Wow! It has definitely been a while! This story was written for my friend Morgan Penciatti for our Camp Half-Blood Secret Santa fic-a-thon! I was really excited to write this and I apologize for it being late and for being a lot shorter than I thought it was going to be? But I'm hoping to maybe expand on this universe a bit (with your help if you're willing!) because it was just so much fun and there's so much left that I want to write.
Anyway, the prompt for this story was: As a first-year camper just claimed by her mother, Leia is assigned by Chiron to work with other kids with similar magic. She becomes frustrated that her magic doesn't come as easily as does the magic of the other kids, and in her frustration, does even worse. This is the first really "real" friendship-building moment between Leia and Pollux, as Pollux attempts to help teach Leia how to grow plants with her power from her godly parent. It is also implied in this scene that Pollux possesses the curious ability to calm Leia's intense fits of rage completely. The two become friends and Leia begins to hang out with the Dionysus twins though her relationship with Pollux remains a somewhat awkward one for nearly four or five years.
I don't know how closely I followed the prompt but, I tried. And, like I said, I want to expand, so there's still a lot left to write!
Happy holidays everyone :)
Disclaimer: I do not own Percy Jackson and the Olympians, nor do I own the character Leia. Those belong to Rick Riordan and the user Morgan Penciatti respectively. The title of this fic is named after the song by The Lumineers of the same name :)
It's half past noon and Leia still doesn't get it.
She's been working at her magic all day, trying to convince her strawberry plant to grow faster, to sprout leaves and flowers and tasty morsels that the kitchens can use in the strawberry-rhubarb pie planned for dessert that evening. But no. Her plant still refuses to grow, even long after many of her classmates' had made theirs blossom and bloom.
"This is impossible!" Leia exclaims, slamming her fists angrily upon the picnic table that had been set up for class at the edge of the strawberry fields. A nymph, their instructor for the day, comes hurrying over, pushing at her feather-light hair. It's tinged green from the chlorophyll of her oak that stands just a ways away from their table.
"Leia," the nymph admonishes. "That's no attitude to get you going on your growing skills."
"Yeah, well you'd have a pretty snappy attitude too if you'd been out in the sun for three hours with no success! How long does this class last, anyway?"
The nymph sighs, glancing about for any signs of help, but most of Leia's classmates have moved out into the fields, a satyr leading them through various growing techniques.
"Leia, honey," the nymph tries again, but Leia cuts her off.
"Don't you 'Leia, honey' me," the girl retorts angrily. She stands, scrambling out of the confines of the table and huffs angrily. "I probably didn't even inherit any stupid plant powers. My mum is useless!"
The nymph opens and closes her mouth for several seconds, lost for words. She's saved, however, when someone from behind Leia says, "I'm sure that's not true."
Leia whirls around, her green eyes narrowing when they land upon a boy with wild, curly blonde hair. "What do you care?" she spits back.
The boy shrugs and takes a seat on the picnic bench, plucking Leia's plant from the table top. The way he looks at it is almost loving, a strange fit for a boy, but Leia watches in envy as it grows.
"Pollux," the nymph says. She sounds tired now, as if the argument with Leia had drained her of her energy. "What did I say about showing off?"
"Hmm?" the boy, Pollux, replies. He glances up at the plant and Leia watches as his eyes flit from her angry expression to his teacher's exasperated one. "Sorry," he says, placing the plant back on the table. "I didn't mean to. I was just thinking."
"Thinking about what?" Leia asks. "I thought boys didn't think about anything."
Pollux makes a face and Leia finds it strangely endearing. Which is the last thing she wants because right now she wants to be angry.
"I was just thinking about how I make plants grow. Because then I thought maybe it would help you."
The nymph claps her hands delightedly. "Oh, Pollux, do you think you could try and teach Leia how to tap into her powers? She's had such trouble all morning and …" She trails off, gesturing with her hands as if they will tell the story that her words could not.
Pollux shrugs again. It's a full-body movement that looks easy and natural, and also foreign. But then again, everything looks a little foreign to Leia. "Sure, sure," he says, as if he's got all the time in the world. "Anything to help."
The nymph smiles gratefully and glides back towards her tree, a vision of grace and poise. It makes Leia jealous for a moment, a spark of envy lit low in her belly. As soon as the teacher is gone, Leia turns back towards Pollux, her hands curling into fists.
"I don't need your help," she informs him.
"Sure you don't," Pollux replies. He glances up at Leia from under long eyelashes, his expression in some strange cross between interested and apathetic.
"I can make that plant grow if I want it to."
"Of course you can."
With a huff, Leia grabs the plant from the table, focusing her energy and her thoughts on making it sprout taller, bloom brighter. The strawberry plant, however, does nothing.
"You're thinking about it too much."
Leia glances up at Pollux, who is gesturing towards the plant. "You just have to sort of … feel it. You have the power inside of you, it's just a matter of channeling it to the surface."
"Easy for you to say," Leia retorts. "Your dad has always been around to teach you."
Pollux makes a face, a sort of wounded grimace that Leia instantly wants to apologize for. But just as quickly as it appears, it's gone again.
"Well now I'm here to teach you," he says, his voice tight sounding. He pats the space on the picnic bench next to him and, after a moment of hesitation, Leia sits down at the table.
"You have a bit of a temper thing, don't you?" Pollux asks as he motions for Leia to set her hands on the pot. She does as is instructed and then shuts her eyes when Pollux waves those closed too. Since her first day at camp all Leia had done was keep her guard up, but now with Pollux she felt inexplicably safe.
"It's not a thing," she begins, "it's more of a-"
"Problem?" Pollux supplies.
"Oh, shut up."
"No, seriously though, your anger issues rivals that of Ares' kids. Or Aphrodite's when Argus won't take them into the city for a sale at Macy's or whatever."
This makes Leia laugh, and she opens her eyes for a moment. The first thing she sees is Pollux, his golden hair shining in the sun and a small smile lighting up his face.
The next thing she sees are the strawberries.
There are strawberries everywhere, overflowing on the vines that trace back to the pot that Leia keeps clutched in her hands. They intertwine around the picnic table and along Leia's arms, covering anything that they can reach.
"Did I- Did I do that?" Leia whispers, her eyes darting over the plant life around them.
"Well," Pollux says, "I certainly didn't."
It's almost like the two of them can hear the witty comeback that Leia would return, but instead, she keeps it to herself. Before her is proof of an accomplishment that had previously alluded her, a masterpiece if she ever saw one.
"Thanks, Pollux," she says after a moment.
The sun beats down upon their necks. Behind them, Leia can already hear her classmates returning towards the table, but all that seems very far away from the here and the now. It's like they're locked inside their very own bubble, safe from everything else.
"You're welcome, Leia."