Harry Potter, Squatter

By Enterprise1701_d

Chapter 60

Hestia materialized them both in her temple, her hand comfortably and reassuringly on his shoulder. The Norse had insisted on a feast to celebrate Harry's adoption, and considering who those Norse gods were, there was no getting out of it.

Hestia, in her usual manner, had tried to defer. Unfortunately for her, Thor drew the 'it would be a grave insult' card. Harry knew the Norse Gods were a lot harder to offend then they let on, but kept quiet. He definitely wanted to party now, and show his new adopted mother off to everyone.

Despite her reluctance, it seemed Hestia had enjoyed the celebration.

Now that they had returned, Harry hesitatingly looked at Hestia, wondering what was going to happen now. Would he be expected to sleep in her temple? Could he go back to Helios' temple and sleep in what had become his own bed?

As if reading his mind, Hestia gave him a reassuring smile. "I have already arranged your room in my temple," she said. "I would suggest you stay here for now, as Olympus is still closed."

Harry nodded. "Alright, Hestia," he said, then hesitated again. "Do I still call you Hestia? Or mom? Because Mom might not like it if I called you 'Mom' as well… "

The kindly goddess of the home patted his arm. "You can call me whatever you like, Harry," she said.

The young demigod nodded, still not entirely comfortable. He wondered where the awkwardness came from, especially considering he'd never felt uncomfortable around Hestia before.

Then, he realized, it was because she was his mother now. And despite meeting Tyche and exchanging many letters with her, he never really had a mother figure this close and this available. So now he was wondering how to behave or speak.

Hestia patted his arm again. "I'll show you to your room," she said, kindly. He just nodded and followed her.

Before they got anywhere, however, someone knocked on the door of Hestia's temple. Harry looked confused for a moment, but Hestia seemed to sigh in resignation. "Come along, Harry. I think this is something that was inevitable – although it's far quicker than I expected."

Harry's confusion just rose further as he followed her quietly, wondering what this was about.

Hestia pulled the door to her temple open, and their visitors made Harry instinctively reach for the Lasso of Truth.

Left Guard and Right Guard, the two Olympus soldiers that had first dragged him before Zeus, the very same ones that had 'requested' his presence at the hearing of his mother, both looked resigned to their fates.

Well… Left Guard looked resigned. Right Guard looked as unflappable as always.

"Lady Hestia," Left Guard said, "Lord Zeus has requested the presence of yourself. And your new… son."

Hestia narrowed her eyes at the hesitation the guard placed before calling Harry her son, but spoke on her usually kindly manner regardless. "Very well, we will follow you."

"Thank you, Lady Hestia," Left Guard said, sounding as if he meant it from the bottom of his heart.

"My declaration wasn't exactly inconspicuous," Hestia told Harry. "And our staying for the feast gave Zeus plenty of time to lie in wait and prepare an ambush."

Harry grumbled quietly.

"Now, Harry, he is still King of Olympus," Hestia admonished gently. Apparently he hadn't been grumbling quietly enough, so he gave her a pouty and sulky kind of look. She laughed softly and gave him an endearing smile.

"I don't expect you to get along with everyone, but there are certain people that deserve respect regardless of their person," Hestia explained. "While you may not like Zeus, and that dislike is certainly warranted, he is still King of Olympus."

Harry kept quiet, for a moment wondering if it would be better if someone else replaced Zeus as King.

"And that would be treason," Hestia continued, on the same tone.

He looked shocked – he hadn't said anything, had he?

"No, you haven't said anything, but I could practically hear the thoughts grinding around in your head," Hestia teased. "I have known you for quite a few years."

Harry remained sulkily quiet, and tried not to think.

Hestia just laughed softly and patted his shoulder. "There, there," she comforted. "We'll see what Zeus wants."

Me gone from Olympus, dead or alive, Harry thought snarkily but said nothing and tried to keep his face from betraying his feelings.

The two guards showed them to the Gods' meeting hall; said hall was a lot less populated than the last time Harry had seen it. For one, Artie and Ares were missing, likely out looking for Zeus' lightning bolt. He remembered Hestia mentioning Zeus had sent them out. Poseidon, too, was missing. Harry couldn't blame the God of the Seas; if Zeus falsely accused him of stealing, he wouldn't want to be here either.

For two, the servant Nymphs were missing, so it was just a quorum of gods present in the room as they filed in behind the two guards. As soon as they were inside, the two guards bowed and left the room as well.

Still, most of the other gods were there, giving credence to Hestia's assumption that Zeus had taken the time to arrange things in advance and had simply been biding his time to accost them.

"There you are," Zeus stated coldly, getting up from his throne and erecting himself to his full height while crossing his arms and glaring down at the two of them.

"Here we are," Hestia agreed with her usual kind smile. "What can we do for you, Zeus?"

She sounded like she meant it, too. Harry was impressed.

"Of all people," Zeus started. "I can not believe that you, Hestia, would defy me!" he finished with a raise in his voice that made Harry want to crawl behind Hestia. He hated it when people shouted.

"Oh? And how did I defy you?" Hestia asked, still on that same kindly tone.

Zeus growled and jabbed his finger at Harry. "You brought that demigod back onto Olympus, defying my decree to close it down!"

Hestia's smile widened slightly, and despite it still being a smile, it suddenly developed a pointiness that made it seem anything but kind and helpful. "I only did as I was instructed," Hestia replied, her tone rather flat.

It was that flatness that made the other gods present sit up and take notice as the Goddess of the Home continued. "You ordered me to remove my favorite mortal from his home – an order I dutifully followed."

Hera and Athena straightened further, both seeming to realize what was happening. Muttering started to come from the other gods present.

"It's just one mortal!" Zeus snapped. "One who has been lounging on Olympus long enough! With the current crisis, getting him, and everyone else, off of the Mountain was the best way forward!"

"Never waste a good crisis? Really, Zeus?" Hestia asked. "And that one mortal is my favorite mortal! One who you, As King of the Gods, ordered me, as Goddess of the Home, to make homeless."

Zeus blinked, and suddenly realized where he'd messed up. The muttering from the other gods turned acidic; from what Harry could understand, turning on Hestia was a big no-no and the King of the Gods had seriously messed up.

"I thought it better to have the mortal hear it from you, rather than my guards. Considering the training everyone has been lavishing upon him," with those words Zeus gave the stink-eye to Athena, and to Ares' and Artemis' empty thrones, "he was likely to take action."

Harry nodded; if those guards had attacked him, he'd have protected himself.

While shouting for Hestia, probably.

Hestia sniffed dismissively. "Your reasons are as empty as your decree," she retorted. "As Goddess of the Home, you forced me to go against my very domain. What will your next decree be? Force Hera into divorce? Force Artie to allow males into the Hunters?"

Zeus growled.

"No, Zeus, it was you who turned on me," Hestia said. "I had no other choice but to redress the situation. By adopting him, he is now my son."

Harry suddenly realized there was a light shining above him. As he looked up, he noticed his birth mother's cornucopia flanked by Hestia's flame, both symbols winking out of existence mere moments later.

There was more muttering among the gods; this time it sounded surprised rather than angry. Harry managed to catch the eye of Hermes, who surreptitiously winked at him. Harry was well aware that he couldn't return the gesture without getting noticed, so he tried to hide it with a nod, as if greeting his grandfather.

"You… you…" Zeus ground out, obviously at a loss for words.

"And as he is my son," she re-emphasized, "I can now take him into my temple and raise him properly."

"The Ancient Laws-" the King of the gods started, looking red in the face now. Harry thought, for just a moment, there was a striking resemblance to Uncle Vernon.

It was probably the worst insult he'd ever given someone.

"The Ancient Laws specify that gods can not raise their own children," Hestia stated, flatly. "I am raising a child I adopted as my own. He was not birthed from my loins, and therefore he does not fall under the law."

"Aunt Hestia," Athena said, drawing the attention of both Goddess of Home and Hearth, and the King of the Gods. "Far be it for me to disagree, but as you adopted young Harry as your own, he would therefore be your own and fall under the Ancient Laws."

Hestia smiled at Athena. "And yet, I was able to do so, without being struck down as any of us would be if we broke the Ancient Laws. After all, it is those same laws that prevent a god from usurping the power of another by stealing their sacred symbol."

"How dare-" Zeus snarled.

"You have been blaming poor, innocent demigods of stealing your Lightning Bolt since it was stolen," Hestia interrupted. "You blamed them from acting on behalf of another because of the Ancient Laws."

Zeus grumbled under his breath.

"Exactly," Hestia said, as if she had understood his grumbling. "I'm glad you agree." The King of the Gods looked surprised for a moment, and Harry wondered if he'd sported a similar look when Hestia pulled the trick on him earlier.

"So, as it stands, Harry is now my son by adoption," Hestia stated, looking around the room. "And he will be staying with me. I expect no trouble to befall him during his stay on Olympus," she stated the latter while staring straight at Zeus.

"He could have stolen my bolt," Zeus ground out, still visibly upset.

"He did not. Unless you would like to challenge me on my domain? Again?" Hestia asked, her kindness a velvet cover of an iron tone.

Harry suddenly thought of something and raised his hand. "Ehm… excuse me?"

Zeus' eyes glared at him, and Harry could see the vastness of the thunderstorm reflected within his dilated pupils.

Hestia smiled kindly at him. "You wanted to say something, Harry?"

Deciding that he'd rather look at a kind Hestia than at an angry Zeus, Harry turned to face her. "I just realized we have a way to prove for once and for all that I didn't steal Mister Zeus' Bolt," he said, while bringing out the Lasso of Truth. He wrapped a loop of it around his arm, and said, "I didn't steal Mister Zeus' Lightning Bolt."

Hestia looked proud and turned to Zeus. "Well, Zeus? Does that suffice?" More muttering came from the gods that were present, and Athena, for just a fraction of a moment, actually allowed a tiny smile to form before she blanked her face once more.

Zeus stared at Harry for a few moments, making him even more nervous than he already was. "And I suppose nobody approached you to steal it, either?"

"No, nobody asked me to steal your Lightning Bolt," Harry confirmed.

"Do you know where it is?" Zeus asked, a predatory smile appearing on his lips.

"No, I don't," Harry said, while simultaneously Hestia said, loudly, "ZEUS!"

The goddess of the Home turned to Harry and said, "You can let go of the Lasso now, Harry. Before you are forced to say something you don't want to state out loud."

Harry nodded and started to release the Lasso, when Zeus said, "And what would that be?"

"That I'm glad I already let go of the Lasso," Harry said as he turned the weapon back into a ring.

The King of the Gods looked disappointed for a moment, then sighed. "Fine, I will accept your innocence. And, thanks to Hestia's defiance, I'll tolerate your continued presence here on our precious mountain."

"Thank you, Zeus," Hestia said, back to being kind and gentle. "Will you keep Olympus closed?"

Zeus looked baleful for a moment. "No, I suppose not. Olympus can reopen."

"Thank you, Zeus," the Goddess of Home and Hearth said, kindly.

"I will not soon forget, sister," Zeus warned.

"Nor will I, brother," Hestia replied, making him flinch.

"Perhaps I spoke too soon," the King of the Gods sighed, realizing who he had been talking to and arguing with.

"Perhaps," Hestia confirmed with a gentle smile, before turning to Harry. "Come, Harry, let's go home."

Harry just nodded, not really sure what just happened, nor why the majority of the other gods were present. Perhaps Zeus had wanted to instigate one of those witch-hunt trials he'd subjected his mother to?

Regardless, Hestia had been formidable, and inwardly it confirmed to him that she was the best goddess ever.

"Perhaps we should do the same with the other demigods present on Olympus at that time," Athena said. "If we can ask them, under influence of the Lasso of Truth, whether or not they stole the Master Bolt, we could potentially sort this situation out in minutes."

Zeus rubbed his bearded chin. "Not a bad idea," he admitted, before looking at Dionysus. "Dionysus, gather the demigods and have them report here. We will question them while under the influence of the Lasso of Truth."

Dionysus, God of Wine, grumbled under his breath as he stood up from his throne.

"The demigods really aren't that bad," Hestia said, kindly. "Perhaps you would prefer if I did it, Dionysus?" she then offered.

"No, it's his job," Zeus said before Dionysus could gratefully accept. "It's about time he started accepting that."

The Party God looked gratefully at Hestia, followed by looking nastily at Zeus, and vanished. Harry really felt bad for the god, and resolved to bake the poor guy a cake with lots of crème de cacao and other alcohols to cheer him up.

Dionysus reappeared mere moments later. "Chiron is gathering them, some of them aren't at camp for some reason or other. I stopped listening when he started rambling," the god said as he sat himself down on his throne. Harry stifled a laugh.

"Fine," Zeus ground out. "We'll reconvene when the demigods are all present and accounted for." He glared at Harry. "I trust you won't go far?" he demanded.

"I'll be here, Mister Zeus," Harry said, hoping to clear his friends. He looked at Hestia. "Does the Lasso work on gods, too? Maybe we can clear Mister Poseidon at the same time."

Zeus' face contorted angrily, and no doubt he was about to make a scathing remark, when the Goddess of the Home preempted him.

"While the Lasso can physically bind gods, it isn't powerful enough to compel the truth from a major deity such as Poseidon," Hestia said, sadly.

"That sucks," Harry muttered, disappointed he wouldn't get to clear Poseidon's name. He liked the God of the Sea, and hated seeing him being accused.

Zeus simply grunted and waved at them all to go while he sat down on his throne. Harry saw his chance and ran with it, and made his way outside as quickly as was politely possible.

"That went well," Hestia said, cheerfully.

"I'm sorry for getting you in trouble," Harry told her earnestly, feeling horrible about her being at odds with the other gods. "I can leave if that would make things better," he offered just as sincerely.

"There, there," she patted his arm. "Zeus has reopened Olympus, so there's no need for that, and besides, you weren't the one that got me in trouble. I managed that all on my own."

Harry managed to restrain the laugh to one guffaw. "Besides," Hestia continued as if he hadn't laughed, "Zeus needs a reminder every now and then that, while he is King, he only rules at our behest. We elected him King, he should remember that."

"Oh, yeah, there was something about Mister Poseidon and a net, right?" Harry asked, remembering the story of when the gods had 'rebelled', and Poseidon had caught Zeus in a net, forcing him to be a better king. There was precedence, apparently.

"Exactly," Hestia said with a nod. "While I abhor my family being at odds with each other, sometimes they do need a gentle reminder to behave."

Harry silently thought that Zeus had gotten more than a 'gentle' reminder back there.

"Come, let's go to Helios' Temple and pick up some of your things," the kindly Goddess of the Home said.

"You still want me to live with you?" Harry asked, surprised.

Hestia looked at him as if he'd lost his mind. "Of course I do," she replied, as if that were obvious. "You can keep your arrangement with Helios, his temple will make a nice place of your own for when you need to be by yourself."

Harry grinned, that sounded good to him!

They crossed the large central plaza, where returning nymphs were already setting up their market stalls. All of them looked cheerful at being able to return so quickly and waved happily at Hestia and Harry as they walked by. Apparently, word traveled quickly on Olympus.

They walked in silence to the Temple of Helios, each lost in thought. The last 24 hours had been a rollercoaster for both of them, and they both needed to come to terms with the events taking place during it.

Helios' presence immediately wrapped around Harry they moment he crossed the threshold, and the young demigod immediately set about explaining what had happened.

While the half-faded Titan-God was understandably disappointed, he was also relieved at the fact that Harry wasn't simply abandoning him and instead was planning on maintaining his temple as a private getaway.

Hestia was helping him pack some clothes and other necessities, including the picture of his parents that Hera had given him, when Harry noticed something on his bed.

He picked up the plushy lightning bolt and squeezed it, making pleasantly soothing rumbling noises, akin to a distant thunderstorm.

"Maybe I should give this to Mister Zeus, he obviously misses his," Harry half-whispered.

Hestia bit back a laugh. "As amusing as Zeus' face would undoubtably be, I would recommend against it. Zeus's dislike for you would be quite a bit stronger than it already is," she counseled.

Harry nodded, it hadn't been a serious suggestion anyway. Hephaestus had given that plushy to him, and it was far too precious for him to give to someone like Zeus.

They walked back to Hestia's temple, where the Goddess of the Home invited Harry to get settled in while she went down to Camp Half-Blood to tend to the fire there.

As he unpacked his clothes and arranged the picture and the plushy lightning bolt, someone knocked on the door of the temple.

Curiously, the knocking sounding angry. Harry went to answer it, curious and wondering who would come to Hestia's temple while angry.

As he pulled the door open, he was confronted by his mother. Immediately, he smiled widely and threw himself at her, giving her a great big bear-hug.

"Mom!" Harry shouted, just plain not noticing how upset Tyche looked. "Isn't it great!? Hestia has adopted me! That means I have two moms now!" He let go, and looked up at her.

The poor Goddess of Fortune opened her mouth, but was struck mute by the curse she was under, and was pulled inside. "It's totally awesome, and Hestia did it because Mister Zeus was being nasty and it let me stay on Olympus," he babbled on as he pulled Tyche deeper into the temple and deposited her in one of the sofas in Hestia's living area.

Harry materialized two cups of hot cocoa by pulling on Hestia's domain and the totally lambasted Goddess of Fortune found herself sipping the hot beverage, wondering where her righteous fury had disappeared to.

" - and Mister Zeus looked like he swallowed a lemon after she was done," Harry finished his rattling story. "And the other gods really agreed with her, judging from their muttering."

Tyche opened her mouth once more, only to be yet again struck dumb. Looking frustrated, she took another sip of her cocoa. It tasted too sweet and too pleasant for her mood, and she felt herself calming down again as its heat spread through her.

"I think your mother would like to speak to me about your adoption," Hestia said, strolling casually from the fireplace. "Hello, Tyche," she greeted pleasantly.

"Hello, Lady Hestia," Tyche greeted back, taking a huge sip of the cocoa; she didn't want to sound like a petulant child in front of the major goddess.

"Oh," Harry said, looking from one mother figure to the other and back again. "Right," he said, suddenly realizing that his through-aspect-birth-mother might not be happy with his adoption. He slowly put his own hot cocoa down, got up, and went to give Tyche another hug.

"You know I still love you, right? And that you can't have too many moms, right?" Harry whispered at her while he hugged her, before releasing her. Tyche looked in two minds, but Harry took it as a win regardless. Picking up his beverage, he smiled hopefully at Hestia.

The Goddess of the Home smiled kindly back at him. Trusting her, he walked to his room.

His room. The room Hestia had given him in her temple.

That part still surprised him.

Hestia watched him go, then took a seat and conjured herself a cup of tea. Taking a few moments to study her guest, she remarked, "You look confused."

The Goddess of Fortune nodded. "I was so angry," she confessed. "And I was still angry when I arrived. Then Harry hugs me, and he's really happy, and he upends my world before depositing me on the couch and feeding me…" she wiggled the cup of hot cocoa. "And suddenly I'm more confused than angry."

Hestia gave her a gentle smile, then looked in the direction Harry had vanished in. "He's such a sweet boy."

Tyche nodded. "He's my sweet boy," she said, her voice hardening just a touch.

"Yes, he is," Hestia agreed. "But he's also our sweet boy now." Before the Goddess of Fortune could complain, she continued, "I know you love him. I also know you do what you can while under Zeus' curse. However, someone needs to be there to take care of him when he can't do so himself."

Tyche nodded, but looked like she really didn't want to.

"And after what Zeus pulled…" Hestia closed her eyes, pinched the bridge of her nose, and sighed heavily. "It was uncalled for. And so I stepped in and ensured it would not happen again."

"And I am grateful," Tyche replied, although there was a sour note to it. "Even if it feels like I am now losing my son."

"You're not losing him, dear," Hestia said motherly, patting Tyche's knee. "You heard him, he still loves you, and you are still his mother. Think of it like… expanding the family."

Tyche took another sip of her cocoa. It was really good cocoa. And it tempered her mood, despite the fact that she really didn't want it to. Just what had her son done to the drink?

Hestia just sat there, smiling kindly, as if she knew exactly what her guest was thinking. "Harry seems to have grown even closer to my domain," the Goddess of the Home said, answering the unasked question.

"Wouldn't he have done that automatically, after the adoption?" Tyche asked, finishing her cocoa.

Now she wanted more. Blast.

Hestia shook her head. "It was an adoption, dear," she answered. "He was not born from my loins and therefore doesn't inherit my domain. I gave him a minor boon years ago, his cultivation of it was entirely his own. Other than a few mishaps here and there."

"Like trying to pull a giant statue through the fire?" Tyche asked, remembering that story.

Hestia sighed. "He is a sweet boy, but he's also a bit reckless at times. I feel lucky to be a goddess, a mortal woman would have developed gray hair by now."

"Maybe sharing the duty of looking out for him will help," Tyche commiserated. "Because the stories you told me in the past made me feel the same way."

Hestia smiled. "Would you like to hear more stories?" she offered, pulling the picture book from its place on her shelf. "That poor boy attracts trouble like a magnet sometimes."

"Oh?" Tyche asked, shifting closer to Hestia so she could look at the picture book. "What did my…" she stopped herself, drew a breath, and let it out. A few moment's hesitation later, she looked at Hestia. "What did our son do now?"

Hestia's eyes looked suspiciously moist when the Goddess of the Home opened the book and flipped through its pages. "It involves a nest of giant spiders on the grounds of his new school," she said.

For a moment, Tyche's eyes looked green and her hair turned the red of her Lily Potter aspect. "But Hogwarts is supposed to be the safest place in Britain!"

Hestia smiled. "It took him less than a day, too. Apparently, the forest on the grounds is self-aware," she said. "It all started when he was talking a walk on the grounds and walked up to it…"

0000

Harry once more tried to half-hide behind Hestia; Zeus apparently hadn't calmed down at all and was still yelling and thundering whenever he spoke. The demigods had been assembled and dragged up to Olympus by Chiron.

From the acid looks the centaur shot Luke, the Son of Hermes apparently had decided to wander off and took an hour or two to wrangle up.

"My Lord Zeus," Chiron spoke, dragging his eyes away from the wayward demigod and managing to look respectfully at the King of the Gods. "I present the requested demigods to you."

The King of the Gods narrowed his eyes at them.

They all cringed.

It seemed to please Zeus at some level, as his glare tapered off. The whole thing just sat wrong with Harry; he could understand the need to question the people present when Zeus' Lightning Bolt had been stolen, but why the need to scare them?

Besides, if Harry remembered his lessons from Athena correctly – and the Goddess of Wisdom went to great lengths to ensure that he did – Zeus is an involved party and therefore shouldn't be running the investigation.

He wisely kept his mouth shut about that, however.

"Fine, let's get this over with and find the perpetrator," Zeus spoke, leveling his gaze upon Harry. "Any minute now, demigod," he said, as if Harry should have already started.

Hestia narrowed her eyes in displeasure. "Some courtesy, please, Zeus," she asked, before turning to Harry. "Go ahead, Harry," she said, kindly.

Zeus grumbled under his breath but said nothing more as Harry approached the line of demigods that had been present on Olympus that day; Silena and Annabeth were among them.

He took out Hestia's Lasso of Truth, and lightly hung the loop of it around the wrist of the first demigod. Harry knew him by look but not by name.

"Did you steal Mister Zeus' Lightning Bolt?" Harry asked before the angry and wrathful King of the Gods had a chance to bark a question.

"No, I didn't," the demigod said.

"Do you know who did?" Harry asked.

"No, I don't," the demigod replied. Harry looked at Zeus silently, as if asking if this was enough. The King of the Gods gave a dismissive and impatient wave, silently ordering Harry to 'get on with it'.

Harry removed the Lasso and went down the line. When he reached Annabeth, for a moment he wondered how she'd react if he actually tied her up with the Lasso. Just as quickly as the thought came, he beat it down; it might have been a good prank under normal circumstances, but these weren't normal circumstances.

He hung the loop on her wrist. "Did you steal Mister Zeus' Lightning Bolt?" Harry was sure of her reply and felt no nerves at all.

"I didn't," the Daughter of Athena denied.

"Do you know who did?"

"I don't," she confirmed.

Harry removed the Lasso. "Not so bad, is it?" he asked in a whisper and with a tiny smile before going on to Silena, not even waiting for the girl to respond.

He hung the loop on her wrist and asked the same questions; once again he had total faith in his friends and therefore asked the questions by rote. She, too, denied taking the Bolt or knowing who did.

Finally, he reached Luke, way at the end of the line. The Son of Hermes looked bored, but Harry noticed it was just an act. Silently, he placed the loop of the Lasso on Luke's wrist, and saw from the corner of his eye that Zeus was shifting in his throne. Apparently, as Luke was the last demigod, Zeus was convinced of his guilt already.

Harry so wanted Luke to be innocent, if for no other reason but to rub Zeus' face in the premise of innocent until proven guilty.

"Did you steal Mister Zeus' Lightning Bolt?" Harry asked.

"No, I didn't," Luke said.

Harry let out a sigh of relief. Mutterings of denial and surprise came from the other gods.

"Do you know who did?" Harry asked.

"No, I don't," Luke replied.

More mutterings from the other gods.

"This cannot be!" Zeus thundered. "You, boy, did you properly use that Lasso?"

"Of course I did!" Harry replied. "I could have asked for their biggest secrets!"

"I hate my dad for what he did to my mom," Luke answered the unspoken question, looking shocked to his core. Harry turned pale and yanked the Lasso off of Luke's wrist. "Luke, I'm so sorry!" he stammered.

Luke grumbled and looked upset, but refused to meet anyone's eyes.

"There you have it, Zeus," Hestia said, redirecting the suddenly awkward atmosphere. "These poor demigods are innocent of the crimes you have accused them of."

Zeus looked thunderous, and leveled a glare at the empty Throne of Poseidon. "How did you do it!?" he demanded of the empty throne.

Harry wanted to shout Mister Poseidon wouldn't do that!, but kept quiet. Zeus looked murderous and the last thing he wanted was to end up on the wrong end of a godly smite. The King of the Gods looked like he just might smite the next person who said anything, consequences be damned.

"Come on, demigods," Hestia said gently. "Let me help you back to camp."

A moment later, the large double doors of the Temple slammed shut behind them, cutting them off from Zeus' rage. "Zeus is understandably upset at the moment," the kindly Goddess of the Home defended her youngest brother. "Once his Bolt is returned, I am sure he will calm down."

Harry knew Hestia couldn't help but defend her family. The other demigods just looked disbelieving, but too polite or intimidated to argue with her.

He went with them as Hestia took them to camp, safe in the knowledge that he could travel back via fire-travel anytime he liked. This was a perfect opportunity to spend some more time with his friends at camp, and clear out any lingering doubts or confusion regarding what had happened the day before.

Hestia waved them off after they all appeared at Camp Half-blood, looking pleased enough at him spending some time with his friends.

Most of the demigods scattered immediately, and Harry walked with Annabeth and Silena to a quiet spot where they could have a chat. They all noticed, but did not comment on, the fact that Chiron surreptitiously followed. The centaur apparently wanted to hear more, too.

Camp Half-Blood was sunny, and not that cold despite it being winter in New England, and so they made their way to the beach for a sit-down.

I believe you, Mister Poseidon, Harry thought to the lapping waves. He felt upset, he'd just confirmed the innocence of the demigods to Zeus and the King of the Gods hadn't even had the grace to apologize for the false accusations. It stung.

He received no reply, nor did he expect one; the Lord of the Seas was probably very busy with other, more important things.

"Harry?" someone asked, someone who was already present at the beach. Harry blinked, dragged himself out of his inner thoughts, and focused on the real world instead.

"Nico?" Harry returned the question, recognizing the Son of Hades.

"So you're a demigod too?" Nico asked, jogging up. "That's great!"

"Yeah, I live somewhere else, though," Harry confirmed. "What are you doing here?" he asked, wondering when Hades had allowed his kids to come to camp. He wondered where Bianca was.

"Apparently, Dad's a god," Nico replied, as if brushing it off. "We don't know which one, though. Apparently, demigods have to be claimed and some such."

Harry nodded. "It took me a year to find out who my mom was," he confirmed. "That happens, unfortunately."

Silena and Annabeth nodded. "Is Bianca here, too?" Harry asked.

Nico suddenly looked far less enthusiastic. "She went with some girl group," he answered, sadly. "They looked cool, dressed in silver and all that, but they seemed to hate boys."

Harry immediately realized that Bianca must have joined the Hunters, and felt bad for Nico. Artie was cool and all, but it was likely Bianca wouldn't be communicating with her brother anytime soon.

"She joined the Hunters," he told Nico, giving the younger boy a hug – because it definitely looked like he could use one. Nico squeezed back, apparently he had needed that hug even more than Harry realized. "She'll be fine, Artie's great. It may take a while before she can reach out to you, though; Artie's really busy at the moment and she likes to keep her Hunters busy."

Not wanting to make promises he couldn't keep, Harry silently promised to reach out and see if he couldn't at least get Bianca to use Iris Messaging to talk to her kid brother. Maybe it would help.

Nico just nodded, and reluctantly released Harry when the latter broke the hug. "She'll be fine," he repeated. "She has a lot of people looking out for her now."

Nico just nodded again, still silent. Harry silently promised to reach out to the Hunters as soon as possible. An Iris Message here and there could work wonders.

Then, he thought of something. "Maybe I can help," he said, thoughtfully, raising his arm. "Promethea?" he asked, wondering if his faithful owl would be able to reach him here – he'd been traveling all over lately and the last time he'd seen her was at Hogwarts.

The Snowy Owl vocalized her presence and made a feather-touch landing on his outstretched arm. The demigods looked duly impressed with her, and Harry slowly petted her soft breast feathers.

"Hi Promethea," he said, glad to see her. "I was wondering if you could do me a bit of a favor."

The owl nipped at his fingers and gave him a very loud look, almost as if she were insulted he had to ask. "This is Nico," he said, looking at the as-yet unclaimed Son of Hades. "His sister joined the Hunters. Do you think you could take his letter to her? Her name's Bianca."

"Bianca Di Angelo," Nico supplied, looking excited all of a sudden.

Promethea looked regal and spread her wings. "Hold up your arm, Nico," Harry supplied, the young boy's arm coming up so fast it looked like it teleported. Promethea flapped once, then glided over and touched down on Nico's arm.

"When you're done with your letter, give it to Promethea. She'll deliver it to your sister," Harry said. "Try and see if Bianca can use Iris Messaging to contact you, you'll be able to talk in real time that way."

"Awesome," Nico breathed. "Thanks, Harry!" he shouted excitedly, giving Harry an exuberant one-armed hug while trying not to jostle the big owl on his arm, before walking off.

"That was a nice thing you did," Chiron said, reminding them all he was still there and had been listening in.

"I was thinking about contacting the Hunters and asking directly if Bianca could IM," Harry said, "but then I thought that a letter from Nico would do wonders – Bianca would know he hadn't forgotten her and all that."

Chiron nodded thoughtfully and gave the boy a smile.

"Anyway," Harry said, feeling a bit self-conscious all of a sudden. All he'd done was ask Prometha to deliver a letter. "Quite a lot happened in the last couple of days and I thought I'd give the full story."

"You'd give them the full story, but not me? Newbie, I'm hurt," Clarisse said, walking up and sounding anything but hurt. "I thought I saw the entire gang walk to the beach, but seeing that twerp with a huge snowy owl that could have only come from you, Newbie, confirmed it."

Harry grinned. "Hey, Clarisse!" he greeted. "Sorry about that, I didn't think you'd be interested. Not enough bloodshed."

Clarisse laughed. "Ah, Newbie, you know me so well!" she said, roughly ruffling his hair and making him dodge an attempt to get him into a headlock. "But still, talk."

He talked.

0000

Harry finished packing his bag, and sat down on his bed. Tomorrow he would be going back to Hogwarts.

Much had changed in such a short amount of time. So much, in fact, that he still needed to come to terms with some of it. Being adopted wasn't something one shrugged off, especially when you were being adopted by the goddess you loved most in the world.

He was pulled from his thoughts when the goddess in question lightly tapped on the door of his bedroom. "Harry?" Hestia asked, gently. "Do you have a moment?"

"Sure!" he said, getting up to open the door when Hestia pushed it open herself. Strange, he though he'd locked that door.

"I see you have prepared," she said, smiling proudly. "I am glad to see you still take your preparations seriously and don't leave things to the last minute."

"Thanks, Hestia," he said, returning her smile and turning to shuffle the bag into the corner. As much as he liked living with her, sometimes things still felt awkward and new. Perhaps some time at Hogwarts would be good to sort out his thoughts, he reasoned.

"I wanted to see if you had a few hours," Hestia asked. "Someone invited us due to the fact that I have adopted you."

Harry looked over. "Sure," he said, wondering who this mysterious person was, and why Hestia seemed to be making a fuss over it. "Who is it?"

The Goddess of the Home smiled softly. "You will see," she said, mysteriously. "Shall we?"

Harry shrugged. "Sure," he answered, now more curious than ever. Hestia always tried to tell him everything. Except when Zeus made her too angry to think straight, that was. Or when she got all mysterious over a surprise.

He guess this was a 'surprise' situation rather than a 'Zeus' situation, considering her smile.

They traveled together through the fire, and emerged in a grove of trees somewhere; the place was beautiful in a truly ancient sort of way. The entire grove consisted of oak trees, and if Harry focused he could hear disjointed voices playing on the wind that blew between their leaves.

"Dodona," Hestia informed him. "Try not to listen; if this grove is not maintained well it will drive mortals insane, and it has not been maintained in millennia. Somehow, it regrew after Emperor Theodosius burnt it down."

Harry blinked and tried to focus on Hestia instead. The strange voices had indeed been wriggling their way into his mind.

"Come along, Harry," Hestia said, taking his hand and guiding him through this strange and ancient place as if she knew it like the back of her hand.

They emerged in a small clearing, deep among the trees, where a person was waiting. She was dressed in the sort of ancient Greek clothing that was old back when people first started decorating pottery with people dressed in Greek clothing.

Her hair was the sort of black that deep space was made of, and her eyes were the deepest green Harry had ever seen.

At the same time, she had the kind of serene half-smile of someone who was utterly content with her life.

That serene half-smile turned into a full one upon seeing Harry and Hestia. "You made it!" the strange woman said, obviously happy to see them, and approached the pair with a strange flowing gate that Harry hadn't seen yet.

Who was this woman?

"Hestia," the woman said, placing her hands on the Goddess of the Home's shoulders. Considering Hestia was in her preferred nine-year-old form, and the woman looked like a fully grown mortal woman, it looked like a mother talking to her child. "I'm so happy to see you," the strange woman said. "And you've finally given me a grandson."

Harry blinked. Wait, did that mean…

"Mother," Hestia said, dragging the word out and sounding whiny. "You have plenty of grandchildren."

The strange woman, Hestia's mother, whom Harry knew to be Rhea, Queen of the Titans, tutted. "And great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren," she said. "But I always said that one day you'd give me a grandchild."

Hestia looked away, embarrassed. "I told you I had no interested in the ways of love," she demurred.

Harry had to bit back a laugh. Seeing Hestia as a sulky teenaged girl was just plain hilarious. And adorable.

Rhea tutted again. "Everyone says that at some point," she stated. "I said the same thing after the debacle with your father." Without waiting for an answer, she looked at Harry.

"This is Harry, my newly adopted son," Hestia said, apparently happy to have her mother's attention away from her lack of a love-life.

"Your son, Hestia," Rhea corrected gently. "In the matters of motherhood, it doesn't matter if he came from your flesh or not."

Harry thought that he really like Rhea. She got it. And that meant he now had a second grandmother, too. Two moms, two grandmothers. He suddenly felt rich beyond measure.

"Hello, Miss Rhea," Harry said, politely, hoping not to let it show how much meeting her meant to him.

"And he's so polite!" the Titaness said, rapidly approaching him with that strange gait, almost as if she wasn't affected by gravity the same way as everybody else.

"Just call me Rhea, dear," Rhea said, grappling him into a hug. "Or Granny. I'm not picky."

Harry became acutely aware of two things.

One, Rhea was making like chiropractor on his spine. Her hug felt like she was far stronger than anyone he'd ever met – that was likely why she walked as if in lower gravity; she simply had greater strength and therefore didn't mind it as much. He exhaled and went limp, hoping to prevent further damage.

Two, hugging Rhea felt like being enveloped in the concept of serenity. Where Hestia felt like the warmth and peace of home, Rhea felt like peaceful tranquility personified. In a way, Rhea felt a bit like an earlier version of Hestia.

"Yes, Granny Rhea," Harry said after Rhea released him and he was able to catch a breath.

She ruffled his hair. Once more, Harry wondered why most of the females in his life attacked his hair like that. "When I heard Hestia got herself a son, I just had to meet you," Rhea said. "I did tell her that she would give me a grandchild, but she always pulled a face- yes, that one," his new grandmother confirmed despite not looking at Hestia.

Harry snorted and tried to stifle a laugh. "It is a mother's prerogative to tease her daughter with things she said when younger," Rhea teased Hestia. With the latter's preferred form of a nine-year-old girl, it was remarkably effective.

Hestia drew a breath and seemed to will herself to calmness. "I am still adhering to my oath, Mother," she said.

"Of course you are," Rhea said, as if that was self-evident. "I never said you'd break it. I only said you'd give me a grandchild one day."

"Oh," Hestia whispered, as if suddenly coming to a realization.

"I did plant the Grove of Dodona, after all," Rhea added teasingly. "I'm ever so happy that it regrew in modern times," she added, sounding blissfully at peace. For a few moments, they were all silent, listening to the wind play in the branches of the oaks.

"So, Harry," rhea finally said, focusing back on the young mortal. "Tell me more about you. What do you like to do?"

"Lots of things, Granny Rhea!" Harry chirped, happily talking about his hobbies and friends and things he liked to do.

"He also likes getting in trouble," Hestia teased, making him pout in her direction. "You heard Mother, it's a mother's prerogative to tease her child."

Rhea smiled. "Well, he is a demigod, so adventures are in his blood," she defended him. Harry knew he liked Rhea – she was awesome!

"Some of which would have turned my hair grey, had I been mortal," Hestia said, apparently not minding at all that Rhea was on Harry's side.

"Oh? That sounds like something I need to hear," Rhea said with a laugh.

"Considering Mother's sacred animal, you should tell her about your little monster," Hestia recommended to Harry.

"I wish you'd stop calling Nemmy that," Harry pouted at her. Technically, it was true, but it made his poor pet sound like he was out and about, eating nymphs every day! He looked at Rhea, and said, "I struck a deal with Nemmy, that's all. He plays at being House Cat, and I provide him with food and shelter. That way, he doesn't have to live in the cold and the rain and he doesn't need to eat people anymore."

Rhea's smile widened. "And who might Nemmy be? Although I can guess it's a lion, considering Hestia's comment on my sacred animal."

"Nemmy's the Nemean Lion," Harry said cheerfully.

Rhea's smile turned angelic. "I am so glad he found a good home. I always felt so bad for him, and I'm glad to see he found a proper home and someone to properly take care of him!"

Harry nodded. "That's what I thought, too, Granny Rhea. And he makes for an excellent house pet, and in the evening he turns back into a lion and he makes for a soft, warm bad, too. And his purring's so relaxing. He's great."

Rhea patted Harry on the head; the young demigod had to brace himself and felt parts of his body groan that shouldn't ever be groaning. Rhea really didn't know her own strength. Harry suddenly realized where the word titanic came from. Rhea certainly had titanic strength.

"That's great, I'm sure he'll take care of you just like you're taking care of him," Rhea stated with absolute conviction. "Now, what other kind of adventures have you been getting into? Adopting a pet wouldn't turn Hestia's hair grey."

Hestia looked like she couldn't decide between being happy that her mother and her new son got along so well, or upset at the fact that her mother was calling the debacle with the Nemean Lion 'Adopting a Pet'.

"I have lots of stories," Harry said excitedly, happy to see that his new grandmother appeared to be firmly on his side.

AN:I know that, in the Trials of Apollo, RR turned Rhea into a hippie. Unfortunately, I did not find that scene as funny as was probably intended, and when I tried to write her like that, I failed miserably. So, in the end, I scrapped the scene, started over, and wrote her as I had first imagined her – basically, the ultimate mother/grandma. Because we all know… we can never have too many of those in our lives.