It was early in the morning a few days after the full moon ritual, Damien and Percy were getting ready for bed when Percy's stomach rumbled a little.
"Hey Damien, I'm going to the Mess Hall to grab a snack before turning in, you want anything?"
"No, but I'll come too. A bit of light exercise before bed helps you sleep better." Damien said
"It's not really that far." Percy pointed out
"I know, but it's better than nothing, besides I did say light exercise" Damien replied
"By the way, what's up with the tattoo?" Damien asked while they were on their way there, hoping that Percy would give him an honest answer since he was sleepy.
"Nothing" Percy shrugged "I just thought it looked cool. I saw it in a movie once" So had Damien, when he originally noticed that tattoo, he'd thought it looked familiar so he'd researched it before asking Percy about it.
"Cool, you think the symbol of the Roman Legion is cool? I hadn't pegged you as a history buff." Damien commented
"I'm not, my girlfriend is though" Percy responded truthfully
"Ah" was the only thing Damien said. He wasn't sure if he should believe Percy or not. He wouldn't be the first boy to get a tattoo to impress a girl but still.
Anyway, they reached the mess hall, Percy grabbed some food and then they started back but before they got very far, they heard a loud mournful howl coming from the main gate.
"What is that?" Damien asked
Percy perked up, he knew that howl! He then ran toward the gate
"Wh-Percy wait!" Damien said and began chasing after him
When Percy got to the gate, Mrs. O'Leary stopped howling and started whining instead
"Mrs. O'Leary, it is you!"
"Is that your dog?" Damien asked
"Yeah" Percy said and reached his hand through the gate to pet her
"How did she find you?" Damien questioned
"Because she's the smartest dog in the world, aren't you?" Percy answered
Mrs. O'Leary stopped whining to bark in agreement.
"Why did you name her Mrs. O'Leary?" Damien asked Percy
"I didn't name her" Percy said "She adopted me after her original owner died, I decided not to change it out of respect for him." It was true, Daedalus may have been a jerk most of his life, but he had decided to do the right thing in the end and died for it; he deserved that much respect. Plus, Mrs. O'Leary wouldn't answer to anything else.
Mrs. O'Leary started whining to be let inside again, Percy didn't understand why she didn't just shadow travel but he was grateful she hadn't; he didn't know how he would even begin to explain to Damien how his dog appeared out of nowhere. He was having a hard enough time keeping the guy in the dark as it was…it would be just his luck to be stuck rooming with the most observant kid in the school.
"What's going on here?" Neferet asked, the schools wards had alerted her that there was a threat at the gate so she had come to investigate.
"It's my dog" Percy said "she found me here and wants inside"
Neferet looked through the gate and past the dog. Annoying as they may be, one dog should not have triggered the wards they weren't dangerous enough…unless the dog WASN'T actually a dog.
"Absolutely not" Neferet said "we do not allow dogs at the House of Night only cats and horses."
"With all due respect Priestess that's not entirely true" Damien said "I've read about some Priestesses that had bird familiars"
"An occasional owl, yes" Neferet conceded "they are nocturnal birds by nature and thus allied with Night but dogs have always been associated with humans not vampires. In the past they have used dogs to hunt us down. They are after all MAN's best friend." Her tone turned sharp by the end. Neferet hated dogs almost as much as she hated humans.
"Well, Mrs. O'Leary is allied with me and has been for years. If she's not welcome here, neither am I." Percy declared "I'm leaving"
"Percy, don't be foolish" Neferet chided "surely you can see why dogs are not allowed at the House of Night, we have lots of cats and dogs are their natural enemies."
"Not Mrs. O'Leary, she's great with cats." Percy said, honestly he had never seen Mrs. O'Leary even glance at a cat but he highly doubted any animal would be stupid enough to mess with a hellhound. The mist only affected people so animals could see monsters clearly and most avoided them as much as possible. He then began trying to climb the fence.
"Percy, come down from there before you hurt yourself." Neferet ordered
"No, I told you-if my dog isn't allowed at the House of Night then neither am I."
"Are you really willing to kill yourself over some stupid dog?" Neferet asked
"She's NOT stupid!" Percy countered "I'll find another House of Night-one that is willing to see reason"
Neferet didn't like that idea at all. She hadn't had the opportunity to turn Percy into one of her servants yet so if he died, he would just die and that would be a major waste. If Percy did what he said and found another House of Night willing to take him AND the dog, that would be a major embarrassment which would not due her plans any favors.
"Very well, contrary to what you just implied I am NOT unreasonable. I will give your Mrs. O'Leary ONE chance; she may enter the House of Night and stay with you, but if she hurts one of the cats or messes on the carpet, she is GONE, am I clear?"
"Yes ma'am-I mean priestess" Percy responded and dropped back to the ground. Neferet reluctantly pressed the button to open the gate.
Mrs. O'Leary continued to whine, the wards were still not letting her in despite the open gate.
"She's a proper lady, she needs a proper invite" Percy said…he knew that monsters couldn't enter heavily warded places like New Rome or Camp Half-blood unless invited by someone who was connected to the wards, maybe the House of Night had similar wards…that would explain why there had been no monster attacks despite him having been there for well over a week, he hadn't managed to go that long without attracting a monster since before he'd learned he was a demigod unless he was in one of the aforementioned heavily warded areas.
Neferet rolled her eyes "Very well, come in Mrs. O'Leary" Percy didn't notice the eye roll but Damien did 'wow, she really doesn't like dogs' he thought
Mrs. O'Leary ran through the gate and jumped on Percy, knocking him over and proceeded to start licking his face.
"It's great that you're here girl, now let me up" Percy said after a minute
Mrs. O'Leary moved so Percy could stand again
"May I?" Damien asked, unlike Neferet, he liked dogs.
"Sure, just let her sniff you first" Percy said
Damien nodded and stretched out his hand
Skylar was tired but since he slept on Neferet's bed most days, he couldn't sleep until she went to bed. She hadn't come yet so he went to go find her and bring her to bed. He found her just when Damien asked to pet Mrs. O'Leary.
Skylar froze at the sight of the hellhound. His every instinct was screaming at him to turn and run but his vampire was too close to the monster, he HAD to protect her.
He darted past Neferet and her mind instantly raced back to another cat who had tried to protect her and died doing it, was she about to witness a repeat?
Thankfully Skylar did not lunge at Mrs. O'Leary, he placed himself between her and Neferet, puffed himself up and starting hissing. He was trying to appear as scary as possible and hoping to frighten the monster away.
If she could have, Mrs. O'Leary would have laughed at the dumb cat for thinking he could scare her but instead she ignored him in favor of sniffing Damien's outstretched hand.
It took all Neferet's self-control for her not to breathe a sigh of relief instead she simply said "Come Skylar, let's go to bed." And began walking away. Skylar gave Mrs. O'Leary one last hiss before following her. Mrs. O'Leary began licking Damien's hand, affecting not to notice Skylar.
"Congratulations, she likes you and she's an excellent judge of character." Percy said
'Does that mean you'll be willing to trust me a little?' Damien thought and then they went to bed.
At breakfast that evening Stevie Rae came to their normal table with another girl in tow.
"Hey y'all" she said cheerfully "I'd like you to meet my new roommate Zoey Redbird."
"Hi" Zoey said a bit nervously
"That's Damien, our resident vocab expert. The twins, Shawnee and Erin and Percy, the old new kid."
"Old new kid?" Zoey questioned
"I'm the last fledging that showed up before you got here." Percy explained
"And the oldest new fledging EVER!" Erin added
"Didn't your mother teach you to respect your elders?" Percy asked
"Yeah, but we've been marked longer than you, that makes us YOUR elders" Shawnee countered.
"You do realize that since the Hags are 6 formers, by that logic they are our elders and therefore deserve our respect." Damien pointed out
"Ugh, never mind. I take it back" Shawnee responded
Erin deftly decided to change the subject "So Zoey, how come your mark's all filed in?"
Zoey shrugged "I don't know. It wasn't when I was first marked then I hit my head and when I woke up it was like this."
"Oh bummer, that's not very gossipy at all." Shawnee said
"Sorry" Zoey apologized "I don't do gossipy"
"Now you sound like Percy" Erin whined
"No fun at all" Shawnee added
"That's exactly what I said when they asked me why I am so old" Percy explained
"You don't look that old" Zoey said
"I'm 19, that's old for a newly marked fledgling." Percy said
"So Zoey, where are you from?"
"Broken Arrow-not that far from here." Zoey answered "how about the rest of you?"
"Henrietta, Oklahoma, home of the fighting hens-ick" Stevie Rae said
"Right here in Tulsa" Erin stated
"Connecticut" Shawnee answered
"Manhattan" Percy answered
"Me too" Damien responded
"Really, do you guys know each other from before?" Erin asked
Both guys shook their heads no
"Manhattan is a very urbanized and densely populous area, statistically the odds of two specific individuals meeting are infinitesimal" Damien explained
They all looked at him
"…I see what you mean about him being a vocab expert." Zoey said
"What I mean, is that Manhattan has a LOT of people so it's not odd that Percy and I hadn't met before we came here." Damien explained
"Why are you guys so far from home?" Zoey asked "Isn't there a House of Night in New York City?"
"Well, my parents couldn't handle the fact that I'm gay." Damien began "they didn't want me dead or anything but they wanted me very far away."
"That's awful!" Zoey exclaimed
"I'd rather not talk about it" Shawnee said
"That's okay, we won't press ya" Stevie Rae told her then they all turned to look at Percy
"I was in Texas when I got marked, Tulsa was the closest House of Night" Percy said
"Why were you in Texas?" Erin asked
"I was picking up campers for the camp that I work for" Percy answered it was as close to the truth as he could get
"A camp that picks up campers, isn't it the parents job to drop them off?" Stevie Rae asked
"If they can but sometimes the parents can't, so then a couple of us counselors have to go get them." Percy responded
"What's it called?" Shawnee asked
Percy thought for a moment "Camp…Strawberry" it was all he could think of
A couple of the girls giggled
"Camp Strawberry?" Erin repeated
"It's new, the name is a work in progress." Percy said defensively
Percy was saved from more questions when the bell rang to signal them to get to class
"Ready for your first class, Zo?" Stevie Rae asked
"Not really, I don't know where to go" Zoey answered
"Let's see your schedule." Damien said
Zoey handed it to Damien
"Your first class is Vampire Sociology with Nefert." He said
"That's Damien's and my first class too, you can walk over with us." Percy stated
"Perfect, let's go" Zoey responded
They hurriedly walked to class, arriving just in time
"Good evening students" Neferet said when she walked in "Today we are going to begin discussing Amazons. Modern humans have many misconceptions about these remarkable women, who can name some of them?"
"One of the largest is that they hated all men, some humans even believe that they would give their male children away in disgust." Damien said
"Correct" Neferet said "while it is true that the Amazons were highly matriarchal like all vampire societies that doesn't mean that they didn't honor and respect men as well. What makes the Amazons unique is that they chose to be their own warriors and protectors unlike most other vampire societies including our own, in which we trust our honorable Sons of Erebus to protect us."
Percy's first thought was that didn't match what he had seen of the modern amazons, with the prison suits and the collars they made their men wear but as he thought about it further, Queen Hylla didn't seem like a bad person and neither did Katrina. He couldn't remember seeing any vampires among the Amazons though…maybe the vampire Amazons had been different.
When the class was over Zoey and Damien walked to English together while Percy went to his fencing class.
His new last class for the day was Equestrian studies, where again he ran into Zoey Redbird. Again, Lenobia had the class mucking out the stalls and Blackjack immediately starting talking with Percy
"Hey boss" Blackjack greeted "Check out the mare in the stall next to me, pretty isn't she?"
Luckily for Blackjack, Persephone was watching Zoey and thus oblivious to what Blackjack was saying "…too bad she's not a Pegasus."
"Why does that matter?" Percy said
"Boss, a Pegasus can't mix with a horse, you don't DO that!" Blackjack exclaimed
"You graze with them all the time." Percy stated
"That's different, grazing is fine but mating NO WAY!" Blackjack said
"Mating, don't you think it's a bit early for that?" Percy questioned
"I'm not too early to be thinking about it, otherwise I wouldn't be willing to approach her to see if she's interested." Blackjack protested
"What happens what a Pegasus mates with a horse?" Percy asked curiously
"I don't know….I'm not sure it's ever been done" Blackjack answered
The next day was Saturday so the group spent the day in the media center binge watching one of Damien's favorite TV shows, Avatar the Last Airbender; Percy hadn't watched a lot of TV since he'd first gone to Camp Half-blood since for some reason, demigods and technology didn't mix well so he had never even heard of the show before but watching Katara and the other waterbenders gave some ideas for things he wanted to try with his water powers. He also decided he would start carrying a thermos so he would always have some water on hand…honestly, WHY hadn't he thought of that earlier?
He then headed over to the creek to practice after first checking to make sure no one was around.
He then grabbed a jagged rock and cut his arm with it, just a little. He then made some water come of the thermos and splashed it on his arm. He didn't feel rejuvenated like he did when completely submerged but the cut did heal itself.
Shortly after that Mrs. O'Leary showed up wanting to play.
Percy threw some water at her.
Mrs. O'Leary darted aside and then barked a couple of times as if to say 'Ha, you missed'
"Oh, you think I can't get you, is that it?" Percy said
Mrs. O'Leary barked
"Oh, it's on now" Percy responded and threw more water
They played tag the dog with water for a while but then Zoey exclaimed "How are you doing that?!"
Percy nearly jumped he was so startled "Wh-how long have you been there?"
"Long enough, to watch you throwing that water around…if I didn't know better I would say that you are a waterbender." Zoey said
"No…I just have a water affinity but you can't tell anyone" Percy stated
"Why not?" Zoey asked
"Because they already think I'm weird for getting marked at 19, I don't want to make it worse, most vampires can't do this, especially not male vampires." Percy said
"Especially not male vampires?" Zoey repeated
"Yeah, normally only female vampires get special affinities for animals or the elements; it's how vamps identify their priestesses-it's practically unheard of for a male vampire to have an elemental affinity. I'm enough of a freak already thank you."
"Percy, you're not a freak. Nyx marked you late for a reason, just like she made my mark different." Zoey said trying to make herself believe it too.
"What makes you so sure of that?" Percy asked
Zoey hesitated, she hadn't told anyone what happened with the spirit people and Nyx but for some reason the 'shut-up' feeling that she had been getting around everyone else was absent at that moment instead she felt that she could trust Percy with the knowledge, that he would understand better than anyone else.
Zoey told him everything, Percy listened attentively as she spoke, the spirit people seemed to confuse him a bit but Nyx he understood.
"So Nyx wants you to do something special but you have no idea what" Percy concluded
"Yeah, how will I manage to do whatever it is she wants me to do, if I have no idea what it is?" Zoey asked
Percy rolled his eyes, typical gods and their stupidly cryptic sentences…unfortunately he doubted that would help Zoey feel better "My advice-just do what you think is right, Nyx picked you because she thought you were the best for the job, so you'll pull through especially if you have a good group of friends with you."
"What if it's dangerous, I don't want anyone to get hurt!" Zoey exclaimed
Percy sighed "I know, but the fact is that no matter how filled in your mark is or what kind of special abilities you have, NO ONE is best at everything. If you know someone that you can trust who is better than you at something, you should let them handle it because if you to do try yourself chances are, you are going to get it wrong and then they WILL get hurt trying to rescue you." Percy responded "Believe me, I learned that the hard way."
Zoey blinked, intellectually she saw his point but she couldn't really accept it in her heart
Percy decided he'd had enough of the doom and gloom talk
"How about we make a deal, I keep your secret about Nyx and the spirit people and you keep mine about water?"
"Deal, I'll keep your secret." Zoey said
"Done then, so why are you out here?" Percy asked
"Can't sleep, I thought I would at least enjoy the weather before it gets too hot." Zoey answered
Mrs. O'Leary barked
"Oh and who's this?" Zoey asked
"That's my dog, Mrs. O'Leary. She barked because she wanted your attention, she HATES being ignored."
"Hello, Mrs. O'Leary" Zoey said and extended her hand Mrs. O'Leary sniffed it a little bit and then allowed Zoey to pet her "I didn't think the House of Night allowed dogs."
"Normally, they don't but they made an exception for Mrs. O'Leary." Percy stated
"I've never seen a dog quite like her, what breed is she?"
Percy shrugged "Not sure really, her former owner didn't say."
"Former owner?" Zoey asked
"Yeah, she used to belong to a tinker named dae-david" Percy couldn't believe he'd started to say Daedalus, he really needed to learn to lie better if he was going to keep demigods secret for 4 years. Quickly he moved on, hoping Zoey hadn't noticed his slip-up "I don't know where he got her but he's the one who named her, Mrs. O'Leary wouldn't have been my first choice."
Mrs. O'Leary barked sharply
"It's almost like she understood that, look she's offended." Zoey said
Inwardly Percy swore, he loved Mrs. O'Leary but sometimes she was too smart for their own good…monsters were like that.
"Maybe it's because she's my familiar." Percy stated
"Really, I thought only cats could become familiars" Zoey responded
"It's usually a cat but Damien says he's read about some vampires who had different animals…I don't know for certain if Mrs. O'Leary is my familiar, it may be Blackjack for all I know."
"Who's Blackjack?" Zoey asked
"My horse, I rode him here" Percy stated
"A horse?! I thought you said you were in Texas when you got marked" Zoey replied
Percy swore at himself again "Northern Texas but yeah"
"How did you not die on the way?!" Zoey questioned thinking of how fast her own health had been declining, she didn't think she could have survived that long a trip on horseback.
Percy shrugged "Too stubborn to die I guess. Neferet said I was pretty close to it when I arrived though" he yawned "I should probably get too bed, good night Zoey"
"Good Night Percy" Zoey said
Several days later Zoey pulled Percy aside between classes and asked him for a private word. They found a secluded corner and then Zoey asked "Percy, do you feel anything when Neferet calls water to a circle?"
"Yeah, I think its part of my affinity. I feel like I'm in the middle of the ocean, I can hear the waves and feel the sea spray…why are you asking?"
"…because I think I felt it at the circle but it wasn't just water, when Neferet called wind, I felt wind blowing my hair around and I felt very warm when she called fire and then when she called earth I felt like I was in a meadow and then when she called spirit I felt this deep sense of peace. If feeling like I'm sailing the ocean is part a water affinity…could I possibly have affinities for all 5 elements?" Zoey said
Percy's first instinct was to say no because it didn't explain him, he'd felt things for earth and air but he couldn't have affinities for those elements, his dad was god of the sea. However when he thought about it further he remembered while god of the sea maybe Poseidon's most important title, it was NOT his only one. He was also the creator of horses, the bringer of storms and the earth-shaker…those last two titles did touch on earth and air but having an affinity seemed a bit of a stretch.
However one of the few facts that Annabeth had turned up was that every tendency, ability etc. a person had when human was majorly enhanced when one became a vampire-maybe it was possible that he had developed affinities, maybe the enhancements one got on becoming a vampire were heightened even further for demigods-if that was the case, it might also be another reason why Zeus and the others weren't keen on demigods becoming vampires, they already seemed to think that some demigods were too powerful.
"If you truly do have an affinity for an element, you should be able to make it do things." Percy said
"Like you with water?" Zoey asked
Percy nodded "Let's meet by the creek after classes to test it."
Before they could do that though, they had to have lunch
"So Zoey how was the Dark Daughters ritual?" Erin asked
"Awful" Zoey answered "it was all about how nasty humans are and how much a hag Aphrodite is…and they made me drink blood."
"They made you?" Stevie Rae said
"Yeah, they handed me the wine and didn't tell me there was blood in it until afterward." Zoey responded
"Oh, Zo I'm so sorry" Stevie Rae exclaimed "I should have warned you about the blood-"
"You knew?" Zoey asked
Stevie Rae nodded "When I first got here, Aphrodite and the others invited me to one of their rituals. I was so thrilled that the 'in' crowd seemed interested in having me join them but when I got there they called me a refrigerator and told me that the only thing I was good for was giving them blood to drink. I told them that they couldn't have my blood and ran out of the temple. Damien and the others found me crying a little later…that's how we first met."
"And the top of our list of reasons why they suck." Erin added
"I didn't think they would try anything like that with you, you're pretty enough to be one of them." Stevie Rae said "plus your filled in mark has the school buzzing"
"So how did it taste?" Erin asked
"ERIN!" everyone but Shawnee scolded
"What, we're going to be vampires, don't tell me you're not the LEAST bit curious" Shawnee defended
"…I didn't even notice it. Eric mentioned it to me later" Zoey lied, she didn't want to admit that she liked the blood in the middle of the mess hall, what if someone overheard?
"Oohh, you didn't say that you talked to him!" Erin said
"details, details" Shawnee pressed
Zoey told them a slightly edited version of what had happened after the Dark Daughters ritual but the others didn't have time to ask any questions before the bell rang.
Zoey and Percy met once classes ended
"Okay, now focus on what you want the water to do, you have to really want it to happen." Percy instructed
Zoey closed her eyes and tried to think of something for the creek to do.
"It should be simple to start with, make a bubble lift into the air above it." Percy said
Zoey thought about the bubble, how it would form and pull itself out of the creek but nothing happened
"Come on water, just form a bubble already!" Zoey yelled in frustration after what felt like forever with nothing happening
To both her and Percy's surprise a large bubble rose out of the creek and floated above them
"Did you do that?" Zoey asked
"It wasn't me…I think it was you" Percy replied
"Hmm…go away bubble" Zoey said
The bubble popped dripping water on both of them
"Well, it looks like you do have a water affinity" Percy said-stating the obvious
"But why do I have to SAY what I want and you don't?" Zoey asked
"I'm not sure how we should go about testing some of the other elements though, I don't think we want to go around lighting fires on campus."
"We could do it off campus, we just have to cover our marks and not wear our uniforms." Zoey suggested
"I'm not sure that's a good idea-what if someone sees?" Percy said, plus they'd probably get attacked by a monster "I'm sure the vamps have some sort of test you could take."
Zoey shook her head "I don't want to tell anyone until I'm sure of it. I was very nervous because it was my first full moon ritual. Can you imagine if I were to tell everyone that I may be the first vampire EVER to have an affinity for all 5 elements and have it turn out to be nothing but a case of nerves…I'd NEVER live it down, plus I'm not entirely convinced that I do have a water affinity."
"No, you definitely have a water affinity but you don't have to scream to get what you want." Zoey protested
"I don't know that I definitely have anything" Percy said
"Didn't the vamps say that you had an affinity for horses?" Zoey reminded him
"Yeah but that's different" Percy said "I can communicate with them telepathically, that's all."
"That sounds so cool!" Zoey exclaimed
Percy shook his head "it's not really. I just mostly wind up knowing things that I would prefer I didn't."
"Like what?" Zoey questioned
"Blackjack likes Persephone" Percy said tonelessly
"Aww, that's sweet. Think we'll see a foal anytime soon?" Zoey asked
"No, I don't know if Persephone likes him. I can't see why she wouldn't but I haven't spoken to her."
"Have you spoken with any of the horses here?" Zoey questioned
"Besides Blackjack only Artemis, very briefly…Blackjack gets jealous if he sees me with other horses." Percy answered
Zoey opened her mouth reply but was interrupted by Nala jumped on her lap and demanding to be petted
"I see you got your cat." Percy said
"Yeah, this is Nala...her showing up was the only good thing that happened to me the other day.
With Zoey's permission Percy petted Nala a little as well. The cat was purring happy to have two sets of hands petting her but when Mrs. O'Leary showed up she began to growl and hiss. At first neither Percy nor Zoey understood then sudden shift in Nala's attitude but when they looked in the direction that she was looking it was obvious
"It's okay Nala, Mrs. O'Leary won't hurt you" Zoey tried to soothe her familiar but it didn't work
"I'd better just go" Percy said standing up…he knew it would take a very long time for the animals to get over their instinctive fear of monsters, even Blackjack had taken months to get used to Mrs. O'Leary's presence and he was a mythical creature too…although in his defense it may have had more to do with the fact that hellhounds have been known to eat any Pegasus unfortunate enough to get caught by them "Come on girl, let's go someplace else."
Mrs. O'Leary barked and followed Percy
Zoey remained sitting on the ground, petting Nala and trying to figure out how to test and see if she had any elemental affinities without risking complete humiliation in front of the entire school.
AN: A lot of people have been telling me that I am spelling vampire wrong, that it should be vampyre. I know that's how the Casts spell it in the House of Night books because it's older but, as I'm sure you've noticed, this is a Percy centric fic and I think he would use the modern spelling plus the old spelling just LOOKS wrong to me (even though I added it to my dictionary so spellcheck no longer thinks so). I don't want to sound like I don't appreciate people taking the time to review the story because I really do appreciate it but please no more comments on the spelling, okay?