A/N hey guys!

so what is this you may be wondering WELL funny you ask that

it's a magic!au no one asked for but is here anyway wooooo

for anyone who is new here hello! i hope you all enjoy, and also to all my ispy babes hello again pals are you sick of me yet i hope not because i've got like 10k words of nothing but devastating fluff for you guys that i've worked quite hard on wooooppp (i kid you all not i rewrote this about twelve times? because none of it was GOooodD but now im semi-satisfied with it so hopefully you like it too :DDD)

anyway! i really hope you like this because i've worked vv hard on it! title from long live by taylor swift (aka the anthem for literally every book ever) and I hope you like it! enjoy! xx


long live all the magic we made


So maybe Percy's magic sometimes acts up. It's whatever.

It's really not a big deal. Everyone knows he has magic. And magic malfunctions all the time. A while back during Chemistry Thalia Grace accidentally burnt Clovis Pall's eyebrows off, and not a week before that Leo Valdez set Mr Waldron's desk on fire. It happens. It's just a side effect of the magic – sometimes people momentarily lose control of their magic and something happens. It's nothing serious.

(And Mr Waldron was fine, thank you very much. 'Third-degree burns' was quite the exaggeration. The fire barely even touched him.)

But today Percy's magic is just being difficult.

"This isn't funny," he says calmly. "Please return to your correct places."

His blanket makes a very rude gesture with one of its corners. Percy does the same back.

Across the room, his draws spit out a hoodie.

"I have got school in like, ten minutes. I really don't need any of your attitudes right now."

Nothing listens to him. Which he supposes is expected, because nothing ever really listens to him, but dammit he's the reason his entire bedroom is prowling the walls like animals in the first place and he refuses to be upstaged by his own magic in the form of his mattress.

"Guys," he says, his voice taking on a tone of desperation. "Please."

He sees his bookcase begin to skulk back to its place, until his blanket pulls it back. Percy suppresses a growl. He's really had enough of his blanket today. He considers pinning it to the wall so it can't cause any more mischief.

He stands there, waiting, for a few more moments, hoping that something will listen to him. But it never happens. It's kind of embarrassing, actually. Like. He's the one who gave all these objects life. It's his magic. They should at least have the decency to respect him.

He should have known. Furniture especially always gets a little obnoxious when given too much power.

In his pocket, his phone starts to ring. Sighing, he pulls it out, and then smiles when sees that Annabeth is calling him. If anyone can calm him down, it's Annabeth. He takes a long, calming breath as he presses answer.

Be nice, he thinks to himself. It's not her fault your bedroom has formed a mutiny.

"Where are you?" he demands.

Well. Whoopsies.

"Good morning to you too."

"Annabeth, seriously."

"Jeepers, what crawled into your boxers and died? I'm outside your apartment."

"You're late."

"By like, two minutes. We'll be fine. It's only a ten-minute drive and we've got around half an hour before the bell properly goes."

Percy shoulders his schoolbag. "I'll be down in two ticks."

"Try shaking your butt a little to dislodge the stick you've shoved up your arse, too."

"Oh, push off."

"Sorry, sorry. See you soon?"

"You got it."

Percy disconnects the call, shoving his phone is his pocket. His bedroom is still swarming, but he knows that it'll be useless to try and get them to start acting like furniture again. Instead, he just waggles his finger. "Be good," he warns.

As soon as he closes his door there's a crash.

He closes his eyes in frustration. He hopes it wasn't anything too expensive.


Annabeth is Percy's best friend. They've been best friends for as long as Percy can remember, ever since kindergarten, when Percy was still getting used to his magic and managed to levitate all the toys in the sandpit three feet into the air and Annabeth sat at the colouring table, crayons completely ignored, staring at them, agape.

She isn't a Magic, but that's okay. Few people are these days.

Percy absolutely adores Annabeth. She's extremely pretty, with curly blonde hair and wide grey eyes, and she has a penchant for wearing green sweaters and eating the apple all the way up to the stalk. They managed to cajole their parents into making them attend the same elementary school, the same middle school, and now the same high school, and in the summer when they leave school they're both going to Sylvester Community College. Annabeth's going to study architecture and Greek history and Percy has made it in on a swimming scholarship, where he's also going to take Magic Studies (it's compulsory for all Magics, but it's so tiresomely boring that he envies everyone who doesn't have to do it to the point where he'll gladly swap his powers for nothing in order to never attend another lesson on the science behind the genetic mutation and how it came about. Ugh.)

It's cool. Percy is looking forward to it. He and Annabeth have taken on the world together so far; it only makes sense that he's going to spend the next three or four years with her, too.

He takes the stairs two at a time. The lift has broken so he has to sprint down the six flights of stairs to reach the ground floor (why his mom chose to buy an apartment on the seventh floor is beyond him). He bursts out the front door, nodding to the seedy-looking doorman whose name he never learnt, and sees Annabeth sitting in her car, lazily flicking through her phone.

"Hey!" he calls.

Annabeth looks up and almost chokes. "Whoa, Perce."

Percy slides into the front seat next to her. "Look, I'm sorry I'm so late, the lift broke and–"

"No, it's not that." Annabeth is staring at his head with wide, scared eyes, as if his eyebrows have grown teeth. "Um. Your hair?"

"My hair?"

"Your hair."

"What about it?"

Annabeth stares at him in shock. "You don't know? Is this another magic malfunction?"

Percy's eye twitches. "Know what, Annabeth?"

"Sorry to break it to you, Seaweed Brain, but your hair is bright red."

Percy gapes at her. "What?"

He scrabbles at the rear-view mirror until it's facing him, ignoring Annabeth's indignant cries of, "Hey, I had just positioned that perfectly!" and gawks at himself. Sure enough, his hair is no longer black – instead, it's a deep crimson. He stares at his reflection in shock and disgust.

"What the hell?"

"You didn't do that?"

"Of course not!"

"I mean." Annabeth tilts her head. "It don't actually look that bad."

"Ha ha."

"I'm not kidding. Red suits you."

"Yeah, yeah." Fondly, Percy rolls his eyes. Annabeth can be a bit of a dork sometimes, but he loves her. "Wait a second, let me just turn it back."

Changing the colour of things was one of the first tricks Percy learnt. It's second nature now; he runs his hand through his hair and watches as it goes from bright red to black in a number of seconds. Annabeth always loves watching Percy perform magic – she thinks it's simply wonderful. Sometimes on the way home from school when they're walking he'll pull several daisies out of the ground and make them float around her head, or he'll send a fork flying across the canteen to her just to be extra. Several times he's transported food to her like that, even when she's just across the table, because he loves the way her face changes into pure childlike awe, as if she's a six-year-old watching a clown perform party tricks at a birthday.

Annabeth is no different today. When Percy's hair is all black again, she stares at him in wonder.

"You're incredible," she says.

Percy blushes. "Thanks."

"No problem." Annabeth turns her keys in the ignition. "Now, let's start heading off or we really will be late."

The car starts pulling down the street, spluttering and wheezing as Annabeth presses down on the gas. Percy watches as gradually the buildings turn into blurs.

The red hair was probably just a stress thing. He's accidentally sprouted a tail from nerves before, and besides, he's got a Science test today. That's it.

Right?


Wrong, apparently.

It's lunch, and Percy is sitting at his lunch table trying to do some last minute Chemistry cramming. He's with Annabeth and his friend Leo, a small curly-haired Magic who likes fajitas and occasionally sets things on fire, but he's really paying no mind to either of them (which doesn't mean he's paying attention to his Chemistry, either, in case you were wondering). Annabeth is rambling on about some architecture summer programme her dad has enrolled her into, and Leo is sleepily charming his burger to fly around his head. Percy is only mildly concerned. If he nods off completely he's going to get a faceful of ranch dressing.

And then Annabeth takes a sip of her milkshake and says calmly, "Percy, your fries are jumping again."

Percy looks down at his lunch tray in surprise. Sure enough, they are.

They're both watching him, amused. Leo seems to have woken up a bit, but only marginally (his burger is still dropping dangerously close to his hair), and Annabeth innocently sucks at her shake straw.

Percy kind of wants to strangle her. She's trying to suppress a laugh, he just knows it.

Okay, look. So sure. It's not the first time Percy's fries have started moving. That happens almost on a daily basis. There have also been several times Percy has been given the stink-eye by Drew Takana's wealthy CEO daddy with the often verbal threat of a sue because his milkshake wouldn't stop jumping around and somehow landed on top of her hair.

Listen. It's normal, okay. This happens.

But this is the first time they've physically gotten up and started hopping off his plate like an army of soldiers.

Percy stares at them in bewilderment. "Hey, where are you going?"

He Magics an invisible border around his plate before they can go any further. However, that doesn't seem to deter them at all. A few of them throw themselves onto the ground until they vaguely represent a staircase, and the other fries start hopping up to climb over the border.

Leo snorts.

Crossly, Percy magics a roof over the border. That effectively stops them from getting any further, but they still hop around, like a wind-up toy that has hit a wall but is hasn't yet reached the end of its clockwork.

Annabeth looks like she's trying not to laugh. "What are they doing?"

"I have no idea." Percy frowns at them. "I wanted to eat them."

"It might have been a conscience thing," Leo says. "Like. Maybe you're feeling a bit sad so you subconsciously started to think of things that were out of your reach and your fries decided to mimic that."

It's a liable explanation, Percy supposes, except it's quite rich coming from someone whose food isn't currently bouncing up and down in a box.

Percy sadly watches his fries. They did look awfully tasty.

"Can't you kill them?" Annabeth asks.

"They're not even alive."

Annabeth frowns at them. Percy knows that the one thing she doesn't like about magic is how irrational and illogical it is. "It just doesn't make sense," she had said once. "Everything has a time and a place and that's the way it's meant to be, because that's the only way they'll work, except apparently not with magic, because with magic suddenly milkshakes can fly and Mr Tanaka is threatening to take you and your mom to court."

"Right," she says uneasily.

Leo tilts his head as he looks at his fries, still hopping around in Percy's box. "Where are they even going?"

"Probably running away from me," Percy says gloomily.

"But that doesn't make any sense," Annabeth says.

"It's magic. Nothing makes sense when it comes to that."

"No, but not like this. Fries just don't get up by themselves. They're inanimate objects. That means the only way this could have happened is with magic."

"Yes, Annabeth, we came to that conclusion a while back."

Annabeth swats at his shoulder. "I'm serious! The only way it could have happened is if you told them to. Magic doesn't happen by itself. Leo was probably right."

"When am I not?" Leo says. "No, close your mouth, Annabeth, that was a rhetorical question."

Percy stares at his fries. "But I'm so hungry. Why would I do it?"

"Maybe you're stressed," Annabeth suggests. "We've got a Chemistry test next period. It's like your hair this morning."

"Where are they even going?" Leo asks.

Percy looks at them. "I dunno."

"Well, open the box and let's see."

"Dude, no! This is my lunch!"

"So?"

"I paid for this! I'm not letting it run away from me!"

"It has to be going somewhere, relax." Leo waves his hand and the roof disappears. Percy gawks at him and magics the roof back on top of them, but a couple of fries have already escaped. Before he can trap them in their own separate cage, Leo nudges him. "Leave them," he says. "Look."

Percy watches, annoyed, as they hop across the table. However, to his surprise, they don't leap off the table like his burger did a few weeks ago when it tried to run away from him. Instead, they crawl over to Annabeth, bounce once, and then collapse on her plate in a heap.

Percy blinks.

"Did–" He pauses, trying to wrap his head around what just happened. "Did my fries just run away from me– to you?"

Annabeth looks as bemused as he feels. "I think so."

"Oh."

Percy is actually quite hurt. He'd assume they'd like him better, considering he, you know, paid for them, but apparently not.

Hmph. That's the last time he buys fries from the canteen. Selfish jerks.

Annabeth offers him her plate. "Do you want them back?"

"Let me release the rest first. And then yes please."

Percy vanishes the walls away, and immediately the fries charge over to Annabeth's plate where they fall down on themselves as if they had never gotten up in the first place. Leo stares at the whole thing, rather shocked.

"Well." Annabeth pushes her plate over. "Here you go."

"Thanks." Percy crams as many fries as he can in his mouth before they can come back alive again. They don't, but he'd rather be safe than have them revive in his mouth. With his cheeks bulging, he gestures to his plate. "You want any?"

Annabeth takes one. "I have to honour them," she says. "They liked me better, anyway."

For that, Percy throws one of his grapes at her.

Leo clears his throat. "Would I also like to have one? Oh, Percy, you're so kind. I would love to have one, thanks for being so considerate and wonderful. How nice of you to ask!"

Percy considers obliterating any and all fries Leo tries to touch simply for that but he decides against it, because at this moment Leo has more power simply because his lunch hasn't yet tried to betray him and he decides that in a battle of the food he might lose.

He offers Leo the plate. Pleased, Leo takes a handful.

Percy shoves the last of his fries into his mouth and stands up. "Well, must be off," he says. "The Chemistry test beckons me."

Annabeth snorts.

Percy winks at her. "You wanna come help me cram, Chase?"

She stands up with him. "Well, of course, Jackson. It would be my pleasure."

"Come on, then."


Now, listen here.

Percy loves Annabeth a lot. Probably more than anyone. She's beautiful and funny and clever and sometimes she wears flowers in her hair and sometimes she'll eat her ice cream too fast that she gets a brain freeze. She's the peanut to his butter. The Lilo to his Stitch. The sausage to his roll, et cetera, et cetera. You get the gist.

Bottom line: she's a wonderful, wonderful person, and Percy adores her to the end of the world.

Unfortunately, his kitchen doesn't seem to see it the same way. Because the second she walks through the door she nearly gets decapitated by a flying microwave.

"Whoa!" Percy shouts, holding up his hands. The microwave pauses midair, inches away from Annabeth's nose. She stares at it, horrified.

Percy frowns at the microwave. "What on earth was that for?"

The microwave doesn't respond.

Percy puts his hands on his hips. He's really not in the mood for impudence. It needs to be scolded. "Annabeth is a friend," he says sternly. "You've seen her plenty of times. This is really not the time to start wanting to hurt her. She is a guest and we don't hurt guests, do we now?"

The microwave still doesn't respond. It takes Percy a solid four seconds to remember that he's talking to a kitchen appliance.

He waves it off, and it does a one-eighty and whizzes off to the other side of the kitchen where it had come from. He turns to Annabeth apologetically, and sees that she's still pressed up against the door with a wide-eyed, incredulous look on her face.

"I'm terribly sorry about that," he says.

"Don't worry," she responds weakly. "I mean. Just a microwave, right?"

"It's never done that before."

"Yes, I would have remembered."

"Maybe it's jealous."

"It's a microwave."

"You don't know. Magic can turn even the purest of heart to evil."

Annabeth blinks. "It's. A microwave."

Percy waves his hand. "Well, either way. I promise you, it won't happen again. I'll protect you."

"I appreciate it."

And then suddenly the draw flies open and all of the cutlery starts thundering towards them. Point first.

See. Here's the thing with magic. You can never really catch a break with it. It's come to the point where Percy is just kind of used to inexplicable things happening whenever he's around. His desk blowing up? The bird outside the window speaking fluent Japanese? The frog that grew human teeth and freaked Lacey Williams out so badly she fainted? It's all magic and the sporadic spontaneity that comes with it.

However. That does not mean he has ever been attacked by his own kitchen before.

With a yelp, he flings up his hands and creates a forcefield inches away from his face, and all the knives hit it with a clatter and bounce to the floor. Annabeth squawks with alarm and stumbles backwards, and together she and Percy watch in horror and awe as every single piece of cutlery the Jacksons have in their kitchen draws zoom out of their hiding places and smash into the forcefield.

"This doesn't normally happen, does it?" Annabeth asks after everything is in a pile on the floor.

"Um. No, I don't believe so."

"Right."

Percy nervously kicks one of the spoons. "Uh. You want to camp out in my room?"

"I thought you'd never ask."

They make a run for it. The only explainable explanation is magic, really, as most things usually are with Percy, except he's the only Magic in this house and he knows that he would certainly not want to send a microwave and then several meat knives at his best friend's head.

Oh well. Everything today has been rather hectic – first his hair turns red, then all his fries decide they like Annabeth more than him, and then suddenly, as if his ego needed yet another punch to the face, his own kitchen turns on him.

Maybe it's revenge for all the times he accidentally scraped his teeth on his fork when he ate. Sally always told him off for that.

It's not unlikely, per say. One time he accidentally broke his cooking spoon in half so the spatula avenged it by disappearing every time he tried to pick up.

"Percy?" Annabeth prompts.

He blinks himself out of his reverie. Right.

"Yes," he states firmly. He nudges open his bedroom door and beckons her in. "Come on, let's make fort here. We can't be hurt here."

He hopes it's true. You never know with magic. Sometimes even his carpet gets a little cheeky.

Annabeth flops down on the bed with a sigh. She's wearing her hair down today, but she's pinned it back on one side with a flower hair slide and Percy kind of really likes it. She looks pretty whenever she puts flowers in her curls. Percy has never told her that before; while they've been friends since they could walk, he's not sure how many best friend lines complimenting her hair would cross. He had a girlfriend break up with him because he had briefly mentioned how beautiful Annabeth's eyes were.

(He wasn't really that sad. She had smelt of tuna and whenever she talked she would always come much, much too close. Percy was kind of glad she went.)

"Well," he says. "We've survived."

"Barely."

"It wasn't my fault."

"Does your house make a habit of trying to kill you?"

"Occasionally. It needs to keep me on my toes, after all."

Annabeth laughs, and then rolls onto her back so she's staring up at the ceiling. Percy drops next to her, curling around her like a little dog. He even licks her cheek, just because he's annoying like that, and she squeals and bats at his head.

"Don't be gross!"

"It's my way of showing affection."

She laughs, and Percy watches the line of her throat move as she does. She's not wearing a necklace today, and he fondly admires all the acne scars on the underside of her jaw and the scatterings of freckles she has on her neck. She's got a nice neck.

He scrunches up his nose. That's– weird. And also probably not the thing Best Friends notice.

He rolls onto his back and frowns pointedly at the ceiling.

"Hey," Annabeth says. He raises his head and notices her propped up on one elbow, her long blonde hair falling like a curtain behind her head.

"Hey," he says back.

"You want to do something?"

"Movie?"

"Harry Potter?"

Percy laughs. "You're so predictable, Annabeth."

"Listen, Harry Potter is a classic."

"I'm not saying it's not. But, like– it's basically like a sitcom. Minus the laugh tracks."

"Just because you also have magic doesn't mean you get to crap all over the Harry Potter franchise. You will either sit and watch Harry Potter with me, your bestest friend in the whole wide world whom you love very dearly, or you and your magic elitist butt can get out and stand in your terrifying, traitorous kitchen all by yourself while I take over your bed."

Percy pauses. "Did you just say 'whom'?"

"Oh my God."

They do, by the way, end up watching Harry Potter. Percy doesn't actually mind it as much as makes out (he actually sees a lot of himself in Harry – you know, the whole green eyes/black hair thing, and also the magic, although he will say that he does think he's slightly more attractive, but that's all a matter of opinion and whatnot) but he'll never tell Annabeth that, simply because it's cute watching her try and argue her point across.

Percy is actually quite surprised how many points she has stocked up. They have this argument at least every week and every week she always has something new to say. It's utterly bizarre. There has to be a point where Harry Potter runs out of valuable life lessons.

Then again, he's never read them. She could be pulling facts straight out of her butt.

They curl together on his bed. Somewhere in the middle of the fifth movie, her head drops onto his shoulder.

It's okay. It's chill.

You know.

He swallows and tries to ignore the way her hair smells of lemons.


For the record, his magic doesn't calm down after that. In fact, it kind of only gets worse.

In Maths, he manages to dissolve his desk into a flurry of rose petals. At first he thinks Katie Gardner did it, because Katie Gardner always has a habit of magicking various items of furniture into plants, but Katie Gardner isn't in his Maths class, and so he can't put the blame on her and instead sits sheepishly amongst his rose petals because really, what else is there to do? He gets a week of detention for destroying school property and also the scorching hot humiliation of warranting it over rose petals.

It wasn't even anything badass like ninja stars or fidget spinners. Just blimming rose petals.

Then, to make matters worse, in History, his hair goes red again.

And this time, he can't change it back.

Leo nearly chokes on his burrito when he sees it. "Crikey, Perce."

Grumpily, Percy sits down next to him, folding his arms like a child. He's had people stare at him all day now, and he supposes with good reason, but still. He's not a fan of being gawked at like a zoo animal. "It wasn't my fault, let's make that clear."

"Right. So your hair somehow turned crimson all by itself."

Okay, so it sounds dumb like that, but that's really the only liable explanation he as at the moment. It certainly wasn't him, that's for sure. He's quite fine with his black hair (red washes him out and makes him look like a suburban mom who uses the tanning bed too often and dyes her hair to keep her 'hip'), and he really doubts it was anyone else. He's not a bad person. In fact, he's actually quite nice. He smiles at people in the corridors and when the sweetshop down the road closes he opens a black market for candy. He's not unlikeable, that's the point. So no one would purposely turn his hair red to spite him, especially not after the rose petal fiasco.

That was humiliating enough. You would have had to kill a person to warrant someone changing your hair after something like that.

Also – he can't change it back. If it were just a funny little prank he would have been able to magic it black again. But he can't. Which is more than a tad worrying.

"Honestly, dude," Leo says. "What brought this on? Your magic has been whack all week."

Percy sadly looks at his hands. "I don't know."

"Stress, maybe?"

"What would I be stressed about, though? Everything is fine as far as I'm concerned. It shouldn't be acting up like this."

"You mentioned your furniture was being a little difficult the other day," Leo says, pointing at him with his fork. "Maybe they hexed you in revenge."

"They're furniture, they can't do anything!"

"They could. You never know."

"I made them move. I didn't give them magic."

"It's the only reasonable explanation we have at the moment."

Percy sighs unhappily. "This sucks."

"Tell me about it. You look kinda funky."

"Annabeth said I didn't look too bad."

"Well, Annabeth was just being nice. You look like you listened to My Chemical Romance once and never looked back. And not in a good way."

"Do push off, Leo."

It does get him thinking, though. Like, of course magic malfunctions. It's magic. Obviously it's not going to sit there and do what it's told. It's wild and unpredictable. If you catch it on a good day maybe it'll do you a favour or two. However, while magic is untamed and crazy, it also isn't flat-out awful. If you tell it to do something, it'll do it. It's like a naughty dog on a leash. It doesn't obey all the time but there is a limit to what it can do and with enough sharp tugs you can eventually get it following your rules again.

But Percy's magic is like a pitbull on a piece of dental floss. Magic never, ever crosses you this much. And he's annoyed about it.

In the next two weeks, he manages to destroy six desks by turning them into a flurry of some sort of flower petals. He eventually manages to find a way to turn his hair black again, but every single morning without fail he wakes up with it back to red. Everything starts running away from him, now – his pencils, his food, and even his books. It's getting kind of ridiculous and Percy is almost on the brink of ripping his hair out.

So he knows what he has to do.

"Annabeth," he announces once she picks up the phone. "We're going to the library tomorrow."

"Are we?"

"Indeed. I need to find out what's happening with my magic."

"And what makes you think I want to go the library with you tomorrow?"

"I'm your best friend in the whole wide world?"

"You'll need a bit more than that, Perce."

"I'll bring in cookies."

"You have yourself a deal."

So, after school, Percy and Annabeth make their way to the library. Shamefully, Percy has only been to the library a couple of times, and that's only to collect spell books so he isn't massively clueless in Spell Class whenever they do a practical. He's got dyslexia, so he tries to avoid reading when he can as to not make him look like an idiot.

Annabeth flashes a smile at the librarian as they walk in. Percy will admit, despite not liking the library that much, it's very beautiful, with wide, sweeping windows and massive bookcases.

"Where should we start looking?" Percy asks.

Thoughtfully, Annabeth chews her lip. "Well, probably the magic section, don't you think?"

"Don't make fun of me, Annabeth. I'm in a crisis."

"Yes, well." Annabeth nods to the beanie he's crammed over his red hair (it was being especially uncooperative today). "I can see that."

"Oh, shut up."

They split up, Percy taking the left and Annabeth taking the right. No one ever really uses the magic section, because it's essentially a bunch of pretentious non-Magics pretending that they are, but sometimes they can be sort of helpful. Which is one of the main reasons he's standing at a shelf, tracing his finger over the spines of old magic books, pretending to know what he's doing.

"Have you found anything?" he calls, trying to not let Annabeth know how hopelessly lost he is.

"Crikey, Perce. It's only been a few minutes."

He scrunches his face up in despair where she can't see him.

They look for what feels like hours. Percy has only picked a few books (which means utterly nothing, because the only reason he grabbed them was because they were thick and smelt like mothballs and also because Annabeth was grabbing books by the second and he was feeling slightly intimidated) and Annabeth is not holding back at all. She's holding at least eight books in her arms, with one tucked under her armpit and another open in her hand.

Honestly, it's pretty admirable. Percy kind of wants to marry her.

Then, out of the corner of his eye, he spots a leather-bound book nestled in between a Spell Guide and the side of the bookshelf. It's remarkably slim for a magic book – most of them were written years ago, by philosophers and people who devoted their lives to Magic and its mutation who had a habit of overcomplicating everything into six hundred page essays. Curiously, he pulls it out.

The front reads The Emotions Beyond Your Magic.

Huh.

He flips open the front page. It's not really that exciting, just lots of long words and creepy illustrations and pressed flowers. However, when he starts nearing the end, his heart starts the jackrabbit in his chest.

LOVE, the chapter reads.

Love.

Percy reads through it hurriedly.

"When a Magic starts to experience love, mainly that of the sexual and romantic kind, his magic will subconsciously start to mimic his feelings. Common side effects Magics have claimed to experience include a body part turning a different colour, especially red (reference 'Cupid And His Tricks' by Hecate Majick, 1998, where it is stated that Cupid's lead colour is red because of the ties it holds to eroticism, roses and love), and also the magnetic drawing of objects by the Magic's loved one, whether or not they hold the Magic Mutation."

Oh.

Oh.

Wildly, Percy turns around to look at Annabeth.

She's standing by the bookshelf, several books stacked in her arms. Her hair has been pulled into a ponytail today and she's wearing a pair of jeans that roll an inch or two above the ankle.

Sure, she's pretty, but Percy isn't– in love with her, is he?

He lets out a hysterical laugh. No. No, that's absolutely ridiculous. She's his best friend. He's not in love with her.

He slams the book closed and pushes it so it falls off the end of the table.

Annabeth sighs from across the room, and Percy's head jolts up. He feels all funny and electric, static, like all his movements are being played on a stop-motion disk that misses several frames. "I can't find anything," she says unhappily, heading over to his table. She dumps all the books in her arms onto it. "All I got was a bunch of outdated spell books."

"Yeah," Percy says, his voice an octave too high. "Funny."

Annabeth doesn't seem to notice. "Have you found anything?"

He shakes his head so violently he thinks he pulls a muscle. "Nope, not at all."

"Ugh." She massages her temples. "I think I might call it a day. I'm really sorry, Perce."

"No, don't worry about it." Percy attempts a laugh that is an octave or three too high. "It's probably just stress or whatever. It'll fade in a few weeks."

Love love love love love love love.

Annabeth gives him a warm smile. "I'll do some research on it at home."

Percy's heart stops. If she does research, she might come across this book. And if she comes across the book, she'll know.

"No!" he yelps.

She takes a step backwards in surprise.

"I mean." Percy takes her by the shoulders and gently starts leading her out the building, making sure to kick that wretched book under the bookcase so she can't see it. If he's slightly more aggressive than normal no one needs to know. "That's okay, Beth. Don't worry about it. Honest. It's probably just a cold, but, uh– the magic version. Maybe just a little hiccup. It's all cool."

"Are you sure?" she asks, concerned. "It'll be no problem for me to do some Googling."

"I pinkie promise."

Percy holds out his index finger. Annabeth rolls her eyes fondly, and then hooks her pinkie around it. "Fine," she says. "Promise."

"Thanks." Eager to change the subject, he rubs his hands down the side of his jeans. He's suddenly very aware that only seconds ago those same hands were on her collarbones. With only the thin fabric of her shirt in between.

Whoa.

He shakes his head. No. No, he's not in love with her. Collarbones and thin T-shirts shouldn't matter. They don't matter. For extra measure, he harshly shoves his hands in his pockets, so they don't start doing something crazy like reaching out to touch her collarbones again.

He's not in love with Annabeth. Her collarbones don't bother him at all. Not one bit.

His face then pales when he sees love hearts appear in the air behind her.

Annabeth looks down to dig her phone out of her bag, and as soon as her attention is averted Percy makes a frantic cut it out sign across his throat. One of the hearts dares laugh at him, and the others nervously do the same seconds after. Percy's eyes narrow. He's just about to do something smart like stick his middle finger up, because as a mature seventeen-year-old that's his generic response for most things involving floating love hearts in places where love hearts shouldn't be, but then Annabeth looks up and seconds too late he smoothes his face into a mask of calm.

"Wow, it's later than I thought," Annabeth says in surprise. She shoves her phone in her back pocket and beams up at him. "Well. I hope you find something, Perce. Don't stay out too late, you know how Sally gets." She stands up on her tiptoes and presses a kiss to his cheek, taking a few steps backwards as she starts to walk off. "I'll see you tomorrow, yeah?"

She kissed him.

She kissed him.

Percy nods erratically. "Y–yeah."

His cheek burns where her lips were only seconds ago. He presses his hand against it and then stares at his fingers as if he can see the kiss on his skin.

One of the love hearts cackles at him, and he immediately comes out of his reverie, glaring at them. As soon as Annabeth is out of earshot he marches up to them and sticks a finger at them, waggling it like a disapproving parent. "Listen here," he snaps. "You stay out of this, you hear me? I'm not in love with Annabeth. She's my best friend."

The leader sticks out its tongue. The others let out meek giggles.

Right. So that one is obviously the boss.

"And you," he tells it sternly. "Shut. Your. Mouth."

"I don't have a mouth," it says with its mouth.

He really hates his magic sometimes.

With one final glare he decides to take the sensible adult route and flips it off, flips them all off for doing nothing except being there, and then storms back into the library.

He checks out the book.

The hearts are still laughing at him when he comes out again, so he flips them off again for good measure.


Admittedly, the book is actually extremely helpful.

Percy stays up almost all night reading it. The entire Love chapter is extremely fascinating, and although it's most probably incorrect because despite the fact that it has listed all his symptoms he is most certainly not in love with Annabeth it's still interesting to learn so much.

The magic malfunctions relating to love stop after the Magic in question stops suppressing his feelings. Many Magics who are too scared to admit their love resort to methods such as writing, painting, dance or intense sport (for example, boxing) to channel their emotions, because pent-up, stoppered love can become borderline dangerous.

Borderline dangerous?

Percy thinks back to the kitchen incident, and how if he hadn't acted in time Annabeth would have had a microwave to the face and they both would have been impaled with a variety of bread knives.

Holy cow.

"Well," he mutters to himself with a nervous laugh. "Good thing what I'm feeling isn't love, then."

Across the room, his chair snorts.

"What?" he asks defensively.

His chair can't speak nor does it have a face but it gives him a look that tells him exactly everything.

"It's true!" he insists.

His wardrobe flicks out a pair of socks.

"Stop it, I'm being serious. I'm not in love with Annabeth. She's my best friend."

"Percy?" his mom sleepily calls out. "Who're you talking to, honey?"

Crap. "No one, Mom!" he shouts back. "Go back to sleep."

He should probably go to sleep, too. It's nearing one am and he has school tomorrow, and he will be damned if he loses any more precious sleep over a silly book or because his furniture wouldn't shut up.

Percy closes the book and shoves it in one of his desk drawers, switching off his lamp and curling up in his bed.

He doesn't fall asleep for a long time. His furniture seems to have settled down, even though for the first few minutes his carpet and his desk chatter away (he thinks it's about him but he can't really tell because they don't speak English) but even that fades after a bit and he's left alone with his thoughts.

He's not– really in love with Annabeth, is he?

Okay, so sure. He likes her a lot. She's his best friend. She makes him laugh and she's very pretty. She'll giggle at her own jokes and she'll always get extremely competitive during board games, and sometimes she'll wear a bit of makeup and Percy will almost die because she looks fantastic with makeup, but she also looks beautiful without it too. In the summer she gets freckles on her nose and her hair goes extra curly, and she'll always scrunch up her face and complain about the heat because she hates the heat, and then when winter rolls around she'll do the exact same thing because she's just never content with the weather.

But– none of that means he's in love with her, does it? You can notice that about your best friend with it being strictly platonic. He always admires Jason Grace's abs from across the locker room and he thinks he's got a mighty fine jawline and he knows for a fact he's not in love with him.

What difference should it make with Annabeth? Jason Grace is also one of his closest friends. Not as close as Annabeth, but barely anyone who isn't his mom is anyway. He's probably just being over-affectionate, like he always is with his friends. The amount of times he and Leo have been mistaken as a couple because they were walking too close together is almost ridiculous.

He lets out a breathy laugh and rolls onto his back, looking up at the ceiling. Yes. That's it. He's not in love with Annabeth.


"I'm in love with Annabeth," Percy says.

Leo lets out a noncommittal grunt. "Oh my God, bloody hell."

"Oh, I'm sorry," Piper says smugly. "Sorry you suck at Mario Kart!"

"You're cheating!"

"And you're melting the plastic," she says. "Calm down."

Leo silently seethes with rage. The controller in his hands starts to drip down his arms.

"Leo!"

"Sorry, sorry." He regains his composure for two seconds before his character on the screen gets booted off the track. "Oh, Piper, you arse, I'll beat your face in."

"LEO!"

Percy blinks. Did anyone hear him?

Sighing, Piper puts down her controller. "Now look at what you've done. You've melted one of my controllers."

"Like you don't have, like, twenty more upstairs."

He doesn't think anyone heard him. "I'm in love with Annabeth," he says again.

Leo rubs his hands down his trousers. They're covered in melting plastic. "Yes, we heard you the first time."

"Isn't that– a big deal?"

"Not really," Piper says. "We all knew."

Percy blinks. "What?"

Leo laughs until he sees that Percy is completely serious. "Wait, you thought you were subtle?"

"Up until two minutes ago I didn't know I was anything!"

Piper puts down her controller and stares at him with soft eyes. She isn't a Magic, but she's always had peculiar eyes that always seem to get him. Leo is wonderful but there's something about girls that Percy prefers when it comes to feelings, because they can read him like an open book.

"You mean you just figured it out?" she asks in a soft voice.

"Yeah."

"Five years of pining only now have you realised you're in love," Leo mutters. He shakes his head disapprovingly. "Crikey, Perce. Head in the game, man."

"Wait, hold on. This is a recent thing, it's not five years."

Leo pats his shoulder. "Sorry to break it to you."

Percy stares at everyone. They don't even look guilty. He doesn't really suppose they have any actual reason to, but nonetheless he feels completely and utterly betrayed.

"Why didn't any of you tell me?"

"What, that you were hopelessly in love with your best friend?" Leo asks. "Gee, I wonder why."

"We had doubted you even realised it," Piper says. "Well. I mean. We know that now, because apparently you've only just come to that conclusion, but at the time we didn't. We didn't want to force feelings on you if you hadn't yet figured them out on your own, because that wouldn't be fair on either of you."

"My magic apparently thinks otherwise."

Leo gapes. "Wait, that's why your magic's gone weird?"

"It essentially bullied me into realising."

"How did you find out?" Piper asks. "Did it, like, physically spell it out?"

"I found a book in the library, and then, uh. Everything just came together."

"About time, too," Leo chimes in unnecessarily.

"How do you mean?" Piper persists.

"Well." Percy's cheeks flame scarlet. He's not necessarily sure if he wants to tell his friends that it took a lot of contemplation and comparison to his admiration of Jason's muscles, because that would open the floodgates of why the hell he had an admiration of Jason's muscles (also Piper is Jason's girlfriend and he's not sure if he's willing to admit that he finds him very, very attractive in front of her) and what exactly his contemplating entailed. "Um. I just. Thought about it a lot, I guess. And then I realised. Not much else to it."

"And it worked, somehow," Piper says. "That's so odd."

"To be fair, Percy's magic was a little whack," says Leo, taking a handful of crisps. "Like, honestly. How many desks have you straight-up dissolved, Perce?"

"Three, I think?"

"Four," Piper corrects. "Remember that time in Sociology?"

"Oh yeah."

"Four desks," Leo says. "That's a lot."

"Is there any way you can stop it?" Piper asks. "The magic, I mean."

"This book I found said to confess."

"Which you've done," Leo says. "So you're set."

Oh. He blinks and nods slowly. He supposes he is.

Piper pats him on the shoulder. "It's okay," she says. "You'll tell her one day."

"Well, I've told you guys," he says. "So my magic should stop being crazy now."

"Crossed fingers," Leo says. "Anyone else up for another round of Mario Kart?"


For your information, the book was lying.

"The magic malfunctions relating to love stop after the Magic in question stops suppressing his feelings"? It's all rubbish. False facts. Not one word of that chapter was true, and Percy knows this because he has quite openly stopped suppressing his feelings, and he has two eyewitnesses to prove it, and has his magic calmed down?

Not in the slightest.

In fact, it's gotten worryingly worse.

"Percy Jackson," Mrs Andrews calls, her voice laced with irritation. "Would you mind telling your pencilcase to calm down? You're distracting the class and disturbing my lesson."

A few kids look over and snicker. It's no secret that Percy's magic has been a little funky recently, and this is most certainly not the first time he's been called out because his felt tips decided to start an impromptu waltz on top of his textbook. However, it's the first time his pens have started to do– well, that, and he prays to every god as he stammers out an apology and crams them into his pencilcase that no one can see his page.

For good measure, he rips it out and scrunches it in a ball. He considers lighting it on fire before realizing that he would probably get kicked out, and instead pushes it deep inside his bag.

Because suddenly, and for no apparent reason at all, his pens had started to scrawl Mrs Annabeth Jackson on the front of his binder.

Jason leans in to him. "I saw it," he whispers.

Oh, dammit.

He notices Percy's face and laughs. "Don't worry," he says. "I won't tell anyone that you have a crush on Annabeth."

Thalia Grace shoots up and whips around in her seat, staring at Percy with a scandalized look. "You have a crush on Annabeth?" she hisses.

So, you know. Two hours in and Annabeth's resident self-appointed bodyguard has already found out.

He tries to escape after class ends but Thalia beats him to it. As soon as he steps out the door she's suddenly in his space, and then there's a fist around his collar and he's being pushed into the wall and he's met with two very angry, very blue and very heavily outlined eyes that are currently glaring daggers into him.

"I like your makeup?" he tries.

"Why didn't you tell me you liked Annabeth?" Thalia demands.

He deflates. Clearly flattery won't get him anywhere. "Look, Thalia, I didn't even know I liked her until, like– yesterday. Excuse me for wanting a few days to myself to adjust to the fact that I'm suddenly in love with my best friend."

Thalia studies him. "You're telling the truth."

"Yeah."

She gives him one final once-over, and then lets go of him. He sags against the wall. It didn't really hurt but being so close to someone who could so easily prod out his eyeballs with a single wave of her hand really drains a person.

"Are you going to tell her?" she asks, her voice softer.

Percy shrugs. "I don't know."

"You should."

"Right, because it's that easy."

"If it reassures you I'm pretty sure she's into you, too."

Percy scoffs. "Yeah, right."

Thalia leans against the wall. Now that she's not millimetres away from his nose with eyes that scream murder, she actually looks quite normal. Percy had always wondered how two so totally different people like Jason and Thalia could be related, but now that he's up close in a way that doesn't involve him almost dying he can see it all.

They have the same flicky little nose, the one that points up at the end. It's a cute nose. It's also on the continuously growing list of qualities Percy likes about Jason.

Anyway.

"I'm a Magic, too," she says dryly. "I'm not daft."

Percy nods awkwardly. He's not sure why that really matters.

"I'm one of Annabeth's best friends and– no, don't get your knickers in a twist, Jackson, I said 'one of' not 'her best', you still hold that title, chill – and I know her pretty darn well. The fact that I'm also a Magic kind of helps."

"Does it?"

"My main Ability is feeling emotions."

And, well. Percy is not expecting that.

"You?" he asks in disbelief. "Emotions? Do you even have any?"

Thalia gives him a dead look. "Look, Jackson, do you want me to tell you?"

He immediately backs down. "Sorry."

"That's what I thought." She blows her fringe out of her face. Her black hair is streaked with blue, and while Percy would rather jump off a cliff than admit it she looks really nice with it. "Anyway. Emotions. Whenever Annabeth is around you her emotions are all pretty positive."

"That doesn't mean romance, though. Can you distinguish between them?"

"Unfortunately not. Otherwise I would have already taken over the world already." She pulls a look of distaste. "Mr Brunner said I still have to do another few years of Magic Studies before he can show me how to do that."

"So there." Percy holds out his arms. "You don't know that she likes me for sure."

"You would have to be blind not to see it, Percy."

"Yes, well. I think we all figured out I was blind to emotions when five years too late I realised I was in love with her in the first place."

"You've had a crush on her for five years?"

"Apparently so."

"Dude, just tell her!"

"Have you listened to a word I said?"

"Look, Jackson. At first I was wary. I won't lie. But five years is a damn long time and you're clearly smitten. I mean, look at you. You're a complete and utter mess. You've destroyed like five pieces of school property and for the past few weeks your hair has almost been permanently scarlet, and now your pens are writing you two love notes on your stuff. That's a hint enough."

"I can't!"

"And why the hell not, Percy?"

Percy scowls at his shoes. They both know he can't answer that.

"Think about it, Jackson," Thalia says, taking a step backwards. "You're gonna regret it if you don't."

She disappears down the corridor. Percy stares at the place she was standing for a long time. He knows he's extremely late for class and normally he would consider the pros and cons of skipping but he can't stop thinking about this whole– thing, especially now since whatever the hell that was.

What even is this thing? His crush on Annabeth? Humourlessly, he laughs, and then leans against the wall, tilting his head back until he's staring at the ceiling tiles. All this fuss over a stupid crush. It's really nothing more than that – a stupid crush. On his best friend. Who he's known since he was two.

Okay, so it's probably a little more complicated than a stupid crush, but still.

So what if he has a crush on her. It's not a big deal. Certainly as not a big deal as Thalia is making it out to be. He wishes everyone were a little more like Leo. Leo didn't really care at all, which he supposes is slightly rude except also very welcoming because for once he doesn't want people to care. Before that can happen, he needs to figure out what the hell he's going to do about it.

Which, first off, is not to tell her.

Look. Annabeth is not perfect, and really, neither is he, but she is beautiful on a level he could never achieve. Many people have always found Magics to be more attractive or desirable simply because they have Magic, which apparently is a real ladies-magnet (Annabeth has claimed she thinks otherwise, because the correlation between that and the amount of girls Leo has pulled is, well, nonexistent), but Percy honestly doesn't care about Magic. In fact, it would probably be better for both his and his future partner's wellbeing if said future partner didn't end up being a Magic, given how unpredictable his magic is. Annabeth is beautiful because she's funny and smart and clever and she's got a layer of pudge around her stomach that she can't get rid off and she likes vanilla ice cream with hundreds of toppings and she always has the most entertaining ways of telling stories.

Annabeth is wonderful and he supposes he is too, to an extent, but there's just something about her that makes her shine.

It's why he could never end up with her. Not because she's his best friend or because he's terrified he might accidentally kill her with a microwave again, but because friendships don't exactly require standards and relationships do. They've been best friends for so long Annabeth knows virtually everything about him – both the good and the bad. And obviously the bad isn't that bad because they're still friends, but he knows it's not good enough for them to be anything more.

Annabeth is enchanting and Percy's just a malfunctioning Magic with powers that don't listen to him and a habit of turning school desks to rose petals.

He'd rather live with this crush for the rest of his life than admit it and ruin their friendship. If he can't have her in that way then he'll just be selfish and have her in any other way he's able to.

He sits there for a long time.

Then, suddenly, he's jerked back to reality when he sees someone appear at the end of the corridor. If it's a teacher he's screwed, and he internally shuts his eyes because dammit no he can't afford to get detention again.

He looks up, preparing for his doom.

But because the universe is either on his side or laughing at him it turns out to just be none other than Annabeth.

She looks just as surprised to see him.

"What are you doing?" she asks, horrified. "You're meant to be in class!"

"So are you!"

"I needed the toilet, Miss Bailey gave me a hall pass."

Oh.

"Why are you skipping? You're not missing a test, are you?"

"No! No. I, uh. Didn't feel like class, I guess."

"Fair enough." She nods to the space on the floor next to him. "May I?"

"All yours."

She slides down the wall until they're sitting flush against each other. Percy almost reminds her that her hall pass only gets her out of class for a few minutes, but the warmth of her body pressed against his is enough for him to drop it. He stretches out his legs from where he had curled them up against his chest and so does Annabeth. His are only a few inches longer than hers. She's wearing a pair of shorts and a two uneven socks.

It's kind of cute.

Dammit he did it again.

He stares at the knees of his jeans crossly.

"How's your magic?" Annabeth asks. "Have you figured out why it was acting all weird?"

"Um. No, not– really? I don't think so. I'm, um. Still blowing things up."

"Ah."

"I know. It's really fun."

"At least your hair isn't red anymore."

"This morning it was. I've learnt how to change it back."

"Well, that's always a plus. S'a bit of a shame, though. I liked the red."

"Shut up, no you didn't."

"Cross my heart."

"I hated it."

"I didn't. You looked like you were on fire."

"Push off."

"It's a compliment."

"No it's not, be quiet."

Annabeth laughs and leans her head against his shoulder.

It's this aspect that Percy doesn't want to ever lose.

"Speak of the devil," Annabeth mumbles.

"Hm?"

"Your hair."

He blinks once, twice, and then closes his eyes. "You're kidding."

"Not at all."

His magic always knows all the wrong times to step in. Internally, he shoos it away. He knows how to pick up girls by himself. He doesn't need his magic to play wingman; he's more than capable of getting Annabeth right where he wants her, which at the moment is nothing more than in a friendship.

Well. Kind of.

You know all of this.

"Well, now my hair is red," he says. "This is spectacular."

"I'll say."

"Do shut up, Annabeth."

She closes her mouth but she's still grinning cheekily and Percy's heart kind of starts to ache.

He runs his hands through his hair and turns it back to black. It's not a hard thing to do at all, but it leaves his scalp feeling all tingly afterwards, like he's just bleached it. He shakes his head a little to get rid of the feeling.

"Happy?" Annabeth asks.

"Very, actually."

She rolls her eyes and is just about to say something when suddenly Percy becomes acutely aware of footsteps coming down the hallway. His eyes widen and he scrambles to his feet, pulling Annabeth with him. She clings to his hand, her movements erratic. He thinks it's the first time she's ever done anything bad. It's kind of funny.

The teacher rounds the corner and starts heading down the hall. Percy wills himself to become invisible a second after their eyes meet and Percy inwardly curses as he watches the teacher's eyes furrow and then her eyebrows flatten with anger as she starts storming towards where they used to be.

He shouldn't have turned invisible. He just made things a hundred times worse.

It only gets worse once the teacher nears and Percy recognises her as Madame Lowry, who, most unfortunately, also happens to be a Magic.

Just his luck.

Lowry throws her arms open and Percy's invisibility spell rises. Annabeth lets out a squeak and Percy kind of flails.

"Jackson!" Lowry bellows. "Chase! I cannot believe you! The disrespect!"

"We're so sorry, Madame," Annabeth splutters out, her face creasing into an earnest, pleading expression. It normally works on Percy but clearly Madame Lowry is lacking a heart and soul because she doesn't seem to be moved in the slightest. "I have a hall pass – honest, here it is, look – and Percy was just helping Mr Kent set up the art exhibition, weren't you, Percy? We just bumped into each other, that's all, please don't be angry–"

"You pulled an invisibility spell on me," Madame Lowry spits. Percy tries not to look at her too hard because her French accent isn't doing anything except making everything a lot more hilarious than it should be and she also has the beginnings of a moustache growing above her upper lip and Percy knows if he focuses on it too hard he's going to burst out laughing. "Invisibility is banned on school grounds, Mr Jackson, in case you forgot, and the fact that you decided to use it to hide yourself from me only proves that you used it with the intentions of nothing but complete and utter disrespect."

Annabeth opens her mouth but Lowry silences her with a steely gaze.

"Save it, Miss Chase. You have both earned yourself half an hour's detention today after school."

"But–!"

"Do you want me to make it an hour?"

Annabeth stops. She looks at the ground in shame. "No, Madame."

Madame Lowry gives them both death glares. "I'll see you both after school."

She struts down the corridor. Percy watches irritably as her long velvet dress clings to her rather rounded bottom and before he can tell himself to shut the hell up Percy this is not a smart move he yells, "That's right, walk away!"

He ends up with detention for the next week. It's kind of worth it.


"This is all your fault," Annabeth says. "The least you could do is help."

"I am helping."

"You're sitting down."

"Yes, but I'm still giving you a hand."

Annabeth glares at the skeleton hovering next to her. "This doesn't count."

"I'd beg to differ, actually. The mess is getting cleaned."

"And it would be getting cleaned faster if you also helped."

Percy sighs, and pushes himself off his perch, picking his way through the rubbish to stand where Annabeth is. "Fine, I'm here. What can I do?"

"Well, sort all the costumes and put them in their correct drawers, for a start."

Percy frowns. "This is so boring."

"I know, but we're essentially locked in until all this mess is picked up, so if you could please can you and your friend start to get a wriggle on?"

Percy looks over at the skeleton he had found lying on the floor. He had charmed it so it would help with the tidying, but as all charmed things do it had quickly gotten distracted and was now wrapping feather boas around its ribs and trying on various different hats in the mirror. He's a little endeared, if he's being honest, but he is also tired and he doesn't want to stay in school any longer than he has to, so he reluctantly calls, "Sergeant Bones?"

Annabeth snorts. "You called him Sergeant Bones?"

"Hey, don't be rude. He picked it."

Annabeth shakes her head fondly and starts picking up various different-coloured wigs.

Sergeant Bones turns to face Percy. He's got a stick-on moustache pasted underneath his nose and has stuffed his eye-sockets with pompoms.

"We need you to help," he says.

Bones looks around. He picks up a greasy black toupee and holds it up hopefully.

"No, Bones. Tidying. You can't play dress-up anymore."

Bones looks utterly devastated.

Together the three of them begin to pick up the disaster that is the drama props room. Madame Lowry had really not been kidding when she had told them that "an ordinary detention wouldn't suffice for the amount of disrespect you have shown me", because instead of making them sit at a desk for an hour rewriting the dictionary she had thrown them in the props room and told them to clean it. Which, in hindsight, sounded like quite a nice punishment. In fact, Percy had almost been looking forward to it. A whole hour in a room with his best friend and a bunch of costumes? What could be better, right?

Turns out, a whole lot of things. Like going home. Or trimming his nose hair.

To give you an indication of how grueling it is, within the first ten minutes Percy had almost been suffocated twice and Annabeth had picked up twelve dead cockroaches. There's a pile growing in the cup by the door. It's more than a little gross.

"Hey, Perce."

Percy turns around. Annabeth is standing on a stool, holding a breastplate to her chest. She waves a wooden sword and waggles her eyebrows. "Wanna duel?"

"Oh, mighty Annabeth Chase, I accept your offer. Let me just find my armour."

Annabeth watches, mildly amused, as he looks around for something to put on. "That Red Riding Hood dress looks perfect."

Percy picks it up and pulls it over his head. It barely fits, so he doesn't tug it down his torso, just leaving it to loosely hang around his shoulders like a cape of sorts. He scoops up a wig and also a walking stick. "I'm ready."

Annabeth laughs so hard she almost falls off her stool. "You look like a clown."

"You must be feeling so left out."

"I so am." She hops down off her stool and grabs two wolf gloves. "Now I'm rocking."

And that's when it happens.

Percy notices it a second too late. He's pulling on his own pair of gloves – two ridiculous rubber things that smell suspiciously of watermelon – when he suddenly notices a rather severe absence of Sergeant Bones, and he turns around just in time to see Bones slide open one of the drawers and then collapse in a heap, like he was back to being an immobile science prop again.

But that's not what catches his attention. It's what comes out of the drawers that makes Percy's hackles rise.

"Annabeth, look out!" he shouts.

It's too late. Quick as a whip, a length of ribbon as long as two bumper-to-bumper cars lashes out like a snake and suddenly Percy is being pushed backwards and Annabeth forwards and before he can so much as blink they're lying on top of each other with a red silky ribbon binding them together like captives.

Annabeth blinks. Percy doesn't think they have ever been this close to each other before. He can count her eyelashes. Their noses are touching. "Well, hello."

He lets out a nervous laugh. "Hi."

"This is a little awkward."

"Tell me about it."

"Can we roll over? My boobs are hurting."

Percy tries not to let his blush show on his cheeks and with a grunt lunges himself to the side so they both topple, leaning against their arms on the ground. It feels even more intimate now, like they're lovers waking up from sharing a bed. It's a beautiful thought and for a second Percy almost believes it until the floorboards begin to make his arms hurt and he spots an ant crawling up ahead.

It's not massively ideal, whatever.

"Is this another magic malfunction?" Annabeth asks dryly.

"I would think so, yes."

"Well. Terrific." She sighs. Percy feels her breath brush against his face. "And I don't suppose you can magic this ribbon away so we can stand up?"

"Um."

"Wonderful, you can't."

"It's only a bit longer. Then Lowry will come and get us."

"How long is 'a bit longer'?"

"I can't see the clock."

"I have a watch. Wait, hold on." Annabeth wriggles violently around, trying to wrestle the ribbon bonds so they're on her biceps so she can bend her elbows. However, her attempts are fruitless – they've been bound knee to shoulder. Until Lowry comes to fetch them there's no way they're getting up.

"I can't reach it."

"It's okay. It can't be that long."

Annabeth sighs again.

They're in silence for a bit. There's not really much they can do except stare at each other, which does make things increasingly awkward, but if Percy cranes his head far enough he can look at the pile of props they still have yet to put away. They're certainly not as interesting or pretty as Annabeth's face, except he doesn't really think she'd take too kindly to him watching her so closely, especially seeing as it's his fault they're in this mess anyway.

"Percy," she says.

Percy turns back to face her. "Hm?"

"Is there anything you'd like to tell me?"

"What?"

She sighs again and wiggles around to get comfortable. "I'm not stupid, Percy. I know a crush when I see one."

Percy's blood runs cold.

He stares at her, completely betrayed. "You knew?" he whispers.

"Yeah."

"How long?"

"A few months?"

He splutters with shock. "A few mon– Annabeth, what the hell?"

She looks confused. "Is that– a bad thing?"

"Why didn't you tell me you knew?"

"I wasn't one hundred percent sure!"

"If you had told me we wouldn't be in this mess!"

"What?"

Well. He supposes there's no time like the present. "The reason my magic has been going haywire? It's you. Always has been. Apparently I've been crushing on you for years. My magic realised before I did. It's been trying to hook us up for weeks now. The rose petals, red hair, my things always gravitating towards you?"

Annabeth stares at him, shocked. "W–what?"

"And now this. It ties us together. Look, Beth, I don't care if you don't feel the same, it's whatever, I'd probably be the same if I was you, but you could have just told me. That way I wouldn't have had all these suppressed emotions that came out in the form of destroying my desks!"

Annabeth opens her mouth, and then stops and furrows her brow. "Wait, what?"

"If you had told me I wouldn't have taken out my unrequited love with my magic?"

"No, not that. You said I don't feel the same."

"Yeah. You don't have to rub it in."

"No, I'm not–" She stops. "What on earth gave you that idea?"

Something like hope flutters in his chest. "What?"

"You think I don't like you back?"

"Well. Yeah, I guess."

"You idiot, I've been in love with you for years."

Percy almost passes out right then and there. "Wh– are you kidding?"

"Of course not! You were– ethereal, Percy. I was smitten with you from the day we met. Are you telling me you didn't know?"

"I think our current position answers that question."

Annabeth lets out a laugh. "This is so stupid."

"I mean. Hurrah for my magic, after all."

"I can't believe this is how we confess. On the floor of the prop room tied together with ribbon. I had always imagined it to be big and grand."

"This isn't big and grand enough for you?"

Percy feels like he's floating. He can't believe this is happening.

"Oh, shut up."

He giggles, a little delirious. "Make me."

She does.

With a kiss.

Percy thinks he's going to die.

She pulls back, her eyes glittering. She smiles big and wide, and Percy's heart swells because yes, he's in love with his best friend but it's okay because she's also in love with him too and now they're kissing in the most awkward position they could possibly be on the floor.

"How was that?" she asks.

Percy sighs dreamily. "Can we do it again?"

She laughs. "Hold on, big boy. Wait until we're out of here."

"I'm not sure if I can wait that long."

She rolls her eyes. "Well, if you insist."

They keep kissing until Madame Lowry comes back.

Percy has never been so happy.

-end-


and that was it! i really hope you liked this, i spent probably far too much time on it (about three weeks i know) so i do hope you all enjoy and please tell me what you thought! bye xxx