Author: loch.ness.princess PM
A slice-of-life vignette, Leo's POV. From making a friend to fighting a monster to facing down a killer flower, life as an envoy to the Roman camp is nothing if not interesting.Rated: Fiction T - English - Leo V. - Chapters: 20 - Words: 33,527 - Reviews: 72 - Favs: 55 - Follows: 35 - Updated: 12-23-10 - Published: 11-12-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6471678
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Thank you for reading and reviewing! No copyright infringement intended.
Leo wandered around the Roman camp alone. He wasn't in the mood for more meetings or face-offs with the Roman kids. Their little envoy –himself, Jason, Piper, Annabeth, and Clarisse—had met a lukewarm reaction. He was happy that Annabeth had found Percy and figured out his trigger memory and all, but he was getting fidgety.
The Roman camp wasn't like Camp Half-Blood. It was a lot more orderly and uniform, like military barracks. Everything was laid out on a grid pattern to maximize efficiency. Kids were sparring or hanging out, but everything about them seemed stiffer and more organized. The rigidness of the place was starting to drive Leo insane.
He absently twisted some wires together as he rounded a corner. Then he pulled a small cog from his tool belt and wound one end of a wire around it so that it looked like a goofy metal flower. Another cog, some wire wrapped in green plastic—soon Leo had a tiny bouquet in his fist.
Leo looked around. He had been so focused on his flowers that he had wandered into some deserted little corner of the compound, a little bit removed from everything else. It looked like the other buildings, but it wasn't as well-kept—like the Cleaning Fairy had skipped it a few times. The walls were slightly dirtier, and the grass was a bit uneven.
Leo knew he wasn't supposed to go poking around, but a quick look couldn't hurt. Maybe this was where the Roman oracle lived. After all, Rachel lived in a cave. Maybe oracles got crummy living accommodations as a rule.
Leo checked over his shoulders. There was no one watching. He would just stick his head in. Nothing major.
He skipped up the steps, did a final check for lookers-on, and peered around the open doorframe. What he found startled him so much that he dropped his metal flowers.
There was a girl about his age with a long brown braid tending a giant central fire. She wore black jeans and a purple t-shirt like the other Roman kids. Nothing too remarkable there. What was so startling was that she was manipulating the fire with her hands, causing it to rise and fall in its giant gold brazier as she moved her arms around.
When Leo's flowers hit the marble floor, the girl jumped and turned to stare. "Who are you?"
"You're a fire user!" Leo blurted. The girl's expression changed from startled to confused.
"I'm a what now?" she asked uncertainly.
"A fire user." Leo pointed at the brazier. "You were controlling the fire. This is so cool. I didn't think there were any other fire users in the whole world!"
Leo waited for the girl's face to clear, but it didn't. Instead, her frown deepened. "A fire user? What's a fire user?"
"You know." Leo held out his hand and lit it on fire. "The children of Hephaestus who can summon fire." He paused. "Aren't you a child of Hephaestus?"
"You mean Vulcan? No. I'm a daughter of Victoria."
"Victoria?" It was Leo's turn to be confused. "Like the British queen? Are you saying your mom is royalty?"
The girl rolled her eyes, like she'd heard that one a million times before. "Victoria is the goddess of victory, stupid."
Leo shrugged off the stupid comment and closed his fist around the flames in his hand. "Okay," he said, "I'm really confused now. You're the daughter of the victory goddess, but you're a fire user?"
"I'm not a fire user," the girl said impatiently. She walked over and showed Leo her hands, which were shiny from burns. "If I were like you, I would be immune to fire. At least, I assume you're immune."
Leo held up his own palms, which were distinctly un-burned. The girl stared at his hands in wonder.
"So tell me," Leo said, "if you're not a fire user, how were you manipulating those flames?"
"It's a long story," the girl said.
"I haven't got anything to do."
The girl cocked an eyebrow, thinking, and then beckoned. "It's technically against the rules, but… come in. I'm Fiona, by the way."
"I'm Leo," Leo replied, picking up his metal bouquet and stuffing it into his army jacket pocket. He walked further into the room. It was basically a big, square room lined with columns. Leo could see mosaics glittering on the walls. The room felt warm—not like the forges, which were hot and uncomfortable, but like a cozy house. Leo vaguely remembered when Tia Callida had put him down for a nap in the fireplace. Fiona's room kind of felt like that—warm and safe.
"What is this place?" Leo asked. "A temple?"
"Yep," Fiona said, popping her lips on the P. "Welcome to the only temple at camp—Vesta's."
"Who's Vesta?" Leo asked. He was still a little behind on the Greek-to-Roman name swap thing.
Fiona pointed to a mosaic. It showed a young woman with flames for eyes standing in front of a huge fireplace. Cooking pots were at her feet, and gold flames blazed in her hands.
"A fire goddess?" Leo guessed tentatively.
"The goddess of the hearth and home," Fiona corrected. "So, yeah, sort of a fire goddess."
The hearth and home… Leo frowned and thought back. He was pretty sure he had seen a girl poking at the central fire at Camp Half-Blood, and she had looked a little like this mosaic of Vesta.
"Hestia!" he blurted, snapping his fingers. "Her Greek name is Hestia."
"Is it?" Fiona asked mildly. "Well, around here, she's Vesta. And I—" she spread her arms wide, "—am a Vestalis. It's my job to keep this fire going." She pointed at the central brazier. "This fire is sacred. It keeps the camp safe and ensures that it will continue."
Leo raised an eyebrow. "So, basically," he said, "all you do is keep this fire going?"
"I do other stuff," Fiona said defensively. "The Vestales work in shifts. I'm only here for six hours every day. Other than that I'm a regular camper."
"Oh." Leo gave the wires in his hands a good twist before asking another question. "So why do you do it?"
"It's an assigned position. There are four other Vestales from various cabins, and we split the work. The fire must always be attended to, and it's a girls-only job."
"Because Vesta is a girl," Fiona said, as though this should be obvious.
"So how'd you get picked for the job?"
Immediately, Leo regretted opening his mouth, because Fiona's brown eyes were suddenly flashing.
A/N: please leave a review!