Logically, as a scientist, Laf knew it wasn’t possible. There could never be a complete absence of anything, anywhere. Ever. That wasn’t the way the universe worked, not even here at Silas.
The fight had been loud. First in the yelling. Then Carmilla storming out with a slam of the front door. Laura sobbing into Danny’s shoulder, audible even on the third floor landing where Laf had listened to the fight with JP. It was loud and messy and everything they had talked about with Perry when Carmilla pulled a Lazarus, waltzing back into all of their lives.
Except Perry was locked in her room refusing to speak with them, and JP stared at them through Will’s dead eyes and nothing was like they had talked about.
It was loud, until it wasn’t.
Laf had watched as Danny brought Laura to the coup-, ex-couple’s room, passed out in Danny’s arms with tear marks still fresh on her face.
Had watched Danny pace the hallway for a while, anxious glances at a closed door, until a text had her leaving too.
Had watched the clock hit ten, eleven, twelve, with no sign of vampires heartbroken or otherwise.
As a scientist, Laf knew there could never be a complete absence of anything. It wasn’t the way the universe worked.
Unless it was at Silas.
Silence fell onto the house for the first time since the chaos began. Laf never realized the complete absence of something could feels so suffocating.
When Laura was ten years old, she would pick a record, turn the handle on the player, and watch her parents sway around the living room until she couldn’t keep her eyes open anymore.
When she was twelve years old, Laura watched her father pack the record player into the attic next to the other boxes her mother had left behind.
She watched him replace record collections with a comic collection, swaying to music with a wife with solving mysteries novels with a daughter. Old was replaced with new until it was no longer a new normal, but the only normal.
But there were nights Laura would wake up in the middle of the night needing a glass of water and hear a melody long forgotten. The nights Laura would open her door and see a ladder pulled down, her dad feet on the top rung. The nights Laura knew her dad was reading a note he had long since memorized. On those nights a record would play like the rattle of an old ghost and Laura never understood why her dad would choose to go back.
When Laura was nineteen, she lay in a bed too big for herself, wearing a shirt two sizes too big.
When Laura was nineteen, she clutched a pair of leather pants and watched the moon rise.
When Laura was nineteen, she waited for a door to open. For a bed to dip. For a the rasp of a voice to break the silence that had been suffocating her since a door slammed hours ago.
When Laura was nineteen, she understood why.
Silence was nothing new for Carmilla.
While a novelty in life, it was one of the few constants she had had in her afterlife. Silence. Blood. Books. These were things she could set her afterlife by; these were her constants.
Companions and marks, brothers and sisters all slipped in and out of Carmilla’s life seamlessly. By choice or force, age or sacrifice, it made no difference to Carmilla. They were temporary where she was not. She needed nobody and nothing. Nothing but silence, blood, and books.
Until she did.
Until she met someone and needed them in a way she had never needed anyone before. Fell in the way she had been told was forbidden until she was cursing temporary, cursing sacrifices, and began to plan for more. Began to plan for a change, the first in over two hundred years.
But change was taken before it began, poisoned in words of ‘monster’ and ‘evil’. Silence and blood were her constants, and they became her prison for seventy years.
That was her change. Her metamorphosis.
Seventy years underground. Seventy years of biting her tongue and playing the dutiful daughter. Seventy years of monster ringing in her ears for every mark taken to maman, of evil for every girl seduced under a guise.
Seventy years until a girl with a webcam and an infuriating sense of justice and Carmilla is falling again.
Into a waltz.
Into a pit.
What an idiot.
Maddies apartment is silent in the late hour. A cup of blood sits on the table half drunk, filling the room with a stale copper smell. Silence and blood are Carmilla’s constants. They were also her prison.
Laying in Maddie’s bed, too big for her. and watching the moon rise with a yellow pillow clutched to her chest, Carmilla refuses to go back.
She’s greeted by the light crackling of the record player when she opens the door to her apartment. Something that Henry, on one of his new teenaged whims, insisted that she let him buy. He paid for the entire thing with his own money (although she suspects that the owner of the music store took note of his excitement and gave them a very generous discount).
Killian had taken to the thing instantly–he admitted to her that he liked the idea of being able to physically hold the music that he’s listening to, even if it’s emitted from a spinning disk instead of instruments.
It’s a record that she hasn’t heard before, and she glances over into the corner where it’s spinning away merrily while she shuts the door.
There is a hand on her shoulder, and then her jacket is being pulled off gently, fingertips brushing over her skin as it goes. Killian presses a soft kiss just underneath her jaw and Emma sighs, leaning back into him.
“Welcome home,” he murmurs into her hair, breathing deeply, and Emma reaches back over her shoulder to interlace their fingers.
“I don’t know this record,” she tells him, turning in his grip and smiling up at him. He isn’t wearing his vest or coat, just the billowing fabric of his shirt and leather pants. His feet are bare, toes curling against the chill of the hardwood floor. He looks so at ease, at home, that Emma’s heart skips a beat.
“Paul McCartney,” he informs her, brushing a gentle kiss over her knuckles, never breaking eye contact. “I’m told he’s quite the celebrity.”
“Ah, I thought it sounded Beatles-ish.”
Killian’s eyes twinkle in recognition (he really has been doing his research), and he gives her a slight tug. “Dance with me?”
She can’t say no, pulled into his gravity as she is, so she lets him lead her into the middle of the room, the carpet plush underneath her boots. He pulls her in close, hooked arm at her waist and hand clasping hers easily. Emma blinks up at him for a moment and then tucks her head underneath his chin, pressing her entire body up against his.
Killian sways them, back and forth, back and forth, pace changing slightly with each song. She isn’t sure how long they hover, suspended in the golden light with dancing dust motes, because it feels like one second and forever at the same time.
A new track begins, and Killian lets out a breathy chuckle into her ear. Emma hums in response, and then can’t stop a laugh of her own when he begins singing along under his breath, right into her ear.
“Been listening to this record a lot?”
She can hear the smile in his voice. “I’m rather fond of it.”
“Is that so?”
Instead of answering, he picks up the lyrics again. “Wherever we wander the local folk agree; I love you, and you seem to like me.”
He spins her out with a graceful flourish, startling a giggle out of her, and then draws her close again. Emma wraps her arms around his neck, afraid she might lift off the floor with the lightness of her heart, and listens to the turntable spin.
I love you and you seem to like
Seem to like
Seem to like me
Emma tilts her head to the side and leans up on her toes to whisper against his lips, “I love you, too.”