When Percy opened his eyes, he knew that something was off.
On the outskirts of Percy's vision, he could spot one, maybe two spirits flitting about. The atmosphere of death, of stillness, filled the air and swam in the pitch-black pools of water. Above him, spindly branches from decaying trees curved upwards, framing the gray skies in black strokes that sliced through the fog.
Taking a closer look, Percy realized that the gray sky wasn't actually the sky; rather, it was just a vast stretch of cavernous rock. Although the place looked absolutely massive, rock could never stretch to forever like a sky could.
The sad part was that Percy knew where he was. This stupid place became like a second home, with how often he randomly popped here during quests and pseudo-parenting (persuading Nico not to eat the ten Happy Meals he bought that day was a lot harder than it looked).
Crunching through the dry, dead grass, Percy shimmied over to one of the smaller rocks that jutted out of the ground. He pulled himself up and sat there, hanging his feet off the edge.
The Asphodel Fields.
He was in the Underworld. Again.
Percy rubbed his forehead, trying to get rid of his headache. For some reason, his head was too fuzzy to think of an explanation as to why in the gods he was sitting in the Underworld doing absolutely nothing.
He wasn't trying to find a massive lightning bolt. He wasn't erasing some poor Titan's memory. He wasn't trying to find some old stinky shoes that a certain god kept losing. Hades, he was pretty sure that Nico hadn't summoned him either.
He watched as the trees swayed against the invisible winds. One of their withered apples, black as the night sky, and as gnarly as the Fates' hands, bounced against the ground. A pile of rotting apples already lay beneath the base of the rotten trunk, surrounded by wand-like sticks-
There was bright green light, wasn't there? A wave of power that seeped into his bones, so ancient that it rattled his teeth. Green eyes that flashed maliciously, burning into his soul-
Medea. But if Percy had been fighting Medea, why was he in the Underworld?
She killed you, duh. Maybe you finally ran out of luck, Percy.
He ignored the smug little voice inside his head. He could feel the faint outline of Riptide in his pocket, which meant that he had to be still alive. Dead people didn't usually carry weapons… or at least, solid ones?
Before he could do something stupid like chuck Riptide in the closest body of water to check if it was solid, something in the distance moved. A dark shadow detached itself from the dead background, slowly growing larger.
Percy had been in the Underworld enough times to tell the difference between how a ghost and a person moved. A ghost flitted around aimlessly, unsure of where to go. Spirits just didn't have any life to them… metaphorically and literally.
English terms. Annabeth would be so proud.
But this shadow- this person- Percy corrected himself, walked with the steady sort of gait of a living person. Someone with a purpose.
Curiosity got the best of him. He slid off his rock, patted it once or twice in thanks (what? Did no one ever have a pet rock before?), and then walked towards the strange figure in the distance.
"Percy?" a familiar voice called out.
Recognition flashed in Percy's brain before it disappeared.
A kid's voice called out, hardly older than 15 years of age. He emerged from the shadows, fog swirling around his legs. A black sword hung from his waist, so dark that it seemed to suck out all the light away from around the kid… not that there was much light in the first place.
The kid himself was a deathly pale color, but his eyes were the strangest part. They were obsidian black, and very much wide open as he stared at Percy.
In a flash, Riptide was out and shimmering with its strange bronze light. Something was tugging at him to run, that he didn't belong here. But another part reached toward the stranger like giving a hug to an old friend, as if Percy had known him… sometime, somewhere.
"Percy?" The person squinted, sounding bewildered. "Why are you in the Underworld? Aren't you supposed to be in class?"
The person already knew who he was?
Percy shifted his weight and clasped Riptide tighter. "Didn't know I was so popular," he said lightly.
He couldn't be caught off-guard, especially since the kid was powerful. At first glance, the kid didn't seem like much. His sword was still sheathed, and he was a lot lankier than muscular, but there was an aura around him that reeked of death and bones.
Instead of grabbing his sword and screaming war cries like Percy half-expected him to, the kid just rolled his eyes. "You're more popular with fish rather than actual people."
The kid was already turning away, hands stuffed in his pockets. "Don't know why you're here, but you can help feed Cerberus. Hades has a ton of paperwork right now and three really complicated spirits just entered the Underworld-"
"Who are you again?"
The kid froze. Then he laughed humorlessly. "I see." When he turned around, his eyes had hardened. "That's really not funny, Percy."
"I wasn't trying to be-" Percy began protesting.
Nico cut him off. "I won't tell Annabeth that you on a quest either way, but she'll still kill you if she finds out."
A chill ran down his spine. "Annabeth," Percy repeated.
Stormy gray eyes, blonde hair pulled up in a ponytail...
Then the image was gone. His heart gave a desperate lurch as he riled through his memories again… a flicker of blonde and gray popped up again before vanishing. Nothing was lining up straight. He was supposed to know who Annabeth was but somehow the name didn't want to stick to his head-
In fact, Percy was sure he also was supposed to know who the kid in front of him was.
The kid's eyes grew wide. "Oh, Hades. Not again." He reached out a hand as the world violently tilted before Percy's eyes.
There was a hand, but it was too far away. Percy was inside a pit and there was a weight pulling him down-but he would never let go of her hand-so instead he called out, at the dark figure blocking out the sun behind him-
"Meet us on the other side! The Doors-"
A headache so intense formed in Percy's head that he stumbled backward. Something was blocking him from remembering. He couldn't get through the sharp ache of his head, only that he knew it was important and he couldn't forget it, but gods, what was happening to him?
Percy jolted upwards and nearly smacked his head on the kid's chin, who was looming over him like a very overprotective shadow.
"Stop thinking. There's obviously some sort of memory barrier on you." The kid's eyes were still wide, a little horrified, as if he had seen this scene before. Then, he frowned. "Wait. Are you even the real Percy?"
"There's only one of me," Percy protested. "It's not like anyone can just be a Percy. I mean, it would be different if it was a sun sign because I definitely can be a Le-"
Brown eyes glittered mischievously, an elvish smirk dancing across his face-
It was like someone had taken a hammer and smashed it over Percy's head. Agony exploded behind his eyes as he keeled over.
He immediately shut off his mind. Nope. Not thinking about names anymore.
"FOR THE SAKE OF ZEUS'S UNDERPANTS, PERCY."
"Sorry," Percy muttered weakly.
The kid began pacing around. "I tell you to stop thinking and the first thing you do is think."
"There's no Percy sun sign though." Percy's mouth felt much too dry, like metal and dust all mixed in a lovely imitation of a potion that Snape made their class drink.
The kid sighed and stopped moving. "Considering that you're still a moron, I'm pretty sure you're the real one. Either way, you should be at Goode. It makes absolutely no sense for you to be in the Underworld."
He suddenly looked thoughtful. "Actually, do you think I should ask Annabeth? She probably knows something-"
Before the kid could finish, the air behind him started shimmering. Both Percy and the kid whirled to face it. Colors shifted and morphed within the little spot of air, and before long, a misty picture of a blonde girl with stormy gray eyes materialized.
It was her.
The words were on the very tip of his tongue, begging to be released. But they wouldn't fall out like someone had Silencio-ed his mouth shut. Even so, he could still notice the panic in the girl's eyes, the growing fury in her set shoulders.
The kid's eyes cleared, shoulders relaxing "An Iris message this early, Annabeth? Actually, you called right on time, I was just about to-"
"He's gone. Again. Paul called, right in the middle of class. I swear, I will march up to Mount Olympus to murder someone." A bone-white sword, looking suspiciously like a very large tooth, was attached to her side.
The sword was achingly familiar, important.
She was important.
He ignored the pounding headache reforming in his head. He refused to forget about her, about Annabeth, Annabeth with her dreams of being an architect, the kick-ass demig-
His thoughts disintegrated, shredded into pieces before he could pluck a hint from the sky. White fog wove around his legs like an unwanted cat, mirroring the fog that was beginning to blur his memory.
"Percy's behind me," he heard the kid faintly say as Percy's body began disintegrating into white tendrils of smoke. It was as if the universe decided that if the pain wasn't enough to stop him from remembering, the best they could do was to just shut down his entire body.
"No one's behind you," the girl murmured. She was dissolving in the white mist as well… no, it wasn't just her. The entire Underworld was dissolving, pixelating into little dots and breaking down into spots and splotches of color.
The last thing Percy saw was the kid's confounded expression as he whirled around. "Percy?..."
Everything faded into white.
The first thing that Percy saw when he opened his eyes was the last person he wanted to see.
He awkwardly scooted away from Hecate as fast as possible. For a second, an annoyed expression flashed on her face, but it quickly smoothed out into her usual expressionless face.
Wasn't Percy supposed to be in the Underworld? Nico was just talking to him moments before, something about him losing his memory-
Nico. Somehow, he had forgotten about Nico, about Annabeth-
It was just like when he had tried to contact Annabeth through Iris-messaging before he went into Hogwarts when Hecate told him about the arai-dementor that he had killed. His memory of them disappeared when he was in direct contact with them-
Hades, that was depressing. Even when speaking face-to-face with Nico, he was still somehow miles and miles away from being with his family.
"You should stop traveling all over the place in your dreams," Hecate said, interrupting Percy's thoughts. "I had to pull you out of another dream again."
Percy turned his head and sighed. They were back in the temple dreamscape, with the dusty white floors and walls. Nothing had changed, at first glance. But as Percy kept staring, he could faintly see the cracks creeping up the walls. They were as thin as spider-silk, hardly even noticeable, but they were everywhere-on the floors, the chairs, the ceilings, the statues.
"Your house is breaking down."
"Is that really your first observation, Perseus?"
Hecate wasn't looking too well either. Slight bruises had formed under her eyes, contrasting with the much too pale color of her skin. The Mist wrapping around her seemed heavier than usual as well, as thick as a white cobra.
"Percy," Percy automatically corrected.
She ignored him. "You have revealed the demigod world to the wizarding community. Again." Unlike their meeting a couple of months ago, these words came out flat, drained of all expression. There was no sight of the anger Percy had spotted the last time.
"Can't you just, remove their memories again?" he asked tiredly. She always found the worst times to bring up that conversation. He wasn't using his powers willy-nilly either; he wasn't going to sit around and twiddle his thumbs when Harry's group was being beaten down. "If it's that important to you-"
Hecate slammed a fist to the ground. The white marble before her cracked, sending more thin lines streaking throughout the floor.
Yikes. There was her anger.
"You lost against Medea." Hecate's eyes were swirling green now. "I cannot erase the memories of the wizarding world a second time, not when Medea has such a powerful hold over the Mist now." Her gaze bore into Percy's face. "Under any circumstance, you cannot reveal your powers."
"Harry would have died-"
"You shouldn't have followed Harry Potter into the Ministry of Magic."
"What did you expect me to know? That Voldemort could suddenly control Harry's dreams?" Percy hissed, unable to keep his frustration down. "How is that even possible? It's not like dreams could actually represent life anyways unless you're a freaking demigod-"
Annabeth's frantic face flashed in Percy's head. His hands grew cold and clammy. "Wait," he breathed out. "I had a dream. Did you already remove my Mistform back in New York?"
Hecate's eyes stayed cold. "Actions have consequences, Perseus. Even you have said it yourself."
His heart dropped.
"I'm going back." His words scraped through his throat. He could feel his hands begin to shake, so he dug his fingers into his palms, willing them to stop. "I'm not going to abandon Harry, but I need to go back… I can't just leave her-"
"Don't tell me what I can or can't do," Percy snapped. "All I just have to do is to find her address. I don't need to Iris message her, I'll find a way-"
"You won't remember her when you see her."
Something hot began bubbling inside of Percy's stomach. "You're having fun, aren't you? Actually, no." He waved his arm at Hecate, who opened her mouth, probably to argue. "Don't answer that. Tell me what in the Hades you want me to do. That's why you're here, right?"
For a moment, Hecate paused. Then she murmured, "You won't win against Medea. She has centuries of magical experience and you have only a few months. And although you're quickly improving, it's not enough."
"Then why did you send me here?" Percy asked curtly. "What are you expecting me to do?"
"I need you to do the impossible."
He snorted. "Well generally, impossible means not possible-"
"Perseus. It's no longer enough for you to just sit at the crossroads, waving your wand whenever you please. You're holding back still."
"Just because I explode things for no reason doesn't mean that I'm waving my wand whenever I please." Even Percy could hear the bitterness in his own voice. Hecate made his whole time at Hogwarts sound like a vacation- You can wave wands! You can do magic! Sparkles and rainbow nyan cats!
Green wisps of magic were now floating around Hecate. They shimmered, too bright to stare directly at. The look in her eyes made his heart freeze.
"What are you doing?"
The magic around her exploded. The white temple around Percy dissolved, fading into the green and then white again. Faintly, he could hear her mutter, "Teaching you a lesson," before her voice faded completely away.
Percy wanted to groan. Gods. Always so frustratingly vague.
He lifted out a hand, touching a bit of white mist in his new location. The mist curled around his palm like a snake, strangely warm and welcoming. He had expected the mist to feel cold, like a puff of cold air during wintertime, which obviously wasn't the case.
It wasn't too bad here. There was just an empty expanse of white clouds and a very welcome lack of magicky goddesses. For a second, Percy wondered why Hecate looked so strangely apologetic before she sent him here.
Then the images began flashing through his mind and he realized just why.
The reassuring smile. It sparkled across a girl's face when she leaped inside of the metal robot's body and never came back out.
An explosion. The smell of smoke, gray clouds billowing above the sinking ship as a boy's silhouette blocked the sunshine.
The roar of the drakon. A limp girl's body on the ground, eyes lifeless, staring at the sky, an anguished howl splitting the skies.
Agony twisted his heart, burned with an icy wave of fear and guilt that overwhelmed him all at once. There was no point in seeing the deaths over again, he didn't want to see their deaths over and over-
"Please stop," he managed to gasp out. "I can't- why are you doing this?"
Hands trembling around a dagger. Blood dripped from the boy's mouth as he coughed on the cracked, bloody grounds.
Hecate's silence greeted him as the memories of broken bodies overwhelmed his vision, circled his thoughts, like water flooding a broken dam.
Two massive beings. Back to back, they faced off the hordes of monsters rolling across the hills, a black mass headed towards the bright silvery hair and the scaly body.
The ugliness bubbling deep within him cooled. It no longer steamed and bubbled, but instead froze like rock, heavy inside of Percy. Guilt swept through his body, polluted water that tricked through his blood and burned-
He was drowning again, and there was no one's hand to pull him up again.
"You have not changed," Hecate murmured, as the memories crashed over and over on Percy, dark waves beating against the shoreline. "Your fatal flaw is loyalty, yet you still avoid the pain by running from your memories. Face them. You must do better."
Another explosion, but this time in the sky. The clouds lit up with an unnatural orange-yellow glow as the burst of light splintered across the air.
There were too many deaths, too many tragedies, and he could do nothing except stand by and watch helplessly-
The more powerful he became, the more powerful his enemies were, and the little nagging voice at the back of his head whispered what if it's this time? What if you're finally facing someone you can't go against… what if, there are more deaths because you couldn't do enough?
Then suddenly, a voice as clear as ice slipped through his mind.
"You cannot do anything if you keep on being afraid. And in the end, that means you will not be able to protect your friends."
Medea's voice echoed in his head. He imagined the words dancing around him, and they formed a rope, dangling from the abyss of memories pounding over his head.
If that's what was needed, he would stop being afraid. He would become stronger, until one day, there will be a time where he would be able to protect all of his friends.
The memories stopped. The room slowly faded back into view. But when Percy sat up, he could still feel the solid darkness sitting in his stomach, eating away his insides, a reminder of his guilt, a reminder of the bodies he could never save.
He stared straight into Hecate's cold green eyes, and for a second, he could swear that a tremor of doubt flashed through her gaze.
"Have you chosen your path?" Hecate asked.
His voice came out quiet. "I'm just a tool, right?"
Something in her gaze froze. He couldn't bring himself to care.
"You should be glad that the wizarding world is worth saving," Percy continued. "I want to help Harry. I want to help Hermione and Ron and Draco and Neville and Luna and Ginny and everyone else, but don't think I actually want to help you."
He could feel the world dissolving around him again, colors blending. But the bitterness inside didn't subside, even as the temple grew fuzzy and indistinct.
"Dad told me once that the sea doesn't like to be restrained, but all I can see are the walls you've built around me." He laughed humorlessly. "Goddess of crossroads? There are no choices."
He stared straight into her eyes.
"You are an absolute hypocrite, Hecate."
Her furious green eyes were the last things he saw before his dream finally faded away into nothingness.
When Percy finally woke up, panic slapped him straight across the face.
It wasn't the Panic panic, the one that Grover used when rallying the call of Pan. It was just the regular human emotion-panic. The one that made little kids scream when they realized their Halloween candy was stolen by their parents.
Now that he was awake, he could feel his heart racing, could remember the overwhelming green presence swirling around Medea. It was like his brain finally decided to fix his priorities.
Not cursing out Hecate. Not randomly trekking through the Underworld. All he wanted was to know the outcome of the battle.
Did they win?
Gods, he really hoped that Medea was accounted for. The thought of her running around, exploding things left and right, wasn't relieving at all. He only remembered the glint in Medea's dark eyes as green flooded his vision and ripped through his body, as easily as scissors tearing through paper.
He was no longer at the Ministry either. He was lying in a bed, a rather comfy one at that, and the faint smell of bitterness filled the air- like medicine, but sharper. All of the gashes he had from the fight with the Death Eaters had disappeared, but he could still feel the ache in his bones, the faint memory of Medea's power.
Through the white curtains of his tiny "room", he could see two figures-Madam Pomfrey and Dumbledore. Both were whispering in hushed voices.
"I will not let you inside, Albus," Madam Pomfrey was saying. Percy could imagine the angry glint in her eyes. "You will disturb the patients."
"This will be quite necessary, I'm afraid. You will get your patients back once I've talked with them, Poppy."
"Nonsense. They need food and rest, not your needless meddling-"
Another voice croaked out, "Professor Dumbledore?"
Both Madam Pomfrey and Dumbledore fell silent.
Percy didn't recognize the voice at first. But when the person kept on talking, Percy's heart froze, because he knew who was speaking, there was only one person who had that particular quiet way of speaking.
"I'll go with you," Harry said firmly.
"Nonsense." Madam Pomfrey's voice rose. "You just survived a fight with You-Know-Who, and you must rest, Mr. Potter."
"Mr. Potter, you can't just-"
"The boy can't sleep, Poppy," Dumbledore said calmly. "We will be back quite soon."
Madam Pomfrey's mouth opened, then closed, then opened again. Then her shoulders suddenly slumped. The chilliness in her eyes faded away into weariness as she leaned backward. "Do what you will."
Through the crack in the curtains, Percy could see Harry, head low, eyes facing the ground, as he walked toward the doorway.
The posture of someone who had been defeated.
But no... Harry's fists were too tight for that. They shook with emotion much more akin to anger than sorrow.
"Percy. If you will," Dumbledore said, once Harry stopped at the door. His bright blue eyes immediately went through the crack in the curtains, meeting Percy's own gaze.
"The poor boy's still asleep." Madam Pomfrey headed towards Harry and tapped her wand on his head a few more times, muttering something under her breath. "Injuries still not healed, dehydrated…"
"It will be quite helpful to have you, Percy," Dumbledore continued. "Harry may need you to clear up some questions."
"The boy is asleep, Albus-"
Percy pushed open the curtains. He could feel his entire body shaking, every muscle aching as he walked down the infirmary to meet Dumbledore and Harry. If it was even possible, Madam Pomfrey's gaze grew even more horrified. "Mr. Jackson! You should be in bed right now."
"I've been through worse," Percy said. He offered a small, nervous smile to Madam Pomfrey when her eyes narrowed. "My erm… school back in America liked having very dangerous um… school pets."
"Students," Madam Pomfrey muttered. "All the same. Always risking their health…"
She was cut off by a groan. Her eyes flickered over one of the other cots. With a wave of her arm and a muttered Accio, a potion came flying towards her. She didn't look back at Harry and Percy as she headed over to the cot. "Don't wake up the rest of the patients, or they will want to go."
A small glimpse of Ron's red hair flashed through the swinging white curtains before Madam Pomfrey drew it closed again, disappearing from view.
A shudder ran through Percy. Ron was strangely still, without even a snore. Half of him desperately wanted to barge in the cot, to rip apart the blankets and shake Ron awake because he shouldn't be that motionless. But before Percy could even twitch, Dumbledore brushed past and began walking down the hallways. After a hesitant pause, Harry followed as well.
The torches flickering dimly on the walls elongated their shadows as Percy hurried to catch up.
"Is everyone alright?" Percy asked quietly. He knew that Ginny's leg had been in a bad state, and Neville had been tortured. Gods knew what else had happened.
Harry's voice was tight. "Voldemort showed up. He killed Lucius-"
"Lucius? Lucius Malfoy? One of his own?"
An image of Lucius hesitating, his wand held out, flashed within Percy's head. The fear within his eyes, the desperation to protect his family. He had let them go after catching Harry, Percy had offered him to switch sides and yet he was still dead.
Whoever made the whole "good guys get good endings" phrase was the most cheerful liar ever.
"Voldemort was already furious with Lucius." The light from the torches wavered within Harry's eyes, shimmering like waves catching the moonlight. "The fake prophecy was the tipping point. I... accidentally broke it when Bellatrix went mad, and Voldemort punished him for not realizing."
"So Voldemort kills those with actual souls," Percy said flatly.
"Right." Harry grimaced. "Them the Order came, but it was all a trap. Voldemort used them to get to Sirius to get a locket thing and then… K-Kreacher and-and-" His voice went hoarse. "And t-then S-Sirius..."
He tried again. "Sirius, h-he… he…"
His words trickled off into nothing, sounding so so small amongst the echo-y hallways and vast ceilings stretching above.
"You don't need to say anything else," Percy said softly. Memories seeped into his head. Sirius's mischievous grin, his restlessness, his loud laugh, his strange kindness in inviting a stranger into his house, and thick-headedness at the obvious.
Gone. All in an instant. Percy had never imagined, never even considered that he would never be able to Sirius again, and now, with that strange, empty void in Harry's voice, he knew that Harry had never considered it either.
Harry swiped his face with a fist, looking away. "He wasn't even able to see his name cleared. All he wanted to do was to help me and then he came a-and…"
The raw pain in Harry's voice made Percy's heart ache. He bumped shoulders with Harry, trying to convey that Harry didn't need to explain himself, that he didn't have to bring up memories that were too fresh and terrible to ruminate over.
"I understand," Percy whispered.
They fell into silence. When they passed the Great Hall, Percy could see that inside, students were laughing with each other, bright and cheery faces. Banners filled the halls with colors that rippled across the stone walls-crimson reds, deep blues, bright yellows, stunning greens.
Wistfulness settled within Percy. He remembered a similar scene around the campfire at Camp Half-Blood, where the flames crackled and left the marshmallows burnt. Afterward, someone would pass around the graham crackers and another would pass around the chocolate pieces, and everyone would make smores.
"They don't know that Voldemort's back," Harry said quietly from behind him. "More than half the Ministry saw Voldemort though. It ought to be in the Daily Prophet tomorrow morning."
Before they completely passed the Great Hall, Percy caught Draco's eye. Even though he was sitting with his usual Slytherin friends, he looked strangely alone. In that split second, when their eyes met, Percy could see Draco's fear.
He must have not heard about his father's death. Perhaps he had heard about the Death Eater mission inside of the Ministry of Magic, but his eyes didn't hold the pain of losing a loved one.
I'm sorry, Percy mouthed with a heavy heart before Draco was replaced by stone walls.
They walked up the stairs, up where the gargoyles were guarding Dumbledore's office. With a quick Fudge Flies, the gargoyles moved aside for Dumbledore, as they set foot on the revolving staircase.
The office was the same as it was. Even when Dumbledore had been kicked out, no one had dared to move his things. The strange, whirling devices were still clacking about on his desk.
The only thing that had changed was the slightly ajar closet behind them. Inside, Percy could faintly see something glowing within, something that looked like an old, stone basin. Shimmering silver stretched from the bowl, floating in the air and twisting around the bowl like it was somehow alive.
Two rather comfy looking chairs were conjured with a twitch of Dumbledore's wand as he sat down at his desk. Percy felt a strange sense of deja-vu set in as he gingerly sat down on one of the chairs. Harry slipped into the other one, still looking despondent.
Percy had been here before, not too long ago. But that was before Dumbledore was kicked out before the Ministry had discovered about Umbridge's disappearance. And staring at Dumbledore's weary face, it felt like history was going to repeat itself.
"I am sorry that I had to bring you to my office so soon after Voldemort's return." Dumbledore's voice was tired. "I was completing an errand when I received a message about Death Eaters at the Ministry of Magic. I came as soon as possible, but alas... I wasn't quite fast enough."
Harry's voice cracked. "They told me that you knew what the prophecy was." He didn't need to clarify who the "they" was.
Dumbledore didn't say anything. He just met Harry's gaze, resting his hands lightly on top of his desk. Harry flinched backward, and Percy realized why. It was the first time that Dumbledore had willingly met Harry's gaze this year.
"Did you know about the prophecy?" There was so much hurt in Harry's voice like the world was still falling apart around him and he couldn't seem to find the pieces to piece the world back together again.
"Yes," Dumbledore murmured. "How much did you hear?"
"The first couple of lines."
Why didn't you tell me?" Harry bit out. "Was the prophecy the reason why Voldemort went after me? Went after my parents?" His voice was getting louder and louder. "Did you know that Voldemort could take over my dreams as well? Was that you weren't looking at me?"
"I had a slight suspicion that he could have controlled your mind," Dumbledore said quietly.
That was the tipping point.
"THEN WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME?" Harry roared. His chair tipped over as he exploded from his seat, hands gripping the side of the desk. "YOU SHOULD HAVE TOLD ME EVERYTHING! ABOUT THE PROPHECY! ABOUT THE DREAMS!"
Dumbledore just sat there, staring calmly into Harry's face.
"YOU CAN'T TREAT ME LIKE A CHILD AND EXPECT ME TO FIGHT THE WAR FOR YOU!" Harry slammed his palms down on Dumbledore's desk. "YOU CAN'T JUST- YOU CAN'T JUST LEAVE WITHOUT SAYING ANYTHING-"
"Nothing would have changed, Harry."
"EVERYTHING WOULD HAVE CHANGED...SIRIUS WOULD STILL BE ALIVE-"
"Even if you would have known, would you still have stayed at Hogwarts?"
Harry snarled. "OF COURSE I-I-"
The words cracked to a stop.
Suddenly, all the anger seemed to drain out of him. He collapsed into his chair again, as if his legs had given out from underneath him.
"I would have still left," he said numbly. "It would have still been my fault."
Dumbledore sighed. It was a melancholy sound, filled with regret. "It was never your fault, Harry. War cannot be blamed on anyone. There are things you cannot stop nor control, not when the Fates are holding our destinies so close to their scissors."
A quick flash of blue met Percy's own eyes before landing back on Harry.
Percy pretended that his fingers weren't digging into his seat.
"In fact, if it was anyone's fault, it would be mine." Dumbledore smiled sadly. "I am a foolish old man, with foolish ideals. I thought perhaps, I could spare the bit of childhood that you had left, Harry. That holding back the prophecy until you were older would have given you time to live your own life."
Percy couldn't help himself and snorted.
It was the same mistake over and over again. At the Big House in camp, he remembered the summer heat, the crinkle of old paper in his hands, the way everyone's eyes stared at him when he read the last sentence of the First Great Prophecy.
War turned everyone, even children, into soldiers. There was no point in conserving innocence when the person was already placed on a pedestal.
Then, he felt the eyes of both Dumbledore and Harry on him. Percy gave a slightly bitter smile. "It's always the same."
"And what do you know?"
Harry narrowed his eyes. Fury still faintly burned within his voice, a bed of ashes too hot to touch. He was hurting and Percy could see it, could relate, knew what it was like to try to forcefully put all the pieces together as if a whole puzzle would fix everything. "Medea summons a weird mist-fog thing and suddenly I remember a bunch of memories that I didn't have before. You know each other. What in the Merlin is up with you both?"
Percy winced. "She's probably related to me," he said honestly.
"Greek gods have too many babies." Percy frowned. "As for Medea, she's part of the whole greek shish-kebab mess, so I would be surprised if one of her past ancestors was somehow a god. Which also means, my long-lost a billion times distant cousin or something."
He scratched the back of his neck. "My grandfather was evil too. He ate my dad."
"Ate your dad?"
"My great-grandmother is a piece of dirt, literally. She tried killing everyone too."
"And my great-granduncle is the literal representation of hell."
Harry's eyes were growing bigger. Dumbledore stayed oddly silent, staring at Percy with an unreadable blue gaze. But Percy was on a roll now.
"Then my dad abandoned me when I was a baby and threw me into his hissy-fit argument with my uncle and got my mom nearly killed and then sent me to fight in a war with the knowledge that I probably was going to die."
Maybe he was just a little bit frustrated.
And a little bit annoyed. And a little bit bitter. Because the stupid Hecate goddess doing the same thing as the gods did in the past as if Percy was just a dog dragged around to do chores.
There was a moment of awkward silence.
"Your family really sucks," Harry muttered, but the edge in his voice had softened.
"Greek gods are crazy," Percy agreed. His gaze flickered to the window, but nothing happened. "Zeus isn't here to throw a tantrum either, thank gods."
"I don't understand how I forgot about everything." Harry sighed. He placed his chin on his palm, staring down at the table. "Hermione, Ron, I… we were all there, right?"
"We got something called the Mist."
"The Mist. The white fog?"
"Exactly." Percy sighed. "Hecate got the Mist to wipe your memory; something about keeping the demigod world and wizarding world separate. She was being stupid. "
The air suddenly grew heavy and oppressive, like magic itself had materialized inside of the room, too dense to be just regular air. "Oh wow, look, she's throwing a tantrum now," Percy muttered, as the air lightened up again. He ignored Dumbledore's sharp blue gaze. "But yeah, I think Dumbledore is the only wizarding dude who knows. Besides you, of course."
"I honestly don't know what to think anymore." Harry rubbed his forehead, leaning back on his chair. He sounded overwhelmed. "People are dead, there's a prophecy about me, a whole new world has somehow been lurking in the shadows, Voldemort paired himself with someone who was literally blessed by the goddess of magic, and my friend is half-human."
"The human part is the best part," Percy reassured him. He pushed down his worry when Harry didn't respond. He didn't want Harry to see him differently now that he was officially a demigod. "Nothing's changed. You still have to teach me how to use my freaking stick, because sticks are weird."
Harry stared at Percy like he was crazy and had a unicorn horn growing out of his forehead. Then, the corner of Harry's mouth twitched slightly. "Wand."
Relief swept through Percy. There was an understanding within Harry's eyes because of course, Harry would understand. He was also placed on a pedestal, albeit a bit different one, but he would know what it was like to be labeled by tags rather than personality better than most, if not basically all, people.
Harry turned around to face the front of the room again. "I don't think I have any more questions," he admitted. "Maybe later, but right now, it's just been a bit much."
Before Percy could agree because an early night would be amazing, he caught Dumbledore's gaze in the corner of his eye. Dumbledore had the same sort of presence as Chiron did whenever Chiron had news to tell the camp, whether it was about another bathroom incident (Clarisse's fault) or about the free ice-cream for everyone because the delivery man got lost again.
On second thought…
Percy turned towards Dumbledore. "And I suppose you wanted to tell us something as well, besides the whole demigod business?"
Dumbledore gave him a small smile like he was waiting for Percy to ask that question all along. The twinkle was back in his eye, faint, but still there. "After the Ministry has been forced to admit that Voldemort exists, there will be less resistance when I come back. I will be able to guide you and Harry."
Harry blinked. "Guide, Professor?"
"Your mind needs to be stronger. I was afraid that he would use your mind to gain access into mine, but it seems as if he's much more preoccupied with other tasks."
"Like making a jewelry collection," Percy said.
The twinkle disappeared. "The locket." Dumbledore sighed. "That will have to be a conversation for another day while I teach you both how to defend your minds." His words suddenly sounded deadly serious. "There are ways to hurt someone physically. Magically. Mentally. You must prepare yourselves against these attacks."
He spread out his arms to the rest of his office, to all of his strange, buzzing devices that are still whirling comfortably. "In the wizarding world, anything can be used. And just knowing one strength will not be enough. I will help you both prepare against mental attacks, but the rest will be up to you."
Medea's words echoed in Percy's head again.
In here, in my domain, you will never beat me, just like how your little friends can never beat you inside the ocean.
Percy felt his fingers curl around Riptide. On second thought, he made sure to grab his wand as well, smooth wood feeling oddly fragile under his fingers.
Just you wait, Medea. I'm coming after you. This time, I'll be ready.
"Our time is almost up." Dumbledore stood up, and Fawkes squawked and landed on his shoulder. "I'm afraid that if I keep you here much longer, Poppy will be after my hide."
Percy turned towards Harry. A feeling of determination settled deep within his bones. He could feel his desire burning within him, a hungry ache that surrounded him. It wasn't a particularly happy feeling, but he would gladly take it.
He would protect his friends this time.
He would make sure they stayed safe.
"Let me re-introduce myself again." He held out his hand just for extra flair, and to his delight, Harry took it. "My name is Percy Jackson, son of Posiedon, and I'm going to help you kick some Death Eater butt."
Annnd this is the end of part 1! The 5th book arc is finished, and the next part is going to be a whole other spin to the story. I've already outlined the whole part 2, and it's going to be much different than the original Half-Blood Prince book. Hopefully you'll enjoy taking a dive out into new territory... but I'm getting ahead of myself haha. Currently, the plan is to get a bunch of chapters out and ready to post (weekly? bi-weekly?), so you guys don't have to wait for long waits between chapters anymore. :) But I'll need to stockpile, which means I won't be posting in a few months.
Speaking of updating, I was actually going to post this chapter last week but ended up going through a whole set of revisions that took way too long to complete, apologies for such a long wait. You're looking at edit 6 right now!
Lastly, I want to thank all of you wonderful readers for sticking with this insanely long story. Tbh I never even realized it would be so long until my chapters started surpassing my outline ideas LOL, so the fact that you've hung on for so long is insane and heartwarming, especially since last year's been crazy, and this year's also starting to look nuts. Just reading reviews and seeing people actually invested in the story is just kfdsakflsdf :,) so kudos to you all. Thank you all again!