A/N: Dedicated to Aish Sheva, whom I luffle very much. So sorry babe. TT_TT We can still write the A/B right? RIGHT? :) Anyways, my readers—hope you like very much. New writing style tried out, probably not done very well. Tried real romance for the first time.
Reviews would be appreciated but aren't necessary to my utmost survival. Also give some love to The Midnight Doe, who oh-so-graciously decided to beta my poor humble oneshot. :) Thanks! Also, this won Round 4's Best Angst category in the Verita Awards—thanks so so much for all my voters. You have no idea how much I appreciate you all.
Warning: Excessive uses of italics. Newbish romance. Fluffy crack!ship. AU. With a dash of cheese. You don't like the description, I suggest the BACK button? However, honest opinions are valued. Revenge flames are humorous. CC is preferred if you have any, but flames with purpose are accepted too.
Day of the Jewel Garden
· A Oneshot ·
I. Love is just a word until someone comes along and gives it meaning.
The first time Bianca di Angelo finds out about half-bloods, she thinks that Percy Jackson is crazy. She thinks that they're just some delusional kids that decided to crash the dance and attack her Vice Principal, Dr. Thorn.
But when she sees the Vice Principal turn into this giant, ugly thing—a scaly red tail emerging here; his clothes turning to shreds there, him still keeping his original face—and when he talks to Percy Jackson . . . well, she feels her stubbornness give way a little.
Instead of accepting this, she screams and backs away from the thing, grasping Nico's frail shoulders as if he might wander to that monster that was previously the Vice Principal and get eaten by it. Where would her vow to protect Nico be, then?
She freaks out even more when a volley of silver arrows come out of nowhere, and the Vice Principal disappears when he jumps off a cliff with a crazy girl on his back, and a young girl simply looks at the giant helicopter and the helicopter explodes into a lot of black ravens as if that was an everyday occurrence.
She can't help wincing when she sees the distraught expression on Percy's face.
The young girl introduces herself as Artemis—which she doesn't believe for a minute; c'mon. The Greek gods don't exist. They don't. Right? Right?—and invites them to stay the night at something they call the "Hunters'" camp. Since the girl with the Death to Barbie t-shirt and electric blue eyes explains that she and Nico can't go back to Westover Hall, Bianca's forced to follow them.
She squeezes Nico's hand just a little bit tighter when she sees the silvery-white guard wolves circle around the camp and sit down. They look like they want to have Nico for dinner, and Bianca can't have that. He's the only one she actually knows.
When Artemis explains everything to Bianca, she gets it, if only slightly. And then Artemis offers for Bianca to join the Hunters.
It's tempting, the offer—immortality, immunity, and being surrounded by friends . . . well, who wouldn't want that?—but Bianca flat-out refuses before Percy can stutter out a protest. She has Nico to think of, she says, and she can't just leave him alone like their parents did. She has a responsibility for him.
Artemis is disappointed, but understands. Percy's grinning and Bianca's legs are shaky and she wonders if she made the right choice—afterwards, she regrets thinking twice about her decision and pushes the matter to the back of her mind.
(And she starts thinking twice about half-bloods existing.)
II. You can close your eyes to the things you do not want to see, but you cannot close your heart to the things you do not want to feel.
Camp Half-Blood isn't anything she expects it to be; it's definitely not how Percy defined it. The dirt path between the large strawberry fields lead down to a clearing with twelve houses ("cabins", Percy called them) shaped like a horseshoe. Beside those was a small arena that Percy said they would use for melee and archery practice.
Nico lets go of her hand and starts running down the hill when he hears about food. Percy laughs and follows him—the Hunters left to Cabin Eight a long time before while the di Angelos stopped to admire the view of camp. Bianca tsks under her breath but grins anyway. Thalia's the only one left to stand beside Bianca.
"Nico won't get lost, will he?" Bianca asks, worrying over her curious brother. He always got himself into trouble that way; she wouldn't be surprised if this time was no different.
"Nah," Thalia says. "Percy's decent with kids. That's with the hope Percy himself doesn't get lost, though. We can send out a search party if they do." She winks at Bianca and then shrugs. "C'mon, you can bunker with me until you get claimed. Nico can bunker with Percy."
Bianca blinks, surprised at Thalia's kindness—Percy explained that if you were "unclaimed" you had to be jammed in with the Hermes cabin, the most overcrowded cabin of the camp. Apparently, Thalia didn't care about this rule.
She smiles warmly and says, "Thanks. That would be great."
(She thinks that maybe she just might be able to adjust to this place.)
Unfortunately, it's not great.
When Bianca tries to enter the cabin—Thalia was doing a "patrol." At least, that's what they called it—there's an invisible barrier that blocks her way. When she tries again, the force knocks her back as if saying, Something bad will happen if you try again.
She stumbles and crashes into someone, taking both of them down with her to the grass. When she rubs her head and looks up, ready to apologize, she stops and stares, because she's crashed into the most beautiful boy she's ever seen.
He has vivid green eyes and slightly curly blond hair cut short, with thick lashes—why do the boys always get the thick lashes? she complains mentally—that cause tiny, individual shadows to grace his bronzed cheeks.
Of course, that's only her opinion. To any other, he could've been a tanned guy with green eyes and looking like he wore too much mascara.
"Hey," he says with a small smile. "Sorry. Totally my fault. Didn't see you there. I'm Lee Fletcher, son of Apollo." He gets up and offers her a hand. When Bianca's on her feet, she stares at him like an idiot, her mouth opening and then closing like a fish.
She's speechless, and she doesn't know why. When he apologizes, though, she cuts him off—rather rudely, she noted with shame. "No, it's not your fault. I'm trying to bunker in with a friend of mine and it won't let me in."
Lee stares at her and then laughs. "Are you new here?" he teases. Bianca nods, a blush rising to her cheeks. What? What? She never blushes! She scolds herself and wills her face to get rid of the traitorous red.
"Well, I suppose I should warn you—some cabins have forces that don't allow children of certain gods. The most frequent is children of gods that are enemies with the other gods. The most used physical example is boys sneaking into the Artemis cabin when the Hunters are here. So, maybe your parent is an enemy of Zeus." Lee frowns at the door of the cabin.
Bianca frowns. "Oh."
Lee shrugs. "I dunno. You'll have to talk to Chiron for total confirmation." He spins on his heel, ready to walk away—but then, suddenly turns around and asks for her name.
"Bianca di Angelo." She smiles at the question. Maybe, just maybe, she can see him again. "Nice to meet you, Lee Fletcher."
"A pleasure, Bianca di Angelo," Lee says with a smile. Bianca turns around to study the cabin and Lee watches her back silently, unknown to her. His eyes trace over the curve of her shoulder, the dark tone of her hair . . . Lee memorizes it all in case he sees this Bianca again.
(And honestly? He hopes he will.)
The next day, Bianca receives knowledge that Nico had a similar experience with Percy's cabin. They ended up sleeping in the infirmary, because no one in Hermes was willing to house them that late at night. Maybe tomorrow, they said, when it's not one o' clock in the morning.
After a few tests—like archery, medicine, canoeing and the like; which they both fail miserably at—Bianca is given a dead bird and instructed to bring it back to life. It was ridiculous, actually. Probably some test that they know none will pass but do it anyway according to the plan. She's disgusted, but her brother is eager. With a blink, he says, not knowing how to pass this test, "So, uh. Bird, come back to life?"
At once, the dead animal's feathers crumble to dust and the naked skeleton of the blue songbird sits up from the ground and starts singing.
Its haunting melody is a horrible, screeching noise that sounds like nails on a chalkboard and Bianca just wants it to stop. She says, "Shut up!" as forcefully as she can with her eyes tightly shut, hands pressed over her ears to muffle the horrible racket. Immediately, the bird falls silent.
She slowly opens her eyes to see the horror of the crowd—Thalia, Percy, Chiron, the head counselors of the cabins. Then her gaze travels to the poor resurrected bird and she stifles a gasp. When she said "shut up" to the animal, it had collapsed into a pile of bones on the spot.
She looks down at her feet in shame when someone whispers, "Hades," and reaches for Nico's hand. His palm, unexplainably cold like hers, meets her halfway.
"Bianca," he whispers just loud enough for only her to hear, "What's gonna happen to us?"
She squeezes his hand comfortingly and whispers back, "I don't know, Nico."
(She can't meet the gaze of Lee, who she somehow knows is in the shocked crowd when they see the symbol of a skeleton head with a helmet appear over their heads.)
III. To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.
Percy eventually tells her about the Great Prophecy; how a child of the Big Three—Hades, Zeus, Poseidon—would end up to make a choice that would make or break the fate of Olympus. "I just decided to tell you, in case something happens to me so that you'd know," he reasons. "But be sure to tell Nico sooner or later in case something happens to you."
She nods, and he walks away with his hands shoved in his pockets. When he was talking to her, his expression proved that he doubted anything happening to him.
She's forgotten that Hades was shunned, here at Camp Half-Blood. Everyone's doing it, even if they don't mean to. When she walks up to Thalia, feeling like a good day has finally happened since that stupid test, Thalia just gives her a nod and turns back to whatever she was doing.
It hurts her, even though she doesn't show it. They stay in Cabin Eight while Hades' cabin is being built (the Hermes cabin decided not to take them anyway, after finding out that she was "Hades spawn") and Bianca listens as Nico mutters—sometimes cries, if he's been bullied by morons from the stupid Ares cabin—himself to sleep every night.
And then, one day, she snaps.
Someone purposely trips her when she's in the archery part of the arena and sneers, "Watch where you're going, outcast."
Bianca scowls at the bulky Ares kid, getting up and straining to reach his height. It's Hans Pickett, one of the boys who tends to cause Nico to cry himself to sleep at night. She's heard his name mentioned sometimes when listening to her brother's laments. "You want to repeat that, Hans?" she asks. Her voice is low, dangerous, and the bully is too stupid to notice it.
"I said, watch where—" He's cut off as Bianca raises a hand and the ground swallows him up so that he's waist-deep in dirt that's rooted to the spot. Lee, the supervisor of archery for the day, rushes over to the spot and tries to pull Bianca away.
She ignores the tingly feeling in the pit of her stomach when Lee touches her shoulder and pulls away. "No. This idiot has been annoying for far too long. Hans, you should know better than to mess with a child of the Big Three," she says slowly, crouching down to glare at him.
Abruptly, gripped with something she doesn't understand, Bianca's eyes roll back into their sockets, and Hans's eyes widen in fear. She's somehow pulled out of her body to watch from afar, like in many of her dreams. She stands slowly, a grim smile on her face that scares Lee. Her arms raise, her wrists bend sharply, her fingers are splayed—and Hans suddenly starts sinking.
The boy shouts in surprise and starts to flail wildly. Obviously, he won't know what to do if he somehow finds himself in a pool of quicksand. A Demeter girl screams and points. Bianca's wrists tilt even more at his struggles and the ground rushes up to his cheeks, attaching itself onto his flesh and slowly pulls him down until he's struggling to keep his head above for air.
That's when Lee, afraid to see more, pulls her off of the tempting edge. "Bianca," he murmurs firmly into her ear, "that's enough." He reaches around her and straightens her raised wrists, forcing them to be pressed to her stomach.
Bianca's eyes roll back to their brown irises and she collapses into Lee's arms. He staggers at the sudden hold, but gets a grip and kneels, not willing to let her go just yet. "Lee," she whispers when she's semi-aware of her surroundings, looking at him through her lashes, "what happened?"
He nods towards Hans, who's gasping and screaming bloody murder that, if he doesn't get out right this second, that bitch Hades spawn is going to die, you hear? Lee sharply gives a rebuttal to Hans at the last comment and unconsciously tightens his hold on her.
Bianca smirks, oblivious to his actions and thoughts. "I'm tired. He can stay in there for a while. Learning some humility would be good for him."
Lee laughs. "I'll take you to the cabin. Can you walk?" Bianca doesn't answer. She's already snuggling into his shirt, which he tries hard to ignore, he really does—and so he picks her up bridal-style at her implied response. He ignores the wolf whistles and awws of the Aphrodite kids and takes her to the Artemis cabin, hoping that he'd be allowed inside.
He was, luckily. Probably because no Hunters were inside. Nico was already there and sits up when he sees Lee enter. "What happened?" he demands. "Why is she like that?" he poked Bianca's thigh, frowning. Lee laughs.
"She's just tired, Nico."
He sets her down on one of the beds, leaning down and whispering, "If you're awake, meet me after patrols at Thalia's tree."
He swears he sees a small smile grace her face when he leaves.
(And he can't deny the warm feeling in his chest when he thinks about her.)
IV. We say we love flowers, yet we pluck them. We say we love trees, yet we cut them down. And people still wonder why some are afraid when told they are loved.
They continue stealing secret moments with each other. It's not right, some think, that a son of Apollo and a daughter of Hades like like each other; a god of the sun, and the god of death—it's bound for trouble, they say.
But not for them, apparently. They always meet at Thalia's tree and then take a stroll around camp, just talking and sometimes subtly touching each other. An arm brushes against an arm, hands brush against each other, little things like that. All the actions make Bianca tingly inside.
And she finds that she is afraid. Of what, she doesn't know. When Lee finds her crying one night, he holds her and whispers, "Don't be afraid, Bee. I'll be here for you. Always."
And he keeps his promises—every single one of them. That simple fact is what starts Bianca di Angelo's trust to build for the handsome son of Apollo, Lee Fletcher.
(And she's starting to think that maybe this isn't so bad.)
When Lee kisses her for the first time, on one of their dates at a café in Manhattan—and in the rain, too, one of her biggest dreams—Bianca's on Cloud Nine and no one can bring her down. Not even Hans, who Bianca leaves him stuck head-deep in the dirt of the arena more and more often. It's almost like a routine.
They now greet each other with a kiss and sit under the stars for most of the night. Then they run away, laughing, when the harpies try and fail to catch them every night. Lee usually gives her into a tight hug before they leave.
Even Nico's starting to notice her mood's uplift. "What's gotten into you?" he asks one day, toying with a Mythomagic figure. "You're all happy now."
Bianca just smiles, hugs him, and doesn't answer.
(Because maybe, one day, Nico will know—and experience—why.)
V. True love burns the brightest, but the brightest flames leave the deepest scars.
Bianca's out with Lee on a patrol when Camp Half-Blood is attacked by Luke's army.
It's a quick-footed son of Hermes who arrives to tell them the grim news and says with panting breath, "Zeus's Fist—tons of monsters. Everyone needs to be there." Once he thinks that they understand his message, he darts away, back to the forest.
Once she registers what just happened, Bianca starts to follow him, but Lee catches her arm. "No, Bianca, you're too powerful. And too important to lose."
She glares at him, dark brown eyes narrowing. "Don't patronize me. I need to help. What if Nico's there? He can't handle the power all alone—he'll need me."
"Bianca, forget about Nico for once," he says angrily, forcing her to look at him. "He's thirteen, for the gods' sake. I think he can take care of himself. Just please stay here, okay?"
"No. You can't boss me around, Lee," she hisses, breaking out of his grasp and turning to the forest. Lee runs around and faces her, grabbing her by the shoulders and pulling her into a hard kiss.
This isn't like the other kisses. Instead of gentle, it's rough, needy, and she can't help liking it and raising her hands to delve into his golden hair that she loves so much.
Lee finally pulls away. "Here's the thing, Bianca. I can't lose you," he whispers, resting his forehead on hers. Bianca kisses him again, a bit softer this time.
"But what if I lose you?" she asked rhetorically. "I can't live with myself if that happens. I'll never heal." Lee strokes her face and took a deep breath, eyes closing in frustration. "Lee, the more time we waste arguing about this, the bigger the chance that more people are dying when they shouldn't be."
Lee opens his eyes and kisses her forehead. "Okay. But Bianca, I'll kick your ass in the afterlife if you get killed."
"Likewise, Fletcher." She grins, kisses his cheek, and turns to start running for the forest. Lee goes to his cabin to get his bow and arrows.
When she reaches the battle, she spots Nico immediately, alone in a bare spot, untouched by monsters trying to kill him. She sprints to his side and squeezes his shoulder reassuringly. "Ready for help?"
Nico grins when he sees his sister. "Ready as I'll ever be. Thanks for the backup. I'd probably need it." He grimaces and Bianca shakes her head. She's never really raised the dead before—not counting the bird, Nico did that—but she figures it's the same as sinking Hans into the arena's dirt floor.
Okay. I can do this.
Simultaneously, she and Nico raised their arms above the bare ground. An age-old instinct kicks in, making their wrists bend, and they say in a hollow voice, "Serve me."
The ground splits apart and skeletons—World War Two victims, Napoleonic swordsmen, Roman soldiers, and countless others—crawl out of the hole. Some demigods scream, but the skeletons only had eyes for the enemy, knowing who to protect through Bianca and Nico's consciences.
They hack the monsters to pieces, not waiting for the things to burst into dust. They just move on to the next enemy. All the meanwhile, more and more skeletons crawl out of the ground and the demigods, while badly outnumbered, gain more confidence.
It's only when Bianca stumbles to her knees with Nico, the effort of raising so many tiring her, does she know.
The blonde girl that Percy and the Hunters went on a quest with, a year ago, screams Percy's name. Bianca looks up to see Percy arching his back as a traitorous demigod digs a dagger into the back of his chest, stabbing just below his heart. The girl who screamed Percy's name dashes to the offender and jumps, slitting his throat with her dagger, an act of deadly but graceful vengeance. She pays the dying traitor on the leaf-covered ground no mind and she joins Percy's side in an instant.
Bianca helps Nico up and they, too, jog to see the wounded boy.
"Annabeth," Percy whispers, blood soaking his shirt and staining the dirt around his body crimson. Bianca turns Nico around and pushes his face into her breastbone so that he doesn't see the gore. And when she sees the wound, she knows it is too late to save the Son of Poseidon. She slowly wraps her arm around Nico, rubbing his back in a comforting way. But she cannot hide him from the gruesome grief that death brings—he hears every word that is spoken and sees every action that is made.
"Annabeth," Percy whispers again, his hand hovering blindly in the air.
The blonde girl, whom Bianca guesses is Annabeth, grabs his hand and holds it to her heart. Tears are already trickling down her face. "Yes, Percy, I'm here."
"Annabeth . . ." he wheezes, struggles to form words; and suddenly—he is still. Annabeth's sobs get even louder, but she tries to contain it. She kisses his knuckles, still crying, and puts his hand on his chest. Then she slowly closes his eyes and sits back on her haunches, rocking herself as she tries to stifle her sobs. Bianca has no doubt that she will be crying herself to sleep tonight.
The great Percy Jackson, Son of the Sea God, is dead. The battle rages around the small group, the others not affording themselves the luxury to look at the fresh corpse. Despite this, all still eyes go to Bianca—Lee's, too, she notices with relief. She smiles, despite the horror of it all, at the simple fact that Lee is alive. The smile disappears, though, when Nico nudges her.
And suddenly she realizes what just happened.
Percy—son of Poseidon—is dead.
Thalia—daughter of Zeus—is a Hunter, forever immortal, never aging from fifteen.
She—daughter of Hades, at fourteen—is older than Nico.
She's the next Great Prophecy child.
(But Lee promised he'd be with her. And that's all that matters.)
We don't know how we got into this mad situation, but we put on brave smiles even if we're close to tears.