6 Months Later
Annabeth placed the ruler on the paper and drew an eight inch line. She drew another line parallel to the first. She glanced over at an architect book and erased one of the lines. Frustrated, she drew the same line again a centimeter closer to the first line she had drawn. Happier with the placement of the new line, she drew two more lines, making a box. She stared at the box for a good five minutes. It may have only been a box, but to her it was the beginning of a possible architectural masterpiece and everything had to be perfect.
After finally deciding that the box was as good as it was going to get, Annabeth glanced at the clock. Three AM. She cursed herself for waking up with the idea for a beautiful, four bedroom house in the middle of the night when she knew she had to get up early for her eight AM class. She had tried to go back to sleep, even curling up against Percy's body, which usually helped, but the idea just wouldn't go way. Creativity never did take no for an answer.
Even though the eight o'clock architecture class that Annabeth taught at the local university was all too early for her liking, she loved it. She loved it even more than she loved teaching at Roosevelt. She felt as if she had finally found her calling. She enjoyed seeing the creations her students would come up with and she loved helping them develop their ideas. She also was enjoying the fact that they inspired her to create her own works of art. Like the one she had woken up at two hours earlier, dying to work on.
Annabeth nearly fell off the stool she was sitting on. She looked over at the doorway where Percy was standing in only a pair of pajama pants.
"You scared me," she replied, putting her pencil down.
She stared at him. She didn't mean to, but she couldn't help it. She was still mesmerized by how beautiful he was and was still at awe over the fact that she got to wake up next to him almost every morning. They weren't officially living together, but Annabeth spent more time at his apartment than she did her own.
"I should be the one who's sorry," she finally said, tearing her eyes away from him. "I didn't mean to wake you."
He shrugged and yawned at the same time.
"Liar," she said, smiling.
"Okay, so maybe you did wake me, but I don't mind." He ran his hands through his hair. "What I do mind is waking up without you."
"Well, I'll make sure it doesn't happen again."
This time they both smiled, knowing that waking up in the wee hours of the morning was something that Annabeth did frequently. She worked best in the early AM.
Percy walked over to her and kissed her on the top of the head. He looked over her shoulder at the paper she was drawing on.
"What are you working on?" He asked.
"This new design that sort of just…popped into my head. But it's not exactly coming out the way I wanted."
She pointed to the wastebasket beside her desk that was full of crumpled up papers. Percy bent over and picked one of them up. He flattened out the paper and began to examine the drawing.
"Is it a house?"
"It's amazing. Annabeth, the lines, the shapes…it's incredible. This is some of the best work I've seen you do."
"Oh really?" She asked flirtatiously.
Percy put the paper down on top of the one she had been working on.
"Well, let's put it this way. It's the best work I've seen you do outside of the bedroom."
"So are you going to tell me why it's in the garbage?"
She shrugged. "I've just got this image in my head and…"
"And, what?" She didn't answer because she had no answer. The picture she had been working on was the exact image in her head, but it scared her. Percy didn't push her to respond. "Maybe I can help put a different image in your head."
Percy whirled Annabeth's chair around so that she was facing him. He leaned over and kissed her long and hard.
"You are amazing," he stated.
He kissed her again, his hand working from her waist up underneath the T-Shirt she was wearing. It was another one of his shirts. He loved when she wore his shirts.
Annabeth somehow managed to stand up without breaking their kiss so that she was more at his height. She ran her hands over his chest, took one last kiss, and pushed him away.
"I have work to do," she said.
"Can't it wait?"
She sat back down in her chair. She didn't want to stop kissing her, but the creative juices were flowing through her veins and she wanted to use them while she still had them.
"Tell you what? You let me work for another hour and I promise you, I'll make it up to you."
Percy crossed his arms over his chest. "Uh-uh," he said. "No way."
"You've said that before."
"Said what before?"
"One day at camp you promised me that you would take a walk with me after dinner and when I asked you to go, you said that you had promised Thalia you'd hang out with her and that you'd make it up to me. You never did."
Annabeth's jaw nearly dropped. "How do you remember that?"
"I remember everything."
"Well, as you've clearly stated many times over, we are different people now than we were when we were kids and I promise you I will make it up to you."
Percy reached for her hand and pulled her off the stool.
"Nope, I'm not falling for that again." He pulled her against his body and kissed her.
"How about this instead?" Annabeth asked, wrapping her arms around his neck as his arms came around her waist. "If you let me work now, I promise you we'll take that walk on the lake."
"Do you know of any other lakes we used to hang out at?"
"I just…I wasn't sure when you'd be ready to go back."
She looked up at him. "I'm ready."
"Are you sure?"
"Then I guess we're going back to camp."
"I guess we are."
"I'm going to hold you to your promise, you know. The only reason I'm letting you out of this is because I want to take a long walk on the lake with you and only you. No mythical creatures, no tag-alongs, just me and you."
"I never said it was going to be a long walk," she responded.
"Those are my terms. Take them or leave them."
She smiled. "I guess I'll have to take them."
He kissed her lightly. "Can I watch you work?"
He loved to watch her work. He loved how her hands glided the pencil smoothly over the paper. How her eyebrows gathered closer together when she was concentrating. And, most of all, he loved how, when she did something that she wasn't sure of, she would stare at it for minutes at a time. He caught her staring at him in that way several times as if wondering if she wasn't sure if what they had together was real and lasting. He knew she still doubted herself and her ability to make him happy, but he never doubted it. She did make him happy in every sense of the word.
"Do you promise not to distract me?"
He nodded. "Promise."
He let go of her and she did the same with him. She returned to her stool and swirled back to the drafting table. Picking up her pencil again, she stared at the drawing that she had thrown away, but that Percy had picked up and laid out on the table. She hadn't told him that the reason the image that was in her head scared her was because the image included her and Percy living there together. It was the house she had designed for them.
"Are you ready?" He asked her, squeezing her hand.
"You keep asking me that."
"Well, I just want to be sure."
"I'm as ready as I'll ever be," she stated. He leaned over and kissed her lightly on the lips. "What was that for?"
"To remind you that we're in this together," he said. "And because I like kissing you."
Her cheeks turned red as Percy stroked her cheek with his finger. Annabeth would have been content staying right there in his arms, but she knew that there were more important things to do.
"Let's go home," she said.
Percy nodded. He opened the door to the cab and got out. Holding out his hand, he pulled Annabeth out of the cab and to her feet. He slammed the door closed and turned around. Never letting go of each others hands, they both looked around.
"It looks…" Percy began.
"The same," Annabeth finished.
They were both staring at the entrance of camp. Of course no one else, besides other half-bloods, knew that the camp even existed. When Percy had told the cab driver where to take them, the man looked at Percy like he had ten heads. He couldn't understand why two people would want to get out in the middle of nowhere. But he wasn't paid to understand. He was paid to drive so that's what he did. The cab driver had no idea that the nothingness he saw was actually a place that was home to dozens of children who were trying to find their place in the world. Nor did he know that inside the camp, battles had been fought, enemies had been made, and young love had blossomed.
"It's been so long," Percy commented.
"Too long," Annabeth agreed.
Percy secured his arm around Annabeth's waist and they walked together towards the entrance. As they entered the familiar place that they had once called home, they both smiled. Everything seemed to be exactly the same. Campers walked around them, chatting with each other and otherwise basically ignoring Percy and Annabeth's presence. There were a group of campers to the right practicing their sword fighting while Percy could hear a group of archers in the distance.
They walked slowly to the main building, taking in everything. For some reason they had expected it to have changed in their absence, but nothing had changed. There were still the usual sights, sounds, and smells.
Stopping at the bottom of the porch, Annabeth squeezed Percy's hand.
"This is where we first met," she said quietly.
"You mean the time I was half dead and your nursed me back to health?"
"Yeah, that would be it."
"I don't know if I ever thanked you for saving my life," he stated.
"I'd say we're even."
Annabeth stood at the bottom of the steps, staring at the closed door. She hadn't walked through the threshold in a very long time.
"You look nervous," Percy commented.
"That's because I am."
She shrugged. "What if everyone knows what I did?"
"Then they'll know how brave and smart and incredible you are," he whispered into her ear.
"How is it that you always manage to say something romantic at just the right moment?"
"Just blessed I guess."
He smirked and Annabeth rolled her eyes, secretly smiling. She loved how incredibly romantic. He did always know exactly what to do and say. He was the perfect boyfriend, sending her flowers when she least expected it, taking her out to the best restaurants, and even occasionally cooking her romantic dinners. After ten years of being afraid, she was finally able to be who she was and able to be with the person she loved.
Staring at the steps that led up to the main building, Annabeth took a deep breath.
"It's not too late," Percy said, putting his hand comfortably on her lower back. "We could turn back."
"No. I want to do this. I need to do this. And so do you. This journey is about both of us."
"Have I told you recently that I love you?"
That was all it took. Annabeth got the boost she needed to take the first steps. Knowing that Percy loved her no matter what made facing her past easier. She began to climb the stairs slowly with Percy matching every step. He pushed the front door open and stopped. Chirion sat in his wheelchair before them with a large smile on his face.
"Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase." Chirion said, his eyes beaming, his smile growing wider by the second. He wheeled closer to them. He put out his arms and Annabeth stepped closer to him, hugging him.
"It's so good to see you, Chirion," Annabeth said. All of her worries slid away upon seeing his face. She finally felt at home again.
"And you," Chirion replied.
Annabeth stepped back and Percy stepped forward. Chirion reached for his hand.
"Percy Jackson. It has been too long."
"Yes, it has," Percy agreed.
"Come, let's talk." Chirion turned and wheeled into the other room. He pulled himself in front of the couch. "Sit, sit." Both Annabeth and Percy sat on the couch next to each other, again holding hands.
"I'm surprised you recognized us," Annabeth said.
"You never forget your two favorite students," Chirion stated. "And besides, Grover was never very good at keeping secrets." He smirked.
"He told you we were coming?"
"Let's just say he let it slip," Chirion explained.
"I told him not to tell you," Percy insisted.
"I'm glad he did. It gave me something to look forward to. Besides, at my age, surprises don't always go over so well."
"You don't look a day older than I remember," Annabeth complimented.
Chirion patted her on the knee. "Thank you. But you two have changed. You're not children anymore. And I see there have been some other developments." He pointed to their intertwined hands. "I was wondering how long it would take you two to find each other."
"It was a little longer than even we expected," Annabeth replied.
"The best things in life come to those who wait. Well, tell me about yourselves. Percy, Grover tells me that you're a teacher."
"That's right. History."
"Now how did a boy who got kicked out of every school he went to end up being a history teacher?"
Percy laughed and began to tell him.
Hours later, Percy and Annabeth had told Chirion all about what they were doing and how they had finally gotten together, although they left out the part about Annabeth being afraid to be with him and the fight that nearly tore them apart. Chirion filled them in on life at camp and how he was thinking of retiring. Both Annabeth and Percy convinced him that no one could do as good a job at Camp Half-blood as he did. After talking, Chirion invited them to have dinner with him and the rest of the camp in the dining hall.
It felt nostalgic to be back in such a familiar place as the dining hall. Although everything there was the same just as with everything else in camp, things were different. Both Annabeth and Percy heard the whispers of the kids at camp as they would walk by. Everyone knew who Percy Jackson was and they all knew that he had finally returned. He was the one who saved camp. Percy usually hated being the center of attention, but with Annabeth at his side, he didn't seem to mind. The best part of being back in the dining hall was that Percy and Annabeth were no longer segregated by god or goddess. Instead, they got to enjoy their first full meal together ever in the hall.
"I couldn't believe how that girl was ogling over you," Annabeth stated, laughing.
They were walking hand in hand by the lake. The sun was beginning to set, the sky turning a purplish pink.
"She was not."
"Oh yes she was. How old do you think she was? Fifteen?"
"What can I say? I'm a lady's man."
"Yeah, you wish."
"Well, I got the most important lady, didn't I?"
"Keep in mind, I'm only doing this because I promised," she teased.
"Well, in that case, I mine as well make the most of it."
He stopped walking and kissed her. Kissing her was still the best part of his day. When they both came up for air, Annabeth turned so she was facing the lake. Percy stood behind her, placing his hands on her shoulders, massaging them gently.
"It's so beautiful here," Annabeth commented. "Just like I remember it."
"Being here with you makes it all the more beautiful."
Pushing her hair aside, he began to kiss her neck.
"Do you remember how many times we sat at this lake talking about plans and adventures and our future?"
"I remember sitting here with you thinking how beautiful you were."
Annabeth turned and playfully hit him in the chest. "You're full of it, you know that?"
He laughed. "I know. But I did think you were beautiful. I still do."
He cupped his hands on either side of her face and leaned down, pressing his lips against hers. The kiss was soft, slow, and sensual. There was no rush, no fierce impact. It was just two people sharing the first of many kisses to come in such a beautiful and memorable location.
"I've been dreaming about kissing you in front of this lake for a very long time," Percy said.
"Well, I'm here to make your dreams come true," she replied, wrapping her arms around his neck and kissing him again.
"You already have made my dreams come true."
She laughed out loud. She laughed so hard that tears came to her eyes.
"What?" He asked.
"Do you realize how corny that sounded, seaweed brain?" She asked after she had regained her composure.
"Well, how's this for corny?"
Percy took Annabeth's left hand and held it between his own two hands.
"Percy, what are you…"
"I love you, Annabeth. I have loved you since I was twelve years old. You are everything I have ever wanted and more. You are beautiful and smart and loving and incredible. You make me a better person. You complete me, Annabeth."
He reached into his pocket. Annabeth gasped, knowing what he was reaching for. But instead of a ring or a box, he pulled out a folded up piece of paper. He unfolded it slowly. Annabeth took one look at it and tears began to fall. It was the picture she had drawn of the house that she had thrown in the garbage, but that Percy had retrieved.
"Where did you…?"
"I found it tucked under a bunch of books," he answered. "I want to make a life with you, Annabeth. I want to make a life with you in this house." He pointed to the picture. "I want to wake up next to you every morning in the house that you made so that I always remember how lucky I am."
He got down on one knee and this time, when he reached into his pocket, he pulled a small, black, velvet box out.
Annabeth gasped a second time. "Oh my…"
"Annabeth Chase, will you marry me?"
She felt like she couldn't breathe. Hearing him say those words felt like the first time they had kissed only one hundred times better. She opened her mouth to speak, but no words came out. As tears streamed down her cheek, she nodded.
"Yes?" He asked.
He jumped to his feet, wrapped his arms around her waist, and swept her off her feet, twirling her in a circle.
"I love you," he whispered when he finally set her back on the ground again. He slipped the solitaire diamond ring on her finger. It was a perfect fit.
"I love you, too."
When they kissed, it was the most brilliant they had ever shared.
"You made that house for us, didn't you?"
"Let's just say that I did have a certain couple in mind when I was designing it. Do you really want to live in this house?"
"More than anything."
"It doesn't actually exist you know."
"Then we'll have to build it. We'll build it somewhere where we can be completely alone."
"But, not too far away from your mother."
He laughed. "No, not that far away."
"Thank you," she said.
"For loving me."
"I'm the one who should be thanking you." He held up her left hand and stared at it. "Now you've made all my dreams come true.
They kissed again.
"All of them?" She asked.
"Well…there is this one…dream."
"It's not so much as a dream, as a…"
He leaned in and whispered something into her ear, causing her to blush. This time she hit him harder on the chest, the diamond on her finger sparkling in the twilight.
"Are you suggesting, Seaweed Brain that I break camp rules and sneak out of my cabin to have a midnight rendezvous with you?"
"Yes, future Mrs. Seaweed Brain. That is exactly what I'm suggesting."
She smiled and crushed her lips into his. "Good."
Author's Note: Well, that's it! Let me start off by apologizing for the length of this author's note, but I have a lot I would like to say.
First and foremost, as far as this chapter was concerned, I apologize for making you wait. I wrote and rewrote the beginning of this chapter at least ten times. I wanted to make the ending really great and, as many people requested, I tried to make it a longer chapter than some of my other ones. I really hoped you liked it.
Secondly, thank you to all of my reviewers. I have never before received so much positive feedback on any of my stories. Honestly the responses I have received were overwhelming at times (in a good way). I appreciated every single one of them.
For all of you who have complimented me on my writing abilities, I thank you. Writing for me is the most amazing part of my day. I'm glad I could share my passion with you. And who knows, maybe one day I will actually publish a book.
Lastly, the ending of this story is bittersweet for me. In a way, I am happy that it is finally over and I can go back to paying attention at work and doing my homework, but, at the same time, I am also sad because this story has been a big part of my life. I honestly think that it has been one of my greatest writing achievements. Not only that, but this story has been a labor of love for me for close to three months so it has been hard to let it go.
I don't know if I will ever again write a Percy Jackson story. I know some people have asked that I write a sequel, but I'm just not sure at this point if that will happen. I only ever write what pops into my head and as of right now, I don't have any other stories in the works, but that doesn't mean that inspiration won't hit me tomorrow.