He pulled her up until his lips pressed urgently against hers, once that distance had been traversed; he kissed her passionately in a desperate attempt to recover their lost years. Allowing the warm, soft hands he knew so well to stroke his cheeks and run through his hair, he wondered what had taken so long to reach this moment. Perhaps the two of them just hadn't been mature enough previously, whatever the reason, he was sorry. A silly grin slipped onto his face as he thought about all of those years he had wasted not kissing her.

It was just the two of them, alone in the cave as the rising sun painted a watercolor scene in the sky. She looked at him, gray eyes meeting his blue; he was astonished at how different she looked, previously when he thought of Annabeth he remembered the defiant twelve year old, now she looked much older even than her sixteen years. The sun's rays had browned her skin, making pinpricks of dark pigmentation show along her cheeks; he took a moment to kiss a few of her freckles. The very same rays had lightened her hair, bringing yellow streaks to the forefront; he grasped her hair before smoothing it back into place. Against her newly darkened skin and lightened hair, her lips created a startling contrast, their plump shape swelling even further with his kisses.

Amazing, that is what it was, amazing, that after all of these years she could still nuzzle her body into his frame like the final piece of a puzzle. He had, in his passion, sunk down to the dusty floor, she, of course, followed. The two of them sat, her in his lap, facing the entrance of their meager shelter. They were pleasantly burned out for the moment, her head resting on his damp shoulder. He was calmed by her even breathing, allowing himself a rest for a few minutes.

With renewed fervor he resumed his kissing. She tilted her beautiful face up to him, the sunlight bathing it in a golden wash. He pulled away to observe the way in which her blond hair glowed, she looked ethereal, she looked like an angel. His angel. He worried that this wasn't reality, that she hadn't come back for him and it was all a dream. He reasoned that there was no way she would ever want him, no way an angel such as her perfect self would stoop so low as to be with him, therefore this entire experience must be some happy dream. He believed that should this all be a dream, he would awake crying with the wish that it were not.

Suddenly, he was struck with the urge to confess his feelings to her; he gave a small frown, though, at the thought of shattering the crystal silence that hung, thin as gossamer, between them. It seemed wrong to be tinkering with the most perfect moment in his life, but it didn't and wouldn't feel complete until he was fully honest.

"I love you," he whispered, "I love you with every fiber of my being. I don't know what took me so long to realize it but I'm sorry, I'm so sorry I made you wait. I'm sorry I was so blind that I missed the greatest treasure of all right in front of me. I love you, I love you, I will shout to Zeus in his golden throne, I love you."

She looked at him for a moment, as if memorizing his face at this exact moment, this perfect moment.

"I know," she said.