“Seems like you’re all settled in here.”
Hope’s eyes are slowly running over the features of the room – well, half of the room, really. It’s not difficult to determine which side is Josie’s considering all of the greenery lined up by the windows, practically ready to start climbing up the walls.
She wonders for a moment how the ones in Lizzie and Josie’s formerly-shared room are faring. Considering how busy Lizzie has been since her twin left, Hope really hopes Josie spelled them to stay alive.
Her eyes catch on the witch’s desk, the only part of the room that seemed relatively disorganized (if you could even call having an open book and sheets of paper stacked just out of alignment disorganized ).
As she continues her appraisal, her eyes linger on the set of photos on the wall framed by a set of string lights.
She tampers down the grin that emerges when she’s able to make out her own face in several of the images, simultaneously trying to stifle the smugness she feels at seeing Finch in none .
Instead, she twists around to face the girl whose eyes have been trained on her this entire time.
Even without heightened senses, it would have been impossible not to feel the stare burning at the back of her neck.
“Yeah,” Josie breathes out, eyes widening slightly as if she’d just realized that Hope was now looking at her. “It’s, um…”
For some reason, she doesn’t complete her statement, despite spending hours on the phone with Caroline just yesterday talking about anything and everything the Ardennes Academy For Girls had to offer.
At least that’s what Lizzie had mentioned to her before she left.
Maybe Josie was just in shock from seeing the tribrid in her room after spending months with nothing but the memory of Hope throwing her through the gym doors and stuffing her inside a therapy box.
“It’s nice,” Hope offers.
She stands smack dab in the middle of the room for a minute as they let the silence surround them.
It feels like there’s so much they want to say.
And yet no words can actually say them.
How do you even begin to thank the person who never gave up on you when everything and everyone was against them? When you were the cause of their own family’s pain and suffering and death? When you pushed them away, safely enclosing them inside a magical box to deal with their own consciousness all so you could keep running away, and yet they still found a way to concoct a plan to help you, even though you were undeserving of it?
Despite her ability to keep silent for a prolonged amount of time – after all, she’d had years of practice – Hope had begun shifting uncomfortably in the middle of the room when the silence continued. A part of her wanted to sit down on the edge of the bed beside Josie and the other part wanted to say her goodbyes before removing herself from the premises, from further complicating what’s supposed to be a fresh start for the witch.
She’d fallen so far into her thoughts she didn't even realize that Josie had walked up to her, looking at her with a mixture of curiosity and concern.
“Are you okay?”
I shouldn’t have come. The words are on the tip of her tongue, had been since she’d knocked on the door after technically sneaking onto school grounds.
It wasn’t as if she hadn’t called in advance to tell them about her visit. Being the tribrid and all, supernatural communities tended to want a heads up when her presence would be in the general vicinity.
So they did know she was coming. They just didn’t necessarily know that she was coming right then. Nor did they know that she bypassed the headmaster’s office in favor of heading straight for Josie, worried that if she was given even the slightest opportunity to leave and go home she’d take it in a heartbeat.
No, she needed to do this.
She was here for Josie and she would be damned if she didn’t actually go to see her.
But now she was silent and motionless, eyes fixed on the other girl – who appeared to be growing more nervous with each passing second – and the talisman in her pocket feeling heavier and heavier.
Without moving her gaze from Josie’s, she reaches into her pocket, fingers gripping the metal as she slowly pulls it out. She rubs her thumb over the design of the talisman before warily holding it out towards the other girl.
Josie’s eyes drop down to the pendant, chain dangling loosely from the tribrid’s hand. “Why…”
The witch’s gaze returns to hers, brows furrowed in question.
“I know you don’t need it anymore,” Hope states, almost wincing at how bitter her words come out.
She remembers reading Josie’s letter, eyes intensely boring into each word as if doing so would summon the siphoner back to the school. She remembers the painful tightening of her chest when she read that Josie had given her the talisman back because she ‘doesn’t need it anymore.’
Translation: She doesn’t need Hope anymore.
She remembers her conversation with Alaric in his office, the weight of the pendant as it hung from her fingers and Alaric admitted the plan had been Josie’s. That the plan to get her humanity back had always been Josie’s.
It had always been Josie.
Hope takes one of Josie’s hands, opening it up and placing the pendant in her palm, gently closing her fingers around it.
“I know you don’t need it, but… but that doesn’t mean it’s not still yours.”
Whether she was still talking about the talisman, she wasn’t sure, and it took everything in her not to wonder what else 'it' could possibly mean.
“Hope, you didn’t have t–”
Letting her hands fall back to her sides, she watches as Josie opens her own hand and examines the pendant. Hope half expects it to be thrust back towards her. After all, Josie had found her voice, had stuck to her convictions, and if that hadn’t happened, who knows where Hope would be now? The talisman was no longer a tool, no longer necessary for Josie to be able to speak over all the noise.
Now it was nothing but a symbol of them, a gift from a lone wolf scared of making friends, scared of reaching out and forming relationships for fear of losing yet another person. A gift for a girl who had always put everyone else’s needs ahead of her own, rarely ever letting herself express her own thoughts and opinions.
When Josie does nothing else but close her fist around it, Hope almost releases a sigh of relief.
With a curt nod, Hope moves to exit the room. She’d done what she came here to do. For the most part, anyway.
Her hand is gripping the doorknob when she hears the voice behind her say her name.
She doesn’t turn around, not wanting to see the look in Josie’s eyes as she walks away from her yet again.
There’s nothing for a moment or two, making Hope think she’d heard something that hadn’t actually been said.
Before she can ask Josie what she wants to say, there’s a pair of arms wrapping themselves around her. She sinks into the hold, eyes falling shut as she keeps the tears threatening to fall at bay.
“Thank you,” Josie mumbles the words into her back in a way that Hope is sure she wouldn’t have understood her without her heightened hearing.
Her brows furrow and she turns her head down slightly to look at Josie’s arms crossed across her abdomen. Something told her Josie wasn’t thanking her for the talisman.
“For what?” she asks, hand coming up to rest on Josie’s arms.
She can almost feel the way Josie purses her lips, buying herself time to answer the question.
Hope waits patiently for a response for once, content to remain in Josie’s embrace for the time being. After all, she wasn’t sure when this would happen again now that they were separated by almost 4000 miles–yes, Hope looked it up–and despite the fact that they were both witches, probably able to astral project in each other’s space at any given moment, she knew that wouldn’t happen.
Despite how much she didn’t want it, she knew they both needed space. Needed time apart to settle into the versions of themselves they had become in the past few months.
Just when the tribrid thinks she’s not ever going to get a reply, Josie speaks again.
“For coming back.”
Hope lets a small smile spread across her lips, giving Josie’s arms a light squeeze before untangling them. She turns around, facing Josie who bore a similar expression on her face.
The two stand there for a few moments before Hope makes the move this time, leaning forward to wrap her arms tightly around the siphoner. She leans her head on the taller girl’s shoulder.
“Thanks for making sure I could.”
When the two break apart, Hope sighs deeply.
“I’ll see you in a couple months?” Josie says, a hopeful look in her eyes.
“Yeah?” Hope counters.
Josie rolls her eyes playfully, but nods anyway. “Yeah.”
“Okay,” Hope responds with a nod of her own. “See you in a couple months.”
When she leaves the room, she closes the door behind her. But not before she hears Josie speak again, under her breath but loud enough to indicate she meant for Hope to hear.
“I’ll always need you, Hope Mikaelson.”