Harry Potter, Squatter

By Enterprise1701_d

Chapter 65

Harry grinned at his teachers, and was just about to speak when a very loud 'ARF' interrupted him, before something huge and black with brown spots filled his view.

'ARF' repeated the three-headed hound through two of its heads, before the third one dropped the basketball-sized rubber ball at Harry's feet. Moments later, he was slathered in dog slobber as all three heads decided to give him a friendly licking.

Laughing, Harry rubbed the center head's muzzle, laughing loudly. "Such a good boy!" Harry cooed at the huge beast. "Want the ball, boy?" he offered, picking the drool-covered rubber basketball and holding it high.

The three-headed dog barked again, and laughingly, Harry threw the ball down the corridor. Excitedly, the dog took off, four paws slipping on the smooth stone floor of Hogwarts.

As the dog cleared his vision, and saw his teachers come into view again. Except for Hagrid, they all, to a one, had one hand up as if trying to stop him.

A scream sounded from down the corridor; obviously some student had just encountered the off-brand Cerberus and didn't react as well as Harry did.

"I knew yeh were a thumpin' good wizard, Harry," Hagrid said with a giant grin that was visible even through his huge, bushy beard. "And Fluffy loves ye, no doub'!"

Obviously someone had stuck the poor imitation Cerberus with the name 'Fluffy'. Poor thing. Harry felt sorry for it.

But not sorry enough not to laugh, mind you. "I love dogs!" the young demigod told Hagrid. "And cats. The bigger the better!"

"See?" Hagrid said, pointing to Harry while looking at the teachers. "I told yer, I told yer 'll tha' 'e just wanted ter play!"

Another scream sounded, this time from further away. "Scaredy-cats," Harry said with a grin. "Just rub his muzzle. Or his belly. And throw his ball."

"Music als' werks," Hagrid said. "Puts 'im right ter sleep, it does."

"I've been reliably informed I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket," Harry admitted. "So I'm afraid all my singing or musical talents would do is make him howl."

Hagrid laughed, patted Harry on the shoulder, and walked away. "Better go rescue poor Fluffy from them students," he said. "They'll scare 'im, with all der screamin'."

Harry laughed and nodded as the half-giant teacher walked away. The stunned and floored teachers just stared at him.

"What?" Harry asked, suddenly uncomfortable.

Headmaster Dumbledore, always quick on the uptake, shook himself out of his stupor first, and smiled slowly. "I do think you have a gift, young Harry. Most see Fluffy and scream."

Harry nodded. "Too bad for them. Fluffy's great. You just have to show him who's boss, that's all. And don't show you're afraid; because the boss isn't afraid and he'll try and take over as boss."

"Indeed," Dumbledore answered in an effort to appear wise. Deftly changing the subject, he continued, "I am pleased to see you did very well, Harry. Therefore it's with great pleasure that I can let you know that you successfully completed your year."

Harry grinned. "Thanks, Albus!" he replied cheerfully. Professor Sprout, used to the way Harry spoke to the Headmaster by now, simply sighed and rubbed her forehead. The others had very different reactions.

Professor McGonagall looked very disaproving. Professor Flitwick seemed to be laughing internally. Professor Quirrell definitely was laughing. And finally, Professor Snape looked like he had swallowed something sour; but then again, he always looked that way so Harry ignored the look.

"Mister Potter, some decorum when addressing the Headmaster, please!" McGonagall stated. On most students, her tone would have been incredibly effective. On Harry, used to being talked sternly to by gods, it barely registered.

"Albus asked if he could call me Harry," the young demigod explained. "So I, in turn, call him Albus. It's only fair."

The deputy headmistress looked like she was building up to the tirade, when Dumbledore interrupted her. "It is alright, Minerva. I find it refreshing when such a promising young mind is willing to converse on an even footing with me. Especially given our… most unfortunate… history."

Harry's jubilant feelings crashed and burned to a crisp. "I am working on forgiveness, but I'll never forget," he stated.

"And even that is more than I deserve," Dumbledore answered. "However, we are not here to rehash past mistakes. We are here because you took on challenges built by the best in their fields, and passed them with flying colors."

Minerva McGonagall pursed her lips, but seemed willing to allow the change of subject. Harry had the distinct impression, however, that it wasn't because of anything Dumbledore said or did, but because of the impact it would have on him, Harry.

Which confused the young demigod. He didn't have any experience with mortal adults willing to take his side over another adult's.

"Indeed," the deputy headmistress stated, re-using Albus' earlier statement. "I was most impressed by your chess game, Mister Potter," she said, focusing on Harry.

"Thanks, Professor!" Harry said. "It was rather unsportsmanlike, in not letting chance determine who played white or black, and that white king throwing its crown after losing was rather not-done either. But still, it was fun."

"And short," McGonagall commented, ignoring the unsportsmanlike behavior of her enchanted board.

"Miss Athena insisted I learn how to play," Harry informed her. "I am usually the unfortunate player who loses to such tactics. And when you regularly lose to such tactics, you tend to remember them."

McGonagall smiled. "I will need to remember that," she said. "Both on the tactics and the sportsmanlike behavior. I included the animation with a bit of levity, but I can see where it could be construed as unsportsmanlike behavior."

"Thanks, Professor," Harry answered, feeling more than just a bit surprised that Professor McGonagall was taking suggestions. She usually seemed strict and rigid.

"And I was most happy to see you did not harm the Devil's Snare," Professor Sprout told him. "I was a mite concerned over its fate, but you simply corralled it with light."

"I'm not going to hurt anything if I can help it," Harry explained. "That poor plant just acts the way it was designed, it doesn't hate me, so I'm not going to hurt it if I can help it."

"A good attitude to take," Sprout replied with a pleased smile. "You are a credit to Hufflepuff House, no doubt about that."

The other teachers, except for Snape, seemed to have some kind of friendly rivalry going and gave Sprout a mock-offended look at her proclamation.

"I must ask though, Mister Potter," Professor Flitwick stated, "did you have to humiliate my challenge?"

Harry blinked. "You mean the enchanted birds, Professor?" he asked. "What was up with those?"

There were chuckles and grins from the other professors, and Flitwick looked a bit pouty. "Those were enchanted keys, Mister Potter. You were supposed to take one of the brooms to catch the correct key to open the door."

"Oh," Harry said, dragging the sound out. "That makes sense. Still, I created a door-opening construct to open the first door, and it worked on that door as well, so I didn't need to."

"You opened the door by removing it," Flitwick stated the obvious. "That was a very interesting charm you used, would you mind discussing it with me at a later date?"

Harry grinned, he loved discussing things he built. "Sure, Professor. And a door that doesn't exist is a door that's open. I tend to think outside the conventional box… most people concentrate on the lock and keeping the door shut, most doesn't seem to think about protecting the door itself."

Flitwick nodded thoughtfully. "Protection is only as strong as its weakest link," he said, half to himself and half to Harry.

"Exactly," Harry answered with an easy smile.

"Is that why you tied up the troll?" Professor Quirrell asked. "Because I was hoping to see your well-published and highly talked about skills in battle."

Harry grinned. "That poor troll had done nothing to me," he said, ignoring McGonagall whispering "that poor troll?" to Flitwick. "So I tied it up rather than fight it. Don't fight unless you have to."

"Indeed," Quirrell stated with a wide grin. "I am glad to see you paying attention to my classes."

"Only because they're interesting, Professor," Harry answered with a snicker.

Snape looked put-out at that; Harry had heard rumors that the man wanted the Defense Against the Dark Arts position himself, and he was obviously upset at hearing praise for the competition.

The sour Potions Master looked at Harry. "I was quite sure you would find the correct potion," he stated finally. "You met expectations. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to make it more challenging."

"Poisoning a student and forcing him to brew an antidote before the poison killed him is not an acceptable challenge for a first-year, Professor Snape," Dumbledore stated amicably, as if they weren't discussing his untimely death at the hands of some no-doubt vicious poison.

"Potter could handle it," Snape replied on the same tone. "And should he not, he would have deserved his fate for disappointing me."

Harry snorted. "Thanks for the confidence, Professor Snape," he said with a grin, not upset at all over the implied death threat. He could see Athena pull something similar.

Snape gave a sharp nod, then gave an equally sharp nod to his fellow teachers, turned, and strode off with his robes billowing impressively behind him. Harry had to learn that charm, because it looked badass.

"Well, Severus' attempts at poisoning notwithstanding, I believe it is time we adjourn. The other students have exams that need preparing," Dumbledore said amicably. "Harry, once more, well done. 100 points to Hufflepuff for not injuring plant, animal, or creature when other means sufficed, a well-played game of chess, and a unique way of opening doors."

"And solving Professor Snape's logic puzzle," Harry added with a snicker. "Although that brew-an-antidote challenge sounded like it could have been thrilling, too."

The Professors sighed, and Dumbledore looked slightly pained. "I'm sure it would be, no doubt until the pain kicked in. I do not believe Severus' potion of choice would have been pain-free."

Harry nodded. "Probably," he admitted, silently thinking it would indeed have been a challenge to brew an antidote while in pain. Professor Snape was right about that.

The Headmaster completely misread Harry's response and patted the young boy on the shoulder. "I am glad to see you see reason," he stated. "Now, off you go. I am sure your housemates cannot wait for your… report."

Harry chuckled. "Probably," he admitted once more, now for a totally different reason. "Cousin Tonks will probably be the most excited among them," he added as he turned to walk away. "Thank you for the interesting challenges, Professors. They were fun."

"You are most welcome, Harry," Dumbledore answered first, while the other professors added their own just afterward.

0000

Harry had put his things away after arriving home. In Hestia's Temple. Now that school was out, the emotion hit him.

He had a home. A real one. Where he was wanted.

He swallowed something stuck in his throat. He wiped at his eyes, thinking that Hestia should dust his room, because it was really dusty and making his eyes sting. It was definitely and positively dust, and not his emotions that was causing his eyes to water.

And he went to find his all-time absolutely most favorite goddess and gave her a big hug when he found her.

"Welcome home, Harry," Hestia told him as she hugged him back.

If he held on for longer than was commonly accepted, Hestia made no comment and just kept patting his back as if it were an everyday occurrence.

"I'm glad to be home," he whispered when he finally let go. "It just hit me, you know? Now that school's out."

Hestia gave him one of those patented kind smiles of hers and patted his cheek affectionately. "I understand completely," she said. "You don't need to explain yourself."

That damn thing was stuck in his throat again, and he swallowed it. And there was more dust, because his eyes teared again.

So he hugged her again. She gave a faint laugh and resumed patting his back.

"I love you, Hestia," he whispered.

"And I love you as well, Harry," she replied. "Now that you are my son, I am allowed to admit it without breaking my oath. As I said, I take my oaths seriously."

He simply squeezed a bit harder. Thankfully, as a goddess, Hestia was beyond sturdy and simply laughed and held him.

That evening, they shared a meal, after Harry insisted on taking Helios a share. Hestia smiled proudly at him for not forgetting the half-faded deity that had sheltered him for so long.

The meal consisted of dishes Harry had never tried before, but were somehow his new favorites. He thanked Hestia for the food, and smiled at her; being the son of the Goddess of the Home came with awesome perks, he thought.

His cooking skills were going to go through the roof, he was sure of it.

After dinner, Harry told Hestia all about Hogwarts, the new friends he'd made, his professors, and that fun little challenge they'd built for him at the end of the year that felt like a quest-in-miniature.

All throughout his story, Hestia nodded and smiled and asked pertinent questions; to Harry, it really felt, for the first time, like he had a mom. Not just a mother, but an actual mom.

He was explaining about Professor Snape and the subject of Potions – Hestia's own brand of magic, which the Goddess of the Home found amusing – when someone knocked on the door of the temple.

"I wonder who that is," Harry said, jumping up to open the door. The Goddess of Home and Hearth uncoiled her legs from underneath her and stood up from the couch; she knew exactly who it was, but not why he was there. This could not be anything good.

"Mister Po-" Harry started to greet excitedly, because he hadn't seen the God of the Seas in so long. He stopped when the major deity held up a hand.

"Please do not use my name, I don't want it known I'm back on Olympus," Poseidon said.

"Right," Harry said with a nod, it wasn't the first time that a god came to visit him 'under cover'. For a moment he wanted to stick with the theme and called Poseidon 'Mister P', just like he'd called Hermes and Hades 'Mister H', but realized just in time that wouldn't end well.

"Come in, Sir," he said, instead.

Poseidon gave a tense little smile that was no doubt meant to be friendly but came out as a bit of a grimace instead."Thanks," he said, stepping over the threshold.

"Hello, Poseidon," Hestia said with a kind and welcoming smile.

"Please, sister, I don't-" Poseidon started to say, but was interrupted by Hestia.

"This is a home, Poseidon. These walls will hide secrets as any good home should. You needn't worry about anyone hearing your name," the Goddess of the Home explained.

Poseidon's shoulders sagged slightly, like weight was lifted from them. The God of the Seas still looked tense, though.

"I… ah… came in search of your newly adopted son, actually," Poseidon said, sounding a bit awkward.

"How can I help, Mister Poseidon?" Harry asked, eager to held the god that had taught him to swim, and to sail a boat, and who let him visit the beaches.

Poseidon, if anything, looked even more awkward, and sent a furtive glance at Hestia. "It is about my… son."

"Something's wrong with Mister Triton!?" Harry asked loudly, looking like he was ready to jump into his clothes and charge off.

Poseidon looked flat-footed for a moment. "Ah… no. Triton's fine," the god said, recovering quickly. "I heard about those little get-togethers. No, this is about my… ah… demigod son."

Hestia looked disappointed. "Oh, Poseidon," she breathed, disappointment dripping from each syllable. "I suppose it was inevitable, after Zeus broke his oath, but still."

Poseidon shuffled under a seven-point-five-out-of-ten Glare of Disappointment. Hestia must be really disappointed, Harry reasoned. She rarely went above a six.

"Yes, well…" Poseidon said. "Sally Jackson is a formidable woman, and when I saw her…"

Hestia didn't look abated in the slightest; Harry knew how seriously she took oaths and vows.

"How can I help, Mister Poseidon?" Harry asked again, redirecting the conversation and hoping to spare one of his favorite gods from Hestia's disappointment.

Poseidon looked grateful. Hestia looked amused. At Harry. Then she leveled a look that stated the conversation wasn't over to Poseidon.

"Percy needs help, Harry. He is being chased – as my son, he is part of the Great Prophecy as well, and with the recent trouble with Zeus' toy, there are parties that now feel like my son is the one who stole the Bolt."

Harry's eyes narrowed. "But you didn't steal the Bolt, and didn't get anyone else to steal it for you, either," he stated.

For the first time, Poseidon gave a genuine smile. "Indeed. And I heard your defense of me. Thank you for that, it is always nice to be believed."

"You wouldn't steal anything," Harry said, crossing his arms with all the authority a soon-to-be twelve-year-old could muster. "Catch someone in a net, sure, but not thievery. That's Hermes' thing."

Poseidon repressed a snort of amusement, and very carefully didn't look at Hestia, who no doubt was looking disappointed. "Regardless," the God of the Seas said, attempting to redirect the conversation back to the original topic. "Percy is now being chased. I need you to get him to camp as quickly as possible. His mother insisted on keeping him close, and refused to let him go to camp sooner. On the one hand, it has protected him. On the other, it has left him completely ignorant of the real workings of the world."

Harry nodded thoughtfully. That could prove challenging. "So I need to convince him someone of the existence of the gods and take him through the fire," he muttered. "I'll do my best, Mister Poseidon," he promised.

"Thank you, Harry. He and his mother are staying in a cabin in Montauk. I will give you a hand getting there, but that is about as much as I can openly interfere. Already, he is being closely watched."

Harry nodded. "Can you do me a bit of a favor?" he asked.

Poseidon's expression closed down. "Demands, Harry?" he asked, suddenly looking godly.

"No, of course not," Harry stated, ignoring Poseidon's displeasure. "A request. I know that sometimes, it takes time before demigods are claimed. For various reasons. I wanted to ask that you claim… Percy, was it?… when I bring him to camp. It might help if he knows you're his dad. Someone to hold on to, you know?"

Harry felt like he had to ask. If he didn't, Poseidon was likely to be dramatic and claim the poor guy in the middle of a Capture the Flag game or something – probably at the worst time, too.

Poseidon looked at Harry for a few moments longer, then nodded slowly. "For political reasons, it would be best to wait a bit, but I see no harm in claiming Percy immediately."

"Thanks, Mister Poseidon!" Harry said. He knew Poseidon was a decent guy, and this just proved it. "So, how do I get to Montauk?"

"I'll send a Hippocampus to take you," the God of the Seas stated. "Just go to the nearest body of water, and it'll take you."

Harry nodded agreeably, not even considering the fact that the water on Olympus had nothing to do with the seas in the mortal world. When faced with the God of the Sea, that probably didn't matter anyway.

"I'll go and get my stuff, and get right on it," Harry promised. "Bye, Mister Poseidon!" He waved at the god, then turned to walk to his room, stopping only to give Hestia another hug and promising to be careful, before ducking into his room.

As he did so, he heard Hestia say, "Now, we should continue our little conversation regarding oaths and keeping to them."

"Yes, Sister." Poseidon sounded a lot like him when faced with Hestia's disappointment, Harry thought.

Harry pulled on his trench coat made of Lydian Drakon skin, double-checked his godly regalia, and walked back out. Apparently, Hestia had pulled Poseidon deeper into her temple, because he only heard them in the distance as he walked to the front of the temple.

It sounded like Hestia was having one of her kind and gentle 'why did you do this' discussions.

He hated being the subject of those himself, Hestia's disappointment cut deeper than anything. He gave a silent thought of support to the God of the Sea; the poor god could probably use it.

Pulling the door to Hestia's temple closed behind him, he walked to the nearest fountain and stuck his hand in the water.

True to Poseidon's promise, a large creature immediately surfaced. It had the upper body of a horse, while its lower body was that of a silvery fish with large multi-spectral fins. Half horse and half fish.

So this was a hippocampus, Harry had been wondering.

"You," Harry declared, "are awesome."

The horse-fish creature nickered like a horse, then nudged him. Grinning, Harry mounted its back. "One trip to Percy Jackson, please," he requested politely. Just because a creature was sent by a god wasn't a reason not to be polite, after all.

The hippocampus neighed, seemed to jump up before going down, and Harry momentarily struggled for breath underwater.

It lasted for barely a second or two before they surfaced again. The environment was now radically different; no longer were they on Mount Olympus. Instead they were now in the wide open water of the ocean, with thick and heavy clouds obscuring even the barest trace of either sun or stars. It was late enough to either be sunset, or right after it, but Harry could not tell either way.

The hippocampus made speed, and deposited Harry at the tip of Long Island. He thanked the creature for the quick trip, and watched for a few moments as it turned, dove under the waves, and was gone.

The clouds, if that were possible, were even more imposing. Harry closed his eyes and drew a breath; underneath the salty sea air there was a definite undercurrent of ozone.

Zeus was at it again. He glared up at the clouds, and for a moment thought about saying something. He drew another breath and fought the urge down; there wasn't anything he could say right now anyway.

When Zeus got huffy, there wasn't anything anyone could say, anyway.

Thinking uncharitable thoughts about the King of the Gods, Harry turned away from the ocean and looked at the dunes instead.

There, half-sunken into the sandy dunes, was a little pastel-colored dune cabin. From what Harry could see, it had half-faded curtains, and looked like it had seen better days and heavy use.

Despite it being a holiday spot, it gave off the sensation of home to his Hestia-given boon. This little cabin had seen a lot of happy days and cheerful families, and the sight of it lifted Harry's foul mood at Zeus being grouchy.

Grinning, he walked to the front door, noticing smoke coming from the chimney. Smoke meant fire, and knowing it was there as a method of egress put him further at ease.

He knocked politely and waited for the door to open.

A blue-eyed, brown-haired woman open the door. "Can I help you?" she asked.

"Hi," Harry said, cheerfully. "I'm sent by Mister Poseidon to get Percy to camp." Better come out and say it, he thought.

The woman paled. "Wha-" she broke herself off. "But I said no," she said, instead.

Harry looked at the sky, which suddenly had become even darker, if that were possible. The wind had picked up, whipping the sea's surface into a raging storm. For a moment, Harry's demigodly senses picked out Zeus and Poseidon's voices.

It seemed like Poseidon's chat with Hestia was over, and he and Zeus were in a fight.

"I think things have changed," Harry said, feeling just a bit unnerved at being on the shore while two major deities had a fight.

The woman looked terrified all of a sudden; not at Harry, not at the storm, but into the cabin.

As she had pulled back, Harry had, somewhat impolitely if he did say so himself, stepped inside. He felt better with the flimsy walls of the cabin around him. It was a home, and it would provide shelter to the best of its abilities.

"Percy," the woman – Sally Jackson, no doubt, said to a black-haired boy with sea-green eyes. When Harry met the boy's eyes, there was no doubt.

This was Percy Jackson, Son of Poseidon. "What happened at school? What didn't you tell me?" she demanded, her voice raised to be heard over the rain that was now falling. Harry felt glad he was inside.

Percy looked frozen.

"Percy," Harry said. "I'm here to take you to camp, where you'll be safe. Your father sent me."

The other boy blinked, and Harry was slightly unnerved at the similarities between the two of them; both jet-black hair, both green eyes, and despite the different family lines there was a definite resemblance between the two of them.

They could pass for brothers, basically.

"The one lost at sea?" Percy asked, incredulous.

Harry blinked, and turned to the woman. She suddenly looked unsure of herself, and Harry realized immediately what had happened. "You told him nothing," he accused.

"I just couldn't stand it," she whispered, and Harry had to struggle to hear over the storm that had now really kicked into high gear. In fact, the storm seemed to be approaching the 'hurricane' level.

Which was nuts, at this time of the year. The gods were going to draw attention to themselves. Harry ignored it, that wasn't his problem. His problem was with Percy and Sally Jackson.

Harry pinched the bridge of his nose. "Told me what?" Percy demanded, and Harry had to grin. Percy was definitely a demigod, he was just as annoyed at being kept in the dark.

Ignoring Sally Jackson, Harry walked to Percy and put his hands on the boy's shoulders. "We don't have a lot of time, Percy," Harry said. "My name is Harry Potter. I am the son of the goddess Tyche. You, Percy Jackson, are the son of the God of Sea, Poseidon. It is why strange things have been happening to you."

Percy blinked, looked mutinous, opened his mouth to shout something, then his eyes went wide in realization. "The one-eyed guy in a trench coat," Percy muttered. "The snake in my crib when I was a toddler…" Harry had the impression that Percy wanted to say more, but something made him stop and reconsider.

"Exactly," Harry said. "Now, you are a demigod. That means you are faster, stronger, and smarter than most humans out there. Chose a sport – any sport – and in a matter of months you can be olympic-level in it."

The other boy snorted. "I'm a solid D+ student," he said reproachfully. "No way I'm smart."

"That's because school is institutional slavery," Harry replied immediately with a short laugh, causing Percy to snort a laugh as well. "When we get to camp, I'll introduce you to my friend Silena. She's a daughter of Aphrodite, she can tell you all about it. Anyway, your problems in school stem from two things."

"Which are?" Percy asked, obviously ignoring the mention of a daughter of Aphrodite.

"First, your brain is hardwired for ancient greek. Mortal adults treat it as dyslexia, which it isn't, not really, so their usual tricks don't work, not really. I've found some tricks of my own, though, they help, I'll teach you."

"Really?" Percy asked, again, now sounding hopeful.

"Here, a taste," Harry said, ignoring how they all jumped when an especially loud crackle of lightning was heard outside. He released Percy's shoulders, and waved one hand. Letters formed in mid-air.

Ι, Περcυ Jαcξον, cαν ρεαδ Ενγλιση ωιθοuτ προbλεμσ.

Percy looked like the world had opened to him. "I, Percy Jackson, can read English without problems," he said, completely ignoring the magic. "I can read that!"

"Use greek characters to write english and things make sense," Harry explained, jumping again at the said of the full-sized hurricane raging outside. "Time is running short. Quickly, the second problem you have is your ADHD." He grabbed Percy's shoulders again. "Listen to me. You do not have ADHD. Your brain works faster than an ordinary mortal and you have combat reflexes that will put any insect to shame. Remember that one movie of the guy trying to catch a fly using chopsticks? That trick takes a demigod about 20 seconds."

"Whoa," Percy commented.

"And now we need to get to the camp," Harry said, releasing Percy. "Things have happened, and there's a lot of politics involved, which we don't have time for. We need to get you to camp, where you can be properly trained and where you're safe."

"So me being a demigod," Percy muttered. "It's why I've been kicked out of six school in six years?"

Harry sighed. "They really did a number on you, didn't they?" he asked, sadly. "Yeah, probably. Any demigod has their godly parent's smell – for the lack of a better word – cling to them. I'm lucky, I guess, in that I'm the son of a minor goddess, so I can reasonably well blend in in a large city. But you, my friend, you're the son of a major god. No matter what, monsters are going to target you. I'm surprised you haven't been attacked more regularly."

Percy looked shifty.

Harry grinned, winked to show he caught the look, then went on as if nothing happened. Percy grinned back.

It was right then and there that both boys knew they were going to be good friends.

"Now, come on, let's get you to camp. You'll be safe there, I promise," Harry said.

Percy was looking more than a bit unnerved, as if he were about to go into shock. The whole situation apparently came crashing down on his consciousness at all once.

Harry could understand, because it was a lot to take in.

At that moment, there came furious pounding on the door. Sally, who had remained quiet while Harry talked to Percy, appeared to be scared yet not shocked. She went to open the door instead.

Which made Harry realize that she had known all of this and had been hiding it from Percy.

Which, in Harry's opinion, was a really crappy thing to do. It could have cost Percy his life.

The door flung open under the influence of the hurricane outside, illuminating the late-night visitor in the halo of lightning. If this were a horror movie, someone would have been screaming 'it's ALIVE!', it was such a cliché.

The pallid false-dawn light of the lightning revealed Grover Underwood, the Satyr Harry had first encountered when he had rescued Thalia and Luke. "Searching all night," the Satyr shouted as he entered the cabin. "What were you thinking!?"

Sally turned from afraid to terrified in an instant, and rounded on Percy. "Percy? What happened at school? What didn't you tell me?"

The poor Son of Poseidon looked frozen, like a deer caught in headlights, and Harry didn't think he was up to answering any questions. Instead, he stared, frozenly, at Grover. Apparently Percy knew him, too.

The Satyr in question cussed rudely in Ancient Greek. "It's right behind me! Didn't you tell her?"

Harry grunted and crossed his arms. He was just about to ask what was behind the Satyr, when Sally pressed Percy.

"Percy! Tell me. Now!"

Harry was now bouncing between yelling at Grover for not telling what was coming for them, and Sally for yelling at Percy when she had no business yelling at a boy she had purposely withheld the truth from.

Percy, to his credit, managed to reply in a somewhat coherent manner.

Harry had to admit, he had to swallow, too. Apparently, the poor guy had seen the Fates on the trip home from school. Fates were a bad omen, but Harry couldn't recall from where his sudden terror of them came. According to his poker buddies, they must have messed with his mind.

The second part of the tale really made him pause. From Percy's description, his maths teacher, Mrs. Dodds, had been a monster, with leathery wings, sharp teeth, and a really bad attitude.

Sally looked like death warmed over, grabbed her purse, and yelled 'get in the car! All of you! Go!"

"No need," Harry said, waving to the hearth, which burst into flame. "I can take you through the fire." The sudden flames turned green. "Let's go. Mrs Jackson, you first."

"Wha-" the poor woman stared at Harry, to the unnatural green flames, back to Harry. "I can't go to camp! I'm not allowed! I'm just a Mortal!"

"Let's test that," Harry said. "After you."

Sally Jackson walked to the green fire, and glanced at Harry. "Step through. It'll take you to camp."

"Just…" she asked, motioning to the fire.

"Yup, just step through," Harry urged her.

To her credit, the woman sighed and stepped. She vanished into the fire, only to come walking out the other way.

She blinked.

Harry blinked.

Percy gaped.

Grover sighed.

"I knew it was too easy," the Satyr grunted.

"Car. Now," Sally ordered.

Harry's first thought went to the fact that everybody else could still go to camÎp through the fire. After all, it was likely that, whoever it was, was only after Percy.

His second thought told him that Percy would never leave his mother behind. A commendable attitude, and one Harry completely agreed with.

And so he swiped his hand behind him, canceled the fire-travel, and trooped after Sally, Percy, and Grover.

Harry grinned when he saw Percy's continued stare at Grover's goat-legs.

They raced outside, where Sally was already wrestling with the keys of a 1978 Camaro. Despite the utter darkness, the gale-force wind, and the torrential rain, there was enough false-light due to lightning for Harry to make out its make and model.

And to realize it had a custom paint job, so Sally obviously must be someone who loves that car.

She finally got the doors open and was trying to usher everyone inside, when Harry stopped and fingered his sword-ring.

Grunting, snorting noises were audible over the racket of the hurricane.

"Percy," Harry said, suddenly deathly serious. The other boy must have realized it, too, because he looked at Harry and just nodded. "Get in the car. Protect your mom."

"What?" Percy managed.

Harry conjured a sword, and handed it to him. "You're a demigod. I'm going to handle this thing, but you need to protect your mom. I only have two eyes and two hands."

Percy grabbed the sword, and seemed to test it for a moment. The boy was obviously in shock, not even questioning where the sword had come from. "Right. Gotcha," the boy muttered, although he didn't sound nearly as confident as he tried.

"Good man," Harry said, turning toward the huge being that was stalking toward them, suddenly visible from the doom and gloom of the storm.

The top half of the creature was muscular and fuzzy, and it had a bull's head, including two horns.

"Car!" Sally shouted. "Car! Now!"

"No time," Harry said, spreading his arms wide and pulling out his bracers, his sword, and his shield. The godly regalia appeared on his body, glowing faintly despite the darkness.

"Whoa," he heard Percy say.

"My name is Harry Potter!" Harry shouted toward the approaching Minotaur. "For Hestia's sake, I am giving you a chance! Walk away, and I will not pursue you!"

The Minotaur bellowed with rage, and simply charged.

Harry sighed; well, he'd tried. Sorry, Hestia.

He is charging, right hand extended, coming from my left. Bring sword to plasma-state, unhand his right hand at the wrist, stop sword at correct height, bring sword around for decapitation strike.

The minotaur's right hand came into range.

Harry lunged, Godslayer bursting into brilliant white plasma right before transecting the Minotaur's wrist, taking the creature's hand off. Harry pulled the strike immediately afterward, stepping forward to bring the creature's neck in range and turning the slanted upward motion into a horizon motion that took the sharp edge of the weapon through the Minotaur's neck.

The two thumps were barely audible over the racket of the storm, right before it disintegrated into golden motes. It left one of its horns behind, as a kind of trophy.

Harry sighed, that was tacky, he decided while pocketing the horn. Better not litter Poseidon's beaches.

Harry turned and walked to the car. Despite Sally's protestations earlier, none of them had entered it. Instead, they were all staring at him.

"I gave him a chance," Harry defended himself.

"That was the min-" Percy started shouting.

"Don't say his name!" Sally interrupted. "Names have power!"

"Yes, that was the Minotaur," Harry answered Percy. "And names do have power, but I just killed him. He won't be back for a while, so it doesn't matter at the moment," he told Sally. She apparently knew more than she let on, which made Harry wonder why she hadn't bothered to tell any of this to poor Percy.

"We need to get to camp," Grover stated, shakily. "And you've grown even stronger than before," he told Harry.

Harry grinned. "Always keep training, Grover," he said with a chuckle as they trooped into the car. He ignored Percy trying to cram himself into the backseat while still holding the sword Harry had created for him. "Although next time, you may want to lead with what is chasing you, rather than going off on poor Percy for not telling his mom. We're kids, the less we tell adults, the better, remember?"

Percy barked out a startled laugh as he and Grover sunk into the back seat. For some reason, it had been decided that Harry would take the shotgun seat next to Sally.

Said woman was throwing Harry a look that was halfway between amused and exasperated.

Harry took it as a win, they were way too wound up at the moment and needed to relax. The minotaur was dead, after all.

"What do you mean, it won't be back for a while?" Percy asked.

"Monsters from Greek History don't die like mortals do," Harry explained over the storm and the engine's noise. "They get sent to the underworld when they die, but they get to reform and come back. After getting killed, it takes a while, though. We won't be bothered by him for years, easily."

Percy, still pale, nodded… and seemed to relax. "Great."

There was silence in the car for half a minute or so, and if Harry expected the rest of the drive to camp to be silent, he was disappointed.

"So," Percy said, turning towards Grover. "You and my mom… you know each other?"

Harry grinned; Grover obviously had been undercover. Oh-oh. Busted, my friendly neighborhood satyr-man. He didn't look over his shoulder, but somehow he could picture the satyr's uncomfortable squirming without it.

"Not exactly," Grover tried to explain. "I mean – we've never met in person, but she knew I was watching you."

Not the best way of describing it, Grover, Harry thought while grinning.

"Watching me?" Percy asked, sounding about as upset as Harry himself would feel if someone told him they had basically been keeping important stuff from him.

"Keep tabs on you, making sure you were okay," Grover attempted to explain further. "But I wasn't faking being your friend."

Harry winced, if Percy was anything like him…

Grover seemed intent on getting at least that across, as he repeated, "I am your friend!"

Percy, apparently, was probably still in shock, as he just said, "And… just what are you?"

"That doesn't matter right now," Grover stated unequivocally. Harry winced again. Grover, you're digging your hole all the way to China, mate.

"It doesn't matter!?" Percy shouted. "From the waist down, my best friend is a donkey!"

Harry snorted a laugh into his fist and looked out the window in an effort to hide his laughter. That was a good one, he'd have to remember it for the next satyr.

Grover, it seemed, possessed a sense of humor as he let out a throaty kind of 'blaa-ha-ha-ha' that was part laugh and part bleat.

"Goat!" he shouted.

"What?" Percy asked, his annoyance now firmly audible.

"I'm a goat from the waist down!"

Harry opened his mouth, but Percy beat him to it. "You just said it didn't matter!" Harry grinned. You tell him, Percy.

Grover did that bleat-laugh again. "Blaa-ha-ha-ha, there are satyrs who would trample you under hoof for such an insult!"

Harry's grin didn't let up, and he glanced at Sally to see if she had caught on as well. From her look, she had. Well, Grover just spilt the beans, Harry thought.

"Wait. Satyrs. Like Mr. Brunner's myths?" Percy asked.

"I did tell you that you were a demigod, and you did just see me kill the Minotaur," Harry offered.

"Oh," Percy muttered. "Yeah. Still having trouble processing, I guess."

"Were those old ladies at the fruit stand a myth, Percy? Was Mrs Dodds a myth?" Grover asked, suddenly sounding very serious.

Harry shivered, remembering Percy's tale. Seeing the Fates was a bad deal, and having your maths teacher try and kill you… then again, Harry reasoned, it was mathematics. That subject was evil in itself, so…

"So you admit there was a Mrs. Dodds!" Percy shouted, sounding as if his brain had finally come out of 'neutral' and slipping into 'first gear'.

"Of course," the satyr said, deadpan. Harry winced, maybe that wasn't the best answer-

"Then why -" Percy's voice started to rise.

"The less you know, the fewer monsters you'd attract," Grover explained, a really big duh tone thrown in for measure. "We put Mist over the humans' eyes. We hoped you'd think the Kindly One was a hallucination, but it was no good, you'd started to realize who you are."

Harry frowned, where had he heard the term Kindly One before? Campers talked about monsters with descriptions instead of names all the time, and it made identifying stuff really difficult. It sounded like Grover knew perfectly well what had attacked Percy.

"The Son of Poseidon," Percy stated, apparently his brain going from first to second gear and starting to remember what Harry had said earlier.

"Percy," Sally said, "There really is a lot to explain and not really enough time to explain it in. Harry's done his best to confuse you with lots of information on a short amount of time, and we need to get you to safety."

Harry offered the woman a less than impressed stare. He'd just started to like her, too. "I told him stuff he should have known years ago," he protested. "It would have both made this easier and saved his life, probably."

"Sending him to camp could have meant saying goodbye for good," Sally snapped. "I couldn't do that."

Harry snorted. "And now you may end up having to do it anyway. Good job."

"Hey!" Percy shouted from the back seat. "You don't get to talk to my mom like that!"

Harry looked over his shoulder at a completely enraged Son of Poseidon. He drew a breath and dipped his head. "You're right," he said, before looking at Sally, who was pale and looked shaky behind the wheel of the Camaro. "I apologize."

"No, you're right. It was selfish of me," the woman replied, sounding like she hated admitting it.

"We just need to get to camp," Harry told her, as a sort of peace offering. The car took a left, entering a narrower road framed by darkened farmhouses, wooded hills, and 'pick your own strawberries' signs attached to white picket fences. He grinned, the camp couldn't have picked a more inconspicuous place to hide if it tried.

"The place where my dad wanted me to go," Percy added. "Where you didn't want me to go."

"Please, dear," Sally answered pleadingly. "This is hard enough. Try to understand. You're in danger."

"Superman over there killed it already," the Son of Poseidon snarked, and Harry could hear the motion in the voice when Percy waved in his direction.

"I'm hardly superman," Harry said with a snicker. "But thank you for the compliment anyway."

Percy snorted at the flippant response. Harry knew he was going to like the boy. He was resilient. "I already killed Mrs. Dodds, and three little old ladies cutting yarn just doesn't compare," the Son of Poseidon stated.

"Those were the Fates," Grover said. "Do you know what it means – the fact that they appeared in front of you? They only do that when you're about to… when someone's about to die." Harry winced again, and he saw that Sally was having similar thoughts. Grover really wasn't selling this very well.

"Whoa. You said 'you'," Percy accused.

"No, I didn't. I said someone," Grover protested. His voice didn't sound convincing. It sounded guilty.

"You meant 'you'. As in 'me'," Percy prodded.

"I mean 'you', as in 'someone'. Not you, you." Harry shook his head, that didn't sound any more convincing than before.

"Boys!" Sally shouted, apparently not nearly as patient as Harry in waiting how this conversation turned out. "We're almost there. Just another mile or so."

That was when Harry's probability senses started drumming a warning beat into his subconscious. Having learnt long ago to trust his senses, he scared, "Stop! Stop the car!"

Sally startled, and obeyed the shouted command by instinct. The car skidded, bleeding velocity despite the lack of proper traction, right before something exploded.

Harry blinked the stars from his eyes and ripped the passenger door open. The custom paint job on the Camaro was the least of the problems; the car was now in a ditch, blackened on one side, and its roof partly peeled open.

"Dammit," Harry cussed, restraining himself from shaking his fist at the skies and blaming Zeus for the bolt of lightning that had struck right next to the speeding automobile.

"Grover!" Harry heard from the backseat, and immediately he raced over. The doors on the drivers side were jammed into the mud, but Harry grabbed the passenger-side rear door and heaved it away from the car.

He may he subconsciously employed a tad of Shen, and the door might have just cleared the road and fallen into the ditch on the other side of it. Oops.

Grover was hanging limply in the seatbelt, a trickle of blood coming down his lips.

" - even if you're part barnyard animal, you're my best friend, and I don't want you to die!" Percy was screaming, halfway incoherent. Harry grabbed Grover, cut the seatbelt with Godslayer, and yanked the satyr out of the car.

The unconscious satyr slipped to the ground easily. "Come on," the demigod said, once more reaching into the car and extending a hand. Percy gratefully gripped it and allowed Harry to yank him from the car.

With the two passenger-side doors either open or missing, Harry leaned in to get Sally from her position behind the wheel.

"Run for it," Harry told them when he helped Sally from the car. He looked around; he felt surrounded despite not seeing anything.

With the downpour and the howling wind, that didn't say anything. He trusted his senses. Whoever had sent the Minotaur wasn't giving up.

"Food!" Grover moaned.

Harry restrained the urge to facepalm. "He's fine," He told Percy. "Satyrs really are like goats. A full meal and he's back on his feet."

The Son of Poseidon looked only halfway convinced. "Come on, we'll carry him together, but we relly do need to run for it," Harry said, putting one of Grover's arms over his shoulder. Dammit, the surrounding monsters really did feel like they had tightened the circle.

Percy gave a sharp nod, grabbed Grover's other side, and together the two boys hefted him up.

"I-I can't…" Sally said.

"I know, you can't get to camp," Harry interrupted. "As soon as Percy is over the line, I can transport you somewhere else. But now run for it!"

Seeing the boy who had made short work of the Minotaur urge speed seemed to give Percy wings.

They ran for it, the unconscious satyr dangling between the two demigods, occasionally bleating for some food.

They got maybe four dozen paces before a growling noise emerged from the hurricane, landing on the car. The sound of tearing metal made Percy look over his shoulder.

"Don't look," Harry said. "We just keep running. It's not far. Just over that hill!"

Unfortunately, that's when the growling noise's identical twin emerged from the gloom before them, causing them to halt regardless.

"Dammit," Harry cussed again, letting Grover's arm slip from his shoulders. "Percy, when you see a chance, get Grover over the property line. Just over that hill. Run, then keep running. Get help."

Percy seemed ready to dig his heels in, and Harry didn't have time to argue as the hellhound in front of them jumped at him.

Bringing his sword and shield out again, Harry slashed at it. He heard Percy scream at the hellhound behind him. Harry grinned; throughout all this, Percy hadn't let go of the sword Harry had conjured.

Those were some good battle-instincts the boy had.

More and more hellhounds emerged, and Harry scowled.

Godslayer was immensely disappointed when Harry turned it back into a ring and started cutting away with his magic. The hound in front of his vanished into golden motes; two to the right went the same way. "Percy! Run!" Harry shouted.

The boy said nothing, heaved Grover, and legged it. Harry grabbed Sally, and pulled her along. "But I can't…!" the woman protested again.

Harry ignored her, and snapped the fingers of his free hand. Marduk would be so disappointed at him for needing the finger snap, but another two chasing hellhounds died.

They crested the hill, and Sally was yanked to a standstill. "This is as far as I can go," Sally said.

"Stay behind me," Harry said, stepping forward and putting Sally between himself and the camp's boundary. Half a dozen more hellhounds were slinking towards them, growling and slavering saliva, eyes filled with malice aforethought.

He felt, rather than heard, someone step right next to him.

"What are you doing?" he asked Percy, while the hellhounds seemed content to set up a perimeter. Apparently, the beasts understood that one of them couldn't cross the property line.

"That's my mom," Percy said, raising his sword.

Harry grinned. "Good man," he said with a nod; from the corner of his eye he saw the other demigod pull his shoulders back.

A hellhound sprung from the left, and apparently this was all the signal the others needed to attack en masse. Neither chivalrous nor sporting, but Harry wasn't one to cast rocks.

He'd had time to build a proper mental construct, after all, and threw shen at the problem.

The hellhounds' howl broke off mid-charge, as they disappeared into golden motes.

"Whoa," Percy declared.

"Magic rules," Harry said with a grin, and turned toward Sally. "Come on, I'll get you somewhere safe."

Sally, pale, shaking, disheveled, looking as if her world had turned upside-down half a dozen times, somehow managed to nod. "When Percy's safe," she said.

Percy grinned, hugged his mother, and stepped back over the property line.

Harry turned to watch them.

His instincts tapped 'dumbass' in morse code.

Before he knew what was happening, an Empusa, hidden in the form of a mortal animal, grabbed Sally. The next moment, the mortal woman melted into golden light as if she were a holographic projection.

Harry snarled and decapitated the Empusa.

"No!" Percy shouted.

Growling, Harry stepped over the property line. This was the first time he'd failed so badly. "She was kidnapped," he stated.

"What?" Percy managed, as if a man dying of thirst had been presented a clear and cool bottle of water.

"The golden light indicates that she was kidnapped by whoever sent these things," Harry said.

Percy looked like he didn't know what to think or do. The events of the evening seemed to be crashing down on him, and he looked drunk. Harry grabbed the boy's shoulder. "Come on, let's get Grover some help, and you a bed," he said. "And, as Hestia is my witness, I will help you rescue your mom."

For a moment, there was the light of Hestia's flame above his head, but Percy seemed to not notice it. In fact, the poor demigod didn't seem to notice anything.

Thankfully, when Harry pulled Grover up, Percy did seem to react. Together, they pulled the unconscious satyr toward the Big House, visible in the valley beyond the property line.