Another idea I thought I'd try out. I'm only just now reading Lightning Thief, though I know the general outline of the rest of the PJO series so far. This in mind, I'm really sorry if I make any stupid mistakes in spelling or continuity. Oh, and to those who've read Nova, I'm really sorry about the defence/offence goof I made when Scott and Rose were fighting Duncan Matthews. I meant to say that Scott is the offensive fighter and Rose the defensive with non-mutants. Anyway, I really hope you enjoy this fic. As I'm still familiarising myself with the Percy Jackson series, it'll be a long work in progress. But I'll try to update all my stories as fast as I can. To all who like my other stories, I'm really sorry for putting them on the back burner. But I think Nova and Tale of the Defender, along with my revision of The Outcasts Who Lived, will be my main priorities for now. Anyway, here's my story. Enjoy!
Daughter of Lightning: Tale of the Defender
Chapter One: New Possibilities
"Hermione, will you shut up about reading already?" I groaned. I love my friend like a sister and I knew then that she had just gotten out of the hospital wing but really. Sometimes, she was just too much. I loathe reading and she knows that. But, then again, she didn't know why I do. "We don't even have exams this year."
"Alexandria, please. I've been petrified for months. Oh, I just know that I've missed loads." she fretted. The girl worried too much. She was practically a genius.
"You're brilliant, Mione. You don't need to prove that to us. Come on, it's a nice day outside." red-haired Ron Weasley, my other best friend, tempted her.
"That's sweet of you, Ron, but no. Look, I'm going to catch up with everybody else and you're going to help me. I got all these books from the library and we can all read some. Then, we can meet with each other and summarise. Won't that be fun?" said Hermione with enthusiasm.
"No." both Ron and I said together.
"You guys really need to put forth a bit more effort in your studies. Come on. Do it for me?" Hermione begged.
"Okay." Ron sighed.
"For a little while." I caved. Damn her, she knows how to get to us. But, an hour later, I was really cursing her. My eyes swam with the effort of focusing on the page, the letters levitated off it and danced mockingly. At least, that's what it seemed like to me.
"Can we stop now?" I asked. I sounded whiny, I knew, but I didn't really care.
"It's barely been an hour, Alexandria." Hermione sighed in exasperation.
"Yeah but I hate reading." I said grumpily.
"Why? Why do you hate reading so much? It's not that hard, you know." Hermione huffed. I scowled and threw the heavy book Hermione had given me onto the table. She squeaked in indignation but I ignored her. Ron backed up like any smart guy would do and let us girls duke it out without his input.
"Sure." I drawled sarcastically, letting out my cold and cutting side. "Of course it's not hard for you. You've just got to read any little thing you get your hands on, don't you? And you expect everyone who bothers befriending you to be the same. Don't you?"
"But I..." Hermione said softly, looking like she was about to cry. I deflated immediately.
"Look. I'm sorry for being so mean. But I'm just saying that not everyone takes to reading like you do." I said softly, giving her a quick hug.
"But why? Why or how is reading so hard for you?" she asked quietly. I sighed and motioned Ron to join us again.
"Fine, I'll tell you. It's just... well... it's really embarrassing." I blushed.
"What. It's not like you can't read or something... is it?" Ron asked tactlessly. I punched him in the shoulder. "Ow. That hurt, Alex."
"Ignore him, Alexandria." Hermione said, emphasising my actual name. Sometimes, people like to call me Alex. If not Alex, I get called Lilium, my middle name. It's a way to help me feel a bit more connected to my mum, I guess, as her name was Lily. Hermione's the only one who actually calls me Alexandria on a regular basis. Maybe it's because my full name is also synonymous with an ancient library. At the time, I thought it funny that a dyslexic girl was named for such a thing. But I would later learn it also meant "defender of mankind." "You can tell us."
"Fine. Well... the thing is... iamdyslexicsogoonandlaughatm enow." I blurted.
"Sorry," Ron said, "I didn't quite catch that." I shook my head and calmed myself. My right hand twirled a strand of my wavy black hair whilst my left clutched the worn edge of the wooden table.
"I... I'm dyslexic, okay. Go on, you can laugh at me now. I'm sure you'd love too." I said a little bitterly, remembering all the kids at all the schools I'd attended from reception to year six who would laugh at the way I read or spelled.
"Why would we laugh at you?" Hermione asked gently, reciprocating the hug I'd given her earlier.
"Everyone else did. At Muggle school, I mean." I confided.
"What's dyslexia?" Ron asked. I rolled my eyes at his ignorance of Muggle concepts.
"Dyslexia..." Hermione started but I cut her off.
"Is a condition where someone has trouble reading. The letters get all jumbled and it's really hard to focus. Generally, people with dyslexia, like me, have a lot of trouble spelling, reading, and writing. It's really hard to do anything print related. For me, it's like the letters are floating off the page and dancing mockingly in front of my eyes, never letting me focus on them." I explained.
"Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you tell any of the professors? Oh, I should've seen it before now. Nearly two years of school and I didn't know. I'm so sorry, Alexandria. I should've been supporting you, not badgering you to read more or faster or fix your spelling and your penmanship. I'm really, really sorry." Hermione cried.
"S'not your fault. I deliberately hid it from you because... well... all the other kids, at least in Muggle school, made fun of me because I couldn't read well. I guess I was just afraid of that happening again." I sighed.
"Erm... Alex... I'm really sorry about the not being able to read comment. I didn't know." Ron said, shifting awkwardly.
"It's okay, Ron, seriously." I said, clapping a hand on his shoulder.
"Okay. But still..." he trailed off.
"I know. But, since I'm spilling my guts to you anyway, I might as well continue. The dyslexia isn't helped any because I have ADHD. Before you ask, Ron, that stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. People with ADHD have really short attention spans and can't focus on things for long. Sometimes, we tend to miss things that other people might notice. I'm no acception. That's why I never can sit still for long, why I always fidget. And I'm impulsive, just as others like me are." I shrugged. Ha, "others like me". Funny how I could say stuff like that and have the meaning be so much more than I knew.
"We'll never laugh at you, mate." Ron assured. For all his tactlessness, he was a good friend.
"I really wish you'd told us, though." Hermione added.
"Again, I'm sorry for not telling you guys this. I guess I'm still in the mentality that everyone's gonna laugh at me. Hogwarts is the first time I've stayed at a school for more than one year. In year five, we took a trip to the zoo. I kinda found the control panel and switched the emergency release lever. All the animals were set loose. In year four, I accidentally blew up the chemistry lab in the secondary level wing at the school I was sent to. In year three, I chucked my lunchbox at a kid's head. It missed and somehow broke the glass of the jellyfish tank at the aquarium we were in. You get the picture." I shrugged. I didn't dare tell them about year six, the spring before I started Hogwarts to be exact. All year 6 classes were visiting the Tower of London for a day. I got busted for socking Eustace Flemming, this fat, lardy kid who was always shoving people and stealing their food. He'd just taken the apple from this frail kid, Clover or Grover or something, and shoved him over. He tried to shove me but I decked him in the nose. I didn't care that he was the headmaster's kid. I wouldn't stand for bullying of any sort. And it helped that what's-his-name was a pretty nice kid.
But Mrs. McGie, whose class the three of us were in, thought the dough ball, Flemming, was an angel. I hated her. She was this freaky lady who wore flowing white dresses and some sort of white religious wrap or whatever that covered her head and most of her face, along with black sunglasses to cover her eyes. She pulled me aside, leading me into the tower. A guard came into the room and told us we weren't supposed to be there without a tour guide. Mrs. McGie lifted her sunglasses and the bloke was immediately statue-fied.
I knew enough of Greek mythology, even if I didn't believe it, to realise that looking into her eyes was bad. She lunged for me but I grabbed her arms. I felt this buzzing, sizzling sensation and she lit up like a firecracker before exploding in gold dust. I remember flying back and hitting my head on something.
Next thing I know, this thin old bloke is asking if I'm all right. When I asked who he was, he reminded me that he was my teacher, Mr. Tanner. It seemed like everyone had forgotten about Mrs. McGie and was certain that Mr. Tanner was our teacher. Everyone, that is, except the gimpy kid. But he tried to act like everyone else. Underfoot or Underwood or whatever his name was sucked at lying convincingly. Before I could confront him, I was being sent home. I had been expelled, again. The headmaster, shock shock, didn't take too kindly to me slugging his precious son.
So you can guess why I didn't want to tell my friends this. I'd sound like a nutter. But I didn't have much more time to think about that. I was snapped out of my thoughts by Ron's somewhat awed voice.
"Blimey." he breathed.
"You're just a magnet for trouble, aren't you?" Hermione said with a fond smile. It was a look like she'd give to an unruly younger sister. I grinned at both of them, glad that nothing would change. They were my friends and nothing could tear us apart. At least, that's what I thought.
A few short days later, I was at my so-called home and wishing that I was still with my friends. My aunt and uncle were getting on my nerves more than usual so I sequestered myself in my room as soon as dinner was over. Ugh, I really needed to blow off some steam about then. The only way I could think to do so was if I went for a walk. The sun was setting but that never stopped me before. I am, if anything, a creature of the night. Darkness... well... I don't know if it comforts me exactly but it's tranquil. I love looking upon the sky in all its velvety blackness, the diamond-like pinpricks of stars glittering high above, a crescent moon allowing dappled silver light to bend around the shadows and slide its way through branches like in the forbidden forest at Hogwarts. The only thing more invigorating to me than a beautiful, clear night is a thunderstorm. There's just something about them. The smell of the rain, the comforting rumble of thunder, the illumination brought by lightning. I know now why I love that so much but I certainly didn't then.
It's not like the Dursleys mind me walking around the neighbourhood anyway. If they had their way, I'd get myself eaten by something on one of my nighttime jaunts. But at least the neighbours stay away from me. They all think I'm some sort of deranged lunatic, not that I care. I guess I am, in some respects. I've been sent off to various schools since I was seven. Things are always happening to me. I've got a fiery temper which usually simmers just under the surface before erupting. Then again, whenever I'm faced with blatant stupidity or someone insults people I care about, it surfaces right away. But I don't care what the people in this fake little town think about me. And so I go walking.
Changing into something a bit warmer, I looked into the mirror. I couldn't help but scowl at my reflection. I was tiny for a girl of my age, I looked a little past eleven at best. The thing that sucked about that is that I was turning thirteen at the end of July. My skin is naturally fair and my hair long and raven, shot through with streaks of my mother's dark red. Everyone said that I look so much like my father, James Potter. I never really thought about how little I could be said to resemble him then. I was desperate to cling to any tenuous connection to my parents through whatever means possible, even my looks. But I now realise and accept that I never looked like him at all. My face at that time was angular, much like it still is today, but back then I had a certain amount of softness, a sort of roundness to it that made me look more innocent. James Potter didn't have a face like mine. Then, there's my hair. James Potter had very dark brown hair which might be mistaken for black on occasion. However, my hair is as black as a raven's wing, shot through with dark red strands, and I knew from my photo album, even if I didn't think much on it then, that it didn't come from my parents or grandparents. It didn't have the unruly quality that signified the Potter hair either. Admittedly, my hair does have some curl to it which tends to become more noticeable whenever I grow angry. Even then, however, the texture is nothing like James Potter's. On top of this, I can, even now, only pick out a few things from my mother. My nose, my eyes, my stature... once I grew up a bit. It was my belief, even then, that people only saw what they wanted to see. I swiped an arrant strand of hair off my forehead and my eyes, as bright green as my mother's were, glanced at the scar which had been there since my toddler days. That damned scar that marked me as the girl-who-lived. Though it's in the shape of a jagged lightning bolt, its appearance almost seems intentional. Then, to make things more strange, a similar scar in the shape of a crescent moon is engraved on the back of my right hand. Shaking my head, I turned away from the mirror and exited my room.
"Where do you think you're going?" my aunt asked, annoyed. Both she and Uncle Vernon, especially Vernon, had been testy since I'd gotten home, maybe before then. It all had to do with Dudley going off to some special camp in the states. Honestly, I was shocked they weren't crowing to the neighbours by then.
"Out." I responded before shutting the door. Taking a deep breath of the balmy evening air, I walked casually down the garden path and out onto the sidewalk. Like usual, I headed towards the neighbourhood park. Out of habit, I fingered the wand in my front pocket. Call me paranoid but I had no desire to let it out of my sight. Eventually, I reached my destination. Sadly, what was once a nice little park had been torn up recently by a group of vandals, also known as my cousin's little gang. The group of destructive boys was probably being led by Piers Polkiss by that point, Dudley's second in command..
Their was only one swing left in tact which I promptly sat on. I guess it was a kind of ritual of mine ever since I was a kid. Whenever I was home and my "family" got to be too much, I would always come out here to think. Luckily, the swing set was positioned in such a way that I could easily watch the sun sink beneath the horizon. I'd always watch it when I had the chance.
Gradually, I began pumping myself back and forth, enjoying the gentle movement and the slight breeze which tickled my face. Before I knew about Hogwarts, I always imagined that I was high in the air, flying on a broom. Then, I would leap off and descend slowly, as if I could fly on my own power. This was my world, my place to disconnect from everything. I could spend literally hours, simply swinging, jumping, and repeating and not even realise the passage of time. But this night was different. I had already jumped a number of times and it had grown dark. I was ready to do it again. Once I was sufficiently high enough, I closed my eyes and pushed off. I revelled in the feeling of the air flowing around me, lifting my skirt and hair. I landed gently on the gravel coating of the playground and opened my eyes only to fall back in shock.
A scant few yards away from me was the largest, most menacing-looking dog I had ever seen. It was such a dark black that it seemed to be made out of the shadows. The eyes in its sockets were a glowing red like molten lava. Internally, I cursed my luck as I struggled for an idea to get me out of this mess. Why was it always me who wound up facing messes and dastardly monsters? There were the run-ins during my childhood, like that strange teacher in white. Then, let's not forget the troll, the dragon, the cerberus, the second troll, the man-crushing willow, the entire colony of blood-thirsty acromantula, and the 60 foot basilisk. And now, a gigantic dog with fangs as long and thick as my forearm.
"Erm... good dog? It's okay... I won't hurt you..." the dog growled and bounded forward.
"Bad dog... bad, bad dog... oh shit. Bloody fucking hell... of all the bloody... SHIT!" I squawked in fright. You would too, if you were in my position. The dog snapped its jaws at me. Luckily, I dodged to the left. I shook my head.
"Come on, Alexandria. Where's that fabled Gryffindor recklessness?" I asked myself. I'd fought a 60 foot basilisk, among other things, but I could at least get the jist of what they were saying as they tried to eat me or whatever the things wanted to do. Steeling myself, I took in a deep breath and leapt onto the swing which I had jumped from just a few minutes before.
"Oi! Dogbreath! Look at this!" I hollered. Luckily, the dog didn't seem too bright. It appeared to be at least mildly curious about what I was doing and, if only for a minute, willing to let me live a little longer. Swaying back and forth like a full body set of legs, I made the swing gain momentum. Then, Once I felt like I had gotten as high as I could without accidentally falling off, I catapulted off the rubber swing bottom. With a yell of triumph, I was boosted up with a gust of air and I landed on its large back. Now I think back on it, I was damn lucky I was flexible enough, and powerful enough, to pull off such a foolishly Gryffindor stunt. Had I sailed any lower, I could have been snatched right up in its sharp-fanged jowls.
The dog yowled in anger and began attempting to get me off. I hung onto its ears for dear life but I knew I wouldn't last on him for long. Of course, I just had to be right and I flipped backwards and landed in a graceless heap. Not pausing, the giant dog whirled around and planted its forepaws on my legs, effectively pinning me. My vision was going fuzzy with pain from having a dog of at least 500 pounds on them. I had to do something, some last ditch effort so I wouldn't be dog chow.
Faster than I thought possible, I sat up as far as I could and wrapped my small hands around its large legs. Hoping for some aspect of my magic to assist me, I suddenly felt a tingling and buzzing sensation all over my body, though mostly in my hands. Arcs of sizzling electricity lanced out from the juncture between human hands and dog legs and consumed the creature. As I would later learn, it turned into a vanishing plume of golden dust upon its death. Of course, I never noticed this because I had already closed my eyes, preparing to pass out, mumbling "I hate dogs" as I did so.
Little did I know, my human-side magic acted on its own, taking me as close as it could to safety. My spoils of war? A couple of hellhound claws still digging into my broken legs. However, though nearly unconscious, my incredibly insane luck prevailed and my magic, as I found out later, just had to appearate me onto a minitaur's back. The creature promptly threw me off.
A rumble of thunder sounded in the background and I felt wet earth under me. I could here rapid breathing, a stomping, and an angry roaring sound which didn't help my aching head. My awareness faded for I don't know how long. The next time I was vaguely conscious, I was being set down somewhere. One of my eyes cracked open, seeing a ceiling fan with a yellow, moth-swarmed light in the middle.
"One of them must be the one." a youngish female voice with a clearly American accent sounded from somewhere above me. I didn't see the speaker as I had closed my eyes, groaning.
"Silence, Annabeth," the voice of an older man, his accent undefinable in my muddled mind, hushed her. "They're still conscious. Bring the boy inside; I will follow with the girl." I knew no more after that.
In my state of unconsciousness, my dreams were more bizarre than usual. I was being chased through the streets of Little Whinging by a pack of vicious dogs. Some were like Ripper, my uncle's sister's pitbull. Others were big, black, and snarling like the dog that had attacked me. Still others had three heads. There was a fourth sort which were ghastly combinations between the three other kinds of dogs. I know I woke up several times but nothing made much sense to me and I couldn't be bothered rousing myself so I would slip back into sweet oblivion soon afterwards.
I could remember some things, though. A soft bed, a straightening pressure in my legs. At one point, I woke up only to find a spoon in my mouth, something like pudding on it. It was like no pudding I'd ever tasted; it reminded me of treacle tart, my favourite dessert. I cracked my eyes open to see a girl. Her hair was curly and light blonde, her eyes a startling grey.
"I guess I better ask you since the other doesn't know." she sighed, clearly exasperated.
"Other?" I rasped thickly, swallowing the spoonful of pudding.
"Never mind that," she snapped, "what's happening on the summer solstice?"
"What's happened? Something's been stolen, what is it? There's only a couple weeks left; we're running out of time!"
"I don't understand..." I trailed off. But she shushed me before I could say more, shoving another bite of the pudding into my mouth. I only woke up once after that before I was up for good. In the corner was a buff blond bloke with a lot of eyes. Normal eyes? Check. Eyes on his cheeks and chin? Check. Eyes on his arms and what was visible of his legs? Check. He even had a little eye at the very tip of his nose. But that was all of my surroundings I could take in before the blackness of sleep pulled me under.
The next time I woke up, it was for good. I was still in bed. I felt stiff and sore but that was about the size of it. No sharp, jabbing pains, no splitting headache like I expected. I wiggled my toes and moved my legs around. Aside from being quite stiff, they seemed fine. But hadn't they been practically crushed that night? Into bits under hundreds of pounds? But they seemed as whole and normal as always. I gagged a bit as I yawned. My mouth tasted like the dust under my cousin's bed and I'm sure my breath smelled worse. Looking over to the nightstand next to the bed, I saw that a glass of some sort of juice had been left there, completely full, an unused straw stuck in it. There was also a little paper parasol which was stuck into a maraschino cherry. A part of me was wary, wondering if this was some sort of trick or trap, perhaps by my relatives, perhaps by an enemy. But I didn't think so. I just had this - well - this sort of feeling in my gut. If there's one thing to say about me, it's that I trust my gut. So I decided to enjoy the drink.
My hand was weak at first and I could barely clench it around the cool glass. However, eventually, I managed to lift it high enough so that the straw was at my lips. I took a sip and it was like drinking heaven in a glass. The taste was of liquified, minty chocolate, as though I was drinking a peppermint patty or a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream. I didn't know why at the time but I felt more energetic, like nothing had happened to me.
But as I pushed back the blankets and saw my upper legs, I knew that was false. Long, shallow scars could be seen, going a couple of inches, a few on each leg. I groaned softly, this was just what I needed. Another set of unexplainable scars. Deciding I'd better get up and look around, I swung my legs off the bed and stood up shakily. My balance was off and my legs were stiff but I was on my feet again and that's what counted. I didn't want to stay in this place, clearly an infirmary of some sort, for too long. Even then, I loathed infirmaries and hospitals of any kind. Madam Pomfrey could attest to that. One of the doors led directly outside, I could tell by the window of glass near the top. I supposed that was my best bet. Opening it, I walked out onto a large porch; I was on one side of it. I could see green, rolling hills in the distance and a strawberry scent wafted towards the porch on the breeze. I could see groves of trees, strawberry fields, and a winding stream. A few chairs, tables, and lounges were spread around the porch. One chair in particular was sat in by a boy. He looked about my age, perhaps younger, though he looked older in comparison to my scrawny form. He had somewhat shaggy black hair and sea green eyes. A blanket covered his legs and a pillow was behind his back. He seemed rather depressed. In his lap was a shoe box, opened up. Inside, I could see a jagged, black and white horn. On a table between him and another chair was a drink much like the one I had clutched in my hands.
"It wasn't your fault." the boy groaned, partly annoyed and partly resigned to some fact I didn't know at the time. His accent, like the girl's from my unconscious stint, was American.
"Yes, it was. I was supposed to protect you." sniffed someone across from the boy, leaning on the rail of the porch. Again, he sounded American. He looked familiar, especially his brown curls. He wore a pair of converse hi-tops, jeans, and an orange t-shirt that said CAMP HALF-BLOOD. Was this a wizarding area? Perhaps an American one? But why on earth would they have named it Camp Half-Blood? Did the Americas have blood issues as well?
"Did my mother ask you to protect me?" the black-haired boy asked, snapping me back to their conversation. I shouldn't be eavesdropping, I knew this, but I was curious.
"No. But that's my job. I'm a keeper. At least... I was." the curly-haired kid said gloomily.
"But why?" the boy asked. I wanted to know the same.
"Don't strain yourself," the curly-haired one implored. He went over to the boy and helped him take hold of his drink. He recoiled as he sipped it, almost dropping the glass. A sudden flash came to my mind as I looked at the brown-haired boy fussing over the black-haired one. It was in year six and Eustace Flemming had just punched me in the head, shoving me to the blacktop as he ran past. A blurry haze of a boy in my class with curly brown hair and crutches appeared over me. I tried to sit up.
"Don't strain yourself," he had said. "I'll get the nurse."
"Grover?" I gasped, the pieces clicking into place. He whirled around, almost losing his balance.
"Oh no," he said, a nervous blaaah-ing laugh escaping his throat just like it had when we were in school together. "You shouldn't be out of bed, Alexandria, not yet. If any of the healers saw you... you were in a bad state."
"What's going on here, Grover. I don't understand! Where am I? And don't you remember I prefer Alex?"
"Sorry, Alex. But you can at least sit down, all right?" he asked, shuffling over to me. I nodded and allowed him to lead me to the chair on the other side of the green-eyed boy's table. He put my drink on the table, placed a pillow behind me, and covered my legs like the other boy's were. Said boy was looking on in interest.
"How do you know her, Grover? Who is she?" he asked.
"My last assignment. Percius Jackson, meet Alexandria Potter. Alexandria Potter, meet Percius Jackson."
"Charmed." I said drolly.
"Call me percy." he returned. I grimaced slightly, thinking of Ron's older brother. Ah well.
"Call me Alex." I returned. "Or Lilium if you wish."
"Lilium?" he asked.
"My middle name." I shrugged.
"Right, got you. So what do you mean by your last assignment, Grover?" Percy asked.
I was to protect her as I have you. And I tried. She would have come here sooner if she hadn't been sent to the school of the Hecate-blessed, protecting her from the monsters."
"Hecate-blessed?" we asked at the same time.
"The lady Hecate, known as the goddess of magic?" I continued.
"Hold on, magic? Like witches and wizards?" Percy questioned.
"Of course! What else?" Grover exclaimed before I could get a word in edgewise.
"But they..." Percy trailed off.
"What is this place, anyway? Am I in the states? Is this another magic school?" I questioned, cutting through the silence.
"Yes you are, and no this isn't. But that's for later. Here, I figured you might appreciate these." Grover said, taking a smallish box off another table and plunking it in my lap. I opened it only to gasp at what was inside; the front claws of the creature which had attacked me. They were long, wicked sharp, and as black as night.
"But I..." I trailed off, confused.
"They were with you when you arrived. They might be useful." Grover shrugged.
"For what? stabbing someone? Poking someone's eye out?" I asked sarcastically. He shifted uncomfortably.
"Ouch, those must have hurt." breathed Percy.
"Like hell." I affirmed. "Some bloody monster of a dog attacked me in the park at night."
"A hound of the underworld." Grover nodded.
"Do you mean to tell me that I got myself chewed like a bloody drumstick by a hellhound!" I exclaimed in shock.
"Don't say the name!" Grover begged frantically.
"Names have power, apparently." Percy stated.
"Voldemort business all over again." I huffed.
"This is for real, Alexandria. People stopped saying that name out of fear. But there's more power to saying names of legend here." Grover explained.
"Who's Voldemort?" Percy asked.
"Later." Grover and I said together. Percy didn't seem to be a wizard as he hadn't gotten all excited at my name. However, I had the feeling he was no ordinary Muggle.
"Alright then. Names have power so let me rephrase myself. I was politely nibbled upon by a bloody big black dog with red eyes!" I started out sounding sweet but was almost shouting towards the end. I could practically feel my hair curling as my frustration grew.
"Sooo... you're British?" asked Percy awkwardly, trying to break the tension.
"Yes." I bit out, clenching my fists. "I am."
"Don't strain yourself," Grover repeated. "Have some of your drink, both of you."
"Fine." I said huffily, grabbing the glass and almost dropping it. After a few deep breaths, I was able to manage it better and took a large gulp of the stuff. Before I knew it, both our glasses were empty and I was popping the cherry in my mouth.
"Was it good?" Grover asked us. Percy nodded.
"Brilliant." I affirmed aloud.
"What did it taste like?" Grover asked in an almost wistful tone. Percy looked guilty but I shot Grover an "are you crazy?" sort of look.
"Sorry," said Percy. "I should've let you taste." Grover's eyes grew almost comically wide.
"No! That's not what I meant. I just... wonder."
"Mint and chocolate." I answered after a pregnant pause. "Like a peppermint patty or mint chocolate chip ice cream."
"Chocolate chip cookies," Percy offered. "My mom's. Home made." I sighed wistfully at that. Percy glanced at me curiously.
"Doesn't your mom ever make anything home made?" he asked me.
"No." I said flatly.
"Why not?" he asked me.
"She's dead." I informed him flatly.
"I'm sorry... what about your dad?" he asked.
"Dead." I responded.
"I didn't mean..." he trailed off, blushing.
"I know." I sighed heavily.
"Okay... well... how do you two feel now?" Grover asked awkwardly.
"Like I could throw Nancy Bobofit a hundred yards." Percy enthused.
"Nancy Bobofit?" I asked.
"A girl at my old school. She loved picking on Grover and I. How do you feel, Alex?" Percy asked.
"Like I... like I could stay up all day and all night and all day again without even getting tired."
"That's good," Grover said. "That's good. I don't think you could risk drinking any more of that stuff."
"What do you mean?" I demanded. "It's just a drink. A magical one, obviously, but just a drink. A potion, maybe? What's the big deal?" Percy seemed even more confused than I was. Grover took our empty glasses carefully, acting like they might blow up in his stubbly face, and set them back on the table. I wanted to protest that I could've done that myself, that I wasn't an invalid, but I didn't feel like it was worth it.
"Come on. Chiron and Mr. D are waiting." he told us, not answering my question. Percy and I both rose to our feet. I was clearly not the only one shaky, though I was considerably more wobbly than percy. Grover offered to carry Percy's horn and my box of claws but both of us declined. The porch wrapped all the way around the farm house, apparently. As we came around to the other side of the house, I couldn't help but gasp at the picturesque sight in front of me. We must have been near the ocean somewhere as the valley came all the way up to the sparkling water and I saw no distant shore. Plus, there was salt in the air and the water brushed the sand of the beach in waves. The ocean looked about a mile in the distance. I was glad of that as I hated water, or more specifically bodies of water. I don't mind the rain at all; it's soothing. But present me with a body of water any bigger than a bathtub and I get nervous. I can remember never liking bath time as a child. It seemed so much bigger then. Dudley pushed me into a lake once and I nearly drowned. Between this house and the ocean, I could barely take in what else I was seeing. There were quite a few buildings that looked as though they came right out of the days of ancient Greece. An open-air pavilion, an amphitheater, and a circular arena of some sort. But what got me was that everything looked practically new. White pillars sparkled in the sun, the buildings stood proudly in the daylight, timeless. In a sandpit near us, at least ten secondary school age kids and these people with hairy legs - fauns or satyrs or something - were playing volleyball. A small lake was host to a few canoes. Some kids were chasing one another about by a cluster of cabins shaded by trees. An archery range could be seen, several other kids lining up for their shots. Still more rode horses down a wooded trail. To top it off, unless I was imagining things, some of their horses had wings. They must be either abraxon or aethenons or perhaps pegasus horses... but hadn't those gone extinct centuries ago? The thing that really got me was that, aside from the architecture and the horses, the place could hardly be said to look magical.
At a card table at the other end of the porch were two men across from each other. The blonde who had fed me pudding when I was barely conscious was leaning casually against the porch rail. The man facing Percy and I was small but rather on the plump side. It would be a stretch to say he could out-eat my uncle and cousin but I was sure he could almost match them. He had a red nose, watery eyes, and hair so black it was almost purple. He wore a tiger patterned Hawaiian shirt.
"Is he a rudolph reject or something?" I whispered to Percy. I was annoyed at the situation I found myself in and didn't feel exactly charitable that day. He snorted in amusement. The little man glared at me and Grover shot not only me but Percy a "shut up" kind of glare.
"That's Mr. D," Grover murmured to us. "He's the camp director. Be polite. And Alexandria, make sure you don't say anything like you just said to his face. You don't want to make him mad. And that girl? She's Annabeth Chase. She's just a camper but she's been here longer than most everyone. Percy, you already know Chiron..." he trailed off. Percy seemed to recognise the man facing away from us. He was in a wheelchair and wore a tweed jacket. His hair was brown and thinning and he sported a scraggly beard.
"Mr. Brunner!" Percy cried. The man turned and grinned at Percy, a mischievous glint in his eyes.
"Ah, good, Percy." he said. I recognised the man's voice from when I had first arrived here. "And Alexandria Potter, I presume? Excellent. There's four for pinochle." He offered us both seats. Percy sat to the right of Mr. D and I threw myself in the chair to the left with a groan. Mr. D looked between the two of us with bloodshot eyes. He sighed dramatically and spoke.
"Oh, I suppose I must say it. Welcome to Camp Half-Blood. There. Now don't expect me to be glad to see you."
"Uh, thanks." Percy said awkwardly. I think that both of us recognised the signs of a guy who had either drank too much or was suffering a massive hangover, though I doubted the latter. And they let him be in charge of children? But I didn't care much. I was getting really pissed off and I couldn't hold my temper any longer.
"Will someone please tell me what the bloody blazing hell is going on!" I finally exploded. "First, I'm attacked by a dirty great canine beast. Then, I'm being fed treacle tart pudding. And there was a bloke with all these eyes... what's up with that? I come out here only to meet a kid I haven't been to school with since I was ten..."
"But you hardly look past ten now." Percy cut in.
"I'm almost thirteen, damn it!" I exclaimed, my hair curling madly in my anger.
"Sorry." he said sheepishly.
"Sure. And let's top this bloody marvelous day off, shall we, by playing a game of pinochle with a guy wearing a fifty-year-old tweed jacket and another who looks like a drunken cherub who was raised in a trailer park and died his hair in grape juice."
"I suggest you watch what you say and who you say it to, girl." he said, his eyes narrowing in anger. A part of me recognised at that moment the power this man held, though he didn't look like much. I guess that, after Quirrelmort, I should've known better. But I honestly thought the unimpressive-looking bloke could be better equated with Lockfart.
"Sorry, Sorry." I ground out, crossing my arms.
"Annabeth?" the man in the wheelchair called to the blonde girl. She came forward and the more pleasant man introduced us. "This young lady helped nurse you back to health. We had to bring in some of the Apollo cabin members who are more gifted with the healing arts in order to help you in particular, Alexandria, but Annabeth was a great help."
"Thanks." I sighed. The girl simply nodded.
"Annabeth, my dear, why don't you check on their bunks? We'll be putting them in cabin eleven for now."
"Sure, Chiron." she shrugged. She glanced at the box of claws which I still held and then to me before her eyes slid to Percy and the horn he carried. He looked hopeful that she would say something about it but instead she said, "You drool when you sleep." Percy's face fell comically and I couldn't help but burst out laughing as she sprinted off down the lawn.
"Oh... haha... your face..." I trailed off, still giggling.
"So," said Percy in an attempt to change the subject, "you, uh, work here, Mr. Brunner?"
"He's been called Chiron twice already. Was Mr. Brunner a fake name or something?" I asked.
"It was. And you don't have to call me sir, Miss Potter, it's just Chiron."
"Okay," said a confused Percy. "And what does Mr. D stand for?"
"Dufus, drunkard, or dopey, most likely." I thought to myself. I would admit that this Mr. D character was someone to be wary of but that didn't mean I had to like or respect him. He glared at me as though he had an idea of my thoughts just by the look on my face. Mr. D stopped shuffling his cards and looked at Percy as though he had just burped "God Save the Queen" out his backside.
"Names are powerful things, young man. You don't just go around using them because you can."
"He just asked your name." I defended him.
"I suggest you reign in that temper and keep your mouth shut. Feel lucky that this isn't a situation where either could cost you your life." Mr. D said, annoyed. I glowered at him.
"I must say, Percy," Chiron cut into the conversation. "I'm glad to see you alive. It's been a long time since I've made a housecall to a potential camper. I'd hate to think I wasted my time."
"House call?" both Percy and I asked.
"My year at Yancy Academy. We have satyrs at most schools, of course, keeping a lookout. Admittedly, we have fewer in Britain so it was lucky that Grover was sent to your school and spotted you when he did."
"Hold on a minute. You mean to tell me that Grover's a satyr as well?" I demanded. Sheepishly, Grover kicked off his hi-tops to reveal hooves instead of human feet sticking out his trouser legs.
"Indeed. Grover alerted me as soon as he met the both of you. He sensed you were something special. In Percy's case, I decided to come upstate. I convinced your Latin teacher to... ahem... go on leave. I did not go to England in your case, Alexandria. You had a little more protection and you would soon be going off to Hogwarts which meant that monsters would have more of a difficult time finding you. Grover's main job was to make sure you could get through year six, that's fifth grade in America, in tact so you could attend. If not for Hogwarts, you would have come here two years ago." I shook my head, trying to take all this in. Percy looked like he was concentrating as well.
"You came to Yancy just to teach me?" Percy questioned. Chiron bobbed his head.
"To be honest, I wasn't sure about either of you at first. Percy, We contacted your mother and let her know in case you were ready for camp. But you still had much to learn. Alexandria, we could contact nobody in your case as your aunt and uncle knew nothing about your heritage."
"What do you mean?" I demanded. I could tell he was getting there but I wanted that confirmation. It was only the fact that he was trying to tell us what was going on that kept me from another outburst.
"I'm getting there." Chiron sighed tiredly. "Nevertheless, you both made it here alive, one from across the ocean. And that's always the first test."
"You do know how to play pinochle, don't you?" Mr. D said out of nowhere, eyeing both Percy and I suspiciously.
"I'm afraid not." Percy said.
"My aunt plays bridge and I shuffled sometimes... but that's about it." I added.
"I'm afraid not sir." he said to Percy before turning to me. "My aunt plays bridge sir."
"Sir." Percy and I repeated. I was liking the pudgy man less by the second and could tell Percy felt the same.
"It's one of the best games ever invented by humans, right up there with gladiator fighting and Pac-Man. And don't get me started on sissy little Bridge games. I expect all civilised gentlemen and ladies to know the rules."
"I'm sure they can learn." Chiron defended us.
"Please," Percy said almost desperately. "What is this place? Why am I here? Mr. Brun-Chiron, why'd you go to Yancy just to teach me?"
"I asked the same question." Mr. D snorted as he dealt the cards. Mr. D shot us both a sympathetic smile.
"Percy, did your mother tell you nothing?"
"She said... she told me she was afraid to send me here, even though my father had wanted her to. She said I probably couldn't leave once I was here. She wanted to keep me close to her." I squashed a slight pang of jealousy at the fact he clearly had a mum. It sounded like something had recently happened to her that he was torn up over.
"Typical," huffed Mr. D. "That's how they usually get killed. What about your parent, young lady?" I flinched.
"If you'd been paying attention to Mr. Chiron earlier, you'd have learned I live with my aunt and uncle. My parents are dead."
"You'll be pleased to know that one isn't as dead as you think." Chiron said kindly.
"What do you mean?" I asked, bristling. I know what happened. I saw them die."
"We here are well aware of that, Alex. But it's clear that one of your parents is a sponsor of sorts to this camp. Were that not the case, you would not have been allowed past its boarders."
"That doesn't mean anything." I snapped. "Maybe my dad or mum donated some funding or something."
"We do not survive on the pitty gifts of mortals." the grape-head snorted.
"Than what? Divine intervention?" I sneered. The boy, Percy, simply looked on in befuddlement.
"You'll learn better than to mock what you do not understand, young lady." the plump man glowered at me. "Though you were clearly being condescending, the answer is yes. Don't tell me, child, that you haven't at least seen pictures of your parents. Can you honestly tell me that you look like both of them?" he asked impatiently. Without any warning, a flash of my parents on their wedding day appeared in my head. The moving people stilled and I saw, as if with new eyes, how little I looked like my assumed father.
"No." I mumbled, tears creating a film over my vision. "It... it just can't be... can it?"
"I am sorry, Alex, but yes." Chiron nodded sadly. "I apologise that you had to reach such a revelation with no warning whatsoever. But it was necessary now you're here."
"Hey, you kids going to bid or not?" Mr. D's impatient growl interrupted the heavy silence that enveloped us.
"You're a real insensitive jerk aren't you, Mr. D?" I snapped frostily.
"Be glad you're still semi-ignorant, kid, or I might take insult. You gonna bid?" Mr. D asked again.
"What?" Percy asked, too interested in the earlier conversation to remember the card game Mr. D wanted to start. Annoyed, the alcoholic fatso quickly explained how to bid in pinochle. And so we did. If I had to play a stupid card game to get some more answers, I supposed it'd be worth it. But sometimes, especially in the first weeks of that long summer, I couldn't help but wish I'd been left in my ignorance. Why couldn't my parents have been normal after all?
A/N: Next chapter, Alex receives concrete proof of what we already know along with some nasty, and not so nasty, surprises. Ta-ta 'til next time!