Harry Potter, Squatter

By Enterprise1701_d

Chapter 75

Hestia smiled as she looked around the cabin at Camp Half-Blood. "This is very nice," she said. "I like it a lot." She turned to Harry, and hugged him. "Thank you. I love it." Her statement was aimed not only at the demigod she was hugging, but also the plethora of other demigods arrayed in the large open-plan space of the cabin.

"You're welcome, Hestia," Harry said, speaking for all of them. "It was all thanks to Annabeth's skills, though. If I had built it myself, it probably would have fallen down."

The Daughter of Athena flushed at the praise and looked shy at the grateful look Hestia gave her.

"Thank you, Annabeth," the Goddess of the Home said.

"You're welcome, Lady Hestia," Annabeth managed, feeling as insecure as always when in the presence of a major god, even one she somewhat-knew from a city trip to Paris.

Chiron engaged Hestia in conversation, looking happy that she finally had a cabin at camp and mentioning some of the things he really liked about it.

Harry, never one to be the center of attention and preferring smaller groups of people, drifted more to the wall of the cabin. He smiled as he saw various demigods setting up board games on the large living room table; it looked like the cabin was going to get lots of use.

His gaze slid over the tasteful pictures of the major gods, as well as the one picture of Rhea, that decorated various walls or side-tables. Hestia loved her family, and Harry had wanted to include them.

"Nice work," someone said from right next to him, making him startle.

"Will!" Harry greeted Will Solace, the Son of Apollo the twins had once designated as their 'replacement'. He hadn't seen Will since that day. "Long time no see," he added.

Will smirked. "I decided that discretion is the better part of valor," the Son of Apollo replied. "And considering you spend your time quest-crashing, followed by, from what I heard, twisting the arms of Kings of the Gods behind their backs until they give you what you want, I'm right."

"I didn't twist Mister Zeus' arm behind his back," Harry protested with a sulk. "Besides, Mister Hades and Mister Poseidon helped."

Will snorted. "Yeah, that argument's not helping you," he answered. "Still, as I said, nice work," he finally stated, leaning against the wall of the cabin and beholding the people within.

"Thanks," Harry replied, deciding to ignore the situation and focus on the final statement.

"Still," Will said, eyeing Harry. "You made a bit of a logic error."

"Like what?" Harry asked, returning the look and wondering what error he may have made.

"You made a big deal about separating boys and girls," Will said. "For obvious reasons."

Harry nodded, silently urging the Son of Apollo to continue.

"What if there are boys or girls that want to do things with the same gender?" Will asked.

Harry's first reaction was to accuse Will of being a pervert, just like his dad. Because honestly, how could people, same gender or not, do that sort of disgusting stuff?

His second reaction was to draw a breath and point to where Hestia was still talking with Chiron. "It's Hestia's cabin. She'll keep an eye out for perverts, same sex or not. After all, who needs a bed when there's a couch right there, right?"

Will looked as if he hadn't contemplated the use of living room furniture for fornication purposes. "Good point," he admitted.

Harry grinned.Game, set, and match, he thought silently.

"Stop gloating," Will sulked in an eerily similar manner to Harry earlier in the conversation.

"I'm not gloating," Harry protested.

"You were thinking it. Loudly," Will said, continuing his sulk.

Harry snickered, but didn't verbally reply.

"Shut up," Will muttered.

Harry snickered louder.


Harry was lounging against Nemmy in full-on Nemean Lion form, while reading one of Athena's books. Now that school – and the excitement of the quest – was over, he needed to pick up on his other schooling.

He wasn't looking too happy about it, either.

It was a book on non-euclidean geometry and was making his brain hurt in ways only time-travel was able to do before.

"Demigods just aren't meant for this stuff," he complained to himself, before sighing and doubling down. He was too stubborn to admit defeat to some silly book.

Someone knocked on the door to Hestia's temple. Seeing an opportunity and running with it, Harry marked his spot in the book and said "I'll get it!".

As he walked to the front doors of Hestia's temple, he was met by the goddess in question. "I could have quite easily opened the door myself," she teased, as if knowing exactly why he was suddenly eager to play door-man.

"Demigods shouldn't be tortured like that," he whined softly before reaching the door and pulling it open. To his surprise, he was met with a lion.

This particular lion was of regular size and color, and seemed to be trained enough to knock on a door and wait. As soon as Harry had pulled said doors open, the lion got up and walked inside as if owning the temple, before coming to the stop in front of Hestia.

It raised its head to look at the ceiling, exposing its throat – where it was revealed to be wearing a collar, a collar to which a rolled-up scroll of parchment had been attached.

"Thank you," Hestia told the lion, taking the message and unrolling it.

Seeing that the lion was waiting around for something, Harry couldn't help himself and approached the vicious predator.

A vicious predator that seemed content to let him approach. And even let him touch it.

To Harry's surprise, the lion's mane and fur was coarse, not at all as soft as Nemmy's golden fur was. Still, it was a lion and he was able to pet it.

So, petting it he did, burying his hands in the lion's large mane and giving it a good, firm, petting.

The lion did the lion-purr, the same kind that Nemmy in lion-form so often did.

"Harry," Hestia said. "We've been invited by mother."

"By Granny Rhea?" Harry asked, excitedly. He'd love to see her again!

"The very same," Hestia confirmed, as if she had more than one mother and asking which one was a perfectly valid question to ask.

"Awesome!" Harry cheered. "I'm going to grab a quick shower and change. Non-euclidian geometry is hard work and I worked up a sweat."

Hestia laughed softly.


They emerged in front of the Grove of Dodona. Once again, Harry felt the grove's whispers at the back of his mind.

"Remember not to listen to them," Hestia softly told him as she guided him into the grove.

"I remember," he answered.

They emerged into a clearing, where Rhea was busy with her trees. Obviously, she was trying to maintain the grove and ensure it didn't accidentally ensnare anyone.

"Hestia, Harry," the Queen of the Titans said, a soft smile gracing her lips.

"Granny Rhea!" Harry cheered, hurling himself across the clearing and hugging her.

Once again, he felt like two vices were cracking his back when her arms closed around him and hugged him back. "It is good to see you again as well, Harry," Rhea said, kindly. She stood, despite him still hugging her, and strode across the clearing in that strange flowing gait of hers.

As if him hugging her and him clinging to her didn't bother her at all.

Then again, he reasoned, titanic strength so likely it didn't matter.

"Hello, Hestia."

"Good afternoon, Mother," Hestia said, politely. "I see you retrieved my wayward son."

Rhea laughed softly. "If the boy wants to give his grandmother a hug, who am I to deny him?" she asked. "Still, your son is the reason I asked you here." She effortlessly plucked him from her, and lowered him to his feet.

Suddenly, he felt ill at ease.

"Harry," she said, "I believe it was your idea for my three sons to share a meal."

Harry felt his stomach drop out from the bottom of his feet. Did things not go well? Was Rhea really, really mad at him for suggesting it?

As if realizing his sudden discomfort, Rhea patted his head, nearly driving it into his ribcage. "No need for that now," she said, reassuringly. "It has been far too long since I shared a meal with one of my sons, let alone all three of them. And, despite me having to remind them of their manners every now and again, the lunch went really well."

"Really?" Hestia asked, sounding doubtful.

Rhea nodded. "I only had to remind them of their manners half a dozen or so times."

Hestia's doubt seemed to increase. "Really?" she asked, again.

"Each," Rhea admitted. "But, eventually, they settled down, so I say it went well."

"I'm glad it went well," Harry said, sounding relieved. For a moment there, he was worried.

"It did," Rhea replied, honestly. "How did you think of it?"

"While I was on the quest to retrieve Mister Zeus' toy-"

Hestia coughed. "Please be respectful, Harry," she reminded him.

Rhea looked amused. "I picked up rumors on that," she said. "Amusing as it may be, you may wish to show respect, Harry."

"Alright, Granny Rhea," Harry said.

"You'll be respectful for Mother but not for me?" Hestia pretend-pouted.

"I tried being respectful and nice for you, Hestia. Mister Zeus disagreed, so I stopped. I'll just try again for Granny Rhea. Until he disagrees again," Harry explained.

"That boy," Rhea sighed, shaking her head. "He has so much of his father in him," she added, sighing again, before looking back at Harry. "Please, continue."

"So, I was on the quest for Mister Zeus' lightning bolt, when my friends and I had a bit of a disagreement. Then, a couple of hours later, after the whole mess with Medusa, I cook them all dinner and we talk things out over the dinner table. That's when I thought the world would be a better place if, instead of fighting and arguing and warring, people would just share a meal and talk about things."

Rhea nodded. "I can see the reasoning," she said. "And well done with Medusa. I heard that Asclepius is happier than he has been in ages, curing her victims. Although Persephone is most put out about losing the statues for her garden."

Remembering how the Goddess of Spring had barged into his home and tried to bully Melinoe, Harry felt less than charitable toward Hades' wife. "I think that using Medusa's victims as decorations is tacky," he said, instead. "Those were dead people."

"Well, she does live in the Underworld part-time," Rhea replied. "Although I do agree it was rather ghoulish as far as tastes in decoration go."

Harry smiled at her. His second grandmother was great.

"Now," Rhea continued, "while that was interesting background information, it wasn't really why I called you here."

"It wasn't?" Harry asked, innocently.

"No, it wasn't," Rhea teased. "The lunch was rather nice, and it made me realize how much I missed my family. And while I am not allowed on Olympus for obvious reasons, there is no reason I can not meet everyone while down on the mortal plane." She looked from Harry to Hestia and smiled wider. "I am going to invite everyone for a family meal. It will give me a chance to meet those I haven't seen for a long time, and meet for the first time those that I haven't had a chance to meet before. I feel that it will be an excellent feast."

"Mother, that's great!" Hestia said, sounding excited. "A nice chance for everyone to get together and share a meal."

Harry smiled excitedly. "It is!" he agreed. "It'll be lots of fun!"

Rhea's smile was wide. "I will cook the meal," she said. "There will be plenty for everyone."

"Can I help?" Harry immediately offered. Cooking with Hestia was great fun, and he was already looking forward to cooking with the one who no doubt taught her.

Rhea blinked, not having expected the question. "You want to help?" she asked.

Harry nodded excitedly. "I love cooking, and I want to open a restaurant when I grow up," he replied. "I'm not nearly as good as Hestia, but most people seem to enjoy what I make anyway."

"Artie once rented out one of her Hunters as payment for one of his chocolate cakes," Hestia said.

Harry pouted at her; he wouldn't have phrased it that way!

Rhea laughed, and ruffled his hair, causing him to scowl which only made her laugh harder. "Why don't we see on the day itself?" she offered. "After all, it will be a lot of hard work."

"Nothing better than going to bed after a day of honest work," Harry answered, straightening his mop of unruly hair. Really, what was it with females of all ages going after his hair?

Rhea laughed again, and patted his shoulder. Only his experience with Thor's 'pats' stopped him from falling over. "We will see," she repeated. "And perhaps this old woman can teach you a few things."

"Mother!" Hestia gasped.

"Daughter?" Rhea asked.

"You'll pass your recipes on to Harry?" the Goddess of the Home asked.

"I merely offered to teach him a couple of things," the Queen of the Gods replied instead of giving a straight answer.

Harry kept quiet, not really sure what was going on. As Goddess of the Home, shouldn't Hestia possess all the recipes anyway?


Harry arranged his salad plates on the side-table, ensuring they were perfectly accessible to the others.

"Arranging snacks?" Hermes teased with a chuckle.

"Yup," Harry answered, popping the 'p'. "Healthy ones, too."

Hermes looked at the plates in confusion.

A chortle came from the side. "Friend Hermes, you look like someone placed the most vexing puzzle in front of you!" Thor teased, having appeared moments earlier through the Bifrost.

Hermes continued to rub his chin, while looking at the various plates of chocolate chip cookies. "Harry claims these are supposed to be 'healthy', but I can't see it," the God of Messengers answered, not even bothering to greet Thor.

"To us gods, they would be!" Thor exclaimed boisterously while snagging a couple of cookies for himself.

"Flour comes from grain, which is a plant," Harry said. "Sugar comes from sugarcane, which is also a plant. Cacao comes from the cacao tree. Which is… a plant. Therefore, chocolate chip cookies are a salad. And salads are healthy."

Bai and Triton, who had comes in during the explanation, joined Hermes and Thor in listening quietly as Harry spoke.

"Hard to beat that logic," Hermes admitted, looking as if he were struggling not to burst into laughter.

Thor and Bai didn't bother with the struggle, and therefore just burst into laughter.

Triton looked amused, and patted Harry's shoulder as he went to grab himself some salad before sitting down at the poker table.

It took only a few moments before everyone had their own plate of salad and cards were being dealt around the table.

"I heard some very interesting rumors regarding a quest being crashed, and someone blackmailing my father into giving Aunt Hestia her own cabin," Hermes said, looking straight at Harry.

"It wasn't blackmail, and it wasn't all that exciting, you guys don't want to hear about it," Harry said, pretending his was perfectly serious and continuing to study his cards.

"Wha-" Hermes managed.

"He is teasing you, Hermes. Do not fall for it," Triton counseled.

Harry pretend-scowled in the direction of the Messenger of the Seas. Said Messenger of the Seas was unmoved. "If only I were a god. I'd shake my fist and claim to be mortally offended, and needing deadly satisfaction."

"Not unless you come from a different culture," Bai replied, staring at his cards. "You can claim all sorts of crap and claim it's 'cultural'. Most people are stupid and don't realize you're making stuff up. It's hilarious."

"Bai," Triton said. "You shouldn't teach our young friend bad habits."

"Not unless they're fun, anyway," Hermes interjected, causing Triton to give him a mock-glare. The God of Thieves didn't notice, he was too busy high-fiving Bai.

Thor was chuckling in the background. Harry was grinning widely, while continuing to pretend to study his cards.

Silence descended as four deities looked at him.

"I'll take five new cards," Harry said, throwing his entire hand away, folding his hands and pretended to 'notice' everyone staring at him. "What?" he asked.

Thor snorted, flicked him five new cards, and said, "We're waiting on your tale of wit and adventure."

Harry opened his mouth. Recognizing the look in his grandson's eyes, Hermes interjected, "And don't claim we wouldn't care. We do. Now share."

"And please do not skimp on the details regarding my new… sibling," Triton requested. Harry gave him a mildly disappointed look. The Messenger of the Seas looked away, before blinking and remembering that gods didn't feel guilty, especially not due to demigods. "You get ever better at that. Aunt Hestia's influence, no doubt."

"Thanks, Mister Triton!" Harry said, cheerfully. "Anyway, it all started with a very homely evening in Hestia's temple, when she tells me that Annabeth is having some very loud thoughts about her and me, and that she, Percy, and Grover weren't at camp. So I take Bucephalus for a surreptitious run to see what's up."

"Oooh, big words," Hermes teased.

"Hermes, please let him continue, or we will be here all night," Triton recommended.

"We'll be here all night anyway, so we might as well interject for comedic effect," Bai interjected for comedic effect.

Harry snickered; his friends were hilarious. "So, anyway, I take Bucephalus for a surreptitious run, when my probability senses go nuts, and suddenly I know where they are and that they need help."

"Judging from your past, that's going to bite you," Thor commiserated.


Triton laughed in a way Harry hadn't heard him laugh before. "So, my sibling announced to Medusa of all beings, that you were all orphans, having been separate from your circus caravan?"

Harry nodded. "She looked like she didn't believe a word, but was going to play along anyway. If she weren't such a monster, it'd be hilarious."

"It's still hilarious!" Triton chortled.

"Annabeth told him his head is full of kelp," Harry offered.

Triton's laugh picked up again. "It sounds like it is!" he agreed. "When I meet him, I will need to tease him mercilessly over this. As an older brother, it's required. It's in the handbook."

Harry blinked. "Wait. There's a handbook on being a big brother?"

"There will be, as soon as I write one," Triton said with a grin.

"So, what happened next? Did you go in?" Thor asked, eager to hear of a titanic battle between demigods and Medusa.

"Of course we did," Harry replied. "We didn't know she was a monster yet, and Percy and Annabeth were thinking with their stomachs. Also, on an unrelated note, three of a kind in eights."

Four deities, as one, threw their cards down. Harry grinned and swept his loot up, nimble fingers effortlessly stacking everything in neat piles.


"Ah, yes, we all saw that," Triton said, when Harry came to the part about the waterpark. "Hephaestus has a wicked sense of humor, installing a useless countdown to give his victims false hope while starting the broadcast anyway."

"Percy did really well, I think," Harry said, defending his new friend.

Triton nodded. "He did well, employing the gifts of the blood from our father. And he was snarky when ending the transmission, that's good, too."

"If I were a responsible adult, I would probably counsel that being snarky to all of Olympus isn't something you should encourage," Harry said, causing laughter from the other at the table. "Thankfully, I'm neither responsible nor an adult."

Triton grinned. "Plus, as big brother, I am required to teach my little brother bad habits. It's in the handbook."

"The one you're writing?" Thor asked sarcastically.

"Exactly," Triton replied with a sanctimonious nod. "Two pair."

Hermes threw his cards down. "My highest card was a ten and I had nothing but garbage."

"There, there, Hermes," Harry said, completely uncaringly. "Straight."

"Flush," Thor said. Bai, rather childishly, aimed his cards for the table with a disgusted grunt. "Yes! I win!" the Crown Prince of Asgard declared, sweeping his winnings onto a huge pile in front of him. "Come to Thor, my pretties!"

"Do you even need those pretties?" Harry asked, innocently. "Maybe you'd care to make a donation to a poor demigod with no source of income?"

"No source of income other than fleecing innocent gods, robbing them of their lunch money?" Hermes asked with a chuckle. "I've heard of the entertainment center you have at old Helios' temple."

"A TV and a surround system are basic survival necessities," Harry answered, crossing his arms. "You may as well comment on me having food and drink."

Four gods laughed. A new round of cards was dealt. Harry continued his story.


"That's when Percy tells me that his stepfather disappeared, and coincidentally, his mother sold her first statue," Harry related.

"I am not sure I like that development," Triton commented. "Still, at least it wasn't my sibling that did it."

Harry shrugged. "I never met the man, but wanted to skewer him within five minutes of hearing him lambast Sally. It only got worse after Percy told me what the man was like. I don't think I've disliked a person this much since that guy that wanted to kidnap Annabeth and do bad things to her."

"If I remember correctly, you killed that one with a knife through the throat," Thor said, rubbing his chin.

Harry nodded shakily. "He was the first life I ever took. I still occasionally have nightmares about it."

"And that makes you a warrior, rather than a monster," Thor replied readily. Three other gods nodded, despite Harry knowing quite well that gods were more than capable of killing – or cursing – and never missing a moment's sleep over it.

Still, he appreciated the gesture.

Seeing Harry's mood, Hermes decided to change the subject. "I'm glad to hear Melinoe is doing well for herself. She was dealt a crappy hand, it's good to hear she found her feet." He looked thoughtful. "I should… visit." he added with a chuckle.

Harry narrowed his eyes, not liking the tone the God of Messengers was using; especially so since the other three gods were sniggering. "Are you being a pervert?" he accused. "Because remember she's my friend, and I take protecting my friends seriously."

Hermes squawked at the unexpected zinger, before replying with a teasing grin. "Harry, my young friend, in a few years, I am going to tease you mercilessly with this conversation."

"So everyone keeps telling me," Harry answered with a shrug. "So far, it hasn't happened yet."

"Considering what he did to that drakon that hurt his crush, I would be weary, Hermes," Triton said, perfectly straight-faced.

Hermes suddenly looked thoughtful – and a tad afraid – but Harry crossed his arms and gave Triton a glare. "I do not have a crush on Miss Zoë."

"And yet, you knew I was talking about her," Triton replied, still straight-faced.

Harry grumbled, not having a comeback for that.

"Come on, next round," Bai said, deciding they had teased Harry enough. Cards were dealt, bets were made, raises were made, playful grumbling ensued as people lost money to other people.

"So, I was thinking one day," Thor said.

"Did it hurt?" Bai interjected.

"Luckily, three horns of mead had taken care of that," the God of Thunder rejoined without missing a beat. "So, I was thinking about teaching Mjölnir new tricks, and asked it to come back with a winning poker hand."

"I bet that would go over well at a poker table," Hermes muttered.

Thor shrugged. "I was thinking 'party trick' rather than 'cheat at the table', honestly. So, I send Mjölnir out. It came back with a pair of twos. I guess even enchanted hammers can have a bad day at the table."

Harry snorted and laughed, as did the other three gods.

"Speaking of poker shenanigans," Triton said as the next hand was dealt. "There are times I play with Father and some of the Naiads. Everyone keeps blaming kelp getting into their hand whenever they folded, which was amusing. On an unrelated note, you haven't seen a poker face until you've seen a naiad's poker face. They may be flirts, but they're possessive. So they don't like losing – that makes them fiendishly difficult adversaries at the poker table."

"I'll be sure to remember that," Harry said with a grin, as the others chuckled.

"Did some naiad cheat you out of your lunch money, Triton?" Hermes teased.

Triton took the teasing in good humor. "Eucrante has been wearing lots of jewelry ever since," he stated calmly. "Only a naiad would spend her poker winnings on something as crass as ostentatious jewelry."

"There's nothing crass about solid gold jewelry," Bai protested. As Western Wind of the Chinese Pantheon, his element was 'metal', so he could conjure gold out of thin air whenever he wanted.

"You would say that," Thor teased.

"Since we're all sharing poker shenanigans," the Chinese god said, ignoring the jab at his person with practiced ease, "there are times that guard duty on the Celestial Plane gets a bit… monotonous."

"Aka, boring," Hermes interjected for comedic effect, remembering Bai's pronouncement earlier in the evening.

"So, to pass the time," Bai continued, ignoring that comment with just as much practiced ease, "I challenged some mischievous spirits to a game. Turns out, spirits are good at bluffing. I lost some clouds, but it was worth the laughs."

"Someone else got their lunch money taken, it seems," Thor said.

Harry surreptitiously piled his winnings closer to him. "I guess I'm the only one who is smart enough not to bet their lunch money," he commented innocently.

Hermes gave him a good-natured glower. "You don't have lunch money. Aunt Hestia provides for you."

The Son of Tyche nodded. "And she does so very well, and I am extremely grateful to her for doing so," he stated. "Hestia is awesome." He flipped his cards over. "Poker."

Four gods stared at four aces and a wild card.

"Right, I'm done," Hermes decided. "Who's up for that silly Chinese game Bai likes so much?"

"I'm torn between swearing deadly satisfaction or taking you up on your offer," Bai grumbled.

"Oh! Oh! Me! Me!" Harry said childishly, waving his arm in the air. "I love that silly Chinese game Bai likes so much!"

"Seriously, you too, Kid?" Bai asked, although his lips twitched.

Harry nodded, and pointed at Hermes. "I'm an impressionable young boy, and he's a bad influence on me."

Hermes puffed up. "Thank you."

"Hermes, that wasn't a compliment," Triton counseled.

"Still taking it as one," the God of Messengers answered, playfully sticking his nose in the air.


The battleship New Jersey plowed through the waves at its top speed of 30+ knots, sending up spray and foam as it did so.

"Nice," Percy commented, looking out from the navigation bridge. "You have the luck of the gods, you know that, right?"

Next to him, Harry grinned. "Blame my mother, I certainly do," he answered. "Now, Captain Jackson, how about we try some target practice rather than try and beat the '100 mile Battleship Sprint' World Record?" He immediately started inputting commands into the Simulator, causing a target to pop-up some distance away. Percy didn't even have to look at it; he was a Son of Poseidon, he just knew.

Percy managed a rather decent salute for someone not in the actual navy. "Aye-aye, Admiral!" he declared, causing Harry to chuckle. Ignoring the chuckling 'admiral', Percy turned to Annabeth and Silena. "Come to One-Eight-Zero, speed twenty-seven knots." Looking over his shoulder, at where Clarisse looked like she was having the time of her life with the analog fire control computer and assorted equipment, he added, "Prepare firing solution on all main batteries, make your target the skunk at bearing zero-nine-zero, range four-two thousand yards."

Clarisse cackled as she turned to the Fire Control switchboard, and started flipping some of the big switches on the wall-o-switches, sounding as if she were moments away of declaring something alive in the midst of a giant thunderstorm.

Having taken control over the three main battery turrets, she immediately turned to her Mark VIII Rangekeeper Fire Control computer and started doing mysterious things to the mysterious device. Other than her, only Percy, thanks to being the Son of Poseidon, had a clue as to how to operate it's plethora of dials and inputs. Her cackling continued. "Designated skunk bearing zero-nine-zero at four-two as Skunk Alpha!" she reported in a rather disturbing fashion.

Annabeth looked at Silena. "Left standard rudder, come to course one-eight-zero. Engines ahead full, speed twenty-seven knots."

Silena, having heard the same thing twice now, was already turning her steering wheel and engine order telegraph. "Left standard rudder, engines ahead full, speed twenty-seven knots!"

There was a disturbing giggle coming from the fire control computer.

"Course one-eight-zero set," Silena reported, having reached the determined heading. "Speed two-seven knots!"

Annabeth turned to Percy, and was about to report, when he grinned at her. "I heard," he said with a chuckle. Annabeth looked pouty; she was XO, she was supposed to report these things to the captain! With all of them on the same navigation bridge, she barely had anything to do, and it rankled.

"Alright," Percy said with a grin, rubbing his hands. "Get me a solution on Skunk Alpha."

Clarisse kept cackling; coming from the butch Daughter of Ares, the sound was disturbing.

From their position on the bridge, forward of the actual armored conning tower in use during actual combat operations, they could see the two forward turrets rotating until they were pointing ninety degrees starboard. At the same time, the barrels started elevating.

Percy made sure to double-check that all the windows were rolled down into their armored pockets to prevent the overpressure of the main batteries from shattering them.

"Ready!" Clarisse declared.

Percy looked at Harry. Harry grinned at Percy.

Finally realizing that his 'captain' was waiting on him, Harry gave 'the nod'.

"Commence firing," Percy commanded.

Clarisse squeezed the trigger. For a fraction of a moment, nothing happened, just long enough for her to start thinking that something might be wrong, before the Stable Vertical completed the circuit. It had waited until the Iowa-class battleship had crested the wave, to ensure that the pitch and roll of the ship had returned to zero before firing the main guns.

Nine barrels hurled their 16-inch diameter, 1225-kilogram armor-piercing ordinance across the skies with rumblings roars of fury that reverberated through the ship and their bodies.

Harry and Percy looked at each other at the unexpected amount of noise and smoke, before giggles broke out among them. Not that they'd ever admit to giggling.

Silena and Annabeth, meanwhile, shared a different kind of look, one of not only surprise but also one of concern regarding the unconscionable amount of noise generated by nine 16-inch barrels.

"That was awesome," Harry declared, ensuring he remained the master of understatement.

Percy, Annabeth, and Silena all nodded with smiles on their faces, but further conversation was interrupted by Clarisse, who seemed to be sweaty, panting, and laughing her head off. "Damn, Newbie! If you want to give a girl a happy, you damn well deliver!"

Annabeth and Silena turned bright candy-apple red, while Harry and Percy shared an uncertain look and a shrug, neither boy really understanding what she was on about. "Glad you liked it?" Harry finally offered the Daughter of Ares with an uncertain look.

She just laughed in his face. "So – did we hit?"

The other four shared an uncomfortable look. "Ehm… did anyone look if we hit?" Harry asked.

More uncomfortable looks were shared.

"I stopped watching when the big guns went 'boom'," Percy offered, showing that, despite being a rather decent captain, he was still twelve and aiming for Harry's Master of Understatement title.

Clarisse started to put her hands on her hips, when Harry grinned wider. "That means we have to shoot again! Reload!"

"Hell yeah!" Clarisse said, turning a beginning frown into a wide smile. "Coming right up!"

"I'm so glad the simulator takes care of actually running the ship," Harry told Percy. "Imagine needing 3,000 people. You could draft all of Camp Half-Blood and not get this ship running."

Percy laughed, raising his binoculars again. "Alright," he said. "Steer-"

The second salvo was just as impressive as the first one was, but this time they remembered to look whether they actually hit the target.

As the smoke and noise died down, and the quintet made a small impromptu celebration on the bridge of a battleship, there came a rather polite, yet insistent, cough.


Immediately, they all froze, nobody having expected visitors on Harry's private simulator-battleship.

Slowly, they turned toward the cough, only to find the God of the Sea himself leaning against the door.

"Mister Poseidon!" Harry said, excitedly.

Four other demigods looks rather less happy than the Son of Tyche with the sudden appearance of the God of the Sea.

"When I felt the empty ocean reappear in my awareness, I realized it was you," Poseidon said as he stepped onto the navigation bridge. "Of course, then I became curious when I felt a battleship going through time trials, considering these haven't sailed my oceans in decades."

Harry grinned wider. "I wanted to show Percy the Simulator, so I thought, what better way to do it than with a battleship?"

"I see," Poseidon replied.

"Of course, once that was decided, we needed to decide on which battleship, so it was either an Iowa-class or a Yamato-class. And, despite everything, none of us know any Japanese so we decided to go with the Iowa-class."

Poseidon nodded obediently. "This time you went with an existing ship, I see."

Harry grinned. "Annabeth failed to account for my use of 'gun' in our rock-paper-scissors game, so I got to chose the ship, so I went with the most decorated battleship in the history of the US Navy."

Annabeth looked away to prevent people from seeing her pout. She hated it when her own tactics were used against her.

Poseidon chuckled at the turnabout. Before he could say something, however, Harry went on, "I was thinking about taking the joke further and labeling the ship 'HMS New Jersey, because as a Brit, I would never be an officer on a ship that wasn't in Her Majesty's Royal Navy – but that probably would have taken it too far."

Four American demigods were suddenly glaring at him. Harry noticed this, grinned at them, turned back to Poseidon, and continued as if nothing was wrong, "I was sure that the rebellious colonists would have tried to gain their independence and I didn't feel like putting them down."

Poseidon looked like he was trying desperately not to laugh. Percy turned to the other 'rebellious colonists', and said, "How about a mutiny? I'm sure we can keelhaul him."

Harry laughed. "Hence it being a joke going 'too far'," he told Poseidon.

"You're damn right it is," Percy muttered loudly enough for everyone to hear.

Poseidon chuckled. "You are never boring," he told Harry. "Rebels and Royal Navies aside, I do have another question."

"Sure, Mister Poseidon," Harry said.

The God of the Sea speared Harry with a look. "I can understand the choice for the Iowa-class battleship. I can even understand the choice for the 'Big J'. But you rearranged the navigation bridge, thereby completely defeating the battleship's purpose, so I wanted to know why," Poseidon said, a faint grin on his lips.

"Well, normally, I'd need like two dozen people just to man the different positions even with the simulator automating the ship, and if we went with the real layout, Silena would have been stuck in the Conning Tower where she could only look out small ventilation slits or through a periscope, and poor Clarisse would have been stuck in Forward Main Battery Plot all by herself. So, I used the Simulator to move things about so we could all be on the bridge and look out. It's not like we're going into real combat where people shoot back at us – so there's no reason not to have us all on an open bridge instead of behind heavy armor."

Poseidon nodded thoughtfully. "Perhaps I should change that," he said, half to himself.

Harry's eyes opened wide. "Please don't, Mister Poseidon! We don't have enough people to man the actual battle stations, and this was meant to be fun, where nobody got hurt!"

The God of the Sea stared intently at Harry for a few moments longer, just long enough to make the young demigod start sweating. He then grinned and ruffled Harry's hair. "Just joking," he said, taking another good, long, hard look around the altered navigation bridge setting. "I see you made Percy the captain."

Harry nodded. "Now that we have our very own Son of Poseidon, he needs to be the captain," the Son of Tyche stated.

"Very true," Poseidon replied proudly. "And what does that make you?"

"The admiral, since it's my Simulator," Harry said with a snicker. "Which means I get to make pretentious statements, give nonsensical orders, and ask continuously if we're 'there' yet."

Poseidon swallowed a cough. "Admirals do more than that," he replied while snorting again. "But, in the current setting, I can see why you would think that way."

Harry's smile widened. "Thanks, Mister Poseidon."

The Lord of the Seas turned toward his son. Percy looked at his father. Neither spoke.

"How have you been?" Poseidon asked his son; the question sounded awkward to Harry, and he remembered how Hestia had said Poseidon wasn't good at this sort of thing.

Looking at Silena and Annabeth, he made a discrete motion of his head toward Clarisse, who had turned to her fire control computer and was doing arcane magic to it using its knobs and dials.

The two demigodesses nodded and followed Harry over toward Clarisse's gun control area. "Seriously, Harry – twice you simulate a ship, and twice Lord Poseidon shows up. You have some weird luck," Silena grumped.

Harry chuckled. "Blame my mom. I do," he repeated his earlier statement. "So, did we have fun?"

Clarisse's smile was anything but friendly. "Oh, Newbie, you know the way to a girl's heart. These are the biggest damn guns I'll ever get to fire!"

Harry grinned. "Remember, I can reprogram the simulator at a moment's notice, so we can do this again if we want to. We just have to be careful not to get bored with it, I suppose."

The Daughter of Ares nodded. "I suppose," she sulked. "Still." She was quiet for a moment. "Getting Prissy's dad is hilarious, though. The awkward is funny as hell."

Harry looked over his shoulder, toward the duo. Poseidon stood right next to Percy, while pointed at something out the window, obviously explaining some esoteric minutiae of seafaring.

The Son of the Tyche smiled; maybe this was the start of building a relationship between the two. Even if Poseidon wasn't good with emotions and stuff, if the two could bond over the sea and ships and sailing, then that was a win in Harry's opinion.


Harry emerged from the icy waters, pulling himself up out of the hole he had cut in the ice of the sauna to the death chamber at Hotel Valhalla. His birthday was next week, and he was taking a holiday in the room Thor had given him at Bilskirnir, his palace.

Ignoring the water vapor coming off his skin, he started to dry off. The residual heat of the sauna stored in the core of his body ensured he didn't feel the cold.

Roshilde splashed in the ice-cold water, before pulling herself ashore and started drying herself of and getting dressed herself.

Suddenly, the Valkyrie got a crafty look on her face.

"I don't know whether to be impressed or insulted that you didn't look," she said, grinning.

Harry just looked confused. "You told me that it's impolite to stare in a sauna," he answered her. "Besides, I'm not a pervert, so I wouldn't look anyway."

"Oh, Harry," Roshilde continued teasing, "within the next couple of years, you'll die for a look."

Harry just looked confused. Roshilde continued to smirk, feeling like her prank worked wonderfully. "You know, a lot of people could mistake you for the pervert," Harry finally said. "I mean, you were basically just telling me to look."

"Don't you think I'm pretty?" Roshilde asked, striking a pose that wasn't as effective as it would have been without her clothes on.

He looked her straight in the eye. "Of course you are," he replied with absolute conviction. "That doesn't mean I'll leer at you like some pervert. Besides, you are the one who told me that everyone's naked in a sauna, and you shouldn't look anyway."

"Aww, you're so sweet," the Valkyrie cooed, ruffling his hair.

"And you're a pervert," he muttered, still confused over her behavior.

Roshilde laughed. "Probably, yeah," she stated, not in the least offended.

Harry's confusion increased, before the urge to get one over on her returned. "Is there a procedure to change Valkyries? I think I need one that's less of a pervert," he finally said.

Roshilde turned to face him, made her eyes go big and watery, and her bottom lip started quivering.

"Ack!" Harry protested, remembering the technique Hermione learned during the trip to the extra-dimensional mansion, and also remembering the fact he had no defenses against it. "Stop that!"

The quiver of her bottom lip increased, and a single tear made it's way down her right cheek.

"I'm just teasing, you know that, right?" he asked, actually, physically closing his eyes and putting one hand over them for good measure.

"Of course I do," Roshilde's voice sounded perfectly normal as she replied. "But I need to remind you that you shouldn't win against a girl. It's against the natural order. Sooner you learn that lesson, the better you'll be at being a boyfriend. It's my duty as your Valkyrie to train you well."

Harry swallowed. Inexorably, Roshilde continued ruthlessly, "Besides, from how some people look at you, and from what you'd told me, there are quite a few girls looking to stake their claim."

Harry shuddered, and thought that he desperately needed Artie and Zoë to protect him.

Roshilde laughed and ruffled his hair. "Come on, let's get some food in you," she said conversationally.

After dinner, and getting away from the Valkyrie that seemed to have 'embarrass Harry' on the brain, he went in search of someone to help him with his confusion.

Frankly, he thought this was something that one should talk about with one's father. Unfortunately for him, his father was in the afterlife and therefore inaccessible.

Thinking about the male role models in his life, he dismissed most of them practically immediately; while he would turn to them for help in most other manners, this wasn't something he felt like most of them would be of any help.

Bai and Hermes would probably laugh and encourage the situation, as would Mister Apollo, no doubt. Perverts, the lot of them. And while he thought that Mister Poseidon or Mister Hades could probably hand out decent advice, he didn't know them that well to come to them for advice in a personal manner like this.

Mister Triton, likewise, could probably be relied upon for decent advice, but outside of the pok… maths parties… he didn't know the deity that well, and Triton had always seemed rather stand-offish. Harry doubted if the Messenger of the Seas would appreciate it if Harry showed up for this kind of thing.

He debated for a few moments to go and hunt down Odin; the King of Asgard was also a God of Wisdom, and Harry remembered first meeting the man and thinking he would give excellent advise.

Then again, Odin was King of Asgard and therefore, probably way too busy to listen to any problems a lowly demigod – even one that had helped his son – would have.

And so it came to be that Harry did something he didn't think he'd do.

He went looking for Thor for personal advice, hoping that the outspoken god would be of a mood and willingness to help. He drew a breath; there were things he really could have used a father for, he thought. As much as he loved Hestia and his mother, they were both women – and there were things that a boy wanted to talk to his dad about.

Not for the first time, he wondered if he could abuse his friendship with Melinoe and ask her if she conjure up his father's spirit, before dismissing the idea. He didn't want to take advantage like that, and the last thing he wanted was for his favorite Goddess of Ghosts to get in trouble with Hades over it.

He finally managed to track Thor down.

"My young friend!" the God of Thunder exclaimed happily, slapping Harry on the shoulder. "We should have a drink and celebrate your impending birthday!"

Harry grinned. "Just one drink," he reminded the extraverted god, who laughed and nodded.

"Of course; one drinking horn only!" he said, making Harry open his moth, before reconsidering. He could use a drink for the conversation he was about to have.

"Thor?" he asked, shyly all of a sudden. This wasn't easy. Thor, for all his boisterous ways, recognized the change in tone immediately, and handed Harry the filled drinking horn.


Harry swallowed, looked down, gulped some mead, then looked up at the God of Thunder again. "What does it mean when a girl tells you to look after you've been in the sauna?"

Thor's grin widened. To Harry, it looked like the god was about to congratulate him or something like it, which made him realize that he made a mistake in coming to him for advice.

The God of Thunder halted himself, seeing Harry withdraw in on himself. "Depending on the girl in question, it can mean several things," the God of Thunder finally said, causing Harry to look up hopefully at getting a decent answer. "It can mean that she likes you wants you to look. It can mean that she trusts you and wants to reassure you that you can be at ease around her. It can mean that she is feeling insecure and wants reassurance about her looks. Many things, really."

"Oh," Harry said.

"In either case, it means that she trusts you enough for you to recognize her while in her most vulnerable state," Thor stated. "So, in either case, it is a good thing."

"Oh," Harry repeated.

"And that is about the extent of my good advice," Thor teased. "You may want to talk to Volstagg; he is a father dozens of times over and is better at this than I can ever hope to be."

Harry gaped for a moment, before snorting a laugh. He remembered the rotund member of the Warriors Three. Yes, maybe he would be a good option to talk to should he have any more… problems.

For now, though, he would just sit and enjoy the mead and try and forget about his perverted Valkyrie.

AN: I wanted to give a shout-out to the Battleship New Jersey youtube channel for their wonderful content about battleships in general and the New Jersey in particular, and couldn't resist the urge to have Harry play around on it.