This is the first of a collection of Percabeth oneshots of perfect moments and beautiful evenings, spent in the sun or under the stars, with Percy and Annabeth - just how we like them.
Song choice: 'Come Away With Me' by Norah Jones
When We Laughed
Each golden curl shone almost like the sun itself, woven amongst the mass of honey blonde hair that rolled down her shoulders with careless ease. Her hair fell around her face with such effortless grace that it could take your breath away. Each ripple of light that bounced from curl to curl –
"Stupid darn hair!" Annabeth cursed, flicking loose strands of hair from hands to hand across her parting. After messing with it for a few moments, she looked at me. I'd been watching her intently and shook my head with a laugh.
We were sat, laid out across from each other on the beach, a little way out from Camp at sunset: taking full advantage of the absence of the after-dinner campfire. We'd agreed to practice our defence for Chiron, but now our weaponry lay forgotten on the sand as we'd begun to talk. It always amazed me how easy Annabeth was to talk to, to laugh with...all I'd have to do is meet her eye minutes after a joke and we'd soon have tears rolling down our faces and be shaking with laughter.
"What?" Annabeth asked, offended. I continued to laugh until I felt a blow to the head. Rubbing it as it throbbed, I tried to stop at Annabeth's outraged look.
"Why, Perseus Jackson, are you laughing at me?"
I met her eye and shrugged, wondering why I had got myself into this situation.
"Look," I said, as Annabeth raised an eyebrow, "It's just…well, you never really come across as…. you don't seem like, y'know, the kind of girl who's…like…into her looks." Please don't be offended, please don't be offended….
I thought I'd done okay, but Annabeth, who seemed to be finding the subject both mildly amusing yet rather insulting, narrowed her eyes.
"So, what are you implying?" Annabeth asked, propping herself up on her elbows, "You think I'm not pretty, then, Percy?"
Ah, crap. The dreaded question.
"No." I answered immediately. Annabeth smirked to herself, so I got the feeling I'd answered correctly. I watched her carefully, waiting for her next attack. She turned her gaze on me once more.
"So, Percy…." Annabeth said, resting her head on one hand, "If you're the expert on me and my alleged 'prettiness' – "
"Uh, yeah – about that; I'm really not the expert, here –"
A mischievous glint lit in her grey, grey eyes, "So when have I looked prettiest, Percy?" she asked, almost blushing in spite of herself, twirling a piece of hair between her fingers.
I frowned at the question, and began to think. To my recollection, Annabeth had never looked un-pretty – it wasn't an obvious beauty, like the Aphrodite cabin, but a simple, subtle beauty that could still take your breath away in one fell swoop. Believe me – I know.
"Seriously, answer slower;" Annabeth said sarcastically, "It does loads for my self esteem."
I rolled my eyes and decided on an answer. "Okay, okay. I'd have to say….last winter. On Olympus."
In my mind, I saw the Olympian party and Annabeth's hand gently touching my hair where I bore the scar of bearing the sky; taking her hand and dancing with her until the early morning; watching her smile and laugh as if she had no care in the world but for that evening.
Annabeth looked a little surprised and she sat up a little straighter. "Really?"
She bit her lip, looking thoughtful and intrigued. I could tell she hadn't expected that at all. She had a way of looking at herself and thinking negatively. If I could have one wish, it would be for Annabeth to see how amazing she truly was. Or perhaps, I thought, not. I guess I couldn't bear it if she ever changed, even if it were just a little.
Her eyes met mine once more. I tried not to lose myself in them, but already my heart had begun to ache. "But I looked like a wreck last winter," she said, brushing away her hair as her eyes wandered out to sea. "Why d'you say that?"
I smiled, more to myself than anyone else. "Because you were happy," I said simply.
A flicker of weakness – or maybe sadness – passed over her face and she turned her gaze once more to the ocean, blushing fiercely. She still looked stunning with her face glowing, flattered yet almost shy – apart from she was Annabeth, and she was never shy. She couldn't do shy even if she wanted to.
"I've had little to be happy about for so long," Annabeth murmured. I felt a wave of sadness come over me, and without thinking I reached out and gently ran my hand down her cheek.
She looked up, but she didn't look angry, or even a little surprised.
"It amazes me how you always manage to see the best in every… situation, Percy," she said, and as my hand slipped away from her cheek she caught it and held it. Her eyes met mine briefly and she smiled, my whole heart warming as she did so.
Annabeth sighed, but the smile still played on her lips. "What would I do without you, Percy Jackson?" she whispered. I smiled and was about to reply when Annabeth leant over and kissed me on the cheek.
I didn't even have to start my sentence. My skin burnt where her lips had gently touched it.
Annabeth pulled away and stood up, her fingers slipping away mine. I looked up at her, being completely inadequate and simply looked at her; her golden hair rippling in the wind; the sun reflecting in her stormy grey eyes, and her expression wise, calm and beautiful. Her gaze dropped down to me and she held out her hand with a smile.
"Come on, Seaweed Brain," she said, sounding like the Annabeth I'd known for an eternity.
A smile crept onto my face and I stood; and we walked back to camp together, laughing and talking, as ever. And it was there that I promised myself to never forget that night when we laughed and we walked together - with her kiss upon my cheek, with her hand in mine... and with our backs to the sunset.