Disclaimer: The characters and ideas from this fanfiction (key word: fan) are not my own, and I do not claim to be Rick Riordan or J.K. Rowling.
A/N: I'm soo sorry for the extremely late update! It's been almost three months, and I really am sorry, but I do have excuses, like AP tests, normal tests, finals, SAT IIs, and then imediately vacation without a computer. I'm in a different country right now for the summer (China, for those of you astute/dedicated enough to check my profile), but I think I'll have access to a computer from now on (no promises though), so hopefully the updates will be more frequent.
Well, you don't want to hear about my ramblings, do you? Onto the story!
Percy was faintly aware of talking.
"This is ridiculous!" a girl's voice whispered.
"No, it's not! It's working!" a boy responded.
Percy felt strange, almost weightless. He could feel a gentle breeze brush against his face, almost as if he was moving, but he was fairly confident that he wasn't touching the ground. And he wasn't certain, but he was pretty sure that he was upright and not lying down like he normally was when he woke up, since his head was listing to the side and he now had an uncomfortable crick in his neck.
"Ron, people are staring! His legs aren't even moving and Harry's clearly got his wand pointed at him and his head's leaning and we're basically kidnappers now! And everyone knows it, I can tell!"
"Calm down! You're the one attracting the most attention! No one knew and no one was staring until you - "
"Guys!" another boy said. "I think he's starting to wake up!"
"Knock him out again!" the first boy replied.
"No! I will not participate in this kidnapping! This is unethical! We should at least hear him out before stunning him like complete barbarians!"
Percy decided it was time to open his eyes and find out what was going on.
A busy street, a blue sky, cars whizzing by - this definitely was not his house. But everything looked familiar, so Percy was still in New York City. In fact, he realized that he was just several blocks away from his house.
But the strangest thing was - Percy was floating. Like, upright, hovering a few inches above the pavement, and keeping in pace with the three wizards who'd attacked him. Magic was so cool! He could imagine the endless possibilities, like if he ever had to hide from someone, or - or, no, this could be some kind of signature move against monsters, and, it would have an epic name, like - No! Focus, Percy, focus!
"What do you want with me?" Percy demanded, trying to reach the ground with his foot. But it was so - ugh, missed! - far - missed again - away!
The girl stared at his struggling foot but thankfully didn't comment on it. "Thank goodness you're awake. Do you mind coming with us to see Dumbledore so you can be questioned?" she said.
"Hermione!" the red-head hissed. "We don't tell the enemy anything! Much less ask them for permission!"
Percy ignored him. "First Moldy Wart, now Dumb el Boar - what next? Are these code names or something? Because I really can't imagine someone giving her kid one of these names," Percy said, trying to distract them from his attempts to get down. He wasn't making any progress.
The three stared at him.
Moldy Wart, the girl mouthed, struggling to keep a serious expression. "I doubt he knows anything."
Dumb el Boar, the boy wih glasses mouthed. He said, "I don't think even Ron could be that dense."
"Hey!" both Percy and Ron exclaimed at the same time. They looked at each other and then looked away.
"He looks denser," Percy said.
"I still think he's working for You-Know-Who!" Ron exclaimed with a glare.
"No, I don't know who," Percy retorted. Was this Leave Percy out of the Loop Day?
"You do! There's no way you can't not!"
"The only one I'm working for is myself! And hopefully Mandy's Ice Cream Shop, if I can get a job there."
Seemingly at a loss of what to say, Ron just glared some more.
The girl called Hermione interrupted them. "As much fun it is watching you two bicker, I think it's time we get things straight. Harry's going to let you down, and if you show any sign of trying to run away, we'll..."
"Stupefy you," supplied Harry.
"Stupefy? As in, make me more stupid? I don't think my test scores could take it," Percy said. "Maybe you could just, I don't know - "
"Stun you, he means," Hermione said. "A common enough spell that I should have thought all wizards would know. I don't think you've received any formal training. But perhaps the spells American wizards use are dfferent from the ones British wizards use. Do you think..."
Percy tuned her out. He had no idea what she was talking about anyway, and from the looks of it, neither did Ron or Harry.
Harry gave Percy a suspicious look, to which Percy responded with his best look-how-trustworthy-I-am smile. Harry frowned, but he must have somehow undid the spell, because Percy felt his feet finally (FINALLY!) touch the ground. Caught off guard, he wobbled and fell in an undignified manner.
Immediately, both Ron and Hermione trained their wands on him. Harry hadn't removed his. "No sudden movements," Hermione warned.
Percy slowly stood up, feeling adrenaline rushing through his veins. He really didn't like the idea of being on the end of three wands, and he wondered if he could act fast enough and disarm them like he'd done to - what were their names again? Crab and Boil? He honestly couldn't recall.
When Percy didn't do anything, the three wizards warily lowered their wands.
"Anything suspicious, and you know what'll happen," Ron said.
"First question," Harry said. "Are you Percy Jackson?"
After they'd established that yes, he was Percy Jackson, and that no, he did not have any plans, past, present, or future, to kill/maim/torture any of them, they agreed to going some place a bit more comfortable to discuss things.
Of course Percy took them to a pizza parlor. The best way to talk about things was over food, and besides, he'd wanted to try this one out for quite some time. He just prayed that the monsters would stay away.
"Okay, so now that you know who I am," Percy said, taking a large bite of his pizza, "whmmf ir ooh?"
"Sorry?" Harry said, with a slight grin. "I'm not quite fluent in pizza-in-your-mouth speak." The three wizards seemed to have relaxed a bit after coming to the pizza parlor. Maybe it was because of Percy's inherent charm winning them over, or maybe it was because they thought that dark wizards wouldn't enjoy pizza. Whatever the case, Percy was glad that his chances of being on the receiving end of a wand were lowered.
Percy swallowed and tried again. "I said, who are you?"
"I'm Hermione Granger," the girl said.
"Ron Weasley." This was said with a glare. Ron still hadn't shed his suspicious look yet.
"Harry Potter," Harry said meaningfully.
There was silence, and Percy realized they were all staring at him, as if waiting for some kind of reaction.
"Oh," he said. "Sorry. Uh. Nice to meet you guys?"
"You've never heard of him?" Ron demanded. "The Boy Who Lived? The Chosen One? The Triwizard Champion? The - "
"No," Percy said. "Um, am I supposed to know? Is this a test? What's so unique about being a boy who's alive?"
"You really don't know," Hermione said, in a sort of amazed voice. She realized she was gaping and then looked faintly embarrassed. "Sorry, it's just that everyone knows. I'll explain, then. There's this dark wizard, Voldemort - that's You-Know-Who, people don't call him by his name because they're scared - and he tortured and killed a lot of people. He hated muggles and muggleborns, and he was the leader of a group called the Death Eaters..."
She continued talking, and Percy didn't really understand much of it. (Like, what were muggles? They sounded sort of like cuddly teddy bears. Voldemort was definitely evil if he hated them.) By the end, all he got out of her explanation was that wizards were real (apparently), he had another evil grandfather (who might or might not be more evil but less powerful than Chronos), and that Harry defeated him when he was a baby, but Voldemort came back and they were now mortal enemies (wasn't that a bit embarrassing for Voldemort though?).
"So why is everyone after me?" Percy asked. "I have enough on my plate, no offense. I'm not about to join some old guy I've never met just because we're related. I'm related to a lot of people."
"Then what was that thing you said - about how Malfoy's dad and his two bodyguards convinced you?" Ron asked triumphantly.
"That was clearly sarcasm, Ron," Hermione said.
"Oh." Ron frowned and bit into his pizza.
That reminded Percy of his own pizza, and he resumed eating. It was around lunchtime, and he was hungry. They lapsed into silence as they ate, and Percy took the chance to study them. They all looked really normal; Harry was an average-looking boy with large circular glasses, Hermione had bushy hair and a pretty ordinary face, and Ron looked like any other person on the streets, except maybe for his bright red hair and smattering of freckles. None of them really looked like they were part of a group that actively fought against a powerful dark wizard. They were just teens, and if Hermione was right, they'd first encountered Snake Face when they were eleven!
Then Percy realized that he hadn't been much older when he'd gone on his first quest. He'd been twelve when he fought the minotaur and won, and he'd led Camp Half-Blood to victory against Chronos just a few months ago. He suddenly felt very sympathetic for them.
"I think I believe you," Harry said abruptly, jolting Percy out of his thoughts. "You don't really seem like you're supporting Voldemort. You don't have the Dark Mark either, and I don't think someone could pretend to not know anything that convincingly." He looked at his two friends for feedback.
Hermione nodded. "I think so too," she said.
Ron shrugged. "Maybe." Then he gave Percy another glare. "But if you ever try to hurt Harry..."
"I won't," Percy promised.
They were almost done eating when Percy spotted it. Slithering in through the front door was a woman with scaly skin and two serpent tails for legs. Scythian Dracanae.
What's it doing here? Percy wondered frantically. Just his luck. Of course a monster would show up when it really mattered, even though he hadn't seen one in several weeks. Of course.
"I, uh, gotta go," he said. He slapped a few dollars on the table before getting up.
"Wait! You still need to see Dumbledore!" Hermione exclaimed. "And, well, we don't really have any money to pay for the pizza. I mean, we have some galleons and sickles, and some pounds too, but not any American money. I was going to exchange the pounds for dollars, but I completely forgot... I'll pay you back, I just need to get to an ATM..."
It was getting closer. "No, it's fine," Percy said, heart pounding. "My treat." He emptied his pockets on the table, not caring that sticks of gum and some pocket lint fell out as well. The snake lady was staring at him, eyes narrowed, as it walked and slithered towards him.
He couldn't do this here. There were mortals here, for one, but the wizards were here too. Percy wasn't sure how they'd take it if they saw him slice a seemingly normal human in half. "About Dumblydoor, I'll be right back. Wait here."
He bolted out the back door, the dracanae close behind him.
"Well, that wasn't suspicious at all," Ron said. "And yes, I know what sarcasm is and I can use it just fine. I just didn't expect the bloody grandson of You-Know-Who to use it as well!"
"Should we follow them?" Harry asked, already standing up.
"But - oh, you know following people never does us any good!" Hermione cried. "We should just let him go! He looked like he was in a hurry. He said he'd be back!"
"He looked like he saw someone we weren't supposed to know about," Ron argued. "He just looked up and paled when he saw that strange woman. Something's going on. Let's go, Harry. What if she's a Death Eater?"
"And what can we do once we find out?" Hermione demanded. "Fight both of them?"
"It's two on three," Ron said.
"And we have the element of surprise," added Harry.
Hermione bit her lip, worried, but Ron knew she would follow. He and Harry quickly traced the path Percy and the woman had taken. The back door was a thick, windowless door, most likely an emergency exit in the case of a fire. Right now, Ron hated how thick it was. He tried pressing his ear against it, but he couldn't hear anything except for the loud chatter of the occupants of the restaurant. He gave up and stepped back, taking his wand out as Harry slowly opened the door.
What he saw confused him.
Percy was there in the alley with the woman. He was holding something in his hands - Ron squinted; for some reason, it looked like an actual sword for a moment before he realized it was just a switchblade. Rather than having some friendly Death Eater reunion, Percy had been about to stab her with it when they opened the door. Since he was facing it, though, he was distracted and looked away from the woman for a split second to stare at them with a panicked expression on his face. The woman took the opportunity to knock him to the ground with - what was that? It had looked like some shiny metal weapon for some reason, but it was just a purse. Ron blinked, wondering what was wrong with his eyesight.
Percy drew in a breath in pain, and he must have done something, but the woman was blocking Ron's view and suddenly she disappeared. Apparition?
All that was left was a dusty, panting Percy in a snow-covered but otherwise empty alley.
Ron frowned. Percy's switchblade was gone. Now he was holding a pen.
"Okay, what's going on?" Ron demanded.
Percy looked at him and winced, putting a hand over his side. It came away red with blood, and Ron's eyes widened. How had that happened?
"Long story," Percy said, and smiled tentatively.
"We're listening," Harry said.
"Do any of you have a phone I could borrow first?"
None of them did. Ron wasn't quite sure what he was even asking for, but evidently Harry and Hermione did, so he guessed it must be a muggle thing.
In the end, they helped him walk over to a "phone booth." Hermione had tried to heal his cut with episkey, but it must have been pretty deep, because it was still bleeding slightly. Percy brushed away their worries with a simple "I've had worse." It made Ron wonder exactly what Percy meant. Was he referring to something You-Know-Who-related?
When he was on the phone, they took several steps back to give him some privacy and also to give themselves time to talk.
"What just happened?" Ron asked in a whisper. "I thought that lady was a Death Eater and she wanted to tell him something because they were working together, but they were actually fighting and then she cut him with her purse and then apparated away!"
"She wasn't holding a purse," Hermione said. Harry nodded in agreement. "She was holding a can of mace."
Harry frowned. "No, she was holding a necklace."
They looked at each other in confusion.
"It looked like a spear at first," Ron admitted.
"There's something wrong with your eyes, then," Hermione said. "It was always a can of mace. And she sprayed it in his face, I think, and that's why he fell down. He probably cut himself on something sharp in the alley when he was falling."
"It looked like a necklace to me," Harry said, a puzzled expression on his face.
"Maybe it was some kind of illusion magic!" Ron exclaimed.
Hermione looked thoughtful. "That's possible. What did the woman look like to you two?"
They compared their versions of what they had seen, and realized they'd seen distinctly different things. Hermione had seen an old lady and thought Percy had been holding a knife. Harry had seen a blond woman in her twenties and thought he had been holding a slice of pizza. Everything else, they agreed, was the same. Percy was a normal-looking teen with dark messy hair and green eyes. The alley was dirty and made of brick with graffiti all over. There were three trash bags next to the back door of the pizza parlor and a thin coating of snow on the ground.
"But if it's illusion magic, why would it affect only the woman and what they were holding?" Hermione asked.
"What if she's actually a monster snake woman and they were using magical weapon?"
"Ron. Be serious." Hermione frowned at him disapprovingly.
"She could be a Death Eater, and disguised her appearance," Harry said.
Hermione nodded. "Possible. And maybe they were holding wands, but they cast magic on it so that people wouldn't wonder why they were holding sticks." She tilted her head thoughtfully. "Although that doesn't explain why Percy could recognize her. Perhaps once you know what someone looks like, you won't be fooled by the illusion... I haven't heard of this spell, of course, but it could be advanced magic. Or...dark magic."
They turned silent. If it was dark magic, then Percy might have been lying when he said that he didn't know anything, and that he wasn't with You-Know-Who. Could someone really lie that well? Ron shot Percy's back a suspicious look. He was still on the "phone," talking, but Ron gripped his wand harder just in case.
"What if he's alerting the other Death Eaters?" Ron whispered.
As if he heard him, Percy turned around and looked at Ron. Then he put the phone back and walked towards them.
"Do you mind waiting here?" Percy asked, casually, like he hadn't heard Ron. Ron narrowed his eyes, not buying it. "I asked someone to come. She's a lot better at explaining things than I am."
Ron glared at him. I'm onto you. "Are you sure you didn't just call your fellow Death Eaters?" he demanded.
"I'm not a Death Eater!"
"Death wouldn't even taste good! And eating it would probably make a lot of people unhappy." Percy muttered something that sounded suspiciously like Hades might sew me onto his underpants. Was he delirious? Percy wobbled a bit, hand pressed firmly over his wound. He looked too pale, and for a moment, Ron was concerned for him before remembering that he might be the enemy.
Louder, Percy said, "I promise I don't work for Snake Face and I didn't call over his minions. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'm about to faint."
True to his words, his eyes rolled back and he toppled onto Ron, who caught him reflexively. He smelled like salt and the sea.
"Why me?" Ron asked helplessly.
"Maybe he knows how much you like him, mate," Harry said with a straight-face.
Against his better judgment, they dragged him over to the curb and sat down to wait for the mysterious person who would explain things. Hopefully, Percy wouldn't bleed to death before she got here.
A/N: Again, I am so so so sorry for the long wait! I hope this chapter made it up to you? It's a bit longer than how much I normally write. Is this a good length? Would you prefer longer or shorter chapters in the future?
I just proofread this once since I didn't want you guys to wait any longer. If you spot any errors, be it grammatical, content- or spelling-wise, don't hesitate to point it out! Thanks for sticking with me. And reviews make me happy, so - review? (And if I ever take a super long time again, don't be afraid to prod me. It gets me going.)