So, I wrote when I just had finished HoH, because writing is my way of coping and I needed to cope with my feelings after that book. And I suspect the whole Lazel fandom kinda needs a hope injection after all that, and this is a little something I hope will make you feel a tad more hopeful and happy since HoH.
Also, this song is so perfect (just have to add that the Glee version is heavenly too).
WARNING: Completely unedited! Contains spoilers from The House of Hades!
Hey, Jude – The Beatles
He opened his eyes slowly, his eyelids too heavy to be lifted as swiftly as normal.
He didn't know where he was or what he was doing there – just that his body felt as if it was made of lead. He was vaguely aware of the fact that he was lying down on his back, but he couldn't lift a finger. It was like he wasn't in control of his own body; his head was fuzzy and hazy. What was above him didn't help much; it was a bright, endless roof of white – no patterns, shades or anything. Just eternity of the plain, painfully bright, glowing color white.
What had happened? He didn't remember much. Just a fiery pain, shooting through his body over and over again.
He winced. It was too unbearable to think of the horrible burning, so he pushed the thought aside and focused on the less painful things.
Had he been alone? He couldn't remember. And if he hadn't, who would it be? It was like his brain had turned sluggish, and the process of thinking hurt.
Something like panic surged through him suddenly, making his body shudder. Who was he? Did he know that?
His brain slowly chewed on the question – it hurt, but he was determined to find the information. It was in there somewhere.
It came back slowly – frightfully slowly, but he was too grateful to ponder it too much. He was Leo Valdez; fifteen year old demigod; son of Hephaestus; supreme commander of the Argo II. Repair boy.
Everything slowly came back to him, small drops of memory flowing in to his brain again. It was hazy, and when he tried to concentrate on a certain piece it would just get fuzzier and his head would start to ache. It was like trying to remember a dream; the more you tried, the more it slipped away.
Still, he had no idea what had led to the state he was in right now. He remembered everything except for that.
It was as if his brain wasn't connected to his body, and it was only his body who felt the pain. Everything was hazy.
He blinked lazily. The back of his eyelids were light after having watched the whiteness surrounding him.
Leo tried to concentrate again.
A voice. He remembered a voice; soft and melodic – friendly. .
"Leo, I'm free." She'd said in complete awe. Leo had grinned and spread his arms. His heart had been beating too fast, and all he could think of was "I got her, I got her, I finally got her". Not "her" as in Calypso – "her" as in the girl he was in love with.
"Now you can come with us." He'd told her happily. "You can come with us on the Argo II, and when the war is over you can come to Camp Half-Blood-"
She'd laughed merrily.
"You're so funny." Her eyes had glittered, and she still looked happy, but a tingling sensation that something was horribly wrong had settled in Leo.
"I can't come with you. I'm free, Leo." She'd repeated, as if it was obvious.
"Yeah." Leo frowned. "Then you don't need to stay in Ogygia – you can come with me!"
He hoped he didn't sound too desperate. Calypso stared at him sadly.
"Do you know what my curse was?" She'd suddenly asked."If I would have been a mortal, I wouldn't have suffered nearly as much. The curse was that I was immortal, and I had to experience the same thing over and over again, and have my heart broken in all eternity." She looked wistful. "All I wished for was to die. That was the only way to end it all."
Leo's mouth was dry. She looked at him and smiled sadly.
"I'm sorry, Leo. After all the trouble you went through…" She paused, "you don't deserve this. But you've released me, and I can finally welcome death."
He'd wanted to scream. He didn't deserve this. Leo had done some pretty bad stuff, but this was just completely unfair, wasn't it? After everything he had done, why couldn't he at least get something in return?
Calypso's eyes had a faraway look, dim and misty, seeming to gaze right through Leo even though she seemed to look at his face. He felt a twinge of pain, because he was used to it. People not seeing him.
"He's calling for me. He says it's time. He's finally ready."
"Who?" Leo asked, not able to keep the bitterness out of his voice.
Her beautiful eyes focused on him again. They were glittering, and his heart ached longingly.
"Death." She explained shortly. Then her face twisted in to a sad grimace. "I do love you, Leo. And I am truly sorry. You have to understand that. I will never forget you, I promise."
"Won't make you any less dead." Leo muttered. Calypso smiled.
"I will miss you."
She'd leaned forward, and Leo's heart had felt heavy as a stone as she gently pressed her lips to his cheek. Before he could look at her again, she'd turned to a summer breeze; light and soft with a wonderful smell he remembered from her garden.
She was gone.
Leo had bit his lip to prevent himself from screaming. He'd finally found a girl who loved him – he had been in love with many people, but no one of them had loved him back. She'd been the definition of perfection, besides from the whole curse-part. And he'd sworn to save her, and he actually had, just to see her choose dead in front of him.
If that wasn't the perfect description of his life, he didn't know what could be.
Leo remembered not having much time to grieve, because it had been so chaotic afterwards. He didn't remember why; it seemed like his brain said "hey, man, I tried. Now you're on your own." and just shut down. He had no memory of what had happened after his short, out-of-the-blue goodbye with Calypso, but he had a tingling feeling it was something horribly bad, because it had obviously taken his mind of his dead would-have-been girlfriend.
The goodbye had hurt horribly, he recalled vaguely. But now, with his body and mind seemingly unattached, pain didn't seem to matter. Except for the goddamn headache.
Calypso just didn't seem important right now. He had too much to think about, and since his brain didn't want to help with that, it made it a thousand times harder.
Leo closed his eyes, and everything went black again.
"Leo? Leo, please…" The voice cracked.
This voice was just as lovely and soft as Calypso's, but also very afraid. He had never heard Calypso sound like that.
He tried to open his mouth and promise it was okay, but he couldn't. Instead, he just tried to open his eyes. That was easier.
After a few moments, his gaze focused. The whiteness slowly faded until it wasn't as painful to look at anymore. It was still the same color, though.
Suddenly, there was a loud noise, as if a chair fell and broke.
"Leo? Leo!" He could hear the voice loud and clear, but he still couldn't see anything. He tried to answer, but it was impossible to move his lips at all.
"Can you see me?" The voice was breathless. "I'm right here. See?"
Soft fingers curled around his hand. He was happy that he could feel it, and he wished he could clasp back because the grip suddenly became fierce and clammy.
"Leo, please, can you hear me? Can you blink, or move your finger, or anything?"
The voice was so desperate, and he wanted to shout out "I'm okay", because even though he couldn't quite place the voice yet (his mind was not even trying anymore) he knew he didn't want it to be sad. Not for him.
"It's me, Leo. It's me, Hazel. Come on, please wake up."
Why could he still not move? He needed Hazel to know he was fine. Well, fine maybe wasn't the right word.
"Leo…" Her voice cracked hoarsely.
Leo felt the panic rising. He couldn't see her, and it was frightening – feeling her hand on his and hearing her voice didn't feel safe enough. And also, she seemed pretty scared herself.
He needed to talk. How did he make himself able to talk again? He tried to move his lips again, and this time got closer to success.
Hazel didn't seem to notice. Her fingers were just as tightly curled around his hand as before. It almost hurt, and he felt how he got sweaty.
"You know, this is the first time you've opened your eyes." Her voice sounded teary. "The first time you've moved since you lost consciousness." She inhaled sharply. "I thought you were finally waking up. Can you even hear me?"
She laughed at herself, and Leo could imagine her wiping her eyes and thinking "silly me".
He tried to speak again. This time he made a noise; it came out as a quiet, strangled cough, but it was enough to get Hazel's attention.
"Le… Leo?! You… Did you do that sound?! You did, didn't you?!"
"Are you okay? Was that a sound of pain? It sounded like you weren't feeling well." Her voice was filled with anxious concern.
He tried again. This time, he sounded like a dying whale, and he mentally punched himself as Hazel gave out a high-pitched squeak.
Almost a word this time! Congratulations! You win the award for the biggest idiot! He said sarcastically to himself. Seriously, dude, you're the best at freaking people out. Great talent.
"Ca…" He didn't have time to congratulate himself on the victory of overcoming his tongue-tying. "Can't see…"
Leo's voice came out horrible. He hoped he'd heard himself wrong – that hoarse, sick, creepy voice couldn't be his own.
"What?" Hazel sounded horribly panicked again. "You can't… You can't see?"
He couldn't make his throat work again.
"Oh. Oh, okay, we… We need ambrosia." She seemed disoriented. "Ambrosia… Or nectar. Or the others. But they're asleep, we can't get them." Hazel mumbled to herself. Her hand left his, and he suddenly felt a surge of fear, even though he could hear her shuffling around.
"You think I should pour any in to your eyes?" She asked, clearly horrified. "It's enough if you just eat it, right? Leo?"
Suddenly he felt the plastic of a bottle touching his lips, and liquid flowing in to his mouth. It tasted like his mother's old soup, and as it ran its way down his throat, he felt as if the hazy memories in his mind got clearer.
As Hazel took the bottle away, he inhaled as sharply as he could. He felt warm from the nectar, and he was slowly feeling as if he could move again.
"Can you see again?" She asked worriedly.
"N…" Leo stopped and blinked. "Yeah!"
His voice came out easier this time. He blinked once, twice, thrice, and soon he could make out shades in the white. The color slowly subsided, making room for other colors, and soon he could make out the outline from the space he was in. Hazel's face appeared above him, staring intensively at him with wide, golden eyes.
Soon, the bottle of nectar was back, pressed against his mouth and forcing him to drink. He accidentally swallowed too much and started coughing violently.
"Oh gods, I'm so sorry!" Hazel gasped. "Are you… Can you…?"
When he could breathe again, he realized his sight was getting clearer. Hazel didn't look as fuzzy anymore, and not as light.
"I'm fine." He croaked. "Repair Boy will manage."
Hazel's face split in to a huge smile at that, and her golden eyes filled with tears.
"Oh thank gods. Oh gods, Leo." She seemed to want to hug him, but instead she just put a clasped his hand too tight and looked at him. "I thought… We thought… Why would you do that?!" Her voice was angry, but her face still looked incredibly relieved.
Leo wanted to comfort her, but he was busy trying to save up more energy so he could speak again. He licked his lips slowly and blinked.
"Wh… What happened?"
"You don't remember?" Hazel looked worried again.
He shot her an urgent look.
"The ship was attacked." She hurried to explain. "You told us to go inside again, and that you would handle it on your own. We didn't want… We had no choice, because it was fire everywhere and all of us aren't immune." There was dark humor in her voice. "So we left, and a few moments later, we heard a crash and then everything went silent."
She looked pained. He tried to furrow his eyebrows, but it was still hard to move. He didn't remember any of the stuff she was telling him.
"And Jason and I ran out to you. The rest were in shock or badly hurt. When we got to the deck, everything was burning, and you were nowhere to be seen. The same with the monster – I guess you killed it." Hazel stared at a point just over his head, and she looked as if the scene was replaying for her eyes. Her grip around his hand got clammy and uncomfortably tight.
"Percy found you in the water, unconscious. The ship had been in the air during the attack, so the fall should have killed you. He got you here and we took care of you, but you didn't… You didn't wake up."
"I'm sorry." The words suddenly slipped out of his mouth. He realized it was true, because he had brought Hazel and the rest of their team so much worry. He felt as if it was his own fault.
But Hazel looked at him like he was crazy, and then she started sobbing, covering her face with her hands. Leo stared.
"You're such an idiot." She gasped. "Do you know that?"
"Now I do." He joked half-heartedly.
She seemed to calm down by that, trying to make her breathing even again. She stared at him in a way that made him feel dizzy.
"You just disappeared, and when we found you in Malta you wouldn't tell us anything, but I knew you had met someone. But something was wrong, and then after the war you just got stranger, and I wanted to ask you why but then you went and almost died so I couldn't." She sniffled and wiped her nose on her sleeve. "So now I'm asking you, and please answer, Leo, please; what happened?"
As he stared at her, he remembered how grateful he had been when his feelings for her had slowly faded away since he met Calypso. Not that loving a cursed immortal girl was any better, but he still felt relieved. He could talk to her easily again, and he could look at her without feeling guilty, and he could feel calm around Frank. The feelings for Calypso had been overwhelming, taking over and leaving no place for anything else.
In The House of Hades, when Leo and Hazel had been together, he had meant everything he said. He wanted her and Frank happy. More importantly; it didn't hurt as much to see them happy together.
Now, Calypso was gone.
Leo would always love the memory of her. She had been his first kiss, and the first girl to fall in love with him. But he realized he didn't feel sad about what had happened; she had gotten what she wanted. And wanting the people you love be happy was what Leo called love.
Also, he had known, somewhere deep down, how it would end. It always ended in one way – everything in his life came down to one thing, and it was him being alone.
"Exactly what always happen." He answered sincerely. Hazel's expression didn't change, but she held his eyes sternly for a long time.
Hazel had apologized for leading him on, for giving him more emotional baggage with the Sammy-thing. Leo hadn't told her, but he secretly knew that it hadn't mattered if she never turned him down directly. It wouldn't have made any difference; he would have developed a crush on her anyway. It wasn't because he could see a tiny possibility of them happening he had loved her; it was because she was lovely and kind and perfect. Not Calypso-perfect, but Calypso had been perfect in a magical, immortal, goddess-y way. Hazel was perfect in a simple, sweet way.
Leo smiled weakly.
"Frank's lucky." He said suddenly. "To have you, I mean. He deserves you, and you deserve him too. I'm happy for you guys." Leo swallowed, his throat uncomfortably dry. "I'm sorry I interfered. I didn't mean to have a crush on you."
Hazel looked sad again, and he felt his heart clench. She sniffled.
"It wasn't your fault."
"I could have been like a normal person and not have bothered you with it." He suggested. His voice sounded even again.
"Stop it." She cut off sharply, surprising Leo. She angrily wiped away the tears rolling down her cheeks. "You couldn't have done anything. It wasn't your fault in any way."
"Well, then, damn Piper's mom." Leo said lightly. "She messes with everything, doesn't she?"
"Be careful." Hazel warned him, but she looked as if she agreed.
There was a moment of tense silence between them. Leo tried to move his hands; his movements were slow and sluggish, but he felt as if he had regained control of his body again. He felt relief wash over him.
"Did you…" He hesitated, wishing he didn't need to ask. "Did you think I was Sammy when you saw me for the first time?"
Pain etched in to the lines of her face.
"I was stunned." She recalled. "It was on that scroll you sent to Camp Jupiter. I thought I was dreaming. Then I met you, and I… I realized this quest was going to get a lot more complicated than I thought. And that's saying something." Hazel laughed weakly.
Leo forced himself to smile. He felt a surge of wistfulness go through him as he looked at her; something deep down was stirring slowly, a restless monster waking up from an uneasy sleep.
"I'm sorry for everything." He told her. She opened her mouth to object, her eyes flashing, but he interrupted. "I know it's not really my fault, but I'm still sorry. I didn't want to get stuff messier than they already were. But I guess that's my specialty."
She sighed and touched his cheek lightly with two fingers.
"You didn't do anything. And isn't that every demigod's specialty?"
Leo grinned. In that moment, he thought maybe, maybe they would be okay. And maybe it was okay to be a little bit – just a little bit – in love. Even if it couldn't end too well.
"I guess that's true."