Twenty-seven was too old to be going to summer camp. It didn’t matter that he was the counselor for his cabin, or that it was possibly the only safe place in the world for people like him. No, the only thing that mattered was that Magnus refused to turn thirty while still living at a camp filled with children and teenagers.
It wasn’t like he stayed there all year round. Considering his age, he could come and go as he pleased and no one could stop him. Between his magic and his bronze daggers, Magnus could hold his own against any monster and the few trophies that decorated their cabin were evidence of that. So occasionally he would make his way back to Brooklyn, spend time with his father and friends before worrying that he was putting them all in danger and returning to camp.
In the end, his fear for the safety of his loved ones kept Magnus coming back to Camp Half-Blood. Because even if he excelled in fighting, the people he loved in the city were all mortals, and completely susceptible to the monster attacks that followed wherever a half-blood went.
Cat stood in the doorway, smirking at him, “What brought you back this time? You weren’t gone very long.” Usually, Magnus disappeared for a few weeks at a time, enough to enjoy life outside the camp and then return before anything terrible happened. This time, it was only four days.
“So, you’re back,” Ragnor drawled when Magnus dropped his bag on his bunk. The dust that came off it had them all coughing and Magnus shot a glare at his siblings. Ragnor, the only camper older than Magnus, shrugged, completely unapologetic. It wasn’t as if they ever won the competition, mostly because the majority of the camp lived in fear of them and their cabin. They tended to slack a little on their cleaning because of it. But considering the time he’d been away, the only reason for that much dust was if one of them was messing with him.
Ignoring Cat’s question in favor of getting settled, Magnus turned his back on the two other elder members of the cabin. As he started to unpack, small arms wrapped around his leg and Magnus looked down at his favorite sister, who smiled up at him with a wide, happy grin. “Sweetpea, have you missed me?”
She nodded emphatically and climbed onto his bed to help. Madzie never spoke much, which wasn’t a surprise to any of them when they found out about the life they lived before one of the other demigods found her and brought her to camp. She lived in the Hermes cabin for all of three hours before their mother’s paired torches appeared over her head and everyone there scrambled away from her as if she was cursed.
Ever since, Magnus and his siblings worked to make sure she knew she was loved and appreciated, even if it was only within the walls of their own home.
“Well, I’m glad because I brought you a present.” Slipping a small item from his pocket, he dropped it into Madzie’s hand. “It’s a prism. If you have a light source, you can make a rainbow. That way you can always call me, no matter where either of us is.” Madzie grinned brightly and hurried off to show Zoe, the only other member of the cabin her own age. There were eight in the cabin in total; Ragnor, Cat, Magnus, Dot, Elias, Lorenzo, Zoe and Madzie. Elias didn’t come around much anymore and Lorenzo... Well, they all just preferred to ignore him entirely.
He’d hoped that the other two had left but neither of them knew when to leave him alone. It was one of the things he loved about them and one of the things he hated. “So, are you going to tell us why you are back so soon?” Cat asked, sitting on the bed after snapping her fingers to rid it of the dust. “Did you run into Camille again?”
Frowning at the name, Magnus shook his head. After making sure no one else was in the room with them, he flicked his wrist, slamming the door shut so the others couldn’t overhear. “No, I haven’t heard from her in months, thank Zeus for that.” Not that Zeus had anything to do with it. Camille was an issue in and of herself, with or without their godly parents getting involved.
“So, what was it? Usually, you like to spend time with your dad and date half of Queens before you return.” Magnus rolled his eyes at Cat. He loved her but she could be nosy as hell.
With a sigh, Magnus threw himself down on the bed next to her. “Mom told me to come back.”
That got the reaction he expected. Both Ragnor and Cat froze, staring at them intently. Their mother was a very hands-off parent, even more so than the rest of the pantheon. They’d each only seen her once or twice before, and always in times of great trouble. If she was appearing, something big was going to happen.
“What did she want? Did she say?” Ragnor was the one to ask that question but he could see in Cat’s eyes that she wondered the same thing.
Magnus shrugged. “To get back to camp because I needed to be here. Everything was going to change. She’s not the most straightforward person ever, you know that.” What their mother meant had been weighing on him since she appeared in his father’s loft in Brooklyn twelve hours before. He left a note for Asmodeus and began the trek back to camp. Whatever it was his mother was talking about, it was important enough for her to appear in person, so Magnus wasted no time.
“Everything is going to change for you? For all of us? For the world? Honestly, Bane, you’d think you would find out details.” Ragnor’s frustration mirrored Magnus’ but he’d already told them everything he knew.
Frustrated, Magnus ran his hand through his hair, inadvertently changing the color of his highlights from blue to red. “If I knew more, I would tell you. Get back here. Things are going to change. And something about prophecy but whether it was a specific prophecy or just a general seeing of the future, I don’t know. Once I find out, I’ll tell you two. Do you think there is anyone else in this camp I would talk to about this? Certainly not Lorenzo, and obviously the big twelve cabins wouldn’t listen even if I did.”
“So, what do you need us to do?” If nothing else, Magnus knew he could always count on Ragnor and Cat to be there for him. There were others he considered friends but he held everyone besides his siblings at an arm’s length. It was safer because in the end, people only hurt you and you could only count on your family.
Before he could answer, the bell rang up at the pavilion and he sighed. With a snap of his fingers, his things were put away and his side of the room straightened up. “Right now you need to go with me to dinner and make sure I don’t curse any of the idiots we have the misfortune of calling our family.”
They both nodded and hurried to collect both Zoe and Madzie. Through a silent agreement, not another word was spoken about their mother on the walk up to the pavilion. While everyone at Camp Half-blood knew who their parents were (even if it was a generic one-of-the-Greek-gods sense), only children of the big twelve really talked about them. The rest were just there, accepted into camp because one half-blood many years ago saved Olympus and got the lesser gods’ children admitted to the camp as well. But while they might be there, they didn’t feel like they belonged.
Particularly not Magnus and his siblings because they weren’t even children of a god. They were children of a Titan, problematic in completely different ways. When Magnus really thought about it, he understood why no one really trusted them. Particularly since the gifts they received from their mother was more than any of the other demigods could have hoped for, the big three possibly excluded.
Keeping Madzie and Zoe between them to protect them from the heckles of some of the less than kind campers, the group made their way to their assigned table in the corner of the pavilion. “Look the freaks have arrived,” one loud mouth camper called, getting a laugh from his table. As a son of Nike Sebastian walked around camp like he owned the place, despite having almost no skills of any discernible value. Aside from being his mother’s son, there was nothing remarkable about him whatsoever.
“Sebastian, shut up,” a daughter of Ares hissed, a beautiful redhead who certainly didn’t act anything like her obnoxious cousin. Magnus was shocked when she even gave them a tentative smile. Maybe there was hope for some of the family yet.
Cat caught Magnus’ eye and he could see she was thinking the same thing. “That was different,” she mumbled under her breath when they took their seats. “Has anyone ever stood up for us before?”
“Not in the fifteen years I’ve been here,” Ragnor replied. He was one of the first of their mother’s children to move to the Camp and acted as Counselor when Magnus wasn’t around. For their mother, the cabin Counselor was the strongest one in the group, which was currently Magnus. She only valued the best and brightest. While it could be seen as cruel, it was who she was and none of them were inclined to argue about it. Considering they’d survived her brutal vetting process (that ended in most of her children dying far before making it to Camp), they were not about to try to convince her otherwise, lest she turns on them next.
They all shrugged it off, discounting it as a one-time thing and filled up their plates. One by one, the campers went to the fire to leave their offerings for their parents. Magnus and his table were always last. He wondered if Hades had any children in camp if they might be more reviled than Magnus and his siblings but he doubted it. At least Hades had a throne on Mount Olympus. Magnus didn’t even know if his mother was welcome there.
Eventually, everyone else was eating and so Magnus helped usher Zoe and Madzie to the front, ignoring the way Lorenzo cut in front of them all. As if he was more important than the rest of them. “Fucking Lorenzo,” he muttered under his breath, causing the two little ones to giggle and Cat to slap him on the back of his head. “What?” he grumbled, “If Dot was here, she would have laughed.”
Their missing sister was a lot like Magnus. Dot came and went wherever she felt like but sometimes it was months to over a year before they heard back from her. Not as strong as the rest of them, she didn’t seem to attract a monster’s attention quite like Magnus and the others did. (Sometimes he wished Lorenzo would go out into the world. Maybe they would get lucky and a monster would take care of him. But no, he stayed here, making their lives miserable and staying alive for day after day.) She always came back but this time she’d been gone without a word. No letters, no texts, no Iris messages. It wasn’t normal for her.
“She would have laughed and then she would have hit you too and you know it.” They shared a grin, both of them missing their friend. It wasn’t the same without her there. Cat sighed, “You think she’s okay? I’m starting to get worried.”
“I’m sure she’s fine, Catarina. You and I both know Dot is too cunning to get caught by anyone or anything. I’m sure she’s just enjoying her time away from the glares of our lovely cousins and Lorenzo’s lectures about his own importance and elegance.” All three of them - Magnus, Cat, and Ragnor - wished they could do that. But for Zoe and Madzie’s sake, they stuck around, making sure at least two of them were in camp at any time. Neither of the girls’ fathers were still alive, which left them stuck at camp year round. Thankfully they had each other and their older siblings to watch over them but Magnus couldn’t imagine how painful it would be to realize you had nowhere else to go. “Besides, maybe she got the same message from mom and is on her way back as well.”
Cat didn’t look convinced, biting her lip as she tipped coms of her food into the brazier and made her offering. “I hope you’re right, Magnus. I would never forgive myself if something happened to her and we just sat here and did nothing.”
With a heavy sigh, Magnus nodded. If he knew Dot was in trouble, he’d be out there looking for her right now. But since they didn’t know anything, they could only wait and hope she was fine. Cat turned back to the table and Magnus made his offering. As the food hit the fire, he smelled the burnt sugar of their magic, the night sky before a thunderstorm, and the forest after a thunderstorm. “Mother,” he whispered. “Tell me why I’m supposed to be here.” Shaking his head, he spoke his mother’s name, loud enough that it would carry on the smoke to wherever she was now. Hopefully, she would hear his prayer as well.