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How Far We've Come

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Louis dreams a lot. Well, almost all demigods do. Good dreams, bad dreams, prophetic dreams. It’s part of the whole My Parent Is An Immortal package. Louis is lucky because he’s never had a bad dream. His dreams are usually normal or boring, or sometimes he wakes up forgetting them altogether. But that’s different tonight.

Louis wakes up in a cold sweat, out of breath and panting hard as he bolts upright in his bed. He feels scared, terrified, absolutely hysterical over what he just dreamed. He doesn’t remember much, but what he does remember is fire. The colors of orange and yellow burning away and destroying something pure. He doesn’t remember what it  was, but it was beautiful. He remembers a person too, with eyes the color of green. As green as new foliage, as green as fresh cut grass. The eyes were full of sadness and anger and the only thing Louis could tell before he woke up was that the sadness and anger was directed at him.

A chill shoots through Louis’ body as he shivers in his bed. It’s only the first of February, maybe he shouldn’t be sleeping with his shirt off just yet, but the anticipation for summer is simply killing Louis. He knows this summer is going to be a good one—he can feel it. Cabin Eleven has been way too quiet lately, most of Louis’ mischievous and loud half-siblings back home for school.

Louis tries to go back to bed after such a weird dream, but it proves difficult until he starts thinking of those beautiful green eyes. This time, though, he tries imagining what they would look like if they weren’t full of sadness or anger. That image puts him back to sleep right away and he peacefully stays under until the sun is high in the sky.

“What do you think it means? This is the,” Louis closes his eyes and bites his lip, counting in his head, “fourth time I’ve had this dream.”

Maddison hums as she wanders around her cabin, organizing stacks of books and bundles of paper and scrolls that her half-siblings have just decided to leave lying around. She flicks her perpetually messy blonde hair over her shoulder as she goes, her stormy hazel eyes critically examining everything she picks up. “Four times you say? And it’s always fire and those same green eyes?”

“Yes! I don’t know what to think of it, Madds,” Louis sighs from where he’s lying on his friend’s bed. “It’s really starting to bother me.”

Maddison joins Louis on her bed, lying beside him. They both stare up at the ceiling, unsure of what to say.

“I may be one of the smartest campers here, Lou, but I honestly don’t know what to make of this.”

Louis leaves Cabin Six shortly after, not really finding any comfort in the cluttered library walls. The gray exterior of Athena’s cabin can be quite deceptive with it’s pure, plain white curtains drifting in the wind and the owl design over the door, but once you step inside it’s completely different. Cabin Six is a library that puts all other libraries to shame. The bookcases reach the ceiling and cover almost every available inch of wall space. Work benches and tables clutter most of the area and there are things everywhere. Anything from blueprints and armor to 3D models and old war maps cover the tables. Sometimes it’s just too much for Louis to handle.

Louis makes his way across the field, passing the fire pit in the center, to his own cabin. Hermes’ cabin is nothing truly spectacular, but Louis loves it. The wraparound porch and the worn, brown wood exterior gives it a much more homey feeling than some of the other cabins. Cabin Eleven used to be ridiculously overpopulated, filled to the brim with all of Hermes’ sons and daughters and unclaimed demigods. The lack of cabins for minor gods and goddesses left many demigods unclaimed, leaving them ignored by their godly parent and without knowledge of where they belong, but luckily that changed long, long ago. The continual addition of cabins for minor gods and goddesses allowed for more demigod children to be claimed right away, relieving the stress that used to be put on the children of Hermes to house them.

Louis gives a quick nod to the caduceus that hangs over the front door of his home, a little gesture of hello to his father, before walking inside and dropping onto his bed. As Head Counselor of the Hermes Cabin, Louis has to do cabin inspection in a few hours, but for right now he pushes his responsibilities to the side and decides to take a nap.

The ache in Louis’ arms is familiar and welcome, especially after the week he’s had. It’s been a few good months since the dreams started, but they’re only increasing in frequency and intensity as the summer months grow closer and closer. Maddison wants Louis to talk to Chiron about them, but Louis would rather do arts and crafts with the Ares boys than talk to the centaur about his dreams.

The art of swordfighting, however, is the perfect distraction from the burning hot flames and piercing green color that continue to haunt his mind during the night.

Metal clashes against metal as Louis’ sword collides against Zayn’s. He always puts up a good fight, but Louis’ one of the best fighters at Camp Half-Blood, so it comes to no surprise that Louis’ next graceful maneuver disarms Zayn effortlessly.

“C’mon man,” Zayn huffs, bending over to rest his palms against his knees, lungs working hard to retrieve lost oxygen.

The sun is beating down hard over the swordfighting arena. It’s uncommonly warm for early May. Louis usually wouldn’t complain, but it’s a slight inconvenience when the sun is directly overhead during his practice session.  

Louis wipes the sweat from his brow and adjusts his chestplate, chuckling at Zayn. “Try harder, I know you can.” Louis bends over to retrieve Zayn’s lost sword and hands it back over to his friend.

Zayn simply grunts in response.

Sons of Aphrodite aren’t usually the best at swordfighting. Zayn likes to prove everyone wrong, and he does. He’s just not as good as Louis and Louis intends to keep it that way.

After a quick breather and a water break, they’re back at it again. This time Louis is on defense, letting Zayn have the upperhand. Every maneuver is still effortless for the son of Hermes and instead of improving his craft and challenging his opponent, he lets his mind wander. Which is never a good thing. It especially hasn’t been a good thing recently.

“We haven’t gotten a new kid in quite a long time,” Louis comments, dodging to the right as Zayn thrusts forward.

Zayn makes a noise in the back of his throat, brows furrowed. He’d much rather plan his next move of attack than engage his dumbass friend in conversation in the middle of battle.

“Summer is coming soon, so maybe we’ll see some new faces around here,” Louis muses.

Zayn takes a step back momentarily, giving Louis the perfect opening for a jab of his own, but the lucky bastard blocks it in just enough time. They clash back and forth for a minute or so until Louis falls back into defense, giving Zayn time to regroup.

“Let’s at least hope they’re claimed,” Louis continues. “I don’t want any pouty twelve-year-olds with daddy issues cramming into the bunks of the Hermes Cabin just because their parent hasn’t claimed them yet.”

Zayn’s stance changes slightly and Louis’ lightning-fast eyesight can’t help but notice the hole in his friend’s defense. He’s tired and bored of their back and forth anyway, his wrist and arm hurting in the best way possible, so he decides to finally lunge forward and strike against Zayn’s armor, ending yet another match in a victory.

“Did you seriously just have a whole conversation with yourself?” Zayn asks, sword now on the ground by his side, the sleeve of his tunic wiping the sweat from his forehead. Louis stares at his very obvious beauty, even though he’s covered in sweat and grime from hours of fighting in the arena. Louis shakes his head and scoffs a little bit. Zayn’s not that pretty.

“Maybe,” Louis remembers to answer before turning and making his way towards the showers, leaving Zayn behind to put away the practice supplies.

Louis stands in the stall, his forehead pressed against the tiled wall as he lets the hot water beat down over his neck and back. The water is too hot, but Louis doesn’t even flinch. He lets it numb his skin as goosebumps begin to rise on his legs.

Louis feels both older and younger than twenty-one. He looks younger, his body is in top shape and he knows his face is physically attractive, but he feels beyond his years. The things he has seen, the things he’s experienced, the people he’s seen come and go; it all takes a toll on your mental state.

Sometimes Louis finds himself asking why me? Why can he stay on this godforsaken Earth one more day when kids half his age are being taken down by evil, unforgiving monsters? Why is he  the lucky one who gets to keep his life?

Louis can’t help but think of his first day at Camp Half-Blood. He tries not to think of it too often, always feeling too guilty, too lucky, too safe in comparison to everyone else.

He can’t help but remember as vivid images of him at the age of eleven flash across the back of his eyelids; his mother telling him that he was going to go to a special summer camp, because he would be safe there. Little Louis put up a fight, always the momma’s boy, not wanting to leave her side. He didn’t understand how a summer camp in Long Island, New York, could possibly be anymore safe than being held in his mother’s arms in their tiny little apartment in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Nothing happened to them on their way to the camp. Nothing happened to him once he arrived. Nothing happened to him the entire summer. When fall rolled around, he went back to Philly for school, but nothing happened to him then. When summer came, he traveled back to Camp Half-Blood, just like so many others, but nothing happened to him.

Sometimes Louis thinks it has something to do with his dad. Hermes is the god of travel, among other things, and Louis has considered that maybe his dad is looking out for him. But the thought makes Louis chuckle. Hermes has many, many, many sons and daughters—why would Louis Tomlinson be one of his favorites? Out of everyone, what makes Louis special enough that his dad would want to ensure his safety?

He’s heard stories from other campers, stories from his best friends, about how they were terrorized by monsters. He’s heard stories of how campers almost lost their friends and family, how they almost lost their lives just simply trying to reach the borders of Camp Half-Blood.

It makes Louis feel extremely lucky and extremely guilty. Why does he deserve life when so many others around him were dealt the card of death? Now, Louis has fought his fair share of ugly and sinister monsters, but that was after he learned how to use his ADHD to his advantage and sword fight like a champion. That was after he learned how to defend himself and kill monsters. The others, they were all innocent and defenseless. They didn’t even stand a chance.

After Louis had graduated college he decided he wanted to live at Camp Half-Blood full time. He wanted to mentor those young kids, he wanted to become someone everyone could trust, someone everyone could come to in times of trouble. Becoming Head Counselor of Cabin Eleven was a step in the right direction, and after being in a leadership position for three solid years, Louis finally thinks he’s where he’s always wanted to be.

It was a struggle though. There were never any older demigods at Camp Half-Blood. Most campers used to leave after reaching a certain age, and the others never made it to adulthood. Once Camp Jupiter was discovered, where older Roman demigods had the opportunity to spend their entire adulthoods, the Greek demigods wanted that for themselves. Louis was among some of the first demigods to talk to Chiron about staying at the camp as an adult. He wanted it and he made it happen. Now a whole generation of older demigods are finding safety and sanctuary at Camp Half-Blood. Louis figures the camp will be needing an extension in the future—they can’t all live in cabins for the rest of their lives, but that’s something to worry about in a year or two.  

Louis does miss his family, though. He misses his many little sisters. He misses his city. He misses the cheesesteaks and water ice, he misses going on Wawa runs late at night with Oli and Calvin, he misses going to Phillies games. Louis always makes sure he’s able to take the train down for holidays and birthdays, though. His sisters don’t understand why he’s gone—his mom says it’s for college because Louis is a smart, grown, twenty-one year old boy—and it’s a little bit heartbreaking. But there’s a reason he can’t tell them that he lives at a camp specifically for children with godly blood running through their veins. They wouldn’t understand that gods and goddesses are real and that outside of Camp Half-Blood’s borders, their big brother is always under constant threat of a random monster attack.

Louis may miss all those things, but he truly loves living at Camp Half-Blood. He loves his friends who are practically his family. Louis makes sure he bonds with every single demigod that walks into Camp Half-Blood, because you never know who needs a shoulder to lean on and who might need that extra support system.

But when you act as other people’s support systems, who acts as your own?

Louis knows from experience that it’s hard to take your own advice.

It’s even harder when you’re surrounded by so many people, yet you still feel extremely lonely.

Louis dips his head back, letting the water rushing out of the showerhead pelt against his face. It’s the best way, he’s learned, to hide the tears.

Camp Half-Blood is full of life and Louis absolutely loves it. Everyone is sticking to their schedule, the weather is beautiful, there haven’t been too many fights breaking out among campers yet, and everyone is smiling. Seeing everyone smiling makes Louis smile.

One of the perks of being an older camper, and a Head Counselor, is that Louis doesn’t have every second of his day from eight in the morning to ten at night meticulously planned out. Louis loves it. He prefers to go by his own schedule. He wants to do what he wants to do whenever he wants to do it. Admittedly, Louis does follow a loose schedule because of the few classes he teaches, but still, in theory, Louis doesn’t want every second of his week days planned out for him by the activities director who just so happens to be a glorified pony.

Louis still attends Ancient Greek and Greek mythology classes, but he feels like he knows it all already from his decade spent at the camp. Louis likes to say he shows up to be a good role model and put on a good example for the younger campers. Maddison likes to say that he shows up just so he can nap the whole time, and when questioned about it later, have a good alibi for where he was.

Arena time with the younger campers is one of Louis’ favorite times during the day. For an hour each day, Louis is able to forget himself as he focuses on helping the young and new kids learn basic sword fighting skills. He teaches side by side older Ares campers who are in charge of lessons. Louis is the only exception: being the best sword fighter gives him the right to teach and grants him plenty of respect from the hotheaded sons and daughters of the god of war.

A lot of the kids he works with remind Louis of his siblings, so he tries extra hard to be sweet and considerate. He teaches and guides their shaky hands through the movements until they’re ready to go face to face with a straw dummy. It’s tiring and on some days too much for him to handle, but it’s extremely rewarding and Louis wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s certainly better than Ancient Greek at nine, cleaning the stables at ten-thirty, followed by javelin throwing at eleven.

A long day of hard work is all worth it once the sun sets and dinner is over. A steady glow emits from the center of the circle the cabins create, a bonfire roaring in the middle of the giant field. Campers crowd around the heat as the chilly summer night starts to move in. Reunited friends are cuddling together on top of blankets on the grass, others sitting side by side on meticulously placed benches. There’s a hum in the air as conversations float around the group of campers to the sounds of the fire crackling.

Louis finds his way to where he and his friends have sat everyday since Niall joined their rag-tag group six years ago. Louis used to never come to the campfire singalongs, and if he did, he would hide in the shadows in the back, lying down against the itchy grass, staring at the stars rather than participating. But that all changed when Louis met Niall Horan.

The boy is brighter than life itself, with his sunny smile, bright blue eyes, and magically bleach-blonde dyed hair. He is one of the most talented musicians to come through the borders of Camp Half-Blood in quite some time; it all made sense that he was claimed as a son of Apollo.

Once Niall found out there were nightly campfire singalongs, he deemed himself the leader and made sure his new group of friends sat front row to watch him blow everyone away with his musical genius. Louis hated it, but now it’s one of his favorite parts of his nightly routine.

“Took you long enough Lou,” Liam mumbles when Louis finally joins them on the ground. He settles down onto the quilt Niall’s grandma made him for his birthday a few years back. It’s their designated campfire singalong butt cushion.

Louis decidedly ignores Liam and turns to Niall who is sitting directly behind them on one of the benches. They’re close enough that if Louis wanted to, he could rest his back against Niall’s shins. “What song are we starting with tonight, Ni?” Louis asks in place of a greeting.

Niall winks at Louis and turns to the rest of the camp, clearing his throat. Conversations instantly halt, everyone quiet, waiting to hear what song Niall will start the night off with.

Niall makes himself comfortable on the bench, wiggling his butt back and forth on the wood and shifting his acoustic guitar on his lap until it fits snuggly under his arm. He lets the silence hang in the night air for an uncomfortable amount of time before smirking and announcing, “Anyway, here’s Wonderwall.”

Half the camp cheers, the other half groans. Louis can’t help but cackle.

The summer is off to a great start.

Everyone sings along, the campers that groaned, the campers that cheered, and even the Ares campers who like to pretend they’re too cool for this kind of thing.

The atmosphere is warm and it feels like home. Instead of singing along, Louis decides to lie back on the quilt and stare at the stars. He lets everyone’s voices wash over him, the musically-inclined and the not so musically-inclined mixing together to create the sound of…something vaguely good enough to listen to. He can hear crickets chirping and the waves crashing against the shore in the distance. He can smell the scent of ripe strawberries being carried on the breeze. He can not only see the stars twinkling above in the night sky, but he can also see his best friends, his half-siblings, and the rest of Camp Half-Blood enjoying themselves and having fun.

This is officially the start of summer and Louis couldn’t be any happier than he is right now.

Louis loves Camp Half-Blood. He especially loves the magical camp borders that not only protect everyone from monsters, but also keep out mortals. He loves that because of the magical barrier, precipitation and other unfavorable weather does not fall on the camp unless desired by Mr. D, the camp director.

Louis knows Dionysus can come across as a bitter old man most of the time, but when Louis sees rain on the horizon, just outside of the border rather than inside the camp, he knows that Mr. D does have some kindness in his heart. Louis doesn’t blame Mr. D for his grouchiness though—if Louis was made a camp director by his dad as punishment, he would be pretty bitter too.

Louis keeps his eyes on the beautiful blue sky overhead as he floats on his back. The cold, refreshing water of the lake keeping him cool after a grueling archery practice with Krissie. The daughter of Apollo and Head Counselor of Cabin Seven is the best archer at the camp and she does not go easy on Louis when they train together. She knows exactly how far to push him. Louis both loves and loathes her for it.

Louis could stay in this lake all day. With his ears underwater he doesn’t hear the little kids screaming in the distance, he doesn’t hear the explosions coming from the climbing wall. He sees a group of campers riding pegasi in the sky above him, but fortunately he doesn’t hear their cheers and gasps of excitement. But there is one thing Louis can hear coming his way and he would rather drown himself than talk to the person—creature—that the clip-clopping hoof sounds belong to.   

“Mr. Tomlinson.” From underwater, it sounds garbled and almost unrecognizable, so Louis pretends it is. He closes his eyes and stills his body. Maybe if he doesn’t move, Chiron won’t be able to see him. That’s how it works, right?

“Mr. Tomlinson, I know you heard me,” Chiron sighs.

Louis slowly opens up one eye and then the other and tilts his head back to see Camp Half-Blood’s activities director standing on the shore staring impatiently at Louis. So much for a relaxing afternoon.

“Hello there Pony Boy, how may I help you this fine evening?” Louis aks, voice high and chipper, a fake smile plastered to his face.

The centaur’s tail twitches in annoyance, absolutely hating whenever Louis has to guts to call him pony. “Towel off and meet me at the Big House in five minutes,” Chiron demands before turning and clomping his way back to the main administrative building.

Although Louis gives Chiron a lot of shit, he’s grateful for the half-man, half-horse. He’s trained many heroes throughout history and his immortal life, many half-blood campers included, Louis being one of them. Chiron had taken an interest in Louis since he arrived at the camp at the ripe age of ten, acting like the father Louis never had. He’s intelligent, civilized, and kind, and cares deeply about each and everyone of his pupils. Chiron would even go out of his way, put himself in danger, to make sure every single demigod is safe.

Chiron has put a lot of faith in Louis over the last decade and Louis has tried, what feels like, his whole life to live up to those expectations. Even if Louis can’t succeed in making Chiron proud, he believes it’s his job to try his hardest to put a smile on Chiron’s face everyday. Well… make him smile or annoy him endlessly.

Louis usually chooses to annoy him.

But sometimes, sometimes, he decides it’s a good day to go out of his way to make Chiron smile. That day doesn’t come very often though.

Once Louis is dried enough, he makes a quick pitstop at Cabin Eleven for a change of clothes. In his haste he chooses a not-so-clean pair of jean cut-off shorts and a fresh orange shirt with the camp’s logo on it. He attempts to slip on his black vans without socks on while trying to hop out the front door.

Five minutes have already passed, but Louis doesn’t care as he leisurely makes his way across the camp to the Big House. In the distance, the large four story administrative building shines in the glow of the afternoon sun. The baby-blue exterior has never faded and the white trim gives the building the charm it deserves. The bronze eagle weather vane that tops off the structure lazily spins in the breeze while the wind chimes hanging from the roof over the deck sway and twinkle.

The deck that wraps around the perimeter of the Big House reminds Louis of a vacation house, many lawn chairs and tables decorating the surface. Louis notices Chiron’s and Mr. D’s table has cards on it, their favorite game of Pinochle paused in the middle. Whatever Chiron needs Louis for must be of high importance—he never pauses a game in the middle of play. Louis notes that Mr. D is nowhere to be found either.

Louis leans against the railing of the deck, waiting for the centaur to appear.  He considers taking a seat on one of the lawn chairs, but before he can move to do so Chiron opens the door, sticking his head outside to speak with Louis.

“Ah, you’re finally here,” Chiron comments. “I’ll go fetch him, then.”

Him?

Chiron is gone yet again and Louis is left wondering what he meant by “him”. Louis sighs and turns his back on the door, too impatient to wait for an explanation.

Instead, Louis lets his eyes scan the horizon. The afternoon is slowly, slowly setting and the camp looks ablaze from where he’s standing on the deck, his body weight being supported by the railing. The view of Camp Half-Blood from the deck of the Big House is always an excellent one, no matter the time of day or the season. Louis wishes he could live and sleep all the way up here, rather than in his own cabin. He wishes he could wake up every morning and come out onto the deck and see the wonderful view that this vantage point offers: the shimmering blue water of Long Island Sound and the luscious green color of Camp Half-Blood’s immense forest.

Louis flinches as Chiron clears his throat and calls out Louis’ name. Louis turns around to see what the centaur wants, but his voice gets stuck in his throat.

Standing next to Chiron is a boy.

“This is Harry Styles,” Chiron offers.

He’s beautiful. His eyes are a stunning green, the color of new foliage. Louis’ stomach twinges a bit, the thought that he’s seen these eyes before crossing his mind, but it’s gone just as fast as it came, so Louis promptly ignores it. The new kid’s limbs are long and lanky—he looks extremely uncomfortable and uncoordinated, and he’s tall—probably taller than Louis. Louis internally smirks to himself, guessing the kid probably won’t be too skilled with a sword, or a bow, or anything sharp, most likely. His hair falls to his shoulders in sets of loose, brown curls. The color is rich and luscious, resembling soil so much that it looks like flowers could sprout from his hairline at any moment. But Louis’ eyes are stuck on his soft looking lips, pink as flower petals and slightly parted as his eyes scan the horizon of the camp. Louis has seen the view Harry’s experiencing for the first time many times over the past ten years, in fact he was just looking at it, but he would much rather stare in awe at Harry’s beauty.

“Welcome to Camp Half-Blood, Harry.”

Harry rips his wide opens eyes off of the horizon and turns to Chiron. “Uh, thanks,” he mumbles.

Louis finally stops staring at the new kid and makes eye contact with Chiron. He tries asking What the hell do you want me to do? with his eyes, but he doesn’t think Chiron picks up on the message.

“Harry, this is Louis Tomlinson. He’s a son of Hermes and Head Counselor of Cabin Eleven, where you’ll be staying until you are claimed.” Chiron gestures to Louis with a tight-lipped smile.

Louis thought the start to summer had been too good to be true. Louis silently curses the gods, they just had to throw in an unclaimed cute boy who may or may not be Louis’ half-sibling. Great.

Harry’s eyes flicker to Louis. Harry probably didn’t even notice him at first, only realizing his presence now after Chiron introduced him. Their eyes finally meet and Louis’ blood runs cold. There’s an immediate shift in the atmosphere and Louis can tell Harry notices it too by the way his body goes stiff the same moment Louis’ does.

“Blue eyes…” Harry almost unintelligibly mumbles under his breath, but Louis catches what he says. He doesn’t understand what it means, but he’s sure he did hear Harry say something that eerily sounded like blue eyes.

“What was that, kid?” Louis asks, trying to get Harry to repeat himself, but the newbie doesn’t utter another peep. He only presses his pretty pink lips together tightly as a faint blush takes over the apples of his cheeks, his eyes avoiding Louis’.

“If you would be so kind, Louis,” Chiron clears his throat, “would you please take Mr. Styles on a tour.”

Louis wants to die of embarrassment, totally forgetting that Chiron stood to the side until now. He most definitely witnessed that entire exchange and he most definitely is noticing the blush that Louis feels growing over his cheeks.

Louis tries his best to regain his composure, smiling his brightest smile. “Sure thing, Pony Boy. Come along, Harold, we have a lot to see.”

Louis walks off without any other words, exiting the Big House’s deck onto the plush green grass. Louis knows Harry is following him anyway if his heavy footsteps are anything to go by.

He also knows Harry is following him because not even a minute later, Louis hears “My name’s not Harold,” muttered under his breath.

Louis smirks to himself, his back to Harry. This might not turn out as bad as he thought.

“So, here are all of the cabins. Originally there were twelve, for all the major gods, but steadily we’ve been adding cabins for the minor gods so everyone has room to spread out and be where they belong.” Louis explains as they walk along the perimeter of the cabins. It’s their last stop along the tour before they head to the Dining Pavilion for dinner. Louis makes a mental note to at least walk by the lake so Harry can see that on their way.

Harry’s been quiet the whole time. Louis knows he’s a chatterbox—he can talk for an eternity without anyone interrupting him, but every time he attempted to start a conversation with the new kid, Harry would mumble one word answers and keep his eyes firmly on the ground in front of him. Harry had asked a few questions, ones like “Why does the climbing wall have lava spewing from it?” and he even spoke to Dillon, Head Counselor of Cabin Four, in the stables for ten minutes, asking question after question about the pegasi and how to care for them. During that time Louis secretly wished Harry would look at him with the same wide-eyed curiosity he looked at Dillon and her pegasus with.

“Which one will I be staying in?” Harry asks, biting his lower lip.

Louis was starting to lead them out of the field and toward the lake, but he takes a curious peek at Harry’s face and finds him looking very overwhelmed. Louis instantly feels bad for the kid and changes their course. The lake can wait for now. Instead, Louis redirects Harry over to one of the stone benches that’s placed around a statue dedicated to Hermes, guiding him with a gentle hand on his lower back.

They sit on the bench in silence while Louis organizes his thoughts.

“That cabin over there,” Louis nods to their left. “It’s the Hermes Cabin. Everyone who doesn’t have a cabin lives there. In the past, before we added all of the extra cabins for the minor gods, they would live there as well as the unclaimed demigods.” Louis chuckles. “It was really, really crowded. Packed. Probably over capacity. But recently numbers have been dwindling; immortal parents are being more responsible in claiming and minor gods now have cabins. The Hermes Cabin has this special acceptance policy that allows any undetermined demigod to stay inside. Hermes is the god of travelers, so it's doors are welcome to anyone passing by or staying for an extended period of time.”

“So am I… unclaimed?”

Louis nods. “You are until your immortal parent says otherwise.”

“What if I never get claimed?” Louis can hear the sadness and uncertainty in Harry’s voice and it hurts a little bit. It hurts Louis more than it should.

“Don’t worry, Harold. You’ll get claimed. Everyone does. It’s law, or something. I don’t know. What I do know is that it’s frowned upon to not claim your child anymore. So you’ll definitely be finding out soon.”

Harry stops replying to Louis’ comments and questions after that. He looks like he has a million questions of his own running around in his head, but he doesn’t say anything. Louis can see him thinking, he can see the gears turning, but he just lets him be.

Louis has Harry stand up and they exit the cabin area, slowly making their way towards the lake. Louis hopes Harry appreciates it. He’s caught the new kid looking at the beautiful landscape and foliage all throughout their tour and Louis has a hunch that he’ll enjoy the beauty of the lake.

Activities for the day are done for now as everyone prepares for dinner. Some campers are milling around the lake themselves, chatting and laughing with friends. Louis recognizes everyone they walk by and shoots them a friendly smile in place a greeting, not really keen on starting conversation with acquaintances while he’s still trying to show Harry around.

Louis considers this move a victory when he notices Harry’s mouth slightly agape as he slowly makes his way around the perimeter of the lake. Louis hangs back a bit and lets Harry take in the beauty. Louis doesn’t blame Harry for staring; at this time in the afternoon, the serene lake reflects the sunset perfectly. After a full day's worth of activities taking place on and in the lake, it’s quite shocking to see it so absolutely still, the only signs of life coming from the permanent inhabitants underwater.

They take their time slowly walking around. Harry taking in his surroundings, carefully examining everything his eyes catch. Louis curiously watches Harry, the way he walks, the way his curls blow in the breeze. He notices his tiny ticks and he catches when Harry stumbles over a rock. He also catches Harry looking over his shoulder to see if anyone noticed his stumble. Louis was the only one and once Harry realized this he couldn’t hide the pink tint of his cheeks quick enough.

Louis continues to let Harry explore, but out of the corner of his eye, Louis sees his half-brother Alexander waving his hands in the air, frantically trying to grab his attention.

“Uh,” Louis stammers, looking back and forth between Harry's back and his brother. “Go on ahead Harry, I need to talk to someone real quick.”

Harry only quickly glances over his shoulder at Louis, silent as ever, before shrugging and continuing his walk around the perimeter of the lake, hands stuffed into his pockets.

Louis jogs towards Alexander, meeting his brother halfway. There’s a mischievous look in his eyes and Louis’ gut twists, from excitement or apprehension, he can’t tell. “What’s up?” he asks, trying to gauge what is running through Alexander’s head.

A large grin takes over his face. “So when are we gonna do it?”

Louis’ gut decides it’s definitely not excitement. “When are we gonna do what?”

“Throw the new kid into the lake.”

And. Louis forgot all about that. It's a camp tradition (well, mostly—well, only a Hermes tradition) to toss the newbies into the lake. There is not one camper that hasn't been thrown in the lake and it’s all thanks to Louis and his half-brothers and -sisters.

Louis looks back at Harry. He bites his bottom lip, trying to think of a way to save the new kid from the trauma of crawling out of the freezing cold lake looking like a drowned rat in front of the entire Hermes Cabin who would, no doubt, all be present to witness it. There’s something about Harry that Louis just wants to instinctively protect and he’s starting think he’ll do anything to keep Harry from experiencing any more pain this week.

“Listen,” Louis sighs, “let me take care of this, okay? The kid already looks poorly and I don't wanna make it any worse.” Alexander narrows his eyes at Louis, making him to panic for a second—Louis’ meticulously planned excuse for why they shouldn’t toss Harry instantly going out the window. He flounders for his words and eventually manages to spit out something understandable. “I’ll plan the whole thing. We’ll do it in a few weeks or so. Soon. I promise. Everyone will be in on it, it’ll be fantastic.”

Alexander smirks. “Nice.” He goes to walk away, but stops himself. “Oh and Lou, I know he’s cute and all, but his face is up here—” Alexander gestures to his head, “—not down here.” He punctuates his snide remark with a light slap to his own ass before cackling and scurrying away from his half-brother.

If Louis could see his face right now, he knows it would be beet red.

He takes a few minutes to compose himself before rejoining Harry to finish their tour and make their way over to the Dining Pavilion. Besides, Louis does not find Harry attractive, Alexander was just making things up, mocking and making fun of Louis. Louis can’t find Harry attractive because there’s still a possibility of him being his half-brother. It’s a very slim chance, but it still exists and Louis does not wanna mess with that kind of probability.  

“Well, Harold,” Louis announces, “this is the glamorous and fabulous Dining Pavilion!”

Standing tall and regal in front of the pair is the mess hall where all demigods, satyrs, and camp staff have their meals. The structure is beautiful and looks like it came straight out of a picture book of Greek history. There are Greek Doric order columns made of white marble supporting the structure. The heavy columns are short and faceted, and are the most plain type of Greek column. The entire pavilion is free of walls and a roof, and from where it sits on the top of the hill, there’s a magnificent and breath-taking view of the sea.

Torches give the Dining Pavilion a warm glow from where they sit mounted on each column. The fire in the center of the mess hall burns bright and intense from inside a giant bronze brazier the size of a bathtub.

As Louis leads Harry through the pavilion, they pass many empty tables, each covered with a white tablecloth decorated with purple trim. Louis notes that it’s still a bit early for people to start showing up, which might explain why most tables are empty rather than full of raucous teenagers.

“Each god has their own table where their children sit,” Louis explains as they circle around the hall. “Children of Hermes sit at the Hermes table, children of Demeter sit at the Demeter table, and so on.”

Louis pastes on a smile and nods at one of the wood nymphs that quickly passes them. Once she’s gone, however, Louis’ face drops into a scowl.

“I think it’s a big load of bullshit.”

A sudden, very loud and obnoxious, laugh erupts out of Harry. He looks a bit startled as his hand flies to his face to cover his mouth. His cheeks are bright pink. If this is how Harry reacts when he laughs, Louis never wants to stop cracking jokes.

“I’m serious, though,” Louis chuckles. “I want to be able to sit next to my friends, ya know? Talk to the people I don’t get to spend a lot of time with. I already sleep with and live in the same cabin as my half-siblings, I don’t need to see them at meal time too.”

Harry nods along to Louis’ musings, but doesn’t add any of his own commentary.

“So, Harold, I break the rules— Don’t look at me like that! I’m a grown man, I am fully capable of choosing where to plant my ass when I want to shove food in my face.”

“Where do you sit then?”

Louis shrugs, “There are a few empty tables. I sit there with most of the other Head Counselors because we’re all older. Zayn and Niall are the only ones who aren’t Head Counselors but we let them sit with us anyway,” Louis winks. “Chiron doesn’t like it, but he lets it slide. He knows there’s no chance in putting up a fight against me. I may annoy the pony to no end, but he loves me.”

After explaining what kind of food they usually have (barbeque, lots of different fruits, cheese, and fresh bread) and how the never-empty goblets they drink out of work (“They’re enchanted, Harry. It’s all voice command, say what you want and it’s there. Sadly, no alcohol, though.”), Louis finally leads them to a table as a rush of campers start appearing.

Louis really wishes Harry would start talking to him. He literally knows nothing about the kid except his first and last name—and if Chiron hadn’t told him it was Styles, Louis doesn’t think Harry would’ve ever said anything himself. It’s a bit annoying to say the least and it’s starting to grind against Louis’ nerves, but he calms himself. Maybe Harry’s just really shy, maybe he’ll open up more when the others start arriving. Niall is always good at breaking the ice, starting conversation, and getting people to laugh. Maybe Niall will get Harry to open up more.

But maybe Louis wants to be the one to get Harry to open up.

That’s beside the point, though.

“Louis,” Liam whines as he unceremoniously sits himself on the bench next to Louis, not even realizing Louis isn’t alone. “You know I hate that you make us break the rules. Chiron always gives me the stink eye when I walk away from my table and towards you. I feel so bad.”

Louis cackles. “Lighten up, Payno! Do we seriously have to go through this every single meal?”

“Go through what?” Zayn asks, coming up behind them, planting a kiss to Liam’s cheek. Everyone at the table groans in protest over their public display of affection as Zayn takes a seat.

“How Liam’s such a big baby.”

Krissie swings her legs over the bench across from Louis and drops down with a snort. “You can say that again.”

The Dining Pavilion turns into chaos as more and more campers come wandering in from all sides and taking their seats. The wood nymphs try their best to keep up, serving food and goblets to each camper as quickly and efficiently as possible. Soon enough everyone is digging into their food and their table fills up with friends.

“Who are you?” Niall blatantly directs his question towards Harry with no hesitation. He’s the first one of the group to notice something is different and Louis tries to hold in his laughs as a look of horror washes over Harry’s face.

“Uh, uh,” Harry stammers.

“Who is who?” Liam asks, whipping his head left and right. When he finally spots Harry, he can’t help but let his jaw drop open in shock. “So you’re the new kid everybody is talking about? Lou! Why didn’t you tell us?”

Louis slurs his words, taking a bite of the fresh strawberry he just stole off of Krissie’s plate across from him. “Wanted to see how long it would take for you dimwits to notice.”

Maddison rolls her eyes and sticks her hand out to Harry. “I’m Maddison James, daughter of Athena, Head Counselor of Cabin Six. It’s nice to meet you…”

Harry reaches out to shake her hand. “Harry. ‘M Harry Styles,” he says quietly.  

Krissie smiles brightly. “It’s great to meet you, Harry! I’m Krissie Gonzalez, daughter of Apollo, Head Counselor of Cabin Seven. Welcome to the camp. Is Louis being nice? He can be quite grumpy, that one.”

“Hey—”

“She’s right ya know,” Niall adds, mouth full of barbeque ribs.

Louis narrows his eyes. “I resent that.”

“Ignore them,” Krissie rolls her eyes. “So have you seen the whole camp? Do you know where you’re staying yet? Are you claimed? Oh! Where are you from? Did you travel a long distance to get here? You must be exhausted—”

“Babe, slow down,” Maddison laughs, her hand landing on her girlfriend’s thigh to slow her down.

“It’s okay,” Harry clears his throat. As he talks, his voice is still quiet, and everyone slightly shifts forward to hear him. “Um, Louis has been really nice and he took me everywhere and showed me everything. Um, I’m pretty sure I’m staying in the Hermes,” he quickly looks to his left, at Louis, who slightly nods, “cabin and I’m unclaimed.”

Harry then slowly, but surely tells everyone about where he comes from. His slow talking and stuttering is a sure sign of nervousness, but Louis finds it endearing. He could probably listen to Harry talk all day.

Harry describes the vineyard he grew up on in Napa Valley, California. He tells stories about running through the fields with his dad chasing him, his desire to always want to be surrounded by nature, his deep-seated interest in the environment and winemaking. He goes quiet as he talks about the more fond memories linked to his house and family: cooking in the kitchen with his grandmother, learning how to knit with his stepmother, doing yoga on the deck as the California sun rose over the horizon, caring for his new baby sister, who he had to leave behind in Napa Valley.

Louis’ heart breaks piece by piece as Harry talks. Louis can hear the sadness, the loneliness, the despair, in Harry’s voice. He knows it’s there because he felt the same exact way when he was eleven years old and leaving home for the first time. It must be so much more intense for Harry, a nineteen year old who was only beginning to cement his life and his roots only to have them torn out so fast and suddenly.

Louis can sense Harry’s distress and wants him to stop talking immediately. He can see the pain Harry’s experiencing and he doesn’t want to see the boy any more homesick than he already is.

Harry takes a break from his storytelling to take a deep, shaky breath and Louis takes the opportunity.

“Enough about you, Harold. We have all summer to learn about you,” Louis winks. “You have to catch up with the rest of us, though. I’ll start. I’m Louis, son of Hermes, Head Counselor of Cabin Eleven, but you already know all that. Was pointless for me to repeat it, I guess. I’ve been here ten years now, since I was eleven. Everyone loves me—”

“We don’t understand how everyone still loves him, though! He has that sarcastic, asshole smile and a gleam in his eyes that’s basically shouting that he’s gonna drop a firecracker down your shirt at any moment,” Niall adds in, holding his stomach tight as he laughs through his interruption.

Louis smirks devilishly, but does nothing else to acknowledge Niall’s side comment before he continues. “I’m one the best sword fighters this dump has. My favorite food is pizza—oh gods, especially if it’s greasy— that shit is delicious. I’m from Philadelphia, so I take the train down occasionally to visit my four younger siblings.”

“This boulder over here,” Louis points his thumb to his left, “is Liam Payne of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, son of Hephaestus, Head Counselor of Cabin Nine.” Louis drops his voice low, and pretends to whisper to Harry. “He may look physically imposing, but he’s honestly just a giant puppy. He has all these stupid, big muscles, his hands are calloused as fuck, and he looks like he can make most monsters cry for their mommies, but it’s all just a facade.”

“Louis!”

“He also whines like a baby.”

Harry smiles slightly at this and Louis deems it a success. Two introductions down, four more to go. Louis really hopes this will make Harry feel more comfortable and welcome at Camp Half-Blood. Harry might find a completely different friend group in the next few weeks, but Louis still wants to be the reason why Harry had felt so safe and welcome on the first day, if possible.

“That sunny motherfucker with the bleach blonde hair is Niall Horan. He’s a son of Apollo. He does all the guitar playing and singing at the nightly bonfires, and he loves telling people he’s from Texas—”

“Dallas, Texas, baby! Hot damn!”

“—and it’s literally the worst thing ever. I don’t know why we keep him around, to be honest. He’s lucky he’s pretty good at archery and healing, or else he wouldn’t be sitting here right now.” Niall and Louis playfully stick their tongues out at each other, hating that they love each other so much. Louis loves Niall like one of his own siblings, though, and that will never change.

“The broody, beautiful man that is Liam’s boyfriend is Zayn Malik, son of Aphrodite. His hair color is pink today, but tomorrow it’ll probably be like, oh, I don’t know, orange. He gets bored a lot and since his mom is Aphrodite, he’s able to alter his appearance whenever he wants.”

“Those two,” he waves his hand towards Maddison and Krissie, “love talking about themselves, so there’s not much else to say. They’re both madly in love, both stubborn, and pretentious. Anyway, that’s everyone, Harold. You’re gonna love it here, I promise.”

Louis smiles brightly at Harry, so much so that the skin by the corner of his eyes crinkle. Louis is genuinely excited to have Harry joining the camp. There’s a deep feeling in his gut, so deep Louis can’t tell if it’s good or bad, but he knows it’s there. He hopes it’s a good feeling, so he’s going to pretend it is.

Harry’s lips turn up into a small, closed-mouth smile. It’s just enough for Louis’ stomach to do a somersault.

“So you can sleep over there. The sheets are fresh and the bed and surrounding space is yours until you’re claimed.” Harry simply nods as Louis welcomes him into the Hermes Cabin, the place that has become just as much a home to him as Philadelphia is. Louis bites his lip as he watches Harry survey the cabin with downcast eyes. Louis knows it’s nothing special; he knows it’s not as pretty or fancy or well-organized as other cabins are. His half-siblings leave their shit everywhere, Louis included, and there are so many random trinkets and knick-knacks lying on every available surface it looks like a tornado had came through.

The little trinkets and knick-knacks are Louis’ favorite part of Cabin Eleven though. As a child of Hermes, Louis and his half-siblings are fun-loving, mischievous pranksters—it runs in their blood. Everyone is clever and cunning, but only a few are as playful as Louis is. Louis’ life revolves around play pranks and making people smile and laugh about it. He never intends to hurt anyone and he hasn’t—yet.

But with the pranking comes the skill of pickpocketing, resulting in the large assortment of random items filling the cabin. Each tiny object has a backstory tied to it and the Hermes campers pride themselves on retelling the stories at every possible opportunity. The only drawback to all this pickpocketing is the clutter, but none of them mind except for Harry.

“Sorry ‘bout the mess,” Louis mumbles, not really sorry at all. Harry shrugs and sits on his bed, facing Louis who is sitting on his own.

The rest of the room is quite empty, the other Hermes kids still out enjoying the bonfire and singalong. Louis offered to bring him back early—he could tell the new kid was tired, so he wanted to get Harry settled in before the poor boy passed out from exhaustion.

They sit in silence, Louis staring at Harry the whole time, Harry avoiding any and all eye contact.

“You’re very quiet, Harold. Are you okay?”

Harry shrugs. A quiet “yeah” escaping his soft, pink lips along with the motion.

“You know you can talk to me, right? I just want you to feel welcome. It can be quite a shock the first week or so. I just don’t want to cross over any lines either. I know I talk a lot,” which is exactly what he’s doing right now, Louis notices, starting to panic, “and I know it’s really annoying and I don’t wanna be annoying, Harry. I just want to make sure you’re comfortable.”

“I think I’m just gonna head to bed, Louis.”

Louis slightly bristles at Harry’s harsh tone, but brushes it off because there’s one last thing he wants to do to welcome Harry to Camp Half-Blood. Louis makes his way over to Harry, who is slowly taking off his sneakers, with a worn orange shirt clutched in his hands.

“Here Harry,” Louis offers. “This is for you.”

Harry eyes the orange fabric and hesitantly takes it out of Louis’ hand. He unfolds it, revealing a plain orange shirt with Camp Half-Blood written across the chest and a tiny pegasus right in the middle underneath it.

“It’s one of my shirts,” Louis bites his lips, suddenly nervous. “It’s, um, it’s a bit of a tradition for the older demigod that tours around the new demigod to give them their first camp shirt. I’ve had that for quite some time, and you don’t have to wear it if you don’t want to, but it’s a symbolic gesture thing we do. You can get a brand new fresh one tomorrow from Chiron, but your first one will always be one from the first demigod you meet.”

“Oh,” Harry breathes out. “Uh. Thank you.” Harry’s eyes are still glued to the shirt in his hands and Louis can see his thumbs making small, circular motions, gently touching the very soft, well-loved and worn fabric.

“I still have my first shirt. Jackson, son of Hecate and the Head Counselor at the time, was the first demigod I met. He showed me around the camp and gave me one of his shirts.” Louis chuckles to himself. “He, his twin sister Lauren, and I were all very good friends. Our mischievous and trouble-making tendencies were a good base for our friendship. They were older than me though, so they’re long gone by now—moved to California before Chiron started to allow us older demigods to stay here full time. Sometimes when I miss them, I wear the shirt to bed.”

“That’s so nice,” Harry whispers. “Thank you. Goodnight.”

Louis is shocked by how much Harry has brushed him off this night. He turns to go back to his own bed, but not before he catches Harry quickly stripping off his shirt and jeans and throwing on Louis’ camp shirt over his bare chest. Louis settles himself under his covers as Harry does the same across the room.

“Goodnight,” Louis finally chokes out in a quiet response.

He flips around in bed so his back is to Harry. He looks out at the night sky, the window on the wall above the side of his bed giving him the perfect view of the moon riding across the black sea of stars.

Louis falls asleep wishing that Harry would have made a bond with Louis the way Louis did with Jackson and Lauren when he first came to Camp Half-Blood. It would probably make the next few months to come easier, but Louis can only hope for the best.

Louis’ nose twitches and in his sleepy haze, he runs his hand over it, trying to scratch the itch. Once his sleepy mind feels satisfied, he pulls his palm away, but another blast of something strong and floral assaults his senses. It’s strong enough to finally pull him out of his deep sleep and Louis instantly knows today isn’t going to be a great day. He’s already cranky and why the fuck does this fucking cabin smell like a fucking garden in bloom?

He rolls over, trying to untangle his limbs from his sheets, and as he does so, a bright golden light burns his eyes, the light leaking through his closed lids. Louis feels extremely disoriented; flowers, mysterious gold lights— if this is a prank, it’s not well thought out or executed, Louis thinks bitterly.

Louis sits up, rubbing his eyes with his balled up fists before opening them and surveying the cabin’s bedroom. He has to blink his eyes a few times, too shocked by what he sees to actually believe he’s awake and not dreaming.

The cabin smells like a garden because there’s one growing in the cabin. Actively growing. Louis stares in shock as he watches grass slowly spread over the wooden floors. His jaw hangs opens as he watches flowers bloom, one by one, petal by petal, rising seemingly out of nothing. Vines slowly inch up the walls, they wrap around bedposts and the legs of desks and chairs. Everything seems to be radiating from a central source though, and Louis whips his head frantically around the room until— of course.

His eyes land on a peacefully sleeping Harry Styles, who is not only the epicenter for the sudden pop-up garden, but also the source of the bright light. Because, right there, above his curly head, is a glowing gold sickle with a few sheaths of wheat.

Shit.

Louis’ seen his fair share of claiming. He’s been at the camp for a decade, but he’s never seen a claiming like this. Ever since the Second Olympian War, the gods promised to claim their children by the age of thirteen. It became tradition to claim them around the campfire, too. But Harry is in bed, in the Hermes Cabin, claimed at the age of nineteen. Demeter better have a good explanation for all of this.

So Harry Styles is a son of Demeter.  Louis doesn’t feel as guilty that he ogled Harry’s butt now—at least he knows they’re not related through Hermes and his insatiable need for sex with mortal women. That’s a good thing.   

The garden keeps growing and Harry is still dead to the world. Louis jumps out of bed quickly, aiming to wake Harry up so he can at least clean up the green mess he’s leaving behind before he moves into his own cabin. Louis doesn’t make it that far, though. Instead, a vine wraps around his ankle the moment he plants (ha, no pun intended) his feet on the ground, causing him to trip as he attempts to take a step forward.

He crashes to the ground with the least amount of grace possible. He’s lucky the patch of grass was there to soften the impact, and the rest of his half-siblings are lucky he held in the girly screech he so desperately wanted to let free.

Everyone is still dead asleep, it’s still too early to be awake, the sun just over the horizon. Everyone except Harry, who upon Louis’ impact with the ground, had bolted straight up in bed. His hair is matted down against his skull in some places, frizzy from the slight morning humidity in the other places. His eyes are a bright, beautiful green: alert and matching the grass Louis had face-planted into.

Louis lifts his head and locks eyes with Harry.

“Um,” Harry eloquently puts it.

And yeah, Louis could not have said it better himself.

It’s been a week since finding out Harry is a son of Demeter, but it already feels like the new kid has been around longer than Louis. It’s frustrating. Harry is friends with everyone—they all know his name, he’s shining and exceeding in all of his classes, and he’s nice. He says good morning and good afternoon to everyone he passes by, always with the sweetest smile on his face. Harry and Zayn share a love of pegasus riding and spend every Thursday in the stables together. Harry and Niall sit together at the arts and craft table, crafting their hearts out while discussing possible songs for that night’s campfire singalong. Louis doesn’t know what Liam and Harry do, but he does know that they hang out together.

Louis feels tricked. Bamboozled. Deceived. Hoodwinked. Misled. Double-crossed. He feels tricked! And yes, he is very bitter about it.

This Harry is nothing like the Harry he met a week ago and Louis desperately wishes he had met this Harry instead. Harry is charming, sweet, beautiful, and he walks around the camp barefoot, wearing flowers in his hair.

Louis knows Harry is avoiding him, he just doesn’t understand why.  Whenever Louis tries to seek out Harry, the other demigod always disappears into the crowd or around a corner. He hasn’t spoken one word to Harry since that first day, but Niall, Zayn, and Liam have all gotten close to him.

Harry has his meals with his half-siblings, laughing along with Dillon, his cabin’s Head Counselor, and the others. Louis knows it’s a bit creepy, but he can’t help but stare while he eats, waiting for the moment Harry will finally look back at him. It never happens and Louis’ sure it never will and he hates it. Louis just wants to be friends with him. He doesn’t understand why he’s the one demigod in this entire fucking camp that Harry Styles won’t even look at.

Louis can’t sleep. That’s why he’s out and about before anyone else is awake. It’s not because the green eyes in his dreams continue to haunt him and grow in intensity. It’s not because he feels like he’s trapped in his own cabin with no way out. It’s not because he feels like he’s drowning. And it’s not because he feels like he’s becoming more and more lonely as the summer days pass by.

The morning air is crisper than he expects it to be, the sun not yet fully in the sky. The ground is cold and morning dew dampens his bare feet. Camp Half-Blood is eerily quiet and it shocks Louis. He has never heard his home so silent. There’s always something happening, someone yelling or laughing, something to fill the air. But this early in the morning, there’s nothing. Nothing besides the far-off sound of waves crashing gently against the shore and birds happily singing their morning songs.

Nothing besides… singing? Humming?

Louis looks around, searching for any type of movement around the cabins. But he finds nothing. He looks across the field from where he’s standing, surveying Dionysus’ cabin, then looks to his immediate left, his eyes scanning Hermes’ cabin neighbor Hephaestus. Everything is motionless, everyone still tucked into their beds, cherishing the sleep that can become so rare during the fun, activity-packed summer months.

Louis is aware that it is a Saturday morning, meaning everyone is sleeping in, which makes the mysterious sing-humming even more…mysterious.

Louis tries his best to strain his ears and follows the song that the breeze carries. He walks across the field the cabins wrap around diagonally, towards Hera and Demeter’s cabins, hoping to find the culprit.

He walks slow, still a bit drowsy, allowing himself to soak in the empty, peaceful atmosphere before it becomes the blazing hell he knows it will turn to once everyone is awake and going about their day. The singing becomes louder and Louis finally lifts his head up, eyes shifting from the grass to scan his surroundings, but he sees nothing. The cabins are still asleep and Louis silently wishes he was too, but then the beautiful singing reaches his ears again. This time it’s sweeter and stronger. Louis doesn’t know why, but he looks up and that’s when he sees him.

Louis will always be envious of the Demeter Cabin. It’s one of the most gorgeous places to live in Camp Half-Blood, in Louis’ opinion. The walls are light shade of brown that speckle and glow in the morning light, like they themselves are full of nutrients and minerals. The front porch and the ground surrounding the cabin are absolutely littered with wild flowers and roses in the most beautiful way possible. Vines climb the walls and the windows, making the building look alive. Louis has only been inside a few times, but he knows that there is a grassy floor and an oak tree in the center of the cabin that holds up the ceiling and roof.

And boy, is that roof spectacular.

The roof is entirely constructed out of growing grass. It reminds Louis of the sprawling green fields he used to see on long car rides in the countryside of Pennsylvania when he was younger. It’s breathtaking and always a brilliant green.

The eyes from Louis’ dream flash in the forefront of his mind for a second before he blinks hard to get rid of the image. He doesn’t want them haunting him in the daylight as well as the darkness.

The roof of Cabin Four is exactly where the source of the singing is coming from, because sitting on the roof, in some weird kind of yoga pose, is Harry Styles. His eyes are shut, his face is lax, and his mouth is open slightly, allowing for the words he’s singing to be free.

Louis can’t believe the sight. He finally has a chance to be alone with Harry, where the new kid can’t escape, disappear, or ignore Louis. It’s a chance Louis can’t refuse, he decides, as his mind scrambles for some words.

“What are you doing up there, Harold?” Louis tries, sudden and without warning. He’s hoping to spook Harry a little bit, maybe gain some higher ground. Well, not actual higher ground. Harry has him beat on that.

“Trying to scare me, Lewis? I saw you the moment you stepped out of your cabin,” Harry drawls, voice slow and monotonous. Louis’ skin crawls at Harry’s words, said without even one look at Louis—his eyes close thinking for a second that Harry also knows the reason for his early rise, but there’s no possible way for that to be true, so Louis unclenches the tiniest bit. He’s still bit spooked by how Harry noticed him without even looking at him.

Louis can hear the eye roll in Harry’s voice when he says, seemingly reading Louis’ mind, “I saw you leave your cabin, Louis. My eyes haven’t been closed the whole time you were out here. And besides, it’s a quiet morning and you’re a heavy breather.”

Louis scowls. “What do you want, Styles?”

Harry opens one eye and looks down at Louis. “What do I want? You’re the one who’s standing here in my cabin, interrupting my morning yoga session. What do you want?”

Louis flushes and secretly hopes Harry doesn’t catch the red coloring his cheeks. “Why are you avoiding me?”

“Hmph. I’m not avoiding you.”

“Yes, you are.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Yes—”

Harry sighs loudly, cutting Louis off. “What do you want, Louis?”

Louis growls angrily. “I don’t want anything, Harry!”

“Then why are you here?”

Louis looks up at Harry, sitting on the cabin’s roof, legs knotted together in some fancy yoga position, his hands placed palm-up on his knees. His brown curls are tucked up into a messy bun, loose strands breaking free and blowing in the breeze. Blue flowers are weaved throughout his hair, making it look like a tiny garden has popped up right on the top of his head. Harry’s lips are a soft pink this morning, matching the pink in the sunrise. His eyes are a blazing green that pierce Louis’ own cloudy blue eyes.

Harry is beautiful.

This time, Louis’ voice is soft and vulnerable when he repeats his question. “Why are you avoiding me?”

Harry’s shoulders slump and he breathes out heavily. “I’m not… I don’t think we would be good friends. I just don’t think we would work out, Lou.”

Something unpleasant twirls around in Louis’ stomach. He knows Harry’s lying. He knows. If Harry can be friends with Zayn, Niall, and Liam, he can most definitely be friends with Louis. It hurts Louis more than it should and it’s making him angry—unreasonably angry.  

Louis doesn’t know what’s going on with Harry, but he has to do something about it. Louis has to do something and he has to do it fast, the new kid’s beauty be damned.