Disclaimer: Everything except Poppy comes from the wonderful mind of Rick Riordan.
Well... the lipstick and ice cream ideas are mine as well, but that wasn't necessary to add.
Summary of the Chapter:
Poppy Gartner had always been the oddball of the camp. She stared at everyone in silence, just watching and waiting for a response. She ignored teasing. And she just couldn't understand Nico Di Angelo. But it wasn't as if he understood her either.
This introduces the beginning of my one-shot stories, and reviewing would really help.
She was completely unlike the other demigods he had met. For one, she hated her siblings. Poppy never spoke to them unless she needed to, and she always seemed to spend more time in the forest. Alone. The second thing that Nico found strange about the daughter of Demeter was her strange knack of mystery. All the other Demeter kids weren't as aggressive, never seen in black or reds. They were kind to others and never seemed to be against any of the other cabins. But Poppy… she was different. The few words she spoke to them were either harsh and sarcastic, or even mere observations. No, not harsh. They were truthful, whether rude or not. And the strange thing that confused all of the demigods and even Chiron was the matter of her appearance. When all of her siblings had the trademark ebony hair and brown eyes, she had strange whitish blonde hair that accented her green and silver eyes. Different did not even describe the way that she was. Poppy was exotic in the face of normality. And she didn't even realize the way that everyone looked at her. It was as if she was in a different world, walking on the edge of reality. Even her words were soft and willowy when she insulted people, not exactly focusing on anything while she spoke. Extraordinary, striking, and unavoidable. She was always there, seemingly haunting Nico in his dreams. Just there. Watching.
Which she was right then and there, sitting a few feet away from him, leaning her back against a pole of the volleyball net, her bright green eyes staring directly at him. It was almost catlike, the stare, looking nearly straight through him. She didn't even seem remotely bothered by the clanking and wobbling of the net around her, ignoring the early game between her siblings and Cabin Seven. The Hermes campers were around the game, cheering on the sunshiny Apollo cabin, and sending jeers at the willowy figure ignoring the game. Nico ambled over to her gently, tilting his head to the side as if mildly interested in the game. In actuality, however, he was intently watching the one observing him. His gaze darted gently over the congregates around him, unlike her own unblinking stare.
Well, Nico thought quietly. If she wants the Stolls to make fun of her endlessly, feel free to stare endlessly.
And as if answering his thoughts, Connor Stoll turned from watching Will Solace serve, grinning as his mischievous blue eyes happened to land upon Poppy, a short laugh escaping his lips, echoing to Nico's ears. The Hermes counselor let another short laugh escape his lips before leaning closer to the girl, his brown hair falling into his eyes before speaking once more, loud enough for all to hear it.
"Poppy, stare all you want, but Nico Di Angelo would never look twice at a girl like you. Take a picture, and then come along and stare at someone who won't waste your time."
The girl barely looked up at the words, ignoring the comment made to insult both her and the one on her mind. But if any one of her siblings paid much attention to her, they would have stepped in, reassured both boys that she didn't like either. But no, the game went on, leaving Poppy both irritated and cornered. Travis had made his own way over to the pair the moment after Connor finished speaking, moving to Poppy's other side with a similar smirk on his face. The twins gave each other high-fives, and then began making rude remarks to each other, challenging both Nico's manliness and the strange girl's sanity.
"Excuse me," Poppy murmured, her voice silky and sweet as she stood up gently, pushing past the two boys, closer to Nico. "But if I wished for your opinion, I would have asked for it myself. And Connor? If you wish to get any girl, I recommend being sweet. Travis? I think that a breath mint would be enough for you."
Both stared at her in confusion, even more so in awe of her as she swept past the only Hades camper with such grace that she looked to be floating. And she liked it that way. Twirling a rose in her hand, the girl lifted it to her silver hair with a small smile, her bare feet crunching against the cool Autumn ground as she traveled towards the forest. She couldn't tell whether or not it was her air of mystery that seemed to settle around her, or the thin veil of aloofness she kept. But whether or not they noticed her was the same to Poppy. She didn't care what they thought. Camp was for learning, observing. Meeting others, whether they were like her or not. That was what camp was for, and she knew nearly everything about every person... except for Nico. He was different. Poppy could tell anyone exactly what type of lipstick Drew Tanaka wore (Pink Flamingo); she knew what flavor of ice cream Leo Valdez preferred (Chocolate). Nearly everything about everyone was known to her, except for things about Nico. And she liked it. It made her look and listen.
"Poppy, are you okay?"
It was Nico. She could already tell it was him, from both the voice and the manner of the question. And she was correct, it was decided, after spinning on her feet to face him, staring up into his deep void of brown eyes. She was still deciding on an answer when another question came, this one with less caution and more confused and concerned. Great. Now he thought she was insane. Now there was no chance that she would be able to ask him things about himself. Just so she knew everyone. Just that. Not for anything else...
Blushing profusely at the thought, she barely caught the question. "Are you feeling well? Or did I have something on my face?"
No, Poppy thought to herself, trying to push the thoughts out of her mind. No, you still look... Oh gosh, kiddo. No more. You are not to think of him like that. It's cliche. Very, very, very cliche. You are not that type of person.
Nico reached out a hand to brush against her pale arm, his ice cold touch meeting hers for a moment. And that was when it happened.
A shock, a pull, and a thick dragging feeling, as if she was falling. Breath catching in her throat, Poppy lifted her electric green eyes to stare up at him. Was he feeling this too? The feeling she always felt when she looked up at the stars? The feeling that something else was there-something more? Well, whether Nico felt the same way or not, he jumped back, his hand immediately falling on his Stygian Ice sword.
"Did you feel that?" the girl asked quietly, moving towards him quietly, but taking great care not to make any contact. "The... connection?"
Looking into her shocked and confused face, her wide eyes with fear, it was all Nico could do to keep from kissing her. Now he understood what Percy and Annabeth felt. What love was. He wanted to know everything about Poppy, everything she liked and disliked. Everything she felt. Everything that she wanted to know about him. And Nico didn't need a child of Aphrodite about it. He knew.
"Yes," Nico murmured, breathless. "Yes."
Poppy smiled, a smile so soft that it was all Nico could do not to kiss her right there and then. No, he had to know something about her. Anything. And the daughter of Demeter felt the same way. She understood what he felt, what he was trying to say. And so she said it, with a smirk and placing her hand in his.
"What's your favorite ice cream?"
-oOo~Some Years Later~oOo-
Nico cautiously approached his father, kneeling gently before the dark throne. This was it. This was the only question he could ask, and it was apparent that his father did not wish to answer. But he needed to know, not only the story behind it, but if he was allowed to use his father's chariot. That was all, and then he would be on his merry way.
Well, he had to ask his father for approval. And Demeter, but that was a different story. He had already asked her, and that was hard enough.
"What do you mean, you have been dating her for seven years, and I didn't know?" came the shriek, making the young man jump slightly at the tremors. Well, that was to be expected. Demeter never spent time with Poppy, nor did she entirely care. It was just the fact that Poppy was another Persephone...
"I love her. And she loves me. And yes, it has been that long. You didn't make much of an effort to speak to her, did you?"
She was offended at that, and it was all he could do to jump over the angry plants attacking him. "Well. And why should I give you permission to ask to marry her?"
"Because," Nico muttered, trying his best to remain calm. Remember, she was a Goddess. One of the oldest. His father's sibling. "I asked politely, for one. And second, we love each other. We waited this long, for all of the prophecies about us to be different."
Yes, they had to. After Nico was taken by Gaea, she waited. When Gaea tried to turn her against him, when she promise Poppy someone from her past, she waited. They were in love.
And after a few more hours, she finally agreed. Only after four hours.
Nico was pulled out of his memories by the coughing of his father, Hades, stepping up from his throne and looking down upon his son. "Yes?"
Oh, was this going to be painful. "Father, Lord, may I ask a question?"
Very painful. "Please? About how you-"
Hades interrupted, rolling his eyes. Yes, he knew why Nico wanted to speak to him. But there was no way, entirely no way in Hell that he was going to let the child use his chariot. "I know what you want to know. And I know you want the chariot. No, you can't have it. And you know the story."
"Please?" Nico asked again, pushing gently off of the ground where he was kneeling, and walking closer to his father. "Just about the chariot. How else will I break the ground open?"
"No. Well.. If you get anything on that chariot, so help me Nico Di Angelo, I will crush your precious flower to pieces. Understood?"
Nodding, Nico smiled politely at his father, moving to walk out of the room. But Hades wasn't done, and shouting at the young man's back, he added, "I'm serious. Your mother would agree. And Persephone. Why couldn't you use your own idea?"
Nico just rolled his eyes, and walked out of the room.
-oOo~Later That Day~oOo-
Poppy knew it was going to happen that day. She was positive. She just didn't know when. So, as soon as she woke up that morning, when she got dressed, the young woman shrugged off the normal camp clothes, choosing instead to wear a light pink dress that barely came to her knees. While Miranda, the only sibling she had who even spent an inkling of time with her, gave Poppy a questioning look, the others cat-called and laughed. But the soon-to-be-engaged girl didn't look, just walked off, past the younger campers, her counselor, and through the flower covered door. Well, if they thought that way, so let them.
Ignoring the calls for breakfast, she danced closer to the edge of the forest, casting one last glance over the camp. It had changed, becoming larger, letting the demigods who had left come back. The older campers either stayed in their cabins (Usually the unmarried ones did) or in one of the small houses that were built for that purpose. Families had bloomed, and they were being trained earlier and earlier. Rachel had given only a few more prophecies, but they weren't as extreme, or as long. But she knew there was one coming. Well, at some point there had to be. There was a long hush after the Doors of Death one.
Shuddering, she refused to think about it. The last battle was bad, worse than anyone could imagine. But that wasn't something she was going to think about. No, she had to think about happy things. About sunshine. Flowers? Nico?
Nico. It had only been seven years, only a long time since that one day, and she had already given the feeling she had a name. The Soulmate Principle, like in a book she had read. Well, it made sense. And she liked it. Pursing her lips in thought, she tried to name who else felt the feeling. Nico and her; Annabeth and Percy; Thalia, but she refused to say who it was with; Connor, and someone else. He refused to tell who as well. There had to be others, many others, but she hadn't spoken to most people, spending more time in her dream-like world than in real life. It wasn't her fault, her love was missing for a while, leaving her alone, with nobody who understood her.
"Alone. Being me. But who am I, if I am not myself without him? That would make me a nobody, though there is no such thing as a person without themselves. But I surely am not a somebody. What am I, then?" she said quietly, waxing on poetically. That had been happening a lot as well.
Before she could speak any more strange words, a thin cracking sound broke across her thoughts. Whipping her head around in shock, her emerald eyes began to study the ground in thought. Did she really just hear that? To satisfy her fearful question, the cracking sound came again, the ground splitting beneath her, but barely. No, she was being ridiculous. It could only be an earthquake, and that could only mean that Poseidon was angry. But the ground shook once more, sending shivers down her spine. That wasn't possible. But it was, and she was thrown neatly aside of the cracking area, head and back hitting the ground at the same time.
In a daze, Poppy lifted her head groggily from the grassy field, just as Nico was hopping out of the chariot, his mouth in a grim line. That wasn't supposed to happen. He was supposed to sweep her off her feet, place a light pink rose in her hair, a ring on her finger, and then be done with the chariot. But no, that didn't work out so well. Jogging over to her, Nico leaned down, brushing a cold finger against her head.
"Poppy? Are you -"
She grinned, reaching up and grabbing his hand. "That would have been sweeter if I didn't fall."
Yes, she was fine. Smirking, Nico lifted her easily off of the ground, ignoring her cheerful protests. Walking back to the chariot, a sudden spark of inspiration hit him, and as soon as he pushed the rose into her silver curls, the young man fell swiftly to his feet.
"Poppy Gartner, will you be my Persephone?"