Exposure and Carmilla is makeme123’s slow burn AU about finding beauty in the broken.
This story falls into one of my favorite tropes, enemies-to-lovers. While they don’t quite hate one another at the start, just like in the canon relationship, Laura and Carmilla are like oil and water. They have different outlooks on life, and they’re forced to work with one another in spite of that. It’s a recipe for awkwardness and intensity that I absolutely live for as a reader.
Laura’s failing a class, and Carmilla’s enlisted to be her tutor. What starts as a simple project and reason to spend time with one another amidst the backdrop of university life soon blossoms into so much more.
In this AU, where vampires and otherworldly creatures don’t exist, Carmilla’s struggle is being pushed as a photographer. She’s technical and talented, but her work lacks emotion and depth. It’s only through meeting Laura that she’s finally able to see the world in a different way and truly able to bring her art to life.
While Carmilla’s grappling with her collegiate goals, Laura’s slowly beginning to figure out what she wants in a relationship and what makes her feel whole. People want to protect Laura, to think they know what’s best for her, but it’s only once she takes agency over herself and the expectations of others that her life can truly begin.
If you’re a Carmilla fan, even in an AU, it’s spot-on with the essence of the characters. Laura assumes Carmilla’s a womanizer, and Carmillla assumes Laura’s a type-A by-the-rules type. Carmilla doesn’t get close to people, and Laura lets other people dictate her life. They push one another outside of their comfort zones, learning more about one another, and more importantly, themselves, along the way.
Because most of the main characters are featured, you get to experience Carmilla outside of her relationship with Laura initially, to become invested in her as a person, stripped of her prickly exterior that Laura initially sees.
If you’re a fan of the webseries, there are so many fantastic nods to the show: giant mushrooms and waltzing in 1698 are just two. It’s as close to being canon without being canon as you can get in a fic.
There are a few typos in this massive fic, but it was never egregious enough to pull me out of enjoying the story.
The story is a slow build that absolutely pays off. With an ending fit for a lesfic novel, the story and dual perspectives and keeps you rooting for the characters. They’re meant to be with one another, in spite of their own differences and personal obstacles. Both characters grow as individuals, and learn what it means to want to fit someone else into their lives, and ultimately, grow together.
Excerpt from Exposure and Carmilla
“So how do you pick what to take pictures of?” Laura spoke through a yawn as she curled up on the seat and leaned her head against the top of the backrest.
Carmilla looked at Laura thoughtfully for a second before standing up and walking to her camera. She hit the shutter release and slowly made her way back, hands shoved in her pockets. She stood next to the fire, opposite of Laura and watched the flames dance slowly.
“I take pictures of things that make me feel something.”
Laura’s face scrunched up and she turned her head to look at Carmilla, “Is that why most your photos are of things that are broken?”
Carmilla took in a deep breath. “I guess so. Sometimes the things most broken are the most beautiful.”
Laura watched Carmilla closely. Her eyes were focused on the flames between them but something about her expression was different that night.
Suddenly Carmilla’s eyes moved from the fire to Laura’s. There was a vulnerability in them, but also an intensity Laura hadn’t seen before. “I’d like to—“ Her voice cut off and she cleared her throat nervously, “Could I maybe take your picture? Sometime?”
Laura slowly sat up, “You want to take my picture?” She laughed nervously as she tried to read Carmilla’s face, “Why? What do I make you feel?”
Carmilla pulled her hands from her pockets and rubbed her palms against her thighs. She was stepping dangerously close to that line that was already starting to blur. Taking a deep breath she let it out slowly as she looked at Laura, unable to keep herself from smiling.
Bits And Bobs
- Fandom: Hollstein, Carmilla
- Length: 198,176
- Author: makeme123
- Rating: Mature
- Photo attribution: Jeff Hitchcock / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)
Rating Guide: G= General, T = Teen and up, M=Mature, E = explicit
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