Percy Jackson and the Olympians
"In a Perfect World"
I can't begin to even express how nervous I was, sitting on the beach and waiting patiently for my appointment with what was likely to be the fiercest battle I've ever fought. My mind ventured along the path of my life, recalling the greatest moments of greatest fear, as though taunting me and comforting me in vicious succession. I remembered my first battle against the Minotaur, how he seemed to crush the life from my mother before I sent him back to Hades. I remembered fearing how lost we were in the Labyrinth and maybe that we'd never see the light of day again. I remembered facing Kronos and the fear bubbling inside me that if I lost, the world would fall to darkness. And I remembered the greatest fear of my life, terrified that when this was all over, Annabeth would choose Luke over me.
I remembered all of this; and in some strange, disturbingly twisted way, I felt comforted in the realization that I would rather face each and every terrifying instant of my life all at once than what I was about to confront. In some way, I was able to draw on the courage I experienced in those terrifying moments when I was sure I would suffer the most horrific of deaths. If I could survive what I've faced up until this point, I began hoping that I would survive this as well…
"Perseus Jackson, I believe you wished to speak to me."
…And all my willful courage crumbled like a house of cards.
Slowly, ever so slowly I turned to face the goddess who addressed me and felt all my bubbling hopes and dreams for the future teeter on the edge of a knife. With reluctance, I turned my eyes upwards to stare into her cold, steel-gray eyes, hoping she could not sense how terrified I was, how she had the power to crush all my dreams with a simple word. With effort worthy of holding up the sky, I swallowed my heart which had inexplicitly risen to my throat at the cold address spoken to me.
"T-thank you for agreeing to speak with me Lady Athena," I hated sounding so weak, but this goddess terrified me. I had no doubt she knew what I intended to ask of her, that she could pierce me with her gray eyes and know precisely what I was thinking. The fact that her lips…the same slightly swollen lips as Annabeth's, were turned in a contemplative frown informed me exactly that, yes, she knew why I had requested this audience.
However, despite by best efforts, I couldn't form the words, couldn't speak to Athena all the things I wished to say, the minutes began to stretch the indefinite silence until only the lapping lull of the waves was all to be heard. Growing frustrated with my obvious anxiety, Athena crossed her arms before turning on her heel. "I do not appreciate being summoned in such a clandestine fashion only to have you waste my time Perseus Jackson. Unlike you my time is far too valuable to waste with wordless conversation."
"No, wait, please don't leave yet…" I nearly screamed as Athena began walking away, and perhaps it the urgency of my words or the desperation in my voice, but she stayed her course but did not turn to face me. After fighting a second bout of nerves, forcing myself to a moderate level of calm I spoke quietly, "I…I want to ask for your blessing."
She did not seemed stunned or even confused by the sentence and turned only partially to give me her attention. I wished I could read her better, to know what she was thinking, but her continence was as closed to me as the doorway to Hades. "You know what you are asking of me Perseus Jackson, my question to you is, why?"
"Because I love her," an automatic response, and the moment I spoke the words I realized that was not what she was asking. Athena was the consummate inquisitor, always seeking the answers, even if they were obvious to her.
"You have misinterpreted my question. What I mean is why is my blessing in this matter so important to you when you have clearly ignored my desire for you to distance yourself from my daughter?"
For a moment I pushed my hand into my pocket, gripping the small jewelry box within and finding not only hope, but peace with what resided there within. Taking a deep breath, I turned my attention fully on the goddess and, like my father would say, dove right in. "I'm asking for your blessing because she is your daughter. You know I love her, and all I want is to make her happy. But I can't truly give her that if I don't believe you will accept our marriage, if you will accept me as being part of her life."
"So you are placing her happiness on my shoulders? Do not project your inadequacies on me young demigod, I will not be the one responsible in ensuring her happiness should she chose to accept your nuptials."
"Could have fooled me," I spat, and yeah, it was probably not the smarted idea to anger the very goddess I wanted to impress with my maturity and devotion to her daughter, but her words stung, worse than I would allow myself to admit. "Do you think Annabeth will be happy knowing you resent our marriage or our life together? If we ever have children, will you come to visit or will you pretend they don't exist. As much I would like to be, I can't be every part of Annabeth's life, because you are an important part of that as well."
"I never said I resent you, Perseus Jackson…"
"Then please, Athena, tell me what I did wrong. I love Annabeth, more than anything in this universe, and she loves me just as much. But all I've ever received from you are scathing remarks and scornful looks and I can't help that resentment is the only feeling I get from you."
"It isn't resentment young demigod," Athena spoke, turning now fully to face me. "It's doubt."
At the words spoken from the goddess, I dropped to the sand, sitting in the moist dirt as I cradled my head in my hands and fought the burning tears that threatened to swallow any words that were to come. After everything I've done, saved Olympus, the gods and the world, proved Athena that my fatal flaw could indeed be a strength rather than a liability, she still didn't trust that I was good enough for her daughter. "I'd rather have your resentment." I said, my words coming partially broken, falling from my lips like the dreams that had just shattered in my hands.
I wanted to be alone, I didn't want Athena or anyone see me crumble to dust in my own despair and wished to be left with all the broken promises I have yet to commit myself to. But as I felt the burning guilt swallow me whole, I felt angry, defiant even at her judgment and turned my watery eyes to the goddess of wisdom and warfare, challenging her to elaborate. "How do you doubt me Athena? Do you feel I'm not good enough? That I don't love her? That I can't give her everything she deserves?" I said, my voice finally breaking in frustration and pain.
"Despite what you and the other demigod children may believe Perseus Jackson," Athena said, again twisting my full name like a knife, as though it was a weapon to use against me. In a way, I realized this was another of her tactics, the goddess of wisdom using my own name against me in a way I hadn't expected. Because she knew I hated it, because it gave her power over me. "We gods do, indeed love our children. And regardless of what Zeus, Poseidon, Hades or any of the other Olympians may believe, Annabeth is the very best of all of you. My doubt lies in facet that I do not believe you are worthy of her."
"I'm not," I said simply after several calming breaths that did little to comfort me but forced me to approach the conflict between Athena and myself with a greater perspective of our opposing concerns. "But she makes me want to try to be."
Athena turned her head slightly, seemingly studying me with an appraising eye. For a moment I wasn't sure what she would say until she herself took a deep breath and addressed me once more. "I had well expected this to be brought to my attention eventually. Aphrodite has done nothing but prattle on for days about how you would approach me, seeking my blessing. She forced me to promise that I would ask one question before rendering judgment. Thus I ask you Perseus Jackson, for a simple answer to this question. Will you promise that if I grant you my blessings, would you be willing to die for my daughter?"
I knew this was the question, the one that would determine whether all my dreams for a future with Annabeth would come to be, and if I answered wrong, I would never know the fulfillment of my hopes. But despite knowing the answer I should give, despite knowing what answer Athena wished to hear, I could not bring myself to follow tradition and with a simple shake of my head and a deadening, "No," I knew I had damned my future.
Athena arched an eyebrow, her frown deepening as she considered my answer once more before asking. "You, would not die for my daughter? Not a very noble sentiment demigod."
Again I shook my had and rose to stand on my feet, looking Athena squarely in the eyes as I again responded, "I know that you perhaps have every reason to doubt me Athena, but I can't tell you that I would die for Annabeth, because I chose to live for her. Giving up my chance at immortality, knowing that she was my anchor when I bathed in the Styx, every reason that I exist is because she's a part of my life. I can't die for her because she's the reason I'm alive, and I want to let her know that I'm alive because of her. Every day that I draw breath, it's because of her.
"I can't die for her because she's my reason to live. So every day I'm alive is what I devote to her. It's all I've got to give."
Athena considered the answer for several long moments, approaching the response from all angles and solutions before realizing the exploration of logic was not conforming to his response. This was not a logical dissertation, but a deposition on love, a matter that, though she was not an expert, still held no place in the logical mind. Love was not about wisdom, but emotion and she understood why Aphrodite insisted she ask the question she did, because despite her best efforts, Athena felt herself grudgingly respecting the honest and forthright young man before her.
"You know what you speak is blasphemous," Athena said simply, her frown forming again on her otherwise flawless features. "It is the gods who give life you Percy, not my daughter."
"But it's Annabeth that has given me reason to remain here, and she is who I will choose to worship above all others. If that is blasphemy, then I will accept that condemnation. But you asked for my answer, and you have it. Wholly and completely, I live and breathe only for your daughter."
"Very well Percy Jackson, savior of Olympus and beloved of my daughter. I do not believe you to be worthy of my daughter," Athena said, ignoring the desperately devastated expression that crossed my face before continuing. "But of all the mortals of this world, I do not believe any is closer to that worthiness than you. I will grant you my blessing to ask my daughter to be your mate. But it is garnered only under the condition that you remember your vow. Your father and his children are notoriously disloyal to their mates. I look to you to prove me wrong."
I'm not sure what she was expecting but I'm sure my arms embracing her in quiet joy and my endless babbling expressions of gratitude were not among them. Clapping her on the shoulders, my face alight with joy and gratitude, I turned and raced up the beach, heading towards the cabins of Camp Half-Blood in search of the young woman that would make all my dreams real.
We all knew that it was true; we all knew that life as a half-blood was terrifying, dangerous and would most certainly lead to more battles and more conflicts in the future. Even with that hanging over my head, I couldn't help knowing that my future, for the first time since knowing of my destiny, was at last something to be cherished and not feared. It was a future filled with love and hope, at the center of which of Annabeth. Even if I was not worthy of my beautiful Wise Girl in Athena's eyes, my life was for her, and was and always would be the center of my world.
A/N: Well, my first Percy Jackson story. Not sure how it worked out but I've come to appreciate the relationship and developing romance between Percy and Annabeth, but it always occurred to me that Percy would want to prove himself worthy of Annabeth in Athena's eyes. This is my answer to that.
If you like this, or even if you didn't, please review. Always love hearing what people think of what I've written. Danke.