you’re fine. You haven’t done anything.” She pauses, adding softly, “You’re perfect.” She hears Danny breathe a sigh of relief and Laura thinks she can actually hear her smile. It’s heart wrenching.

“Alright, good.” She stops, “I love you.” She says and Laura knows that. She does. She clenches her eyes closed for a moment and tries to swallow the lump in her throat.

“Me too.” Laura hears her voice crack but she doesn’t think Danny does. Or maybe she just ignores it.

“Let me walk you to class tomorrow? I’ll bring you breakfast!” Laura clenches her teeth. She feels a tear trickle down her cheek.

“Yeah, sounds good.” She wants to throw up. Her stomach is churning and she doesn’t want to talk to Danny or look at Carmilla anymore.

“I’ll see you tomorrow. Get some rest.” Danny says with softness. Laura hates it. She doesn’t deserve that softness. She deserves harsh edges and sharp cuts. She knows that.

“Okay. Goodnight.” Laura responds, pressing the end call button before Danny has the chance to say anything else.

She’s got tears flowing down her cheeks freely now and she wipes them quickly with the backs of her hands. She bites down on her bottom lip, leaning her head back. Her eyes close. She takes a deep, shaky breath. She turns back toward Carmilla, who is picking at her nails. Laura feels sick all over again.

“Everything dandy over at the beanstalk?” Carmilla mutters. Laura’s shoulders tense. She looks over at her laptop, where the movie is still paused. She thinks that she could be honest with her. She could tell her that Danny’s suspicious, that she knows that Laura’s been acting weird. She knows that she should. This should be her opportunity to say, hey maybe we should take a break from this. But she doesn’t want to.

“Everything’s great.” She responds, relaxing her shoulders and climbing back on the bed. Carmilla’s eyebrows are raised and her eyes are wide. She looks surprised. “Ready to finish?” Laura asks. Carmilla’s face melts down to a light smile.

“As I’ll ever be.”

And as Laura presses play and leans her head back down onto Carmilla’s shoulder, she pushes the conversation with Danny out of her mind and tries to focus on calming her suddenly rapid heartbeat as she breathes in Carmilla’s scent.

(Laundry detergent, cocoa butter, and she thinks she smells the vaguest hint of her own lavender body wash.

She smells like home.)

-

When Laura wakes up the next morning, Carmilla has her arm thrown across her and her head is tucked into Laura’s shoulder. She looks incredibly peaceful, the most relaxed Laura has ever seen her, and Laura, subconsciously, leans down to kiss her forehead. Carmilla shifts, mumbling in her sleep. Laura laughs. “Hey, sleepyhead. Wake up.” More sleepy mumbling. God, she’s so damn cute. “C’mon, I have to go to class. And so do you, if I recall correctly.” Carmilla grips Laura’s side and cuddles in closer.

“Dun wanna.” She says with her eyes half open. Laura leans her head back and she thinks that if she hadn’t already made plans to walk to class with Danny, she would stay in bed with Carmilla all day. Laura tries to lean up, though Carmilla’s grip on her torso is tight.

“Danny’s going to be here in ten minutes. I need to get ready.” Laura whispers. She feels Carmilla’s grip go limp and her eyes finally open. Her hand comes off her torso quickly and she’s sitting up in the bed.

“Right. Don’t want to keep your white night waiting.” Carmilla runs a hand through her hair and Laura sits up, kicking her legs over the bed. She looks over her shoulder. Carmilla is looking down at her lap. One of her legs is crossed beneath her while her other is stretched out still underneath the blankets. She’s picking at her nail polish and Laura’s shoulders sag.

“I’m sorry – it’s just. She’s my girlfriend. This is how it works.” Carmilla snorts. She leans her head back. It hits the wall.

“I haven’t forgotten what this is cupcake. I know the rules.” She murmurs and Laura has to look away because she’s never heard Carmilla sound this empty before. She feels like somebody’s squeezing her heart, grabbing the edges and tearing it two. Words of comfort run through her mind but she figures none of them will make Carmilla feel any better so she doesn’t say anything.

Carmilla shifts forward and moves to the edge of the bed. She sits next to Laura for a moment before she’s moving off of the bed. Laura watches as she moves toward the bathroom. Carmilla turns back to her just before she closes the door. “I thought you were getting ready?” She says. Laura laughs though it’s hollow and has no feeling in it.

“Yeah. I am.” She says. Carmilla gives her a sad kind of half smile before retreating into the bathroom and closing the door behind her. Laura hangs her head. She doesn’t have a whole lot of time to dwell, though she wants to, because Danny is coming to pick her up soon and she’s still only in her underwear.

Five minutes later, she’s haphazardly thrown on an outfit and she’s staring at the still closed bathroom door. The shower hasn’t gone on so it’s clear Carmilla is just waiting for her to leave. Laura has to admit that stings. Her knee is bouncing and she’s tossing her phone between her hands. She’s kind of…dreading seeing Danny. There’s a knot in her stomach and it feels like more than guilt. She wants to bang on the door of the bathroom and get Carmilla to talk to her. She doesn’t want to walk with Danny to class.

Her relationship with Danny feels less like excitement and more like obligation.

But Danny’s been with her since she’s been at Silas. They met at Laura’s freshman orientation. She’d gotten her number and honestly, they’d been inseparable ever since.

Laura can’t imagine life without Danny.

But now? She can’t imagine life without Carmilla either.

There’s a knock at the door and Laura sighs. She looks back at the closed bathroom door one more time before she opens the door to the room. Danny is on the other side, beaming, holding up a chocolate chip muffin and a hot chocolate. Laura’s gut twists again. She forces a smile though. Danny opens her arms and Laura steps into them. Danny wraps her arms around her back and kisses the top of her head. Laura used to feel as if she fit against Danny like they were two connected pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Now it feels like Laura is a corner and Danny is somewhere in the middle. She shifts against her though, hoping that if she moves just right she’ll find her niche in Danny again. “Hey. How are you feeling?” Danny asks and Laura pulls back enough to shrug.

“Alright. I uh, slept a lot last night so.” Laura lies and she can’t look Danny in the eyes when she says it.

“Good! I’m glad you feel better.” Danny says and drops her arms from around Laura and she feels free. She offers her the muffin and Laura gives her a thankful smile.

As they walk together, Laura keeps her muffin in one hand and uses the other to shove pieces of it in her mouth, so Danny can’t grab her hand. She feels guilty for that too – but she just adds it to the list. There isn’t a whole lot she does that she doesn’t feel guilty for these days. Danny does most of the talking, though Laura tosses in a few comments here and there, and Laura wonders if Danny’s noticed that she’s been doing that. Carrying the conversation. It isn’t that Laura doesn’t enjoy talking to Danny. That’s always been something she’s adored. They have similar interests, it’s just Laura fears that every time she opens her mouth, she’s going to confess that she’s been screwing her roommate and that she may have gotten attached.

They pause in front of the building where Laura’s class is. Danny is looking at her meaningfully and Laura’s heart rate speeds up. “So I know that you and Carmilla have been getting along better recently.” Danny pauses and Laura thinks she might throw up. Does she know? How could she know? They’ve been discreet. They never go near each other outside of their bedroom. Her eyes are wide and she’s sure her panic is written on her face. “So I think I should make an effort to get along with her too. We got off to a rough start and even though I still totally think she’s into you, maybe we can make your room neutral ground again.” Laura’s heart rate slows when it’s clear that Danny doesn’t know what she and Carmilla are up to but it does skip a beat when Danny mentions Carmilla being into her. She hates that those are the words she pulled from Danny’s spiel – the part she considers most important. She realizes that Danny is staring at her, waiting for some kind of response. She furrows her brow.

“What do you suggest?” Laura asks. Danny shrugs.

“Double date this weekend? You and me and Carmilla and one of her study buddies? She can get one of them to sit down to dinner with her right?” And that makes Laura feel sick. The thought of sitting at the dinner table with her girlfriend and the girl she’s screwing. She hates it. She wants to keep them as far away from each other as possible. But she can’t think of a good reason to say no. So she nods.

“Okay. Sounds good. I’ll let her know.” Danny beams and Laura really, really wants to be sick now. She looks down at her phone. It’s nearly 9am, her class is starting soon. Danny is leaning down and it’s clear she’s going in for a kiss. Laura turns her head just before Danny’s lips hit her own. She feels Danny’s lips against her cheek and it just feels wrong. Laura doesn’t look Danny in the eye when she says,

“I’m going to be late for class. I’ll text you later.” And Laura turns away into the building without saying anything else. She ducks into an empty hallway and leans against it, head hitting the wall. She waits for her heart rate to return to normal but her stomach sinks when she thinks about Carmilla. It sinks even more when she thinks about Danny.

What the fuck is she going to do?

-

Carmilla’s no fool.

Though her recent actions may not suggest as much, she knows what she’s doing. She knows she’s been toeing a dangerous line since the beginning of all of this. She knows that she’s been entirely too interested in Laura and that she never should have gone near her in the first place.

She thinks the fact that she’s aware of all of this exempts her from the label of ‘fool’.

(It doesn’t.)

But ever since the Titanic night…things have been different. Laura’s fingers have lingered just a few moments too long against her skin and Carmilla swears she’s caught her staring while they’re doing nothing sexual – just sitting on separate beds doing their homework. It’s unsettling. Carmilla’s been comfortable in her role – the girl on the side, the one who gets her body and nothing else, but this throws her.

She doesn’t think she can handle Laura showing her this kind of attention (and dare she even call it affection, though it’s what she craves and what she imagines every night when she closes her eyes to sleep). The lines in her head blur each time Laura smiles at her the way Carmilla has often seen her smiling at Danny. Her heart rate speeds up, her palms begin to sweat, and all she wants to do is take Laura’s face between her hands and tell her that she’s the most beautiful person Carmilla has ever known.

But then she remembers that Laura is not hers to compliment and the lines reset themselves.

Carmilla wants to put some distance between them. She’s tried and she thinks she’s succeeded at least a little bit. She can’t stay away – Carmilla knows that much about herself. She’s indulgent and she won’t deny herself what she wants. But she stays out of the room much later than necessary and she makes Laura come to her.

Which she always does.

It’s been a few days, three or so, since the night of the Titanic. Laura had come back from the class the day after, tense and eager to get Carmilla’s pants off. She wouldn’t tell her why, not until much later, but she’d eventually told her about Danny’s dinner invitation. While it wasn’t something she was keen on doing, she would do it if Laura wanted her to. She would do anything Laura asked her to.

And that was terrifying. It was just another tick in the box for putting distance between them. She couldn’t keep doing this if she was just going to get all self-sacrificial. That’s not who she is and she’s not about to compromise her identity for a person who doesn’t care about her half as much as she cares about them. She’s done that enough.

This morning, she told Laura she would be out late. She was met with a pout and god, if that didn’t tug at her heart. She wanted more than anything to just to climb back into bed next to Laura, tuck her hair behind her ear, and tell her she’d be there whenever she needed but that’s not distance. That’s not what she needs. She instead, she gave her a light kiss and left without turning around. It took everything in her not to turn back and give her a second look.

She’s at the library, a few of her philosophy books open in front of her, tapping the end of her pencil on the wooden table. Her project partner, a blonde girl she’s barely said three words to since she’s been here, is sitting across from her, nose buried in a book of her own. The girl tried to engage her in conversation when she’d first arrived. They’d been project partners since the beginning of the semester. The professor had assigned them and while Carmilla was initially unhappy with the arrangement, she’d come to realize that the girl held her own. She was nearly as intelligent as Carmilla and they were able to have quite a few decent philosophy debates between them. Before everything with Laura had started, there had been some flirtation, but once Carmilla had become completely occupied with Laura, she’d shut it down. It helped their working relationship. She’s trying to concentrate, she is, but her mind keeps drifting to Laura and what she’s doing right now. If she’s with Danny. If she’s alone in the room. She hates this. She hates that she feels jealous at the prospect of Laura spending time with her girlfriend. She ought to know better, she really should. She sighs. She drops the pencil on the desk, rubbing her face with her hands. The girl raises a brow at her over the book. She shrugs.

She’s not getting any work done. She’s distracted and honestly, she just wants to go back to her room and talk to Laura.

She wonders if she reached across the table, pulled this girl by the white collar, and pushed their lips together, if would it count as cheating.

Because what are the rules when you’re somebody’s mistress? Do you get to have somebody on the side?

Carmilla doesn’t know. But the idea of spending time with anybody else the way she spends time with Laura just makes her feel a little sick so she nixes that idea. She sighs again. She looks over at her project partner. “Any chance we can ditch this library and get a coffee?” She asks with a weak smile. The girl smiles.

“We have to get this done.” Carmilla sighs again. She leans back in her chair and crosses her arms.

“I know.” She grumbles.  She’s about to pick up her pencil and start underlining things again but her phone vibrates on the table.

 It’s a new text message from Laura.

Laura: I know you said you’d be out late – but I miss you. Any chance I might see you earlier than 10?

And maybe that should make her happy. Laura wants to see her. But it doesn’t. It makes her stomach churn. It makes her hopeful. That she’s not the only the one who feels different.

Me: Negative. Stuck in the library.

She doesn’t acknowledge the ‘I miss you’. She doesn’t want to admit that she misses her too. She doesn’t want tell Laura that she shouldn’t be missing her. That the person she should be missing is about a foot taller with much redder hair. Her phone buzzes again quickly.

Laura: ))):

Carmilla chuckles a little but puts her phone back down against the wooden table. She waits a few moments for a follow up text message but nothing comes. She focuses her attention back to her book.

Ten minutes pass, and she’s engaged in a heated conversation with her partner. They’re leaned in close together, foreheads nearly touching so they don’t disrupt the silence of the library. Carmilla has a smile on her face and she’s laughing when she feels a tap on her shoulder. She jumps. Her head jerks up and her eyes widen just slightly when she sees Laura. “What are you doing here?” She asks and there’s hesitation and surprise in her voice. Laura’s eyes flit over the girl sitting across from Carmilla, who is giving Laura a tight smile. Laura manages a completely fake smile in response and she looks back down to Carmilla. She slides her hand down off of her shoulder.

“You said you were stuck in the library so I thought I’d come and keep you company.” She looks across the table. “But seeing as you’re not alone…” She trails off and Carmilla sighs.

“We’re working on a project.” Carmilla explains, leaning back just a little bit. Laura looks down at the closed books between them.

“I see that.” She says, a little bitterly. Her jaw is clenched and her back is straight. Her eyes are narrowed and she looks as if at any moment, she might try and set the girl on fire with just her eyes.

“It’s due next week and we just wanted to get a head start on it.” Carmilla keeps going and she honestly doesn’t know why she’s defending herself.  She wasn’t doing anything wrong. Laura looks like she’s trying to smile but comes out more as a grimace.

“Right. Well I’ll leave you two to finish that up then.” Laura snaps and she turns. Carmilla wants to call out to her, because god, she still wants to defend herself. She looks helplessly over at her project partner who just nods at her.

“Go. I’ll call you, we’ll finish this up later.” Carmilla breathes a sigh of relief. She quickly brushes all of her things into her bag and she tries to quickly catch up with Laura.

Laura’s got a head start on her so she’s out of the library before Carmilla is but Carmilla moves quickly and she catches up. She grabs Laura’s wrist. Laura pauses but her body jerks slightly. Her head remains forward and Carmilla doesn’t let go when she asks, “What the hell was that?” Laura still doesn’t look at her.

“I don’t know, I don’t know.” She murmurs and her voice is low and broken. It sounds like…it sounds like she’s crying. Carmilla drops her wrist. She takes a step closer to her. She would rest a hand on her shoulder but they’re in the middle of the courtyard and there are still people wandering around, despite the dark storm clouds above them.

“Hey, look at me.” She says gently and Laura shakes her head. “Please.” Carmilla asks again. Laura’s hair is covering her face and using her free hand, she tucks a few strands behind her ear. She sniffles. She turns her head just a smidge toward Carmilla.

“It’s stupid, I know, that I was mad when I saw you with her. Because it’s just sex right? And I have a girlfriend. I had no right to be jealous.” Laura pauses and she turns to face Carmilla. Her fists are clenched and Carmilla now sees the tear tracks on her face. There are still tears coming out of her eyes and Carmilla wants to wipe them away. “But I was. You’ve been avoiding me, and don’t deny it because you are I can tell, and you didn’t tell me you would be with her so when I walked in and saw her, I was so angry. Which is stupid because you have every right to hang out with whoever you want. And you should have somebody who you can hang out in the library with, makeout in the stacks maybe. You deserve better than me, Carmilla.” Laura’s worked up and the tears are coming quickly now.

Carmilla figures now is as good a time as any to be honest. The rain is starting to sprinkle and the people are clearing from the courtyard. She takes another step toward Laura. She reaches up and wipes her cheek, resting her hand on it. Laura leans into it. “I don’t wantanyone but you.” Carmilla says. And Laura looks up at her then, eyes shining and god, she fucking loves her.

She loves her.

She’s in love with her.

The rain is coming down hard and they’re both soaked and Carmilla brings her other hand up to Laura’s cheek. Her thumbs drag across Laura’s cheekbones. “Don’t you get it?” Carmilla whispers “There is no better than you. You’re it.” Carmilla says. Then Laura is pushing up on her toes and their mouths are connecting and this kiss feels explosive.

Carmilla thinks that if they were in a movie, this would be their panoramic shot where the fireworks go off and everybody in the theater sees just how in love they are.

Laura pulls away and her smile is bright though her eyes are still closed. Her hands are gripping the tops of Carmilla’s arms. Carmilla is grinning and she drags her hands down Laura’s cheeks to rest on her shoulders. Laura shivers. “C’mon. Let’s get back to the room. You’re freezing.” Carmilla whispers. Laura nods. She moves her hands and Carmilla shifts so she can grab one of Laura’s hands. She interlaces their fingers and maybe she’s being reckless and stupid – they’re still in public and anybody could see them, but she just wants to touch her. In any way she can.

They walk back to their dorm, fingers intertwined. Carmilla’s grin doesn’t leave her face and Laura keeps looking at her with sunshine in her eyes and Carmilla thinks that even if the clouds never part again, all she needs to do is look into Laura’s eyes to find light.

They’re both completely soaked when they finally make it back to their room. As soon as the door is shut and locked, Laura is rounding on Carmilla, hands moving to take off her wet clothes. Carmilla laughs. “C’mon. You have to take a shower. You’re still shivering.” Carmilla turns and Laura’s got a playful smirk on her face. Her hands are gripping the edges of Carmilla’s jacket and Laura pulls her in closer.

“How are you not?” Laura asks. “You’re as soaked through as I am.” Carmilla shrugs.

“Takes more than a little rain to get to me.” She says and kisses Laura to distract her. Once she pulls back, “So about that shower?” She asks again.

“Are you coming with me?” Laura says playfully. Carmilla shakes her head, grin on her face.

“Think that shower’s big enough for both of us?” Carmilla teases. Laura smirks.

“Guess we’ll just have to find out, won’t we?” Laura responds and Carmilla has to lean in and kiss her again. As their mouths move together, Carmilla thinks that this is what happiness feels like. She’s never really felt it before. She’d felt vague hints of it – while she thought about childhood memories of when her parents were still alive or between whispered words with Ell but it never felt like this. Never so complete.

They pull apart and Laura grabs Carmilla by the hand and pulls her toward the bathroom. Carmilla has a bright smile on her face.

As Laura continues to pull her, it occurs to her that she’d follow Laura anywhere.

-

When Laura pulls them into the bathroom, she immediately backs Carmilla against the door. She kisses her again and god, Carmilla’s lips taste like everything good to Laura.

She didn’t know what she’d expected when she went to visit Carmilla at the library today. She just knew she’d missed her. Since the morning after the Titanic, she’d been distant. She’d stayed out late, took longer to respond to her text messages, and she would wait for Laura to approach her before they did anything. It rocked Laura to her core. She needed Carmilla close to her.

For the longest time, she couldn’t put a name to what she was feeling or why she was feeling it.

But the second the saw that other girl sitting across from Carmilla, in public, putting a smile on her face that Laura never could, she understood.

She’d fallen for her.

She’d completely fallen for her.

Somewhere along the line, this stopped just being sex and started to become everything.

And while they were standing in the rain, Carmilla’s hands on her cheeks, Laura knew Carmilla felt the same way.

While they were together, nothing else in the world mattered. They were they only people on the planet, as far as Laura was concerned.

As she pulls back and looks at Carmilla’s kiss bruised lips, she feels undeniably lucky. Carmilla’s hands are all over her, sneaking up underneath her wet clothing. Laura moves her mouth down to Carmilla’s neck and she thinks that if happiness had a taste, it would be Carmilla.

A few minutes later, both of their clothes are shed and the shower is on. Laura cautiously takes a step into the shower, stretching one hand out toward Carmilla so she’ll follow her in. She does. Their hands slide apart and Laura stands underneath the spray of the water, facing the head, letting the warm water wash down her, heating her up again. She feels Carmilla press up against her back. One of Carmilla’s hands slides across her stomach. The other is grabbing her breast, rolling the nipple between her fingers. Laura leans her head back against Carmilla’s shoulder, which exposes her neck. Carmilla lowers her mouth to it. Carmilla’s other hand travels down, dipping between legs. Laura sighs, bringing one of her hands up to the side of Carmilla’s face. Laura shudders when she feels Carmilla’s fingers dragging, teasing. Laura turns her head just enough so that her lips are at the base of Carmilla’s jaw. Laura presses light kisses there. Carmilla smiles.

Carmilla’s fingers find her clit then. She rubs slowly, teasingly. Laura groans. Carmilla laughs. Laura’s tongue flicks out to lick her lips. Her breath is hitching and Carmilla’s fingers are moving away from her clit, down and then one is inside her. Laura squeaks. “Oh fuck thank god.” Laura moans out. Carmilla chuckles in her ear.

“Have patience, cutie.” She purrs and Laura’s breathy moan is caught in her throat as Carmilla bites on her bottom lip.

Carmilla’s finger is moving slowly – much too slowly for Laura’s liking. She grinds her hips down against Carmilla’s hand. “Do you want more?” Carmilla asks and Laura nods. “No cutie, I need to hear you say it.” Laura bites down on her bottom lip, her breathing still heavy.

“More, Carm, I need more.” She grits out through clenched teeth. Laura feels Carmilla place a gentle kiss against her cheek.

“All I needed to hear.” She says and then there’s another finger pushing into her and they’re speeding up. Laura’s hips keep moving as she grinds down against Carmilla’s hands, eager to get friction against her clit. She can tell she’s close. Carmilla hooks her fingers forward and Laura wants to moan but she reaches up pulls Carmilla’s face flush against hers instead and kisses her as her orgasm flows through her. She moans into her mouth, biting down on Carmilla’s bottom lip.

When she comes down from her orgasm, and Carmilla pulls her fingers from between Laura’s legs, Laura turns around to face Carmilla. Carmilla is just out of the direct path of the water and she’s holding her fingers just in front of her mouth. She looks like she’s about to put them into her mouth, to take Laura off of them, but Laura leans in first, taking Carmilla’s pointer finger in her mouth. She doesn’t break eye contact with Carmilla as she sinks her mouth all the way down Carmilla’s finger, licking and sucking all the way back up. When she pulls off, she licks her lips. “You can have the other one.” Laura whispers. Carmilla smirks, bringing her middle finger up to her mouth and licking her own finger clean. Laura smiles, snaking her arms around Carmilla’s neck. She tilts her had up and kisses her lightly. Carmilla has her arms around Laura’s back and she’s pulling her tight up against her.

While they’re still connected, Laura shifts them so she’s got Carmilla backed up against the shower wall. Laura puts her hands on the wall of the shower, pinning Carmilla’s head between them. She pulls back. Carmilla immediately pulls her own bottom lip into her mouth and Laura smirks. She moves her hands, gripping Carmilla’s breasts and pushing them together. She lowers her mouth down to them, kissing the tops before she lets go. Her mouth goes to one of the nipples and she takes it between her teeth lightly. She sucks and teases it with her tongue, enjoying the light mewls of content Carmilla is making above her. She pops off and moves to the other, giving it the same attention she gave the other. Carmilla keeps making noises of pleasure above her Laura thinks she’s never heard anything more satisfying.

Laura’s mouth continues down Carmilla’s torso, taking the skin at her hipbones into her mouth, biting it. Carmilla’s breathing is labored and her hands are moving toward Laura’s hair to grip it. She wants to give Carmilla some kind of payback for teasing her like she did but honestly, she wants to put her tongue in her just as much as Carmilla wants her to so it would be a punishment for both of them if Laura held out anymore. Laura looks up at Carmilla through her eyelashes as she nudges Carmilla’s thighs apart. Carmilla looks down at her and Laura smiles as she pokes her tongue out, just slightly, so the tip of her tongue is touching Carmilla’s clit and tasting her. Slowly, she melts her tongue against Carmilla’s clit, pressing it against it. Carmilla’s hand weaves into Laura’s hair and she grips tightly. As Laura’s lips close around Carmilla’s clit and she sucks on it, she feels Carmilla’s fingers digging into her scalp.

Laura’s releases Carmilla’s clit and licks Carmilla from bottom to top. Her tongue grazes Carmilla’s entrance and she teases it just slightly before moving back up to her clit, where she still just teases, licking small, gentle circles against it. Laura brings one of her hands up to Carmilla’s hips while she brings the other up between Carmilla’s legs, underneath her still working mouth. Carmilla is moaning above her and Laura knows her speed, or lack thereof, is starting to get to her, so without much of a warning, she adds a finger while her tongue speeds up against her clit. Carmilla’s hips buck and Laura smiles against Carmilla because her sensitivity is one of Laura’s favorite things about fucking her. She adds another finger, keeping with the rhythm. Laura curls her fingers and speeds up her tongue. She knows she’s done something right because Carmilla damn near pulls her hair out from the roots. “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.” Laura hears from above her and she hooks her fingers one more time and Carmilla’s curse words melt into incoherent moans as she comes.

Laura pulls her fingers from between Carmilla’s legs and she stands up. She presses her torso against Carmilla’s. Carmilla grabs her hand and takes her pointer finger into her mouth and Laura watches with wide eyes and a smile as Carmilla licks it clean. “You can have the other one.” Carmilla teases and Laura laughs. She takes her middle finger into her mouth and licks it clean before kissing Carmilla. When Laura pulls back, Carmilla smiles. “Where’s your shampoo?” She asks and Laura raises an eyebrow. She turns and pulls her shampoo off of the ledge. She hands it to Carmilla, who pushes herself off of the wall of the shower. She gets underneath the spray and gestures for Laura to get in front of her. Laura’s hair is still soaking wet, because the water was hitting her steadily while she was between Carmilla’s legs.

Laura can’t tell what she’s doing but after a few moments, she feels Carmilla’s hands against her head, gently massaging shampoo into her hair. Laura smiles. She lets out a deep breath, enjoying the feeling of Carmilla’s hands through her hair. Carmilla finishes and turns her around. Laura’s got bubbles on her forehead and she looks a little silly and Carmilla laughs. She leans in and wipes the bubbles off of her forehead. “You look ridiculous.” She says and Laura glares. She slips her arms around Carmilla’s waist. She leans in.

“Shush you. Let me do you?” She asks. Carmilla smirks.

“Haven’t you done that already?” She comments and Laura throws her head back and laughs. She leans back in and puts her forehead against Carmilla’s.

“You know what I mean.” Carmilla smiles and it’s not that half smirk or that knowing smile, it’s a genuine smile and Laura’s never seen anything more beautiful in her life. She brings a hand up to cup Laura’s cheek, thumb grazing her cheekbone.

“I know what you mean.” She whispers and as Laura leans in to kiss her, underneath the only lukewarm water, Laura realizes that this is what happiness feels like.

The shower goes cold a few minutes later and they exit in a fit of giggles. Carmilla isn’t shivering but Laura is and Carmilla grabs the towels from the door. She wraps one around Laura, who grins in thanks.

Once they’re both in pajamas, Laura sits down on her bed. Carmilla stares down at it tentatively. Laura smiles up at her. “C’mere silly. Come sleep with me.” And Carmilla gives her that smile again and Laura wants to do whatever it takes to keep that smile there. Carmilla climbs into bed next her and they turn to face each other. Laura reaches across and grabs Carmilla’s hand, which is resting between them. She intertwines their fingers and rests their hands on the pillow. She kisses the back of Carmilla’s hand. “Goodnight, Carm.” Laura whispers as she begins to drift off.

-

Carmilla wakes the next morning still tucked in Laura’s bed. She’s alone. Her face is buried in Laura’s yellow pillow and she has a smile on her face. It smells like her. She thinks she could get used to waking up like this.

They ended up lying face to face, their intertwined hands resting on the pillow between them. They didn’t speak, and Carmilla was glad for that because the only words on her tongue were three she wasn’t ready to say and she’s sure Laura wasn’t ready to hear. Laura fell asleep first, though she tried her hardest to keep her eyes open. Carmilla watched her, though she fell asleep a few moments later, smile still plastered on her face.

She has class in an hour and she knows she should move but once she does, this goes away. Every good feeling she has will be crashed back down into earth and she’ll have to face the reality that Laura still isn’t hers, despite the way she looked her and the way she held her and the way she touched her.

Her phone is resting on Laura’s nightstand. She pulls it down, one hand thrown over her head. She scrolls through Facebook, and it takes everything in her not to go to Laura’s page because she knows exactly what she’ll find there. Pictures of Laura and Danny. Where they’re happy. That will only serve to remind exactly what she’s missing. And exactly what she’s ruining. She exits the app.

She switches over to her email because there won’t be anything in there that reminds her that she’s a home wrecking bitch.

She scrolls through, mostly sale emails from stores and a few emails from the art department about gallery openings. But then one email catches her eye. The title is in French and the first line of the email reads ‘Congratulations!

Carmilla shoots up in bed.

No.

Fucking.

Way.

All of the sudden, her fingers are shaking and she can’t open that email fast enough.

She reads through the email and holy shit. She got in.

She’d applied for an internship in Paris earlier in the semester, back when there had been nothing here for her. She hadn’t expected she’d get it. It was art based. She was sure there were more talented artists out there who were more deserving of the position than she was so she’d pushed it out of her mind.

But clearly, she’d underestimated herself.

She was in.

She wants to be happy – she should be happy. This internship was everything she’d ever dreamed of.

But Paris is far.

And Paris doesn’t have Laura.

Carmilla sighs, collapsing against the pillows. Before Laura, this internship was the thing she wanted most.

Now the thing she wants most is Laura.

She can’t have both.

-

It’s the night of the double date and honestly, Laura hasn’t dreaded anything so much in her life.

Ever since she’s realized that she’s fallen for Carmilla, she’s been screening Danny’s calls. She’s stuck to one word text message answers because she can’t face her. She can’t face that.

She has to tell her.

Eventually, she has to tell Danny that she’s fallen for Carmilla.

But she knows that Danny will make her choose. And Laura isn’t sure she’s ready to lose either of them yet. And then there’s imagining Danny’s face as soon as she tells her that she’s been fucking Carmilla for nearly two months now without saying a word to her. Danny would hate her.

Actually, Laura kind of hates herself for doing this to her. Because Danny is a great person. She’s always been a great person. She’s never treated Laura with anything less than the utmost respect and Laura has just thrown that out of the window. It makes Laura sick to her stomach to think about how Danny will react to hearing what Laura’s done.

But she has to tell her. She does. Just not tonight.

Tonight is just about surviving.

Laura is fiddling with the edge of her dress and her palms are sweating. Carmilla is reclining on her bed, playing some game on her phone. Laura takes another deep breath. Carmilla rolls her eyes and puts down her phone.

“Cupcake, you need to calm down. There’s nothing more suspicious than sweaty palms and twitchiness.” Carmilla drawls and Laura tries to calm her moving fingers. She furrows her brow.

“There’s no twitching. There’s an absence of twitching.” Carmilla looks over at her bouncing knee and raises an eyebrow.

“Clearly.” Carmilla stands and walks over to Laura’s side of the room. She sits down next to Laura and puts a hand on Laura’s knee, which immediately stops moving. “You just have to breathe. We can do this.” Carmilla reassures. Laura nods.

“You’re right. You’re totally right. We can do this. We just have to be ourselves. With less touching.” Laura rationalizes and Carmilla laughs.

“Exactly.” She pauses. “What time is Clifford supposed to pick you up?” Laura glares at Carmilla, who just shrugs.

“She isn’t. She texted me earlier that we should just meet her at the restaurant.” Which, in hindsight, is kind of strange, Laura realizes. Danny always picks her up. Carmilla raises an eyebrow at her.

“Well, come on. We have to go or we’re going to be late.” Laura sighs but she nods.

“Yeah, okay. Let’s go.” She stands up and they move out of the room.

They decide to walk to the restaurant. They walk close together, hands dangling between them, occasionally bumping. It takes everything in Laura not to reach down and grab Carmilla’s hand. She wishes she could.

God, she has to tell Danny.

They get to the restaurant and Laura sees the top of Danny’s head right away. She’s facing away from the door and Carmilla takes Laura’s wrist. Laura turns around and looks at her. “You can do this.” Carmilla reminds and Laura smiles. She wants to kiss her.

“I know. So can you.” She responds and Carmilla smiles. She shakes her head.

“Don’t worry about me.” Carmilla says and Laura trusts her completely. She nods one more time and she turns into the restaurant.

Laura walks up to Danny and puts a hand on her shoulder. She leans in to place a kiss on her cheek. Danny shies away from her. Laura leans back. “Are you okay?” She asks. Danny nods and just gestures for her to sit down. They’re at a circular table so Laura sits down next to Danny and Carmilla sits next to Laura. Danny is quiet and neither Carmilla nor Laura says anything to break the silence. Finally, Laura clears her throat and turns to Carmilla. “So where’s your date?” She asks and Carmilla shrugs.

“Told her the time and place. Maybe she’s standing me up.” Carmilla tries to joke and Danny snorts.

“Like it would matter to you anyway.” Danny mumbles under her breath and Laura turns to her with wide eyes. Danny seems tense – angry almost. Laura rests a hand on her forearm, because it’s what she would normally do, Danny looks over at her.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Laura whispers. Danny just nods again. Laura pretends she doesn’t feel Carmilla’s harsh gaze and she moves her hand down to Danny’s to give it a gentle squeeze.

Laura doesn’t know why it’s so easy right now – to pretend. To pretend she’s still a good girlfriend. To pretend like Carmilla is nothing to her. She hates that it’s this easy. It shouldn’t be.

She still feels guilty – monumentally so, but guilt has become so integrated into her daily set of emotions, it barely registers anymore. She feels it intensely now though, as she squeezes Danny’s hand. She feels guilty for faking it. She feels guilty that the night before, those fingers that are wrapped around Danny’s hand were knuckle deep in Carmilla. She feels guilty that she would rather be holding Carmilla’s hand than Danny’s.

(God, she really has to tell her.)

Carmilla isn’t saying anything and Danny pulls her hand away from Laura, staring down intently at the menu like it’s a novel. Laura chances a glance at Carmilla, who is glaring harshly at her own plate. Laura takes a deep breath.

“So Carmilla, what are your plans for winter break?” Laura asks, eager to break the silence again. Carmilla shrugs.

“Probably stay at school. Take a few classes over the winter.” She says nonchalantly and Laura gestures over to Danny, who is looking down at her plate, with her head. She hopes Carmilla can read the ‘ASK HER’ in her eyes. She appears to.

“Uh, Danny, what are you doing for break?” And Carmilla nearly stumbles over the name as if it tastes like poison in her mouth and Laura thinks that it must. Laura, again, feels like somebody has punched her in the gut. She hates herself, in this moment, for starting this at all. For getting in this deep. For hurting Carmilla, too. Danny’s shaking her head and her hands are clenched in fists.

“I can’t do this.” She whispers and it’s through clenched teeth. Laura furrows her brow.

“Can’t do winter break? Why?” Laura asks and Danny’s shaking her head even more now. She looks up at Laura and there’s fire and anger in eyes like Laura’s never seen before.

“I can’t do this. I can’t sit here with the two of you.” Danny’s standing up now and Laura stands up quickly too.

“What are you talking about?” Laura sputters out and Danny looks at Laura with an incredulous look. She shakes her head. She walks out of the restaurant. Laura looks down at Carmilla, whose eyes are wide and her mouth is open.

“Go. Figure out what she knows!” Carmilla says and Laura nods, rushing out of the restaurant after Danny.

Turns out, she doesn’t have to rush too much because Danny is just outside of the restaurant, leaning against the wall. She’s got her hands on her knees and when Laura stops in front of her she looks up. Her jaw is still clenched and there are tears shining in her ears.

“Are you fucking her?” Is what she asks. Laura’s stomach drops and her ears start to ring. Oh no. She knows. She fucking knows. Laura wants to explain but all she can do is open and close her mouth. Danny is looking at her and she’s waiting for an answer. “Answer me! Because I saw you kissing her outside of the library and I need to know if it’s more than that.”

Laura can’t speak. She feels like she’s been kicked all over the place. She was going to tell her. She was going to confess and everything was going to be okay. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Not like this.

Not like this.

Laura feels tears prickling at the back of her eyes. She still can’t speak. So she does all she can do.

She nods.

Danny lets out a long breath, a huff, and she stands up. She laughs and it’s bitter. She’s shaking her head again. Laura watches as a tear falls down her cheek. Danny takes a step toward her. She folds her lips into her mouth and inhales deeply, trying to reign back the tears. She points at Laura. “You’re disgusting. I hate you and I never want to see you again.” Danny says through clenched teeth, though her jaw is shaking and she’s on the verge of tears. Laura wants to reach out to her, grab her, and tell her that she can explain everything but she doesn’t.

She just watches as Danny walks down the street and away from her.

Chapter Text

Laura feels like her feet are cemented to the sidewalk. She can’t move. Her mouth is hanging open and maybe she should call after her, try and justify this, but her words keep getting stuck in her throat. Danny’s out of her sight now but Laura is still staring in the direction that she walked off in.

Carmilla walks out of the door of the restaurant then, concern etched on her face. She puts a hand on Laura’s shoulder. “What happened?” She asks.  Laura shakes her head. Her teeth start to chatter and she still can’t speak. Carmilla squeezes her fingers into Laura’s shoulder and no she can’t be touching her right now. Laura shrugs away from her touch. Carmilla’s hand still hovers just above Laura’s shoulder and her eyes widen in surprise as Laura shakes her off. Laura takes a deep, shaky breath. She looks down.

“She knows.” She manages to say though her teeth are chattering and she can’t manage to speak above a whisper. Carmilla drops her hand and casts her eyes downward. Laura hears her whisper a faint ‘oh’ and Laura snorts. They’re silent for a moment.

“How?” Carmilla finally asks and Laura lets out another bitter laugh.

“She saw us. Outside of the library.” Laura crosses her arms and leans her head back. “God, one time. We were careless one time and this happens. Fuck.” Laura looks over at Carmilla, who is staring at her with a steely expression. She shrugs.

“Cupcake, she was going to find out eventually. You couldn’t keep this a secret forever.” Carmilla says and Laura groans and she’s still close to tears.

“It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. She wasn’t supposed to see us. I was supposed to tell her and everything was supposed to be okay.” Laura explodes, turning toward Carmilla, throwing her hands in the air. Laura’s breathing is heavy and Carmilla looks like she wants to reach out to her. Laura doesn’t know if she can handle feeling Carmilla’s hands on her now. “I need. I need to go somewhere. I need to think. I’ll meet you back at the room or something.” Laura says and takes a few steps forward. Carmilla moves to follow her and Laura holds a hand up. “Please don’t follow me. I need to be alone.”

She walks away from Carmilla and she doesn’t look back. She can’t. She crosses her arms and as she counts her steps, the tears that have been prickling at the back of her eyes start to fall.

Danny knows.

Laura’s stomach feels like it’s in her throat and she ducks into an alley, her back hitting solid brick. She slides down the wall, not caring if her back gets dirty. Some dirt on her clothes is the least of her worries now.

She can’t get Danny’s broken face out of her head. It’s behind her eyelids when she closes her eyes and it’s at the forefront of her mind even when her eyes are open. She sees Danny’s blue eyes filled with tears and the complete and utter defeat on her face.

She did that.

She broke the strongest person she knew.

Laura sobs and finally that knot in her stomach untwists and releases and she leans over and vomits into the alleyway next to her. She keeps sobbing. Her body is wracked with them and she wipes her mouth with the back of her hand.

She won’t be able to fix this. There’s no way. Her careful balance, her happiness, where she got to have both Carmilla and Danny was broken.

Everything would change now.

When Danny walked away from her, Laura felt like one of her limbs was being taken with her. Danny was as much a part of her as one of her legs. And when she walked away from Carmilla, she might as well have left an arm behind too. Carmilla had managed to become part of her as well.

(Somewhere, in the back of her mind, she wonders if she’s upset because she’s hurt Danny or if she’s upset simply because she’s gotten caught and something has to end.)

Laura leans up, her stomach managing to settle itself. She pulls out her phone. She wants to call Danny. She wants to go back to Carmilla.

(It occurs to her that maybe, she doesn’t know what she really wants at all.)

One thing she does know is that she can’t stay tucked in this alley, standing next to her own pile of vomit, for any longer. She has to keep moving.

So she walks again. She doesn’t know where she’s walking to, she just knows she has to get away.

From Carmilla. From Danny.

From herself.

-

Carmilla watches Laura walk away from her and she tries to suppress the feeling that Laura’s already made her choice.

She remains still, though her fingers are still pointing in the direction that Laura walked off in, as if she’s still reaching for her.

She doesn’t move until someone hits her shoulder when they pass her and they nearly knock her over.

She lets out a shaky breath and she tries not to think about Laura going to find Danny. She tries not to think about Laura putting her hands on Danny’s shoulders and whispering apologies into her ear. She tries not to think about Danny taking Laura’s face and kissing her tears her away, saying that she’ll forgive her as long as she says she’ll stop seeing Carmilla. She tries not to think about Laura agreeing.

(It doesn’t work.)

Carmilla feels a wetness on her cheek and she brings her fingers up to her face. She pulls her fingers back. Tears.

She’s crying.

Carmilla pulls her bottom lip between her teeth and she bites hard. It doesn’t stop the tears from coming. She knows nothing will. She dips her head and crosses her arms. She walks in the opposite direction of Laura, back to their room.

She doesn’t know why but she blindly hopes that somehow, Laura ended up back in the room. She feels the disappointment hit her when she opens up the door to an empty room and she wants to throw something. She chooses to slam the door behind her hard instead. Her face is still wet with tears and she brings both hands up to her face, rubbing aggressively at her eyes. She never wanted this. She never wanted to cry over Laura. She never wanted to care if in the end of all of this, Laura chose Danny.

But she does. Fuck, she does.

Carmilla doesn’t think she could handle it if after everything, Laura can look her in the eye and tell her that she doesn’t love her too. That she doesn’t feel enough of something to try this.

Carmilla’s all in.

She’s never been one to gamble with her heart but Laura’s got her putting all of her chips in, hoping that Laura isn’t bluffing.

She wants every part of Laura. She doesn’t just want the parts of her she gets in the bedroom. She wants to take her out and hold her hand above the table. She wants to push her up against the stacks in the library and get yelled at by the librarian not to desecrate the books like that. She walks to walk her to class and link pinky’s when they can’t quite hold hands. She wants it all.

She’s known that for a little while now and she’s been waiting for the right time to tell Laura.

Now, that time might never come.

Because will Laura even care about her now that they’re not a secret? Wasn’t that half of her appeal? There’s nothing written between the lines of their relationship that says Laura’s bound to care about her after the novelty and the thrill wears off.

And despite the sinking of her stomach it causes, she knows she shouldn’t be angry. It’s her own fault that she’s in this deep. She fell for Laura all by herself.

That was one mistake she could own.

She collapses down on her bed and she buries her face in her pillow just to smell something, anything that isn’t Laura.

It smells like lavender because Carmilla’s been using Laura’s shampoo since she’s run out of her own.

Carmilla chokes out a sob and clenches her fist, beating it against her mattress.

She wants to scream into her pillow but she just bites into the material instead. She wants to call Laura, tell her to come back so they can talk about this, but she respects her need to be alone.

So she keeps her head buried.

And she waits.

-

She’d ended up back at the lake. She sat on the same rock she’d came to eight weeks ago. The lake is frozen over now and all of the trees have lost their leaves. It’s freezing and she’s sure her face went numb within a few minutes of being there.

She has her phone in her hands and her thumb hovers over Danny’s contact. She wants to call her but she honestly doesn’t know what she could say. I’m sorry I fucked her?

She isn’t.

I won’t do it again?

She can’t promise that.

I love you?

She isn’t sure she does.

Danny is comfort. Danny is safety. Danny is a blanket she’s been carrying around since she’s been at Silas. Without her, Laura isn’t sure she knows who she is. The idea of losing that terrifies her more than anything.

And she’d been a great friend to her. The best, actually. Supportive, protective, loving.

(Sometimes, too supportive, too protective, and too loving.)

How could she lose that?

She opens up a new text message.

Me: We have to talk about this. Please.

She sends and she doesn’t expect her to respond, she honestly doesn’t. She just had to say. Something. Anything. But she does.

Danny: Fuck you.

Laura shivers. She deserved that.

Me: I deserve that. But please. We have to talk. Give me a chance.

She feels like she’s begging but Danny has to hear her out. She has to explain this. Laura’s knee bounces as she waits, impatiently, for Danny to respond.

Danny: Tomorrow. I don’t think I could even look at you right now.

And that stings. But it’s nothing she doesn’t deserve. She lets out a shaky breath before responding one more time.

Me: Okay. Tomorrow then.

She rests her phone on her leg and she wonders if she should call Carmilla. She doesn’t know if she could stand to hear her voice right now. She’d want to sink right into her arms. And honestly she doesn’t deserve that either.

Carmilla has this way of making her feel….right. About this. About herself. About everything.

And she doesn’t deserve to feel right. Not now. So she stays at her rock by the lake until the sun sets and she can’t feel her fingertips. Her phone never goes off once. Once Laura has watched the sun dip completely below the horizon of the lake, she walks back to her dorm. She’s been alone long enough.

She doesn’t know what she expects from Carmilla when she walks back into the room but all of the lights are shut when she opens the door. Laura vaguely makes out a lump under the covers on Carmilla’s side of the room. She wants to touch her shoulder, wake her up and cuddle into her. Feel her arms around her, comforting her. She wonders, vaguely, if Carmilla is only pretending to be asleep. But as her eyes adjust to the darkness and she stands just next to Carmilla’s bed, she sees that her shoulders are relaxed and her face is peaceful in way it only is when she sleeps. Laura sighs. She’s glad, momentarily, that the room is dark. She can’t see the pictures of Danny still hung on the wall. She changes quickly, and as quietly, as she can. She puts on just a hoodie before she climbs into her own bed. She faces away from the wall.

She isn’t tired. She fears that as soon as she closes her eyes, all she’ll see is Danny’s face again. She picks up her phone.

She finds herself going through her gallery. She starts at the beginning. She’s only had the phone a few weeks but she’s taken a fair amount of pictures, including quite a few selfies with both Carmilla and Danny.

In the beginning, her smile in each picture with Danny is genuine. It’s happy.

She watches as picture by picture it fades.

She watches as the smiles stop reaching her eyes.

Danny’s smile never fades. The love in her eyes never goes away.

Laura bites down on her tongue and holds back a sob.

Danny doesn’t deserve this. Danny deserves better than this. Better than her.

She keeps clicking through the pictures and as she does, she notices less with Danny and more with Carmilla. Ones where they’re half naked and Carmilla is hiding beneath a blanket. Some from the night they watched Titanic, where Laura snapped a few pictures when she’d let her head rest on Carmilla’s shoulder. She looked…happy. In all of them.

And she was. Happy. With Carmilla.

She was happy with Carmilla in a way that she hadn’t been with Danny in a long time. With Danny, she felt like she was sleepwalking, going through the motions. Carmilla woke her up. Showed her what a relationship could be. And god, she wanted that. Forever.

Forever.

The idea of that doesn’t scare her and she thinks maybe it should.

She knows that she still has to talk to Danny. She has to apologize but it hits her, as she lays in bed alone for the first time in weeks, that as long as she has Carmilla? The idea of losing Danny isn’t so scary.

-

Carmilla wakes the next morning feeling as if she hadn’t slept at all. Her shoulders are still tense and her stomach remains in knots. Her eyes flutter open and she feels cold. She hasn’t slept by herself in weeks and without Laura snuggled up next her, she just feels empty. She hears rustling from the other side of the room and slowly, she shifts up. She rubs at her eyes and runs a hand through her hair. From the other side of the room she hears an exclamation of, “Hey! You’re finally awake.” Her heart starts to speed up at the sound of Laura’s voice, as it always does. She grins sleepily.

“You’re back.” Carmilla says with softness and she realizes that two months ago? She never would have thought she could be that soft, that happy just to see somebody in front of her.

And honestly? It scares her how much her happiness seems to be interwoven with Laura. What Laura thinks, how Laura feels, if Laura wants her.

That’s not who she is. That’s never been who she is. She’s never been one to rely on anybody. She’s taken care of herself since she was six years old because fuck knows, nobody else would. Her independence has always been something she’s valued. Now?

Now she isn’t sure where she ends and Laura begins.

Laura smiles at her. “Yeah, I came back last night. You were asleep when I got in. I didn’t want to wake you.” And then Carmilla’s stomach is fluttering again. All it takes is an offhand comment like that from Laura for Carmilla to stop caring that she’s lost herself. And that’s terrifying.

Laura is bundled up in a coat and a large scarf. Carmilla furrows her brows. “Where are you going?” She asks, kicking her feet over the edge of the bed. Laura bites down on her lip. She doesn’t look at Carmilla when she says,

“I’m going to talk to Danny.” Carmilla feels like someone punched her straight in the chest, knocking every breath out of her. She lowers her head.

“Oh.” Is all she says. She hears Laura take a few steps toward her.

“I have to. I owe her an explanation. She deserves to know.” Laura explains and Carmilla knows that, she does. They screwed her over and an explanation is the least of what she deserves. But Carmilla had hoped that maybe, Laura would take Danny’s dismissal to heart and just be with her. Clearly wishful thinking.

“She’s willing to talk to you?” Carmilla says and it’s hard to keep the bitterness out of her voice. Laura sighs.

“I think she wants an explanation.” Laura responds. Carmilla doesn’t really want to talk about Danny – she never really did, so she stands up off of the bed and doesn’t look at Laura when she starts to walk toward the bathroom. Laura’s voice stops her.

“Why do you always do that?” Carmilla pauses. Her back is still facing Laura and she honestly doesn’t want to look at her right now. She shakes her head, putting it down.

“Do what, cupcake?” She replies.

“Walk away.” Carmilla laughs.

“Better me than you.” Carmilla wants the conversation to end now. She takes a few more steps forward, to the bathroom, and she has the door opened just slightly when from over her shoulder, Laura’s hand shuts the door. Carmilla sighs and turns around. “What?” She says harshly and it’s the harshest she’s been to Laura since they started this. She can tell it takes her by surprise. She doesn’t lower her hand though.

“No. I’m not letting you do this. You don’t get to run off and lock yourself the bathroom again, like you do every time I talk about Danny.” Laura says with harshness that matches Carmilla’s own. Carmilla’s shoulders fall.

“Why not?  You’re leaving. You’re going to Danny. It doesn’t fucking matter where I go.” Carmilla snaps and Laura’s face falls.

“Why are you being like this? I have to talk to her, I have to explain this.” Carmilla snorts.

“And what do you think that’s going to do, huh? Telling her every sorry detail about us is only going to twist the knife.” Carmilla retorts and she looks at Laura’s hand out of the corner of her eye.

“That doesn’t mean I don’t owe her this, Carmilla. I broke her heart. She’s my best friend and I,” Laura pauses and lowers her eyes, “I owe her. I need to try and fix this as best I can.” And if that doesn’t feel like a knife to her heart, Carmilla doesn’t know what would. She rolls her eyes.

“Fine. Go apologize for fucking me and loving it every night for two months. I’m sure she’ll forgive you if you just pout your lips and bat your eyelids.” Carmilla says, her voice taking on a mocking lilt towards the end. Laura’s hand falls.

“Carmilla…that’s not...” She starts and then she pauses, biting her bottom lip. “What do you want me to do? Leave her alone, wondering what she could have done to deserve this?” She looks back up at Carmilla and her eyes are wide and no. Carmilla won’t back down now.

“You know what? No. Go. Do whatever you want. Won’t affect me.” She snaps and she’s lying through the skin of her teeth but she just wants Laura to leave. To walk away while Carmilla still has some grip on her own heart. She leans away from Laura. “Are we finished?” She asks and she knows her coldness and her harshness is cutting into Laura but she’s trying not to care. Laura takes a step away from her. She shakes her head.

“Yeah. I guess we are.” Laura mumbles and Carmilla nods, the vice on her heart squeezing tightly. Still facing Laura, she reaches behind her and opens the bathroom door.

“Good.” Carmilla says and she turns into the bathroom, slamming the door closed behind her.

She leans against the door and slides down, tuning her ears to the other side of the door. There’s a few moments of silence, followed by a heavy sigh, and then footsteps. The door slams a few seconds later but Carmilla stays exactly where she is, sobs beginning to wrack her body so completely that her knees feel weak.

She can’t do this. She can’t let Laura break her.

She has to walk away before Laura can.

She stays on the bathroom floor for a few more minutes, until her sobs come to a halt. She still has tears flowing down her cheeks when she leaves the room, grabbing her phone. She dials the number she’s memorized from reading it so often the past few days. She steels her voice and she sits with her back straight on her bed, mentally telling herself over and over again that this is the right thing.

“Hello, my name is Carmilla Karnstein and I’d like to accept the internship in Paris that was offered to me.”

She won’t be able to see Laura walk away across countries.

-

Laura’s crying before she even leaves the building.

Why would Carmilla say those things to her? She has to do this, talk to Danny and clear the air, so they can start this, whatever this is. Doesn’t she see that?

Or maybe she doesn’t want this.

Maybe Carmilla doesn’t want her. Laura figures her only appeal to Carmilla was that she couldn’t have her. Now that her heart was, in all honesty, completely hers, maybe she wasn’t interested anymore.

She can’t think about that now. She has to focus on Danny. God….Danny. Laura feels her stomach fill with dread and she nearly stops in her tracks and runs back to the room. She doesn’t know if she can handle seeing Danny’s broken face again, knowing that she’d caused that pain. But she has to.

She’d made her bed and now she has to lie in it.

The doors to the Summer Society house are open and Laura pushes in without much fanfare. Most of the girls are in the kitchen, it’s breakfast time, so she’s able to sneak up the stairs without anybody noticing her. She figures that’s a good thing. The whole society probably knows what she’s done by now and if anybody saw her they’d probably be after her with a pitchfork. Which was nothing she didn’t deserve.

Danny’s door is closed and she thinks about knocking but that seems…too formal for this. They’re about to have an official break up talk. So she reaches down to the knob and turns it. The door is unlocked and opens easily. The first thing she sees when she walks in the room is a large cardboard box sitting on the bed, filled to the brim with things that Laura slowly recognizes belong to her. Now, that stings. Danny is sitting next to it, her eyes downcast. She’s wearing a large sweatshirt and her hair is thrown up in a messy bun. Her face is red and when she looks up at her, Laura swears she’s never seen her eyes look emptier. Laura stands in the middle of the room, fiddling with her fingers. She knows she ought to say something – she has to, that’s why she’s here, but for once she can’t think of anything to say. Danny is looking at her and she looks so completely broken that Laura nearly starts to cry right there. She takes a step forward, reaching a hand out. Danny holds one of her own up.

“Don’t. I don’t want you near me.” She says and it’s void of emotion, which hurts more than any kind of anger could. Laura looks down.

“I’m sorry, Danny, I’m so sorry.” Laura whispers because it’s the only thing she can say. Danny snorts.

“And what the fuck is sorry supposed to do? Make me feel like less of a fool for not seeing it sooner? It doesn’t work like that, Laura, so you can keep your sorry’s.” Danny bites and Laura chokes down a sob. She deserves this, she does. She hadn’t expected anything less from this but that doesn’t stop it from feeling like someone’s just clawed into her heart.

“I don’t know what else to say.” Laura admits and Danny looks down. She’s fiddling with the pocket of her sweatshirt. Laura watches as she bites down on her bottom lip and brings one her hands up to tug on her ear, a clear tell that she’s ready to cry.

“Why did you do it?” Danny whispers. Laura opens her mouth but Danny isn’t finished yet. “What did I ever do to you to deserve this?” She continues and she’s started to cry. Laura closes her eyes. “Did you want to punish me? Did I do something so horrible to you that you thought the only way to get back at me was to break my heart?”

“You didn’t-you don’t deserve this. You never did anything.” Laura responds and Danny lifts her head. Her eyebrows are furrowed. She looks defeated.

“Then why? Because I was up all night, trying to figure it out. I tried to be the best girlfriend I could be to you, Laura. What did I do wrong? What could she give you that I couldn’t?” Danny says through her tears. Her voice is raising and Laura feels tears behind her eyes again.

“I don’t know. I don’t know how to explain it without hurting you.” Laura says and silently, she’s begging for Danny not to keep asking. She doesn’t think Danny can handle hearing that Carmilla made her feel alive in a way that she never could. And there’s no way to put that tactfully. Danny laughs bitterly.

“Honestly Laura? I don’t think there’s any way you could hurt me more than you already have.” And Laura lets out a strangled whimper.

“Danny, please. I never…I never meant to hurt you.” And Danny is laughing again and it hurts Laura to hear because it’s so empty.

“Seriously? By cheating on me, you never meant to hurt me? Fuck you, Laura.” Danny spits and Laura cringes.

“It wasn’t about you! When I was with her, it wasn’t about you.” Laura exclaims and Laura watches as Danny deflates, her eyes widening. She lets out a slow, shallow breath. Her eyes close and Laura knows that what she’s said hurt her. But she has to understand that being with Carmilla was never about hurting Danny.

“Screw you. And screw her. You two fucking deserve each other. You’re both soulless.” Danny finally speaks up. Laura shakes her head.

“She’s…she’s not soulless.” She replies weakly. Danny snorts.

“I can’t believe you’re defending her to me right now. What, are you in love with her or something?” And Danny looks up at her and while she doesn’t say it, Laura knows Danny wants her to say no. Wants her to say that she doesn’t mean anything to her. Because even though she’s angry and shooting harsh words, she’s still the Danny that Laura knows. She’s still the girl that Laura had been in love with once. And Laura can still read her eyes. Laura wishes she could shake her head. Pretend her heart doesn’t speed up when she thinks about Carmilla. But she can’t. She’s pausing, for a few moments too long, and Danny’s eyes widen and she looks at Laura in disbelief. “Oh my god, you are. You’re in love with her. How long were you fucking her?” She shouts harshly and Laura cringes. No. She can’t tell her that. She can’t watch her fall apart anymore. Laura shakes her head.

“Danny….” Laura pleas and now Danny’s shaking her head.

“Answer me, Laura.” Danny says through clenched teeth. Laura’s crying now, she feels the tears on her cheeks. She continues shaking her head while she looks down.

“No…I can’t.” She whimpers and shoves her hands in her pockets. Laura hears Danny’s hands hit her legs and a strangled sob. She can’t look up. She won’t.

“What? Was it two weeks? Three? A month? Tell me, Laura.” She keeps pushing and Laura finally looks up.

“Two.” Laura sighs. “It was two months.” She finishes and she’s mumbling. She watches Danny throw her head back, biting down on her bottom lip with her eyes closed. And that’s it. Laura knows she’s broken her now.

“Two months. You were screwing her, behind my back, for two months? Were you ever going to tell me?” She asks and her voice cracks. Laura nods.

“I was, I promise. Soon, too. It was just….never the right time.” Laura murmurs and Danny looks over at her, helpless. Her shoulders are hunched and strands of hair are falling from her bun and in any other circumstance, Laura would pushing those pieces of hair behind her ear but she’s fairly certain that Danny never wants her to touch her again.

“Yeah, I guess there’s never a right time to tell somebody that the person they thought they would spend the rest of their life with is actually just a cheating asshole.” Danny shoots and Laura feels like someone’s kicked her right in the stomach. She deserves this. She does.

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say.” Laura whispers and Danny shakes her head. They’re silent for a moment, save for the occasional sniffle from Danny. Finally, a few moments later, Danny breaks the silence.

“Why her? Of all people, why did you choose her?” She mutters and her voice is so low that Laura almost misses it. Laura takes a deep breath.

“Danny, that’s not how it happened. I…I didn’t choose her. She just. Stumbled into my life and the rest of the pieces fell into place.” Laura explains and it’s the most honest she’s been. Danny shudders. She shakes her head and goes silent. Laura can’t think of anything else to say besides ‘I’m sorry’ and she doubts that Danny wants to hear that again.

“Did you ever love me? Or were you just settling?” Danny speaks again and Laura’s head shoots up.

Of course I loved you, Danny. We were together for two years. I could never fake that.” She says softly and Danny looks up at her with tear filled eyes.

“Past tense.” She whispers and Laura chokes back a sob. She shakes her head, bringing her hands up to her face and rubbing her eyes. She opens her mouth but, once again, the only words on her tongue are apologies and she figures there is nothing worse than apologizing for not loving her anymore. “Get out.” Danny says through gritted teeth. Laura takes a step forward and Danny shakes her head. “Take your stuff and get the hell out. We’re finished. I don’t want to see you again. I mean it this time.” Laura sighs. She moves forward and grabs the box and Danny doesn’t look at her. Laura pauses. She thinks about putting a hand on her shoulder but she restrains herself. It’s not the time. So she just takes another deep breath and says,

“Look, I know you hate me and you have every right to but-” Danny interrupts her with another bitter laugh.

“I don’t hate you Laura, and that’s the problem. I still fucking love you. Down to my bones. But I just can’t fucking look at you anymore.” Danny mutters and she’s staring down at her hands and Laura watches as a tear falls down from eye and hits her pale hand. Laura’s chin quivers and she leans her head down, thumbing through a few of the things in the box. It’s mostly sweatshirts, a few pairs of underwear, a toothbrush, and….every gift she’s ever given her. Laura nods, mostly to herself. She never expected Danny to keep anything but seeing a summary of their relationship just thrown into a cardboard box upsets her more than she'd like to admit. Laura picks up the box and she stares for a few more moments at the side of Danny’s head. With one last deep sigh, Laura turns around. She pauses at the door.

“For what it’s worth, I really did love you. So much. And I never wanted to hurt you.  I’m sorry that I did.” Danny doesn’t answer. Laura opens the door and slips out, closing the door behind her. She pauses, for a moment, when from Danny’s room she hears loud, broken sobs. There’s a lump in Laura’s throat and she moves down the stairs before anybody can see her crying.

She barely wants to go back to her own room, not after everything Carmilla had said to her. But she has nowhere else to go.

That had gone…..worse than she’d expected. She knew Danny was angry, with every right to be, but in all of the time that Laura’s known her, she’s never heard her speak to anybody that harshly. She guesses heartbreak really does bring out the worst in people.

She’d meant everything she’d said. She never wanted to hurt Danny. That was just….a side effect.

Laura walks slowly back to her room. Her tears dry up quickly and she thinks that she’s just used them all up. Laura knows now, with certainty, she’s lost Danny for good. There’s no hope of salvaging any kind of friendship. Laura had done a pretty good job of fucking that up completely.

But. She doesn’t feel devastated. She doesn’t feel ruined. She doesn’t feel like she’s left any part of her with Danny. She knows it’s because she just simply isn’t in love with her anymore. She may love her, and care for her, but that does not equal in love. They’re different things and it’s taken her a few weeks to realize that. She feels…better now that Danny knows. She feels a little less dirty. A little.

The box is heavy in her hands and she doesn’t want to hold it anymore. It feels like weight of everything she’s done condensed into one box. She takes the elevator up to her room and as the lift slowly rises, Laura tries not to remember each time Danny had her pressed up against the wall. She wonders if there’s anywhere that memories of Danny won’t haunt her.

(Just because she did this, doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.)

The elevator opens to her floor and with a sigh, she steps out of the elevator. Her door is unlocked. At least Carmilla hasn’t left.

When Laura steps into the room, she nearly drops the box straight onto her feet when she sees a large suitcase on Carmilla’s bed, with Carmilla standing over it, throwing things into it.

What the fuck.

-

Her conversation with the admissions officer in Paris was a short one. She’d told her that she wanted to accept the opportunity and asked how soon she could be there. She was, pleasantly, surprised when she was told that they could have her room ready before Carmilla even finished finals (which was in just a few days).

She’d gotten a few more details about what she would be doing. It was, essentially, a study abroad. She would be attending classes at a university there, while working under a professional artist at night, learning tricks of the trade. They’d said if she arrived early, she would eligible for their winter program and she jumped at the opportunity to leave as soon as she could.

She booked her plane ticket for a few hours after her last final.

As she began to pack, she cursed herself for getting comfortable enough here to actually unpack. She hadn’t done that since she was sixteen and naïve enough to believe she could stay anywhere forever.

She’d gotten too comfortable here. She’d gotten too attached. But all good things must come to an end. At least, that’s what she tells herself as she waits for Laura to come back into the room. Because she has to end this.

End them.

She has to say goodbye to Laura before Laura does it first. Carmilla wonders how soon she can leave. If it would be too childish of her to just rent a hotel room for the next few days so she doesn’t have to see Laura.

(Or give her a chance to change her mind.)

The door pushes open while Carmilla is in the middle of folding up one of her many pairs of leather pants. She thinks the weather in Paris is still conducive to leather pants. She hopes so. She’s not up for another style upgrade. She freezes in her tracks when she hears the door open. She ignores the drop in her stomach and the sudden nervousness flowing through her veins. She doesn’t look at Laura.

“What’s with the suitcase? Change your mind about winter break?” Laura says from her side of the room. Carmilla sighs. Her shoulders fall and keeps facing her suitcase. She can’t look at her yet. She shakes her head.

“Not…exactly.” She murmurs and throws the pants in the suitcase. She moves back toward the closet to grab a few more pieces of clothing. She looks down at the floor instead of Laura. As Carmilla passes her, Laura grabs the top of her arm. Carmilla looks determinedly at the floor. Laura’s fingers are digging into her arm and finally, Carmilla looks up at her. She can tell she’s been crying immediately. She wants to drop the clothes in her hands and wrap Laura in a hug but she can’t because this is exactly why she’s leaving. She’s so wrapped up. Too wrapped up. In someone who has so much power over her. She feels like a puppet with Laura pulling her strings. She shakes her arm from Laura’s grip. She moves back over to her bed, folding her clothes while trying to steady her shaking fingers. She hears a frustrated sigh coming from Laura but she doesn’t pause.

“Where…where are you going?” Laura asks and Carmilla shrugs.

“Does it matter?” She responds apathetically. She tosses a plaid shirt on top of her pants. She’s not doing a good packing job but she just wants to get all of her shit out of here as fast as she can.

“Of course it matters, Carmilla! I thought…” Laura trails off and Carmilla’s run out of clothes on the bed to fold so she finally whips around. Her jaw is clenched and her fingers are gripping the zippered edge of the suitcase so hard she can feel the edges digging into her palm.

“You thought what? You’d apologize to your girlfriend and come back here and do the same thing to me and we’d live together in a weird, polyamorous harmony? Hate to break it to you cupcake, but it doesn’t work that way.” Carmilla snaps and she watches Laura’s shoulders hunch over. She walks back over to the closet. She takes as many of her shirts she can into her arms. She dumps them on the bed. She starts to fold as she waits for Laura to retort. It’s silent for a minute.

“She broke up with me.” Laura whispers. Carmilla pauses.  Her heart rate speeds up. No. That doesn’t matter. It doesn’t make a difference. She still has to go. Danny was the least of their problems. Carmilla shrugs.

“Are you surprised? You cheated on her for two months. I’m surprised she could even stand to look at you today.” Carmilla replies and she ignores the sniffle she hears behind her. Stay strong she thinks to herself. She can’t let Laura weave her way into her fucking veins and convince her not to leave. She can’t. She needs this. She needs to get away from her.

“Why are you being like this?” She hears Laura whisper. Carmilla scoffs.

“Like what, cutie? Myself? This is who I am.” She responds and Carmilla looks up and sees Laura’s reflection in the picture frame above her bed. Laura’s shaking her head. She looks defeated. Carmilla feels a tug in her stomach. She looks down.

“No. No it’s not. This is who you pretend to be when you’re scared.” Carmilla pauses and slowly turns around. Laura’s got fire in her eyes. “I know you. What are you afraid of?” Laura says and her voice is shaking and it seems like she’s trying to be strong. Carmilla shakes her head.

“Why are you pushing this?” Carmilla says and she can’t keep up the harsh façade while she looks at Laura. Laura shakes her head.

“Because I care about you. You know that.” Carmilla laughs and it’s bitter.

“You sure? Think you’ll still care about me in a week? A month? Now that we’re not silently fucking over your girlfriend while we fuck, how long are you going to be interested in me?” Carmilla snaps and she watches Laura physically flinch as if she’d been hit. It was the first true thing Carmilla had said since this argument started. And Laura is looking at her like she’s delusional.

“That’s not….Carmilla. Do you think that’s why I care about you?” Laura says in a whisper. Carmilla shrugs.

“Why else?” And she tries not to sound as self-deprecating as she feels. Laura takes a step toward her and reaches a hand out. Carmilla shrinks away from it. Laura’s face falls but she doesn’t lose any determination.

“Because you’re incredible. You look at me like I’m important and when I’m with you, I feel that way. You’re beautiful and sweet, even if you try to pretend that you’re the most apathetic person in the world, I know you’re not. You cried when we watched Titanic and I can tell you care about me too, the way you hold my hand. Like you never want to let me go.” Laura says and each word feels like another stab into Carmilla’s heart. She wants to believe her. Laura’s telling her everything she wants to hear but she can’t believe it. How can she know that Laura’s not just saying this to her so she doesn’t lose two girls in one day? Carmilla shakes her head.

“Bullshit. You give a fuck about me because I gave you what your girlfriend couldn’t. Orgasms. Control. That’s it. You might have fooled yourself into thinking it’s more than that but it isn’t. Sorry to ruin your fairytale, princess.” Carmilla sneers and now she’s saying things she knows are going to hurt Laura. She’s gotten to know her well enough to know what words to fling at her to cut her. To ruin her. Laura is looking at her like she doesn’t even know her. Good. If Laura hated her, she could walk away.

“You still haven’t told me where you’re going.” Laura murmurs after a few more moments of silence. Carmilla sighs. She licks her lips.

“Paris.” She responds and she watches Laura’s eyes widen and her knees nearly buckle. Laura blinks.

“France?” She asks and Carmilla laughs and it’s empty and condescending.

“No, Paris, Texas. Yes, France.” She responds and Laura looks as if she’s had all of the wind knocked out of her.

“W-when? For how long?” Laura asks and her breath is speeding up and her eyes are wide. Carmilla shrugs and she notices she’s been doing that quite a bit during this conversation. It’s all she can do.

“Semester. I leave on Tuesday.” Carmilla replies and she turns back to her suitcase. She’s still got a stack of clothes on her bed that she turns her attentions to, reaching over the bed to grab a few shirts to fold. Laura scoffs.

“Were you going to tell me? Or were you just going to leave and hope I didn’t call campus police?” Laura accuses and Carmilla rolls her eyes.

“Hadn’t really thought about it.” Carmilla mumbles out as a response. She keeps fiddling with her shirts and she’s glad that Laura can’t see her because then she’d know how much this was affecting her. How much it was hurting her to pretend that she didn’t care. It would be so easy to just turn around and kiss Laura and pretend like this whole thing never happened. They were good at ignoring important things. But she can’t do that. She has to keep pushing and pushing until it’s easy enough for her to walk away.

“Coward.” Laura spits and Carmilla’s shoulders fall. She spins around. Laura’s got silent tears streaming down her cheeks and Carmilla feels tears of her own creeping up into her throat. But she can’t cry. That’s weakness and she’s already shown Laura enough of that. “You’re running away. You’re running away from me. I care about you, Carmilla, and I’m not going to make it that easy for you.” Laura exclaims. Carmilla throws the shirt that’s still in her hand down on the bed.

“And what are you going to do? I already took the internship. I’m going to Paris. That’s not changing.” Carmilla explains. Laura takes a step closer to her and this time, Carmilla doesn’t move backwards. Laura’s within an arm’s length of her and there’s fire in her eyes. Determination. And just a smidge of something else that Carmilla doesn’t want to name.

“A semester is nothing. I’m willing to fight for us if you are.” Laura says meaningfully and Carmilla frowns. She leans in.

“Don’t you get it? There is no us.” Carmilla hisses and Laura’s jaw clenches but she doesn’t back down. Carmilla has to give her credit for that. “We had our fun. It’s over. You’ll get over it.” She pauses, and then continues, “And even if there was an ‘us’, you fucked me while your girlfriend lived twenty minutes away. What would you do if you had to catch a plane to visit me, hm?” And she leans back. Laura looks like Carmilla had slapped her in the face. Laura shakes her head.

“No. I don’t believe you. You can’t look at me the way you look at me and then say that there’s nothing between us. I felt it that day in the rain. You told me you didn’t want anybody else but me. How can you say that and then say you don’t care?” Laura pleads, clearly ignoring the second half of what Carmilla had said, and Carmilla chuckles.

“Sweetheart, I knew if I didn’t say that, you wouldn’t put out. And since that’s all I’m getting from this…arrangement, I said what I had to to keep it coming. Well, to keep me coming.” Carmilla says cruelly and it’s one of the biggest lies she’s ever told and it hurts her to even say it. She wants to take it back the minute she sees Laura’s face crumble but it’s already out there. She can’t grab the words out of the air and take them back.

“Liar.” Laura fires back and it lacks any kind of conviction, like she doesn’t even believe it herself anymore. Good. It’s working.

“Sorry, cutie. I’m just being honest.” Carmilla says with a smirk and Laura is shaking her head again. She’s crying and she brings her hands up and pushes Carmilla by the shoulders.

“Liar! You’re lying, you have to be lying.” Laura screams through her tears and Carmilla is rubbing at her shoulders. Laura didn’t shove her hard but she still feels the edge of fingers there. Carmilla’s heart feels heavy and it kills her to break Laura like this. But if she doesn’t, she’ll stay and she can’t do that either. Carmilla doesn’t respond to her. Laura looks up at her with eyes wide, tears falling from them, and says, “I love you.” Laura mutters. She’s looking into her eyes and Carmilla freezes. Her heart is nearly beating out of her chest and it’s the only thing she’s wanted to hear from Laura for weeks but not like this. Never like this. Carmilla shakes her head.

“No, no, you don’t-” And Laura nods.

“I do. I love you. With everything I have.” Laura pauses and she takes another step closer to Carmilla. Laura puts a hand on Carmilla’s shoulder. Carmilla is still frozen. She can’t move. She can’t leave. She wishes Laura had told her this last week. Hell, even yesterday. But it’s too late now. “And I want you. Even if I have to Skype you every single day for three months just to see you. I want you. And I’m willing to wait for you. Faithfully. I promise.” Carmilla keeps shaking her head.

“No, Laura, no, stop.” Carmilla begs and Laura’s not finished yet. She looks into Carmilla’s eyes.

“Tell me you don’t love me too. Look into my eyes and tell me you don’t feel the same way I do. If you can do that, then I’ll let you go. But if you can’t? Then I won’t stop fighting.” Laura says with conviction and Carmilla knows this is it. This is the moment. She could drop this and she could just tell Laura that she loves her too, that she loved her first. Or she could lie. Look Laura in the eyes and tell the biggest lie of her life. Carmilla looks down at Laura’s hand. She closes her eyes. She takes a deep breath and slowly, shrugs Laura’s hand off of her. She looks back up and looks into Laura’s eyes. She shakes her head.

“I don’t love you.” Carmilla says with as much conviction as she can muster. She watches Laura’s face fall. Laura backs away. Her chin is quivering.

“O-okay.” She stutters out, turning away from Carmilla. Carmilla feels a knot in her stomach and she bites down on her bottom lip to keep any tears from falling from her eyes. She watches as Laura brings her hands up to her eyes. Laura can’t keep her sob to herself. It’s loud and Carmilla wants to throw up.

Well. She’d succeeded.

She’d pushed her away.

Looks like leaving wouldn’t be a problem now.

-

Laura’s numb.

She can’t feel anything.

She doesn’t love her.

She never did.

Carmilla left the room after that, taking her coat and slamming the door behind her. Laura sat on her bed, dazed. She tries to regulate her breathing but she can’t. She can barely remember how to breathe.

She doesn’t love her.

She never did.

The sobs come quickly and shake her whole body. She’s leaving. She’s going to Paris and she’s going to forget about her. She’s leaving and she’s leaving Laura behind.

Because she doesn’t love her.

She never did.

Laura falls onto her bed, burying her face in her pillow, beating her mattress with her fist. She doesn’t think she’s ever felt like this. So broken. Carmilla might as well take her heart and put it in her suitcase because Laura doesn’t want it anymore. She pulls her pillow tightly against her chest and it still smells like Carmilla. Everything smells like Carmilla. She doesn’t want to be here. Every bit of this room has Carmilla etched into it. But Laura has nowhere to go. So she stays in her bed and she sobs. She sobs until her eyes dry out and she starts to dry heave. Laura tries to replay every last second of the past two months. Every little moment that made Laura fall in love with Carmilla. Every little moment that was fake.

Because she doesn’t love her.

She never did.

Carmilla played her like a fucking fiddle and Laura played right into her hands. She fell for every word and every action. She’d fallen in love while Carmilla probably had a good laugh about the naïve, provincial girl that fell over her feet whenever she’d spouted out her romantic bullshit. How silly of her. She’d believed everything she’d said. What a fool she’d been.

Because she doesn’t love her.

She never did.

And the worst of it all was? She still wanted her. If Carmilla walked through that door and told her that she’d lied, that she did love her too, she would believe her. Because she loves her. And not just because she was a good fuck, no matter what Carmilla thinks. She meant more to her than that. She meant everything. But Laura was just another notch on her bedpost. She didn’t mean anything to her. Laura bites down on the yellow material of the pillow and she screams. It’s the only way she can let it out, everything she feels.

It’s an hour later and Laura’s tears have stopped. She’s leaning against her wall, knees hugged to her chest. She’s staring blankly at the other side of the room. She wonders when Carmilla’s going to come back. If she’s going to come back at all. Maybe she won’t. Maybe she’s too cowardly to face Laura. It wouldn’t surprise her.

She falls asleep, eventually. She doesn’t cover herself with any blankets. She just leans onto the pillows and her eyes flutter shut. Her sleep is deep and when she wakes up, the first thing she does is glance to the other side of the room. The suitcase is gone and so is Carmilla’s jacket. She’d been here.

And she didn’t say a word.

Laura doesn’t move. The whole day, she lays in bed and she stares and she waits.

Carmilla doesn’t come back.

-

She’s slept in worse places, she thinks, as she huddles on a cold motel bed. At least it’s inside and that’s more than she can say for most of the places she slept as a teenager. It’s damp and there’s probably bedbugs but it’s only for a few days. She just knows she can’t stay in the same room as Laura.

Not after everything.

Laura told her everything that she’d wanted to hear. She loved her. It was all she’d wanted, for weeks. All of Laura. Now she’d gotten her and it was too late. Carmilla had to leave. She needed to find herself again.

She needed to know if Laura cared about her outside of Danny. If Laura still loved her in six months, then she would know. They needed that space and Carmilla knew that if she’d said that, Laura would have convinced her that they didn’t need it. That they could just start something right out of Laura’s breakup.

And that’s not how she wanted this.

She wanted Laura, of course she did, but she wanted her with the knowledge that they loved each other outside of…all of this. And she didn’t have that now.

So she had to go. She had to find herself in Paris. For better or for worse.

She’d let Laura know why she did it after she left.

She would understand. She had to.

She sneaks back into the room the next morning. She watches as Laura sleeps. She resists the temptation to cover her with blankets, keep her warm. She finishes packing and she rifles through the mess underneath her bed for one last thing. She rests it on top of the clothes in her suitcase and zips it carefully. She sneaks out as silently as possible. She’s grateful for the amount of times she’s had to sneak out of a house for giving her the skills to move around silently.

Her room at the motel is…dingy at best. It’s small and dark and reminds her just a little too much of the places she lived growing up. It keeps her awake.

She feels like a zombie when she wakes to take her last final that Tuesday. She leaves the motel room with a small book bag on her shoulders, just one thing inside of it. She tries not to think about the contents until after she finishes penning her last final.

She knows Laura has a final of her own now, so she won’t be around when Carmilla sneaks back into the room. Laura’s side is clean and she notices that all of the pictures of Danny are gone. Her frown is bittersweet. She opens her bag and pulls out the canvas. She drags her fingers over it, a smile on her face. She knows she can’t keep it – she’d drawn it for Laura’s birthday (which was still a few months off but it never hurt to be prepared), but it feels like she’s giving up the last piece of Laura she still had with her.

It feels like she’s saying goodbye.

She stands in the room for a few more minutes, eyes closed, remembering everything that had happened in here the past few months.

The fights. The kisses. The sex.

She has to let it all go.

With a shaky breath and a few falling tears, she rests the canvas in the middle of Laura’s bed. She fixes the note right next to it.

She turns to leave, pausing in the doorway. She looks back. “Forgive me.” She whispers to the empty room.

And then she leaves.

-

Laura waits, the day of her final and Carmilla’s flight, for her to come.

She sits on her bed until five minutes before her final is due to start.

Carmilla never shows up.

With a sigh, she stands and leaves.

-

She goes back to the motel to get her suitcase.

She calls a taxi and waits outside for it to pick her up. It’s cold but it doesn’t bother her much. Her heart is in her throat and she keeps repeating to herself that she’s doing the right thing. This is what she has to do. For both of them. Love will have its sacrifices, right? This is hers.

She climbs into the taxi, directing the driver towards the airport.

She tries not to cry when she passes the campus and she realizes that Laura is there somewhere, heartbroken over what she’d said. She resists every urge to tell the driver to stop and let her out.

She has to do this. There’s no turning back now.

-

Laura’s distracted during her final. Her thoughts keep drifting toward Carmilla and each time they do, she feels like her chest is being crushed by a boulder.

(She pretends not to see the tear stains on her test paper as she hands it in.)

She walks back to her room as slowly as she possibly can. She hates being there now. It’s lonely without Carmilla and the air just feels heavy. She can’t wait to leave.

It’s Tuesday. She knows Carmilla’s flight is today. She’d waited, hoping Carmilla would come and say goodbye to her but she never did. She’d looked up flights to Paris and contemplated the merits of a dramatic airport scene but ultimately decided against it. Carmilla made it quite clear how she felt about her. She doubted a change of scenery would change her mind.

She wanders and ends up in a coffee shop until just after six. She knows that’s when Carmilla’s flight leaves. She sits near a window and she watches people go by her and she wonders if they’re happier than she is. She hopes so.

She pays for her coffee. She walks back to her room with her head hanging low. She wonders if she’ll ever feel okay again. She doubts it. She knows Carmilla is it. Her one. And she didn’t feel the same way.

Maybe that’s karma. Maybe it’s the universe punishing her for screwing over Danny.

Maybe she doesn’t deserve happiness.

She walks back to her room with her arms crossed tightly over her chest. Her teeth are chattering and she can’t tell if it’s from the cold or her tears.

She walks back into the room with a heavy sigh. Her first instinct is to look at Carmilla’s side. It’s still empty. She sighs. She goes to sit on her bed and she nearly sits on something sitting on the middle of her bed. With a confused furrow in her brow, she picks up the canvas.

It’s a drawing. Of her. Naked.

She wants to laugh but all that comes out is a sob. In the corner is a signature. Carmilla Karnstein.

She drew her.

She actually drew her. Like one of her French girls. She tries not to find it ironic.

It’s beautiful. She wonders if this is how Carmilla sees her. She can’t imagine anybody seeing her like this, so beautifully. Out of the corner of her eye, she notices a note with her name in giant, loopy script. She puts the canvas down, reluctantly, and picks the note up. Laura’s hands are shaking as she reads it.

I lied. I love you too.

Is what it reads. The paper falls from Laura’s hands.

She loved her too. She’d lied…why had she lied? Why had she said all of those horrible things to her if she didn’t mean them? Why couldn’t she say that to her face?

Laura pulls her phone from her pocket, shaking fingers frantically searching for Carmilla’s number. She presses call.

Straight to voicemail.

Laura collapses onto the bed.

It’s too late. She’s already gone.

Chapter Text

The first letter comes just a few days into Christmas vacation.

Laura,

            You’re probably angry with me and you have every right to be – I hurt you. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to pick up the phone and answer your calls. Hearing your voice would have me on the first plane back to you and that would make all of this a moot point.

            We started this under horrible circumstances. You were otherwise engaged and I took advantage of your unhappiness in the sexual side of your relationship to get what I wanted. I can admit, in retrospect, that was not how I should have handled things. I never should seduced you knowing that you were taken. That was my error.

            But I don’t regret it. I don’t regret you. I fell in love with you and I could never regret that. I know I lied to you when you asked but I had to. If I didn’t, you never would have let me go.

            We both need this. Distance. For the sake of my sanity, I need to know if our feelings are more than just a product of circumstance. And you haven’t been single in years. Do you even know yourself? If we still care about each other after I return home from Paris, then we’ll try this. But in order for this to work, you cannot wait for me. Don’t stop living your life. I won’t stop living mine.

            We have to keep our distance. I think letters, like this one, should be our only method of communication, should you choose to communicate with me at all. No phone calls, no visits. We need to do this right and this is the only way we can do that. Don’t feel like you have to write me back. You don’t. In fact, I’m expecting you to just crumple this up and throw it away and after everything I’ve said to you, I would deserve that.

            Please know I’m sorry for everything I said to you. I meant none of it. I do love you.

All my love,

Carmilla.

Laura cries herself to sleep that night, the letter clutched in her fist.

She wakes up the next morning to the smell of pancakes and the sound of her Dad knocking on the door to wake her up for breakfast. She takes her pancakes in bed that morning. She reads the letter over and over until the words start to blend together and she starts to memorize them. By the time she finally puts it down, she’s sure she could recite it word for word if someone asked her to.

She still doesn’t quite get it – why Carmilla lied to her but the pieces are starting to fall together.

That’s what she needed. She didn’t think Laura would give them to her. So she hopped on a plane and flew across countries just to get away from her. Because she loved her.

Okay, so it still wasn’t making a lot of sense.

But her intentions were clear. She hadn’t lied completely while they were fighting – she was afraid that Laura didn’t care about her beyond sex and without Danny in the picture. Laura got that. It was the only part of this she did understand. And if she thought about it, really thought about it, she was scared about that too. Well, scared of how Carmilla felt outside of being her…mistress.

Maybe they did need space.

And Carmilla was right. She hadn’t been single in years. Before Danny, she had a girlfriend in high school that she had been with long term.

She didn’t know how to be alone and that was something she could admit.

And if being alone for five months means that in the end, she gets Carmilla? Well she can wait. She could wait forever. She meant it when she said she wouldn’t stop fighting. She pulls out her a pen and stationary and writes out a response.

-

Carmilla,

            You’re damn right I’m mad at you.

            But I love you. And I’ll wait as long as I have to.

All my love,

Laura.

-

Paris is beautiful. She’s spent most of her time outside, sight-seeing. She has a roommate, a girl from England, and she doesn’t hold a candle to Laura. She figures she’ll be able to keep her hands to herself this time. She’s polite enough and she offered to give Carmilla a tour. She’d accepted. She spent most of it trailing a few feet behind, map open in her hands, pausing to take pictures of things she thinks Laura would enjoy. Maybe it’s pathetic, to be thinking about Laura when she’s supposed to be getting space, but she can’t help it.

She misses her.

She feels like she left her heart back at Silas and without it here with her, she can’t enjoy anything properly. Every inch of her aches for Laura. Aches to hold her, touch her skin and kiss her lips. At night, she faces the wall and she pretends she can feel Laura pressed against her. It doesn’t quite do the job but it’s enough to help soothe her to sleep.

She penned Laura’s letter the second she touched down in France. She couldn’t bear the thought of Laura hating her any longer. She had to explain herself. She checks her mail every day, though she knows it takes time for letters to get across country lines.

When she sits down to draw for the first time, sitting on her balcony with a view of the Eiffel tower, the only thing she can draw is Laura. She remembers every contour of Laura’s face, after all she sees it every time she closes her eyes, and she thinks she could probably draw her with her eyes closed.

She wonders if Laura would like Paris. Probably. Laura’s a sucker for the clichés and there’s nothing more cliché than Paris. Carmilla thinks that if Laura were here with her, she would take her to the top of the Eiffel tower and kiss her there so she truly knew what it felt like to be on top of the world.

She stays up all night that night. She drinks nearly a whole bottle of wine on her own and she draws Laura over and over again. She hangs the best one on the wall next to her so in some roundabout way, she’s with her. She watches the sunrise and it’s the prettiest sunrise she’s ever seen.

But it’s still got nothing on Laura.

She doesn’t sleep. She sits on the balcony until her head starts to pound so much that she can’t stand to look at the sun anymore and then she goes inside. She sits in the dark, tracing the lines she’s drawn of Laura’s face.

When she finally drifts off, piles of paper sitting in her lap, she dreams of Laura.

-

Laura,

            Paris is beautiful. Not as beautiful as you. Nothing is as beautiful as you.

            I miss you. Nothing here feels beautiful without you next to me to see it.

            I want to come back. I don’t need this. I only need you.

            How was your break? Spend time with your Dad? I know you were looking forward to it.

            Paris is wonderful. Everything I expected it to be. I’m enjoying myself.

            I hope your semester goes well.

Carmilla.

-

Her new roommate is moved in before she is.

She’s neater than Carmilla was, that’s for certain. Her bed sheets are blue and floral and everything is pristine. She’s the kind of roommate Laura would have loved to have before she found Carmilla.

Her name is Betty. She’s tall, blonde, and has a perpetual sneer on her face. Like she wants to be anywhere but here. She introduces herself with a limp handshake and a tight smile. Laura doesn’t try and ask her any questions. Laura’s things are exactly as she left them. She collapses onto her bed, burying her face into her yellow pillow. If she focuses hard enough, she swears she can even still smell Carmilla there. She feels a pull at her heart.

The semester starts and Betty proves herself to be the roommate that dreams are made of. She’s neat, she’s orderly, she turns off the lights promptly at 11:30pm and she studies silently. She doesn’t talk much to Laura, which Laura is more than fine with. Laura finds Betty to be kind of boring. She’s kind of monotone when she does speak and all she talks about is school. Even her clothing is boring. All different shades of grey, cream, and white. Laura swears the only color on her side of the room is the blue bed sheets.

The room doesn’t feel right without Carmilla.

That’s all there is to it.

Laura misses the spare clothing thrown onto the floor. She misses nearly tripping over the scattered paint brushes that somehow ended up on her side of the room. She misses having to kick dirty, red, lacy, underwear back onto Carmilla’s side of the room. She misses the smell of oil paints but never seeing paintings anywhere. She misses listening to Carmilla’s music while she pretended to listen to podcasts.

Really, she just misses Carmilla.

That’s all there is to it.

She spends more time than she wants to admit scrolling through all of her pictures, looking at the way Carmilla would smile at her.

She writes about that smile. She writes pages and pages about how warm it makes her feel. How that smile puts everything right.

How just looking at it reminds her that good things really are worth waiting for.

She’s still hurt, and maybe just a little bit angry, but she misses her too much to care about that.

She’d rather Carmilla just be in front of her. She could be angry then but she can’t be angry now when all she can do is miss her.

Without Carmilla, Laura can barely sleep. She’d gotten so used to the feeling of Carmilla’s body against hers, that she often finds herself waking up in the middle of the night, throwing her arm over air.

On the worst nights, the nights where Laura can’t keep her eyes shut for more than a few minutes without some part of her aching to touch Carmilla, she looks up flights to Paris. She knows it’s fantastical and ridiculous but she often wonders if it would be worth it to fly to see her. To find her. To kiss her and bring her home.

(But really – with Carmilla, Laura is home. She wonders if Carmilla feels the same).

She comes close, a few times. She hovers the mouse over the purchase button but then her mind wanders back to Carmilla’s first letter (We have to keep our distance. I think letters, like this one, should be our only method of communication, should you choose to communicate with me at all. No phone calls, no visits) and her fingers pull away. She wants distance. She wants space.

It might hurt her, but she can respect that.

She has to.

-

Carmilla,

            My break was fine. I spent a lot of time with my Dad. We decorated the house together, like I told you about, and it was nice. I wish you would have been there. It snowed a lot.

            I have a new roommate. Her name is Betty. Your Her side looks completely different now. A lot of blue. And she’s neat. Really neat. No more mess drifting onto my side, which is nice I guess. It’s different. I’m still getting used to it.

            It’s different without you here, too. But I’m glad Paris is everything you wanted it to be. You deserve it. You deserve to enjoy yourself. Keep me updated, okay? You’re my friend, Carmilla. Before you’re anything else. And I want to know how you’re doing. I always do.

            I love you.

            I miss you.

            Looking forward to hearing from you.

Laura.

-

She walks into her classroom, five minutes late because she spent entirely too much time rereading Laura’s most recent letter. Friend. She’d called her a friend. And it shouldn’t hurt her – it really shouldn’t, because she’s the one who did this, said they’d needed space from each other and effectively ended any semblance of a relationship that they had, but…they’d never been friends. Not even in the beginning. They were always more than that. How could Laura call what this was a friendship?

She pushes through the door, slightly out of breath, and in the middle of the classroom she sees a girl. She’s got caramel colored hair and Carmilla swears her heart stops beating. Or maybe it’s just beating too quickly to register. Her professor is glaring down at her over the edges of her glasses and she silently points to the only empty seat. Right in front of the model. Carmilla’s hands are sweaty and while rationally, she knows that there’s no way Laura is here, in Paris, let alone nude modeling for her figure drawing class, it doesn’t stop her nerves from nearly forcing her to flee the room.

Her face looks nothing like Laura’s. Neither does her body. The only resemblance between them is their strikingly similar hair colors. But she’s launched Laura into the forefront of Carmilla’s mind (as if she isn’t always there anyway) and when she starts to drag her pencil across the page, it seems that she can only draw Laura.

She tries to fix the jawline. She tries to fix the curve of her shoulders. She tries to fix the smile. But every time she redraws, she only ends up with the same result. Laura. Laura. Laura.

She’s frustrated by the time the class finishes. She hates that she can’t get this right. She hates that she can’t draw anything but Laura. That was the whole point of all of this – going to Paris. To separate herself from Laura. So after the class ends, and the model puts her rob back on, Carmilla walks up to her and she asks, “Would you be willing to model for me privately? I’ll pay.” Because she has to get this right. She has to get Laura away from her canvas. It’s bad enough she can’t get her out of her heart. The model smirks and Carmilla knows how it sounds. She doesn’t bother to correct her. If whatever she’s thinking about, gets her in front of Carmilla, by herself, she’s fine with letting her think it.

They exchange phone numbers and settle on a time.

When Carmilla gets a text message with a winky face ten minutes later, she ignores it.

She makes sure her roommate is out of the room and sets up a chair in the middle of the room. She sketches while she waits. Everything is still Laura. She sighs, frustrated, and she’s ready to throw her sketchbook at the wall. She nearly does when she hears a knock at the door. She doesn’t bother getting up. “Come in.” She half yells, half grunts. She hadn’t bothered to clean and the sneer across the girls face as she steps over a few pieces of unwashed clothing doesn’t escape her notice. She hopes that the lax atmosphere helps convey that Carmilla really only does want her here to draw her. Carmilla is still scribbling on a page of her sketchbook when she hears the girl clear her throat. She barely looks up. Instead, she just raises an eyebrow and glances up only momentarily. “What?” She asks, irritatedly, returning her eyes to the page.

“Where do you want me?” The girl practically purrs and that makes Carmilla’s hand still. She looks up, fully this time, to find the girl just a few inches in front of her face and totally naked. It doesn’t faze her – the naked female form doesn’t surprise her anymore, but she is shocked by the distance. Or lack thereof. She takes the pencil from the page and points it, eraser side, toward the chair in the middle of the room.

“You can sit over there. Position yourself however you’d like.” She says and she looks down while she waits for the girl to tell her that she’s ready.

When she finally does, and Carmilla looks up, Carmilla’s eyes widen and her hand stills.

She’s sitting with her legs wide open, everything on display. She’s got a smirk on her face and her tongue darts out to lick her lips. “You ready for me?” She asks and Carmilla can’t help but feel like she really, really isn’t.

She doesn’t start with her face. She works on her arms first. She tries to keep Laura out of her head. She focuses as intensely as she can on the contours of this girls arms. On the curve of her elbows. On the points of her shoulders. She spends much longer on details like her knuckles and the wrinkles of skin in the crease of her elbow than she’s used to but she’s willing to do anything to separate this girl from Laura on the page. That was her only real goal.

She draws her torso next. Her breasts are larger than Laura’s. That’s a difference that’s easy enough to capture. The difficulty comes in drawing her hips and stomach. She’s slight, like Laura is. Her hipbones jut out in that same familiar way that Laura’s do and her stomach is just toned enough to remind her of the circles she used to draw on Laura’s stomach when they would lay together.

But Laura has a beauty mark just against her left hip that Carmilla always loved to kiss and that’s something this girl doesn’t have. It’s easier, Carmilla finds, to focus on the differences instead of the similarities. It keeps her in the moment. Reminds her that the girl in front of her isn’t Laura and that even if she imagines or draws her that way, she won’t turn into her.

And maybe, maybe, that’s a good thing. Maybe she does have to stop looking for Laura everywhere. Maybe she does have to stop checking Laura’s Facebook every night before she falls to sleep. Maybe she has to stop hovering over her contact in her phone when she’s drunk and out of her head. She came to Paris to figure herself out. Not to dwell on Laura. The point was to keep living and if by the end, Carmilla still loved Laura and Laura still loved her, they would try. And Carmilla isn’t doing any living.

Maybe she needs something new. Someone new.

So when she finishes up the sketch and sends the girl on her way, with a dinner date set up for the following night, she tells herself that’s exactly what she needs.

-

Laura,

            I hate to tell you this through a letter, but as per the parameters for this correspondence that I’ve set, this is how it has to be.

            I’m going on a date with somebody.

            Total honesty is how I chose to approach this. While we are not together, and I don’t owe you details about anything, I’m choosing to tell you this in hopes that it won’t change our friendship. That is what you want, isn’t it? Friends tell each other these things.

            I hope that knowing this doesn’t change anything between us and that we can stay friends.

Carmilla.

-

She’s taken to reading the letters at her spot on the lake. None of them have been as long as that first one but it’s never worried Laura. She appreciates every word that Carmilla writes to her. She reads the letters so many times through that she memorizes them. She keeps them all though and she reads through them on the nights she finds it hard to fall asleep. She loves the way Carmilla writes her name. She traces it with a finger and it helps her feel just a little bit closer to her.

And a little less lonely.

Laura’s never really realized just how….isolated she had made herself. She’d never made anything other than acquaintances and without Danny, and without Carmilla, she’s….by herself.

She’s lonely. She’s sad more often than not and she can’t go to anybody about it.

She misses Danny. Not in a romantic or sexual way but she misses their friendship. She misses how Danny would listen to her, no matter what she had to rant about. She thinks about calling her, a few times, but she knows that Danny wouldn’t appreciate it.

So she writes about it instead.

Laura produces some of her best work out of the ache of missing Carmilla. She’s even thinking about submitting some of it to the literary magazine. She knows that both Danny and Carmilla would encourage her to do it, but she’s not sure she wants to put her heart out there like that. It’s bad enough her heart is already out there with Carmilla. That was more than enough for her.

When she gets Carmilla’s most recent letter, she shoves it in the front pocket of her coat (and the weather is starting to change, so she doesn’t need anything heavy anymore) and she walks swiftly to the lake. She finds a comfortable position on the rock, which has now seen her through the highest and lowest points of her year, and she tears open the letter, eager to see what stories about Paris Carmilla has for her.

When she reads the words written on the page, her hands begin to shake. The letter falls from her hands, into the water beneath her. She watches it as it floats away.

She’s out of breath. She feels like someone’s punched her straight in the chest. When Carmilla told her that she needed space, she never imagined…that it would be like this. That she would want to find that space with someone else.

Carmilla’s in Paris, living it up, while Laura is left here to miss her. Left here deal with Carmilla slipping through her fingers without being able to do anything about it.

Maybe that’s Laura’s punishment for everything that she’s done. She has to lose the person she loves because she’d forced Danny to do the same.

She has to admit that she deserves it but that doesn’t make it hurt any less.

It nearly makes her sick to think about someone touching Carmilla the way that Laura got to touch her (because she’s sure that’s where it will lead – anybody on a date with Carmilla would be stupid to not want to fuck her).

But that’s karma, she thinks to herself.

She deserves this. She doesn’t deserve to be happy. Not until her, what, 7 years of bad luck runs out? Does the punishment for being a shitty person have the same expiration date as breaking a mirror?

She goes back to her room and she ignores Betty as she stalks into the bathroom. She slams the door. Hard. She turns the shower on and she stands underneath the spray, letting the hot water scald her back. It hurts, but it’s got nothing on the feeling in her chest. She doesn’t move. She doesn’t wash her hair or her body. She just lets the water hit her back until it starts to go cold. When the warm temperature begins to fade into cool, it’s like Laura wakes up and the pain hits her all at once. Her eyes widen and she collapses into herself, her chest heaving. She chokes out a sob and she can’t feel her knees. She slides against the tile of the shower, her knees hugged close to her chest. The water is still hitting her and she leans her head back against the wall. She feels anger, sadness, and just everything bubbling up inside of her. So she does the only thing that she can think of to do to just fucking get rid of it. She screams. She screams as loud as she can and she doesn’t care who can hear her. She doesn’t care if she annoys Betty while she studies. She doesn’t care if the floor don, Perry, comes knocking at the door because it sounds like someone is getting slaughtered. She doesn’t care. For once. She screams until she feels herself go hoarse. And even when she’s finished yelling, she stays under the cold flow from the shower head until her tears dry and her body starts to shake.

-

She doesn’t sleep with her, though it’s clear that’s how the girl expects the date to go.

Nothing about this date had felt right.

Sleeping with someone else hadn’t been the answer. It didn’t get Laura out of her head. It didn’t stop her hand from drawing Laura’s face every time she was able to put pencil to paper. It didn’t solve anything. In fact, she’s sure all it did was fuck things up more. It was an impulse decision, a lot like the one she’d made when she decided to go after Laura in the first place, but this one did nothing but make her feel terrible. She feels guilty even though she knows she shouldn’t. She did nothing wrong. She and Laura weren’t together. She had every right to go out with someone else. It was what she intended to do when she left Silas in the first place.

But it still felt…wrong. Nothing with that girl felt right. Her fingers were shaky and uncoordinated and she kissed with too much tongue. Her voice was too high pitched and she kept trying to play footsie with Carmilla underneath the table.

(She wasn’t Laura – and that was the most important part.)

She knows that Laura wants them to be friends. But if there’s anything that’s clear to her, more than it’s ever been, it’s that Carmilla doesn’t want to just be Laura’s friend. She fucking loves her. For real. It wasn’t because she was something that Carmilla couldn’t fully have. It wasn’t because she belonged to someone else. It was because of her. It was because of everything she could do to Carmilla to make her unravel. It was because of how wonderful touching her made her feel. It was because of how all she wanted to go after coming was hold her and keep her close.

Carmilla loves her because of everything that she is.

But that still isn’t everything. Just because Carmilla knows that her feelings are genuine doesn’t mean she can trust that Laura’s feelings are. And Laura’s a cheater. Carmilla knows that she made her that way, that it was half her fault that she can even attach that label to Laura’s name, but truthfully, she hadn’t had to do much. Laura relented and she relented quickly. Who’s to say she wouldn’t do the same thing to her that she’d done to Danny?

Carmilla might love Laura but she certainly doesn’t trust her.

And that’s just as important as loving her.

And Carmilla wonders if it wouldn’t just be simpler to get over her. To move on. To find someone else.

But she doesn’t want anybody else. She wants Laura. And she’d give her a chance to earn her trust. Because that’s what you do for people that you love. Carmilla starts to think that being friends with Laura may not be a bad thing.

This all hits her, as she’s walking home from class while rain sprinkles down on her head. The street is empty and it reminds her of the day she and Laura had kissed in front of the library. Everybody else was seeking shelter from the rain but Carmilla finds that some of the greatest moments happen under the shroud of dark clouds and falling rain. She doesn’t hide from it.

The drops start to get bigger and they hit her straight on the forehead. She’s still a long ways away from her apartment so she figures she’s going to have to keep walking through the storm so she picks up her speed. She doesn’t bother trying to duck into a shop for cover. She can just shower when she gets back to her place.

The rain picks up and soon, it’s pouring. Carmilla is drenched, soaked all the way through, and she pauses. She drops her bag off of her shoulders. She spreads her arms out, letting the rain soak every part of her. She turns her face up toward the sky and she smiles.

She doesn’t know how long she stands there, with her arms outstretched and her face upturned toward the sky, but it’s long enough for her to feel…clean.

Like every bit of doubt and negativity that she’s had surrounding Laura is gone.

And all that’s left is love.

-

Carmilla,

            I hope she makes you happy.

            Was she as good as I was?

            Did you even mean it?

            Why did you do it?

            I love you.

            We’re still friends. Don’t worry.

Laura.

-

Laura’s never been a big drinker. She hates the taste of alcohol and it burns her throat when it goes down. All it does is make her flinch. Plus, she’s the ultimate lightweight. It barely takes two beers to knock her off of her feet. Danny used to make fun of her for it after every Summer Society party she would drag her to. She’s sure Carmilla would have done the same had they the occasion to get drunk together. But that was difficult to do when they hadn’t even been able to see each other outside of their dorm room in a sober setting.

But she hasn’t been able to get the heavy feeling out of her chest since Carmilla’s last letter and she’s always heard that alcohol makes you forget and there’s nothing Laura wants more right now than to forget everything. Forget Carmilla. Forget Danny. Forget herself.

She ends up at some bar that has a glowing green sign with a shamrock on it. It’s early, 10, and the bar is fairly empty when she arrives. She finds a seat toward the edge of the bar and the bartender is over to her quickly. She doesn’t know what to order, she doesn’t even know what kind of alcohol she likes. The only thing she’s ever really had is the cheap beer the Zeta’s manage to secure. But she remembers Danny ordering a whiskey on the rocks while they were at dinner once and liking how it tasted on her tongue after she kissed her. So she orders that. She ignores the questioning smirk the bartender gives her as she prepares the drink.

Laura stares at it for a few minutes. She picks it up, she swirls it around and listens as the ice hits the side of the glass. She lifts it to her lips and she takes a sip. Her nose wrinkles as the liquor goes down her throat. It burns. She coughs into her elbow. The bartender raises an eyebrow at her and Laura gives her the sharpest glare that she can muster. She can handle this. If she can handle…everything else, she can handle a little bit of alcohol burning her throat on the way down. She decides to bite the bullet and shoot down the rest in one go. She slams the glass down against the top of the bar and her face is wrinkled up but she manages to gesture toward the bartender and ask for another through a series of finger pointing gestures.

Laura’s two double whiskeys into her evening and the bar has started to fill up now. There’s a few familiar faces that she recognizes from her classes but nobody that she knows well enough to say hi to. She’s still sitting in her familiar corner spot and she’s nursing her third drink, rolling it between her hands. Her face is flushed and she knows her hair is probably a little bit out of control but she hasn’t forgotten anything yet. She’s about to take another sip of her drink when a familiar fleck of red hair catches her eye. She turns her head and sure enough, just a few people down, is Danny. She’s dressed nicely and her hair is done. She looks pretty. She’s flagging down the bartender with one of her long arms and she’s turning her head in Laura’s direction. Laura quickly turns her head away, shielding her face with her hair. She hopes that Danny didn’t notice her. She’s sure that even if she did, she wouldn’t say anything. Suddenly, she feels a gust of air against her right side and she turns her head to investigate. The people occupying the seats between she and Danny had gotten up to leave. Of course. Danny’s looking right at her. Laura chances a hesitant smile. Danny gives her a half smile back. Laura doesn’t know if she should say anything. Danny isn’t saying anything and it’s beyond awkward. But with the alcohol flowing through her, she finds something akin to bravery. Or maybe it’s just stupidity. She looks over to her and says, “You look good.” Danny jumps. She looks over at Laura and she’s glaring, initially, and Laura half expects her not to say anything in response. She gives her a small, bitter smile in response.

“Thanks.” She replies shortly. Danny turns back to the bar, eyes clearly scanning for the bartender.

“Are you here with anybody?” Laura asks and god, why can’t she just leave it alone? Danny doesn’t want to talk to her. But clearly, alcohol just makes Laura’s lips looser. Danny purses her lips and clenches her fist against the bar. Laura can clearly see her jawline, so she’s obviously gritting her teeth. Telltale signs of annoyance. She nods her head once.

“Yeah. A few Summer Society sisters and some Zeta’s.” She mutters. She leans over the bar now, widening her eyes in the direction of the bartender. Laura makes a noise of curiosity.

“Since when do you hang out with Zeta’s?” Laura blurts out and Danny lets out a sigh of frustration.

“Since when do you care, Laura?” Danny bites back and Laura bites down on her bottom lip. She nods. She doesn’t apologize, though maybe she should, and Danny doesn’t say anything else. The bartender comes over with a few open bottles of beer and Danny grabs them quickly. She shoots Laura one last angry look before heading back over to her table, where she sees a few faces that she recognizes. Elsie, one of Danny’s summer society sisters, and Kirsch and Will. Two Zeta’s that had been in her freshman year English lit class. Kirsch is smiling at Danny like a smitten puppy, even though she isn’t even looking at him, and Laura’s happy for her. That she has somebody to look at her like that. Like Laura should have looked at her.

Laura downs the last of this drink and then she pays her tab. She tries not to cringe at the price.

She leaves the bar after that, wandering around for a little while, until the alcohol really starts to hit her. She’s dizzy and somehow, sadder than she was before she even started drinking. She hates that even from miles away, Carmilla can still make her feel like this. That Carmilla has so much power over her. It’s not fair.

And maybe, someone ought to tell her that.

Yeah, Laura thinks, someone should tell Carmilla that she’s really not fair and she shouldn’t be able to make Laura feel so much from so far away.

Laura pulls out her phone and without thinking, she finally presses the call button that she’s been hovering over for weeks. The phone rings and Laura feels less and less confident in her decision to press call the longer the phone rings.

Finally, after 7 rings, she hears a sleepy, “Hello?” From the other side of the receiver. She lets out a breath of relief.

“You picked up! I didn’t know if you would because it was your idea not to talk to each other in the first place but you totally picked up and I’m glad.” Laura rambles. From the other side, Laura hears a few familiar sounds of Carmilla waking up. Then there’s an intake of breath.

“Laura, are you drunk?” She asks slowly, sleep still peppering her tone. Laura shrugs, forgetting for a moment that Carmilla can’t actually see her.

No. Just a little tipsy. It’s totally too early in the night to be drunk. You can’t be drunk until after midnight and it’s only 11. What time is it where you are? Is it super late? Or is the same time? I think it might be the same time. When I looked it up, google said Paris was still in this timezone. Were you sleeping? You were totally sleeping, I’m sorry.” Laura continues to ramble and Laura can’t deny how much her heart is swelling at the sound of Carmilla’s voice.

“That’s not how it works, cupcake.” Carmilla replies and Laura swears she hears affection in her voice. “Don’t worry about me. Where are you? Are you alone?” She asks. Laura blows a raspberry into the receiver.

“Totally. Ran into Danny at the bar and that was super awkward. I think she was on a date. But then I left and now I’m near this park but don’t worry, I totally know how to get back to our room.” Laura trails off. Even that’s too much for a drunk dial. “My room. My room.” Laura retracts and she hears bed creaking in the background. She wonders if there’s someone in there with her. “Are you alone?” Laura parrots and Carmilla sighs.

“Yes, I’m alone.” She says. Laura can’t stop the grin from spreading across her face.

“Good.” Laura murmurs in response. There’s silence for a minute.

“Are you moving?” Carmilla asks. Laura looks down. She shakes her head.

“No. I haven’t moved since I called you. Weird. I think everything is moving around me though.” Laura comments. Carmilla laughs.

“You have to get back to your room, Laura. Can you walk or do you need to call a cab?” Carmilla asks.

She called her Laura. She’d only ever done that once before and under rather horrible circumstances. Laura’s face softens into a smile.

“You called me Laura.” She comments, her voice the equivalent of mush. Carmilla snorts.

“It’s your name, isn’t it?” Laura giggles.

“Of course it is, silly, but you never ever call me Laura. It’s nice. Sounds really, really pretty coming from you.” Laura says through a yawn. There’s a length pause again and Laura nearly asks if Carmilla’s still on the line.

“You never answered me. Can you walk?” Carmilla says softly.

“Totally. I can totally walk. I can see the biology building from here so I know exactly where I am.” Laura says and she starts to walk toward the building.

“Stay on the line with me until you get in, okay? I want to make sure you’re alright.” Carmilla says and Laura agrees.

For most of the walk, Laura just drunkenly comments on what she’s seeing as she walks by. Carmilla occasionally comments but mostly, she just listens to Laura.

When Laura finally reaches her room, she leans against the door, the phone still pressed to her ear. She sighs into it. “It’s really nice to talk to you, Carm.” Laura whispers. Carmilla laughs lightly.

“It’s nice to talk to you too, cupcake. Even if you are drunk.” Carmilla replies. Laura grins.

“I miss you.” She says, her eyelids falling. They go quiet again. Laura’s head lulls back against the door and she starts to drift off.

“Yeah, I miss you too.” Carmilla replies and Laura smiles into the phone.

“I’m at my room.” Laura pauses. “Will you…will you let me call you tomorrow?” Laura asks, a little nervously.

“Go to sleep, Laura. We’ll talk soon, okay?” Carmilla says and it’s not quite an answer but it’s something. It’s more than she’s had in months and she’ll take anything that she can get from Carmilla at this point.

“Okay.” Laura replies. “Goodnight.” She continues.

“Goodnight, Laura.” Carmilla echoes and the line goes dead.

That night, Laura is able to sleep soundlessly.

She’s not sure if it’s because of the alcohol of because of Carmilla.

-

“Hey, Laura. It’s me. I wasn’t sure what time you would wake up, hopefully not well into the afternoon with how long you’ll need to recover from the hangover you’ll have, but I just wanted to say that it really was good to talk to you. I didn’t realize how much I missed your voice until I heard it. And if you would like, I want to open the lines of communication between us again. It was foolish of me to close them to begin with. So if you want to, you’re welcome to call me when you wake up.”

-

Hearing Laura’s voice, after months of nothing, felt like heaven.

It wasn’t holding her and it wasn’t touching her, but it did feel something like coming home.

She falls asleep with a smile on her face that night, for the first time since she’s been in Paris, and the moment she wakes up the next morning, she calls Laura. She’s sure that Laura won’t be awake. Nobody that had been in her state of inebriation should wake up before noon. It had to be written as law somewhere.

She’s taken to watching the sunrise from the balcony of her apartment. She enjoys greeting the day with a cup of coffee and watching the sun rise over the horizon. It’s been one of the small pleasures of being here. And one of the only good things.

She wants nothing more than to be back at Silas with Laura. Curled up against her, moving hair off of her face so she can watch her.

But she has to finish out her semester.

And the distance is still doing them some good. Carmilla meant it when she thought that being friends with Laura might be a good thing. She feels all of these intense things toward her but if she’s being honest, she doesn’t know all that much about her. And Laura certainly doesn’t know anything about her. She’s kept her past to herself. She knows she’s hiding some skeletons. She has to wonder if Laura is too.

She sketches while she waits for Laura to call back (and she’s sure that she will – if she remembers anything she said last night). For the first time since just after she arrived, she just allows herself to draw Laura’s face. She doesn’t try and morph it into something that it isn’t. And that feels good.

It’s 11am when the phone rings. Carmilla picks up it up immediately. “Hello?” She breathes into the receiver and she’s greeted with a hefty groan in response. “Feeling good then?” Carmilla asks and all she hears is another grunt.

“Someone dropped an anvil on my head last night, I’m sure of it.” Laura whispers and Carmilla laughs.

“That’s a hangover cupcake.” She comments. “What are you doing awake? You should be sleeping.” Laura huffs, loudly.

“My roommate decided that 10:30am was the perfect time to start studying for her midterm. Complete with the slamming of textbooks down on the desk.” Laura complains. Carmilla smirks. It is nice to hear that Laura’s new roommate seems to do nothing but annoy her.

Though, that’s all Carmilla did in the beginning too.

“Unfortunate, that.” Carmilla retorts and there’s silence for a few moments. Carmilla takes a deep breath and then she says, “Look, I’m sorry I shut you out. I had some things that I needed to figure out.”

“And did you? Figure them out?” Laura asks after a few more beats.

“I did.” Carmilla pauses and she hopes that Laura doesn’t take it the wrong way. “I think…you were right when you called us friends. That’s what we need to be right now. We have to rewind. Do things right.” Carmilla explains and Laura is quiet of a few moments.

“Yeah. Yeah okay. That’s probably a good idea.” Laura agrees. Carmilla hadn’t realized how much she feared Laura outright rejecting her, rejecting this, until she’d heard her agreement. “So, friend,” and Laura doesn’t say the word with any spite or malice, more of curiosity, “Tell me what you’ve been up to. Your letters haven’t been all that detailed and I want to know everything about Paris.” Laura asks.

Carmilla’s face settles into a smile. “I have to send you a picture of this view. You’d be so jealous….”

-

“It’s midnight.”

“I know, I can read the clock.”

“Know what day it is, cupcake?”

“…my birthday.”

“Your birthday.”

“You remembered?”

“Of course I remembered. I’ve never forgotten anything you told me.”

“Even the watermelon story?”

Especially the watermelon story…You have any plans for today?”

“No. My Dad already sent my present. I was just going to watch movies.”

“…Would you want to watch movies with me? On Skype or something?”

“You don’t have anything better to do?”

“Better than you? Absolutely not.”

-

Laura blows out the candle on the birthday cupcake she bought for herself and she wishes for Carmilla.

She wishes she were next to her. She wishes they could hold hands like they did while they watched Titanic together. She wishes that she could rest her head against Carmilla’s chest and listen to her heartbeat.

But even if she were here, they wouldn’t be able to do those things. Because those aren’t things that friends do. And that’s what they are now. Friends. Laura knows that maybe that’s her own doing. Her own fault for calling them friends in that second letter. And Laura supposes that having Carmilla as friend is better than not having her at all. And really she’s learned more about her in the few weeks that they’ve been friends than she learned while they were….whatever they were before.

It’s nice to talk to her and know that everything she’s getting from her isn’t some ploy to get her into bed. Every question she asks, every tidbit of her past that she offers, is given because she wants Laura to know it. She wants Laura to know her. But all this friendship has succeeded in doing is making Laura fall even more in love with her and make her more sure that Carmilla is who she wants for the rest of her life.

It’s nearing midnight and they’ve been watching movies all day long. Carmilla’s commentary on the movies has been more entertaining than any of the movies themselves and Laura can’t remember the last time she laughed this hard.

The final movie is rolling the credits and they’re sitting in companionable silence. Laura is staring at Carmilla, who is scribbling something in her sketchbook. She looks up, with a grin, and says, “Close your eyes.” Laura give Carmilla a strange look but she complies. She squeezes her eyes tightly shut. A few seconds later Carmilla speaks again. “Okay. You can open them.” When Laura does, she sees a drawing being held against the webcam. It’s of the two of them, sitting together on the bed, watching the laptop screen. Above it, written in rather ornate script, is ‘Happy Birthday, Laura’. Laura’s grin is wide and she squeals in excitement. Carmilla lowers the book. She’s biting down nervously on her bottom lip. “You like it?” She asks. Laura nods emphatically.

“I love it. Thank you.” Laura says. Carmilla’s smile is lopsided and she runs a hand through her hair, messing up her bangs, and Laura wishes more than anything that she could reach out touch her. Kiss her as a thank you for the drawing. But she can’t.

“I’ll give it to you when I come back.” Carmilla says, bringing Laura out from her reverie. Laura smiles softly, thinking about Carmilla coming back. “Which is in a few weeks.” Carmilla leaves the statement hanging between them and Laura doesn’t know how to respond. How Carmilla expects her to respond.

“Are you excited to come back?” Laura asks tentatively. Carmilla shrugs.

“I guess. There are some things I’m looking forward to more than others.” And even through the screen, Carmilla manages to pin Laura in her spot with nothing more than a look.  “I still haven’t chosen my summer classes yet.” Carmilla adds after a few moments of Laura’s silence. Laura shoots her a confused look. “I have to pick them before I come back otherwise I won’t be able to stay on campus for the summer.” She continues, noticing the look on Laura’s face.

“Don’t you have family to stay with?” Laura asks and Carmilla shakes her head. They hadn’t had the family talk and Laura’s noticed that Carmilla avoids talking about her family if she can. She doesn’t want to pressure her but she can’t deny that she’s curious. She only knows that Carmilla’s mom is dead but she’s fairly certain that Carmilla telling her that had been an accident.

“I haven’t had…family to stay with in quite a long time, cupcake.” Carmilla says and it’s the most Laura’s gotten from her about this and she has to admit that it sparks her curiosity even more.

“You know…if you want to tell me about them, you could. I would listen.” Laura says and Carmilla freezes for a moment. And then she nods.

“My biological parents were killed.” She murmurs. She isn’t looking up at Laura, which is probably a good thing because Laura’s eyes go wide and she’s sure her jaw is dropping. “I was 7. Robbery gone wrong. I was at a friend’s house that afternoon. If I hadn’t been…” She trails off and Laura knows what she’s trying to say. “I went into foster care after that. Horrible system. Most families I went to just…wanted me for the extra cash. Nobody cared beyond that.” Carmilla continues with a shrug. Laura can tell that she’s trying to play nonchalant. Laura doesn’t dare say anything, she doesn’t want to interrupt, and Carmilla continues. “I was 16 when I met Ell. She was the daughter of one of the foster family’s I was living with. They were…homophobic to say the least but they were the ones that treated me the best. It was the best setup I’d had since I entered the system. But I fell in love with her. She convinced me that together, we could defy everything, including her parents.” She’s getting a little choked up now. “They found out about us, of course they did, and they kicked me out. I had hoped that once her parents were out of the picture, we could really be something. She never tried to talk to me after that.” Carmilla shrugs, wiping at her eyes. “That was the last place I’d been able to call home.” And she looks up at Laura now. “Until you.” Laura’s smile is lighting up her face now and she allows her hand to drift in front of the camera, so the outline of it is pressed against it. Carmilla does the same and if Laura closes her eyes, she can pretend she can feel the warmth of Carmilla’s hand against her own.

“Me too.” Laura whispers and she hopes Carmilla understands what she means.

That Carmilla is home to Laura too.

-

“I bought too many things, Laura.”

“I told you that you didn’t need that last minute shopping trip, Carm.”

“I needed a beret! I was in Paris and I never bought myself a beret. It was necessary.”

“It wasn’t. How many suitcases do you have?”

“…three.”

“Where are you going to put them when you get settled into your room? The dorm is half the size of your apartment.”

“I’ll be living by myself. I don’t have to share my space. I’ll find a way to fit everything.”

“You’re ridiculous…Are you excited?”

“To see you? Absolutely.”

“I meant to be back here, silly.”

“I’m more excited about seeing you. We still on for dinner after I settle back in?”

“Of course. I’ll pick you up.”

“Perfect…Hey, Laura?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m glad we decided to be friends.”

“….Yeah. Me too.”

-

The moment her plane leaves the ground in Paris, her heart is in her throat. She wants to sleep, maybe, or just find some way to relax but all she can think about is that in a few hours, she’ll be seeing Laura.

She’ll be able to hug her again.

They’ll be able to talk.

Carmilla will be able to tell her that she loves her, really, and that she wants to try this. Try being a ‘them’. And she can only cross her fingers and hope that Laura feels the same way. Hope that Laura wants the same thing that she does.

She tries to take a nap. She tries to do anything to relax herself. She wishes she’d bought herself a first class ticket so she could sit in the reclining chairs and just drink herself relaxed. But she figures that perhaps it’s best if she doesn’t meet up with Laura piss drunk and loose lipped. None of that would be good. So she sticks to staring out of the window, imagining every possible scenario for the night. Both positive and negative. She hopes it only goes well but with them? Anything is possible. She’s learned not to expect anything.

-

Laura told Carmilla that they would have dinner together after Carmilla had already landed and settled back into her summer dormitory.

But she had a plan.

Laura wasn’t going to wait any longer than she had to. She wanted Carmilla in her arms the moment she touched ground in Styria and she would do anything to make that happen.

She’d dreamed of some dramatic airport scene when Carmilla had left her. There was nothing saying that she couldn’t get her dramatic airport scene when Carmilla returned. And she was sure that she was going to get it.

She makes a sign out of cardboard, like she’d seen in all of those movies. She writes Carmilla’s name in boxy letters in sharpie, surrounding it with hearts. Maybe it’s cheesy, maybe it’s stupid, and maybe Carmilla won’t appreciate it but during this whole thing, it’s been Carmilla to make the big gestures and Laura figures it’s her turn to give one back to Carmilla. She deserved it. She deserved a lot of things but this was the only thing she could give her right now.

She spends her cab ride to the airport, tapping her fingers against her knee. She chomps down on her bottom lip and she thinks that she’s going to make herself bleed before she even gets to the airport. She’d asked Carmilla four times what time her flight landed back in Styria. The time, 4:30, was practically imprinted on the forefront of her brain now. She’d probably never forget it. When the cab pulls up in front of the airport and Laura stumbles out of the side, she nearly drops the sign on the floor. Her fingers are shaking as she shoves a $20 at the driver and tells him to keep the change. It’s 4:25. She’s still got time. She stands at the base of the escalator where she sees a long flow of people from various flights coming down. She situates herself, next to the tuxedo-ed limo drivers and holds up her sign. She doesn’t care if she looks silly or ridiculous. All that matters is Carmilla.

-

The ride is turbulent and Carmilla swears she nearly vomits at least three times.

When the plane finally touches down, she can’t get off the plane fast enough.

She’s irritated from the turbulent ride, she’s nervous for the rest of the rest of her night, and both of things together just add up to sheer annoyance. She doesn’t have the patience to shove through the rest of the crowd so she waits until the crowd in front of her has dissipated and then she walks out into the aisle of the plane, her carryon slung over her shoulder.

She has headphones in her ears and she stays a good distance behind the rest of the crowd. She keeps her eyes trained toward the ground until she reaches the escalator that leads down to baggage claim.

She chances a glance up and around the first floor of the airport and one thing catches her eye. One person. She has to do a double take.

Standing at the bottom of the escalator with a cardboard sign that has her name doodled on it. She’s looking up at her with a bright grin that Carmilla can’t help but return. Now she wants to push through the crowds in front of her and she swears the escalator isn’t going nearly fast enough. She needs to be next to Laura now. She’d been away from her for long enough. She just wants to hug her. Finally, she reaches the bottom and she quickens her pace until she’s standing directly in front of Laura. With a shy, lopsided grin, she says, “You’re here.”

-

Laura can’t describe the feeling in her chest when she sees Carmilla at the top of the escalator. If it’s possible, she’s gotten even more beautiful. Stunning beyond comprehension. Even just seeing her nearly knows her off of her feet. She can’t stop a grin form forming when she watches Carmilla’s eyes float up and they make eye contact. Laura’s grin grows when she watches Carmilla’s smile slowly spread across her face. God, she looks so wonderful when she smiles. Laura hopes that she gets to see that smile every day for the rest of her life. She would be lucky.

Laura’s grin is large when Carmilla stands in front of her. She gives her a shy smile and it takes all of Laura’s self-control not to just drop the sign and kiss her right there. She wants to. The only thing stopping her is that Carmilla might not want her to. So she sticks with a smile. “You’re here.” Carmilla murmurs and Laura throws her head back. She shakes her head and takes a step toward Carmilla. She drops the sign into one of her free hands. She uses the other to tuck a few stray strands of hair behind Carmilla’s ear.

“Of course I am. I couldn’t let you touch down with nobody here to greet you.” Laura replies and Carmilla looks at her with wide, vulnerable eyes. She isn’t hiding anything. There’s a light sheen in front of her eyes and Laura hopes that she doesn’t cry. She doesn’t want Carmilla to cry. This is a good moment (at least she hopes it will be) and she doesn’t want any tears to ruin it. Carmilla shakes her head at her. She drops her carryon onto the floor and throws her arms around Laura’s neck. She buries her face in the side of Laura’s neck and Laura grips the back of her head tightly. God, she smells so wonderful. Even just being able to smell her is enough. But it’s got nothing, nothing, on being able to hold her again. She fits against Laura like a puzzle piece. She belongs with her. It may have taken a series of shitty choice and bad circumstances to get them here but they’re finally here. Together. And Laura has no intention of letting her go any time soon.

Ten months ago, Laura never would have imagined this. She never would have imagined she would be able to live without Danny. She never imagined she would fall in love with her annoying new roommate. She never imagined that any of this would be her life. And yeah, a lot of shitty things happened along the way but with Carmilla here in her arms, knowing that she genuinely loves her, she wouldn’t have done this differently (with a few exceptions. Like telling Danny first).

Carmilla pulls back, dragging a hand up to Laura’s cheek, rubbing a thumb across her cheekbone. She leans their foreheads together. She licks her lips and Laura thinks that maybe she might kiss her. She doesn’t. Instead, she looks into her eyes and she says: “It’s good to be home.”