Two Wrongs Equals A Right
Author: Amethyst Raindrops 16
Disclaimer: Percy Jackson and Harry Potter are not mine.
Trust Through Lies
POV: Sirius Black
I hate my family.
I hate their rules, their rigid perfection, and their political views. I hate their pretentious superiority complex, their "correctional" abuse, and their affiliation with everything dark and evil.
Put very simply, my parents were not good people by any measure. They weren't even so-so folks, characterized by never acting friendly or warm in public, but then donating to charity anonymously. No, Orion and Walburga Black were just about as far from the definition of "good" as humanly possible. Maybe even farther than that (I'd always thought that my dearest mum had a bit of troll blood in her).
From the time I went to Hogwarts (and even a little before if I was completely honest with myself), I'd known that I wasn't like them. They knew it too, which made them even more determined to stamp out any independence and individuality.
I think that I was their biggest disappointment. Being their biggest disappointment was probably my greatest accomplishment.
The thing is, I can't just ignore that I'm related to them.
As if my last name and property I was now confined to wasn't enough of a reminder, I'm reminded by the smallest things about my heritage. Because like it or not, I cannot change who my parents were, and how they raised me.
I was trained to be the "ideal Pureblood son" – the one that was set to inherit everything when my parents were gone (probably somewhere deep down under if you know what I'm saying). Regulus was always that son. It was never me. But by the order of our births (I having the absolute pleasure of being born first, and Reg having the curse of being second), I was set to inherit everything.
I know all of the Pureblood customs, traditions, rules, and orders. I know how to present myself as such, and how to wear the infamous Mask. The Mask is one of their (I won't say "our" because I'm not like them) greatest defenses. While wearing the Mask, your face becomes carefully blank and void of any foretelling emotions.
I hadn't thought about the Mask in a long time, because why would I?
The Mask is put on when you're being tortured and you won't let them know they are breaking you. The Mask is worn when your true emotions would give you away or hurt those around you.
The Mask is used when you have something to hide.
I hadn't seen a Mask in use for almost as long as I could remember consciously thinking about one. But I'm seeing one now, just as surely as my name is Sirius Orion Black.
I could see it start to creep on and solidify when Dumbledore described magic and Hogwarts to Percy. The kid was good at wearing it; I'll give him that. I honestly would be hard pressed to tell his true emotions.
But then he collapsed.
Not like a dramatic swooning faint or even a slightly manlier passing out due to pure shock. Nope. This wasn't that. As soon as those sea-green orbs rolled back into his head, his façade dropped and his entire visage changed.
His arms and legs shook violently... actually, his entire body was shaking. He seemed to almost vibrate with the intensity of his tremors. His legs feebly lashed out, kicking at the air as if to ward off an attacker. His body curled up onto itself until he was huddled defensively on his side.
Then he screamed.
Although it was just once and lasted only a moment, it was a sound of pure, animalistic pain and terror. His arms, which was previously been clutching at his torso as if to keep himself together, darted up to protect his head. One arm curled protectively around the top of his head, hand clutching desperately at his raven locks, while the other pawed at his face. His nails left red scratched on his cheek as his tried vainly to fight.
His face was the worst, though.
Scrunched up in a way that only fear and agony can produce, the kid was biting his lip and tongue for all that he was worth. Tears escaped and began to pour out of his scrunched up eyes and his mouth began to bleed as he tried to keep himself from screaming again.
He was trying to keep himself from screaming.
With a jolt, I realized that he was aware of what to do when in pain. He knew how to stop himself from shrieking in agony.
What scared me, is that you cannot learn something like that through instructional tutelage or books. No, you only learn something like that through experience. And even worse that that, you only learn something like that through torture.
If you fell and broke a bone, would you have any logical reason to keep yourself from crying out in pain? No. If you were shot, or even hit was a curse during a fight, would you stop yourself from eliciting a sound of hurt? No.
People don't keep quiet during extreme pain for the hell of it. They do so for only two reasons. Either somebody would "win" or be made victorious by them making a sound of pain, as it would be seen as them having "given up" or lost, or somebody else would be hurt by their screams.
The thing is, with what little time that I'd known Percy, I was willing to bet that it was a little bit of both, but mainly the latter.
The kid was stubborn, so he wouldn't crack easily and give his enemy (whether real or imaginary) the satisfaction of knowing that he was causing him pain. But that willpower alone is not enough to keep quiet indefinitely in such agony. Love conquers all, some old philosopher once said (or even if they didn't just go with it). By staying quiet, Percy was trying to protect somebody or something.
This was a purposeful action, whether Percy was aware of it right now or not. It had been ingrained in him, probably by his hero-complex, and at this point, was pure instinct.
I knew at that moment that Percy Jackson had been through something. I didn't know what, but this, this screaming, sobbing paroxysm, wasn't normal. I was eerily reminded of my stay in Azkaban. Percy's behavior was reminiscent of those being forced to relive their worst memories while under the focus of a Dementer.
I looked around desperately, hoping that somebody would know what to do to stop this. I'm not a weak man, but a display like this, when such raw pain is evident, is physically hurtful to watch.
When Percy had first fallen out of his seat and started shaking on the ground, we'd all leapt up with startled concern. But what can you do?
Sally looked ashen, like she'd just seen a ghost of something horrible and monstrous. Tears welled up in her kind eyes, but she steeled her jaw and clenched her fist.
I respected that.
Any person who tried to be brave for the sake of others is an incredibly strong being. I could tell that Sally wanted to rush to her son, to comfort him, to pull him from his own mind and whatever torture he was experiencing there. She wanted to mother him, to wipe away his tears, and to tell him that everything was going to be okay.
Hell, I wanted to do that too and I barely knew the kid.
Dumbledore's face was set with worry and concern. We could all be suspicious about what caused such a violent reaction later (Was it the mentioning of magic? The revelation of his being a wizard? Or was there a trigger word that was uttered that unleashed horrible memories?), but right now, we were all focused on Percy.
Over anything else, Dumbledore was a compassionate person.
Although he's made some questionable decision over the years (who hasn't, really?), he never does anything without thinking that things will be made better because of it. I could tell that he was disturbed and shaken at this seemingly out of the blue display. One aging hand rested on the chair's back as if to brace himself, while the other was slightly outstretched and firmly restraining Harry.
Oh, Harry. My godson looked torn between sprinting out the door as fast as possible and rushing over to try and help Percy.
I knew that Harry didn't really like the idea of Percy.
Well, none of us did actually.
The thought that the most vile, evil, maniacal wizard, whose entire mission in life is to eradicate all "impure" beings and become the supreme ruler, might have a grandson is mildly petrifying to say the least. Harry, being the Chosen One (that's my godson!), had to be naturally against the idea that even more adversaries would be allying with Voldemort. I only hope that, for his sake, he can look past Percy's heritage and see the teenage boy that he his.
Although suspicion is definitely still there, if the guarded look in his emerald eyes is any indication, I knew Prongslet well enough to know that he'd come through... eventually.
I turned my gaze over to Remus, who looked like he was mentally running through all the possible illnesses that could have attributed to this seizure like episode. If the situation was any less serious, I might have chuckled.
Good ol' Remus. His unfailing levelheaded approach to panic situations was welcomed. Maybe it was the teacher in him, the way he always looked for the logical explanation, or maybe it was just Remus being Remus. I couldn't help but think that nothing in any of the books Remus was now recollecting could help us.
My gaze turned back to the writhing teenager on the ground and I could literally feel my gray eyes sharpening as he released his now bloody lip and gasped.
"NO!" Percy commanded harshly, kicking his legs out in emphasis to his word.
I hadn't even realized that we'd been unconsciously leaning closer towards the boy until his flailing limb almost clipped my face.
I leaned away, but sunk on my knees to the ground. I didn't want to scare him if he woke up and we were all towering over him, but at the same time, I didn't want him to hurt himself as he jerked around on the floor.
He sounded so gut-wrenchingly desperate.
I watched as his face contorted into a grimace of pain and his body arched on the floor, unable to deal with the excruciating agony it was being subjected to.
"STOP!" Percy begged in a voice that, even hoarse with pain and laced with desperation, dripped with power.
I heard a cry behind me and Sally rushed forward, apparently deciding that she'd had enough of watching her baby suffer. She knelt at his head and cradled it in her lap as best she could as her son thrashed, unable to rid himself of the demons in his mind.
"DON'T HURT HER! I'M SORRY!"
Harry looked shaken and had moved over to Remus, who had taken to wrapping on arm around him comfortingly, squeezing Harry's arm reassuringly.
Percy writhed and one foot caught on a small table that sat next to the couch, sending the lamp that rested upon it crashing down in a shower of ceramic. Fearing he would cut himself if he thrashed on the broken shards of ceramic, I reached forward and lightly held his ankles down.
I knew I might trigger another wave of panic, but I really didn't want to have him hurt himself even more.
"Shh, you're alright, Percy. You're safe. Nothing can hurt you. You're okay. Everybody is safe. Nobody is hurt. They are all gone, now. They can't hurt you anymore. You beat them, honey, you did it. It's all over now. You're safe.
Honey, can you hear me? It's me, Percy; it's your mom. I love you. Everybody is safe. Please open your eyes for me. Percy?
C'mon, love; I need you to fight it off for me. You can do it. You are stronger than they are. You are a fighter. I know you are. You can beat this," Sally continued murmured soothingly to her son.
The thrashing grew weaker and the violent shaking subsided to an exhausted tremor.
I released my grip on the boy's legs once I was sure he wouldn't kick out again and break something (like a bone or my face). I sat back on my heels and watched as his entire body relaxed. I hadn't really realized how tense he was until he melted on the floor, exhausted but not fully awake yet.
Dumbledore set a hand on my shoulder and I looked up at him from my crouched position on the ground to see his kind blue eyes twinkling at me approvingly. I smiled slightly, before turning my attention back to the still unconscious teenager.
Tear tracks stained his proud face and though he had completely relaxed, his dark brow was still furrowed worriedly and his lip trembled slightly.
Sally sighed and a small, sad smile tugged at her lips. Her hand shook as it carded through Percy's dark hair, and she looked up at us beseechingly. Her eyes seemed to gauge each of our reactions, as if determining what to say based on our emotions. Sally opened her mouth to speak and then closed it again.
Dumbledore saw the conflicted look pass fleetingly over her face.
"You do not have to explain anything to us, my child. Some horrors cannot help but resurface, and I am truly sorry to have triggered such events," the Headmaster assured calmly.
Sally drew a shaky breath, but spoke with a steady voice.
"It was a terrorist attack. Percy and some of his friends were in the unlucky place at the unlucky time. He's not a bad boy. He's just a boy whom bad things have happened to."
Remus nodded at the same time I did. Sally glanced down at her child, who was stirring slightly, and I shared a look with Dumbledore and Remus. Without speaking, we came to an understanding.
Percy was a fighter.
He had lived through unknown terrors that obviously still haunted him, but he was still inherently protective and kind. Although he would need training, he would be on our side. There is no way that somebody like him could go dark.
Remus and I moved over to the fallen teenager.
"We'll move him to the couch. It has to be more comfortable than the ground," I said.
Careful to support his head, the poor kid was dead weight he was so exhausted, Remus and I deposited him on the couch. Being so tall, the kid's feet dangled over the armrest awkwardly and I gave a slight chuckle.
Sally spared a glance towards her son as if to reassure herself that he was still out, before sighing.
"I'll be right back to clean up this mess," She explained, gesturing to the shards of broken lamp on the ground.
"I got it, Sally," I interjected, stopping the woman from walking away.
She turned curiously as I swiftly raised my wand and muttered the incantation.
I could feel her awe as the shards became one again and the lamp righted itself to its former position on the side table. I slipped my wand away again, and shrugged slightly.
"Just like magic, eh?"
POV: Percy Jackson
My first thought after coming out of my flashback? Schist.
My second thought after coming out of my flashback? Double schist.
How was I going to explain this to them?
This could be bad. No, this was bad. It was no longer a possibility, it was a reality. I was stuck between a rock and hard place... hence my first thought.
I couldn't believe that I was so weak as to succumb to another flashback so soon after my last one! I thought I was getting better. Well, actually, I had convinced myself that I was getting better after all the times I'd told that to Annabeth... and Chiron... and my mom... ugh.
I sighed mentally.
I really wasn't in the mood for this. My head was pounding like a titan was using my brain as a trampoline.
I heard my mother's voice, but couldn't make out what she was saying. Other voices could be heard, and if I had been slightly more aware, I would have recognized them as Dumbledore and Sirius.
Then I was moving. I felt my stomach lurch and I fought the dizziness that was a norm by now.
Some flashbacks were worse than others.
I had been hoping, when I lost myself to the memory, that it would fall in the "others" category. Yeah, no. When have I ever gotten lucky? The correct answer to that question, my friend, is never.
In case you didn't know, the Fates are against me. Like seriously. So of course, I had to get the one that left me feeling almost as weak as when I returned. Just without the physical injuries and stuff. Obviously.
I tried to open my eyes, but apparently, they'd been glued together while I was out because they wouldn't open. Maybe my body felt bad for me (now that it had refused to work when I wanted to open my eyes), but my sense of sound was starting to come back to me.
I heard my mother say something about cleaning up a mess. Great. So I'd probably broken something in my fits.
Although during the flashback I'm clearly not able to tell where I am, I do know what I do during them enough. Like I know that in this past one, I was thrashing. A lot. I just hope that it wasn't anything expensive that I managed to ruin.
Then I heard a voice interject loudly, which I guessed was because they were closer to me than my mother was.
"I got it, Sally."
My sharp ears picked up something muttered that sounded like 'Repair' and then I heard the swooshing of something and the clunking of presumably a table leg.
I strained my eyelids again and this time they opened. Way to work, body.
It took a minute (it always did), but my eyes adjusted to the lighted room just in time to watch the end table lamp become one and float back to its original position.
"Just like magic, eh?" a humor-filled voice commented.
I could tell that although nobody had noticed my awakening yet, it would only be a matter of time before I had to explain my, erm, episode. A little voice in the back of my mind pondered if I could just lie here forever with my eyes closed and just avoid the entire thing, and I thought it sounded like a solid plan.
I was totally set on following that agenda... but after three seconds of eternity (hey, ADHD remember?) I was bored.
Impatient at not being able to see and not able to take myself seriously while draped on the couch, I propped myself up on my elbows from my previously horizontal position. I decided that it was time to make my consciousness known.
"And just when I was about to send you guys to the crazy house, too!" I complained jokingly, wincing at my hoarse voice. "Alright, you win. I'm now thoroughly convinced of the existence of magic!"
All heads in the room whipped around towards me, evidently startled by my comment.
Fighting the urge to roll my eyes at their blatant surprise, I chuckled lightly.
"Whoa, guys. No need to give yourselves whiplash here. It's just your everyday guy waking up after being possessed by evil spirits. Oh, Mom! Speaking of which, you might want to call the priest again. Tell him that the exorcism didn't work and we want a full refund!"
My mom gaped at me for a second before a relieved smile spread across her face, and she shook her head in fond exasperation. Moving over to the sofa and perching on the armrest, she carded her hand through my hair and studied my face intently as I struggled to sit myself up.
I was exhausted, both mentally and physically, and it showed, I'm sure. There was an awkward silence while my mom looked at me searchingly, taking in the tear tracks and the more permanent bags under my eyes.
My eyes swept the room, more a force of habit than anything, and I saw that Dumbledore, Sirius, Remus, and Harry had situated themselves again on the chairs and mirroring couch across the room.
They were being polite, not staring at me or questioning me right away despite their curiosity. I appreciated that, and I felt my respect for these people rise slightly without my consent.
My mother's voice brought me back to the more pressing problem here.
"Do you need anything?"
I knew what she was really asking and I mentally thanked the gods for being blessed with her as my mother. Despite the magic these wizards (that is what they said they called themselves, right?) possessed and wielded, I don't think that dropping words like 'ambrosia' and 'nectar' in regular conversation would pass without question.
I shook my head, reaching out and catching my mother's hand as I did. I met her eyes and squeezed her hand reassuringly, conveying more in that gesture than was allowed verbally.
"No, just some water. Thanks, Mom," I answered, forcing a smile to replace the weary look on my face.
Nodding, she walked out, disappearing into the kitchen. I looked at the others in the room for a moment, and then grinned ruefully.
"Unless your magic hocus-pocus powers can read minds, then I'm assuming that you have some questions...?" I trailed off, leaving my statement open-ended to convey the acceptability of any queries they might have.
Dumbledore only smiled, but his eyes twinkled mirthfully.
"Magic can do many things, including the reading of minds. However, the spell requires considerable power and concentration. Besides, my dear boy, I would never breach your privacy in such a way."
I weighed the sincerity in the words and nodded shortly. My mother came back with a tall glass of water, and I took the cup gratefully.
"You should call Paul. I'm sure he'd be interested to know of today's revelations," I suggested lightly.
My eyes flicked over to my mom briefly. Thankfully, she understood my unspoken plea and left with an "I'll be in the next room if you need anything."
I focused on the older man again, cocking one eyebrow slightly as if to dare him to ask me a question. I was surprised when Harry spoke next.
"Do you get – um – that," he gestured to the floor where I had been thrashing around, "often?"
Remus nudged the boy with his elbow almost reproachfully and looked ready to scold him for his lack of tact when I laughed.
"That, as you so eloquently put it, was a flashback. Sometimes, when people experience..."
I searched for a word that would encompass the horrors of, well, everything without scaring them.
"...traumatic events, they're scarred in a way."
Harry looked confused, although the adults seemed to understand my convoluted explanation.
"Think of it like this. Say you hurt your leg, cut it badly, or whatever. The actual wound will heal eventually, but until then, your leg will still ache or be sore if you move or pull it a certain way. Just because blood isn't running from the open cut doesn't mean it can't still hurt sometimes.
It's like that. Some words or situations trigger memories, and the brain shuts down. The memories brought forth were – are – so horrific that the body's natural defense mechanisms try to protect itself from the threat."
I scrubbed my hand over my face tiredly.
"The only problem with that is that you can't protect yourself from your own mind like that," I concluded, relatively proud at producing such a comprehendible analogy on the fly.
Gold star to me for being such a good teacher.
"But to answer your question, no. It doesn't happen that often. You just got lucky," I lied through my teeth and grinned.
"What happened?" Sirius half whispered.
I looked towards the man. He looked haunted, and I knew at that moment that he had been through Something Horrible.
I knew I would have to explain. They would never trust me if I didn't at least attempt to answer them. It would look like I had something to hide (which I did, but they couldn't know that) and that I was weak.
Nobody wants a person who cannot fight their own battles for themselves. I could feel the blood draining away from my face, as I mind went into hyper-overdrive.
It wasn't that I was scared to tell them what happened.
I knew the alibi well enough to recite it in my sleep. Chiron had drilled all of the... survivors about what to say to mortals if something should trigger us. It was actually a smart idea, to make sure we all had a definite excuse ahead of time, because really, only Annabeth (and maybe Nico) are convincing when lying on the spot.
The rest of us just mumble some schist about being captured by aliens and tickled with rose petals until we surrendered. Plus, it saved the trouble of excessive Mist usage when stories conflicted each other.
"You don't have to answer."
Remus broke my contemplating silence, clearing thinking that my hesitation was due to my not wanting to answer.
"We'll understand if you don't feel comfortable sharing something like that with us. You did just meet us barely thirty minutes ago."
The last was said with a hint of humor and I smiled at the attempt to lighten the room's tension. I shook my head tiredly and waved my hand dismissively.
"No, no, its okay. You have a right to know, after witnessing something like that. My friends and I... we were kidnapped one night by this gang of terrorists, I guess you could call them. They thought we were somebody else, I'm assuming, because if they thought they could hold us for ransom then they would have been seriously disappointed."
I forced a chuckle.
"They didn't speak much, except to tell us to be quiet. They just kind of held us... for a while in this big warehouse. At least, I think it was a warehouse. I just woke up in this concrete room with a pounding headache with only my friends. I dunno... then they started, like, hitting us around a bit. But then it escalated from there.
The worst part was hearing the others scream. The girls were separated from us boys in another room, so we couldn't see them, but we could still hear them. It was... unbearable knowing that my friends were in pain, but I couldn't do anything."
I paused and blinked furiously, allowing a tear to escape before furiously swiping at my eyes like I was embarrassed. Even though the exact events I was so convincingly orating hadn't occurred, it wasn't hard to summon real tears at the thought of my friends in pain.
Because truth be told, we'd been through the worst pains imaginable, and I would have loved to only be kidnapped by some terrorists.
Plus, nothing convinces others of your honestly like a boy crying. No, I'm serious. It scares people, funny enough.
Drawing a shaky breath, I continued, staring fixatedly at my hands, which clutched with white knuckles at my water glass.
"And then the police stormed the place and took them away. Right in time too, because I'm not sure if – well, it was just a really good thing they came when they did."
I raised my gaze to my audience, allowing my pain, agony, and fear to shine through in my eyes. There was a silence, in which I'm pretty sure everyone was trying to process my deep, heart-wrenching, and completely fake story.
I shifted awkwardly and remembered that I had a whole cup of water in my hand. I busied myself with downing the entire glass in one go, feeling the instantaneous rejuvenating powers that my father's element provided me with.
Ah, that was better. Some people down energy drinks to replenish their energy, and other binge on caffeine-loaded drinks like coffee. Nope, not me though. Water provides me with what extra-strength energy drinks coupled with super healing serum does to your average mortal... well that would be if your average mortal had super healing serum.
I set the water glass down on the side table with a loud clank of finality.
Now that my soul had been bared with some artificial sob story, I had some questions about this whole "You're a wizard, Percy" business. Like, question number one: Why am I only now finding out about this?
I opened, promises of questions to come dancing off of that single worded statement.
"Why is it suddenly necessary that you inform me of my magical potential?"
They all just blinked at me like I had asked them why humans breathed.
"Every child deserves to know of his or her magic, Percy. It is the birthright of every magical child and you are no exception," Dumbledore explained patiently, as one might to a small child.
Great, now they think that I'm a little slow. I raised my eyes to the heavens, as if the ceiling fan might impart on me some earth-shattering wisdom. Actually, come to think of it, I was better without said wisdom. I'd had enough earth-shattering revelations for one day.
"No, that's not what I meant. What about me is so special? I'm guessing that I'm older than your average Pigbumps ("Its Hogwarts," Harry muttered) starting student, heck, I bet I'm older than Harry here and he apparently already knows about magic! So I repeat. What about me is so special that you have to send the Headmaster to inform me?"
I thought it was a socially acceptable question to ask, given the unique-only-to-Percy-Jackson circumstances, but the way the three adults across from me exchanged glances, you would have thought I'd asked if I could set off a grenade or something.
Something was off, that much I could tell (no awesome demigod battle senses needed), but I wasn't sure what. No, that's not true, I could tell what set them off. It was clearly my million-dollar question (to which I had honestly been expecting another vague response about my untapped magical talents or whatever), but the only reason they would be looking so nervous (and guilty?) right now at that would be... oh no.
No, that couldn't be it. My brain whirled at hyper-speed as I fruitlessly tried to come up with any other reason for their bizarre behavior. But I couldn't.
Everything, the guilty and nervous expressions, the frantic glances around, the odd stuttering come from Remus, and the slightly suspicious look Harry was eyeing me with, pointed to only one logical conclusion: the needed me for something.
Whether it was your usual fatal, end-of-the-world prophecy (been there, done that, and got the scars thank you very much), something about me personally, or another factor entirely, they thought I was an asset. And a valuable one at that given whom they'd sent to fetch me.
I narrowed my eyes and threw up a mask of cold and careful emotions and a set jaw. I took a deep breath, closing my eyes as I inhaled, and slowly let it out, opening my eyes.
Remus opened his mouth to speak, but I held up one hand, halting him. I spoke with a controlled tone, letting a hint of authority and power drip off my words.
"Before you say anything, I don't like it when people lie to me. I understand if for some secrecy paranoia reasons you can't tell me everything, like, I really get that. But please, don't insult me by telling me some half-truth or falsehood. I would much rather you just not tell me anything."
Silence reined and my audience looked thoughtful.
I admit that my little speech came out a little stronger than I had intended, but when you're used to addressing crowds of rowdy demigod warriors, your definition of "harsh/commanding speeches" will be screwed too. Nobody spoke for a century and a half, and I was about ready to ask them if they actually planned on speaking anytime soon when Sirius spoke.
"Remember when the Headmaster said that your mother was adopted?"
Life altering information isn't something I usually forget within the span of 30 minutes. I nodded affirmatively and I was sure confusion showed on my face.
"Yeah, I do. Her biological dad went to Hogwarts, right?" I recalled, happy when I correctly remembered the ridiculous name of the school (I made a mental note to pat myself on the back later).
Sirius's face took on a solemn edge.
"That's right. His name was Tom Marvolo Riddle, and he was extremely powerful with a family history of magically gifted people..." Sirius paused in his oh-so illuminating explanation.
Clear gray eyes met mine with unexpected urgency. I was unafraid to hold his gaze, having locked eyes with far worse beings in my life, and steadily gazed back, careful to keep mine unexpressive and blank.
"There is something that you have to understand, Percy. In the magical world, who you are is important. Your family tree, who your dad's family line came from and who your mom's family line came from, is important. Your bloodline is important. There are three... I guess you could call them categories one can fall into."
Sirius held up his hand and started counting them off his fingers. I wasn't sure if this action was meant to help keep track of how many three was (if so I had some serious concerns) or just something to do with his hands.
I've noticed that people tend to play with their hands when they are nervous or unsure about something. Maybe because it keeps them from shaking or maybe because it prevents them from grabbing their weapon of choice and attacking. I suspected the latter reason was more the case with demigods, though. Maybe not.
"You can be a Pureblood, meaning your entire family has only been born of other Pureblooded wizards and witches. You can be a Muggleborn, which is when both your parents are non-magical. Or you can be a half-blood, which most people are these days anyways."
Sirius paused, and I, assuming he was looking for some sign of affirmation, nodded for the umpteenth time today.
"Purebloods, muggleborns, and half-bloods. Gotcha," I summarized easily, finding it slightly humorous that the term "half-blood" was used (no matter the difference in meaning) in the magical world.
Remus made a funny little chocking sound in the background and Sirius spared a (half-hearted at best) glare at his friend.
"Some people, no matter how wrong this thinking is, think that anybody of less that Pureblooded status is somehow lesser than them. This mentality couldn't be farther from the truth, and not all wizards and witches of Pureblooded decent agree with this, so I don't want you to think that everyone does, but..."
I held up my hands in surrender.
"Hey, hey I get it. You don't need to give disclaimers to me. Stereotypes have always existed so it is not really all that surprising that they do in the magical world," I placated.
Sirius looked relieved and I raised an eyebrow teasingly.
"Would it be right of me to assume that you are one of the Purebloods who doesn't agree with that bigotry, then? I mean, given your impassioned speech and all..." I broke off with a grin.
Dumbledore chuckled and his eyes started twinkling. Harry gave me a suspicious look (he was probably jealous of my amazing powers of observation), but I shrugged it off. It was kind of fun catching them by surprise.
"Correct, young Percy! What an astute student you are!" Sirius crowed, putting on a posh accent to emphasis the act.
I smiled tightly, growing slightly impatient with this beating around the bush but not wanting it to show.
"That's great and all, but how does this relate to me again?"
Remus took over, and Sirius flashed a wolfish grin in the brown-haired man's direction as he settled back in his seat.
"Your grandfather, Tom Riddle, grew up in a muggle, which is what we call non-magical people, orphanage where he wasn't treated well by the other students. When he went to Hogwarts, he was exceptionally talented and bright, but he carried the hatred of muggles with him. Because of this, he grew to despise those wizards and witches closest related to them."
"The muggleborns and half-bloods?" I guessed tentatively, not at all liking where this story was going.
I hoped that my suspicions were (for once) incorrect.
Remus nodded gravely. Dang it. This didn't sound like it would end well.
"Indeed. Just like in everything, Percy, there is light and dark. Riddle's hatred led him to the darkest side of the magical spectrum and he became... tyrannical in his thirst to conquer the wizarding world and 'purify' as he called it, those unworthy to learn magic. He changed his name to Lord Voldemort and his followers were called Death Eaters.
Those opposed to this fought against him, and after a while, it seemed like Voldemort was gone forever, vanquished through a prophecy. But it was not to be and he is back now, stronger than ever and gathering followers."
My eyes widened before understanding dawned on me. I sucked in a sharp breath as I tried to come to terms with the fact that I had two evil grandfathers. Right, because why not?
"So you wanted to find me before he could, right? That's why you're just now showing up. You think that he'll see me as a potential ally and want me for his little Death Muncher pack, right?"
I could have phrased that better. Yep, I most definetly could have put that more delicately, but I was just trying to not break down right now so eloquence was the farthest thing on my mind right now.
"Yes, my dear boy. But we do not want to use you or take advantage of you, be sure of that. Our primary goal is to protect you and yours and to train you to use your magic as is your destiny," Dumbledore insisted earnestly.
I wasn't sure that I believed him, but I felt like shouting that entering yet another war was not my destiny. But I couldn't. I was never one to run from my problems and I wasn't about to start now. Most certainly not now, when I'd been through so much and come so far. I couldn't break now, although I was perilously close to it.
I pushed my emotions to the deep recesses of my brain, and I shook my head like the action would clear it. Tonight, when I was alone in the dark, I could have the panicky mental breakdown that would be sure to come.
I could afford to let me guard down then, but not now. I knew myself well enough to recognize that if I tried to express or deal with my overwhelming emotional response to the information (or even try to process the information on a deeper level) that I would break.
Slipping back into the strong persona of a fearless warrior leader that I'd almost exhausted in the last couple months with unsettling ease, I gazed at the Headmaster intently.
Dumbledore started, probably not expecting such immediate acceptance. He looked at me contemplatively and I stared unflinchingly back, feeling as though I was locked in an elementary school staring contest. But maybe that was just me.
"What do you mean, Percy?" Remus asked, needing clarification like he couldn't believe it either.
I didn't understand what was so difficult to understand. Remus seemed like an intelligent guy, but maybe simple one-worded sentences confused him.
"I mean okay, I believe you. I understand what you're saying. My brain comprehends your explanation... I don't know how else to say it," I repeated, rephrasing my statement in as many ways possible.
I was growing impatient, but didn't want to show it. If this was how they'd react to everything I said, then my life just got 10x harder, wizardry aside.
"Oh. Well, good," Remus stammered.
I think I broke them. Great.
I stood up somewhat stiffly and threw up arms out in the air expectantly.
"What's next, then?" I questioned, hoping I sounded carefree enough.
Sirius grinned excitable and nudged Harry with his elbow. The younger teen smiled slightly at me and I flashed him a lopsided grin. My new goal was to get this kid to lighten up. I get that there was like some giant conflict, but still. Smiling every once in a while wouldn't kill him. Probably.
Sirius stood up too and clapped me on the back, smiling so broadly, his eyes crinkled.
"To Grimmauld Place, of course! Where else?" he questioned like I should have known.
"Oh yes, of course. How could I have forgotten? Silly me, I must have been preoccupied with other things... like, oh yes, that little bit where I'm magical!" I retorted with (un)surprising sassiness.
"Shh, Sirius! You know we aren't supposed to say that out loud!" Remus reprimanded sternly, leaving me confused (again).
"We will be going to a concealed safe house. It doubles as the headquarters for the light side, or those against Lord Voldemort. The house is protected by a charm so only those who know its exact address can find it, which is why saying it out loud generally is frown upon." Dumbledore explained.
"Check. Copy that," I murmured distractedly.
There were still some things that I needed to know first.
"Will I need to bring anything? How are we going to get there? Does my mother know about this?" I demanded in rapid fire, trying to straighten out the convoluted mess that was my brain.
As if on cue (or just with her super mom powers), my mother walked into the room just then. By the look of unsurprised calm on her face, I would guess that she'd been listening in. I couldn't and wouldn't blame her, though, if only because I would have done the same thing.
"Its dangerous for all of us to remain here for extended periods of time without stronger protections and charms," Dumbledore said by way of explanation. "You can come and pick up your belongings later."
Yeah, tell me about it. I'm enough of a danger magnet just by my blood as it is (thanks a lot, Dad!), so I wasn't worried about my personal safety. However, the safety of my mom and Paul was a different matter.
"What about my mom? Will she and Paul be safe?"
My mother smiled at me and I glanced down at her worriedly. I hated how she was always at risk because of me, although she would claim that I was worth the risk. Mothers.
"Don't worry about me, Percy, or Paul. We'll be fine, as we always are."
I was about to comment about how maybe we shouldn't push our luck with this one seeing as nothing bad has happened yet. Trust me when I say that when nothing horrible has happened in the past, it just means that there is a higher likelihood of something horrible happening now.
"We'll completely surround your apartment with nearly impenetrable protection enchantments as well as alerts that will inform us if anything should breech them. Your family will be safe, I can promise you that."
I didn't have much of a choice, but to accept Remus's soft assurances at face value. I nodded, turning to give my mom a hug.
"Be safe, Percy. You're still recovering and as much as you hate to admit it, you cannot do everything, darling. Please, for me, take care of yourself," my mother whispered into my ear.
"Don't worry about me, mom. I've survived this long, haven't I? Although that was mostly due to Annabeth..." I attempted to joke, wanting to lighten the mood.
I could only imagine how difficult this must be for my mom. The last time she let me go into a situation like this, I almost didn't come back and when I did, I was broken and scarred. I felt a surge of love for my mother and held on tighter in her embrace.
The laugh my humor had elicited faded into a sniffle and I pulled apart gently, knowing that her waterworks would trigger mine soon.
"I love you, mom. Give my love to Paul too," I said, bending down slightly to kiss her cheek.
"I love you, Percy. Don't worry, Paul... and everybody else... will understand."
I smiled in way of response and spun on my heel to face the waiting wizards, who now stood in the hallway outside of our apartment. I strode through the open doorway and felt a strange sense of sadness and dread. I had only just gotten back from... everything and had really been looking forward to a relaxing (well, at least by demigod standards) few weeks.
I didn't feel that I had much of a choice in the matter of going with these near-strangers, if only to protect those I loved. Annabeth would say that I'm too self-sacrificing. I don't agree, but that might just be because my fatal flaw is loyalty.
At that moment, as I stepped over the threshold and into the unknown (not literally, because my apartment's hallway isn't that unknown), I felt a burst of panic. I didn't want to do this. I didn't want to be involved in this. I just wanted to erase the events of the past hour from my mind and go back to camp blissfully unaware.
If it were up to me, I would have run back inside and hid under the covers of my bed like a little kid again. I felt vulnerable in a strange way that was totally new to me.
Sure, during the war(s), I had felt like I was inadequately protected, but at least then I'd known what I was facing. I had Riptide and my powers and I didn't have to hide my heritage.
Now, I felt lost in a strange world. I had to completely start over, just like when I had entered camp for the first time after slaying the Minotaur. I knew next to nothing about the world and nothing about magic itself. I'm 99% sure that a five year old could beat me in a magical standoff. And that scared me more than anything else because I knew that if I didn't know how to defend myself, I might as well tell Chiron to start planning my burial shroud.
I pushed down those feelings, and smiled slightly. I might have to go with them, but I didn't have to cooperate with everything they said. I was still Percy Jackson, and was not going to play by anyone's rules, except my own.
Waving goodbye to my mom, I followed the wizards down the hallway and felt slightly more apprehensive. What if this was all a trick and I was just being set up? They could very well kill me now and...
"Everybody join hands, please," Dumbledore requested, thankfully breaking me from my outrageous imaginings.
Well this was certainly new.
With a look on my face that clearly questioned their sanity, I tentatively clasped hands with Sirius and Remus and completed the circle they'd made.
"Um?" I questioned, not feeling as though I should have to say anything else to convey what I was really asking.
Like why in Tartarus were we standing like a bunch of Girl Scouts in a friendship powwow circle?
Sirius grinned at me mischievously.
"I'd close my eyes if I were you. Most people throw up after their first time..."
I barely had time to process that statement (if I had, I probably would have removed myself from the friendship circle pronto) before we were... well I don't know what we were.
I felt a little like shadow traveling, to be honest, and I, naturally, loved it.
After a few seconds (but I couldn't be sure how time worked when we were doing... that), I stumbled as my feet hit the ground and looked around.
Oh, Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore. In fact, I think I was somewhere in London? But that couldn't be right. I knew I wasn't the best with geography, but still.
I turned when a deep chuckle rumbled from behind me. Harry looked a little green, and was leaning slightly on Remus who was glaring at Sirius.
"Don't laugh. You used to get nauseous too, if I remember right," Remus reprimanded.
"Follow me, now. Quickly."
Apparently, Dumbledore wasn't in the mood to mess around. We all trooped obediently after him, Sirius still trying to stifle snickers. The Headmaster walked up in between houses eleven and thirteen and I blinked. Then blinked again.
There was not a house there before. I would swear it on my father's name.
I glanced up at Sirius, concerned for my vision. I was five seconds away from asking Harry if I could borrow his glasses because my eyes weren't working right.
"Magic," Sirius shrugged.
Oh, right. Obviously. Silly, Percy, forgetting that magic could make an entire house appear.
We all filled in through the admittedly dark and depressing doorway and down an even more dark and depressing hallway. I immediately could tell I would like the place, if only for the uplifting feeling the décor left me with.
"Cheery place," I muttered.
"My mother was quite the interior designer," Sirius responded, slightly bitterly.
Ah, so maybe this was his childhood home. I pretended not to notice how that little bit of information was so conveniently left out beforehand.
At the end of the hall from Hades (wait, no, I shouldn't insult Hades' palace), there was what looked like a kitchen. I couldn't see it very well, seeing as the door was half way closed, but light streamed out of the open crack. Just the presence of light seemed like an intruder in this house, just as I was.
"You're going to meet some of the Order in there," Sirius whispered, nodding with his head to indicate where he meant by 'in there'. "That is, the Order of the Phoenix. They – we – are a group working against Voldemort."
Ah. I've been brought to the very headquarters of The Resistance (aka: The Rebels, The "Good Guys", The Light Side... the list goes on and on). I should have guessed though. I couldn't think of a safer place in what little I knew of the wizarding world to protect the grandson of the very man you're fighting against from his heritage. Sounded like a solid plan to me.
"Some of my friends are there too," Harry volunteered.
I hummed in response, wondering if they would know who I was or if I would have to awkwardly explain ("Yeah, my mom's daddy is the very epitome of evil! You might have heard of him. He goes by Lord Voldemort, I think?"). I almost hoped they would already know because I wasn't known for my great explanations.
A small part of my brain warned me of their possible (okay, extremely likely) prejudices against me because of who I was related to. I tried to ignore it. I mean, people didn't have to like me. Its been known to happen... like with most monsters... and Titans... and gods... and goddesses. But that is beside the point.
I steeled myself for the worst (like death) and schooled my expression into one of innocent curiosity and nerves to best present my case of "completely-naïve-kid-who-has-only-just-been-told of-his-magical-heritage".
The door opened by a slightly plump redheaded woman whose entire being seemed to scream "Mother Hen". She smiled and greeted Dumbledore cheerily as he swept entirely too dramatically into the room than should be possible for a man his age and wearing his outfit.
Remus strode calmly in next, smiling softly at the woman with a quiet, "Molly."
Harry followed the brown-haired man in, pausing only shortly to be sufficiently suffocated in a hug by the newly dubbed "Molly" and then to gasp for breath, before continuing.
I was positive that I wouldn't be getting the same reaction. I would be rather freaked out if I did, actually.
Sirius put a reassuring hand on my shoulder and guided me in an almost protective manner (as if to say, "He's one of us!") past the woman and into the room.
There was a silence as I entered and I suddenly felt very inadequate and unremarkable. I wasn't sure what or who they were expecting, but I could tell by their silence that they knew exactly who I was, or at least who I was related to.
My eyes really wanted to stay glued to my converse-clad feet on the hard wood floor and just avoid all eye contact, but my battle-instincts (and pride) wouldn't allow me. The instinctual scanning of the room commenced and I studied each face as I saw them, committing them to memory.
I had only gone half way around the rectangular table in cataloging faces to memory, before a startled gasp turned my head.
There, seated between a girl with curly brown hair and an older teenager with red hair who seemed to be a twin (if the identical guy sitting next to him was any indication to go by), was somebody I'd last seen months ago.
That somebody was staring at me, searching my face and nearly invisible scars (those only visible if you're aware that they exist) with incredulous disbelief.
"Percy? Percy Jackson?"
The spoken words seemed to jolt me out of my shock-induced stupor and my jaw dropped open as my brain finally caught up with what my eyes were seeing.
Well that was somebody I hadn't expected to see in the midst of magic-wielding sorcerers.
AN: Okay, guys. That was 23 pages of pure genius (totally kidding) right there, so I hope y'all are satisfied!
I totally had plans to update earlier but I was on vacation and without wi-fi, so I couldn't post anything literally until now. And then I had to edit it, because trust me, you would not have wanted to read the original version! : ) But! I did post now... so please don't hate me?
I have to say a HUGE THANK YOU TO ALL MY LOYAL READERS AND REVIEWERS! WOW! I can't believe people actually like this story. Like seriously.
I just have one thing to say: I WILL NEVER EVER ABANDON THIS STORY!
Pinky swear promise.
Okay, please tell me what you thought about the chapter... I'm not sure that it was up to par so any hints or suggestions are (as always) taken seriously!
I tried not to leave it at so much of a cliff hanger... but who do you think the somebody that Percy knows is? Hehe
Reviewing makes me super happy! Love you all :D
-Amethyst Raindrops 16-