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The first time we met (it wasn't the first)

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When she opened her eyes, she found herself in a room that wasn’t her beautiful, well furnished, classy room.

That room was sad, the walls were white and the wooden furniture was too old. Everything seemed so cheap and slovenly.

She rubbed her eyes, trying to focus better on the image in front of her.

She looked around concerned  as she stood up immediately, and her eyes looked at the image reflected in the mirror, with perplexity and shock.

That room was sad.

And the pajamas she was wearing were sad too.

She looked at herself in the mirror like a  cat, far too upset to have a reaction.

And  that alarming feeling intensified when she could see hanging pictures on the walls, photos of her family, or at least what was left of it.

She opened the door of that sad room softly and poked her head out of the room fearfully, and her eyes went wide when Josie, a so different Josie, walked right by her, looking at her ... haughtily?

And what was she wearing?

Josie wasn't wearing the school uniform and that skirt was too short for her standards.

"Come on, will you? You’ll make us late today, again." Josie told her and then disappeared behind the corner of that corridor.

Lizzie came back to that room (she couldn't believe she had slept in such a cheap bed) and opened the wardrobe ,taking the clothes that were less pathetic.

And it was very difficult to choose.

What had happened to her wardrobe? Where was  the Chanel white shirt that she had bought in Europe? And Hope's black sweatshirt?

Even that wardrobe was sad.

**

 

"Now, remember, if anybody starts messing with you, just play it cool." Their father said.

What had happened to her father's Jeep? Had they become poor all of a sudden?

That explained everything: the house, the mattress, the clothes, the car and Josie's attitude.

Probably she ended up in shock and  had a personality change. Not to mention her father: that beard made him look like sixty-four years old uncle John from Mississippi . Perhaps the Salvatore school had been closed and  they ended up like this.

"Don't worry, dad. We know. No magic allowed. Blah, blah, blah." Josie said bored.

"Public school. It makes sense." Lizzie said, looking around horrified.

"All right, well, I hate to sound like a broken record, but if you expose your powers ..."

"You risk becoming a target." Josie interrupted her father. He probably said that sentence every morning.

"Wait. Why am I in the back seat? ”Lizzie asked surprised, Josie rolled her eyes and took her backpack, getting out of the car with her father.

Perfect, they had ignored her.

She took her backpack and jumped out of that old green car and ran after Josie.

 

 

Public school was ... chaotic and noisy. Lizzie had never experienced such a reality, accustomed too much to the comfort and to the elegance of the Salvatore Boarding School, she struggled to mingle with that henhouse.

Josie didn't have that problem.  She walked in the main hall where there were balloons and banners, proudly and confidently, swinging her hips too much.

"So, do we like it here?" Lizzie asked looking around, almost excited.

"Where?" Josie asked as she continued to walk, looking like she wanted to run away from her.

"This school."

 Josie stopped and sighed.

"Lizzie, do me a favor and try to keep it together today, okay? It's important." Josie said and Lizzie nodded, taken aback by her sister's words.

"Homecoming queen!" A boy screamed, looking at them.

It was Connor, slimy Connor.

Fantastic.

"That wasn't an invitation, Connor." Lizzie said as he approached them.

But the boy didn't seem very intent on listening to her, he got closer to her sister and Lizzie thought she was going to vomit when she saw them kissing.

What was happening? Josie completely lost her mind.

"And that is inappropriate." Lizzie said, expressing her disappointment.

“Your sister's being weird again. ” The boy said, looking at her and then Josie.

"Cut her some slack. It's hard to be the only one on Homecoming without a date." Josie explained.

"Wait. I don't have a date?” Lizzie asked surprised.

Okay, her life was definitely sadder than she expected after waking up in that bed.

“I can't wait to see what you have planned for that night." Connor said, turning to Josie and completely ignoring Lizzie.

"I'm pretty sure you're gonna like it." Josie said smiling and kissing the boy again.

Disgusting.

I must be completely crazy for letting Josie date this snail.

After  another disgusting kiss, Connor walked away and Lizzie looked at her sister, questioningly.

"I am so confused. You're into Connor?"

Josie looked at her, impatiently. "Lizzie, we talked about this. He's QB1, I'm head cheer. It just makes sense." Josie explained and Lizzie had to admit that the situation had taken such a wrong turn.

"Here's your skinny vanilla latte." A voice hummed behind them and Lizzie was surprised to see her still alive.

"Not now, Dana. My sister is obviously on drugs, and I despise vanilla latte." Lizzie said as the girl approached them but was completely ignored because Dana went straight to Josie, handing her the vanilla latte.

“Thanks, D. Somebody's clearly having one of her off days.” Josie said and Lizzie had to admit that she couldn’t understand what had happened to them.

Head cheerleader?

Connor's girlfriend?

Dana's friend?

Why did Josie hate her?

Dana sighed and looked at her with pity. "Lizzie-Bear, relax. There's only so much a doctor can raise your dosage before my mom's pharmacy will plumb run out of pills." Dana told her, and Lizzie swallowed heavily when she saw Josie laugh at the blonde's words.

"Come on." Dana said to her sister, pulling Josie with her and they left her there, alone.

She didn't understand what had happened and why all this had happened.

Lizzie couldn’t understand what happened to them, but she felt her heart break into a thousand pieces.

 

***

Lizzie was sitting in the stands, looking around while all the students listened to the the headmaster.

She rolled her eyes when she realized that that situation was a squalid cliché.

On one side the cheerleaders with the football team, on the other one the nerds, the volleyball team occupied the first stands. In the middle, there were probably the anonymous, a group of people with an indefinite character, nobody knows them, their names.

Maybe that was why she sat in the middle with them, she felt like she was one of them.

"In anticipation of the inter-school football championship, I am pleased to announce that the members of the Salvatore Boarding school football team will spend time as students in our high school to promote integration and fair play, given the previous clashes during  last year's final match. Please support the cause and help new students to fit in and get used to the rules and habits in force in our high school. "

Lizzie was shocked.

Since when did our school allow students to attend other institutions?

Who are the students who had accepted such a deal?

Probably the headmaster had been compelled by the Salvatore’s headmaster.

But who was their headmaster if her father was intent on getting drunk during history class?

Too many questions were making her head spin.

All the students left the gym to go to the cafeteria but Lizzie felt that something was wrong with her mind, it was as if her thoughts were occupying her head in an overbearing way.

She walked absently between the tables in the cafeteria, almost all of them already occupied.

Too many noises, too many whispers, too many laughs, she felt her head explode.

She put her hand on what seemed  the back of a chair and closed her eyes, trying to focus on her breath.

"Are you okay?" She heard a voice that sounded so familiar  and suddenly the sharp pain  in her head  stopped.

She opened her eyes and began to really think she was crazy because , before her eyes, she found someone she hadn't seen for a long time and that was probably a figment of her imagination.

"Hope?"

Lizzie felt a strange feeling in her stomach when she saw the girl again, an urgent need to hug her but she was paralyzed, not knowing how to react and what to do.

The girl in front of her tilted her head, looking at her curiously.

"Do I know you?" She asked, narrowing her eyes, as if trying to remember her.

"Are you kidding, Mikaelson?" Lizzie asked and Hope changed her expression, from curious to surprised.

"I'm sorry but I don't remember you. Did we sleep together?” Hope asked and Lizzie opened her mouth indignantly.

"Hope Andrea Mikealson, what the hell?! Do you really think I'd sleep with you?” Lizzie asked her indignantly, punching her shoulder.

"Hey!" Hope screamed back.

"You nerd! Don't bully my hobbit friend! ”A voice from afar warned her.

Lizzie turned annoyed because she could have recognized that voice from miles away; she began to think that the girl in question was stalking her.

"Couldn't you stay in Belgium ,Satan?" Lizzie asked, turning to see Penelope watching her, in a really intimidating way.

"What are you talking about, nerd? Are you sure you didn't hit your head? You look pretty crazy." Penelope answered, folding her arms and looking at Lizzie from head to toe.

Lizzie felt uncomfortable, maybe because at that moment she wasn’t herself, and she was afraid of not being herself in front of the two girls. She wasn’t the perfect girl, always dressed fashionably and with her hair in place, she seemed to have just escaped from an asylum while Penelope and Hope wore the black uniform of their school proudly and elegantly.

She felt a pang in her head again.

What was happening? Why doesn't anyone remember me?

"Okay, that's enough, Penelope." Hope interrupted them, after noticing the change of mood of that weird girl.

"I don't know the reason why you know my name and I vaguely have some memories. You still haven't told us your name." Hope said calmly and Lizzie seemed to come back to herself.

"I'm Lizzie Saltzman." The blonde replied, hoping that that surname could have turned on their mind but she felt madder when she saw no change on the faces of the two girls.

Not a hint of a memory or some sensation.

"Lizzie ..." Hope muttered, narrowing her eyes and looking at her.

"Sorry if she’s bothering you, my sister didn't take her drugs this morning and she's freaking out more than usual." Her sister's voice interrupted that moment and in the worst way.

Dana pointed her head with her finger,  Lizzie could see Hope's annoyed expression (?) while she watched that scene.

"She’s not bothering us." Hope promptly answered and Lizzie felt her stomach twist.

Hope was defending her without even knowing it- apparently.

"Sure." Josie said, shifting her attention to herself. "I’m Josie Saltzman, the head cheerleader and she is Dana. We came here to welcome you." The girl said, looking at Penelope longer than enough while Penelope  didn't really seem to pay much attention, although Josie’s attempts.

"And we’re here also because we want to invite you to join the cheerleaders. We care a lot about this issue, given the previous problems." Dana added and Lizzie kept wondering what had happened the previous year but then moved her gaze to Hope and noticed that the girl was staring at her.

She blushed unintentionally, why was Hope looking at her?

Was she probably judging her?

Was she thinking about what Josie had said?

Was she thinking how much she was broken?

Why did Josie behave like that?

Was she really taking the drugs?

Was she really crazy?

That pang in her head returned and she closed her eyes again, bringing her hand to her temple, as if it were a way to calm that pain.

She felt Hope's gaze follow her, every movement, and their eyes met again.

"Oh, very kind of you. Anyway, I'm Penelope Park and I'm so not interested in cheerleaders." Penelope said, addressing the blonde girl exclusively, carefully avoiding Josie’s gaze. "But I'm sure the second football team will be the right choice. You know, noises and screams are not our forte." Penelope said, Josie looked at her indignantly.

"Are you saying we are geese, new girl?" Josie asked , trying to be intimidating.

"Did I say this, Jennie?" Penelope asked, smiling innocently and smoke came out of Josie’s ears.

No one had ever dared to challenge her.

"My name is Josie." Josie said forcefully and Penelope put her hand on her chest , dramatically.

"Oh sorry, Josie."

"Well, if you change your mind, you know where to find us." Dana said, smiling one last time at Penelope (she was glad somebody put Josie in her place), which Josie found sickening, and then they walked away.

Josie casted a last fleeting glance at the girl who was carefully ignoring her, feeling surprised when the same girl wasn’t looking at her but was already conversing with her sister.

"You did that on purpose." Lizzie said, looking at Penelope slightly smiling.

"I don't like people like her." Penelope answered quickly. "I'm sorry I told you those things, I shouldn't have." Penelope said and Lizzie nodded, almost surprised to hear Penelope’s apologize. It was probably the first time.

"You are forgiven, Dark Lord." Lizzie said and Hope laughed. "You have a lot of weird nicknames for me. Why do you call me that?" Penelope asked curiously and Lizzie sighed.

"It's a long story, there will be time for that. But now I have to go." Lizzie said. 

She wanted to get away. She felt her brain under pressure, despite feeling a great desire to stay there with them. With Hope.

She walked away quickly, heading towards the cafeteria exit but when she crossed the big red door, she felt a hand gently wrapped around her wrist, making her turn sharply.

She took a breath when she saw Hope's worried eyes scrutinize her deeply. "Are you okay?"

Hope didn't leave her wrist, and Lizzie felt her heart start beating again normally and her thoughts had stopped shaking in her head.

She opened her mouth to say something but was too astonished by the situation so she just nodded.

"Use your words, Lizzie. Are you okay?” Hope asked her again, even though that firm voice seemed to give her an order.

"I'm fine." Lizzie answered, touching her head. "It was just a bad day, that’s all." Lizzie added and Hope nodded.

"Thanks for caring." Lizzie said.

"You’re welcome." Hope said back immediately and they looked at each other for a long time.

"I have to go." Lizzie whispered and Hope nodded, freeing her wrist and watching her walk away.

In that instant, Lizzie understood that Hope Mikaelson was always going to be her anchor in any universe.