December 30, 1994
A/N: Shifted the birthdays of a couple of characters to be closer to the PJO series.
Richard and Helen Granger walked out of the Winston Churchill-Theater with their four-year-old daughter. It was a blustery day, and it felt as if the frost was nipping as their heels; Richard clutched his daughter named Hermione tighter, trying to keep her warm. Richard adjusted his dormant daughter's formal wear; Richard had fretted that the play which they saw, Othello would give Hermione nightmares, but yet she didn't even stir. He pecked his wife's cheeks, leading her to the grassy patch near the imposing auditorium, knowing taxis frequently stopped there to pick up passengers.
Helen realized that Richard might be tired after clutching Hermione for the whole 2 hours of the play, so she offered, "Hun, are your arms getting tired? I can take Hermione, and she gets fussy without Lemon, which I have in my bag."
Richard silently nodded, passing Hermione over as Helen took out a well-worn crow.
Helen opened her mouth to coo at her baby before she suddenly stopped. A feeling washed over her. She felt as if a snake was coiling around her, suffocating her. She felt the hairs on her arms raised, and she struggled to breathe, but as quickly as the feeling came, it went away.
Helen blinked rapidly, her brain trying to deal with what just happened. There is no natural explanation to explain what just happened unless it was allergies. It didn't make sense; a small voice in her head whispered before it shut up-. No, allergies made perfect sense. It was near Spring, so that's what it must be. Still a little dizzy from that unexpected encounter, Helen positioned Lemon into her baby's arms, Hermione idly poking the beak.
Helen mulled it over for a bit, "Honey, I forgot my pocketbook in the theater," She informed Richard as she hurried off. Shoving Hermione into Richard's grasp as she hurriedly put on her jacket and then took the babe back. "I'll be five minutes at best." The woman told him, her blonde hair flying in the wind as she hurried back into the theater.
Richard pursed his lips. She was always like that. Helen would always have what he called the jitters. He's been married for twenty years, and she still hasn't told him why she got scared randomly. He assumed Helen only the nervous type back in college, but she has been doing it a lot more since Hermione was born, always skirting off; every time he talked about it, he knew she lied, but he respected her space. He idly studied the grass, how it seemed dead, where his wife was standing, a little strange but gardener could've overwatered it.
Richard suddenly felt in danger, as if at any second he would be devoured by a lion; he turned his head around and only saw a little old lady. He chuckled to himself; an old lady cannot do much to him except for knitting him to death, albeit he still felt a little on edge. He lowered his gaze to a random coin near the pavement. It couldn't be a pence. It was way too golden- Richard was broken out his reverie by his wife, her face was flushed, "Did you change your perfume? It smells smokey.." Richard told Helen, she waved him off as if to say to him she was okay.
Richard looked over at his wife, a wave of affection flooded in. Even though they were, rivals he couldn't help but fall back in love every time he looked at her.
Hermione stirred and then nuzzled into the stuffed animal; her palm dug its way into Lemon's missing eye, looking up into the darkening skies, fussing with her cotton jumper. Richard signaled a cab, wrapping an arm around his wife. The taxi came after a hot minute as Richard walked over to open the door for Helen, "Why, thank you, Troy..." She giggled as she masked her unease about the small asthmatic attack, flashing a quick smile, sitting down, and then hurried to the window.
"My pleasure, my Helen." Richard smiled, climbing in and pressing a kiss to his wife.
"Names...Martha, where to?" A country accent asked, a thick stench of smoke in the cab, and "Uh, Windsor, please." Richard requested, holding his wife's shoulder a little tighter, the woman's dark eyes piercing his soul through the reflection mirror, putting him on edge.
Helen raked her nails against her skin, tensions eating her up. She wet her lips with her tongue, tasting the flaky and dry skin. She looked at the driver, the women's features resembling a troll, or perhaps a variation of the griffins—the flat hair reminding Helen of Medusa's hair if it was electrocuted.
Martha slammed on the wheel, jerking the family back; after twenty minutes in silence, the Cabbie spoke up again.
"Cute specimen...When was she...superfetated?" The Cabbie stiffly asked as Richard and Helen looked at each other, sharing the same look of worry.
"Oh, I don't think we feel comfortable- Oh, our Hermione was born...Well, I-" Helen broke off, her face contorting into confusion, before continuing, "Hermione was born in 1993 September 19, so I suppose we must've conceived the 21st or 31st of last December, I suppose.." Helen replied dumbly, looking around wildly before grabbing Richard's arm.
"How old are you, looking young for parents. I'd say you were, 30, 25?" She ventured; whatever she was inhaling was making the parents nauseous, yet still compelled to answer her question, "Uh, Richard and I are, actually 54 and 49. So Hermione is our little miracle baby."
Richard craned his head sideways and started to mutter, "I don't think this is a real cab driver; there might be some of that new drug that the press is talking about because I feel real hazy, I think they called it, marijuana. We should say we're stopping off early; none of this feels right. She seems suspicious, and I don't think the fumes are good for Hermione." He whispered before going back to his side of the cab, "Pardon us, we just remembered that we have a friend that's going to pick us up. So you can stop here." Helen nervously chuckled as Richard nodded in agreement.
"Oh, I'm sorry that I wasn't hospitable enough. But I'm afraid I cannot let you leave." Martha cooed, taking a sharp turn. Causing the family to crash into one another, Hermione let out a shrill cry, her head knocking into Richard's elbow, giving out another piercing cry. Helen felt her insides tumble as her nose collided with Richard's head.
"What the hell!" Helen screamed nasally, terror coursing through her veins. As Martha smashed into another yellow cab, Richard's head collided with the window, glass shards sticking to his ear, yet he didn't notice due to the fact of his child screeching like the wheels of the car were doing.
Helen gasped as she attempted to take the glass lodged into her chest, her hands slowly tearing up as she tried. Helen looked over at her husband, her beautiful Paris. She felt her sight blackening, tiny black spots clouding her vision. "Herm-" She started, unable to find the words, unable to express anything without choking. Helen felt herself smiling, and everything has slowed down. It felt like time would never speed up. Helen closed her eyes. She didn't know what was happening, but she knew Hermione would be safe; her father said so.
"Shush," He attempted to console Hermione, his bloodstained finger caressing her whisps of hair, before using her left hand to shake his now unconscious wife, "Helen? Helen! Helen, my treasure, please wake up. Please." Richard desperately pleaded, clutching Hermione close to his chest, his eyes wildly scanning his wife's limp figure. His heart stopped as he saw a trail of blood from her chest, "What the hell did you do? What sick bastard are you? You have taken away my wife. My wife! My child is going to grow up motherless! All because of you!" He yelled, his voice hoarse from the unconsciously crying.
"Oh honey, don't worry. She won't grow up motherless, and if I do my job, she won't grow up at all." Martha cackled before everything went black for Richard.
September 19, 2004 (6 years and seven months later)
In the eyes of a 10-year-old Percy Jackson, Smelly Gabe has never done anything for his mom. He was rude, and he smelled like left-over pizza that Percy once discovered when he was bored and went dumpster diving. His mom, Sally Jackson, always did whatever Sir-Smells-A-Lot wanted, but his mom was strong. Smells wanted a child, but his mom decided to foster, citing that she could lessen the government's hours for people to adopt. Smelly Gabe reluctantly agreed.
Gabe loaded them in his Ford, pushing Percy to sit next to some greasy pizza boxes from about five years ago before Gabe began his new job as a mattress firm manager. Percy grumbled, not seeing why he had to go but knew to be quiet since Gabe made him feel stupid when he questioned stuff. He licked his hand, lifting it to his hair as he attempted to smooth it out, yet with each attempt, his locks got wilder. Sally turned around and threw him a pitying look, "Here, take my hairbrush." She offered; she turned back and leaned down in her seat to grab her hairbrush as she straightened up once again. She tossed it to Percy, accidentally hitting Percy's head, "Mom!" He whined, rubbing his head but gratefully accepting it and attempting to tame it.
Percy gave up five minutes later as he then let his head relax against the window, slowing down his breathing so he can make it foggy and draw figures from his dreams. He slowly drew the man he saw in his dreams, imagining the warm glow.
After a million hours, they finally arrived, "Now Percy, I want you to be on your best behavior. I want you to stay by the door, so do not wander off. The Social Worker has recommended two wonderfully well-behaved children that she believes that would be good kids for us to adopt," Sally told him, giving him a severe stare, pointing her index finger at him,
Percy idly nodded, acting as if he understood. He waited for the car to stop before he rushed out of the red car. He excitingly ran out, running to the rundown building door, looking at the door, and not-so-patiently waiting for his mom and Gabe.
They slowly approached the steps, each step seeming to take a week until several weeks later, they finally came to the door in tow. Sally knocked twice before a frantic-looking woman, holding two babies in both arms, "Missus Jackson and Mister Ugliano?" The women asked as they nodded, "Come in, come in. Happy Day's Orphanage will always welcome potential parents! As you know, I am Miss Hannah!" She smiled, false cheer evident. They both walked in as Percy straggled behind them.
"Now, Percy, stay here near the door. Gabe, Miss Hannah, and I will go see potential brothers or sisters for you." Sally told him as she guided him in a corner near the poorly drawn portraits of smiley faces, making Sally want to put Percy in art classes. They gave Percy a final look before they started to move upstairs, Sally momentarily turning back and giving Percy a stern look before following the others.
Moments passed by, Percy slumped down in the corner, his leg twitched. He was bored. "Mom didn't say I can't play by myself, and as long as I am still here when she comes back," Percy reasoned, rolling around before he stood up.
Percy messed with his tie, ripping it from his neck and swinging it around, imagining it was a horse. He ran across the floor, forgetting that his mom told him to wait by Happy Days' exit. He thrashed the tie around before he bumped into a girl who pushed him on his butt, "What the fuck!" The black-haired girl screeched as Percy blinked twice.
"My mom says no one is allowed to say that," Percy told her, getting off his bruised butt.
"Well, she isn't here now, is she?." The girl whose hair looked like lightning struck gave him a funny look as he stumbled up.
"Wanna play horses with me?" He asked, his childish brain completely forgetting her comment. Hermione brightened up, "I don't usually get to play with others. What's your name?" She asked as he wrapped the tie around them.
"Percy. Gabe calls me a rat, but Mom said not to tell anyone." Percy told her, shrugging, as the wild girl gave him a look.
"But you just did." She pointed out, outstretching her arm, "My name is Hermione. I don't normally play with people, but since you have not been rude, I would be happy to play Horses with you, as long as my horse can fly." She curtly told him as he gave an excited nod, and they started to run across the room, past the sad excuse for a library, the scribbles that were supposed to be animals, and into the dark playroom.
Percy ran around like a tornado before Hermione motioned for him to stop, "Wanna see something weird?" Hermione asked, a devious grin forming as she reached down into a ratty-looking bag and pulled out an orange puffball.
"What's that?" Percy asked, scrunching up his nose and racing over there, his feet tripping over his shoelaces in the process. His body flung a few feet before he landed on his chin in front of Hermione. Percy frowned as he poked his now throbbing chin, "Looks like a Cheeto." Percy commented, suddenly taking the fuzzball and cupping it.
"I found it near my bed; no one sees it. 'Cept for you and me." Hermione told him before clapping her hands, "Now I know that I'm not crazy! Nancy Remington called me insane, but now I am not! Suck it!" Hermione smiled, satisfaction obvious in her features, before looking suspiciously at Percy, "Uncup the fuzz, it might die," She scolded, as Percy instantly obeyed, once again showing the ball to Hermione.
"Should we name it?"
"What should we name him? I never had a pet. I'm thinking something like, Cro. Or- Or Nemo, I liked that movie, 'speically when Dory did the Whale language." Percy rambled as Hermione rolled her eyes and began.
"Sandbrain, focus. Plus, who said it was a she? I've read The Laugh Of Medusa," Percy shuddered at that name, "and she said it's sexist to assume that a pet is automatically a boy; I, for one, do not want to live in society whereas if you read my name, you think me a boy." Hermione ranted, her face flushed as Percy did a double-take, evidentially not paying attention.
"I think we should name her, Alexya. My mom says that's who helped her survive the plane crash she was in when she was young; it's kinda symbo- symboholic?" Percy suggested, holding the puffball to his nose, as Hermione nodded.
"Correct term is Symbolic, but yes, her name should be named Alexya. It suits her. It means defender of humanity. She may be small, but she is fierce!" Hermione quoted with a small smile as she stroked Alexya with her pointer finger.
"Perseus Jackson! Where are you? Gabe and I found a child, but I- we wanted your approval before we decided on it." A feminine voice rang out with hurried footsteps. "Percy! Where are you?! I told you to stay-" The voice suddenly stopped with a halt. "Who's this?" The voice asked.
"This is my friend Hermione, we played horses, and we talked, and we found Alexya," Percy proudly announced, holding out Alexya. The fluffball spinning in a circle before collapsing, "That's nice, hun, we found this boy who could be your best-" The woman began before Percy interrupted, "I don't want him. I like Hermione, and she is fun. We got to play horses! Can we have her?! Please, pretty please?!" Percy begged as he quickly handed a bewildered Hermione the fluffball before rushing over to his mother's side. "Perseus Jackson, humans are NOT property. Instead, let's ask Hermione if she would like us to adopt her instead of acquiring her like an action figure."
The woman in question walked over to Hermione, "Hello, I'm Percy's mom, Sally. Are you and my son friends? I know you have been here for a long time, but Gabe, Percy, and I would like you to join our little family. I have always wanted a girl," Sally revealed with a conspiratory grin. Hermione gave her a small smile, feeling shy, "Do you have books?" She asked, her dark brown eyes gleaming with intelligence, "We do, and Percy takes weekly trips to the Library, so we can make sure to get you some!" Sally told her with a smile, crouching down and then offering her hand.
"Sally, come on. We don't get all day, get the kid, and let's go home." A gruff voice barked. Hermione looked over Sally and saw an unkept overweight middle-aged man. He looked like that Elmer Fudd. Hermione let out a giggle, then his beady eyes glared at her, opening his mouth to shout before Sally shot him a look presumably.
Hermione took out her pinkie, "Promise?" She demurely asked, holding her pinkie finger in front of Sally.
Sally smiled and reciprocated. "Promise." She agreed before withdrawing it then and bending up. "Okay, Gabe, can you get the Social Worker so that we can sign the papers so that we can adopt Hermione."
After a few minutes of painstakingly signing multiple documents, Miss Hannah witnessed it as a notary. Sally was finally able to sign her name on the dotted line, "Okay, now this is wrapped up. Gabe, can you drop us off at Central Park? I think Percy and Hermione would enjoy some Blue Moon Ice Cream!" Sally cheered as Gabe grumbled, "Don't use all of the clothes money I gave you, Sal." He warned as they started to head out.
Sally wrapped her arms around Percy and Hermione, guiding the group to the door. Miss Hannah scurried in front of them and hastily opened the door, looking akin to a mouse dunked in water. "T-Thank you for stopping by Happy Day's Orphanage!" She managed to articulate, juggling two babies who seemed intent on pulling out her hair.
Sally nodded as they exited in the dingy and sad orphanage. Hermione independently ran ahead of them and then stood alone on the sidewalk. Her gaze traveled to the grey building as she inched closer and held out her hand, "Goodbye, Edificio." She whispered against the brick and then backed up. Hermione wordlessly walked over to the Ford as Percy zoomed near her and opened it for her, "Mom says this is what gentlemen do." Percy told her as he gave an exaggerated bow. Hermione grinned and then climbed into the car.
Percy followed Hermione, dumping the greasy pizza boxes onto the floor and sat in the grease pile. Sally opened the passenger door, "Remember to buckle up, the first person to do so gets shotgun when we take the taxi!" She told them, turning her head over to watch Percy and Hermione frantically fastened their belt. Sally smiled to herself; children are very susceptible.
Hermione sighed and then looked over to Percy, "Wanna play sticks?" She asked, holding out her left and right index finger, and Percy reciprocated, holding them up too. A few minutes into the game, Percy yelled in triumph, "Percy, twelve and Hermione, zero." Hermione shot him an annoyed glance and forced her eyes to the window. She didn't bother giving him a retort.
Percy quietly unbuckled his seatbelt and scooted closer to Hermione. "Hey, whatcha doing," he asked, poking her head, which he guessed she barely felt in her nest of hair. "I am watching people walking through the streets, walking by the side of the city." Hermione stiffly told him, ignoring his attempts to gauge her attention.
"Hermy-" Hermione's fists turned white, "Mione, I didn't know you were so bad at Sticks. The park is," Percy paused as he looked out the window, "Bout a minute away," He concurred, "I can let you get the bigger ice-cream." Percy offered, putting his hand on her shoulder. "Wanna play rock, paper, scissors, and shoes?" He asked as Hermione instantly turned around and held out her hand, "First one to get to 5 out of 5 will win, okay?" Hermione asked in confirmation as she held out her left fist and right-hand flat. Percy nodded and did the same.
"Rock, paper, scissors, and shoe!" Hermione recited.
Hermione grinned in triumph and made a gun symbol while Percy made scissors.
"Ha. Gun beats scissors." Hermione taunted, a small smile brightening her face.
"What?! You didn't say we could use anything other than rock, paper, and scissors!" Percy protested, scowling as Hermione giggled, "I never said you couldn't do it." Hermione then pointed the finger gun at herself, "Bam-" She started before she was jerked back by the car screeching.
"Gabe! Not so hard; the kids might get whiplash!" Sally snapped, lightly slapping Gabe's arm, before unbuckled herself, opened the door, and stepped out. She then maneuvered herself to the car's side door and opened it for Hermione, who jumped out.
"Is this Central Park?" Hermione asked, disbelief coloring her features, her brows furrowing, as her nose scrunched up; Sally frowned and motioned for Percy to get out of the car. "We'll see you at five Gabe," Sally smiled but paused as Gabe didn't speed of, "And..?" He prompted, turning his rat eyes to Sally, who sighed, "With some BQQ from Little John, okay?" Gabe didn't grace Sally a reply and just sped off.
Hermione shook her head, "Can we play now?" She tensely asked, grabbing Percy's hand, waiting for permission. "Be my guest." Sally told her, watching the two children run off, leaving her in the dust. Sally coughed and walked over to a bench, then sat down to watch.
Hermione instantly let go of Percy and started to climb on the jungle gym, "I bet that I can hold on longer than you can." She taunted, giving him a little grin as his eyes squinted in at the challenge, "Pfft, no way. I've been here a million times, I know it like I know Smelly's home," Percy boasted before catching the confused look on Hermione, "Smelly is Gabe. He smells like doritos in the dumpster." He spoke, as she immediately agreed.
Hermione then got fully on the jungle gym, her arms feeling stretched by its hanging, hesitantly she took her left hand and swung to another bar, barely getting it on there. She managed to get her right arm on the second bar and then the third. She smiled in at her success, and she moved her left arm to go for the fourth one before her hand slipped, so she braced herself for falling with her eyes closed shut-
Two gentle hands caught her; she opened her eyes in surprise, "T-Thank you, Miss." She said shyly, clutching her arms as the woman slowly put her back on the ground. "Be careful, okay? I wouldn't want someone to lose their head, especially as unique as you, Ms. Jackson. I would be extra careful, seeing how the gods have seen fit to bless you."
The young woman spoke with passion, her violet eyes seeming to twinkle, "Gods? I thought there was only one god." Hermione puzzled before bursting with questions, "If there are more gods, do they pay attention to what I do? Every day? Can a Gods communicate with other Gods? Why can I see you, can Percy see you? Am I a god? Well, no I suppose I would be a goddess which is kinda sexist if you think-" Hermione started before stopping when the mystery woman held up her hand, "All in due time, Hermione." She calmly answered. Her hand reached Hermione's cheek and caressed it, causing Hermione to feel a hodgepodge of emotions; she blinked rapidly before it went away, just like the woman who saved her from a bruised bottom. A few days after the incident, Hermione would question how the woman knew her name.
Hermione blinked as the woman disappeared and looked around, "Sand-Brain, did you see the strange woman?" She asked as he gave her a confused look, "What woman? You were playing tic tac toe with me." He told her as she wracked her brain before her mind supplied her the memory of Percy challenging her to a match after he beat her in the Jungle Gym, "Oh yeah. I was going to win!" Hermione taunted as she sat down, and Percy gave her a look, "Oh you're on, Herms."