Harry Potter, Squatter

By Enterprise1701_d

Chapter 66

AN: I am not sure if an update alert was sent out for the previous chapter, so you may want to check it out to ensure you're not missing anything.

I want to wish all my faithful readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year - I hope everyone had lots to celebrate with plenty of family and friends.

Harry grunted as he heaved Grover on to the porch of the Big House. At this point, Percy was more in need of help than helping himself. The Son of Poseidon had really crashed halfway from the hill to the Big House, when the evening's events had fully hit him.

Before Harry had mustered the energy to shout for help, Chiron and Annabeth had reached them. How or why those two, he didn't know nor cared.

"He must be the one," Annabeth commented at the half-delirious Percy.

"Silence, Annabeth," Chiron instructed, which got Harry's hair up. What were they not telling them? "Let's get him to the infirmary," the centaur instructed before Harry could ask questions.

After getting Percy settled in and asleep thanks to a mild sedative, Harry had questions.

"Okay, what aren't you guys telling me?" he asked after the door of the infirmary was pulled shut behind them.

"We still don't know who took Zeus' Lightning Bolt," Annabeth said. "And the deadline is approaching. The infighting among the gods is causing the weather to go insane."

"I've told you before, Annabeth," Chiron started.

"I am not too young," Annabeth pouted at the centaur. "All I need is a tiny little quest, and I could go and look."

The centaur sighed, as if this were a common thing. "Annabeth, regardless of the adventures you have had with Harry, it is not up to me to issue quests. Those come from the gods, as you well know." It sounded like a rehearsed response, as if the centaur had given it often enough.

"Maybe Percy will be the one to get the quest, giving me a chance," Annabeth half-whispered, staring at the infirmary.

"Maybe," Harry agreed, getting the gist of what Annabeth was talking about. As a Daughter of Athena, and an experienced one at that, it was only natural for her Fatal Flaw of Hubris to rear itself. Not that Harry had grounds to talk, he wanted to solve every problem himself, too. "We'll see what happens with Percy. I already swore I'd help him find his mother."

Chiron and Annabeth looked at him as if he were crazy. "Harry, Percy's mom is dead," Annabeth replied.

"No, she got mom-napped," Harry answered. "I've seen enough dead people to know. She turned to gold and vanished. Corpses just lie there, they don't vanish. Mortals aren't monsters."

Chiron and Annabeth shared an uneasy look. "That may change things," Chiron said, obviously thinking. "Regardless, we should let Percy rest for the night. We will talk more tomorrow."

"Can I bum a bed for the night?" Harry asked, motioning over his shoulder to the infirmary with his thumb.

"I'm sure cabin eleven can spare the space," Chiron answered with a mischievous grin.

Harry gave the Trainer of Heroes a very filthy look. "I would probably end up killing that Stoll idiot," he answered seriously. "Trying to steal from me on the worst day of my life," he muttered angrily to himself.

"So I heard," Chiron answered. "Knowing your skills, and having witness them against Mark, I applaud your restraint against Connor Stoll. I have punished him severely. He will not be repeating his mistake."

"Still, I'd prefer to bunk in the infirmary, if that's okay. I can be close to Percy, in case he wakes up or has questions or something," Harry said, ignoring the comment about Connor Stoll's punishment. He didn't want to think about the events of that day – that had been a SNAFU of the highest order.

"We have the spare beds," Chiron said. "Capture the Flag isn't until the end of the week, so I suppose one night will not harm anyone."

"Thanks, Chiron!" Harry said with a wide grin.

"Why do you want to stick close to Percy?" Annabeth asked, as he started to turn back toward the infirmary. "You didn't stick around for me, or the others."

Harry's shoulders sagged. "I let Percy's mom get kidnapped, right from under my nose," he said in a whisper. "I took an oath, with Hestia as my witness, that I would help him recover her." He drew a breath and let it out. "It's the first time I failed this badly, and I need to make it right."

"Alright," Annabeth said, softly and gently. "Just be careful, ok?"

He nodded and turned to walk back to the infirmary. "Night, Chiron, Annabeth."

"Good night, Harry," Annabeth said, sounding worried about her friend.

"Young Harry is learning that not everything will turn out as expected," Chiron, ever the teacher, said to Annabeth. "He will be fine, as long as he recovers himself."

Harry, meanwhile, had entered the infirmary. Percy was still asleep, although he seemed to be tossing and turning.

Which, given the events of the last few hours, was no surprise. Harry sighed again; he hadn't felt this much as a screw-up in a long time.

He turned, instead, to the fireplace, and waved his hand to call Hestia. The Goddess of the Home and Hearth emerged quite quickly; it seemed like she had been waiting.

Harry quickly explained the situation to his all-time favorite goddess. "So I was thinking about contacting Artie," he finished. "I mean, as Goddess of the Hunt, she'd be able to find Sally in a heartbeat!"

"Unfortunately," Hestia said after hugging him, "Artie's busy tracking the Lightning Bolt."

Harry nodded dejectedly. "That means Miss Zoë is busy leading the Hunters," he added. "I wonder who took Percy's mom then?"

"I will keep an ear out," Hestia promised. "But regardless, you need to know, Harry, that gods don't usually kidnap people. Smiting and cursing, sometimes, yes, but outright kidnapping a mortal woman? That is rare. It means that the god in question took her for a reason – and that, in turn, implies that she will be well cared for until the situation resolves itself."

Harry felt like a monumental weight was lifted off his shoulders. "Thanks, Hestia," he said. Maybe that meant Poseidon wasn't completely furious with him.

"You're quite welcome, dear," she answered, patting his cheek.

Harry took one last look at Percy, who had stopped tossing and turning and was now muttering something about barnyard animals in his sleep. He chuckled; that had probably something to do with Grover being a satyr and the donkey-goat conversation in the car.

Still chuckling now that he was sure that Percy was fine, he turned in for some sleep himself.

Before entering Morpheus' realm, he sent a quicker prayer to Poseidon, hoping that the God of the Seas wasn't ready to drown him the next time he set foot on a beach.

The next morning, Harry was up with the sunrise. Seeing Percy still asleep, he debated for a few moments on what to do next.

That choice was taken out of his hands, as the door slowly and carefully opened, revealing Chiron and Grover. The latter looked dejected, although Harry couldn't fathom why – other than being knocked unconscious in a car crash, the satyr had been rather helpful in trying to explain things to Percy.

Plus, he'd given them warning about the Minotaur, that helped, too.

Chiron barely gave Percy a look-over. "He will wake up shortly," the centaur decided. "I will be at the Big House, please bring him to me when he wakes up."

The way the Trainer of Heroes acted pushed Harry's buttons, but before the young demigod could say anything, the centaur had already left. Grover stayed behind, still looking dejected and like he hadn't slept much last night.

"Harry," the satyr whispered, as if afraid of waking Percy. "Thanks. For saving my life, I mean."

"You came to warn us, so as far as I'm concerned, we're even," Harry replied with a friendly grin and a squeeze to the satyr's shoulder in an effort to cheer him up.

Grover didn't reply, not really, but managed a completely unconvincing and dilapidated smile.

Harry wondered what was going on, but not knowing Grover all that well he wasn't sure whether to push or not. While debating on how to properly cheer the dilapidated-looking satyr up, he filled a nice glass of Nectar for Percy and set it at his bedside.

After the previous day, the new demigod would probably need it.

Taking his chance, Harry went into the infirmary's bathroom to changes his clothes and perform his morning ablutions. His Hammerspace pocket was great for ensuring he always had fresh clothes and emergency sleepwear.

Not like poor Percy, who had been forced to sleep in what were basically his street clothes. Harry was definitely planning on using the new shower-and-wash charm he'd developed for Hermione during their adventure in the extradimensional mansion. Who knew that would turn out to be this handy to have?

"Careful," Harry heard Grover say when he exited the bathroom. In the meantime, Percy had woken up and was reaching for the glass of Nectar. It seemed he was still half out of it, as he seemed to struggle and had almost dropped it.

Harry had to grin, while he'd been in the bathroom Grover had put on the most unconvincing pair of hi-tops to camouflage his goat-like feet.

"You saved my life," Grover was telling Percy. "I went back to that hill; the place was a battlefield."

Oops, Harry thought. My magic must not have been contained to the hellhounds, it must've torn the ground open, too. Dismissing the thought, he added silently, Nice of Grover to acknowledge Percy's contribution, though.

"Hellhounds," Percy moaned, now sitting up in the bed. "And the Minotaur."

"Um, Percy," Grover said, delicately, "it's not a good idea to -"

Percy cut the satyr off. Good man, Harry thought silently and with a grin. "That's what they call it in the Greek Myths, isn't it?" Percy demanded. "The Minotaur. Half man, half bull."

The poor satyr shifted left and right, and decided on avoiding the conversation entirely. "You've been out for the entire night. How much do you remember?"

Percy blinked, brain shifting. "My mom. Is she…"

"She's been kidnapped," Harry said, deciding on making his presence known. He walked over, squeezed Percy's shoulder, and plonked himself down in the bed next to the new demigod. "She turned into golden light and vanished, do you remember?"

Percy nodded hesitatingly. "That means she's been kidnapped. I made a call last night, trying to find out who took her. Unfortunately, things are a mite busy on Olympus so my usual go-to people are busy. But I have someone keeping an eye and an ear out for who took her."

"Oh," Percy whispered, looking down.

"Percy," Harry said, placing a hand on the other boy's shoulder and giving it another squeeze. "I vowed yesterday I would help you find her, and I keep my promises. Also, your mom is safe."

"How can you even know!?" Percy suddenly shouted. That single burst of energy seemed to be all he was capable of, as he sunk back into the bed immediately afterwards.

"Gods don't kidnap mortals," Harry said. "I was assured of that. That means that, whoever took her, took her for a reason. That means she is safe until then. That gives us time."

"Oh," Percy muttered. "That… that makes sense, I guess."

Harry tried for a friendly smile. "And whoever took her is a god, so there's no need to worry about ransom or such. They're all rich."

Percy tried to suppress a snort. "At least that's something," he admitted.

"Still, I'm sorry for not getting you both to safety," Harry said, softly. "If only she had been able to cross the boundary."

Percy was silent. It didn't help with Harry's guilt. "Listen," the Son of Poseidon said, finally, "you took out the Minotaur and a dozen of those hellhounds. Without you, we'd all have been eaten. Or trampled. It's not your fault."

Actually, that did make Harry feel better. He gave Percy's shoulder another squeeze. "Thanks, man. Appreciate it."

Grover, meanwhile, was sniffling. "I'm sorry, too. I'm a failure. I'm… I'm the worst satyr in the world." He let out a moan, and stamped one foot. The hi-top came off, revealing the goat's leg it had been hiding. "Oh, Styx!" the satyr cussed; somewhere in the distance, thunder rolled. Harry grinned, like any young boy when someone said something naughty.

Percy, meanwhile, was staring mutely at the satyr's leg, as if he still could not believe what was happening.

Grover continued to sniffle as he re-fitted his fake leg. "It wasn't your fault either," Percy finally managed.

"I was supposed to protect you!" Grover half-shouted, apparently not nearly as easy to help as Harry had been.

Percy blinked at this new information. "My mom asked you to protect me?" he asked.

"No," Grover denied. "But that's my job. I'm a keeper. Or, I was, at least."

Harry winced, that would explain why Grover was blubbering. Getting knocked out while on a protection detail? Yeah, there's be questions asked, no doubt.

"But why-" Percy started to ask, before the emotional feedback apparently smote him, and he turned pale.

"Don't strain yourself," Grover said, switching from 'emotionally distraught' to 'mother-hen' in between tow beats of a heart. "Here," he added, picking up the glass of Nectar, and practically shoving the straw into Percy's mouth.

The new demigod, after initial hesitation, drank the entire glass down.

"What did it taste like?" Grover asked, curiously.

Harry winced at the unintended guilt-trip. "Like my mom's homemade chocolate-chip cookies," Percy said. "I'm sorry, I should have let you have some."

Before Grover could answer, Harry piped in. "That was Nectar, the drink of the gods," he explained. "It will taste like your absolute favorite food. As demigods, we can have a limited amount of it each day. Grover, as a satyr, can't have it. Just like mortals – they would burn from the inside out."

"Oh," Percy said, suddenly looking ready to run a marathon. "So that's why I feel like I could throw Nancy Bobofit a hundred meters."

Harry didn't know who this Nancy person was, but from the grins Percy and Grover were sharing, he could infer that she'd been a bully of some kind.

"That's good," Grover finally said. "Come on, we should get you up. Chiron and Mister D are waiting."

"Let me clean you up, first," Harry said with a grin and cast his nifty charm to wash Percy's clothes and give him a shower.

"That's awesome," Percy said, looking at his clothes. "But why am I suddenly smelling like fabric softener?"

Harry groaned; he needed to fix that flaw!


Percy went wide-eyed when they exited the infirmary and followed the deck around the building. Camp Half-Blood was arrayed before them, and Harry could remember his first view of it.

"Looks like fun, doesn't it?" Harry asked.

Percy nodded mutely. "Does that horse have wings?" he suddenly asked, spotting Silena doing her favorite extracurricular activity – pegasus riding.

"Yup," Harry said. "That's Silena and she's riding a pegasus. For some reason, they don't like me, it always feels like they're glaring at me."

"Whoa," he managed.

"Come on," Grover urged. "Mister D and Chiron are waiting." The poor satyr seemed quite upset about them holding things up, too.

At the end of the porch sat Chiron and Mister D, at each end of a small card table. Annabeth was leaning against the railing, and had obviously been in discussion with the two of them.

Harry grinned, Mister D was going to be in a foul mood. The portly God of Wine was always at his best after a camper talked back to him.

Harry blinked when he realized that Chiron was in a wheelchair. Was he trying to hide being a centaur for some reason?

"Mr Brunner!" Percy yelled, happily.

Chiron turned to face them and smiled at them. "Ah, good, Percy and Harry. Anyone care for Pinocle? We finally have four."

"Mr Brunner?" Harry asked. "Did you change your name and not tell anyone, Chiron?" he teased.

"Chiron?" Percy asked. "That's Mr Brunner, my Latin teacher!"

"I'm afraid that was just a pseudonym," Chiron told Percy, completely ignoring Harry's teasing. "You may call me Chiron."

Harry grinned at the avoidance and was ready to continue teasing the centaur. Before the demigod could say something however, Chiron had basically offered the chair on Dionysus' right to Percy and the opposing chair to Grover.

Harry shrugged and accepted the partial snub with good grace. Given his heritage, he would be putting the God of Wine into an even fouler mood by winning all his money. He chose the piece of balustrade next to Annabeth and leaned on it.

"So, what's up, Annabeth?" he asked the Daughter of Athena. "Because you can't be that desperate for a quest."

Annabeth huffed and gave him a grin. "I want this fixed, and according to a prophecy I can only fix it if someone else gets the quest. I'm hoping he's the one."

Harry shrugged and nodded. "He's new, though. And untrained."

Annabeth gave him a grin. "That's why he'd have me, duh."

Harry snorted at the very teenaged-Athena-like answer.

In the meantime, the four players had sat down, and Dionysus turned toward Percy. "I suppose I have to say it. Welcome to Camp Half-Blood. There, now don't expect me to be glad to see you."

"Uhm. Thanks?" Percy said, obviously uncomfortable.

Harry decided on helping out, as everyone was apparently going to leave poor Percy in the dark and wait for him to screw up. Calmly, he left the balustrade, walked around the table and leaned down next to Percy's chair to put them at eye-level.

"Percy, remember what I said yesterday?" he asked. The other demigod frowned. "Percy Jackson, meet Dionysus, God of Wine." Part of him wondered when Poseidon was going to honor his part of the deal. This would be a good time to be able to introduce Percy as Son of Poseidon.

Percy stared at the portly god, who had this awful sort of grin on his face, indicating that he was loving every second of Percy's discomfort. "The poor god has been cursed by a certain grouchy King of the Gods, so he's stuck here without any alcohol, hence him being upset."

"That's enough, Harmon," Dionysus grouched at Harry. "No need to tell Perry everything."

Harry grinned. "Sure, Mister D." Turning to Percy, he added, "He also gets everyone's name wrong. It's hilarious."

"I… suppose?" Poor Percy looked really out of it, staring at Dionysus. Finally, he seemed to shake him and looked at Harry instead. "So, that was really magic you did?"

"That's magic, yes, it's something I can do. It has nothing to do with being a demigod. My magic's something else," Harry explained.

"Oh," Percy muttered.

"You were thinking about using bolts of force to vanquish your enemies, right?" Harry asked with a chuckle.

"No," Percy denied unconvincingly.

"According to my teacher it takes someone without aptitude about 60 years to be any good at magic," Harry said. "So if you want to, I can start your lessons."

Percy snorted. "No, thanks," he said. "I can barely sit still for class."

Harry snickered. "The downsides of being a demigod."

"Are we going to play, or not?" Dionysus grouched, glaring at Harry. "Hagan, you're annoying me."

"Sorry, Mister D," Harry said. "Just trying to help Percy, since it seems like nobody's even trying to explain anything to him."

"Thanks for that," Percy said, honestly grateful.

"Yeah, yeah," Dionysus waved the explanation off.

"Annabeth?" Chiron asked, calling the Daughter of Athena over. "This is Annabeth Chase, Daughter of Athena," he introduced her to Percy. "Annabeth, can you check on Percy's bunk? We'll be putting him in cabin 11 for now."

Annabeth, still obviously in 'quest-seeking' mode, studied Percy for just a few moments longer, as if dissecting him. It obviously made the new demigod uncomfortable.

"Sure, Chiron," she said, before starting to turn – and stopping.

Harry grinned; that was what he'd been waiting for!

Poseidon's trident mark appeared above Percy's head. Dionysus looked upset. Grover looked stunned. Chiron looked like he had a supposition confirmed, and Annabeth looked like she'd swallowed something unsavory.

"Your father," Annabeth whispered. "This is really not good."

"It is determined," Chiron declared, and Harry had to grin at the pompous way with which the centaur said it. "Poseidon. Earthshaker, Stormbringer, Father of Horses. Hail, Perseus Jackson, Son of the Sea God."

"Told you," Harry grinned at the dumbfounded Son of Poseidon.

Percy just nodded, dumbfounded.

"Cabin three, instead, Annabeth," Chiron said, looking as if he were chuckling inwardly at Percy's look.

"Ehm, Chiron…" Annabeth trailed off, looking confused. Harry knew how much she disliked being confused, so the whole situation must rankle something fierce.

"Ah, yes, true," Chiron said, as if speaking code. "Best gather some toiletries and prepare them for later."

"Right," Annabeth muttered, giving Percy another once-over and racing off.

"I'll give you a tour later," Harry told Percy, "but in short, most gods have a cabin for their demigods to stay in, but only that god's children can enter it. Cabin 11 is Hermes', as God of Travelers he welcomes everybody, so demigods who haven't been claimed go there, too. Cabin three is Mister Poseidon's, and only you can enter it, so Annabeth would have a hard time getting a bunk ready for you there."

Percy gave Harry a grateful look and an equally grateful nod at the translation.

For a few moments, conversation halted while Dionysus shuffled cards impatiently.

"So, you, ah, work here, Mister Brunner?" Percy asked, obviously attempting to redirect the conversation, and seemingly still struggling with the fact that his 'Latin teacher' had been undercover.

Harry gave Chiron an amused look at the 'alias' the centaur had been using.

"You can call me Chiron, Percy," the Trainer of Heroes repeated his earlier statement. "Although, with the recent changes in your life, I suppose it is understandable that you need time to adjust."

Percy looked suitably grateful. "I must say," Chiron continued, "that I am glad to see you alive. It's been a long time since I made a house call to a potential camper. I'd hate to think I wasted my time."

"As my teacher," Percy said, obviously having retained some of the information he'd been told.

"Exactly," Chiron confirmed. "My year at Yancy Academy instructing you. We have satyrs at most schools, of course, keeping an eye out. Grover alerted me the moment he met you, sensing something special about you. So, I decided to come upstate an investigate. I convinced the other Latin teacher to… ah… take a leave of absence."

Harry snickered. "As Latin teacher, Chiron? Surely you should have been teaching Ancient Greek."

The centaur took the friendly ribbing in good grace. "I should have, yes. Unfortunately, Percy did not take that class, which would have made the exercise moot."

Percy ignored the teasing, and asked instead, "You came to Yancy just to teach me?"

Chiron nodded. "Honestly, I wasn't sure about you at first. We contacted your mother, let her know we were keeping an eye on you in case you were ready for Camp Half-Blood. You still had so much to learn; but nevertheless you made it here alive, and that's always the first test."

"Why didn't you tell him from the beginning?" Harry asked, finally seeing an opportunity to get to what had been bugging him from the start.

"His mother-" Chiron started.

"Should have informed him," Harry interrupted. "And, if she hadn't, you should have."

"It wasn't my decision, lad," the centaur answered with a sigh.

"No," Harry said. "And it wasn't his mother's, either." He pointed to Percy. "The decision should have been Percy's from the get-go. This whole situation could have been avoided if the grown-ups hadn't screwed up. Again. As usual."

Chiron looked disappointed, but gave no reply. Grover looked like he wanted to be anywhere but there. Dionysus, on the other hand, was grinning.

"Whoa," Percy managed. "Where did that come from?"

"When we're not pressed for time, I'll tell you what happened to me before I found out I was a demigod," Harry told Percy. "Short recap, I got bent over by the adults, too. Never trust them, Percy. We always end up having to do stuff ourselves in the end. Like right now. Had you been informed about being a demigod, had you been allowed to go to Camp years ago, none of this would have happened."

"You can't know that, lad," Chiron said, a soft rebuke audible in his voice. "His mother was trying her best to keep him safe. The less he knew, the less monsters he'd attract."

Having studied with Athena, and fully in the understanding that the Ancient Greeks had elevated the debate to an art form, Harry was fully willing to enter the discussion. "Security through obscurity is no security at all," he stated. "It's a good first line of defense, don't get me wrong, but Percy should have been made aware, and he should have been trained, for the inevitable day that it would fail. Because it always does."

"Perhaps," Chiron said. "And yet, informing him would have broken the security earlier."

"And left Percy with both a chance to defend himself, and not come at a really bad time, politically speaking," Harry replied.

"Or, it could have killed him earlier," Chiron debated. "Hindsight it always 20/20, young Harry. While we can debate decisions taken in the past, we can not change them."

"Unfortunately," Harry said, softly, seeing the wisdom in that. "Because some decisions need changing." Just because he saw the wisdom didn't mean that it didn't rankle still.

Chiron chuckled. "On that, we agree," he said. "Regrettably, change them we can not."

Harry nodded; remembering his future self's warning that Marduk could do as he wanted, but that it was a bad idea for him to start meddling with time.

Wait, did that mean that his future self had meddled with time? Or was there a version of himself who had gotten in major trouble while messing with time, and written the warning to his past self, which then prevented the time-meddling in the first place, causing the warning to be passed along just because?

While Harry was having a minor breakdown pondering the practical application of a bootstrap paradox, Dionysus had dealt the cards. He looked at Percy. "You do know how to play pinocle?" he asked, either knowingly or unknowingly breaking Harry out of his minor panic attack.

"I'm afraid not… ah… how do I address you? Sir? Lord?" Percy managed, suddenly remembering that the man was a god.

"Sir will do," Dionysus replied, glancing at Harry. "I was hoping for some backtalk so I could slap him down. You ruined my fun, Hakim."

"Sorry, Mister D," Harry said, trying very hard to forget the hard lockup his brain had experienced pondering a 4-dimensional bootstrap paradox featuring himself in the leading role.

"Fine, whatever," the test God of Wine muttered and turned back to Percy. "Along with gladiator fighting and Pac-Man, pinocle is one of the greatest games ever invented by mortals. I would have expected all civilized young men to know the rules."

"I'm sure the boy can learn," Chiron defended Percy, who looked at Dionysus as if confirming the portly god was being testy just for the sake of being testy.

"Please," Percy said, scoring extra browny points with Harry for remaining polite through the entire ordeal. Hestia liked politeness, after all. "Mr Brun – Chiron – why would you go to Yancy Academy just to teach me?"

Harry grinned; Percy was catching on.

"I asked the same question," Dionysus snorted as he dealt the cards. Poor Grover, obviously scared of the god, flinched every time a card landed in front of him.

"Percy," Chiron replied, "did your mother tell you nothing?"

Harry was interested in the answer, too. From what he'd picked up on the trip over yesterday, that answer was 'no', but he wanted to make sure.

"She said…" Percy trailed off, obviously thinking about something. "She told me she was afraid to send me here, even though my father had wanted her to. She said that once I was here, I probably couldn't leave. She wanted to keep me close to her."

"Typical," Dionysus snorted. "That's how they usually get killed. Young man, are you bidding or not?"

Percy looked like he was about to do something stupid, like snap at the God of Wine, so Harry quickly explained the basics of the rules and the process of bidding.

Percy made his bid, gaining himself a grin and a shoulder-pat from Harry. Since the other demigod seemed to be only one willing to answer questions in detail – without resorting to answering a question with another question – Percy managed a tentative smile back, obviously pulling himself up on Harry's presence.

"I'm afraid that there is too much to tell," Chiron then said, which gained him a rather reproachful look from both Harry and Percy. "I'm afraid that our usual orientation film won't be sufficient."

"Orientation film?" Percy asked, causing Harry to look inquisitively at Chiron, because that was news to him, too.

"No," Chiron decided, as if talking to himself. Harry was starting to feel impatient at the centaur's lack of willingness to explain things, and he could only imagine how poor Percy must be feeling. "Young Harry already explained about the gods, and we've just seen you claimed by the God of the Sea."

Percy managed a nod.

Instead of more explanation, he got Dionysus shouting, "Oh! A Royal Marriage! Trick! Trick!" He cackled insanely as he tallied up the points.

"What you may not know," Chiron continued, "is that demigods have had a major impact on society. If I told you some of their names, you would recognize them instantly. However, sixty years ago, the three strongest gods, Lord Zeus, Lord Poseidon, and Lord Hades, agreed to sire no more heroes; their children were too powerful for the modern age. World War two came out of a dispute between the children of Lord Zeus and Lord Poseidon on one side, and the children of Hades on the opposing side."

Percy grew pale. Next to him, Harry fared no better; he'd heard of the oath but not what triggered it. "The victorious side, Lord Zeus and Lord Poseidon, forced Lord Hades to enter into an oath; an oath on the Styx to have no more children with mortal women."

"An oath on the Styx is the most serious oath you can make," Harry explained to Percy.

"Unfortunately," Chiron went on as if Harry hadn't said anything, "Zeus was the first to break the oath. Lord Hades was furious and sent monsters after her. As Harry said, the Styx does not treat oath-breakers lightly; Zeus managed to slither out because of his immortality, so the curse passed to his daughter, Thalia."

"Who I managed to get to camp safely," Harry added.

"But that wasn't fair! It wasn't her fault!" Percy interjected.

"Thankfully, as he said, Harry managed a shortcut to get her and her companion to safety, here at Camp. She remained in our protection," Chiron said. "As long as she did not leave, she was safe. Until she found a loophole."

"A loophole?"

"The goddess Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt, accepts girls into her service to serve as her handmaidens and attendants," Chiron explained. "As long as they are in her service, they do not age. Under the protection of a powerful goddess, and covered by an aegis of immortality, Thalia is safe for as long as she remains in the goddess' service."

Harry stared at the centaur, annoyed at him avoiding the whole 'Great prophecy' thing, because that was definitely something he wanted to know more about.

"Good for her," Percy said. "But now I'm the next one, aren't I?"

"I am afraid so, Percy," Chiron said, sadly. "You were chased by the Minotaur, and by hellhounds. Those come from the Fields of Punishment."

Harry hemmed, it sounded like he would need to chat with Hades. He drew a breath. Or maybe not, he was likely to say something that would anger the god again, and he was only now repairing bridges with him.

Then again, maybe it wasn't Hades. Other gods or goddesses should have access to the Underworld, right? He couldn't see Makaria do it. Mel might, if she didn't understand what she was doing – she had the self-restraint of a five-year-old and didn't always understand how frail people were.

Still, he didn't like the implications here.

"You had your suspicions about me being the Son of Poseidon, didn't you?" Percy accused.

Harry grinned; Percy had a good head on his shoulders when the situation called for it, it seemed. Make him squirm, Percy, the young demigod cheered silently.

"I had my suspicions," Chiron confirmed. "I spoke with-" he cut himself off. "But that is no matter for the moment."

Dionysus grunted. "I believe I win," he said.

"Not quite," Chiron corrected, setting down a straight, tallying his points, and saying, "The game goes to me."

Dionysus grunted in an unsportsmanlike manner and stood up. "I'm tired," he announced. "I believe I'll take a nap before the sing-along tonight. But first, Grover, we need to talk, again, about your less than stellar performance on this assignment."

Grover paled considerably, and a bead of sweat rolled down his forehead. "Yes, sir," the satyr managed.

The God ofWine turned to Percy. "Cabin 3, Perkins. And mind your manners." He glanced toward Harry before looking back at Percy. "Listen to that one. He's less annoying and decrepit than the other cretins. Not by much, mind you, but it counts."

"Thanks, Mister D! Love you too!" Harry chirped, causing a curious hiccup from Chiron as the surly god grunted and turned to enter the Big House. A miserable-looking Grover followed him.

"Is Grover okay?" Percy asked, obviously worrying for his friend, despite said friend having lied to him for some time.

"Old Dionysus isn't really mad, he just hates the job. He's been… grounded… and he can't stand to wait another century before he can return to Olympus."

"Mount Olympus," Percy wondered. "Is there really a palace there?"

"More like a small city," Harry said. "Every god has a temple-palace, but there are also a lot of homes for support staff, nymphs, and so forth. I can take you there, it's lovely."

Chiron looked less than impressed with Harry interrupting him.

"What Harry failed to mention is that there is the Mount Olympus in Greece, which is a physical location accessible to mortals. Then there is the home of the gods, the convergence point of their powers, which used to be on Mount Olympus. It's still called that, out of respect for the old ways, but the place moves, Percy. Just as the gods do."

"You mean the Greek gods are here? Like, in America?"

"Certainly," Chiron confirmed. "The gods move with the heart of the West."

"The what?" Poor Percy sounded confused, and Harry couldn't blame him. Chiron really wasn't selling this well – it looked like the Trainer of Heroes wanted Percy to figure stuff out for himself, rather than provide clear answers.

"Come now, Percy," Chiron said. "What you call 'Western Civilization'. Do you think it's just an abstract concept? No, it's a living force. A collective consciousness that has burned bright for thousands of years. The gods are part of it. You might even say they are the source of it, or at least, they are tied so tightly to it that they couldn't possibly fade, not unless all of Western Civilization were obliterated. The fire started in Greece. Then, as you well know—or as I hope you know, since you passed my course—the heart of the fire moved to Rome, and so did the gods. Oh, different names, perhaps— Jupiter for Zeus, Venus for Aphrodite, and so on—but the same forces, the same gods."

"And then they died," Percy said.

"Died? No. Did the West die? The gods simply moved, to Germany, to France, to Spain, for a while. Wherever the flame was brightest, the gods were there. They spent several centuries in England. All you need to do is look at the architecture. People do not forget the gods. Every place they've ruled, for the last three thousand years, you can see them in paintings, in statues, on the most important buildings. And yes, Percy, of course they are now in your United States. Look at your symbol, the Eagle of Zeus. Look at the statue of Prometheus in Rockefeller Center, the Greek facades of your government buildings in Washington. I defy you to find any American city where the Olympians are not prominently displayed in multiple places. Like it or not, and believe me, plenty of people weren't very fond of Rome, either, America is now the heart of the flame. It is the great power of the West. And so Olympus is here. And we are here."

Harry put a hand on Percy's shoulder, and squeezed it. First Chiron didn't want to answer, then he dumped all of the answers at once on the poor demigod. "I know it's a lot to take in," The Son of Tyche said. "But all you really need to keep in mind is that the gods move with Western Civilization. Ever seen that show 'Warehouse 13'?"

Percy blinked, wondered for a moment what that had to do with anything, then gaped when the connections filled in. "The Warehouse moved with the leading civilization," the young Son of Poseidon said.

"Exactly," Harry answered with a grin. "The Greek gods do the same, but with western civilization instead of the leading civilization. Same concept, different execution."

"That makes sense… as much as anything can make sense at the moment," Percy muttered.

"How silly of me to explain concepts rather than use examples of modern entertainment," Chiron teased.

Harry chuckled. "Do you even own a TV, Chiron?"

The Trainer of Heroes laughed as well. "Why would I ever need one of those?" he asked with a straight face.

"To explain difficult concepts in easy to understand terms to new campers?" Harry offered.

Chiron gave him a very amused look, then looked back at Percy. "We should get you settled in, and introduce you to the other campers. There will be plenty of time for lessons tomorrow; besides, there will be toasted marshmallows at the campfire tonight, and I simply adore them."

He then proceeded to rise from the wheelchair he'd been using while undercover, and sighed happily. "What a relief. I've been cooped up in there for too long, my fetlocks had fallen asleep. Now, come on, let's meet the other campers."

Percy was gaping; obviously, after the magic, the gods, the Mount Olympus that moved with the concept of Western Civilization, the centaur rising from a camouflaged wheelchair was slapping the poor boy's face in it.

Harry squeezed Percy's shoulder again. "Just keep breathing," Harry advised. "I know it's a lot to take in, but I'm here to help you."

Percy gave him a grateful look, causing Harry to wonder how this usually went with other campers, and whether or not he'd been too hasty when he delivered Annabeth, Luke, and Thalia to camp.

Then again, he was unconscious when he delivered Annabeth, and Luke and Thalia both seemed to know about the gods already… so maybe the introduction wasn't as jarring for them.

Thinking to himself, he followed Chiron and Percy. He didn't completely follow the conversation, lost in thought as he was. He recalled strolling around, while Chiron kept up a steady stream of possible activities available to campers, as well as an introduction to the strawberry fields that prospered with the God of Wine's presence nearby, and which the camp used to fund their activities.

Harry tuned back in when he noticed Percy looked sadly at the satyr playing the pan flute for the fields of fruit, causing the insects to march away in single-file.

"Grover won't get into too much trouble will he?" Percy asked, gaze locked on the pan flute-playing satyr, but thoughts clearly with the satyr that was his friend. Harry could understand that kind of loyalty, he had it himself. "I mean, he was a good protector. Really."

Harry refrained from commenting, recalling how Grover had only brought them the warning, then failed to do any real protecting. Then again, loyalty sometimes meant ignoring a friend's weaknesses and doing your best to cover for them yourself.

Chiron sighed. "Grover has big dreams," the centaur explained, not unkindly. "Perhaps bigger than are reasonable. To reach his goal, he must first demonstrate great courage by succeeding as a keeper, finding a new camper and bringing them safely to Camp Half-Blood."

"Be he did that!" Percy protested.

"Twice," Harry added in, feeling offended on the satyr's behalf, and reminding Chiron of when he helped the satyr bring Thalia and Luke to camp. He may not have done any physical protecting, but he clearly wasn't lacking courage. "Grover clearly demonstrated great courage – courage isn't the absence of fear, but continuing in spite of it. Grover was clearly afraid, and yet he pressed on despite his fear. That clearly demonstrates great courage."

Percy gave him a grateful look while Chiron sighed and looked from one boy to the other. "I might agree with you," he finally said. "Unfortunately, it is not my place to judge. Dionysus and the Council of Cloven Elders must decide. I'm afraid they might not see this assignment as a success… after all, Grover lost you, Percy, in New York. And then there's what happened to your mother."

"That one's on me," Harry said, upset at having his failure attributed to the satyr. No way was he going to let someone else take the blame for his failure. He messed up, he knew that, and he was going to fix it."Nobody else is responsible for Sally getting kidnapped but me. I vowed I'd help Percy get her back. I have Hestia looking for her."

"What's the Council of Cloven Elders, anyway?" Percy asked, sounding as if he were planning on having a 'chat' with the council in question.

"They're in charge of the Satyrs," Harry explained. Chiron gave him a look.

"If you're going to explain, please do so properly," the centaur admonished. "Percy, Grover is looking for a searcher's license – the right to go out in the world and search for Pan, their lord and master. Pan is the Lord of the Wild and vanished over two millennia ago. The Council of Cloven Elders decides who gets a searcher's license, only choosing those showing great courage as a protector of demigods, bringing a demigod safely to camp."

"Oh," Harry and Percy said, practically simultaneously. The two demigods looked at each other and snickered.

"There is also the fact that Grover was unconscious while you two dragged him over the property line. The council might question whether this shows courage on Grover's part," Chiron said, almost as if he hadn't just given them useful background information.

"He'll get a second chance, though, right?" Percy asked, momentarily forgetting that Harry had said 'twice' earlier.

Harry opened his mouth, but Chiron beat him to it. "I'm afraid that was his second chance," the centaur advised gravely. "The council wasn't anxious to give him another, either, after what happened last time."

"Why not?" Harry asked. "I helped him bring Thalia and Luke to camp, he did well as far as I could see."

Percy gave him another grateful look for coming to Grover's defense. It made Harry slightly uncomfortable, he was just getting to the bottom of things, that's all.

"I know you advised him to see you as taking the bus," Chiron said, looking amused. "Unfortunately, the council saw it differently. When a god has to contract a camp-outsider to bring someone to camp, it is seen as a major affront, an indication that the gods don't have faith in the satyr's abilities."

Harry blanched. "But I just helped out," he protested, softly.

"Politics, young Harry, are messy and dirty," Chiron said, kindly, placing a hand on Harry's shoulder. "While your actions were noble and heroic, the fact that a god saw fit to contract with you while a satyr was already present was a major affront to that satyr."

Harry slumped. "And now I've done it again," he said, softly.

"If you had not been there, things could have gone a lot worse," Chiron said. "Both times, you brought the campers safely to Camp Half-Blood. That puts you up there with our most successful satyrs, and you haven't even hit 12 years old yet."

Harry just nodded. "I still don't think Grover should have to suffer for it," he said.

"Olympus knows, I've advised him to wait longer before trying again. He's still so small for his age," Chiron said with a sigh.

"How old is he?" Percy asked.

"Twenty-eight," Chiron answered flippantly. Harry bit back a chortle at the sight of Percy's face.

"And he's still in sixth grade!?" The Son of Poseidon's verbal reply was as funny as the look on his face, and Harry bit his lip to keep from laughing. Chiron clearly had more experience, as there was just a faint trace of humor in his eyes.

That sneaky centaur had done that on purpose!

"Satyrs mature half as fast as humans, Percy. Grover has been the equivalent of a middle school student for the past six years," Chiron explained as if he weren't laughing on the inside.

"That's horrible," Percy muttered. Harry grinned, and nodded in agreement.

"Quite," Chiron agreed. "Even by satyr standards, Grover is a bit of a late-bloomer. He's not very accomplished at woodland magic, either. Alas, he was anxious to pursue his dream – perhaps now he will find some other career."

"It's just not fair," Percy said, mulishly, hands deep in his packets.

Harry could understand the sentiment; sometimes life just wasn't fair. He knew that better than anyone. He put a companionable hand on the other demigod's shoulder and gave it a squeeze.

There wasn't much he could say to cheer Percy up, so he just stuck close as they walked to the forest where the Capture the Flag games were played. The only time Harry had been involved in one, it had been winter time, and he marveled at the magnificent sight the forest made now that it was summer.

Chiron gave a short description of the game, and Harry had the impression that the centaur was underselling things once more when he avoided talking about the lethality of the game.

So, Harry was stuck explaining the Capture the Flag game.

Percy looked like he didn't know what to make of it.

They left the woods and re-entered the camp itself, Chiron gave just the tiniest description he could get away with; Harry wondered why the Teacher of Heroes wasn't making more of an effort to explain things to Percy.

As they walked along the volleyball field, Harry became increasingly aware of the other demigods staring at them, some not-so-quiet whispers even going so far as to say 'that's him'.

Feeling, rather than seeing, Percy's discomfort at the treatment, Harry decided that his new friend needed to some help. He waved at the whisperers, and said amicably, "Yes, it's me, Harry. You should all know me by know."

The look on the campers' faces was comical as they quickly turned to their game in an effort to not be caught staring – which failed miserably, of course. Chiron definitely looked amused, but Percy just looked grateful. Harry winked at him, causing the newly-found demigod to offer a relieved smile.

As they approached the gods' cabins, Harry fell a bit silent at the memory that Hestia still didn't have a cabin at the camp. It just felt wrong to her adopted son.

Chiron explained the cabins, but Harry felt distracted at the thought of how he could wrangle an extra cabin into camp for his newly adopted mother. She definitely deserved one.

"You said your name was Chiron," Percy said, something about the question making Harry pay attention once more. "Are you really…?"

"The Chiron from the stories? Trainer of Hercules and all that? Yes, Percy, I am," the centaur acknowledged.

"But…" Percy seemed to struggle with his thoughts for a moment, then said, "Shouldn't you be dead?"

Chiron looked as if the question intrigued him, which Harry knew to be a fabrication. Every demigod that came to camp must have asked him the same thing. "I honestly don't know about should be," the centaur said. "The truth is, I can't be dead. Eons ago, the gods granted my wish, that I could continue to do the work that I loved. I could be a Teacher of Heroes for as long as humanity needed me. I gained much from that wish, and I gave up much for it. In the end, I am still here, so I can only assume that I'm still needed."

"And it never gets boring?" Percy asked, obviously struggling with the concept of being a teacher for millennia.

"Oh, no," Chiron replied with a small smile – a smile that faded into sadness. "Horribly depressing, at times, but never boring."

"Why depressing?" Percy asked.

Chiron pretended not to hear the question, and instead pointed. "Oh, look, Annabeth is waiting for us."

Harry, not nearly as ready to ignore Percy as Chiron seemed to be, leaned closer. "Percy, we're demigods… and therefore, mortal. Imagine living thousands of years while everyone around you-"

"Oh, god," Percy said, growing pale and not even letting Harry finish. "Yeah. 'Depressing' doesn't cover it."

Annabeth had been sitting on the steps to Hermes' Cabin, reading a book. Harry grinned, wondering what was occupying his friend's attention like that. When they reached her, Harry rather impolitely studied the book she was reading.

It was on architecture, building styles, column styles, and so forth. Of course it was, he realized; Annabeth was an architecture aficionado.

While Harry was checking out her book, Annabeth was checking out Percy, making him squirm for a bit.

"Don't worry, she's nice," Harry told Percy, before giving Annabeth a look. The Daughter of Athena didn't seem impressed, but sighed and relaxed somewhat regardless.

"Annabeth," Chiron said. "I have Master Archery class at noon. Could you take Percy from here? I'd leave him with Harry, but…"

Harry pouted at the centaur. "Don't give me that look, young Harry. If I left you to your own devices, who knows the kind of trouble you could get Percy into."

Annabeth nodded. "Sure, Chiron," she said. "I'll do my best to keep them out of trouble."

"Thank you, Annabeth," the centaur said with a small smile, before turning to Percy. "Good luck, Percy. I'll see you at dinner." He galloped away after giving Harry another look and a nod.

"Troublemaker, are you?" Percy asked Harry.

Harry grinned. "I don't make trouble. Trouble just finds me, that's all," he replied, causing Percy to laugh and Annabeth to snort.

"I'll have to remember that one," the young Son of Poseidon said.

"Great, they're rubbing off on each other," the Daughter of Athena muttered.

"Aww, come on, Annabeth," Harry said, throwing an arm around her shoulders. "You know you like me."

"Gods help me, I don't know why," she pretend-argued, her lips twitching and her eyes laughing.

"Because I helped you to camp, and helped you find your mom's statue?" Harry offered, motioning to the Athena Parthenos.

Annabeth huffed, but Percy noted that she didn't throw Harry's arm from her shoulder.

"What's with the giant statue, anyway?" Percy asked.

"Percy, my friend, let me tell you a story about daring and adventure," Harry said with a laugh.

"And rule-breaking," Annabeth added. "Or, at least, going against advice of those who know better."

"Who's telling the story? You or me?" Harry asked with a snicker.

"If you told it properly, I wouldn't have to correct you," Annabeth shot back. "I reserve the right to make snide comments and interject for comedic effect."

Harry snickered, and Percy looked amused. "Alright then," the Son of Tyche said. "Let me tell you about a day trip to Rome, a huge statue lost for two thousand years, a giant spider, and a Satyr named Billy."

AN: I know a lot of this chapter was rehashing Percy Jackson canon, but I am well aware that not everyone reading this story has read the original Percy Jackson books. Just like with Harry Potter canon, I'll start off with the introduction that is almost-but-not-quite like canon to introduce those unfamiliar with the universe, before taking the train off the rails and into the air. :)