I woke with a drinking straw in my mouth. I was sipping something that tasted like liquid bananas. Nectar.
I opened my eyes.
I was propped up in bed in the sickroom of the Big House, my right hand bandaged like a club. Argus stood guard in the corner. I was surprise to see Giselle sitting next to me, holding my nectar glass and dabbing a wash cloth on my forehead.
"Here we are again." I said
"You idiot," She said, which is how I knew she was overjoyed to see me conscious. "You were green turning gray when we found you. If it weren't for Chiron's and my healing..."
"Now, now," Chiron's voice said "Harry's constitution deserves some of the credit."
He was sitting near the foot of my bed in human form, which was why I hadn't noticed him yet. His lower half was magically compacted into the wheelchair, his upper half dressed in a coat and tie. He smiled, but his face looked weary and pale, like when we were at the centaur camp and when the Master Bolt was stolen.
"How are you feeling?" He asked
"Like my insides have frozen, then microwaved."
"Apt, considering that was pit scorpion venom. Now you must tell me, if you can, exactly what happened."
Between sips of nectar, I told them the story.
The room was quiet for a long time.
"I can't believe that Kelly ..." Giselle's voice faltered. Her expression turned angry. "Yes. Yes, I can believe it. May the gods curse her."
"This must be reported to Olympus," Chiron murmured. "I will go at once."
"Ben and Kelly are out there right now," I said. "We have to go after them."
Chiron shook his head. "No, Harry. You're-"
"You're not ready yet." I heard Luke say
"How would you know!" I snapped.
"Harry, I know this is hard. But you must not rush out for vengeance. You aren't ready."
I didn't like it, but part of me suspected Chiron was right. One look at my hand, and I knew I wasn't going to be fighting any time soon.
"We can't just sit back and do anything," I said
"We will not sit back," Chiron promised. "But you must be careful. Kronos wants you to come unraveled. He wants your life disrupted, your thoughts clouded with fear and anger. Do not give him what he wants. Train patiently. Your time will come."
"Assuming I live that long."
Chiron put his hand on my ankle. "You'll have to trust me, Harry. You will live. But first you must decide your path for the coming year. I cannot tell you the right choice....But you must decide whether to stay at Camp Half-Blood year-round, or return to the mortal world to continue your career and be a summer camper. Think on that. When I get back from Olympus, you must tell me your decision."
I wanted to protest. But his expression told me there could be no more discussion.
"I'll be back as soon as I can," Chiron promised. "Argus will watch over you."
Chiron glanced at Luke and Giselle. "Oh, and, you two...Whenever you're ready, you both can leave."
"Where are you going?" I asked
Chiron rolled himself out of the room. I heard the wheels of his chair clunk carefully down the front steps, two at a time.
Giselle studied the ice in my drink while Luke studied the room.
"What's wrong?" I asked her
"Nothing." She set the glass on the table. "Me...and Luke are going to do a quest. You...um..need anything?"
"What quest? And yeah. Help me up. I want to go outside."
"Harry, that isn't a good idea." Luke said
I ignored Luke and slid my legs out of bed. Luke caught me before I could crumple to the floor. A wave of nausea rolled over me.
Luke said, "I told you..."
"I'm fine," I insisted. I didn't want to lie in bed like an invalid while Ben was out there planning to destroy the Western world.
I managed a step forward. Then another still leaning heavily on Luke. Argus and Giselle followed us outside, but Argus kept his distance.
By the time we reached the porch, my face was beaded with sweat. My stomach had twisted into knots. But I had managed to make it all the way to the railing. Luke left to give us some privacy.
It was dusk. The camp looked completely deserted. The cabins were dark and the volleyball pit silent. No canoes cut the surface of the lake. Beyond the woods and the strawberry fields, the Long Island Sound glittered in the last light of the sun.
"So what are you going to do?" Giselle asked me
"I don't know."
I told her the feeling Chiron wanted me to stay year-round, to put in more individual time, but I wasn't sure that's what I wanted. Then, I brought up her and Luke with their quest.
Giselle pursed her lips, then quietly said, "We are just friends at the moment. As for our engagement and past its a sore subject. As for our quest we need to bring a demigod to camp."
I stared at her. "Why? I mean can't a a satyr do that?"
"Ben might get him. If a demigod joins Kronos be gets stronger."
She pointed toward the crest of Half-Blood Hill. Next to Thalia's pine tree, at the very edge of the camp's magical boundaries, Luke stood there waiting. He was holding two backpacks one that looked like Giselle's.
"I forgave him like a lot of other campers. We decided to start over...give it another try. I'm sorry Harry, but with happened with Kendall I can't go back to the romance we had, but we can be friends." She said
She pursed her lips. "You won't try anything stupid throughout the year, will you? At least ... not without sending me an Iris-message?"
I managed a smile. "I won't go looking for trouble. I usually don't have to."
"When we get back," she said, "We'll hunt down Ben and Kelly. We'll get information, but if we don't, we'll sneak off and get some anyways. Agreed?"
"Sounds like a plan."
She held out her hand. I shook it.
"Take care, lover boy," Giselle told me. "Keep your eyes open."
"You too, Katniss."
I watched her walk up the hill and join Luke. She gave him a hug and both of them looked back at the valley one last time. They touched Thalia's pine tree, then allowed herself to be lead over the crest and into the mortal world.
I was joined by my friends who were told everything that happened to me. The Wanted members and Ceci were staying , but the rest of us made a decision.
"We'll be back next summer," I promised them "We'll survive until then. After all, we survived two quests." I asked Argus to take us down to our cabins, so we could pack our bags to go home.