Disclaimer: I do not own Rick Riordan, the Percy Jackson books, characters, series, movies, or anything else you may recognize.
Author's Note: Hello my lovelies! I'm so sorry about the huge delay in posting. My life has been a mess lately and to put it simply, I haven't really slept in around 2.5 weeks now. I fell asleep straightening my hair the other day and now have a second degree burn on my hand. So yes. My mom has cancer - a completely curable kind so it's all good - so it's just been a lot of dealing with that, dealing with work drama, my own mental health, and working on my new album! Woo! Music stuff! So just to re-confirm, I will be finishing this story! So please enjoy because it's all ramping up now!
The Big Reveal
Almost as soon as we had landed in Skiathos and gotten settled, Andee had disappeared into her room. For sixteen hours. Annabeth assured me that she was fine and that she was just sleeping, but for sixteen hours? I know Andee had said she hadn't slept in a couple days, but that was a long time to sleep for. But, I knew Annabeth and Andee had the bond, and if Annabeth said Andee was okay, I was inclined to believe her.
Leo had mentioned that the festival that the town has was tomorrow. Tomorrow. That festival had changed everything for Andee and I, and I didn't think it was a coincidence that we were here again. I knew it could change things again, but I just had to figure out how to get Andee there.
Without her memories of me, she was slowly starting to come around. I would catching her looking at me, she would say certain things and we'd have moments. I knew that if we were back at the festival, that I could bring her memories back. I was miserable without her.
It was easy to keep my mind occupied while we were on the quests, fighting monsters and minor gods, but in those moments of peace, while we were eating at meals, or going to bed, that's when I noticed how lonely it felt without her. And I realized how bad it must have been for her, having to go for a year without me, not knowing where I was, and if I was hurt or dead.
There were so many things I wish I could change.
"Please tell me you are planning to do something at the festival," Jason said, coming up beside me with Piper. In the last few days, Jason and I had actually become friends, which was weird but also kind of awesome. He had saved my ass a couple of times now, and I'd saved his. He was a good leader, had survived a lot, and had the same sense of humor as I did.
He also cared about Andee, and had been there for her when I couldn't be, which I appreciated.
"I was thinking about it," I said.
"Oh no, you're doing it," Piper said. "We're going to help you. This is happening. We're going to need more help though, if this is going to work."
So within the hour, we were sitting in Annabeth's room with Leo and Annabeth as well, with one of Andee's brothers –Will – on Iris message, brainstorming the best way to go about this.
"Keep in mind, all of you, that she may not want any of this," Annabeth said. "I do agree that we need to get her memories back, but after they're back, she may be done. And you all need to respect her decisions afterwards."
I didn't even want to think about that possibility. Andee was my sun and my stars, and I needed her to know that again. Whatever that took.
Back to Andee's POV
I called everyone for a meeting on the Argo, figuring that if we were discussing sensitive demigod matters that it should be on the privacy of the ship.
"I have a plan," I said to the room of people. "I don't know if it's a good plan, but I've been thinking it over, and it's about the only option we have."
Nico looked miserable. This plan sucked, but there was no other options.
"We have to shut the Doors of Death. That is the next step on our quest," I said slowly. "The Doors have to be closed from both sides, simultaneously."
"We already know all this," Frank said.
"Yes," I said. "We knew all that. What we didn't know, is that one set of the Doors are in the House of Hades, which is a temple in Epirus. The other set of doors is in Tartarus. And we need a child of Hades on each side to be able to close them."
Everyone was silent now. The quest was a suicide mission and we all knew it.
I took a deep breath. "I will lead the team going into Tartarus," I finally said. Everyone looked at me. I had made a vow to protect everyone, and I couldn't depend on others to do that. It had to be me. "I don't want to ask anyone to come with me, but we need a child of Hades or Pluto on the Tartarus side." Hazel and Nico were both so young and had both been through so much already. There was no way I could let Nico go back into Tartarus, not after what he'd seen. "Hazel…"
"No," Nico said. "This isn't like the Fields of Punishment. It's so much worse. You can't go to Tartarus, I'll – I'll go. I'll go back."
"You're not going! Look at what happened to you! I'm sorry Nico, but it's my turn," Hazel said. She turned back to me. "I'll go with you, Andee."
"I'm going with you too," Annabeth said immediately.
"Absolutely not," I said.
"You can't stop me," she said.
"Actually I can," I said. "And you're not going." I didn't want to tell her that she had been through too much too, that she'd been traumatized enough, and I couldn't let her go through any more pain. "I need you on the other side for communication. I don't know if our bond will still work in Tartarus, but we need any chance we can get."
She wanted to argue – I could tell by the way her muscles were tensing – but she didn't say anything. Her mind was racing too fast for me to catch any thoughts.
"So Hazel and I will go to –"
"I'm coming –"
I looked at Frank and Percy. Would anyone actually let me finish talking?
"State your cases."
"You should never have only two demigods on one quest," Percy said. "It's asking for trouble."
"Four is a good number. It never hurts to have back-up," Frank added.
I looked at Hazel and she shrugged.
"It would be better to have the four of you," Nico said. "Just the two of you will get eaten alive. Maybe the four of you will actually stand a chance."
"Do you know where there's an entrance to…to Tartarus?" Piper asked.
"There's not really an entrance to Tartarus per se," I said with a look at Nico. "But there's an entrance to the Underworld in Cape Matapan – the Cave of Hades – and it's very close to Tartarus. It wouldn't take much navigating once we're in the Underworld to get there."
Annabeth pulled up a map of Greece, displaying it on the walls of the rooms. "Cape Matapan and Epirus are on almost opposite ends of the country. Both at least six hours from here." She fiddled with the map a little, zooming in and out. "I'm not sure…Leo, what do you think our best path would be?"
"Right back home," he answered without missing a beat. Annabeth gave him a look. "Alright, alright." He pulled up the controls and did some looking around himself. "If we stay in the water, skirt around Athens…Githio looks like the best place to drop the four of you off. It's going to be a long walk to Cape Matapan, so maybe if we can get closer, we'll try, but who knows what will be coming our way by then. And then we'll fly the rest of the way to Epirus."
"So I guess we should leave tomorrow at sunrise, not waste any more time," I said, even though I really wanted to waste a lot more time.
"What about the festival?" Piper asked. "I mean, if we're literally about to go through hell – well, you are – shouldn't we have one more day and night to enjoy?"
I didn't need a lot of convincing. I wanted to go to the festival so badly anyways, so putting off going to Tartarus wasn't too hard for me at the moment. "Okay. We'll leave the morning after."
"Are we really doing this?" I asked Leo, who hooked his arm with me as we walked underneath the banner welcoming us to the town's festival. The sky was just turning a lovely shade of lavender. "We are on a bit of a tight timeline."
"You are the one who said you wanted to go to this, and we have time, so why not enjoy ourselves before we literally walk through hell?" Leo asked. He made a solid point. "And I know you're dying for us to have a romantic relationship, and I've told you time and time again that we're just friends, so let's just enjoy this platonic time between two buddies."
"Oh my gods, you are actually so annoying sometimes," I said.
"You know you love me," Leo said with a wink.
"I unfortunately do," I said with a laugh. Even though I protested, I was actually happy that Leo had demanded that I go with him, because I wouldn't have gone by myself. And I had been dying to go to this festival for as long as I could remember, and would have been devastated that we were here at the right time and I had missed it. I put on a pair of white high-waisted shorts, a flowy gold crop top, and my gladiator sandals and we were out the door. I even let Leo drive Bartholomew. I figured as a son of Hephaestus and the pilot/captain of Festus, he could handle a motorcycle. And he surprisingly could.
The weather tonight was perfect too – not too humid but cool, with a slight breeze, bringing in the scent of the Aegean Sea.
Pretty twinkly lights were hung along the sides of the street and criss-crossed along the top to make sure the path was lit. A few places even had paper lanterns to give them a little bit of extra colored light. All sorts of vendors were set up along the sides, selling different souvenirs and types of food. There were different carnival activities – games, rides, and the like. Deeper into the festival, I knew there would be a dance floor because I could hear the live band from here.
"This is the first time I've seen you smile in weeks," Leo commented with a smile. "You look genuinely happy."
"I…yeah. I'm really happy," I admitted. "Just being here – the place that has been my second home my entire life, and to finally go to this festival…I think I'm just finally able to relax for more than five seconds."
"Well come on then, senorita, let's have some fun!" Leo said.
Leo and I were living it up. Going on rides, playing some of the different games and eating so much food. Of course, I was getting stopped by people who recognized me from my performing, which was kind of cool but also a little inconvenient. A lot of them were one, surprised I spoke Greek, and two, trying to convince me to go onstage and sing. I had to refuse, telling them I was just here to take a bit of a break from school and work, to just enjoy some time with my family and friends, but thanked them for their support. I mean, without them I wouldn't have a job, right?
Leo went up to one of the food trucks to grab us another amazing looking treat and I stood a little further back, not wanting to be engulfed in the crowd. I saw a man walking by, glowing a little in the moonlight, as he swung back a beer. His smile was bright as he looked around, taking in his surroundings. He had curly black hair, bright eyes and an air about him that made you feel happy and ready to party. I could tell immediately that he was a minor god, and obviously one unaffected by the split.
I glanced at Leo before approaching the man. He smiled when he saw me. "I knew you'd notice me, Andromeda."
"Who are you?" I asked. I hadn't seen this god before, and I had seen and met a lot of gods in my life.
"Comus, the god of festivities," he said, spreading his arms out. "No one notices me much, usually Dionysus is the life of the party. But I'm the guy that keeps the party going. And this – this is one of my favorite parties. And you, my dear, well this night has a lot in store for you."
"What do you mean?" I asked slowly.
"You'll see soon enough," he said with a devilish smile. "But I did want to give you one warning – you are soon going to have to choose whether to keep or break a promise you made, so choose wisely."
"I don't know –"
"You will. Have a good night!" And in a small swirl of fireworks and sparks, he was gone.
You know, these short interactions with gods and minor gods were never good. And why did they always come with warnings?
"What's up, güera? You look like you've seen a ghost," Leo said, handing me a weird mix of an ice cream cone made of a churro, with soft serve ice cream and caramel drizzle. Oh gods it was good. "Wait – did you see a ghost? We've actually seen a lot of those lately."
"Minor god of festivities," I said. "Just telling me that the night 'has a lot in store for me', whatever that's supposed to mean."
"Weird," Leo said, his voice a little off. He wasn't outright lying but he was definitely hiding something…what was going on?
We walked around a little and finished our ice creams as we came up to the dancefloor. Now the energy here was magnetic – people had had a few drinks, some food and were getting into the spirit of things. "Come on, let's dance!" I said, grabbing Leo's hand and hauling him onto the dance floor with me.
There was nothing quite like dancing. Whether you danced professionally or like a lunatic in the privacy of your bedroom, it felt good to just move to the rhythm. And with the brisk sea air filling my senses, it was heavenly. I closed my eyes and just felt the music in every part of me, enjoying just being for a few moments.
The song changed to a slower one and I opened my eyes. What a mood killer. "Hey." I turned around and Percy was standing behind me, his hands in the pockets of his jeans. He had on a plain white t-shirt that hugged his body tightly, and really highlighted how tan his skin was and how green his eyes were. Oh gods… "Do you want to dance? With me?"
My mind and my heart were racing. The logical part of me knew I shouldn't but my head was already nodding. The corners of his mouth turned up into a smile and my heart skipped a beat. That smile. He wrapped his arms around my waist and I did the same around his neck, and it only took a few moments before I felt comfortable enough to rest my head against his chest. He was so warm and felt familiar and right. I didn't ever want to leave his arms – he made me feel safe.
I looked up at him at the same time as he decided to look at me. Our foreheads touched and we stayed there for a moment. There was a battle waging inside me, fighting over whether to stay away because of the Prophecy, or to give in, because I wanted so badly to know what his lips felt like on mine and what bigger feeling all of these hints could lead to.
When he leaned in closer, I leaned in too, letting our lips meet in a soft kiss. I let myself sink into the moment, responding to his kiss with a little more passion, savoring this moment. Nothing had ever felt so right before, and I wanted nothing more than –
Oh gods. It all came back.
I remembered everything.