It was the day after the events at the Ministry, and the first time we'd been able to sneak off together to properly talk. We were squirrelled away in the depths of the library. It was a sunny day, so most of the students were outside, or elsewhere in the castle, relaxing now that exams were over.
"The Rightful King of the Gods?" Jason asked, shaking his head, "Given their temperaments, that could be any of them."
"Except for Zeus." Percy pointed out, "For once."
The sky rumbled overhead.
"Don't forget," I reminded them, "It's no longer limited to Roman or Greek deities. We could be looking at an Egyptian god, or a Norse one, or who knows what else."
"Well, instead of looking at what we don't know, we should look at what we do," Calypso suggested.
"It's someone tough, and brave." Clarisse declared.
"Not necessarily." I pointed out.
"Well, rightful king, right?" Percy said, "They have to be a guy."
"That's something. They've gotta be powerful, as well, to be able to offer Voldemort any useful assistance." I reasoned.
"So that narrows it down to every powerful male god in existence. Easy peasy." Leo quipped.
"We can rule out all the peace-loving gods, like Frey," I added.
"Wait, what about the sacrifices?" Hazel said.
"Nilo was a Norse demigod, but Hunters, Campers and Magicians have been going missing too and presuming they all met the same fate, it doesn't prove anything," I frowned, "But if we can figure out the purpose of the sacrifices, then that narrows it down even further."
"Okay, so most sacrifice-type things are done for power, right?" Piper said.
"Or to raise someone. From the dead, or... otherwise." Percy added.
"Like a god." I realised, "The god we're looking for might be one trapped, or imprisoned, or powerless, who needs the sacrifices in order to escape, or gain the power to escape."
"Loki?" Percy guessed.
"No, he was handed over to the Aesir and they locked him away somewhere not even Magnus knows. Besides, this isn't really his style. I think we're looking at a new player."
"Caelus?" Frank suggested.
"Who's Caelus?" Leo asked.
"Ouranos," I answered, causing him, Percy and Clarisse to snigger.
I elbowed my boyfriend but otherwise ignored it.
"The original King." Jason said, "He was said to be even worse than Gaia."
"Oh, gods." Percy muttered, "What if it's Tartarus?"
I shivered despite myself, and I could see my look of horror mirrored on my friends' faces.
"It could be either," I sighed, "It could also be one we haven't even thought of. I'll contact Magnus and the Kanes, see if they have any suggestions. Jason, can you bring Thalia up to date on all of this? Frank, talk to Reyna, and Percy, update Chiron."
We all started, whirling around to find Hermione, Harry and Ron standing there. It was Hermione who had spoken.
"What are you guys doing here?" Percy asked hurriedly.
"It's a library," Hermione pointed out, "And I was actually looking for Jason because I still have questions about his sister. Who are those people?"
"Friends," I replied.
"You mentioned Thalia again. I'm assuming that's the same Thalia that Storm mentioned."
"It is," I said slowly, eyeing her warily as she moved closer.
She paused for a moment, looking around the group with guarded eyes before speaking again.
"Something doesn't add up about you guys. You come in, at all different ages. You have those marks on your arms. You act like the O.W.Ls don't matter. You're friends with some weird forest lady. You're always having secret conversations. You get special attention from Dumbledore. You don't go to Ilvermorny. Some of you acted like you'd never used magic before when you first arrived. I'm also fairly sure I've heard you sword fighting."
Silence fell over the group, us demigods exchanging worried glances. She was suspicious, and we needed her to trust us.
"We're American?" Percy offered.
"You can tell them, Mr Jackson."
Like a ghost, Dumbledore appeared from the shadows, his eyes twinkling.
"Tell them what? There's nothing to tell." He tried, to no avail.
"Sit down," I told them.
To my surprise, they complied immediately.
"How much do we tell them?" I asked Dumbledore quietly.
"Who you are and why you're here, and then answer any questions they have." He said, settling down on one of the chairs.
"Who wants to start?" I said, turning to my friends.
"We're here to induct you into our cult," Leo said seriously.
"What?" Harry exclaimed.
"He's kidding," Calypso assured them quickly.
"We're demigods." Jason said before Leo could say anything else, "The children of a human, and a god."
"Except for me. I'm a former Titaness." Calypso added.
"What? Gods - what?" Hermione stuttered, at a loss for words, "Which gods?"
"We're Greek and Roman demigods," Jason explained, "But we know of Norse ones, and Egyptian magicians. There are presumably others as well."
"Well... I - what... who are your parents?"
"My father's Jupiter," Jason said, turning to Piper - who he was sitting next to - as if to pass it along.
"Aphrodite." She said gloomily.
"Atlas, I guess. But that's complicated."
"So... you're really..." Hermione's eyes darted around the group as if seeing them in a new light.
"Wait, how do we know you're telling the truth?" Harry asked suspiciously.
"I can vouch for them," Dumbledore assured him.
"Well, what are you doing here then?" Harry asked, narrowing his eyes.
"We received a prophecy," I said.
"Like the ones in the hall? Is that common for you?" Hermione inquired.
"Unfortunately," Percy grumbled; the rest of us muttered our agreement.
"What did it say?" She pressed.
"You heard it - in the hall. The second one." I answered.
"Wow - I mean."
"Is he really dead?" Harry asked quietly.
He was staring at Hazel and Nico, desperation visible in his eyes as he realised that as the children of the God of Death, they would be able to tell him.
"He is," Nico informed him, a touch of empathy in his voice.
Harry let out a shuddering breath, but it didn't seem as if he had had much hope to begin with.
"And your sister?" Hermione asked Jason.
"She's a daughter of Zeus, and we have the same mother. She's technically seven years older than me, but she spent some time as a tree, and then joined the Hunters of Artemis." Jason replied.
"I'm going to skip over the tree part for now and ask about the Hunters of Artemis. Is Storm one? Is that why the Centaurs called her 'Huntress'?"
"I'd presume so. As for the Hunters themselves, they hunt alongside Lady Artemis, but on the times she is called away, like now when she's on Olympus trying to plead her brother's case to our father, her Lieutenant is in charge. That's Thalia."
"And they're... immortal?"
"They don't age. The only way they can die is if they fall in battle, or if they break their oath."
"Their oath? To not be with a man?" Hermione checked.
"That leaves from pretty massive loopholes," Piper commented, smirking slightly.
"I think that might have been on purpose," I said, matching her smile.
"I'm still stuck on the 'god' thing," Ron muttered.
"Don't worry, it took me a while to wrap my head around it as well," Percy reassured him.
"Wait, so when Voldemort said 'King of the Gods', he really meant...?" Harry asked, his eyes wide in alarm.
"Yes." I replied solemnly, "We don't know who - yet - if that's what you're planning on asking next."
"Well, are you coming back next year?" He queried, "I can handle Voldemort, but a god..."
"I don't know," I answered, looking to Dumbledore.
"Your year is up, I'm afraid." He informed them, "But we will not be alone in this fight. I have contacted the heads of both Demigod camps, and the House of Life. I also reached out to your Norse friends. I'm pleased to say that they've agreed to all work together, with us, to defeat our enemies. Magnus Chase and Alex Fierro will be joining us next year."
"Chase?" Hermione asked, glancing to me.
"He's my cousin. And Alex is his partner. Magnus is a demigod, a child of Frey, and Alex is a child of Loki."
"And they're both dead," Percy added.
"Dead?" Hermione gulped.
"They're einherji." I elaborated, "Odin's warriors."
"Is going from ten to two wise?" Jason worried.
"We will stay in contact with you," Dumbledore assured him, "And I spoke to the Lady Artemis last night. She helped us in the war against Grindelwald years ago and has agreed to help us again, partially as thanks for us providing her Hunters safe sanctuary. They will also be moving on at the end of this year, as she returns to their ranks. Save for one, of course."
"A Hunter chose to stay here?" Percy frowned.
"Well, she didn't exactly choose it, as much as she has been ordered to, but she's staying."
"Is it Storm?" Piper asked suddenly.
Even Dumbledore looked taken aback.
"It is." He said slowly.
"She said she was a witch when Jason and I met with Thalia months ago," Piper explained.
"She is. A very powerful one at that. She has an iron will - and an unforgiving heart."
"She didn't seem to like you very much," Piper said carefully.
"No. We used to be close friends. Grew up together, in a way. She's only a few years younger than me, but... things change."
"She's only a few years younger than you?" Hermione wondered in amazement.
However, Harry and Ron's minds seemed to have gone elsewhere.
"Did you date her, Professor?" Harry asked boldly.
I winced. Leo grinned. Dumbledore laughed.
"No, no. She was like a sister to me, for starters. Besides, I don't - what's the phrase - 'swing that way'. Neither does she, for that matter."
"Huh?" Ron asked blankly.
"He's trying to say that they're both gay," Nico said, rolling his eyes.
"Ohhh. Wait." Ron said, whipping his head around to stare at Dumbledore.
"Next year will certainly be interesting," Calypso said, distracting from Ron's - and Harry's - reaction.
"Indeed," Dumbledore agreed, "It will be a wonder if I survive it."
"What?" Hermione exclaimed in alarm - a sentiment very much shared by the rest of us.
"Like I said," Dumbledore smiled, "Storm has a very unforgiving heart. And she does tend to be rather violent."
I held back a sigh as I slumped back in my seat. As much as I longed to go home, I also wanted to stay. I had become attached to this place and the people within it. They didn't deserve to be swept up into this mess, and they were in way above their heads. They need our help - they needed us here.
Although, I could still help back in America, perhaps even more so. This time, maybe the war wouldn't be so unbalanced. With all four mythologies and wizards, working together, we could win.
But, that did mean leaving Hogwarts in the hands of my witty cousin, his shape-shifting partner and a century-old huntress with anger issues.
Alone, they were fine. Together - well, I could already tell that they'd get along like a house on fire. Unfortunately, in this case, they might actually set a house on fire.
I just pray that the house in question doesn't end up being Hogwarts.