Actions

Work Header

of love and other demons

Work Text:

“The food in Malivore was better,” Hope mutters, holds up a single greasy fry, somehow raw and burnt at the same time. 

From across the cheap wooden table in the small-town diner, Alaric stares at her with wide, shocked eyes, completely lacking any idea of how to respond. 

“It was a joke,” Hope says, and goes back to her burger. 

Lizzie would have laughed, she thinks, a little randomly. Lizzie would have laughed and told her that no one likes a hero with an attitude, Mikaelson. 

Probably accompanied with a sarcastic eye roll.  The snark and the eye roll would have hit Hope in the gut and even thinking about it, she is struck with a faint pang of sadness and something else. 

But Lizzie’s not here. 

It’s just her and Alaric, stuck in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, looking for a monster that apparently has its sights set on men. 

Three of the town’s citizens had turned up dead in the last week. And those were the ones they knew about. There could be more. 

She really needed to cast a shielding charm around Alaric’s room, she thinks, biting into another soggy fry. 

They return to the motel and Alaric had thankfully given her a separate room.

She bade him goodnight and muttered a quick protection spell over the door of his room after he had gone inside, the Latin flowing out of her lips just the way Freya had taught her. 

They really couldn’t take their chances with whatever this monster was. It could be anything, really, and it seemed that men somehow fell prey easier than women. 

Or perhaps women weren’t even a part of the equation. 

With her head filled with random scenarios and plans for gathering additional information tomorrow morning from the local sheriff who looked like he was at his wit’s end, Hope rattled off a few texts to Josie. 

It was her roundabout way of inquiring about Lizzie and the state of the school in their absence. She hoped the brunette siphon wouldn’t read too much into it. 

The text came through and with it, Josie’s voice in Hope’s head. You can always just text her, you know. Rather than going through me.” 

The three dots appeared after Josie’s text and then disappeared, only to reappear again. Hope holds her breath. 

“She’s fine. She may or may not be sulking because Dad took you rather than all of us, but as of now, there are no broken dishes to report.”

A pause and another text appears. “Why are you so concerned about Lizzie?” 

Hope throws her phone at that remark, imagining a smirk on Josie’s lips, a hand running through her hair. Josie has always been more perceptive than her sister. Right now, Hope hates her for it. 

She picks up the phone a second later to text Lizzie, in a breezy, off-hand, and not-at-all concerned way, then throws it on the bed again, not waiting for a reply that she was sure wouldn’t be forthcoming. 

Where the hell had all of this concern for the taller Saltzman come from? 

They’ve never really been friends, after all. 

Yes, she might have saved all of their lives by sacrificing herself and taking an extended vacation in a glorified mud bath, but her draw to Lizzie was inexplicable. 

She can’t deny that it’s a draw - magnetic and charged - as if the particles within her need and crave the particles within Lizzie. 

As true as breathing, as true as the rising and setting of the sun, there is something special about Elizabeth Saltzman. 

Josie seems subdued, even over text, and Hope really couldn’t blame her.

She was still nursing the many wounds that Penelope’s absence had left, but despite that, she was stronger-willed and more likely to speak up now than before. 

That had to be something, right? 

Climbing into bed with a sigh and a silent prayer on her lips that they are all safe back at school, and that a particular blonde is keeping out of trouble, Hope waves her hand to turn out the lamp on her bedside table. 

She wakes with a start, pushing curls from her face, her heart beating rapidly and dull in her chest. Her entire body is covered in a cold sweat, her dark sleeping shirt crumpled, covers thrown astrew.

Her dreams have been taken captive, invaded by dark birds flying low and in circles over her bed. They were cawing loudly. Their wings beating together, larger than normal crows. Foreboding. Eyes dark as night. Fire behind their dark irises.

She heard tell of an old legend of a girl pulled from her bed by the loud cawing of crows, her crown thrown away as she was taken down to hell. But no, this dream can’t actually mean anything.

The crows continue their melancholy song, as if they had broken free of her mind. Their cries echoing across the landscape.

Their song spoke of a girl ripped from her bed and carried to the land of death. 

Death, a man, always a man. His face in shadow reigning over lost souls. Ferrying them to the next life. 

But she is not marked yet - her skin was white and untouched. 

Her heart is still beating and blood poured through her veins. Her lungs still work and she is whole. 

The dream was streaming out of her brain, tendrils of thought like mist and Hope reaches up to her forehead, her hand coming away damp. 

The crows continue to sing, however. As if the world hasn't stopped spinning. Hope shakes her head to clear out the cobwebs as the door to her room bursts open.

Lizzie Saltzman enters, whirling through the door like a tornado, her chest heaving. 

She is an ethereal vision, even now, blonde hair in disarray, her face pale. 

Lightning flashes behind her, illuminating her parted lips, her eyes, wide and pleading. 

“The monster,” she breathes out, and the words that follow are erased by a crash of thunder. Hope moves fast, in a blur, out of bed and onto her feet and before she can comprehend a single moment, she has a shivering Lizzie Saltzman in her arms. 

Without conscious thought, her hand is raised, of its own accord, pushing a stray lock of blonde hair behind Lizzie’s ear. “What happened, Lizzie?” she asks. 

“The monster was after me,” Lizzie breathes out, “please, can you take me away from here?”

Hands reach up to cup Lizzie’s face and her eyes are wild, darting from left to right, taking in the room - the tangled sheets, the opened suitcase on the floor with one of Freya’s grimoire laying atop a pair of black lace underwear. Hope rolls her eyes at herself and feels her cheeks grow warm. 

How the hell did Lizzie make it all the way from Mystic Falls in the middle of the night? How did she do it alone? And why the fuck had Josie not told her that Lizzie was on her way? 

Lizzie shifts, closer, her body pressing against Hope, and Hope pulls her closer, almost involuntarily. 

She needs to asses the situation. 

Calm down. Focus. 

“Tell me what happened,” she pleads. 

But Lizzie simply burrows her face into Hope’s shoulder, pale and shaking and shivering with fear. 

It feels like an image out of an entirely different dream, Lizzie so close to her, in Hope’s arms. 

Maybe that’s why she feels like this, light-headed, intoxicated, drunk on Lizzie Saltzman.

She needs to act. 

They could be in danger. 

Lizzie could be in danger. 

She tilts Lizzie’s head upwards, carefully, tenderly, until their eyes meet and Lizzie is staring up at her, eerily pliant  and Hope wants. She wants, and she wants, and she wants to carry Lizzie away from all danger and all demons, protect her and shield her. 

“Lizzie, I need you to tell me what happened,” she insists, thinks of Josie and all the other students at the Salvatore School. They could be in danger. 

Before Lizzie can reply, the door flies open, nearly broken off its rusted hinges, revealing Alaric, the crossbow held out in front of him at the ready. 

Lizzie whimpers, curls deeper into Hope, and Hope reacts, places her body between them, shields Lizzie from her father. 

“Hope, get away-”

“You’re scaring your daughter, Alaric,” she chides, waits for him to lower the crossbow. “Don’t worry, I’ve got you.” 

He may not be the best father, but this is too much. 

Alaric keeps the crossbow firmly raised. 

“Hope,” Alaric begins, the concern and panic in his voice making it tremble as her name falls out of his lips. 

He’s terrified. He’s terrified and he won’t lower the weapon. Levels the tip of the arrowhead at Lizzie’s skull. Hope feels a growl grow in her chest, instinctual and animalistic. 

“Hope, let go of it and take a few steps back.” 

His voice is measured now and he steps forward cautiously. 

“It?” Alaric had misspoken. It was the heat of the moment, the fear coursing through his veins, Hope rationalized. 

“Hope, you’re hugging a corpse.” 

“Can’t you see it?! It looks just like -” Hope’s voice breaks. Lizzie, she wants to say, looks just like Lizzie. Because it - she - looks like Lizzie. But now she feels wrong. She smells wrong. 

This isn’t Lizzie. This isn’t her Lizzie. 

Lizzie, who smells like cinnamon and coffee and the rain. 

Not like this, not like metal and blood and nothingness. 

Lizzie, who fears and fights anyway, who would never ask Hope to bring her away from battle. Lizzie, who would be saying something sarcastic and not looking up at Hope, saccharine sweet. 

Blue eyes are inches away from her and Hope sees, and sees, and sees. 

This is not Lizzie. 

It’s a trick, a deception, and she has fallen victim to it. 

She comes to her senses. But it is too late. 

She pushes, but the woman - girl- monster-, far too close to her,  pushes back, and there is a knife embedded in her stomach, the hilt an ornate web of steel that screams pagan. 

That screams old and otherworldly. 

Searing pain rushes through her, blinding, and now she can see the weapon, once again in the woman’s hand and she whispers the first spell she can think of, blasts the monster out of the window. 

And she needs to go after her, but instead, she finds herself on the ground. 

The smell of blood is strong and it’s all over her clothes and in her nose. 

It’s not the scent she craved, cinnamon and coffee and the rain. 

She lifts her head to see Alaric plucking the knife off of the ground, wrapping it in a handkerchief, before coming to her side, knees bent. 

Concern is etched on his face as his eyes travel from her face to the wound at her side. 

The world spins again and she hears Alaric rise, walk away from Hope, and unleash a bow from his weapon. A moment, a pause, then another one. 

A final act of vengeance on a creature whose motivations were shrouded in secrecy. The world spins off of its axis, her vision swims with darkness, and she passes out. 

It’s pouring rain by the time Hope makes it back to the school. 

She had run through the woods as her wolf while Alaric had been driving somewhere alongside her. 

She had lost track of him as the road pulled away from the woods, but she could sense him nearby, could hear the low rumble of the car’s engine in the distance.

Far away and far too close. 

She had shrugged off his questions and concerns with a snarl before shifting, once she had regained consciousness. 

Instead, she had used the many miles of fog and trees to throw her anger out to the sky. How could she have been so stupid? Her blind spot, her weakness, was growing larger. 

Humiliation burns inside of her, hot and raw. 

She’s Hope Mikaelson.

She should know better. She should know better than to be easily fooled by a pretty face and an earnest smile and the image and feeling of Lizzie Saltzman, in her arms. 

She hadn’t gambled on rain, but nothing else seemed to be going right tonight. 

Virginia’s weather was tempestuous at best, and this late in the fall, a rainstorm could turn into a flash flood in a second. 

And yet, there is something calming about the storms pouring down above her, unhindered and uncontrolled. 

She doesn’t think about the gash on her side at her hip. 

Knows that it will heal while she runs, but she makes it back to the school, changes into a dry pair of jeans and a sweater at the Old Mill, and promises Alaric that she’ll be fine, that she just needs some rest. 

Slowly, she walks towards the hallway, up to her room, when she finds herself dizzy and faint all over again. 

Her hand goes to her side and her palm comes away wet and red. 

Her knees shake and she collapses. 

Her body, betraying her by not healing, let her down again as she looks up at the person whose path she was now blocking.

 She had fallen not three steps in front of a very wet, nearly naked Lizzie Saltzman, clad only in a towel. 

“Come on now, Mikaelson, you can’t be falling for me that easily.”

But the jest in her voice knits itself into concern on her face as Lizzie kneels before Hope’s form. 

Hope collapses in front of her and Lizzie feels her world shatter. 

Very carefully, she drops to her knees in front of Hope’s body before she calls for Josie.

Her hand covers Hope’s forehead and comes away wet when she removes it and her racing heart increases its tempo, beating dull and loud. 

Josie bursts out of their room, her hand on her chest and Lizzie knows that stupid shared twin pain look when she sees it. 

It makes Lizzie even more concerned. Her reaction to Hope falling was like a lightning bolt and Josie’s eyes widen she takes in the scene. 

Lizzie, in a towel. A bleeding Hope on the floor. 

The world around her seems blurry, focused only upon the figure of Hope Mikaelson on the ground in front of her. 

“Josie, get Dad!” 

Lizzie’s voice cracks and shakes and Josie takes one look at her with a brow raised before departing.  

Lizzie sees the blood, assesses the injury and siphons from the floor beneath her to mutter a low healing spell over Hope’s wound, but to no avail. 

The skin stitches itself together before opening again and again. 

Lizzie siphons more and more from the floor, taking the power that flows through the school but it’s useless. She tired and spent and Hope’s wound shines red. 

Hope keeps bleeding and Lizzie feels breathless, fear, concern, worry, intermingling. 

She doesn’t know how long it takes for her dad to arrive. 

It feels like hours. 

Hours, with Lizzie’s hand pressed over Hope’s wound, attempting to maintain pressure. 

Hours, in which she watches Hope’s chest rise and fall, far too slowly. 

Hours of waiting. 

It’s probably minutes. 

They maneuver her into the twin’s room, into Josie’s unused bed. She still wouldn’t admit to the nights she spent in Penelope’s old room, and Lizzie wasn’t going to fight her on it. Josie needed time to heal in her own way. 

Josie and Alaric debate and discuss and Dorian and Emma rush in and out. A flurry of motion and Lizzie is still, Hope’s hand in hers and at some point she had gotten dressed, even though she couldn’t remember leaving the tribrid’s side. 

She wades out of her reverie, lost for a moment as the world comes back to her, and she can still hear them discussing and debating, but all she can focus on is Hope, ghastly pale and almost unmoving. 

They bandage the wound, still open, still unhealing. 

“Your mother taught me this,” Alaric says, and Lizzie thinks about Josette, and about her mother, away in Europe, and wishes either of them were here. 

After a while, they disappear, one after the other. 

Josie and Dorian go to the library to try to find something, anything, that could indicate what stabbed her, what wounds a tribrid, who they could be up against. 

A student runs in requesting Emma. 

Lizzie barely listens but she had moved fully onto Josie’s bed with Hope, sitting with her back against the headboard, an arm up on the wood. 

Protecting Hope as she lay. Josie comes in sometime later, face determined, and whispers a slew of spells over Hope and the skin stitches itself together slowly as Lizzie looks on with wide eyes. They add a clean bandage, out of the worst of it for now. Or so they hoped. 

Her father looks more uncomfortable with every passing minute and she knows that the pressures of running a school are bearing down on him. 

“Go,” she says, “I’ll stay with her.”

She couldn’t imagine being anywhere else, anyway. 

Time blends together as Hope lays still. 

One day bleeds to two. 

Lizzie doesn’t leave Hope’s side and the smirk that sits on Josie’s face grows by the day, but Lizzie really isn’t ready to have that conversation. 

Josie reminds Lizzie to shower and eat. Alaric comes in and stands awkwardly at the foot of the bed, hand at the back of his neck. 

Josie reminds her to take a walk, that Hope will wake up, that she has to wake up. 

Josie also reminds her that Hope is the most powerful being in the world, but all Lizzie sees is auburn hair and a gorgeous smile. 

Landon comes by far too often for Lizzie’s liking.

 She flees from the room each time, before she says something way off-base, before she calls him a hobbit or mud puddle, before she tells him that he doesn’t deserve her. 

Before she has to explain why his presence bothers her. Why she can’t stand to be in the same room as him. Why -

She leaves when he comes in, and stands outside, and thinks about Hope, until the rage inside of her subsides, a little. 

He stays too long, but when he leaves, he shoots Lizzie a glance with a clouded look. 

Lizzie sleeps fitfully, but always, always with an arm around Hope. 

They really should have moved her to her own private room. 

Josie’s eyes are far too knowing, but they both excel at hiding things from each other when the heart is involved. 

The next morning, she takes off to the library and finds a book on magical creatures, piecing the story together from what little Alaric had told her. 

They think it was a shapeshifter, but that could mean anything. That could be anything. 

She researches kitsunes and other creatures. She combs through books for a creature who takes the forms of others, the forms of humans. 

She doesn’t know what or who Hope saw. Only that Alaric saw a corpse and Hope saw something else. Someone else.  

She’s sure it was Landon, but even that thought doesn’t sit right with her. 

She tries to forget that Alaric had said that Hope was clutching the creature, cradling it gently in her arms.

The thought of Hope and Landon together is enough to make her skin crawl and her heart race. 

She finally settles on jinns. Learns about how they can appear in human and animal form. 

How they can possess and trick humans. How they exist in a grey area between angels and demons. 

The jinn isn’t the most important thing though. 

The dagger, with its hilt of silver and steel. The dagger that wounded a tribrid and dragged her into a deep slumber. 

Alaric wouldn’t dare let her touch the knife, despite her pleading. 

He locked it somewhere in his office even her magic couldn’t find. 

She came back to her room to find a book of about Persian weapons on her bedside table, with a few guesses as to who provided it.  

She leaves her room later, the night after the book arrived, to run to the kitchen for a banana and finds Pedro leaving with a giant cookie in his hand and a wink. 

That kid knew more than all of them combined. 

She perches on the edge of the bed over the book, reading about a dagger laced with poison and sealed with a charm that could pierce even the skin of a tribrid. 

She learns about its origins - a knife forged centuries ago, a blood pact between a witch and a voodoo priest because, of course, all roads lead them back to New Orleans. 

Even if the roads started thousands of miles away in the cradle of civilization. 

None of her research leads her to a cure, however. 

Just questions, endless questions. 

Two days bleed to three, three to four,  four seeps into six and finally, finally Hope wakes up. 

Lizzie is gone from the room, showering after a very pointed comment from Josie in which the siphon insinuated that perhaps Lizzie would wake Hope up with her scent alone. 

“She is a werewolf, after all, Liz. Superior sense of smell.” 

Lizzie had sent a book flying at Josie for that before her sister escaped out the door, but a quick smell of her shirt told her that Josie wasn’t wrong. 

“Gross. You better be worth this, Mikaelson. And don’t you dare wake up without me, okay?” 

She moves to kiss Hope on the forehead but stops herself because she can’t, won’t, refuses to go there, and shakes her head before disappearing to the bathroom down the hall. 

Hope wakes slowly, eyes adjusting to the low darkness and she realizes that she’s alone in the twin’s room. 

Her memories end with the monster, the rain, Lizzie. Her phone is charged next to her and the date is some six days in the future. 

She remembers patches of memories, tendrils of thought,  and it’s hazy. She remembers warmth and soothing words. She remembers magic and Lizzie. 

A lot of Lizzie. 

A very naked, blurry Lizzie muttering spell after spell over her body on the warm wooden floor. 

Hope takes a deep breath and swallows, her legs pulled up to her chest. 

She looks down and she’s wearing a hoodie of Lizzie’s. 

Looks at her legs and she’s in too-long plaid pajamas. 

The clothes smell right. They smell like cinnamon and vanilla. 

They smell like the creature should have smelled. 

The door opens with a bang and Josie flies in, already mid-sentence and holding a book. 

“Liz,” Josie says, “have you seen-”, before she spots Hope, interrupts herself and hurries over to the bed.

 “Hey. You’re awake. How are you feeling?”

“Dizzy,” Hope decides on. It’s at least half the truth. “What happened?”

“You showed up here, like a week ago, with a stab wound and fainted. Lizzie brought you in here,” Josie enunciates her sister’s name, an eyebrow raised. 

Hope doesn’t miss the implication, but chooses to ignore it.

“I didn’t heal on the run back. Why didn’t I heal on the run back?” she questions, feeling the skin on her side and how it feels tight, how it feels new. Her fingers move along a raised scar. 

Josie shrugs. “It was a bewitched dagger. Do you remember how you got stabbed?”

Hope curls her body a little more into the hoodie, a little deeper, breathes in. Lizzie. 

“There was a shape-shifting demon. It fooled me,” she doesn’t really want to elaborate, doesn’t know how to explain that she held Lizzie in her arms and got tricked. 

Outwitted. 

Josie’s eyes are on her, far too observant. 

“Was it Landon?” she asks, “did it turn into him?”

Hope is taken aback by the question.”

 Oh shit, Hope had forgotten about him. 

 “What - Landon? No.” She breathes, in and out, slowly. “Why?”

Josie shrugs, far too nonchalant. “The demon was a jinn. It commonly takes the shape of someone you care about, to trick you.”

Hope doesn’t know what to say, and before she can reply, Josie moves, her lips turning into hint of a smirk. “Lizzie should be back soon. She just went to shower.”

Hope sits up, a little more. “Lizzie was here?” And bites down on her lip, because this is Lizzie’s room. 

Of course she was. 

Josie gets up without bothering to hide the fact that she’s rolling her eyes. “She never left your side.”

Josie pauses, whirling back to Hope. “Except when Landon came by.” Hope ignites the pang in her stomach at the mention of Landon, again. 

Another sigh and Hope breathes in more of Lizzie, can feel her presence even now.

 Can feel an arm wrapped around her and a ghost of a kiss on her forehead. 

“Jo, did you use my body wash agai-? Hope!” Lizzie’s voice breaks the silence after the mention of Landon and Hope feels a weight lifted from her. 

Lizzie clutches her towel to her chest, in the doorway, the faintest tinge of red spreading down her body. 

A memory comes back to Hope, unbidden, and it makes her heart race and her stomach drop. 

She remembers it now. Remembers collapsing in front of Lizzie. 

Remembers tiny droplets of water and warm hands. 

“You really don’t like wearing clothes around me, do you?” Hope quips, if only to divert attention from her red face and the warmth tingling through her abdomen. 

“A girl could think this is turning into a habit for you.” 

Lizzie looks down at her body, absently, and rolls her eyes, stepping further into the room. 

There were far more important things to worry about than her lack of clothing. 

She bites back a retort, knowing she did not need to be flirting with Hope right in front of Josie. Not that she wanted to flirt with Hope at all. They were friends. Hope was her friend. 

She kept a watch over her day and night because that’s what friends do. 

“How are you awake?! Are you okay? None of the books said anything about you waking up but of course you had to wake up at some poin-” 

“Clothes, Lizzie,” Josie reminds her sister, barely hiding the laughter in her voice. A hand is over Josie’s mouth and Hope really couldn’t blame her.  “Not all of us want to see you in a towel.” 

Hope chose to ignore the implication that some of them do. 

“Clothes? Oh, clothes! Right! Yes.” Clutching the towel, the blonde grabs a pair of sweatpants and an old t-shirt before rushing out of the room. 

“So….” Josie begins and Hope has to clear her throat to focus on the present and not on the way Lizzie’s curves could barely be hidden by the piece of terry cloth or the number of water droplets that had escaped down her chest and into the towel. 

Twelve, she thinks. Not that she was looking. Or counting.  

Lizzie is thankfully back after a few moments and it really should be a sin to look that good in a t-shirt that was on backwards and sweatpants two sizes too big, but somehow the blonde Saltzman made it work. 

Lizzie sits in the chair by her bed and Hope wants to reach out, wants the closeness and the warmth she knows she’s had by her side for days. She wants it back. 

Hope doesn’t answer any of the rapid-fire questions Lizzie had thrown her way moments before. 

Doesn’t do anything but watch the blonde and think about flashes of memory and dreams. 

Dreams of yellow hair and blue eyes and a bed that was almost too small for the two of them. 

It’s awkward now. 

Lizzie is gazing at her with a smile, waiting for the full story, and Hope, Hope can’t bring herself to give words to her moment of weakness.

To begin explaining what happened. To begin accepting what it means. 

“I should go,” she says, desperately trying not to let her reticence show. 

“Landon will want - I should,” the excuse is out of her mouth too quickly and she can see the way Lizzie feels it’s sting. 

The statement hurts them both but somehow the pain is even more acute when Lizzie sighs at her and says, “He came by to check on you every day. It was both romantic and revolting at the same time.” 

“Yeah, he’s, uh, dependable like that,” Hope chokes out. 

It’s too warm in here, in Lizzie’s sweater, in her clothes, in her bed, in her room, surrounded by her. 

The smile on Lizzie’s face is forced, and it breaks something inside of Hope, to see Lizzie acting, trying, pretending to be happy for her. 

“I really should go see Landon,” Hope says, stumbling out of the room with a smile, biting her lip to hold back tears. She storms out in and nothing but a far too empty silence remains. 

“Do you want to-,” Josie attempts, but Lizzie shakes her head. No. No. No. There’s nothing to say. 

Josie buries her head in a book not long after. Lizzie turns over in bed, away from Josie, away from the imprint Hope had left after days, away from the scent lingering on her pillow. 

Josie turns out the light and Lizzie stays awake, eyes open and staring into the darkness. 

The floorboards creak in front of their room hours later as the door opens slowly. 

Moonlight spills across the floor and Hope is brilliant, dazzling even in the darkness. Lizzie sits up, sees Hope and feels her heart catch in her throat.

She says nothing as she gets into bed. Lizzie wants to ask her why, ask her about Landon, but as Hope curls into her side, her words are lost. 

Lizzie wakes in the morning, her head buried in Hope’s neck and her arm slung across her stomach. Josie’s bed is empty and made and as she sits up in bed, Hope wakes up too. 

They don’t talk about it. 

Even Josie spares them knowing commentary. 

This happens again the next night and each night after for a week. 

They never talk about it and Lizzie decides that maybe she doesn’t need to figure it all out, especially if it means that Hope is safe in her bed each night. 

Maybe she doesn’t need an explanation if it means losing Hope’s presence in her mind and in her bed. 

Maybe the visible evidence of Hope being alive, well and here is enough. It’s enough without talk of words or feelings. It had to be enough, right? 

Late one night, two weeks after the jinn attack and eight days after Hope had woken up, Lizzie’s up late,  researching the dagger when she hears the floorboards creak again and knows that moments later, her door will slowly crack open.

She tosses the book on her bedside table and runs a hand through her hair before holding up the comforter as Hope climbs in. Josie had chosen tonight to escape to Penelope’s old room, and suddenly, all the questions that Lizzie hasn’t been asking feel pressing. 

“Not that I’m not enjoying our sleepovers but shouldn’t we maybe- ?” 

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Hope cuts her off, flicking her hand to douse the light. 

She is dressed in shorts and an oversized t-shirt, the neck of the shirt showing off her shoulder and the crescent moon that always shone so bright. 

“Clearly,” Lizzie can’t help but roll her eyes at Hope. The strong silent act has gone on a bit too long. 

She pauses, takes a breath, and utters the words that had been echoing in her mind since Hope had regained consciousness. 

“Is Lando-,” Lizzie begins as Hope curls into her side, facing her, the light from outside keeping her face half in shadow and Lizzie never thought Hope would willingly be the little spoon but the precedent was telling. 

“Can we not, please?” Hope closes her eyes slowly before laying on her back, face upturned towards the ceiling. 

She tries to hide the pain that strikes across her chest at the mention of Landon but knows Lizzie sees far too much of her emotions. 

She isn’t sure that is a good thing. 

Lizzie looks at her, her face softening and so many questions fly forward again, but she nods and settles on her side. 

Hope turns over, her back to Lizzie and the blonde sighs and pulls the tribrid closer to her, her head buried in the back of Hope’s neck, her arm tight around her waist. 

Lizzie falls asleep thinking of daggers and curses and vanilla and Hope. 

The scream that wakes Lizzie up is entirely too close and entirely too wrenching. 

Hope is thrashing in the sheets, a cold sweat on her body as whimpers crack through the silence. 

“Hey, hey, shush. It’s okay!” Lizzie pulls her into her arms as Hope comes to, kissing her forehead in an effort to calm the girl. 

“You’re here and you’re safe, Hope. I’ve got you.” 

I’ve got you. I’ve got you. 

The words echo through Hope’s mind and she sees Lizzie, cold and wet, smells blood and iron and feels the weight of Lizzie’s corpse in her arms once more. 

“Nightmare?” Lizzie asks as Hope’s breathing slows, but Hope doesn’t reply, only looks at her, looks at her with an expression both questioning and pleading as she places a hand on Lizzie’s cheek. 

Her eyes dance across Lizzie’s face and the blonde really had never taken a moment to appreciate the flecks of brown in Hope’s brilliantly blue eyes. Now, she can’t look away.

Lizzie feels her own heart rate speed up and she isn’t sure who moves first, only that they come together, slowly, tentatively, lips exploring and memorizing, and then quickly. 

Nothing could have prepared Lizzie for this. Kissing Hope Mikaelson is like the falling without the fear of the impact.

It’s like flying, high above the clouds with the sun on her face. It is like magic flowing through her fingers. 

It feels like coming home. 

Hope kisses like she fights, with a passion and the hunger of a wolf. She takes control and Lizzie wants to drink and Hope in and capture this feeling. 

Her tongue slips into Lizzie’s mouth and they share one breath, breaking only to breathe before their heavy-lidded eyes make contact again. 

Lizzie tries to flip Hope but the tribrid is obnoxiously stubborn in all things, so why would making out be any different? A laugh is shared between the two as Lizzie runs her hands through Hope’s hair, tucking a stray lock behind her ear. 

She wants to tell Hope she’s beautiful. She wants to tell her a lot of things. She wants and she wants and she wants.  And so she takes. 

Their clothes are shed in a pile on the floor next to them as the sun is breaking over the horizon and Lizzie knows better than to ask any questions, lest the spell be broken and Hope runs. 

She’s always been so terribly, terribly good at running. 

Hope thinks fleetingly about soft spots, about weaknesses, but she thinks that if there is anyone she would want to break over, it would be Lizzie Saltzman, time and time again. 

She knows this now. Had shied away from it days before but her everything had been leading to this moment and she was tired, so tired of running from fate. 

Hope’s holding onto Lizzie like she is her lifeline and Lizzie finds herself backed against the headboard, Hope hovering somewhere above her, inches away and unbearably far. 

They’re seated, Hope in her lap and her hands cup Lizzie’s face and she sends kisses down Lizzie’s neck and behind her ear and who knew that spot would send chills down Lizzie’s body and to her core? Lizzie responds with a moan in Hope’s ear that earns a playful growl from Hope, Lizzie’s hands scratching down Hope’s back. 

Hope bites at Lizzie’s pulse point, earning another moan from Lizzie. 

Heat is rising from a spot in her stomach, and Hope astride her is thoroughly unhelpful, and Lizzie gasps out, “Hope…”

Hope moves down her body now and Lizzie feels herself sink lower into the pillows as kisses dot her chest, her stomach, her hips, her thighs. Hope bites her hip bone and Lizzie wants more, more kisses, more bites, more teasing, more Hope. 

It isn’t until she’s pulled forward, Hope grasping the back of her thighs to slowly, painstakingly kiss a trail up her calf to her center that Lizzie realizes she needs this girl more than breathing. Realizes she is completely naked in bed with Hope Mikaelson and this somehow feels too fast and years in the making. 

All rational thought escapes her brain as Hope licks through her center and fuck, girls really are so much better at this than boys. 

The moan that escapes her mouth is loud, far too loud. but somehow she can’t bring herself to care, not when Hope is kneeling between her legs, her red hair a halo around her head in the wan morning light and god, she was so beautiful.

Her fingers tighten around the sheets, gripping the material.

Another lick and Lizzie is squirming now, and Hope stops, pulling a hand that had been holding onto Lizzie’s hip to keep her still to run through her now thoroughly-tousled hair. 

Lizzie makes another noise, a plea or a prayer, Hope isn’t sure. But she watches the blonde’s chest rise and fall rapidly, waiting silently. 

This is sex but it’s also a new beginning and an ending. A willful choice to ignore the signs screaming no, to give in if only just this once. Hope isn’t sure she will ever be the same again after this. That anything will ever be the same. 

Lizzie is important, more important than a quick fuck. More important than anything. This is different. This is better, this is special. 

She moves her lips lower now, kissing Lizzie’s pubic bone before another breathy moan shakes Lizzie’s body. 

She leans in, licking in a long line up and down, and Lizzie arches closer towards her, another moan falling from her lips. Hope traces patterns with her tongue and traces her hands over Lizzie’s thigh, takes in the soft skin and the way Lizzie moves against her before she slips one, and after a moment, another finger inside of Lizzie. She is met with an “oh my god,” and should ask if this is okay, if this is too much. But as she moves her hand in and out and pauses to check, Lizzie exhales to the ceiling and breathes, “don’t you dare stop.” 

And she doesn’t. She doesn’t stop until she feels the wave of euphoria building in Lizzie, until she hears her breathing change, until the moans build and build and Hope really should have cast a cloaking spell but she’s enjoying the sounds of Elizabeth Saltzman coming undone underneath her touch far, far too much. She doesn’t stop until Lizzie is clenching around her fingers and her breathing crescendos and falls. 

She stops only when Lizzie’s hand, which had somehow found its way to to top of Hope’s head in an attempt to pull the tribrid more fully into her, to more easily grind against her tongue, lightly pushes Hope away to collapse on the bed, chest slick with sweat and heaving. 

Hope takes another lick after she pulls her fingers out, and another as Lizzie writhes under the sensitivity, but the blonde seems powerless to stop her. She can’t help the smile that crosses her face as she presses a kiss to Lizzie’s thigh . This is something she could get used to far too easily. Being drunk on Lizzie Saltzman was as intoxicating as it was dangerous.

She kisses her way back along Lizzie’s thighs, up her stomach, until Lizzie pulls her upwards, until they’re close enough to kiss again. 

Hope kisses her and Lizzie feels breathless, still coming down from her orgasm. She loses herself in the kisses, in Hope’s lips, gentle and soft against her, and she doesn’t even notice what she’s doing until she feels magic coursing through her body.

Far too much magic. She breaks away, intent on apologizing. “I’m sorry,” she begins, but Hope silences further apologies with the gentle press of a finger against her lips. 

“I liked it,” she says. Her voice sounds different, a little rougher, a little rawer, and she’s looking down at Lizzie, her eyes darker than usual. It’s all the permission Lizzie needs. 

She settles her hands on Hope’s hips, pulling her impossibly closer, before she flips them. This time, Hope lets her. 

Lizzie hovers over her, letting her eyes linger on Hope’s features, breathtakingly gorgeous, before she slowly bends down to kiss Hope, before she begins siphoning. Power flows through her as she kisses Hope. Knows that she can take as much as she likes without weakening Hope. Knows that this connection, this spell, is their own kind of magic. Ancient and instinctual, but magic nonetheless from a girl too strong, who fears being weak, to a girl who takes but only if offered. The electricity sparks around them and Lizzie is buzzing with need and want and hunger for Hope.

She traces the lines of Hope’s body with her hands, learns the way Hope’s breathing accelerates when she trails kisses down her neck, the way she gasps Lizzie’s name when she grazes her teeth over Hope’s nipple, cupping her breasts in her hands. 

She wants to, she needs to, commit every single inch of Hope’s body to memory, and she moves her lips over the exposed skin, kissing, sucking, leaving marks that will be gone by morning. But for tonight, Hope is here, and Lizzie can’t help but marvel at every birthmark, every freckle, every atom that makes up Hope Mikaelson. 

Hope’s body feels taut underneath her touch, powerful, and Lizzie thinks that she never wants this moment, this night, to end. 

She slips lower down the bed, stops at the scar that is still marking Hope’s body, inches above her hip, a lasting reminder of the dagger wound she received. But Hope is alive, Hope is well, Hope is here. 

Lizzie sucks on soft skin above Hope’s hip, beneath the scar, and Hope groans, “Liz,” slipping out from her lips and Lizzie needs, needs, needs to hear Hope say her name like that again. She moves lower and circles Hope’s clit with her tongue and Hope’s body curves upwards, her head thrown back, her hair splayed out across the pillows. 

Hope is warm and soft underneath her touch, and Lizzie feels addicted to the way she tastes, addicted to how she arches impossibly closer when Lizzie moves her tongue inside of her, addicted to the way she gasps when Lizzie draws patterns over her. 

She has her hand on Hope’s hip, and Hope reaches down and tangles their fingers together, and Lizzie looks up for a second, to meet Hope’s gaze, warm, and soft, and entirely focused on Lizzie.  Hope may be the artist, but Lizzie could paint those eyes from memory alone. 

Lizzie switches between broad stroke and fast circles, one hand firmly intertwined with Hope’s, the other on the soft skin of Hope’s thigh. Hope’s breathing quickens and her grasp on Lizzie’s hand tightens and Lizzie thinks that she never wants this moment to end. “Fuck,” falls from Hope’s lips, “fuck, baby,” and Lizzie quickens her movements and feels Hope’s body rock against her. 

She doesn’t let go of Hope’s hand during the shudders of Hope’s orgasm, lingers between Hope’s legs, leaving soft kisses, until Hope sits up, a smile on her face that has Lizzie’s heart doing things and tugs on her hand. “Come here,” she requests, her voice low and lazy. 

Lizzie wakes and they are wrapped in each other. Impossibly close and the blonde can’t help but trace lines from the pillow on Hope’s cheek. 

Hope’s eyes are closed but Lizzie knows she’s awake, thinks maybe she is also trying to memorize this moment. This feeling. 

Lizzie mind flashes to an immortal boy with curly hair and her heart sinks. Last night with Hope, being with Hope, was far too good to be true and this surely was all a dream.

But she feels solid and warm beneath Lizzie’s fingers, had felt real last night. 

And yet, this isn’t real, she reminds herself, as awareness starts setting in, as the rest of her sleepiness disappears, and suddenly, Hope’s hold on her feels constricting, far too tight, because none of this is actually real. 

And Lizzie can’t remain here, can’t indulge in this illusion for any longer, can’t keep hoping that Hope wants her back.  

A kiss to Hope’s temple because this was doomed from the start and Lizzie flees from the room, taking a pile of clothes with her. 

Hope gives her five minutes, ten minutes. 

Ten minutes of staring at the ceiling in the room Lizzie and Josie had shared since before Hope had come to Salvatore. 

The room had always seemed like Lizzie and Josie’s space, their sanctuary. 

A sacred haven for the twins that was off-limits to the girl with no family. 

After waking up here, in Lizzie’s arms, it felt a bit more like home, but maybe that was just the warmth around them. 

With a sigh, Hope dresses quickly, knowing where Lizzie had run off to, knowing she would find the blonde at the Old Mill. She was far too predictable. 

Josie walks in when she’s pulling a sweater, not her own, over her head, takes in the room and Hope’s dishevelled state with a raised eyebrow. 

She says nothing about the now-fading marks on Hope’s neck, nothing about the sheets kicked to the floor. 

“Dad wants to leave after breakfast. Dorian found something.”

Hope nods, absentmindedly. “Yeah, no, sure. Uh, I’ve got to go, Jo, I’ll see you in a bit.”

Josie’s voice stops her when she’s almost reached the door. “Hope.”

Hope look over shoulder. “Yes?”

“Don’t screw it up. And watch out for anything flying at your head.”

As she predicted, she finds Lizzie inside the Old Mill.

 Hope approaches cautiously and Lizzie sniffs from the ratty old couch, running a finger underneath her eye to catch stray tears,  her knees pulled up to her chest. 

“You ran. Very loudly, even for someone with super hearing, but you still ran,” she begins, testing the waters. 

“I was saving you the awkward conversation about how last night was a mistake, how it should never have happened,” 

Lizzie looks up from the couch, lashes sparkling, and Hope joins her. They maintain their distance, even if Hope wants to reach out and wipe away every tear that had fallen from Lizzie’s eyes. 

She was gorgeous, even now. She always had been. 

“Funny. I thought you were going to hit me with that same argument this morning,” Hope laughs but it lacks any real joy and she glances up to catch Lizzie’s eyes, unsure. 

Unsure even after everything they shared together just hours before. 

“Landon,” Lizzie begins, her voice cracking. 

“Isn’t my boyfriend,” Hope finishes, a smile on her face that is forced. 

She gets it now.

A bite to her lip and this really wasn’t how things were supposed to go. 

She curses herself, her own stubbornness, her cautiousness, her fear. 

She really should have been honest from the start but giving voice to this, to them, her feelings seemed monumental. 

She would choose Malivore over talking to Lizzie about her own feelings, 

about the way Lizzie makes her feel far weaker than she is allowed to be. 

“I broke up with Landon the night I woke up,” Hope admits.

It had been remarkably amicable because Landon was a remarkably amicable guy. 

He’d stopped her as she turned away and asked, “It’s about Lizzie, isn’t it?” 

His perceptiveness had surprised her, but clearly she had been the only one with blinders on all along. 

“You didn’t care to share any of this with me?” Lizzie isn’t sad anymore.

She’s furious, the righteous anger igniting like a wildfire within her and Hope was surely going to feel the burn. 

Collateral damage, like a bomb going off, the shrapnel digging deep. 

Around them, the old structure shakes precariously and Hope remembers, quite clearly, suddenly, just how much magic, how much power, Lizzie carries within her after last night. 

“You thought you could just climb into my bed each night with no questions asked? Didn’t you think I would want to know!?” 

“Why, Lizzie? Why would you want to know about it? You jump from boy to boy faster than Josie can set a fire.” 

 Hope was grasping at anything now, any dig she could take at Lizzie to save herself from explaining everything.

 The mill shakes again and knows that both she and Lizzie are walking a tightrope.

“You aren’t any boy, Hope. You aren’t just anyone. What don’t you get?! I stayed by your side day and night while you were unconscious. I researched everything about the jinn and the dagger, I- ”

Hope is up and off the couch and this conversation is too raw, too real to have so close to Lizzie.

 She turns and strides away, arms crossed and head hung low. 

“The jinn was you,” she states simply, her back to Lizzie. 

“The jinn was you and you were in my arms and then I realized it wasn’t you. 

Realized your dad saw me holding a corpse when all I could see was you. 

I was blinded by you, a weak spot and I got injured because of it and we still don’t know why.” 

She turns now and Lizzie is speechless, gazing at her in stunned silence.

“And what if it’s not me next time? What if next time I get distracted, I put your dad in danger? Or Josie? Or you?” Her voice almost breaks at the last word and she curses herself for it, silently.

“I thought, I thought that keeping you safe and at arm’s length was the right thing. 

That any potential harm would come for me and me only, but every night I dreamed of holding you again and couldn’t sleep properly until I was close to you.”

Lizzie’s expression softens, slightly. 

“I should have told you sooner, about Landon, about all of this,” Hope continues. 

“I couldn’t stay away from you after the attack. And after last night, well, this morning, I guess, I don’t want to anymore.”

Lizzie is standing down now, her hands wringing together for want to touch Hope but they were both too dangerous when vulnerable. 

“That’s stupid, Mikaelson,” she says, and her voice sounds gentle. 

“You don’t have to be the hero all the time. And you don’t have to do it alone. We’re stronger together.” 

“You don’t have to play the hero with me, Hope. We’re stronger together. We always have been.” 

Lizzie steps towards Hope. “I’ve got you,” she says, a repeat of last night, confidence and maybe a bit of magic flowing through her veins, the height difference working in her favor as she leans down to capture Hope’s lips with her own. 

Hope surrenders to the kiss, surrenders to it all and the world seems to slow around them as they kiss, soft and playful but full of the promise of something

The mill shakes again and Hope opens her eyes to vines blooming, wild and beautiful all around her. 

Her magic, Lizzie’s magic, everything they feel and share manifesting in bloom and Hope can scarcely believe her eyes. 

“So what now?” Lizzie asks, forehead against Hope’s and a smile on her face. 

“Breakfast? And maybe covering up the hickeys on your neck, ” Hope laughs. “I would apologize, but I’m really not sorry.” 

They shower together, getting lost in each other once more, only turning off the water when it loses its heat.

They join Josie at her table in the dining hall and she just looks at them, then at Lizzie’s neck, and Lizzie swears the concealing charm had actually worked when she checked in the mirror, but clearly not as well as she thought. 

“It’s about time,” Josie says, before returning to her yogurt and granola. 

Landon looks at them from across the hall, seated between Raf and MG and Hope averts her eyes, but a hand to her thigh brings her back to center, brings her back to Lizzie. 

He was hurt, she could see it plain across his face, but Lizzie reaches for her hand under the table, squeezing it, and Hope can’t help but feel her heart soar at the gesture. 

Alaric makes the decision to bring Josie and Lizzie along with them to New Orleans. 

They proved themselves when the school was under attack those many months ago. 

Lizzie found the jinn, found the source of the dagger. Found all of the puzzle pieces and traced it back to Hope’s first home. 

She hopes she isn’t leading them all to their deaths.

Hope wishes she could protect them from all of this. Wishes she could cast a protective spell to keep Lizzie and Josie and the rest of the school safe. 

But Mikaelsons never ran, never hid, and never backed away from a fight when someone they loved could be in danger.  

Especially when they themselves could be the source of that danger. Call it a martyr's complex, but Hope knew she needed to be the one to battle the jinn head-on. 

The trick was finding the right moment, and finding the creature alone. 

They don’t talk about the bullet wound that almost blinked Josie out of existence. 

They don’t talk about the time that Hope spent in Malivore. 

They don’t talk about the week that she spent asleep in Lizzie’s bed. Everyone carried their scars in different ways. 

Hope had returned unchanged, even if the brightness in her eyes had dimmed somewhat. 

Her reticence to talk about it is nothing new and things seem to go back to as normal as is humanly possible at the Salvatore School. 

If normal meant Hope and Lizzie sneaking off every few nights to the Mill to return hours later, clothes askew. 

Alaric lets Josie sit shotgun, memories of their last road trip with the mummy fresh in his mind. 

Hope’s head falls on Lizzie’s shoulder three hours into the drive and Lizzie starts but eventually sinks into the feeling. Josie turns around in her seat and gives Lizzie a look that the blonde tries to shrug off. They really don’t need to have that conversation now or ever, if Lizzie’s being honest. 

Hope’s hand moves to grip Lizzie’s arm, her fingers running down her wrist where she captures Lizzie’s hand in hers, entwining their fingers, eyes firmly closed as if she had done this a thousand times. 

The blonde glances upward at the SUV’s ceiling, inhaling deeply if only to get her bearings, her senses overwhelmed because this , whatever Hope was doing, was new, uncharted territory. 

Because maybe they were sleeping together and maybe that was it. But maybe it was actually something more. 

She leans her head on the top of Hope’s and instantly wishes she hadn’t. The brunette smells like vanilla and jasmine and bad decisions and she is so damn warm. 

Lizzie can’t seem to hide the smile that breaks out across her face as she closes her eyes, their hands on her thigh. 

Josie turns around again to say something, but stops herself, closing her mouth quickly and facing forward with an eye roll. 

The trip south passes quickly, even if they stop at least three times for snack and bathroom breaks. 

It’s different, being back here, in a childhood home that fate her denied for most of it. Hope inhales the sweet air of New Orleans and nostalgia washes over her. 

It was late at night when they arrived and in the busy bustle of research and asking around for scraps of information, she didn’t really have the time to reminisce. 

Even the small moment now isn’t enough. 

But the house is silent, for once. 

Josie and Alaric are asleep in the downstairs bedrooms and Lizzie is resting peacefully in Hope‘s old room. 

She should go and join the blonde, if only for a few hours. 

Even with the thought of Lizzie and a warm bed, sleep seems to evade her, leaving Hope standing on the second-floor balcony, looking down at the atrium, and lost in a memory.

And despite the brief moments she had here, with her family, the memories still linger. They last like an imprint. 

They were happy here, she recalls, sometimes, between the danger and the turmoil and the fights. 

Somewhere in between the loss and the distance, they were a family here. 

Now, the house seems empty - Freya and Keelin travelling, Marcel and Rebekah in New York, Kol and Davina God knows where. 

And her parents and Elijah, gone. 

She looks down the stairs towards the atrium when she hears steps behind her. 

“You weren’t in bed,” Lizzie says, and Hope turns around. 

She’s wearing a robe that Hope is pretty sure actually belongs to her, and said robe is much, much too short on Lizzie. 

Who has really nice legs. Mostly visible legs because the robe barely hits mid-thigh. 

“Is it weird,” Lizzie asks, looking around, “being back here?”

There’s something comforting about the brash directness of Lizzie’s question. It’s one of things she lo- likes. likes. Likes about Lizzie. She likes Lizzie. 

She likes the way she can trust her to say what’s on her mind. 

“Kind of,” she admits. Lizzie doesn’t offer up empty words or promises. “Tell me about them.”

They move almost in sync. Lizzie stands behind her,  head resting on her shoulder as her arms wrap around Hope and Hope is able to tell her story, eyes gazing out at the atrium. 

She doesn’t have to look Lizzie in the eye and it helps.

She fears she could get lost in those eyes too easily and talking about her family is important. It’s comforting and cathartic. 

So Hope tells her. 

Tells her about her family who fought the world and each other, and who fought for her, so, so hard. Always and forever. 

Minutes pass until Hope pulls away a little, turning to face Lizzie,  the shadows that hung around her while telling the story slowly dispersing. 

Her hands find their way to the robe, lingering on the fabric of the ties at Lizzie’s waist, her back leaning against the banister. 

“Isn’t this mine?”

“You want it back, Mikaelson?” Lizzie raises an eyebrow and laughs and Hope feels lighter. 

“It is mine, after all, Saltzman,” Hope replies and watches as Lizzie disappears to the other end of the hallway. 

“Come get it, then.” She twirls the tie in the air, mostly in jest but also in a way that makes Hope weak in the knees. 

And as Hope follows Lizzie back to her room, the house feels almost alive again, filled with laughter and the best kind of memories.  

Lizzie wakes up when the sun hits her face, alone in Hope’s canopy bed, the drapes pulled back. 

She finds Alaric and Josie downstairs, papers and the remains of breakfast stretched out across the dining room table. The sun is shining in, already standing high. 

“What time is it?” 

Her dad looks up, hunched over a stack of books. “Almost eleven,” he replies, “Hope said you girls were up late, and to let you sleep in.”

Josie barely suppresses a snort of laughter. “Hope is so considerate like that,” she mutters. 

“I think it’s nice that you girls are getting along better,” Dad says, just as Hope walks back into the room, her phone in her hand. Lizzie glares at Josie and is tempted to send her coffee cup flying. 

Thankfully, Hope chooses to ignore the awkward atmosphere. 

“Marcel said that there’s only one voodoo shop in town that actually dabbles in real magic. He gave me the address.”

“Let’s go check it out,” Lizzie suggests. Anything to escape the impending conversation with her dad on how she’s not good enough - sane enough - for Hope. 

Alaric is reticent to let them go alone, but he doesn’t really want to stop his research, and they convince them that three witches should be able to survive on the streets of New Orleans for an hour or two. 

Hope leads them down smaller and smaller alleys, the loud noises of the street turning into a quiet hum until they’ve reached a tiny door between tinted glass windows. 

“Let’s see how much they’ll tell us if we just ask nicely,” Hope sighs, while Lizzie chances a glance at her sister. “Jo?”

Lizzie watches her sister’s transformation, the way she paints a bright, innocent smile on her face. Has seen this a thousand times, to get them into trouble and out of it. 

She lingers with Hope at the entrance of the store, stuffed full to the brim with trinkets. It smells old. It smells magical.  She touches several of the antiques, can feel the magic emanating from their torn pages, tarnished metals, and ripped fabric.  

“Babe,” Hope’s voice prompts her, drawing her back to reality, meeting her gaze with a questioning glance. And Lizzie won’t get used to hearing Hope call her “babe” any time soon, still feels a little like all of this is too good to be real. She also really hopes Josie didn’t hear it because she would so not be able to live that one down. 

Hope’s fingers trace over her wrist as she pulls Lizzie towards her and Lizzie feels suddenly breathless. But they’re on a mission, a mission to prevent Hope from getting hurt again.  Focus, she chides herself, focus. “It’s definitely magic,” she says, “not really dark magic, but not quite light magic either. Something in between.”

From the front of the store, she can hear Josie’s voice, bubbly and deceptively harmless, as she places the knife on the countertop and inquires about its origins. 

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” the owner says, the lie obvious in the way his body is shifting and the way he can’t seem to meet her gaze.

Josie keeps pressing, her voice still light, until he grows more and more uncomfortable. “I have to go,” he says, “if you’ll excuse me, young lady.”

Hope raises her hand, imperious, and the doors of the store fall shut, the lights flickering precariously. 

“Maybe some introductions are in order,” her voice echoes through the store, low and dangerous, and Lizzie bites down on her lower lip. Hope in charge was so damn hot. They join Josie at the front of the store and Hope plasters on her best smile. 

“Hope Mikaelson,” she says, “it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

From behind them, there is the sound of light, tinkering laughter echoes from a storage room. “Give it up, Frank,” the woman says. 

She emerges from the back as if she had materialized out of smoke. She’s tall, tall enough that Lizzie has to look up to meet her face, with striking features. Her clothes seem to have no ending. Shawls upon shawls on her body and the air around her crackles with power.

She has magic pouring out of her. Lizzie and Josie can feel it like electricity crackling through the air before a lightning strike. 

Magic, to Lizzie, always evoked deeper feelings in her. Hope’s magic was warm and strong, nature’s loophole, a power so deep, so unending that it shouldn’t exist. Josie’s magic was sharp and surgical. Lizzie, always cautious with spells, never one to take a chance like Josie, memorized these feelings. Held onto them like touchstones. This woman’s magic felt like an endless wave, power building and building. It was awesome and frightening. 

“We have no fight with the Mikaelsons. Or with Marcel.”

She steps closer to them. “I’m Marie Laveau. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Hope Mikaelson.”

Something about the name rings familiar to Lizzie, a footnote in the book Pedro left for her. “Marie Laveau was part of the blood pact that created this dagger.”

The woman nods, her eyes drifting to Lizzie. “You’re very right, my dear.” Her gaze turns back to Hope. “Your lover is a most resourceful young woman.” 

Lizzie scoffs at the word “lover,” is about to interject loudly, but a glare and eye roll from Hope silences her protests. The old witch wasn’t wrong, but did she have to be so loud about it?

“All this knowledge and the ability to sense magic, which is most valuable. It could be incredibly useful,” the witch continues. 

Hope lets out a low, dangerous growl, as she turns back to Marie, her eyes glittering yellow just for the briefest of moments. 

“Watch it, Laveau.” 

Marie Laveau laughs, head back and full-bodied, obviously more amused than threatened, yet raising her hands just slightly. “I told you, dear ones, we wish for no fight with the Mikaelsons.”

“Tell us about the dagger, please, so we can get out of your shop before we catch a disease like the black plague,” Lizzie requests, trying her best to channel that Hope Mikaelson-is-a-badass energy that made her weak in the knees. “That was around when you were a kid, right?” Hope glares at Lizzie who merely smirks. 

“The daggers,” the woman corrects. “More than one.” 

“My great-great grandmother, the first Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, created them. She entered into a most dangerous pact to create a weapon against the man who was taking over our city. If he can even be called a man.”

“My father,” Hope interrupts. Because everything began and ended with Klaus. 

She nods. “Yes. Your father. The dagger is strong enough to pierce the skin of a hybrid. Or a tribrid, as being a witch affords you no additional protection in this regard.”

“I thought you had no issues with my family,” Hope says. 

“We don’t. It was merely an insurance policy. An added degree of safety in dangerous times. I’m sure you all can understand that.”

“So how did a dagger just meant for protection end up in the hands of a creature very much out to harm me?” Hope presses. 

“The Ninth Ward Coven had heard about it. And they asked for it.” She shrugs, seemingly uncaring.

 “They weren’t very polite about it, and I am certainly no match for them. And the price was right.” Money always talked, it seemed. Even for ageless voodoo witches. 

“You could have told somebody. You could have told Marcel.”

“I am telling you, now that you’re asking. The Mikaelsons and my coven have lived alongside each other peacefully, but we are certainly not your spies in this town.”

Lizzie feels the rage curl inside of her, the anger at the apparent nonchalance. Hope’s hand on her arm halts her, calming, grounding. 

“Is there anything else that you might be forgetting?” Hope asks, and Lizzie can almost feel the floor vibrating underneath them, the controlled storm of Hope’s power flowing through the shop. 

There’s a certain pleasure in watching the previously unfazed witch flinch just slightly, even as she shakes her head. “No,” she replies.  

Hope nods. “Marcel will be in touch, I expect,” is all she says, and they leave, the door to the shop closing behind them with a twinkle of soft silver bells. 

It all became strikingly clear to Hope the moment the words “Ninth Ward Coven” dripped from Marie’s lips like poison. 

For the most part, her family had been honest with her about their deeds. And what they hadn’t told her, the Salvatore School Library had. 

She just never expected her legacy to catch up with her in the form of her mother’s actions, instead of her father’s. 

They walk in silence until the streets around them get noisier again. She can sense the curiosity and the questions from the twins, but neither of them press the issue. Lizzie’s hand wraps around hers, slowly, cautiously, and Hope feels herself relax, intertwines their fingers.

“My mother made a deal with Aunt Davina,” she begins, “when her pack was turned into wolves and hunted in the Bayou. Davina offered to help my mother turn her pack back. And in exchange, my mother killed the witches from the Ninth Ward Coven who had been opposing Davina.”

Lizzie squeezes her hand, a silent show of support, and Josie directs a smile her way. Hope feels warmth rush through her at this unquestioning loyalty from the Saltzmans. It was something she loved about Josie, loved about Lizzie. 

Liked. Liked about Lizzie. 

“I guess they want revenge, lucky us,” she continues. “We should call your Dad and let him know what we found. He will want to come up with some sort of strategy.”

They agree to meet Alaric an hour later, outside of the boundaries of the Ninth Ward. 

“Wanna grab some food while we wait?” Hope offers. “It’s almost lunchtime, and New Orleans has good food.”

They eat sandwiches on a bench, the sun shining out between the clouds. 

There’s sauce on the edge of Lizzie’s lip, and Hope reaches out before she knows what she’s doing. “You have something, just there,” she says. 

She swipes her thumb over Lizzie’s lower lip, removing the sauce, and lingers there, watches the way Lizzie’s lips part under her touch and her pupils dilate. 

Her chest is heaving and her breathing deepens and she can feel that pull again, her atoms begging to be close to Lizzie. Demons and jinns and daggers be damned. 

Josie’s voice brings her back to reality. “This is a reconnaissance mission,” she snaps, “not a date. And some of us don’t want to lose our lunches.”

Lizzie fixes her with a glare. “Oh, you’re right. I almost overlooked the demon about to attack.”

Josie rolls her eyes. “I’m getting more sauce,” she sighs. 

“She has a point,” Hope says, “about this not being a date.”

Lizzie tilts her head, questioning. Daring Hope to ask the question that they were both thinking. 

“Would you maybe want to, sometime….” 

Lizzie waits a beat, two, before she takes pity on her. “Please continue to stumble over your words as if we haven’t already slept together. Is this you asking me out, Mikaelson?”

“And doing a terrible job of it? Absolutely. So what do you say?” Hope replies and can’t help the smile that crosses her face, and for a moment, the fact that most of the Ninth Ward Coven is probably after her seems utterly irrelevant.

Her good mood lasts until they meet Alaric at the end of People’s Avenue, marking the beginning of the Ninth Ward and the coven’s home base. 

He looks more than a little concerned, can’t stop expressing his worries at how singularly this monster might be focused on Hope. They pile into the SUV and talk about the location where they think the coven will be - the coven owns an antebellum era mansion not far from the French Quarter. Hope knows that they recognize that the best way to hide was out in the open, in plain sight. 

“I get that, Alaric,” Hope begins after he tells her to be careful for the fourth time. She restrains herself from rolling her eyes, but Lizzie does it for her. “But this is all tied back to me. To my family.” 

“What’s the old saying? Fool me once, shame on me, but fool me twice, shame on you? The Ninth Ward Coven has got another thing coming.” 

“Easy, tiger,” Lizzie laughs, shaking her head. It was one thing for Hope to want to protect her, protect all of them. It was another thing to go burst into their villa, guns blazing without a plan.

“So your plan is to just burst into a very public space and blast them all to death with a spell Freya taught you, Hope? We need something better than that. You’re a target. Lizzie could be a target. Why do you think they came after you in her image? Someone had to have tipped them off, Hope. We have to think.” Alaric spits the words out and Hope knows he’s right.

Something isn’t adding up. Revenge against her mother is one thing but knowing about Lizzie, her connection to Lizzie, was something altogether more sinister. 

They resolve to enter the building in waves, two teams. Hope and Alaric in front and Lizzie and Josie following behind. Alaric stresses to the twins to stick together at all costs. Like yin and yang, Lizzie and Josie were two sides of the same coin, stronger together. 

The twins had siphoned from Hope on the car ride over and Lizzie would never get over the head rush at the sheer power that flowed from Hope. She siphoned a bit more with a kiss to Hope’s cheek as they were getting into position and Hope feels the spot warming.

Alaric grabs the crossbow from the Jeep slinging it over his shoulder as Lizzie lingers close to Hope, hand on her arm. 

“Don’t get all soft on me now, Saltzman. We still have a date to plan.” 

“Gross! Can we focus, please? Dangerous witch coven trying to kill us, remember?” Josie glares at Hope and Lizzie, who both roll their eyes at the brunette. Lizzie could recall many borderline gag-worthy experiences watching Josie and Penelope drool all over each other in class and figured Josie deserved a little bit of payback for that torture. 

Sticking her tongue out at her sister, Lizzie falls in step with Josie, behind Alaric and Hope. The enter the apartment and the smell of decay and dead animals hits them all in an instant.

If Hope hadn’t been so blinded by the jinn the night she was stabbed, she would have recognized the smell for what it was - death. 

Death and destruction and danger.

“The jinn’s here,” Hope tells the group. 

“Ugh, ya think?” Lizzie gasps as her nose scrunches. “This place smells  worse than Landon and Raf after they work out.” She can’t hide the disdain in her voice.

“Lizzie,” Hope starts, torn between exasperation and fondness. “I picked you, remember?” 

“Really?! Is now really the time?” Josie pleads, palms raised and whirling around to surveil the room they were in. 

The house is massive, a Greco-Roman revival in the Garden District, with a white fence, white columns, white-wrought iron accents.  The door creaks open ominously and Lizzie hears Josie swallow in trepidation. 

They find themselves in an atrium, with stairs rising to a second level balcony, more rooms shooting off than Lizzie can count. The house is a large and so, so white. The walls are white, the floor is white and Lizzie has a vision of blood splattering all across this room. It would shine so bright.  The furniture around them is dark, creating contrast to the crispness of the white walls. 

It smells like old money. Like old magic. 

Door after door after door are closed to them, but Lizzie hears whispers. They’re faint, as if coming from a stereo locked in a room. She wonders if everyone else can hear them too or if her messed up brain is playing tricks on her again. 

Alaric raises his crossbow, eyes dancing from door to door to door and it slowly dawns on her. 

It’s a game of hide and seek. 

A game of trickery and deception. 

The jinn’s speciality. 

“Hope, I know what you’re thinking and I don’t think we should -” Alaric begins, only for the tribrid to cut him off. 

“Split up? We kind of have to, right?” 

She’s not any happier about it than Alaric is, but she can’t see any other option. “We’ll all be safer that way,” she adds, silently pleading with him to grasp her meaning. 

Alaric shakes his head and it seems like it almost physically pains him to tell Josie to take the doors starting on the right, Lizzie on the left, with himself and Hope starting in the middle to meet the twins. 

Hope prays, silently pleads to whatever gods exist that the jinn will find her and Lizzie and Josie will be safe. 

The jinn doesn’t disappoint. She’s faced with Lizzie’s image behind the second door she pushes open. 

She laughs, dry. “You can’t fool me this easily, again.”

Lizzie Saltzman knows Hope Mikaelson. 

Has known her for almost all her life. 

Lizzie has cared about her even when Hope - eternally stubborn- was unwilling to let her. 

Even knowing that Hope acts harsh and cold and distant, and yet cares far too much. 

Knows Hope will do the stupidly heroic thing of sacrificing herself to make sure the jinn doesn’t hurt anyone else. 

Lizzie’s not letting that happen. 

She doesn’t even bother opening any of the doors. 

The jinn is after Hope, she knows this now. It was always about Hope.  It won’t waver in its mission. Instead, Lizzie waits, watches Hope push open the first door, enter, leave. 

Lizzie watches, holding her breath, as she moves onto the second door, pushes it open, and enters. 

Lizzie waits for a few seconds, gives Hope thirty agonizing ticks of the clock in the atrium below and she doesn’t emerge. Lizzie’s heart sinks, but she is determined. 

She moves with rapid steps through the hallway toward the half open door, toward the monster hiding behind it. 

It looks gruesome, dragged up from below the ground, dead and deadly. Its skin hangs off of its body, wrapped in a dress that was more holes than material and Lizzie can almost see through the iridescent skin. 

She’s not sure what Hope is seeing, but it’s obvious that they’re not faced with the same image. Hidden from the shadows, she can hear the jinn’s taunting voice. 

“Even if you know I’m not her, are you going to fight her image?”

“Yes,” Hope says, sounding surprisingly calm. “You’re not real. You’re not Lizzie.”

The voice of the corpse sounds empty, ghastly, and Lizzie wonders if Hope hears it differently. Wonders if Hope can pick out the rising and falling timbre of hers. 

 “How confident are you that you can tell the difference? Are you willing to gamble with her life?”

There’s a storm of smoke, darkness dropping over the room, and suddenly, the jinn is standing next to Lizzie. Lizzie sees a rotten corpse, sees the decomposition up close. And then she sees Hope’s hands shaking, and she knows, knows that Hope sees her, sees two of her and her heart aches. 

“Lizzie, you have to leave,” Hope pleads, and before Lizzie has a moment to consider the request, a voice next to her speaks. 

“Of course,” it says, sounding demure, and the corpse steps out of the room, and for a moment, it looks like Hope is about to charge at her, before she sighs, lowering her knife. 

“So, this is you, then?”

Lizzie nods, and the swirls of mist are back, and she hears the jinn’s laughter. It’s never been more than a game to the creature.  A game of choice and of despair. “Not so easily fooled this time, are you?”

“Keep her out of this,” Hope bites out, fury sparking from every syllable. “This is between you and me.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, young one,” the jinn mocks, “she is your weakness, after all.”

“What do you mean?” Hope presses, urgency in her voice, her concern obvious. 

“The Ninth Ward Coven found out about your feelings,” the corpse laughs, “It was actually rather easy. Your thoughts betray you, even in your dreams. They broke into them when you returned from that hellscape they call Malivore and they’ve been watching, observing, waiting.” 

The jinn is pacing back and forth now, as if holding court, yet to come to the best part of the tale. 

“They were untidy though, leaving traces of themselves on your psyche, but that was no matter. Do you remember, young one, that the girl in your dream wasn’t you? The girl the crows carried off after their melancholy song?  It was her. It always has been.” A pause and a smirk, even as the skin of the jinn’s face sags away from the bone of its jaw. 

“I was more than eager to trick a tribrid. You’re one of a kind and offers like that only come once a millenium. I did have so much fun with you, but now, I think it’s fitting that I look into your eyes with her eyes as the life drains from them, Hope Mikaelson.” 

The room swirls again and Hope feels her footing slide, heavy mist dropping, and for a moment, it’s just Lizzie and Hope, standing in an empty room. 

“You have to leave,” Hope pleads, “I don’t want you to be in danger. Please, Lizzie.”

Lizzie shakes her head. “We’re stronger together, Mikaelson. We’ve been over this.”

“She’s stubborn,” the jinn says, invisible, “but have you considered, Hope Mikaelson, that even if you kill me, the Ninth Ward Coven won’t stop coming after you? After her? Only death will satisfy them. Who’s to say she won’t be their next target?”

The corpse is there suddenly, a perfect image of Lizzie. Its moving, fast, and Lizzie can see Hope falter, can see the dagger, and so Lizzie moves swiftly, placing her own body between the dagger and Hope. She’s about to blast a spell at the jinn, the magic at the tip of her fingers as she calls forth the perfect spell, but she’s a little too late, and the dagger strikes through her skin, and she can feel her body crumbling. 

Hope moves fast, but not fast enough. She sees the dagger plunge into Lizzie’s side and can only react. She plants the seed of agony in the jinn’s  stomach, a simple curse, and a scarlet flower blooms around the wound, tearing the stomach of the demon open. She sees the jinn, sees Lizzie stumble back, pressing her hands to her stomach as her breathing quickens and Hope hates the sound. She doesn’t want to hear what surely means Lizzie’s death, even if it isn’t Lizzie, never was Lizzie. 

Perhaps if the jinn  hadn't dared to bury words beneath her skin, she wouldn't have twisted her wrist to drive the point deeper into its flesh that it never was, never could be Lizzie Saltzman. 

The jinn disappears in yet another swirl of dark mist and Hope has no time to cheer the small victory. 

Josie Saltzman has opened seven doors, empty rooms behind all of them, when she feels searing, blinding pain crash through her body. 

“Lizzie - ” Josie whispers to herself, her legs giving way and her vision swimming. She could pass out from the pain of it all, but she grabs onto the door handle as she doubles over, her heels scratching against the white floors. 

Josie feels like this is a moment trapped in time as her breathing turns to normal, but she is afraid. Sweat breaks out on her forehead. 

She rushes from the room, back along the hallway, back to the origin of the pain, back towards Lizzie. 

Her sister is crumpled on the ground, Hope crouched over her body. 

The room grows dark as Josie takes in the scene. She’s never seen Hope like this, has never seen Lizzie injured  (unless you count the time she thought she could climb a tree near the Old Mill to impress a nine-year-old Hope). 

And now, Hope is devastated, and Lizzie is injured, and blood is flowing from the wound in a wide pool on the ground, close enough to nearly touch her feet as Josie drops to her knees next to Hope. 

Hope looks up when Josie hurries inside, and her gaze looks shattered, broken pieces, unassembled. 

“Josie, I….” Hope pauses, because they could still be in danger, the jinn could be anywhere, and alarm bells should be ringing but all she can see are flashes of light, dancing colors and the sound of the waves ebbing and flowing. Hope can feel the pull to Lizzie, a pull she’s been trying so hard to resist, but had to give into. 

Josie can feel it too, their twin sense making her chest ache and her breathing short, she feels pain rather than the love that Hope has for Lizzie. But she can feel something else. She can feel Lizzie’s magic flowing out of her. 

“I….” Hope tries again lamely and her hand moves upwards towards Lizzie’s face. 

“It’s okay, she’s going to be okay.”  She has to be okay wrings hollow in her ears. 

“I’m so sorry,” she whispers to Josie who places a hand on her arm in consolation, but also to siphon some of Hope’s and magic and wishes, just for a moment, that the world were a little easier on all of them.

But there’s no time for such thoughts, because her sister is bleeding out on the ground and Hope seems frozen, unable to move. 

Josie mutters a healing spell, then another. She’s grasping at threads and her magic isn’t as strong as it normally is, but she has to do something. It’s a long shot, certainly, but better than watching the red spot on Lizzie’s shirt growing. 

It works. 

She can’t believe it. 

But the wound is closing, and she keeps muttering spells, charm after charm as she takes and takes and takes from Hope.  She vaguely registers that Hope’s magic feels like watching an orchid in bloom for the first time and understands the depth of power that the tribrid holds. 

She gets it now, Lizzie’s connection to Hope. How it can transcend years of trying to forge a relationship, can outlive a useless crush, can survive hell. 

Seconds later, color is returning to her sister’s face. 

By the time Alaric storms into the room, Lizzie is already opening her eyes again, sitting up carefully, Hope’s arm wrapping around her waist, supporting her.  Josie’s head is bent low but she looks up at her dad and a small smile breaks out across her face. 

The drive back is quiet, far too quiet.  Alaric is at the wheel with Josie sitting shotgun. He’s pale and focused, weaving through the streets to get them back to the compound.  

Hope is buzzing with emotion and its real, its palpable, its making the air spark with tension. Josie can feel it - can feel the afterglow burn away to embers. Josie has never found her all that hard to read, and the concern, the worry, the fear emanating from her are obvious.

Lizzie chances a glance at Hope who is biting her lip in thought, but her grip on Lizzie’s hand remains firm, even as her thoughts keep her silent. Lizzie feels a chasm grow between them, Hope’s thoughts piling up until they reach their apex and she doesn’t know how to climb to such heights, doesn’t know if she can. 

Josie turns and glances at her sister, silently pleading for Lizzie to do something, to say something, but Lizzie gives a small shake of her head and Josie turns back around.  This isn’t her fight. 

“Well,” Alaric says to break the silence as they pull up to the house. “I think we’ve all earned a good night’s rest and we can maybe tackle this again tomorrow morning?” 

The wordless nods from his daughters are enough for him to grab his bag and escape as quickly as possible. Josie, too, smartly takes her cue to leave and Lizzie knows she has a standing date with the prism to speak to the one version of Penelope that she knows won’t leave her side. Even if its just her imagination soothing those scars. 

Lizzie follows Hope into her room and gently closes to door, head resting on the cool wood to inhale a deep breath, before turning back to Hope, her face scrunched. Three, two, one….

“How could you?” Hope demands, her voice breaking through the silence. “You could have died, Lizzie.”

Lizzie rolls her eyes, finds the anger swirl and twist inside of her. Angry Hope could be scary, but Lizzie was mad as hell too. 

“Oh, here we go. How could I? You do this every week, jumping in front of some monster or another like its going out of style. Don’t act like you didn’t want to split up to lead the monster away from all of us.” She pauses, just for a second. 

“You’re in no position to judge me, Hope.”

“I’m basically immortal,” Hope spits out. “If I die, I come back. You don’t.”

“Because that really helped you out when you fucking jumped into hell.”

“That’s not the same thing.”

The rage swirls higher and she steps closer to Hope, jabs her finger into the other girl’s chest. “You disappeared. For months. You jumped into some fucking mud pit and you didn’t tell us. You didn’t tell me.” she enunciates. Watches as the words hit their mark. 

“You left me.” Something Lizzie can’t read flickers over Hope’s face. “Us,” she corrects, nerves intermingling with the storm of her anger.

Hope’s hands reach for her wrists, stopping the angry motions of her hand. “I wanted to protect you,” she says. 

“You’re not the only one who gets to do that,” Lizzie says, “I wasn’t going to let that stupid bitch stab you twice in two weeks.”

“So you jumped in front of her? Were you even thinking?” 

“I was keeping you safe. You’re not the only one who gets to play the hero.” 

“I can’t lose you, Lizzie. Seeing you like that, I froze. I can’t lose you,” Hope whispers. 

“You didn’t,” Lizzie whispers, the rage subsiding and replaced with something else entirely. Hope is only inches away, and her hands feel soft against Lizzie’s, gentle and firm.

“Thank whatever god you want that Josie is just as obsessed with Freya’s grimoire as you are because I am right here -” 

The fire is still burning in her eyes, and when she kisses Lizzie, silencing her, it’s unlike any of the kisses they’ve shared before, filled with frenzy and urgency. Lizzie kisses her back just as desperately, a silent promise on her lips. I’m alive. I’m here. She tangles her hands in Hope’s hair, an effort to further decrease any distance between them and pull Hope into her. 

Hope’s hands slide up her thighs, lifting her up, and fuck, that’s hot. She wraps her legs around Hope’s waist, lets out an embarrassingly loud moan that has Hope smirking against her lips. She bites down lightly on Hope’s lip in revenge, and is rewarded with Hope groaning her name. 

Lizzie swears she hears Hope let out a growl as she falls onto the bed, head landing on pillows as her back hits the mattress, Hope pinning her hands on either side of her head.

Hope pulls away for just a second, raising her hand, casting a sound-proofing spell around them.

Because she needs this, she needs to hear every single sound that she can elicit from Lizzie. Needs her to know how fucking stupid she had been and how she wants to her to be safe, wants her to be alive, wants her to be here. 

And needs Lizzie to know how much she wants her, how much she needs her. 

Hope’s tongue dips into her mouth, the kiss burning in the best way possible and she hopes that Hope’s spell worked because she’s moved down the side of Lizzie’s neck, pressing a trail of biting kisses that leave her completely breathless, ache building between her thighs and she cannot promise to be quiet for any of this. 

Hope’s hands are sliding up under her shirt, then, and Lizzie feels on fire, Hope’s body hovering above her, the intensity of her gaze entirely focused on Lizzie. Her own hands are scrambling for purchase, moving over Hope’s body, down her back. She knows she can scratch as hard as she wants and nothing will be there in the morning, but just this once, she wished she could mark the tribrid as her own. 

Her shirt is tugged upwards, over her head, and Hope’s mouth is moving over the exposed skin mere seconds later, like she wants to commit every inch of it to memory, like she’s intent on making sure that Lizzie is here, real. 

Lizzie’s moans turn into whimpers, more and more desperate, as Hope’s mouth moves lower, lingering on her breasts, pushing her bra out of the way before she makes up her mind and spells it away to the floor. Lizzie arches her back at the first sense of Hope’s tongue against one of her nipples, flattening her tongue before dragging it in circles. 

Lizzie’s hips shift from the sensation and she can’t help but imagine Hope repeating that same motion on her clit and she may be getting ahead of herself because she already feels close to the edge and the air around them feels electric. 

All Hope sees is Lizzie, head thrown back, cheeks flushed, blonde hair spread out across the pillows. 

And Hope thinks that she could do this forever, make Lizzie flush with pleasure and tremble underneath her. 

She tugs a nipple into her mouth, a little harsher than she intended, but the memory of Lizzie on the ground is still vivid and raw, and she can’t quite stop the urgency of her movements. 

Lizzie groans above her, “fuck, Hope, please,” As if she can read her desperation, Hopes slides a hand down between their bodies as she presses a kiss to one of Lizzie’s breasts, shoving her underwear down her legs a little impatiently, and Lizzie is only too happy to help kick them off into the darkness.

And Hope needs more, needs to make Lizzie scream, wants her so desperately. 

She crawls down the bed, her hands at Lizzie’s hips, pulling her center towards her,  until Lizzie is at the edge of the bed and Hope can drop down onto the ground, kneel between Lizzie’s legs. Lizzie thinks for a moment that Hope is wearing far too many clothes for this but all thoughts fly out of her mind as Hope’s breath ghosts against her clit. 

She leaves marks on the soft skin of Lizzie’s thighs, before she finally moves her mouth against Lizzie’s clit. She keeps watching Lizzie, the way her chest is heaving, keeps listening to the way her moans are becoming louder, needier, more and more wanton. 

Hope flattens her tongue against Lizzie, before she switches to circles, and Lizzie’s hands grip the sheets, her knuckles white. She brushes her tongue against Lizzie, slow, faster, and slides her hands under Lizzie’s thighs, pulls her impossibly closer. 

Lizzie is panting, and Hope switches between fast movements and slow ones. Lizzie’s legs wrap around her back, and her hands tangle in Hope’s hair, and Hope increases the speed of her ministrations against Lizzie’s clit. 

“Hope,” Lizzie pants, and her voice cracks because this is torture in the best way possible. “Hope, please, you have got to -” 

Hope makes a pleased noise as Lizzie pleads with her, and Lizzie makes a mental note that begging will certainly get her places as Hope moves her right hand, slick from gripping Lizzie’s hip to slide one finger agonizingly slowly into Lizzie, who sinks into the feeling, pulling Hope’s head into her, demanding more silently - more licking, more thrusting, more of everything.  Hope pulls her finger out, soaked, and continues the motion in concert with her tongue as Lizzie’s legs open wider, as she tries to pull Hope in deeper.  

She doesn’t stop when Lizzie comes, when she arches her back and whimpers Hope’s name, just slows her movements. She pushes two fingers inside of Lizzie as soon as her breathing slows, keeps fucking her, curling her fingers as Lizzie grinds down to meet her her thrusts. 

Lizzie’s hands scratch over her shoulders, pulling aimlessly. “Come here and kiss me,” she requests, adds, “please,” breathlessly, and who would Hope be to deny this request? She covers Lizzie’s body with her own, kisses her and kisses her, keeps moving inside of her. 

She pins Lizzie’s hands together over her head with one hand, again, fucks her with fast, urgent movements, shifting her hand so that her thumb is circling Lizzie’s clit. 

Lizzie’s legs, wrapped around her, tighten, pressing their bodies closer together. Hope curls her fingers and Lizzie whines, loud and desperate, and Hope swallows the sounds with her mouth, kisses Lizzie, frantic and urgent and she feels alive, underneath her. 

Lizzie’s spiralling over the edge, again, breathing out Hope’s name into the kisses as spots explode behind her eyes. She’s grinding against Hope’s fingers and scratching at her back and she can almost feel the her body screaming for release again as it washes over her in waves, but it’s only her voice that rushes forward in a loud moan that Hope catches and swallows. 

It’s moments before she can open her eyes again, and words like I love you and forever fly like birds through Lizzie’s throat and up towards her tongue, but she bites them back. 

It felt too soon, too something that Lizzie couldn’t pin down. Perhaps it was vulnerability, being so exposed and so open to Hope in that moment, her lips and tongue lacking the courage to say what her body was screaming. 

Hope looks at her, oceans of blue eyes and smiles that gentle, gorgeous smile that makes Lizzie feel like words aren’t really all that necessary, anyway. She lets herself collapse back into the pillows, trails her hands over Hope’s body, up her sides, holding her close. 

Hope’s breathing accelerates at her touch. And Lizzie is spent, feeling sore in all of the best ways possible, but she wants, and wants, slides her hands over Hope’s back. “Get up here,” she requests, and watches a mix of caution and desire cross Hope’s face. 

She moves her mouth, over Hope’s earlobe. “I want you to ride my face, Mikaelson,” she says, watches goosebumps appear on Hope’s skin, “because I may never move again.” She bites and licks at Hope’s ear, watches the way that the tribrid’s breathing changes and wonders if she has found a new spot of Hope’s that she can take advantage of in the future.  Hope’s eyes flash amber, just for a moment, before the color returns to them and maybe Lizzie really had found a spot Hope liked. 

Hope’s cheeks are colored, just slightly, when Lizzie leans up to kiss her again. “And take your clothes off. You’re wearing far too much.”

Hope moves with what Lizzie is very sure is supernatural speed, because only seconds pass until she’s carefully hovering over Lizzie’s face. Her hand reaches out, cupping Lizzie jaw, tender, and yeah, maybe they don’t really need words. 

She kisses Lizzie slowly, far too delicately for what Lizzie has demanded of her, but there was always time for kissing Lizzie, in Hope’s opinion. Even as the world may have teetered off its axis for moments today as Lizzie bled out on the white, far too white floors, there was always time to stop and kiss the girl that she loved. 

Because she is so far gone for Lizzie, even if the words haven’t found their way past her mouth. Even if the idea of saying it out loud to Landon had been easy and saying it out loud to Lizzie feels like taking a leap into depths she can’t ascertain. She loves Lizzie and she feels like she’s falling. 

Free falling. 

Hope kisses her and kisses her, soft, and slow, and like they have all the time in the world. 

Maybe, maybe, Lizzie thinks, maybe they do. 

It feels more and more like that. 

Like this is real. 

Like this is more than a desperate wish or a fever dream. 

Like they’re more than a quick night or a fast mistake. 

(It feels like everything she’s ever wanted.)

She runs her hands over Hope’s sides, scratching just slightly, and that elicits a quiet groan from Hope. And she’s going to have the best time discovering every single one of Hope’s weaknesses. 

“Let me eat you out,” she breathes out, and Hope kisses her again, a little harder, a little more wanting, before she moves, carefully, slowly, giving Lizzie ample time to stop her, until she’s kneeling over her. 

But Lizzie certainly won’t stop her, because Hope so close to her is intoxicating and she feels delirious, slides her hands over Hope’s thighs and onto her ass to pull her down, to pull her closer.

Hope’s breathing hitches when Lizzie moves her tongue in broad strokes, accelerates when she draws intricate patterns, and Lizzie grips the soft flesh of Hope’s thighs, pulls her down even closer, and listens to the way she moans, breathlessly. 

Hope’s hands cup her own breasts, twisting a nipple, before one drops down to pull on Lizzie’s hair, to pull Lizzie into her more fully, eliciting a loud moan from the blonde and Hope arches an eyebrow because this is new and exciting information.

Her eyes drop to Lizzie’s and she is watching her - every reaction, every movement of Hope’s body as she grinds on Lizzie’s mouth and her chest heaves and this angle would make for such a great drawing if Hope could only pin it to memory. 

Lizzie is exquisite like this, her eyes blue and sparkling, her lips open, arching up towards Hope, pulling Hope down towards her, Hope’s hand still tangled in blonde hair, letting Hope guide her. 

And maybe it’s just Hope feeling so open and exposed as Lizzie’s tongue darts in and out of the tribrid, but she has never felt more connected to someone. She feels Lizzie’s hands grow warm on her thighs and the sparks of magic between them are enough to manifest into tiny dots of light illuminating the dark room. 

This, them, everything that they are is stardust and magic and maybe this is destiny or maybe this will all end horribly, but Hope knows that this kind of thing only comes along once in a lifetime. 

This is her epic love story. 

She smiles to herself, eyes dancing as her breathing speeds up. She’s brought out of her reverie and curses when Lizzie’s tongue presses against her clit, reaches out to grip the headboard in a desperate attempt to stabilize herself.

“Oh god, right there,” she gasps. 

She feels the wood grow soft under her hands, barely stops herself from tearing pieces of it in ecstasy and maybe they need to invest in something a bit sturdier in the future if this is to be the new normal. 

Because Lizzie’s tongue on her as she rides her face is something Hope could definitely get used to. 

She comes when Lizzie’s tongue pushes inside of her, a strangled curse on her lips. She moves so she doesn’t suffocate Lizzie, dropping next to the blonde on the bed with slickness dripping down her thighs. 

She kisses Lizzie then, tasting herself on Lizzie’s tongue and feels herself grow wetter again. 

Minutes pass or maybe seconds, until Lizzie breaks the kiss. “No more heroics unless I’m there with you,” she warns. 

“No more jumping in front of knives,” Hope retaliates, punctuating her argument with the softest bite to Lizzie’s neck. 

“It was only a small knife.” A beat, and Lizzie concedes.  “I mean it, Hope,” Lizzie says plainly. 

“Or what? I got an epic orgasm as a punishment and you made stars appear,” Hope teases. “Seriously, Liz, you scared me.” She reaches up a hand to caress Lizzie’s cheek, locking eyes with her to drive her point home. 

“If I have to promise to be safer, you have to promise me too. Stronger together, always.”

“Always and forever,” Hope mutters, and kisses her, all the intention, all the meaning already conveyed in her words. 

By the time they fall asleep, tangled up in each other, the early rays of the morning sun are already illuminating the room. 

Hope wakes up to the sound of Lizzie’s heart, notably accelerated. She’s half on top of the blonde, an arm over Lizzie’s stomach, feeling the underside of her breast under her fingers. 

“Stop thinking so loudly,” Hope grumbles as she buries herself deeper into Lizzie’s chest. 

“How did you-” Lizzie whispers into Hope’s hair, kissing the top of her head. 

“Your heart rate changed. Wolf hearing, babe.” 

Lizzie swallows the questions, her breathing hitching as she runs a hand down Hope’s back and Hope can feel the moment shift. She opens her eyes slowly, a smile forming on her face and honestly, she could wake up to Lizzie each morning for the next fifty years and it still wouldn’t feel like enough time. 

She registers Lizzie’s apprehension, knows what she’s wondering, what questions are on the tip of her tongue.

“I won’t do anything stupid,” she promises, and she’s almost surprised to realize that she means it. If putting herself in danger causes Lizzie to be in danger in turn, if standing alone weakens all of them, then perhaps it’s not the smart call to make. 

“That wasn’t the only thing that I was thinking about, but your mind reading is getting better,” Lizzie laughs, “

They shower together because saving water is very important to Lizzie and join Alaric, Josie, and Dorian, video calling from the school, at the table. Any hint of a plan was destroyed yesterday with the jinn’s disappearance but Dorian had heard of an old map of the outskirts of the city and Alaric had found it there.

Hope can feel the magic in the worn paper, can feel the pull to the edges of the map where she knows the coven’s compound may lie. 

They must have left traces on her, she contemplates. With a shiver running over her skin, she recalls the haunting dreams in the night of the jinn’s first appearance.

Ravens and crows, their echoing calls, and the skin of their intended victim, still unmarked.

Now, she is marked, the scar etched on her skin still all too visible. 

That kind of magic left more than one kind of mark.

Her hand covers the mark subconsciously and when her eyes meet Josie’s, across the table, there is understanding in them. Recognition. 

Josie loves magic, not like Lizzie, who sees it as a useful tool in her repertoire of skills. For Lizzie, Hope knows, magic is something practical and real.

But for Josie, it’s something ancient and haunting and intangible and she grasps it’s dangerous intricacies better than anyone else Hope knows. 

She tilts her head, a silent question, and Hope nods. It’s the best plan they have. (It’s the only plan they have.) 

She’s the one who speaks, because Josie is still cautious about revealing just how much she knows about the darker, more dangerous sides of magic, especially in front of Alaric. 

“If Josie helps me,” she begins, “we could try to reverse the magic they did on me and find from where it originated.”

“We need a locator,” Josie says, “some blood maybe.”

Hope shakes her head. “I have a better idea.”

She runs upstairs, takes a locket from her room and whispers over it silently, before joining the group at the table, locket in hand and holding it by the chain. 

“This was my mother’s locket,” she begins, light refracting off of the polished silver, throwing spots around the walls. 

She knows what comes next, knows that both Alaric and Lizzie will object, but she makes eye contact with Josie over the table and the brunette nods. 

She sends Lizzie a quick glance, silently pleading for understanding. This is their best shot.

 “We’ll be careful,” she promises and with a quiet nod, Lizzie acquiesces.

A quick whisper and the locket is levitated over the map, still held in Hopes hand, and Hope holds out her free hand to Josie. Josie will have to perform the lion’s share of the magic, because Hope is too close to this, but she will lend her power, will give it freely. 

There’s the familiar tug of Josie siphoning, pulling power from Hope, as her lips begin moving, whispering quiet words in Latin.

Hope knows the spell. They’ve been working through Freya's grimoires together, seeking advances in the battle against Malivore. 

The locket moves, as if pulled by string and steadies over the top left corner, hanging suspended in the air, as Hope lets go off it.

It hangs over the outskirts of New Orleans, the boundaries of the Ninth Ward, dangerously close to the swamps. Hope steps closer, tracing her eyes over the map, memorizing the location.

“What are you thinking, Hope?” Alaric asks cautiously, memories of last night fresh on all of their minds. 

Candles burn bright around them, the wax dripping on the floor in pools of white and Hope is lost in the flames for a moment, a melancholy call from the crows in her mind. 

“Is it too soon to offer myself up as bait?” Hope begins delicately as the chorus of voices around her erupts. 

She grabs Lizzie’s hand and gives it a squeeze before releasing, her promises from last night and this morning echoing in her ears. 

“....with you guys as back up, obviously. They want me. Just me. I have to go in there alone, or what looks like me being alone. This is it. Our one shot against them.” 

A quick internet search because, yeah, they were witches but hello, it was the 21st century, yielded nothing. Guess they were going in blind. 

Alaric and Lizzie bush themselves getting the crossbow and an assortment of other weapons ready and Hope catches Josie’s elbow, holding her back. She could do this herself, but not in the limited time they have.

“Can you put some of my magic into this?” she requests, her hand reaching for her mother’s locket. 

Josie is silent for a moment until she grasps what’s going on and her lips turn up into a smirk.

 “She’s going to be insufferable if you keep being this sappy,” she says, but there’s no malice in her voice, just poorly hidden amusement.

She places a hand on Hope’s arm and one in the locket, handing it back to Hope mere seconds later. It feels heavier now, the magic weighing it down. 

“Thanks, Jo.” 

She presses the locket into Lizzie’s hand as they leave, adds “it has some of my magic in it, as a backup,” as if that’s the whole reason she’s giving one of the few things she has left of her mother to Lizzie.

Blue eyes meet her own and she feels entranced by Lizzie’s gaze, piercing into her soul, and Hope feels, and feels, far, far too much, before Lizzie releases her gaze.

“Put it on me?” she requests, holding the locket out.

Hope takes it from her and Lizzie turns around, gathering up her hair. 

Hope’s hands trace over Lizzie’s neck, over where the marks she left last night still radiate, even if hidden by a concealment charm.

Lizzie’s breathing quickens imperceptibly and Hope fastens the necklace around her neck, doing her best to stay focused. Alaric’s voice calls them to car, the moment lost.

A twenty minute drive takes them to a villa on the edge of town, deep within the coven’s territory and nearly swallowed by centuries-old woods. The perfect place for a hideout.

The villa, if you could call it that, is encircled by an ornate wrought-iron fence. Both the fence and the house are crumbling. 

The woods around the building are so thick with willows and vines that it is nearly impossible to see much, even for a tribrid, and Lizzie is sure that it was inhabited by creatures darker than those they had encountered before. 

Fog is hanging over the building, low and deep, casting it in a ghastly, grayish light. It seems heavy and weighed down, the thick mist creating an otherworldly, haunting atmosphere. It felt alien. It felt old. 

The woods also felt a bit magical, a thicket in the middle of a city of 400,000 souls. The villa lay before them half-ruined; open to the air. Completely deserted and silent, but Hope knew better. 

They enter quietly and the remnants of a once-grand foyer swirl around them. Hope can see the balls, can hear the music and laughter that flowed through these walls some three hundred years ago. 

Now all that was left was a bare stone antechamber lined with palm trees in clay pots and faded, moth-eaten carpets. The carcasses of dead animals are piled on the floor as if they’re walking on an altar. As if a ceremony had recently been performed. 

On one wall, one of two left standing, an oil painting of a woman with dark eyes swathed in voluminous, dark robes, a dark moon in the corner. 

Hope raises her hand, silently imploring them to stay behind. From the room behind this one, she can hear the barest hint of whispers. They quickly stop.  One heartbeat. Two heartbeats. She’s been heard. And now, she is the bait.

Ripe for the killing. 

She steps closer, into the empty hall, fog and mist hanging heavily here, even inside the building. 

They emerge from the shadows, stepping around the crumbling stones like lionesses circling their prey. The jinn, doing her best Lizzie impression comes first, her movements lithe and measured, like silk wafting in the breeze. She is followed by a young woman with curtains of dark hair coiling at her shoulders. 

She walks with a purpose, her jaw set, as if she carried the weight of the world on her shoulders and Hope feels her hatred pouring through her gaze like a knife’s edge. Kara. 

Davina had provoked the attack on Kara, and Hayley had traded Kara’s life for the life of her pack. Hope can’t judge her mother for that choice. Her family had done terrible things, more than she can ever count, but trading the life of the crescent pack and saving them from the hunters in the woods and the terrible curse laid on them had been the right choice. It had been the only choice.

And Kara and the Ninth Ward Coven had paid too high a price for their resistance against Davina as a regent, but Hope wouldn’t be the sacrifice they’re asking for. She promised Lizzie to stay alive, after all, more incentive than she can quite put into words. 

“Dana Nguyen,” Hope says, her voice sounding calmer than she feels. Her inquiries with Marcel had yielded a bit more information than she had shared with Alaric and the twins. Amongst that, the small fact that only one of Kara’s three daughters still lived and practised magic in New Orleans. 

“Hope Mikaelson,” Dana replies, and she can’t suppress the joy in her expression and her tone. “All alone. You’re making this very easy.”

A few more witches of the Ninth Coven step into the room, and Hope should be terrified, if she didn’t have backup right outside the door. If she didn’t have Lizzie and Josie and Alaric right there with her. 

In front of her, the jinn seems impatient, primed to attack, her measured steps focused on Hope. The black of her outfit rolls off of her like waves of smoke, almost as if she was being pulled between two worlds. 

This time, the knife is all too visible, and this time, Hope whispers a spell before the jinn strikes its first blow. “Immomento,” the words drip from her lips and the jinn stands frozen, held in place by her magic. 

Dana raises her hand, releasing the spell, and the jinn flies forward, the knife in her hand, directed straight at Hope. She ducks, twirls, and doesn’t bother sending a kick. 

Hand-to-hand combat won’t defeat the jinn. 

Instead, they find themselves at opposite ends of the room, Dana between them, her gaze moving between them and Hope thinks that she seems almost overwhelmed. Almost

Rage seems to show on the jinn’s face. Her strength is in masking and trickery and this time, Hope will not be easily fooled. Will not be fooled at all.  

Because she may look like Lizzie but Hope knows Lizzie. Knows her intimately. Knows the spot behind her ear that makes shivers run down her spine. Knows how she breathes when she’s excited, turned on, or scared. Knows the intricacies of her mind like the back of her hand. And while the jinn may wear Lizzie’s face, she could never have Lizzie’s heart inside of her cold, dead body. 

The jinn lets out an almost unholy scream, reminiscent of a banshee, hurling her body towards Hope, leaving Dana only to jump out of the way. 

It turns into a mess of a fight, Hope shifting rapidly through the room, the jinn behind her, Lizzie’s face distorted into a grimace of rage, the knife in her hand, aimed at Hope. 

But this time, she is no longer easily fooled. 

The jinn has turned into mist once again, her harrowing laughter echoing through the room, and Hope moves out of the way as balls of fire fly, exploding, from Josie’s hands, who appears silently behind her. The fireballs turn into tall walls of flame, circling around the barely discernible figure of the jinn, locking it in, tighter and tighter. 

The witches of the Ninth Ward, more than Hope had seen before, are pushed together against the opposite wall, and Hope can see the fear in their eyes, the concern in their expressions. 

Hope chances a glance behind her and Josie’s eyes flash, dark, and the fire burns brighter and brighter. 

Tips of red fire and walls of gold flock together, and the mist is diminished and diminished, and with a ghastly sound, directly from the otherworld, the corpse of the jinn crumbles into ashes on the ground. 

Hope could feel the agony, could feel the shriek in her bones and in her heart and a heaviness seems to lift. A crow cries outside but the noise is faint. 

Josie keeps her hands raised, the flames slowly dissolving, shifting with a whoosh from walls of fire back into flickers and then into fireballs before they dissolve with a hiss. 

“So much for your pet.  What else do you have, Dana?” Hope’s voice rises as she watches flickers of annoyance pass through Dana’s face in a whirl before her mask is composed again. 

“Killing me won’t bring your mother back. You have to understand that. And witches, undercutting each other for petty grievances and revenge? I think the Ninth Coven is better than that. 

“Your mother killed my mother,” she says, bitterness seeping from every word. “So turnabout seems fair play.”

“It’s not going to bring her back,” Hope repeats, and her voice sounds almost kind. Like she understands all too well, what drove these witches to the brink. 

“She’s never coming back, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve what’s coming for you. What power we can harness. ”

“Your mother died for her beliefs. My mother killed her to save her pack. They tried to do the right thing, for their own. Do you really think Kara would have wanted this?”

“It doesn’t matter. It’s about time you Mikaelsons pay the price for your actions.”

“And what about your price? You know that even if you succeed, my family will make you pay.”

The woman’s laughter is shrill, echoing through the empty rooms of the ruin, more reminiscent of a hyena, than a human. “My life for yours seems like quite a good deal, Hope Mikaelson.” 

Hope motions to the other witches, lingering in the background. “And do they know? The Ninth Ward Coven will be wiped out of existence. Is that what your mother would have wanted?”

Hope watches the way they blanch, the way that this might be more than they signed up for. Blood feuds were always a messy business. 

Josie is joined by Lizzie with her hands stretched out to grab her sister, Alaric trailing behind her. 

“We don’t want to make it a precedent to kill other witches, Dana. Don’t make us hurt you.” 

Alaric raises his crossbow, the threat real.  Dana snarls at him, but as she counts her adversaries, the room changes as the stalemate becomes even more apparent. A frisson of tension makes its way across the women in black as the realization becomes apparent.  

A Mikaelson dead would only bring other Mikaelsons down on their doorstep, a fact that they had clearly overlooked when following Dana’s commands. 

Klaus might be gone. Haley might be gone, but Hope’s family tree was strong and their memories were long. 

“Don’t you dare come to my territory again, young Mikaelson.” 

“Don’t you dare come into my dreams again,” Hope counters. “Do we have an accord?” 

“Yes,” Dana extends and a hand and Lizzie wants to dart forward because this may be a trap and Hope could be walking right into it, but the tribrid accepts the handshake warily. 

“Don’t think for a moment that it escaped our notice that you resorted to dark magic today, Hope. Tread carefully in the future or something else may find its way to you. Now, get the hell off of my property.” 

They turn to leave and Lizzie instantly goes to Hope, her palm warm on Hope’s cheek as the brunette leans into her touch. 

“You know, not that I’m not happy that this was resolved with less bloodshed than normal, but I’m actually really upset that I’ve never been able to use these,” Lizzie states, rummaging through her purse to hold up - 

“You carry handcuffs in your purse?” Hope questions, attempting to mask the intrigue in her voice.

Lizzie looks up, the cuffs dangling from her fingers and nods. “I have a curling iron, too. It says a lot about our lives that I need that much less frequently.”

Their eyes meet and Hope tries to think about anything except Lizzie and handcuffs- or Lizzie in handcuffs- or Lizzie putting her in handcuffs- but it definitely isn’t working, because Lizzie’s smile turns into a smirk. 

“Nauseating,” Josie mutters. 

“Josie,” her Dad chides, “your sister is just trying to help. Always be prepared, right, girls? I’m going to get the car,” he adds, disappearing with quick steps.  

“Are you ever going to tell him?” Josie asks. 

Lizzie shrugs. “Maybe.” All the reasons she’s not good enough for Hope isn’t on the top list of things she wants to hear from her father. 

Hope reaches out to squeeze her hand. “Or,” she proposes, “we wait how long he takes to figure it out. We could start a betting pool.”

“You’re both idiots,” Josie sighs, but Hope remains undeterred.

“I’ll give you good odds,” she offers, and they laugh, all of them, and Hope uses their intertwined hands to pull Lizzie closer. 

There’s a party waiting for them when they get back to the school, M.G. grinning at them. “I texted him,” Josie confesses, and Lizzie rolls her eyes. When together, her sister and M.G closely resemble a pair of overeager, overjoyed puppies. 

Dad attempts admonishing them, but the relief that they defeated the monster is still obvious and when Dorian hands him a glass of wine and some fancy canapé M.G. organized, he finally gives in. 

There’s a banner. It says, “Another One Down.” Lizzie thinks it might be the most ridiculous thing she’s ever seen, but there’s something oddly endearing about it. 

She makes it through almost twenty minutes of party chit-chat until Hope appears at her side. “I stole a bottle of wine,” she says, intertwining their fingers. “Do you want to get out of here?”

“Yes, please,” Lizzie mutters, and lets Hope tug her up the stairs. 

Hope’s sheets are a dark, deep red, like the color of the wine that currently stains her lips. Lizzie searches for the right word - vermilion doesn’t really do the hue justice, nor did claret, scarlet, or ichor. The blonde swirls her own wineglass as she searches for the correct shade, if only to distract herself from thoughts of Hope’s sheets and worse, her lips, and how they tasted. Lizzie had been watching those lips for hours - how they turn up in a smirk, turn down in a frown, how Hope bites so slightly on her bottom lip in thought. She had more than enough time to study Hope on their drive back, after all. 

Lizzie’s eyes are focused on the window but her thoughts are a thousand miles away. 

The drive back had been excruciating. Yes, the jinn was gone and yes, they were safe for the moment, but she had been aching for a second alone with Hope. She didn’t know when this addiction to Hope started. When her daydreams devolved into images of Hope in the darkness, from the line of freckles that dot the tops of her thighs to the bow that her lips make. But now that she started, she couldn’t stop. 

Hope is lighter, now that they’re back, that the immediate threat of the demon is gone. Lizzie can feel it in the air around them and it feels electric. 

Lizzie watches the way she smiles, bright and alluring, and wonders if she’s seen Hope quite this happy. If maybe she’s not the only one who’s happier now. 

“Liz?” Hope prompts, interrupting her reverie when it’s more than obvious that Lizzie definitely isn’t paying any attention. 

Or at the very least, not paying any attention to the words dropping from Hope’s lips. Paying attention to Hope’s lips, on the other hand. She’s rather certain that a blush is more than obvious on her face.

Hope moves, lightning fast, until she’s standing in front of the window, in front of Lizzie. 

“I was thinking,” Hope begins, taking the wineglass from Lizzie’s hands and leading her towards her bed.  They may or may not have knocked into Hope’s bedside table on the way. 

“About those handcuffs….” 

“If you wanted to tie me up, all you had to do was ask, Mikaelson,” there’s a challenge in Lizzie’s smirk, even as her cheeks flush with color. And she knows Lizzie’s tells by now, better and better with every passing day, the way her pupils dilate and the way she’s biting her lip. Hope is definitely not the only one into this idea. 

Hope shifts them back towards the bed until she’s in Lizzie’s lap, straddling her, and traces her hands over Lizzie’s body, cupping Lizzie’s face in her hands, fixes Lizzie with a lingering gaze.

“Can I tie you up, Lizzie?” 

Hope’s voice is rougher than she’s used to, and Lizzie’s feels herself shivering under the careful touches. “Yes,” she breathes out, and feels like the floor is pulled out from under her in the best way possible. 

There’s a quiet whisper, a conjuring spell, and then Hope is kissing her, and Lizzie feels molton under her touch, and lets her eyes fall shut. Quick fingers make fast work of her clothes, and Lizzie lets herself fall back against the sheets. The silk feels cold against the heat of her body. 

Hope’s touches turn her breathless, kisses dotted against her neck and fingers sliding up her ribcage, and she’s almost forgotten about the restraints, about her request, too distracted by the way Hope’s hands feel on her skin.

Gentle fingers slide down her arms and wrap around her wrists, placing them above her head, and Lizzie can’t help the gasp that escapes her. Hope moves up a little, no longer hovering over her, simply looking down at her. 

“You’re so beautiful,” she whispers, and she sounds reverent, her voice sending shivers down Lizzie’s spine. 

Hope takes her time, sliding the silk between her fingers, and it’s a dark, blood red, and Lizzie feels caught in the intensity of her gaze as she bends forward carefully, wrapping the scarf around the post of the bed, then around Lizzie’s wrist. She ties the knots with careful, deliberate movements, repeating the motions on her other wrist. 

Her hand slides to cup Lizzie’s cheek. “Are you comfortable, babe?” Lizzie shifts, a little, testing the hold the restraints have on her, letting out an involuntary moan at the way they halt her movements. 

Hope kisses her, soft and sweet, and Lizzie feels far too much, the silken scarves around her wrists, the lace of the bra Hope is still wearing against her skin, and not enough, because she needs more, needs Hope to touch her. She remembers the question, lingering in the back of her mind. 

“Yes,” she says, and is rewarded by Hope’s hands sliding down her body, 

“Do you want a safe word?” Hope teases, stopping at Lizzie’s breasts to dot kisses along her sternum, her eyes intent on the blonde. Lizzie wants to laugh but Hope’s gaze on her is focused, intent. 

She thinks for a beat, laughter in her voice. “I don’t know, Hope. How about demon?”

 “You want me to fuck you with our safe word being ‘demon?’” Hope asks, sitting up on Lizzie. 

“It gets the point across and if something were to happen, I can easily yell demon because that’s probably what’s gonna attack us,” Lizzie reasons. 

Hope chuckles, despite herself, and nods, “Demon it is.” 

She quiets, focusing intently on Lizzie’s breasts once again, licking around the nipple and sucking when it raises.  She bites Lizzie again, licking right after to soothe the pain and is rewarded with Lizzie canting her hips upward, seeking the friction that Hope is currently denying her. 

Hope feels a little breathless at the image before her, caught up in Lizzie like this, arching closer to her, her pupils dilated and her lower lip caught between her teeth. She leaves marks on Lizzie’s skin, dotted above her breasts and up the line of her neck, loses herself in soft skin and the breathless curses slipping from Lizzie’s lips. 

“I just took off the last concealment charm,” Lizzie mutters, the feigned disapproval in her voice contradicted by the way her sigh turns into a moan when Hope sucks on her skin a little harder. Hope lets her lips linger, soothing the red mark with gentle kisses.

“Would you like me stop?” she questions, mirth slipping into her voice. 

Lizzie rolls her eyes. “Don’t you dare, Hope Mikaelson. I’m just letting you know that I will eventually find a spell that lets me get even.”

There’s something intoxicating about the way Lizzie says eventually, like she’s so certain that they’ll have that, that there will be an eventually . She focuses on touching Lizzie again, shifts a little lower to circle her tongue over Lizzie’s chest, her hand dipping between Lizzie’s legs. 

Lizzie tugs on the restraints involuntarily, a desperate attempt to pull Hope closer, to reach out for her, to find distraction from the way Hope is touching her, far too much and not at all enough. Her skin feels on fire, Hope’s gentle touches setting her aflame and her legs fall open wider as Hope slips between them, moving upwards to kiss her.

Hope traces Lizzie’s lips with her fingers, and the blonde opens her mouth. She sticks two fingers in Lizzie’s mouth and Lizzie latches onto them, sucking them as she locks eyes with Hope and she is mesmerized. 

Hands trail down her thighs and Lizzie feels her breath catch at the gentle caresses, needs, needs more. “Tease,” she accuses, when it becomes clear that Hope has absolutely no intention of hurrying up even a little. 

“Patience,” Hope chides, nipping at the juncture between Lizzie’s neck and shoulder and delighting at the desperate whine Lizzie lets out. Lizzie under her like this is an image she could look at forever, her pupils blown, her hands over her head, the silk holding them in place, her chest heaving and her hips canting upwards. She’s taking her time, dropping feather-light touches over Lizzie’s body, and the minutes pass, and Lizzie’s moans turn more and more breathless. 

“Hope, please,” Lizzie groans, desperation in every syllable, and Hope bites down on her own lip, because Lizzie has most certainly found one of her weak spots, and from the way a hint of a smirk is lingering on her mouth, she knows it. 

She slips her hand, the one Lizzie had so thoroughly licked, between the blonde’s legs, finds her soaked, opening up for her. Hope nearly exhales in wonder because she will never truly get over the marvel that is Lizzie Saltzman, wanting and wanton and so desperate for her touch. 

Hope pushes two fingers inside of Lizzie, who lets out a strangled gasp. Her hands almost fly upwards, an attempt to reach for Hope, to pull her closer, but she finds her movement blocked by the scarves, falling back onto the bed with a shuddering gasp. 

Lizzie gives herself over to sensation, her eyes falling shut as the speed of Hope’s thrusts increases, her legs wrapping around Hope’s back. Hope’s fingers curl inside of her and she matches Hope’s movements with her hips and she’s so, so, so close.

Hope removes her fingers and before Lizzie can complain about the fact that she might be the worst tease ever, she’s sliding down Lizzie’s body, hands settling on her hips, her mouth on Lizzie, and her complaint turns turns into a shuddering moan as Hope’s tongue pushes inside of her. 

She loses herself to the feeling of Hope’s lips on her, her tongue inside of her, her hands splayed over Lizzie’s hips, holding her in place. Her fast breaths and muttered curses fill the room and she’s tantalizingly close to the edge, about, about to fall when Hope moves again. 

A quick kiss to her hip, and suddenly Hope is hovering above her, her hand tangling in Lizzie’s hair, tugging ever so slightly. “Look at me, babe,” she requests, and Lizzie adheres, slowly letting her eyes fall open. Hope presses another kiss to the corner of her mouth and then she’s sliding her fingers inside of Lizzie again, and Lizzie breathes out in relief. 

Hope’s hand stays tangled in her hair, and her gaze is entirely focused on Lizzie. Hope twists and curls her fingers and Lizzie clenches around them. She can hear Hope’s voice, calling her beautiful and wonderful and whispering about how much she adores her. 

She feels dizzy in the best way possible, focuses on the intensity of Hope’s eyes on her and Hope’s fingers inside of her. Hope’s thumb circles her clit and she gasps Hope’s name and shatters to pieces. 

Lizzie collapses back onto the sheets, catching her breath. She can feel Hope moving, untying the scarves and pressing careful kisses to the skin of her wrist and relaxes back into the touch. 

“Liz,” Hope’s voice prompts and her eyes flutter open slowly, taking in the image of Hope hovering above her. “Are you okay?”

“Excellent,” Lizzie mutters, pulling Hope down to kiss her. “We’re definitely doing that again.” Hope chuckles against her lips, throaty and low. Downstairs, she can hear exuberant laughter from the party, but she’d much, much rather be here. 

Hope wakes in Lizzie’s arms, exhausted and sated, sore in all the right places. Her dreams were blissfully blank, filled with a certain blonde-haired siphon and absent a certain jinn. She kisses Lizzie’s temple, nuzzling into the blonde who throws an arm around the tribrid, pulling her closer to her. Hope relishes the touch, kissing Lizzie’s neck. 

“Babe, I love you but it’s too damn early,” Lizzie exhales, eyes still shut. 

Hope stills at the words, but smiles into the kisses she trails along Lizzie’s neck, pausing at her pulse point as she grips her hips. It takes her a moment before she can find the words. 

“You love me, huh?” 

“Well, what I meant was-”

“I love you too, Lizzie.” Hope places her hand on Lizzie’s cheek, her palm tracing the blonde’s forehead to will Lizzie’s eyes open for her to see her sincerity and not just hear her words. 

“I have since I got back from Malivore. Before that, probably. Everything led me to you. It was always you, you know?”

“It’s always been you, too. Even if you have a death wish and are the most stubborn person I have ever met,” Lizzie says, feigning annoyance even as a smile breaks out across her face. 

“Do you think things will ever calm down for us?” Hope asks, biting her lip as she watches galaxies swirl in Lizzie’s eyes. 

“Here? No, never, but you have me by your side as long as you want me, Mikaelson.” Lizzie lets herself fall back against the pillows, pulling Hope down with her. “Now, can we please sleep some more? It’s way too early for this.”

Hope stays awake a little longer, even as Lizzie’s breathing evens out again.  

The danger of the merge is still looming, their fight with Malivore persists, and any moment, Alaric or Josie could burst through the door, announcing the arrival of another demon. But for now, in the arms of the girl she loves, who loves her, she feels at peace.