“I must say I was a little disappointed in the overall scores of this week’s test.” Dr. Saltzman announced to the class, a stack of papers in his hands. “The lowest score this week was a 52%, and I know you can do better because the highest score was a 100%, so please I want you all to try a little harder as we move on to the post war period.”
Dr. Saltzman moves to distribute the graded papers throughout the class. When he hands Lizzie her test, he refuses to make eye contact with his daughter. Lizzie scowls at her father’s avoidance and flips over her paper. Upon seeing a C+, Lizzie lets out a low growl.
Lizzie leans over to Josie to complain. “Ugh, I can’t believe this. This is the dumbest test Dad has ever written. How could anyone get an A in this?”
“Well, I mean…” Josie says uncertainly, slowly turning over her own paper with an A- scrawled across the top.
“Ugh, I don’t mean you, Jo. An A- isn’t an A, you and I both know that.”
“Right,” Josie says, relaxing a little. “Who do you think got the 100?”
Lizzie scoffs. “Please, who do you think? Little miss perfect over there doesn’t look upset at all,” Lizzie sneers, gesturing to where Hope Mikaelson sits at the front of the classroom. “You know what, she’s probably one of those people who don’t even study and still get an A. She’s such a teacher’s pet. I bet she’s never even gotten a detention in her life.”
“I guess some people are just good at certain things.” Josie says, trying to find the middle ground.
“Yeah, but she’s good at like, everything.”
“That’s not true, Liz.”
“You’re right, I’m prettier and more popular.” Lizzie says with a cocky shake of her head.
Josie subtly rolls her eyes and turns back to face the board as their dad starts talking again.
Later at lunch, Lizzie is still wound up about the test and Hope. She sits at a table with Josie and MG.
“I mean, honestly, she clearly doesn’t have a life. Does she do anything else other than study? I don’t have time to get 100’s on everything, I’ve got other things to do. I’ve got cheer practice and you know, I actually get asked out on dates.” Lizzie continues to complain about Hope, clearly just trying to justify her C+, not that any of those arguments would fly with her father.
“That’s true, she just has different priorities.” MG says, trying his hardest to agree with Lizzie without being mean to someone he doesn't really know.
Hope is a quiet student who never really talks to anyone, so not many people know much about her. It is hard to get a read on her, which is probably what bothers Lizzie the most.
“Yeah, well, she doesn’t have to make the rest of us look bad,” Lizzie grumbles.
“I’m sure that’s not her intention,” Josie reasons. Lizzie doesn’t seem convinced. “Oh, speaking of cheer. Do you have practice tonight, Liz,” Josie asks.
“Yeah, until 5. Speaking of which, did you know that they’re adding new performances to the season this year. We’re playing at hockey games now. I didn’t even know we had a hockey team,” Lizzie says, animatedly.
“Oh, yeah, it’s actually a district wide team, because no one school had enough players, so they merged them together. It’s made up of students from like four of the surrounding high schools. I don’t know how good they are, though, I’ve never been to a game,” MG explains.
“Ew, it’s not even really our team, and it’s going to be so cold. Plus, I bet they, like really suck, and that’s why we’ve never heard anything about it,” Lizzie complains.
“Well, hey, Josie and I can come with so we can watch the game together,” MG suggests.
“I guess that would make it a little more bearable,” Lizzie says, rolling her eyes. “Thanks for that. As much as I love the girls on the squad, they’re not the most interesting conversationalists.”
“Of course, Lizzie. It’ll be cool to see what the hockey team is like. I don’t even know anybody that is on it,” Josie says.
“It’s probably like three people,” Lizzie says dismissively.
That Thursday, Lizzie, Josie, and MG show up early for the hockey game.
“Oh my god, why does it have to be so cold?” Lizzie complains, jumping up and down to keep warm in her cheer uniform.
“Because there’s ice.” MG says.
“No, duh.” Lizzie says, glaring at him.
“Alright, I’m going to go get some concessions. You want anything, MG?” Josie asks.
“Nachos, please and thank you. I’ll pay you back later.” MG answers, a grateful look on his face.
“Yeah, no problem. You want anything, Liz?”
“Ugh, not right now. I can’t eat in uniform.” Lizzie answers. “I’ll be back. I need to check in with the coach. You guys should get seats close to where we’re performing.”
The cheerleaders are gathered off to one side, almost ready to start their pre-game routine. Lizzie asks the coach how long they have to be there for and she answers that they have to perform before the game and during half time, but after that they can leave. Lizzie grumbles about this even though she knew that was probably the case.
After a rather underwhelming routine by a handful of cold and irritated teenage girls, Lizzie joins Josie and MG in the stands nearby. The rest of the cheerleaders disperse into the crowd as well.
“Oh god, coat! Coat, please!” Lizzie says as she runs over to her friends. Josie quickly hands her sister the puffy winter coat that she brought along. Lizzie quickly wraps herself in the fabric and sits down in between Josie and MG with a sigh.
“Five more minutes until the game starts.” MG says.
Lizzie groans. “I don’t even know the rules of this game,” she says.
“That never stopped you from watching football,” Josie points out.
“I guess I can give it a shot. But there better be at least one hot guy or I’m leaving.” Lizzie says, turning her attention to the rink, where the teams are starting to appear. Players are lined up on the benches as their coaches address them, most of them decked out in bulky padding.
“Holy shit! Guys?” MG says after a moment of looking at the blue clad players of their team. He motions for Lizzie and Josie to look where he’s looking.
“Is that?” Josie asks, shocked, as she spots what MG is pointing out.
“Hope Mikaelson?” Lizzie exclaims in surprise, eyes locking on the girl.
Hope has her hair up in a tight ponytail. She has a white helmet in one hand, a stick in the other, and a mouthguard already in her mouth. Lizzie would have thought that seeing Hope play a sport, especially one like hockey, would’ve been weird, but, surprisingly, the girl doesn’t look out of place among the other players. If anything, Lizzie thinks the uniform rather suits Hope.
Lizzie quickly shakes the thought away and scoffs. “I guess little miss perfect needed another extracurricular for her college applications. She’s probably a bench warmer, anyways,” Lizzie sneers.
Before Josie or MG can respond, a handful of players, including Hope, on each side put their helmets on, and slip out onto the ice. They line up, each on their respective sides of the rink.
“Tonight we will introduce the starting players for each team.” The loudspeaker says. “For the mystic falls district team, known as the Mystic Wolves, we have a senior from Mystic Falls high school, Ethan Machado.”
One of the players skates forward out of the line a little, taps his stick against the ice a few times for show, and returns to his original place.
“Junior from Mystic Falls high school, Maya Machado.” The announcer continues.
The girl skates forward and does a little spin, before returning to the line.
“Junior from Salvatore high school, and last year’s MVP, Hope Mikaelson!” The announcer calls Hope’s name with more enthusiasm.
Hope skates forward, skidding to a sharp stop that kicks up a spray of ice in the direction of the opposing team. It is hard to see from where Lizzie is sitting, but it looks like Hope is staring down the other team. After a moment, Hope gets back in line and the announcer goes through the rest of the names for their team and the opposing.
“MVP, are they serious?” Lizzie asks her friends, baffled.
“I don’t know, Lizzie. I never heard anything about it.” MG answers.
“I mean, good for her, I guess.” Josie says, also sounding confused.
“The team’s probably just that terrible, that Hope Mikaelson seems good by comparison.” Lizzie reasons.
To be fair, Lizzie isn’t completely wrong. The team isn’t that good, but Hope definitely didn’t need their comparison to look good.
From the moment the puck hits the ice, Lizzie finds herself holding her breath as she watches Hope weave effortlessly in between opponents and take frighteningly fast shots at the goal. Honestly, though, that’s not even what startles Lizzie the most. What startles Lizzie the most is Hope’s ruthless play style. Lizzie watches, eyes locked on Hope as she plows into enemy players, smashes them up against the glass around the edges of the rink, and aggressively hip checks them to get the puck back. Lizzie has a good enough seat that she thinks she can hear a deep growl coming from the small shy girl that Lizzie thought she knew anything about.
Hope also isn’t just an aggressive player, as Lizzie is quickly learning that hockey is an aggressive sport by nature, but Hope is also kind of a bad sport. Hope would laugh in the face of the other team after a goal. She would also taunt the opposing team when they lined up again after a point was scored, usually non-verbally to avoid being penalized by the ref.
At some point, part way through the first half, after Hope had scored the tenth point of the game, making the score 10 to 0, she had raised her stick over head in victory after the shot. The ref let her off with a warning for high sticking, but didn’t call any penalties. On her way back to the other side of the ice, however, one of the opposing players intentionally bumped shoulders with her and likely said something along with it. Hope turned on the player, and gave him a little shove along with what looked very much like an insult. The next thing Lizzie knew, Hope and the player were throwing down their sticks and fighting, and maybe it didn’t matter, but Lizzie thought Hope was winning.
Hope was pulled off of the guy and they were both given a major penalty, meaning five minutes in the penalty box. As Hope skated over to the box, evidently familiar with the action, her coach followed her around the edge of the rink, screaming at her. Hope only looked mildly irritated as the man’s face turned red. She plopped herself down on the bench in the penalty box as the coach continued to berate her. After a moment, Hope rolled her eyes and held up her middle finger to her coach, which only managed to make him angrier to the point of becoming non-verbal.
Lizzie doesn’t think she closed her mouth after it had fallen open in surprise when Hope flipped off her coach. There were so many things to process about just that scene, much less everything else that happened in the game. Lizzie thinks her brain is short-circuiting, and from the looks on Josie and MG’s faces, she doesn’t think she is alone.
“What is going on? I feel like I stumbled into an alternative universe.” Lizzie says, her eyes still locked on Hope fuming in the penalty box.
“That is one angry young woman.” MG says.
“I had no idea she was capable of something like this.” Josie adds.
They continue to watch the game, although Lizzie finds herself watching Hope in the box more often than not. In the five minutes that Hope is out of the game, the other team manages to score six points. With the terrifying force that is Hope Mikaelson gone, the opposing team almost completely controls the puck.
Just as Hope is put back into the game, Lizzie has to go meet up with the cheer squad to prep for their halftime performance. She watches Hope’s antics out of the corner of her eye as their cheer coach explains what they are doing.
Once halftime is called, another thing that surprises Lizzie is that as Hope joins her teammates on the bench, they seem to get along quite well. Hope has a smile on her face and her hair is plastered to her face from sweat. A few of her teammates clap her on the back despite the glares they receive from the coach.
Lizzie manages to drag her attention away from Hope to perform, although she sneaks a look at any moment she gets. A few times, Lizzie swears that Hope was looking back at her.
After only a few minutes, the cheer performance is over and the coach dismisses them. Lizzie returns to Josie and MG, gratefully taking her coat back.
“So, do you want to leave now that you’re free to go?” Josie asks.
“Nah, I’d like to see how this ends.” Lizzie says, her eyes glued back on Hope. “Jo, can you grab me a hot chocolate though. I need to warm up.”
Josie shares a look with MG before heading back to concessions. They watch the rest of the game, Lizzie nursing her hot chocolate for warmth. Hope gets sent back to the penalty box one more time. This time it’s a minor penalty for roughing and she’s only out for two minutes. By the end of the game the score is something like 24-8, the Mystic Wolves with the obvious lead.
Lizzie, MG, and Josie make they’re way toward the exit with the rest of the crowd, stalling where the players are coming out to see if there was anyone else they recognized. While they are there, they overhear a conversation between Hope and the coach.
“Mikaelson! What have I told you? It’s only the first game of the season and you have already been sent to the penalty box twice. What good are you to the team if you can’t even be on the ice, Mikaelson! This is not the last time we will talk about this. I expect to see you try, or I swear to god I will cut you from the team.” The coach scolds.
Hope snorts at that last part, but doesn’t say anything after the look she receives from the coach.
“Hey, at least she didn’t break anything this time, coach.” One of the other players say with a laugh. She has curly black hair that is flattened and sweaty from her helmet.
“Was I talking to you, Machado?” The coach growls.
“Talking to me coach?” Another boy says as he walks over. There is a slight smile on his face that says he knows the coach wasn’t talking to him.
“No, not you, I was talking to Little Machado.” The coach snaps angrily.
The siblings laugh at their coach’s lack of chill. Hope snickers at their teasing of the coach as well, which only serves to make him more angry.
“Alright, that’s it! All three of you, I want to see you for an extra hour of practice on Monday, no excuses.” The coach snaps, stomping off to go collect his things.
The two other players groan at the punishment. Hope only shrugs in response.
“I was probably gonna be there anyways.” Hope murmurs.
“Well, considering you got us into this mess, you better be there to keep us company, right, Maya?” The brother says, turning to his sister for the last part.
“Oh, please, Ethan, when has Hope ever not been at practice? She even put in double time when she was suspended from games for two weeks.” Maya says. “It’s crazy that coach thinks you’re not a team player.”
Hope smiles a little and waves goodbye to her teammates as she makes her way to the exit. On her way there, she passes Lizzie, MG, and Josie.
“Hope? Since when do you play hockey?” Lizzie says like she just noticed Hope was there and hadn’t been staring at her for the entire game.
Hope’s head snaps in Lizzie’s direction and she skids to a stop, causing a few people behind her to grumble and pass her. Hope’s eyes go wide as she takes a tentative step towards the kids from her school.
“Lizzie, Josie, MG, hi?” Hope greets them uncertainly. Hope is definitely not prepared to deal with people she doesn’t know that well after having played an entire hockey game. Her brain is working at around 20% capacity, which is probably why her mouth freezes half way open with no sound coming out for a long moment. She looks a little bit like a deer in the headlights.
“You played a really good game.” MG says, tentatively trying to break the tension.
Hope frowns in confusion. “Thanks, um. Since when do you guys come to hockey games?” Hope asks, a hint of hostility in the question.
“Since cheer has to perform for them.” Lizzie says, rolling her eyes.
“Oh, right.” There is an awkward beat of silence. “Well, bye.” Hope says, quickly moving to disappear into the departing crowd.
Lizzie scowls. “Geez, no social skills much,” She sneers, brows furrowed in confusion.
“She’s probably just a little out of it from the game, Lizzie,” Josie says.
“Yeah, especially with the way she played,” MG agrees. “I’m surprised she even knew my name to be honest.”
“Weren’t you guys partners in gym last year?” Josie asks.
“Yeah, but, she hardly ever said anything,” MG answers. “I didn’t really expect she would remember me.”
Lizzie is still scowling at the crowd that Hope disappeared into, not really listening to what her friends were saying. “I’m going to grab a drink for the ride home,” Lizzie says suddenly, before pushing her way into the crowd to get at the concessions.
It takes MG and Josie a second to process what Lizzie said before they follow after her, sharing a concerned look at her change in behavior.
“Hey, Lizzie. Are you okay?” Josie asks when they catch up with her.
“Yeah, why?” Lizzie all but snaps as she waits in line.
“You just seem a little… off,” Josie tries to say gently.
“Ugh, it’s Hope Mikaelson. That girl just ticks me off for some reason. I mean, she was already good at like everything, and now she’s like some hockey all-star. I bet it was her idea to have cheer perform at these games, because like if we didn’t, nobody would even know that our school even had a hockey team. Because this way she gets to show off to more people and I bet she didn’t even consider how much it sucks to be in this cold ass rink with our cheer uniforms on. I just don’t want to have to deal with her anymore.”
At some point during Lizzie’s rant, she paused to pay for a water bottle at the concessions stand, before seamlessly continuing on her tirade as they turned to leave out the doors. However, as Lizzie’s rant comes to its end and the three friends are out the doors, they are confronted with Hope Mikaelson once more.
Hope is sitting on the edge of the curb, equipment bag plopped down next to her. She is hunched over, face in her hands. Her phone is lying face down on the road in front of her.
Lizzie, Josie and MG skid to a halt and fall silent for a moment, not sure what to do. Josie looks at her sister and then at MG, both of them giving her a noncommittal shrug. Josie rolls her eyes and slowly approaches Hope.
“Hope?” Josie says gently as she gets closer, not wanting to startle the girl.
Hope’s head jerks up in surprise. “Oh, Josie. Hi,” Hope says tensely. Hope looks uncomfortable at the attention, like she just wants to be left alone.
“Are you okay?” Josie asks.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Hope says sharply.
“Oh, okay,” Josie says, slightly taken aback. “Have a good night then.” Josie rejoins her friends, and her and MG continue on their way to the parking lot, but they stop when they realize Lizzie hasn’t moved.
Lizzie is looking at Hope with brows furrowed a slight scowl on her face. Hope doesn’t notice, having already turned back to stare down at the ground. After a long moment of Josie and MG watching Lizzie stare at Hope like she was complex math problem, the scowl drops from Lizzie’s face and she takes a step toward Hope.
“Hope?” Lizzie says, her voice not exactly friendly, but not the same irritated tone she had been using before.
There is a quiet grumble from Hope before she turns around to see Lizzie. “What?” Hope says, thinly-veiled irritation in her voice.
“Do you need a ride home?” Lizze asks earnestly.
The irritation immediately falls from Hope’s face, replaced by a little bit of surprise and a guarded expression. Hope’s eyes flick to where her phone is sitting on the ground. She seems to consider the prospects of her situation for a long moment.
“Yeah, if you wouldn’t mind,” Hope says, quietly, clearly uncomfortable with the situation. Hope doesn’t meet Lizzie’s eyes as she gets up and collects her things, which includes her phone from off the ground which seemed to have a few fresh cracks in the screen.
Lizzie nods solemnly, an impassive look on her face. They walk over to join Josie and MG before continuing on their way to the parking lot. Hope still doesn’t make eye contact with anyone as they walk, but Lizzie thinks she can see a slight redness around the edges of Hope’s eyes. Not that Lizzie spends a lot of time looking at Hope’s incredibly blue eyes, she was just nosy.
“You can put your stuff in the trunk,” Lizzie tells Hope when they reach the twins’ car. She pops open the trunk and Hope places her equipment bag in without a word.
Lizzie gets behind the wheel, Josie in the passenger seat next to her, which left MG and Hope in the back seat together, both of them awkward and visibly uncomfortable.
“Everybody buckled?” Josie asks as they prepare to leave.
A round of agreements follow.
“Okay, good,” Lizzie says as she pulls away. “So, Hope, where do you live?”
“3211 Maple Rd,” Hope answers.
“Ah, you live in the rich people neighborhood,” Lizzie says, bluntly.
Hope seems to consider Lizzie for a moment. “Yeah,” She answers.
“Alright, we’ll drop MG off first then, it’ll be on the way.”
“Sounds good to me,” MG says awkwardly trying to relieve the weird tension in the car. After a long awkward silence, MG tries again. “So, Hope, do you still lift?” MG asks, turning to Hope.
“Yeah, I do,” Hope answers plainly.
“That’s good. Did you ever push through that bench? I know you were fighting with that plateau last year in gym.”
“Oh, yeah. I can bench over a plate now.”
“Dang, really? That’s awesome. I don’t even think I can do that,” MG says, becoming a little self-conscious. “I mean, to be fair, I haven’t lifted in a while. It’s hard to find the time.”
“That’s true. I’m usually in the gym during my 7th hour study hall.”
“Wait, what’s a plate?” Lizzie asks from the front seat.
“It’s the largest single weight. Benching a plate is 45 lbs on either side of the bar, plus the 45 lbs of the bar, so 135 lbs in total,” MG explains.
“Oh, God. I don’t even think I can lift the bar,” Lizzie says. MG and Josie laugh a little at Lizzie’s self-defeating joke, Josie nodding in agreement as she is in a similar situation when it comes to muscle mass.
“Have you tried?” Hope asks abruptly.
“Um, I don’t think so, not in a long time at least.” Lizzie answers like Hope’s question is absurd.
“Okay.” is all Hope says in response.
The car falls silent once more. Within a minute or so, they arrive at MG’s house and let him out. He waves goodbye as they drive away. The weird tension returns threefold for the remaining occupants of the vehicle.
“So, Hope, what’d you get on that history test?” Lizzie asks, breaking the silence but not lessening the tension at all.
“I got 100%.”
“Wait, really? You’re the one who got the 100?” Lizzie says feigning shock, like she hadn’t already been holding that score against Hope. “That test was so hard. How’d you even manage that?”
“My family is full of history buffs,” Hope says curtly, like she definitely doesn’t want to elaborate.
“Well, that’s lucky. Do your mom or dad make you go to like reenactments or stuff like that?”
“No.” Hope’s voice is even more short and clipped now, a threatening edge in the firm way she answers.
“My house is the third one from the end.”
Lizzie pulls over in front of the indicated house.
“Thanks,” Hope mumbles as she exits the car as quickly as humanly possible. Lizzie pops the trunk and Hope retrieves her stuff before climbing up the front steps of her extravagant home.
“Geez, what’s wrong with her?” Lizzie says as she pulls away from the curb.
Josie gives her sister a half shocked, half disapproving look. “What? Lizzie, she clearly didn’t want to talk about it.”
“I just don’t see what the big deal is. If she didn’t want to talk about it, why didn’t she just say that?”
Josie sighs, knowing the stubbornness of her sister. “Let’s just wait until we get home to talk about it.”
After a 20 minute conversation between Josie and Lizzie, Josie manages to convince her sister that she had been rude to Hope, not that Lizzie seems to be too sorry for it, but that could also just be her need to be right shining through. Although, Josie is still surprised that Lizzie offered Hope a ride or that she knew what was wrong to begin with. Hope was never somebody that Josie could read and she didn’t know anybody who could. So despite the whole interaction being kind of bad, Josie is still kind of proud of her sister, if not curious.