Here we go again- the longest one yet, and I hope you enjoy it! This one goes out to "G.A.- One for a vision" as a thanks for the long and insightful review! Thanks so much!
Percy stood on the beach, shocked by his father's proclamation.
He wasn't sure what he had been expecting...but turning Annabeth into a naiad? Well, that was certainly something that had never crossed his mind.
He knew a fair bit about naiads, of course- there were a few that hung out near the water at Camp Half-Blood, and he could recall seeing Grover flirt with them before he met Juniper. He also knew that Annabeth wasn't terribly fond of them, and he supposed it had something to do with the coy smiles and enticing comments they tended to give when he went near them. Percy had always just shrugged them off- sure, they were part of his father's domain...and any guy would have to admit that they were extremely pretty...but he hadn't been lying when he assured Annabeth that she was the only one for him.
He had wanted her, not some sea nymph...
And he still felt exactly the same way. In his eyes, Annabeth was perfect the way she was and he wouldn't change a thing.
He didn't want her to be any different- not even a little.
This was all completely insane.
"No way." Percy told his father firmly, his hand still laced with hers. "You'll have to think of something else. She shouldn't have to change on my behalf."
He turned towards Annabeth, expecting to see her nodding in agreement. Much to his surprise, however, she looked thoughtful- as if she was really, seriously, considering it.
"Annabeth?" He addressed her reluctantly, knowing how irritated she could get when he interrupted her internal strategizing sessions. "Are you-"
Before he could finish she cut in, her eyes locked on Poseidon. "I need to know more."
"Are you honestly going-"
She cut him off again, this time with a pointed look that said be quiet, seaweed brain, in a way that only she could.
"I know we don't have much time," she began again, "but before I make a decision I need to know a bit more about what being a naiad would entail." The girl paused, drawing a deep breath. "How...how would it change me? What would happen? How would I be different?"
The sea god nodded- Percy could tell that he was nervous (and who could blame him, with the possibly of Athena and her allies on their way to unleash their wrath), but there was sympathy in his eyes. He, like them, knew that this was not an ideal solution.
But perhaps it was the only option they had...
"If you accept my offer," Poseidon explained, "The powers of the sea will consume you and your mortal body will cease to be."
Cease to be? What did that mean?
It sounded completely unacceptable- he wouldn't allow it.
Before he could cut in, however, his father continued.
"Your soul, your memories, your mind- all that makes you Annabeth- would be unaltered, and in your new form you would look almost exactly as you do now- I can assure you of that. But your internal composition- DNA, for lack of a better word- would be that of a naiad."
"So I wouldn't, technically, be a demigod anymore." It was more of a statement then a question, as if she was confirming what she had already concluded on her own.
"No." The sea god agreed. "And you would, unfortunately, have the same limitations as any naiad. You could live on land, but would be unable to stray more than fifteen miles from the ocean and would have to return to the water at least once every day. A naiad who strays from the water for too long will die."
The girl nodded again, and Percy was alarmed to see that she still looked as if she was thinking things over.
"Annabeth, this is insane." He protested, letting go of her hand and stepping between her and the sea god. "You'd be giving up a normal life- giving up your identity! I can't let you do that for me."
For a moment, she said nothing, and he could tell from the look in her grey eyes that she was doing what Annabeth did best- strategizing, planning, thinking things through as rationally as she could.
Unfortunately, he was not pleased by her conclusions.
"I wouldn't be doing it for you." She stated softy. "I'd being doing it for us."
He placed a hand on her shoulder. "Annabeth, please-think about what you're saying!"
"I have." She asserted. "And the way I see it, we only have two options. I can either grow old by myself and, eventually, leave you forever or I can accept your father's offer, join your world, and stay at your side for as long as we both live. Now tell me, which one sounds better?"
Percy faltered. "Of course the second option sounds better. But you left out what you would be sacrificing. For all intents and purposes, you'd be dying and losing part of who you are. You'd be giving up any chance at a normal life, and you'll have to stay near the water for all eternity." He paused. "You can't possibly want all of those things, and I don't know if I can stand to see you make that sacrifice."
She gave him a small smile as she looked up to meet his sea-green eyes. "It's not perfect." She conceded. "And I know that there are other paths I can choose..."
Annabeth trailed off for a moment, and she glanced to where Sally and Paul were standing. He could see that his mother was crying, and he watched as she gave Annabeth the slightest of nods- as if she knew how difficult this could be.
And, Percy supposed, she probably did. Sally had once been in love with the Lord of the Sea and he wondered if she had been given the same choice herself. If she had, she had clearly turned it down- and had eventually found another sort of happiness. But as he had watched his parents embrace on the beach earlier that day, he had known that there would always be a lingering regret- a deep and unspoken sadness- that their great love story had not had a happily ever after.
Maybe this was their chance to make up for their mistakes...
"I know what I want, Percy." Annabeth stated her voice full of resolve. "And my answer is yes. To everything."
The world seemed to stop, and he reached out to take her hand in his once more.
His voice was barely a whisper, and his throat felt as if it was on fire.
Behind them, Poseidon raised his trident and a surge of blue light rushed towards her before Percy had time to react.
As her gray eyes shut one final time, he could have sworn that he heard her whisper.
Sally could only watch in wide-eyed shock as her son's girlfriend crumpled onto the sand. It was hard for the mother to watch, and even from her spot several yards away, she could see the pain etched on his face and he knelt by her side.
She wanted to rush over and comfort him, but she knew that that was not what he needed right now.
For his part, Poseidon looked regretful as he watched the scene he had created, and Sally was satisfied to know that the Sea god had not lost his compassion- despite his recent actions.
A dome of blueish-green light began to envelope Annabeth's lifeless body, and she could hear Poseidon tell their son to step back.
"You can't interfere with the transformation." He said gently. "If we don't allow it to complete, the consequences could be dire."
Reluctantly, Percy complied- but his agitation was clear. He was not pleased, and he shot his father a defiant look as he stepped away from the girl he loved.
She could only imagine how hard this was for him, and she hated that he had been placed in such a situation. But, despite her better judgement, another part of her felt that this was all for the best- if Percy was stuck this way forever, then Sally was happy to know that he would always have his true love at his side.
They deserved to be together, even if it meant that some sacrifices had to be made.
It didn't make things easy, though, and Sally could not stop her mind from drifting back to a time when she had faced a similar predicament. When she had been twenty-four, pregnant, and terrified it had taken every ounce of strength to chose a (semi) normal life over a life at the side of a handsome god. But the road had been rough, and she had spent so many nights wondering if it had been the right decision.
As she felt Paul place his hand around her waist, she knew that she wouldn't go back- not now. But, as much as it pained her to admit it, she also knew that she had given up the one man she could never stop loving.
For the briefest of seconds, she caught Poseidon's eye, and she knew that similar musings had been passing through his mind.
Their time had come and gone, but Percy and Annabeth still had a fighting chance.
Sally hoped that her son's love for the daughter of Athena would one day go down in legend.
Somehow, she knew it would.
"What is that?"
Paul's voice snapped her back to reality, and Sally turned to see him pointing towards a violent looking cyclone of sand that was steadily building on the beach.
She started to respond, but as the source of the disturbance began to materialize she stopped abruptly.
Her heart began to pound rapidly.
"We've got to get to the cabin." She said. "The gods have arrived."
"HOW DARE YOU!"
A voice boomed across the beach, and Percy and his father could only watch as three figures appeared before them. Two looked extremely displeased, and one looked absolutely livid.
Athena had arrived, and it appeared that Zeus and Aries had decided to support her cause.
Percy chanced a glance back towards the sphere of light that had enveloped Annabeth's body, and braced himself for the onslaught. His father had said that touching Annabeth would interfere with the transformation, and he was determined not to let any of the gods get near her.
She had already sacrificed enough for him, and he was not going to let her get hurt.
Within seconds, Athena drew her sword and took a menacing step in their direction, her grey eyes flashing with rage.
"Poseidon!" She shouted, her voice causing the earth below them to vibrate. "How dare you take my daughter away from me in such a manner? I knew you were arrogant, immoral and conceited...but this act is unforgivable! I cannot allow you to take an honourable child of mine and turn her into one of your...disgusting creatures!"
Percy felt a surge of anger as she spoke, but the look on his father's face told him that it would be best to remain calm for as long as he could.
If they could hold off the fighting for as long as possible, then there was a better chance that Annabeth's transformation could finish safely.
He had to control himself.
"Well..." It was Ares who spoke this time, and Percy could see that his metal baseball bat was gripped firmly in his meaty hand. "I sure hope that old kelp-brain and kelp-brain junior are ready for a good fight. I say we annihilate junior first." He flashed Percy an evil grin. "Any last words?"
"Sure," Percy spat back, his hatred for the god of War overcoming his logical half. "How about 'rot in Hades'?"
Both Aries and Athena looked ready to lunge, but before Percy could reach for riptide (which, as always, was stowed safely in his pocket), Zeus stepped forward.
The king of the gods looked far from pleased, but (thankfully) he did not have the same impulsive rage etched on his face.
Not yet, anyway.
"Wait." He raised a hand and nodded at his companions. "My brother has the right to explain why he had violated Athena before we act." He nodded at the sea god. "Can you justify your actions?"
After a quick glance at Percy, and a look that seemed to say be ready, Poseidon faced his brother- looking as placid and composed as ever.
"I believe I can." He began firmly "Though you may disagree."
Athena scoffed and took another aggressive step forward, her sword raised.
"Of course I disagree." She hissed. "Nothing can justify what you have done. This is an abomination!"
Zeus cut her off with the sort of finality that only he could convey, and turned back towards the sea god.
"Speak." He commanded.
Poseidon complied. "As you are all aware, when Perseus turned eighteen, I confirmed that he was destined to become my chosen son and I bestowed this gift upon him."
The young man could not ignore the hint of pride in his father's voice, but he tried not to let it get to him. Even now, he was not ready to forgive his father...and if Annabeth didn't make it out of this confrontation unharmed, he doubted that he ever would.
"But," The sea god stated. "It soon became clear that I had not considered all of the gift's consequences. My son, and your daughter-" he nodded towards Athena "Came here today seeking a solution to the predicament I was responsible for, and I felt obliged to help them in the only way I could. I gave her a choice, and she accepted the offer to join my domain. Their love is deep, and she made the decision to remain at Perseus' side. I am sorry that this has offended your honour." He concluded earnestly, turning to the goddess of wisdom, "But please know that your daughter was not forced into this and did not wish to betray you."
As Poseidon finished his speech, Percy tried to read the gods' expressions.
Zeus gave little reaction, but Aries rolled his eyes and Athena looked as livid as she had before.
Clearly, the goddess was not convinced.
"You expect me to accept this?" She scoffed. "My daughter is smarter than that- she would not have made such an illogical choice just to be with your arrogant and depraved son!"
Percy watched in surprise as Poseidon lunged forward with impressive speed, his trident suddenly inches away from Athena's throat. Behind him, the dark waves crashed with an unnatural force.
His father was pissed.
"Do not speak of my son that way." He said, his voice dangerous.
Athena looked undeterred, and the small smile tugging at the corner of her mouth showed that she was pleased that she had hit a nerve. Quick as a flash, she swung her sword, pushing away the trident and locking the two weapons in the air between them.
"Do you think you have not caused similar insult to my daughter?" She shot back. "Taking away her heritage is a grievous offence to both her and me. I cannot let this go unpunished."
"Well I, for one, don't think it is fair to punish someone for choosing love."
Percy whipped around, surprised to hear another voice enter the scene.
Not surprisingly, the speaker had been Aphrodite, and she flicked back her dark hair defiantly as she observed the argument before her. A second later, another new-comer, Apollo, arrived in a bright flash of light.
He shot Percy a boyish grin.
"I agree." The sun god piped in cheerily. "The love that Percy and Annabeth share is the sort of thing that people write haiku's about. And, in my opinion, that is the sort of love with saving."
He paused for a moment.
"Percy has green eyes.
Annabeth is really smart.
Let's just be happy!"
"See, that was a good one!"
Percy gave him a weak smile before turning back to face the other four gods, all of whom were observing the new arrivals as well.
The young man was pleased that he and Poseidon had the support of a few others...but he had to admit that Aphrodite and Apollo would not be his top choices if this came down to a fight.
Love and poetry were great and all, but pitting them against Zeus, Athena and Aries in a fight was like asking a couple of mice to fight off a pack of rabid wolves.
Percy had a sinking feeling that this was not going to end well, but he knew they had to try.
Poseidon and Athena's weapons remained locked in a deadly embrace, and he could tell that both were gearing up to defend the honour of their respective children. Aries, after another eye roll, had also started to brace for action, his bat poised and ready for battle.
"Let's get this massacre over with." He muttered. "I've got places to destroy and people to injure."
The only one who was yet to act was Zeus, and Percy knew that the others were waiting for his decree.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he spoke.
"Perhaps your intentions were good, brother." He began "But claiming the child of another god for your domain violates Olympian law. Athena has the right to contest your actions in battle, and the others may participate as they please. The victor will choose the fate of the girl."
Percy's heart pounded, and he felt his instincts kick in.
He uncapped riptide, and braced himself.
This was it.
If they lost, Athena would claim possession of Annabeth and there was no telling what she would do. At the very least, he was pretty sure that he would never see her again...even if the goddess let her live.
They had to win.
Because the alternative was unbearable.
Zeus' voice boomed.
And Percy sprang into action.
A/N There you go- I have sacrificed more work time to amuse myself, and hopefully you, with this story. Help me feel a bit better about my procrastination with a review!
Very glad people were surprised by the plot- that was my goal! Hope you are still enjoying it!
wisegirlindisguise- Oooo, that would have been cool, but I had already written that bit- hope you're not too disappointed! Did I at least write fast enough? :)
Gemini- no worries, I also watched the World Cup (though I don't get too excited about it when England is out. Still, a well-deserved victory for Spain!)
lovetoread1998- yeah, I should have read them all before starting- but I have, at least, read them all now!
Jonathan Priest- Glad I surprised you, and I hope she was logical enough in this chapter. I wanted her to say yes without seeming out of character or making her too much of a Mary-Sue (who will simply do anything for him, no questions asked). Tell me what you thought!
adrienneyen77- very glad I shocked you- thanks for the great review!
G.A.- One for a vision- thanks for the great review! I tried to throw in a few jokes, with limited success- as I am sure you can tell, humour is not my strong-point. I am very flattered that you like my writing, that is great to hear!