Fanfiction to Published Novelist Finalist #1: “The Rocky Road to Dublin” by BatWingsandBlackCats

The Rocky Road to Dublin by BatWingsandBlackCats

Work: Carmilla

Pairing: Carmilla and Laura

 

1891, London, England

Laura was greeted at the ring with laughter.

It didn’t faze her. That’s how she was greeted whenever she fought somewhere new.

The venue didn’t look any different than any other she’d been in. Just another dank, dingy, disgusting pub basement with a fenced ring in the middle and stands situated around the large room, a balcony of sorts up above for more spectators. The room was hot and smelled like stale beer and sweat and pipe tobacco, packed with people.

When Laura had walked in, the greasy man at the door with the missing front teeth regarded her with a raised eyebrow, taking in her shabby appearance, which, honestly, wasn’t so out of place at a venue like this. Street rats came to the fights as often as those dressed in fine tweeds and lace, gambling their meager savings in hopes of making it big. In her worn black slacks, boots, and button down white (more like a light brown at this point) shirt with the hole in the right shoulder and a couple buttons missing, she would blend in, if it weren’t for her size. When she said she was there to fight, he’d laughed a great, wheezing laugh that gave away years of a pipe habit, and when he finally calmed down, he gave her a wicked look, chuckled once more and handed her a slip of paper with her opponent’s name, and wished her one of the most insincere good lucks she’d ever heard.

She’d glanced around the room as she made her way to the edge of the ring, looking for a familiar face. She didn’t find it, but she didn’t worry. Laura knew she’d be there eventually.

It wasn’t long before a loud hammer-like sound rang around the room, commanding the attention of spectators and fighters alike. Laura pulled off her loose shirt, revealing a men’s tank top underneath, and several people around her gave her distasteful looks, but she shrugged it off.

“First round!” roared the same man from the door.

Laura looked down at the slip of paper in her hand. She was to be in the first round.

So that’s where that landed Laura. Greeted by hysterical laughter as she stepped into the ring, dressed in men’s clothes, a foot shorter than her opponent.

Laura smirked.

Across from Laura, a brutish man entered the ring. He was broad but a little short, his face screwed up in a scowl. He walked a bit like a troll, heavily muscled and top heavy, Laura noted. A flicker of confusion crossed his face as he took her in, and he began to laugh.

“I can’t fight a girl!” he roared, his gut shaking with the force of his laugh. “Go home lass, you have no place here!”

The crowd’s laughter only grew louder at his taunt. Laura rolled her eyes. Men.

“I’m not going anywhere,” she said simply, her voice ringing out across the room. “either fight me or forfeit!”

The man smirked and rolled his shoulders. “As you wish, sweetheart,” he grinned, and then charged at her.

Laura smirked. Men like him always went barreling into a fight like a bull. She easily side-stepped him and spun around, aiming a heel kick to his lower back, sending him sprawling face first into the fence. The crowd was silent for a moment before bursting into raucous laughter.

Laura laughed with them. “Come on! Get up!” she cried.

The man got to his feet, rage etched into his face. Laura felt a swell of confidence rise up in her. That had been the plan. Get him angry, because when they get angry, they get sloppy. It was a little dirty, but she had to make up for her size somehow.

“You’re gonna be sorry you ever stepped foot in here, bitch,” he spat, and swung at her face.

Laura grunted as she blocked him with her right arm and aimed a punch at his lower ribs, figuring it was a safe bet that he’d probably have a floating rib or two if the smell of alcohol on his breath was anything to go by. She quickly blocked another jab to her gut and kneed him in the groin.

That’s when Laura heard her.

“Bets!! I’ll take your bets on Laura Hollis!! Care to bet on the underdog?!”

The crowd parted, spectators shifting around the woman who walked towards the ring, taking slips of paper bearing bets as she went. Laura smiled as she saw her, dressed in red and black and looking every bit a vision. She knew Carmilla would make it. If she wasn’t already beet red and starting to sweat from the fight and the sheer heat of the place, she would have blushed when Carmilla winked at her.

Suddenly, a fist like a boulder slammed into Laura’s left cheek, sending her sprawling into the dirt.

It was a moment before the sound of the crowd came rushing back to Laura as she found herself on the dirt floor, her head ringing and the world spinning. She shook her head, trying to shake the spinning sensation, and got to her feet, raising her fists.

“Not so cocky now are yeh, girl?” her opponent laughed.

“Come and find out,” she grinned.

He rushed at her again and ducked down, grabbing her around her hips and hoisting her up, slamming her into the side of the fence. She gasped as the wood slammed into her lower back, but didn’t let it slow her down. She aimed a couple hard hits to the side of his head with her elbow and brought both fists down hard on his right shoulder, the one he’d hit hardest on his collision earlier with the fence. His grip loosened enough for her to wriggle out of his arms, and she ducked down and zipped out from between his legs to cheers from the crowd.

Laura smiled. They were warming up to her. She could still hear Carmilla calling for bets in the background, but she was determined to not get distracted this time. Her cheek was still throbbing and was starting to feel a little tight, and she really didn’t want another hit to the face. And Will would tease her if she got a fat lip.

Her opponent spun around and threw a punch at her which she deflected with several slaps up his arm, and slammed her fist into his cheek, causing a very satisfying crack to sound from his jaw. While his eyes were still closed, she slapped both sides of his head over his ears, causing them to ring, disorienting him further, and snuck in another body shot.

He stumbled back and she bowed to the crowd, earning a few more good-natured laughs this time. She quickly spun around to face him again, just in time to catch a jab to her side and then one to her back, the first causing her to stumble and expose her blind spot.

It wasn’t the hit to her back that made her see red.

It was the slap on her ass.

Carmilla had taken nearly two dozen handsome bets by now, and stood by the ring, watching the fight. Laura was doing well. Very well. The crowd seemed to like her, and after a few punches started betting on her left and right. Her gut clenched with each hit Laura took, but it relaxed again with every hit she dealt or deflected. Laura was a very good fighter and won consistently, against men bigger than her current opponent sometimes, but she still worried. Her wince when Laura was hit the on her back turned into a growl, the papers in her hand crumpling when Laura’s opponent had the balls to slap her ass.

Laura recovered quickly, her teeth gritted as she stared at the man across from her. He was laughing, obviously pleased with himself. In one fluid movement, Laura dragged her boot across the dirt floor and then kicked, flicking dust into his eyes. Taken off guard, he blindly jabbed at her, which she easily deflected, and then slapped him across the face. Her other hand swung out in a punch, hitting him hard in his already weakened jaw, her right fist flying towards his stomach. When his head snapped back from the impact of her punch, she thrust her arm forward again, the heel of her hand slamming into his nose with a satisfying crack.

The final blow sent him sprawling on his back in the dirt, utterly dazed. Laura stood there for a moment, her chest heaving before she took the few steps forward and stood over him. He looked up at her blearily with blood streaming from his nose, his eyes squinted in pain.

“Don’t call me sweetheart,” she said with gritted teeth, and then made her way out of the ring to cheers from the crowd.

Carmilla met her at the entrance of the ring, gently taking her hand right away. “Sorry I was late, cupcake,” she said, and kissed Laura’s good cheek, causing Laura to blush, her mood lightening already. “I got turned around a few streets away,”

“It’s okay, Carm, I knew you’d make it,” Laura smiled, and then winced. Smiling hurt a bit.

Carmilla lightly ran her thumb over Laura’s swollen cheek, studying it for a moment before looking back to Laura. “It’s swelling,” she said, “I’ll go get our winnings and then we’ll go home.” Her concerned look turned into a proud grin. “You made almost five hundred pounds,”

Laura’s eyes lit up, and she grinned despite the pain in her cheek. “What?” she gasped, “That’s rent for a year! And we made that, not just me.”

Carmilla smiled, shaking her head a little. “I’ll be back in a moment, Liebling.” She tilted Laura’s chin up and kissed her gently, and then turned to go meet the man behind the bar who had their money.

Laura took a seat by the door and watched Carmilla cross the room, grinning like an idiot. A lot of things made her happy, but few things made her happier than Carmilla and winning a fight. And when Carmilla was there when she won a fight.

Across the room, Carmilla stepped up to the bar, where a young man in a grubby top hat stood behind the counter, polishing glasses.

“Evening, miss,” he nodded politely. “What can I do for you?”

“Would you be JP?” she asked, ignoring the leering gentleman beside her.

“Indeed I am,” he said with a smile.

“Well, in that case, I’m here to collect Laura Hollis’ winnings,” she said with a smirk, handing over the wad of papers in her hand.

JP took them and counted them out, letting out a low whistle. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a newcomer draw so many bids,” he said, setting the papers down and reaching for the cash box under the counter.

Carmilla’s smirk widened to almost that of a smile, her chest filling with pride. “She always does.” She took the bundle of notes from him when he was finished counting them out, and placed one on the bar. “I’ll take a bottle of champagne if you don’t mind,” she said as she tucked the rest into her corset, and then pointed to the shelf on the wall filled with tall green bottles.

“Sure thing,” JP nodded and turned to get one down for her.

“Hey gorgeous, fancy a drink?” the man to her right asked. The one who was leering at her.

“I’m spoken for,” Carmilla drawled in a bored voice, not even looking at him.

“Well, where is he?” the man chuckled.

Carmilla looked at him this time. “She,” she said shortly. She raised an eyebrow, realizing that he was the man that Laura had fought in the ring. The corner of her lip turned up minutely as she realized, now that she was up close, what a number Laura had done on him. His nose was very clearly broken, though it had stopped bleeding, and both eyes were looking rather purplish.

“She?” he chuckled. “Well, maybe she would fancy a drink too,” He said with a lecherous grin.

Anger flared in Carmilla’s chest, but she just smiled sweetly. “I don’t think she would, considering she’s the one who broke your nose.” Carmilla chuckled, watching his expression darken. “But I suppose the least we could do is buy you a beer, considering you’ve practically paid our rent for the next year,” She said, lightly patting her corset just under her breast, where she’d put the money. “JP? I’d like to buy a beer for the gentleman here,”

JP raised an eyebrow but nodded. “Of course,” he said, and placed a brown bottle in front of Carmilla.

Carmilla took it and held it out for the man, but just as he was about to take it, she spun the bottle in her hand, gripped the neck, and brought it down on his hand that rested on the bar, shattering both the bottle and his hand with a crash and a splatter of beer.

The man screamed and clutched his shattered hand, his face screwed up with pain. “You bitch!” he spat, his teeth bared.

Carmilla grabbed his face hard, a snarl on her lips. “You lay a finger on her again, or on any woman, the next bottle will be smashed over your head,” she growled, and then shoved him off the bar stool.

“Carm?” Laura gasped, getting up as Carmilla made her way towards her. “What happened?”

“The slimy bastard thought he could have his way with me, and when I told him I was with you, he thought he could have both of us,” She said, her eyes flashing as she carefully laced her fingers with Laura’s.

Laura’s stomach turned and she made a face. “I’m not surprised,” She grumbled and followed Carmilla out of the pub basement and into the night air.

“Yes, well, he has a shattered hand now, I’m sure,” Carmilla said with a smirk. “he won’t be slapping anyone for a while.”

Laura chuckled and pressed a kiss to Carmilla’s cheek. She noticed a flash of green in Carmilla’s hand and quirked an eyebrow. “What’s that?”

Carmilla raised the bottle of champagne and smiled. “I thought we should celebrate,” She said, “that was a rather impressive victory, cupcake,”

——-

When they arrived home, Laura made her way to the bathroom after giving Carmilla a kiss and assuring her that she was alright and that she’d be fine washing up on her own. Carmilla had begrudgingly agreed and gone off to their bedroom to change out of her dress while Laura cleaned herself up.

Carmilla looked up from the candles she was lighting as Laura entered the room. “Hey,” she said, setting the matches down on her nightstand, next to two flutes filled with champagne, “come to bed, sweetheart.”

Laura pushed off the door frame and climbed onto their bed with a few winces, which caused worry to grow in Carmilla’s eyes.

“Come here, Liebling,” Carmilla said softly, reaching out and placing a hand on Laura’s hip. She scanned Laura’s body, looking for any alarming injuries, but found none.

Laura turned around as Carmilla scooted back against the pillows, and settled into her front, sighing as her sore muscles relaxed. Carmilla gingerly wrapped her arms around Laura’s bare waist under her shirt, dropping a kiss or two on the warm skin of Laura’s shoulder with a contented sigh. “Well, you’re a bit banged up but it’s not nearly as bad as that time you insisted on going up against that nine-foot Scotsman,” Carmilla murmured between little nibbles on Laura’s neck.

Laura huffed and rolled her eyes, pointedly ignoring Carmilla’s warm lips on her neck. “You’re never going to let that one go, are you?” She grumbled. A year earlier, Laura had been paired with a giant of a man from Scotland, who Carmilla had begged her to forfeit the fight to, but Laura hadn’t listened. She’d been stuck in bed for over a month with five broken ribs and a severe concussion, among other injuries.

Carmilla let out a breathy chuckle and pressed her nose into Laura’s neck. Despite the joke, she couldn’t help the relief that settled in her chest once she knew that Laura really was okay.

“Carm?” Laura asked quietly after a moment, turning her head a little to look at her out of the corner of her eye.

“Hmm?” Carmilla hummed, opening her eyes again and looking up at her. Her thumbs stroked gentle circles into Laura’s stomach as Laura leaned back into her.

“Are you okay?” Laura asked, her brows knitted together.

“I’m alright, cupcake,” Carmilla sighed. “I just…” She let out a small, frustrated huff. She never was good with the feelings thing. “I’m glad you fight, because you love it, and I’d never get in the way of that, but…I can’t help but worry sometimes.” She rested her forehead against Laura’s shoulder to avoid looking her in the eye.

Laura turned around with a wince and cradled Carmilla’s face between her bruised hands. “I know,” She said, and pressed a kiss to her lips. “if it makes you feel any better, though, I promise to never again accept a fight against an opponent that’s more than two feet taller than me,” She said with a cheeky smile.

Carmilla rolled her eyes but smiled nonetheless. “Deal,” she murmured against Laura’s lips before pressing her own to them, harder this time.

Laura pulled back after a moment to breathe, sighing contentedly. “I love you, you know that right?” she murmured, tucking Carmilla’s hair behind her ears.

Carmilla looked at Laura, starry-eyed like she did the first time she saw her, three years ago. “I do,” she said quietly, smiling softly as she pulled Laura closer, nuzzling her cheek. “I love you too…more than anything, ever.”

 

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  • Anonymous
    Posted February 1, 2018 9:02 am 0Likes

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