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Racing Hearts

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As a kid you think living in a boarding school is something cool. Something unique. Being the headmaster's and headmistress' daughter makes you cool and popular with no effort.

It's true. I can confirm it. Lizzie and I had many friends as we have shifted from little girls to teenagers. As teenagers most friends have wanted to be our admirers. Lizzie loved it. I didn't.

Those vampires, wolves and witches didn't want us. They wanted the headmaster's daughters.

What I thought was really cool as a kid became a stain. A stain I was afraid I could get never rid of. Nobody would see me through this stain.

She did.

That's why it hurt so much when Penelope Park dumped me out of nowhere. Penelope dumped me not because she was tired of the headmaster's daughter, but because she was tired of me. She was tired of Josie.

At least that's what I used to think. We kissed after our breakup. Multiple times. Those kisses didn't make sense to me. I didn't want them to. My heart racing whenever our lips touched made me hate her more. I hated her when she was there when I got rescued from being buried alive. I hated her when she wanted to be my Miss Mystic Falls escort.

Except my anger wasn't because I hated her. My anger was directed at how confusing Penelope was. She dumped me and yet she was always there.

I wondered if one day she'd stop being there. Now when I think about it, maybe that's why I lost Miss Mystic Falls on purpose. I wanted to push her to give me an explanation.

I got an explanation, but I pushed her too far. Penelope left Salvatore School and left me behind in tears and with a completely new chapter in my life. The merge.

Next to being the headmaster's daughter, there was another weight on me. My life could possibly end when I turned 22. Either my life or my sister's.

The merge is still not solved. Maybe it's my fault. I tried to push my fear away by dating others. I was too busy distracting myself and didn't think of a solution. I also trusted my mother to find a solution.

One part of me even trusted Penelope. Trusted in her love for me. There was no way she would let me die. She also wouldn't allow Lizzie to sacrifice herself, despite the differences between them.

Penelope was not part of Salvatore School anymore but it didn't mean I was not part of her heart anymore. Does thinking this makes me selfish? I don't know. What I do know is that my heart has never skipped with Landon or Jade. I forgot about my own heart. I forgot about myself. Black magic took over me. I lost myself.

I lost myself. It took me a long time to accept this. Then again, who was I? Who was Josie Saltzman? Who was I beyond being the headmaster's daughter? Beyond the walls of Salvatore School? I tried finding an answer by moving out of the school but staying in Mystic Falls.

It turned out to be a mistake. I came back to Salvatore School. With Finch. Hoping she would have an answer for me. She didn't. I lost myself further.

The walls of the schools felt like they would collapse on me any time and given the monsters being regular visitors, maybe they even would one day. If I didn't get out of this place. I needed to know myself and being at Salvatore School, being in Mystic Falls has never helped me.

So, here am I. In Belgium, Brussels. Standing in my room at the only girls witch school in the whole world.

Here I am not the headmaster's daughter. Here I am the daughter of a teacher called Caroline Forbes. Until the people here catch up on that, they will know me. They will know Josie. I will know myself.

That's what my mom assures me off, and I believe her. Because she believes in me.

Still there is also someone else at this school who is familiar with the old me. Penelope Park. I am actually mad at her for not coming back when I needed her the most. I hope she has an explanation. I wouldn't want to burn her long hair again…that is if she let her hair grow.

After a long time I feel my heart racing when I think about seeing her again. What will it be like?

There is only one way to find out. Before I can look for her I will have to go through a tour.

Funny how I used to give tours but now I am the one receiving a tour. Something has already changed. I smile at my reflection in the mirror.

I take a deep breath as I open the door and step out in the hallway. My room is in the first floor. Room 106.

According to the note in my room, I am supposed to meet up with my tour guide in 010.

I walk down the stairs. Despite it being night the hallways are crowded. Seeing all those teenagers cast spells without fearing detention is weird. Hearing some talking about something else than monsters is weird.

Penelope definitely likes this place. She has always complained about the no magic outside classrooms rule of Salvatore School. I have never actually seen her react to the monsters, but I know that she must have been pissed.

That's exactly how I spot Penelope. Pissed off.

Her angry look is not dedicated at me but to a woman. What else catches my attention is a girl clinging onto Penelope's arm.

That's exactly what I have not expected. I even prepared myself for a Penelope that could be angry at me for dating others but a Penelope that is dating another girl?

"As a punishment you will give a tour to our new student. End of discussion, Ms. Park."

Penelope runs a hand through her long hair first. She lets out an angry chuckle.

"Just do what she says," the girl begs.

"You should listen to your cousin," the woman says.

That's when I realize I am holding my breath. I exhale in relief.

Penelope doesn't answer back to the woman. Her eyes are speaking instead.

I shift one foot to the other. The woman catches on my movement. She smiles warmly.

"You must be Josie."

I try to smile back, waiting for Penelope's reaction.

Penelope's cousin reacts first. She lets go of Penelope's arm, looking at me shocked.

"Welcome to our school. This is Penelope Park. Your tour guide. My name is-"

I no longer listen to the woman because Penelope's eyes finally meet mine. I smile at her. I don't think about what she thinks about seeing me. Because I am seeing her.

The woman and Penelope's cousin move briefly in my view as they are walking past us.

I don't stand on the same spot for long. My feet take me to Penelope. My heart is racing.

I stop right in front of her. After a long time I finally get to look in her green eyes again.

Penelope blinks at me. I say the first word.

"Hello."

Her eyes roam in my face one more time. As if they are actually making sure it's me. Finally, she smiles at me and I feel like it's just us. Like it always had been whenever she smiled at me.

"Hi, Jojo." Penelope says back softly.

I see her hands moving hesitatingly towards me. She is not sure how to welcome me. Not sure how I would react.

I make the first step again. I place my hand on her heart. It's racing like mine. I hear her exhale like she just realized it's really me.

Penelope pulls me closer. I wrap one arm around her, keeping my other hand still on her heart.

She hugs me too. I feel her caressing over my hair as I am inhaling her scent I've been deprived of.

After a moment the hug is over. Penelope is the one who distances herself from me. My hand is still on her heart.

"What are you doing here?" She asks me concerned while cupping my face.

"I…I want to find myself."

"I will help you," Penelope says without missing a beat.

"I mean if that is okay for you," she adds.

I remove one of her hands from my face and place it on my heart.