As the Tears Fall
"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing."
–– 1 Corinthians 13:1 – 3
At least, it's in the arms of a friend. At least, despite the stabs of pain, despite the sting of betrayal, the real heroes will hold her while she dies. At least, she did something to help them…
Her vision clouds with a mist of tears.
She tried. Wasn't that all she could do? She tried… so hard…
Not enough –
The poison burns her eyes and throat.
Her friend, the daughter of Ares – daughter of war, of battle, of rage and conflict and bloodshed – is enraged, is scared, is starting to cry real, glistening tears, and for the first time in her life, she doesn't care.
"What were you thinking?" Clarisse cries.
She tries to swallow, and her cracked lips choke back a sob. A breath catches in the back of her throat, and it feels like her mouth has turned to sandpaper. Words get stuck and won't come out right.
"Wouldn't… listen. Cabin would… only follow you."
For the first time in her life, the last thing that Aphrodite's daughter wants is to be noticed.
For the first time in her life, the Titans' naïve little spy wishes that she could be as sly as her mother.
Silena streaks across the grass under cover of darkness. Her black hair streams behind her, flowing unbound in the wind, but her glittery clothes make her look like some kind of silver comet.
Struggling for breath, she stumbles. She trips on her own feet, (of course the stupid high-heels had to get in the way, she thinks,) and she feels herself start to lose her balance. She tries to break the fall with her hands, but she's instinctively trying to protect her nail polish, and she takes the full impact of the fall in her ribs.
"Ow, ow…" She pulls herself to her knees, kicking off the stupid shoes. "Ow…"
She wipes her forehead with the back of her hand. It comes away moist with sweat. She frantically brushes the dirt off of her pants, pushing hair out of her eyes, adjusting her shirt.
"Oh, gods…" she mutters. Why can't being a hero ever be pretty?
The footsteps of the night patrol sound off somewhere close, dull thuds of combat boots in the soft grass. They're getting close, she can hear it. Their shadows shimmer distantly in the dim light.
Silena's heart skips a beat.
She sucks in as much air as her lungs can hold, and she sprints as fast as she can toward the building up ahead. It towers menacingly, its long, jagged shadow sprawling out as if to seize approaching demigods. But it is deserted at this hour.
She pulls up short at the door, half-kicking it open. Need to move fast…
The armory at Camp Half-Blood is as still and cold as the wicked blades that stock its shelves. The night is stale, and the air in the space is thick. Darkness has settled like a cloak over the building.
For a stranger, locating anything in the maze of swords, knives, spears, shields, breastplates, greaves, helmets, and the like would be impossible. To a stranger's eyes, it would all be a single sea of iron and Celestial bronze.
And she might hate combat with every bone in her body, but Silena has still been forced to compete in Capture the Flag more than enough times to know her way around the armory. She saunters through the shelves, and her eyes fix on a spear attached to the wall.
She reaches to seize it, and every single hair on her arm stands straight up on end.
"So you stole my armor." Clarisse is indignant. "You waited until Chris and I went out on patrol; you stole my armor and pretended to be me. And none of you noticed?"
The Ares' kids look like they'd rather melt into the concrete than face their commander's wrath.
All Silena can do is sigh.
Try to understand, her eyes say. I had to. For… all of us…
Why someone would model a helmet after an ugly pig, she has no idea. How Clarisse survives Capture the Flag in this monstrosity is beyond her, but Silena grits her teeth and pulls it over her head.
Well, there goes any hope of looking pretty, she admits to herself, but she's beyond caring at this point. She's already in too deep.
"This is going to destroy my hair," Silena mutters. She can barely see in the pig-head thing. She stumbles, but catches herself on a shelf of battle axes. The whole shelf rattles, and she says a silent prayer to every god and goddess she can think of, Please, please, please…
"Clarisse?" someone calls, confused. "Is that you?"
Silena swallows hard. She moves back to where she left Clarisse's weapon, and with a deep breath, she grips the spear's shaft. Her whole arm shudders and stings with pricks of heat, but she grits her teeth, white-knuckling the burnished Celestial bronze. Electricity crackles and hisses at the weapon's head, glittering off of her sparkly purple nails.
"Oh my gods!" Silena bites her lip on a shriek. Where's a bottle of nail polish remover when you need it?
Someone yells from behind the door. "Hey, Clarisse?"
Silena chips at the polish, gritting her teeth. She's sweating in the pig hat. Her palms are moist.
"CLARISSE!" the Ares kid screams.
Silena jumps so fast, she smacks her head on the butt end of an axe. She almost drops the spear – just manages to catch it before it barbecues her foot. Oh gods, oh gods, oh gods… She straightens again, smashes into another axe. This one tumbles from the shelf, impaling itself in an unfortunate floorboard.
Someone kicks the door open so hard, Silena swears it must be broken.
She's hyperventilating now. Her heart races so fast and loud, she can hear it echoing in her eardrums. Her cheeks flush beet red.
"I can't do this," she whispers to herself.
She hears an Ares kid's boots as they round another corner.
They might not believe her. They might hate her, might figure it out. She might get them all killed in the end, and she knows it.
There's too much at stake. This is the stupidest thing she's done in her entire life.
But Silena Beauregard, daughter of Aphrodite, squares her shoulders.
This is it.
She shoves her dark hair into the helmet and sprints towards the children of war.
"Don't blame them." Silena gasps. "They wanted to… to believe I was you."
"You stupid Aphrodite girl," Clarisse sobs, but the anger in her voice breaks off at the end. "You charged a drakon? Why?"
Silena's skin is a pale shade of green.
Her mental excuses ring hollow. Only choice… he lied to me… I couldn't… I didn't know…
"All my fault." A cold tear streaks her face, and she doesn't even have the strength to worry about how her makeup is totally ruined now. "The drakon, Charlie's death… camp endangered –"
"Stop it! That's not true."
She has to show them now, it's the only way, and she might as well die with traitor and liar and spy carved into her shroud, because that's what she is.
How could this happen…?
She's the daughter of love. She thought it was love.
And if it wasn't love, then what was it? An elaborate sham. A ploy to exploit her fatal flaw, a flaw that nearly all Aphrodite kids shared.
Love? What a joke. It was quiet passion burning beneath, it was secrets whispered in the dead of night, it was lost affection, it was broken hopes, it was trampled dreams, it was thrilling lust, and all the while she thought it meant love. Now she dies knowing that she let it ruin the only real love she had.
She hates him now, she hates this, and they might as well see it because she's dying here anyway. She closes her eyes, afraid to look at the physical proof of it all, but her fingers slowly open to let them see. It doesn't matter. Nothing matters anymore.
He lied to me…
A silver bracelet glints in Silena Beauregard's palm. The mark of Kronos, a polished scythe charm, hangs delicately from the chain.
Against the black vault of the sky, the moonlight makes his scar almost glow. She's so close to him. Her nerves thrill. His smile makes her shiver, but not from the cold. He's so beautiful… and he belongs to her. She belongs to him.
"I brought you a present," he says.
Her blue eyes sparkle. "A present?"
"Don't look." Slowly, he turns her wrist over, opens her hand, and slips something cold into her fingers. "Okay. Open your eyes."
She blinks and looks down. A silver bracelet shines in her palm, complete with a little charm dangling from the edge.
She fingers it uncertainly. "It's… beautiful."
"I knew you'd love it."
"The charm," she says, twirling it. "What… is it?"
"Something special. So you remember me, wherever you are."
Her eyes widen, and suddenly, she closes the bracelet in her fist. Her hands shake. "A scythe…"
"Do you trust me, Silena?"
She hesitates for a moment, and her heart is beating so loud she's sure he can hear it. She takes a deep breath. Then she nods.
"Of course I trust you."
It's impossible to misread that certain, cold disbelief in Percy Jackson's voice. "You were the spy."
She can't change it now, so she might as well admit it. Admit it and hope that she'll make it to Asphodel at least, anywhere but punishment, those awful Fields of Punishment.
She tries to nod, but she winces.
"Before… before I liked Charlie," she stammers, "Luke was nice to me. He was so… charming. Handsome."
Sunset in the forest is dazzling. The trees shine with scarlet light. Dark, elegant silhouettes stretch out across the grass.
But all Silena can think about is how his hand feels in hers.
Their fingers are interlaced, tightly knotted together. They sit side-by-side on the ground, watching the sun go down.
She fingers the charm. The sunlight makes it sparkle.
"Scythe…" she breathes, with dawning understanding. "Kronos…"
"Trust me." His voice is so warm, like he really loves her. Of course he loves her. "It's not what you think. He's not evil. He's helping us."
She trembles in the night, and he tells her everything. And never once does he release her hand, never once do his blue eyes waver from hers. And all she can think about is this is love, this is love, this is love, and isn't that the only thing that matters?
"I love you."
His voice is an octave too low.
She nods, afraid of what she's gotten herself into, but she squeezes his hand as hard as she can.
Silena Beauregard coughs horribly. The sound echoes off of the hard, cold concrete of Manhattan.
Her lips, once a delicate pink, glisten red. Her eyes, once alight with joy, look a million miles away. Her features, once so staggeringly beautiful, able to make the strongest boy's mind whirl, are mutilated by the poison. Her face, once flawless – her skin, once glowing like porcelain – are blackened, seared by the heat of the drakon's relentless charge. Her lungs feel like they're on fire. Every inhale scrapes down her throat like nails on a blackboard. Every heartbeat spreads the poison that she couldn't help but swallow.
I thought it was love.
She was born to believe in love. She couldn't help it.
"Later, I wanted to stop helping him, but he threatened to tell. He promised…" She convulses weakly in Clarisse's arms. Her body's reacting to the poison, trying to purge it, but they already know it won't do any good. "…He promised I was saving lives. Fewer people would get hurt. He told me he wouldn't hurt…"
She chokes on his name.
Her eyes glint with tears. "I love you," she says. "You know that, Luke. You know that…"
She steps forward to take his hand, but he yanks it back. His irises look almost golden in the sunlight.
"Liar," he says.
Tears streak Silena's cheeks. "No, no –"
"Don't lie to me, Silena."
She coughs. "I'm sorry, Luke," she whimpers. "I don't even know, I'm so confused, it's like… I have no idea."
"You said you loved me. You love me, Silena, I know you do." Luke's voice is so pained; it feels like someone stabbed her. "You have to help me… help him. It's the only way."
Then Silena finds herself shaking her head, emphatically. "No."
Luke turns away, and for a moment, he's made of stone. His hands clench into fists at his sides.
He says, "I could tell them, you know."
Her eyes widen.
"Tell them what?"
"Tell them that you betrayed them," Luke tells her, and he turns to look her directly in the eyes. "Tell them that you're working for the Titan Lord. Tell them that you never cared about any of them, not as much as you loved me."
Silena can't even remember how to talk.
No, not Charlie… Not Charlie…
Her voice feels like it comes from someone else. "You can't do that."
"Why not?" Luke's scar twitches. "Because of him. Because you love him!"
"No, Luke, it's not like that at all!" she shrieks, butit's exactly like that, and she's so scared now, she can't even explain it. "I love you. I still… I still –"
"But you love him, too."
"I can't control it," Silena whimpers, fresh tears streaming from her eyes. "I just keep falling like this, and I don't even know why…"
Luke takes a jagged breath. "And you fell for Beckendorf."
"I couldn't help it," she pleads.
"You were helping me, Silena. You love me." His voice is blacker than obsidian. "How can you not see that?"
"Luke, I do. I love you." She trips over her words. "I just, I can't… I can't stand the thought that you'd –" Her voice breaks off.
"That I'd hurt him?"
"Yes," she coughs.
"I would never do that to you. I love you, Silena. I promise you, we would never hurt him."
Her shirt is soaked with tears.
"We're going to help you," he insists."Once Kronos regains power, we'll start a new world. He can build it with us. He can help us. You can help us."
Silena can't even look at him.
"I… I don't know what to do."
His voice is pained. "Choose."
Silena closes her eyes. She thinks about all the times that Luke held her hand and whispered words of love. She thinks about all the sweaty days at the forge with Beckendorf, watching him mold raw iron into weapons worthy of a god. She thinks about a world without the Olympians, a world where she is queen, radiating beauty… but who will be her king?
"Choose to do the right thing, Silena," Luke says. "For everyone."
She steels herself, her heart fluttering against her ribs.
"I don't know how."
Then his soft lips come crashing on to hers, and it's all that she can do to remember her own name.
Silena Beauregard chokes on blood and poison. "He lied to me."
The tumult and clash of battle rages around them, but somehow, for the small circle of demigods, it has never felt so quiet.
Silena tightens her grip on Clarisse's hand.
Don't go, she mouths. Please.
Clarisse scowls at her cabinmates. "Go, help the centaurs. Protect the doors. GO!"
The pack of Ares kids scramble off to join the fight, and, wounded as she is, Silena can't help but wonder how many of them won't come back. She tries to take a deep breath, but her whole body shakes against the strain. The motion is agony.
In the distance, a half-blood cries out beneath the lance of a dracaena. Dark blood splatters on the concrete of New York City, and the demigod falls – it's a girl, couldn't be older than fifteen – but she falls all the same, her wound gushing warm blood as she collapses beside a sleeping mortal.
Silena fixes her friends with her eyes. "Forgive me."
But she knows it's too late for that to matter. She didn't kill the drakon, she didn't defend Olympus, she didn't protect her friends – and even if she had done all that, she wouldn't care. It wouldn't mean anything. Not without him.
Not when she failed the only one who ever truly loved her.
She could never deserve him.
It's all fading now, the blood, the screaming, the dying monsters, the war…
"You're not dying," Clarisse insists, but her voice sounds far away.
Silena's eyes fix on a distant point, on a rugged cliff where her love stands waiting, his eyes afire, his beauty still brilliant in death, and he stands proud and erect, with one calloused hand outstretched to take hers.
"Charlie… See Charlie…"
And then she forgets how to talk.
A/N: This scene almost made me cry in book five, so I just knew that I had to re-write it with some more depth and additional flashbacks. Reviews are greatly appreciated, but please refrain from spoilers regarding the Heroes of Olympus series. I have yet to read them.
This scene is canon. I've just taken the liberty of expanding on the information provided.
I really believe that what happened to Silena wasn't her fault. She was an Aphrodite kid. She was born to believe in love, to need love, to easily fall headlong into the arms of anyone who told her they loved her. Luke played on that – Silena's fatal flaw. And there was nothing she could do to fight her nature, just like how Percy couldn't help healing in the water or causing strange incidents with his powers.
Again, please review. This was a long and challenging piece for me to write. Probably took about two hours in the end, probably a little more.
May the gods be ever in your favor.