He didn't get very far, of course. Even as his hands closed around my throat, the two automatons from the doorway leapt into action. His hands were pried, forcefully, from my throat, and I scrambled backwards as he was shoved out of the room. He snarled the entire time.
Time went quickly, after that.
Brad came home from the hospital, but it didn't work between us. The stress I had put under had caused me to miscarry the child, and the two of us decided it would be better if we just called it quits.
I didn't see Percy Jackson for another year after the event on Olympus. Kronos had gone into hiding, it seemed, for he wasn't seen or heard of for the entire time. Olympus was still on alert, of course, and I made regular trips there to advise the Gods. It was a hugely esteemed position, and I knew I should feel honoured for such an opportunity. It exercised my mind, allowed me to teach, and if I was honest with myself, boss around younger tributes. I was allowed to walk among the Gods without consequence, and it was time-consuming enough that I didn't have to think about anything else.
Finally, the day came for his trial. Percy, for whatever reason, was being put on trial for treason. Though most of the younger Gods knew what had happened, Zeus was unmovable. It was a rough night the night before the trial. The oceans were rough, the sky thundered and small tremors were recorded all over the USA.
Six o'clock rolled around and I got out of bed, having not slept the night before. I went through my usual morning rituals before taking a taxi to New York.
Olympus, usually so full of life, was silent. Everyone was inside, the street parties abandoned, the streets cold. A light snow was falling, and it contrasted oddly with the blazing braziers that lined the avenues.
The trial was being held in a small building off to the side of the main temple. It was surprisingly modern looking, was vertical slats of darkened glass alternating with white brick.
A double doorway led inside. I slipped in quietly, shutting the door behind me.
To my surprise, it was an actual courtroom, complete with judge's box and jury stand.
Zeus, in all his pine-striped suit glory, sat in the judge's box. He glared at me with his electric-blue eyes before turning his attention back to the jury. I unfroze and went to sit at the back, next to Thalia.
The judges box was filled with the rest of the twelve Olympians—Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Dionysus, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus and Hermes. My mother looked at me for a few curious seconds before dropping her gaze and inclined her head towards Zeus, who was glaring out at the rest of the room.
The trial was long. I'm not entirely sure if the Gods knew exactly how a court-room worked—or if they'd just picked it up from a television show. The latter seemed more liked, since many of the Gods treated mortal television like the best thing since sliced bread.
Poseidon kept a cool head whilst talking about his son, though he glared at his brother the entire way through his opening statement.
"Can we see my son now?" Poseidon said. "The hero you're condemning to death for something that's not his fault?"
Zeus ignored the jibe, instead turning his head to a small door on his left. "Yes, I think so."
The door was pushed open as everyone focused upon it. The two automatons emerged, in single file, and between them was Percy.
He looked tried. He was slightly taller than I last saw him, but thinner, much, much thinner. His clothes, though brand new looking, hung ungracefully off him. His hair was unkept but his eyes looked as bright as ever. He flicked them over the crowd, roaming over us before locking onto me, all the way at the back. He gave no indication that he'd found me, staring for half a second before dropping his gaze to the floor.
He was shackled, the chain trailing across the floor, scraping against the tile every time he stepped forwards. He was escorted to the bench near the audience, and sat, the two automatons crashing down onto the long wooden seat with a loud crash that echoed through the room.
The room was utterly silent as some of the Gods-Ares, Hephaestus and Hermes-craned their necks to peer over at Percy. Apollo leaned over Artemis' lap to stare. With a glare, she shoved him upright. He looked hurt for a second, and prepared to open his mouth.
"Well," said Zeus hastily, sensing an argument about to break out between the brother and sister, "What do you have to say for yourself?"
In front of the rows of benches, Percy looked up to stare at the Lord of the Sky. "Noth-" He coughed. His voice was croaky, as though from disuse. He cleared his throat and tried again. "Nothing, sir." It came out stronger this time.
"So, you don't have anything to say, no explanation for your misdeeds?" Zeus asked, something almost like confusion on his face. "Are you not going to defend you actions?"
The confused look became more pronounced. "You are aware of the fact that if found guilty, you'll be sentenced to death?"
"I want to die."
Silence. Complete, utter, silence. Beside me, Thalia's mouth parted.
"You...what?" This was the first time I had seen Zeus at a loss for words.
"Perseus. Don't you..." Poseidon didn't finish his threat. He glared at his son, who stared resolutely forward and interrupted.
"I don't want to live in a world where I might kill someone without knowing it. It's been a year. You've been studying me, trying to figure out what's wrong with me, what can fix me. But you have nothing. It's been an entire year, and you have nothing. So stop. Stop torturing me. Aren't gods supposed to care for humans, for their children? You are torturing me. So get it over with. Kill me."
He glared right back at Zeus. "Hurry up and kill me!"
Zeus seemed taken aback. Poseidon looked on in horror. Dionysus looked bored, though the rest of the gods were taking a keen interest in the courtroom.
"Well. We'll go to the jury now..." Zeus turned to the jury, all of whom, including Dionysus, looked up expectantly.
Once again, he got it wrong: The eleven Olympians each called out their decision.
"I vote against killing him," Hermes said, snapping his cell shut. "He doesn't deserve it, not after everything he's done for us."
"I vote for." Hera's voice was cold.
"I vote for." Dionysus didn't even hesitate.
"Against," said Apollo. "It isn't his fault, dude."
Artemis hesitated. "As much as it pains me, I have to agree with my brother. Perseus Jackson has done good by us. Without him, we'd all be in Tartus."
"I vote against." Poseidon glared balefully at his brother. "You are not killing my son."
Ares, Aphrodite, Demeter, Athena and Hephaestus left. Two for, four against.
Ares grinned behind his glasses. "I say we kill the little bug."
Demeter looked first at Percy, and then at Zeus. "I vote against killing the boy.
Hephaestus looked at the boy for a second. "I am for. He's dangerous, and he did try to kill her." He was looking at me. Most people were, now, to see how I was dealing with it. I was silently hoping to the gods for some sort of miracle, but that was before I remembered that all the major gods were in the room. And half of them wanted to kill Percy.
Four for, five against. Two left to vote.
At least there's no chance of a tie, I thought, ruefully.
Aphrodite, strangely, looked at me.
"Why, I vote for!" she said in her delicate voice. "The brute tried to kill his love! What man does that?"
Hermes, Apollo and Poseidon glared at her. Artemis rolled her eyes.
"She's allowed to have her vote," Zeus said, sensing a fight about to break out. "As nonsensical as it is," he added in an undertone.
One left. Come on Mom...
The entire court-room looked on in expectant silence as Athena leaned forwards. Her gaze cut through the crowd, homing onto my own like a missile. Grey met grey, our eyes the exact same colour.
I could see the decision in her eyes.
No, Mom. Please. No.
Her eyes seemed to say I'm sorry.
"The boy is dangerous," she said, sighing and looking every one of her thousands of years at that point. "He also tried to kill my daughter, and that's something I can't ignore. I vote...I vote for Perseus Jackson's death."
...Six, five. Six for, five against.
Oh, my Gods.
Percy Jackson was going to die.
The room began to shake. Cracks ran up the stone, and all the windows shattered. A chunk of masonry dislodged from the ceiling and crashed into the centre isle, just centimetres away from the two rows of witness seat.
"POSEIDON. STOP THIS!" Zeus roared, and a huge peal of thunder rumbled overhead.
A huge crack ran through the centre isle, ripping apart a few inches and ripping up the carpet. The demigods/lesser gods/numerous mythological creatures that lived on Olympus stampeded for the door. One of the automatons tumbled into the abyss, trailing sparks behind him. Percy sat, staring down at the bench that was rapidly splintering in front of him.
"Come on," Thalia said, pushing me towards the exit, "We have to get out of here until they calm down!"
I let her drag me along by the arm, but I felt numb inside.
We jumped out one of the broken windows, and the glass teared at my skin, bright red droplets of blood oozing out of the cuts and dripping onto the ground. Behind us, the ground rumbled again.
"Take cover!" Someone yelled. "It's going to explode!"
It was a good thing that Thalia pulled me down, because a large chunk of window frame ripped through the air at exactly the height my head had been a second before. The court-room, the entire building, exploded, debris raining down on Olympus.
I didn't notice, though. Because he was going to die. Percy was going to die.
"I'm sorry," he said.
We were standing in a clear area on the opposite side of where the building had been. Zeus was standing in front of us, looking expectantly.
I leaned forward and he crushed me into him. He still smelled like the sea.
"I know," I said.
"I'll...wait for you," he whispered in my ear.
This was the last time I ever saw Percy Jackson. With that final word, he stepped backwards into the middle of the square. That's when time slowed down. Athena turned her head towards me, something almost akin to sympathy in her wise and ancient eyes. Zeus avoided everyone's glance, instead snapping his fingers once. The sound was incredibly loud in the air. The sky rumbled and the air turned frigid. A blanket of white light enveloped Percy, starting at his feet before travelling up his arms and torso. When it reached his face, he closed his eyes, a slight smile on his lips.
When it enveloped him entirely, I felt something on my cheek, and realised I was crying. The blazing corona surrounding Percy pulsed, once, before exploding outwards in a cacophony of light, wind and sound. In that instant, Percy Jackson, the hero of Olympus, ceased to be, his atoms disolved and his spirit released from his body.
And when I looked back, I realised I was smiling. Because finally, finally, he was free.