AN1/2:

Hi. Long time no see. Wow, a new personal record: 114 reviews for one chapter. I'm truly honoured. Maybe I should start taking this long to update every time, eh? Jokes aside, I'm truly honoured and I hope it won't take this long again. On a more serious note:

If you are expecting me to apologize for taking so long to update, you are going to wait a really long time. I won't apologize. In mid/late-February my mental health took quite a beating, and it was only late March I started regaining my footing. My mental health goes before writing, so there you have it.

Also, I will say this one more time: This storyline is AU. Events from 'Heroes of Olympus' haven't taken place.

But since it has been so long since I last updated, I will give a summary.

Events up till now (chapter 10-14):

While in Hogsmeade, Nico was confronted by Jason and the son of Jupiter tried convincing Nico to surrender to Camp Jupiter, which Nico refused. To end their argument, Nico revealed that Jason's sister, Thalia, is still alive.

Nico's first lesson in the DA was some basic combat rules and physical combat, as he believes the wizards relies too much on their wands.

Draco Malfoy, in an effort to get back at Nico for humiliating him in a rather one-sided duel by the lake, where it was revealed that Nico is a Parselmouth, Draco released three Boggarts against Nico, exposing his three greatest fears: The ghosts of Bianca telling him that she never loved him, the dying form of Hazel blaming him, and what he fears will happen to him if his powers corrupts him.

The confrontation ended with Nico losing control and it took the combined efforts of Dean, Seamus, Ron, Neville, Lavender Brown and the Weasley and Patil twins to stun him, though who delivered the deciding Stunner is unknown. After the events, Nico was comforted by Hermione, and the two are now together as a couple.

A night alone in their camp, left Annabeth Chase with a lot on her mind, as she has figured out that the girl she fought was a Roman demigod, when the mission given to her and her team by a goddess was to sneak in and have a diplomatic talk with the leaders. She also started to suspect that Nico di Angelo is the spy at Camp Half-Blood that the goddess warned her about.

In response to the Boggart incident, the Ministry tried to take Nico into custody, but was thwarted by Dumbledore that once again reminded them of the Founding Rules and continued to put pressure on them when he revealed he knew about an incident in the Department of Mysteries that resulted in the death of thirty-five people within five minutes.

During Hagrid's first lesson, he Fifth Year students didn't just have to deal with Dolores Umbridge inspecting the class, but also the Hunters of Artemis. After a short but intense battle, the Hogwarts students, Hagrid and Umbridge was overwhelmed, but Nico showed up and after a brief argument, took over the fight, battling all of the Hunters by himself, before finally facing off against Thalia in a one-on-one battle that ended with Thalia being in his mercy. He almost killed off the daughter of Zeus when she revealed they downed Hazel with Greek fire, but Hermione stopped him, pleading with him to spare the lives of Thalia and the Hunters.

As parting words, Nico told Thalia that he never wanted as much as sense the presence of the Hunters ever again and that Jason is still alive, last seen in Hogsmeade. Meanwhile, in Hogsmeade, Jason is confronted by Lucius Malfoy and in his desperation to find his sister as soon as possible, he strikes a deal with Lucius: In return for the aid of Malfoy's organization in capturing Nico di Angelo, Jason and his group will help them with a few tasks, unaware that his girlfriend and fellow praetor, Reyna, has come to Britain with an elite fighting unit called the Twelve Terror.

Fearing for the safety of Nico and Draco, Headmaster Dumbledore makes an agreement with Nico di Angelo: In return for continued hospitality and immunity at Hogwarts, he will not seek to harm Malfoy through Muggle ways, curses or his abilities with Black Hellfire and Umbrakinesis.

Meanwhile, in a dream, Percy Jackson eavesdrops on a conversation, and learns that someone is plotting against Nico's life. Shortly afterwards, he learns what happened during the confrontation between the Hunters and Nico. Annabeth, still shaken and not wanting to believe it, tells Percy that he has to consider the possibility that Nico has turned against Camp and that if it should come down to it, he will have to stop him… even if it means killing the son of Hades.

After being released from the Hospital Wing, Nico has a nightmare, and the Gryffindor Fifth Years learns that he can't feel Hazel's life aura anymore. Nico almost loses control, but before things can get out of hand, Ron knocks him out.

In the wake of Nico vs. the Hunters, rumours about Nico are running wild and in an attempt to take Nico's mind of his troubles for a while, Neville offers to train with him, resulting in Nico teaching him methods to use his sensing abilities in battle and gives him a philosophy lesson.

The opening match in Quidditch, Gryffindor vs. Slytherin, ended with Gryffindor winning the game and Harry testing out the force-field created by Dumbledore to protect the players from hitting the rocky ground. In anger, Malfoy insults Harry's mother and Arthur Weasley, but before Harry and the Weasley twins can beat him up, Nico intervenes. Knowing about the bargain between the headmaster and Nico, and after getting humiliated once more by Nico, Draco makes a terrible jib at Nico's sisters, making the son of Hades snap. Nico subjects Draco to an illusion, showing him the horrors of the Underworld and ending the lesson with an illusionary whipping by the Furies.

When confronted with what he did, Nico explains to Dumbledore and all present that since he hadn't violated the agreement, he is still free to stay at Hogwarts, which is confirmed by Dumbledore, much to Umbridge's outrage.

In early December, while taking a walk at the lake and talking about Christmas, Nico and his friends are confronted by the search team from Camp Half-Blood; Percy, Annabeth, Leo and Grover. Nico reveals that he has known about the existence of the Roman demigods ever since the end of the Titan War and shows Percy Annabeth's dagger, Hazel's blood still on it. Percy attempts to placate Nico and get him to return to Camp, but he only ends up enraging him even further and the argument culminates in them engaging in combat when Percy refuses to step aside for Nico's revenge.

There will be some OOC in this chapter, but it will help serve my purposes. Also, this chapter is extremely long, so you might want to read it over a day or two... maybe more.

Also, if I may be so bold, put on your favourite battle music/soundtracks. If you lack inspiration, here are some of my favourites:

Strong and Strike, Raising Fighting Spirit, Heavy Violence, Need To Be Strong, Edo Tensei (if you can find with choir in good quality, it will best Link, best version I've found. Remove spaces. www. youtube watch?v =zGkQPEODUsA), Dance, Lightning Speed, Emergence of Talents, Stalemate, Blind Animal, Kokuten, Beni Soubi, Nankou Furaku, Shikku, Rinkai, Himoji, Narukami and Keisei Gyakuten. All of these are from Naruto and Naruto Shipuuden, but in my opinion, they're awesome.

Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I give to you: Nico di Angelo vs Percy Jackson. Please fasten your seatbelts and enjoy chapter 15 of 'Dark Phoenix.'

Chapter 15: Rampage.

The sound of metal against metal rang out over the grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The source: Two teenage boys wielding deadly weapons. They were raining blows at each other with a speed that almost made their weapons, a sword and a double-bladed scythe, look like blurs as they slashed, swiped, thrust and blocked, matching each other move for move.

It was almost like a dance: An incredible dangerous dance, where one misstep could prove fatal. But it was clear to see both were natural fighters: Neither of them wasted movement nor energy. Neither of the two fighters would move more than absolutely necessary. At times, the blade of the opponent would only be dodged by less than an inch.

Harry had seen the aftermath of Nico's fights, had seen him about to end a person's life in his rage. He had seen him lose control of his emotions and powers when confronted with his worst fears. He had just heard him scream his frustration, anger and loss to the world, given them far more insight into his past and life than he had volunteered since coming to Hogwarts.

But as unsettling all of that had been, not to mention the tongues of magical fire that was released when sword met scythe, Harry was far more unnerved by the look in Nico's eyes. They were red and filled with controlled bloodlust. And in some ways, Harry had the feeling that that was far more dangerous than him losing control. Now all of his terrifying powers would be used in a controlled manner, for one single purpose: To kill the one who attacked his sister and those who would stand in his way.

Harry swallowed. Last time, Hermione had been able to stop Nico from committing murder and make his rage subside. This time, Harry feared there would be no stopping Nico. Not unless his opponent managed to defeat him.

The Gryffindor looked at what could be his lookalike, and from the looks in his eyes, Harry knew the older boy had come to the same conclusion. But what both impressed and slightly frightened Harry was the fact that the older boy could look Nico in the eyes without flinching and was seemingly completely unaffected by the growing killing intent his smaller opponent gave off.

The young Gryffindor Seeker, well ex-Seeker, damn it was painful to even think that, watched their duel with growing trepidation. He could see it was going to be a tough fight… for both of them. The leader, Percy, was taller and stronger than Nico. But their friend was faster and more agile. And that Nico was keeping up with the older boy was saying something, because Percy was swinging his sword with an almost unnatural speed. And from the looks of it, the taller boy was just as surprised as his friends that his younger cousin was keeping up.

Harry looked at the three other teenagers behind the fighters. The girl, Annabeth, looked quite distraught… but if it was because of the grief she had brought to Nico or because her boyfriend was fighting what could prove a deadly fight, or a mix of the two or something else, Harry couldn't say.

His gaze moved to the boy with the crutches. Harry had suspected that his nerves could be steelier than he let on. Now, he looked like he was ready to bolt from the scene, crutches or no crutches. What Harry found somewhat peculiar was the absence of a plaster cast or anything like it, ruling out a broken leg or foot. Perhaps some sort of disease? Whatever the case, he doubted it was the reason for the rising panic he could see in the older boy's eyes and face.

Lastly, the Boy-Who-Lived set his eyes on the youngest of the four. He was tense, yes, but unlike the guy with the crutches, he didn't seem on the verge of having a nervous breakdown. Rather, he seemed torn between putting as much distance as he could between him and the fighting pair or joining in.

The same, Harry noted, could not be said for the Hogwarts students gathered around them. Harry had seen the horrified and tearstained faces of his fellow students when Nico spoke of his suffering. Even Harry had felt his breath hitch. He knew of the pain of being alone… about not being loved by a family. He lost his parents and he often wished for nothing more than having them back with him. Don't get him wrong, he loved the Weasleys, but they could never fully fill in for what he had lost: The bonds of his own family. Nico hadn't just lost those bonds once, but twice. Harry couldn't imagine the pain of such a loss. He couldn't imagine how he would take it if his parents, his family, were to be returned to him just to be taken away again.

He looked around at his fellow students, wondering how many of them could relate to Nico's loss. Neville probably could, considering what happened to his parents, but he was also the only one Harry could think of. There were probably more orphans among them, but he wondered how many really cried because they understood Nico, or cried because they tried imagining what they would feel like if they if they lost their family.

But before he could ponder it further, the two combatants drew his full attention, pushing all thoughts aside. It happened so fast and was so subtle that had Harry not happened to glance their way and been a Seeker, trained to see small movement in the air, he would have missed it.

As the two fighters jumped apart, Percy gave a slight twitch with his left wrist and his fingers. Instantly, a dozen of thin water beams shot from the lake, all heading for Nico with a velocity and pressure that no water cannon used by the police could hope to match. Nico, however, didn't seem to be concerned as he just made a small twitch with his right hand, causing a curved shield of shadows to spring into existence.

The water beams collided with the barrier of darkness and for a fraction of a second, Harry thought they would penetrate Nico's defences. Instead, they were deflected, bouncing off the shield. The tree they hit was not so lucky, despite its size. Harry had seen the water cannons used by the police knock down people. If those cannons could match the pressure of these water beams, Harry knew you wouldn't get up again; they would cut up your body, flesh, organs and bones alike. For that was what happened to the tree: It was sliced to pieces that fell to the ground and would only be usable as firewood. And all the while, Nico and Percy just stared at each other.

Harry swallowed, a single drop of sweat running down his face. It was a miracle those jets hadn't hit any of the students, but Harry was not sure whether to put that down to their luck or the skills of the combatants.

"What amazing abilities."

Harry looked his to left, green eyes setting on Dennis Creevey. The younger boy was looking at the two fighters with the same kind of reverence as he and his older brother would have when they looked at Harry. Normally, that look would annoy and exasperate Harry. Now, it downright frightened him. The kid was so deep in his admiration that he didn't realize the danger he was in. And much to Harry's growing dismay, the young boy wasn't the only one. He even heard someone muttering in excitement.

"Finally we get to see di Angelo fight. I have wanted to know how he fights ever since he came to Hogwarts."

Harry bit his cheek. Excitement was the last thing he was feeling right now. He had seen the destruction Nico was capable of. And Percy, the cousin Nico had never beaten, was proving to be every bit as powerful as he imagined him to be. And Harry feared this was only the beginning.

"No... They are just warming up. They aren't using their full power yet… not even close."

Harry turned to look at Neville. The normal shy boy was paler than the ghosts, eyes locked on the powerful teens having a stare down. "Neville? You okay?"

Neville didn't answer. He was too shocked by the energy levels of Percy, Nico and the youngest of Percy's group. He could feel them rousing their energy, preparing to use their full power. He couldn't tell the others about his sensing abilities as he wanted to keep that as secret as possible, and thus he couldn't describe what these powerhouses stirring their energy felt like.

The youngest from Percy's group felt like he was hosting a forest fire, burning bright and hot. He didn't match the two currently fighting, or Jason, but he was damn near Thalia's level. Percy was like a hurricane and a tsunami; raging and untameable, gaining more speed and power. And Nico: Neville had no words that could describe what he was feeling without contradicting himself. On one hand, Nico's power felt colder and darker than the worst of blizzards in the winter night. But at the same time, it felt as explosive and unforgiving as the power released from an earthquake; the same kind of power that could create mountains… or tear them apart.

Neville felt himself tremble and he turned shakily to Harry, whispering, not daring to draw the attention of the combatants. "We… we cannot stay here."

Harry nodded tightly. He had drawn the same conclusion. A conclusion that pretty much proved right when Nico spoke in a calm voice.

"This is no play fight or a lesson at Camp, Percy. Low level tricks like that won't work on me. If you wish to stop me and deny me my justice and revenge… nothing short of your full power will be enough."

Percy frowned. The initial shock of Nico actually keeping up with his enhanced speed had worn off during the first exchange of blows. When they had sparred back at Camp, Percy had always won on his speed and would only go full speed when Nico demanded he stopped holding back. Gradually, Nico had gotten so fast that he almost could keep up with his full speed, making him one of the best swordsmen of Camp Half-Blood. But Nico had told him that his sword had never felt like an extension of his body, and as such, he could never be Percy's equal when it came to sword fighting. Percy had stubbornly denied his claim then, but now, seeing him fight with that scythe, he had to admit Nico had been right. After a few blows and blocks, the son of Poseidon could see the difference as clearly as he could the stars in a clear night sky. Nico was not just able to keep up his defence; he was actually able to go on the offence, causing the son of the Earthshaker to keep an eye on those blades. He was not afraid that the blades would cut him, but he wasn't keen on letting those fires of the Underworld anywhere near his weak spot.

Percy let out a sigh, his shoulder slumping. Some naïve part of him had hoped that Nico wasn't serious and that they would be able to talk after he had shown the younger boy that he couldn't win… that he would come to his senses. But after displaying that he was able to keep up and with his last words, the son of Hades had shown Percy that he would't back down. He glanced over his shoulders, hoping that all the bystanders and his friends would have enough sense to skedaddle… the sooner the better. He dimly heard Grover mumbling, sounding about ready to bolt.

"What am I even doing here? I can't fight in this battle. My magic is a bad matchup against Nico's powers… at best, my tricks with woodland magic will amuse him… but more likely, they will just annoy him…"

The son of Poseidon turned his gaze towards his younger cousin, eyes narrowing slightly as he steeled his resolve for the fight he had hoped could be avoided. And when he spoke, there was genuine anger in it. "So be it. Perhaps it is time to remind you who you are talking to… what I'm really capable of."

Harry tensed at his lookalike's words, waiting for something to explode. It didn't happen. Instead, the wind seemed to pick up and only now did the Boy-Who-Lived realize that the smell of gasoline came from the youngest of the four strange teenagers.

'Why in Merlin's name does he smell like gasoline?'

Harry's musings, however, didn't get any further as a roar came from the lake. It wasn't the roar of an animal though. And when Harry turned to look, he sucked in a breath, gasping alongside many others.

'But that is a… impossible!'

Harry wouldn't have believed it if he wasn't seeing it with his own eyes. A waterspout, basically a tornado formed over water and made up of water droplets formed by condensation, had formed out of the blue and was now heading towards them. Harry glanced at Percy once more, just to get another shock: The older boy was standing in his very own small icy hurricane, the power of the gale strong enough to push back those standing closest to him. Still, as shocking as that was, it was nothing to Nico's reaction: He laughed.

"Percy, you will have to do better than this. I'm not the young and impressionable ten-years-old boy that would gawk and clap my hands at every move you would make, be it with your sword or water. Here, allow me to show you." The earth beneath him started smoking and cracking, and shadows started churning so fast they formed a miniature tornado of darkness that rivalled Percy's hurricane and waterspout in strength. Nico smiled sardonically. "Now we're talking. Let's do this."

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"Now we're talking. Let's do this."

Leo sucked in a breath, face paling considerable. The son of Hephaestus had managed to keep silent up to this point. The reason for the 'impressive' feat: He was torn. Nico was his friend, but he couldn't recognize the pale boy anymore. The boy glaring with red eyes filled with hatred was so different from the Nico he had come to know. Likewise, he knew Nico never got angry and raised his voice without good reason, but after hearing what Annabeth and the Hunters supposedly did, with some hard evidence pointing in that direction, Leo couldn't say he blamed Nico for acting the way he did.

And hearing that Nico only would return to Camp in the name of vengeance chilled him to the core. It made their mission to find him somewhat pointless. What was the point of saving Camp from Hades' wrath, when they instead would be facing Nico's?

Leo had so desperately wanted to tell Nico about Hades' demands, but he had been too shocked by the exchange of words between the two powerful cousins. And now, they would be locked in a full-scale battle. Leo had briefly considered getting between his two friends, but then felt like smacking himself. He had a lot of firepower, pun intended, but those two simply outclassed him. And he rather liked existing as something more than a grease spot, thank you very much.

Leo swallowed, watching the rapidly approaching waterspout. At Camp, Nico and Percy had given show fights to demonstrate the power they wielded to newcomers. And every time they did, a perimeter of one-hundred metres was set in order to ensure the safety of the other campers. And when they were sparring, they had to announce it twenty-four hours in advance… and in what area the spar was going to take place so that all campers, dryads and satyrs in the area could be evacuated.

Their show and sparring fights were a sight to behold… from a safe distance. Now, Leo was standing right on the battleground… alongside hundreds of innocent bystanders. Leo felt his eyes widen when he saw that some of them looked no older than eleven or twelve. They were much too young to see the kind of battle about to unfold. And if their and some of the older students' gazes were anything to go by, it was clear they had no idea of the danger they were in.

It happened so fast that the mechanic almost missed it. The funnel approaching from the lake gained additionally speed and strength as it headed for them. In response, Nico raised his scythe and suddenly a tiny amount of Black Hellfire mixed with the dark vortex, and he knew what the son of Hades was planning.

'Oh shit.'

It was strange, really. Up to now, he had been passive, too nervous for the safety of his friends. But now, in the face of battle and the impending danger, he snapped into action, shouting as loudly as he could at the children and youths around him.

"Move, move, move!" No one moved and Leo found himself starting to panic. They were too mesmerized by the combatants. He needed to shock them out of it. He did the only thing he could think of. Spinning slightly on his heels, he thrust out his right hand. Result: A stream of flames shot from his palm and smashed into the ground a few metres from the students, effectively giving them a scare as a fiery crescent barrier rose before their eyes. Wide eyes snapping towards him, the mechanic genius roared over the wind and fire. "Go! Get out of here! This is no place for kids!"

That had the desired effect, as all of the youths, including Percy's lookalike and his friends started scrambling away, towards the castle. He turned towards his other companions and started tugging at Grover. "It's no place for us either! Let's move!"

"We can't just leave Percy!"

The son of Hephaestus whirled on his feet so quickly it was a miracle he didn't twist both ankles at once, glaring at the daughter of Athena who looked utterly distraught.

'As she should' a small voice in his head viciously added, but he instantly silenced it. It would do no good adding fuel to the fire. Still, he needed to vent a little. And as such, he did something he never would have dared had Percy been less busy: He grasped Annabeth's arm, hard, and hissed.

"I have a boatload of things I want to say to you, but right now, we have to move. But you better have a damn good explanation ready, for if Percy won't yell at you, I will. Now come on! Move!"

The demigods and satyr moved away from the battle, and it wasn't a moment too late, for Nico chose that second to act. He brought down the scythe in a vertical blow, and the movement was copied by the twister of shadow and Hellfire. Percy moved his right hand in a sweeping motion, and the waterspout reacted to his will, speeding up and bending as it moved inland, intercepting its darker counterpart before it could come to bear upon the son of Poseidon and his hurricane.

The blast of wind that followed sent the two retreating demigods and satyr tumbling to the ground when they were hit by the gale. They rolled a few metres, but they quickly got back on their feet and continued on, clothes now wetter and dirtier than when they came. Still, better that than being in the raging chaos of wind, water, shadows and Hellfire.

Percy growled low in his throat. His waterspout was taking the brunt of the attack, but the mix of Hellfire and shadows moving fast enough to create a miniature tornado was not in his favour. So he did the only thing that came to mind. With a yell, he upped the power of his icy hurricane and with its added force, it sent the two twisters away and out over the lake, the infernal mess creating a small tidal wave that swept across the lake before hitting the opposite shore. Green eyes narrowing at his cousin, Percy directed the remaining strength of his hurricane towards the son of Hades, intending to blow him off his feet. It worked somewhat, but it wasn't quite as effective as Percy had hoped.

Nico got knocked back a few paces and was disarmed, but he quickly regained his balance. With a snarl, red eyes settling on Percy, he clasped his hands together. Three steep rock walls formed right behind and on either side of the son of Poseidon, leaving barely enough room for him to stretch his arms unless it was forward. Each wall was about four metres tall, effectively trapping him as they were too tall to jump over, and too steep to climb. Only way to go was forward, towards Nico. But to Percy, that wasn't all that appealing considering he managed to see his younger cousin inhale a small hand of black fire.

"Oh crap."

Acting quickly, the son of Poseidon inhaled just as the son of Hades let out a small torrent of Black Hellfire, aiming straight at the opening of the rock formation. Just as the first flames reached the entrance to the stone trap, Percy exhaled, a blast of water shooting from his mouth, hitting the cursed blazes right at the entrance.

Had it been against normal fire, it would have been sufficient for defence. But as they both knew, Black Hellfire was anything but normal. Still, it had been enough to delay the blazes of the Underworld and Percy called upon the water of the lake to guard him. Once it was in the entrance, he willed it to drop in temperature, thus lowering its evaporation rate. And unlike Nico, who could only spew Black Hellfire in ratio with what he had inhaled, though that was no laughing matter no matter how you looked at it, as long as there was water in the lake, Percy could maintain his defence against Nico's fiery assault.

The last of the dark fire went out, though it was way too close for Percy's comfort. His barrier of cold water had been pressed until it was less than half a metre from him. But it had withstood Nico's onslaught, and now the only evidence of the battle of the elements were the hot and heavy steam obscuring Percy's vision. And the steam was not the only thing that was heavy. His thoughts were just as heavy, and he took a moment to calm them and his racing heart, regaining his breath.

'You are really serious about this, aren't you, Nico? You really mean to kill Annabeth and all who stand in your way… starting with me. Yet you are holding back. Why? To preserve strength so you can kill Annabeth after you are done with me? I can't let you win. I won't allow you to… what is that noise?'

Have you ever been in a place with close to zero visibility? Your hearing gets sharper, able to hear anything moving towards you, be it in the air or on the ground. It was no different for Percy. He could hear it whistling in the air, slicing through the heavy mist. And whatever it was, it was huge. When he saw it, he wished he hadn't.

'Oh man… this is gonna hurt.'

It exploded.

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The initial blast of wind was scorching, and Harry didn't want to think about what Percy's friends must have felt when they were knocked over by the shockwave. 300 metres away, Harry and his fellow students weren't knocked down, but the first years stumbled slightly and Harry felt his hair being ruffled, and he barely heard Ernie Macmillan mutter as he tried to catch his breath after their intense sprint towards the castle.

"I have changed my mind… I don't want to know how he fights anymore. Where are the teachers?!"

Harry wondered about that too, but before he could say anything, Dennis Creevey spoke up. "We don't need the teachers. We've got Harry. Harry can stop them! He stopped You-Know-Who after all. And after that and everything he has done here at Hogwarts, Harry could easily stop them if he put his mind to it. Right Harry?"

Harry almost choked on the air he was breathing as he heard the younger Gryffindor. The absurdity of that statement had him reeling for several seconds. 'Me? Stop them? I will get killed. It would go something like this: I get in between and tell them to stop… I will be ground into dirt… as best case scenario.'

He focused on the battle again, just in time to see three walls surround Percy and a clash of water against dark blazes, and he heard some Ravenclaw mutter in disbelief.

"I don't believe it. Umbrakinesis… Black Fire… and now the elements of water, wind, fire and earth in their rawest forms are being manipulated by… by teenagers. This… this shouldn't be possible."

A memory stirred, and Harry recalled Hermione's words from the night the Quidditch Pitch was destroyed:

"Ron, grown wizards and witches do that. And it takes years to master. Also, fire and water are easy to manipulate. In nature, they just don't suddenly appear or change direction. Lightning and wind, or air if you will, does, and earth is too sturdy to manipulate."

Ron's question. "But the black fire…"

And her answer "Isn't a part of the five basic elements. It is a magical fire, created by the will and imagination of the wizard. There are several cases of magical fires, like Bluebell Flames, but they are not fire in its rawest form. The elements, in their rawest forms, are wild and uncontrollable." She got blank looks and she sighed. "Point is: it would take an exceptional powerful witch or wizard to conjure and control one of the five basic elements."

Harry glanced at his bookish friend, whose face was an expression of astonishment, bewilderment fright and distress, and Harry briefly feared she might try to approach the battle, but she seemed to know that there would be no calming down Nico this time. Plus, if she tried to move towards the fight, Harry would restrain her.

'It would take an exceptional powerful witch or wizard to conjure and control one of the five basic elements… yet Nico, Percy, Leo and that girl, Thalia, controls all five. And if I'm right, Jason might wield lightning as well. All five elements… used by people our age. Either they have trained since they could walk or they are just geniuses. Where are… what now?'

Harry stared as Nico slowly raised his right hand to shoulder height, staring intently into the heavy cloud of steam. And after everything that had happened where their new friend was concerned, Harry was only slightly surprised to see a huge chunk of rock and stone rise into the air. Nor was he terrible surprised when Nico clenched his hand into a fist, causing pieces of rock to fall away until it was a shuriken, or throwing star in more common English, about the size of Uncle Vernon's car and with deadly edges. Still though, when Nico unclenched his hand, causing the piece of lethal rock to fly into the steam, the Boy-Who-Lived felt a shiver running down his spine. And he was filled with trepidation when Nico conjured up a handful of black fire and hurled it after the massive weapon.

Harry saw it all happen in slow motion. The massive shuriken, too large to be evaded in the confined trap, was hit by the fireball as it reached the entrance. The rock exploded and with only one way to go, two if you count the opening in top, the pressure of the explosion and shrapnel was focused towards the teenager Harry knew to be trapped within the formation of stone.

The back wall exploded, as did the top metres of the surrounding walls, the debris flying ten to fifteen metres. And accompanying the flying debris was a slightly burned body with torn clothes, and Harry had to fight down nausea when the body hit the ground with a dull thud and rolled a few feet before coming to a stop, lying completely still, face down.

Harry turned his gaze towards Nico, looking at him. He didn't know why he was filled with shock. Nico had already proven he was willing to take another person's life in cold blood. Now, they had actually seen him end someone's life. And not just any someone; Percy had been the one he had called his best friend. And yet, he had unleashed attack after attack, seeking to kill Percy. The Gryffindor Seeker through the last years slowly turned his head, looking at his redheaded best friend, green eyes meeting shaken blue, and Harry could see they were having the same thought: Could they fight each other in death match? The thought alone was unsettling to say the least. And when he looked around, he saw people looking at what he assumed to be their best friends.

'Facing your best friend in mortal combat because of a girl… I thought that kind of stuff only happened in those stupid romance novels… yet that is what happened to Nico and Percy… though not for the traditional reasons.' He glanced at Percy. 'Nico said he has never beaten Percy in an all-out fight… but he just came out on top… what in the name of Merlin?! How can he still be alive?!'

Harry felt his jaw drop in shock and he, like the rest of the gathered student body, let out a gasp. The reason: Percy was back on his feet. And he went on the offensive.

11111

Percy's ears were ringing, and he had to fight down the rising nausea and the black spots dancing before his eyes. Just as he was about to fall unconscious, Nico's cold and unrelenting voice cut through the fog clouding his mind.

"Stop insulting my intelligence, Percy! I can see your life aura. And we both know it will take more than that to take you down."

Percy wasn't so sure about the truth of that statement. As it was, he was surprised he was still conscious with his eardrums being on the verge of rupture, if they hadn't popped completely. Slowly getting on his feet, the son of Poseidon looked at the son of Hades.

'You… are really serious about this… Nico. You really mean to kill me. Before, you gave me just enough time to counter your attack. But this time, you attacked relentlessly, aiming to kill. Had I not had the Curse of Achilles, I would be dead meat.'

The son of Poseidon pushed himself to his feet. He didn't know what hurt most: His ringing ears or the betrayal of their friendship. No matter what Nico had said Percy, hadn't actually believed that the son of Hades would go as far as to fight with the intention of killing him. They had been through too much for that. Or at least, so Percy thought. However, with his latest attack, Nico had proven that he was indeed serious: He was now fighting to kill. And that both frightened and angered Percy.

It frightened him for several reasons. One reason was that he was fully aware that Nico had a wide range of powers and knew how to use them. And with powers backed up by cunning, the son of Hades was no pushover, even when he wasn't fighting with all powers allowed. But his biggest fear was that if he failed now, Nico would have a clear path for Annabeth. Oh, don't get him wrong, he didn't think that Leo and Grover wouldn't try to protect her, but he knew they would be no match for Nico. Leo was strong, yes, but even when weakened, Nico was a frightening opponent.

Percy was starting to regret leaving Festus and Tyson in the forest. They had decided to leave them there so that they wouldn't scare the students and cause a mass panic. Plus, if they had to sneak into the castle, a Cyclops and a mechanical dragon weighing several tons would be quite hard to hide. It hadn't been easy to convince them to stay behind, though it was Festus who had been the hardest to cajole. Leo had tried bribing him with a barrel of gasoline, bought from a filling station in the last town, but when the mechanic had opened the barrel, the automaton had toppled barrel and teenager alike in protest, soaking the teenager in the gasoline. It had taken nearly two hours for the son of Hephaestus to clean up, but no matter how hard they tried, they couldn't remove the smell. Leo had been less than pleased and shouted in indignation at the dragon automaton in English, Ancient Greek and Spanish, switching between the languages so fast that Percy had grown dizzy. Properly chastised, Festus had stayed behind. Now Percy wished they had brought them with them; perhaps that would have deterred Nico.

The son of Poseidon looked at his younger cousin, and he felt his anger squash down his fear and uncertainties. He couldn't believe that Nico had become so consumed by his thirst for revenge that he would strike down Annabeth without first hearing what she had to say for herself. That he would force Percy to choose between his girlfriend and the one that was like a brother to him. That he would think so little of their friendship.

"I can't say I understand your pain, Nico, but I understand your anger. But even so… I won't let you kill Annabeth. I won't let you!"

He was shouting at the end, and the water obeyed him as he thrust out his hands towards Nico. Several beams of water shot from the lake with high velocity, all targeting the son of Hades, all of them cutting a few inches into the ground as they missed. But it wasn't just the water of the lake that Percy bended to his whim. No, the snow on the ground was flowing rapidly towards Nico like a violent torrent, unbalancing him as the masses shifted beneath his feet and whirled around him, lowering his visibility, and slowly but surely, forcing him closer to the bank. But that wasn't all. Percy had made the icicles from nearby trees fly towards Nico like throwing knives.

The son of Poseidon wasn't aiming to kill Nico; only getting him close enough to the lake. Besides, Nico was doing a marvellous job at dodging the jets of water and icicles, at times deflecting them with his scythe. But he had failed to see that he was less than three feet from the water bank. And that was the moment Percy had been waiting for. He made an inland sweeping motion with his right hand, and four ropes of water shot from the lake, moving like whips being cracked, and moving much faster than their diversionary counterparts. When the son of Hades noticed them, it was too late. They coiled around his wrists, torso and scythe and before he could make a counter, Percy thrust his right arm towards the lake, and the whips of water flew away from the shore, dragging a cursing Nico with them, until fifty metres off shore, boy and watery ropes disappeared beneath the surface.

Percy could feel his cousin struggling against his bonds as he was dragged further and further down. When the son of the sea god felt that the son of the Lord of the Underworld reached a depth of ten metres, the son of Poseidon loosened his control.

'There… that ought to do it. I don't want to drown him, just cool him down a little.' Percy frowned, doing his best to ignore the shouts from the school students. And his frown deepened when Nico didn't resurface. 'Something isn't right here. Nico should have… what in the name of Poseidon!?'

He felt the violent disturbance in the water before the visible effect showed itself on the surface. Still, even he was surprised by the creature emerging from the blast of water. And he didn't need the screams of the students to know that the monster that was now rapidly moving towards the shore, the son of Hades standing on top of its head, was one of the big baddies.

11111

"This… this fight… it is on completely different level. Those… They are just in a different league compared to us."

Zacharias Smith wasn't that praising. "What kind of magic is this?! Are they even wizards?!"

Harry had, to be honest, questioned that himself. Looking down at the fight taking place, it was hard to believe that Nico was their age and Percy only a few years older. Yet they used powers that, according to Hermione, was very hard to master, like it was their second nature.

He watched as Nico stepped left and right, dodging the jets of water, wincing as they carved the ground open, and all the while the snow beneath Nico's feet shifted, doing its best to make him fall. However, from his vantage point, Harry could see what Nico could not: He was being moved towards the lake. Harry saw it before it even happened.

"Nico, watch out!"

His warning did little good. First off, Nico couldn't hear him. Secondly, the warning came too late. Harry watched as water shot from the water like whips, wrapping around Nico and dragging him into water, fifty metres from shore.

"NICO!"

There was a chorus of shouts, ranging from "Nico!" to "Oh My God!", or "Oh no, no!", and "Shit!"

Harry, personally, didn't really shout. But that was mostly because that he had to act on instinct as Hermione cried out and shot forward like a Bludger. Grunting, he wrapped his arms around Hermione's frame, wondering where Hermione got all that strength from.

"Let go of me! Harry, let me go!"

The Boy-Who-Lived, or Lied, depending on who you asked, knew that Hermione wasn't thinking rationally right now. If she was, she wouldn't have suggested something like this. But like in the Forest, when Nico had been about to kill off Thalia, her emotions had ruled her actions rather than her brain. Harry could relate to that. He worried about Nico too, but he knew that right now, the field of battle was the last place for them. Harry had been ruled by his curiosity and concern back in the forest. Now, he was smarter. The battlefield was not where you wanted to be during one of Nico's fights.

"Let go of me, Harry! We have to help him! Please, Harry! If we don't help him, he will drown!"

Harry only tightened his grip. The Gryffindor knew that despite his powers, Nico was still human. And he knew what a severe cooling could do to a human body. But how could they help? First they would have to get past Percy… and seeing how he had just defeated Nico, what chance did they have? Defeated… the very word left a strange feeling in Harry's stomach. He had seen the aftermath of Nico's fights… seen his prowess in combat. Nico had probably drawn what could be considered first blood, but Percy had defeated him right afterwards. Nico had said that he had never beaten Percy in a fight with all powers allowed, but Harry had never imagined that Nico could be defeated so easily.

"I'm sorry Hermione, but there is no-!"

It happened so fast that Harry nearly missed it. In the blink of an eye, the air grew unnatural cold and the sky darkened. But what made him cut off himself was the violent ripple on the lake's surface. Then, the explosion came. It was like seeing a depth charge detonate. The plume of water rising was huge. Still, the shock of what emerged seconds later had Harry's mind going numb. He couldn't think, could barely breathe from the shock. Hermione had gone limb in his arms. His arm gave a violent throb as the terrified screams started up around him.

"But that's… that's the-!"

"But…! No…! This is impossible!"

"How… what… how can this be...?!"

"Run for your life! Di Angelo is going to kill us all!"

"What is that thing?!"

"It's… it's the Basilisk!"

Harry didn't know who said it, but his arm started burning with phantom pains. It couldn't be. Three years ago, aided by Fawkes, he had killed Slytherin's Basilisk. It should be rotting in the Chamber of Secrets, not making its way inland with Nico di Angelo standing on top of it. Looking around, he took in the terrified faces of Ginny Weasley, Justin Finch-Fletchly and Colin Creevey. Harry couldn't say he blamed them; it was one of their worst nightmares come back to haunt them with a vengeance. The great serpent had been terrifying alive. Reanimated, it was even worse. Three years later, and its body was still not fully decomposed. Its skin was sunken and even from where he stood, Harry could spot huge chunks of decaying flesh and chalk white bone. None of that, however, seemed to bother Nico at all as the zombie snake reached the shore. In fact, he calmly reached into his left sleeve and drew his wand, saying something to Percy as he casually flicked his wand. Trying to get his mind off the phantom pains in his arm, Harry focused on the now trembling girl in his embrace.

"Hermione… how did he… summon… that thing?"

Hermione laughed shakily, but it was a far from genuine. While she attempted to joke, it fell flat. "I read and know a lot of things Harry, but I'm not a walking encyclopaedia. And even if I was, I wouldn't be able to tell you. Why? Because it is not in any books I have read."

Ron, having heard them, turned his head slightly, face ashen and eyes wide. "What do you mean it isn't in the books? I'm pretty sure Necromancy at least must be mentioned."

Their bookish friend just chucked hollowly. "It is; but I've never read it fully explained. I doubt even the restricted section would have any books on Necromancy." She took a steadying breath. "Necromancy is one of the darkest Dark Arts there is, if not the darkest. It's one of the greatest violations of nature itself. Rumours have it that V-Vold-Voldemort, made use of Necromancy during the last war. When I said I wouldn't be able to tell you how he summoned that thing, it is because I have never read about it being done before. Oh, there are records of confirmed instances of Necromancy and the Necromancers responsible in History books… but… the greatest creature resurrected, in modern times anyways, was in 1419 by the infamous Lich King Neclor. According to sources he… it's said that he led a siege against Hogwarts on the back of a griffin skeleton. A griffin, Harry, a griffin. That is the largest known creature to have ever been resurrected… but now Nico has summoned the Basilisk of Slytherin and is controlling it. Necromancy on this level… it has never been done before."

Harry frowned, taking it all in. Something didn't quite add up. "But I thought Voldemort…"

"Voldemort is considered the most dangerous Dark Wizard of all time, yes. But history is long, and the Necromancers are often forgotten." Hermione shuddered. "Necromancy has been banned since before Hogwarts and today it warrants at least ten years in Azkaban depending on the circumstances. But this level…"

She didn't get to say more before she was cut off by people screaming.

"He is a Necromancer!"

"We have to remove him from Hogwarts!"

"He is a threat to us if he stays here! He has come to kill us!"

"Give him the Kiss before he kills us all!"

The last one shocked Harry. But before he could speak up, Seamus Finnigan spoke, though not loudly enough to silence anyone. "Oh, shut up will yer? If Nico really wanted you dead, do you think you would be here to be afraid? After what Malfoy pulled, I'm surprised he is alive. If you don't want Nico out for ya blood: Don't piss him off, idiots."

Harry didn't say anything, but he agreed with Seamus. Though, even he could understand the ones shouting for Nico' expulsion or imprisonment. The Basilisk had spread terror at Hogwarts a few years ago. Now, it had been reanimated and was being controlled by a fifteen-year-old boy with a vendetta. But what would happen if he lost control of the monster? Not for the first time, Harry wondered where the teachers were, or why all of them weren't running for the safety of the castle. Well, he had his suspicions about the latter: His fellow students were frozen with either terror or awe at the spectacular battle taking place.

11111

'A snake. Why, why are all the big monsters always snakes or related to snakes? Why can't they be related to hamsters or bunnies?'

Percy could only stare as his cousin made his way inland on the decaying serpent's head, and before he knew it, the snake was towering above him. Craning his neck back, he looked up and said the first thing that came to mind, his voice far calmer than he would have thought possible.

"That is a snake. A very big snake."

Nico let out a sardonic chuckle as he drew his wand and with casual flick dried his clothes before putting it back up his sleeve. "Observant as always, Percy. Tell me, what gave it away: The form or the teeth?"

The son of the Poseidon didn't answer Nico's jib. It was a known fact that Nico could be just as sarcastic as Percy, and had they been battling side-by-side, Nico would have said something along the same lines if Percy had come with comment like that.

Though, when Nico mentioned teeth, Percy couldn't help but look at the monster's maw, just to regret it seconds later. Each tooth was the same size of Riptide or larger, powered by muscles that were still rotting away. Eyes travelling further, Percy shuddered slightly at its empty eye sockets before meeting the gaze of his cousin. Speaking in a voice that belied his trepidation, the son of the Earthshaker addressed the son of Hades.

"How did you do this, Nico? You have never…"

Nico gave a smile, though it held no warmth as he raised the scythe. "This scythe has been bound to me… allowing me to summon it whenever I want. It acts as a conductor for my powers… especially my necromantic ones. It enhances them tenfold or more, letting me conserve energy. Though, I won't bother trying to explain how I forged it… you wouldn't understand it even if I tried. As for the snake: The political correct term is 'Basilisk'. Let's just say the reason I can summon it is a courtesy of one my classmates. He killed it some time ago and told me about it. It was difficult to summon it to me through magical barriers and underwater… but the results were well worth it. And now… Get him."

Percy startled violently at the hissing sound Nico switched to. He didn't understand it when Nico and some of the other demigods started hissing like that, but in this case, he got the essence pretty quickly as the gigantic snake opened its mouth and lunged for him, and he felt the air pressure from its powerful jaws snapping close where he had stood just seconds earlier. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw the snake rearing up for another attack.

Percy felt like slapping himself as he started running away from the lake. Nico might be more tired than he was letting show, if his short breaths were anything to go by, but by summoning the basilisk and placing it between Percy and the water, he had more than evened the odds. Not only had he cut off Percy from getting his energy back, but he had also reduced his options for a counterattack from the lake.

Cursing under his breath, Percy spun on his heels, facing his cousin and the giant snake again. Though, the moment he turned around, he twisted to avoid the object that embedded itself deeply into the ground behind him with a thud.

'What was…?' Percy's line of thought trailed off as cool air hit his stomach. Looking down, he saw that there was a great tear in his blue sweatshirt. 'Huh? When did that happen?' The answer dawned on him all too fast and he looked over his shoulder. 'That's a new one.'

Embedded into the rock, sticking up like a cross, was a classical Greek formed sword made of Stygian Iron, some rune engraved into the side of the blade. It was shorter than Nico's first sword, but what really caught Percy's attention was the blood red fire curling around the blade.

"You don't have time to look away, Percy! I'm your opponent! Kill him!"

Percy's head spun around to come see the basilisk coming at him with open mouth, ready to swallow him whole. Cursing under his breath, Percy prepared for a stunt he had only used during practice… on much smaller targets. He quickly inhaled the cold December air. Then, he exhaled all of it and more. Result: A concentrated beam of water shooting from his mouth with the force of a water cannon.

The jet hit the giant serpent, and Nico was forced to raise its head less he be swept off. The water, however, didn't cut through the decaying flesh. But it wasn't meant to. Percy had come up with the idea for this trick to stop larger opponents in their steps, like Cyclopes. But it seemed to be working on the giant snake as well.

Upon hitting the serpent, the water froze to sub-zero temperatures and before long, the giant snake was encased by a five feet thick layer of ice, leaving only the upper part of Nico's head free, though the layer around him was much thinner.

'Still,' Percy mused as he tried to regain his breath, 'pretty good debut for this trick in combat. He has been completely immobilized.'

Allowing himself to relax slightly and taking a few more moments to catch his breath, Percy walked closer to Nico and shouted up to him.

"Are you done raging? Are you ready to talk or do you need to cool down a bit more?"

Nico glared, red eyes boring into stormy sea-green. "Don't mock me, Percy. This fight isn't over… not by a long shot."

Percy opened his mouth to say something, but then darkness surged in Nico's hands and what appeared to be a current of black lightning flew around the son of Hades, freeing his arms. Percy chuckled, crossing his arms as Nico panted and sweat born form exertion started to cover the younger boy's brow.

"I hope you didn't believe it would be that easy. This ice absorbs any kind of energy used to break it from within. That last trick… it seemed to take quite a lot of energy, but yet you only managed to free your arms."

Nico just glared, though a small smirk started to form. "That will be more than enough to escape."

Before Percy could say or do anything, Nico brought his hands together, but not before slicing open his left palm on the sharp edges of the ice, making blood flow freely. Before the palms smacked together, however, Percy noticed how the left hand seemed to have another fresh tear. The son of the Lord of the Underworld's hands smashed together, and once more, the air grew cold. Then, there was a roar from within the earth, and an explosion that sent rock and stone flying as the form started to emerge.

Percy felt a small trickle of sweat running down his face as the form burst from the ground, towering above him. 'Oh man...c'mon. Why me? It's incredible what Nico can do when he sacrifices some of his blood to enhance his Necromancy… and with that scythe boosting it even further... I'm just glad he hasn't sunken so low as to resort to his ultimate Necromancy yet… or perhaps he can't?'

He grimaced as one of the most infamous jaws opened up and clamped down on him, the Curse of Achilles being the only reason he wasn't bitten half. Unfortunately, it didn't bite hard enough to break its teeth

'And I who used to love these guys.'

Then he was smashed into the ice.

11111

Harry could only stare in astonishment as another form rose from the ground. This whole battle was surreal to him. Amazing and terrifying feats upon feats were being pulled by teenagers, and now this. He had seen the creature before of course… in books, movies and as toys. However, seeing one of them walking around, even if it was long dead… that was something else.

The creature was about forty feet long and eighteen feet tall at the hips with a five feet long skull, jaws filled with teeth designed for crushing bone. It was only bones moving around, but even Harry could identify the monster now using Percy as a hammer to crush the ice he had created. The Boy-Who-Lived briefly wondered how Percy's body could withstand the abuse from teeth and smashing, but if his yelling was anything to go by, he was very much alive.

"I don't believe it! First di Angelo summons the Basilisk of Slytherin, and now he has summoned the skeleton of a dragon to fight for him!"

Harry didn't see or hear who said it, but he had to shake his head at the person. Whoever it was, he or she had to be a pureblood since the person could confuse the skeleton with that of a dragon. And from the sounds of it, some First-Year disagreed heavily if the awe in his voice was anything to go by.

"That's no dragon! That's dinosaur! A T-Rex! This is awesome!"

Harry couldn't help but chuckle, but he was surprised that Percy, now facing Nico, the Basilisk and T-Rex wasn't surrendering. Harry doubted very much that Percy could fend off the three with a sword and a shield… a shield that Harry had no idea where had come from. He focused harder as the two weapon-wielding teens exchanged blows, the water user occasionally dodging out of the way of snapping jaws.

It happened so fast that if not for his years as Seeker, Harry wouldn't have seen it. Nico and Percy came face to face, and suddenly, Percy seemed paralyzed. But then he seemed to snap awake like if he had been given a heavy shot of adrenalin as he slashed and kicked at Nico, before being forced to roll out of the way as the Basilisk tried to snap him up.

Then, the battlefield was engulfed in heavy mist, obscuring the students' view completely. Holding their breath, they waited… and waited. Ron leaned closer, muttering.

"What do you think is taking the teachers so long? They should have been here by now. And what do you think is going on inside that mist?"

Harry shrugged. "Don't know. Maybe the teachers are trying to secure the people already inside the castle… as we should be. As for how they are fighting in the mist… what the!?"

They didn't see what happened, but they felt the shockwave from the explosion, and, if Harry was not mistaken, a slight tremor in the earth. None of that, however, really mattered to Harry as he took in the scene.

The heavy fog was gone. So was the Basilisk and T-Rex. Nico and Percy, however, remained standing, the ground around Nico now eerily similar to that of the Quidditch Pitch, identifying him as the one responsible for the blast.

Harry swallowed, a trail of sweat running down his neck. How Percy had survived the blast, he had no idea. Then again, he had no idea how Percy had managed to survive the fight up till this point. However, Nico's trick, whatever it was, seemed to have taken quite a toll on both of them. Both seemed to be shaking and trying to catch their breath. For a time they just stood there, looking at each other. Then, Percy flung out his arms and started to raise them. At first, nothing happened. But then, Harry felt the wind start to pick up and heard a deep rumble. But when he saw what was making the noise, he felt like laughing, even if there was nothing remotely funny about it. Others, however, did laugh, though Harry had a feeling they were just trying to cover up their shock.

"Damn…"

"This is… on a completely different level…"

"Is this… even magic?"

"Merlin help us…"

It was then the fight entered its final stage.

11111

Percy was cursing wildly as the T-Rex tossed him into the air, before gripping him around the ankles and smashing him into the ice one last time, allowing the giant zombie snake to slither out, Nico still standing on its head, though he seemed to be shivering from the cold. Growling, Percy slashed at the T-Rex with Riptide, to no effect. His reward for being used as an icebreaker was being hammered into the ground. Taking a moment to get to his feet and regain his balance after the wild swing, he softly swore under his breath.

"And I who used to love dinosaurs… guess being their chew toy can change one's opinion of them." He raised his head, just to see Nico approaching on foot, ready for battle. "No rest for the weary." He looked around and saw that the T-Rex and reanimated basilisk had taken up positions, completely surrounding him. "Well, this complicates things."

Tapping his wristwatch, his new shield, made by Tyson of course, sprang into existence. "You won't get me that easily, Nico."

The son of Hades stopped in his tracks, studying the intricate inscriptions of Percy's adventures, ignoring his aching body. 'Guess I won't be doing anymore Necromancy… takes too much energy. Then again, I could feel the school's magic working against me when I summoned the Basilisk… took a lot of power to bypass the barriers… just like with my Shadow Travel. Even trying to make use my ultimate summoning now would kill me. Last time I summoned them, the energy drain was great enough to put me out of commission for a month.' He took another step, pushing a down a grimace from his aching muscles. 'I need to end this fight now. As it is, I barely have energy enough for two big moves… even with the scythe stealing a little energy from Percy via the Ghost Fire. Heh, now that was a nice bonus effect I hadn't foreseen. Well… time to end this.'

Smirking, Nico raised his scythe. "Percy… what difference do you think that shield is going to make in this battle?"

As if to prove a point, the basilisk lunged from behind. Spinning on his heels, Percy placed the shield between him and the monstrous mouth, delivering a blow to the serpent's neck, cutting off a piece of decaying flesh. If the snake had been alive, it could have been a near fatal blow. As it was, it just turned its head, readying for another bout. Nico just chuckled.

"Let's see who first tires of that strategy, Perseus. Let me ask you again, what difference do you think that shield is going to make in this fight?"

Percy cursed silently as Nico laughed when he had to roll out of the way of the dinosaur's snapping jaws. 'He has a point… I will be the first one to tire at this rate. How does one kill an undead? Or rather, how does one kill an undead without being related to an Underworld god?'

He glanced over his shoulders, seeing the two creatures still trying to find an opening. 'To make matters worse… I'm running out of juice. Two big tricks, and I'm out. So… what do I do? Freezing them is out. For starters, one would just free the other… assuming they let me, and don't attack from the back. Damn Nico, you've played your hand well this time. Can't focus on them, or Nico will move in from the front. Can't attack Nico, or they will get me from behind. Ah shit, this is not good.' He shook his head slightly. 'Relax… calm down. Think.'

Deciding to stall for time, he raised the shield, peering over at it, looking directly at Nico. "A whole lot. This shield will be the reason I win. You see, this shield is what will defend me against your words spoken in rage… what will protect my friendship with you. You see the inscription closest to the centre? It's the symbols of our fathers, surrounded by the word 'Friends'. That is what will decide the winner of this fight."

For a moment, Nico was stunned into silence, a mask of disbelief on his face. But it vanished all too soon for Percy's taste, being replaced with cold indifference. "In that case… I will break the shield… this last defence of our friendship."

That was the only warning the son Poseidon got before Nico attacked, scythe ablaze with Black Hellfire and Ghost Fire, bringing it down in a deadly arc. Percy barely managed to deflect the blow, but then had to jump out of the way as a dinosaur jaw tried snapping him in half, just to duck under the poisonous maw of a huge snake. For how long it continued like that, Percy didn't know. All he could focus on was slicing, jabbing, blocking, dodging, ducking, jumping, rolling and making other moves that kept him alive, but he knew that one didn't win a fight by being on the defensive.

The son of the sea god snorted at his own deduction. 'No kidding. But it's hard to find an opening when you are surrounded… especially considering what is circling me. A T-Rex and a giant serpent would be bad enough on their own… their raw power combined with Nico's cunning, and you have an overwhelming force. I need to… whoa!'

It was more out of reflex than anything. Then again, most would raise one's shield when two blades ablaze with cursed fires are heading right for your head. Bringing his shield between his face and the deadly scythe, Percy got the shock of a lifetime when the two blades punctured the shield, their tips stopping inches from his face, letting their cursed flames lick at his skin. Instantly, the son of Poseidon felt his energy being drained and for the first time during their fight, he started to feel an ounce of fear.

'So that is the effect of the Ghost Fire! Shit, this is not good! I can't let him drain more of my energy!'

That thought firmly in mind, he twisted his arm, dragging the shield and scythe out of his view… just to come face-to-face with Nico, staring into a pair of glowing red orbs. Immediately, he felt himself grow dizzy as images flew through his brain at rapid speed.

Suddenly, they came to a screeching halt and Percy saw himself staring down at Annabeth's dying body. Her eyes were starting to glaze over and her dagger seemed to have been kicked into her abdomen.

"Percy… you failed me…"

Percy sank to his knees, doing his best to ignore the blood pooling beneath his girlfriend as he hugged her close. "Wise Girl… you're going to be okay… who did this?"

"Behind… you…"

With that, Annabeth's eyes glazed over completely. She was dead. Percy was about to let out a scream of anguish and fury, but it turned into one of agony as he felt a sword pierce him from behind, sending excruciating pain throughout his body. Blood running from his mouth, he slowly turned his head to look over his shoulder, but before he could see his attacker, he was pushed to the ground and forced onto his back with a boot, allowing him to see his attacker holding Riptide, coated with his own blood.

Breathing was hard, but he still managed a single word. "Murderer…"

"No, Percy. An avenger." With that his attacker's hood fell, revealing Nico di Angelo staring down on him with malice. "I told you to get out of my way… you refused. You… her… you reap what you saw, Percy."

"NO!"

The son of Poseidon wasn't sure if it was himself or another screaming, but suddenly the scene changed and he was facing off against Nico, a double-bladed scythe tearing his shield as it was pulled back for another strike. Acting on instinct, Percy slashed with Riptide, forcing Nico to abandon his attack and guard himself as the swipe came for his head, the tip nicking his left cheek under the eye, drawing blood. Percy didn't really register that fact though, opting instead to aim a kick at his opponent's stomach, his kick powerful enough to force Nico backwards, despite the scythe having taken the brunt of the attack. But before the son of the Earthshaker could follow up, the Basilisk came at him with its mouth fully open, and he had to roll out of the way, the mighty beast forcing him back.

Pushing the shield's folding mechanism, Percy watched it fold back into its wristwatch form, though the watch now looked rather broken.

Growling at Nico, Percy clapped his palms, much like Nico did when summoning the T-Rex, and then he exhaled. Mist rolled across the field of battle… rolling inland from the lake and Percy's mouth, until a heavy cloak of fog covered the battlefield, lowering visibility to near zero.

Nico, having regained his breath, hoisted his scythe into a more defensive position. Barely had he gotten into position before he had to duck under a slash aimed for his head. But just as fast as the attack had come, just as quickly was Percy gone from his vision, leaving no opportunity for counterattacking. Glowering into the mist, Nico tightened his grip and listened. Then he spun on his heels, barely managing to block the strike. And just like before, Percy was gone before he could do anything. And again. And again. Each time, Percy would appear from the mist and disappear before Nico could make a counterattack.

'This is bad… I can't defend against his attacks when I can't see where they will come from. How do deal with this?' He blocked another swipe and retaliated, only to hit empty air. 'Damn it… how do you fight against an opponent that is practically invisible?!' He took a deep breath, silently berating himself. 'Calm down di Angelo, relax. Focus. Stay calm. Analyse the situation. You have been in tighter spots than this. So calm down and focus. Think. '

He closed his eyes, thinking deeper. 'I can't see him in this heavy fog… but I can sense his life aura. Now… where are you hiding, Percy?' Concentrating harder, he reached out with his senses for Percy's aura, only to frown with the result he got. 'That's strange… he is all over the place. But that can't be right. So why are my senses telling me… of course!'

He smiled into the Mist and called out. "Not bad Percy, not bad at all. When you made this heavy mist, you imbued it with your energy, making it impossible for me to find you through your life aura, rendering my sensory skills and eyesight useless. Very smart. However… like you dispelled my illusion, I will dispel this mist."

A plan started to form, but Nico knew that he would have to buy a little time, even with the energy siphoned from Percy to replenish a fraction of what he had used. And he knew just the topic to keep Percy occupied and from going into the lake.

'You should have jumped into the lake, Percy. The shore is now being guarded by both the T-Rex and Basilisk… though, not for long. It's getting harder keeping them under control. That's the problem with necromancy: The summoning is taxing enough in itself, but the more powerful the creature, the more focused and disciplined the controlling mind has to be to keep them in check. And as the fight drags on, the more tired I get. The more tired I get, the more my focus slips. Time to cancel the summoning I think.'

Bringing his left hand up in front of his face, index and middle finger pointing up, he instantly felt the Basilisk being banished back to the place he had summoned it from and the T-Rex sinking back into the ground, and he instantly felt the strain on his mind lessen. 'And now… time to end this.'

With that thought firmly in mind, he started stalling for time as he channelled energy into the scythe.

"I know you are wondering about how my illusions work, Percy. And I will tell you, but first you need to grasp the basic of normal Mist Manipulation, like what Thalia and Chase do." He knew he had Percy's attention, even if he couldn't see him. "When you snap your fingers, you summon the Mist to you and the victim. Once you and the victim are completely surrounded, you form an image or a scenario in your mind, and through your voice and words, the Mist conveys the illusion to your target and traps them."

He let out a low chuckle. "Of course, that is the most basic explanation. And like Charmspeak, it's most effective if you show the victim what he or she wants and expects to see. But fact remains that Mist Manipulation like this has one great flaw: It's slow. If one realizes what is happening, one can muster his willpower to resist or dispel the illusion altogether." He smiled coldly into the fog as he felt the power building in the scythe. Soon he would be ready. "I learned to look into people's mind, to extract their memories in order to detect lies. Then I realized… once the link was formed, I could project images into the mind of my victim. I draw a little of the Mist into my eyes and use it to project the illusion directly into the mind of my target. It doesn't matter what my victim or target wants or expects to see… the effect is instant… there is no defence against it."

He felt the energy in the scythe boil. "Or rather, there is no defence unless you are child of Hecate or the Big Three. Hecate's children are not immune to the Mist, but they have a varying degree of affinity for it, and as such, might be able to resist it… for some time. But even so, my illusions happen so fast that they can't build a defence in time, leaving more or less only the Big Three. While not immune either, it's much harder to fool or trap us with illusions; the natures of our fathers protect us. No one can predict the ocean, trap the sky or deny the stone will of death for ever."

Nico smiled as he felt the energy in the scythe beginning to crackle. But to ensure he had Percy's interest, he kept talking, his voice soft and with obvious fondness in it. "I taught my little sister to manipulate the Mist, you know. She didn't grasp it at first… but once she got the hang of it, she was exceptional. Given enough time, she could… no, would… have surpassed me in the art of Mist Manipulation. The only thing holding her back was her gentle heart. Once, during our training, I let my guard down and she caught me in an illusion… I woke two weeks later."

The son of Hades let out a sigh. "She was horrified and wouldn't stop apologizing for it, despite me telling her that it was my own fault. After that, she was hesitant about using illusions… she was worried she would hurt me. She was always so gentle and so kind… even to the people who treated her badly."

Nico's voice dropped to a whisper that was barely audible to his own ears, talking more to himself as Percy wouldn't be able to hear him, an ounce of shame and resignation in his voice. "I used to have a crush on you, you know? When I was younger. But I was young and impressionable… didn't know anything about love and sexuality. It lasted for some time, I will admit… but what does a thirteen-year-old know about sexuality and love? What does a fourteen-year-old know about these things? However, as I grew older and more aware of myself… and of your flaws… I realized that the crush on you was just that… a silly crush of a silly boy. I got over it... I even have a girlfriend now. I've never talked to anyone about this… not even Hazel who I would trust with my life."

His voice rose once as it hardened and grew icy cold. "Hazel was gentle and kind… I am not. Percy, I've had enough of this game of hide-and-seek… time to end it. But I guess that if I ever see him again, I should give Jason, one of the leaders of Camp Jupiter, my thanks. After all… he, unknowingly mind you, helped me perfect this move."

With that, Nico slammed the bottom end of the scythe into the ground. Tremors went through the earth as the underground explosion tore it open. Starting from Nico, a cobweb of destruction spread out. Black lightning shot up and ripped apart the ground, sending rocks and debris flying through the air.

It was over as soon as it started. The fog was gone, leaving only a barren patch of wasteland behind. Panting heavily, Nico waited for the dust to settle. Once it did, his red eyes instantly zoomed in on his cousin near the lake shore. Percy looked worse for wear, but he was still very much alive, and like Nico, panting heavily. Feeling his frustration grow, the son of Hades swore internally. 'Dang it Percy, just give up already.

Percy couldn't believe the pain he was feeling. 'I… I don't believe it… that black lightning didn't strike me directly… yet, one of the bolts came close to me and I was almost incinerated. But how did he create lightning? Nico is a son of Hades, not Zeus! So how…' He shook his head, his gaze meeting the red eyes glaring at him with blood thirst. 'I suppose it doesn't really matter. I have to end this fight… and I've to end it now. Nico's hatred and anger fuels him… makes his energy all the more potent.'

He looked at his own now trembling hands, then back at the son of Hades. Knowing what defeat here meant, the son of Poseidon mustered as much power as he could as he raised his arms. 'I'm sorry Nico, but this has gone on long enough. I'm sorry, but this ends now. I regret that I have to use this power, but I cannot allow you to win.'

The wind started picking up and Percy felt a violent tug in his gut as every piece of water, all from great lake down to small piece of snow and ice responded to his call. Then the rumble and the roar as several million gallons of water formed a colossal wave over the middle of the lake. A wave that was more or less as tall as a ten storey building. With a furious shout, the son of the Earthshaker made a pushing motion with his hands, sending the massive wave inland with thundering speed.

The son of Poseidon disappeared into the wave as it crossed the shoreline and moved towards the son of Hades, its devastating force ready to break his body.

Appearing in the now rapidly moving body of water so he could speak to Nico, he called out. "I'm sorry that I have to do this Nico, but I won't let you hurt Annabeth. I can still stop this wave. Give up now… come back to camp. If you don't… you leave me no choice."

The son of Hades looked at his cousin inside the massive wave of destruction and rage. But when he opened his mouth, he did something that would haunt Percy forever: He laughed; an insane laughter that chilled Percy to the core. And instead of answering him with words, the son of the Lord of the Underworld threw out his hands. Instantly, they became alight with Black Hellfire. But that wasn't all. Shadows and darkness sprang from around Nico and his body, merging with the cursed fire. The result: Black lightning crackling around his body. And much to Percy's shock and dismay, his cousin kept increasing the amount until the Necromancer was surrounded by the dark lightning. And when it all disappeared into Nico's body, the son of Poseidon knew what he was planning.

'No Nico… don't try it. Please don't try it.'

His silent plea fell on deaf ears as the son of Hades unleashed a wave of black lightning. When the cursed lightning hit the mass of water, Percy felt pure agony course through his body.

11111

It happened so fast. In one moment, Nico was surrounded by what Harry best could describe as an aura of black lightning. Then, it seemed to disappear into his body, but then it shot from Nico's outstretched fingers, slamming into the gigantic wave of water. But before anyone could question how effective it would be, they got their answer.

But it was hard to describe. The lightning seemed to mix with the wave, giving the form composed of many tons of water a black-striped look from head to toe. One second you could see black stripes in one place, the next they were gone as the water rippled as it moved.

Harry let out a strangled yell as he saw the monstrous wave seemingly swallow Nico whole, but the screams of terror rising up around him was well founded, for they had troubles of their own. Whatever Nico had done to the mass of water had only decreased its power and slowed it down. He hadn't stopped it completely; and now, the monster wave was heading straight for them.

Feeling pure panic spreading through himself and the ones around him, Harry raised his voice far louder than he had ever done before.

"Everyone, get as far away from here as possible!"

They might think him an attention seeking liar. But even the masses of Hogwarts students had sense enough to listen and follow directions.

"Run!"

"Hurry!"

Later, Harry would reflect on just how fast you can run uphill when a gigantic wave of death is closing in on you. Even so…

"We can't outrun it!"

That was the ugly truth of it. No matter if they had put more distance between themselves and the battle, the result would have been the same. But then, relieved shouts rose from in front of him.

"Dumbledore! The teachers! They are here!"

Whoever had shouted was right. Straining to see over the masses, Harry saw the headmaster running towards them with a speed greatly belying his age, the Heads of Houses right behind him and some of the other teachers like Hooch, Umbridge and a few others making up the rear. And the old headmaster didn't waste time.

Dumbledore swung his wand, pointing it directly at the wave and icy blue light shot from the wand, the power of the spell making the hair on Harry's head stand up and causing him to stumble slightly. However, when he saw what the spell had done, he realized why Voldemort never had sought to fight Dumbledore: The enormous wave, that only seconds before had threatened to swallow and crush Harry and the other students was gone, leaving only a wet trail behind.

'Where did that wave go? Did Dumbledore just banish it?'

The Gryffindor Seeker got his answer far quicker than he expected as a Slytherin First Year started shouting. "The Quidditch Stadium!"

Harry spun on his heels, looking towards the Quidditch Stadium. He looked just in time to see a massive form of water sweep it away.

Still being in a state of shock, the students turned once more towards the teachers as they approached, sweat on their foreheads. Dumbledore spoke in a grave voice.

"All of you, get behind your Head of House. Minerva, Severus, Filius and Pomona, you will form the second line of defence behind me." The elderly wizard's gaze swept across the battlefield, eyes settling on the two teens duking it out. When he spoke again, Harry thought he could hear a bit of curiosity in the voice of the headmaster. "My, my. I haven't seen this level of destruction in a one-on-one duel since my fight against Grindelwald. Though, it should be noted that we caused greater damage than this." He glanced over his shoulder, then back at the battle. "I don't think it is necessary to escort the students back to the castle. Their duel is coming to an end."

Harry gave the old wizard an incredulous stare as he fell in line with the Gryffindor students behind McGonagall, listening in as she explained that Dumbledore had used some sort of Space-Time spell to move the wave to the Quidditch Stadium. Harry didn't bother asking how the headmaster had done it. Instead, he focused on the fight still going on, and he felt his mouth open in surprise, just as Hermione and others exclaimed.

"But… but that is impossible!"

The Boy-Who-Lived didn't know how after everything they had seen, people could be surprised by what they were seeing now. Nico and Percy simply defied the laws of what people, even wizards, thought possible. Plus, he agreed with Dumbledore when the old headmaster spoke up.

"That is a very interesting and useful trick, Nico. I don't expect you want to teach me that? It would reduce my time spend on paperwork quite a bit."

That last line almost made Harry fall flat on his face. He hadn't seen that one coming, that's for sure. Shaking his head at Dumbledore's eccentrics, he watched as the fight came to an end.

11111

'I don't believe it.' Percy thought furiously as he deflected another blow from the scythe. 'Not only did the black lightning force me out to step out of the wave, thus ending my control of the water, it also carved a way for Nico. The lightning put darkness in the water, allowing him to slip through the shadows and go on the offensive.' The son of Poseidon blocked another blow and made a swipe at the son of Hades. 'Then again, it's typical Nico; always having something new up his sleeve… though, this definitely took a toll on him. But the same can be said for me. I can barely swing my sword. The Curse of Achilles… I can't remember ever feeling this drained. My whole body… it feels like it's on fire. If this fight drags out for much longer, I will be totally drained… I will lose'

That thought and what it would mean if he lost steeled Percy's resolve, and he pressed his body for more energy, giving him an extra boost of strength. As Nico lunged with his scythe again, Percy spun on his heels, dancing around the blow and with a precise strike to where the lower blade connected with the rest of the weapon, the son of the Earthshaker disarmed the son of Hades. Black Hellfire started to gather in Nico's right palm, but before the son of Hades could unleash it, the son of Poseidon grabbed his wrist in a vicelike grip and forced it around his back, bringing Riptide to Nico's neck in one smooth move.

Panting heavily, and feeling Nico still struggling, Percy tightened his grip slightly and pressed a little harder with Riptide.

"It's over, Nico! Give up! You've lost!"

The son of Hades turned his head as much as he could, a cold sneer on his face and fury burning in his eyes. His voice was cold and nothing more but a deadly whisper, but he didn't need to speak loudly to be heard by the son of Poseidon. "Perhaps. But…"

"…I wouldn't bet on it if I were you… cousin."

Percy went rigid for two reasons: One was the voice. The other was the tip of something very sharp poking into his back, right above his mortal spot. Already fearing what he would see, he turned his head to look over his shoulder. What he saw almost floored him then and there:

A second Nico, who looked and sounded just as battered as the one he held in an iron grip, was glaring at him with red eyes, aiming his black sword right at his vulnerable spot, the tip mere inches away. Shocked to his core, Percy spoke in incoherent sentences.

"Nico… how did you… when did you…?"

Both of the Nicos chuckled and spoke simultaneously. "Well that depends on what you are talking about: If you are talking about how and when I figured out your Achilles Heel: It was during one of our first sparring fights at Camp. It wasn't that hard, actually. You would guard your back with far more fervour than your front… you especially seemed very panicky whenever I would aim for your lower back."

Both chuckled again. "I put an effort into knowing the weaknesses of every demigod with special powers… be they Greek or Roman…so that I can neutralize them should they ever go rogue or get brainwashed by our common enemies. That is a major difference between the two of us, Percy. You will do anything in your power to save your former comrade… I will do what I deem necessary."

They chuckled once more, though, it held no humour. "It's ironic, isn't it? That I would learn the weaknesses of others in order to counter them should they go rogue… and now I have gone rogue in the eyes of both camps. As to how I did this… I formed the other me by combining my blood with shadow... basically, I made a shadowy copy of myself. I can see, sense and talk through the copy, making it ideal for scouting… though, it's very draining. At my current state, attempting to make a Shadow would kill me on the spot. I performed the spell when I had plenty of energy to spare… when I threw the sword at you; the flames were red because of my blood on the blade. After it struck the ground, it was simply a matter of waiting for the right time to summon the Shadow."

A snarl crept into the voices of the two Nicos. "I already told you how my illusions work, Percy. Make no mistake… the Shadow is just as real as I am." As if to prove a point, the Nico behind him prodded him with tip of his sword, just to the right of the spot before taking aim again. "So… it would seem we have reached a standoff. What will it be? If you strike the one you hold, I will strike from behind. If you aim for the one behind, which should be more than possible with your enhanced speed, the one in your grip will escape. Can you tell which one of us is the real Nico? You need to make a choice, Percy; truth… or illusion?"

Percy was silent for a few seconds before leaping into action. Letting go of the Nico he had been holding, he spun on his heel, slashing the Nico behind him across the chest with Riptide before spinning around again; just for Riptide to clash against the scythe. Venturing a glance over his shoulder, Percy saw blood spill from the wound he had inflicted before Nico melted into shadow.

"Not bad Percy, not bad at all. How did you know which one was the real one and which was the Shadow? After all, you couldn't risk being wrong."

Turning back to look at his cousin, the son of Poseidon's green eyes once more met red. Breathing heavily from the exhaustion starting to kick in, Percy spoke as calmly as possible.

"Simple: How many times have we not fought side-by-side, back-to-back… like brothers? I know you, Nico… you wouldn't bother with setting a trap unless you were sure the bait would be taken… you would never risk your life so carelessly… that is my job, isn't it?"

Percy sighed deeply before speaking again, this time with a curious undertone. "Nico, you've had plenty of chances to kill me… yet I'm still alive. In short, despite how you much you try to deny it, you still have kindness or goodness inside of you. You still know right from wrong, which stilled your hand against Thalia, even if someone had to remind you of it."

Nico tilted his head to the side but didn't confirm or deny anything, so Percy forged on. "After your disappearances from Camp, your dad made a simple demand: Find my son before the winter solstice or there will be war and I will have every demigod hunted down and killed." He looked deeply into the eyes of the son of the Lord of the Underworld and spoke with sincerity.

"Nico… I know you don't think you have much reason to, but, please, at least call your dad. Your head might have forgotten, but your heart still knows right from wrong. Don't let your anger at Annabeth, however warranted, blind you. Don't prove those who badmouth you at Camp right. Prove them wrong. Prove them wrong by saving their lives, yet again, and come back to Camp… come home."

The son of Hades was silent, as if considering Percy's words. Then, he spoke. "It's too late for that, Percy. You talk about me proving them wrong and coming back to Camp… about forgiveness. So you want me to forgive them their treatment of me, excusing them. And if I come back and forgive them… if I call my father and have him call off his threat… then how long before another attempt will be made on my life? No Percy, it's too late for that. People have treated me as an enemy for too long. If it's an enemy they want… it's an enemy they shall get."

He sighed. "Percy... when I had you choose between the real me and the Shadow, you choose to attack the Shadow… you saw through the lie… the illusion. It served an important point: I wanted to see if you could see through my illusions, for if you can see through my illusions, you should be able to see through the ones created by Chase. So if you see through my illusions and dispel them, but don't do the same with the lies crafted by Chase, it can only be because you choose to believe and follow the lie over reality."

Coldness crept back into Nico's voice. "You want to me to forget and forgive Chase too, right? For the attack on my sister… yet, I wonder: Would you be willing to talk about forgiveness… would you would be willing to forgive me… if I attacked and killed Chase?" A tensioning in Percy's jaw and Nico smiled. "I thought so. Even if you beat me now… even if you drag me back to Camp by the hair, it will change nothing. I will never forget this final insult, much less forgive. You will have to kill me Percy, or I will come back for Chase's blood. And make no mistake… I will kill her."

They moved at the same time, twisting their weapons and bodies to disarm the other. Result: Both weapons went flying and they stumbled away, creating a small gap between them. Both called upon their remaining reserves of energy, unleashing their final assault.

Both palms facing towards Nico, Percy summoned the power of a miniature hurricane and compressed it into a ball before sending away from him. The son of Hades had brought up both of his hands, palms facing each other, mixing and condensing Black Hellfire and shadow, creating the black lightning from earlier. With a yell, Nico thrust out his hands and a jet of densely packed Hell Lightning flew away, colliding midway with Percy's attack.

Their power was low, but the impact of the two attacks and the following explosion of wind, water and lightning were still more than enough to blow both teens off their feet, leaving and hitting the ground as they went. When they landed, they were more than twenty metres apart.

With a low groan, Nico pushed himself to his feet, ignoring his screaming muscles and his left arm now dangling uselessly at his side as blood poured from both arms, soaking his torn clothes. Likewise, blood ran from the corners of his mouth and eyes, every breath hurting more than the last. Combined with the glare he was shooting Percy, he looked like a demon. And it didn't get any better when the fury still burning in his eyes turned to hatred as his legs gave out beneath him, making him fall to his knees.

Percy groaned as he finally got back on his feet, his breathing laboured and every muscle in his body burning with pain. Blood wasn't pouring from him, but the son of Poseidon knew that if not for the Curse of Achilles, he would be in just as bad shape as Nico. Not just from the blast, but also from the strain the last move had put on both of them.

Panting heavily, Percy addressed his younger cousin. "You've grown strong, Nico… very powerful. No one has ever pushed me this far. Just breathing sends pain through my body… but now… now it's over."

With that, Percy took a single step forward… and instantly, he froze in his tracks. 'What… my body… it… I… can't… move.'

Black spots started dancing before his eyes and the ground seemed to fly upwards. The son of Poseidon was unconscious before he hit the ground, face down.

Nico stared at the form of his cousin on the ground. Then, ever so slowly, a smile spread across his face. "I… I did it. I… did… it. I… won."

The son of Hades didn't register the shouting from somewhere behind him or the explosion of fire overhead as he slumped forwards, the darkness of unconsciousness claiming him.

11111

"NICO!"

There was a surge of movement from the students, the Gryffindors Fifth Year boys in particular, as they tore past Professor McGonagall, running towards the battlefield at full speed.

"Mr. Potter, Mr. Longbottom, get back here this instant! Stop, Mr. Weasley! No, Ms. Granger, get back here! Mr. Finnigan, Mr. Thomas, stop!"

None of them listened as they ran, though they faltered slightly as a fireball exploded high in the sky, making Harry slow his speed for a fraction of a second, just enough to hear Dumbledore say "Ah, youths these day. Always in a hurry. Let's join them, shall we?"

Shaking his head slightly, Harry continued his dash, coming in only second to Neville to stand around Nico as the one who had made them run with fire came to a halt besides Percy, the girl and the boy with the crutches following right behind him. The blonde kneeled and put her fingers at Percy's neck, then let out a relieved sigh that could be heard over the wind. Then, she turned her head, glaring bloody murder in their general direction, the ferocity of her gaze shocking even Harry slightly. Still though, the greatest shock came when Neville spoke, drawing his wand.

"Whatever you're planning, you can forget about it."

Annabeth stood, eyes turning from Nico's prone form to Neville, her voice deceptively calm. "I've nothing against you, but step aside. This has nothing to do with you. This is a problem between Nico and our camp. There is no reason for you to get involved."

Neville chuckled. "I will have to disagree with you on that, Miss. You see, Nico is my friend. And I will not stand idle by while he is being threatened and is unable to defend himself."

Dean drew his wand as well. "Neither will I. Unlike you, I cherish Nico as my friend. His powers might be way over the line of Dark, but he has never used them unless provoked. I guess you're in the same boat as those Hunters… last time, they took us by surprise and bested us, I will admit that. But we have seen your type before: People who come to a place, throwing their weight around, expecting others to let them have their way. At the end of the day, you're nothing more than a school yard bully."

Seamus also drew his wand. "Nico is my friend too. Not only did he slap some sense into my thick skull, but he has been kind to those who are kind to him. Night after night I've seen him help the younger students with their homework, even carrying them to bed when they fell asleep in our common room. People might have forgotten the kindness he has shown them in the past, but I haven't. What I'm trying to say is that if you want Nico, you have to go through me first."

Ron too drew his wand. "I will admit any day that Nico's power terrifies me. But even so, I won't just hand him over to some strangers when he clearly doesn't want to go with them."

Neville chuckled as more and more students from Gryffindors, even First Years, joined them with wands drawn, forming a wall between Nico and the small group surrounding Percy. "What we are trying to say is: Nico, despite some of the things he has done… despite him not sharing some of our morals and ideals… he is one of us. He belongs here. And if you disagree with that… if you try to take him with force... super powers or not, you will have to fight us... all of us."

Harry saw Annabeth open her mouth to say something, but then the fire-wielding boy spoke up.

"Annabeth… enough."

Annabeth turned to look at the youngest of their group. "What?"

The son of Hephaestus walked forward, taking point in their formation and when he spoke, all could hear the admiration in his voice. "Can't you see it in their eyes? They are serious. If we try taking Nico with us by force, we will have a fight on our hands."

Annabeth frowned. "But we need to bring Nico back to Camp. Not only would that stop his father, but he could have valuable information-"

Leo cut her off. "I don't know where all of this hatred and coldness of yours is coming from Annabeth, but it has blinded you. The way you talk… it's that way of thinking that has caused all of this." He sighed. "You reap what you saw, Annabeth. The people at Camp have long treated Nico like an enemy or as a mere tool to save them, never thinking about the consequences of their actions. And I'm ashamed to say this, I but joined that club."

Annabeth's features shifted to shame and confusion. "Leo…"

Leo held up his right hand, calling fire to his palm and instantly saw more sticks being pointed at him. He smiled ruefully. "Back at Camp… when people found out I was Fire User, they treated me with distrust… they even feared me. But as they grew to know me, and after fixing Festus, I won their respect, even becoming the Head Councillor of Cabin Nine. For the first time in years I was accepted for whom and what I was… I was happy. So happy, that I forgot the one who was like kin in spirit to me: Nico di Angelo."

He sighed, looking deeply into the fire, not realizing that had the attention of everyone. "After my mother died in that fire, the rest of my family, the people who should have comforted and loved me… they called demon child and shunned me. I've no idea how many nights I cried myself to sleep, asking myself why the people who should have cherished me hated me… asking myself why I kept existing if no one needed me. I decided to adopt a happy-go-lucky attitude, and for years, it fooled people. Then, after running away from several foster homes I came to Wilderness School where people either hated or liked my jokes and personality, but it didn't matter, for no one knew the truth behind the mask. Then someday, a creepy kid dressed in all black walks up to me and says: *Drop the mask or you will never realize the true you. Only by realizing the true you will you understand your power… your true power.*"

The son of the Blacksmith god chuckled slightly. "Needless to say, I wasn't pleased and I told him that if he didn't shut up, I would teach him a lesson. He said: *You can't; because you are too weak to face yourself, let alone me.*. I wasn't about to let that slide, so I followed through on my threat. Imagine how humiliated I felt when a kid, younger and smaller than me, placed me face-first into the ground and sat on my back, making him the victor. Then he told me: *You are about to make a journey that will change everything you know. When you can face yourself… when you know your true self and power… come face me again.*"

Leo sighed. "That was how I first met Nico di Angelo. Later, when I came to Camp, I still found him creepy, but when I learned of what he had done, I came to admire him. He didn't let people's treatment of him get to him, and when it came out that I was a Fire User, and the people at Camp and my own Cabin started rejecting me, he sought me out and helped me master my abilities. As my mastery of my powers grew, people came around again… I won their respect and acceptance. But Nico, whose abilities and mastery of them were far greater than mine… people kept shunning him."

Leo's shoulders slumped as he continued his monologue. "And yet I did nothing. I never treated him badly and we had lots of fun together… but I never tried to stop or change the way people treated him. I was so happy to be finally accepted and having friends that I neglected the one person who showed me kindness to begin with."

The son of Hephaestus looked at where he knew Nico to be lying, sadness in his eyes and voice. "I understand his pain… if only a little. The pain of always being alone… of having no one truly caring for you… it's unimaginable. People saw my power over fire as a curse and an omen of bad things to come, and thus they shunned me. But as they grew to respect me, they accepted me wholly… but never Nico." He took a steadying breath as not to break down. "Nico and I are the same… except for our father. Because of his parentage, people at Camp have, and probably always will, feel that he don't belong and shun him as a result. And yet, at a new school for magic, where his powers are considered dark and evil, he has found acceptance and people who are willing to fight for him… like true friends should… like a true family should."

Leo changed to look at the students of Hogwarts. "I'm as guilty as the rest of the Camp. By being passive, I indirectly helped in pushing Nico over the edge… just as Percy and the others who called us ourselves for Nico's friends. We were never able to see through his mask. To see that he has found a home here at Hogwarts... it brings me great happiness… and guilt. Happiness for Nico… and guilt for being such a lousy friend to him."

His eyes hardened as he steeled his resolve and the fire in his palm died out. "I will not try to force Nico from his new home. Not only wouldn't it end well for me, but more importantly, it wouldn't be fair."

Annabeth gave him a shaken look, and her voice was small. "Leo… Camp…"

Leo just sighed. "We brought this problem upon ourselves… but I've faith in Nico will do the right thing."

The daughter of Athena gave him a strange look, but before she could say anything, Leo continued.

"Yes, I've faith that Nico will do the right thing. He had plenty of chances for killing Percy… yet he didn't. Nico still knows right for wrong. He will not let innocent suffer for the mistakes of the guilty." He dug through his pockets, withdrawing a golden coin. He looked at it before tossing it towards the students pointing their wands at him. "Nico once entrusted me with his life… now it's time for me to return the favour. When he wakes up… show him that coin and ask him to call his father… he will know what to do."

Leo looked at Annabeth, then Grover. "We are done here. Let's get Percy up and let's go."

Just as he turned around, there came a shout. "You're not going anywhere!"

Turning around once more, Leo had just time to duck under a jet of red light. Calling fire to his palms again, he faced the one who had taken a shot at him. Once his eyes settled on the offender, he blinked once before speaking with an obviously forced friendly voice. "We did not come here to fight. We do not want to fight, but we will defend ourselves and…" He trailed off before speaking again. "By the way… who are you?"

"I'm Dolores Umbridge, High Inquisitor of Hogwarts and Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic, and none of you are leaving this place. You will be brought in for questioning and then taken to court for endangering the lives of innocents."

Leo blinked, once, then twice, before speaking, confusion clear in his voice. "High Inquisitor and Undersec… wait, what? I'm confused… is that supposed to mean you are some kind of authority? Because we don't do with authorities. As for bringing us in for an interview… what if we say no?"

Umbridge smiled. "Then we will arrest you using force. Aurors! Get them!"

Harry saw four of the people he had at first thought to be teachers walk forward, wands drawn. However, just as they got in front of the Headmaster and the other students who had caught up to the group of Gryffindors, they froze in shock as some students let out yells and took several steps back. Reason: a massive form was descending and within seconds it landed, looming over the small group.

As the massive dragon of bronze and gold opened its mouth, a flame already ignited, Leo looked up at the automaton, then at the Aurors and Umbridge. "Festus says no too. But if it's a fight you want… Tyson, you might want to come down; Percy could use your help. Festus, activate deflector shield and all weapon systems. Prepare to engage hostile forces, standby."

Harry openly gaped as a huge lumbering form jumped down from the metal dragon's back. But that was nothing as the bronze and gold plates started to shift, both in form and location, revealing what appeared to be a small machineguns and warheads underneath. Hell, from its back popped out what looked like a small version of an artillery gun and a large scale Taser, and to complete the picture, a force field was covering dragon and the people under its belly. Smirking, Leo spoke to Umbridge and the Aurors.

"Make your move, Piggy. My guns are bigger than yours."

Harry almost laughed at the expression on Umbridge's face, but he couldn't help feeling slightly sorry for the Aurors. A real dragon could be bad enough and he remembered all too well the Hungarian Horntail's fire and tail. The Horntail had had the weapons natural to a dragon. This dragon had that and more. He thought back to the Triwizard Tournament's first task and how he had faced the Hungarian Horntail. Then he imagined instead of the Horntail, he had to get past the one now facing the Aurors. He imagined flying on his Firebolt, just to get shot out of the air by an AA-gun, Taser and whatever nasty surprises that mechanical dragon had in store. And he didn't like when Annabeth spoke, shock in her voice.

"Leo… how… when…?"

Leo just chuckled. "What, Festus can turn into a boat, yet this surprises you? He was awesome when I found him, but now, after arming him a bit and giving him some minor upgrades, he is a booty-kicking dragon with a fighting weight at sixty tons." He looked at the Aurors. "So, what do you say? Want to go a few rounds?"

The Aurors looked at each other and quickly came to an agreement: They lowered their wands. Leo smirked and said. "Good move. Now… who of you are actually in charge here?"

Umbridge had a look of utter outrage on her face, but before she could say anything, Dumbledore walked forward. Apparently, that wasn't what Leo had expected, and he certainly didn't expect Dumbledore casually continuing his stroll as Festus cocked some of the weapons, locking in on the moving target. Curious, Leo addressed the elderly man.

"And who are you, gramps?"

Harry had to do his best to suppress the snicker threatening to escape his lips, and he wasn't alone. Especially when he saw the affronted looks on the faces of Hermione and Ernest Macmillan, and hearing McGonagall indignantly cry out, but Dumbledore just smiled pleasantly.

"My name is Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster. And you will have to forgive me, but young Mr di Angelo reminded me of good manners. He said it was very rude to ask for a name without first introducing yourself. So if you don't mind me asking, who are you young man?"

Leo blinked before smiling and extinguishing the flames in his hands. "It definitely sounds like Nico reprimanding people for bad manners. Festus, stand down." Leaning to look around Dumbledore as the automaton dragon retracted its weapons, the son of Hephaestus addressed Umbridge. "Now, a headmaster I understand what is; an authority… one who is in charge." Refocusing on the elderly man, Leo answered the question. "My name is Leo Valdez. The girl is Annabeth Chase, and those two behind me are Grover Underwood and Tyson."

At the mention of his name, Tyson turned, gently holding Percy in his arms. "Hello."

Albus smiled. "Hello to you as well, young Cyclops." Ignoring some of the startled mutterings behind him, Dumbledore peered at Leo, seriousness in his eyes and voice. "If the Aurors had attacked, would you really have endangered the lives of my students by returning fire?"

Leo sighed. "Honestly: Yes. I wouldn't like it, but they would leave me no choice as we can't afford to be detained now. Annabeth is right about one thing: This problem is between Percy, our Camp and Nico. But for what it's worth, I'm sorry that your students were endangered and that your school became a battleground in a conflict that was not yours. Which is why that I ask you to let us leave as peacefully as we can now; there is no reason for you to get more involved in this conflict and risk becoming casualties in a fight that has nothing to with you."

Dumbledore's blue eyes looked long and hard into the brown ones of Leo. Seeing or hearing no sign of deceit, the old man gave a sigh, then a smile. "I believe you. No one here will try to stop you."

Leo nodded, gratitude slipping onto his face. "Thank you."

Giving some light knocks on Festus's right front leg, the son of Hephaestus and his friends stepped aside as the massive metallic dragon knelt, allowing them to climb aboard, some more grudgingly than others. Once Leo was seated in the front, the dragon stood once more. Looking down from his position, Leo spoke again.

"I know you probably want to ask Nico some questions… I do too… but do not push him. You have seen what he can do. And honestly… trying to force the answers from him… that will not end well."

"Wait!"

The girl shouting brought a lot of attention, and Leo watched with some amusement as she broke free from her friends and ducked under the arms of one of the Professors, running straight for them. Looking down from his seat, the son of Hephaestus almost missed the twinkle in the old man's eyes as he spoke the question for Leo.

"Did you want to say something Miss Granger? It must be important for you to evade Professor McGonagall."

Hermione blushed slightly at that, but she regained her bearings fast enough as she started to rummage for something in her pockets. Apparently finding what she was searching for, she pulled an object out, looked at it for a moment before tossing it up to Leo, who deftly caught it in his hands.

When Hermione spoke, her voice was tinted with anger and curiosity. "Nico tossed that necklace into the fire in Gryffindor Tower. I took the liberty of making a new cord and string the beads together."

Leo stared at the necklace in his hand. The cord was new, according to what Hermione had said, but the beads were blackened from soot and ash, and the motives were only faintly recognizable for a very trained eye. Pulling out his own necklace from underneath his combat cloak, the son of Hephaestus answered the unasked questions.

"At Camp, after each summer, a new bead is added to our necklace. The heads of the Cabins votes on the most important or interesting event of the summer and then paints a picture to represent that event." He sighed sadly as he gazed at the almost destroyed necklace. "But the necklace is an also a symbol on the bond of friendship between the campers and the Camp. That Nico has tossed it into the fire… it's a way to show that he has severed his bond of friendship with Camp… and the campers." Glancing over at where he knew the son of Hades lay, Leo spoke with sincere sadness in his voice. "People of Hogwarts… please, be good to him. Treat him better than we did. Nico deserves that." He patted the dragon's neck sadly. "Festus… let's go."

With that, the metallic dragon took a few steps backwards before launching into the air and flying away from Hogwarts grounds, leaving behind a shocked group with many questions and few answers.

00000

Jason slid on his mask as he and his squad walked into the cold night air, Lucius Malfoy and some of his associates walking right beside them. They had gotten word. It was time to hunt some Greeks.

End chapter 15

AN2/2: Longest chapter to date. But this is another chapter that kick-started 'Dark Phoenix' and it's probably the chapter I have wanted to write the most. I considered dividing it into two chapters, one focusing solely on the battle and the other focusing on the reactions of the students, but I decided that it would be too troublesome for me and the readers. For those of you who are wondering why Nico didn't demolish the Romans when he was fighting them: There were given a few hints to that in this chapter. And no, Jason will be no pushover compared to Nico and Percy. While I think he is weaker than them and doesn't have attacks capable of the same level of destruction, he will have some abilities that make him a troublesome opponent.

I would like to give some acknowledgements to Ace1412 for black lightning idea and another reader/reviewer, whose identity eludes me right now, suggested giving Percy more advanced cryokinesis (ice) powers. Those two helped me out a lot. Also, I would like to say thank you to Kerowyn6 for doing a fanart to 'Dark Phoenix' Link can be found in my profile.

Also, this will be the most destructive and last big battle before the battle at the Ministry. There will be some minor but rather important skirmishes every now and then though.

Lastly, I will say this once more: Events of the 'Heroes of Olympus' series haven't, and most likely won't, take place. Some of the characters and their biography might be the same with minor twists, but overall, this fic doesn't follow 'HoO' canon. Percy and Jason never lost their memories and went to the other camp, they haven't been fighting any of the giants, etc.

I was very torn about adding the part with Nico's 'confession' and I might remove it later as I still have doubts about how much it belongs in this chapter and in its context. Plus, him willingly admitting it seems awfully OOC, even if he has matured a lot. But to me, it serves its purposes. 1) Hopefully I won't get anymore more people annoying me with saying Nico is OOC by being with Hermione and 2) Correcting what I think is Riordan's biggest mistake/failure. If Nico turns out to be gay or bi-sexual, then so be it. He will still be my favourite character. It was the way it was revealed and explained that had me wanting to put a gun to my head. As Nico said, what does a thirteen/fourteen-year-old about love and sexuality? Also, there was never given any hints to it, so why the f did Riordan go about it that way? It was the same with the LupinxTonks pairing. Tonks introduced in book five, revealed that she had feelings for Remus in book 6, they marry and have child in book 7… all of it happening off-screen and brought up out of the blue… are you kidding me?

Anyways, enough of my ranting. Hope you enjoyed the chapter, for I spend a lot of time on it.

Yours,

Lightningscar

Sneak peek for next chapter.

"How bad is he Poppy?"

"As well as one can expect to be after forcing a spell while being low on Mana."

"You've got to be kidding me."

"I'm not."

"I refuse."

00000

"Ah, my friends. Welcome. Please, do seat down"

"Do you really trust them? After meeting their leader?"

"About as much as Octavian wants to friends with the Greeks."

00000

"You have some explaining to do."

"Percy, please."

"Please leave me alone, Annabeth. Just… leave me alone for a while, okay?"

"I'm afraid that isn't an option."

00000

"There has been an attack."

Next time on 'Dark Phoenix'. Chapter 16: A Fire in the Dark.

Time for anonymous reviews:

Devil's Spawn chapter 14 . May 11

I know I've already said this, but PLEASE UPDATE! IF YOU DON'T I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN WITH A SWORD AND KILL YOU! So yeah, I have just asked you very nicely(not really) to update, so please update soon.

Devil's Spawn

Response: Killing me would be rather counterproductive to getting an update, don't you think? XD

Guest chapter 14 . May 11

Did you know Hermione is a Ancient Greek name? Hermione was the daughter of King Menalaus and Queen Helen of Sparta. Queen Helen being THE Helen...the most beautiful woman in the world the faced that launched a thousand ships.

Response: No, I did not know that. Thank you for telling me

Angel of death chapter 14 . Apr 29

WWWOOOOOAAAHHHHHH! You did not!

Hey my sister watches narruto too! Oh if your stuck here is a paragraph that could be in the next chapter

They both paced, looking like animals beginning to engage in battle.

"Bloody hell, they were serious..." Ron whispered into Harry's ear, yet audible enough for everyone to hear.

From there, Neville could sense all the raw power radiating from the two. Good god, it was more powerful than Jason. He wanted to run and hide, yet he steeled his nerves to watch the battle.

Nico lunged so quickly, Neveille winced. The other boy , Percy, parred at equal speed, then jabbed with his sword. The shadows surrounded Nico, then he appeared in a new one.

Can't waittttt! My name is angel of death( well not really) call me that for now since I don't have an account.

chapter 14 . Apr 30

TTTHHHHAAANNNKKK YYYYOOOOUUUUU for not putting Nico with an OC. I hate it when that happens! Ccccooooooooookkkkkkkkiiiiiieeesss(::)(::)(::)(::)(::)(::)(::)(::)(:

Response: Did what? End it with a cliffhanger? I sure did XD And I considered using some of those lines… actually, I think I did… to some degree at least. Yeah, putting Nico with an OC was never really an option. And thank you for the cookies XD

unnwone chapter 14 . Apr 28

Stop with the teasers I mean you have one of the greatest stories ever and you torture us with trailers also I think when you finish this story you should have a sequel

Response: Nah, have to have a little fun teasing my readers… keep them on their toes ya know. Regarding a sequel: I have some ideas, but for now I will focus on my real life and this story.

Guest chapter 14 . Apr 26

could you do a story of nico meeting meeting the draculas in season 5 with a romance between nico and ingrid that would be a great story

Response: Not likely. I've more than enough on my plate as it is. Also, have no idea what series you're referring to, so I'm afraid I will have to disappoint you.

guest chapter 14 . Apr 25

Oh god this is wonderful. I always dislike Annabeth for her hypocritical ways. I think Percy is too calm in the face of betrayal. I hope Nico gets his vengeance. Thank you and please update soon.

Response: Things might not quite be as they seem my friend.

Guest chapter 14 . Apr 17

Great chaper. Will percy be able to get water from the Great Lake to fight with or not because if not he might lose to nico if so he is going to win. In your next chapter can you talk more about Jason and lord voldemort's meeting the suspense is killing me. Also please consider Leo and nico teaming up maybe Leo could have a dream about hazel and his grandfather and Leo would want to side with nico.

Response: I hope this chapter answered your first questions. Regarding Jason and Voldemort's meeting: More on that will come. Probably not going to have Leo dream about Hazel, but I hope this was satisfying enough.

Guest chapter 14 . Apr 11

This was a great chapter

I could practically feel nico's rage when he was talking to percy I really hate annabeth and Thalia too I can't wait for the next chapter

Response: Thank you. As for hating Annabeth and Thalia. I do not hate them, if that is what you are insinuating.

I'm a Guest chapter 14 . Apr 10

Hello! I spent a good day reading your entire fic up to the chapter I'm reviewing on! It's a very wonderful story, though I believe Nico may have been a bit OOC, however, with your story's dynamics and character development, I can say that the (new) Nico you've been writing isn't OOC, I think your Nico responds exactly as how he would! He certainly has grown quite a bit. Also, the way you write action is absolutely phenomenal, as I greatly enjoy every tense moment you have written! Although I dislike the shipping, I like how you don't let other people's dislike get to you, keep on writing what you love! I look forward to the next chapter!

Response: People being OOC in this fic is bound to happen. They are older, and I've allowed myself to give them a touch of how I want them to be, especially if a bit older and hardened. Plus, this fic targets an audience that is a bit older than what Rick is targeting. But I'm happy to hear you approve of the character dynamics and character development.

Heh, writing action has always come somewhat easy to me. It helps watching anime and other action movies and trying to describe in your mind what is happening.

Yeah, I took quite a bit of heat for the pairing… but seeing how people failed to come with some sound arguments as to why not, the pairing stays until it's time for it to end. Thank you for your understanding on that.

Hope this chapter met your expectations.

WomanoftheWind chapter 14 . Apr 3

You are such an amazing writer, I love it! If only fanfiction was published... anyway, will Voldemort come into this ever?

Love your writing,

WomanoftheWind

Response: Thank you. And yeah, Voldemort will make an appearance… in next chapter.

RandomEpicPerson chapter 14 . Mar 22

Oh my gods... WTF IS HAPPENING! This chapter made me sob...

Response: Keep reading to find out what is happening.

[report review for abuse] RandomEpicPerson chapter 14 . Mar 22

Oh my gods... WTF IS HAPPENING! This chapter made me sob...

Guest chapter 14 . Mar 1

I am anticipating Nico and Percy's fight! I would love to see the expression of the professor's and the student's faces as they see Nico's true power! Thank you for writing this fanfic!

Response: Hope this met your hopes and expectations.

valery chapter 14 . Feb 23

If you update this,I'll be screaming with joy while hugging the closest hug-able thing I can find while jumping on the bed and say "Yes Yes YES!"!

(translation it would make my(and a lot of others) day if you update)

Val

Response: Your bed might not appreciate that XD But I hope this update made you happy.

Marshmallows chapter 14 . Feb 18

Hi LightningScar!I love all of your fanfictions,and keep up the AMAZING work you do!Say hi to Nico for me!

Personally,I find the cookie thing would you like a marshmallow?[][][][][][][][]

Response: Thank you for the praise. Though, I'm not particular proud of three of the stories, I appreciate the kind words… and he marshmallows XD

Guest chapter 14 . Feb 17

Amazing work.I love all the detail that you put in your story!I personally like NicoxHermione, and the way Nico excells at Transfiguration.(Did I spell that correctly?)I always spend hours trying to find a decent fanfiction,so when I saw this,I loved it right the way,I have a question if you don't mind me there be any more settings besides Hogwarts?Thank you!

Have a cookie.(::) (::) (::)Chocolate chip or Oatmeal raisin?

Response: Thank you Transfiguration… yep, spelled correctly. I've seen too many fics where the PJO characters excels at all subjects or DADA, so I figured it was time for something new. Plus, it goes hand in hand with Nico's powers. Regarding your question: There will be other settings, but as two of the main characters are at Hogwarts, Hogwarts will be the most dominant setting. And chocolate for sure XD

Guest chapter 14 . Feb 4

I really like your story, and I was planning if I could make a story slightly like this one if it was okay with you?

Response: Go ahead. Though, I would like to see an acknowledgement or something like that if you publish it.

NicoISkickbutt chapter 10 . Jan 14

Hey, I re-read this story...is Jason going to do anything with that bottle of Tiber water or is he going to dismiss it as a stupid Octavian idea? It's kind of funny, I can totally see where this would be going if I were writing it, but I'm not, so oh well. I can wait a month or two. But please don't make it more than two months like last time. Last time you ended on a cliffhanger, and dude, that's just not cool leaving us for more than two months on a cliffhanger.

I did do well on my tests, all except for one, but it didn't really count, so...thanks for wishing me well!

(I meant to post this on ch 14, but then I backed up too far when I accidentally clicked on a stupid ad and didn't realize it until I was half-way done with the review...whoops)

chapter 14 . Feb 2

I can't remember whether or not I already reviewed...if I did, whoo hoo, you get two reviews from me! But basically, I saw that it was the first of February, and you updated the seventh of last month, so I was like, 'hey, I'm going to go read it again to make sure that I know it'. It's still just as awesome!

Thanks for the reply, I did (sort of) well on my tests and I've finally fully recovered from my being half-dead from sickness. And one- to two-months IS a long time, thank you very much! You'd be amazed at how much can happen in one- to two-months! The South froze, for Pete's sake! The ice on my back porch just started to melt today and it hurts to write because I have a bruised and scraped hand from catching myself after I slipped on the ice! That happened in a week! Imagine what would happen in two months! *huffs*

(whoops, just kind of ranted at you, sorry...)

Response:

Have read 'House of Hades', but as I've said a few times, events from 'HoO' will be ignored or included as seen fit. 'HoO' haven't taken place and is not likely to.

The bottle of Tiber water will come into play soon.

Glad to hear you did well on your tests, but I'm sorry to hear about your hand.

And yeah, I found how much can happen in two, let alone four months.

Guest chapter 14 . Jan 28

Spoilers

Percy dies

Annabeth does the nasty with a giant and hagrid pops out

If you read that DONT make a fan fic out of it. I will burn Denmark to the ground.

-Leader of Norway

Response: I do not know what is worse; that you will think I would ever write a story like that, or that you got those ideas/pictures in your head in the first place. I think you might need some help. For your family's sake, I suggest you go to the doctor and get him/her to refer you on to a psychologist.

CookieMonster13 chapter 14 . Jan 19

In my last reveiw I accidentally asked if biance was dead or aluve when I meant hazel . Whoopsie daisy as my 4 year old cousin woukd say. :D anyways I love the part where draco was notched down a peg. I feel mean but he totally deserved that. Will they be friends jn the future? Loved the story and chaptrr to bits update soon!

CookieMonster13 chapter 14 . Jan 19

I am addicted to this story. It is just so awesome . Who will win? Nico or percy? Will the teachers watch?

I love how nicos like twisting both umbridge and dumbledores rules against them. overall I am in love with this story! If you update soon I will send you a batch of chocolate chip cookies, ok? So update! I love how your chapters are so long, it kinda makes up for the long wait.

Anywho, why didn't annabeth tell percy? And I'm not trying to flame or anything but why did percy just jump into the battle? Is annabeth evil in this or just mislead? Will annabeth die or just be injured for harming bianca? Is bianca alive or dead? If in the next chapter nico wins, will he really kill percy? And if percy wins, will he actually kill nico?

SPOILER! Have you read the house of hades? If not ignore this. If you did will you include anything about him having a crush on percy and moving on or something or is he just gonna stay straight? and is this set before the lost hero or after?

Sorry for so many questions but I'm a naturally inquisitive person. It doesn't help that you left us on a cliff hanger! I repeat, I absolutely adore this syory and I wish that you will update as fast as you can, bye! :D

Response: Double reviewing. To answer some of your questions, random order.

I hope chapter 15 answered some of your questions regarding the fight. As to why Annabeth didn't tell Percy. I think you can find the answer to that in a previous chapter, but it and other hints/answers will be in next chapter. As for Percy jumping head first into the fight. Upset as he might be with her, I don't think he would sit by and let Annabeth get killed in fight way out of her league.

I've read the House of Hades, but as I've said a few times by now, this fic pretty much ignores or includes events and characters from the 'HoO' series as I see fit and with small twists. But HoO haven't taken place… at all… and is not likely to.

Heh, I doubt very much Nico and Draco are going to be friends. But I' glad you enjoy Nico twisting rules of the past and wording in their agreement to his advantage.

Catalina chapter 14 . Jan 18

Wow. Just. Wow. This is incredible. Please update soon. I see why this took you so long. It really brings the term, "you can't rush perfection" to mind. This is awesome.

Response: Thank. While I don't think the story is perfect, I appreciate your understanding and kind words

Guest chapter 14 . Jan 15

It is interesting to guess at who will when. Percy has more experience, is near water (black lake) and will do any thing to protect Annabeth(sadly). Nico is stronger than Percy and has pure rage on his side so we don't know. Will Percy and Nico destroy the ground because that would be bad and chapter I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. ( I actually fell off my chair from shock after finishing the chapter).

Response: Hope the fight was entertaining and not too predictable. And I hope it met your hopes.

Guest chapter 14 . Jan 9

like, will you let the wizards know about demigod existence?

Response: Maybe.

Guest chapter 14 . Jan 8

in the first chapter you said it was possible for nico to suddenly start aging, so will this actually happen?

Response: Not likely, but maybe.

Guest chapter 14 . Jan 8

please let percy win! when the fight is over will there be more, like jason meeting voldemort ( voldemort isnt really mentioned much in the story and will you explain harrys dream?) will there be a three way duel between Percy nico and Jason. Great build up to the fight by the way!

Ur a great writer!

Response: Voldemort will make an appearance in next chapter. Explain Harry's dream? Basically he was just dreaming about Voldemort meeting someone and plotting his death. As for a three-way-duel… who knows? And thank you.

JR chapter 14 . Jan 8

This is too freaking INTENSE! Why Nico why, also Percy was kinda dumb with his words on Nico. But I'm really excited to see how this ends. Nico did a good job with Malfoy.

Response: When has Percy ever been good with words? I hope this fight met your hopes and expectations. And thank

Guest chapter 14 . Jan 8

don't make Nico a demon or evil or hurt Annabeth, it's not right plz he wouldn't do it.

Response: Evil? No. Angry? Yes. And considering what she did, I think he would very much like to hurt and kill her. There would be hell for you to pay if you hurt my sister, that's for sure.

Guest chapter 9 . May 17

Can you imagine Piper fighting like Ty lee from ATLA

Response: No, not really.

Tulsa360 chapter 1 . May 16

As it has been over 4 months since you last posted I was hoping that either you would say when you were planning on updating or if the story is discontinued. Now on to the real review! I have been reading this story since chapter 9 and while it is annoying to weight two months per chapter it is manigable, and to the people who constantly complain, a message: DON'T. As a writer (not Fan Fiction) I know just how annoying it is. I hope you (Lighting Scar) understand just how grateful we are for your detaction to this fandom in writing such a well done and in depth story.

Response: Thank you for your understanding. I considered putting up a notice, but for some reason decided against it. Plus, I don't know how often people check my profile. Anyways, I've no plans of abandoning this story. I have way too much writing on it. Once more, thank you for your understanding.