Harry Potter, Squatter
Harry nodded to himself as he examined the recipe. He'd leafed through the small book of recipes that Hestia had given him, and decided that today, he was going to do something special. Like a dessert. With chocolate.
He was in an exceptional good mood. When Artie had brought him back after their weekly lesson, Harry had managed to pet one of those gorgeous reindeer that pulled Artie's chariot. He'd been sneaky about it, and tried to make sure she hadn't noticed as he wasn't sure how she'd react. Artie could be prickly about certain things.
When she had given him a knowing smile when he gave her his customary goodbye hug, he realized that she had noticed, and she hadn't seemed to care.
Thus, Harry was in a great mood, which led to the dessert. He didn't have all the ingredients for his chosen treat, however.
Opening one of the drawers in the living area cabinet, he extracted a small pouch. 'Spending money' Hestia has called it.
He rarely used the money. Having grown up without it, or anything else really, he was used to living frugally and he did not want to run out. Who knew what could happen, and when he found himself alone he would need the money.
This was Mister Helios' Temple, after all, and from what he had understood from Hestia, he shouldn't really be here. So far, Hestia and Artie had kept his presence a secret, and had been teaching him all kinds of neat things, but one day he was going to be thrown out and he would have to make do on his own.
But he wanted to do something special. Just once.
So he took the pouch and left the temple for the market district.
Still high on his exceptional good mood, Harry carefully, yet confidently, walked down the steps and to the market. Hestia had explained it to him – supernatural creatures often changed their appearance, and as long as he acted as if he had the right to be there, he'd be left alone.
Or rather, he should be. A major god or goddess would be able to detect him as being mortal, and then he'd be in trouble. If they bothered to look, that is.
Arriving at the market, Harry smiled as he made his way passed the various stalls. He very much liked it here, with the hustle and bustle of various people.
After making his purchases, he was on his way back, when he noticed a very tall bearded guy was stalking a pretty girl. The girl knew it, apparently, as she looked at him, giggled, then pretended to flee from him. Bearded Guy chased her into a darkened alley.
Harry shrugged. Perhaps they were playing chase? He didn't know adults played like that. Aunt Petunia and Uncle would have rather eaten broken glass than play chase, Harry was sure of it.
As he continued on his walk, he passed the alley he had seen Bearded Guy chase the girl into. He glanced into the alley, and found that Bearded Guy seemed to have his tongue halfway down the girl's throat! His hands were on her behind holding her up, as he had her pinned against the wall of the alley with her legs around his waist.
Harry throw a hand in front of his mouth. That was so gross! Forget regular kissy face, Bearded Guy was obviously a pervert of some kind!
He turned tail and ran; no way was he getting involved in Bearded Guy's perversions! Whatever he was doing to that poor girl, she didn't seem to mind much, as her arms had been around his neck, and she wasn't struggling to get away.
Once he arrived at the temple, he closed the large double doors, and leaned his back against them, his heart pounding. He shouldn't have seen what he had seen, he was sure of it, and he was glad that nobody had noticed him. He'd probably be in a lot of trouble if the Bearded Guy had seen him.
Trying to forget about Bearded Guy and what he was doing to that poor girl, Harry cooked himself a nice dinner. With lots of vegetables. Hestia had explained to him that he should get balanced meals, and that included both meat and vegetables.
Having never been in a position to be a picky eater, Harry would eat anything. So, if Hestia told him to eat vegetables, he'd eat vegetables.
After he finished his meal, and feeling quite nicely full, Harry started making his special dessert.
When the dessert was in the oven, his thoughts went back to Bearded Guy.
"Hello Harry," Hestia said, suddenly in his kitchen. He jumped slightly, not having heard her arrive while thinking about the bearded pervert.
"Hi Hestia!" he greeted back, giving her a hug.
She looked at the oven. "What are you cooking?"
"Dessert!" Harry said, grinning. He looked at the timer, startled, and yanked the oven open. Grabbing the oven mitts, he lifted the tray out.
"Moelleux au Chocolat," Hestia said, seeing the creations. "That is quite a difficult dessert to make."
Harry picked one out of the forms, and put it on a plate. He eyed it, not sure if he had gotten it right.
"May I?" Hestia asked, always the polite one.
Harry smiled. "Sure," he said, glad to have someone else do the honors.
Conjuring a small fork, Hestia opened the little cake. To Harry's disappointment, the inner chocolate did not ooze out. Instead, it had set.
"It is a difficult recipe to get right, Harry," the kind goddess told him, before taking some of the pastry and tasting it. "The taste is exactly right. Had you taken it out of the oven a minute and a half earlier, it would have been perfect."
Harry smiled faintly, and tried some himself. It tasted great.
"There is a reason why a dessert chef is different from a regular chef," Hestia said, recognizing his disappointment. "Desserts are hard; sometimes a minute or two can make a large difference. The taste of the moeulleux was exactly right, that in itself is an achievement."
"Do you think so?" Harry asked, having already finished the first moeulleux and starting on a second. He opened it up. It was set, too. He shrugged, and started in on it. He loved chocolate!
"I know so," Hestia said with a grin. "There are professional chefs that struggle with this dish. As I said, just a minute and a half less cooking time, and they would have been perfect."
Harry nodded. "Thanks Hestia."
She smiled back. "You're welcome, Harry."
They were silent for a few minutes as Harry finished his dessert. "Can I ask where you got the recipe?" she finally asked.
Harry frowned slightly. "It was on the book of recipes you gave me." He got up, grabbed the book, and showed her the page.
Hestia smiled faintly. "How very interesting. That book has a bit of my godly magic in it. In essence, it was supposed to give you only the recipes that you would be able to handle – in essence, a tutor in culinary skills, revealing harder and harder recipes as you gain skill. For it to have already given you this recipe, it means you have made a lot of progression in a short amount of time."
Harry looked excited again, and Hestia was glad for it. She liked it when he was excited. "I keep trying new things for dinner, usually I have enough for lunch the next day but when I don't, I try something new for lunch, too."
"Really?" Hestia asked, surprised. She had noticed that Harry ate a varied amount of food, but she hadn't been keeping close enough tabs on him to notice he ate a different meal every day. He was certainly making up for the time lost at the Dursleys! "That is very good of you," she told him.
Harry leaned in close. "I like the desserts the best, though. Especially chocolate," he whispered.
Hestia smiled widely, and leaned back. "I do, too," she said, laughing softly.
Harry laughed too, glad his friend agreed with him. As they laughed together over shared secrets, Hestia felt some of the worry over him release. It was good to laugh, to be excited about things, and it showed that Harry was slowly getting better.
"Hestia?" Harry asked, suddenly jarring her from her thoughts.
"Yes, Harry?" she answered.
"Is there a god of desserts?" he wondered.
Hestia laughed softly. "There's no god or goddess dedicated solely to desserts, Harry," she explained. "However, as I am the goddess dedicated to the home, the hearth, and everything associated with keeping the home, cooking in all forms falls in my domain."
Harry nodded. "So that's why you're so good at it?"
The humble goddess smiled at him. "My meals taste like a good home-cooked meal should."
"Are there many other gods? There's you and Artie, and you mentioned a couple of others but you never really told me about them," Harry asked, curious.
Hestia nodded slowly. Of course he would be interested. She had to be careful, though.
"There are hundreds of gods and goddesses," Hestia explained. "I can tell you a little about them, but I will have to be careful. Names have power, and if I tell you the name of some of these gods, it will draw their attention to you."
"And that would be bad," Harry said.
"Exactly," Hestia replied with a small smile. "You're essentially squatting in Helios' temple, and while he doesn't seem to mind, it is still an infraction. Especially as you are a mortal. Mortals aren't supposed to stay up here in Olympus."
It wasn't a new thing, Hestia has explained it to him many times before, but Harry felt bad about it every time. It was the closest thing he had to a home, a place where he had friends, and he wasn't supposed to be here.
He just nodded.
"First, I have two younger sisters and three younger brothers," Hestia started. "I am the eldest..."
In the end, it was complicated to explain the different gods without actually naming them, and Hestia had to go and retrieve a book so that Harry could read up on them. Over the last few months, he had gotten used to reading books, and Harry loved reading about the gods just as much as he loved reading about dinosaurs.
Especially when he got to the gory parts. The gods weren't all as nice and friendly as Hestia was, and just like for any young boy, the bloody parts were the exciting parts. It did solidify one thing in his mind, though – Hestia was the best goddess ever. Kind, patient, friendly, and helpful, just as he thought a god or goddess should be. As much as the tales of battle excited him, Harry had lived through too much to enjoy the parts where the gods – often capriciously – cursed, injured, or sometimes outright killed, mortals.
Harry was quietly mopping the marble floors of Helios' Temple. After being forced to do the housework at the Dursleys, Harry had hated the activity with a passion, but ever since he made his deal with Helios, Harry had come to appreciate the repetitive motions. It gave him a chance to think while his hands and legs kept busy.
Hestia had explained that he had 'combat reflexes', something ingrained in all demigods. She also told him that mortals often mistook those for ADHD. It meant that he was always busy and had trouble sitting still.
Well, he would have had trouble sitting still, if the Dursleys hadn't gotten that particular problem out of him at an early age. Iron self-control was a way of life for him if he didn't want to spend days locked up in his cupboard.
Therefore, he mopped the floor quietly, making sure the temple was well maintained, just as he had promised to Helios in exchange for sanctuary.
Hestia had told him not to go out today, under any circumstances. Today was the night of the Winter Solstice, where all the major gods would be gathering on Olympus. Security would be extra tight, and if someone found him, he'd be in a lot of trouble.
Trying not to worry about those things, Harry kept mopping the floor. Suddenly, he felt a shudder in the air – as if it suddenly became extra heavy. Was this the extra security that Hestia had mentioned? He wished he could go to the fire and ask her, but she had explained that she would be busy. There were some forest fires in California that needed her attention, and on top of that, she would be expected to provide the food and drink for the gods' meeting.
Harry knew she wasn't nearly as put out with doing the catering as she made out, but was merely complaining to make him feel better about not being able to reach her. He appreciated the gesture, even if he disliked the imposed lack of communications.
The air thickened further, and Harry stopped his mopping. It was almost uncomfortable now, as if he needed to put in extra effort to breathe.
The comfortable presence of Mister Helios changed, almost as if it were frowning at an unexpected turn of events. Harry leaned on his mop, and was about to ask what was wrong, when the massive double doors to the temple were thrown open.
"There he is!" The shout came from a massive man dressed in ancient Greek armor, pointing a sword in Harry's direction. Helios' presence became outraged, but the three other soldiers that poured in after the first man didn't seem to notice, or care.
Somewhere deep down, Harry had been expecting this ever since Hestia came across him. They'd found him, and now he was going to be kicked out on the streets. Thankfully, Artie had taught him a lot, and he'd learned a lot from Hestia, so he'd be able to do better on his own now. He just wished he had a chance to say goodbye, and to thank them for helping him.
He knew from experience that resisting only made things worse, so he did nothing.
Before Harry knew what had happened, he had been trussed up and was being dragged out. They had also gagged him, so he was unable to shout. Not that there was anyone around to help him.
He sighed internally. He was going to be kicked out. He was never going to see Hestia again… or Artie. He was going to have to go back to the cold, and the dark, and finding his own food. That prospect didn't entice him, even with everything he'd learned. He'd no doubt do better, but that didn't mean he was going to enjoy it.
The only thing that reassured him were the lessons that Artie had given him. He'd be better able to find his own food now. That was something, at least.
As the soldier carried him, trussed up, over his shoulder, Harry relaxed. He'd be able to take better care of himself now. He would miss the clothes Hestia had given him, he hadn't been able to grab anything of the supplies he had prepared just for this event, but at least he had the knowledge and the skills he had learned from both Hestia and Artie.
To his surprise and ever-growing worry, he was not being taken to the elevator going down. Instead, he was being carried up the mountain, to the top, where the largest palaces were. Harry's heart started pounding. This wasn't part of the plan.
Harry struggled faintly. "Stop moving, brat," the soldier carrying him said. "You're going to be dragged in front of the gods, whether you want to or not. They will get to make the decision on whether to curse you. Or kill you," he added the latter with a sinister chuckle.
They were going to curse him! Or kill him! Panic started to set in, and Harry's struggles increased. Letting them kick him out was one thing, letting them kill him was another entirely! If only he could get away! He just may be able to keep them from catching him again!
The soldier thumped him on the side. Hard. Harry let out a grunt despite his gag and went limp. That punch had seriously hurt him; the man hadn't pulled his punch at all. Pain bloomed on the side the man had hit and didn't die down. It flared with every breath he took. Harry grunted, and then shunted the pain aside. It wasn't the first time he'd been hurt, not even the first time he'd been hurt seriously. Right now, he couldn't let them pain take him over; he had to find a way to get away.
Unfortunately, the bindings were strong and tight, and the fastenings were secure. These guys knew what they were doing.
The soldiers exchanged words with some guards that were standing in front of the largest temple Harry had ever seen, and soon they were on the move again. A set of humongous double doors opened noiselessly, and suddenly Harry had the uncomfortable feeling of being weightless. The next moment, he hit the ground and let out a muffled grunt as the pain in his side flared up in intensity.
"We have caught the intruder, My Lords, My Ladies," the soldier that had carried him spoke.
"Good, you may leave," a voice replied. From where he was laying, Harry could only watch the four soldiers leave. Because he was trussed up still, he couldn't move. Not that he wanted to move very much, the pain in his side was immobilizing him despite everything he did to ignore the pain. If he did see an opportunity to leave, he may not be able to take it.
"Let's see our interloper," the voice said, and suddenly, his bindings vanished. So did his gag.
Not taking any chances with his good fortune, Harry jumped up, ignored his flaring side, and made a run for the doors.
There was a flash of light and a crack like thunder. Only much, much louder. Then the ground exploded in front of him, throwing Harry away. The voice was yelling now, screaming in anger, and Harry curled in on himself, curling into a fetal position with his head protected by his arms.
More voices shouted, either at the first or at him, Harry didn't know. Loud voices were dangerous, and Harry was in a full-blown panic attack, flashing back to when Vernon yelled and shouted and screamed and threw things at him and left him in his cupboard without food.
Loud voices wove together into a fabric that blanketed Harry with fear and despair, and he curled tighter.
In his panic, he wished for Hestia's warm arms, where he felt safe and protected. Then he remembered… Hestia was a goddess. And he was a mortal.
And mortals could pray to goddesses.
As the voices waved their anger around him, Harry wished for Hestia. Hestia, they're going to kill me. Please help me. Please please please please please…
But Hestia didn't come. And Harry remembered her saying she was in California helping with a forest fire. And maybe she was too far away for her to hear him. He was going to die here with these angry voices…
Artie is a goddess too, he realized.
His curled-up position tightened when a particularly hard shout shook the floor in anger beneath him. Artie, they're going to kill me. Please help me. Please. Please. Please.
No Artie either. Maybe these voices were too scary for her. Or Maybe it was because he was a boy and didn't let her change him into a girl.
"WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS!?"A new voice boomed through the room, and Harry whimpered. That one had been perfectly understandable, even with him tuning out the shouting and screaming. Suddenly, the room was completely quiet, even the floor had stopped shaking with the anger released by the other voices.
"I find you all shouting and screaming at each other and at a young mortal boy?" the new voice was calming down, but had an undercurrent of extreme anger. Harry wanted to whimper. There were mutters by the other voices, but nothing loud. "You should all feel ashamed," the new voice said, and Harry could hear it nearing him. It sounded somewhat familiar.
"Harry?" the voice said, gently, right next to him. Harry wished he could curl in tighter. A soft hand touched his back. "Harry, it's Hestia," the voice said. It sounded somewhat like Hestia, but louder, stronger, more adult.
He took the risk, and looked between his arms. The new woman was tall. Very tall. And had fire for eyes. And when he looked closer, she looked what he imagined Hestia's mother would look like.
She smiled tightly, and shrunk down. "Hestia," he whispered.
She hugged him. He was safe now. Something inside released, like a tight iron band that had been around his chest. "I didn't think you'd come," he whispered, feeling tears leak from his eyes. A sob escaped him.
A voice said something. "You will all remain silent, I am extremely vexed with you," Hestia spoke to whoever had said something, and it sounded like her old voice, her grown-up voice.
"I was in California, helping with a fire," Hestia told him, and she was back to being gentle. He didn't care. He was warm and safe now. "It took me a few minutes before I could get away. I'm sorry you had to go through that."
Harry shook his head. "You came," he whispered. "You really came."
Her arms tightened, and Harry bit back a wince. "Of course I came when I heard you pray that desperately," she said. "I'm glad you did."
"I prayed to Artie too, but she didn't come," Harry whispered, afraid that she'd take it badly that he tried a different goddess as well.
"You prayed to Artie and she ignored you?" Hestia asked, her voice suddenly taking on a dangerous undertone. There seemed to be whispers from the other voices, but they stopped suddenly. He imagined Hestia had glared at them.
Harry just nodded.
"That's not very nice of her," Hestia said, her voice somewhat tight.
"Did I do wrong? I prayed to you but then I remembered you were in California and thought you couldn't hear me so I tried praying to Artie but she ignored me," he managed to get out in a single breath.
"No, Harry. No, you did nothing wrong. You didn't know I could hear you, and you were afraid for your life," Hestia reassured him, but the last part was said rather angrily. He tried to move but his side flared in pain.
"Harry, are you in pain?"
"My side," he whispered. "One of the soldiers hit me."
Her hand reached for his side and a pleasant warmth spread through his body. The pain lessened. He heard Hestia take a deep breath. "I can heal minor wounds as Goddess of the Home," she said. "But you have two broken ribs. I'll ask someone to heal you."
Harry whimpered and tried to curl deeper into her embrace. "Don't worry," she said with a teasing tone. "Apollo is many things, but he is an excellent healer." She leaned closer. "He is the God of Healing, after all," she said. Harry just nodded.
"Apollo? If you would?" she asked.
"Of course, Aunt Hestia," one of the other voices said. There were some grumbles.
"I believe I asked for you to remain quiet," Hestia said on a gentle tone. A gentle tone with a steel undercurrent. Harry thought she sounded awesome. Hestia could quiet this bundle of angry people with just her voice. Awesome was the most appropriate word.
"Hey there, kiddo," the masculine voice said, sounding very close. "Don't worry, I'll have you fixed up in no time."
Harry risked a look. The man was blond, had blue eyes, and looked… nice, Harry supposed. He looked like a god one could ask for a favor, a god who wouldn't hurt people; Not unless they deserved it, at least.
The man, Apollo, Harry corrected, put a hand on his hurting side. "Ouch, that looks painful, kiddo. Let the handsome God of the Sun heal you up," the god said. Harry felt his side relax. "There you go, as good as new."
Harry swallowed. "Thank you, sir," he whispered, not sure how to address the god that had healed him. He didn't recall if this particular god's voice had been one of the multitude that had been yelling and screaming earlier.
Apollo smiled widely. "You're quite welcome. I'll be back on my throne for when you feel like coming out of Aunt Hestia's arms." He thought for a moment, and then grinned at Harry. "I know how difficult that is, so take your time," he teased.
"Apollo," Hestia said, on a tone of long-suffering amusement.
Harry risked a small smile. Yes, it was hard leaving a Hestia Hug. Anyone who enjoyed those couldn't be all that bad, he decided.
"Are you feeling better?" Hestia asked when she felt him relax.
He just nodded.
"Come," she said, patting his back. "I'll introduce you to the others." She leaned in closer. "Just remember to be polite, and everything will be alright."
Harry squirmed deeper into her embrace. "They'll curse me. Or kill me. That soldier said so. And when I tried to get free, he thumped me. Hard."
Hestia tightened her hug slightly. "Nobody's going to curse you, or kill you, and if I find out which of the guards hit you, I will be having a quiet word with him about his behavior, about what is acceptable and what is not."
There were quiet mutters from the other voices.
Harry sighed. "Okay," he whispered. He didn't want to leave the quiet safety of Hestia's protective embrace. He didn't want to meet the sources of the angry voices. Angry voices reminded him of Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia.
She patted his back again. "I'll be right here with you," Hestia promised, as if she could read his mind. "You're under my protection. Nobody's going to hurt you." Harry looked up at her, and noticed that she was looking over his back at someone, as if she had directed the last part not at him, but at someone else.
Was she warning someone?
"Promise?" he asked, quietly. He was stalling for time. He knew it. Hestia's smile indicated that she knew it, too.
"I promise," she said, smiling gently at him. That smile more than anything reassured him. Hestia would protect him from the angry voices. Hestia wouldn't let anything happen to him. She was the best goddess ever, he decided.
He sighed and moved slightly. She released him, and stood up. He swallowed once, and stood up as well. "Come on, Harry. We'll begin with my youngest brother."
Harry took his first good look around the large room he had been thrown into by the soldier. The sources of the angry voices became at once apparent, as the room held many large thrones, thrones occupied by many large people.
And when Harry meant large, he meant large, as all these people were at least three meters tall. They all looked very different, and each had their own distinct form of throne, he noticed. He didn't want to look them in the eyes; he kept his head down. He wanted to be out of this awful room with these people that yelled and screamed. He wanted to go back to Helios' temple, where things were quiet.
"This is my youngest brother," Hestia said, stopping in front of one of the two thrones that stood at the head of the U-shaped room. "Zeus, King of the Gods, Lord of the Sky, God of Thunder. Zeus, this is Harry Potter."
Harry offered the tall man in his pinstripe suit a tentative smile. "Hi Mister Zeus," he tried, before recognizing them man. Suddenly, unstoppably, a memory came to him. Immediately he forgot about his fears as the memory assaulted him, and he pointed accusingly. "You're the pervert who had his tongue down that woman's throat and his hands on her behind while her legs were locked around his sides!"
There came guffaws from the other gods, and the pretty lady sitting next to the king of the gods turned a deathly look at the god.
"Wha-?" Zeus managed before the words hit him. Suddenly, his hand was holding a lightning bolt of all things! Harry eep-ed and tried to hide behind Hestia. "You little urchin!" he shouted, making Harry cringe. "How dare you-" The woman sitting next to Zeus coughed rather exaggerated manner. Zeus turned white.
"What is this I hear, dear husband?" Hera asked, her tone completely at odds with her words.
"Ehm… Hera… that is… I mean…"
Harry stepped out from behind Hestia, who gave him a small smile. "That may not have been a good way to make Zeus like you, Harry," she offered.
The boy nodded shyly. "It was disgusting when I saw it. I just didn't know who it was."
Zeus, meanwhile, tried to bluster his way out. "I don't see why you're taking the boy's words as truth," he declared.
"Your initial reaction showed their truth," Hera answered with a withering look.
"Yeah!" Harry shouted, suddenly feeling strengthened now that he had someone else defending him. He pointed at Zeus again and waggled his finger. "You're only supposed to make kissy-face with your wife! And why were you making kissy-face with that other woman anyway?" his finger moved to Hera. "She's far prettier than that other woman was!" More tittering and quiet guffaws from the other gods.
Zeus blinked, not having expected a mortal boy, who until ten minutes ago was cowering in fear, was now lecturing him. He narrowed his eyes and was about to lay into the boy again, when he noticed Hestia's tightening eyes.
"Thank you, Harry," Hera said, rather kindly, before turning to Zeus. "Now you hear it from someone else, husband. We will discuss this again later."
Zeus seemed to pale. Harry didn't know what Hera was going to do to her husband, but from his reaction, it looked awful.
Hestia motioned for Hera. "Harry, this is my youngest sister, Hera, Queen of the gods, Goddess of Marriage, Familial Love, and Women. And as you may have guessed by now, she's Zeus' wife."
"Hello Miss Hera," Harry said, suddenly feeling rather bad about having shouted about Zeus' affair where everyone could hear it.
"Hello, Harry," Hera said with a tight smile.
"Sorry about shouting about Mister Zeus," Harry offered, hoping that Hera wouldn't be too mad at him.
Hera glared at Zeus, before turning back to Harry. "I wish I could say that this was the first time," she said.
Zeus muttered something that Harry didn't catch. From the way Hestia's shoulders tensed, she had, though. Harry was about to turn to her and ask what Zeus had said, when Hera spoke up.
"Why would I not be nice to him, husband?" she snapped. "He is one of the few proper demigods out there. He was conceived in wedlock. His parents loved him, and they loved each other. This I can tell from my own domain. Tell me then, why would I not treat him properly when his existence is, for once, not an affront to my domain?"
Zeus seemed to cower without physically moving, which Harry thought was a major accomplishment. At the same time, he was marveling! He knew his parents were married, the Dursleys had said so, but to hear it confirmed was wonderful! And they had loved each other, and they had loved him! The Goddess of Family Love had said so!
With Zeus silent, Hera turned back to Harry. "You have nothing to fear from me, young Harry. As I said, for once there's a proper demigod."
Harry smiled tentatively. "Ehm… Miss Hera? Do you know anything more about my parents? They died when I was very little, and the… and they only said my parents died in a car crash."
Hera could read between the lines, and her eyes tightened. "Unfortunately, Harry, my domain extends only to family love and marriage. I can tell your parents were married, and I can tell they loved you and each other, as that falls within the bonds of familiar love, but I can't tell you more."
"Oh," Harry said, feeling rather disappointed. He offered the goddess a smile regardless. "Thank you anyway. I'm glad they loved me."
There were some mutters from the other gods that were cut off rather sharply when Hera shifted her looks from him to them. When the room was silent, she focused on Harry again. "Never doubt that, Harry. The Queen of the Gods guarantees it."
He smiled back. "Thank you, Miss Hera."
Hestia was smiling. "I am glad to see that your normal animosity towards demigods doesn't extend towards Harry," she told her younger sister.
Hera actually seemed to pout, although Harry was sure she'd deny it later. "I'm not that bad, sister."
Hestia just kept smiling. "Of course not, sister," she said, although her tone belied her words. Harry looked from one to the other, and he was sure Hera was pouting at Hestia.
"Come, Harry, I'll introduce you to my second brother," the Goddess of the Hearth said, leading Harry to a man seated on a fisherman's chair. He had jet-black hair and sea green eyes, and looked like he smiled and laughed a lot.
"Harry, this is my middle brother, Poseidon, God of the Seas, and Father of Horses. Poseidon, this is Harry Potter."
Harry suddenly felt very out of place. "All of the seas?" he wondered, feeling nervousness creep upon him.
Hestia laughed gently. "Yes, Harry, every sea and every ocean," she confirmed. "There's no reason to be nervous, Poseidon has calmed down substantially from the tales you read."
The boy looked up at the god, who was smiling gently, and did indeed look welcoming. "Hi Mister Poseidon," Harry said, trying to muster his strength. "I've stayed away from your seas, I promise."
Poseidon blinked. Hestia froze, suddenly realizing that she was going to have to restrain her temper again.
"What do you mean, Harry?" Poseidon asked, abruptly looking rather intense. Harry could smell something salty in the air. It smelled nice; he'd never smelled it before.
"The… they… told me that I would poison the sea if I got near it, so they left me behind when they went to the coast," Harry said, timidly. "I don't mean to poison your seas, Mister Poseidon, I promise!"
Suddenly Harry felt very small, and Poseidon felt very large. The air got thick to breathe. The god before him drew a deep breath and seemed to calm himself down. "Harry," he said, firmly yet gently, "there is nothing about you that would poison the ocean. Everyone who respects it is welcome to enjoy its bounties. I would like to know who told you those lies."
Hestia placed a calm hand on Harry's shoulder, who seemed to be unable to believe what he was hearing. "Harry, what have I told you about listening to what those horrid people have told you?"
"Not to?" Harry offered.
Hestia gently squeezed his shoulder. "So why are you listening to them?" she asked, still offering gentle support.
Harry shrugged. "I just didn't want to mess up Mister Poseidon's oceans. I heard lots of good things about them."
"The oceans are great!" Poseidon interjected as if it were the whole truth of existence. "When we are done here, I'll take you to some of my favorite beaches, and show you the bounty of the sea."
Harry looked like Christmas had come, and ignored how some gods were muttering about 'bragging'. "Really Mister Poseidon? That'd be great! I've never seen a beach!" He suddenly shrunk down. "I don't know how to swim, though."
Poseidon waved it off. "As God of the Seas, I have my ways of teaching people to swim," he said with a wide smile. He looked at Hestia. "I would still like to know who told such horrible lies," he told her.
"Harry's previous caretakers were not suitable," Hestia said. "Don't worry, the situation is taken care of."
Poseidon, and quite a few of the other gods, were looking at her curiously. Hestia did not elaborate. "If you say so, sister," the God of the Sea finally admitted.
"I do," Hestia said firmly, yet gently. There were more curious looks from the others; but she remained silent on the subject. Instead, she nodded gratefully to Poseidon, and guided Harry away.
"Harry, this is my middle sister, Demeter," she introduced Harry to a pretty goddess with golden hair and brown eyes. "Demeter is Goddess of Agriculture, Fertility, and the Harvest." Looking at her sister, Hestia continued, "Demeter, this is Harry Potter."
"Whoa," Harry said, sounding impressed. "Nice to meet you, Miss Demeter!"
Demeter smiled back at the little boy, who so far had been either entertaining or respectful. "Hello, Harry."
"Are you the Goddess of Gardens too?" Harry asked. "The… they… made me tend to their garden. I didn't like weeding much, but I liked how pretty the roses were."
Demeter smiled gently at the boy. "Every plant has its purpose, Harry," she explained gently. "While weeds as you call them may not appear helpful, they do put new food into the ground for other plants to absorb. And I agree with you, roses can be very pretty when tended well."
Harry smiled; he liked the Goddess of Agriculture. Hestia guided him on. She seemed reluctant to introduce him to the next god, and Harry was wondering why. So far, he'd liked the gods and goddesses she has introduced him to. Well, he had liked all except Mister Zeus, who cheated on his wife with a woman that wasn't even as pretty as her!
"Harry, this is Ares, God of War. Ares, this is Harry Potter," Hestia said as they stopped in front of the throne. The god seated upon it was huge and muscular, dressed in a leather duster, a red muscle shirt underneath a bulletproof vest. He had jet-black hair and his eyes were balls of fire.
"Hello, Mister Ares," Harry said, politely. The god made him feel like Uncle Vernon did in the past – as if the slightest spark could set him off.
"What's up, brat?" the god greeted back. "No need for all the politeness with me." He grinned. "Gets in the way of bloodshed."
Harry blinked and hesitated for a moment. "Hestia told me to be polite," he finally said, ignoring the comment about boodshed. Leaning closer to the God of War, he added, "it's very hard and I don't like it either."
Ares burst out laughing. "I like this brat," he announced. Looking closer at Harry, he said, "You could use some more training, you're scrawny."
Harry nodded. "They didn't feed me much and kept me lucked in my cupboard a lot of the time. Hestia's been taking good care of me, and Artie's been teaching me to use knives and bows and stuff."
Ares laughed loudly again. "You get away with calling the Goddess of the Hunt Artie?" he looked at one of the goddesses. "Getting soft, are we?"
"Ares," Hestia admonished.
The god of war subsided. "Sorry Aunt Hestia." He turned to Harry. "Look me up; I'll give you some training to put some muscles on those bones."
"Sure, I love learning!" Harry said, enthusiastically.
As Ares laughed, again, Hestia turned to him. "Come, Harry. Let me introduce you to Apollo."
She showed him to the next god on the male side; a god dressed in shiny gold, seated upon a golden throne.
"Harry, this is Apollo, God of Light, the Sun, healing, music, art, poetry, archery, reason, knowledge, and prophecy. Apollo, this is Harry Potter," Hestia introduced them.
Harry smiled up at the blindingly dressed god, remembering how he had been the one to heal him earlier. "Hi Mister Apollo. Thanks for healing me!"
"You're quite welcome, Harry," the god said, grinning widely. His teeth were so white they shone, and Harry to squint to get a good look at him. "Perhaps a Haiku is in order. Let's see..."
"NO!" the other gods and goddesses interrupted, causing Harry to jump at the unexpected loud noise. He didn't do well with shouting and screaming, and his earlier panic attack had only made things worse.
Apollo seemed to dim, and pouted at the others. "You're all so mean," he complained.
Harry didn't know what a Haiku was, but if it caused the other gods to protest, it must be something truly awful. Still, the god in front of him had healed him, and Harry hated seeing him down. He took a few steps, and patted the god on the knee – just like the other gods; it was the highest part he could reach when they were seated down in their three meter tall forms.
"It's alright, Mister Apollo. Maybe later?" the little boy offered, trying to cheer him up.
Some light seemed to seep back into the depressed god, while muttered protests sounded from around the room.
Before the sun god could say anything, Harry went on to say, "Hestia said you have a lot of jobs to do, so I hope you're not too busy."
Apollo grinned at the little boy, light shining off those shiny white teeth again. "Lots of work for me. I am a busy god. You're fun, Harry."
The other gods groaned, while Harry just looked confused. The last part seemed a good thing, the god liked him, and the first two sentences said he was very busy, but he didn't understand what the god was trying to say at all.
"You're missing a syllable in the second sentence. You only have six instead of seven," One of the goddesses pointed out, making Apollo dim again. When Harry looked at the goddess that had spoken, he noticed her intense gray eyes. He made to say something, defend the god that had healed him, when he was interrupted.
"Don't worry, Harry," Hestia said. "He's been obsessed with Haikus ever since he visited Japan."
Harry nodded gravely, the way he always did when he didn't completely understand but was willing to go along with whatever she said.
"Why are you all hating on my haikus?" Apollo complained.
"Because they're awful," another goddess replied – this one was dressed in silver, and looked like what Harry imaged Artie's mom would look like. He wondered if they were related; perhaps this really was Artie's mom?
Apollo dimmed again, and Harry wondered if he should pat the god on the knee again to try and cheer him up.
Hestia beat him to it. "There, there, Apollo," Hestia said with a small smile. "Practice makes perfect, I'm sure you'll write some wonderful haikus once you get the rhythm down. It's a Japanese practice, and us Greek Gods are bound to have issues learning the skill."
Apollo seemed to light up again, and Harry wondered if that was normal. The god seemed to dim and light up at the drop of a hat.
"Come, Harry, I'll introduce you to another nephew of mine. He's called Hermes," Hestia said, smiling at seeing the sun god's mood restored.
They walked over to the next god on the male side of the large meeting room, and Harry gave the man a small, tentative smile. He got a big one from the god in return, making him feel better. He still somewhat felt bad about Mister Apollo being teased by the others, but the smile from Mister Hermes made him feel better.
"Harry, this is Hermes, the Messenger of the Gods. He's the God of Roads, Messengers, and Travelers. That's why his cabin at camp welcomes everyone," Hestia introduced. "Hermes, this is Harry Potter."
"Hello Harry," Hermes greeted kindly. He knew how overwhelming things could be, and as God of Travelers, he was used to both making nice with people, and putting people at ease.
"Hello Mister Hermes. It's very nice of you to let everyone into your cabin at camp," Harry said, smiling.
"Yes, it is, isn't it?" Hermes said, putting on an exaggerated air. Harry laughed softly, still unsure whether he was even allowed to laugh or not.
"Hermes is also the God of Thieves," Hestia added.
Harry looked at her, as if asking if she were joking or not. She smiled softly at him, letting him know it was not a joke. Harry turned to look at Hermes. Then, he remembered having to steal in order to feed himself.
He didn't like remembering those episodes, he felt ashamed of them, but he was well aware that this cozy life on Olympus could fall apart at any moment, and he would have to go back to taking care of himself. And when that happened, he may need to steal again.
"Do you look over all thieves?" Harry asked quietly. Most mortals wouldn't have understood him, but this was a hall filled with gods. They heard him perfectly fine.
Hermes grinned in a conspiring manner. "Not personally, but I am aware of them," he said.
The young boy nodded. "Thanks, Mister Hermes," he offered. There were some mutters from the surrounding gods.
Hermes narrowed his eyes at the others. Harry's shoulder sunk. "After they left me in New York, I needed food," he muttered quietly. The mutterings from the other gods turned on a dime.
Hestia, hoping to break the dark mood, said, "Being the Messenger of the Gods, Hermes is also responsible for handling mail. So if you ever need something sent, you can box it up, put the delivery address on it, and offer some gold, and Hermes will deliver it."
Hermes frowned. "And I have my hands full with that, let me tell you," he griped. Harry smiled tentatively, not sure whether the god was playing or not. Hermes grinned down at the little boy. "Instant delivery, too. You can't beat Hermes Mail."
Harry grinned back. Mister Hermes seemed like a good guy – a bit like Mister Apollo, he seemed rather laid back. "That sounds like a lot of work," Harry said, smiling up at the god.
Hermes grunted. "Don't get me started, I don't get a second to myself," he complained.
Hestia, seeing how the busy god was about to start a rant on how busy he was, quickly guided Harry away.
"Harry, this is Hephaestus," she introduced. "He's the God of Forges, Fire, Technology, Craftsmen, Sculptors, Volcanoes, and Blacksmiths. Hephaestus, this is Harry Potter."
Harry look up at the powerfully-built god, noticing the powerful muscles and the callused hands of a craftsman, yet completely ignoring the god's lame leg and malformed face. "Are you really the God of Blacksmiths?" the little boy asked, suddenly sounding excited. "Like forging weapons and armor and such?"
Hephaestus, halfway resigned to a comment about his appearance, grinned as the boy spoke. "All of that and more, young Harry," he said, grin widening.
"Hephaestus also builds a lot of machines and other devices," Hestia supplied, sounding proud. "He's the greatest inventor on Olympus."
"Whoa," Harry said, impressed. "That's awesome! Can you build robots and stuff, too? Like Robocop or Terminator?"
Hephaestus grinned. "They're called automatons, and I've built plenty of them. Robocop would need a mortal-"
He was interrupted by Zeus growling his name. Hephaestus went on as if his father hadn't spoken. "Unfortunately, we're not allowed to interfere in mortal lives so that's out. And while I could build a terminator, the way it can hide would wreak havoc with mortals. Too dangerous without a way to experiment safely."
"Whoa," Harry said again. "But still! Pounding metal on an anvil is cool!" He grinned, and pointed at the god. "You're my favorite god so far."
There were complaints from the other male gods, and Harry suddenly shrunk in on himself. He'd let his mouth get away from him, and now the others were going to be mad at him. He wished he hadn't said anything. Hestia gave the other male gods a look, making them retreat into silence – although it wasn't heartfelt.
Hephaestus, meanwhile, grinned. "Not a lot of people recognize the value of hard work these days. I'm glad to meet you, young Harry."
Harry gave the god a tentative smile, and gave a somewhat abashed look to the other male gods he had already met. It wasn't returned.
He sighed sadly. He'd liked the other gods, too, but… blacksmithing! And robots!
"Now, now," Hestia said. "Everyone has favorites. There's no need for hurt feelings."
The others grumbled slightly, but seemed to subside in their anger. "Good," the goddess of the heart said, her trademark smile back in place. "Come, Harry, let me introduce you to my oldest brother."
Harry gave another smile and wave to Hephaestus, and followed Hestia to the last throne on the male side of the room. He had deep black hair and equally black eyes, and as he sat up straight on his throne – which seemed temporary for some reason – he also seemed resigned about something.
"Harry, this is my oldest brother, Hades. He's the ruler of the Underworld, and God of the Dead and Riches. Hades, this is Harry Potter."
Harry stared at the god for a few moments. "That's so cool," he finally said.
The god in question looked surprised. Harry went on. "The Underworld sounds like something out a James Bond movie! It's awesome!"
Hades, still looking surprised, finally answered, "Thank you, Harry."
"Since you're God of the Dead, Mister Hades, does that mean you're god of zombies, skeletons, and ghosts, too?"
Hades nodded. "Yes, I am," he replied, surprised.
Harry turned to Hestia, smiling widely "Awesome!"
Hestia shook her head gently. Harry was a young boy, and like most young boys, he loved zombies and skeletons.
Harry didn't notice her shaking her head, and had turned back to the dark god. "How does it work, Mister Hades? When someone dies, do you bring them with you? Oh, and what about heaven and hell? Are they real?"
Hades smiled slightly, as if he weren't used to Harry's questions. "I have a god working for me who transports the spirits of the dead. His name is Charon."
Harry nodded. "He's a centaur, right?"
Hades laughed, as did plenty of other deities in the room. "That's a common mistake, Harry," Hades said. "It annoys Charon to no end, please feel free to remind him to his face should you ever see him."
"Hades," Hestia warned.
"Sorry, Hestia," the god of the underworld replied. "No, Harry, Charon is not a centaur. Chiron is the centaur you're thinking of; he's working at camp as a trainer. Charon is the bargeman. He collects the deceased spirits, and ferries them across the river Styx into the underworld. The spirit is then judged, based on the actions they have taken in their life. Good people go to the Elysian Fields; heaven, so to speak. The average people go to the Asphodel Fields. Bad people… are punished," he hesitated at seeing Hestia's warning look.
Harry just nodded. "That sounds cool," he said. "So you're basically taking care of people after they die? Make sure they're rewarded or punished, and make sure they're alright?"
Hades hesitated for a moment, then nodded. "That's an adequate description," he allowed.
"That's so cool," Harry repeated again. "Thanks for taking care of my mom and dad, Mister Hades!"
The god seemed surprised again. Harry thought that it was because not a lot of people would think about thanking him for taking care of their dead loved ones. Which is really sad, because it sounded like an important job.
"You're… welcome," Hades allowed, trying to wrap his head around the fact that he was actually being thanked for once. He had expected either fear or condemnation, not gratitude.
"Say, Mister Hades, when you say you punish bad spirits, what do you do? I mean, spirits are like ghosts, right? It's kinda hard to do anything to them. Unless you're the Ghostbusters."
Hades gave another short laugh. "Being a god, I can touch them just fine. And after they have been judged, they take on some form of physical body, so to speak, so they can be punished. Extensively. Depending on their crimes."
Harry nodded. "So bad people that get away with things here get punished after they die?"
Hades grinned. It was not a nice grin. In fact, it was a rather bloodthirsty grin. "Exactly, Harry," the god said.
Harry just kept nodding. "Hey, Mister Hades – Mister Hephaestus can't build terminators because he can't test them. How about he builds a terminator, sends it to you, and you can have your bad spirits fight them? That way, he can do testing, and you can punish bad spirits with something new."
Hades blinked, glanced to Hephaestus, who suddenly seemed interested in the conversation as well. "That could be interesting," the god of the underworld said. "It would take a few details to work out, but that could be an interesting punishment for some of my… guests."
"Can I watch?" Harry asked, causing laughter from some of the other gods. Ares especially seemed to approve.
"No!" Hestia interjected. Harry's shoulders slumped, and he turned to look at the Goddess of the Hearth, pouting. "You are too young to travel to the underworld, and I do not approve of that level of violence."
"But Hestia..." Harry wheedled.
"I really rather you didn't, Harry," Hestia said, standing firm.
Harry nodded, and turned to look at Hades. "Sorry, Mister Hades. I guess I'll have to wait and visit when I'm old."
Hades laughed. "Don't worry, Harry. The underworld will still be there. It's always good to listen to Hestia. We gods don't do that nearly enough."
Harry nodded in agreement, and gave his favorite goddess a hug. "Hestia's great," he said, before releasing her, making Hestia shake her head in amusement at him. Harry just went on. "You know, Mister Hades, I think you and Mister Hephaestus are both my favorite gods."
Hades blinked in surprise; mortals often had gods they especially aligned with, but this was the first time that a mortal had actually proclaimed him, Hades, Lord of the Underworld, as their 'favorite' god.
He glanced at Hephaestus. The God of the Forge was looking back at him. The two gods had never clashed or fought with each other, and shared a nod. They could live with sharing Harry's 'favorite god' title.
"Mister Hades?" Harry asked, focusing the god's attention back on him. "Do you know everyone who died? Like my mom and dad? They said my parents were drunks, so I was wondering… you know..."
Hades seemed to soften, and stared intently at Harry. He then frowned when he seemed to realize something, and stared closer. "Harry, there are a few things I can tell you about your parents. They died as heroes. They went to Elysium. And then, something odd happened."
Harry blinked. "Odd how, Mister Hades?" he asked.
"One of them vanished," the god replied. "As if resurrected or stolen by another god. It is most peculiar. Unfortunately, my power is limited when it comes to the living, and so I can't determine more unless I were to know the spirits in question personally. I'll have to look into it."
"Oh," Harry said. Then he perked up. "They went to Elysium? That means they were good people, right?"
Hades gave a small smile. "They died a heroes' death, Harry. Take comfort from that."
The little boy just nodded, feeling his entire world turn upside down. Miss Hera had told him that his parents loved each other, and loved him, and now Mister Hades had told him they died a heroes' death and had gone to Elysium. Even if someone stole one of them later on.
Hestia smiled, and nudged him quietly. "Harry, you know you're a demigod. Gods don't die, so whoever your godly parent is, they would not have perished. The fact that they went to the underworld and went through judgement is very odd, however."
Harry blinked, not having made the connection until it was so blatantly spelled out for him. "So my godly parent, they're still alive?"
"And are ordered by the Ancient Laws not to raise you, or even interfere on a major level," Hestia admitted.
"Oh," Harry replied, the emotional rollercoaster going down.
Hades snapped his fingers. "That is it, sister," he said to Hestia. He looked at the young boy. "Harry, Your godly parent, be they your father or your mother, aspected themselves. They created a mortal, stuffed some of their essence into it, and set it to live a mortal life. After that aspect died, it would have rejoined the original god or goddess. Some do it – immortality can get boring and this is one way of gaining new perspective."
Harry looked confused. "What does that mean, Mister Hades?"
Hades rubbed his chin, thinking how to best explain it. "You can think of it like a mortal clone of the god or goddess," Hestia explained instead. "After the clone dies, the memories it has gained will rejoin the god or goddess that created it. But, some of the essence of the original god or goddess is still in the clone, so any children they have will be demigods."
"Oh," Harry said. "So my mom and dad really were married, only mom or dad was a god?"
"Exactly," Hestia said, smiling, glad he understood.
"Then… why didn't… I mean… was there something wrong with me?"
Hestia felt like her heart was breaking. It was never easy when a neglected demigod found out they did, in fact, have a living parent. "No, Harry," she said, hugging him. "As Hades explained, there are laws. Ancient Laws that we are all bound to. Gods are forbidden from raising their children. A mortal aspect of a god is an exception. They are generally not aware they are, in fact, an aspect of a god, so they're not bound by those laws."
Harry just tried to wrap his head around everything that had been thrown at him. "So when mom… or dad… died..."
"They rejoined the original god or goddess, and were no longer mortal," Hestia explained gently.
"I wish I knew who it was," Harry said. "I don't even know if it's my mom or my dad."
"I'm sure you'll find out one day, Harry," Hestia said.
The boy just nodded, sadly. He wished he knew who his godly parent was, or even if it was his mother or father. He was able to pray to Hestia, so maybe he would be able to pray to them, too. Even if they couldn't talk back, it would be nice to talk to them.
Suddenly, he felt an urge. The same kind urge that had taken him to Olympus. It told him to scratch his scar. He hated when people stared at it, so he usually kept it hidden under his hair.
The urge had tried to protect him from the bad people that had wanted to do bad things to him; he hadn't listened to it then, and things had turned very bad for him. He had listened to it when it brought him through the Empire State building and onto Olympus, and that had turned out the best thing that had ever happened to him.
He decided to listen, and scratched at his scar.
Hades seemed to lean forward, and focused. Harry squirmed; this is why he kept his scar hidden.
"I hadn't noticed that scar," Hades said, intensely focused now.
"Neither had I, Hades," Hestia added, looking intently as well. Harry squirmed harder. He wished he could hide his scar again, but that feeling in his gut told him not to, that this was a good thing, that he should let the gods handle this.
Hades stood up, and shrunk at the same time. He stepped forward, and was suddenly in front of Harry, tall as a man but not tall as a god, leaning forward. "That scar," he said. "It is foul."
Harry blinked. "Like a chicken?"
Hestia smothered a laugh. "Foul as in disgusting, not fowl as in poultry," she explained gently, while some of the gods snickered around them.
Hades, meanwhile, had reached out, and trailed his thumb over it. "Do you know how you got this, Harry?" he asked, his voice incredibly intense. Harry swallowed, it was as if the air was growing thick again, making it hard to breathe.
"They told me I got it in the crash that killed my parents, Mister Hades. But since my parents didn't die in a crash, I don't know."
Hades just nodded. "There is a piece of soul stuck in that scar. It is made with the blackest of mortal magics." The God of the Underworld was now leaning so close that Harry could smell his breath. "Brace yourself. I will remove it. It may be painful."
Harry gulped. "Ok, Mister Hades."
It felt like a knife of energy was driven into his skull. Harry grunted; the next moment, the pain was gone. He opened his eyes, and stared at a black ball of tar that seemed to rest in Hades' hand.
"Tom Marvolo Riddle," Hades spoke to the ball. "You have made your last mistake. Now that part of your soul is in my possession, I shall condemn you in your entirety."
The black tar vanished into mist, a howling scream of pain coming from it until it had dissipated completely.
"That one had been on my books for over 7 years," Hades said with a satisfied smile. He drew a breath, and seemed to relax. "It's good to finally close that one out."
"Can you explain, Hades?" Hestia asked gently, yet intently.
Hades' smile grew, and he stepped back to his throne, growing as he did so, and sat down. "Gladly, sister. Tom Marvolo Riddle was a Dark Lord in the British mortal magical community. He escaped his final judgment over seven years ago, apparently by splitting his soul and tying those pieces to the mortal world. For some reason, a piece of his soul became attached to Harry's scar. After removing it, I was able to bring his entire soul to judgment. He is now judged. And… enjoying… my hospitality."
Hades smiled at Harry. "Harry, I believe that your parents perished while fighting this person. It would explain their deaths and your scar." He looked at Hestia. "Sister, you may wish to take him to see Hecate. If he is part of the mortal magical community, he may need some pointers."
"Magic, Mister Hades?" Harry asked.
Hestia smiled at him, before turning to look at the god of the underworld. "That may be a good idea, Hades," she said, before address Harry. "Yes, magic, Harry."
The little boy just nodded, as he always did when something didn't make sense to him.
"Come, Harry," Hestia said. "There are a few more people for you to meet."
"Okay, Hestia," Harry said, before turning to Hades. "Thanks for taking care of my scar, Mister Hades!"
Hades smiled back. It was very rare for a mortal to be kind to him, rather than fearful or angry. "You're welcome, Harry." His smile took on a dangerous tint. "It allowed me to close out an account that had been escaping me."
Harry gave Hades a final wave as he followed Hestia to the other side of the room.
"Harry, this is Dionysus, God of Wine, Parties, and Madness. Dionysus, this is Harry Potter."
The god gave a disinterested wave. "Yes, yes, hallo, Harmon."
Harry blinked, while Hestia gave the god a look of profound disappointment. "Dionysus doesn't like demigods," she explained to the boy.
"Oh," Harry said, quiet for a few moments. Finally, he said, sadly, "So that's why I never had a party. Or allowed to go to one. Or be invited to one. And why Uncle Vernon was always mad at me." Harry frowned. "He turned purple. It was ugly."
Dionysus' eyes narrowed, while there were mutters coming from the others gods. Hestia's hand squeezed Harry's shoulder. "Madness as 'insanity', not 'anger'," she explained. "And I'll deal with your lack of parties."
The heavy-set god of wine sat up straight. "Damn right we will. I have no love for demigods, but being denied even a basic celebration is a crime against my domain."
"Dionysus, language, please," Hestia admonished gently. "But thank you."
Dionysus grunted, and waved the comment off.
"Thank you, Mister Dionysus," Harry said, smiling widely. "I've never had a party, but I heard a lot of good things!"
The god just let out a grunt.
"You'll have to forgive Dionysus, Harry," Hestia said. "He has been punished by Zeus and has been forbidden from drinking alcohol."
"Oh," Harry said, looking up at the god. "That sucks, Mister Dionysus. Alcohol is great."
The god just nodded angrily, and huffed. Hestia, meanwhile, had turned to look at him. "Harry, you're too young for alcohol. Those people again?"
Harry shrugged. "Uncle Vernon said I might as well get a head start to be like my parents. I liked it. Made me feel tingly. And things didn't look so bad."
More muttering from the gods, but also a nod from the God of Wine.
"You won't be drinking alcohol until you're an adult," Hestia declared.
Harry looked at her for a few moments, and then nodded. "Sure. Ever since coming here, life's been great so I haven't needed it," he finally agreed.
The Goddess of the Hearth gave a satisfied nod. "Poor boy," Dionysus muttered at the same time.
"Dionysus," Hestia said again, once more showing her disappointment in the god.
The God of Wine grunted.
"Come, Harry, let me introduce you to some other people," the Goddess of the Hearth said, almost physically dragging Harry away from Dionysus. The boy found it odd; she hadn't actually done that with any of the other gods she had introduced him to. Even Mister Ares, and he had a potty mouth!
They stopped in front of the most beautiful woman harry had ever seen, whose features kept changing, but finally settled down on someone recognizable.
"Harry, this is Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty," Hestia introduced.
"Whoa, you're beautiful," Harry said, before realizing that it probably wasn't the smartest thing to say. He was about to apologize, when he heard Hestia laugh softly, and Aphrodite smiled widely.
"Thank you, Harry," the beautiful goddess said, and her voice sounded as beautiful as she looked.
"Aphrodite gets that reaction a lot," Hestia explained to Harry, who still felt rather mortified. "She looks like the one you love the most, times ten."
Harry looked at Hestia for a few moments, thinking through what she said and what it meant, before looking at Aphrodite again. "You look a bit like Hestia and Artie," he said. "But I don't know anyone with red hair."
Mutterings from the other gods caused Harry to look around, trying to figure out what he said that would cause them to do so.
When he looked back the goddess of love, she was still smiling. "If you truly see me with the features of Hestia and… Artie… then you must care for them very much," she said. There were some quiet laughs from some of the other gods.
Harry nodded eagerly. "Hestia's the best goddess ever." His comments drew exclamations from the other gods, but Harry ignored them. "Hestia found me, gave me clothes that fit, gave me food and drink, and has taught me a lot! And Artie's just awesome with a bow and knowing how to survive in the wild, and she's been teaching me a lot, too!"
Aphrodite was grinning widely, as if she had just found out a secret he wasn't supposed to tell. Hestia, meanwhile, turned to him. "I wish you wouldn't say those things, Harry. I helped you as any decent god or goddess would."
The room suddenly became very, very, quiet. Hestia looked around with a profoundly disappointed look on her face. Harry didn't notice. "You were the one who found me and helped me, and introduced me to Artie. That makes you the best goddess ever."
The humble Goddess of the Hearth didn't know how to answer that, and finally said, "I just wish you wouldn't say that."
Harry grinned at her. "I'll stop saying it if you stop being it," he offered. Before realizing what he had just said. "Please don't stop helped me," he begged, realizing what it could cost him if she took him up on it.
Hestia smiled softly at him. "It isn't in my nature to turn my back on people," she reassured him.
Relieved, he let out his breath. "Thanks, Hestia." He looked at Aphrodite, and mouthed, "best goddess ever."
Aphrodite giggled. Hestia gave him a look, showing that she had caught him. Harry desperately pretended to be innocent. Soft laughter came from some of the other gods.
Desperately trying to change the subject, Harry focused on Aphrodite and said, "I still don't know anyone with red hair, though."
She smiled gently at him. "Love goes back further and deeper than what you remember, Harry. You may not remember them, but deep down, you love your parents. Quite likely, one of them had red hair."
"Oh," Harry said, studying her for a few moments. "It's really pretty red hair. I wonder if it was mom or dad who had it."
"Thank you, Harry," Aphrodite said, with a wide smile. Her smile changed slightly, her face growing more serious. "The way you were raised, without love or affection, is an affront to my domain." She made a vague motion with one of her hands. "I will make sure that this doesn't repeat."
Harry smiled. He didn't really understand what the goddess of love was telling him, but he thought it meant that Hestia would never leave him. That part he liked. "Thanks, Miss Aphrodite!"
The goddess graced him with another blinding smile. "You're most welcome, cutie!"
Harry returned the smile.
Realizing the conversation between Aphrodite and Harry was over; Hestia put her hand on Harry's elbow. "Come, Harry. We've almost completed the introductions," she said, guiding him away, but giving the goddess of love a grateful smile as she did so. Aphrodite just grinned.
"I'm sure you know Artemis," Hestia said, walking to the throne of the next goddess, and making to pass her. Harry studied the goddess, and frowned slightly.
"You look like Artie's mom," Harry told the goddess as Hestia was guiding them passed her throne. Artemis, who had been scowling, suddenly blinked, obviously not having expected Harry to talk to her.
It seemed she didn't know what to say, and so Hestia stopped, and stared at Harry for a few moments. "Harry," the goddess of the hearth said, "Do you remember how I had a godly adult form a few moments ago?"
Harry frowned slightly. "I… don't think so?" he finally admitted.
Hestia nodded, as if realizing something. "You must not have realized it due to your panic," she explained. "Gods have a mortal form, and a godly form." She suddenly looked three meters tall, and looked like a more mature version of herself. If Harry hadn't seen her change, he would have thought she was her mother, instead.
"So," Harry said, suddenly realizing what she was trying to say and turning to the throne he was in front of. "You're Artie?" There was more snickering from the other gods, and Harry frowned at them. He still didn't know what was so funny.
"Her full name is Artemis," Hestia explained.
"Oh," he muttered, finally realizing why everyone was snickering. "I thought your name was Artie," he told the goddess. "That was how Hestia introduced us."
Artemis sighed. "It was an annoyance at first, but I realized you meant no offense."
"Come, Harry," Hestia said. "We shouldn't take up more of Artemis' time." The goddess of the hunt seemed to sigh and flinch at the same time.
Harry, meanwhile, stared at Hestia. "I thought you called her Artie?"
Hestia sighed in turn. "Artie is the name of a niece I love very much; Artemis is the name of a goddess who would allow a mortal to suffer in her presence, despite him praying to her, for no other reason than the fact that he is male."
Harry blinked, opened his mouth, and closed it, unable to form any kind of response.
"Aunt Hestia," Artie said, mournfully.
"We shall talk later, Artemis. I'm sure you're quite busy, and I wouldn't want to keep you any longer than necessary," the Goddess of the Hearth said. There were whispers from the other gods. Artemis looked like she had been slapped.
Harry looked from one to the other. Finally, he sighed. "It's alright, Hestia," he said. "I'm not angry at Artie." He turned to face said goddess, walked up to her, and patted her knee, the way he had done with some of the other gods. There seemed to have been some kind of suspense among the other gods, as there was a collective release of breath when he finished and nothing happened. Harry ignored them; gods seemed to like theatrics and so far nothing bad had happened to him after Hestia had rescued him.
"I understand why you didn't help me, Artie," he told the Goddess of the Hunt. "If you had helped me, everyone would have turned on you, and you didn't want to risk it. It's alright, I had people in school too, who were nice to me in private but didn't help me in public. They were afraid, too." He sighed. "I understand, really."
Artie seemed to be at a loss for words, and it was Hestia who spoke first. "You are a kind soul, Harry," she said. "I would have forgiven her, but you don't even seem angry."
Harry sighed again. "It's not the first time this happened," he said, quietly. "Not everyone is like you. I mean. Nobody's like you; you're the first who ever stood up for me. And Artie's still awesome."
It seemed that the goddess of the hunt was shrinking with each word he said, without actually physically reducing in size.
"And yet," the Goddess of the Hunt finally spoke, "Aunt Hestia is correct. I should have spoken up. I did not. It was easier to keep quiet and go along with the proceedings rather than speak up and risk anger being pointed my way." She drew a deep breath and released it. "It was not correct of me. I will endeavor to be better in the future."
Hestia noted how the goddess carefully avoided saying she was 'wrong', and how she avoided issuing an actual apology. She was about say something, when Harry smiled at the goddess of the hunt, and spoke, "Thanks, Artie!" he quieted slightly, and asked, "Will you still teach me things?"
Artie studied him for a moment or two before coming to an apparent decision. "Depending on how things proceed, I may have a way to teach you more."
Harry's excitement rose. "Really? That's so cool! Thanks, Artie!"
The Goddess of the Hunt offered a small yet genuine smile. "You're welcome, Harry," she said.
"Artie, we will still talk," Hestia said, yet offered a smile to the goddess nonetheless.
"Of course, Aunt Hestia," Artemis said, offering a tentative and hopeful smile to her aunt.
Hestia just nodded once, as if in acknowledgement, and guided Harry to the last remaining goddess in the room.
"Harry, this is Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, Battle Strategy, Arts and Crafts, and Law and Justice. Athena, this is Harry Potter."
Harry offered this latest goddess a tentative smile. "Hello Miss Athena," he said, not at all comfortable with how the goddess' piercing grey eyes seemed to stare into the depths of his soul. She looked intimidating, but also gave the supreme notion that she did not like him.
She just nodded. "Demigod," she said with the tiniest dip of her head, as if it were a greeting. Harry figured it probably was.
"Athena," Hestia said with disappointment. She turned to Harry. "Being the Goddess of Law and Justice, your presence here on Olympus rankles."
Harry nodded. "I didn't know I shouldn't be here, Miss Athena," Harry said. "I had a feeling, and followed that feeling until it got me to Mister Helios' temple. It felt like their house, but when I asked Mister Helios if I could stay in return for cleaning up his temple, it felt really warm and safe. Hestia said it felt like a home, and that it meant Mister Helios decided I could stay."
Athena's eyes narrowed, then glanced at Hestia, who confirmed the tale with a nod. "So you claim to have felt Helios' presence? A god that faded over two millennia ago?"
Harry shrugged. "I think so, Miss Athena," he said. "He ate half my bread, too. And when I make too much food, I leave some for him on the altar, and he eats that, too. I've never seen him, other than his statue. I guess he's a ghost. Maybe Mister Hades could see him."
"I see," the Goddess of Wisdom said, settling into her throne. "So you are, in effect, renting Helios' temple?"
"I… guess?" Harry answered, not having considered that angle.
Zeus, it seemed, had come to the end of his patience. "That is all very well and good, but he still should not be here, on Olympus, in the Realm of the Gods. We were debating his punishment, and I for one, still vote for an immediate execution."
Harry swallowed, and tried to hide behind Hestia.
The King of the Gods pushed on. "Does anyone else have anything to add?"
Hestia just smiled reassuringly at Harry, then turned to her youngest brother. "Squatter's rights," she said.
AN: this is far as my pre-written chapters go; from here on out, I'm publishing chapters as I write and edit them.