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What happens on the ice, stays on the ice.

Chapter Text

“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.

“Okay, geez.”

“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.”

“Fine, whatever.”

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.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Josie, Lizzie and MG meet up in the library before their first hour. Lizzie and Josie are sitting at a table off to one side, Josie with a notebook in front of her and Lizzie focusing on something on her laptop. When MG enters the library, he spots them immediately.

“Hey, guys,” MG greets the twins as he walks over. “Do anything fun last night after the game?” He asks as he takes a seat next to Josie.

“Only if you think Calc homework is fun,” Josie answers, a tired look in her eyes.

“Did you guys know that the hockey team has a website?” Lizzie asks abruptly, seemingly not having been listening to the conversation.

“Uh, I guess not. It makes sense, though. A lot of school groups do,” MG says, a little caught off guard by the sudden change in subject.

“Yeah, it actually looks decent, too. Like, it’s got a full team roster on the site and a complete game schedule. It even has when the cheer team is performing on there,” Lizzie says, scrolling through the web page on her computer.

“That’s cool, Liz. How’d you end up on the hockey team’s website?” Josie asks uncertainly. Since when did Lizzie have an interest in hockey?

“Last night, I was wondering how many Salvatore students are actually on the team, considering I didn’t see anyone one else I recognized.”

“Oh, how many?” MG asks.

“It’s only two, Hope and some kid named Chuck Cloister. They have little player bios. Apparently, he’s a sophomore here and plays as the back up goalie,” Lizzie says, turning her computer to show Josie and MG.

“Huh, this is actually pretty cool. I’m surprised that no one talks about it. Maybe I should bring it up at the next newspaper meeting. We could do a piece on the team,” Josie says, eyes skimming the player bios on the screen.

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure no one reads the school newspaper, Jo,” Lizzie says. “Although, people do need to know that we have at least one team that actually wins games, so it could be a start.” A strange determination sparkles in Lizzie’s eyes as an idea begins to form.

“Hey, people read the newspaper. I mean, I do and MG does, right?” Josie turns to MG.

“Uh, I mean…” MG trails off, refusing to meet Josie’s gaze.

“Seriously?” Josie sighs, “Well, whatever, it’d be a fun piece to write anyways, and if I’m the only one who reads it, I might as well write whatever I want, right?”

“That’s the spirit, Jo. But the real question is how do we get people to come to games, because once they see that we actually win at something, they’ll be bound to stick around,” Lizzie says, clearly thinking out loud. “Maybe if we just get people talking about it…” Lizzie trails off into her own thoughts. 

“I can talk to the rest of the student council and see if they are willing to do an event for it or something. Like advertise it and post a theme for the game, or something,” MG offers.

“Good idea, Milton. Just make sure the theme isn’t lame.” Lizzie pauses in thought. “Who am I kidding, they’re always lame, but still.”

MG looks like he is about to argue, before thinking better of it. The five minute bell rings around them and they start to pack up their things and head to class.

 

The next day, Hope receives an unexpected pass at the end of her third hour. She doesn’t recognize the room number, so she really doesn’t know what it could possibly be for. She ends up walking into what she vaguely knows as the photography classroom, which also happened to be where the school newspaper is organized.

“Um,” Hope says, brandishing her pass to the teacher in the room.

“Oh, just a second,” The teacher turns and calls toward the isolated work rooms that lined one wall, “Josie, Hope’s here!”

Hope furrows her brow. Not that Hope had anything against Josie. Josie had never been anything but polite to her and she was a hard worker, the few times they ended up working on projects together. But that didn’t mean that Hope knew Josie at all, and after seeing her at the hockey game, Hope is uncertain around the girl.

Josie pops her head out of one of the work rooms and smiles at Hope. “Hey, come on over. I wanted to talk to you about something if you have a minute.”

Hope walks over hesitantly, an eyebrow raised in question.

“You can have a seat if you like,” Josie offers as she takes her own seat.

Hope sits down across from Josie and waits for her to explain what was going on.

“Okay, so I’m sure you’re curious as to why I called you down. I don’t know if you know, but I’m a part of the school newspaper, and we’re doing a piece on the Mystic Wolves Hockey team for the next issue. Anyways, I was wondering if you would be willing to be interviewed for the piece, considering you are a starting player,” Josie explains.

Hope tenses at the explanation. She watches Josie carefully. The girl seems genuine, like she really just wants to ask her a few questions for a fun news piece. Unfortunately, Hope can’t think of a good reason to say no.

Josie seems to sense Hope’s hesitation and continues, “It’ll only be a few questions and you don’t have to answer all of them if you don’t want to. It shouldn’t take too long either.”

“Um, yeah, sure. I guess that’s okay,” Hope answers, looking vaguely uncomfortable. Her hands fidget under the table.

Josie’s face lights up. “Okay, great, thank you.” She moves to rummage in her bag and pulls out a small device, placing it on the table between them. “I’ll be recording so everything will be on record and I can go back and make sure I got everything. Is that okay?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“Okay, great!” Josie says, pushing a button on the device that made a red light turn on. “Okay, we are now recording. So, Hope, would you mind introducing yourself, like your name, grade, etc.?”

“Sure, um, I’m Hope Mikaelson. I’m a junior at Salvatore High school.” Hope speaks awkwardly, not really making eye contact.

“Good, now you’re on the Mystic Wolves hockey team, the district hockey team for the tri-town area, correct? What position do you play?”

“Uh, I’m the starting right wing.”

“How long have you been playing hockey?” 

“Um, I guess, five or six-ish years.”

“That’s cool. What is your favorite thing about hockey? In general or specifically with this team.”

Hope seems to grow even more uncomfortable with this question. “Oh, uh, I mean, it’s good exercise, and, uh, I don’t know, it’s just fun.” Nothing in Hope’s voice seems to be genuine as she gives this stilted response.

“Okay. What about the team? Do you get along with your teammates?”

“Um, yeah, I like a lot of them and I think we have a good team dynamic.”

“That’s good. Now I did do some research, and I learned that last year you were voted, almost unanimously, as the MVP of the season. How does it feel to be honored like that? Do you have any thoughts on who might win that title this season?”

“Um, I… I was very honored to receive MVP last season, but, I mean, we all played good games last season. And, uh, I think it would be great if Ethan, our center, won MVP this season. It’s his last year on the team and he’s a great player. He deserves it.”

“Alright. I’m sure you’re aware, but there isn’t a lot of recognition for you and your teammates successes at the Salvatore school. We’ve started conducting a small poll, and so far the results show that most students aren’t even aware that the school has a hockey team. How do you feel about that?”

Hope tenses at that. “I never really cared about that, I guess,” Hope responds sharply. “Is that all?” 

Josie looks a little surprised at the sudden change in Hope’s behavior, but then again, Hope has acted strange for most of the time Josie has known her. Josie nods hesitantly. She had other questions, but she doesn’t want to make Hope any more uncomfortable than she already has.

“Yes, you can go. Thank you for your time,” Josie says, as Hope gives her a forced smile before leaving.

 

“Are you Chuck Cloister?” Josie asks, seeing the boy standing awkwardly in the doorway with a pass in his hand.

“Oh, yeah, hi!” The boy says brightly, making his way over to Josie. He is a relatively short and skinny indian boy, probably around 5’5”, with poorly cut floppy brown hair. There are a few patches of inconsistent facial hair on his neck and he wears clothes that look too big for him, giving him a generally awkward look.

“Hi, Chuck. I’m Josie, I was wondering if you would be interested in participating in an interview for the school paper about you being on the Mystic Wolves Hockey team.”

“Wait, really? Of course, that’s so cool!” Chuck says, enthusiastically.

“Great, just come on over then,” Josie says, leading him over to her work room.

Chuck practically vibrates with visible excitement as he follows Josie. Josie can’t help but find the boy extremely cute.

“You can have a seat if you like,” Josie says once they enter the room. She closes the door behind them and takes her own seat. “So, if you’re alright with it, I’d like to record the interview, so I can go back over it later.”

“Oh, yeah totally. Go for it.”

“Okay,” Josie says, pulling out her small recording device. “And, we are on the record. Can you start by introducing yourself? Like your name and grade.”

“Okay, yeah. I’m Chuck Cloister, like oyster, but you know not,” Chuck says with a small laugh, “and I’m a sophomore. Although, I did skip a grade when I was younger, so I’m only 14.”

“Okay, good,” Josie says, a little startled at the boy’s oversharing, mostly in contrast to Hope’s brief responses. “So, what position do you play on the hockey team?”

“I’m the 2nd goalie, meaning I start on the bench.”

“Oh, do you not see a lot of action then?”

“No, I see plenty of game time. I mean, we have a really good starting goalie, but like, goalies can take some pretty rough hits in a game. Just this last year, I dislocated my shoulder and got a minor concussion,” Chuck explains, an enthusiastic smile on his face.

“Oh, geez. That sounds intense,” Josie says, her eyes wide at Chuck’s casual approach to bodily harm.

“Yeah, I really like hockey though, so I don’t mind.”

“How long have you been playing hockey for?”

“Oh, my parents only let me play once I reached sixth grade. But I’ve been watching NHL games since I was like 3 years old. So I’ve basically always wanted to be a hockey player.”

“What’s your favorite thing about hockey?”

“Oh, god, I only get to pick one?” Chuck says in comically exaggerated distress.

Josie laughs. “You can say as many as you want, but keep it brief, I do have a word limit,” She says with a smile.

“Okay, then I guess one of the things I’ve always loved about hockey is how it can be so graceful and rough at the same time. Like it’s such a beautiful test of strength and balance and strategy, all at once. That and I’ve met some really amazing people through hockey.”

“Speaking of which, how do you get along with your teammates?

“Oh, I love the team. There are some really great people and players on the Mystic Wolves. My counterpart, the starting goalie, Randall, is a really good guy. He’s pretty quiet and keeps to himself, but he’s always willing to give me pointers and help me with stuff if I ask. I’m going to miss him when he graduates. The Machados are a riot all the time. They’re brother and sister and they are both starting offensive players, so they are always arguing about stuff and they’re pretty hilarious. They like to team up and push the coach’s buttons whenever they can.”

“What about the other Salvatore player, Hope Mikaelson?”

“Hope? Hope is honestly our best player. She just gets really into the game and has been playing for so long and practices so much, it’s no surprise that she’s as good as she is. I didn’t know her at all when I first started, and she’s kinda closed off when you meet her, but she loves hockey almost as much as I do, so I knew right away that we would get along well. I started to get to know her better when I started staying late at practices. She was always ready to run extra drills and put in extra time. I honestly really look up to her, even if she scares me a little.”

“Huh, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone describe Hope like that.”

“Yeah, I get the feeling that not a lot of people actually know her,” Chuck says, like he knows something that Josie doesn’t.

“Well, I have just one more question then, Chuck. I’m sure you’re aware that there isn’t a lot of recognition for the hockey team here at Salvatore. How do you feel about that?”

“Oh, I guess it’s not my favorite thing about being on the hockey team. Like when everyone gets hyped before a football game, I wish we could have that here, but it’s not a big deal for me. I mean, the hockey team is really popular at Mystic Falls high, because so many of the players are from there, so we still get plenty of recognition. I know some of the other players kind of like that hockey isn’t popular at their schools because they don’t really like the attention. That seems reasonable to me, so I don’t mind.”

“Okay, thank you for your time, Chuck. Have a great rest of your day,” Josie says, moving to turn her recorder off as the boy departs.

 

Josie meets up with Lizzie after school, Lizzie’s cheer practice getting out early. Josie catches Lizzie coming out of the locker room and they walk to Lizzie’s locker together so she can grab her stuff.

“So, I did the interviews today,” Josie says, as they walk side by side down the hall.

“Oh, how’d they go?”

“Pretty good, I think. I mean it’s like my third time conducting interviews, so I don’t have a great frame of reference. That Chuck kid was nice, and really talkative which is great for writing.”

“What about Hope? I don’t think she’s ever said more than two consecutive sentences to me. I can’t imagine what interviewing her was like,” Lizzie says, a bit of contempt in her voice.

“It was fine. She didn’t say much and I didn’t get to ask all the questions I want to. She seemed really uncomfortable,” Josie points out.

Lizzie’s brow furrows at that. Her expression very much resembled the look she had on her face when she had been staring at Hope sitting on the curb the other night. “Hm,” is all Lizzie says in response.

“Yeah, I’ve got to go over the recordings tonight, though, so I can take notes and start writing tomorrow.”

Lizzie snaps out of her thoughts, turning to her sister. “Ooo! Can I listen to them?” Lizzie asks, a mischievous glint in her eyes.

“Yeah, sure, I guess,” Josie says, giving her sister a suspicious look. Lizzie had been acting really weird lately. “By the way, how’s your plan to make the hockey team more popular going?” Josie asks, casually, trying not to let on how out of character she thought her sister was behaving. 

Not that the random scheme or sudden interest in something new is the odd part of Lizzie’s behavior. The girl is known for chasing after a passing whim or interest without much forethought. It’s just that it’s usually a hot guy or a new fashion trend, not hockey .

“Oh, it’s going pretty good. I talked to the girls on the cheer team and told them to invite their friends to the games, so that we wouldn’t have to be alone in between performances. It wasn’t hard to convince them, they don’t think for themselves very much. I’m going to talk to Rafael and Kaleb tomorrow at lunch. I’m hoping to convince them that they should get the basketball and football teams to come support hockey in like a sports solidarity thing. I think that’s a jock thing, I’m not sure,” Lizzie says, animatedly, clearly invested in her plan.

Josie has to give her sister credit. It sounds like a decent plan that will probably work, and it might actually be a good thing for the team and the school. Josie thinks it might even improve their school’s relations with Mystic Falls High. The rivalry between the two schools has gotten pretty bad lately, escalating to the point of property damage sometimes. Not that Josie can think of a reason Lizzie would even care about any of those things.

“Well, it sounds great, Liz. If you need anything from me, let me know,” Josie says as she climbs into the passenger seat of their car, tossing her backpack on the seat behind her.

“Just keep doing what you’re doing with that article, Jo. You can make sure that we get some of the nerds to show up,” Lizzie says, starting the car and pulling away.

Josie rolls her eyes, but stops herself from arguing, knowing that she’s bound to lose that argument in the end.

“I wonder how often the hockey team practices,” Lizzie says, absently as they drive home.

“Oh, shoot, that would’ve been a good question,” Josie says with a grimace.

“It’s probably on the website if you want to check.”

“Good point.”

When the girls arrive at home, their dad isn’t there yet, probably still at school grading some papers. They throw some of their stuff down and move to the kitchen. Josie heats up some leftovers for the both of them and they eat while going over their physics notes for the test the next day.

Once they finish eating, Josie rummages around in her backpack for a couple seconds, pulling out her notebook, laptop, and the two small recorders.

“I’m going to start working on the interviews. If you want to listen to Hope’s I can start with Chuck’s,” Josie says, offering one of the small devices to her sister.

Lizzie hesitates for a second before accepting the device. She holds it strangely between two fingers as if it is a foreign creature.

“It’s pretty short, so just bring it back when you’re done. I’m going to set up in here if you want to go upstairs,” Josie says, setting up her stuff on the counter.

“Okay, I’ll be in our room. I suppose I’ll eventually have to do math homework, too, but I’ll do this first, so I can procrastinate a little longer,” Lizzie says, moving toward the staircase.

Josie snorts, but doesn’t look up from where she has begun to work.

Lizzie goes upstairs to the room the twins share and flops down on the bed.

“Alright, let’s see how bad this is. I bet she humble brags at least once,” Lizzie murmurs to herself before pressing the play button on the recorder.

The first thing that Lizzie notices is how silly her sister sounds when she’s in “reporter” mode. Lizzie laughs a little at the odd formality that Josie speaks with. 

The second thing Lizzie notices is just how uncomfortable Hope sounds answering Josie’s questions. When Josie had said she sounded uncomfortable, Lizzie had just assumed that Hope was kind of awkward in the interview, because, well, Hope is kind of awkward in general. But, listening to the recording, Lizzie can practically feel the discomfort in the girl’s voice. 

Lizzie can only imagine how Hope might’ve looked in the interview with the way she sounds. Lizzie imagines Hope sitting on the edge of her chair, hands fidgeting under the table. She imagines Hope looking awkwardly down at the floor to avoid eye contact. Maybe she was even bitting at her nails in discomfort.

Lizzie shakes herself out her thoughts, telling herself that’s she’s just projecting. She has no idea what Hope looked like during that interview, and it’s silly to think that she could even guess. Still, there is something about Hope’s discomfort that piques Lizzie’s interest. She furrows her brow and plays the recording again.

There are different levels of discomfort that Hope’s voice takes on during the interview, spiking at certain questions for no reason that Lizzie can discern. Even after listening to the tape over a dozen times, Lizzie can’t figure out why Hope would be so uncomfortable, even to begin with. But there is something about Hope’s tone of voice that Lizzie swears feels familiar, like something she knows. She really is just projecting again, but Lizzie swears that it sounds like the tone of voice that she gets when she has to talk to people about her episodes, usually a therapist. But that doesn’t make any sense, so Lizzie plays the tape again.

At some point, long after Lizzie has lost count of how many times she’s listened to Hope blandly answer the same questions over and over again, Josie knocks on the door and walks in.

“Hey, Liz---” Josie stops in her tracks seeing her sister still laying on her bed, frowning down at the recorder in her hands. “You’re still listening to it? It’s only like a minute long,” Josie says, utter confusion written on her face.

“Oh, yeah, I listened to it a few times. Do you need it back now?” Lizzie says, absently, still staring down in concentration at the device.

“Um, yeah, I just finished with the other kid’s,” Josie says slowly, not knowing how to respond to Lizzie’s lack of response.

“Okay,” Lizzie says, getting up and handing the device to Josie. “I guess I have to do math homework now,” Lizzie says, starting to rummage around in her backpack for her math stuff.

Josie gives her sister on last suspicious glance before heading back downstairs, recorder in hand.

Chapter Text

Hope is waiting outside her house when Ethan and Maya pull up to pick her up for practice. It’s almost dark outside even though it’s not even 5 yet. Hope jogs over and climbs into the back seat, throwing her stuff into the trunk behind her.

“Hey, Hope,” Ethan greets her from behind the wheel.

Maya turns around in the passenger seat to face Hope. “Hey,” She says with a smile.

“Hi, guys,” Hope says, putting on her seatbelt.

“Sorry for picking you up a little early today. I figured it would be a good idea to get there early, so we don’t piss coach off anymore than we have already,” Ethan says as they pull away.

“Hey, it’s not my fault, someone doesn’t know how to keep their mouth shut,” Maya says.

“What? You were the one that provoked him first,” Ethan argues.

“No, I made a joke, you provoked him.”

“Oh, like those aren’t the same thing. The man has no sense of humor. And hey, what I said was a joke, too.”

“Yeah, except jokes are supposed to be funny.”

“Oh, come on!”

Hope laughs lightly in the back seat as she listens to the siblings bicker. Both Ethan and Maya occasionally glance back at Hope as they argue, pleased to find her enjoying the performance. Not that the siblings don’t normally argue like that, they definitely do, but they might be exaggerating just a little bit for Hope’s sake. Very few things are as rewarding as drawing laugh out of Hope Mikaelson. It doesn’t help that both Ethan and Maya have a crush on Hope either, which often leads to them trying to one up each other in front of her.

“Right, Hope?” Ethan says as they pull into the parking lot of the ice rink.

Hope chuckles. “Ethan, I assure you ketchup is not a smoothie.”

“Exactly! It’s a sports drink!” Maya exclaims in triumph.

Hope just laughs and moves to unbuckle as Ethan parks. They all get out of the car and grab their stuff out of the back, Maya claiming victory in the discussion despite her brother’s protests. They head into the rink and find their coach dragging equipment out of a storage closet.

“‘Sup, coach?” Ethan greets.

The coach grunts in response as the kids put their stuff down against the wall. “Give me a couple of laps around the rink for warm up,” He grumbles.

“And here I thought he’d be happy to see us,” Maya jokes as she takes her jacket off and drops it down next to her bag.

They start jogging lightly around rink, the exercise fighting back the growing chill of the ice. Ethan and Maya run about three laps before moving off to the side to start stretching. Hope keeps jogging until other players start showing up, which has her running about six laps.

A few other players, including Chuck, greet Hope as they place their stuff down and start the warm up. Hope starts her stretches, sitting down in between Maya and Ethan. Within a minute or so, the other players join them.

Once they’re done stretching, the coach tells them to gear up and get on the ice. They run drills, scrimmage, and go over a few strategies until it hits 7.

“Alright, we’re done for the day. You’re free to go.” The coach says gruffly, before turning to Hope, Ethan, and Maya. “Except you three. I want you guys to run plays. I’ll tell you when you’re done.”

“Oh, I can be in the goal,” Chuck says brightly, slipping his mask back on.

“Why would you want to do that? You’re not being punished,” The coach asks skeptically.

Chuck just smiles and shrugs as he skates over to the open goal.

Hope meets Chuck’s eyes and gives him a small smile. “Thanks, Chuck,” She calls to him from the center line.

“Oh, yeah, thanks, Chuck,” Ethan and Maya echo as they take their places on the centerline. The siblings look rather exhausted from practice, but Hope doesn’t look tired, so they try not to let it show. It’s always hard to keep up with that girl, especially on the ice.

They run plays for about 30 minutes before the coach comes back and calls them over to the side. The coach looks tired and irritated, but like the usual amount of tired and irritated, which is a good sign.

“Alright, I expect you to behave with a little more respect next time. I don’t want to have to do this again.” The coach emphasises this last part, making it very clear that he did not want to have to stay late with them ever again. 

“Of course, coach,” Ethan and Maya say, automatically without much sincerity.

Hope only nods in agreement, not bothering to make eye contact with the coach.

“Alright, get out of here. Except you, Hope, I want to have a quick word with you once you get out of your gear,” The coach says, briefly turning to notice Chuck. “Oh, and Chuck, you could have left at any time, so I’m going to ignore you.”

“Sounds good, coach,” Chuck says with a tired smile as he and the rest of the remaining players move off the ice to undress and pack up.

“We’ll wait for you outside, okay, Hope?” Ethan says, shouldering his bag.

“Yeah, thanks,” Hope says, packing her pads away. Once she’s done, Hope throws her bag over one shoulder and walks over to where her coach is staring at his phone. She clears her throat to get his attention.

“Oh, yeah,” The coach says, glancing at Hope with a dull look in his eyes. “Here, take a seat on the bench.”

Hope does as she’s instructed, too tired to really consider what her coach had to say to her. If she had thought about it, she could’ve guess easily.

The coach sits down next to her, leaving at least a foot of space between them. The coach was never really good at connecting with the students or talking with them or just being around them in general, so he tried to keep his distance at all costs.

“Hope, listen, you’re a good kid, and I really mean that. You’re one of the only players I never have to bug about grades or in school disciplinary issues, which is great because that’s less work for me, but you can’t keep going on like this. I know you’ve been through some shit and you’re damn good at this game, but that doesn’t give you free reign to do what ever you want on the ice. We’ve talked about this problem before and you promised me you’d try, but, Hope, I’m not seeing it,” The coach says earnestly.

Hope stares at the ground with an impassive look on her face. She gives no response.

“You know the way this works, if you get too many penalties they’re gonna kick you out of the game and then what are you gonna do. We could’ve made it to the semi-finals last year if you hadn’t gotten suspended for three games. You promised me that wasn’t going to happen again.”

“I know,” Hope murmurs.

“And it’s not just about this team. I mean it’s a high school hockey team, who really gives a shit? It’s about you. Hope, you’re good, good enough to get a full ride to basically any college you want for hockey. But if you can’t play by the rules and keep your attitude in check then none of that will matter. I want to see you succeed, Hope. I want to help you here, but if you can’t work with me… well, then there will have to be consequences.”

Hope stays silent for a long time. She’s heard this speech before. At this point, she doesn’t think there’s anything left for her to say. She is trying, or at least she’s trying to try. It’s just hard to think straight when she lets her anger out. And it’s so easy to say what she should’ve done after the fact.

“Okay,” Hope says, but it’s not particularly convincing.

“Alright, then. I want to see it at next week’s game, or this is gonna get messy.” The coach sighs and rubs his eyes. “Okay, get out. I want to go home.”

Hope picks up her stuff and heads out the door. She meets up with Maya and Ethan but doesn’t say much of anything as they throw their stuff into the car and get in.

“Did he chew you out?” Maya asks sympathetically after a long moment of silence.

“Yeah, the usual,” Hope says, her voice clipped short.

“You good?” Maya asks, turning around in the passenger seat to try and catch Hope’s gaze.

“Yeah.” Hope answers, not meeting Maya’s eyes.

“Okay.”

The ride is silent the rest of the way to Hope’s house. It’s not exactly awkward, seeing as they were all tired and relatively comfortable around each other, but Ethan and Maya could still tell something was wrong. They just didn’t know how to approach Hope about it when she didn’t seem like she wanted to talk at all.

“Text us if you need anything,” Ethan says as Hope gets out of the car.

Hope nods and gets her stuff out of the back before waving a quick goodbye and heading into her house. She fumbles a little with the key as she unlocks the front door and steps inside. She closes the door behind her and the sound echos through the hollow expanse of her house. The house is dark and silent and empty, save for Hope as she moves to turn on lights and make her way towards the kitchen.

Hope throws her hockey gear carelessly onto the floor with a forceful sigh. She moves to the fridge and opens it up to look for something to eat. There are only the bare essentials of food, nothing Hope could really eat without at least an hour of preparation. And God, does she not have the energy to do that right now.

Hope lets out a frustrated groan and closes the fridge harshly. The sound is loud, but quickly swallowed up by the soundless house. The silence around Hope suddenly feels oppressive, and, God , it just ticks her off. Hope gives out a loud, angry growl, anything to break the silence. She kicks a chair, sending it clattering on the tile, and aggressively pushes something off the counter with a crash before she gets a hold of herself.

Hope forces her arms to her sides, hands clenched tightly into fists, as she tries to take a few deep breaths. After a long moment, her hands relax and she lets out a long sigh. She picks up the chair and carefully cleans up the vase she has shattered. Then she goes up to her room, grabs her backpack and starts to work on her homework.

Hope would usually listen to music while doing homework, but when she threw her phone after the last hockey game, because her aunt had last minute realized that she couldn’t pick her up, the headphone jack had stopped working, and she didn’t like the way music sounded echoing in the lifeless halls of her house. So she resigned herself to work enveloped in the silence. 

It’s probably around midnight when Hope gets done with all of her homework and she falls into her bed right after, only bothering enough to take off her bra before drifting off to sleep.

The next morning, Hope listens to her last alarm ring for a good fifteen minutes before she convinces herself to get up. She takes a cold shower, not bothering to wait for the water to warm up and finishing before it can get hot. She checks the temperature outside and, upon seeing that the weather has begun its annual decent into winter, she decides to dress in layers. She throws the homework she left out the night before back into her backpack, grabs her warmest coat, which happens to be her letterman’s jacket, and starts her cold walk to school.

Hope arrives at school just in time to slip into her first class before the bell rings. She doesn’t exactly sleep through her first hour, but it’d be a stretch to say she was awake. On the way out of class, however, some girl Hope barely knows comes up to her.

“Hey, Hope, I didn’t know you played hockey,” The rando girl says, startling Hope out of her tired stupor.

“What?” Hope manages in response.

“It’s surprising, really. You never seemed like the sports type to me,” The rando girl says unceremoniously before immediately walking away.

Hope barely processes the girl’s words, which is probably a good thing. Under slightly less tired circumstances, Hope probably would’ve taken that unnecessary statement as an insult. Thankfully, though, Hope is not awake enough to really be irritated by the girl, so she ignores it and walks to her next class. Her next class just so happened to be History, History with Josie and Lizzie Saltzman.

Hope groans internally upon seeing the twins, their presence conjuring up the anxiety provoking memories of the awkward car ride and interview that she has recently endured. Hope has never been very good with people, so she’s sure she has made a bad impression with both twins in the last few days. Thankfully, Hope sits at the front of the classroom so she can put the issue out of her mind relatively easily.

Later as Hope is leaving her 3rd hour, some guy talks to her unprompted.

“Hey, is it true you broke a dude’s arm at the last hockey game?” He asks.

Hope turns on him instantly with a glare. “What? No!” 

And maybe Hope couldn’t tell how harshly and aggressively she had said it, but the boy’s eyes widen immediately into a fearful expression and he takes an instinctive step back. Hope scoffs and spins around, continuing on her way to her class as the boy runs off in the opposite direction. Only once she reaches the room does she realize that her hands are still clenched into fists.

After that, Hope starts to pay more attention. She thinks she might be imagining things, but it feels like more people are looking at her. When she passes people loitering in the halls, they stop talking, almost as if they’d been talking about her. By the time lunch period starts, Hope thinks she’s become paranoid. Well, at least until her suspicions are confirmed when she passes by Lizzie Saltzman encouraging the basketball and football captains to show up to the upcoming hockey game.

“So, come on, Kaleb, Rafael, what do you think? It’d be like a sports solidarity thing, the other teams showing up to support the hockey team,” Lizzie says.

“I don’t know, Saltzman. I’ve got a big project due this Friday,” Kaleb says skeptically.

“Oh, please, you’re making MG do most of the work anyways,” Lizzie scoffs.

Kaleb chuckles. “Oh, yeah, right. Sure then, I’m in.”

“Raf?”

“I guess. Do I need to know any of the rules?” Rafael says.

“Not really, although they’re not that hard to learn. You guys will pick them up easily,” Lizzie reassures them. “But I want you guys to talk to your respective teams and try to get as many people to show up, okay?”

Hope stops dead in her tracks at this. A few cheerleaders at one game and she is already dealing with random bullshit in the halls. Hope can only imagine what people will say and think of her once the whole basketball and football teams have seen her play first hand. Hope knew Lizzie didn’t really like her, but she must really hate Hope to pull something like this.

Rafael and Kaleb nod in agreement to Lizzie’s final request and move to go back to where they had been sitting before. Lizzie also gets up, but before she can even move toward where Josie and MG are, Hope grabs her arm and drags her out of the lunch room.

“Ow, hey, what is going on?” Lizzie complains as she is dragged along. “Geez, Hope, how is your grip so strong?”

Only once they have reached an empty hallway does Hope let go. She turns to Lizzie, her glare piercing. “What the hell is wrong with you?” Hope snaps angrily.

Lizzie looks at Hope a moment, a baffled expression on her face. “Hope, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Hope looks outraged at this response. “I’m talking about you getting more people to show up to my games!”

“And? What could possibly be wrong with that?” Lizzie argues indignantly.

Hope lets out a sharp, humorless laugh. “Oh my God, are you really that self centered?” Hope snaps aggressively. “Did it really not occur to you that maybe, I don’t want more people at my games, especially not people I have to see everyday!”

Lizzie takes a step back, clearly offended, but there is genuine confusion on her face, which tells Hope that, yeah, it really didn’t occur to her.

“Then why the hell does cheer have to perform at so many of your stupid, cold games?” Lizzie snaps back.

“Because the district decided that every participating school is required to have cheer performances at home games, and our cheer team has the least number of performances on their schedule, so we had to pick up the slack. And if there had been a loophole around that requirement, trust me, I would have found it! I got kicked out of the principal’s office three days in a row for trying to argue with him when they announced it at the beginning of the season.”

Lizzie struggles to take in the information provided. Hope is actually good at hockey, why wouldn’t she want more people to watch her play? Why would she expect Lizzie to know that she didn’t? Why couldn’t she just make sense?

“Why would you care so much?” Lizzie asks emphatically, faintly aware that she is almost yelling at this point.

Hope levels her piercing glare against Lizzie’s exasperated expression. Hope’s blue eyes cut right through Lizzie in a way that makes her feel small even though she stands at least six inches taller than the other girl. Lizzie is suddenly made aware of just how fast her heart is beating and how sweaty her hands are.

“Why do you care so much?” Hope spits out, her voice full of venom. She doesn’t waste another second, immediately pushing past Lizzie with a dismissive scoff, heading back toward the lunch room.

Lizzie stands there uncertainly for a long moment, Hope’s question echoing in her head. She probably stays there, replaying the last few minutes over in her head at least five times, trying to figure out what just happened and why it happened. She finally lets out a frustrated sigh and goes back to the lunch room. 

As she walks back to her table, her eyes scan the crowd for Hope, but she seems to have left already. Lizzie plops herself back down in her seat next to her sister, her lunch waiting exactly where she left it. Josie and MG give her questioning looks, but don’t say anything until she does.

“Guys, I think I messed up.”

Chapter Text

Lizzie recounts what happened with Hope to MG and Josie for what’s left of lunch. After a bit of discussion they agree that it’s too late to undo what they’ve done. Even if they can get less people to actually show up at this point, it is too late to get people to stop talking about. The whole school is now talking about the hockey team when they didn’t even know it existed before. Josie and MG both try to convince Lizzie that it will be okay, but Lizzie is still dead set on feeling terrible by the end of lunch when they part ways.

Over the weekend, when Lizzie isn’t at work or doing homework, she’s thinking about Hope. Lizzie thinks about how she can try to make up for what she did, not that she ever really cared what Hope thinks of her, but she also never meant to hurt her. Lizzie thinks about why Hope was so upset by what she did in the first place, because she still can’t figure it out. She thinks about how she’s been making incorrect assumptions about Hope for years, and, now that those have been proven wrong, she has nothing to replace them with. And sometimes, she just thinks about how strong Hope’s grip is, for whatever reason.

When Monday rolls around, Lizzie knows she needs to apologise, but she doesn’t know how. She’s sure that Hope doesn’t want to talk to her and even if she does, Lizzie has no idea what she’s going to say. Lizzie has never been good at apologies. Whenever she fights with Josie she just waits a day or two and then brings her sister a baked good and then everything is back to normal. Lizzie has a feeling that approach will not work on Hope.

Lizzie tries to make eye contact and get Hope’s attention when she sees her in History, but it doesn’t work. Hope keeps her eyes on the floor and, honestly, looks like the least approachable person. When Lizzie brings the issue up at lunch, Josie suggests giving Hope some space first, but Lizzie doesn’t like that answer, so she ignores it. Even still, Lizzie doesn’t even see Hope again that day.

The next day, Lizzie is nervous. The hockey game is that night, and Lizzie still doesn’t know what to say to Hope. And she doubts that Hope will be anymore forgiving at the game then at school. When Lizzie arrives at the game with MG and Josie, she can see that the stands are much more full of people than they had been the previous week. Lizzie can easily spot people that she knows in the crowd. She waves to Kaleb as Josie and MG go to join him and she goes to warm up with the cheer squad. She finds herself looking for Hope among the players without even thinking about it as she walks over.

 

When Ethan and Maya pick up Hope for the game that night, they can tell something is off immediately. Maybe it’s the way Hope throws her stuff into the back more carelessly than usual or the way she closes the door a little too hard. Or maybe it’s the way that Hope says nothing on the entire ride over. Ethan and Maya give up on trying to get Hope talk after only a couple tries, the other girl giving absolutely no response.

Ethan and Maya share a concerned look as they arrive at the rink. As soon as the car stops, Hope jumps out, grabs her stuff, and immediately heads for the doors, not bothering to wait for her teammates or even sparing them a glance. It’s definitely not the first time Ethan and Maya have seen Hope like this, but it’s rarely this bad.

When they walk inside, Hope walks right past the coach and starts warming up without a word. Ethan and Maya watch for the coach’s response, expecting him to scold Hope for her attitude, but it never comes. Instead, the coach just watches Hope with a seemingly thoughtful expression before walking over to Ethan and Maya.

“How is she tonight?” The coach asks.

“She seems pretty upset, but I don’t know what’s wrong,” Ethan explains and Maya nods in agreement.

The coach heaves a sigh. “Just do your warm up. I’ll want to talk to you two once you’re geared up.”

The siblings agree and start their laps. The rest of the players show up in the next few minutes. Once everyone is geared up, the coach directs them to start running a few drills on the ice, but pulls the Machados and Chuck off to the side.

“What’s going on?” Chuck asks.

“Listen, I want you three to keep an eye on Hope tonight. I figured you jokers know her pretty well,” The coach addresses Ethan and Maya before turning to Chuck, “and, I guess, you go to school with her.” The coach shrugs and continues, “Tonight is not going to be an easy night for her, so just make sure she’s keeping her grip and let me know if she looks like she’s about to break something, okay?”

“Yeah, of course,” Maya says instantly, a concerned look on her face. “What is it about tonight that makes things different?”

The coach seems to consider the question before taking a deep breath and lowering his voice. “Okay, so, Hope doesn’t like to talk about this and if she finds out that I told you kids, she’ll probably clock me, so do go being weird about it, understand?”

The three kids nod in agreement.

“Tonight is the anniversary of Hope’s parents’ death, and she takes it pretty hard every year. We’ve talked about it a little, and I usually let her take the night off from practice if we have it. I always hoped the date would never land on a game day, but the universe thinks it’s pretty funny, so here we are. So, just tell me if you think I need to pull her out to take a breather and we can just try and get through tonight, okay?”

“Of course, coach,” Ethan says.

“Okay, good. Don’t forget to keep your mouths shut about me telling you. Now get on the ice, people are going to start showing up soon,” The coach says sternly, but he sounds more tired than anything.

Lizzie listens to people talk in the stands as she waits for her performance, her eyes watching where the coach of the Mystic Wolves seems to be giving the team a pep talk. She overhears a few people talking about how the opposing team that night is supposed to be one of the top teams in the league. Lizzie glances over at the other team, and, yeah, they look like a bunch of spoiled rich kids who spend to much time doing one thing.

Lizzie’s eyes wander back over to Hope sitting on the bench, staring blankly at her coach with a vaguely irritated expression on her face. Lizzie can feel her heartbeat pick up a little just looking at Hope, probably just because she’s nervous about pissing her off.

After finishing the cheer first performance, Lizzie joins Josie, MG, Kaleb, and a few of the Salvatore football players to watch the game. Lizzie sits, knees bouncing in anticipation and to stay warm. She knows it should be a close game.

The players line up and the puck is dropped, and Lizzie can tell that something is wrong instantly. Hope is playing very much like herself (as Lizzie basically committed the last game to memory, she can tell), but there’s something off. Some of her moves are sloppy, throwing herself to far in one direction or missing a hip check because she didn’t anticipate the player’s movement. It’s true you could write off the difference as the opposite team just being good, but Lizzie feels like she can see Hope getting frustrated.

The crowd is very engaged by the close game and Lizzie can’t help but feel a little proud every time the football players break out into a cheer when the goalie blocks a shot or the forwards get close to the goal. Even still, there is a small pit of dread in Lizzie’s stomach as she watches Hope’s moves get less deliberate and more angry as the game goes on.

About 10 minutes into the game, Hope has made one goal and has almost gotten called for hooking at least three times. But as the clock ticks on, the puck starts to spend more time on the Wolves’s half of the ice. During one play, the puck gets sent around around the back of the goal, and Hope comes in to recover it, but she is smashed up against the guard by two of the opposing players. Within seconds, the opposing team as shot the puck into the goal, just barely being missed by the Mystic Wolves goalie. The point is added on the score board, tying the score, and a whistle rings to signal the end of the play.

Lizzie swears she can hear the aggravated sound Hope makes once she recovers and sees that the other team has scored, but what Lizzie is positive that she hears is the loud crack that sounds through the rink as Hope breaks her hockey stick in two with her bare hands. There is a moment of deafening silence as the everyone in the rink stares in shock, but the moment is quickly broken by the refs blowing their whistles several times. They don’t seem to know what penalty to call, seeing as they have probably never seen a teenage girl break a hockey stick with her bare hands. 

Fortunately for the refs, the Wolves’ coach is already yelling. “Alright, that’s it, Hope! You’re done! Get off the ice!” The coach screams, his face turning red.

“What!” Hope snaps, not moving.

“I told you what would happen! Get out! You’re done!”

Hope opens her mouth to argue again, but seems to think better of it as she skates over to the side. She growls angrily under breath as she throws the broken pieces of her stick aggressively over the side of the barrier before throwing herself over it as well.

The coach keeps yelling at Hope as she angrily stomps off into the lockerroom. She disappears behind the door, purposefully closing it with a slam.

Maya skates over to the edge, looking after Hope with a worried look.

“What do you think you’re doing, Machado? You’ve got a game to play! Get back in line!” The coach snaps, before directing someone to sub in for Hope.

Maya reluctantly takes her place in the line up, gaze still drifting to where Hope disappeared.

“Oh my God, I can’t believe Josie missed that,” MG says in the stands next to Lizzie. Josie had only left a minute ago, having gotten up to get some refreshments.

Lizzie’s brain doesn’t even process MG’s words, her eyes locked on the lockerroom door that Hope disappeared into. “Hey, MG, I’ll be right back,” Lizzie says abruptly, getting up and walking down the bleachers without waiting for a response.

Lizzie walks around the edge of the rink, until she reaches the back where the lockerroom is. Nobody seems to notice that she is there, the game having resumed. Lizzie doesn’t really know what she’s thinking, as this is clearly a bad idea, but she turns the knob on the door and walks in anyways.

As Lizzie makes her way deeper into the lockerroom, she can here sounds of something hitting a metal locker inside. There is an obvious trail of recklessly discarded hockey gear leading right to where Lizzie assumes Hope is. When Lizzie turns the corner she sees Hope growl and get up from a bench, reeling her arm back, seemingly to throw something more than all the things she’s already thrown.

Lizzie, despite her better judgement, rushes forward and puts her hands on Hope’s arm to stop her from throwing what is now clearly her already cracked phone. “Hey, woah, woah!” Lizzie exclaims as her hands wrap around Hope’s bicep to hold her back.

“Lizzie?” Hope immediately stops in surprise, her head turning to see the girl next to her. Her eyebrows are furrowed deeply in confusion. Her chest is heaving and Lizzie can feel her muscles are tensed all through her arm. Lizzie silently notes how strong Hope’s arm feels under her hands. “What are you doing here?” Hope asks, her voice lacking any blatant hostility in favor of utter confusion.

“Clearly, I’m keeping you from turning that piece of junk you call a phone into breakfast cereal against that wall,” Lizzie says, realizing that she is breathing almost as hard as Hope is.

That doesn’t seem to clear up any confusion for Hope, as she only furrows her brow more. She opens her mouth to say something, but nothing comes out. Lizzie, still eyeing Hope’s extremely damaged phone in concern, decides not to wait for her response.

“And, considering that you look like you’re trying to choke someone to death, I’m just going to take that for a little bit,” Lizzie says, taking the phone from Hope’s hand, which releases it’s clenched grip to let her. She gently places Hope’s phone on the bench and takes a slight step back out of Hope’s personal space. Lizzie feels a little proud, noticing that Hope’s breathing has gotten more stable just from the sheer confusion of her unexpected intervention.

After a moment, Hope seems to recover a little, some of the anger and irritation coming back to her expression. “Lizzie, what the hell are you doing here?” Hope snaps, taking a step back from where she still stands fairly close to Lizzie.

Lizzie is a little offended, but forces herself not to let it show. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay,” Lizzie answers, surprised by how genuine she sounds.

Hope huffs a little. “Well, I’m fine,” She spits out angrily, giving a fallen piece of equipment a light kick.

Lizzie lets out a sharp, sarcastic laugh. “That’s rich coming from the girl that just broke a hockey stick with her bare hands,” Lizzie comments with a challenging look.

“I am fine, not that it’s any of your goddamn business, I just…” Hope growls out, finishing her sentence by giving the row of locker nearest to her a hard shove. Her hands come back to clench tightly at her sides as she glares the wall.

Lizzie doesn’t flinch at the violent movement. It actually reminds Lizzie a lot of her episodes. She knows that type of destructive behavior well and it doesn’t faze her. Lizzie’s worst impulses are also quite fond of property damage. Lizzie’s eyes fall on Hope’s clenched fists and she speaks before she can think better of it.

“Hope, you need relax your hands or you’re going to hurt yourself,” Lizzie says in a scolding tone. She takes an unconscious step towards Hope, which some people might call a bad idea, but Lizzie never let that stop her before.

“How the fuck would you know?” Hope snaps through gritted teeth.

“Because I do the same fucking thing, and I can see your fingernails digging into your palms, so just---” Lizzie snaps back, before stepping forward and taking one of Hope’s clenched fists in her hands.

Hope’s eyes go wide and what ever response she might’ve had dies on her lips. She let’s Lizzie take her hand and manually unfold her fingers, forcing her hand into a relaxed state. Hope watches the way that Lizzie’s brow furrows in concentration as she moves to Hope’s other hand. Hope can feel her heartbeat and breathing stabilize as she stays frozen in uncertainty. 

“There,” Lizzie says, taking a step back. She ignores the disappointment she feels at letting go of Hope’s hands. Lizzie’s hands are just cold and Hope’s are warm. That’s all.

Hope just stares at Lizzie with those extremely blue eyes, confusion and apprehension on her face. She doesn’t say anything or move at all, seemingly trying to size Lizzie up.

Lizzie rolls her eyes after a moment. “So, are you really going to try to tell me that you’re fine after that?” Lizzie says, sitting down on the bench behind her and raising an eyebrow at Hope.

The edges of Hope’s mouth twitch into a very slight smile. “I guess it wouldn’t be very convincing, huh?” Hope mumbles, meeting Lizzie’s gaze with an unreadable expression.

Lizzie shakes her head with a sympathetic look. She pats the bench next to her. “What is going on with you tonight?” Lizzie asks earnestly.

Hope considers Lizzie for a long moment before sitting down. She silent for another long moment as she stares at the ground, trying to think of how to explain her anger, something she’s never really tried to do before. She lets out a long sigh before starting.

“Tonight… is the anniversary of my parents’ death,” Hope says, plainly, trying to keep her voice steady.

“Oh my God, Hope, I’m so sorry,” Lizzie says automatically, her eyes going wide in surprise.

“Yeah, everybody is, never makes it any easier though,” Hope says bitterly.

Lizzie instinctively reaches out a hand and lays it lightly over Hope’s. Hope doesn’t move, so Lizzie keeps her hand there as she waits for Hope to continue.

“Um, I usually take the day off to hang out with my aunts, but, I have a game, obviously, and they haven’t even texted me back yet today, so…” Hope trails off when her voice starts to crack.

“Wait, don’t you live with them?”

“Um, sort of. They both live other places and have other lives, but they try to be here with me as much as they can. It’s just bad timing this year. My aunt Rebekah is like on the other side of the world right now, and Aunt Freya is tied up with both her wife and their son being sick with the flu. It’s really not their fault.” Hope explains, having no idea why she was sharing so much with Lizzie.

Lizzie listens closely and nods understandingly, giving Hope’s hand a gentle squeeze whenever her hands start to tense up again.

“Hope, that’s terrible,” Lizzie pauses in thought for a moment. “Oh God, and I just made everything worse with my dumb stunt this week. Hope, I’m so sorry. I should’ve considered how it would affect you and whether or not you wanted people to know you played hockey. I’m really sorry.”

“Thank you,” Hope says softly.

And Lizzie really means to say something else in response. She had planned on asking Hope if there was anything she could do to make it up to her, accepting whatever answer she gives, and moving on. That’s definitely what she should’ve done, but she doesn’t.

“Although, I still don’t know why it bothers you so much,” Lizzie murmurs, despite her better judgement.

Hope blinks a few times at Lizzie before scoffing. Hope turns to face Lizzie more, consequently moving her hand out from under Lizzie’s. “Are serious right now, Lizzie?” Hope says, honestly baffled by how ridiculous this girl could be.

Lizzie only shrugs in response, already knowing that she’s made a mistake.

“Lizzie, you’ve seen me play. Why do you think I wouldn’t want more people to watch me?”

“I don’t know, you’re really good.”

“I’m an asshole!” Hope says a little too loudly. She watches Lizzie closely, and upon seeing that the other girl really doesn’t get it, she continues, “The things I do on the ice are things that I would never do anywhere else. I just --- I deal with my shit on the ice. I let out my anger and my problems when I play. It’s kind of personal.”

And with the last few words, the light bulb goes off in Lizzie’s head. Her eyes widen in realization and she looks horrified.

“Oh my God. Oh my God! I-I invited a bunch of people to come and see you cope. I brought the whole school to watch you work through your trauma. Oh jesus,” Lizzie groans and buries her face in her hands.

Hope honestly can’t help but find Lizzie a little cute in that moment. There is something very nice about learning that somebody really never meant to hurt you. Especially since, Lizzie is clearly trying to make up for it. Hope can imagine a world in which what Lizzie did would’ve been a very nice thing, they just didn’t happen to live in that world.

Hope takes one of Lizzie’s wrists in her hands and brings it away from her face. Lizzie nervously meets Hope’s gaze.

“It’s okay, Lizzie, you didn’t know. I can’t really blame you too much for that when I probably could’ve just told Josie when she interviewed me that I wasn’t comfortable with it. Plus, this whole thing will probably make Chuck pretty happy,” Hope says, reflecting a little on everything that had happened in the last week. God, it has been a really weird week.

Lizzie raises her face up to look Hope in her eyes. She looks like she’s about to say something when a buzzer sounds from out in the rink. Lizzie’s eyes go wide at the sound.

“Oh, shit, is it halftime? I have to get back to cheer,” Lizzie exclaims, jumping to her feet. She looks ready to sprint out of the lockerroom, but she stops and looks back at Hope. “Are you going to be okay?”

“Yeah, I’ll be fine. I’m just going to stay and clean this stuff up,” Hope says, gesturing to the gear that had been thrown around the room.

Lizzie hesitates one more time, catching Hope’s eye. “Are we good?” Lizzie asks, sincerely, and she’s caught by how much she really cares.

Hope thinks for a moment and says, “Yeah, we’re good, and, hey, maybe I’ll see you out there.”

Lizzie nods, thinking that she would very much like that, and heads quickly out the door. She jogs around the rink, meeting up with her squad just in time to start. A few of the girls give her dirty looks for being late, but Lizzie doesn’t really care. Once the performance is over, the girls disperse and Lizzie goes back up into the stands where Kaleb and MG are.

“Hey, is Josie still not back yet?” Lizzie asks when she sits down, noticing the absence of her sister.