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The one in which Danny quotes Mr. Darcy
By Kristina K
The first time Laura lays eyes on Danny Lawrence, her father is in the middle of a rant about dangers of forest wildlife, an important warning since the entire campus is surrounded by forest and bear attacks are more than likely to happen, as well as poison ivy rash, so she better not leave her dorm, ever. He will see if it's in any way possible for her to follow her lectures by Skype from the safety of her room. Also, he got her this new rape-whistle, just in case one (or all) of the six he's previously given her malfunctions for one reason or another.
He talks, going off the notes he's prepared on his phone and, to Laura's ears, his voice slowly distorts into a trombone sound, wah-wahing lazily somewhere in the distance. In front of her, however, is this tall Greek goddess, descended from Mount Olympus itself, a fierce warrior with hair glowing like flames and eyes shining like gems in the early afternoon sun. It's like in the movies, a sudden revelation of absolute perfection, the choir of angels is singing and everything happens in slow motion. The scene shifts completely and Laura can hear her breathing, the thump of her heart echoing loudly in her chest, the hum of blood rushing through her body. Everything, even the time stops, and it's just Her, standing in the rain, soaked through and through and Laura's voice catches in her throat before a breath manages to escape and she breathes out, desperate, as if that will surely be her last breath. The girl reaches for her: 'I love you. Most ardently.'
"Laura!" Her father's voice pierces through and she cringes at the mental sound of vinyl roughly pulled from under a needle. It's here and now, a busy quad of Silas University, bustling with students and their parents, saying their goodbyes, hugging and laughing and everyone's general excitement.
"Sorry, dad." Laura cringes and leans down to pick up the box of stuff she was holding before it slipped out of her dazed hands and spilled its contents on the ground.
Her father's lecture continues, but she doesn't hear any of it because, now that the attention of the people around her has shifted to the clumsy freshman embarrassedly picking up her scattered books, the girl looks her way as well, and their eyes meet for a second. The girl gives Laura a warm, empathic smile and starts to mouth 'You need help with that?' just as Laura's father moves in to help her out.
'I'm fine.' Laura waves back. She makes sure she focuses on her father's voice this time because, obviously, he is not done.
She doesn't see, however, that the girl lingers behind for another moment before she calls out to her friends to wait up.
The second time they meet it's not so much a meet as it is a class, English Lit, and Laura thanks all deities, old and new, Heaven, Earth and Hades, her father was unsuccessful in setting up those Skype calls because, even though the frat boy sitting next to her is proving to be a burden in the first five minutes of meeting him, at least her love for literature now has a new motivation in the form of a tall, redhead teacher's assistant.
"My name is Danny." She says. "Danny Lawrence." Her voice rings across the hall like a pebble against crystal and as she explains how the class will be organized, the reading list, the essays and consultations, she talks passionately with her hands, kneading her words as if they were dough, and then molding them into most delicious pastry, its sweetness almost real on Laura's tongue.
And then Laura catches herself thinking these thoughts and sits up straight in her chair. She looks to her right, the frat boy Brody? is giving her a wolfish smile which she returns with her sour one. She can feel him mentally high-five himself because he is sure the wild blush on her cheeks is his doing.
Laura bounces off of the person in front of her and stumbles a few steps back. She struggles to keep a grip on her books and an open pack of cookies that were her lunch before she registers who she actually ran into, and when she does, one of the books manages to slip out.
Danny leans down to pick it up. "Pride and Prejudice," she says with a smile. "It's one of my favorites."
"Oh wow." Laura blurts out. "I mean, yeah. One of my favorites, too."
"You have a lot of favorites, huh?" Danny tilts her head to the side teasingly. "Alice in Wonderland, Frankenstein, The Secret Garden, Pride and Prejudice Are you sure your favorite isn't just: books?"
"Umh." She manages eloquently. But it's so hard because, even though she succeeded to subtly collect intelligence on her Lit TA, and she knows that Danny is a VP of Summer Society that seems to be some sort of Amazon slash Top model club, nothing can quite prepare her for that same Danny in running shorts, a sweat soaked Battlestar Galactica shirt, mussed up pony tail, beaming like a forest sprite in her full track and field glory. There are three other girls on a run with Danny, but somehow she barely notices them at all.
"Laura, right?" Danny asks.
"Nice to see you, Laura, outside of class." The brightness of that smile itself could power up a small town. "Haven't seen you much around since"
One of the girls pulls on Danny's shirt, mumbles something about them being late for a meeting and Danny nods. But before she leaves Laura, walking backwards, she calls out: "Maybe come and watch us at javelin practice this afternoon after class? Books are awesome and all, but so is fresh air and sunshine."
"Sure, yeah." She agrees, unable to control a goofy grin tugging on the corners of her mouth, and waves. Thankfully, Danny turns around before she can see Laura losing her grip and dropping two books (she saves the cookies) to the ground.
Almost getting killed by the card catalogue and flying classics in the afterhours library's subbasement stops sounding so farfetched in her head the moment pieces of the puzzle fall into place and suddenly she's not just running for dear life from the flames and hostile books, but also her roommate is a vampire and she might as well be her next victim.
She imagines her father having an aneurism if he ever found out how she spends her time, how quick she is to make reckless decisions, how close she might be to getting expelled or put on trial, what the hell? for defying the Dean's direct instruction to mind her own damn business (possibly not exactly verbatim, but it was implied). She's not exactly sure, but it's very possible, her father also having an aneurism when he realizes that entire lengthily monologue about boys and 'shady behavior' should have been about girls and how not to lose your freaking wits over them like she has over Danny.
It may as well get her grounded by the time she's fifty.
Fresh out of shower Danny is her favorite Danny, Laura decides. It trumps both athletic and knight in shining armor Danny because, right now, she smells like cherries and fabric softener, radiating heat from the hot water she was under only minutes ago. Her hair is wet, combed over to one side, giving Laura a full view of her striking profile and the long curve of her neck. Laura thinks about touching it, Danny's neck, brushing her fingers from the base of her head to the crook where neck meets the shoulder and then down across her collar bone to that dip at the base of the throat. She just wants to feel the skin under her fingers, just something to anchor in her feelings. She needs something tangible before she drives herself crazy from wanting Danny so much. Always being so close and never being close enough.
She's lying on Danny's bed and, a foot away, Danny frowns at something on the page she's reading. She then crumples up the paper and tosses it across the room, landing it neatly into the trash bin. The next moment Danny is right there, lying beside her, focusing on the same exact crack in the ceiling Laura found when she caught herself staring at Danny for too long.
She thought about it, of course she has, the ethic implications of dating your TA. How people would perceive it, how would it affect Danny. People would assume it, but she would never do it for a grade, wouldn't dream of it. What she would do it for, and what she had dreamed of was this, the two of them, alone, far away from the world that needs saving.
"I had a vision," Laura speaks and Danny turns her head to look at her. "The first time I saw you."
Laura blushes. "It's embarrassing."
Danny shifts and turns on her side. She props herself up against her elbow. "Oh, but now you have to tell me."
Laura closes her eyes because it will surely be easier that way. If she closes her eyes she can pretend that she's dreaming and not actually admitting she's so foolishly smitten by the girl next to her.
"It was raining, the hard kind of summer rain. You know, the one that just appears out of nowhere and goes away just as mysteriously? And you were standing in that rain, your hair, your clothes soaked in it. I was there too, practically breathless or choking on my words, because I so desperately wanted to say something and I couldn't. And then you came closer and I could see your eyes, clear and blue like a cloudless sky and you said"
"In vain have I struggled. It will not do." Danny's lips are right there, Laura can feel the warm breath against her mouth when Danny speaks. "My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you"
"Actually," Laura opens her eyes and meets Danny's smile. "It was the line from the movie, but yes."
She's not sure, but it sounds something like 'Shut up, Hollis.' right before Danny leans down and kisses her.
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