Percy Jackson is twelve years old, and he has finally arrived home.
He didn’t regret the past summer, not for a second. He’d fought bravely, made a new friend in the form of a girl with stormy gray eyes and kept an old friend, even if said friend had the legs of a goat now. It’d be a lie to say that Percy loved everything about the summer—watching his mom die, being accused of theft by multiple divine entities, and going to the literal Underworld wasn’t exactly ideal—but Percy was slowly finding his peace.
Now that the summer was over, Percy had chosen to come back home. He hadn’t been kicked out, forced back to the apartment to see his mom failing to hide her disappointment; he chose to come back. Standing in the doorway of his bedroom, Percy smiled. His desk was still as messy as ever, covered in homework assignments he never got the chance to turn in. Pencils and pens he was certain he’d lost were rolling around in the drawer. It felt like a different person had sat here, kicked his feet up on the desk and pretended like nothing could hurt him. Percy didn’t bother cleaning up. He hadn’t changed that much.
He did, however, push all the papers to one side to make room for something new. He took a framed picture of him, Annabeth, and Grover out of his backpack and carefully placed it down.
Percy let his backpack fall to the floor and lay down on his bed, staring at the ceiling that was both unfamiliar and ingrained in his mind. He hadn’t expected coming back home would feel like this. Part of him thought that as soon as he walked through the front door, everything that happened over the summer would feel like a dream, yet Riptide was still a comforting weight in his pocket and there was an almost-healed scratch on his arm from the last capture-the-flag game. Annabeth’s email was written on the back of his hand, a final parting gift. “Keep in touch,” she’d told him with a shy smile.
His bed still sunk under his weight and creaked when he moved. The fitted sheet still refused to stay on properly. His head sunk onto his pillow like no time had passed at all.
No matter what had happened or what happened in the future, Percy decided that this was home.
Percy Jackson is sixteen years old, and he is already home.
Camp Half-Blood isn’t the same place it was four years ago. Compared to the rest of New York, the Titan War had barely touched camp. But Percy could see it in the campers’ faces, how they stared at empty seats in the dining pavilion and flinched when a sword got a little too close. There was always someone in the infirmary, even if they looked completely fine on the outside.
Still, the volleyball courts were almost always occupied. Nobody cared about sitting at their cabin’s tables anymore—there were more important things than that. Some of the Aphrodite campers would sit with Clarisse and the rest of the Ares cabin, where they honored Silena’s memory. Apollo kids spread themselves among all the tables to be a shoulder to cry on or a hand to hold.
Percy noticed that the Hermes kids seemed scattered. Luke had been gone for years, but now, he was truly gone forever. They would move from table to table, sometimes staying together but mostly staying apart. Chiron said to give them time.
Percy walked through the campgrounds, nodding to anyone he saw with a small smile. There were no longer just twelve cabins to walk past. The Athena and Hephaestus campers, along with anyone else who wanted to help, were working to build cabins for the minor gods and a cabin for Hades. Percy passed the Big House, where he looked to the attic window out of habit. There was no Oracle in there anymore. The woods, Percy knew, couldn’t hurt him, but the memories rose to the surface. He remembered the Battle of the Labyrinth as he passed the rubble of Zeus’ fist. The spot where he found out about Luke’s true loyalties made him freeze, even after all these years. He walked on.
Percy found himself at the beach. He pulled off his shoes and willed himself to feel the coldness of the water. Camp was home, but the beach felt like it was just his.
Percy took a breath, then another. He’d changed. Camp had changed. Some demigods were gone forever but new ones came every day. The Poseidon cabin no longer felt so big and empty. As much as camp had changed, it was home.
It had always been home.
Percy Jackson is seventeen years old, and home is no longer tied to a place.
He sees home in his friends, old and new. Nico smiles at him—a real smile. Rachel punches his shoulder and draws on his shoes. Frank, Hazel, Reyna, and others at Camp Jupiter Iris Message him every week, updating him and reminding him that he can visit anytime. Percy has long talks with Jason about being a leader and being more powerful than they can control, but sometimes they just talk about pizza. He’s teaching Piper how to skateboard. Leo lives on in his memory.
Percy’s empathy link with Grover is stronger than ever, but they still make time for each other. They talk about their girlfriends and hug and they don’t need to remind each other that they will always be friends. Despite being at camp for the summer, Percy visits Sally all the time. His mom is his rock, steady and constant. Paul likes to take Percy out for coffee because, with all the time he spent fighting for his life, he never got a lot of time to spend with his stepdad.
And then there’s Annabeth. Percy thinks if he ever found the words for how he feels about Annabeth, there wouldn’t be enough paper in the world to write them down. She’s the light of his life and he isn’t afraid to say it. Percy and Annabeth. Annabeth and Percy.
No matter how old Percy is, no matter what ground his feet stand upon, he has a home to return to. He fought for it, defended it, built it with his own hands. Percy didn’t just find a home—he created it.
He decides it’s the best feeling in the world.