Nico's mood on life changed that summer. Before then, he hadn't worried much about the secret of wizards getting out to the demigods. Now, sitting in the rec room with Chiron in front of him, he knew it was more serious than previously thought.
It was halfway through break, a Saturday. Nico had continued to spend the weekends at camp in order to train the kids and to be their own personal messenger to the dead. He never would have expected it for himself, but Percy had asked. And that Hufflepuff loyalty had embedded itself in Nico already.
Why? He still wasn't sure. Maybe it was because the gods had de-aged him. Maybe it was because he grew up with Ron Weasley and his family. Maybe it was because he was finally starting to have a happy life in the wizarding world.
And even though he enjoyed his life in the wizarding world, thanks to his blood from his mother, he was once again reminded that it had to be separated from the demigod world.
"So...why are you telling me this?" Nico asked, sitting back in his seat. "I already know people can't know."
Chiron rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Mr. di Angelo, do you understand that fully?"
"Some of the Athena campers have come to me with questions," Chiron started. "They've seen you appear in your robes. They've noticed you and Mr. Cook doing your homework."
Nico glanced away. "Okay...maybe I am being too careless... I'll talk to Dominic about it."
"Thank you." Chiron went to wheel himself out of the room but Nico sat forward.
"Chiron?" he asked. "Can I ask you a question?"
"Of course, young demigod."
"Why are you trying so hard to keep this a secret?" Nico asked. He remembered the reactions of those he had told. Percy, Annabeth, Will, Hazel... They all took it pretty well, though Annabeth had been more interested than good. She had even read most of the wizarding books he had brought back from Hogwarts during his tries to figure out what monster was residing in the chamber of secrets the year prior.
Chiron gestured around them. "Why do you think this camp was built?"
"To protect demigods from monsters," Nico answered.
"To protect demigods in general, not just from monsters," Chiron corrected. "You know we had our feud with the Romans. And we try to keep you all from the Egyptians."
"So, in general, we don't mix well with others," Nico summed up.
Chiron nodded. "Wizards are included."
"Have we...met them before?" Nico asked.
Chiron's eyes switched. Nico recognized the look of painful memories being brought to the surface.
"I shouldn't say much. I'm not supposed to. But yes, we've met them before. Many years ago." Chiron said grimly. "And no, we don't mix."
"But...Harry, Ron, and Hermione know about me," Nico reasoned. "And they're fine with it."
"And why do you think that is?" Chiron asked.
Nico froze. "Um...because they know I won't hurt them?"
Chiron nodded. "But if the word got out, most wizards wouldn't know that. They would think of demigods as a potential threat to their world. A war would brew."
"And the same could happen on our side of things," Nico finished. "Right?"
Chiron nodded. "So, I hope this has given you the will and insight needed to keep your mother's bloodline on the down-low."
Nico nodded. "I will. Er, I'll try my best."
Chiron eyed him carefully. "I hope this information doesn't plague you. As someone who hid the existence of the Roman camp, I hope you can hide the existence of this as well."
Nico hated his role in the demigod world. Hated what he was known for. "I'm good with being a double agent, is what you're saying. I'm good at being a traitor."
"I am only bringing up your skills." Chiron reminded him all too well of Dumbledore. "Now, you should run along. The children haven't had their sword lessons yet."
Nico stood up and stretched, his confidence having grown with his second round of getting older. For the second time, he had grown to be thirteen years old. And he was starting to get used to it all.
He kept half of his old demigod appearance: black skinny jeans, his sword hanging from his waist, his hair just as messy and long. But he wore a black muscle shirt that showed off his scars from Lycaon quite well, Mrs. Weasley having made it for him to assure herself he wouldn't overheat while training during the hot summer. Even she couldn't force him to wear shorts, however.
Nico took his time while walking to the sword arena, knowing that teaching the kids always left him emotionally exhausted. They had been getting better but still needed a lot of work before they could fight anything.
Today as he started to train them, however, he didn't feel so pleased with himself. Was he training them for a future battle against his other half? Would they one day use those swords to fight against wands?
The thought shook him up pretty badly. As soon as the class was over, he made his way to the infirmary.
The infirmary itself had expanded over the years, all thanks to Nico's (ex?) boyfriend. He still wasn't sure what they were, Will having had to call most everything off after Nico's drastic change in age. But their hearts belonged to each other, that much was certain.
Still, Nico missed his kisses. He missed his hugs and the way they cuddled to stop the nightmares. He missed the way Will would force him to eat, missed the way he would stick to his side. He missed him as a boyfriend.
But now, he was lucky to have him as a friend.
The infirmary was empty save for a son of Athena, who laid on one of the beds as Will wrapped what looked to be a broken wrist. The doctor-in-training looked just like any other stressed out college kid, with bags under his eyes and hair that probably hadn't been combed in weeks. The permanent scent of coffee now clung to him.
"Will, can I talk to you?" Nico kept his voice low, knowing he didn't usually talk to Will for a reason. He wanted the best for him, even if that meant giving him the time to focus on his studies.
Will Solace didn't support him staying away, and in turn, got too excited whenever Nico decided to drop by. But he also got worried.
Turning around, Will looked Nico over in two seconds. "What's wrong? Are you okay? You look okay."
"I'm fine." Nico gestured to the patient. "Just finish up here and then we need to talk. Privately."
The son of Athena was watching him closely. Nico wondered if he was one of the ones that had brought Nico's oddness to Chiron's attention.
Will gestured to the back room. "Wait there. I'll be there in a minute."
Nico did as he was told, sitting in an old chair in the back room that served as an office and supply closet. Soon enough, Will came in as well and shut the door behind him. "Nico? What's wrong?"
So many things to say crossed his mind. War. Bloodshed. Training the enemy. Thinking of them as the enemy.
Was he really the double-crossing traitor that he used to be? The same child that turned Percy Jackson over to Hades, the same teenager that tried to keep two camps apart?
It was the same thing, essentially. But now he truly was the traitor.
Nico couldn't do much but run to Will, burying his head in that lean chest as he tried to control his racing heart. Will didn't do anything but hold him close, didn't say a word but hummed an old tune.
Eventually, Nico pulled himself away with a clearing of his throat. "I'm sorry."
"It's okay." Will brushed a strand of hair out of Nico's face. "Are you okay?"
Nico nodded. "I just...have a lot going on."
"Anything you want to share with me?" Will asked. "I can help."
"Not with this." Nico reached up and cupped the side of Will's face. "I...I just needed some time with you. It helps me calm down."
Will grinned. "Being with you does the same to me. It's a good break from work."
Nico frowned. "I'm distracting you from your work."
"No, no..." Will hugged him again. "I needed a break."
Nico leaned against him. "I'm staying the night tonight and going home tomorrow. In a couple of weeks, I'm starting school again."
"How is it?" Will asked. "Aside from the life-threatening stuff."
"I love it," Nico admitted. "I actually love it."
Will's eyes grew sad. "That's really good...for you."
Nico frowned. "Will...we aren't even together."
"I know, I know." Will sighed. "I just hate that you're so far away."
"But I come every weekend."
"You come every weekend." But it's not enough. "What was wrong? Something about school?"
"Not technically." Nico looked up at him. "Wizards and demigods can't mix. Chiron just warned me again."
"That sounds...oddly familiar to how we used to talk about the Romans," Will commented.
"And you should think of it like that, too," Nico said. "Apparently it's like the same deal. I'm going to talk to Dominic. But...but we need to keep wizards and demigods apart."
"What if there was a war?" Will asked. "What would you do?"
Nico broke the hug. "I've got to get going, Will." He basically ran out of the room, not wanting to answer the question he now knew the answer to. Not when he was amongst those he would betray if needed.
Nico laid on his bed in the Leaky Cauldron, on his stomach as he read one of the newspapers about Sirius Black. If it was true he was a killer, Nico would have to pay more attention to their surroundings than usual. But as Mr. Weasley said, he was probably only after Harry. He had told his adoptive son this as soon as he had figured it out, knowing that if anyone could protect Harry, it was Nico.
Even though he had failed twice in the past.
Nico rolled onto his back and dropped the newspaper to the floor. He already had a headache imagining what this year of school would be like.
The summer had finished off pretty okay, however. Egypt was cool despite the annoying Egyptian gods he kept running into. Now, they stayed in the Leaky Cauldron the last few nights before Hogwarts started up.
Sleep had almost gotten him in its clutches when he felt the unnerving presence of something nearby. Getting up from bed, he grabbed his sword and tiptoed downstairs. It had to be after midnight.
Growing up, he hadn't known he was a demigod, and that was one of the reasons why no monsters had gotten into the Burrow. But ever since he had gotten his memories back, monsters were seen far away over the fields. He always killed them before they could attempt to get too close.
This pub didn't seem to be any different. Using the shadows, he kept himself out of view as he snuck out into the dark street. Immediately, he saw what he had sensed.
An Empousa. Why? He literally couldn't think of one reason. They never usually fought alone, they were loyal to Hecate, they weren't found in European streets? Confusion took over his fear as he held up his sword toward it. The
He didn't recognize her as anyone seen before. She was still in her fake form, obviously not having gotten the clue that he was gay. She was beautiful, though he honestly couldn't care what she looked like.
That smile...It was full of evil.
"Nico di Angelo," she hissed. "Finally, we've found you."
As soon as the plural term was used, Nico lost his confusion and crouched, ready to attack. "Who are you serving, Empousa?"
He noticed others appear in his peripheral vision, dotting along the street. Some had their fangs out and at the ready.
"The Dark Lord will reward us." she stepped forward, her metal leg showing through the mist. "Now, little demigod, die nice and easy for us."
They all attacked at once. He had fought them before, had even fought them in Tartarus, but it still didn't make up for the difference in numbers. Too busy during the fight, he didn't notice two had disappeared in a tower of flames.
He killed them all, or what he assumed had been all. Two less hadn't changed the fight much.
"Damn it..." Nico sat on the ground and looked down at his stomach. The muscle shirt Mrs. Weasley had made him months before was in shreds. Blood soaked his fingers when he brushed them against it.
The dandelion pulsed with godly power as he waited. When he was sure no other Empousai would pop up, he shadow traveled to the room he shared with Ron and Percy. The later was already lecturing him before he hit the floor.
"Why'd you go off on your own?" Ron whispered later that night, Percy having already fallen asleep.
"You wouldn't have been able to help," Nico whispered back. He laid back in the bed, having been forced to share with Ron. They didn't mind much, having used to as kids. "Magic doesn't work against them."
"I could have used a sword...maybe." Ron turned toward the wall. "You smell like blood. Go take a shower."
Nico rolled his eyes. Mrs. Weasley had fixed him up good enough but he was still pretty sore. Not to mention exhausted from dealing with her questions and lectures. "I don't feel like it. I will in the morning."
"That's a lie," Ron muttered.
"Oh, lay off," Nico grumbled. "I've had a long day."
"Then you shouldn't have run off after a monster."
"It came to kill me, Ronald."
"But did it attack? No. You went and egged it on!"
"I'm trying to sleep!" Percy's yell caused both of them to quiet down.
After a few minutes of silence, Nico whispered again, not able to keep it in. "You're only cranky because you haven't gotten sleep."
Ron groaned into his pillow. "Then let me sleep."
"Fine, fine." Nico stopped talking but didn't close his eyes. Sleeping in unknown territory always brewed nightmares, especially after a monster attack. The only four places that were deemed safe enough to keep Tartarus from his dreams were Hogwarts, camp, the Burrow, and his room in the Underworld palace. Everywhere else, he had to fight through the sleep deprivation.
He was just thankful he had those four safe spots.
The next day, Nico was dragged into Diagon Alley. They met up with Hermione, who greeted them with multiple questions on how their summer had gone.
Even though that dandelion gave him energy, it didn't help his eyes from drooping every other minute. Nico sat with his hood up and his arms crossed, eyes eventually closing as he tried to rest them. The sunlight burned at their rawness.
The air smelled like ice cream, and the sound of Ron and Hermione's voices almost lulled him to sleep.
"Harry!" The yell shook him out of his bliss, causing his eyes to open and his head to snap up. Ron and Hermione were waving to get Harry's attention, who was wandering about not too far away.
"Finally!" Ron grinned at Harry as he sat down.
"Did you really blow up your aunt, Harry?" Hermione asked.
"I didn't mean to," Harry defended, causing Ron to roar with laughter. "I just — lost control."
Nico snickered. "Well, if she's anything like your aunt and uncle, good going."
Harry jumped as if he hadn't realized he was there. Subconsciously, he had been melting into the shadows.
"It's not funny, you two," Hermione said sharply. "And Nico, don't congratulate him. Honestly, I'm amazed Harry wasn't expelled."
"So am I," admitted Harry. "Forget expelled, I thought I was going to be arrested." He looked at Ron. "Your dad doesn't know why Fudge let me off, does he?"
"Probably 'cause it's you, isn't it?" shrugged Ron, still chuckling. "Famous Harry Potter and all that. I'd hate to see what the Ministry do to me if I blew up an aunt. Mind you, they'd have to dig me up first, because Mum would've killed me. Anyway, you can ask Dad yourself this evening. We're staying at the Leaky Cauldron tonight too! So you can come to King's Cross with us tomorrow! Hermione's there as well!"
Hermione nodded, beaming. "Mum and Dad dropped me off this morning with all my Hogwarts things."
"Excellent!" said Harry happily. "So, have you got all your new books and stuff?"
"Look at this," said Ron, pulling a long thin box out of a bag and opening it. "Brand-new wand. Fourteen inches, willow, containing one unicorn tail-hair. And we've got all our books —" He pointed at a large bag under his chair. "What about those Monster Books, eh? The assistant nearly cried when we said we wanted three. And Nico-"
"Killed it." Nico finished. "Not everyone needs to know that, Ron."
"How'd you do it?" Harry asked. "You think you could do mine-"
"No, he certainly will not!" Hermione shook her head in disbelief. "It may be just a book to you, but it is animated for a reason. You can't just go around killing them."
Nico shrugged. "Already did it, can't change it."
"What's all that, Hermione?" Harry asked, pointing at not one but three bulging bags in the chair next to her.
"Well, I'm taking more new subjects than you, aren't I," said Hermione. "Those are my books for Arithmancy, Care of Magical Creatures, Divination, the Study of Ancient Runes, Muggle Studies —"
"What are you doing Muggle Studies for?" Ron asked, rolling his eyes at Harry. "You're Muggle-born! Your mum and dad are Muggles! You already know all about Muggles!"
"New record for saying muggle as many times as you can in one breath," Nico muttered to Harry.
"But it'll be fascinating to study them from the wizarding point of view," Hermione said earnestly.
"Are you planning to eat or sleep at all this year, Hermione?" Harry asked while Ron sniggered.
Hermione ignored them. "I've still got ten Galleons," she said, checking her purse. "It's my birthday in September, and Mum and Dad gave me some money to get myself an early birthday present."
"Happy birthday," Nico congratulated in a bored voice.
"How about a nice book?" Ron asked.
"No, I don't think so," Hermione said. "I really want an owl. I mean, Harry's got Hedwig and you've got Errol —"
"I haven't," said Ron. "Errol's a family owl. All I've got is Scabbers." He pulled his pet rat out of his pocket. "And I want to get him checked over," he added, placing Scabbers on the table in front of them. "I don't think Egypt agreed with him."
Nico scowled. "Stupid rat. Can't you just let it out somewhere?"
Ron quickly took Scabbers back. "And Nico hates him for some reason. So Nico doesn't have a pet, either."
"There's a magical creature shop just over there," Harry said. "You could see if they've got anything for Scabbers, and Hermione can get her owl. Maybe even Nico can find something."
Nico dug in his pockets before pulling out a bag of money. "I do have enough."
"Please don't kill any of them," Ron pleaded. "Just don't touch."
Nico rolled his eyes as they got up. "I'm not a child. I know not to touch."
Hermione covered her mouth to hide a smile. "The lives you two live, I swear. Having to warn not to touch docile animals?"
Nico shrugged. "I kill a lot of things accidentally. The first time I touched Scabbers, the thing almost dropped dead. I thought it had at first, to be honest."
"Wonder how he lived," Hermione mused. "He is pretty old for a garden rat."
"And pretty ugly," Nico added.
They crossed the street and stepped into the pet shop. Surprisingly, not all animals hissed or shrunk away. Nico wandered around away from the others, thinking that a pet could be pretty cool.
If he didn't suck the life out of them.
"Hermione," Nico called out. "Are dogs allowed at Hogwarts?"
She was suddenly at his side. "There is nothing against dogs, but they aren't included in the first year letter as to what we're allowed. I'm sure if you asked, you could get permission-"
"That's all I need to know." Nico hadn't taken his eyes off of what he suspected to be a mix between a hellhound and something else. The puppy's red eyes were staring into his, the tail wagging.
"That is not a normal dog," Hermione insisted.
"Oh, I know." Nico smiled. "He's part hellhound. He's got to be. I'm going to buy him."
"Will you be able to tame him?" she asked.
He nodded. "Course."
She smiled. "Then I think you should. If you have a chance to get a pet you won't kill, you should."
"That's strange to hear, but thanks?"
She giggled. "You're welcome."
Nico went to the dog and unlocked the cage. It immediately jumped into his lap, its large size catching him by surprise. "Oh, gods!" He cursed in Italian as he fell to the floor beneath it.
By the time he got out from underneath it, Harry and Ron had disappeared from the shop. The witch that was working there was on her way over.
"He didn't do anything wrong." Nico got to his feet before picking the dog up, thankful for his demigod strength. It had to weigh a good hundred pounds. "I want to buy him. Do you know what he's mixed with?"
"I'm afraid not." she led him to the counter, where Hermione was petting a large cat. "All we know is that he's not anything that can be sold in a Muggle pet shop. He's still a pup, though. Reckon about three months old."
Nico grinned. "So he's gonna grow. Awesome."
"You want him to grow?" Hermione asked. "I'm surprised you can carry him now!"
"The bigger he gets, the more he can scare gits like Malfoy. Maybe I can train him to bite anyone that says the word 'mudblood'."
"No profanity in my store." The witch gave them each a price, which they paid. Nico then led Hermione out of the shop where Ron and Harry were waiting.
"What is that?!" Ron stepped back when he saw the hellhound mix. "Nico! Mum's going to kill you!"
Nico shrugged. "Hermione got herself a cat."
Ron turned to Hermione. "You bought that monster?"
"He's gorgeous, isn't he?" Hermione was glowing.
Nico smirked as the attention was taken off him and his new dog. He was still deciding on a name, the only ones coming to mind holding too much power to throw about. And he doubted Anubis would want a pet named after him.
"Hermione, that thing nearly scalped me!" Ron said.
"He didn't mean to, did you, Crookshanks?" Hermione pulled the cat closer.
"And what about Scabbers?" Ron asked. "He needs rest and relaxation! How's he going to get it with that thing around?"
Nico didn't bother pointing out that his dog was also looking at Ron's pocket as if he was waiting for the rat to come out.
"That reminds me, you forgot your rat tonic," Hermione said, slapping the small red bottle into Ron's hand. "And stop worrying, Crookshanks will be sleeping in my dormitory and Scabbers in yours, what's the problem? Poor Crookshanks, that witch said he'd been in there for ages; no one wanted him."
"Wonder why," Ron said sarcastically.
They set off toward the Leaky Cauldron. Mr. Weasley was sitting in the bar, reading the Daily Prophet.
"Harry!" he said, smiling as he looked up. "How are you?"
Nico snuck up to his room as they spoke, finally setting the dog down when he got there. It walked in a few circles before lifting its leg, starting to urinate on one of Percy's sweaters.
"Anubis, no!" The name slipped from his tongue. "That's not a bathroom!"
This is the last chapter I have already written so updates will be slower
Dinner that night was anything but enjoyable for Nico. From one side, Percy yelled at him time and time again for letting that dog "ruin his favorite sweater". Mrs. Weasley was on his other side, lecturing him for buying an animal he wasn't fully sure was allowed at Hogwarts.
"You are all packed, aren't you?" Mrs. Weasley finally asked.
"Ron hasn't put all his new things in his trunk yet," Percy said. "He's dumped them on my bed. And Nico-"
"Needs to properly replace your sweater," Nico finished. "But it's not going to happen."
"You'd better go and pack properly, Ron, because we won't have much time in the morning," Mrs. Weasley looked to Nico. "You're lucky I can fix that sweater, I won't make you get a replacement. But please, try to tame that dog."
Nico grumbled but understood the need. He went upstairs to find the dog on his bed, curled up and sound asleep.
"What should I really name you?" he whispered as he sat next to it. In its sleep, it cuddled up against him. "I've met Anubis before and he seemed pretty cool, but I don't want to make him mad... And you're nothing like Cerberus..." He tried to think of any other Underworld term that would fit. "Um..."
"Name it after me!"
Nico jumped so hard he fell to the floor with a loud thump. The dog, hearing the noise, had risen from his sleep and jumped down, right on top of Nico. "Fuck!"
He pulled his face free from the mound of fur and saw the Iris Message he hadn't noticed before. Leo Valdez, of all people, was sitting there, a large grin taking up his face. "You okay there, death boy?"
"What do you want?" Nico pushed the dog off and sat up, watching as it bounded around the room with new found energy.
"Well, if now isn't a good time, I can wait until tomorrow and you'll suffer Hazel's wrath..."
"Valdez, spit it out."
"Hazel asked me to ask you when you plan on visiting her."
Nico frowned. "Why isn't she just demanding that I do like usual?" His eyes narrowed. "Unless she just needs to know how long she has to avoid me... Valdez, what's going on?"
Leo was busy tinkering with something metal. "I can't say."
"And why not?"
"Because she'll kill me."
"I'll kill you," Nico growled.
"Aren't you in Europe?" For the first time, Leo looked around him. "What are you doing? I thought you were-"
Nico stood up and brushed off his clothes, thankful he wasn't wearing his robes. "I'll be there in ten minutes."
Leo grinned. "Oh, this is going to be a show." And with that, he was gone.
"You're leaving?" Ron finally entered the room, having been hovering at the door. "Tomorrow's-"
"I know, I'll be there." Nico picked the dog up. "If I have to, I'll shadow travel to the train."
Ron shook his head in disbelief. "Mum's going to kill you."
"She'll be fine." Nico put his wand in his trunk before closing it. "Okay, I'm going." As he shadow traveled away, he made sure to keep his trunk close to him in the shadows.
He appeared in the Hades cabin, where he stashed his trunk beside his bed. When he was sure all wizarding things were stashed where they would be hidden from those needed, he took the dog and shadow traveled to the Hephaestus cabin, where Leo had called him from.
This was met with a chorus of screams and shouts. Nico stared down at Leo, who grinned back up at him. "What's going on, Valdez? Where's Hazel?"
"Fine, I'll show you." Leo got up and dusted himself off. Because of the age difference, he was much taller. "Did you pick a name yet? Because I can think of many-"
"I don't need your thoughts on it." Nico followed him out of the cabin. "I have something tomorrow that I can't miss, so whatever is going on better not be too... Why are you at camp, Valdez? And why is Hazel at this camp?"
"I'm here because Hazel asked me to come," Leo answered. "Just like she did Percy and the others. You're the only one we had to haul across the sea." He stopped walking as things finally settled in. "You really haven't aged. I thought Piper was lying."
Nico scowled. "You're just now noticing?"
"Give me a break, I haven't seen you in...what, seven years? You disappeared for a while but then Hazel said they found you. Piper told me about how they had to go to a wizarding school to find you."
Nico groaned. "People can't know-"
"Chiron lectured us, don't worry." Leo frowned again. "What's with your eyes-"
"Where's Hazel?" Nico cut in. "Just take me to her already."
Leo huffed. "You're no fun. Come on." He led him the rest of the way to the dining pavilion, where most of their old friends were gathered at one of the tables.
"Nico!" Hazel ran over. "Is that a hellhound? He's so beautiful!"
He looked her over. She acted normal, acted as she always did, but something was up.
Her life source was as bright as ever despite having once been dead. No injuries were seen, not even small ones from a minor monster attack. Everything was good.
Then he noticed the extra life source. And promptly passed out.
When he came to, he was staring up at the blue sky. Hazel was leaning over him, waving her hand in front of his face to help wake him up. Percy and Leo could be heard laughing hysterically.
"Nico, are you okay?" Hazel asked, sitting him up. "I didn't even get to tell you the news, but Percy said you could sense it...you sensed the baby's soul, right?"
Nico stared at her. "Oh, gods..."
He scrambled to his feet. "Where is Frank? I'm going to hex him to next week! Anubis, go find him! Attack!"
"Nico!" Hazel grabbed his shoulders. "He proposed to me. We're getting married."
"That doesn't matter. You're my little sister-"
"I'm twenty years old, Nico. And if you want my technical age..."
"Okay, okay." Nico took a deep breath. "I...I was just...not expecting this."
She giggled. "Are you ready to sit down now?"
She led him to the table where the others sat. Annabeth and Percy were sitting side by side. Percy was talking to Leo, who was next to Calypso. Even Piper was there, visiting from Tahlequah. She was eyeing Nico in confusion, no doubt having noticed his change in appearance. Frank was half behind Percy, watching Nico nervously.
Nico cleared his throat. "Well...hi, everyone. Sorry, for...that."
Frank cleared his throat. "Hi, Nico."
"Hi, Frank." Nico sat down. "Where's my dog?"
"He's playing with Mrs. O'Leary." Hazel sat by Frank. "Okay, now that we're all here... As I said, I'm pregnant. We found out yesterday." She was glowing.
"And so is Annabeth," Nico looked around. "And all the rest of you are doing who knows what, leaving only me to train new campers."
"What happened to you?" Piper asked.
Nico paled. "Huh?"
"What do you mean, huh?" Leo asked. "You're not starving anymore, and you're actually happy. And you have green eyes."
Hazel hugged his arm. "How's school? And your brothers?"
"Good." he shrugged. "I got a dog."
"And Percy's been insufferable because he's head boy. But we all went to Egypt. You should've seen it." he smiled. "Lots was going on. And I start school tomorrow."
"Oh, Nico!" Annabeth looked at him. "How did...the situation...from last year turn out?"
"We handled it," Nico assured her. He had forgotten to keep her up to date with the basilisk. "Everything's good now. Is Will here?"
Smiles dropped. Leo muttered to Piper, "So they did break up." Hazel ruffled his hair.
"He's in the infirmary," she said. "You can go invite him over here if you want."
He went to get Will quickly, finding him just as he usually did. This time, however, there were no patients to work on. Instead, Will was reading from a thick textbook. He had gotten back from his quest after finding two more demigods, leaving him to once again focus on school and work.
And Will was just as beautiful as ever. Blond hair, blue eyes. His skin had started to grow pale during his time hauled up in the infirmary, but Nico thought he looked just as good as ever.
Hot. He was hot.
"Will," Nico sat next to him on the bed.
Will jumped slightly before smiling at his once boyfriend. "Nico, what are you doing here?"
"Leo called and said Hazel wanted me." Nico frowned. "Turns out she's pregnant. With Frank's baby. And they're not even married yet."
Will's eyes widened. "She is? Damn, I need to congratulate her and Frank."
Nico put his head in his hands. "Ugh, I want to kill him."
Will chuckled. "Fortunately, that's a common thing to say in this situation." He leaned his head on Nico's. "When do you start school?"
"Tomorrow." Nico gestured around them. "And I somehow got here."
"Wouldn't you have had to pick Dominic up anyway?" Will asked.
"Um...are you okay?"
There was no way... Did he really...? "Oh, gods..."
"I forgot about him," Nico admitted. "I've been so busy all summer with Egypt and teaching and homework... I haven't even taken him to get his supplies yet."
"Calm down, it'll be okay." Will ruffled his hair. "Besides, it's not like he's complaining. He seems to be having the time of his life here."
Will nodded. "I've had to fix him up a couple of times. Loves the rock wall, that one. And he's shit at sword fighting."
"So I've noticed." Nico stood up. "I'll go find him and take him before it's too late. There's just the fact that kids have been looking at me as if someone literally told them I was up to something. If they see me kidnapping a random son of Apollo..."
Will got up. "I'll come with you."
Nico raised an eyebrow. "Seriously?"
"Yeah, why not?"
"Because I'm betting that you haven't left this building in weeks." Nico jabbed him in the chest. "You're almost as pale as I used to be."
Will blushed. "Is it that noticeable?"
"Fine, let's get out in the sun." Will pulled him out of the infirmary. "It'll take a while to find him, anyway."
"He doesn't follow any of my other siblings. Likes to do his own thing," Will explained. "Sometimes he's at the lake. Other times he's in your cabin. One time he was talking to Peleus."
"The dragon?" Nico asked. "He's going to get himself killed!"
Will shrugged. "It turned out all right."
Nico rolled his eyes.
They found him in the woods, in the middle of a clearing. Making out with a tree nymph. Nico covered his eyes and turned around while Will tried to hold in his laughter.
"Hey, lovebirds!" he called. "Break it up!"
The nymph disappeared in a poof of green, leaving Dominic to stand up with a deep blush covering his face. "Will, what're you-...Nico? I haven't seen you yelled at me to keep wizards a secret. They you disappeared for the rest of break."
Nico uncovered his eyes. "Eh, about that... We went to Egypt. Like...the Weasley's and I."
"Awesome!" Dominic walked over to them with his hands in his pockets. He was different than the last time Nico had seen him, and he wasn't sure if it was a good different. His blond hair was styled in an undercut, the top sticking up at odd angles.
Dominic was wearing a red muscle shirt, and he actually had muscles to show. His black shorts were a little too short. Even the color of his skin had changed, much tanner than it ever was at Hogwarts.
"Why do you look like you're trying to be seventeen?" Nico asked.
Dominic rolled his eyes. "Aphrodite kids decided to give me a makeover. And I actually like it."
"You like it?"
Dominic nodded. "Yeah, I do. Shows the bisexuality, don't you think?"
"Dominic, you should go with Nico to get your school things," Will spoke up. "School starts tomorrow."
"Tomorrow's already September first?" Dominic asked. "But I just started getting muscles! Hogwarts is going to take them away from me."
"We can get up early and work out in the mornings," Nico offered. "And we're still coming here on weekends."
"Fine, " Dominic sighed.
Will kissed Nico's cheek. "I'll see you some other time, Neeks."
Nico leaned into his touch. "See you."
Nico soon learned that Dominic seemed to also have two personalities. And like everything else, Nico favored the wizarding side. This favoring occured too much for him to think of it as a coincidance anymore.
Was this fate? A thought from his first year at Hogwarts came back to him. Maybe he was supposed to bridge the worlds. He had already started to, subconsciously. And he didn't want to think about what would happen if he failed.
"Oh, and I need a new wand." Dominic said as they finished up his shopping. He had already covered his old clothes with his new robes.
"Why?" Nico continued to carry his dog as they walked, not sure how he was going to train it yet. Maybe he'd take it to the Underworld.
"I had it in my pocket and fell off the rock wall." Dominic pulled his broken wand from his pocket. "It broke almost as much as my arm did."
Nico turned direction to walk to Ollivander's. "Will fixed you up?"
Dominic nodded. "He thinks he's my father, the way he acts."
"He's trying to protect you," Nico said. "You know he is. He's your older brother and head counselor."
Dominic shrugged. "I like Hogwarts better."
When he finally shadow traveled them to the train, he found out that he had failed Harry for the third time.
They emerged in one of the train compartments, being met by five wands and fearful eyes.
"Nico!" Ron lowered his wand. "We thought you were a dementor."
"A dementor?" Nico asked. The others also lowered their wands and sat back.
"Yeah, a dementor." Ron said. "You know, the darkness? No cheer? The cold?"
"Sounds just like you," Dominic muttered.
Nico looked to Harry, who looked paler than ever. "Are you okay?" Nico then noticed the pieces of chocolate in their hands. "What the hell did I miss?"
A man came in before anyone could answer, his presence sending chills down Nico's spine. His old scars from Lycaon felt just as new as the day he got them.
"Professor Lupin, this is Nico Weasley and Dominic Cook," Hermione jumped to the introductions. "Nico, Dominic, this is our new DADA professor."
Dominic shook his hand, but Nico could do no more than nod at the man. He didn't look like the werewolves he fought, didn't look vicious. But Nico knew that this man was one, even if he was the wizarding kind.
A sharp pain in his arms caused him to sit as Lupin forced the others to eat some chocolate. At least Harry was looking better.
"We'll be at Hogwarts in ten minutes," Professor Lupin was saying. "Are you all right, Harry?"
"Fine," Harry muttered.
Nico kept a hand on one of his scars as he surveyed the compartment, looking from one pale face to the next. As soon as Lupin was gone, Hermione explained to him and Dominic what had happened.
"And they're going to be at Hogwarts?" Dominic asked following the explanation. "That's more dangerous than that murderer."
"They're supposed to keep to the boundaries," Hermione explained. "But they..."
"They attacked Harry." Nico finished. And I wasn't here to help. "But it's not like we can get rid of them. So we just have to really watch out for them."
Dominic snorted. "Like it's going to be that easy."
The train soon stopped and they were off to the castle. Nico couldn't help but smile at the sight of his home as it loomed in the distance. For him, the carriage couldn't get there fast enough.
When they got out of the carriages, Malfoy was suddenly beside them with a large grin on his face.
"You fainted, Potter? Is Longbottorn telling the truth? You actually fainted?" Malfoy elbowed past Hermione to block Harry's way.
"Shove off, Malfoy," Ron said.
"Did you faint as well, Weasley?" Malfoy asked loudly. "Did the scary old Dementor frighten you too, Weasley?"
Anubis growled at Malfoy from Nico's arms, causing the ferret-like teenager to scamper away with a quick excuse and a swear to tell his father.
"Good boy," Nico congratulated as he scratched the dog behind the ears. "You're learning quick."
"Malfoy's still a git," Dominic commented as he and Nico made their way to the Hufflepuff table, breaking off from the Golden Trio.
"Some people never change," Nico agreed. They sat near the end of the table, sitting Anubis on the floor next to them. Nico kept his leash in hand but let the dog do what it wanted. "How are you feeling?"
Dominic frowned in confusion. "What do you mean?"
Nico kept his voice low as the sorting started. He didn't know any of the First Years nor cared where they ended up. "We've barely talked all summer. I'm just checking up. And you seemed different back at camp."
"Oh..." Dominic waited until a sudden burst of applause ended before speaking again. "I don't know what it is... Camp just makes me feel different. I don't feel like a wizard, over there. I feel like a kickass demigod. And it's okay that I have a trashy muggle parent because that's normal to them."
Nico sighed. "I don't feel like a wizard over there, either. I feel like a son of Hades."
Dominic frowned. "And you still get shit for that from them?"
Nico nodded. "Always will. That's part of the reason I like the wizarding world better. But you - you like the demigod world better, don't you?"
"Well...maybe," Dominic mumbled.
They joined in the applause for a new Hufflepuff, the sorting going on.
"I get it." Nico accepted. "If I was you, I'd probably feel the same."
Nico nodded. "It's not like we're fighting the other or anything. So seriously, it's fine." Both of them knew he was trying to convince himself. "We're friends with the Romans now, aren't we? We'll be fine. We can get passed old prejudices."
After the sorting had finished and Nico was about starved, Dumbledore stood up to speak.
"Welcome to another year at Hogwarts! I have a few things to say to you all, and as one of them is very serious, I think it best to get it out of the way before you become befuddled by our excellent feast…" Dumbledore cleared his throat and continued, "As you will all be aware after their search of the Hogwarts Express, our school is presently playing host to some of the Dementors of Azkaban, who are here on Ministry of Magic business."
"They are stationed at every entrance to the grounds," Dumbledore continued, "and while they are with us, I must make it plain that nobody is to leave school without permission. Dementors are not to be fooled by tricks or disguises - or even Invisibility Cloaks. It is not in the nature of a Dementor to understand pleading or excuses. I therefore warn each and every one of you to give them no reason to harm you. I look to the prefects, and our new Head Boy and Girl, to make sure that no student runs afoul of the Dementors."
"On a happier note," he continued, "I am pleased to welcome two new teachers to our ranks this year. First, Professor Lupin, who has kindly consented to fill the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. As to our second new appointment, well, I am sorry to tell you that Professor Kettleburn, our Care of Magical Creatures teacher, retired at the end of last year in order to enjoy more time with his remaining limbs. However, I am delighted to say that his place will be filled by none other than Rubeus Hagrid, who has agreed to take on this teaching job in addition to his gamekeeping duties."
Nico watched as his brother celebrated but didn't feel so happy at the mention of Care of Magical Creatures. Animals didn't like him, not in the least, which would lead to a failure he couldn't afford.
"It's Hagrid, he'll give you a break," Dominic said. "Or, at least you should hope he does."
Nico shrugged as the plates filled with food. He put one on the floor beside Anubis with dog friendly food before eating his own, eyes on his plate as the hall filled with laughter and conversation. For the first time since they got there, it finally felt like the home he had so desperately missed.
But the dementors stayed in the back of his mind along with Voldemort's increasing threat.
Nico got into a pattern of training Anubis and taking him out onto the grounds. If anyone noticed, no one said anything. He wondered vaguly if he was getting special treatment from the teachers who knew that he was a demigod.
Divination was a nightmare, the teacher predicting his death every time he stepped foot around her. Later in the first day, he was told that she had also predicted Harry's. And after knowing what Rachel once saw in one of her trances, it wasn't a good feeling.
And that one trance from his first year at Hogwarts still haunted him. It was hard to know that your friend would die sooner than later.
He got Transfiguration very well, however, excelling without trying much. Sometimes he wondered if his mother had been good at the same thing when she was schooled for her witchery. Had she ever been schooled? He hoped so. Potions were just as easy.
Care of Magical Creatures was the complete opposite. Persephone's blessing worked with plants, but animals still stayed far from him. At one point, Hagrid reluctantly told him to wait at his hut as the lesson went on. He accidentally killed a rabbit that bounced too near.
Then there was DADA.
Lupin already scared him enough. Having to be in the same room as a werewolf, having to constantly relive the pain he had once felt from one, it was hell.
Then he said the word boggart. Nico knew what it was, he had grown up in the wizarding world, and he refused to ever come in contact with one. Not after all the hell he had gone through. Literally.
So he gave one apologetic look to Dominic before shadow traveling to his dorm, finding that snuggling with his dog was much more appealing then any class of DADA.
"How'd it go?" he asked as Dominic stormed in after classes, the shadows under his eyes darker than usual.
"Why didn't you warn me what that was?" Dominic dumped his books on his bed. "You just escaped without taking me with you."
"He would have noticed if we both disappeared in the middle of class."
Dominic rolled his eyes. "I hate fucking boggarts."
"Don't we all." Nico got his homework out, his left hand still scratching Anubis behind his ear. "I'm going to skip dinner."
"Why, you feeling okay?" Dominic asked.
Nico nodded. "New classes, new teachers. I just need to get my bearings."
"Yeah, okay..." Dominic sat on his own bed. "Do you want me to stay with you?"
Nico shook his head. "Go eat, Dom. I'll be fine. I just need to think." He traced an old scar on his hand. A werewolf, of all creatures, teaching. He didn't need that reminder every fucking day. "Will you bring Anubis and get him something?"
"Yeah," Dominic reached out and took Anubis's leash, the dog bounding off the bed at the chance of a walk. "Do you want me to bring you something? You need to eat, even if it's small."
Nico spread his hands. "I honestly could care less. Whatever you think."
Dominic nodded in acceptance and took Anubis out of the room, leaving Nico alone in the dormitory. Too many emotions leaked out of him and bounced from the walls.
Happiness. He was back home, learning what was in his blood. He was with his friends, with his brothers, with his dog. He didn't have to worry about where he was going to sleep or what he was going to eat. He didn't have to worry about anyone hating him because of his parentage.
Fear. Anxiety. Voldemort was on the rise, a war was coming. There would be countless deaths. He may be one of them.
Friendship. Dominic, Ron, Harry and Hermione. They all stayed close despite knowing who his father was.
Despair. Harry was definitely going to be one of the ones to die. It was hard to look the boy in the eyes lately. And it was definitely hard to swallow that he would fail him again.
Failure. He had failed Harry and his own quest countless times. He had failed Hecate, had failed his father.
Guilt. If need be, he would betray the demigods he once knew. He would fight for the world of witches and wizards.
The ache of love. Will Solace would always leave that in him.
As the Hufflepuffs leaked into their dormitories, Nico laid on his back and stared at the dark ceiling. War with Voldemort, potential war with demigods...potential war with Will Solace.
Had the wizarding world been this complicated for his mother as well?
Before long, Nico found himself in his old spot in the library, the spot he had basically lived in first year as he was trying to find out who he was. Now, two years later, he sat there surronded by books of a different kind.
"Find anything?" Dominic asked as he entered, taking his seat beside Nico.
Nico shook his head. "Not yet. Have you done your potions homework yet?"
Dominic shook his head. "Nope. Have you?"
Dominic picked up one of the books and flipped through it. "How does a book on purebloods not have your family?"
"It's not that they don't have it, it's just not anything new." Nico laid his head on the table. "It's like the di Angelo's just faded from everyone's thoughts. Nobody cares about them anymore. No one went looking for momma or me or Bianca. We just disappeared and everyone accepted it."
"Do you ever wonder why?" Dominic asked. "I mean, you said it yourself. No one went looking. This was during Voldemort's rise to power, wasn't it? What if they just assumed he killed you?"
Nico picked his head up. "That would mean we were against him. But we were a pureblood family. I don't think we were. I...I just have this feeling, like we supported him. I don't know."
"Trust your instincts." Dominic started to do his homework, scowling all the way. "Come on, do what you need to do first. You don't want to fall behind in your classes."
Nico shoved the books aside with a sigh. "You're such a mother."
"I really don't think so, but okay." Dominic elbowed him lightly. "Don't worry, we'll find out more about your family."
"How can you be so sure?" Nico asked.
"I'm trusting my instincts."
That weekend, Nico have arrived to camp in his muggle attire. His wand was stuffed in his pocket, just incase, but he kept all signs of the wizarding world a secret. He didn't need any more children of Athena to go blabbering to Chiron.
Visiting camp always gave him a tangle web of emotions these days. There was the reminder that there was two babies incoming, one really soon. It should have been a happy thought, but all Nico could think about was what would happen to that baby if its parents died in an upcoming war. A war he started.
When he got to the sword arena, the younger children of Athena were already there. Nico had taught them since the beginning, have seen them grow in their strengths and somehow found it in himself to be proud of them.
"Nico, I've been practicing all week." the younger of the three ran up to him, the sun reflecting off her gray eyes. "Can I duel you today? Please?"
"We'll see." he looked at the other two. "How about you two? Have you been practicing?"
The oldest of the bunch, the one that had been in the infirmary not long before from a broken wrist, was eyeing him just as Annabeth sometimes did. "No."
Nico frowned. "Well, why not? I leave you guys with homework each week. Annie here did it."
Annie bounced from beside him. "I fought with Percy, and I almost beat him!"
Nico gave her a rare smile before turning back to the two boys. "You going to answer me, Ian?"
"I was busy. I'm the son of Athena, you know, not Ares. The last thing I'm going to work on is sword fighting. Besides, I'm better off at a bow. Unlike you with your sword and wand, we're only good at one weapon."
Nico's eyes darkened as he clenched his jaw, his hands balling into fists at his sides. "What did you say?"
Ian didn't lower his gaze. "We aren't idiots. None of us are. And we saw how you were dressed the first time you trained us. And we saw your wand. And you're always gone during the school year."
"Even if you aren't idiots, it's none of you business," Nico hissed. "Don't go throwing this camp into more conflict. The two worlds are meant to stay apart."
"That's the same thing Chiron said." Ian crossed his arms. "If we're meant to stay apart, why do you get to be a part of the wizards? He wouldn't answer me when I asked him. Which makes you even more suspicious."
"I was born a part of it." Nico looked around to make sure no one was listening before walking closer to the son of Athena. "My mother was a witch, my father is Hades. That's why I'm a part of both worlds. But other than that, we should stay apart. You should be smart enough to know that."
"So Hades knew." Ian stood up. "He knew about wizards and he didn't tell anyone-!"
In the moment, Nico wasn't thinking much. How could he? Worlds were about to collapse, his father was being slandered, the biggest secret he was holding was about to be leaked.
So he did what his instincts forced his body to do. He attacked. Blind rage.
Maybe he wasn't as sane as everyone wanted to believe. He attacked a child that day, after all. Maybe both wars never left him. Battle would always be in his blood, violence would always be his answer. Maybe he wasn't over Tartarus as much as he showed.
Because if it hadn't been for Percy Jackson, he would have killed a kid that day.
He didn't think about the shout much. Instead, battle instincts kicked in as his sword was knocked aside by another. He reached for his next weapon, a blade at his hip, but he was knocked to the ground by a force heavier than that son of Athena.
"Nico, what the Hades are you doing?!"
Nico blinked a few times before everything came back into focus, his heart rate slowing down. Percy Jackson was above him, sword pointed at his throat, a look of pain covering that hardened face.
He looked over and saw that Annabeth was also there, her hands on Ian's shoulders as she watched with rapt attention. Ian himself was staring with wide eyes. Annie was nearby, because Nico could hear her crying.
"Nico," Percy was breathing heavily. "What were you possibly thinking?"
Thinking. Maybe he just hadn't been thinking.
"He...he was about to tell everyone..." Nico looked into Percy's green eyes, silently begged for forgiveness. But he'd always be the demigod that they couldn't fully trust, the demigod who Percy held at sword point for the second time. "He was claiming that Hades knew all along and didn't tell anyone. He was going to tell people and we were going to go to war and-"
"Percy, I'm going to take Ian, Annie, and Caleb to the Big House," Annabeth cut in. "You'll...handle...this?"
Percy nodded. He didn't lower his sword. "Yeah, go ahead."
Annabeth took her three half siblings away, leaving Percy and Nico alone in the sword arena. When they were out of sight, Percy lowered his sword. "Promise on the Styx to not attack him again."
"I swear." Nico stood up, watching as Percy still didn't put his sword away. "I...I wasn't thinking, Percy. I wasn't thinking. I'm sorry. But we have to stop him. He's going to tell everyone."
"Nico, Nico." Percy capped Riptide before grabbing Nico's shoulders. "Are you listening to yourself? Ian's just a kid."
"I know, but-"
"It's in his nature to be curious," Percy continued. "He's the son of Athena. He's twelve years old. He shouldn't have said all that, but he's just a kid."
"I'm aware, Percy, but-"
"And I know you're used to fighting. It's all you've ever known." Percy swallowed thickly. "We're demigods, that's what we're trained to do. But you don't have to fight everything. This wasn't something you needed to fight."
Nico picked his sword up. "Percy, honestly...I honestly didn't realize what I was doing."
"I know." Percy sighed. "Look, Nico, you need to work on that. Because if I hadn't been here..."
Nico swallowed. "I know."
Percy paused for a minute, seeming to think before speaking again. "Nico, have you ever heard of PTSD?"
Nico shook his head. "No..."
"It's from trauma. I've...I've been to a son of Athena about it. He's a therapist, and he's been helping me. I think...I think maybe you should go to him." Percy explained. "I mean...no one attacks so suddenly without thinking. It's not safe. And you know it's because you're so used to battle."
Nico scowled. "I don't need mental help. I have school and I have teaching. I have no time for that."
Percy took Nico's sword. "You're not getting this back until you agree to."
"Excuse me?" Nico tried to grab it back but Percy backed up. "Percy, give me my sword!"
"Not until you agree to get help." Percy remained firm. "You need help, Nico. And I'm not going to let you put those kids in danger again."
Nico clenched his fists. "Fuck, fine, whatever."
Percy relaxed. "Thank you, Nico."
I haven't been happy where this story has been going it's been rushed lately and I apologize for that but hopefully it'll be easier to write as it goes on
Nico sat with his head laying on the ping pong table, eyes closed as he listened to Percy and Annabeth bicker. He wanted to escape to Hogwarts soon, but Percy and Annabeth weren't going to have that. They would have made him stay, too, if it hadn't been for her water breaking.
As soon as Percy was thrown into pre parental panic and Chiron left to talk to the kids, Nico stepped into a shadow and fell through to Dominic's location. Once he got him, he left for Hogwarts before anyone could stop him.
It had come to the point that he hated Camp Half-Blood.
When he told Dominic, things between them shifted. A shift they never would be able to repair.
Because war forced you to choose sides. Conflicts broke relationships apart. What was once carefree and happy could easily turn dark and full of despair. One page of a book, the start of a story, happy and innocent in beginnings. The next page, the climax, darkness seeping in. The world isn't perfect. It's falling, it's on fire. No one can escape it.
You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.
"Funny you think that..." Dominic was glaring down at his wand, his voice dark and low. "I was starting to think the same of this place."
Nothing lasts forever, not even the only thing you could call a gift, a blessing.
"You hate it here?" Nico asked. "Why?" He looked around the empty dormitory. "What did it do to you?"
"I can't be myself," Dominic said. "Classes take up my whole day and then there's homework and it's not even that I just hate school. It's not that. It's the fact that I'd rather be training and saving the world than sitting on my ass writing papers."
Nico held up a scarred hand. "Saving the world gets exhausting. Saving the world can kill you."
"You weren't in Gryffindor for a reason."
"Do you still choose the demigod life?"
Nico let his hand fall, the distance between them seeming to grow. "Have you been thinking about quitting school, Dominic?"
"Yeah, but I wasn't sure until now." Dominic snapped his wand in half, the sound breaking a string of fate. "I've had dreams, I've had visions, I've had gut feelings. Trusting instincts, we talked about this. I'm trusting my instincts."
Nico clenched his jaw, tried to keep his emotions down. "Get your stuff. I'll take you to camp."
Dominic grabbed one of Nico's bags and packed his clothes before standing up. "I'm not taking any of my wizarding things. I won't have need for them."
Anger that Nico didn't appreciate bubbled up in his chest as he grabbed the son of Apollo, his nails digging into that tan arm. "Let's go."
He shadow traveled to camp and without a word dropped Dominic off. Before anyone could see, before a word could be said, Nico was falling into the darkness he now claimed as his own.
Darkness. He had been walking the path of shadows since Bianca died. In little bits, light had peeked through in an illusion of hope. But it was all a hallucination. His friendship, it seemed, was the longest one he had sustained. Hogwarts and the Weasley's were still showing that light, but now it seemed less bright.
When Nico walked into the library that night, it seemed the others could see this change right away.
"Nico, are you okay?" Hermione looked up from her book to eye the son of Hades. They had planned to meet up for homework, but now all eyes were on his depressed state.
He sat down beside his brother, told them what had happened at camp and with Dominic. When he was done, he simply laid his head down and closed his eyes. He was tired of the darkness.
But when you were born and raised in darkness, darkness is the only thing you'll ever know.
Nico was in this darkened state for what seemed like forever. He focused on his grades to stop himself from thinking, read books to stop himself from wallowing in self pity. The shadows responded too easily and the stares he got grew darker. When the first trip to Hogsmeade finally came up, the Golden Trio took it upon themselves to get him out of his slump.
Harry couldn't go, but Ron and Hermione were sure to drag Nico down to breakfast that morning.
"If you don't go," Ron had finally warned, "I'll tell mum. She'll be here faster than you give her credit for."
With no care left to fight them on it, Nico followed them to the village. It was something different to be out in the fresh air, the cold chill of October stinging his pale face. He walked Anubis along beside them, actually had fun between the shops. He took in the happiness of the wizarding world as much as he could.
That night, however, the wizarding world once again became more than a happy refuge in his mind.
Nico laid with Harry, Hermione, and Ron in the corner of the Great Hall, petting Anubis' head as they whispered to one another.
"Do you think Black's still in the castle?" Hermione asked.
"Dumbledore obviously thinks he might be," Ron said.
"It's very lucky he picked tonight, you know," Hermione said. "The one night we weren't in the tower…"
"I reckon he's lost track of time, being on the run," Ron said. "Didn't realize it was Halloween. Otherwise he'd have come bursting in here."
Nico rolled his eyes. "Yeah, but if it was really him, how'd he get in? Dementors are at the borders, you can't apart in Hogwarts..." He frowned. "It better not be some idiot First Year with a prank."
"I don't think that's it," Hermione stressed. "The Fat Lady wouldn't be hiding if it was."
"The lights are going out now!" Percy shouted. "I want everyone in their sleeping bags and no more talking!"
Nico made a face at Ron. "Why's he got to be so frustrating?"
"The world's been wondering that since the day he was born," Ron agreed.
Nico laid there as the lights went out but didn't even bother trying to sleep. The last thing he needed was a nightmare in front of the whole school, and the rare possibility that Black could attack again...
After hours of silence, whispers finally broke through.
"Any sign of him, Professor?" Percy asked.
"No. All well here?" Dumbledore answered.
"Everything under control, sir."
"Good. There's no point moving them all now. I've found a temporary guardian for the Gryffindor portrait hole. You'll be able to move them back in tomorrow."
"And the Fat Lady, sir?"
"Hiding in a map of Argyllshire on the second floor. Apparently she refused to let Black in without the password, so he attacked. She's still very distressed, but once she's calmed down, I'll have Mr. Filch restore her."
Snape's voice came, then. "Headmaster? The whole of the third floor has been searched. He's not there. And Filch has done the dungeons; nothing there either."
"What about the Astronomy tower? Professor Trelawney's room? The Owlery?"
"Very well, Severus. I didn't really expect Black to linger."
"Have you any theory as to how he got in, Professor?" Snape asked.
"Many, Severus, each of them as unlikely as the next."
"You remember the conversation we had, Headmaster, just before - ah - the start of term?" Snape asked.
"I do, Severus," Dumbledore said.
"It seems - almost impossible - that Black could have entered the school without inside help. I did express my concerns when you appointed -"
"I do not believe a single person inside this castle would have helped Black enter it," Dumbledore said. "Now, I must go down to the Dementors. I said I would inform them when our search was complete."
"Didn't they want to help, sir?" Percy asked.
"Oh yes," said Dumbledore coldly. "But I'm afraid no Dementor will cross the threshold of this castle while I am Headmaster."
Nico expected them to leave, then, but Dumbledore's energy came closer. Finally, he looked down at Nico as if he could see right through his fake sleep. "Mr. Weasley, will you come with me?"
"Yeah." Nico sat up with a sigh. "How'd you know I was awake?"
"I would have a hard time believing that you would sleep through a situation such as this," Dumbledore answered. He kept his voice low but most of the other students were asleep. "Come, I need your help. We can speak more in my office."
Nico followed him as he went to talk to the dementors before going back to his office, Nico's wand never leaving his hand. "What did you need my help with, sir?"
Dumbledore sat behind his desk. "Have you ever felt Sirius Black's soul before?"
Nico shook his head. "I've never met him, only learned of him."
"Would this make it difficult to find his soul with your abilities?" Dumbledore asked.
Nico shrugged. "I can tell if there's a soul I've never met if I search the grounds for one. Do you want me to?"
Dumbledore nodded. "That would be of everyone's best interest. You will be our extra set of eyes for tonight, incase he would like to make a reappearance."
"Would you like me to do it here?" Nico asked. "I would have to concentrate, go into a trance. Anyone that saw me would think something's up."
Dumbledore stood. "You have full access to whatever you need if it means protecting our students, Mr. Weasley. Know that from now on."
Nico went to the darkest corner of the room and sat Indian style, his back against the wall and his eyes closed. "He is just a wizard, correct? Not a demigod or monster?"
"Yes, but his soul may be as dark as your own." Dumbledore prepared to leave the office. "Remember, young demigod, he's spent years with dementors in Azkaban. No one would be the same after such a fate."
Nico nodded. "Okay... Thank you for the information, Professor."
Once Dumbledore was out of the room, Nico focused on feeling the souls around him. The students were all together in the Great Hall, where Ron's soul was stronger because of his closer relationship with him. Besides Ron, however, too close for comfort, was a soul Nico had never met before.
"Fuck." Nico snapped open his eyes and melted back into the shadows, reappearing beside his brother in the Great Hall. Nothing was out of the ordinary, and he had to wonder what had made his soul radar mess up so badly.
Nico's suspicions didn't let up as the days went on. Every time he would check on the souls around them, he'd always sense the same unknown beside Ron. Maybe it was a fluke, maybe he was accidentally seeing that rat as a human. But he still couldn't let himself write it off.
The first Quidditch game of the season was between Hufflepuff and Gryffindor. As Nico could care less about his own house winning, so he wished Harry good luck before sitting in the stands.
That day, he actually went through with protecting Harry Potter.
The dementors had come before anyone could do much. Nico didn't bother thinking why or how, instead racing down onto the field despite the warnings.
And then Harry fell. Nico caught him, barely, and they landed in a crumpled heap on the ground.
The rain was so thick. The wind almost blew them away. As they were surrounded by others, he couldn't help but hiss in pain at his ankle, which had been twisted beneath him.
A grumbled sound came out of his mouth as his brother's face appeared above him. "Never try catching someone in freefall..." And with that last warning, he let the darkness that had been taking over his vision finally envelope him.
Nico and Harry were stuck in the hospital wing the whole weekend, which Nico didn't mind much. He didn't plan on visiting Camp Half-Blood anytime soon, if ever again.
But Will Solace...what did he think of Nico, now? What did the others think? If the secret got out...
"Are you okay?" Harry asked, late one night after the visitors had died down.
Nico looked over from the large book he had had Hermione bring him. "Yeah, why wouldn't I be?"
"Er, your foot," Harry said. "I haven't been able to thank you yet, for catching me. If you hadn't...I could have landed on my neck, broke it."
Nico shrugged. "I...I was doing my job. Besides, I've been fighting to save people since I was ten. It's just my life." He sighed. "And it's my life to be lonely, apparently," he muttered.
"You have us," Harry offered. "We're your friends, you know. I know you like to keep things to yourself and you don't get to know people well, but we're here for you."
Nico wanted to tell him the truth, wanted to tell him the real reason why he didn't want to get close to him. He knew he was going to die, knew he only had years left. He couldn't take the death of another friend, not after Jason.
He gave him a smile, anyways. "Thanks, Harry."
There was another trip to Hogsmeade, and by the time it came up, Nico had successfully declined all Iris Messages that tried to reach him. Camp Half-Blood and Dominic Cook were far in the back of his mind, but Will Solace still shone as bright as ever.
If only Will Solace was a wizard, than everything would be solved. But he wasn't. He was a demigod, he was a healer, he wanted to be a doctor in NYC and not in England. He was older, now, and he had a life ahead of him.
Nico didn't want to pull anyone down with him.
He was walking alone in the snow of Hogsmeade when he spotted Ron and Hermione acting suspiciously. Not putting anything past them, he quickly went to see what was up.
"So, what are you two doing?" Nico asked, falling into step beside Ron. "You can tell you're up to something."
Hermione pulled Nico closer to her and whispered how Harry had snuck out of the castle with something called the Marauder's Map. As soon as she was done with the explanation, she started to state her fears about this choice.
"He could be killed!" she hissed. "Black could be anywhere."
"There's dementors, Hermione," Ron argued. "They're everywhere. And have him see Harry through this." He gestured to the blizzard around them.
Nico elbowed Hermione slightly. "I've got my wand and a dagger. We'll be fine."
"You're carrying a dagger around with you." Hermione said slowly, sounding as if she was scolding a young child. "That's dangerous, Nico. And illegal!"
Nico rolled his eyes. "No one's going to know. It's in my boot. Besides, monsters aren't damaged by magic. I need to have it with me."
"Fine, but I warned you." she looked to Ron and where he assumed Harry to be under the Invisibility Cloak. "What to go to the Three Broomsticks?"
Nico felt his spine warm. "Butterbeers?"
She nodded. "Harry, you need to try one."
They walked into the building and went to the back, hopefully far enough to talk to Harry without anyone listening in. Ron went to get the drinks, leaving the three of them to sit at the old, wooden table.
Ron soon came back with four butterbeers balanced in his hands. "Merry Christmas!"
Nico downed his before laying his head on the table, taking in the smells and sounds around them. A soft feeling had risen in his chest, a small happiness he hadn't felt nearly as much as he used to.
The rest of the holidays, Nico spent his days exploring the castle more and catching up in his schoolwork. When the later was done, he spent his time in the library again.
Eventually, he found himself by the Restricted Section.
Nico doubted clues about his family would be held in there, but something in his gut told him to at least look. So, when no one was looking, he shadow traveled into it as quietly as he could.
Immediately, he could see why the section was closed off to most students. The books were on dark subjects, subjects that would only be safe to be seen by some eyes. After ten or so minutes, he found the book he had been looking for for months, though he didn't know it yet.
History of Dark Magic. Nico took the book in his hands and traced his finger over the cover. Something inside pulled at something in his gut.
Nico looked around once before sitting down and cracking the book open. Inside, the table of contents labeled each section as a different type of dark magic. Necromancy caught his attention, so he flipped to it. Halfway down the page, he saw what his gut had wanted him to.
Another rumored family to have practiced necromancy were the di Angelo's. Before Tom Riddle's rise to power, they were said to be one of the most powerful families in Europe. At Voldemort's rise, however, they died off just as most of his enemies did.
It continued on from there, going on about necromancy and leaving the topic of his family. But already, he found out more than he had known before. They had practiced necromancy, a dark magic, and that was probably what had attracted his father to his mother. And their power, they were known for their power...
And they were all dead. If the book was right, he was the only living member left. And all clues pointed to Voldemort for the fault.
Had they turned against him last minute? Had he simply wanted to be the most powerful? Yet, still, he didn't know whether or not they truly worked for the Dark Lord. He would ask his father, but bringing up Maria di Angelo around him was always a mistake. Nico had learned that years ago.
The bell rang soon after, leaving him to save the rest of the Restricted Section for another day, only able to hope that he would find what he's looking for.
On Christmas morning, Nico woke with only a few presents at the foot of his bed. They were from Mrs. Weasley, Ron, Harry, Hermione, and then two mysterious ones that had no name outfront. He put his new sweater on from Mrs. Weasley, the black fabric comforting him enough that he felt him audibly sigh in peace. Home. Family.
Hermione had gotten him a new wand holder to hang from his belt, having noticed that he found that more comfortable than keeping his wand in his pocket. It fit well where he once had his sword hanging.
Ron had gotten him a Hufflepuff scarf, the warm fabric covering Nico's collarbone dandelion perfectly. Harry had gotten him new headphones to go with the phone Dominic had given him long before.
The last two presents were different sizes and colors. The blue one was rectangular and almost looked like a wand box. The yellow was a normal sized present, wrapped carefully and with a black bow on top.
Nico unwrapped the yellow one first, unable to help but smile when he saw the new avaitor jacket inside. On top of it was a note, the writing barely legible.
You haven't been taking Iris Messages but I know you'll get this. I hope you still like the style, it still seems like you. And I want to wish you my best, I know you've been going through a lot. Please check in with me when you can. I'm worried.
Still with love,
A bittersweat smile took over his lips as he set the note down. Maybe true love never really went away. Maybe their souls just couldn't stand to be apart.
He opened the blue box to find a scroll that looked just like the one Leo had sent them after the Second Giant War. With a low sigh, Nico spread it out before him and watched the hologram that appeared above it.
"Merry Christmas!" Percy's excited face took up most of the hologram. "Or, it will be when you get this. Look at my daughter!" He held up a newborn baby, her blonde tuffs of hair sticking up in different directions. Her eyes were closed, but Nico didn't doubt they were sea green like her father's. "You need to meet her, Nico. Please?"
Nico looked over the man he used to crush on, found no romantic love left in his soul. But this was Percy Jackson, he had fought wars beside him, and it was nice to see the battle hardened hero happy again.
"Leo says I'm acting too much like a proud father, but who wouldn't be proud?" Percy continued on. "She's perfect. Oh, her name! We named her Silena. What do you think? You're going to be her cousin. I want you to meet her. Oh, and Hazel wants you to be her kid's godfather! I know we're Greek, but still."
Percy waved one last time before the hologram disappeared, leaving Nico with the empty feeling that he missed something that he shouldn't've.
Sure, his life would always be a mess, but did his feelings need to be, too?
Before he could talk himself out of it, Nico grabbed a drachma and shadow traveled to a clearing in the forest. The small pond was perfect for an out of the way, out of earshot Iris Message.
Nico took a deep breath before throwing the drachma in, his hands shaking. "Oh, Iris, goddess of rainbows, show we William Solace."
When it showed Will, the son of Apollo was cleaning up an empty cot stained with blood. He had gotten a haircut recently, and his eyes were brighter than usual. Half of Nico wanted to hang up before he was noticed, but he didn't get a chance.
"Nico!" Will turned around and made eye contact with his old boyfriend. "You don't know how worried you made me!"
Nico looked down at his shoes, scratching the back of his neck in an awkward sort of self hatred. Maybe he shouldn't have called without thinking it through.
"Are you okay?" Will asked, stepping closer to the image. "Neeks...I...we all want to see you. We miss you... And we want to talk about what happened. We can smooth it over, Nico. You just need to come back so we can."
"Smooth it over?" Nico asked, looking back into those blue eyes. "I almost killed a kid, and you all are okay with just smoothing it over? Somehow I don't believe you."
Will's smile faded. "Nobody knows except Percy, Annabeth, the kids, Chiron, and us two. That's it. It didn't get out."
"What about the existance of wizards and witches?" Nico asked. "Did that get out?"
Will's lips and head twitched before the son of Apollo finally nodded, then shrugged. "There's rumors. Some believe, some don't. We're denying it for now."
Nico clenched his jaw. "Will...why didn't you tell me sooner?"
"Tell you sooner? We tried," Will said. "We tried over and over. You wouldn't answer any of our IMs. How did you expect us to tell you?"
Nico went to retort but no words came out.
"That's what I thought." Will sighed. "Look, Nico, this is a situation. But it doesn't have to be as serious as you're making it. Greeks and wizards need to stay apart. They are. We don't want people knowing, most don't. Right now, the wizards aren't in danger."
"But we could be," Nico argued. "One wrong move from you guys, and we could be at the recieving end of a war."
"I have some ideas, okay?" Will offered. "Annabeth and I have been brainstorming ways to create peace between us."
"And that involves...?"
"I can't say," Will admitted. "Not yet. Just don't worry about it, please? Just live your life, keep learning your powers on your mom and dad's sides. And...and just don't forget us. I love you, Nico. We were supposed to be together." A single tear made its way down Will's cheek. "We could have been spending this Christmas together. I could have been proposing to you. Instead, you were stuck in another fucking quest where they took your age and your memory and took you away from me. I'll never get over that, Nico. So please...please don't disppear again."
"You...would have proposed to me?" Nico asked. "We would have gotten married?" Damn, it was hard to keep his own eyes from watering.
Will nodded. "We would have been of age, our fathers would have approved... I still love you that much, Nico. I always will. And I know, I know we can't be romantically together, but we agreed on staying friends. And you're still a demigod, whether you like it or not. And you have more people here, people that are like your family. Percy, Annabeth, Hazel, Frank...we're all your family."
Nico sat on the dirt floor of the forest, his fingers picking at the spare grass. "Will... If I tell you everything...everything that I feel...will you promise not to tell anyone? Will you promise to keep it between us? Because I trust you, and you're the only one I think that can understand it."
Will also sat, his eyes level with Nico's. "You can tell me. You can trust me. I promise."
"My life basically started when I found out that I'm a demigod," Nico started. "Before then...it was just a casino and the River Lethe. And...and all the demigod life brought me was pain. Bianca dying, the Labrynth, Minos, seeing momma die in a flashback, the wars, Tartarus... It's just one fight after another. That's all a demigod's life is. But here...here it's so awesome. I'm not looked down upon because of my father. I don't scare people. I have a family that loves me. A mom, dad, brothers and a sister... My one brother works with dragons and we go and visit him sometimes and my other brother in insurfferable but we all love him. And I've got friends and I get to go to school at the greatest wizarding school in the world and I'm learning magic without worrying about monsters attacking me. At home and at Hogwarts I don't have dreams about Tartarus. I don't have nightmares about anything. And everything's awesome except for Voledmort. I love it here, Will. I love it here. But...but I also miss you and Hazel and Percy. I love you. Hazel's my little sister, she always will be. And Percy's like my older brother."
Nico took a deep breath. "And I thought I could go between these lives fine, but that was proven wrong. You must have been told about what happened, Will. About how I almost killed that kid. Just because he was threatening my home... And I feel like everyone at camp sees me as a murderer, even though they don't know. It's just how they look at me. And if they find out... They'll hate me more than they already do, Will. And they'll come destroy the only home I've ever felt fully comfortable at.
"So how am I supposed to visit? How am I supposed to act like any other demigod? I'll almost kill another, maybe I actually will finish the job! Maybe I'll accidentally pull my wand out and hex someone, maybe I'll accidentally let it spill and it gets out and I know I can't kill every demigod but I try anyways because I can't let them destroy my home, it's my only home, Will. I'll defend it no matter what. I've been to Tartarus and back, Will. I've stripped a demigod down to his ghost. I can damn well defend the only place I have left, and I will. I'll fight again if I have to. Because this is the only home I have left."
It was silent save for Nico's ragged breaths, the way he tried to call a heart that was about to beat out of his chest. But it wasn't for lying like it usual was, it wasn't for anything other than a feeling he hadn't felt before.
Nico had finally gotten it all off his chest. He had finally stripped away every lie until it was all out in front of him. Every feeling, every opportunity and failure and causes for his actions. Everything was shared between himself and his Will Solace, the only boy he had ever truly loved.
And it felt right.
"Is that it?" Will whispered.
Nico nodded, his voice just as low. "That's it."
Will cleared his throat and spoke up. "Then listen to this. Yeah, a demigod's life is hell. There's always going to be another monster. We all know people that died way too young. But as you said, you have people here. People that love you, that stand up against the ones who hate your father. And we hate the idea of war as much as you do. Nobody here is going to be rushing into another one, not even Clarisse. We're tired, Nico. All we've done is fight, and we're finally in peace.
"You have this other life. You're a wizard, you have a family and friends and you have school. And that's awesome. But you don't have to be so scared that it's going to be ruined. All you've ever done is fight. It's all you've ever known and you don't know what else to do when you see a possible threat. But this isn't one to fight. We're going to keep this a secret, okay? And if we don't, then we're going to make peace. But that doesn't mean you need to stay away from camp, and it sure as hell doesn't mean you'll go off on anyone else. You won't be alone next time, okay? Percy's here, I'm here, Annabeth and Piper... Everyone's here to see the new baby. We'll help you get through it."
Nico wiped a stray tear from his face. "Will...I'm scared..."
"But you don't have to be," Will insisted. "So...please...come visit."
Nico nodded despite the fear growing in his heart. "O...Okay..."
When Nico got to camp, it was still bright and early on Christmas morning. He stepped out of the shadows in the Hades cabin, his frown deepening at the familiar interior. As soon as the reality of where he was set in, he grabbed his dagger and couldn't help but feel on edge.
In this world, it was either kill or be killed.
(they claimed the phrase only qualified with monsters, but he wasn't so sure.
Bryce Lawrence had once existed)
Nico kept his dagger close but exited the cabin, thankful there weren't many demigods around. Those who were awake were making their way to the dinning pavilion, talking amongst themselves and celebrating the holiday. Some looked too cheerful to be demigods. Others looked just as tired as Nico felt.
When he finally got to the infirmary, he found Will sitting on one of the beds with his head in his hands.
"Will." Nico's voice broke the silence and time spent apart. "I came."
Will Solace jumped from the bed and took Nico into his arms for the first time in months. Their bodies met once again along with their souls, and Aphrodite seemed to smile in a great victory against the Fates.
"I was scared you weren't going to..." Will muttered into Nico's shoulder. "But you actually did...you're actually here..."
"I'm actually here." Nico took in Will's scent, the feeling of his arms, the feeling of his soul and his aura. "Merry Christmas, Will."
"Merry Christmas, Nico."
When Nico and Will finally stepped into the rec room hours later, Will had a sad smile gracing his now bruised lips. Nico wouldn't let himself leave Will's side, scared he would go off on another Greek and scared he'd be once again ripped away from the love of his life.
Being with Will, really being with him, it seemed to have done the healing that Nico so desperately needed.
"Mr. di Angelo, Mr. Solace," Chiron greeted. "Come sit. We have much to discuss."
Nico glanced at Will before sitting in one of the chairs, the son of Apollo sitting beside him. "Chiron, I-"
"I'm aware of everything that has happened, Mr. di Angelo." Chiron gazed at the two campers. "You're focused on protecting the wizarding world, and it's understandable. But if you're going to stay at this camp, you need to understand that you cannot attack one of my campers again."
"I've already talked to him," Will cut in. "Someone's going to be with him at all times. And I tried to get it in him that he's not in danger here."
"I don't want to cause another war," Nico said. "So I'm going to keep to those who know and try to keep wizarding things to Europe. I'm going to try."
"And if someone finds out?" Chiron asked. "Would you attack them?"
Nico looked to his feet. "I would bring them to you."
Chiron stared at him for a minute more, decades and decades of experience shown on his face. Finally, he let out a sigh and gestured to the door. "Percy and Annabeth are in Cabin 3. They've been waiting for you."
Nico stood up, his dark eyes returning to Chiron's face. "I'm really trying to keep it peaceful, Chiron. I hope you believe me."
"I hope I can."
Will led Nico out of the Big House and onto the grounds of Camp Half-Blood, a soft snow falling around them in spirit of the holiday. More campers were out and about, much more staying for the winter than used to. When they got to the ring of cabins, Nico didn't have time to prepare before Percy was in front of him and pulling him into a hug.
"Neeks!" Percy held him close. "Will got you to come back!"
"And a baby still didn't mature you," Nico muttered.
"Oh!" Percy broke the hug and dragged him into his cabin. "Come meet Silena!"
Nico followed, trying to keep the fear down. He was with Percy, Will was following, Annabeth was laying on one of the beds. They'd stop him from hurting anyone.
"Look at her." Percy scooped the newborn out of Annabeth's arms and brought her over for Nico to see. Silena was sound asleep, her head resting against her father's chest without a care in the world.
A baby...Percy Jackson had lived long enough to have a baby. Nico could remember the Giant War, watching Percy fall into Tartarus, thinking that none of them would make it through. And now, here he was, staring at Percy Jackson's baby.
Nico grinned. "You're a dad, Percy."
Percy grinned back. "I'm a dad."
Nico sat by Annabeth in Cabin 3, rocking the baby in his arms as she typed away at a laptop. Percy had left to train, leaving the two alone in the hours before dinner.
"Annabeth, what age do you think of me of?" Nico asked, breaking the comfortable silence that had formed.
Annabeth glanced him over once before looking back at her work. "You and Will made out, didn't you?"
Nico felt himself blush as he put a finger to his bruised lips. "Yeah."
"I think we should be asking how you feel about it," Annabeth said. "You wouldn't be asking me if you weren't concerned."
Nico looked down at baby Silena and let her suck on his finger. "It didn't feel wrong at the time. It felt...it felt right. I haven't kissed Will in so long. It was amazing. But then...after it was over...and we were walking here...I felt embarrassed. I felt like I had to hide it."
Annabeth repositioned his arms slightly before replacing his finger with the pacifier that hung from Silena's onesie. "Nico, you love Will. He loves you. And you're older than your body shows. Demigod lives aren't like human lives. Sometimes our relationships get fucked up. So, if you want my opinion, I think you should follow your heart, no matter how cheesy that sounds."
Nico smiled at the news he had hoped to get. "You really think so?"
She nodded. "You're not a thirteen year old boy, Nico. You're mentally Will's age. And you shouldn't let what the gods have done come between you."
"What would Percy think?" Nico asked. "And Hazel and the others? Would...would they hate on it?"
Annabeth closed the laptop and set it aside. "Imagine this. When you first came out as gay, the people who you cared about accepted it, right?"
Nico nodded. "Right."
"And some people didn't, but you basically said 'fuck you' and continued on with your life. That's how you should treat this." Annabeth insisted. "I know you should. And your friends will agree, because they know it's best for you."
"I...could be with Will..."
"You could be with Will."
Nico spent the rest of Christmas break with Will, never leaving his side unless he was with Percy or Annabeth. He didn't trust himself alone, and didn't trust himself to see Dominic Cook again. Despite knowing very well where the son of Apollo was coming from in his decision, Nico still felt anger whenever he thought about him.
On the last day there, Nico came face to face with him in the infirmary amongst the other injured campers after a violent Capture the Flag game.
"Dominic." Nico clenched the clipboard in hand, having been helping on small cases so that the healers could get to those who were more injured. "You're here."
"Er, yes, I am." Dominic was sitting on one of the beds, his hand holding a bloody towel to his other wrist. "Can Will come over?"
"You're stuck with me," Nico declined. "Will's busy with the son of Ares that got stabbed through the stomach."
"You look like you're going to stab me through the stomach," Dominic said. "No offense, but seriously, Nico."
Nico forced his face to go slack as he tried to fight the anger off. He knew it was irrational, knew he shouldn't be angry with his old friend that sat before him. But he found himself looking around for Will in fear that he wouldn't be able to control himself.
"Show me your wrist." Nico set the clipboard down on the bed and pointed to the son of Apollo's injured wrist. "I'm not one of you healers but I can see if it's broken or not."
Dominic kept his wrist close to himself. "Not until you answer a question."
Nico pursed his lips. "Fine. You're the one bleeding, not me. What's your question?"
"Are you mad at me?" Dominic asked. "I...I know I left you at Hogwarts, but I thought you understood my decision. Even if I hadn't chose it myself, Apollo was telling me to in my dreams. I knew I should live here instead of Hogwarts."
"I know," Nico grumbled. "I know why you did it. But I still lost my best friend. Let me see your wrist."
"You didn't lose me," Dominic argued. "We could still be friends if you actually talked to me and answered some IM's. That's your fault. You push people away, Nico."
"Yeah, I get it, I've been told that a lot." Nico grabbed Dominic's wrist and pulled it toward him. When he removed the towel, he saw how broken it really was. "How many times have you broken your wrist now? Two?"
"Three." Dominic watched as he poured nectar on it. "How's...how's it going with Sirius Black?"
"He's still on the run." Nico said as he worked. "Harry and the others are scared, but there's dementors everywhere and I've been keeping an eye on the souls in the castle every night. Dumbledore actually asked me to."
"Do you think he's going to try to get Harry?" Dominic asked. "Like, it seems like nobody in their right mind would try to infiltrate Hogwarts like he is, but..."
"But, he's not in his right mind," Nico said. "He went through Azkaban. That's said to be hell."
Dominic watched him in silence before clearing his throat. "You still really haven't answered. Are you mad at me?"
Nico nodded. "I'm trying to let it go. Believe me, I am. You just need to give me some time. Holding grudges...it's one of my fatal flaws."
"One of them..."
"After growing up with the Weasley's, I think I've got another." Nico shrugged helplessly. "Who knows, really. But loyalty proves to be a problem for me, too."
"I can see why," Dominic said. "You're focused on protecting the people you have because you've lost so many."
Nico wrapped Dominic's wrist, his eyes not leaving the bandages. "What about you, mister psychic? Feel anything interesting lately?"
"Not really." Dominic moved his wrist to his chest and held it close. "Thanks."
"No problem." Nico stood up and grabbed the chart, writing a few notes with a discarded pen. "You're good to go, Dom."
Dominic didn't move from the bed. "Are you leaving for Hogwarts soon?"
"Tonight," Nico said. "School starts tomorrow."
"How's Anubis?" Dominic asked. "Did you bring him here with you?"
"I forgot, but he shadow traveled to me soon enough." Nico grinned sheepishly. "I can't believe I forgot him, to be honest. But he likes it here more than he does at Hogwarts. He's got lots of people to play with here."
"You're taking him back with you?"
Nico nodded. "Course. He's my dog."
"Damn..." Dominic grinned. "I was hoping I could keep him."
Nico rolled his eyes. "When I die, you can have him. That's it."
"Better than nothing."
Nico sat on the porch of his cabin with Anubis at his feet, petting the half-hellhound absentmindedly as he watched the campers go by. Will was beside him, his tan arm wrapped around Nico's small shoulders.
"You'll visit?" Will asked.
Nico nodded. "Every weekend."
Will kissed his cheek, an action that made Nico's face turn red. "I'll be waiting."
"And...and it'll all be alright," Nico told himself. "It'll be okay. No one will go to war."
"Exactly," Will grinned. "It's finally a peaceful time for us demigods. The wizards...they're at their war time... Are you going to fight with them against that evil wizard?"
Nico looked over at him. "Yeah. Why wouldn't I?"
"More like I hoped you wouldn't..." Will held him closer. "I don't want you to die, whether it be from an evil wizard or a Greek monster."
"I know, but they're my people, my family. I can help change the outcome, I can save lives. And I'm going to protect my home as much as I possibly can." Nico pulled Anubis on his lap and held him close. "I want another war as much as anyone does. But I'll fight when it comes."
"Be safe, call me if you need anything," Will sighed. "I know non wizards have no place there, but if you need help, tell us. And try your hardest to come back to me alive."
"I will," Nico assured him. "I'll try my best. But I can't promise I will."
"Yeah, I know..."
"I think we have a couple years, anyways," Nico said. "Voldemort isn't physically powerful right now. I don't know how he'll get a new body and everything, but Rachel sure thinks he will. So I think we have some time."
Will swallowed audibly. "But...if you do die...I hope you're aware that I'm coming to the Underworld to see you, whether your dad's up for that or not."
Nico rolled his eyes. "Demigods and their stupid heroism." He smiled. "But I wouldn't be against the visit."
Will poked one of Nico's golden freckles. "Persephone's blessing somehow made you cuter, I didn't think it was possible."
Nico swatted his hand away. "Yeah, yeah, you're a romantic son of Apollo. We're in public, William. Don't act like a son of Aphrodite."
"What if we go inside?" Will asked. "That's out of the public eye."
Nico elbowed him lightly. "You never change, Will."
"Is that a good thing?"
so sorry for this being so short and rushed, I've been losing inspiration for this series but I'm planning on having the next book up soon.
School was back in session and continued on. Nico worked on improving his magic, trying to make the most of what his mother left him with. Before long, he was excelling in all his classes more than usual.
The year went by like so: schoolwork, caring for Anubis, visiting Will, having a nightmare every so often. The nightmares, like most demigod dreams, dealt with topics he didn't want to think about.
The night before Buckbeak was to be executed, another of these nightmares came.
Nico di Angelo, I could make you all powerful.
Nico Weasley, you can have everything you've ever wanted.
Nico di Angelo, I can show you who your mother wanted you to be.
Nico's eyes shot open in the dark Hufflepuff dormitory, his breathing uneven and harsh. Voldemort's voice wasn't something new to his dreams, but the evil wizard had found exactly what to use against Nico.
His mother. It was what Hades had once used to make him betray Percy Jackson.
Harry later explained to him what had happened, his meeting with Sirius Black and the werewolf and dementors and going back in time...
He said it was fine that Nico hadn't been there, that he shouldn't feel so guilty for not helping. Harry was admit about helping himself, standing up for himself, but Nico knew he had a quest to complete.
He needed to keep Harry alive long enough to defeat the Dark Lord.
But Voldemort's words kept echoing in his mind, and he wondered if he really did know something about Maria di Angelo. Nico didn't want to admit it, but as soon as his mother was involved, he was tempted to once again enter the dark side.
Each night, Voldemort's voice grew louder in his dreams. And each night, Nico felt temptation like he never had before.
It was the night before term ended when he woke once again in a cold sweat, his hair sticking to his forehead as he registered that he had indeed woken up. But the room was dark, and the shadows moved at his command, and the cold trickling of a choice to be made still ran down his spine.
If he could trick Voldemort into thinking he joined, joined just for the information, become a double agent...
Nico planned to talk to his father, but something in the dark room and moving shadows told him that this was his decision, his quest, his life. It was only he, in the end, that could make that choice.
A choice he wasn't ready to make, but a choice that was eroding away all the positivity he had built up.
Nico was aware of his appearance the next morning. To anyone who spared him a look it was obvious that he hadn't been sleeping well. Dark circles under his eyes, eyes that had turned a dark green, mixing with his old eye color in a way he hadn't imagined before. His hair seemed to keep growing, maybe from Persephone's blessing and maybe not, and it stuck up in odd places and tangled clusters.
The only thing put together about his appearance were his clothes, but even they were thrown on haphazardly.
"Are you sure you're alright?" Hermione asked on the train ride back to London. She sat across from him in the compartment, her worried eyes looking him over for the hundredth time that day.
Nico nodded into his Hufflepuff scarf, having buried himself in comfortable materials in hopes he could lull himself into a nap. "Tired."
"Mum'll fix him up," Ron insisted. "So don't worry so much, Hermione. You know how she is." He looked to Harry, continuing with their conversation. "It's the Quidditch World Cup this summer! How about it, Harry? Come and stay, and we'll go and see it! Dad can usually get tickets from work."
Nico nodded. "We'll all be happy to have you, Harry."
Harry smiled. "Yeah… I bet the Dursleys'd be pleased to let me come… especially after what I did to Aunt Marge…"
Nico couldn't look away from the young wizard. Smiling, hopeful, still innocent. It was a shame he wouldn't live for too much longer.
But it was better to burn out than to fade away, as they always said.