I was really missing Percy. Usually, I kept myself busy so that I wouldn't break down, but today was one of those sunny days where Percy and I would sit by the sea, laughing, teasing, and sharing a few kisses.
Without meaning to, I replayed all our moments together- our first-month anniversary, where we were transported to Paris for our date, courtesy of Hermes, since he owed us (long story) big-time; our first kiss on his sixteenth birthday; the time I took him to the library- I missed those times so much, but most of all, I missed Percy- his smile, the way his eyes would light up when he'd spot me, his overprotectiveness for me- all those idiosyncrasies had become endearing to me.
As I was absorbed in my thoughts, I realized, out of habit, that I had walked to the beach, and I sat down, taking handfuls of sand and letting them fall through my fingers. Just then, I saw a purplish fin, sailing amongst the sparkling sea.
Most people would've thought it a shark, but I recognized the color- it wasn't any ordinary purple, it was a pearl violet color that belonged only to one creature. The pearl violet hippocampus came up to the brink of the sea, and I ran to the brink and knelt, patting its head.
I murmured, "Hey Viola. Come to visit today?" She neighed and snorted, but I couldn't understand a word, and usually I didn't need to- her Seaweed Brain was always there, the Marine Translator.
I fed her some apples, and wondered what to do. I really wanted to understand her the way she understood what I said. Then I remembered something Percy had told me when I was a bit upset I didn't get what the hippocampi said. He had said that he could understand their thoughts and what they said. But if you weren't a child of Poseidon, you could observe their movements, and try to guess their intention.
His exact words were, "You can always talk to them like a friend, and they'll understand you. And you don't have to be a kid of Poseidon to understand them. Observe their movements. If they move the fin, they're happy about something. If they're still when you aren't talking, it means they're depressed about something. And if they're thrashing about, they might be asking you to help them with something. If you guess their emotion, keep suggesting what they're excited or depressed about. When you hit the correct suggestion, they'll actually nod a bit."
For a child of Athena, guessing intentions and observing minute details was a piece of cake. I looked at her, patting her head all the while. She was moving, but she didn't seem happy. Her eyes looked sad.
I put my arms around her neck and said, "What's wrong, Viola? Did I hurt you?"
She didn't respond.
I asked, "Did you fight with Rainbow or someone else?"
Her eyes darted around, as if scared of someone, or looking for someone. Then it struck me. She was fretting because…Percy wasn't here. Every time I visited Viola, Percy had always come along.
I asked tentatively, "Is it because Percy isn't here?" She moved her head as if nodding.
Tears welled up in my eyes. I didn't want to tell her that Percy was missing, because she was fond of Percy, even if she didn't adore him the way she adored me.
I said, my voice shaky, "He'll come sometime, Vi," I called her Vi in short, and she LOVED that nickname. I usually used it to distract her from a topic. But it didn't work this time. She started to withdraw, a sure sign that she was pissed off with me for lying.
She was like Percy- not that smart, but excellent at sensing emotions and lies.
I called, "Fine, I'll tell you, Vi." She swam back and I took a deep breath.
I spoke slowly, "Vi, Percy's kind of, well…" I trailed off, suddenly unable to speak, because of the lump of grief in my throat.
She looked at me expectantly.
I blurted out, "Vi, he's missing. Percy is missing. We know he's with a bunch of Roman demigods, but we don't know where he is. We- we'll find him, Vi."
She made a lowing sound. Then suddenly, she splashed water at me. I laughed and joined in the fight. We spent the afternoon splashing water, laughing and cuddling. And as I waved goodbye to Viola, I realized, I'm not alone.