The sun had begun to set when Percy finally reached Hanna's ice cabin. It looked silent, deserted, but Percy knew she was home. He could feel her icy mood seeping through the crack in the door. He tried the door, not surprised that it was locked.
Finding his humor he knocked. "Pizza delivery!"
"I didn't order a pizza!" Hanna's voice came through the ice.
"No, it says here I have one cheese pizza for ice cabin two-forty on Frozen Hell Drive."
Silence met him at first, and then, the door opened. "How do you come up with this stuff?" Hanna asked as she looked at him with tired silvery eyes. Did her eyes change color or was it just him? She looked him up and down before she asked; "Where's the pizza?"
Percy smirked and shrugged, "I don't know."
Hanna scowled playfully, "Oh jeez. And here I thought there was something worth my time out here."
"Ouch." Percy pretended to look hurt. "The lady has wounded me."
Hanna rolled her eyes. "Alright Drama Queen come on in, make yourself at home." She opened the door wide and stepped back, allowing him to enter her little cottage. He sat down softly on one of the chairs.
"So," He began as she sat down next to him, "we leave for Egypt in the morning."
Something unreadable flashed in her eyes. "Yes. Yes I suppose we do."
"You suppose?" he found himself echoing. "Hanna we are headed into one of the biggest monster occupied motels in the world, and you're supposing?"
"What are you trying to get at?"
"Hanna what's wrong?" Percy finally asked. "You've been acting strange for days!"
"Don't worry about it." Came the oh-so-familiar reply.
"But I am worrying!" He exclaimed. "I don't know what's bothering you Hanna but I want to help, please!"
"Why are you so worried about me?" Hanna fired back, eyes narrowing. "Why do you care? Huh?"
"Isn't it right that I worry about you?" Percy asked, lowering his voice to a soft whisper. This seemed to take her aback, for she blinked and grew silent, lost for words. Percy sighed and shook his head. "Come on." He got up and motioned for her to follow. "I want to show you something."
Hanna sent him a puzzled look but followed him all the same, trailing behind him as he left her cabin and walked towards the shore, until he finally came to rest on the beach. He plopped down on the sand easily, kicking off his shoes and letting his bare feet sink into the sand. He looked up at Hanna, who stared down at him with an extremely puzzled expression. "Well?" He asked, raising an eyebrow.
Hanna laughed dryly. "You're hopeless." All the same, she too kicked off her shoes and joined him on the soft, pale sand.
They sat in silence for a while watching the sky fade from blue to orange as the sun set behind them. After what could have been minutes or hours, neither of them were sure, the last rays of light had vanished and the sky turned an inky blue, decorated with a few rare stars.
"When I was younger I used to sit out here a lot and look at the stars, back then you could see a lot more. The pollution wasn't nearly as bad."
Hanna nodded sadly, "Humans are interesting creatures." She looked around, taking in the rolling waves and gentle froth that hit the shore. "When it is quiet like this I can see the beauty in this place."
Percy nodded, "This was always my favorite part of Camp Half Blood, I came here whenever I was troubled."
"Well, you are a son of Poseidon; it only makes sense that you would be comforted by water."
Percy stiffened. "I suppose, though I can't say I really like that title."
"Don't run from who you are Percy. It's the one thing you can never escape. Trust me on that."
"And why were you trying so hard to run from who you were?" Percy asked, hoping she would reveal something about her past.
Hanna sighed. "What do you think happened to strange people in my time, Percy?"
"You were killed?" Percy grew nervous.
"You were burned at the stake." Hanna elaborated, making Percy flinch.
"Hanna you weren't-"
"No." She interrupted. "Thankfully they never had a chance to catch me, though they did try."
"So they suspected you of being a witch?" Percy asked.
Hanna gave him an odd look. "Percy, I am a witch." At Percy's gaping mouth and violently shaking head she laughed, the clear sound ringing over the beach like bells at Christmas. "Well, they didn't know what a mage was. To them I was just weird."
"What did they do?" Though it was wonderful to hear her laugh again Percy was still concerned.
Hanna sighed. "To me? Nothing. They had bigger fish to fry. I got away… but… my mom…" Her voice broke and she stopped.
Percy put an arm around her comfortingly. "It's okay, you don't have to say anything, I get it."
Hanna breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank you."
"Well I have already heard Alice's and Danny's tales of woe, I don't really want to hear anymore." He joked.
Hanna glared at him mockingly, "You jerk! And here I thought you were the nice one."
"Oh?" Percy laughed, raising an eyebrow. "And why would you think that?"
She hesitated for a while, then shook her head. "I don't know," she said, her eyes glittering with humor. Percy faked mock distain, his eyes shining with warmth before he looked back out over the horizon. A few seconds later he felt something soft knock his shoulder, followed by a gentle weight. Turning his eyes slightly, he saw that Hanna had rested her head easily on his shoulder, her eyes vacant as she looked out upon the ocean. Percy's hand brushed hers, and he intertwined their fingers. Her skin was slightly cold, but he supposed it was to be expected, what with her being an ice mage and all. He rested his head on hers softly, not wanting to disturb her but liking the feeling of her hair on his cheek.
They stayed there for a while, though Percy wasn't quite sure how long that was. The waves beat against the shore in with a quiet melody. Quietly, so quietly that Percy wasn't sure he heard it, Hanna whispered, "You know? I'm actually kind of glad Chaos made us come here."
A smile tugged at Percy's lips. "Oh? And what makes you say that?"
Hanna lifted her head off his shoulder, her icy blue eyes meeting his sea-green ones. "Well I met you, didn't I?"
"Yes, yes I suppose you did." Percy smiled at her, "And I suppose meeting you hasn't been so bad either."
Hanna quirked an eyebrow. "Oh? Well I'm glad it hasn't been too painful."
"Oh no," he countered "it's been really painful, just not that bad."
Hanna let out a breathy laugh. "You just can't take anything seriously, can you?"
Percy's smile slipped, and he turned his gaze back to the ocean. "No," he said softly "I suppose I can't. At least, not without something hurting."
Hanna gave him a sad smile, her eyes sparkling knowingly. "Yes, the past does hurt us, doesn't it? But my mother always used to say that even the most horrible of things can become bearable, if we make something good come of them."
"Your mother sounds like a wise woman."
"Oh she was," Hanna agreed "wisest I have yet to meet, and will probably ever meet again."
Percy sighed, memories of his own mother flooding his mind. Images of blue cookies and her smile and her laugh, all the things she did to protect him. God, how he missed her.
"You know," Hanna's voice drew him out of his thoughts. "I used to think I had the worst life in the world; that nothing, and no one could ever even begin to understand the pain that I went through. And yet, the more I think about it, the more I realize- it's really not nearly as bad as I have made it out to be. I have Sheaka, I have Chaos to look after me, I had my mother- even if it was for just a short time. When we are constantly looking at the bad things in our lives we usually miss all the wonderful things, and I think all four of us are guilty of that." Percy stared at her, surprised by the warmth in her eyes, warmth he had never seen before. She met his gaze for an instant, before turning it to the sky and the stars that burned above them. "I have been doing a lot of thinking recently, and I think… I think I have come to accept my life, and everything in it, and I will use the heart-ache and the pain my life has brought me to make me stronger. All the blood-shed and the screams, everything that still haunts my nightmares, I will wield them like a sword. Because even though my life wasn't as ideal as I would have wanted, if I can make someone else's better, then everything was completely worth it." She sighed, looking back down at her feet, studying the curves of the sand. "And I think if my mom were here, she would say the exact same thing."
Percy watched her, amazement making his eyes soft. How did she do this? How did she become so strong? He thought of Danny, who became a cold-blooded killer just to save his sister, who lived with the weight of her death and all the others he caused every day. He thought of Alice, who he knew now wanted nothing more than to die, but refused to so that other twins just like her might live a happy and safe life. Somehow, each one of them managed to overcome the pain that they had suffered, and it made them stronger for it.
The dull starlight made Hanna's hair shine silver, haloing her head with soft light. Dark waves crashed against the shore, slicing through the sand before retreating once more. His mother's smiling face appeared before him, her eye warm and soft with love. The sound of Black Jack's wings beat against his brain, the Pegasus' inky black coat as magnificent and beautiful as he remembered it. Chaos smiled at him from the corners of his mind, quietly scolding him for being too formal. Hanna looked up at him, wondering what he was thinking about, and he met her stare, two different shades of blue locking together in a silent test of strength.
And with that the beach seemed to disappear, the stars faded, the waves silenced, the sand between his toes stopped shifting. It was just Hanna. Hanna and her silky red hair, her eyes blue eyes. The two colors seemed as if they should contradict themselves but on her they worked perfectly, two beautiful melodies mixing together to form a breath-taking symphony.
Subconsciously, he leaned down, the gap between the two of them slowly shortening. It was almost gone when-
"Ahem." Percy and Hanna jerked away from each other as the world began to spin again and they were joined by two new figures on the sand. "We aren't interrupting anything, are we?" Alice continued, one eyebrow raised.
"Alice, that was just plain rude." Danny commented as Percy glared at her, Hanna's icy eyes matching his own.
"Oh please," Alice retorted "You wanted to splash water on them."
"Well they probably wouldn't have noticed." Danny grumbled sulkily.
"Was there something you wanted?" Hanna asked haughtily.
"Oh no," Alice shook her head. "We were just wondering how long you were going to sit here, and if you were ever going to notice that the tide is coming in." She nodded her head to the waterline, and both Percy and Hanna were surprised to see it had risen significantly, something neither have them had noticed. Percy shook his head, how long had they been out here?
At their surprised faces Alice shook her head. "Alright, come on you two love birds off to bed, big day tomorrow, off you go." She made a shooing gesture with her hands, though he eyes sparkled with humor.
With that she turned to leave, her black hair making her hard to see in the darkness. "Oh and one more thing," She turned around, giving Percy a long stare. "If you're going to kiss a girl try not to take forty years to do it. Jesus I thought I was gonna have to take up the role of Sebastian from that strange Disney movie or something." She flashed them a cheeky smirk before wandering off, the night swallowing her like a shadow.
Danny shook his head, "How does she know all of these modern references?" He wondered aloud before nodding to them. "She has got a point though Percy." Percy gawked at him, but Danny merely laughed. "Good night." With that he turned and left blending into the darkness just like Alice.
Hanna shook her head slowly, eyes wide with disbelief. "Those two are the strangest humans I have ever met."
Percy nodded, "No kidding." He looked back at the water before sighing, "Come on, we should probably get some sleep."
Hanna nodded and rose to her feet, Percy following her example. As they walked back to her cabin, he grabbed her hand, lacing their fingers together once more. Hanna tilted her head to look at him, but stayed silent, a tiny smile visible on her face.
They reached her cabin softly after, and Percy reluctantly let go of her hand. "I guess I will see you in the morning then." He said softly, never breaking eye contact.
"Yes," Hanna agreed, "That you shall."
She turned away from him to open her door and Percy smiled as Sheaka trotted up to the door, happy to see her friend.
On a sudden impulse Percy called out to her, "Hanna?"
She turned around, a question in her eyes. "Yea?"
Before he could think about it anymore, Percy leaned in a kissed her quickly, grabbing her hand once more as he did. "Thank you," he breathed against her lips, his eyes still closed.
Hanna blinked when he pulled away, her eyes wide with surprise, before she smiled at him fondly. "Anytime."
Percy lay in his cot that night, staring at the white ceiling above him as the waves gently knocked the sides of the boat. The cabin was dark, but Percy could see every shape in the room, from the posts of his bed to the corners of his desk in the far corner.
Finally, after what could have been hour, he got up, knowing sleep was just not going to come to him. He remembered Hanna's words, her strong determination, the will in her eyes. His eyes snapped back to his desk, eyes on the shelves. He knew she was right, and he wished he had her strength.
And suddenly, the past didn't seem so painful anymore, the memories of his mother's voice didn't seem so sad, Black Jack's shrill whinny didn't seem so strangled. He moved to his desk, opening the bottom jour. It whined from lack of use, but otherwise opened without resistance, and Percy reached to the back, feeling around for something he thought he would never use again.
Finally, his fingers curled around a small oval object, the surface cold and dusty. Percy felt a tiny grin make its way to his mouth as he brought it to his face, the old bronze still shinny even in the dim light.
Closing the jour and taking a step back he stood to his full height, and rubbed the dust off the object with his thumb. More memories came flooding back to him, but they didn't bother him, he just smiled blankly as his finger found the tip of the object. Shadows of the past danced back and forth through his vision, but he paid them no mind, and with one quick movement, he clicked it.
Riptide zapped into the room, resting in his hand with a familiar weight. The bronze gleamed in the darkness, seeming to drive away any shadows that might have gathered. Percy let in sit in his hands for a minute, before giving the blade a tentative swing. His arm moved with natural instinct, memory flexing his muscles.
With a smile, he returned the sword to its pen shape, and put it in his pocket, feeling ready to take on the world.
And every plotting, sinister monster that came with it.
I suppose I should start by apologizing. I kinda fell of the face of the earth there for a while. Sorry about that. Anyway hope this chapter makes up for it, I'm actually pretty proud of it.