It took everything in Hope to get in her car and drive away from the Mikaelson school. Away from her. Her wolf thrashed and her chest felt heavy. Hope held the steering wheel with a white knuckle grip and clenched her teeth, counting street signs to distract herself. “Just fifteen hours to go.” The further she got from Josie the clearer her head felt, but her wolf howled in despair. The only thought keeping her from running back was the reason she was making the trip. You’re doing this for her. Besides, she really was looking forward to seeing her aunts again.
It was just after sunrise the next day when Hope was pulling up the driveway, nothing but woods and the nostalgic smell of the everglades around the beautiful house. She really did love it here. No matter where she lived Nola was home. I wonder if she’d like it here too? Hope idly thought as she got out of the car and took in the adorable cottage her aunts had spent the last decade renovating to perfection.
The door swung open and adorable little feet came trotting down the deck. “Hope!”
Hope’s face lit up and an ear to ear smile stretched across her face. “Hey little cousin!” Nik threw himself into Hope’s arms making her huff mostly in surprise as he climbed up her body like a jungle gym. “Oof, when did you get so heavy! What are your moms feeding you?”
“I’m not that heavy!” He huffed at her, making her laugh.
The door opens again and Keelin steps out a smile almost as big as Nik’s on her face. “And what do we have here?” Keelin comes up and wraps Hope up in a bear hug. “Hope Mikaelson it is barely daybreak didn’t you stop to rest on your drive? Your dad only called us last night.”
Hope’s smile faded slightly. Truth be told she didn’t stop because if she did she was afraid she’d lose her nerve. “Oh you know… just a little restless.”
“Mmm-hm.” Keelin didn’t sound convinced. “Your dad wasn’t terribly clear over the phone, but I think I know what’s going on.” As if to punctuate Keelin’s nose wrinkled a bit.
Hope gave her a sheepish smile. “I can explain everything later but… I really need to run.” It was true, Hope was on her last dregs of control, her wolf itching to let loose.
Keelin smiled and grabbed Nik from Hope carrying him back toward the deck, Hope following behind. “Freya’s still asleep, you know she’s not much of an early riser. I’m going to make breakfast for our little Mikaelson here. Feel free to run the grounds, our home is yours, you know that. By the time you get back your aunt should be up.”
Hope sighed in relief. “Thanks Keelin.”
She turned and ran off almost too fast to hear her aunt shout back a quick, “Be sure to stay on the property!”
When Hope walked into her aunts’ cottage several hours later, and feeling much much more relaxed, her aunt Freya was sitting at the table with a cup of coffee. When she looked up she beamed running up to Hope and giving her a crushing hug. The hug was short lived however when Freya pulled back wrinkling her nose. “Oh Hope, I love you but I don’t need superhuman smell to know you need a shower!”
They both laughed and Hope raised her hands in surrender. “Be back in 10.”
“Make it 20!” Freya called after her jokingly.
Hope came back down the stairs freshly showered to find Keelin and Freya at the table talking and laughing. The atmosphere made Hope’s chest lighter than it had felt since leaving Mystic Falls. She could almost see her own future through her aunts and it made her feel warm. They both looked up at her and smiled.
“Come on in kiddo and sit down.” Freya pulled a chair out for Hope and Keelin poured her a cup of coffee.
“So,” Keelin started, “meet any new people at school?”
Hope’s cheeks tinted. “I guess we’re forgoing small talk then.” She sighed looking down at her cup.
Freya reached over and held Hope’s hand. “Hope you came here for answers. Tell us what’s going on.” When Hope looked up at her aunt she saw nothing but love and openness in her eyes.
This was her family. She can tell them anything. “Her name is Josie, Josette actually.” At the thought of the young witch Hope smiled. “Her and her sister transferred a couple weeks ago, witches. Ever since I first saw her… ever since I first smelled her…”
“Ah.” Keelin said understanding immediately.
Hope was reassured at the reaction, knowing she came to the right place. “I can’t get her out of my head. I haven’t been sleeping, I haven’t been able to take my eyes off of her. I was even afraid to shift.”
Keelin and Freya locked eyes for a moment exchanging a silent conversation. Freya nods and turns back to Hope. “What did your dad tell you about this?”
“He said it’s my instincts telling me that she’s… well mine.” Her aunt raised a brow. “I know, I know. She’s not mine it’s just my wolf wanting to um…” Hope looked nervously back to her coffee. “But the feeling is so strong. He says as long as I don’t bottle up these instincts like I have been it’ll be okay. But I’m so afraid of hurting her or, or…” Hope couldn’t even finish the thought of what she’s capable of doing to the beautiful girl who has captured her attention so succinctly.
“Hope your dad is only partly right.” Freya started to explain. “You know he’s not very in touch with his wolf. You want this girl right? Almost unbearably?”
Hope shuttered, “um, yeah.”
Keelin leaned in, “It sounds to me like you’ve found your mate.” Hope’s eyes widened dramatically. Keelin laughed lightly at her reaction. “Don’t look so surprised kid. You know at least a little bit about werewolves and their mates.”
“I guess but I didn’t think that I could…” Hope started before halting, her chest suddenly heavy again. “I mean who could want to mate me?”
Keelin’s eyebrows drew in sympathetically. “Don’t be so hard on yourself Hope. Besides your body isn’t the only one that reacts to the call of a mate. Werewolves are more insync with their instincts but even a human can’t deny the mutual pull.”
Freya nodded, “It’s true. It might not be as unavoidable as your experience but I can say without a doubt the feeling is returned, at least a little.”
Hope’s eyes widened. “You mean you guys?”
Keelin and Freya nodded and smiled at each other. “Even though we both tried to fight it in the beginning.” They laughed.
Hope swallowed hard, warmth burning in her chest. She might have a chance. Hope suddenly remembers what drove her here, how she had attacked Josie in the mess hall, and her hopes sank. The warmth in her chest turned into a lump of coal and her mood souring. “Even if the feeling was mutual it isn’t any more.”
Keelin’s face fell in understanding. “Hope, what did you do?”
Hope looked at her lap fighting the tears that suddenly threatened to fall. “I was so tired of fighting. Then she grabbed my arm as I walked by. It happened so fast I couldn’t even think. Before I knew it I… I had her pinned to the wall.” She said, so ashamed of herself. At her aunts balking expression she quickly added, “I stopped myself! I went straight to dad’s office and told him I needed to go. I never want to hurt her. Not ever. Even if I have to stay away for good…” Now a tear did escape. Hope didn’t think she could survive if she could never see Josie again.
Ashamed of herself Hope swiped at the tear and ran out the door into the trees before Freya and Keelin could do anything to stop her.
“Baby.” Freya said, looking to her wife on the verge of tears herself.
“Shh, I’ve got her.” Keelin kissed the top of Freya’s head before following after Hope.
Keelin didn’t have to go far following Hope’s scent to the small creek behind the cottage. The young alpha was perched at the water’s edge looking miserable. Keelin just sat beside her silently for a few minutes looking into the water with her.
After several silent minutes Keelin decided she needed to have a real heart to heart with the girl. Alpha to alpha. “It’s an irresistible feeling, isn’t it?” Keelin didn’t expect a response so she continued. “Like a fire in your chest. It burns but in the best way. You feel like you’re flying when you’re close to her, and drowning when you aren’t.”
Keelin didn’t need to look to know that Hope was crying. She sighed remembering when she had first accepted her feelings for Freya. “I was a seasoned wolf when I met your aunt. I had years of practice at control. Not to mention I was just your run of the mill werewolf so most of the month I was basically human. Well, to an extent.” Keelin smiled when she heard Hope huff out a light laugh. “Even so, it took everything in me to fight her pull. You are a tribred Hope, with more power than any of us have even begun to realize.” Hope’s face fell but before she could get too upset Keelin quickly added, “You also have more control and restraint than anyone could reasonably expect from you. Believe me when I say you won't hurt her. You need to trust yourself.”
Hope sighed. “Everything in me was screaming Keelin. I wanted her so badly. When I had her under me it was like I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop.” Hope held herself to stop from trembling.
“What about when you thought about forcing yourself on her. Was that something you didn’t want to stop?” Hope growled low and menacing at the very idea making Keelin smile. “See? The last thing you’ll ever want to do is hurt her in any way Hope. Although, your dad was right about having easier control if you exercise your wolf more.”
Hope shook her head immediately, terrified at the very thought. Keelin gripped Hope’s shoulder grounding her. “I’m not saying give it free reign, just… loosen the leash a little bit.” Keelin thought for a moment before adding, “It also helps to fully accept the pull of your mate. Exist in her presence. Openly enjoy her scent. Hold her hand and bury your nose in her hair. The small stuff.”
Hope salivated at the very thought. But she couldn’t do any of that without Josie’s consent. “What if she doesn’t want me?” Hope asked, unable to hide the tremble in her chest.
Keelin smiled, “I think you underestimate yourself Hope. Just be completely honest with her. Tell her everything you feel and think.”
Hope blushed furiously. “Everything?!” She squeaked.
“Everything.” Keelin said unflinching. “Honesty, it's your best chance at a mated relationship. The kind that lasts a lifetime. Give her her space. Tell her the truth. And above all let her decide the pace. She’s the boss.”
Before she could stop herself Hope growled, her wolf not liking the idea of anyone being her boss.”
“None of that!” Keelin said with authority. “You can be alpha in charge of everything you want, except her. She might be yours, maybe,” Keelin emphasized, “but you are also hers.”
Hope stopped the rumbling growl at the thought. Hers. Hope wanted nothing more.
“Think you can manage that?” Keelin asked, standing.
Hope looked up at her determined. “Yes.” She took Keelin’s offered hand and both walked back to the cottage in exceptionally better moods.
Hope decided to stay for a few days to play with her little cousin and catch up with her aunts but in her mind and her heart she was determined and looking forward to seeing the beautiful witch. Although she was very nervous about the apology she needed to give her.
Josie had been pacing outside of the headmaster’s office for over five minutes trying to muster the courage to go in and see him. After her run in with Hope in the mess hall followed by Hope’s sudden disappearance from school, she knew she needed answers.
A part of her felt bad about grabbing Hope like she did, and a much larger part of her was terrified about Hope’s reaction to her. After weeks of glaring her down Josie thought Hope hated her. She wanted to confront her about it and when Hope got up to leave before she could say a word Josie just grabbed her on instinct. The next thing she knew Hope had her pinned to the wall. It was terrifying but when Josie felt something hard pressing into her she was not only terrified, but extremely confused. Was that… It had to have been. But how…
“I can hear you pacing out there you know.” The voice said, slightly muffled from the inside of the office. Josie stopped abruptly frozen in place. “Well are you going to come in?”
Josie swallowed and as boldly as possible she reached out and swung the door open, coming face to face with Klaus Mikaelson. She dipped her head briefly and mumbled a quiet “Headmaster.”
Klaus smiled at her kindly and gestured to the chair in front of him. “Please have a seat and close the door. I was hoping you’d come here without being summoned.”
“Am I in trouble?” Josie said, less worried and more irritated.
Klaus laughed, “No, no of course not. But I did want to talk to you about what happened earlier today.”
Josie was surprised that the infamous man was being so kind to her. She had only met him briefly when he’d shown up to offer her dad a job, but even for a friendly visit he was courtly at best.
“So,” Klaus said, leaning back in his chair, “my daughter. Did she hurt you?”
He asked it like a question but Josie had a feeling he knew the answer and was curious if she would tell the truth.
“No.” Josie said without thinking. Remembering her sore muscles she quickly added, “not on purpose. Although she could have. Her actions were unacceptable.”
Klaus laughed, apparently approving of her answer. “You’re not wrong, and she agrees. She’s gone out of town for a few days to… collect herself. She does send her apologies I’m sure.”
Josie raised an eyebrow feeling bold, “It’ll mean more to me when I hear it from her.” Realizing her tone Josie quickly added, “um- Sir.”
Klaus laughed again this time louder, his shoulders shaking. “I can see why she likes you.”
Josie’s eyes widened. “She- she likes me?”
Klaus nodded solemnly. “Miss Saltzman you ought to know, werewolves have a certain… way of finding a suitable mate. Our instincts guide us, we can find a perfect match practically by scent alone. Once an alpha, like Hope, catches the scent of their mate it’s nearly impossible to resist.”
Josie’s eyes bugged out suddenly much more worried than she was when she first walked in. “What does that mean exactly. For me?”
Klaus studied her closely. Instead of answering her question he sighed. “What have you heard of my daughter?”
Josie swallowed. The last thing she wanted to do was tell the most powerful creature on earth what people around his school say about his daughter. “Don’t play coy, I’m not ignorant to the gossip within these walls. What have you heard?”
Josie took a deep breath and mustered confidence. “She’s a tribred, a witch, vampire, and werewolf. Daughter to you, the original hybrid. And… unsociable.”
Kalus pulled his mouth tight. “You’re being generous. What have you really heard?”
Josie sighed, already exhausted from this conversation. “She’s mean. A know it all. She thinks she’s better than everyone, and she’s the second scariest person on this campus. After you of course.”
Klaus smiled humorlessly. “There it is. Miss Saltzman let me make a few things clear. My daughter is the tribred. Easily more powerful than any other being to walk this planet, yes including me. She IS better than everyone although she disagrees. My daughter is also humble, kind, and is too hard on herself. She’s the only one of her kind, nobody could possibly understand her, even me. She separates herself from the others because they are scared of her, and she sees herself like they do. She sees herself as a monster.”
Klaus frowned, Josie could tell he loved his daughter dearly. The hybrid man brought his hand up to massage his temple. “She deserves love. More than what her family can provide. If she thinks someone is good enough for her I’m not going to argue.” He looked Josie dead in the eye. “Her wolf chose you but if I know my daughter I know she’ll give you a choice in the matter. I think she proved that by displaying the restraint she did and walking away at the mess hall. She might be young but she has nearly mastered control. Even if it kills her, she’d rather die than hurt you. It’s all a part of the pull. As soon as she caught your scent she became yours.”
This was so much to take in. She couldn’t even begin to unpack it all. Josie studied the headmaster. “You sound very familiar with the.. Um mate scent? Was Hope’s mom your mate?”
Klaus laughed, his spirits instantly brightening. His mood swings were giving Josie whiplash. He exaggeratedly wiped a tear from his eye. “Goodness no. She was just a random hook up, although being with her was the best decision I’ve made in my entire life.” His eyes were bright and his chest swelled. “But since you asked I did feel it once.” His spirits seemed to dip lightly but he shook it off quick enough. “How is your mom?”
Josie was confused. “My- wait why are you asking about my mom… wait you two-? Oh god!” Josie felt slightly nauseous.
Klaus laughed heartily. “Oh don’t look so nauseated, you’ll hurt my feelings. Believe you me, she did not return the sentiment. Well… She did but refused me all the same.”
As much as Josie didn’t want to think about it she did see the well veiled hurt in his eyes. Although now that she thought about it, any time Klaus Mikaelson did come up in conversation her mother didn’t have the same fire of hatred for him every other adult in her life seemed to.
Klaus shook off the cloud of memories. “Regardless, yes, I wanted her but she did not want me. And an alpha’s number one priority is the safety and happiness of their mate.”
Mate. Hope wanted her to be her mate. That was a lot to take in. Josie was so overwhelmed. How was she supposed to deal with this? She needed… Well she needed to talk to Hope.
Klaus seemed to read her mind. “You have a lot to think about Miss Saltzman, I just wanted to give you the facts before Hope comes back.” He gestured toward the door in a silent dismissal.
As Josie reached the doors Klaus called to her again. “One more thing, Miss Saltzman.” Josie turned to face him, her exhaustion evident on her face. “What you have heard of me is true, I am a monster. However, my daughter is not. Regardless of your decision, please help her see that.”
Josie nodded silently and left the office.