"Carm? Carm?" Laura looked into the lighted room, but it was empty aside from her. Out of bed now, she crossed over to Carmilla's desk. There were no dirty cups on the counter, no poetry books sitting on the bed frame. Inside of the closet, shirts were folded and stacked neatly. Carmilla's bed was empty and made, everything tucked in and lined up. There was an overwhelming feeling of emptiness. And then Laura remembered, Carmilla didn't live in this room any longer. No, Carmilla had died more than three weeks ago, defeating the Dean of the university in their quest to save the students from sacrifice. Everything of Carmilla's lay empty and untouched because no one had come for it, and Carmilla never would.
Laura thought of the pit filled with blinding white light, and Carmilla wrestling with the vampires. She saw her fall into the abyss, sword in hand, and she saw her smirking face, "Oh, Cupcake."
"Laura." Laura felt strong hands on her arms, shaking her carefully. "Laura, honey, wake up."
Laura opened her eyes to her dorm room. Only one light was on, the dimness a welcome juxtaposition to the room she had just left. Her eyes fell on the form in front of her, and she recognized the dark hair and worried lines of her face. "Carm, thank God." She shot up and pulled Carmilla into a hug, to remind herself that she was real.
"You were mumbling in your sleep, and then you were screaming." Carmilla said into her hair.
"You were dead,” was all Laura could think to say. "You were dead, and the room was empty, and you were gone, Carm. Gone forever, into that pit." Laura was a little embarrassed to hear tears in her voice.
But Carmilla was holding her tight, and rubbing her back comfortingly. "Don't worry, Sweetie. I'm not dead."
"God," Laura said, pulling back. "I wish I would stop having these dreams."
It was, in fact, the third night in two weeks that Laura had dreamt of an empty room and Carmilla's death in that cave.
"You're wearing your bat charm?" Carmilla asked.
"Yeah, but would that even do anything for nightmares?"
"Probably not." Carmilla laughed off-handedly. "This is most likely just good old-fashioned PTSD."
“Ugh.” Laura pulled her knees to her chest, recovered a little now. “It’s horrible.”
“What we’ve got to do, I think,” Carmilla said, thoughtfully, “is somehow convince your subconscious mind that I’m alive.”
“Did you study under Carl Jung or something?” Laura asked, wondering at the fact that Carmilla very well could have.
Carmilla’s nose wrinkled in disdain. “Listen to anyone who was friends with that creep Freud? No, thank you. Even back then, plenty of people knew they were crackpots.” Carmilla looked troubled, glaring in the general vicinity of Laura’s Tardis mug, which hadn’t done her any harm, as far as Laura knew.
“What about an ancient spell? Do you remember reading anything in your Sumerian virgin-eating book?”
Carmilla shook her head.
“If there is,” Laura continued, determined to wipe off of Carmilla’s face the troubled look that her own nightmares had put there. “Then I’m happy I haven’t jumped you yet. It’s been hard keeping my virginity while you’re in my room all of the time.”
At that Carmilla went into a coughing fit. When she recovered, she stared at Laura with wide eyes, scandalized. “Jeez, Laura, timing, much?”
“But then again, now that I bring it up,” Laura continued, scooting a millimeter closer to her, but enough to make the blood- did that make sense? something- seem to drain from Carmilla’s face. “I don’t really know what’s kept us from getting intimate. Do you want to have that conversation? It seems more important than nightmares to me right now, somehow.”
Laura was proud of her seductive acting skills. She had succeeded so well with them back when Operation Seduce-Carmilla-to-tie-her-up-and-demand-answers was happening. It was becoming increasingly clear that this was Carmilla’s weakness.
“This is so not a conversation that we should have right now,” Carmilla said, eyes wide. Laura saw her eyes flick for a second down to her lips, and then back. There was no sign of Carmilla’s blasé façade, and it made Laura’s heart jump in her chest when she realized this might be a look that only Laura got from her. The realization that Carmilla was vulnerable around her was at once exciting and terrifying. As far as Laura knew, Carmilla had fallen in love only once, with Elle, and Laura didn’t know if Carmilla could ever feel as strongly about Laura as she had about Elle. And Laura hadn’t realized that that is what this might become, a true love.
Laura recovered quickly from this train of thought, and found Carmilla fidgeting in front of her.
Laura decided to barrel on. “Well, can I give you a kiss goodnight?” she said, catching Carmilla’s gaze. “Just one kiss, I promise.” The smile she gave Carmilla now was wide; genuine.
“Of course you can, Creampuff,” Carmilla said, confidence returning to her tone. She leaned close to Laura, and said with a smirk, “Da mi basia mille. But, tonight, one is perfect.”
“You know, surprisingly enough, I did not learn Latin in school,” Laura said, with a matching smirk. “But by no means should that make you stop speaking it.” Laura finished closing the distance between them, and pressed a chaste kiss to Carmilla’s lips. They were warm and soft, devoid of the lipstick that her not-yet-official-but-probably-soon-girlfriend wore by day.
Why a vampire’s lips should be warm was beyond Laura; La Fontaine was the novice biologist. But Carmilla lifted a hand to cup Laura’s face, and her fingers were cold as she stroked Laura’s cheekbone softly.
“Goodnight, Carmilla,” she said, and pushed her playfully off of the bed with her hands, and then her feet.
Carmilla huffed theatrically, and in two seconds, Laura's bedside lamp was off. Laura’s eyes weren’t as adept at functioning in the dark as her computer camera was, so she couldn’t see Carmilla’s face when she said “Goodnight, Laura.” But in the tone, she could practically hear the quirked eyebrow.
Laura drifted into consciousness to the sound of birds chirping, and the feeling of a light, comfortably brisk midday breeze on her skin.
She sat up and sensed, in addition the sound and sensation on her skin, a mixture of pleasant scents. She immediately traced these to a bouquet of flowers on her bed frame, and a plate of chocolate chip cookies on her desk in front of her. She was also greeted by the sight of several towers of leather-bound books piled on Carmilla’s empty bed across from her.
Laura scrambled out of bed, and attacked the pile of cookies. They were warm to the touch, and smelled delicious. She was eating a second one, and peering over to read the title written on the front of the closest book to her when the dorm room door opened, and Carmilla walked in.
“I see you’ve found the cookies,” Carmilla said, as she threw her keys onto her desk.
“Uh, yeah, when was Perry in here?”
Carmilla put her hands on her leather-clad hips. “Excuse me, Perry? I made those cookies.”
“Really?” Laura said, surprised. “You can cook?”
Carmilla huffed. “I can do a lot of things, okay?” She faltered, “I mean, okay, I had Perry help a little, but I totally did the important part, buying the mix and measuring things out.”
“Well, they’re really good. Although, I don’t know what I did to deserve them.”
Carmilla dropped her backpack on the floor, and sat down on a portion of her bed that was book-less. “I did some research,” she said.
“Some?” Laura cut in, gesturing to the mini-library with her cookie.
“And I found a few theses saying that nightmares can be warded off by providing an environment of comfort and familiarity, so that the subconscious mind is in a peaceful state. So, I figured maybe if I surrounded you by smells that make you happy, you won’t think you’re-- unhappy-- anymore.” Carmilla was looking at her nails now, hiding her self-consciousness in her hardcore image.
“That’s really sweet, Carm,” Laura told her. She stuffed the cookie in her mouth, and pushed the two towers of books next to Carmilla towards the foot of the bed. She retrieved the plate of cookies from her desk and climbed into the spot next to Carmilla. “It’s kind of the sweetest thing anyone’s done for me in a while.”
Carmilla gave her a genuine smile and said “Don’t worry about it, Cupcake.” Then her face changed. “Oh God, are you going to eat that entire plate of cookies right now? That is disgusting.”
Laura stared down her look of horror. “Duh, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Haven’t you heard that in the last 200 years?”
“This is terrible.” Carmilla put her head in her hands.
“What's not terrible is that I didn't have any more nightmares last night. In fact," she looked at the room, and pointed out the bouquet next to her bed. "Noone but you would put funeral flowers in a dorm room. Not even my subconscious could make an excuse for that."
Carmilla gave her a withering look.
"Hold this for a sec.” Laura happily put the plate of cookies on Carmilla’s lap, certain that if Carmilla was returning to sarcasm, she was adequately reassured.
She grabbed her computer from her desk and brought it back onto Carmilla’s bed with her. She opened it, and clicked through a couple of screens.
“You move into my bed with a plate of cookies and now you’re ignoring me?” Laura didn’t respond, so Carmilla grabbed her book of Poe from her headstand and opened it to a random page. But soon, her curiosity clearly got the better of her. “What are you even doing?” The raised eyebrow was there when Laura looked over.
“Downloading a Latin translator app.” Laura closed the computer and tossed it to the end of the bed, where it smashed into a precariously stacked tower of books, sacrificing them to the inescapable force of gravity. “Now give me my breakfast.” She grabbed the cookies from Carmilla’s lap, and was happy to find that Carmilla was giggling beside her, something she was totally going to out her for the next time she was rude to Danny.