Shadows

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They didn't understand. How could they? Sure, they'd understood enough then, during the war when everything was at stake... But how could Nico even begin to explain how he felt now? It was hard enough talking to Will about it, and he - well, he was just about the most understanding person he knew. Will Solace...
Even saying his name made Nico feel like there were a thousand butterflies fluttering in his stomach. What they had, well, Nico didn't really know what they had, but it was the best feeling in the world. He was happy, for the first time in what felt like centuries. But still, he had no idea how much this meant to him, so how could the others understand?

Nico sighed and leant against Thalia's tree, on the top of Half-Blood Hill, his favourite spot, overlooking the whole camp. Alone, just the way he liked it - except, did he? There was something about the shadows that reminded him of the way he used to be, and the part of him he most wanted to leave behind. His stupid fear of the dark still hadn't really gone away, and he hadn't even tried to used shadow magic for months (doctor's orders, but even so). He didn't feel so alone up here anyway -he could see everyone. Jason and Piper holding hands near the Big House, the Athena kids running after Connor and Travis, who had "accidently" to let a spider loose in their cabin, Percy and Annabeth joining most of the other campers who had gathered to watch the Romans pour out of the black SUV's that had arrived only minutes ago. Nico couldn't help but smile as he saw Reyna hug Annabeth and shake hands with Chiron - a symbol of a new era of peace between demigods. His heart became a little less heavy as he saw his sister too - Hazel's curly cinnamon hair was hard to mistake: it looked like it was made of pure gold in the warm spring day.

One of the first few visits of many, and again Nico was surprised at the warmth he felt at seeing the Romans again. Maybe he had changed, maybe now he could start to let people in instead of shutting them out, stop hiding in the shadows and come out into the sunlight. The warm feelings, however, soon dissolved into anxiety about today. How was he going to tell them?
It had been so hard to keep it a secret from everyone, but Nico wasn't ready to talk about him and Will - ever since his birthday, three months ago, when they'd had that amazing kiss, that amazing night where Nico felt like he was walking on air. Nico could tell Jason was suspicious, but he didn't push it. Jason was a good friend. And Nico knew Annabeth knew, but she didn't press it either, just smiling wider than usual when Nico smiled. She, she was pretty good too. Impossible to not like, even after everything. But he was pretty sure nobody else knew about him and Solace. Will had been arguing for weeks that Nico should just tell them, that he didn't want to hide it. Didn't want to hide this amazing thing they had - but how would he tell them? Nico sighed. He wanted to go down there, get it over with, and then maybe he could let go of everything that he'd been holding back.

"Get it together, diAngelo" he muttered to himself, pulling himself up and standing up straight.
"It's not that hard. All you have to say is... I love Will Solace." He smirked. That easy, huh? It was that easy to say he loved the son of the sun god. Just not to anything more than thin air...
"Well, I love you too, Death Boy" a soft voice said from the other side of the tree.
Nico jumped about a foot in the air as Will came out from behind Thalia's pine with a smug grin on his face. So much for "just thin air".
"Gods of Olympus, Will, next time I swear to Hades I'll send you to the depths of Tartarus itself." Nico said irritably, blushing furiously.
"I'd like to see you try" Will smiled as he grabbed Nico arms, sending an electric current down his spine. He leant in and they kissed, and for a second it was like walking on air again, in that one moment where no-one else mattered. After they came apart, Will's face filled with concern.
"Are you sure you're ready?" He asked, looking over Nico's shoulder to where the campers were gathered. "We don't have to do this now if you don't want to."
Jason was in deep conversation with some of his old friends, while Percy shared an obviously cheesy joke with Frank.

Piper, Annabeth, Hazel and Reyna all exchanged conversation, all looking happy and content. Everyone, actually, looked happy and content, for once. It was going to be hard to get everyone together and not make a big deal about it, but Nico was sure now. He was ready.
"Yeah. I can do this." Nico smiled at Will, like really smiled, and it already felt like the anxiety was melting away. Will beamed back and offered an arm, which Nico took gratefully. He knew now - he'd left the Nico who only wanted to be alone behind in the shadows. It was up to him now, to stop living in the past and let all his anger go. It seemed impossible, but with Will by his side he could do anything.
"Okay then. Let's tell the world." And they set off down the hill, and Nico left all his doubt and worry behind.

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