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Fate is Kind

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When Danny came bounding into their shared dorm room with a manic glint in her eyes, Carmilla instantly knew that she was going to dislike whatever it was that was going to come out of her mouth.

“What is it, and how much will I have to suffer?” She deadpans from behind her copy of Camus’ The Stranger.

“Minimal suffering only, Summer Society honor.” Danny holds up a hand, a small smile tugging at the corner of her lips.

“Minimal suffering in the form of…?” Carmilla offers, still not looking up from her book.

“Some uncomfortable weather. Maybe some uncomfortable shoes. But I swear, it’s going to be completely worth it.”

Carmilla doubts that entirely until the words Walt Disney World left her friend’s lips. Liking Disney is one-hundred percent not punk rock, but Carmilla has to admit it’s one of her favorite places in the world. It’s one of the only places where she gets to feel like she’s reclaiming some lost childhood, where she can forget every shitty thing that’s happening in her life— if even for just a weekend.

Her doubt returns full force, however, when Danny follows up with two more words: Dapper Day.  

“Oh no. No, no. I’m not about to parade all over that park in a dress that makes me look like a 1940’s housewife. You know I don’t mind going to the parks with you and Kirsch, but there’s no way—no way—you’re getting me to dress up for it.”

Danny’s influence and stubbornness is such that no matter how stubborn Carmilla herself is, Danny inevitably always gets her way. Especially when she enlists their other best friend, Kirsch, to help.

“Come on, bro. The three of us will look totally hot in fancy clothes. And Danny’s Disneybounding idea is awesome, you have to admit it.”

“Having said restrictive and outdated clothing look like we’re playing dress up as the Three Caballeros does nothing whatsoever to brighten my disposition towards the idea.”

“But look dude, Donald is your favorite Disney character—”

“Because you’re such a grump,” Danny adds, rolling her eyes.

“So you can be him. And Danny will go as Panchito ‘cuz of her hair, and I’ll go as Jose, ‘cuz I look damn hot in green.”

“I don’t see how any of this makes me feel better about prancing around in an outfit that will probably be disgustingly uncomfortable.” Carmilla has to admit though, Kirsch’s puppy dog pleas are starting to wear her down, loath as she is to admit it, even to herself.

“Carmilla please, we know you don’t hate going to the parks with us no matter how grouchy you are about it. So this time we’re going a little bit more dressed up than usual—”

A little bit?”

Danny and Kirsch both give her withering looks in response. Carmilla’s head swivels between the two of them, knowing that they have her outnumbered; and anyway, if she didn’t agree to go with them, they would just go without her (and that thought stings. Disney is their thing). She holds her hands up in surrender.

“Fine. Fine.” At Danny and Kirsch’s smug faces, Carmilla says, “But you’re paying for the damn dress, Lawrence. I fail to see what this has in it for me.” She pauses before adding, “Except for maybe the chance to flirt with some princesses.”

+++

A month later, Carmilla finds herself sweating bullets in a blue and white polka doted dress that looks like it time traveled from the 1940’s, and struggling to walk in a pair of yellow flats that are probably the least comfortable footwear she could have worn to Disney World.

The three of them are walking through Adventureland, and Carmilla is muttering obscenities under her breath at her two friends. She really should learn to grow a backbone with these idiots.

 “Stop grumbling, Carmilla, this is fun,” Danny orders shortly, dabbing at the light sheen of sweat on her forehead with a napkin.

“So much fun. Getting approached by strangers for pictures, sweating our asses off, walking around in these damn uncomfortable shoes—so much fun.” Carmilla deadpans as she makes a beeline for a bench that is hidden in shade. Danny sits down next to her, and Kirsch stays standing, hovering in front of them.

“Come on, Carmsexy,” Kirsch grins down at her, his hands in the pockets of his green pants. “If I can wear this jacket and not complain, you can take walking around looking like Donald Duck, the perfect 1940’s housewife version.” Kirsch promptly hops out of the way as Carmilla makes a swipe at his arm.

“Let’s not let the heat get in the way of having a good time, alright?” Danny says, standing up. “Jungle Cruise?”

“Fine,” Carmilla gripes, standing up as well and walking towards the ride with Danny and Kirsch.

+++

The best thing about this whole event, Carmilla thinks, is that it certainly makes for excellent eye candy. There are a lot of girls in skirts and dresses running around, and it seems to Carmilla that they all belong on fashion runways.

The three of them had migrated from Adventureland to the area in front of Cinderella Castle to take some pictures. Carmilla’s spaced out, staring at another friend group of three standing nearby. The group is made up of two redheads and a brunette. The one with the short red hair is obviously Disneybounding as Mickey. They’re wearing a black button up and red pants with matching red suspenders, as well as a yellow bowtie and yellow converse. The other redhead has long curly hair held up in a red bow. Her dress is red with white polka dots, and she too is wearing yellow flats. They’re taking obnoxiously adorable pictures in front of the Walt and Mickey statue, photographed by the other girl in the group, who’s smiling at the redheads, coaxing them into different poses. Judging by the white dress and light purple cardigan number the girl is sporting, Carmilla guesses that she’s Disneybounding as Daisy Duck. Her hair is half up, held very similarly to Carmilla’s own in a bow, only the girl’s was pink where Carmilla’s was red. And she was probably the most gorgeous girl she had yet seen today.

 “Who are you staring at now?” Danny waves her hand in front of Carmilla’s face, trying to pull her into the ten thousandth selfie of the day.

Carmilla shakes her head, bringing her attention back to her friends. “No one.”

Kirsch and Danny both raise their eyebrows at her disbelievingly. They crane their necks around to see if they can spot the girl that Carmilla is obviously ogling.

“Is it that one over there? The Daisy who’s taking pictures?” Danny squints through the sun, shading her eyes. She pulls an appreciative face. “Nice. She’s cute.”

Kirsch nods. “Total hottie.”

Carmilla rolls her eyes. “I didn’t come here to pick girls up, you know. I do have some class.”

“When do you ever pass up the chance at picking girls up, bro?”

“When we’re at a children’s park.”

“Oh, that’s low Karnstein,” Danny places her hand over her heart, looking wounded, “Are you calling us children?”

“You both have the maturity levels of one.”

Kirsch makes to sling his arm over Carmilla’s shoulders so he can rub her head with his knuckles, but Carmilla evades him, scowling. “Hey. Don’t even think about fucking up my curls, you lackwit.”

Danny and Kirsch both get a kick out of that one, and Carmilla grimaces, ignoring their taunts to stare back over at the girl. She had swapped the camera with the redhead who was ‘bounding as Mickey so that she could take pictures with the Minnie. They both fan their dresses out with one hand, free arms looped around each other’s waists. The Daisy Girl’s smile is bright and carefree, and when the Mickey says something that amuses her, the girl laughs with her entire body, doubling over in fits of vibrant laughter. She’s gorgeous, and Carmilla is having a hard time tearing her gaze away from her.

She knows that Danny and Kirsch are right. If she was at a bar back by campus, she would have had two drinks in her hand heading straight for this cute brunette in a heartbeat. And despite what she had told her friends, Carmilla is having a hard time controlling the urge to go over and introduce herself.

Danny’s voice breaks her reverie, and the decision to stay put is made for her.

“Alright Romeo, can you concentrate on us for two seconds please so we can get these pictures taken?”

+++

Carmilla sees the two redheads and the pretty girl more than a few times in the next few hours. They seem to be doing the circuit of the park in a similar fashion to Danny, Kirsch, and Carmilla. Carmilla is standing a few handful of people behind them when she sees them board Thunder Mountain. The brunette is sitting by herself in the cart behind her friends, but she looks ridiculously excited. Carmilla wonders idly if the girl feels as much like a third wheel as she does around Danny and Kirsch. The two redheads are obviously a couple.

Carmilla sees them again in front of Splash Mountain. She passes by them close enough to hear the girl dressed as Minnie say, “No, I’m sorry LaFontaine, there’s no way you’re getting me on this one. Not today, honey. Not in this dress.”

She loses sight of them for a while in Fantasyland. She rides the Carousel with Danny and Kirsch, and it isn’t until now that she starts to really feel like a third wheel. Danny and Kirsch might not be dating, but Carmilla thinks they might as well should. She knows they’re crazy about each other, but she also knows that they’re both too stubborn to admit it. Right now, they’re shooting each other disgustingly adoring looks while they laugh and take turns snapping pictures of each other on their plastic horses. Carmilla loves them both, but sometimes she secretly thinks that being in a friend group of three is the worst thing that’s ever happened to her. 

It isn’t until they’re entering the Fast Pass line for Seven Dwarves Mine Train that Carmilla sees them again. There’s a family of four that separates Carmilla and her friends from the Mickey, Minnie, and Daisy group. The brunette is talking animatedly, gesturing widely with her hands. Carmilla can sometimes make out a few words, but the children who belong to the family of four are very loud, and all Carmilla can really hear is their incessant wailing. She keeps stealing glances at the Daisy girl though, watching as her face scrunches up in distaste at something the short haired redhead said. The expression on her face is entirely too adorable. Carmilla finds herself wishing she was in a completely different setting again. One that involved an opportunity for drinks and conversation and dancing.

“Yo, Carmilla, do you mind riding by yourself on this one?” Kirsch is trying to get Carmilla’s attention, tapping her on her shoulder.

Carmilla blinks and looks up at Kirsch. “What?”

“Can Danny and I ride this one together? Is that chill?”

“Oh. Yeah, sure, whatever.”

“Thanks, bro.”

Carmilla turns back ahead to continue her staring until she’s ripped out of her own head again, this time by Danny. “Carmilla, what’s gotten into you today?”

“Or, who’s gotten into you today?” Kirsch sniggers like the overgrown five year old he is.

Carmilla punches his arm. “Gross.”

“Is it that same girl from earlier?” Danny leans around the father of the family that’s in front of them and spots the group. “It is.”

Carmilla shrugs. “She’s nice to look at.”

Danny just rolls her eyes. Both she and Kirsch are more than used to Carmilla’s ever wandering eye.

The line moves along, and Kirsch is bobbing up and down on the balls of his feet, excited because apparently Snow White and the Seven Dwarveswas his favorite princess movie growing up, a fact that Carmilla finds extremely hilarious and that Danny finds extremely endearing.

The voice of one of the ride attendants cuts through their conversation suddenly. “Any single riders? Any single riders?”

Carmilla looks up and raises her hand automatically. She’s gotten very used to this over time, seeing as how she often is the one to sit by herself on rides. She gets great satisfaction in cutting ahead of Danny and Kirsch when this happens. She smiles smugly at them before following the attendant past the family of four in front of them. “Number 12, please,” the attendant tells her and Carmilla steps over to the small line with the number twelve on the floor.

She is more than pleasantly surprised when she sees who she’s going to be riding with.

The Daisy girl is looking to her right at her two friends, smiling at them while they talk. Carmilla catches the one dressed as Minnie saying, softly under her breath, “You don’t mind riding with a stranger do you, Laura? I’ll ride with you on the next one, promise.”

“No, no of course I don’t mind, Perry, don’t be ridiculous.”

Laura. Carmilla looks down at her shoes and smiles, pretending that she hadn’t heard them.

The next train comes into the loading area, and they’re let on the ride. Carmilla follows the girl she now knows is named Laura, sliding into the seat after her. Laura smiles kindly at her as she lowers the safety bar across her lap. Carmilla returns the smile, in what she knows to be a charmingly seductive manner.

Laura’s smile turns shy, and she looks away before doing a double take, taking in Carmilla’s blue and white polka dotted dress and red bow. “Hey, you’re Disneybounding as Donald, aren’t you?”

“Right in one, cutie.” Carmilla lets her eyes rake over Laura’s outfit, as though she hadn’t already noticed what her Disneybound was. “Daisy, I presume?”

Laura looks pleased, but she only gets the chance to nod before the ride starts. Carmilla tries to pay attention to her actual surroundings instead of to the whooping and laughing girl next to her. She can’t help it though, she’s concentrating more on how Laura reacts to the ride than to the actual ride itself. Her head is thrown back and her eyes are tearing from the wind whipping against her face. Carmilla feels incredibly light, both from the speed of the ride, and the joyous waves rolling off of the girl next to her.

When the ride slows down and enters the dark room scene of the dwarves mining their gems, Carmilla hears Laura quietly singing “Heigh-Ho” next to her. Which has to be the cutest thing Carmilla’s ever heard. She’s staring at her again, drinking in the sight of her kind eyes and finely accentuated jawline. This time, however, they’re close enough that Laura notices Carmilla’s intense gaze. She giggles and stops singing probably out of self-consciousness and says, “Sorry. I’m kind of a huge Disney nerd.”

“By all means, continue.”

Laura laughs and shakes her head. “I don’t feel like killing a complete stranger’s ear drums.”

“You weren’t.” Carmilla lets another slow, seductive smile grace her lips, and she’s glad to see a light blush creep along the girl’s cheeks.

They’re interrupted again as the ride drops them out of the dark room. It ends quickly after that, and Carmilla registers with some disappointment that this ride isn’t as long as it could be.

The ride slows down at the very end, and Carmilla has a chance to return her attention to Laura, whose hair is in her face from being whipped around, and she’s grinning and laughing and Carmilla swears she’s never seen a prettier girl in her whole life.    

Their train pulls into the unloading area and Carmilla exits first. She turns around to offer her hand to Laura, helping her out. Carmilla has just enough time to notice the softness of Laura’s skin before she’s dropping her hand with a quiet “thanks.” They step away from the loading area and Laura’s friends wave her over to them. Laura turns to Carmilla instead. “Hey, we should get a picture real quick. Since we match. And I love your outfit, it’s so pretty.”

“Thanks, cutie. So’s yours.” Carmilla flirts shamelessly, her eyes flitting briefly over Laura’s pretty A-line dress. If she gets the hint, she doesn’t show it. Instead she scrunches her face up in the most adorable expression of disbelief Carmilla’s ever seen, shaking her head.

They walk outside together and Laura asks her friends to take their picture. The one dressed as Minnie, who Carmilla remembers is named Perry, says “Sure, Laura,” before accepting Laura’s iPhone from her.

“I know this isn’t exactly a great backdrop or anything. It would be so much cooler if we went to the sideshow meet and greet with Donald and Daisy and got pictures with them instead, but at least the mine train is pretty,” Laura rambles. She pushes a strand of hair behind her ear and smiles shyly at Carmilla before looping an arm around her waist and turning to face her camera.

Carmilla pulls her gaze away from Laura’s incredibly beautiful smile reluctantly, giving Laura’s camera a small grin. Perry snaps a couple pictures. “Alright, done.”

“Do you want one with your phone too?” Laura asks, taking her phone back from Perry.

Carmilla briefly considers just telling the girl to text her the one’s she’s already taken, but that just seemed a tad too forward. Carmilla might be a shameless flirt, but she has her process. “Yeah, here.” Carmilla hands Perry her phone and they return to their same poses. Carmilla enjoys the feeling of Laura pressed against her side immensely, and all she’s doing is trying to find some kind of excuse to keep her from leaving.

“Alright. I took a few on each, so I’m sure there’s at least one you’ll like,” Perry says, handing Carmilla back her phone and Carmilla thanks her.

“Well, thanks for the picture.” Laura is looking as though she’s ready to start following her friends who had begun walking in the direction of one of the nearby ice cream stands. Carmilla mentally flails, not knowing what to say so Laura will stay. What do you even say to a girl you’re trying to flirt with at Disney World? Hey, I know we just met, but do you wanna maybe go ride the teacups together or something? Clearly, Carmilla is out of her element without a glass of something with Tequila in it in her hands and a deep, thrumming baseline to dance to.

So instead, all she says is “Yeah, no problem,” with a small smirk.

Laura waves and turns around, and Carmilla curses to herself, staring hard at her retreating form.  

“I can’t believe you just let that one go,” Danny’s voice is coming from behind her, and Carmilla turns around. Danny and Kirsch are walking out of the mine train exit, both of them looking bewildered. “I’m surprised you didn’t get a number.”

“Don’t rub it in,” Carmilla mutters, looking back at Laura.

“Losing your touch, Karnstein?” Danny grins.

Scoffing, Carmilla rolls her eyes and doesn’t deign to respond.

+++

Carmilla is munching on a churro, flipping through some of the day’s pictures on her phone, chuckling indulgently at the many selfies Kirsch took of himself. She pauses on the one of her and Laura, musing over how she had been so stupid as to not at least get a phone number.

“What next guys?” Kirsch and Danny pull up next to Carmilla, both holding their own churros, and Kirsch has a turkey leg in his other hand too. He takes a huge bite out of it before shrugging.

“Haunted Mansion?” Carmilla suggests.

“Nah, it’s too early for that one. How about we see if we can go meet Donald, that way we can all take a picture with him? I kind of want one, you know, ‘cuz of our ‘bounds.” Danny nods to herself, as though it was settled.

Carmilla groans. Meet and greet lines were always so long. “Must we?”

“Oh come on, Carmilla. It’ll be cool. You’re the one ‘bounding as him.”

 “Ugh, fine.”

“I dunno why you even try to act like you’re not having fun, bro,” Kirsch says through a mouthful of turkey. “You’re gonna love meeting Donald. He’s like, your favorite anyway.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever.”

+++

It doesn’t surprise Carmilla when she sees Laura again. She’s on the other side of the divided tent, in the line to meet Minnie and Daisy while Carmilla is in the Donald and Goofy line. Carmilla briefly considers switching lines, but Danny gives Carmilla a murderous look when she mentions it. “I want my damn picture, Karnstein.”

They take their picture with Goofy first, which Kirsch has a lot of fun with. Goofy mimes to Kirsch about how tall he is, and Kirsch puffs out his chest proudly. Carmilla shakes her head and feels dwarfed by the three large individuals surrounding her. Goofy thought it would be funny to stick her in the middle.

Next they take their picture with Donald, who appears delighted when he sees Carmilla, giving her a big hug and making pistol gestures at Danny. Carmilla smiles despite herself.

By the time they exit, Laura is nowhere in sight. Carmilla, frowning, mumbles, “I’ve got to see that girl again.”

“You will, bro.” Kirsch pats Carmilla on the shoulder. “We’ve seen that group of girls dressed like the Avengers a bunch of times today, too. It’s a small world after all, you know.”

Carmilla groans at his joke.

“You know, Carmilla, you’re supposed to be having fun with us. Your friends.” Danny says, her arms crossed and actually looking a little annoyed.

Carmilla asks Kirsch to go fetch her a bottle of water and he walks over to the nearest cart with a, “Sure, dude,” thrown over his shoulder.

“Alright, Xena,” Carmilla starts, matching Danny’s annoyed posture, crossing her arms as well and glaring up at her friend. “Don’t tell me you wouldn’t mind some alone time with Lassie over there?”

Danny’s mouth drops open. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Don’t play dumb with me. Come on. If I run into that girl again, and I just disappear for a while, you and Kirsch can go make out on Pirates of the Caribbean.” Carmilla pauses, considers something, then says, “Just as long as you don’t ride Haunted Mansion without me, I don’t care where you decide to make out with him.”

Danny sputters, clearly at a loss.

“Look, you don’t have to confirm anything to me if you don’t want to, whatever. Just don’t pretend that you haven’t been wanting to jump his bones for a while now. What better place than to express that desire than here?”

Danny closes her mouth, uncrosses her arms. She frowns down at her before nodding. “That’s even if you can pull off your patented Karnstein charm on this girl.”

“Please. I’ll manage.”

They grin at each other.

“Here you go, Carmilla.” Kirsch returns and hands Carmilla her water. She gratefully gulps some down while she ignores how Danny is resolutely avoiding Kirsch’s eye.

Oblivious, Kirsch suggests they go on The Little Mermaid ride next, and Carmilla rolls her eyes at his fondness for princess movies.

+++

A few hours later, they’ve found themselves in Tomorrowland. The sun is just starting to set and they have about two hours before the parade and fireworks start. Danny and Kirsch weren’t huge fans of the popular nighttime shows (they always took the opportunity to ride some of the busier attractions while everyone else was distracted in front of the castle), but Carmilla loves them. She never misses them.

Carmilla is walking slowly behind Danny and Kirsch, her feet definitely killing her in these shoes by now. She’s having a great day, sure, but she’s getting tired and a little mopey because she hadn’t seen Laura and her friends in hours. And ever since her talk with Danny about Kirsch, Carmilla swears that the other girl has been secreting more pheromones his way than was usual. It’s starting to get nauseating.

“Okay, Lawrence, you know you can’t take me,” Kirsch is saying, pointing at Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.

“Please, meathead, I’ll kick your ass so thoroughly you won’t be able to sit for weeks.”  

“Oh, never mind me, you two walking tree trunks,” Carmilla bites out stonily.

They don’t even hear her before they’re racing off towards the ride. Whatever. Carmilla supposes she should give them their alone time, now that Danny might finally be ready to make a move. Besides, Carmilla doesn’t mind being alone.

“Go on guys, I’m going to sit this one out. I’m gonna go get some ice cream.”

Carmilla turns at the sound of Laura’s voice. She’s standing just outside the Space Ranger Spin building, waving her friends onto the ride. She turns away from them and starts walking towards an ice cream cart. Carmilla doesn’t really pause to think. She feels her feet carrying her towards the other girl, stopping behind her in the ice cream line.

“Hey, Daisy,” she says, her voice low and teasing.

Laura whips her head around and smiles in recognition when she sees her. “Oh, hey, Donald.”

“You know, as fond as I am of the duck, you can just call me Carmilla.” She brings her hand up, offering it for Laura to shake.

She does, laughing. “I’m Laura.”

“Pleasure, cutie.”

Laura’s laugh turns into an awkward chuckle, and Carmilla smirks. “So. You’re third wheeling too?”

“You mean with my friends?”

“Mhm. I keep seeing you guys around today. You’re kind of hard to miss.”

Laura eyes Carmilla timidly for a moment, and then she blurts out, “Yeah, I’ve noticed you around too. I think your ‘bound is probably the best Donald I’ve seen today.”

“Yours is great too. Though, it isn’t exactly why you’ve been hard to miss.”

Laura looks down between them shyly and Carmilla feels like she might actually be getting somewhere with this.

The line moves up and it’s Laura’s turn to order. “Um, a Mickey Premium please?” Laura asks, bringing out her wallet from inside her purse.

“Make it two,” Carmilla adds, stepping closer to the cash register. Laura blinks up in surprise as Carmilla plops down a ten dollar bill. The employee smiles at her as though he knows what she’s up to and hands Carmilla their ice cream bars. She thanks him and offers Laura hers.

“Um, thanks. That’s, uh, nice of you.” Laura is stuttering over her words and staring at the ground again.

Carmilla unwraps her ice cream and bites off a chunk of Mickey’s ear. “No problem, cupcake.”

They stand around in companionable silence, eating their chocolate. Carmilla can feel how flustered she’s making the other girl, and she thrills at the feeling of satisfaction she gets from this knowledge.

“You never did answer my question,” Carmilla says after she finishes her ice cream. “About third wheeling.”

“Oh, well. I guess so, yeah. Laf and Perry are together, but they’re my best friends. So I don’t mind, really.”

Carmilla hums. “At least your friends are already together. Imagine being stuck with two idiots who are ridiculously into each other, but too stupid to figure it out.”

Laura laughs. “Yeah, Laf and Perry were like that too for a while. You’re right. It’s so much better now that they’re together. No more awkward sexual tension.” Laura finishes her ice cream too. She holds her hand out for Carmilla’s wrapper and she throws them both away in the nearest trashcan.

“Being in a friend group of three can suck sometimes.”

Laura nods. “Yeah, sometimes. But I love them. They keep me grounded.”

Carmilla arches an eyebrow in bemusement. “Do you often find yourself needing to be kept grounded, cutie?”

“I can have a temper, believe it or not.”

“I’d pay to see someone as cute as you lose their temper.”

“I don’t know if I should take that as a compliment or not,” Laura admits, looking at Carmilla in slightly amused confusion.

Carmilla let her gaze linger pointedly. “It’s a compliment, cupcake.”

Laura stares at her, blinking. Carmilla stares back, the corner of her lips tugging up into a small half smile.

“Do you wanna go on the Buzz Lightyear ride?” Laura blurts out suddenly. “I actually really love it, but Laf and Perry have a thing with Toy Story, so I didn’t want to ruin it for them, and I mean, your friends obviously ditched you too, so maybe you wouldn’t mind—”

“I wouldn’t mind.”

Laura takes a breath. “Awesome. Cool. Very cool.”

“After you,” Carmilla sweeps her hand in front of her, gesturing for Laura to go ahead of her.

+++

They make small talk in the line. Carmilla learns that Laura is a journalism major at Silas University, the same university she attends. She also learns that once she starts talking, it’s kind of hard to get her to stop. She rambles on about Laf and Perry and school and her father throughout their entire fifteen minute wait in the line. Carmilla doesn’t mind. She kind of gets caught up in staring at her again. Her face positively lights up when she starts talking about her major, and she makes Carmilla wish that she was as passionate about anything as Laura is about journalism.

“Oh, crap, I’m sorry. I just kind of totally monopolized that conversation,” Laura says when they get to sit down in their cart.

“No worries, cupcake. Just know I’ll take it out on you in the game.” Carmilla flashes her a cocky grin, gripping her swivel laser in preparation.

“I’ll have you know I’m excellent at this game.”

“Alright, cutie. Let’s go then.”

“You’re on.”

+++

Carmilla is slightly mortified at how badly she lost to Laura, but the squeals of delight that are coming out of her mouth right now are almost worth it. Carmilla thinks Laura is the most adorable person she’s ever met in her life.

“I totally kicked your butt!” She crows, pumping her arms over her head in some strange celebratory motion.

Carmilla just rolls her eyes.

As soon as they step out of the gift shop that the ride dumps them in, both Carmilla and Laura’s phones start buzzing with texts that they didn’t receive earlier because of the lack of signal on the ride.

Danny and Kirsch had both texted Carmilla asking if she had finally found some tail to chase, and if so to at least text them back to let them know if they should bother waiting up for her. Carmilla glances at Laura. She’s frowning down at her cell phone.

“Your friends missing you, cutie?”

Laura gives Carmilla an apologetic smile. “Um, yeah. Perry gets kind of worried easily. She’s under the impression that I’ve been kidnapped.”

There’s a pregnant silence in which Laura looks from Carmilla to her phone and Carmilla debates the option of just letting her go back to her friends. But Laura is looking at her like she wants Carmilla to give her an excuse to blow them off. And Carmilla knows one thing—that in all the times she’s ever hit on a girl, not one of them has ever interested her as completely as Laura does.

“You know. I’m kind of tired of awkwardly trailing my friends around while they continue to make goo-goo eyes at each other,” Carmilla starts tentatively.

Laura immediately jumps on the opening. “And you know, I bet Laf and Perry wouldn’t mind some quality alone time without me hanging around.”

They share a smile before they both start to talk at the same time. They stop, chuckle awkwardly, and Carmilla motions for Laura to go first.

“Let me just, um, call them and let them know I’m okay. Give me a sec.” Laura walks a few paces out of earshot.

Carmilla watches her for a second before she remembers that she should probably text Danny and Kirsch back.

“I’m not chasing tail, you assholes. But yeah, maybe I ran into the Daisy girl and maybe we’re hanging out. Enjoy the rest of your night, losers. I’ll text you later.”

Carmilla presses send and glances up to see Laura still on her phone. She’s waving an arm around, gesturing extensively and Carmilla wonders if her friends mother her often. They were at Disney World. What could Carmilla possibly do to Laura here? It’s a dry park. There are cameras everywhere. And her intentions are perfectly harmless anyway. Well. Mostly harmless.

Laura finally hangs up and walks back over to her. “Sorry about that. This isn’t exactly something I do usually. Like, ever. So they were worrying.” She looks a little sheepish.

Carmilla has a playful glint in her eye. “What don’t you do usually, cupcake?”

Laura is quiet, thinking out her answer. “Agree to spend time with a stranger who’s very obviously flirting with me,” she says finally, throwing Carmilla for a loop with her bluntness.

“Hm. Would you like me to stop?” Carmilla asks. She is nothing if not a gentlewoman. You know, when she wants to be.

Laura considers the question, taking her time in answering again. Her cheeks are red, as though she’s surprised by her own daring. “No.”

Carmilla grins, and cocks her head to the side, appraising this girl. Carmilla is glad she decided to be forward. She was starting to worry that her advances were going straight over the girl’s head.

Laura seems to have guessed what was going through Carmilla’s mind because she says, “Just because I’m shy doesn’t mean I’m an idiot.”

Carmilla chuckles. “Good to know, cutie.”

Laura smiles then looks out at the bustle of people moving around Tomorrowland. “What’s your favorite ride in the park?” She asks.

“Um, The Haunted Mansion. I rode it earlier with my friends, but I wouldn’t say no to riding it again. What’s your favorite?”

“Pirates, but I like the sound of the Haunted Mansion right now, actually. Besides, it’s closer.”

“Alright then. Lead the way.”

+++

Laura is singing “Grim, Grinning Ghosts” on the way out of the ride, giggling at the dumbfounded look on Carmilla’s face.

“How many Disney songs do you know the lyrics to, sunshine?”

“I am not embarrassed to say that my Disney playlist has over 500 songs on it.” Laura finishes singing, swinging her arms comically.

Carmilla’s smile has been permanently plastered on her face since Laura had agreed to stay with her. This girl is fun to be around. They banter lightly, talking about their friends or their schooling. Laura seemed impressed when Carmilla told her she was double majoring in Philosophy and English Lit. Her eyes had gone wide and she said, “So you’re a brain, then?” Carmilla had brushed off the compliment. “Hardly, cupcake. I’m no bio major.”

Carmilla had also learned that Laura is gratefully single and gay, though Carmilla had guessed that was the case without Laura dropping the information not so subtly in conversation.

“Do you often find that picking up girls at Disney and calling them by pet names works for you?” She inquires, rather directly now. They’re both walking through the Tangled inspired area in Fantasyland, the hanging lanterns above them casting a lovely glow.

Carmilla’s eyebrows shoot up as she looks down at her. Laura has this challenging look in her eyes, as though she’s ready to leave Carmilla’s side the second she gives an unsatisfactory answer.

“I’m not going to pretend like I haven’t picked up girls before,” she starts slowly, her voice and tone measured, “but I certainly have never done it here. Did you think I stalked girls at Disney in my spare time or something, cupcake?”

Laura scrunches up her face, embarrassed. “Not exactly. Perry might have suggested the idea, though. Maybe.”

“I come here with Danny and Kirsch every so often to unwind. Disney is our thing, I’m not usually in the habit of blowing them off. At least, not here.”

Laura’s face softens, adopting a curiously nervous look. “Why did you then? Blow them off?”

Carmilla stops walking and Laura follows suit. They’re looking at each other surrounded by the lights of the Carousel and Cinderella Castle, and Carmilla thinks she might float away from just how utterly perfect she feels right now. She brings her hand up to weave her fingers through Laura’s hair. Laura’s eyes dart down to Carmilla’s lips before resting on her eyes again, and it doesn’t go unnoticed by Carmilla. “There’s just… something about you.”

The moment lingers as Carmilla untangles her fingers from Laura’s hair, watching it fan out against her collar bones. Carmilla hears Laura swallow and Carmilla pulls away. “Did I answer your interrogation to your liking, Lois Lane?”

“Um, yeah. Totally.”

+++

They hang around Fantasyland for a while longer, going in to watch Belle’s Enchanted Tales where Laura very enthusiastically wanted to be a part of the story and dragged a mortified Carmilla along with her. They each got the role of ‘spoon.’ Laura admitted to Carmilla afterwards that the only reason she wanted to be a part of it was to get to meet Belle at the end.

Afterwards, Carmilla rode the Carousel again, but this time was infinitely better than when she rode it earlier in the day. She had the opportunity to admire Laura’s childlike wonder at the lights and the music, and she didn’t bother to look away when Laura had caught her staring.

“The parade starts in a bit. I don’t know if you like that sort of thing, but we can go watch it if you want.” Carmilla says, nonchalantly.

“Oh, I love the nighttime shows. It’s all just very… magical. Which I know sounds really corny, but—”

“But it’s true.”

Laura offers her a smile.

They went back through the Tangled area, past The Haunted Mansion and through Liberty Square to get back to the front of the castle. They’re walking in a comfortable silence, and Carmilla has some time to think about how far she wants to go with this girl. They had already learned that they attended the same university, but Carmilla had yet to ask Laura for her number. Carmilla was having so much fun getting to know Laura; she was pretty sure she didn’t want this encounter to be a one-time thing, but she still wanted to see where this night went before asking if she could see her again.  

 

“Let’s make sure to stand a little farther back. I made the mistake once of standing directly in front of the castle to watch the fireworks—bigmistake. I couldn’t see a thing.” Laura points in the general direction of where she wants them to situate themselves and Carmilla follows her.

They sit down in one of the new grassy areas that just opened at the park. The grass is fake, but there’s flowers all around them and it’s perfectly scenic. They had gotten there early enough too, so there was plenty of space for them.

Laura tucks her dress under her neatly when she sits down and giggles when Carmilla unceremoniously flings herself on the ground. “God. My feet feel like hell.”

“The only downside about Dapper Day, yeah.”

“The only, downside, cutie? I can think of a few others.”

“Like what?”

“Like melting in that god forsaken heat earlier today in this dress and heavy makeup.” Thankfully, the weather had cooled significantly when the sun had set.

“Yeah, but it couldn’t have been all bad.”

Carmilla glances at Laura, whose smile is shy.

“No. It hasn’t been all bad.”

They fall into silence again, watching the people around them start to crowd around, waiting for the parade to start. Carmilla wonders if she should try and make a move. Something small. Like hold her hand. There’s a light breeze and the castle is looming deceptively large and bright in front of them. It would be disgustingly romantic to try something now.

Carmilla and Laura are in similar sitting positions, their arms propping them up slightly behind them. Carmilla just starts to close the gap between their hands when Laura shifts around so that she’s facing Carmilla, whose hand darts backwards. She hopes Laura hadn’t noticed anything.

“Tell me something,” Laura demands, and Carmilla inwardly sighs at her failed attempt at hand holding.

“What about, cupcake?”

“Okay, why don’t we start there? What’s with the pet names?”

Carmilla chuckles. “I don’t know. I have a thing for nicknames. My tall friend Danny is Xena or Clifford, and my other friend Kirsch is Fido, or Lassie, or anything remotely canine.”

“Then why am I cupcake and cutie and sunshine?” Laura’s grin is mischievous.

“Think of it as a kind of word association game,” Carmilla says slowly.

“So, when you look at me, you think about cupcakes and sunshine?”

Carmilla nods. “And also, you’re cute. So.”

Laura looks down, though she’s obviously content with Carmilla’s answer. Carmilla thinks she would love to hold her hand now, but they’re both tucked safely away in her lap, and Carmilla is cursing inwardly again.

“Why don’t you tell me something now?” She asks instead.

“Okay. Like what?”

“Why did you agree to come with me?”

Laura tilts her head to the side, as though she thought Carmilla is being dense. “I thought that was obvious.”

“Enlighten me, cupcake.”

“Let’s just say that I’ve been staring at you just as much as you’ve been staring at me.”

Carmilla feels the mortification settle in her chest. “You’ve caught me? Like, all day long?”

“You have kind of an intense stare, Carmilla. For a while, I thought I was being watched by like, a stalker or a serial killer or something. Then I saw you. I mean, you still could have been a stalker or a serial killer, and Perry did try and talk me out of it, but Laf was definitely all for it, because I couldn’t shut up about you after the mine train ride—”

“Couldn’t shut up about me, huh?” Carmilla is cocky, leaning her body closer towards Laura.

“You were definitely flirting, and I know I’m awkward and probably come off as pretty oblivious, but I’m a Journalism major for a reason, you know.” Laura huffs. “And yeah, maybe you made an impression.”

“Well. I’m glad.”

“Me too.”

Their moment is interrupted by the speaker announcing the start of the parade. Carmilla gets up reluctantly and offers her hand to Laura, who lets Carmilla help her up. “This new seating area is the best thing Disney could have done. I can sit down, and there’s no grass stains.”

“Agreed.”

+++

The Main Street Electrical Parade floats on by, and Carmilla loses herself in the dazzling lights. She wishes the music that went with the parade wasn’t so annoying, but Laura has some silly, adorable little dance that goes along to it, which makes the music infinitely more bearable.

“Perry, Laf and I made it up. The song is so repetitive, we needed something to entertain ourselves between the floats,” Laura explains, a little self-consciously as she bobs up and down, then sways side to side to the rhythm. Carmilla misses the Cinderella float because she’s too busy laughing indulgently at Laura.

After the parade finishes, there’s a ten minute intermission before the start of the castle projection show, Celebrate the Magic. Carmilla and Laura flop down on the fake grass again. “How long have you been here today, cupcake?”

“Since the park opened.” At Carmilla’s wide eyed expression, Laura adds, “I told you I’m a huge Disney nerd.”

“Indeed.” Carmilla shakes her head disbelievingly. “I had to get dragged out of bed to make it to the park at eleven. If Danny had let me, I could’ve slept all day easy.”

“Not a morning person, huh?”

“Definitely not.”

“Too busy partying the night before?”

“Occasionally. Most of the time I’m just up reading. Being a double major in Lit and Philosophy requires more reading than should be humanely allowed in university.”

“You’ve gotta love it though, right? Those don’t really strike me as majors that anyone would take unless they really loved it. Kind of like Journalism. They all get a lot of crap for not being practical or whatever.”

Carmilla shrugs, picking at her dress. “I don’t know. I don’t think I really love anything. I’m just good at it. I’m good at analyzing and writing and I guess I’ll probably just stay in academia forever. Become a professor, or something.”

Laura frowns. “There’s gotta be something you love.”

“Lights. The stars. But do you know how much math requires getting anywhere near either of those things?” Carmilla pulls a face of disgust at the thought. “And art, but, that’s even less practical than philosophy and literature.” She doesn’t add that her mother would throw a ridiculous fit if she ever became an art major.

“You don’t love words? Poetry? Philosophy?”

“I did. Until I started majoring in them. I just don’t get to read for fun as much as I used to.” Laura is looking at Carmilla as though the thought of not doing something you were dead serious and passionate about was the worst thing that could happen to anyone and Carmilla didn’t really know what to say.

“It’s not a big deal, cutie. I like it fine.” All Carmilla wants is for Laura to stop looking at her as though she’s a wounded animal. She reaches between them to tuck a strand of hair behind Laura’s ear. She lets her fingers linger, letting her eyes flicker down to rest on Laura’s lips for a short beat before pulling away.

It seems to have worked perfectly, because Laura’s face is wiped clean of that pitying expression she had on before, replaced with a gaze that is so intense, it could give Carmilla’s stares a run for their money.

“Why do you do that?” Laura’s voice comes out a little breathless, boosting Carmilla’s already fairly large ego.

“Do what, cutie?”

“Pull away.”

“I don’t want to spend it all at once, cupcake.” Carmilla smirks. Laura huffs.

The lights in the park dim, signaling the start to the next part of the nighttime show. Carmilla groans again, standing back up.

“This show alone is worth all the pain in my feet,” Laura says joining Carmilla. “I think it’s my favorite part of the night.”

“Mine is the fireworks, but I’ll hand it to Disney, this is pretty cool.”

They halt their conversation as they watch Cinderella Castle turn into a humongous projection screen, each of them delighting in different scenes. Carmilla enjoys the parts that highlight The Lion King and The Jungle Book, and Laura swoons over the Tangled lanterns scene. Carmilla has to admit that she gets chills too, the medley of “I See the Light,” playing softly as the castle is seemingly covered by hundreds of floating lanterns.

By the time the show ends, Carmilla notices Laura wiping away at her eyes surreptitiously. If this was Danny or Kirsch, Carmilla would have been such a jerk about it, ribbing them gleefully about having emotions over something so silly. But it isn’t Danny or Kirsch, and the only thought in Carmilla’s mind is wonder at this girl standing next to her. As it is, Carmilla wants to make a good impression, so she pretends not to notice.

“I think if I sit down again, I won’t be able to stand back up,” Carmilla remarks, glaring at her torturous shoes.

“The wait until the fireworks is only five minutes this time. I think we can make it.” Laura’s eyes are dry once more and she’s smiling bracingly at Carmilla.

“Are you always so optimistic, sunshine?”

“Most of the time. I try to be, anyway.”

“Hmm. I’m more of a realist. And realistically speaking, I know for a fact my feet will fall off before the fireworks even start.”

“I think you might be overreacting a little.”

“No, I’m positive. I can’t possibly stay standing.”

Before Carmilla knows what’s happening, Laura is pressing up against her side, her arm looping around her waist. She looks up at Carmilla, grinning. “Think you can stay standing now?”

They gaze at each other, and Carmilla almost can’t believe that Laura made a move on her first. She finds herself not minding in the least. She can feel the tension and chemistry bouncing off of them in electrifying waves. Laura holds her gaze, unblushing, and Carmilla is impressed. The lights around them blink out once again, the musical opening for Wishes floating through the park. Carmilla brings an arm around Laura’s shoulder and brushes her lips against her ear to murmur, “I think I can manage now, thanks, cutie.” Carmilla can’t see, but she’s willing to bet that there’s a flush creeping up the other girl’s cheeks again.

Carmilla and Laura quietly enjoy the fireworks, and Carmilla is only mildly irritated at the surrounding people who refuse to shut up. It’s calming, watching the illuminations in time with the music. Carmilla always feels like a nostalgic idiot when she watches this show. She remembers how she used to be afraid of fireworks when she was a small child. She remembers one fourth of July when she was eleven. She had spent it with a childhood friend, and she can still remember that girl’s soft hand in hers, calming her and showing her how beautiful the lights and colors could be. They’re like stars, Carmilla. A little louder than stars, sure, but they twinkle just the same, and they’re so colorful. There’s nothing to be afraid of…

She feels Laura stir against her side, and Carmilla looks down to find the other girl looking up at her curiously. “Where’d you go?”

Carmilla smiles and gives Laura’s shoulder a small squeeze. “Nowhere, cupcake.”

Laura worries her bottom lip between her teeth, then says, “I have this thing I do whenever I watch this show.”

“What’s that?”

“I know it’s corny—”

“I’m starting to think ‘corny’ is just a personality trait, sunshine.”

Laura nudges Carmilla softly. “So what if it is?”

Carmilla pulls Laura closer against her. “It’s endearingly cute.” Carmilla waits a beat for the pleased but awkward look to flash across Laura’s features before continuing. “So, what is this corny thing you do?”

“I, um, make a wish.”

“Endearingly cute, indeed. Sentimental and corny, though, for sure.”

Laura rolls her eyes at the mirth in Carmilla’s eyes. “You like to tease, I see.”

“Getting a rise out of people is fun. Especially when their reactions are as cute as yours.”

Laura pokes Carmilla’s side with the hand she has wrapped around her waist and Carmilla squirms. They lapse back into silence, turning their attention back to the show.

It’s nearing the end when Carmilla asks quietly, “What’re you wishing for this time?”

Carmilla expects an appropriately trite response of, “Well, if I tell you it won’t come true,” but she’s just met with silence while the show comes closer to the finale. Carmilla glances down at Laura again, thinking maybe she hadn’t heard her question. Laura has her gaze trained on the show, and Carmilla figures she probably did hear her, but she’s just ignoring her. Carmilla lets it go, and she is filled with delight as the finale fireworks burst in the sky, illuminating the entire park with a bright, white light. It’s in this moment that she feels the hand on her waist tug at her, willing her to turn around. Carmilla does, and is met with the sensation of Laura’s lips pressed against her own. Her shock lasts for a fraction of a second before she cups Laura’s cheeks, drawing her closer and kissing her back while the last notes of the music die away. It’s slow, insistent, and Carmilla swears she sees fireworks behind her eyelids that seem more real to her than the ones she had just witnessed.

They pull apart and are too wrapped up in each other to notice the various stares of strangers ranging from delighted to disapproving. Even if she had noticed, Carmilla couldn’t have cared less. She strokes Laura cheeks with her thumbs, relishing in the feeling of her heart thundering against her chest. She leans in to kiss her again, but Laura backs up with playful smirk. “Don’t want to spend it all at once, cupcake,” she quips, pulling a fairly decent impression of Carmilla.

“Well, you’re definitely full of surprises, aren’t you?” Carmilla trails her hands down Laura’s arms to take one of her hands in hers.

Laura’s face is radiating smugness, and she gives Carmilla’s hand a squeeze. “So, all I’ve had to eat today really is a bunch of chocolate. I’m thinking we could do dinner? If you’d like.”

Carmilla nixes some flirty, suggestive comments that come to mind immediately, thinking Laura probably wouldn’t appreciate them. Instead she just nods. “Wherever you want, sunshine.”

Laura beams and starts heading in the direction of Frontierland. They’re still linked by their hands, and Carmilla doesn’t think she’s ever felt this attracted to anyone.

+++

Carmilla shoots Danny a text while she’s waiting in line at Pecos Bill with Laura, making sure that her friends were still alive and at the park. Danny’s response reads, “We’re fine, Elvira, thanks for asking. We’re still here, what did you think, we’d leave your ditching ass before we went back to campus? Just text me when you’re ready to go. Park closes at one, don’t forget.” Carmilla shakes her head, texts her back, “Will do, Xena,” before placing her phone back in her purse.

“How are your friends?” Laura asks once Carmilla returns her attention back to her.

“Still alive. Thankfully, I suppose. Yours?”

“Oh, they’re fine. Perry is worrying for my life, but Laf is keeping her occupied and distracted.” Laura smiles fondly. “She means well, she’s just a huge worry wart. It can be kind of overbearing sometimes. Especially between her and my father.”

“Daddy’s little girl, huh?”

Laura scrunches up her nose. “I love him, don’t get me wrong, but he can be pretty overbearing sometimes too.”

It’s their turn to order at the register, and their conversation is interrupted. Carmilla orders her burger and looks to Laura. “Go ahead and order, cutie.”

“Oh, no seriously, Carmilla, I can get myself—”

“Don’t hold up the line, cupcake, just order.”

Laura flushes and orders a chicken salad hurriedly. Carmilla chuckles at Laura’s discomfort, handing the employee her debit card and accepting the receipt with a thank you. They move forward to the counter, and another employee extends his hand for Carmilla’s receipt. She hands it to him and waits, still smiling at Laura’s red face.

They get their food and make their way to the seating area. It’s mostly empty now, as the majority of the park’s occupants had starting exiting after the fireworks. “Thanks for the food,” Laura says, shy once more.

“My pleasure, cutie.”

They’re quiet as they eat, and Carmilla marvels a little bit at how remarkably not awkward their silences are. Carmilla is a fairly quiet person, and most people don’t usually know how to react to that, trying to babble through the silence awkwardly. Laura didn’t seem to feel the need to do that. Her awkward babbling had been reserved to their actual conversations instead of to their shared silences.

Once they were done, Carmilla checks her phone to see that she has another hour before the park closes and therefore had to meet up with Danny and Kirsch again so they could drive back to campus. “What would you like to do in this last hour, cupcake?”

Laura bites her lip, trying to hide a smirk and Carmilla wonders if maybe she shouldn’t have been so chaste with her earlier. So many surprises.

“Have you missed out on any rides today?” Carmilla asks pointedly.

“Nope.”

“Souvenir shopping that needs to be done?”

“Nope.”

“More chocolate you need to consume?”

“Nope.”

Carmilla doesn’t think she’s above dragging this wildly attractive girl into a bathroom stall for what would probably be the best make out session of her life, but then she remembers where she is again. Grand, romantic kisses under fireworks was one thing. Trashy bathroom make outs is another thing entirely. But Carmilla thinks that maybe making out on a dark ride was the perfect solution to her problem. She grabs Laura’s hand again, rubbing her thumb in small circles on Laura’s knuckles. “You know, I may have ridden it twice already today, but I think I feel like going on my favorite ride again.”

“The Haunted Mansion, right?” Carmilla thinks she sees a knowing tilt in Laura’s smile.

“Mhm. Do you mind going?”

“Not at all.”

“Fantastic.” Carmilla throws away their trash and Laura makes to hold her hand again once they exit the restaurant.

+++

Carmilla knows there are cameras on the dark rides that enable the employees who man them to see everything that goes on. She just didn’t really care. She could feel the thrill of anticipation as she moves through the line for The Haunted Mansion, Laura’s hand in hers feeling like a promise. She couldn’t stop thinking about their kiss earlier. Carmilla hadn’t minded one bit that Laura had been the one to kiss her first. It was undeniably attractive. Thinking about it made her remember something, though.

“What did you wish for earlier? During the fireworks?”

Laura glances up at her, smiling. “I took matters into my own hands this time.”

Carmilla grins. “Fate and wishes can only get you so far, it’s true."

“Exactly. I’m nothing if not a go getter.”

Carmilla just laughs.

+++

After the scene in the stretching room, where Laura muttered the entire script of the Ghost Host’s speech under her breath, they made their way through the last leg of the line quickly and sat down in their doom buggy. Once they enter the ride and they’re enveloped completely in darkness, Carmilla turns to Laura. She takes enough time to gauge Laura’s reaction, searching her face for any signs of hesitation. She finds none. Instead she sees Laura’s eyes staring adamantly at her lips, and Carmilla could hear her breath coming in labored. She scoots closer, brings her hand up to tangle in Laura’s hair, tilts her face up. Carmilla lingers, a hairsbreadth away from her lips, daring Laura to close the gap. She isn’t disappointed. Laura lunges forward, a tad too forcefully, completely over eager, and Carmilla is rocked backwards momentarily before she regains her bearings. She pushes forward, trapping Laura between the side of the cart and her arm, sliding her lips over Laura’s with much more purpose than she had earlier. Laura’s hands are circled around Carmilla’s neck, trying to press her even closer. They kiss and kiss and kiss, and neither one of them take in a single second of the ride.

Carmilla vaguely registers the end of the graveyard scene, and she knows that after this, they would be facing a mirror that reflected one of the hitchhiking ghosts either vaporizing their heads or switching their faces around, and she knew the occupants of the other carts would be able to see them. She reluctantly separates herself from Laura’s grasp. They’re both out of breath, their lips swollen slightly. Laura’s eyes are lidded and Carmilla knows hers are too.

“Wow,” Laura breathes. Carmilla only gives her a smile in response.

+++

Carmilla and Laura spend the last half hour sneaking kisses in secluded areas of the park. Carmilla can’t get enough, she honesty can’t. Laura does this thing with her tongue that is driving her up a wall, and all Carmilla can think to do is pull her impossibly closer every time, running her hands over every respectable inch of the girl that she can.

They head for the exit once their clocks hit one in the morning on the dot. They each text their friends to meet them in front of guest relations. But they take the walk there incredibly slowly. There were still others milling out of the park too, though it was mostly empty. Employees wave them onwards with giant, Mickey gloves, smiles somehow still plastered on their faces.

Walking down Main Street, hand in hand, Carmilla stops suddenly and Laura jerks to a halt too. They’re almost at guest relations, and Carmilla really didn’t want to do this with an audience.

“I hope your day was enjoyable, cupcake,” Carmilla says, faking nonchalance.

Laura adopts a faux serious expression as well. “Very enjoyable, thank you.”

They grin at each other stupidly, unable to continue their joke. Carmilla clears her throat. “So. I was wondering if I could call you sometime.”

“Oh, yeah, absolutely.” Laura’s grin is impossibly wide and it takes her a second to comprehend Carmilla’s pointed stare. “Oh! Right, you’ll probably need my number for that.”

“Probably.”

They both dig their phones out of their purses, exchange them and input their numbers into each other’s phones. They switch back, the stupid grins back on their faces.

“I guess we should say goodbye now,” Laura says softly.

“Shame, but yes, probably.”

“I really did have a great time.”

“I’m glad you stepped outside of your comfort zone, cupcake.”

“Me too.”

Carmilla smiles, leans down and captures Laura’s bottom lip, kissing her slowly, but deeply. Laura’s hands rest on her lower back, whereas Carmilla’s are at Laura’s cheeks again. Carmilla kisses her both like she’s promising a swift return and like she never wants to stop.

When they break apart, Laura rests her forehead against Carmilla’s, beaming. “I hope you’ll call,” she admits quietly.

“Trust me. I will.”

+++

Danny, Kirsch, LaFontaine and Perry are all in a group standing in front of guest relations. This sight doesn’t really surprise Carmilla, who knows that Danny and Kirsch could make friends with anyone. They were probably having a great time teasing her, she thinks.

“Well, well, well. There you are, Hollis.” The redhead who Carmilla now knows is named LaFontaine grins wickedly at Laura, who shakes her head, not meeting LaFontaine’s eyes.

“Carmilla. So nice of you to show up,” Danny snarks through her own shit eating grin.

“Clifford. Air bud.” Carmilla rolls her eyes at Laura and gestures to her friends. “Laura, this is Kirsch and Danny. Guys, this is Laura.” They greet each other politely.

“Um, Perry, Laf, this is Carmilla. Carmilla, LaFontaine and Perry.” They too greet each other courteously.

“We would introduce you guys to each other, but it looks like you’ve already done that yourselves,” Carmilla raises an eyebrow at Danny and Kirsch.

“Oh, yeah. Laf and Perry here are pretty cool.” Kirsch beams down at the ginger couple. Laf waves a hand at Kirsch as if to say ‘oh, stop.’

“We all go to the same school,” Perry says delightedly.

“Yeah, we should all get together sometime,” Laf adds.

“I think I’ll want some more time with Laura here all to myself before I agree to any triple dates.” Carmilla shoots Laura a small smile and she returns it. Carmilla doesn’t even register Kirsch and Danny both sputtering uncomfortably.

“Anyway, the park is definitely closing. We should get going.” Perry eyes the exit as though afraid they would lock them out any second.

Carmilla wishes she didn’t have to leave, but it is her turn to make the half hour drive back to campus and she doesn’t relish the thought of driving any later than it already is. She’s completely dead on her feet.

The group walks out of the park and heads towards the monorails. They’re all pretty quiet, each of them exhausted by the day’s various activities. There aren’t many people left exiting the park, and the line to get onto the monorail is small. Carmilla sticks to Laura’s side, fidgeting with the other girl’s fingers when no one else is looking. They board the monorail, Carmilla taking a window seat so she can watch the retreating form of the lit up Cinderella Castle. Laura presses into her side and follows her gaze out the window. “You’re a sentimental softie, aren’t you?” She teases.

“Tell no one.”

When they exit the monorail at the ticket and tram center, Danny, Kirsch, LaFontaine and Perry all bid goodbye to each other. While they’re occupied, Carmilla presses a quick kiss to Laura’s cheek. “I’ll talk to you soon.”

“Can’t wait. Drive safe, okay?” Laura plays with the fabric of Carmilla’s dress, fidgeting but looking Carmilla straight in the eye.

“You too, cupcake.”

The sound of Danny clearing her throat breaks through their moment, and Carmilla huffs unappreciatively. “Guess I better get going. It was a pleasure meeting you. Laura.”

She laughs softly. “Bye, Carmilla.”

Laura gives Danny and Kirsch a small wave, and they return it. Carmilla nods at LaFontaine and Perry. The six of them trudge off in different directions, Carmilla, Danny and Kirsch heading towards the trams for the villains parking lot; Laura, LaFontaine, and Perry to the trams for the heroes lot. Carmilla watches as Laura walks away. She’s completely engrossed in a conversation with her friends. Carmilla does however, catch the last glance that Laura sends her way. The last smile they exchange is radiant, and all Carmilla wants is to see that smile again as soon as she possibly can.

“So. That obviously went well for you.” Danny’s voice is once again breaking through Carmilla’s thoughts like a sledgehammer.

“Lawrence, I swear. Sometimes I don’t know why I keep you around.”

“Bro, if it wasn’t for Danny, you wouldn’t have been here today,” Kirsch says.

Carmilla sighs, crosses her arms. “I guess you have a point.”

“So do I get a thank you, or what?”

“Yeah, yeah, alright. Thanks, Xena. Dragging me to this Dapper Day thing is probably the best thing you’ve ever dragged me to.”

Danny nods, satisfied, but Carmilla isn’t about to let her win that easily.

“Do you maybe have anything to thank me for, Big Red?”

Danny and Kirsch exchange a heavily loaded glance, but before either one of them can answer, the tram rolls in to take them to their parking lot. Carmilla just sighs again, resolving herself to ask if anything had happened between them later, when they weren’t trapped in the car together for half an hour.

+++

Carmilla and Danny all but fall into their shared dorm room, completely worn out. They change and remove their make up in silence, neither one of them being especially chatty when they were tired. Danny finishes first, collapsing onto her mattress with a soft thud. Carmilla finishes wiping her face clean, shuts off the lights in the bathroom and mimics Danny’s position on her own bed, arms splayed out on either side of her mattress. She lets out a groan.

“Remind me to ask you if anything happened with the puppy tomorrow,” Carmilla mutters, but she’s already half asleep and she wonders if that sentence came out at all coherent. She hears a grunt from the other side of the room, so maybe Danny got the idea.

Carmilla shuffles under her covers and blindly reaches on her nightstand for her charger. She plugs her phone in, double checks to make sure that she doesn’t have any undesired alarms on, then opens her texting app. She starts to type out a text to Laura when her phone vibrates in her hand. It seems Laura has beat her to this too, Carmilla thinks fondly. The text reads, “Next date’s on me.”

Carmilla smiles and sends her reply. “Deal. Sleep well, cupcake.” She places her phone back on her bedside table, still smiling. She buries her face in her pillow and drifts off to sleep thinking about chocolate, impossibly soft lips, and a smile so bright, it put Disney fireworks to shame. And if Carmilla hadn’t been so bone tired, she would have woken up the next morning remembering that those same thoughts had filled her every dream that night.

Chapter Text

Carmilla wakes up the next day to a pillow flung at her head. She jerks upwards, eyes flying open and breathing hard, looking wildly around her room for her attacker. It’s only Danny, sitting up on her bed across the room from her. Carmilla bares her teeth in annoyance and throws the pillow back across the room, hitting Danny square in the face.

“Lawrence, if you don’t let me sleep for another couple hours, I’m going to rip out your spine.” Carmilla drags her covers up over her face and screws her eyes shut.

“It’s five in the afternoon, Carmilla, for god’s sake.”

Carmilla groans. “I don’t care, Xena. My feet are still throbbing and it’s a Saturday.”

“Carmilla, please wake up. I’m dying here.” It’s the pleading in Danny’s tone that gets Carmilla to lower the covers from her face. She squints over at her friend, taking in her wide eyes and set jaw.

Sighing, Carmilla sits up crossed legged, wrapping her blankets around herself. “Alright, what’s wrong?”

“It’s Kirsch,” Danny says shortly, and she collapses in on herself, looking all kinds of petrified of whatever her situation is.

“I figured as much. What happened with Lassie?” Carmilla doesn’t bother hiding the snark in her tone. Danny is obviously upset, and such displays make Carmilla incredibly uncomfortable. “Please don’t tell me you fornicated on The PeopleMover?”

Danny blanches. “No, Carmilla, we didn’t fornicate anywhere.” She pauses, and her face contorts in clear embarrassment. “But we did do… stuff.”

Carmilla recoils in disgust and disappears under her covers again. “Firstly, stuff, really? How eloquent. Secondly, I’m going back to sleep now.”

“No, Carmilla, come on I need to talk about this.”

“Go call some of your insipid Sorority Sisters then, because there is no universe in which I want to be having this conversation.”

Danny lets out a noise that’s half growl, half groan, and Carmilla can hear her flinging herself back down on her bed. Carmilla peeks out at her friend from under her sheets. She frowns at Danny’s clear distress and mutters, “Why don’t you seem happy about this, Big Red?”

Danny rolls over and faces Carmilla. “I don’t know. It’s weird, right? It’s Kirsch.”

“Weird is one way of putting it.”

They’re silent for a few beats before Carmilla says, “Just go talk to him. I’m sure you’ll feel better after. Get closure, or set boundaries, or have the ‘what are we?’ talk, whatever.”

Danny nods, the tension melting out of her rigid body. “You’re probably right.”

“I’m always right.”

“I’ll throw my pillow at you again, Elvira.”

“Fine, just wait another hour or so before you do. I’m going back to sleep.”

+++

It isn’t altogether unusual for Carmilla to spend an entire Saturday sleeping. It’s six thirty in the afternoon when she finally rolls out of bed, hair disheveled and eyes half closed. Danny isn’t in the room, and Carmilla hopes she had listened to her and gone to go talk with Kirsch. Carmilla honestly couldn’t wait for them to finally figure their shit out. She supposes she would be seeing a lot less of them when they finally do. The thought saddens her only mildly when she remembers who she had spent a good portion of the previous night with.

Carmilla showers, changes into a pair of black skinny jeans and a black tank top before finally grabbing her phone from her bedside table. She has one text from Kirsch from a few hours ago, just a simple, “Hey, dude,” that she responds to by writing back “Hey, loser.”

No texts from Laura, but Carmilla isn’t really surprised. Carmilla bets Laura woke up this morning in a harried panic, probably thinking last night was some Disney and sugar induced daydream. The thought makes Carmilla chuckle. Her stomach is in some serious need of sustenance, and her mind’s eye conjures up the memory of Laura’s eager, shining face when she told Carmilla she hoped she would call her. Dinner with Laura seems like the best possible way to spend what remained of her evening.

Carmilla’s thumb hovers over Laura’s phone number. She contemplates briefly on how she managed to find herself here, actually calling a girl when she had a pretty notorious reputation for being a one night stand only kind of human. She recalls Laura’s smile again, and her lips and eyes and her legs in that dress, and the way she seemed to instinctively know when to talk and when to let conversation melt away into comfortable silence, and Carmilla knew she’d be a humongous idiot if she never called this girl again. 

She taps the call button, and her stomach is in uncharacteristic nervous knots, her heart beat thudding in her ears. After three rings, Carmilla is already panicking internally. Maybe she’s busy. Maybe she changed her mind. Maybe—

“Hello?”

Oh, thank god.

“Hey, cupcake.” Her voice thankfully comes out smooth and confident.

“Carmilla, hey!” Carmilla can hear the smile in her voice, and she wonders if she’s blushing again.

“What are you doing right now?”

“Nothing! Ouch—I mean, uh, you know. Just chilling. With some friends.”

Carmilla smirks into the receiver. “Would these friends acquiesce in letting you go out to dinner with me?”

“Um, I can—” There’s some sort of commotion on the other end of the line, and Carmilla hears a faint sing-song chant of “Go, Laura, go Laura,” from who she thinks is Lafontaine. Then there’s a muffled “oof!” and the chant dies down immediately. “I’m sure they wouldn’t mind, no.”

“How’s sushi sound, cutie?”

“Yeah, sounds awesome!”

“I’ll go pick you up. Text me your dorm address?”

“Totally, will do.”

“See you soon.” Carmilla lets a smile grow slowly at the warm, excited feeling spreading through her chest.

+++

Laura’s dorm building is across campus, in the newer housing area. Carmilla pulls up in front of the housing complex and shoots Laura a text informing her of her arrival. She’s amused when she doesn’t have to wait longer than five minutes for Laura to come bounding out of the building. She’s in a casual, button down dress and flats, and Carmilla momentarily wishes she had at least changed out of her moon phases tank into something a little more see-through.

“Hey,” Laura greets her with a shy smile when she enters her car, and she’s just as breathtaking as Carmilla remembers.

“Hey.”

They share a slightly awkward silence, both unsure how to greet each other further. This is so entirely unlike Carmilla, and she kind of hates herself right now for being so hesitant. She reminds herself that she is a total badass and leans over the center console to brush her lips against Laura’s cheek. When she pulls away, she sees the pleased smile plastered across Laura’s face, and even though something so innocent shouldn’t make Carmilla feel as though she had just bedded a supermodel, her confidence levels are restored as she puts the car into drive, tossing a “I hope you’re hungry, creampuff,” casually Laura’s way before setting her eyes back on the road.

+++

“You’re playing it safe there, cupcake.” Carmilla shakes her head at Laura’s modest California roll.

“I’m kind of a picky eater,” Laura says, grimacing.

“You’re a Journalism major, I would have pegged you to be adventurous in all aspects of life.” Carmilla plops a Cajun roll in her mouth, expertly handling her chopsticks.

“I was a very sheltered child.”

“Exactly. Sheltered children usually make for very wild adults.”

The corner of Laura’s mouth twitches upwards. “I’m not a nun or anything. I just… my father has a lot of safety concerns, and he’s pretty much all I have. I don’t want to do anything that would upset him.”

“Like eat spicy sushi?” Carmilla smirks around a bite of food, and Laura laughs.

“Well, no, I guess it doesn’t extend that far.” Laura reaches across the booth they’re sitting in and nabs a roll from Carmilla’s plate, dropping it into her open mouth.

Carmilla watches Laura munch on her roll happily, clearly enjoying the sushi. She takes two more off her plate and places them on Laura’s. “I’ll trade you.”

“Deal,” Laura agrees, moving two of her California rolls over to Carmilla’s plate.

They spend the rest of dinner very pleasantly, and Carmilla delights in Laura’s laughs and the way her mouth tugs up into a half smile when Carmilla says something sarcastic. Laura admits that she did wake up this morning in a slight panic, and Carmilla apologizes for contacting her so late, but she laughs at the red blush on Laura’s cheeks when she admits just how panicked she was.

When the check comes, Carmilla automatically reaches for her wallet, but Laura hands the waiter her card and tells him to run before Carmilla even finishes fishing it out of her pocket.

“Creampuff, what was that?”

“I told you last night the next date would be on me.”

“Yes, but I asked you out.”

“And you also paid for my dinner last night too, so I’m not having it again today.”

Carmilla smirks. “Feisty.”

“I told you I could be.” Laura grins back though, clearly pleased with herself.

Laura finishes paying, and they exit the restaurant in comfortable silence. They make their way over to Carmilla’s car, and she’s contemplating what she could possibly bribe Danny with in order to get her to disappear from their dorm for a while, when Laura speaks first.

“You know. I, um, live in a single.”

Carmilla raises an eyebrow at Laura over the top of her car before she gets in. Once they’re both seated and Carmilla starts the engine, she says, “Do you now, cutie?”

“Yep. Just me. Alone. In my room.” She’s fidgeting with her hands, clearly nervous at the implication.

Carmilla reaches over and grabs one of her hands, intertwining their fingers and stilling the other girl’s fidgeting. “Are you inviting me over, sunshine?”

“Maybe. I mean. If you want.” Laura is looking down at their conjoined hands, a small smile playing at the corner of her mouth. “We could, uh, watch Netflix, or something.”

“Yeah, sure. Why not?”

+++

Laura’s room is small, but it has its own bathroom attached. There’s a bed pushed up against the right wall, and a desk with her laptop on it across from the bed. The room is covered in posters and random memorabilia. Carmilla doesn’t really recognize the posters of some white guy next to a blue British telephone booth, but she sees a Hufflepuff scarf draped over a bedpost, a lanyard for Disney pins hanging on the wall, and an impressively nerdy collection of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Veronica Mars DVDs on a shelf above the bed.  

They’re standing in the middle of the room, and Carmilla sees Laura eyeing her, obviously apprehensive and self-conscious. Carmilla doesn’t really know what to say, exactly. The last time she was in a girl’s room without the intention of fucking her senseless was a very long time ago, and not a situation that she cares to reminisce on much. She clears her throat and focuses in on the Hufflepuff scarf. She could work with Harry Potter, at least, if not with much else. “I’ve always fancied myself a Slytherin,” Carmilla says, gesturing at the scarf.

Laura breaks out into a highly relieved grin, obviously glad that she had broken the ice. She moves to stand closer to Carmilla. “Why am I not surprised?”

“Well, I’m not really surprised that you’re a Hufflepuff either. Being a Journalism major, I’m sure you’re an awfully talented finder.”

Laura scoffs and makes to swat at Carmilla’s arm playfully. Carmilla sidesteps her, chuckling. “Hit a nerve?”

“I hate Hufflepuff haters. There’s nothing wrong with being one. They’re loyal and kind and they defend their friends and they’re—”

“Adorable?” Carmilla moves so she’s standing in front of Laura, eyes gleaming with amusement.

Laura scrunches up her nose in distaste. “I’m not adorable.”

“Yes you are.” Carmilla laughs as Laura’s look of distaste deepens. “That bunched up face you make when you’re angry is hilarious, buttercup.”

Laura’s features smooth out as she looks up at Carmilla. “Buttercup. That’s a new one.”

“I’m sure I can think of many more.”

They had gotten even closer during their banter. All Carmilla has to do is lean down a little and Laura would be within kissing distance. Laura’s gaze is flickering between Carmilla’s eyes and mouth.

Carmilla leans down so their lips are a hairsbreadth apart. She hears Laura suck in a breath and watches as her eyes flutter closed. Carmilla smiles and leans marginally closer, only to whisper against Laura’s lips, “So what’re we watching on Netflix, cutie?”

Laura’s eyes fly open, and Carmilla leans away, laughing uproariously at the outrage on Laura’s face. “Netflix?” Her voice is a little bit shrill in her disbelief.

“You said in the car that we’d watch something. I was looking forward to it cupcake, you can’t just get a girl’s hopes up, you know.”

Laura closes and opens her mouth, dumbfounded, and Carmilla continues to snicker at her, now moving to drop herself on Laura’s bed, pointedly looking at Laura’s laptop.

Laura stands there for another minute, clearly trying to decide if Carmilla is serious. Something in Carmilla’s raised eyebrows must have convinced her, because she closes her mouth and spins around to grab her computer and bring it over to the bed.

“Take your shoes off, will you?” Laura demands, pulling up Netflix on her browser.

Carmilla huffs but kicks them off, then grabs a pillow to lean against. “So what’re we watching?”

“I’ve been on a Disney high since yesterday. Would you mind if we watched a Disney movie?” Laura is already typing ‘Disney’ into the search bar, so clearly Carmilla’s opinion doesn’t mean much.

“Can I at least pick the Disney movie?”

“Alright, go ahead.” Laura tilts the screen so Carmilla can see the selection of titles.

They argue a little bit when Carmilla wants to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas, because apparently to Laura that movie is off limits until October. So Carmilla settles on Hercules instead, and Laura doesn’t have a problem with that, so they settle back against the pillows propped up behind them and press play.

Laura is making a point to lean as far away from Carmilla as possible while they watch the movie. Carmilla thinks that maybe she might have given her the wrong idea earlier. It wasn’t like Carmilla didn’t want any kissing to happen. She decides to let Laura in on this fact by scooting closer to her during one of the musical numbers. Laura is singing along under her breath, reminding Carmilla of when they rode The Seven Dwarves Mine Train together yesterday, and it’s so cute, and all Carmilla really wants to do right now is kiss her. She drifts closer to Laura so that their sides are pressed against each other. She feels Laura stiffen a little, and in this moment it’s very hard to think that they had spent a good hour doing nothing but making out just last night. Carmilla feels as though she’s starting from square one here.

Carmilla grazes her lips against Laura’s ear. “Did I offend you earlier, cupcake?”

Laura shakes her head stiffly.

“Well, good. It certainly wasn’t my intention.” Carmilla brushes a lock of hair away from Laura’s face, and Carmilla sees Laura gulp.

“I thought you wanted to watch a movie?” Laura croaks.

“You’re the one who brought up the movie in the first place, creampuff.”

“I—you know that wasn’t what—I was trying to be subtle.”

Carmilla chuckles, her breath ghosting across Laura’s skin and making her break out into chills. “Subtle really isn’t your thing.”

Laura turns around to continue arguing, probably, but Carmilla doesn’t let her get a word in, bringing their lips together instead.

Laura doesn’t respond right away, still shocked and probably still a little upset about earlier, but Carmilla worries her bottom lip between her teeth and Laura whimpers, tangling her hands in Carmilla’s hair to bring her closer.

They make out through half the movie. It isn’t until around when Phil finds out that Meg has been working with Hades when Laura pushes a hand under Carmilla’s shirt, and Carmilla grabs her wrist to stop her. They break apart, Laura’s face showing nothing but concern. Her lips are swollen and she has a hickey blooming right above her collarbone, and her hair is fanned out in a halo around her head, and she’s so beautiful. Carmilla is too caught up in staring down at her to realize that she had been the one to stop them in their lustful tracks. “Are you okay?” Laura asks, completely breathless and looking as though she wants nothing more than to continue where they left off.

“Fine, cupcake, fine.” Carmilla moves backwards onto her knees and away from where she was laying on top of the other girl. “I just think maybe we should cool it.”

Laura scrambles up so that she’s sitting cross legged in front of Carmilla. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be pushy.”

“It’s alright.” Carmilla backs up against the pillows again and tugs at Laura’s sleeve until she moves to bury her face in her neck, one arm circling Carmilla’s waist. Carmilla places a kiss to her forehead, and wraps an arm around Laura’s shoulder.

They sit in silence, finishing the movie, and Carmilla checks the time. It’s still only nine thirty, but she had to be awake at a decent hour tomorrow to get through some homework.

“I should get going, buttercup.”

Laura hums into Carmilla’s neck. “Do you have to?”

“Unfortunately.”

“Can I ask you something before you leave?”

“Sure.”

“You’re not, like, worried about my virtue or something are you? Because I’m definitely not a virgin, and I think you see me as this cute, puff ball of naïve, but I’m really not, and I’m just hoping that isn’t the reason why you’ve been so proper with me—”

“Laura, Laura,” Carmilla shushes the girl, disentangling herself from her and looking at her with a small smile. “It’s not that.”

Laura goes red. “Oh. Okay. Well, I’m just gonna shut up then, before I say something else to further embarrass myself.”

Carmilla laughs and shakes her head. “It’s just… I like getting to know you.”

Laura nods, still red. “Okay. Yeah, me too.”

“And I don’t usually bother getting to know anybody.”

Laura’s eyes widen in understanding. “Oh.”

“Hmm. So, if it’s okay with you, sex is something I’d like to hold off on.” Carmilla tilts her head, appraising Laura’s deep blush. “For now.”

Laura sputters. “Wow, yeah. Sure. I don’t know what I was thinking—probably that I’m in college and this is what people in college do or something, I don’t know, I didn’t want to make it a big deal or anything—”

“It usually isn’t for me, cupcake.” Carmilla pauses, watching as Laura collects herself from her rambling. “But I kind of… want it to be. Maybe.” She smirks. “If I actually let you stick around.”

Now Laura scoffs and rolls her eyes. “Charming.”

Carmilla gives Laura’s knee a squeeze before standing up and stretching. “I really should go, cupcake.”

Laura walks Carmilla out of her dorm, down the three flights of stairs, and out to the parking lot. They hover by the door to Carmilla’s car, and the awkwardness of their situation is starting to dissipate, because Laura gives Carmilla a huge smile and presses a soft, lingering kiss to her lips.

“Goodnight, Carmilla,” Laura whispers after pulling back.

“Thanks for dinner, cutie.” Carmilla gives her one last kiss to her cheek before climbing inside of her car. They wave goodbye as Carmilla drives away.

+++

During the next two months, Laura isn’t too shy about contacting Carmilla first anymore. She sends her good morning texts, and how are you texts, and come meet me for coffee texts. Carmilla responds to them all, and she’s more than a little surprised at having managed to not scare this girl off yet. Sometimes Carmilla pokes fun at Laura a little too much (by lording her whole one inch height difference over her, or for Laura’s penchant for having nothing but cookies for lunch, or for the way she rambles on about important world news), and she gets to know Laura’s infamous quick temper rather well. They bicker too. Almost constantly. About books, movies, television shows. Laura delights in calling Carmilla a dirty hipster, which Carmilla responds with many an eye roll and witty retort. Sometimes too, they hang out after Carmilla has a particularly difficult conversation with her mother, and when Carmilla meets up with Laura, she’s quiet and broody and sips at her coffee or hot chocolate without saying much at all.

As difficult as Carmilla knows she is, and as happy and optimistic and carefree and passionate as Laura is most of the time, Carmilla notices when Laura has her own off days too. Sometimes when the rain is coming down particularly hard, Laura spends a lot of time lost in her own head, leaning her forehead against a window and staring out at the downpour in a way that makes Carmilla wonder.

They let each other be though, most of the time. Laura asks if Carmilla wants to talk about it whenever she’s brooding, and Carmilla responds only by covering Laura’s mouth with hers. And on those rainy days, Carmilla asks if Laura wants to go back to her room, where they close the blinds and occupy themselves with activities that’ll make them shut out the sound of the falling rain.  

When she’s lost in Laura’s charm, Laura’s intelligence, Laura’s scent, and Laura’s skin, it’s easy for Carmilla to put off their tragic backstory conversation for a much later date.  

+++

“So as much as I know you hate things like this, when are we going to double date?”

Carmilla shudders in disgust. “Xena, why in the world would I want to go on a double date with you and Air Bud?”

Danny brushes her hair out of her face and crosses something out on an English paper she’s grading. “Because Kirsch and I have hardly seen you since you starting dating Laura—”

“And since you started dating each other.”

“Well, yeah, but still. We should all go out.” Danny shakes her head and crosses out something else, scribbling a grade at the top of the paper and circling it. “Maybe to Downtown Disney or something. That has a lot of good double date potential.”

Carmilla pushes her reading glasses up her nose, and buries herself further into her novel. “Please cease your prattling.”

Danny makes a noncommittal noise in the back of her throat, but quiets down and continues grading. It isn’t until Carmilla realizes that she’s read the same paragraph four times without taking a word in that she groans and brings it down to cover her face. “Fine. I’ll ask Laura.”

Carmilla can’t see it, her face being covered by her book, but she can still hear the smile in Danny’s voice when she says, “Awesome.”

+++

Carmilla and Laura are lounging around studying for their finals at the University’s main library later that night. Laura’s concentrating hard on her laptop, her eyebrows furrowed and a pen dangling from her mouth. Carmilla is supposed to be finishing a paper for her Philosophy of Tyranny class, but she has her head propped up in her hand instead, watching Laura work on her Journalism project. Laura grabs the pen from her mouth and jots down something on a notepad, only to shortly return it to its current holding place while she clicks through her computer screen. She’s wearing headphones, and Carmilla thinks she remembers her saying that she was editing videos.

Carmilla pushes her laptop away from her and grabs her notebook and a pen instead. She spends the next half an hour sketching, glancing intermediately between Laura and her drawing of her. It takes Laura that long before she catches Carmilla’s eye. She pops an earbud out of one ear and gives Carmilla a curious look. “What?”

“What, what, cutie?”

“You keep looking at me.”

“Narcissistic, much?”

Laura shoots her an exasperated look and leans over her laptop to catch a quick glimpse of Carmilla’s drawing before Carmilla whips it away underneath one of the many textbooks scattered on the table. “Carm, what are you drawing?”

“Nothing, sunshine, get back to your video.”

Laura grins and she shuts her laptop closed. “I wanna see.”

Carmilla rolls her eyes. “It’s rude to force someone to show you their art, you know.”

Laura pouts, her bottom lip jutting out, giving Carmilla an almost irresistible urge to lean over and bite down on it. “Please?”

Carmilla sighs, reaching back under her textbook for her notebook. “Fine. Here.”

Laura squeals when Carmilla hands her the drawing. Her smile wavers a little as she looks at it, making Carmilla’s heart drop to her stomach. “What?”

“This is me.”

“Yeah. And?”

Laura frowns. “I don’t look like this.”

Carmilla grabs the drawing back and glances between it and Laura. Carmilla can be a bit conceited, it’s true, and though she’s pretty selective in who she lets see her drawings, she knows she has talent. So she genuinely has no idea what Laura’s talking about. “I don’t know what you mean, cutie. I know it’s just a sketch but—”

“No, I mean, I’m definitely not this pretty.”

Carmilla’s jaw loosens as she gaps at Laura. “What utter nonsense are you spouting now, Laura?”

“You drew me a lot prettier than I actually am.” She sounds almost offended.

“This is how you are.” Carmilla stands up from her chair and crouches down so that she’s at eye level with Laura. She’s biting her lip, and she looks more self-conscious now than when Carmilla first met her. “Laura, you’re the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen. And I swear you get prettier every day.”

“You’re just saying that,” Laura mumbles.

Carmilla scowls. “What’s with you? Did some lackwit frat boy insult you on your way over here or something?”

Laura shakes her head. “No, it’s just. I don’t know. Do you really see me like that?”

“I see you like that because that’s the way you are. I’m not one for embellishments, cupcake.” Carmilla tilts Laura’s chin down so that she’s looking at her. Carmilla’s lips quirk up, and she runs a thumb over Laura’s cheek. “You’re so beautiful, and I swear that thought occupies my brain a good ninety percent of the time I’m conscious. And probably unconscious too, but I’m not usually too good at remembering my dreams, so I can’t be too sure.”

Laura gives her a small smile in return, but she shakes her head a little. “You’re ridiculous.”

“Ridiculously into you.” Carmilla stands up and presses a kiss to Laura’s temple. “Though if you repeat that to Danny and Kirsch when we hang out with them, I’ll immediately deny it.”

“When we hang out with Danny and Kirsch?”

Carmilla sits back down and pulls her laptop back in front of her. “Mhm. This Friday, if that’s okay with you, cutie.”

“I get to meet your friends?”

“You’ve met them, technically.”

“Yeah, but not since they started going out. And not since you and I started…seeing each other.” There’s a hesitance in Laura’s voice that Carmilla picks up on, and maybe Carmilla realizes now where Laura’s insecurities are stemming from. Carmilla is quiet as she appraises Laura’s light blush and downturned gaze. She grabs the drawing again and jots down on the top right corner of the page “for my girlfriend,” then signs her name before pushing the paper back over to Laura.

Laura glances back down at it, then does a double take when she sees the inscription. A slow, reluctant smile is tugging at the corner of Laura’s mouth. “Who’s this girlfriend you’re giving a picture of me to?”

Carmilla scoffs. “You’re such a smart ass.”

Laura smiles in earnest now, rising up from her chair and seating herself sideways on Carmilla’s lap, wrapping her arms around her neck. “Is that what you want? For me to be your girlfriend?”

Carmilla hugs Laura’s waist and hums her assent. “Is it what you want?”

“Only for like, a month now.”

Carmilla laughs and kisses her. Laura’s mouth is insistent, moving fast over Carmilla’s own. Carmilla cups her cheeks so she can pry Laura off of her for a second. “We’re in public, sunshine.”

“I’m allowed to be happy right now, Carm.”

“Do you think you can wait another hour or so to show me just how happy you are, cutie? Until we can get back to your dorm.”

“Alright, party pooper.” Laura pecks her lips once more before reluctantly returning to her own seat and her Journalism project. She gives Carmilla one more smile before putting her headphones back on, and Carmilla returns it, warmth spreading outwards to every corner of her body at the realization that she could now call this perfect little human her girlfriend. She chuckles to herself, bringing her paper back up on her computer screen.

+++

“How exactly did you become such good friends with them again?” Laura is curled against Carmilla’s side where they’re sitting down in a booth, watching as Danny and Kirsch argue over who could lift the heaviest bowling ball.

Carmilla is trailing her fingers absentmindedly up and down Laura’s arm, staring over at her friends with a small concerned frown. “I wonder that myself all the time, cupcake.”

Laura snorts out a laugh, then buries her face in the crook of Carmilla’s neck, placing small, covert kisses along her jaw. Carmilla hums happily, small waves of pleasure washing over her.

“How much do you want to bet that if we disappeared for a while, they would still be in the same spot when we come back?” Laura whispers into Carmilla’s ear.

“Lassie and Clifford do have a habit of dragging out their pointless competitions for a while,” Carmilla agrees. “Though eventually it’ll be our turn to bowl.”

Laura makes a small whining noise in the back of her throat, lips brushing against Carmilla’s earlobe. “But Carm. You look so nice tonight.”

Knowing Laura’s love of Carmilla’s knee highs, Carmilla had taken it upon herself to wear a very short pair of black shorts with said socks, and an olive green button up. Clearly, Laura appreciated the gesture. “Patience, creampuff.”

Laura lets out another whine, but detaches her mouth from Carmilla’s neck obediently.

It seems that Kirsch had won whatever stupid contest the pair were fighting about, because Danny is wearing a murderous scowl and Kirsch is trying to kiss it off of her. Carmilla groans and directs her next comment at them. “Can we move it along there? We only have the lane for an hour, you’re wasting our time and money.”

Kirsch brings a hand up to rub at his neck sheepishly. “Oh, yeah, sorry dude. You’re right.”

Danny glowers at Kirsch, but lets him kiss her cheek affectionately before walking back over to Carmilla and Laura. “Sorry about that,” she mutters.

“Just try and keep the salivating to a minimum, will you? You two are disgusting.”

Please. You aren’t much better, canoodling over here.”

Carmilla scoffs, but doesn’t bother saying much else while Laura’s arm is looped through her own, head still buried in the crook of her neck.

+++

Danny and Kirsch get so caught up in trying to best each other in their bowling game that they kind of forget they were playing in teams, so Carmilla and Laura unassumingly win.

“Loser buys dessert. That was the deal.” Carmilla grins over at Danny and Kirsch from where she’s standing with her arm draped over Laura’s shoulders.

“You have to admit, they got us there.” Kirsch shrugs at the dumbfounded look on Danny’s face. “Bros don’t back out of bets.”

“Where do you want dessert from, cupcake?” Carmilla asks Laura, tilting her head down to share a smug smile with her. “You pick.”

“I’m thinking Ghirardelli sounds pretty good,” Laura answers.

“Hear that, Big Red? We’re demanding Ghirardelli.”

Danny groans. “Alright, but I’m calling for a rematch next time with higher stakes. Winner buys dinner.”

+++

Danny and Kirsch begrudgingly pay for their chocolates, Laura and Carmilla sharing a sundae and Danny and Kirsch both getting different flavors of ice cream (strawberry for Kirsch, vanilla for Danny). They sit outside, happily devouring their desserts. Danny and Laura find themselves in a discussion about Jane Austen and popular culture, which Carmilla promptly ignores (she has to deal with literature enough in her classes to want to talk about it outside of school). She busies herself instead with challenging Kirsch to an arm wrestling mach. Carmilla is deceptively strong, so Kirsch always delights in their little displays of strength. He'll often coax her into these stupid competitions, and Carmilla loves seeing his sour face when she wins. Laura pauses in her conversation with Danny a few times to shoot Carmilla amused glances. 

After she beats him five times in a row, and Laura and Danny don't look like they're going to let up on their nerd talk anytime soon, Carmilla decides it's time they change scenery. 

"Wanna walk around, cupcake?" Carmilla slips her hand onto Laura's thigh, and Laura responds to the pressure by grabbing her hand and intertwining their fingers. 

"Sure, Carm."

"What's wrong, Elvira? Jealous that you're not the only one who can keep your girl's attention?" Danny says, grinning. 

Kirsch pouts at that, slinging his arm over his girlfriend's shoulders in a possessive gesture. Danny just laughs and gives Kirsch's cheek a peck. 

"Cut it out, Jolly Red Giant," Carmilla warns, just jokingly enough so that Laura won't actually think she is jealous. 

"Alright, let's go." Laura's eyes are shining with mischief, and Carmilla thinks that maybe she didn't have her fooled for a second. 

"Where to, cutie?" 

"The big Disney store? You know how much I love merch." 

Carmilla rolls her eyes indulgently. "Oh, alright. You coming, Super Friends?" 

"We're gonna go to the House of Blues, actually. They have a local band we like playing tonight." Danny and Kirsch both stand, hands intertwined. "You should come join." 

Carmilla raises an eyebrow at Laura in a silent question. 

"Um, yeah sure. In a bit," Laura smiles reassuringly at them. 

"Okay, see you soon." 

+++

Laura drags her through the entire store. Apparently, she came with an ulterior motive though, which Carmilla learns when they get to the section of the store that carries the plush toys. Laura has "investigative journalist" face on as she browses the section. Carmilla is following her rather apathetically. She kind of really wants to join Danny and Kirsch. 

"Aha!" 

Carmilla snaps out of her musings at Laura's exclamation. "What?" 

"I've been wanting to buy you one of these for a while now," Laura says happily, holding up a small Donald Duck stuffed plush toy. 

Carmilla chuckles and bows her head, avoiding Laura's excited eyes. "You're too much, buttercup." 

"Are you bashful, Carm?" Laura's voice is dripping with delight. "Am I embarrassing you?" 

"No," Carmilla drawls out the word, shifting her gaze up towards the ceiling. 

"You're my girlfriend now, I'm allowed to shower you with cheesy, sentimental gifts."

"I'm not huge on sentiment, sweetheart." 

"Please. Need I remind you how we met?" Laura waves the plushie for emphasis. 

Carmilla finally fixes her with her intense gaze, and Laura blushes. She fumbles with the Donald Duck, looking away from Carmilla's eyes. "You're right, this is dumb."

Sighing, Carmilla says, "I never said it was." She moves into Laura's space and reaches behind her into the stacks of plushies. She kisses Laura on the cheek as she retreats holding a Daisy Duck plushie. "Breathe a word of this to Danny and Kirsch and I'll break up with you." 

Laura grins delightedly, and lets out a small squeal, flinging her arms around Carmilla's neck. Carmilla chuckles a little, hugging her girlfriend to her for a moment before she pulls away. "Alright creampuff, let's pay for these and stash them in the car before joining the other two, yeah?" 

+++ 

The House of Blues is loud, crowded, and full of drunk college kids. Carmilla immediately does her best to join them, downing a couple tequila shots within the first fifteen minutes of her arrival. 

"Are you okay, Carm?" Laura shouts above the din. 

"Perfectly okay, sunshine. It's just been a long week. I need to unwind." Carmilla kisses her hard to prove just how perfectly okay she is. Laura hums into her mouth and Carmilla losses herself in her for a moment, letting the music and the alcohol fuel her pent up sexual frustrations of the last few months. Laura kisses her back, maybe struggling to keep up with Carmilla's overzealous pace, and she untangles herself from Carmilla with a firm hand on her chest. She's panting a little, and they stare each other down for a moment before Danny and Kirsch come tumbling out of the crowd. 

They scream over the noise about how they're way behind in the shots department. Laura just shakes her head at their invitation, but Carmilla accompanies Kirsch to the bar to order another round of tequila shots. When they return, Danny and Laura are dancing along to the music. Laura isn't the most coordinated individual, but it's endearing. Carmilla grins, her buzz quickly building up into a nice level of intoxication as the tequila starts to hit her, and she moves up behind her girlfriend, spinning her around and encircling Laura's arms around her neck. She sees Kirsch pull Danny in for a dance too out of the corner of her eye. 

Laura looks away a little shyly as Carmilla starts moving to the music. She leans up to speak in Carmilla's ear. "Just so you know, I'm not really big on the dancing thing." 

"Just follow my lead, cutie." 

+++ 

Before the night had started, Danny had called dibs on their shared dorm room, leaving Carmilla the only option of rooming with Laura. Which, at this point in time, was a very good thing, because Carmilla is drunk. And though Laura might not be the most patient soul in the universe, she takes care of Carmilla rather well. She cleans off her makeup, gives her a bottle of water to drink, and lends her pajamas that she lets Carmilla put on herself in her bathroom. She manages to get Carmilla under her covers with minimal damage. 

"Cupcake," Carmilla breaths sleepily and drunkenly, burying her face deep into Laura's yellow pillow. It smells like her. 

"Yeah, Carm?" Laura's voice comes from somewhere to her right, and it's very close. It dawns on Carmilla's slowly sobering brain that they would be sleeping in the same bed together. This had yet to happen, and of course it would happen while Carmilla is too drunk to function. 

"Thank you for taking care of me." 

"You're lucky I like you. And that you aren't a completely annoying drunk."

Carmilla laughs at that. "I do believe I remember trying to make out with you while you were driving. I apologize, cutie." 

"No harm done. Get some sleep, Carm." 

Laura presses a kiss to her temple, but before she can pull away, Carmilla grips her arm and raises her head from the pillow. She looks up at Laura through sleep and alcohol lidded eyes, and Laura is looking down at her questioningly. Carmilla shakes her head at this girl's beauty and brings their lips together, kissing her slowly. Laura hums into Carmilla's mouth and detaches herself after a while. They continue to stare at each other, eyes traveling down the other's body shamelessly. 

It's probably the alcohol talking, but Carmilla hears her own voice saying, "I want to sleep with you." 

Laura stares back at her, unblushing. "I do too." 

Carmilla kisses her again before resting their foreheads together. "I'm regretting my decision to get this drunk now, cutie." 

Laura laughs. "Serves you right," she says, but she kisses her one last time anyway, before leaning back against her pillows. Carmilla flops her head back down too, and her eyes immediately close, the alcohol finally taking its toll on her as she drifts off to sleep.  

+++

They spend the summer after finals happily cocooned in their own little bubble. They both stay on campus for the summer semester, and Carmilla spends so much time in Laura's single, she has her own drawer and closet space. Laura complains about how messy and disorganized Carmilla is, but Carmilla can usually keep her distracted enough so Laura doesn’t completely bite her head off. 

They double date with Danny and Kirsch, and LaFontaine and Perry. The six of them go to fraternity parties every so often. Their groups mesh well, with Laura and Danny and Carmilla and Laf hitting it off especially well. Carmilla and Laura have a lot of movie nights, and Carmilla helps Laura with her Lit homework, and Laura takes a lot of goofy videos and pictures of the two of them, and Carmilla spends an alarming amount of time drawing Laura, and thinking about Laura and eventually finally sleeping with Laura, and just drowning in Laura, and Carmilla is really, ecstatically happy. And Carmilla knows when Laura is pressing her fingers into her or when she’s curled around her, half asleep and smiling, that Laura’s happy too.

Eventually, their dark brooding pasts manage to ruin a few perfectly blissful dates, and through their anger at the other for taking their frustrations out on each other, they finally spill the things about themselves that the other had yet to know. Carmilla tells Laura about her controlling, disapproving, homophobic mother, and absent father. Laura tells Carmilla about her mother's death from breast cancer. They both cry and apologize and at the end of the whole ordeal, they're better for it. Laura knows to kiss Carmilla with extra purpose on the days when her mother calls, knows to cherish her artwork more than she ever did before because her love and talent for it would never be encouraged by her mother. Carmilla knows that the rain reminds Laura of the day her mother passed, and she takes her to watch whatever mindless movie is playing at the theater those days, away from the downpour and where she could lose herself in suspended disbelief. Sometimes they talk about the things that bother them now. Sometimes they don't, but either way, they bring each other safety and comfort that they both didn’t know had been missing from their lives before they met each other.

And the one thing Carmilla knows for sure is that she's invested completely in this bright, shining, often angry and stubborn fluff ball of a human. 

Chapter Text

"Carm, come on, keep up!" 

"Cupcake, it's hot. My feet—”

"Enough about your feet. You're not wearing flats this time."

"Boots are apparently no better." 

"Bro, you're always complaining about something."

"Yeah, Karnstein. Woman up."

"If we don't all hurry, we'll miss our reservation. It’s lucky the RA before me is a good friend and the manager of the place. I'd hate to have called in the favor for nothing."

"Calm down, Perr. Though, Hollis isn't wrong. Hurry up, slow poke."

Carmilla wonders how she managed to find herself in this situation. Again. The blue blazer and black dress pants combo is infinitely more comfortable than the dress she wore last year, it's true, but she wasn't kidding about the boots. They're just as bad as her flats had been. And no matter how dashing she looks in her Beast Disneybound, blazers in the South Florida heat are never fun. She huffs, but quickens her pace to move past Danny, Kirsch, Laf, and Perry to walk beside Laura, who's leading the group through the crowded Walt Disney World traffic towards the Be Our Guest restaurant in Fantasyland.

Laura glances up at her. She looks like she might continue berating Carmilla for being slow, but instead her eyes flicker over her outfit, taking in the white button up and yellow bow tie. A smile spreads across her face instead. "Dapper looks so good on you."

Carmilla smirks, grabbing Laura's hand and intertwining their fingers. "You look appropriately adorable in head to toe yellow, creampuff." 

"Are you making another Hufflepuff joke?"

"Maybe."

+++

The six of them sit down at one of the long tables in the room themed to look like the ballroom from the waltzing scene in Beauty and the Beast. Between her Beast and Laura's Belle Disneybounds, and the amazing accuracy of the setting around her, Carmilla feels like she's been plopped into the movie itself. 

"This is amazing, Perry, thank you so much for getting us these reservations!" Laura gushes to Perry, who's sitting across from her. 

Perry waves her hand. "Oh, it's nothing, really."

"Didn't sound like nothing when you were mushing us along like a pack of sled dogs," Carmilla grumbles. 

"Anyway," Danny interjects before Laf can butt in with another retort, "We're insanely lucky. You know this place has been booked solid since it opened a few years ago?"

"That's because it's amazing and the food is delicious," Laf says. They were tossing their rose pager across the table with Kirsch, playing some kind of table hockey. Perry makes a disapproving tut-tutting noise, and Laf and Kirsch immediately ceased, giving Perry sheepish grins. 

The six of them chat back and forth in their teasing fashion, poking fun at each other and stealing off of each other's plates. Carmilla stays mostly quiet, preferring to stick to one worded snarky responses. Laura tries to get Carmilla to reenact the dancing scene from the movie with her, but Carmilla firmly declines, telling her that they’ll take a picture in front of the stained glass window from the ending of Beauty and the Beast by the restaurant’s exit after dinner instead.

When dessert comes around, there's a candle in the cupcake that Laura and Carmilla are sharing, "Happy Anniversary" written in chocolate syrup on the plate. Carmilla looks away from the gushing of her friends, her face going slightly pink when Laura beams and presses a kiss to her cheek. "Did you tell the waitress, Carm?"

"Just eat your cupcake." They do, Carmilla pointedly ignoring Danny and Kirsch's pretend gagging. 

+++

After dinner, the six of them split up. Laf and Perry heading towards Tomorrowland, Danny and Kirsch staying in Fantasyland, and Laura and Carmilla heading towards the front of the castle and the nighttime shows. Carmilla is strangely silent through the parade and the projection show. They’re waiting for the fireworks to start when Laura notices. She nudges Carmilla's shoulder with her own. "What's up?"

Carmilla shakes her head. "Absolutely nothing, sweetheart."

"Why so quiet? Afraid that if you open your mouth, nothing but complaints about your feet will fall out?"

"Haha," Carmilla deadpans. "Honestly, cupcake. I'm fine."

"Just fine?"

Carmilla gives her a wry smile. "A lot more than fine. Maybe that's why I'm so quiet."

"Afraid of getting all sentimental on me?"

"Precisely."

Laura's face registers her surprise. "Wait, really?"

Carmilla looks away from Laura and up at the castle. "Really."

"Poor Carmilla. Too weighted down by the force of her emotions to properly express them." Laura's grin is smug and completely shit eating. "Whatever will she do?"

"Tell you she loves you, maybe."

Laura stills, and Carmilla's gaze is trained resolutely on Cinderella Castle in front of her, not daring to look at Laura's reaction. 

There's silence for a few minutes more, before Carmilla feels Laura slip her hand into her own and squeeze. "Hey," she whispers. "Look at me?"

Carmilla grimaces. "No, I'm fine here."

"Come on, Carm. Please?" 

Sighing, Carmilla rolls her eyes and looks down at her girlfriend. Laura is gazing up at her with so much affection and trust, it almost scares Carmilla into backtracking her previous declaration. Instead, she leans down and kisses her, pouring her happiness and love into this girl as best she can. 

When they pull apart, Laura's face splits into a huge smile and she kisses Carmilla again. They're both grinning messes, too happy to kiss properly and Carmilla leans away, laughing. "I take it the sentiment went over well with you, cutie."

"You're ridiculous." Laura nudges Carmilla again. "But yes. It went over extremely well."

"How well, exactly?"

"Well enough to tell you that I love you, too. Maybe," she adds with another grin. 

Carmilla wraps an arm around Laura and brings her closer against her. She presses a kiss to the top of her head. "This is enough sentiment for one night I think, creampuff."

"Oh, no. You're not gonna get off the hook that easily. You just told me that you love me, on our one year anniversary of meeting each other, where we had our first kiss, in Disney World. Carmilla Karnstein, you are a sentimental sap and you can't prove otherwise. I'm going to hold this over you for as long as I possibly can."

"Can you at least wait until after the fireworks to start holding it over me?"

"Maybe if you kiss me, I'll have better things to do with my mouth than nag you about your sentimentality."

"You don't have to twist my arm for that, Laura."

They smile at each other again, and Carmilla feels that tug in her chest that's been telling her for a while now just how much she loves this girl. They kiss as the musical opening for the fireworks start, and Carmilla feels like a huge cliché, but she really couldn’t care less. She loves Laura, and for as long as Laura will let her, she’ll show her exactly just how much. Carmilla hopes it’ll be for a very long, long time.