"We'll see you two later, bye!"
"Keep Perry safe!
The door vibrated in its frame from the enthusiastic closing that it had gotten as Lafontaine and Laura made their exit, leaving Perry and Carmilla alone in the room together. Tension was practically rolling off of Perry's frame as she nervously paced back and forth, her jaw working slightly and eyes darting from Carmilla to different points in the room as she struggled to find a way to politely excuse herself without implying something she'd rather not. Carmilla stared at the page of her book from her sprawled position on her bed, waiting for the moment Perry would crack. The wait only dragged on for a few moments, however, because Perry's eyebrows furrowed as she came to a realization.
"I should go work on my German paper! I need to meet this deadline to get out of my final, and missing it would be a terrible blow to my study schedule, so I'm going to go work on that now." The words flowed fast and were tinged with desperation as Perry's hands fluttered with the need to be productive.
Carmilla's gaze flicked from the page on her book to Perry and her eyebrow raised.
"Why didn't you say something, Gingersnap? I cringe at the thought of you missing such an important deadline. Come on, let's see how painful this paper of yours is." Carmilla closed her book and placed it on her bed with the utmost reverence before rising to her feet. After a short pause where Perry took a deep breath and her shoulders dropped slightly, Carmilla tentatively entered her personal space and offered Perry her arm.
"Well, milady? Will we be journeying to your room to complete your paper? Or shall we allow ourselves to stand about and collect wool as we waste away your precious opportunity?" The faux English accent Carmilla slipped into was terrible and her sarcasm was thick, but the smile that toyed at the corners of Perry's lips was genuine.
There was a moment of hesitation from Perry before she tucked her hand into the crook of Carmilla's elbow and whilst there was still a tightness to her neck and jaw, Carmilla hoped it had more to do with her paper than it did with Perry being in contact with her.
"If you insist on coming with me as I work, then we should probably go now." Carmilla smirked as she matched her step to Perry’s as they left the room, who stopped for a moment to shut the door behind them. Carmilla smiled, the corners of her eyes crinkling slightly at the small gesture.
Perry and Carmilla stayed largely in step with each other as they passed down the hall. There were a few curious glances directed towards them by other girls on the floor, but Carmilla tilted her head slightly and gave them a knowing look which caused the onlookers to vanish behind their doors as Perry looked at Carmilla reproachfully. She shrugged, unwilling to apologize for the small act.
"They were judging you for being near me. I just gave them a reminder that they're in no position to do so."
They slowed outside of Perry's room, and her eyes widened slightly in disbelief.
"How did you do that with a look?" Carmilla opened the door for her, and Perry dropped her hand from Carmilla's arm as she walked in. She made a beeline straight to her desk against the far wall, and Carmilla moved from the closed door to stand in the center of the room.
"Most of them have tried flirting with me, so I really only need a look." Carmilla replied with a shrug.
She was studying the room; it was largely filled with Perry-ish things, but there were marks left by LaFontaine almost everywhere she looked. However, it was the pegboard close to the bed which caught her attention; the pictures pinned to it were overlapping. She moved closer, and looked at what felt like the timeline of Perry and LaFontaine's lives. Them meeting, playing pretend, going to events and games and dances together. There were a few with family. A portrait from their senior prom, snapshots from their early days around campus. Some of the pictures were more recent, images of Laura and Danny and even one of her when she was reading the tome of Do Not Want.
"I like to keep pictures of people that are important to me." Perry's voice quietly answered the unvoiced question on Carmilla's mind. She looked to Perry and tilted her head a little, her face broadcasting her confusion.
"You saved LaFontaine and Laura and the whole school, Carmilla. And...and you came back. That all means more to me than I can ever say." The air was full of things unsaid, but Carmilla could see the tension radiating through Perry's body.
"So, this paper of yours? Let me see what you've gotten done on it." She crossed the room as Perry turned back to her laptop, scrolling to the top of her paper.
"It's done, but it's also...not done. There are points where it doesn't flow like it should, and I'm more than frustrated with it." She dragged her hand through her red hair, her voice pitching higher in sheer frustration.
Carmilla hovered at Perry's shoulder, scanning for any problems, casually making slight changes to the words Perry had chosen to use and some of the grammar every now and then. She hummed as her hands hovered over the keyboard, debating on what exactly needed to be changed a few pages into it. She was close enough that Perry could feel Carmilla's body warmth. She knew it should bother her, she's never liked anyone but LaFontaine in her personal space, but if she was honest, she'd rather Carmilla invade her personal space than still think of her as among the fallen few in the battle that centered around Carmilla's selflessness and selfishness.
"Hmm, I think that about covers it. You should be good to submit it now, and with an hour to spare." Carmilla's smile was small and slow, but clear to Perry as she pulled out of her personal space. She walked away from the desk and dropped herself onto Perry's bed while Perry scrolled through the edits that Carmilla made. The paper flowed even smoother than Perry could have hoped, and she sent it to her professor as soon as she finished reading it.
"Thank you so much, Carmilla. I was afraid that I'd never get the kinks out of it in time!" Perry powered down her laptop, before turning to look at Carmilla. In that moment, as she saw how Carmilla was lounging across the bed, she couldn't help but remember her sprawled limply in Danny’s arms while she was carried across campus, or how small she had seemed when the Dean forced her to choose between Laura and Kirsch. How she looked as she changed from panther to person, as she fought the Dean, as she leapt into the Light to kill it.
"Hey, it wasn't that big of a deal. It was even on an interesting topic...prinzessin." Perry goaned at the term, and Carmilla couldn't help the full blown grin that spread across her face at her reaction.
"Carmilla, I'd really like if you didn't call me princess, please. In any language. LaFontaine had teased me relentlessly about my princess stage, and I really don't feel like inviting that back into my days." She leaned back in her chair and rolled her neck to try and get some of the tension out. Carmilla watched her like a hawk, noting both the physical and emotional discomfort.
"Princesses were once something to be loved and admired and often had the best lives possible at the time, there's nothing wrong with having wanted to be one. Besides, some grew to be fear inspiring queens, and warriors at that! So LaFontaine clearly was an unintentional ass as a child. And you were fearsome enough at the fight to more than earn the that term of affection from me." She moved from her lazing position on Perry's bed to leaning forward, a fire burning in her eyes as she spoke.
"You...feel that strongly about people using princess as an insult?" Perry could sense that there was more to it than just the topic at hand.
"It's foolish to throw around gendered insults like that. And once, a very long time ago, I was a Countess, myself. So yeah, I have a bit of a problem with that." She gave a low, mocking laugh at her own passionate defense, and leaned back slightly.
"Anyway, now that your paper is done, do you want to go to the cafe? We could get some hot chocolate or something while we wait for LaFontaine and Laura to either come back or send out the bat signal." Carmilla started playing with the fringe of the quilt on Perry’s bed and broke off eye contact to stare at the patterns on it.
Perry could feel her heart break slightly at the nervous display.
"Sure. Should we go now?"
Carmilla rose from the bed, and Perry stood to match her. There was a slight pause, and then Carmilla offered Perry her arm again.
"Milady?" It was minimally sarcastic, and her smirk was almost a real smile. Perry shook her head before taking her arm, knowing that Carmilla was only going to keep doing it, and they left the room.
"You should tell me more about your paper's topic. It's not too often that I find someone who's annoyed by the same things that I am, prinzessin, and I'm impressed." Carmilla said with a toothy grin as she closed the door behind them. Perry's gentle laugh could be heard as they made their way down the hall.