Harry Potter, Squatter
Harry walked through the fire, a backpack slung over his shoulder. He'd spent a couple of days with Sirius; the man was his godfather after all.
The demigod didn't know what to think of the man, to be honest. He seemed cheerful enough, but there was a… a darkness, for the lack of a better word, that seemed to haunt the man when he thought Harry wasn't looking.
To Harry, that darkness was explained by Sirius having spent years in prison. Having been locked up by the Dursleys, Harry felt for his godfather. Being locked up was worse than dying, in Harry's opinion. He knew he'd rather die than being locked up again.
Especially since he knew both the Greek Underworld and the Norse Valhalla.
There were other things about Sirius that bothered him; it felt like Sirius was playing a role of some kind, as if he had decided for himself that he would be, in his words, 'the fun uncle'. At the same time, to Harry, it felt like Sirius was seeing him as his father's second coming.
Harry had met James in both the Underworld and when Mel had sent James to him on the eve of going to Hogwarts – and he liked the man, he really did – but James Potter felt more like the concept of a father, rather than his actual dad.
After all, a couple of hours spread out over an afternoon and an evening did not make a relationship.
On one hand, he was glad to have spent the time with Sirius, but on the other hand, he was glad to be home in time for the Solstice. It was a big deal for the Greek gods, and he wanted to be there for Hestia after it was over; she usually was exhausted from playing peacemaker and quelling arguments.
"More stuff that was Zeus' fault," Harry thought childishly, completely ignoring the knowledge that, among other rivalries and feuds, Artie and Aphrodite would cheerfully kill one another should they get the chance.
Yes, he was perfectly happy to blame Zeus for it all.
As he did some laundry, because he was responsible that way, he reflected that he really was happy to be home.
After laundry came his preferred piece of home-making – cooking! He made a nice meal for himself and Helios, who seemed just as happy for Harry to be back as Harry was to actually be back.
An hour or so later, Nemmy had reverted to full-on Nemean Lion form after devouring a small mountain of fresh meat, and Harry was stretched out on top of him. Fire-travel-lag was catching up to him, and there was something innately restful about listing to the giant lion's heartbeat and slow respiration.
Not to mention the fact that said respiration was causing the monster's chest to rise and fall like the gentle waves of the ocean.
It was like being rocked to sleep.
As he dozed, he somewhat-dreamed of running through the forests like a modern-day Tarzan, building himself a giant treehouse and living off the bounty of the land.
The almost-but-not-quite-awake part of himself pointed out that the Genius Loci of the Enchanted Forest at Hogwarts would probably love it if he lived there like that.
His peaceful rest was rudely shattered with an angry, furious bellow that resonated through Olympus. Harry immediately startled awake, rolled off the Nemean Lion and coming to his feet. The giant monster growled low as it, too, came to its feet.
The furious bellow sounded a second time, this time sounding more like a shout at someone or something, rather than a sheer exclamation of pure rage.
Harry's heartbeat rose and the demigod felt himself readying for something – anything – to happen.
Nothing happened further, and a few moments later he let out his breath, starting to relax.
The furious shouting bellow came again, and this time it sounded as if the someone – or the something – being shouted at was shouting back.
The very air on Olympus felt electric, and Harry could sense Helios' trepidation as the half-faded ancient deity filled the air of the temple.
Something was drastically wrong, and he had no idea what it was. Whatever it was, though, it got him unnerved and cautious. Olympus was the home of the gods; nobody would dare disturb it like this.
Nobody other than the gods themselves.
And it was that fact more than anything that had Harry on edge.
He drew another breath, trying to relax.
There were no more furious bellowing screams, but the air felt thick and heavy still; at the same time there was an unheard vibration going through the ground. Someone was fighting up here, Harry realized; something was wrong and deeply so, and yet he had no idea what it was.
Suddenly, the door to the temple was pushed open. Hestia walked in, looking as if she was deeply, intensely furious. Harry had seen her angry before, he'd seen her temper snap momentarily on a couple of occasions, but never before had he thought she would be furious at him.
And yet today, at this very moment, it felt like it did. Her eyes, usually a deep mortal brown, now were filled with blue fire that looked cold as ice; a complete contradiction that rattled his already rattled nerves.
"Harry," Hestia said, as coldly as she looked. "You need to pack. Now."
Harry blinked, and rather than ask stupid questions he did as he was told. Hestia looked ready to literally burst into flame and he'd rather not annoy the goddess he loved so dearly.
He packed his backpack with some clothes and necessities and was back in record time. "What's going on?" he finally dared ask.
"Not now," she said, turning. "I am deeply angry, and I have a lot of things I need to take care of. Come."
He felt his stomach drop, wondering what it was that he could have done to have angered her so. He tried his best to live up to her teachings and expectations, surely he hadn't messed up that badly?
"You too," she told the Nemean Lion, who stared at her. "Now," she re-stated when the monster gave no signs of moving.
"Come on, Nemmy," Harry said, reaching out one arm. The Nemean Lion huffed, shrunk into cat form and hopped from the floor to Harry's shoulder in a move of dexterity that only a feline was capable of. He settled, obviously upset, over Harry's shoulders.
Hestia stared at them for a few moments, then gave a short nod. "Come along," she repeated, stalking to the hearth and pulled them all through.
They emerged at camp. "You will need to stay here for a while. Olympus is closed," the Goddess of Home and Hearth said.
"What's happened?" Harry tried again, hoping desperately for a sign to tell him what it was he'd done that was so bad.
"I have a lot of things to take care of, and I am too deeply upset to explain," Hestia said, and turned to the fire. "You will need to stay here for now," she repeated, and vanished.
What was going on?
He waved his hand, and tried to connect to Helios' temple.
He frowned; just what was going on?
He tried Hestia's temple. Nothing. Worry filled his chest and he had trouble breathing. He tried Athena's library. Again, nothing.
No…Panicking, he tried, Apollo's temple.
And finally, even the gods' meeting hall.
Each and every time, nothing.
He sunk to his knees. Hestia had pulled his boon of fire-travel. That meant Hestia had abandoned him.
No answer. For the first time in years, he couldn't even feel her presence. Desperately, panicking, feeling as if his chest were too small for his lungs and heart, he threw everything he had at it.
Nothing. He was alone.
He'd dared to trust Hestia, dared to believe he'd found a home. Old feelings popped up, feelings of when he first came to be on Olympus, where he just knew nothing lasted.
Apparently he was right back then; nothing lasted, there was something wrong with him that made people didn't want him.
His chest tightened further. Every breath hurt. Every heartbeat sounded in his ear like a drumbeat.
He remembered asking to learn to live in the wild for this exact reason; it was how he started taking lessons from Artie, because he was sure that one day, he would be on his own again…
And he had been right.
He swallowed a sob. That very swallow hurt worse.
He hadn't wanted to be right. He'd dared to believe Hestia wouldn't abandon him, he'd really thought he'd found a home. And now, it turned out, he'd lost it all.
He looked up, from where he was kneeling in front of the fire, to meet Annabeth's worried eyes.
"What happened?" she asked.
"I've been abandoned," he whispered, swallowing another sob and trying to wipe the sudden moisture from his eyes.
The Daughter of Athena was many things; she was young, inexperienced, and had inherited the Fatal Flaw of Hubris of her divine ancestor. One thing she was not, was stupid.
Seeing him on his knees, so broken and desperate, those four words told her everything she needed to know and she felt her heart go out to her friend. Without a word, she grabbed him and held him.
He sobbed again, unable to swallow his tears. Instead, he clung to her.
He wasn't aware of the commotion around him. The central fire was central to the camp, after all, and as such everyone and their pegasus passed by it at some point or other.
And yet they were not disturbed until he let go of her. "Sorry," he whispered as he pulled away.
"What're friends for?" Annabeth asked seriously, her face unusually grave as she pulled him to his feet.
Only now did he realize he was still in the center of camp; a center of camp that was unusually devoid of other demigods. Chiron was lurking nearby, but for enough away to make it clear he wasn't going to approach until his presence was welcome. Or needed. Which ever came first.
Nemmy had jumped from his shoulders at some point, and was now lounging nearby, trying desperately to hide the uncomfortable feeling of being at a camp surrounded by demigods that usually killed harmless little kitties like him.
The only two others present were Silena, who looked unusually stone-faced, carrying one of the camp's swords, looking as if she were willing to use it on the first demigod who didn't make themselves scarce.
The second demigod present was Clarisse, who had the spear out that was a surprise from her father, its tip wreathed with red lightning.
"What was that about, Newbie?" the daughter of Ares asked, putting her spear away and crossing her muscular arms. "I didn't take you for the crying kind."
Annabeth and Silena looked ready to jump the butch girl, but Harry felt his chest clench. "Hestia abandoned me," he whispered.
Clarisse's habitual glower turned nasty. "Abandoned you, did she?" the Daughter of War asked, half to herself and half out loud. "She say why?"
Harry shook his head. "Something happened. She was more angry than I've ever seen her, and said I had to stay here. And now I can't travel through the fire anymore, and she won't even acknowledge my prayers."
Silena, who had no idea what was going on until now, looked like she were ready to use those Aphrodite-charms of hers to raise an army and go storm Olympus. Truthfully, Annabeth looked like she were preparing herself to lead said army.
Clarisse, on the other hand, appeared to not need an army to do her storming for her.
She stared at Harry for a few long moments, then said, "come on, Newbie. Let's fight."
Annabeth and Silena were about to shout, "Now?", but before they could the Daughter of Ares had jumped Harry.
He half-heartedly fought back, not in the mood in the least. He expected her to wrestle him to the ground in seconds, but to his surprise the fight was pretty even.
As they wrestled, he realized that she wasn't serious about the fight. Instead, it seemed she was mostly just playing along with whatever moves he was making. As he started getting into the match, she kept trend with him.
When he threw a very poor and widely telegraphed punch, her hand was already there to block it; rather than retaliate, she blocked the follow-up punch that was just as sloppy as the first one had been.
The wrestling match had firmly deteriorated into punching and kicking now. She was always there to catch his strikes or kicks, and throwing a half-hearted punch back whenever it seemed he was about to stop.
Something seemed to break. He was alone. Again. Someone who took care of him dumped him. Again. Just what was wrong with him that people didn't want him around?
He threw an angry punch. Clarisse caught it. He knew he was telegraphing his strikes, but couldn't find it within him to care. He growled, jumped up, and threw a roundhouse-kick at her head.
It was suicide in a real fight.
Instead, she grinned, blocked it, and let him drop to his feet where he stared pummeling her, throwing kicks and punches and venting his anger. Her grin widened as she pre-empted his moves; they were as impressive as they were sloppy, the kind of fighting one did if one were starring in an action move.
In other words, the kind of fighting that would get one killed in a real fight. Instead, Clarisse laughed as he vented his anger and frustration.
When he finally stopped, his chest heaving, he looked at her. "Really? Fighting now?" he asked.
She grinned, shaking out her hands and arms. "Feel better, Newbie?" she asked instead of answering.
Harry blinked, realizing suddenly that yeah, he felt better. Somewhat. "Thanks, Clarisse," he said, trying to convey what it meant to him for her to play punching bag.
"Meh, no biggie," she waved it off, suddenly sounding uncomfortable. "You'd make a good action star, Newbie," she said as she hid her discomfort by turning and walking away. "You need a fight, you come get me," she instructed over her shoulder.
"Sometimes, certain demigods surprise even me," Chiron said as he approached, looking at Clarisse's back as she vanished into Ares' cabin. He turned to look at Harry after she vanished. "Are you alright, lad? I'm assuming this has something to do with the events on Olympus earlier."
Harry didn't feel up to telling the story again, but thankfully Annabeth and Silena were more than capable of relaying what he'd said earlier.
The ancient centaur nodded thoughtfully. "Events may be related," he finally said, after a long few moments' thought. "Certain demigods were invited to tour Olympus today; yet something must have happened, something to which we are not privy, and suddenly we were ushered back to camp."
"I wonder what happened," Annabeth told Chiron, while looking sadly at Harry. "If it is related, I wonder what can be done to fix it."
"Unless the gods willingly tell us, there is little that can be done," Chiron said, patting Harry's shoulder. "Meanwhile, you can stay here. We'll get you settled into Cabin 11."
"Hermes' cabin?" Harry asked, looking up. Why would he be in his grandfather's… right, because the camp didn't have a Hestia… he swallowed when he realized that he wouldn't be allowed in it if there were a Hestia Cabin. She'd abandoned him. No way he'd be welcome in her cabin if she had one.
"As God of Travelers, he welcomes all," Chiron said gently. "Come, dinner is about to be served. Some food will do you good, and then we'll get you settled in."
Harry didn't really hear Chiron's words; he was still stuck on there not being a Hestia cabin and not being allowed into said non-existent cabin.
Truthfully, he didn't recall much of anything of what happened next, only realizing that he'd ate very little and was shoved into a cabin that held too many people and not enough room to house them; he ended up on a mattress that had seen better times in a corner of one of the cabin's rooms.
Nemmy had settled next to his head on the pillow, and they both had their eyes closed in a desperate attempt to get some sleep.
Sleep wasn't coming for either of them. Despite months at school, Harry still didn't do well sleeping in the same room with others, and today's events were running round and round in his head.
Then, he heard someone shuffle, as if the person in question was trying to be silent but failing.
The shuffle came closer.
And yet closer.
The shuffle stopped right next to him, and Harry could feel a deft and gentle touch, one that would not have woken him had he not been awake, trying to ease the bracelet holding the bracer of Hephaestus on his right wrist.
Fury bubbled up, hot and yellow and red, from the depths of his soul. Within moments, he'd snapped his wrist from the thief's grip, deployed his sword and went after the thief's throat with it.
The boy, a few years older than Harry, stumbled back with the lighting quick reflexes that came with being a demigod, before taking a tumble over the next demigod sleeping right next to Harry.
Harry was on his feet, ignoring the sudden pandemonium that erupted in Hermes' overcrowded cabin, jamming the sword's tip right up to, but not into, the boy's Adam's apple.
"Today," Harry said, voice cold and utterly furious, "in the matter of a few hours, I lost my patron, my home, and most of my worldly possessions. And you think it is a good idea to steal from me?"
The boy's eyes were locked on the sword; his mouth opened and closed rhythmically without producing sound.
"Connor Stoll, you're an idiot," Luke said, suddenly emerging from one of the side rooms. "Harry, please let my idiot brother go."
Harry's eyes bore into Connor's. "I'm thinking about it," the younger demigod whispered coldly, before drawing a breath and making the sword disappear. "Forget it, he's not worth it. I need fresh air." He stalked to the front door.
"You can't," Luke interrupted. "We're not allowed out at night. The harpies-"
"Luke," Harry cut him off. "Think very carefully. Do you really want to be locked in here with me right now?"
Luke Castellan, Counselor to Cabin 11, probably the best swordsman at the camp after Chiron himself, nodded. "Enjoy your walk."
Harry gave a curt nod, opened the front door, and disappeared.
"Jeez, that kid overreacted," Harry heard drift through the closed front door. Despite himself, he stopped to listen.
"You heard him," Luke replied. "That was the worst thing you could have done. He could have killed you!"
"I could've taken him," the boy's reply was sullen.
No you couldn't, Harry thought grimly.
"No you couldn't," Luke stated firmly, unknowingly echoing Harry's thoughts. "Because that kid? That kid got me, Thalia, and Grover to camp safely. When he was eight. I saw that kid draw a bow and shoot a mortal arrow through the eye of a Hellhound in mid-combat, when he was eight. That kid," Luke said, with emphasis, "saved the asses of myself, Thalia Grace, and Grover Underwood. When he was eight."
Harry snorted, Luke made it sound like he were some kind of superhero. He wasn't. He had something wrong with him that made people want to dump him when they got tired of him, and now he was stepping out in the night, at a camp he didn't want to be in.
"Camper out of bed!" a female voice screeched. "Dinner for harpies!"
Harry yanked his sword out and actually went for the harpy. "Go away!"
The Harpy screeched; Harry pulled up his left hand and stretched out his arm behind him. a blade of light materialized in it, and he held it out behind him, almost-but-not-quite impaling the harpy attacking him from the rear.
"Don't come near me right now," Harry said, gravely. "Because I'm really struggling to contain myself right now."
The harpy in front of him hissed again. Harry's lips pulled back in a snarl; without him voicing a conscious thought the Godslayer burst into bright white plasma.
The harpies screeched and took flight.
Harry vanished the blade of light from his left hand and held Godslayer up like a torch.
Harry growled. "Anyone else try and stop me?" he demanded the empty night sky.
Nemmy jumped on his shoulders. Harry sighed and lowered his weapon at the sight and feeling of his pet. He wasn't totally alone; he had his friends here at camp, and he had Nemmy.
But he wasn't going to stay here, not when he was pushed into his grandfather's cabin, where he could be subject to theft at any time. He walked to the treeline, debating on what to do and where to go next.
First, he thought back to his lessons with Artie, lessons on how to survive in each and every forest in North America. He could easily vanish there, never to be seen again.
Unfortunately, he was supposed to stay at camp, and someone was likely to sic Artie herself on him. And, no matter how good he was, he wasn't up to eluding the Goddess of the Hunt. He swore, she could track the flight of a bird in the skies.
There was another stab in his chest, followed by another physically painful swallow, when he realized he would never see her again, either. Never again would he see her camp, or wander the woods with her or Zoë.
Thinking of Zoë, his eyes watered when he remembered that one magical evening in Alaska, where they had sat close together in the snow while she taught him the very basic of celestial navigation.
That would never happen again, either.
He swallowed more tears and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. He couldn't simply stand here and waste his time crying. He had to move.
He made his sword disappear when he reached the treeline, and whistled. A ghostly neigh answered, and Bucephalus descended from the skies, appearing from the Ghost Lands. If he couldn't vanish into the woods, maybe he could take Mel up on her offer of that room at her hotel, The Overlook, in the Rocky Mountains.
But then again, Mel had made it clear she was just a minor goddess, and it was very likely she could get in trouble for sheltering him if Hestia decided to become angry. She was his friend, he couldn't do that to her.
Then, he remembered something else.
Or rather, someone.
Thor had given him a place to stay! He could go to his room in Thor's palace! He'd been so focused on getting away from everyone, then gotten stuck with how all the greek gods would be after him now that Hestia was no longer protecting him, that he had completely blanked on Thor and Asgard!
A small, dark, treacherous part of his mind wondered how long it would be before the Norse God of Thunder would kick him out.
He tried desperately to ignore that part.
And yet, it kept repeating itself.
Harry mounted his ghost horse. "We need to get to Boston, Bucephalus. Hotel Valhalla. As quick as you can."
The ghostly warhorse neighed, turned, and started running.
Bucephalus seemed to have similar ideas to Harry regarding the laws of physics, and simply ignored them when they were inconvenient. The ghostly horse may not have broken the sound barrier, but they definitely arrived in Boston far quicker than anything short of a supersonic jet could realize.
Bucephalus even jumped the boundary wall that kept mortals out of Hotel Valhalla, and delivered him directly to the front door of the place.
He dismounted, and patted the trustworthy horse on the flank. "Thanks, Bucephalus," Harry said, emotionally. "You're awesome."
The ghostly horse neighed at the compliment, turned, and ascended back into the clouds, disappearing to the ghost lands.
Hunding, former King of the Saxons, looked as fearsome as ever with his big beard, warty face, bloodshot eyes, and double-bladed axe. At the same time, he showed his usual helpfulness as he approached Harry quickly.
"You seem distraught," he told Harry.
Harry swallowed, he didn't care to repeat the story again, and managed to just nod and give a wan sort of smile. "I've had a very bad day," he finally managed. "I'm going up to Thor's place."
"Right," Hunding said shortly, giving a nod. "We've all had those. Call the front desk if you need anything."
"Thanks, Hunding," he managed gratefully, following the former-king-turned-bellhop inside.
He nodded to Helgi, who nodded back. The demigod didn't notice how the hotel manager frowned and looked worried for a moment.
His feet took him to Thor's palace through the various shortcuts that only the Valkyries seemed to know about. Thankfully, he'd paid excellent attention when Roshilde took him.
When he rolled into bed, he was relieved to just be by himself. Nemmy curled up next to him, before expanding into full-on Lion form, and started purring in a lion-y fashion. First, he would comfort the servant who had given him a place out of the cold and the rain and provided daily food, even now. Then, he would debate on whether or not to hunt that human that had tried to steal from his servant.
It was too bad he couldn't do anything about that goddess, though. He was just a monster, there was nothing he could do against the power of a goddess.
Not that she didn't deserve it, mind you. It was just that he wasn't suicidal. Besides, if he attacked her, and she vanished him, who would take care of his servant, then? Without his guidance and protection, his servant was likely to walk to his death!
For close to an hour, Harry dozed, mind plagued by rummaging thoughts that refused to settle, before someone pounded on the door to the room.
Weary, he drug himself out of bed. Nemmy shrunk back down into house cat form and slunk after him into the shadows.
Harry pulled the door open, wondering who could be pounding on a door to a room that was supposed to be empty, when he came face-to-chest with Thor himself.
"Harry! My young friend!" Thor boomed with his usual enthusiasm. "You missed tonight's feast, but no worries, as we'll feast again tomorrow!"
Harry looked up at his friend, barely managing to quirk the sides of his lips up into a grimace.
The Norse god frowned. "And you seem distraught. I thought it was strange you showed up without telling anybody, through the front door rather than through the fire, and went straight to bed."
Harry really really didn't want to repeat the story, but felt that he had to. Before he could cay anything, Thor had placed a coalshovel-sized hand on his shoulder and was guiding him inside.
"Come, we will sit, you will talk, and we will find a solution to your problem," the Thunderer spoke, both a suggestion and an edict that somehow sounded like neither yet felt like both.
And so, Harry found himself in the comfortable living room of his room at Bilskirnir, sitting in one of those inhumanly comfortable seats, facing Thor, Prince of Asgard, God of Thunder – and one of his very best friends.
And he started speaking. And speaking. And speaking.
He didn't know where the words came from, nor could he recount later which exact ones he used, but he did know that he, at one point, ended up sobbing against Thor's massive chest; the bulky god holding him and just letting him vent.
"You are Friend of Asgard, declared so by my Father himself," Thor said, when Harry finally managed to regain some of his shattered wits. "You will always be welcome here. I am glad to hear my small gift is turning out useful, and you will have use of it for perpetuity, as I promised."
The rest of the conversation was more than a bit of a blur, but Harry found himself back in his bed at one point, wrapped in the blankets and his belly filled with some concoction or other that Thor had ordered from room service.
He'd felt a momentary pang, wondering if they were putting Roshilde out. It was the middle of the night, after all.
It was another Valkyrie that had delivered Thor's 'medicine' – apparently Valkyries worked shifts, too.
Whatever it was, it tasted sweet and it managed to numb him enough to get him something that may, at one point, have closely resembled sleep. Nemmy slunk out of the shadows, and curled up with his human again. He was a monster, and a cat, and knew not how to 'fix' the boy… but it seemed his mere presence helped.
And so, Nemmy would curl up and purr, if that was what comforted Harry.
The next morning, he was woken up by Roshilde.
His Valkyrie was many things; she could be cheerful, she could be pushy, and she was imminently able to getting him training and showing absolutely no mercy.
For the first time now, she looked Valkyrie-ish, the famously capable sword-maidens that served Odin. As kind and as friendly as Roshilde had been, she was an immensely skilled warrior in her own right and she definitely looked as fierce and powerful as the Valkyries in the myths and legends would suggest.
"Come, Harry," she said, gently, belying the way she held herself. "Let's get some breakfast into you. You're safe here, and Lord Thor has already made another public declaration that this room's yours into perpetuity."
He just nodded softly. "Thanks Roshilde," he whispered.
She hugged him; it didn't feel like one of Hestia's hugs but it still comforted him. "Word's already started to spread. Most seem to take what happened as an insult; Lord Odin declared you Friend of Asgard, after all."
"I don't want to cause trouble," Harry muttered; mostly because if he caused trouble Thor could kick him out as easily as Hestia had kicked him off Olympus. He had no illusions regarding that.
"Nonsense, trouble is good for the soul," Roshilde stated flatly as she guided him to the feasting hall. "Nothing will excite an Asgardian more than the possibility of some trouble, especially when it's trouble for a good cause."
"Very true, although I really would prefer less headaches," a powerful female voice said from one side. Both Roshilde and Harry looked in the direction the voice came from, startled from their conversation.
Frigga, Queen of Asgard, held a small smile as she approached. Putting both hands on Harry shoulders, she looked at the young demigod. "I heard what happened," she stated, her eyes seemingly examining his soul and its many open wounds through the mere act of meeting his eyes. "You have rescued my son, at great risk of your own life. You will always be welcome here," she said, somehow able to deduce his thoughts and formulating a response to them.
"Thank you," he whispered. Although the words comforted him, he just couldn't bring himself to have complete trust in them. He'd trusted Hestia the same way.
"And I also know that words can not bring you trust right now," Frigga said with understanding, her hands slipping from his shoulders and pulling him into an embrace instead. "You will need time to heal, and time is what you shall have. You have my word on it."
"Thank you," Harry repeated, this time with emphasis. She understood. He was glad she understood. He liked Frigga.
She patted his back and released him. "Roshilde, please try and get some food into him."
"Of course, My Lady," Roshilde said with a small bow as she took Harry's hand and showed him to the table.
The table. The head table. Or whatever you wanted to call it – the table where Odin's throne stood at one end; a throne that was actually occupied by its owner.
"Hi, Mister Odin," Harry said, softly.
The King of Asgard nodded at Harry. "Young Harry," he replied, studying him with his one eye. Harry had the uncomfortable feeling that Odin was able to dissect his entire appearance and emotional state from a single glance. While Frigga had more or less done the same, Odin, as King of Asgard and God of Wisdom, seemed infinitely better at it.
And yet, he said nothing and merely indicated the breakfast spread, inviting him to partake. Roshilde, not needing two words when one word – or a motion – sufficed, started filling a plate for him.
He smiled wanly at Odin, thanked Roshilde when she plonked a full plate in front of him, and mechanically tried to eat. He wasn't hungry, but he knew he needed the sustenance, so he tried.
He was just picking at his food, putting some of it in his mouth only when Roshilde occasionally cleared her throat, when he noticed that Odin seemed to be thinking about something.
Having the Norse God of Wisdom sitting at the head of the table, with a forehead wrinkled in thought, made Harry intensely curious.
He opened his mouth to say something, but then snapped it shut. No. No trouble. He wasn't going to cause any kind of problem where someone would have an excuse to throw him out.
"You wanted to say something?" Odin asked, turning slightly to have his one eye staring straight at him.
The young demigod swallowed. Busted! He had to speak up now, no chance of keeping quiet.
"You seemed to be thinking really deeply about something," he said, hoping that a statement instead of a question would get him off the hook.
Odin nodded, and was silent for a few moments. "It is the usual kind of problem when ruling a kingdom," he said. "Ensuring my people do their jobs responsibly even when out of my sight for long periods of time."
It seemed like the statement had gotten him off the hook! Harry nodded thoughtfully. Odin's problem sounded like something a lot of business owners struggled with. Maybe Odin's problem could be solved the same way? "Have you tried mystery shoppers?" he asked.
Odin blinked – or perhaps winked, who could tell – and looked thoughtfully at Harry. "Hotel Valhalla is not open to the public, of course," the Norse King said. "So hiring mortals is out of the question. But… but! Yes, perhaps some shape-shifting is in order."
"I'm happy to help," Harry said, honestly feeling better now that he'd at least contributed something to his stay in Asgard.
"The refreshing pliability of a young mortal's mind," Odin said, looking pleased.
"I'm glad I was helpful," Harry said, kind-of repeating his earlier statement.
"And helpful you were," Odin confirmed.
Harry gave him a grateful smile, feeling somewhat better now that he didn't feel like a useless lump, and focused back on his food. The silence didn't last long, before a Valkyrie hurried in, and leaned down to whisper to Odin.
The King of Asgard looked at her for a moment, then stood up. "Very well, I will deal with this myself. See that Thor joins us, I believe he will want to be there."
As the Valkyrie and the King left, Harry looked confused, wondering what was going on. He glanced at Roshilde, who gave him a blank look and motioned for him to eat something.
Harry sighed, and turned back to his food. He really wasn't hungry, but to please Roshilde and to get something inside of him, he managed to eat what was on his plate.
He wouldn't be able to tell later what it was he'd eaten, or how it tasted. His mind was on other things.
Just as he finished enough to please his Valkyrie, and they were about to leave the hall, Thor showed up.
"Ah, my young friend!" the god boomed. "I see you just finished breakfast."
Harry nodded. "Roshilde insisted," he replied, causing the Valkyrie to straighten up and grin.
"Good, a long day starts with a hearty meal," the God of Thunder stated. "Now, there is someone here to see you. Both Father and I have ensured she has no ill in mind, but the decision to see her is, of course, yours."
Harry just managed to look confused. Who would come to Asgard to see him?
"Who is it?" he asked.
"I could be cruel and say it's a surprise," Thor replied. "However, you are my friend and I am not that cruel. It is Hestia."
The demigod startled. Hestia? Why would she… oh, yeah. She'd kicked him off Olympus, but told him to stay at camp. Which he then didn't.
"She looks rather frazzled," Thor said. "So you may wish to hear her out. That is, however, just my advice. If you say no, she will be removed."
Despite everything that happened, Harry didn't want Hestia forcefully removed. He drew a deep breath. Did he want to see her? Maybe. Maybe not. Well, no, if he were honest, no, he didn't want to see her. But he did want to know what it was that caused her to abandon him like this.
"Alright," he decided. "I'll see her."
Thor nodded. "Good man," he said, clapping Harry on the shoulder. Harry gave a wan smile, he wasn't looking forward to this.
He didn't think he'd ever feel that way about seeing Hestia.
He followed Thor to the elevator, which made its way down to the ground floor. They emerged in the entrance hall, where Hestia was seated in one of the comfortable seats in the waiting area.
Drawing a breath, Harry nodded to himself and started walking.
Hestia did look frazzled, as if she had not gotten any rest. Which was ridiculous as gods didn't require rest. When her eyes met his, the first thing he did was squash the urge to give her a hug, because it looked like she needed one.
He sat down across from her. "Hi, Hestia," he said.
"Hello Harry," she greeted back, giving him a small smile. "What has happened?"
Harry blinked. She asked him that, now?
"I asked you to stay at camp for a few days, and instead find that you left in the middle of the night. I also notice that quite a few people look hostile at me. And now, I find you in Asgard, being sheltered by Lord Odin and his son," Hestia said.
"You abandoned me," Harry whispered. As if she didn't know that. "You dumped me at camp, where they put me in Hermes' cabin… and someone tried to steal from me. So I came here."
"Abandoned you?" Hestia asked, shocked. "I did not abandon you!" she said, actually raising her voice.
Harry's hands clenched the armrests of the seat. "Yes, you did!" he snapped back, rising her voice to match hers. "You pulled me from the temple, took me to camp, and pulled your boon! You wouldn't even answer my prayers!"
Hestia looked shocked. "I did not pull your boon," she said, tempering her voice. "Where did you try to go?"
The world turned red. He swallowed and forced it down. "Mister Helios' Temple. Hermes' temple, Mister Apollo's Temple, your temple, Miss Athena's library, Aphrodite's Temple – I even tried that meeting hall!"
Hestia looked sad. "Oh, Harry," she whispered sadly. "I'm afraid there is a huge misunderstanding."
"A misunderstanding about you pulling my boon?" Harry asked, crossing his arms angrily.
"I did not pull your boon," Hestia said. "Why would I ever do that? I have been, and I still am, incredibly proud of you and your achievements."
"Then why can't I travel to the temple? Why didn't you answer my prayers? Why did you kick me off Olympus in the first place?" Harry demanded, angrily.
Hestia sighed, and nodded. "You deserve an answer to those questions. I ask that you be patient and let me tell the story."
Harry gave a short wave, as if saying 'go on'. It was a dismissive motion that he never would have used on her before, but reflected his current mood perfectly.
The Goddess of the Home just looked sad. "Yesterday, someone stole Zeus' Lightning Bolt."
Despite his nonverbal agreement to be silent, Harry jumped as if stung. "I didn't steal anything!" he shouted.
Around the large entrance hall, various heads looked up and in their direction. There were Thor and Odin, lounging suspiciously near the hearth and having some kind of conversation that involved long silences.
Helgi and Hunding, who couldn't stand one another due to their past lives, somehow were still debating some kind of esoteric minutiae of hotel management.
And somehow, in one of the corners, Frigga was reading a book and was now peering over the top of it.
"I know you didn't," Hestia said, gently. "You were at the temple. As it is your home, and I am Goddess of the Home, I know it to be so."
Harry grumbled and sat down. "Then why-"
"Perhaps if you let me get on with the story," Hestia teased gently. "Zeus returned to find his lightning bolt stolen. As you can imagine, he was outraged."
Harry remained silent but gave a childish and nasty thought that, if Zeus took better care of his stuff, maybe they wouldn't get stolen.
"Now, a god's symbol of power can not be taken by another god," Hestia said. "Therefore, there must have been an intermediary. Yesterday, for the solstice, a delegation of demigods were allowed onto Olympus for a tour. Of course, Zeus' suspicion immediately fell to them as the primary executors of the theft. Secondarily, his suspicion fell on Poseidon as the instigator of that theft."
"Zeus is crazy," Harry muttered. "Mister Poseidon's too nice to do something like that."
"You've only seen Poseidon's gentler, caring nature," Hestia informed him. "Do not misunderstand, Poseidon can be quite vicious when provoked."
Harry sullenly remained quiet, he was still waiting for that explanation.
"When the demigods had alibis, he then remembered that you are also a demigod, and of course he was all set to have you dragged before him," Hestia continued. "I informed him that you were at the temple. He did not believe me."
Harry blinked; not believe Hestia regarding her own domain?
"I am afraid that my temper was raised, and I informed him that, as Goddess of the Home, I could determine whether you were in your home or not, and I then asked him whether he wished to challenge me on my own domain," Hestia said. "I so dislike being at odds with people, but sometimes they do need a bit of a reminder to behave properly."
Harry beat back a smile. Hestia telling off Zeus would have been great to see in person.
"Since he was unable to produce a culprit right then and there, he dispatched Ares and Artie to find the bolt," Hestia said, ignoring the momentary smile on his lips. "He then looked directly at me, and declared that Olympus was closed until his Bolt was returned."
Harry blinked, Hestia had said something about Olympus being closed. What did that mean? Before he could ask, she explained, "Zeus took advantage of the situation to make a declaration where he closed Olympus. None but the gods can enter Olympus now, and the gods staying there are unable to answer prayers. In effect, we can not even hear them."
"Which is why you didn't reply when I prayed to you," Harry said with a sigh.
"Exactly," Hestia confirmed. "Zeus then informed me that I should get you off Olympus as quickly as possible, before he had you arrested and thrown from the mountain. Of course, as my King, he has that right, so I had no choice but to comply," Hestia whispered. "I was, of course, furious."
"Which is why you took me to camp," he whispered.
"Exactly," Hestia said. "And due to Olympus being closed, fire travel to it is also blocked. Had you chosen to go anywhere else, you would have found that you were able to go where you wished," she added.
"I honestly thought…" he trailed off.
"I can see why you would think so, everything was quite sudden. I was also extremely angry, and I did not wish to take it out on you, an innocent party. I am afraid that, in my attempt, I gave you a different and quite wrong impression," she said, softly, bowing her head. "I can only apologize for that. It was not my intention."
Harry swallowed again. "You didn't abandon me?"
"No, Harry," she said. "I did not."
Why was the world wobbly?
He sniffed. And his nose was stuffed.
She hadn't abandoned him. She was just a victim of Zeus. Stupid Zeus.
He hugged her, half afraid she would deny him.
She did not.
"i'msosorry," he whimpered into her shoulder.
She patted his back. "You have traumas from your childhood that have yet to heal," she said, softly. "It is understandable that you jumped to the wrong conclusion." She smiled softly, and continued to pat his back. "Still, in the future, some faith might be a good idea, no? After all, I did take an oath on the Styx to never abandon you. Contrary to others, I do keep my oaths and vows."
He nodded silently, not trusting himself to speak right now. He didn't have to, as Hestia apparently had more to say.
"Immediately after bringing you to camp, I went to see your grandfather," she informed him. "As Goddess of the Home, being forced to remove my favored mortal from his home went against my very nature. So, of course, I immediately sought to redress the situation."
Harry blinked at the plethora of 10-drachma words. Thankfully, Athena had provided an extensive and well-balance education for what she called 'a proper young demigod' and so he understood her perfectly well.
"Hermes is good at rule-breaking," Harry confirmed.
Hestia's smile looked perfectly nice and friendly from afar, but up close it was far from nice and friendly. "He is," she confirmed. "And I do believe we found a bit of a loophole, but its implications for you may be more than you are comfortable with."
He frowned, wondering what she and Hermes had concocted. "What did you discover?" he asked, when she looked at him without speaking.
Hestia hesitated for a few moments. That hesitation told Harry that what the two gods had concocted was bound to put a bee in Zeus' bonnet. Which was an added bonus in Harry's opinion.
"By ancient decree, gods are not allowed to raise their own children," Hestia said. "This was done due to the fact that demigods raised by their parents invariably ended up both as maladjusted and extremely powerful."
Harry nodded, wondering where she was going with this.
"There are no rules, however, to a god raising a child not their own," Hestia informed him, hesitatingly. "Of course, no god would ever consider raising someone else's child."
He nodded sadly. That was why the poor demigods were stuck at that camp.
"Of course, I am not most gods," Hestia said, still hesitating to put it out there. "Harry," she said, stopping, seeming to gather her thoughts and her courage, before saying, "what would you think of me adopting you?"
Harry blinked, not having expected that question in the least. Especially not after the last twenty-four hours, where he'd gone from perfectly happy to perfectly homeless to perfectly ashamed of jumping to conclusions. "What?" he asked.
Hestia's smile was hesitant and reluctant, as if she expected him to walk away right there and then. "If I adopted you, I could raise you," she said. "You aren't my son in the sense of the Ancient Laws, but you would be my son where it mattered, and thus I could look after you properly. That means, I can take you back to Olympus with me regardless of Zeus' decree."
Harry stared for a few moments longer.
Finally, he drew a breath. "You mean it?" he asked in a whisper. "You really do want me?"
Hestia looked softly at him. "Oh, Harry," she said, kindly. "Of course I do. I will never have children of my own flesh, but if I ever were to have them, I would love for them to be like you."
Harry swallowed. Then wiped his eyes. Then hugged her.
"Is that a yes?" Hestia asked, laughter in her voice as she held him.
He just nodded, unable to speak right now.
"Then I, Hestia Olympia, Goddess of Home, Hearth, and Family, the First and the Last Olympian, hereby offer to adopt you," she said formally, drawing herself upright.
From the corners of his eyes, Harry saw Thor and Odin stop their 'conversation' and stare directly at them. In the quiet corner, Frigga had dropped her book entirely and was now focused on them as well.
Harry ignored being at the center of attention and focused entirely on Hestia. He swallowed, pulled his shoulders back to straighten his spine, and looked her in the eyes. "I, Harry Potter, hereby accept," he said, trying to be just as formal.
AN: I dragged my feet a bit on starting this chapter, as the filler in last chapter proves. Unfortunately, this chapter was planned since chapter one, and held a lot of necessary character development – both for Harry and for Hestia. I couldn't get out from under it, as it also marks the start of the Percy Jackson storyline.
I wanted to get through it all in one chapter, mostly because I feel a lot of my faithful readers would be incredibly upset with me if I broke this up into multiple parts.
It came too close after mom's passing, even now. It was hard to write. I hope I did it justice nonetheless.