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yet do thy worst, old time

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I.
Bianca di Angelo is twelve when she accepts Artemis’ offer.
A new family, she thinks. A fresh start.
She tells Nico the news and pleads with him to try and understand.
He doesn’t look her in the eye after that.

II.
Bianca di Angelo is thirteen when she finds out her parentage: Hades, god of the Underworld.
Bianca goes off with Thalia—the new lieutenant—to train with her powers, and laughs in disbelief as she raises skeletons from the ground and manipulates shadows to her will.
She looks critically at each of the Hunters that night—searching for any ounce of judgment in their eyes—but finds none.
That’s when she knows she made the right choice.

III.
Bianca di Angelo is fourteen when she has her first kiss.
“I want to experience it just once,” she admits one day. “Before it’s too late.”
She knows it’s kind of silly. She’s immortal (kind of); she has all the time in the world.
But Ariana Davis—a daughter of Apollo and her most trusted friend—immediately takes her into her arms and kisses her right on the mouth.
Bianca thinks she tastes like sunshine.

IV.
Bianca di Angelo is fifteen when doomsday arrives.
Thalia leads the Hunters into battle, but Bianca doesn’t join them.
Instead, she fights alongside her brother, who frowns at the sight of her—but she can see the relief in his eyes.
Thank the gods you’re here, they seem to say.
Together, they fight for the honor of the House of Hades, and for the honor of Olympus.
(She tries not to think about how they look the same age.)

V.
Bianca di Angelo is sixteen when the Giants attack.
She and the Hunters search for Orion, the Giant born to oppose Artemis and Apollo.
It’s the first time she actually feels death; it’s buzzing against her skull like an angry wasp, rattling her bones and deafening her to the surrounding world.
About half of the Hunters are murdered that day, and all Bianca can do is cry.

VI.
Bianca di Angelo is nineteen when she takes a break from the Hunters.
She goes down to the Underworld for the first time, where the undead call her “my lady” and the sulfuric air rejuvenates her strength tenfold.
Upon seeing her, Hades gives her a purely Nico-like smile and invites her to dinner.
Bianca graciously accepts his offer and wonders why she’s avoided the place for so long.

VII.
Bianca di Angelo is twenty-two when she rejoins the world of the living, the smell of death unknowingly clinging to her like a cloak.
She goes back to her Hunters and easily falls back into the old routine—travel the world, fight monsters, laugh around the campfire, repeat.
But the shadows still call to her: Come back to us, they say.
Bianca just squeezes her eyes shut and tries not to listen.

VIII.
Bianca di Angelo is twenty-six when Nico gets married to Will Solace.
She dances with both of them at the reception and can’t help but think how old they look.
“Does this mean I can call you little sister now?” Nico jokes.
“Not a chance,” she replies.

IX.
Bianca di Angelo is twenty-nine when Ariana Davis falls in battle.
Just as her life force is about to fade completely, Bianca leans down and kisses her gently, just as she did to her all those years ago.
When she pulls away and opens her eyes, Ariana’s gaze is far away and her body frozen.
Lifeless.

X.
Bianca di Angelo is thirty-nine when she and the Hunters visit Camp Half-Blood again.
She goes to sleep in the Hades cabin—just to bask in her own solitude for once—but is surprised to see a boy already there.
He looks just like Nico.

XI.
Bianca di Angelo is forty-two when Percy Jackson dies.
His burial shroud is beautiful; Pure white with sea green trim and a large trident right in the middle. He looks peaceful, Bianca thinks. His face, which only got more handsome with age, is free of wrinkles and worry lines.
Annabeth Chase steps up and, with a last look to her lost love, takes a torch to the shroud. Bianca watches the flames lick up the fabric hungrily, like it’s eager to take Percy Jackson away from them forever.
Next to her, Nico trembles.

XII.
Bianca di Angelo is forty-five when the manticore is reincarnated.
She can see the fear in his eyes when she manipulates the shadows to hold him down.
Thalia delivers the final blow.

XIII.
Bianca di Angelo is fifty-three when Nico dies from a monster attack.
In her grief, she kills all the plant and wildlife within a ten-mile radius.
She thinks Artemis will hate her for it, but the goddess just cradles her in her arms and soothes her the best she can.

XIV.
Bianca di Angelo is sixty when she sees Venice for the first time.
As she stares out into the water, all she can think of is a woman with dark hair and a smile like hers.

XV.
Bianca di Angelo is seventy-five when Thalia Grace dies.
She goes down fighting, just as anyone would expect her to.
When Artemis asks her to be her new lieutenant, Bianca just smiles and says “Of course, my lady.”

XVI.
Bianca di Angelo is seventy-six when she meets a pair of orphaned demigods.
A brother and a sister.
The girl—Autumn—wants to join the Hunt.
“Is it worth it?” she asks.
“It is,” Bianca tells her.

XVII.
Bianca di Angelo is ninety-three when she sees Percy Jackson again, reborn as a mortal.
He looks completely different: short-cropped red hair, pale skin burnt red from the hot summer sun, and freckles scattered up and down his arms.
But his eyes are still the same.

XVIII.
Bianca di Angelo is one-hundred and three when she finally dies.
Poison.
Even Artemis wasn’t fast enough.
. . .
When she reaches the Underworld, she gets immediate passage into Elysium.
Waiting for her at the gates is a ten-year-old boy with dark hair and eyes like hers.
“Welcome, sister,” he says with a crooked smile.
Bianca’s eyes sting as she takes his hand, and together, they walk through the gates to eternal paradise.