Chapter 1: The Long Road Ahead
Hope Mikaelson was rarely a morning person, preferring to stay up and appreciate the night rather than wake up and realize another day was beginning. But today she got up and headed to the gym where she knew she could work out her anger before the day started. Each blow she sent at the heavy weight sandbag reverberated through her whole body, grounding her in a way she hadn’t felt in a long time. Despite the exertion and the sweat dripping into her eyes she couldn’t keep the thoughts swirling through her head at bay.
She’d failed in so many ways lately. From letting that mystical knife fall into the hands of the enemy, thus bringing the possible apocalypse ever closer. To failing Raphael when he needed her, to now failing Landon who was in danger, most likely, despite her best efforts to keep him safe by sending him away.
The next punch Hope hurled at the bag blew a hole into it, sending sand spilling onto the floor. Hope wiped the sweat from her face and looked at the clock on the far wall, twenty minutes before breakfast ended and school began. She cast a spell to fix the punching bag and walked back to her room, she wasn’t hungry but she’d definitely need a shower before the day officially started.
Josie woke as usual to the sounds of her sister getting ready for the day. Flashes of color flying across her vision as Lizzie tossed her many outfit possibilities onto her bed.
“Wake up Josie, I need your help choosing an outfit for today. I need something that is alluring yet cute, a hard combination to pull off but if anyone can do it it’s me.”
Josie groaned at Lizzie’s much too positive tone for this early in the morning, but rose from bed none the less. She was envious of all the energy Lizzie had lately from being able to sleep well. From the gargoyle, to the arachnid creature, to her own zombie birth mother burying her alive she hadn’t been able to sleep without nightmares for a week now, and she was sure it would only continue. Lizzie at least offered comfort, waking her from particularly horrible nightmares to making her hot cocoa before bed so she could fall asleep easier.
“Come on sleepyhead, we only have thirty minutes to grab food before breakfast ends and you are still in your pajamas.”
“Thirty minutes! Why’d you let me sleep so late?” Josie bolted up from her bed and grabbed the outfit she’d laid out for herself the night before. She ignored Lizzie’s mumbled response as she ran out the door to head to the showers.
In her haste Josie failed to notice the door to the dorm changing rooms being opened and ran into whoever was exiting. Luckily said person had much quicker reflexes than she did and caught her before she hit the floor. She felt the hand that was latched around her upper arm recede as she righted herself.
Josie looked up from righting the clothes bundled in her arms to see Hope Mikaelson.
“I am so sorry, Hope, I should’ve been looking where I was going.”
“No problem, it’s not like it hurt me in any way, tribrid and all.” Hope reassured. But Josie could hear the rueful expression Hope tried to hide in her smile. “Anyway, if you’re hoping to shower before the school day you might want to hurry there’s only about fifteen minutes before school starts.”
Hope moved around Josie’s still jostled form and headed down the hallway.
“Wait, Hope!” Josie called once she had regained her thoughts, turning to see that Hope had halted and turned to acknowledge her. “I just wanted to thank you for the necklace, it was very thoughtful, and probably saved my life the other day.” Josie ended the statement with a hollow chuckle the thought of how close to death she had been coming to the forefront of her mind.
“Don’t mention it” Hope replied with a smile and then turned and left, leaving Josie alone in the hallway.
Josie smiled in turn before heading into the showers.
The thing that Hope Mikaelson hated the most about being a tribrid, other than the fact that every purist fanatic wanted her dead just for what she was, was that as a tribrid at a school for supernatural beings she had to take three times more classes than everyone else. Mostly witching classes since that was what everyone knew she was, but she also had to meet with some of the teachers from the other supernatural fields to learn about werewolf and vampire dynamics. Not that she didn’t know all of those things already being the daughter of an original vampire and the first werewolf pack.
She waited in her dorm for MG to bring in her usual vampire reading materials as per usual since the teachers didn’t like to be bothered. But as she looked at the clock on her nightstand she noticed that he was unusually late. A frown grew as she got up and headed out the door to find him.
Hope walked down the halls, her boots sounding in a way that the other students knew indicated that they should steer clear of her. Some odd looks we sent her way but she ignored them heading to Alaric’s office. He could be mad at her all he wanted but she knew MG was never late, too much of a teacher’s pet in her opinion, which meant something was wrong.
She didn’t bother knocking on the double doors knowing he’d probably refuse to see her if she asked right now. And if something was up with MG following the Necromancer’s escape it was likely her fault, meaning she had to fix it. Hope wouldn’t let another failure to pile up on her plate.
Upon entering though she was surprised to find Josie there, it looked like they had been arguing over something. Considering Alaric’s scowl and Josie’s looming posture over his desk. But both stopped and turned to the door at the intrusion.
“Hope,” Alaric let out a long weary sigh, “do I want to know why you’re barging into my office?”
“Where’s MG? He always drops my homework off to me, and he didn’t show up today, which means something is wrong.”
“Maybe I sent him on another errand today?” Alaric retorted, noticing how Josie was following their volley of conversation with wide eyes.
“But you didn’t, did you?” Hope crossed her arms defensively, “you’ve been sending me on your errands lately.”
Hope knew she’d got him there when he just expelled breath of frustration instead of verbally responding.
“Where is MG, Dad? Is he alright?”
“He’s fine, Josie, Kaleb was just getting him into trouble is all.”
“Why is Kaleb still in classes then?” Hope asked, tired of Alaric’s coddling. “Something happened obviously, and considering Kaleb’s been complaining about the vamps’ diets lately I bet it has something to do with that.”
“Yes, Hope, Kaleb convinced MG to feed on human blood, and MG has a bit of a…control issue. But it’s being handled. I’ll have someone else bring you your homework in the meantime.”
Hope furrowed her brow at that, she didn’t really think MG would be a potential ripper, but then again no one ever really believed how bad Stephen Salvatore was as a ripper until they saw it for themselves, or read about it in her case.
“Where are you keeping him?” Josie asked in the silence. “He won’t have to stay in there long will he?”
“Only a few days and he should be dried out enough to control his thirst.” Alaric responded and Hope could tell by the way he was rubbing at his temples like a headache was coming on that he wouldn’t be saying anything more on the subject.
Josie nodded solemnly in acceptance, but Hope couldn’t accept that, no one deserved to be alone while desecrating. She turned on her heel and headed out of Alaric’s office. When she was halfway down the hall she heard the telltale sounds of Josie’s footsteps, their rhythm indicating that Josie was running after her.
“Hope, wait up!”
Hope slowed her steps but didn’t stop for Josie, she was on a mission after all.
“Where are you going?” Josie panted as she came up next to Hope and fell in with her stride. “Dad said MG would be fine in a few days and you seem like you’re on a mission to start trouble.”
“Alaric was just giving you a sugar coated version of the truth, Josie. Desecration is extremely painful, Aunt Rebekah once described it to me like having all of your veins set on fire as you dried out and being unable to do anything about it.” Hope didn’t wait up when Josie abruptly stopped in her stupor to her words. “And for someone like MG to be locked alone in a cell just to feel guilty about what he did, it wouldn’t be right to leave him alone like that. So the least I can do is go to the full moon cages and give him something to pass the time.”
Hope turned the corner towards the boys’ dormitories and ignored all the stunned looks that the male student body had, them not being accustomed to girls anywhere near this area. She could tell Josie had caught up to her again when she felt the light brush of her shoulder as she fell into step with her again. Hope stopped in the middle of the hallway and caught Josie before she could keep walking past.
“Wait a second.” Hope took a deep inhale, nose scrunching at the immediate smell of cheap cologne and body odor, she fought her way past those scents searching for one in particular.
“What are you doing?” Josie asked as she shrunk away from all the boys looking at her and Hope seemingly randomly hanging out in their living space.
“I’m trying to find MG’s room, considering the amount of comic books I hear he keeps hidden away in his room I’m sure it’ll be easy to sniff out.”
“Oh, I know where that is,” Josie started walking again and Hope followed, “MG used to let me hang in his room if I ever needed time to myself.”
“Why are we going to his room anyway, I thought you said he’d be in the cells?”
“I was going to pick up a few comics for him so he could have something to do while in there. They always seem to bring him comfort if the way he talks about them is any indication.”
Josie stopped at the second farthest door on the right and knocked before entering at the lack of response. She stepped aside in order to let Hope in before closing the door behind them.
“That’s actually really thoughtful, Hope.”
Hope hummed in agreement as she walked toward the bed with the huge comic hero poster over it and flipped the covers up to look under the bed, but to no such luck.
“You wouldn’t happen to know where MG hides his comics would you?” Hope asked as she made eye contact with Josie who was still standing by the door.
“There’s a few floor boards loose under the bed that come up.”
“Clever, if not kind of geeky in its own way.” Hope chuckled as she easily moved the bed out of the way and checked the floor boards.
She came up with a hand full of them seeing the top most featuring a zombie horde on the cover. She smirked in fondness before pushing the bed back into place and leaving the room. Josie quickly came to match Hope’s stride as they made their out toward the old Salvatore cellars which were furnished into the werewolf holding cells when the school was established.
After a rather long space of silence Josie couldn’t take it anymore. Her whole day had been an emotional whirlwind. And between the anger she was feeling towards her dad for not allowing Emma to start teaching offensive spells in class because “I don’t want anyone to get any ideas about attacking anyone, Josie, plus defensive spells used properly are like offensive spells anyway” and Hope’s just all around personality confusing her, Josie couldn’t add awkward silence to the list.
“So…how are you so sure that MG’s in the werewolf dungeons anyway? They could have held him in any of the numerous rooms that aren’t in use here.”
“He’s in the holding cells one, because they’re far away from the main building, two the full moon was just last week so none of the wolves are going to be around there, and three since they’re fortified to keep turned wolves in them there’s no way a vampire can break out of them. Pretty easy logic, he’s a danger to students right now so humane treatment isn’t at the top of Alaric’s list.”
Josie hummed in agreement, though she didn’t like the situation, putting anyone in a cage just didn’t sit right with her. She decided not to voice her thoughts considering her present company. Hope proved to be an enigma to her, cold and calculating one minute, but she would have such sweet and thoughtful moments. Without a set pattern Josie never knew how to act around her, it was partially the reason her and Lizzie always kept a distance from Hope. That and Hope never seemed to let her walls down to let anyone close to her in the first place.
Before she could contemplate any further she and Hope were heading down the stairs into the cellar.
“MG, you in here?” Hope called into the dimly lit area.
“Hope?” A groaned response came from the end of the long line of cages and Hope and Josie followed it until they saw MG huddled in the back corner of his cell. He held his head between his knees, rocking slightly as he seemed to try and give himself some comfort.
“MG, are you okay?” Josie asked as she grasped the cell bars.
MG met her eyes for only a second before she found herself knocked back on the floor and MG clutching his head as he crumbled to the ground. Josie looked up to see Hope holding her hand out like a claw muttering a spell and her other hand held protectively in from of her. At least she knew how she ended up on the ground.
“Get it together, MG!” Hope said as she relaxed her hand, and MG’s body relaxed as well as he panted for breath.
“I’m so sorry, Josie” MG pleaded and scooted back to his corner.
Josie hated seeing her best friend like this, and in all honestly it was so easy to forget that he was a vampire on a daily basis, but she could see it now. And her mind flashed back to seeing him hovering of Penelope, about to drink from her. Josie knew now that Penelope had enticed him to do it, but she also realized that if he had drank from her them she probably would’ve been powerless to stop him.
“Here,” Hope stated as she put his stack of comics through the bars and neatly on the floor, “I know drying out is going to suck, but hopefully this will help you keep your mind off of it.”
MG smiled tightly at the gesture and reached out to grab the comic on top before returning to his corner.
“If you don’t mind me asking though, MG, what made you do it? You stick to the rules like a lifeline, I don’t get why you would drink even with Kaleb’s prodding.” Hope tilted her head in the way that Josie had seen her do whenever she was truly intrigued by something. It was a little gesture but it helped calm her from the current situation.
“Because I’m weak,” MG raised his head and fixed Hope with an intense gaze, “when you were in the Necromancer’s head I couldn’t do anything to pull you out, and I’m ten times weaker than Kaleb since he drinks blood. I don’t want to be helpless like that again.”
Josie rose from the ground and dusted her skirt off.
“I don’t want to be weak either, Hope.” Josie added and watched both pair of eyes fix on her.
“Our school is changing, and becoming much more dangerous. We’ve had multiple attacks here in the span of a few weeks, and Dad still won’t allow us to learn offensive spells. But we’ll need them if we want to protect this school, and the only one who I think knows what we need to learn is you.”
Hope’s eyes widened a bit at that and she smiled, well Josie figured it was more of a smirk, a smirk that felt familiar somehow like she’d seen it before but couldn’t place where.
“Alright, I’ll help you, both of you.” Hope turned back to MG, “come find me when you get out and we can all get started. But it stays between us three.”
Josie’s brow furrowed, more people needed to know how to defend themselves than just them three, last week Lizzie got sliced open by a gargoyle.
“No buts, Josie, until I see how you two handle what I teach you I’m not teaching anyone else. And especially not Lizzie, she’d hex me the next time she got angry and threw a fit.”
Josie shut her mouth at that, she didn’t think her sister would do that, but she also couldn’t say for certain that she wouldn’t do that.
“So, are we all in agreement?” Hope asked crossing her arms over her chest.
Josie and MG both nodded.
“Good, now c’mon Josie, there’s something me and you have to do first.”
Josie’s brow furrowed in confusion but nodded and followed Hope out the cellars as she called a quick goodbye back to MG. She had no idea what Hope would need her for but she felt a spark of excitement run through her at the thought of learning more magic. And she had a feeling Hope knew more about magic than a majority of the witches anywhere.
Chapter 2: Pacts Made
Sorry the update is so late. Just started a second job and then got sick. I’ll try to update more often but I can’t promise weekly updates or anything like that. All I can promise is I'm not giving up until I finish the story, even if that's like 2 years away (hopefully not).
Also I’m trying to keep this as canon as possible before I diverge into the ship fully. So there will be a bit of Hope and Landon and maybe some other stuff depending on what happens in the show. But Hosie IS END GAME OBVIOUSLY.
And lastly, thank you everyone for such a positive response to the fic, I’m going to do my absolute best to keep the characters accurate to how they are on the show. And again hope you enjoy the chapter.
Josie sat in Hope’s room on the floor for the second time in her life, Hope across from her, a bowl between them and an intricate spell circle around them. She looked at the Nordic runes dotting the cardinal points, but other than understanding what language they were she had no idea what spell was being performed.
“What is all this, Hope?” Josie asked feeling a bit uneasy, this seemed like much deeper magic than even the dark magic they had used before to track Landon.
“It’s a sort of binding spell, in a way, I tweaked it a bit to serve our purpose.” Hope answered calmly as she grabbed the old knife next to her and sliced her palm, letting her blood fill the bowl. “Now, you.”
Josie examined the still bloody knife just placed in her hand. And the uneasy feeling was rising higher.
“I don’t know, Hope, being bound to you doesn’t seem like something I’m in for, no offense. And this knife is clearly not sanitary.”
“You won’t be bound to me, Josie,” Hope huffed, “I tweaked it so my power is bound to you, it’ll be like siphoning magic from me like we did with those creatures, but I won’t have to be physically be there with you.”
Josie blinked, she had to admit that was smart.
“But why a binding spell? Couldn’t we just make a talisman or something, you know with less creepy blood magic.”
“Talismans can run out of magic, this won’t, now cut your hand so we can finish this.” Hope rolled her eyes before nodding insistently at the knife.
Josie sighed in acceptance before cutting the tip of her index finger and letting it drip into the bowl.
“No need to be dramatic and cut my palm, I don’t heal as well as you do.” Josie answered in response to Hope’s unimpressed look. She reached her palms out in invitation for Hope to grasp to start the chanting she knew the spell would take.
“My mom always told me I got my dramatic flair from my father,” Hope said with a bittersweet smile as she reached behind her for a leather box that was right under her bed. “We just need a conduit for the spell.”
Josie watched as Hope drew a pendant from the box, it was a bird of some sort lined with the Celtic infinity knot.
“Marcel found it for me awhile back,” Hope explained, “I know it’s not your style but I wanted to try something that my Uncle Kol taught me.”
Josie studied it as Hope placed it in the palm of her hand, she traced the indentation the lines made with her finger before looking up at Hope.
“This looks old,” Josie stated, “not like bad old, but like antique, it looks good.” She finished with a sputter at Hope quirked eyebrow.
Hope chuckled, “I’m just messing with you, it’s over a thousand years old, it was my father’s.”
Josie gave the pendant back to Hope, “I don’t want to take something that was your father’s, we can use something else for the spell.”
“It’s okay, my grandmother, the original witch, spelled it to keep my father’s werewolf genes dormant. It made him weak, or at least that’s what he told me once. I rather change it and let it be something that gives someone strength.”
“Yes,” Hope nodded and placed the pendant back in Josie’s hand before covering it with her own, “the spell Uncle Kol taught me was alchemy, it uses chemistry and magic to make new things. It may not work but I want to try it.”
Josie locked her gaze to Hope’s and listened as Hope started to recite the incantation, after she had the words down she joined in. She closed her eyes as she focused on the magic, she could feel heat coming from around her and a current of electricity coming from Hope’s palm into her own. They didn’t stop chanting until the flow of the electricity died down and the heat surrounding them cooled. Josie opened her eyes to see that the Nordic rune circle of salt had set ablaze during the spell and burned the symbols into the wooden floor. She looked down at her and Hope’s joined hands, and when Hope had lifted her palm, Josie saw that the pendant had reformed into a silver tear drop.
“Try drawing magic from it.” Hope said eyes fixed on the new object in Josie’s hand.
Josie starred at her hand and began to siphon it, her palm glowed and as she started to feel magic flow into her, she also saw the pendant change as well. The tear shaped silver metal began to unfold and open up, a red glow coming from the center. Josie brought her eyes up to Hope, sending a confused look at her. She wondered if this was what was supposed to happen.
“It’s a lotus blossom,” Hope smiled, “it looks like it opens up when you draw magic.”
Josie stopped siphoning from it and watched as the silver petals closed up again.
“Would you help me put it on?” Josie asked, handing the new pendant back to Hope.
Hope nodded and gestured for Josie to turn around. Josie waited as Hope brought the pendant around and began to tie the leather string behind her neck. Josie hummed in appreciation at the warmth of Hope’s hands as they brushed the back of her neck, and when Hope drew her hands away, Josie brought a hand up to feel the pendant as it settled on her breastbone hanging just below the necklace Hope gave her for her birthday.
“Do you feel anything when I siphon from it? I feel like you would since it’s an open pathway to your magic?”
“A little prickle, and some fatigue,” Hope shrugged, “but nothing I can’t handle.”
Josie nodded in acknowledgment and let the pendant go, she could feel the weight of the metal settle against her breastbone. She could feel the residual magic from the pendant and felt calm and safe knowing she would have magic if she ever needed to defend herself.
“Thank you for trusting me with this.” Josie made sure to lock eyes with Hope so she could see how sincere her words were.
“Yeah,” Hope crossed her arms over her chest, “well, you’re one of the few people who hasn’t let me down. Anyway, I have to head out. I’ll catch you tomorrow, maybe we can study together for exams?”
“Oh, me and Lizzie will actually be going to Europe with Mom for the week, we’ll be taking the exams there. Making up for missing our sixteenth birthday I assume.”
Hope hummed her response as she began cleaning up the aftermath of their spell. She kept herself busy with her eyes trained intently on her task. Josie could feel Hope withdrawing a bit, as she tended to do when parents were brought up, like she was reliving losing them.
“Hey,” Josie nudged Hope’s shoulder and gave her a small smile, “I can get you a souvenir while I’m away, it’s the least I can do for everything you’ve done for me.”
“It’s alright, I rather visit on my own, thanks for the gesture though. I’ll see you in a week.” Hope offered a small smile.
Josie realized that was the best she was going to get and returned the smile. She picked up her stuff and headed out. She had to enjoy her vacation because training with Hope started when she got back. And she was absolutely sure Hope was going to give her ass a kicking with that training.
“Well, until tomorrow, if you need anything I’ll be in my room packing.” Josie added with her hand on the door.
“Alright, I got some preparing of my own to do today though, so you probably won’t see me around either.”
Josie waited a second to see if Hope would elaborate, but when she just turned back to what she was doing Josie figured that that was her cue to leave. She closed the door slowly and headed back to her dorm room, knowing the room was probably a complete mess already since Lizzie had been left to pack by herself.
Chapter 3: A Spring in Paris
Can’t believe that finale but it’ll actually work perfect for this story and give me a great spot to go canon divergent from! So I finally have an idea of where I’m taking this story, as to before where I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.
This is technically the second part of the previous chapter, but considering how long it took me to write the first half I posted them separately. But once I release the next chapter I’ll also combine this chapter with the previous.
Thanks for not giving up on me just yet, I know I’m a slow writer so thanks for sticking it out with me!
The flight out to Europe was long, but at least very relaxing. Josie sat at the window, thankful that her motion sickness didn’t include planes, though she kept her sick bag in her laptop nonetheless. And Lizzie sat in the middle scrolling through the movie options, though it seemed a moot effort since she’d scrolled through them all at least five times and still hadn’t found anything to watch.
Josie looked blankly at her laptop, she’d pulled up her notes to help study for their exams, which they unfortunately still had to take on vacation. But her mind wandered to what she would be doing when she got back, training with Hope and MG, she knew it’d be hard work but she was eager to see what she was actually capable of. Her daydreaming eventually turned to dreaming as she dozed off and slept restfully for the first time in days.
“Josie, c’mon,” Lizzie’s voice came as she felt her shoulder being jostled, “we’re about to land.”
Josie groaned as she felt the stiffness that had taken hold in her neck. She turned to Lizzie seeing the end credits rolling through of the movie she must have eventually chosen.
“How long was I out?”
“Practically forever,” Lizzie commented as she pushed her tray table back up and started to gather her things, “what were you dreaming about, you were mumbling, but I couldn’t make out anything?”
Josie’s brow furrowed as she tried to remember her dream. No details came to mind and the more she tried to remember the more it slipped away. She had a feeling it had something to do with Hope, but she couldn’t be sure.
She just shrugged back at her sister as she packed her things up as well and pulled out the phone her dad had given her to get in touch with their mom once they landed.
“Mom says she’s waiting outside the gates.” Josie told Lizzie as she scrolled through the message.
“I hope we get right into the sightseeing, Paris is going to be amazing! The style, the romance, just everything.” Lizzie gushed.
“I rather get all our stuff settled at the hotel first, but I am looking forward to seeing the Eiffel Tower in person, and try the food.”
“How have my two favorite girls’ been?”
Josie and Lizzie groaned in response as their mom engulfed both of them in a bear hug, the strength of the hug rivaling that off a real bear.
“Suffocating,” Lizzie wheezed and gasped when their mom released them, “missed you too mom, school has been really crazy lately. Are you coming back soon?”
“Hopefully,” Caroline responded, “recruiting hasn’t been going very well out here despite all the aid we have in locating kids.”
Josie could feel Lizzie closing down at that, so she did what any responsible twin would do, she deflected.
“I understand, mom, but we have a whole week together so let’s start it. Maybe we could leave our stuff in the car a go straight into some shopping? I’ve been needing to get new clothes lately anyway.”
“Sounds perfect,” Caroline smiled and grabbed their bags, “just me, and my girls for a whole week, let’s get started, I have so much planned so that both of you enjoy it to the fullest.”
Josie warmed up at the comment, always loving how her mom took her interests into account in things as well. She hadn’t been feeling neglected lately like Lizzie had, but even she had to admit the last person that made her feel thought of was Jo. She spent the whole night with her, doting on her and without bringing up any prodding questions about how Lizzie was doing. And then it had ended with her being buried alive, and siphoning the magical life out of her body. And at that thought Josie’s mood cooled dramatically.
Caroline being ever the perceptive mother must have noticed because she ceased walking to look over at Josie.
“You alright, sweetie?”
Noticing the concern etched on her mother’s face Josie put on as bright a smile as she could. “Of course, Mom, we’re in Paris why wouldn’t I be alright.”
“Lizzie, why don’t you go out and explore for awhile and I’ll take all our stuff to our room, I’m sure Josie would like to rest for a bit as well.”
Lizzie turned and Josie could see a hasty retort coming, but their mom was one step ahead as always.
“I can get a boy to show you around and take you wherever you want to go.”
Lizzie smiled and ran over to put her backpack that she was carrying next to the rest of their stuff.
“You’re the best mom ever,” Lizzie beamed as she leaned up and kissed their mom’s cheek, “you know my type, right?”
Caroline hummed in acknowledgment and left the girls for a moment and walked over to boy leaning against the wall by the nearby restrooms. She peered into his eyes and whispered to him before leading him back over the the girls.
“Lizzie, this is Damien,” Caroline said gesturing to the boy, “and Damien this is my daughter Lizzie.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Lizzie,” Damien said with a dazzling smile, all white teeth and deep dimples, “I thought I could show you around on my motorcycle.”
Josie could practically feel Lizzie vibrating with excitement through their twin bond, though she was definitely excited herself to be able to go back to the hotel and lay down.
Caroline waved Lizzie and Damien off as he led her out of the airport and to the parking lot. She turned back to Josie and grabbed their bags before gesturing which way they would be headed.
“I thought you didn’t like to compel people anymore if you didn’t have to.”
“Oh, I didn’t compel him, he’s one of the children I was able to find who was interested in coming to the school, he’ll be coming back with you guys. I figured you and your sister would differ on what you wanted to do, so I asked him to tag along just in case.”
Josie hummed in response and continued to follow her mom until they were able to make it to their car and jump on the road. The ride back was filled with told and laughter, mostly Josie listened to her mom tell crazy stories of her times here in Europe. Josie added in little things going on at the school, mostly when prompted by her mom, but some good things she offered up by herself. She complained about how mad Lizzie was at her for losing their football game. But in terms of the monsters that were at the school and roaming around the world she kept quiet.
“Home, sweet, home,” Caroline exclaimed as they pulled into the driveway of a quaint building that was a bit of a ways outside the main area of Paris, “at least for now.”
Josie noticed how her smile fell at the last part. It partially made her feel better that her mother wasn’t absolutely excited about being away from them.
Josie helped carry all the luggage inside, the majority of it belonging to Lizzie. Who swore that she absolutely needed to bring her hair straightener just in case their mother didn’t have one, along with a bunch of other hair and skin products which Josie thought unnecessary for just a week away. But considering their mother had supernatural strength, she figured there was no reason to complain about it.
“This place is beautiful, I’d thought you’d have a more modern style house for while you were here, closer to the city.”
“Too stressful” Caroline chuckled.
Caroline opened the door and dropped off the luggage in what Josie assumed would be her and Lizzie’s room. There were definitely enough rooms in the house for her to be able to have her own room, but she wouldn’t even consider it. Her and Lizzie had always been together and she didn’t assume it would changed any time soon.
“So what’s been bothering you, sweetie,” Caroline asked as she sat on the edge of queen bed in the room, “Lizzie said you’ve been having nightmares lately, and I assume it has something to do with the Necromancer?”
Josie sighed and walked over to sit next to her mother before leaning lightly on her should.
“Dealing with Necromancer was torture…whenever I sleep now I just feel my lungs filling up. And when I wake up I just remember how close to death I was, I’d probably be dead if not for Hope.”
“There’s nothing wrong with having nightmares about that, if you were completely fine after that, well, I’d be way more worried. To tell you the truth I still have nightmares about how I died, but in my nightmares it’s Elena who suffocates me and not Katherine.”
Josie feels herself being moved into her Mom’s lap and feels fingers start to card through her hair, she closes her eyes and focuses on breathing and relaxing.
“On another note,”Caroline says as she pauses her ministrations, “how’d Hope save you, I was told Milton was the one who found you?”
“MG dug me up, but if not for Hope he probably wouldn’t have been able to find me amongst all the zombie graves. She spelled the pendant that she gave me for my birthday, it apparently makes quiet things heard, or at least that’s what she said it did.”
“May I see them? I’m assuming the second necklace you have on is from Hope too. Since I’ve never seen it before.”
“Yeah, of course.” Josie said as she removed the two necklaces from around her neck and placed them in her Mom’s hand.
“I think Hope may have a thing for you,” Caroline chuckled, “Mikaelsons’ aren’t very good at showing affection from what I know of them, but they are big gift givers to those they care about. I have several things from Klaus that he gave me when he was trying to earn my affections, including an absolutely gorgeous blue dress that I wore to win the Miss Mystic Fall pageant.”
Josie saw the wistful smile that crossed her Mom’s face and looked at the two necklaces, there was no way Hope Mikaelson felt anything for her other than barely there friendship. Hope was straight and probably would never have affection for anyone ever again after how Landon betrayed her. She was just being a good friend with her gifts and keeping her safe with the second necklace.
“I don’t think so Mom, we’re just friends, she’s already hung up on someone.”
Josie felt the pat and rub on her back before she heard her Mom’s reassurances, “You never know, Honey, love changes and evolves over time. I never thought Elena would end up with Damon, or even that Damon could be a good person. But love changes everything.”
“And wouldn’t it be great if your long time crush ended up liking you back,” Caroline said as she softly rubbed Josie’s cheek.
Josie groaned at that and got up. She definitely didn’t need to bring all those deeply buried feelings to rise up again. Caroline chuckled under her breath before getting up herself and putting their stuff away. Josie got up after a few minutes to help her out siphoning a bit of magic discreetly from her necklace to levitate her clothes to their closet. She didn’t need her mom teasing her about how special the second necklace was, or even more embarrassingly how it was made.
Thinking about the necklace made her consider her mother’s words, they did have chemistry together, even if just magical chemistry. Maybe something could be there. Josie shook her head of the thoughts, no need to dig up old feelings. Plus Josie thought ruefully, there were too many bad secrets between them. If Hope felt betrayed by Landon for what he did, Hope’s trust in her would be shattered if she ever found out her secrets…
Chapter 4: A Dream in a Dream
Hope sat on her bed unable to sleep. Torn between being elated that she had gotten Landon back from Georgia safe, and mournful that another parent had had to die to save their child. She hated to admit it brought up more memories that she wanted to stay buried deep in her subconscious. Being with Landon was nice, especially since she now knew he was being supernaturally compelled to steal these relics and wasn’t just lying to her outright. He was sweet to her, nice in a whole hearted way that she didn’t see in other people, at least not many other people. Josie was sweet in a genuine way as well, that kindness had only recently extended to herself, but she’d always been kind.
Hope readjusted herself and held her stuffed animal closer to her chest. It provided at least a little bit of extra comfort on nights when her mind wouldn’t rest. She had to sleep, exams were coming up, and although she had proven she had no problem in any of her subjects, sleep was still an important part of doing well. Even for a tribrid, or at least that’s what Aunt Freya always stated, putting special emphasis on how lack of sleep can result in more volatile magic.
Hope readjusted again to lay on her stomach and forced herself to even out her breathing until she finally felt herself drift off and latched onto the feeling.
Light streamed in to a familiar window, the curtains seeming see through with how bright it was. Hope groaned and tried to roll over and pull the covers over her head, but as soon as she thought about it she was standing in the middle of the quarter in New Orleans. She smelt all the familiar scents that indicated that she was home, incense from the witches stalls, herbs, and sweets made daily for the tourists.
“Can you believe how big she’s gotten.”
Hope turned so fast at the sound of the familiar voice she made herself light headed.
“I’m glad to know all the fighting over the years between us eventually led to a happy ending, we got the family we always wanted, only took a thousand years” a feminine chuckle came from the same spot as the previous.
“Yes, well, I knew I’d get what I wanted in the end.”
“Dad!” Hope finally caught sight of the group, her father’s signature smirk on his lips, “wait, come back!”
Hope ran towards the group dodging the people in the crowd but she felt every hit she took from falling over her own feet in her haste and knocking shoulders with people. They couldn’t seem to hear her above the noise and began to walk towards the beigne shop.
“Please…please, don’t leave me.”
When Hope finally reached the building they walked into she burst through the doors on to find herself jerking away on a patch of grass in the graveyard in mystic falls. Clouds covered the moon making everything shadowed in darkness, she looked at the gravestones around her only to see the names of all her family engraved on them. Panic tightened around her throat as she tried to crawl away from the images but she couldn’t seem to move, in her peripheral she could see a dark shade moving about, seemingly getting closer.
“Hope, wake up,” Hope felt warm arms encircle her and she looked up expecting Landon, only to find Josie holding her gently with a worried smile, “you’ll be alright when you wake up.”
Hope bolted upright in her bed, gasping for breath like she’d been suffocated in her sleep. She looked around only to see her large dorm bedroom, plain, the way it was after her personal belongings burned in the fire. Melancholy set in and Hope knew today was probably going to be an absolutely horrible day.
A Night Hag, that’s what they were dealing with right during finals. Hope thought finals were enough of a nightmare without an actual nightmare monster dropping in on it. And now after her dream, being around Landon just hurt. The guilt of her parents’ deaths had dug their way up to the forefront of her memory from that nightmare. And Hope was reminded that everyone that cared for her typically ended up dying around her, even supposedly nigh immortal beings that have…had…lived for over a thousand years. Landon was just human, and very fragile if the hole in his palm today had anything to say about it.
Hope knew the only path she could logically take was to stay away from Landon, at least until she got her emotions back under control. No need to burden Landon with her baggage so soon after everything that had happened in Georgia…though he couldn’t remember it.
That lack of memory being a very pivotal point in her need to keep her distance. He didn’t know his mother had thrown herself into literal oblivion to save him, or at least she thought she was saving him. Hope felt guilty enough with the pain of knowing her parents died for her, but she still got to know them. Still had memories from her childhood of good times. Landon would never have that. Would never feel the connection to his mother because even if he learned the truth the memories would be void of feeling.
Hope zoned back in as Landon made a joke about finally getting her attention by getting hurt. Was she being that bad at subtly circumnavigating him…apparently so.
She had to make a quick exit, the room was stifling around her, and both Dr. Saltzman’s and Landon’s looks at her were making her skin itch, though she’d never show or admit it.
Hope made her way up to her bedroom, if there was anything different about legend from a nightmare spectre then maybe her aunt may be able to figure it out. After all if Aunt Freya could help against The Hollow an entity of pure darkness, some creature called a “Night Hag” couldn’t be anywhere near as bad.
Shutting her door behind her and grabbing some herbs and her sage stick, Hope realized she was glad to be a witch on a campus that didn’t allow for personal cell phones. Otherwise, this would be a lot harder process and get her in A LOT more trouble.
Hope began chanting her spell as she burned the herbs in a bowl she kept on her nightstand. She kept the image of her Aunt Freya in her mind to tether her, and as she continued chanting she felt her aunt respond to her hail.
“Hey, Kiddo, you’re up late, even for you,” a projection of her Aunt Freya said as she sat down on the ground across from her, “are you in trouble? I can head down there first thing in the morning if need be.”
“I’m fine Aunt Freya, I actually just had a question about Night Hags…for a paper I’m writing for finals. And there’s no better expert on ghost type entities than you.”
Hope could tell her aunt didn’t believe her by her tone and contemplative face, but she must have realized it a fruitless effort to point it out because she summoned a grimoire to herself and started turning through pages.
“Why the interest, if you don’t mind me asking?” Aunt Freya looked up, “Night Hags are dream entities and you’ve never put much stock in dreams before.”
“I had a really weird dream,” Hope figured some truth wasn’t a bad thing in this situation, “it made me think if something could cause what happens in the dream or what my dream could mean.”
“Well, Night Hags are fairly week creatures, they have very little power in terms of choosing what you see in your dreams, just that they inhabit nightmares of your worst fears. But they can’t influence the physical world at all. At least that’s what I’ve heard and read through the centuries. Want to talk about your nightmare though, it may help.”
Hope nodded and explained how her dream played out. She left out her feelings about it, not wanting to seem weak after all this time around her aunt, until she got to the part with Josie.
“…I haven’t felt that safe or warm in a long while, and we aren’t very close now so I don’t get why my brain chose her. It should’ve been Landon, he’s my boyfriend…”
“Maybe your brain is showing you the potential of your friendship. The subconscious often sees things much longer before we realize it for ourselves. I’d trust your gut though, it hasn’t let you down yet. I have to go now, Keelin is calling me for dinner, and she’s a nightmare when I keep her waiting. But you know where I am if you ever need to talk, and go to bed you look exhausted.”
Hope smiled at her Aunt’s chuckle, “Can do, Aunt Freya, I’ll talk to you soon, love you.”
Her smiled dropped though by the end of her call though when she realized she hadn’t gotten any useful information out of her aunt. But she did learn that nothing about this new creature was adding up with lore, which was quite unlike the other monsters which they had already encountered.
Hope sighed and a yawn escaped as she ran her hands over her comforter. She forced her eyes open and patted her face to wake herself up a bit. Maybe being in her room at night time wasn’t the best place to be when she wasn’t allowed to sleep. Carding her fingers through her hair quickly she opened the door and headed towards Dr. Saltzman’s office, maybe he had made some headway on their monster problem, and if not he probably had some of the herbal tea in his office to help her stay awake.
Halls that were usually dead at this time of night were bustling with students and teachers, well they were more trudging along like zombies, but all were busy with something. Most students were studying with books on any horizontal surface they could find, others just trying to stay busy and awake in any manner possible.
Dr. Saltzman’s office was full of more leather bound books than usual as Hope entered the room being careful to not trip on a stack of books that was placed right next to the door.
“Any luck? I haven’t found anything useful out other than that this Night Hag doesn’t act anything like a Night Hag.”
“No” Dr. Saltzman grumbled as he downed the rest of his mug and placed it back on the table.
Hope began to mull over their predicament in her brain when Landon burst through the door to the office, looking slightly manic with his dried red eyes and extra tousled hair.
“I figured it out!”
Both turned to stare at him but he was already out the door gesturing for them to follow. Hope met Dr. Saltzman’s gaze before they both quickly got up and rushed out the door after Landon.
Hope noticed as they followed Landon through the school that they were headed towards the library. Landon seemed in a heightened state of energy as he practically ran through the halls, Hope figured herbal tea designed to keep supernatural creatures up was probably working REALLY well on Landon.
“Let’s assume the legends aren’t wrong.” Landon continued as he rounded the corner into the library where a massive amount of books was strewn around the room. “Maybe it isn’t a Night Hag.”
As he finished his explanation he handed a book to Dr. Saltzman.
“An Oneiroi?” He skimmed through the pages detailing the monster.
The rest of their conversation went by in a whirlwind to Hope as she began to formulate a plan. Lizzie and Josie weren’t available, which would’ve been her first monster killing squad choice, but the boys would be a very good back up squad.
Hope had to set her plan into motion quick for a couple of reasons. One, with how tired the student body was becoming after so long awake during exams the “Oneiroi”, what a weird monster name, would be much closer to doing real damage to the students and closer to the getting the urn. Two, and probably the main reason for her haste, Dr. Saltzman had the same self sacrificing nature she had so he was likely formulating his own plan without her to take down this monster.
All this meant was that she needed a new hiding spot for the urn, she was sure dr. Saltzman knew most of her hiding places and if he knew she’d likely try to take it.
Hope started easing up the floor boards under her bed where she had hid the urn, which she was realizing was the most cliché place to hide things in a supernatural boarding school. But that would have to be a problem for future Hope, right now she needed a good hiding spot now before she met up with the little meeting she called the boys to. She looked quickly around her room, bookcase…no, underwear drawer? That would be more obvious than under the floor boards…Hope shoved the urn under her many pillows and fluffed them back up a bit to look normal.
“Well, that’s a cringeworthy hiding spot but it’ll have to do, I suppose.”
Hope gave one last look across her room before heading out. This was going to be one long night that’s for sure.
The boys were all in to her plan unfortunately, Hope wasn’t expecting Landon to sit out of this one, but she sure wish he had. She hated that he didn’t seem to understand how dangerous all of this was and how very mortal he is, she realized he wanted to be accepted but he couldn’t do that if he was dead.
She sighed before heading into the gym where everything was set up. Just one last thing to take care of, planting the final seed to make sure her planned worked. Hope figured as an evil dream demon this creature would go after the weakest link, that being the very human Landon logically, so telling him where she hid the urn would be the best way to draw him out. All she had to do was wait.
Hope watched all the boys nestle in and sleep on their cots for a few minutes. It was a quick affair for them to fall asleep considering they hadn’t slept in almost two days and she had them stop drinking the witches’ herbal tea right after they called their meeting together.
She walked the halls until she found the hiding spot she had told Landon about, her family had put a ridiculous amount of nooks and crannies in her over the years in addition to all the ones the Salvatore brothers had as well. So giving a random hiding spot for the urn was an easy choice considering it strategic location next to a blind corner.
As she waited around the corner out of sight of the vault she wondered what normal activities Josie and Lizzie must be doing right now. It was likely turning to morning about now there in Europe, they were probably getting breakfast at a bistro, or shopping and sightseeing. Hope could imagine her and her mother doing those things, could imagine how happy she’d be in the sun doing normal things with her mother. Or even with her father who she knew had art pieces hanging in the cathedrals all across Europe from when he had painted throughout the centuries.
Heavy footsteps sounded down the hall breaking Hope from her reverie. Her blood boiled and her mind focused on the task at hand. She may be alone, the last true immortal and the only one of her kind, but she also had people left she cared about and that needed to be protected.
She rounded the corner hearing the vault torn from the wall, guess it was go time.
“Looking for something?” She called to get the creatures attention, assuming it had ears, even though she realized it might not have.
The creature charged her and she took the brunt impact of the hit before flipping him into the wall behind her. His body broke the drywall but he didn’t look fazed in the slightest. Hope assumed he would keep charging at her but when he got up he walked away down the hall leaving her there. She was puzzled until she realized it probably was headed to the gym after Landon, thinking he still knew the location of the urn.
Hope raced after it through the halls and caught up with it right before it entered the gym, she charged and threw her body into the Oneiroi launching them both through the doors into the gym. She was hoping to keep the fight away from everyone but that didn’t look like it was going to be the case.
“Stay back!” She yelled making sure the boys didn’t get involved, this was hurt fight, she was the only one that need be hurt if anything went sideways.
The Oneiroi was proving to be a tough creature, she figured she could just beat it to submission, or death, but every punch she threw didn’t seem to be making an impact, but it had to have a weak point she just had to find it.
Just then the door bust open with Dr. Saltzman tossing her a crossbow bolt “The eyes!”
Eyes? This thing didn’t even look like it even had any eyes, but Hope supposed he had never led her wrong in these matters before. Hope broke the bolt in half and jammed the pieces into where she assumed its eyes would be, and in seconds the Oneiroi had evaporated and she was left kneeling on the gym floor.
Everyone dispersed after that, all tired and ready to sleep before finals, and they still had to break off and spread the news that the creature was taken care of to the student body.
Hope went back to her room and changed into clean not scratched up clothing before checking in on the boy. As she approached the door she heard music and as she peeped in she saw them all singing and playing music together, she was glad to see them all so happy, but bittersweet because she didn’t think she would ever feel joy like that for herself again. Hope felt like her grief pained everything she did and being carefree just wasn’t an option for her even for a moment.
She turned and left wanting to leave them to their time together, but as she turned she caught Landon’s eye, and knew he’d come to find her. She needed to find a place for them to talk quietly so she walked to the lounge area where the main fireplace was. It was bustling before, but now that all the students could sleep the area and all the halls were void of people of any kind. Hope watched the flames as she waited just thinking about what her life was coming to, and why she was here. Why so many people tried so hard to keep her alive, why she deserved to be kept alive.
Landon broke her train of thoughts as he sat down, telling her practically everything she wanted to hear and more. He accepted her the way she was and would try hard to keep them together. That’s all anyone wants to hear she supposed, to know someone was willing to fight for them. And she had to love him for that…even though as she kissed him the memory of her dream with Josie played in the back of her mind.
The warmth she had seen between the boys as they played instruments and sang their song together, that carefree nature that she didn’t possess anymore. She knew she had felt it recently, it was the way Josie had made her feel in her dream the other night. Safety, warmth, and joy. But maybe Landon could give her that too.
Chapter 5: It's Harmless
Well, I'm not dead. So here's another chapter, I know a lot of people have probably given up on this but I have not! I'm just a lowly procrastinator unfortunately. But my New Year's resolution was to get back into writing and updating this fanfic specifically so here I am.
Also if anyone knows how this formatting system works for AO3 I could sure use the help because I just type in Microsoft Word and copy and paste it to here. And as you can see by the perspective breaks and time lapses I have no idea what I'm doing or how to use this...I don't even know how to italicize stuff. (Hope's dream should've been in italics)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Really,” Hope exclaimed looking over at her clock in her room, “the monster had to come at 3 am in the morning.”
Huffing, Hope got up from bed and put on a robe before heading out into the night. She met Dorian and Alaric at the front door to the school and led them to where she had recently set up the barrier spell to catch the next monster from Malivor.
“You couldn’t have put on pants.”
It was cold out for one, and two who came monster hunting in a bathrobe. Not to mention, Hope didn’t need to see him like this…it was weird.
“It’s too early for your snark, Hope.”
Hope wanted to reply but they were getting close to the barrier spell and figured it could wait. Her thoughts swirled as she tried to imagine what creature they might face today, but she kept them to herself, though it seemed that Alaric didn’t have the same reservations.
A horse? Her barrier spell should only be trapping magical creatures, otherwise any deer or animal wandering around would set off the barrier. Nope a Unicorn, that made much more sense. It definitely was not one of the monsters she had thought of as an option that they might face. And in all the stories she’d heard of unicorns they were not malicious or dangerous in any sense of the word.
“Wait, wait!” Hope jumped in front of Dorian as he readied to deal with this new Malivor threat, “It’s harmless, it’s in the barrier and not going anywhere. Can’t we just leave it, no other monster will come if we keep it here.”
Hope sighed in relief when Alaric agreed with her, she really didn’t need “killing a unicorn” on her conscience. And she rather just get to sleep to be honest, especially if she was going to have to deal with the talent show today.
After tossing and turning for what felt like forever Hope finally drifted off into the most blissful sleep she’d possibly ever had.
Hope woke to the sounds of melodic giggling in her bed in New Orleans. The sound was enchanting, like a call that she knew she had to follow. Stretching mightily she placed her bare feet on the ground only to find herself fully clothed in the middle of the bayou. Light streamed in through the trees in a way that instantly reminded Hope of her favorite fairytale books that Rebekah used to read to her at night.
She turned when the sound continued but it seemed closer now. Hope felt herself being practically propelled through the trees, as if she was running faster than she ever thought possible, like she was a full tribrid. And before she knew it she was at the old dock out where the wolves lived. A small boat tied to the dock with someone in it, waiting for her to arrive, she knew it instinctively.
“Who are you?” Hope found herself asking yet already knowing the answer. That same aura of warmth surrounded her as from her other dream. But she didn’t feel like she was being saved from something as before, no she felt home. In a place surrounded by her heritage, with the person she loved…loved?
Hope climbed in the boat settling next to Josie as she held out a beignet to her. Hope almost moaned at how amazing the treat tasted.
“Tastes pretty good doesn’t it?” the melodic giggle sounded from Josie and she smirked at Hope as if she was keeping a secret.
“What are these made of, I could eat them forever.” She grabbed another one from the humongous pile of them sitting on a silver platter in the middle of the boat. The boat that was now cruising through the bayou despite Hope not remembering anyone untying it from the dock.
“It’s a secret, but I’m glad you’re happy with them.” Josie nudged Hope in the shoulder as she emphasized the word.
Hope chuckled in response and went back to eating her beignets.
“You’ve got some sugar ri—” Josie started and as Hope turned to listen, she swiped the powder that had accumulated on Hope’s cheek and brought it to her mouth. She smiled in response before leaning over and kissing Josie on the cheek.
“Thank you, glad I have you here to clean me up.” Hope joked.
“And you’ll always have me here if that’s what you want.”
Hope’s brow furrowed, “Of course, I’ll always want you here, who else would I do this with.” Josie’s brow furrowed in response before lifting in surprise as Hope pressed a chaste kiss to her lips.
“Today is going to be a great day.” Hope told herself, smiling as she got out of her dorm bed and prepared for the school day.
She grabbed her school clothes and a towel before heading to the showers. Her cheek felt slimy almost, Hope reasoned with herself that she must have drooled in her sleep, especially with how soundly she slept. Either way a good long wash was a necessity.
Between humming through the hallways to the showers and singing aloud to some other girl’s karaoke playlist as she washed up, Hope had turned quite a few heads today around school.
“You have a really good voice.” Complimented one girl in the locker room as Hope was heading out.
“Oh, thank you, I always thought my singing was atrocious,” Hope stopped at the door and turned, “my mom was the only one I ever really sang around, and you know moms always say your singing is good.”
The girl, Veronica, who she knew from one of her witch classes, chuckled and readjusted the things she held in her arms.
“Hey, a couple of us were gonna grab some smoothies and watch Lizzie drive everyone crazy. I know you’ll probably say no, but you’re free to join us.”
“I would love to join you, Veronica.”
Hope didn’t miss the complete surprise her face at the response. “That’s great! I’ll see you later, we’ll be on the grand stairs around eleven.”
Hope nodded back before leaving, she had to go meet up with Landon.
Josie felt like she woke up on the wrong side of the bed, which made sense in an ironic sort of way considering Lizzie definitely woke up on the right side of it. Lizzie had risen with the sun that morning saying she need to extra time to prepare for the day’s events of the talent show. After all the witches had to keep up their winning streak which meant Lizzie would be manic all day.
But on the other hand, her sister had a sort of calm determined energy today, Josie figured after vacation and seeing their mother, Lizzie was probably clearer minded than she’d been in a while. And Josie would be damned if she ruined that for her sister today. Which meant the stress she’d been feeling since she’d woken up this morning would only increase throughout the day.
She’d had a dream featuring Penelope which in all honesty was all it took to start the day off bad. They always left her craving physical intimacy and today of all days she wouldn’t be able to avoid her ex like she usually did. Even after all this time apart it still hurt to be around her, she’d always remember what they were and how close they had been, and her heart would ache all the more knowing she’d lost that.
Josie tuned back into reality when she felt her sister take her arm in the main hallway, and she was glad she did considering her dad’s voice boomed through the school speakers a moment later saying the talent show was postponed. Josie didn’t know how she felt about the news, on the one hand less stress from preparing for the show, but on the other more stress from a very stressed and aggravated Lizzie. Who’s anger she could feel radiating through their twin bond.
“I can’t believe he would do this!” Lizzie seethed in her ear, “Won’t cancel finals over a monster attack but this he will! Ruling us like a dictat—OW!”
Josie was about to respond when she heard the most peculiar noise, it was definitely one of the cutest giggles she’d heard, but it sounded familiar almost, like a memory. When she turned to the source, she had to do a double take because she couldn’t believe the sound was coming from Hope. Had Hope ever let out such a girlish giggle? Maybe as a child but definitely not since her parents passed.
“Maybe Hope will know something?” Josie offered leading her sister towards the trio on the couch.
Josie almost wish she hadn’t led them over when she saw how sappy Hope and Landon were being, and Raf looked as disgusted by the pair as Josie felt. Jealousy shot through Josie as she realized Hope never acted so free and open around anyone else, but guilt quickly followed. She should just be happy that Hope seemed to be happy, especially after everything she’d been through.
“I don’t know what the big deal is, I told him a unicorn was harmless.” Hope said as she cuddled into Landon’s arm.
Josie turned away from looking at the two on the couch when she heard Lizzie cough to get her attention.
“Sister dear, is there any way the honor council could do something about this tragic turn of events?”
“I’m all in for this talent show to go on as planned,” Hope piped in, “Landon and I are going to figure out a talent to share. So, I’d vote yes if we brought it up at the council.”
“And the wolves are pretty hyped for this as well, so my vote is yes too.”
“Come on,” Lizzie exclaimed already dragging Josie away from the group, “Dad’s in his office now.”
The walk to their Dad’s office is fairly quick, though full of complaining on Lizzie’s part intermittent with the sounds of her gasps at shocking herself for her comments. Josie is beginning to wonder if the bracelet is going to work considering it hasn’t really stopped Lizzie from being mean to others.
“Does that bracelet even work?” Josie asks as the turn another corner in the hall.
“It will, eventually, the shocks increase over time, but hopefully I don’t ever have to find out how high they go. I think I’m doing pretty well actually.”
Josie has to suppress an eyeroll considering her sister had activated the bracelet at least three times today already. But if their mom thought it would work, she supposes it will in the end, after all a mom is usually right about these kinds of things.
Their dad is turned away from them when they enter his office tinkering away at something.
“Would this new monster happen to be a magical pony?” Lizzie says in lieu of a greeting.
Josie can’t see her father’s reaction, but she can tell by his now tensed shoulders that he was hoping they wouldn’t find out. After that admission the conversation went fairly easy after that, despite Lizzie shocking herself when she almost went into a tirade. But, all in all, a good outcome, the talent show was back on and Lizzie was back in a good mood. Josie realized the relief wouldn’t last long because Lizzie went right into her task master mode. And that meant finding those damn canes that they used every year in their not so original performance. It was original the first time, and they’d perfected it by the second time, but now it was just bland and boring.
Before Josie even noticed, thirty minutes had gone by and still no sign of the canes, she’d checked every single closet, pantry, and odd spot in the school and still nothing. She was this close to doing a locator spell on the things when she heard that light giggle that she now knew belonged to Hope Mikaelson. Josie figured if anyone knew where the canes were it’d be her, and seeing Hope happy was something she wanted to bask in while it lasted. She had an inkling it wouldn’t last very long, comparing this new mood to the way Lizzie’s clear mental health days quickly down spiraled at the drop of a hat.
Josie was glad to see Hope wasn’t glued to Landon at this hip this time and was instead chatting with a bunch of the witches on the stairs. And the way a few of the girls were giggling right back with Hope set a fire inside of Josie that she hadn’t remembered having in a long time.
“Hey, Hope,” Josie interrupted, much to the chagrin of the group, “have you seen the canes for the show, I can’t find them anywhere.”
“Nope, I’ll keep an eye out,” Hope replied as she took a sip of the smoothie she had in her hand, “Speaking of eyes, I see a pair on you.”
Josie didn’t register the comment at first, she was too busy melting at the mischievous smile Hope was sending her. Maybe her crush on Hope wasn’t as over as she thought. But at Hope’s raised brow she turned only to see Penelope giving her the most pleading look she had seen on her.
Nope! Josie did not want to deal with her today.
“Hide me!” Josie hissed under her breath at Hope before moving behind her having to shrink up a lot to not be seen considering how small Hope is.
Despite the situation a fond smile came to Josie’s face at seeing Hope get in a protective stance in front of her. Even if that didn’t deter Penelope from talking to her and handing her a letter. A letter that she definitely didn’t want to read or even consider opening if it came from her ex, it probably only contained something that could hurt her more than their breakup had.
Josie felt herself being pulled into a hug before she could deflect on Hope’s comment of having a good rest of her day. The hug was pleasant, though being pulled down to Hope’s level by the neck for a crushing side hug usually wasn’t the best, the warmth and happiness of Hope’s presence was comforting.
As Hope pulled away and practically skipped off to who knows where, probably to find Landon, Josie felt an odd tickle at her ear. But as she scratched it nothing was there.
Weird itch or not Josie had to find those canes…wow, Josie now knew today was going to be an amazing day.
Canes be damned.
This day was a nightmare!
Hope couldn’t believe the way she acted and was glad she’d gotten that parasite out when she did. Between hugging everyone that she did today in her uninhibited state and coming very close to handing over a key to Malivor, death as the final phase of the parasite’s hold didn’t seem so bad. She alone had probably infected at least a dozen or so people. That’ll teach me to show physical affection. Hope thought wryly.
But now wasn’t the time to dwell on that considering the number of slug trails on the walls and ceilings left by the parasites. Thankfully the majority of the infected were now locked away in the stage area.
Now her and Landon just needed to figure out a way to shock everyone locked away without actually hurting anyone.
“Hey! What are you two doing out here?”
Hope and Landon turned around to find none other than Lizzie Saltzman. Hope wasn’t going to admit that she might enjoy shocking the parasite out of Lizzie more than she should.
They tied her up first, didn’t need her siphoning something and turning this into a battle, plus with how long the parasites have been around they didn’t have time to dally.
Lizzie herself was anything but thrilled with the situation, made obvious by her squirming and biting remarks.
“You’ve been infected with a mind controlling parasite, that’s why you’ve been nice all day.” Better to explain quick and get this whole thing over with.
“That’s not why I’ve be—Hey!” Lizzie exclaimed as she tried to squirm away from Landon’s prodding around her face.
“What are you frea—” Lizzie was stop by a full body gasp as her body seized quickly.
“What was that?” Landon said aloud what Hope was wondering.
“Unchain me and maybe I’ll tell you, you thrift store hobb—”
Another seize from Lizzie and it became clear to the pair that she wasn’t infected.
“Why have you been acting weird?” Hope interjected when Landon stated the obvious of her not being infected.
“I’m not acting weird,” Lizzie defended, “I’m turning over a new leaf, with this…”
Hope had to contain her eyeroll at Lizzie’s explanation, of course she’d need to shock herself in order to be nice to people. It helped in this particular case though. But there was a more pressing matter to attend to. Josie was infected and was missing, and with how long ago it had likely happened, Josie was in very real danger.
“I’m coming with you,” Lizzie declared as she followed the pair, “I have a plan.”
Hope wanted to decline the help, but at this point if Lizzie had an idea it was probably better than what she had in mind, likely safer for Josie too.
“We have this Landon, see if you can help out here, with your body snatcher, parasite knowledge.”
Landon looked like he wanted to protest Hope’s decision, but the two girls were already heading down the hallway.
“Where do you think she’s at?” Lizzie asked as they sped walked towards Hope’s room, “And why are we headed to your room?”
Hope hushed her as she opened her door and gathered some supplies quickly.
“Give me your hand, we need a quick locator spell and since your blood related, I can use your blood to find her.”
Lizzie nodded and sat down pricking her finger and following Hope’s directions. Hope was surprised by her lack of snark or complaining, but she realized Lizzie cared too much about her sister to be difficult right now.
“Okay, all I’ll need for my plan is for you to distract Josie and keep her attention. I’ll handle the rest.”
Hope nodded along and kept moving towards her location even as Lizzie split and headed a different direction figuring it was part of the plan.
The confrontation was fairly quick, she was curious what Penelope was doing there, but also figured she might not want to know. Or rather that she feared her own reaction if what she thought was true. She had Landon and it wasn’t right for her to be jealous, especially since Josie was slug drunk anyway. And could make her own decisions about who she was with.
By the time they all returned, Hope being the one to carry an unconscious Penelope given she was the only one with supernatural strength, everyone else had been cured of the slug parasite and were all milling around the hallways. And worst of all there was already a line forming outside the dorm showers of everyone wanting to get the feel of slug slime of themselves.
“I’ll take Penelope to Emma; she’ll probably have something that can wake her up quick.”
Hope split off from the twins and headed to the nurse’s office. She figured she could use the showers in there if need be since most people forgot the nurse’s office had showers.
As she drops off Penelope, she hears the school speakers signal an announcement.
“After the events of today, I think we all deserve a talent show re-do.” Alaric’s voice chimes. “Be ready in a few hours, we’ll let everyone clean up beforehand.”
Hope is absolutely mind-blown at Josie’s performance, well the witches’ performance. She looks stunning in her blue dress and her voice, Hope never even knew Josie could sing. She remembered Josie always playing on her ukulele as a child and humming out tunes, but to think she could sing like this. Hope feels completely moved by the lyrics, connecting to them in a way she hasn’t connected to music in a very long time. And she can tell Josie is singing her own truth into existence.
In all Hope knows the crowd is just as awestruck as she is as they cheer. But Hope can’t even hear them as she catches Josie’s eye and receives the most radiant smile she’s ever seen, just like the smile Josie sends her in her dreams of late.
No one is surprised when the witches win the talent show. Hope wants to go to Josie to congratulate her, feeling that’s what is called for of their friendship, but Josie is surrounded by people complimenting her. A few of the younger kids are hugging her legs and telling her how amazing she was on stage, so Hope decides to leave Josie to her moment and head to the showers again. She still feels the slug gunk on her face.
As Hope turns to leave, she sees Josie send a small smile and wave her way and she smiles brightly back before weaving her way through the crowd back to her room to pick up some clothes. And on her way to the showers Hope tries to ignore the way Josie smiling at her makes her feel. She doesn’t think she succeeds at it though, especially when Landon singing to her, though very sweet, only makes her compare the moment to Josie’s earlier performance.
Okay I googled how to do italics...it sucks to write out! Hopefully AO3 will eventually have it to where you can upload documents eventually because that'd be a lot easier. Please universe make it so!
Anyway, love to hear feedback about the chapter, the story, where you think it's going to go. Or just gushing about the show.
Chapter 6: Just Us
A little intermission from canon, looking at Josie and Hope's typical training routine.
So, I haven't died yet. Just a piece of shit who sucks at posting chapters in a timely fashion.
Josie grunted as her back hit the mat again for the third time in as many minutes. Turned out training with Hope was a lot more difficult than she imagined. She had been training with Hope for the past three weeks in the mornings, afternoons, or really anytime they could between all the monster attacks. Josie knew before training started that Hope was strong, but she was amazed at just how skilled she was.
“You’re definitely getting better,” Hope commented as she extended a hand to help Josie up from the mat, “you almost landed a hit that time.”
“I don’t feel like I’m getting any better though” Josie grumbled as she took the proffered hand.
“Training takes time, I’ve been training with your dad for years, you’re not going to be a pro after three weeks.”
Josie nodded solemnly, what Hope said made sense but that didn’t mean she had to be happy about it.
“Let’s go one more time,” Hope said getting into her stance on one corner of the mat, “and remember don’t just charge in, take the time to assess your opponent.”
Josie exhaled a breath as she returned to the opposite corner of the mat. She focused on what she’d learned in these last few weeks, all the grappling, punches, tactics, and strategy. If she landed one hit on Hope today, she could call their first sparing day a success.
Without waiting for Hope to call for a start Josie charged at her, starting in with a right hook that Hope easily dodged. Josie then blocked Hope’s counterattack with some difficulty only to realize Hope now had her in a tight neck hold, her back pressed to Hope’s front. She wondered vaguely how Hope could have such a strong hold on her when she was so much shorter, but she didn’t dwell on it.
“You gonna tap out?” Hope asked.
Josie struggled, almost ready to tap out when she noticed Hope’s narrower than usual stance, probably needed to give her the extra height to make the chokehold. Josie snaked one of her feet behind Hope’s and kicked out before throwing all her weight back. They both hit the ground hard, luckily Hope’s body cushioned most of the impact for Josie, so she rolled over and pinned Hope’s hands to the ground as she straddled her hips. Then as Hope started to struggle a bit, after she recovered from having the wind knocked out of her, Josie started to siphon a bit of magic from her hold on Hope’s wrists as a warning.
“You gonna tap out? Josie asked back smugly.
Hope struggled for a bit longer, bucking her hips to try and throw Josie off, which Josie refused to admit to herself felt really good. But finally Hope expelled a huff of breath and tapped the knuckles of her held right hand on the gym mat.
The smile Josie sported as they left the gym definitely made having the wind knocked out of her worth it. Hope couldn’t help it as a small smile graced her own features as Josie recalled the match in dramatic detail as they headed to the showers, school clothes in hand.
“I really didn’t think I’d get any moves in on you,” Josie called from the shower stall next to Hope, “this might be the best day of my life, ‘the day I bested Hope Mikaelson’!”
Hope chuckled to herself as she rinsed off and stepped out of the shower to change, wrapped in her towel until she could make her way to one of the changing rooms. As she headed over, she caught Josie stepping out in her fuzzy bathrobe and slippers, running a brush through her wet hair.
“For all your bluster after my ‘defeat’, you definitely look too cute in your fuzzy outfit to seem very intimidating.” Hope chuckled as she opened the door to the changing stall. And if she wasn’t mistaken, she could see heat rising in Josie’s cheeks at her comment, though that could’ve been a flush caused by the steam of the showers.
“I can be intimidating!” Josie called, “But there’s nothing wrong with being comfortable as well.”
“Whatever you say,” Hope replied from the stall, “let’s just hurry up and get some breakfast before all the good food is taken.”
Josie hummed her agreement before parting ways with Hope to put her workout clothes in her room.
After putting her clothes up to wash later Hope made her way down to the breakfast hall. As she got there, she noticed that the majority of sugary breakfast items had already been taken, so she grabbed a few pieces of fruit and some toast to start off. Holding her tray she looked around the seating area and found Josie and Lizzie sitting together and decided to join them, they were sort of friends now so it was better than sitting by herself.
“Oh? Sitting with us now, are we?” Lizzie questioned with a raised brow as Hope sat down across from Josie.
Hope ignored her comment for the time being and took a bite from the apple she grabbed. When she finished it, half listening to the conversation at the table and nodding along absentmindedly, she went to grab her next piece of fruit only to find a beignet. She tilted her head examining the delight.
“I grabbed one for you when I got down here, I know they’re your favorites.” Josie answered in response to Hope’s obviously confused expression.
Lizzie huffed, “Don’t act like there were any left, you grabbed that off my plate complaining about a sudden craving you had…if I knew you were going to give it to her I wouldn’t have let you take it.”
“Well, thank you Lizzie for your generosity.” Hope replied to which she heard Josie snort at her sarcastic tone.
Lizzie rolled her eyes in response and went back to eating.
“Thank you, Josie. You didn’t have to though.”
“It was no problem,” Josie smiled, “I figured you’d need a pick me up after this morning.”
Lizzie quirked a brow in response to the comment but said nothing as she continued to eat and listened to the conversation.
Hope chuckled as a response and took a bite out of her beignet, it was just as delicious as always, she was glad that her father had hired chefs from New Orleans before he passed. It made every day like having a bit of home cooking.
“Oh! You’ve got some –” Josie started before grabbing a napkin and wiping some powder sugar off Hope’s face, “never mind I got it.”
“Alright, what is going on with you two!” Lizzie interjected after seeing Hope’s cheeks heat up.
“Nothing is going on!” Josie defended.
“Really? You come back to the room late all the time now, leave early, always coming back too tired to do anything but sleep…” Lizzie’s face went pale as she gasped incredulously, “oh my god! You’re fucking my sister, aren’t you?!”
The entire breakfast hall got eerily quiet after Lizzie’s outburst, and Hope wished she could just sink into the floor, or into Malivor so no one would remember this.
Josie’s entire face lit up in embarrassment, while Hope just sat stock still, beignet held up to her mouth, but she felt paralyzed with all the eyes in the room on her.
“Uh, I’ll see you later, I’ll let you handle this.” Hope said standing up from the table and leaving Josie to handle that mess. She was lucky Landon had been eating early with Raf lately because she did not want to deal with him feeling hurt over something that wasn’t even true. Hope grumbled as she felt a headache coming on, of course Lizzie would jump to the most drastic of outcomes over the smallest of gestures. Although, she did wonder why Josie had wiped her face clean for her, she knew they were friends now, but that seemed a bit…extra.
Josie’s embarrassment only grew after Hope’s quick getaway.
“Why would you assume that Lizzie? For one, Hope has a boyfriend, and two, I’m pretty sure she’s straight anyway.”
Lizzie hummed to herself as she finished off her breakfast before wiping her mouth off with a napkin. “Pssh, Hope Mikaelson, straight. Yeah, I highly doubt that. Plus, I only assumed because it seems obvious, you’re trying to get over Penelope by getting under Hope.” Lizzie finished with an exaggerated eyebrow wiggle.
Josie had never wanted to throw something at her sister more than in this moment, or to smack her upside the head for thinking such thoughts.
“Does that even sound like something I’d do, Lizzie?”
“Well, no, not really. But I can’t think of anything else that would cause you to feel that tired all of the time. And I know you aren’t studying together because you both have some of the highest grades in the school already. So, what is it?”
“What is what?” Josie turns to the crumbs on her plate feigning ignorance to Lizzie’s peering gaze.
“What are you doing with Hope all the time that’s making you so tired, if not sex?” Josie makes a quick gasping noise at Lizzie’s poke into her side when she asks her question.
Josie has to ponder what she should tell Lizzie. For one, if she tells the truth, Lizzie might want to join in and then would throw a fit when Hope says no. She could also tell their dad and he would likely find a way to put a halt on their training as well. But above all her reasons comes the need to keep the time the have to themselves. It’s just them two when they train, well and MG sometimes, but mostly just them. No Landon. No Lizzie. Just them in their own little world, and she knows it started out about safety against monsters and whatever else Malivor will throw their way. But now it just feels like hanging out and exercising and getting toned. Which even she can already feel the benefits of their sessions. And on a few occasions, she thinks she noticed Hope also seeing the benefits of their training, but she could be just hoping that she’s seeing that.
So, she chooses to do something she doesn’t do very often, especially with Lizzie. She decides to keep a secret.
“Think what you want actually,” Josie says piling her trash on her tray and standing up, “I have to head to class. And I’ll be back to the room late I’m studying with Hope in her room after classes today.”
Josie gets a bit of excitement out of leaving Lizzie looking after her completely dumbstruck.
As Josie gets ready for class, she realizes she didn’t really think of the possible consequences of her bravado from earlier. One, Lizzie is going to be prodding her with questions and not let this go. As she has already figured out with Lizzie asking increasingly loaded and suggestive questions at her as they get ready for classes. Two, her not outright denying that they’re sleeping together means that rumors are probably going to spread about them sleeping together. And most likely eventually get back to Landon even though he is WAY out of the loop in terms of gossip. And three, possibly the worst consequence of them all, she is now thinking about earlier in the day when she’d pined Hope and how amazing her body felt under her. Her thoughts aren’t even stopping there either, especially after Lizzie’s outburst and she can’t stop thinking about sleeping with Hope.
Today is going to be a very long and frustrating day.
Hope is absolutely exhausted by the time she makes it back to her room after classes have ended.
Nothing really happened physically that would have worn her out so completely. But socially, the day has been a nightmare. After Lizzie’s outburst in the breakfast hall, news of her and Josie had spread like wildfire as the new hot gossip. Of course, she should have known, people love gossiping about “the tribrid” and Josie being the headmaster’s daughter makes for especially juicy gossip. The gossip had spread so far that even young Pedro and gone up to Landon and told him that her and Josie were having lots of sleepovers lately. Landon looked at her all cute and confused as Pedro ran off, but Hope felt mortified.
Landon had asked what he meant, and Hope had to think of whether or not she should tell him the truth. Training with Josie had kind of become special in a way that she couldn’t explain. With MG she like seeing him improve and loved handing his ass to him when he tried to use his vamp powers on her. But with Josie it was all that and more, they sparred, trained, learned new spells, and bantered wittily at one another. She loved seeing how Josie was improving with each training session, especially seeing how strong she was getting, she felt proud. And she could admit to herself that Josie looked amazing toned and ready to kick ass, and the confidence she was getting from feeling stronger was doing things to Hope. Not that she’d admit that to anyone, what with having a boyfriend and all. A boyfriend who she realized had been waiting for a response.
So, Hope gave him a half truth and told him they were studying extracurricular spells in secret and Josie had been staying over pretty late lately. But they were NOT having sleepovers.
She had released a sigh of relief internally when he had accepted that answer and they had made out a little before separating for classes again.
Hope was broken out of her thoughts by a gentle knock pattern that indicated Josie was finally here.
“Come in, it’s open!” Hope called and smiled as she saw Josie enter in a pair of jammies and some slippers.
“Well, you certainly look…comfortable.” Hope teased as she lifted a quizzical brow at Josie. They usually studied earlier in the day right after classes, and usually in their school clothes.
“Shut up,” Josie rolled her eyes, “Lizzie has been pestering all day about our sex life so I had to wait for her to fall asleep before I could sneak out.”
Josie choked on air when she realized what she had said.
“Oh…yeah. I couldn’t tell Lizzie about training because she might tell dad, and other reasons, so I told her she can think whatever she wants…sorry.”
“No, you’re alright, I get Lizzie being difficult, and it definitely explains today.” Hope chuckled but it was mostly hollow and a forced move to try and ease the sudden tension in the room.
“Let’s just get to studying those new offensive spells.” Hope said after a long drawn out silence.
“I actually have a question about a spell?”
Hope hummed in question, quite curious as to what Josie might have a question on. Josie picked up on all the spells she’d been taught thus far extremely fast, especially any involving fire.
“That alchemy spell, the one we used to make my necklace,” Josie began cradling said necklace in her hand as she spoke, “I’ve tried to look up more information on it but haven’t come up with much.”
“That makes sense considering my uncle is the one who created it and he didn’t share it with many people.”
“So, you said it takes chemistry between two people in order for the agents to react properly, but what kind of chemistry I can’t figure out.”
Hope’s cheeks began to heat up at the question. She had hoped Josie wouldn’t dig further into alchemy, because the explanation was kind of embarrassing, but of course. Just Hope’s luck.
“Oh. Uh. Well, my uncle didn’t go into great detail about it, but he mostly mentioned sexual and/or intimate connections between people to bring out the best potential of alchemy. He said it needs a ‘spark’ between people.”
Josie eyes grew wide as she took in the information. “Oh.” Was all she said for a long time and Hope felt a knot form in her stomach at the stretched-out silence.
“So, you think we have sexual chemistry?” Josie finally spoke a devious smirk starting to form on her.
“I never said that!” Hope defended though she could already tell she was losing footing in this conversation. And it was headed towards dangerous territory.
“But you thought it,” Josie supplied, “otherwise you wouldn’t have suggested making the necklace because it wouldn’t have worked. And you don’t do anything unless you feel pretty certain of the outcome.”
Damn, Josie had her there. And she felt herself heat up more to the point she was sure a blush was visible on her now. For her part, Josie looked like she had cornered a particularly delicious treat and her eyes glinted with mirth. That look was doing things to Hope, and she knew she had to steer this conversation to safer territory, because of reasons. Like she had a boyfriend, a boyfriend was she liked very much.
“We should probably get to studying those new offensive spells,” Hope coughed loudly to break the silence, “I found a few fire controlling ones that I think you’ll get pretty quick.”
“Alright,” Josie started leaning back and away from Hope to a safe distance away, “I’ll let this go for now. But this conversation is definitely not over.”
Hope gulped audibly before grabbing a few spell books and pushing them towards Josie.