AN: This is my Veritas prompt fic for May, and I hope you guys all like it! The section headings are lyrics from the song Rabbit Heart by Florence and the Machine. I initially wanted this to be shorter, but when I tried to milk out its length it just felt forced and the prose felt like filler, so I abandoned that. I like it right now, though, but I'm willing to accept criticism to make further edits; so, please review and leave your thoughts. Thanks! ^^
I. The looking glass, so shiny and new; how quickly the glamour fades
He was but a boy when that voice came to him
Well, perhaps the age of sixteen wasn't exactly boyhood, but it might have just as well been, seeing as how naïve he had been then. Luke had always had grand dreams of fulfilling a greater purpose, of becoming a hero like the ones you read about in stories.
And Kronos offered him that. He fed him sweet lies, wonderful, intricately weaved webs of fantasies that Luke absolutely needed to believe. He would be able to get Thalia back, to get what he deserved, to see his father finally look upon him with a proud smile. And he never looked beyond that web's fragile surface—he simply believed what he wanted to, and that was enough for him.
And soon enough, the night became Luke's favorite time of day, because it was when he could talk to Kronos--poor, victimized Kronos, the receiver of the gods' follies.
And all the while he was made false promises—swears on the Styx made only to appease him, to gain his trust. If only Luke had known then that swearing on the River Styx was just as binding an oath to a Titan like Kronos as a pinkie swear was from Zeus. He should have known that the web would fall apart someday, that it just didn't make sense—that he would never, ever be able to get what he wanted most.
But Luke was far too deep in to notice anything flawed. A boy as arguably unstable as him at the time wouldn't look further; in fact, someone like that would perhaps even fear looking further in and finding mistakes.
After all, no person wants to see all their hope killed by logic.
II. I start spinning slipping out of time; was that the wrong pill to take
He begins to notice a few unsettling things a year later.
Of course, he hasn't sensed that his whole persona is a simple puppet for Kronos, but Luke's a smart enough boy to possess a few pieces of sense. He begins to ask the invisible figure in his dreams questions.
But of course by now the figure isn't quite so invisible anymore. He's begun to take on a vaguely humanoid shape—albeit like a grotesque parody of the human form, but humanlike nevertheless. He has power now.
And Luke senses it. He tries to hold him to his previous promises. What about Thalia? What about my father? What about me? But Kronos is an eloquent speaker, and he manages to soothe Luke's rising suspicions with a few smooth words, all the while contemplating where next to move his pawn on this divine chessboard.
Perhaps Luke's fears truly have been quelled—or he's fearful of Kronos enough to make himself believe that they have been—but he doesn't try to gain answers again, and he ignores that faint pulse inside of him that warns against his alliance with The Crooked One.
III. You made a deal, and now it seems you have to offer up; but will it ever be enough
Luke is twenty.
He has now been proved Kronos's loyal man over and over—he has enough sense to obey orders without letting muddled ethics and morals make his mind wander. And whenever he forgets these things, he lets five years' worth of hate bubble to the surface. And the rage—however misdirected—is a vital weapon.
He doesn't question Kronos anymore. He doesn't ask if perhaps cleanly cutting open that fifteen-year-old daughter of Apollo's throat was immoral or unnecessary. He doesn't inquire about the fates of the innocent, brainwashed kidnapped half-bloods on the cruise ships when they sink. Because he knows all the lives, however innocent, go towards his goal—the gods' destruction. And his numerous failures only make that aim more appealing.
And in his eyes, it's not selfish, because Zeus knows how many other kids lived that same life that he did before that fateful night. In Luke's eyes, he is on a moral crusade—a bloody, destructive crusade, but one that will benefit the greater good in the end.
And maybe he was right.
Like we have said before, no one—including the demigods of Camp Half-Blood--wants to find flaws in something they believe wholly righteous.
IV. This is a gift, it comes with a price; who is the lamb and who is the knife; Midas is king and he holds me so tight; and turns me to gold in the sunlight
Thalia is a Hunter now; Annabeth is sixteen.
Things haven't turned out how Kronos promised.
Luke was expecting two loyal fighters standing by his side—he had imagined a picture of two valorous heroines. Not the two angry girls who now stood in front of him, blinded by their family ties.
He wants to be disgusted with them. He wants to be able to kill them in an instant without second thoughts, because they are his enemies—and very dangerous ones at that.
But even after six years as a Titan's subordinate, Luke will never forget the witty, freckled girl whom he kissed only once; or the fierce eight-year-old who always hung on his every word. He feels hard bronze in his eye sockets and the presence of something unwanted inside, but yet it cannot completely influence him.
And even though he's at the final stage of this great conquest—the gods have nearly fallen and the weak resistors nearly crushed, and he is Kronos himself, the West's new great power—Luke finds himself at the same point he was at so many years ago.
And he finally dares to examine the perfect web and find the gaping holes.
V. This is a gift
Luke dies what could only be called a hero's death.
He doesn't look particularly valiant at the end—a bronze blade embedded in his arm; blood spilling over his side; his face pale and drained of color, even further marred by his painful, anguished expression.
But he knows that in the end he has sacrificed himself for the greater good—eons of potential prosperity for the gods and their children. And he knows that with him gone, so does Kronos.
Kronos. The name is now synonymous with a sneer now, in his last moments. He had never been sympathetic to Luke, or any of the other neglected demigods: a simply taken-for-granted fact that had kept Luke loyal through the years. And Luke himself had been but a pawn in his scheme, and he never had gotten his promises fulfilled, even if he died for Western civilization to prosper. A small thing to think about, but a bitter lasting thought nevertheless.
Perhaps he had been selfish. Perhaps dwelling on the smaller wrongdoings of Kronos was pointless. He had saved civilization. Wasn't that something to be proud of?
But he had never wanted that in the first place; all he had wanted since the day Kronos came to him were those petty teenage wants that he had been promised. He sees Annabeth's dismayed look as he croaks out that he's going to try for the Isles of the Blest, but he doesn't listen to her. He still has unfinished business. Twenty-three is no age to die, even as a noble martyr.
Thalia's absence in the nervous crowd hovering over him stands out to him particularly bitterly, and his father bursts into the room a second too late for him to see. Like a reminder that Hades has a particularly macabre sense of humor.
He smiles as he dies; it's more for everyone else than himself.
Despite everything else, he had never gotten what he wanted most in the end.