So... that was a prolonged OFFICIAL break. Yeah. No promises that I'll update soon after this.
Disclaimer: If anybody still thinks that I somehow stole the rights to these two universes, they need to check into an insane asylum.
Thank you for all the support, people!
Chapter 24: The Knots Begin to Tie
I looked up at the mention of my name. The Americans were walking towards me, Nico di Angelo in tow. I put the book full of defensive spells down and stood up.
"'Ello," I greeted them. "Are you ready for the DA meeting tonight?" I asked, referring to the practice that would be occurring in less than five minutes.
"Yeah," Jackson said. "We picked up a straggler," he added, nodding at Nico.
"That's cool," I told them. "You know what we're doing, right?" I directed at Nico.
Nico shrugged. "I've got a fairly vivid image of what happens every week. Granted, it's not like Percy talks about it at all, or anything." I couldn't tell if he was being serious or just dryly sarcastic.
Hermione and Ron then walked into the Room of Requirement, quickly followed by the Weasley twins and Neville. There was a quick chorus of greetings.
Within about five minutes, the entirety of DA had arrived. Some had shown surprise at Nico, a Slytherin, being there, but for some reason there was no vocal disagreement. Maybe they held him to a different standard, since he was an American transfer.
"Alright" I spoke up. "You guys have been making great progress so far. This week we are going to work on our Patronuses some more. We've been a bit preoccupied lately, so those need some work."
There were a few excited murmurs at the prospect of working with Patronuses. People broke up into small groups, but spaced themselves out enough that they could get maximum wand-waving potential. The air was quickly filled with spells being cast.
I spent some time with Hermione and Ron, who were getting along splendidly with their spells. With each other, not so much. I figured that I should get away from the premises before anything bad happened. I moved on through the group, stopping here and there to correct someone on their spell or help them with their concentration.
The last group I visited was the Americans. Annabeth had really progressed quickly. According to Hermione, she was a control freak, so the actual spell-casting was why Annabeth was so good. On the other hand, Jackson seemed to have more powerful memories. They both seemed to be comparable. Thalia was getting there, she was having trouble concentrating on a good memory—she usually ended up trying to distract the others.
Since it was Nico's first time, I didn't expect much going in. And I was not disappointed. Although, when I thought about it, it wasn't really surprising. The kid's demeanor practically screamed unhappy. Besides, he seemed to handle dementors pretty well back during the holidays.
"Good job, guys," I said enthusiastically, "You seem to really be getting the hang of it."
We practiced for another fifteen minutes before switching to physical combat. Jackson started out by introducing Nico to the others.
"So, guys, this is Nico di Angelo, if you didn't know already. He's going to be helping us out too. Listen to him. He's pretty good." There was a low hum of discussion as friends conversed with friends about this new plot twist. Jackson seemed to remember something. "And by the way," he spoke up, effectively cutting off all talking, "Harry and I are fully aware that Nico is in the Slytherin house. We also know that he won't tell anybody about the DA, and he most certainly won't inform Umbridge about it. Clear?"
Thalia cocked an eyebrow. "I know this is strange, but I think you just said something smart."
"Thanks," Jackson replied, sarcasm dripping from the monosyllabic response.
There was a murmur of laughter before everybody dispersed. They had progressed to more complicated maneuvers and sparred against each other.
To be honest, this whole collaboration idea was actually a really good one. I was starting to see where knowing how to fight would come in handy. On a more personal basis, I would be able to use my new found skills to protect myself in case Dudley ever got bored. Heavyweight boxing champion or not, he was not very good.
I was sparring with Ron when it happened. I had knocked him down, and while I was waiting for him to get back up, I scanned around the room. On the far side of the room, Nico was trying to correct a Ravenclaw's form. The Ravenclaw, who's name I had never bothered to learn, rolled hhe eyes and said something. Instinctively, I started walking over to them.
"Um, Harry?" I heard Ron call after me. I ignored him. The closer I got, the better I could hear the argument.
"I've been doing it like this for ages and Percy's never told me I was doing it wrong," the girl said stubbornly.
"He probably never saw you do it wrong because you were too busy ogling at him whenever he walked past," Nico said calmly.
"Damn," muttered a kid who was listening in to the conversation too.
The girl's face got red. "I do not ogle at him!"
"You're denying it."
"Yes, I'm denying it!"
"So you do like him."
If the girl's cheeks could have gotten pinker, they did. "What?" she nearly exploded. "I do not!"
"Denial," Nico said in almost a sing-songy voice. I could have sworn he was enjoying this encounter.
"What's the problem?" Jackson almost sighed as he sidled into the small ring that had formed.
"Unrequited love," Nico said lightly.
Jackson looked completely confused. "Huh?"
"She's already showing the stages of loss. Denial. She denies that she doesn't know how to fight, denies that she finds you attractive, denies hat she likes you, de-"
"I never said that! I said I don't ogle!" the girl fumed.
"See?" There was a hint of a smile on Nico's face. "She's denying everything about you."
"Um..." Jackson seemed to be at a loss for words. He peered at Nico. "Are you feeling okay?"
"I mean, I've got a headache, but that's not new."
"Oh, please! Now you're asking about his mental health? Why is he even here?" The girl scowled. "We were fine before he came."
It seemed the girl had struck a chord. There was a murmur of assent among the rest of my classmates. Jackson, sensing impending problems, decided to choke the weed before it grew. Jackson turned around to face the crowd.
"Nico is here because he can provide valuable help. Most of you have never seen him fight, but I have. And believe me, you never want to fight against him." He started walking around. "All of you are here because you believe that Voldemort is back and that the Ministry is suppressing your opportunity to protect yourselves. Now I don't know if you are just doing this for yourselves, or if you plan on helping out in the battle—because there will be a battle—but I do know that we will need all the help that we can get. So I don't know where the hostility is coming from. Is it because he's a Slytherin? In which case you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover. I'll have you know that this kid punched Draco Malfoy in the jaw on the way to Hogwarts, okay? So I advise that you lay off it." The or else was left hanging, but the threat was clear. Everyone was silent.
"Well? Let's get back to work!"
Since it was February—the whole love month and stuff—I decided to take Annabeth on a date.
Okay. Maybe I should be more honest.
The date was my mom's idea (it's not like I pay attention to the theme of the month, or anything). Secondly, it was just a picnic down at the Lake. Yeah, it was still cold out, but the cold was what made it peaceful. Nobody else wanted to brave the cold for the view.
So we enjoyed a lunch alone, simply joking around, and Annabeth making fun of me. For the first time in a while, I wasn't worried about anything. After everything that had happened this year, this was just so relaxing. We didn't have to worry about Harry discovering our identities, Nico doing sketchy things, our upcoming war, nothing. Nada.
It was fabulous while it lasted.
I don't know how long we were out there—probably a couple of hours—before the conversation turned to our mission.
"So have you figured out why Nico keeps getting those headaches?"
I leaned back onto the grass. "Not yet," I sighed. "Things just aren't adding up."
"Well, what do we know?" Annabeth prompted.
"He gets a headache when he's around Harry. He also thinks that there's a horcrux attached to Harry, or Harry's soul, or something."
"In other words, he can tell if there's a horcrux nearby."
"Has this ever happened before?"
"I mean, after he put Ron in the Hospital Wing, he told me that he gets headaches when he's on the seventh floor."
Annabeth frowned. "Is there one on the seventh floor?"
"I don't know," I told her. "I mean, it would have to be some place that isn't easy to find. Voldemort wouldn't be as stupid as to just leave part of his soul lying around for anyone to find."
"Hey," Annabeth said suddenly. I sat up. "Do you remember when Nico got that migraine in the Headquarters?"
"Yeah," I said slowly.
"Do you think there was a horcrux in the house?"
"Like, where the anti-Voldemort force is housed?"
Annabeth's eyes got more stormy as she thought. "Remember how Sirius was talking about how the rest of his family supported Voldemort?"
"Maybe they offered to protect it for Voldemort. It's almost impossible to get into that place."
"Maybe," she said thoughtfully, "Do you think it's still there?"
"I don't think so. Nico didn't get any headaches over Christmas. But that doesn't explain the whole seventh floor thing."
Annabeth clapped a hand to her head. "We are so stupid!"
"I never thought you'd say that about yourself," I grinned.
She ignored me.
"The Room of Requirement!" she exclaimed.
"That... would make sense," I admitted.
"Yes. It does. The Room will take the shape of anything you need it to. You could, theoretically, come up with a room that no one else would think of, and bingo, your soul is protected for the rest of eternity."
"Yeah. Now let's go tell Nico."
A couple of weeks after the semi-disastrous DA meeting with Nico, we had a normal meeting. Things had been going pretty well for a while, but then the door to the Room opened and Dobby the house elf scampered in.
There were screams and shouts, accompanied by a flurry of movement as everyone in the Room tried to escape before Umbridge arrived to punish them all. I tried to get the heck out of dodge, but Malfoy managed to lunge and grab my ankle, tripping me.
The next thing I knew, I was being taken to Dumbledore's office, Umbridge occasionally leering at me with that creepy toadlike smile. The discussion that occurred between Umbridge, the Minister, and Dumbledore seemed to pass by in a blur. I had to admit, though, that Hermione's charm on the Ravenclaw snitch was rather humorous. If the situation wasn't so dire, I would have said that she deserved it. Nevertheless, I was dimly aware that Dumbledore had turned the problem around and was taking the blame for an organization that he was no part of.
When he disappeared with Fawkes, though, I was about three seconds away from a breakdown. I returned to the Gryffindor common room in a numb state. Those who were part of the DA, who had not been caught, and who were not too terrified to show their faces, waited in the room, apprehension on their faces. Ron and Hermione hurried over to me, Jackson and Thalia in tow.
"Dumbledore's gone," I muttered.
"What!" Hermione nearly shrieked. "The Ministry arrested him?"
I smiled hollowly, remembering the encounter between the Minister and Dumbledore. "They tried to, but Dumbledore kind of disappeared with Fawkes before they could actually arrest him."
"So what do we do now?" Thalia asked.
I shrugged. "I don't know. Dumbledore is gone, the DA is virtually disbanded for good, and Umbridge now has full run of the school. I really don't know."
Jackson and Thalia shared a look. If it were any other day, I would have been intrigued, but right now, it just mildly annoyed me. After everything that had occurred in the past hour, trying to discover secrets that might not even exist seemed petty and juvenile.
"I think... I think we might be able to help you out," Jackson said. Hermione, Ron, and I looked at the two Americans. "We need to tell you something. Come with us."
Jackson and Thalia headed for the door that would lead to the rest of the castle.
"Wait, where are you going?" Ron asked incredulously. "In case you forgot, we almost just got busted for being out after hours."
"Relax," Thalia told him. "We're good at this. You won't get caught."
Hesitantly, we followed the two into the hallway. First we made our way to the Ravenclaw tower, to pick up Annabeth, Jackson said. At every noise, Ron and Hermione jumped. I wished that I had brought my invisibility cloak. Then Thalia slipped down to the Slytherin House entrance, near the dungeons. She returned soon after with Nico in tow.
"Okay, we need a place where we can talk in private," Jackson said. "The Room of Requirement is off limits. Anyone got any ideas?"
"I know a place," Nico said quietly. "Come with me."
"If you want to live," Jackson muttered under his breath. Hermione smiled a little. Nico led us through some hallways, up and down some stairs, and into a hidden chamber. Every step that we took sounded like thunder, and I could have sworn that the teachers heard us. Luckily, no one stopped us, which was a miracle in its own.
"Okay," Jackson turned around to face us. "Now, I'm not stupid. I know that you three have been following us around since the beginning of the year."
There was a slight hesitation among the three of us, as if we all couldn't decide whether or not to deny the fact.
"I surely don't-" Hermione started.
"Oh, please. The day one of you followed me into the Forest? The interrogation session at the House over break? The strange books you've been checking out from the library, Hermione? You can't deny it," Thalia said forcefully.
"Well, we were just, uh, erm, er..." I stopped, having no idea where I was going with this.
"You guys weren't acting exactly innocent, either," Ron put in, defending us.
"Guys," Annabeth interrupted. "We're not here to confront each other. We're on the same side, and we're facing a major problem with Dumbledore gone. We are here to...unify, as cheesy as it sounds."
"She's right," Nico said.
Jackson nodded. "So as I'm sure you know, we're not exactly normal. Long story short, we are a long way away from normal."
"You're looking at three wizards and witches," I said dully. "How much more abnormal can you get?"
"My mentor is a centaur,"Annabeth stated plainly. "I think that's a bit more strange. And if that's not enough, he also happens to be three thousand years old. So beat that."
There was a silence as we processed that little tidbit of information.
"Look, to put it simply, we are only half human," Jackson said.
"The other half is god," Nico added.
"Demigods," Thalia explained. "Greek demigods."
Ron mouthed the words Greek demigods, as if trying to wrap his brain around it.
"That would explain why you have strengths in certain types of magic," Hermione said rapidly. "And why you can speak certain Greek dialects."
Annabeth nodded. "Ancient Greek, to be precise."
"You've lost me," Ron deadpanned.
Annabeth rolled her eyes. "Ever since the Greek gods came to be, they've been mating with mortals. The result of their work is demigods like us. Depending on the godly parent, the demigod will possess certain powers or strengths. For example, my mother is Athena. She is the goddess of wisdom and battle strategy, so I'm fairly smart."
"Such an understatement," Thalia muttered.
"Thalia," she eyed the blue-eyed girl, "is the daughter of Zeus, Lord of the skies or whatever. She's got some funky storm power stuff. Her brother can actually fly."
"Wait," I said, remembering something from a few months ago. "Back at the Quidditch tryouts, was that-?"
Thalia nodded. "I was a bit pissed off that day."
"Moving on," Annabeth interceded, not wanting to remember that day, "Percy is the son of Poseidon, king of the seas. He's got water powers."
"That must be cool," Ron whistled. "Hey, Harry, too bad you didn't have powers like that last year in the Triwizard Tournament." I got a little green remembering my trip to the lake.
"And Nico?" Hermione asked, but I got the feeling that she already knew the answer. I was starting to get a sneaking suspicion, too.
"Son of Hades," the person in question answered briefly. "I've got powers over the dead and all that."
There was a short silence as we digested all of that.
"Why didn't you just tell us in the first place?" I asked them. "Then you wouldn't have had to lie."
"We weren't supposed to," Jackson said. "You know how wizards have to stay secret? If people knew that there were half gods running around all over the world, blowing stuff up, there would be a riot."
"Wait..." Ron said slowly. "Are you guys wizards or not?"
Thalia shook her head. "I mean, I guess we've got some magic in us, since we are children of gods. But the only reason we've been able to survive Hogwarts is that Hecate, goddess of magic, has been helping us out."
"Why are you here, then?" Hermione asked suspiciously. She had a good point, I realized. Why were they here, if they weren't wizards from America?
"It's our quest. Dumbledore contacted our camp director—the summer camp we talked about is for demigods, not wizards—and requested that he send some reinforcements. He knew that there was going to be a battle soon, and was afraid that thirty full-grown wizards and some underage wizards wouldn't be enough against the greatest dark lord of all time and his followers. So we were sent in undercover to pose as students and o act when the time came," Annabeth explained.
"Were you supposed to teach us how to fight, to?"
"No, that was jut a golden opportunity," Jackson said. "I got quite a bit of grief about blowing our cover by doing that."
"Well you certainly had us fooled," Ron mumbled.
"I don't understand," Hermione stated.
"What's not to understand? There are Greek gods running around, and four teenagers are here undercover under orders of Dumbledore. It's simple," Ron told her sarcastically.
"That's what I don't understand. If Dumbledore wanted reinforcements, why would your leader or whatever send four teenagers? Surely there are others who are older and more qualified?"
There was a communal solemn shaking of heads. "You are looking at the best. Demigods don't live very long. It's just too dangerous for us. Percy just led us through two wars that we had no hope of winning. He's the most qualified person I've met. We're no strangers to war, death, pain, or fighting," Nico explained.
"There are some older than us—some college kids, some have gone on to become great, but at that point they've done their job and they don't want to risk their lives again," Annabeth added. "Besides, magic can be a great thing. Thalia should be in her twenties, but she was kind of frozen in time for a few years. Now she's a Hunter of Artemis, so she won't age or die granted she doesn't fall in battle. And Nico was actually born in the 1940's, but was stuck in a time-warping place so he didn't age for about sixty years."
Ron peered at Nico as if he were going to see an old man underneath the 14-year-old skin.
"Oh," Hermione said in a small voice.
"So what do we do now?" I asked. "Now that you've explained everything. I wasn't sure if that was supposed to accusatory or not.
"For now, we wait. I know that you probably want to do something, but for now the best thing to do is wait for directions, or something incredibly dire to happen. It's not worth rushing a war. Believe me, I tried that," Jackson advised.
"So... that's it? We just wait while Umbridge virtually destroys the school?" Ron asked indignantly.
"It's the best option as of now. Besides, it's not like we haven't been doing anything. You just taught some thirty-odd students how to defend themselves, and I've been making some allies in the Slytherin house."
Percy glanced at Nico. "Why do I feel like that was your plan all along for getting into the Slytherin House?"
Nico gave the older boy a sly smile.
Bam! I bet you guys weren't expecting that.
Sadly, (or good, in my case) I've guesstimated this story to be about four more chapters. Things are starting to wrap up and we're getting closer to the end of Order of the Phoenix anyways.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter (which was long for me)!
PLEASE review, you guys have been so incredibly amazing! :)