A/N: Dear Sam and Laura,
I love you both very, very much, and I hope you don't hate me (and Kelly), but what's a Hunger Games Comp without a suicide attempt, eh?
As with Kelly's car scene, please feel free to interpret the park scene however you would like.
(PS. I literally cannot read back over this because cringe, so deal with it. ILY.)
"Sam," Laura types, her fingers clicking along the keys at breakneck speed. "OMG, SAM, HAVE YOU SEEN PAULA'S NEW CHARLIEDRACO FIC? SO. MANY. FEELS."
She drags the mouse slowly across the screen, where it hovers above the send button for far too long. She debates writing things like I really wish I could see you IRL or I want to see your face or even ILY. She knows Sam will read everything she has not said between the lines of everything she has anyway.
They've always understood each other this way.
She clicks send. The cursor hovers aimlessly on the screen and she wonders what to do now.
"Write back, write back, write back," she mutters under her breath, clicking Sam's username. Her wife's profile pops up, all kind words and dedications – everything that is Sam. She scrolls down Sam's profile until she comes to it - Laurais myalmosttwin and my better half, she reads, and she smiles to herself as her heart swells with affection.
How is it possible to care this much for someone she's never met?
"OMG, LAURA, I KNOW. DRACOCHARLIE IS LOVE. ANGST IS LOVE. THAT FIC IS LOVE."
LOVE LOVE LOVE...that's all she sees. She closes her eyes briefly, breathes in deeply.
(love love love)
"I KNOW. I CAN'T EVEN HANDLE ALL MY FEELS RIGHT NOW. AND I'M STUCK IN CAPS AGAIN.
SAM. SAM, ILY, OKAY? OKAY.
She clicks send once more, feels her heart thump in her chest; that ILY is burned into the backs of her eyelids.
But the message is sent. Sam is out there, somewhere, reading. And Laura has a bowling contest to win.
ILY, she thinks, and heads out the door.
This one's for Sam.
"We're thinking of visiting Florida this year, what do you think?" her parents ask.
"F – Florida?" she asks. "Why Florida?"
"Why not Florida?"
Because Sam. Sam. Too close.
"Well, what do you think, Laura?"
"Florida sounds great, Mom! Have you seen my iPod around?"
She is eighteen when they meet, Sam almost twenty.
Laura's parents drop her at a small café near Sam's house, and she waits there in the humid, Floridian heat for twenty minutes. Her glasses slip down her nose a little, and she pushed them back up. Her fingers shake as she does; she didn't think she would be this nervous.
She cranes her neck, looking for someone who is only vaguely familiar. Someone she has never met, and yet already loves.
Small, she knows. Thin. Curly hair. Sam. She's seen pictures of her, seen her smiling face – cute and happy and not initially exactly like her head!Sam, but she's adjusted – but the idea of recognising faces to Laura is like monogamy to her wives; a strange and foreign concept, unthinkable and confusing.
"Laura?" she hears from somewhere behind her. "Laura!"
She spins on her heal and turns to see Sam, Sam, with her curly hair and her big grin and Charlie the car parked behind her.
"Oh my god! Can you believe we're actually meeting?"
Laura smiles and nods, overwhelmed. She doesn't know what to do. She's always been awkward, especially with people, but this is Sam, Sammie, Samuela. This is the girl she's been sharing her secrets with for almost two years now, the girl she co-captains the HMS Charlie/Draco with, the girl she has spent countless hours writing fics for because she wants nothing more than to make her happy.
She wants to fling her arms around Sam's neck and pull her close, familiarise herself with Sam's scent, so that she can recognise her anywhere from this moment on.
But she knows Sam dislikes hugs.
"Meeting in real life high five?" she asks, and Sam giggles.
They high five, and the sound carries around them.
"Oh, come here," Sam says, and grabs Laura by the arm, pulls her close until they are a wrapped around each other, and it feels sort-of-very right and sort-of-very strange at the same time.
"How are you liking the sun?" Sam asks, letting go, and Laura sees her eyes flick to her pasty limbs. God, she doesn't miss the snow, that's for sure.
"It's fantastic," she replies, beaming. "Is there anywhere outside we can just...talk?"
"Sure, there's a little park nearby," Sam smiles, and leads her back to Charlie the car. "This is Charlie."
Laura laughs, pats Charlie's side in greeting. "He's perfect, Sammie!"
"I know," Sam says, and her eyes glint with pride. "Charlie the car, William the bear..." she smiles, sticking out her ankle so that Laura can see the sweet winged-bear tattooed there. "And now you. Harry Potter is literally running my life right now."
"Are you complaining?" Laura asks with a smirk, and Sam shakes her head as they bundle into the car.
"Not at all."
And they set off, both on edge and at ease, excited and calm, confused and completely clearheaded.
ILY, Laura thinks, and she wonders how the words would feel out loud.
Awkward, she suspects.
She does not say them.
The drive is short, and they fill it with easy chatter as they have always done, but instead of tapping keys and letters on a screen, Laura's mind lingers on the twang of Sam's slight southerness, the way her breath catches when she laughs, the thousand watt beam of her smile.
"It's weird, isn't it?" Sam says. "Being together in real life. It's like you're familiar and completely new at the same time."
"So weird," Laura says, and tries to memorise the way Sam holds her small frame, the confident set of her bones, the slope of her shoulders...she wants to be as familiar as possible with this before she has to leave, wants to imagine the shrug of Sam's shoulders of the tinkle of her laugh the next time she reads a PM. "I was afraid I was going to walk past you or something."
Sam smiles. "Like I'd let you."
Laura smiles back. "I did recognise you though," she says, grinning. "But only because you're tiny and you got out of a big blue car screaming my name."
Sam laughs again, eyes never leaving the road, and Laura is glad; she can stare freely at the quirk of Sam's lip, the line of her throat.
"You know, even though I have prosopagnosia," she say awkwardly, "I would recognise you anywhere."
"Really?" Sam says, smiling at the road before her. "I feel special now."
"How could I not? You're the Clara to my Harry," Laura says, "my better half, remember?"
And it shouldn't be this easy, she thinks, this open intimacy with a would-be stranger. But it's Sam and it is this easy, and she loves it.
"We're just there."
The park is small and green and very, very warm, and they fall onto the grass of a gently sloping hill. Laura stretches out, feeling the sweet warmth of the sun as it runs over her body.
It smells like freshly cut grass and sunshine, and Sam is there, and it's all very perfect.
She lies on her back, one hand shielding her eyes from the glaring sun, and Sam lies beside her. Laura can feel the warmth of her body, a different kind of warmth, more solid and real, and it makes her skin tingle.
"You're sweating," Sam says, amusement in her voice.
"Some of us don't get 90 degree weather all the time," Laura replies, turning to look at her. Sam's curly hair is splayed out in the grass, the sun painting her face golden and bright. She is beautiful.
"Hey!" Sam protests. "Sometimes it's, like, seventy!"
Laura resists the urge to smack her and opts for an eye roll instead. Sam giggles, and the sound makes Laura feel oddly giddy. She wants to make Sam laugh again and again.
"You're just like I imagined," Sam grins, and props herself up on one arm. She breathes deeply and smiles, a softness in her eyes. "I'm so glad we got to meet. It seems like...sort of like fate, you know? I mean, I could've stayed away from fanfiction, or just not clicked on your fics, or you could've ignored me, or been too busy to reply, or so many other things but... But none of that happened and here we are and it seems like... Like we were meant to end up here."
Laura's heart is pounding, thumping a new and erratic rhythm against her ribcage.
"I know what you mean," she says, leaning up on her elbows. "And for my parents to pick Florida without me having ever mentioned it? Definitely some divine intervention."
They giggle again, and Laura can't look away from the mirth in Sam's bright eyes. She stills suddenly, blinks those long-lashed eyes.
"Sometimes I wonder if you're my one," Sam says quietly, eyes never leaving Laura's. "The one person I would – you know."
"I know," Laura says, and she is so very relieved, she feels she might cry, and then she has an armful of Sam and she is holding her so close and they are Sam&Laura and they are here and they are happy and the sun burns on their loose limbs and neither of them seems to care.
"I miss you already," reads the PM on her iPod, and Laura sighs as she sits on the plane, awaiting take-off. She doesn't have any wifi to reply, so she contents herself with staring out the window and remembering the way Sam's mouth had framed the words je t'aime so very perfectly.
She thinks back on the last few days, on the miracle that is Sam, and it feels like a dream, like none of it was real. But she remembers her voice, the gentleness of her small hands, the way her lips twitch into a smile, and she knows that it was no dream.
Dreams this good just don't happen.
(Except for Joanna's Parlour!sex dream, she thinks, which most definitely did happen.)
And as the plane takes off, she watches Florida slip away beneath her and recites a chorus of ILY ILY ILY in her mind, and she hopes that Sam knows.