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Author's note: Sequel to Pure Half-Blood
Starting over seemed nice: a happy, fresh start. I could move to a new town, a new school and make new friends. Anthony, the Plastics, and my transformation will be left at North Shore and I would never have to think about it again - ever. I could just be myself and be totally, one hundred percent normal. Everything would be absolutely perfect.
I case you haven’t heard of me, my name is Peyton of Olympus. My father is Zeus, king of the Greek gods. My mother is a potions professor at Hogwarts, school of witchcraft and wizardry. I spent fourteen tedious years juggling an impossibly insane double life. Once I entered my freshman year at age fifteen, I finally abandoned my childhood at Hogwarts and Camp Half-Blood to attend a real, normal high school. I was euphoric at first, until I realized that North Shore High School was my personal hell on earth. Just last week at my very first school dance, my boyfriend Anthony, a vampire, bit me, permanently changing me into a beautiful, lethal, bloodthirsty creature. Typical teenage girl, right?
It sounds crazy, I know. I complain at no end, but it’s mostly not that bad; for someone with such a hectic life, I function relatively decently. Unlike most vampires, I am not wildly out of control with a lust for human flesh. Sure, it’s tempting beyond words, but I have the gift of restraint due to my other powers. Plus, I get a winged horse as a pet and a magic wand. There are worse situation out there, right?
Still, I never will get that normal high school experience everyone else takes for granted.
Nobody had any idea what I was going through. Every day presented a new form of torment: bullying, school transfer, mean girls. If there was any type of deity out there (higher than my father, I mean), he just sat up there, an eye in the sky, thinking ‘How can I make Peyton miserable today? Heck, let’s just make her a vampire against her will! Now what’s next?’
Well, let me tell you something: I don’t want to know what’s next! I was done. The vampire thing draws the line. I was so done with this world in which I was forced to live in every day of my life, even my after-life.
Everyone always just assumed life is perfect for me. I was a drop-dead gorgeous (literally) popular girl with a breathtakingly handsome boyfriend (although technically he didn’t breath and I’m not even sure if we’re still together). I was insecure about everything that made me different from the rest of the world. Nobody understood and absolutely nobody emphasized. I could never fit in anywhere. I was too alienated and unusual.
For a half a second, I wondered if there was a slither of hope in the midst of my life. Maybe turning sixteen really could turn my life around, and life would be okay.
I look back on that half second and laugh at my own stupidity.
“Happy birthday dear Peyton, happy birthday to you!” Gods, goddesses, demigods, witches and wizards sang cheerily in honor of my birth, a day which I deeply regretted.
The chorus of the familiar song lingered in the air. The only reason I could muster a smile was the irony of that day. Being sixteen is so not sweet, despite its misled reputation as ‘the best year of our young lives’. Whether you’re mortal or way too powerful like me, being a teenager is never as easy as it’s made out to be. And Happy Birthday? Is that supposed to be a joke? Okay, there is one positive: a birthday marks one year closer to death. Hey, would you really want to live forever if sometimes you couldn’t live with yourself for one more day? Be honest, do you even want to live forever as it is?
I pasted a totally fake, but hopefully convincing, grin on my sullen face as Mom and Dad placed an intricately decorated cake in front of me. Sixteen chocolate layers stacked neatly into a tower shadowed the table. Cerise icing was sculpted to perfection into seemingly real roses. My eyes scan across the crowded room as I wonder which one of my godly relatives was responsible for the masterpiece dessert. Or perhaps it was Professor Flitwick, one of my mother’s co-workers. Honestly, who cares? Not me.
Everyone ate and talked and danced and had a brilliant time, with the exception of me. I opened my gifts, and was actually impressed with the One Direction album Up All Night, thanks to Apollo. Other than that, nothing of interesting occurred.
There were a few reasons to be happy, but I just wasn’t feeling it. At this point, I had a strong desire to crush the house into a million pieces, a task of which I was perfectly capable of. Opting not to take the risk, I stormed out of the room. I wondered why tears weren’t flooding out of my stinging eyes when I remembered that vampires couldn’t cry. Even my tears have been taken away from me.
As I expected, Mom and Dad were right at my heels. Part of me wished they wouldn’t try to comfort me like that. I know they mean well, but that’s just the problem. I want them to have a happy, problem-free life together, and I’m just adding onto the burden.
Mom started the dreaded conversation. I predicted what she would say before it escaped her quivering lips. “Honey, I know you’re having a tough time right now.”
I scoffed at her understatement.
“Plus, now you’re worried about where you’re going to go to school or if you even want to. That’s a huge decision for someone so young, and we just want to be there for you, whatever you decide.”
“How can I decide? Do I even have any options here?”
“Of course,” Dad replied. “If you want to go to a regular school again, there’s McKinley High in Lima, Ohio. They have a terrific musical theater program, and you’ve always had such a beautiful voice. If you don’t want that, there is always Hogwarts and Camp Half-Blood. We could pretend this whole incident never even happened. If you don’t think either of those will work out, there’s always homeschool.”
Mom nodded. “I think starting over in Lima sounds nice, don’t you? Your new friends won’t know a thing, and they can’t judge you for something they don’t know about. Whether you want to tell them about your past is your choice.”
Were they for real? “Next you’ll tell me I can move to a magical land of rainbows and unicorns,” I retorted sarcastically, rolling my eyes.
“Is that what you want?” Dad asked, seeming genuinely serious. “Because I can make that happen in a heartbeat.”
“No! I just want to live in a world where there are people like me!”
“Demi-god witch vampires?” Mom challenged. Maybe it was just my imagination, but her voice sounded disgusted as she spat the word ‘vampires’. Great. My own mom didn’t even appreciate who I was.
“I knew you wouldn’t understand!” I yelled, and ran up to my room. I slammed the door, not caring about the ear-drum shattering noise thundering throughout the house like a lightning bolt. I wished with my lifeless heart that there could be just one person (excluding Anthony; I was fed up with thinking about him) would not only look past my flaws, but embrace them.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that. Mom and Dad don’t understand a thing about what I was going through. I could never look in the mirror again without seeing scarlet eyes and a lifelessly pale complexion. I would never be able to sit in the sun with my friends because my skin would dazzle in the daylight, and right away, they’ll notice there’s something unusually different about me – and we all know how humans feel about being different. There is no place in the immortal world where I’ve felt as if I truly belonged, and I certainly don’t belong in the normal world.
That’s why, the following day at the reaping, I would volunteer myself as tribute in the next Hunger Games.
You could say I was stupid, I suppose, or simply just desperate. Maybe a little bit of both. Either way, there was no way I was backing out of this. The Hunger Games seemed like my last shot at making a life for myself.
Being immortal did give me a slightly unfair advantage. After all, I had no life to lose. It all evens out in the end, though; at least they had a life worth fighting for in the first place.
I began strategizing right away. The first thought to enter my mind was District 12. That’s where I needed to go. I would be guaranteed a spot, considering how few volunteers there are. Actually, I might be the very first. Competition would be scarce, if any, and I would have my place without having to fight for it.
Blending in wouldn’t be an issue. I could whip up a suitable disguise in minutes. The only issue was my parents. If normal teens think they have trouble sneaking out to go to a party or whatever, try sneaking away from Zeus to enter in a fight to the death on national television!
Whatever happens, I pray that the odds will be ever in my favor.
“Mom, I’m just going out on a walk.” I informed her casually, hoping not to attract her attention.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” she looked more worried than I expected her to be. “I hope yesterday didn’t upset you too much.”
Crap. She’s unknowingly making me feel guilty about this! I hugged her, knowing I would have to do way more to make up for it, in the event that I should ever return home. “Don’t worry. I won’t be gone long. There are some friends I’ll actually miss a little bit here...you know, Karen and Gretchen. Maybe even Regina. Plus, I have some things to settle with Anthony. I can’t just leave and not say goodbye.”
She narrowed her eyes suspiciously. “We don’t have a plan yet. Do you have an alibi?”
I gulped. If lies were the only way...I had to say it. “Lima. That’s what I want: a new beginning for me, a place where I can start over.”
Nothing I said in a million years could have made her happier. “It’s a new beginning for all of us. Peyton, I’m so proud of you. This was a though choice for you, and I love you so much.”
“I love you too,” I ran out before I had the chance to change my mind.
Needless to say, I certainly wasn’t going to see Karen or Gretchen. I did leave a note and some yellow roses for Anthony; he meant well, even though he did have a pretty twisted way of helping me. Couldn’t he have just said “You’re gorgeous just the way you are” like any other guy? Anyways, back on topic. Yellow roses are known throughout the world as the friendship rose, and I didn’t want to send him any wrong messages with red or pink.
Sneaking into District 12 wasn’t that difficult. I did realize that when no blood left my body with the prick, there would definitely be some questions. Thankfully, I’m not just a vampire. I dashed away and swished out my wand (a fine wand from Ollivander's, made of oak bark and daisy petals).
I mustered a quick spell. “Sanguis!” Immediately, I felt blood flow through my veins. I did it! This could work after all! I gave a small shriek out of joy when I heard footsteps.
“Hey!” he yelled. “No hiding, it’s almost time for the reaping!” He brought me to where I was pricked for blood, and I couldn’t help but smile as I saw the dark red color flow, like the sweet juice of a cherry. My craving grew too strong. I sucked in my breath and refused to let it out. This is what I would be dealing with for the duration of my stay here. I might as well get used to it.
Did anyone notice that I didn’t belong? I crossed my fingers and tried to go with the flow. One girl, probably a few years younger than me, waved.
“Do I know you?” she asked being surprisingly social for someone whose life might be ruined in a matter of minutes.
“Probably not,” I responded confidently. The key to lying is not giving away any more information than you need to.
“Oh. Well, nice to meet you, although the circumstances surely aren’t the best.”
I asked curiously, “Are you scared?” The more I soaked up of what it felt like to live in District 12, the better chance I had for playing the role convincingly.
“Not for me. My little sister...” her voice trailed off in pain.
Maybe, in some way, I was helping these people. None of these girls had any reason to worry. I would volunteer as tribute, and they’d return home perfectly safe. “Is she here?” My bloodshot eyes (hidden by contacts, of course) scanned the crowd, curiosity prodding at my mind. This was so much to take in!
“No, she hasn’t been entered yet. She’s much too young. But we depend on each other, and right now, she needs me at home.”
“You must love her.” I reminisced on my yearning for a sibling when I was just around her age. Then again, every time I get what I want it tends to backfire.
“Oh, yes, very much so.”
We stood in silence for what seemed like forever.
“Katniss,” she introduced herself, holding out her hand.
I shook it. “Proserpina.”
“May the odds be ever in your favor.”
“And with you,” I whispered.
Just then, Effie Trinket captured our attention. “Happy Hunger Games!” she trilled. Katniss mouthed each word with her. “And may the odds be ever in your favor.” Those words echoed in my head over and over again like the fading sound of a drum.
Effie daintily raised her hand, fingering her spidery fingers through the girl’s names. In attempt to not attract attention, I waited to see if the odds really were in my favor.
I stepped forward obediently at the sound of my new name, astonished that I had been chosen. I pretended to look horrified at I dragged away, when I realized I actually was quite petrified. What on earth was I thinking? Is this really what I wanted? Oh well, what’s done is done. I’m one of twenty-four tributes, and I can’t take that back. At least I couldn’t die.
It was then I realized something much more terrifying than anything else I had ever encountered – more frightening than becoming a vampire. Due to my stupid spell, I had blood.
With blood, I could die.
Yes, this years Hunger Games just happened to take place in Narnia. I began preparing as I eyed my competition. A short, burly boy sharpened a knife just a few feet away from me. A tall, skinny girl passed by me, her intimidating blonde curls flouncing just past her shoulders. I immediately thought of Regina. A lanky boy with dazzling baby blue eyes. I might have had a crush on him if, you, he wasn't trying to kill me.
Why did I have to be so stupid? I should have thought this through before the reaping. Was I going to die? Which one of these mortals would be my murderer? Even worse, which ones would I be forced to kill?
Let the games begin!
In the blink of an eye, the Hunger Games had officially begun. I sprinted toward the cornucopia. Big mistake. The blonde - Isobel - turned out to be both prettier and tougher than Regina - not to mention a heck of a lot faster. She reached the weapons before I could manage, and darted at me with an expertly sharpened dagger. I ducked underneath her arm, swift enough to evade her. She laughed and sliced my arm with no compassion. Fury raged through my merciless heart. Without a second thought, I bit her.
Hearing her dreadful shouting, I grabbed a bow and arrow before dashing into the Narnian horizon.
Running off, I considered the significance of my mistake. Despite my lack of blood, I was still technically a vampire. Isobel's screams echoed. My ears throbbed with pain. Certainly, I came here with the expectation to kill, to murder. But never in a million years would I ever wish to take a mortal life in this way. Who would do something this cruel? Turn someone into something they despised, to take their life, their identity, away from them?
That is exactly what Anthony did to me. That is exactly what I did to myself. That is exactly what I regret.
Except this time, I did it on national television.
How long would it be before they realized that I did much more than simply nip her?
"Peyton." A voice roared in the distance. My eyes widened with fear. Who knew my real name? If anyone knew my name, then my true identity would be revealed.
"Wh-who are you?" I stuttered. "Reveal yourself!"
"Very well." At that moment, a scruffy lion appeared before me.
I gasped in astonishment. "Aslan?"
"No," he rumbled. "I've been sent to take you to him."
"Why does Aslan want to see me?"
He roared, "Only he can tell you that. Now, you must ride on my back and I shall deliver you to your designated meeting place."
I obeyed, gripping on tightly to his desheveled mane.
"If you aren't Aslan, who are you?"
Rumbleroar left me in the middle of a meadow. For a brief moment, I stopped and brushed my palm against the soft grass. It was the most gorgeous place I had ever seen in my life, like a beautifully quilted green pillow, an avacado-hued cloud fit for a king.
Remembering my situation, I glanced up. Sure enough, Aslan was waiting for me under a willow tree.
He was even more majestic than I could ever imagine. His golden fur shined like diamonds in the sparkling sunlight. My eyes hurt when I attempted to look at him. He seemed almost too beautiful to look at. My eyes hurt at the very sight.
"Peyton," he bellowed gently. "Come."
"Aslan. I can't believe it's you."
"You made a mistake."
I grimaced. "Which one."
He chuckled. I believe you know what I am referring to."
It took only a slight hesitation for me to nod in comprehension. "Letting Anthony turn me into...into what he is."
"A vampire," he replied cooly.
I flinched at the word.
"You became someone you're not. Why did Regina's opinion mean so much to you?"
Tears streamed down my eyes. "I already was someone I wasn't. At least, I didn't feel like I could be myself."
"Then maybe," he suggested, "You could try harder to figure out who you are instead of letting others tell you."
His advice soothed me like sunshine on a cold day.
"You're right. I wish I could just take it all back."
"Maybe you can."
"It's very simple. All the damage will be erased; Regina and the North Shore students won't remember you, 'Proserpina Oak' will be removed from the reaping, and Isobel will be human once more."
It sounded too wonderful to be true. "What do I do?"
"Clack your heels together three times and repeat these words: I love who I am."
I clacked my heels and echoed his words. "I love who I am. I love who I am." The third time I really meant it.
"I love who I am."
With that, I disappeared into the beyond and watched Aslan as I drifted further and further into the past.
"Why don't I know you?"
Oh my gods! It was my first day at North Shore High School. I glanced around the hectic cafeteria, memories flowing through my overwhelmed mind; cliques gossipping at their designated tables, noise everywhere, and Karen, Gretchen and Regina staring at me intently, impatiently awaited their answer.
I smiled. No more lies and secrets for this girl! Then again, who really cares what Regina thinks? I just want her out of my life.
"Sorry, I can't talk. I have to meet some friends."
Regina's cunning smirk was immediately replaced with a quizzical expression.
"You'll never have any real ones, anyway," I informed her before walking away with no regrets.
It took me a while to make real friends at North Shore. I'm lucky to have found a few people who genuinely like me for who I am. Only a few know of my powers; I always wait to tell them until I am sure they appreciate me for the person I am, not what I am. Regina is still the queen-bee, but if she ever messes with my friends, let's just say I have a few spells up my sleeve.