A/N: *sobs hysterically* Hey guys, welcome to the final chapter of this story. :( I am very sad that this is ending. Hopefully, this chapter will leave you feeling dreamlike and whatnot by the end, because that's how I felt when I finished writing it. This chapter isn't as long as I thought it would be, but it's still longer than the last one. So, I guess that counts for something, right? Also, I wanted to post this chapter specifically today because today is the first birthday of Why Me? (In California time anyway.) Yay! I can't believe it's been a year since I began writing this story. It feels like just yesterday that I was hoping to get even one good review for this story, and look at it now! Over three hundred and fifty freakin' reviews! That's amazing.
By the way, I WILL NOT be making an epilogue for this story. The 'six months later' thing is technically the (very short) epilogue to the story. Sorry to disappoint but I really couldn't think of anything that would be a good epilogue. :}
Oh, one more thing: When I'm describing Annabeth's dress, I totally had Kate Middleton's wedding dress in mind. So just think of that dress and you'll get the idea. :D
Without further ado, the final chapter of Why Me?
DISCLAIMER: If I owned PJO, it would be a disaster.
The start of my wedding day could not have been more peaceful.
"You must add the Delphinium flowers into her bouquet!" shouted Thalia.
And when I say peaceful, I mean chaotic.
"The Gladiolus flowers are better suited for the bouquet!" Rachel shouted back.
The two were arguing over which type of flowers described my personality the best. Apparently, Delphiniums represented wisdom and Gladioluses represented strength of character. I had requested to put neither but, of course, Thalia and Rachel chose to ignore me.
Thalia continued to argue, "They may be better for the bouquet, but the Delphiniums match Annabeth's personality better."
"I have had much more experience with arranging wedding bouquets. I believe I should be capable to know which type of flower is better," stated Rachel. Though she had lowered her voice, she was still glaring fiercely at Thalia.
Juniper, who had quietly sat in the chair next to mine during the shouting match, cleared her throat. "If I may have a say, I suggest you just put both flowers in the bouquet."
The two girls exchanged exasperated looks, as if to say, "Why did we not think of that?"
"Well," I spoke up, "it seems that the matter has been resolved. Now, let us get the styling over with." I sighed as I said that last part.
However, Thalia and Rachel immediately brightened up, both wearing similar devilish grins on their face. They seized my chair and swiftly turned it around so that I faced the opposite direction of the vanity.
I frowned. "How come I am facing away from the mirror?"
"Because," said Thalia, "you cannot see how you look until we are finished."
I groaned as they went to work on my hair and make-up.
Thalia set to style my hair while Juniper and Rachel mixed the pigments for the make-up. I felt a brush pulling through my curls, wincing as it untangled the snarls in my hair.
"Should it be a full or just half up-do?" Thalia mumbled to Rachel.
Rachel replied, "Half would look better for the veil, would it not?"
"Yes, I believe it would."
This time, Thalia only brushed part of my hair, the top part. She used the brush to pull back my hair, tying that part with a hairband.
"Juniper, would you mind handing me that hair clip?" asked Thalia.
Then: "Thank you." As I presumed that Thalia had been handed the clip.
I felt her pull the hairband out, only for it to be replaced by the hair clip. She brushed through my hair once more before walking around to face me.
"Your hair is finished, so do not, under any circumstances, tamper with it," she told me warningly.
I nodded once.
Thalia smiled. "Good. Now, it is time for us to apply make-up."
Before I could even let out a groan, Rachel had already begun curling my eyelashes. She had one in each hand, using them to clamp down on my eyelashes, and held them there for a few seconds. It would have been rather comical if I was actually enjoying this. Rachel then walked back to the vanity. Juniper took Rachel's place and applied eyeshadow with a small brush. Once she was finished, Thalia used a larger brush to add blush to my cheeks. She stepped away for a moment and returned to apply pigment on my lips, as well as lip oil for the shine.
The three stepped back and admired their work. They were grinning victoriously, and for a moment, I was afraid that they had overdone it. Finally, they turned my chair around for me to examine my reflection.
What I saw was a beautiful young woman staring back at me. Part of my hair was tied up, and the curls that weren't framed my face. I was wearing a bit of silver eyeshadow, light blush, and my lips were a shiny light pink color. Elated, I noted that Thalia, Rachel, and Juniper did not apply too much make-up.
I smiled and stood up to give them a hug. "Thank you, all of you."
Thalia waved it off dismissively. "'Twas nothing."
"Oh! I almost forgot!" Rachel chimed. "We must retrieve your dress from Mildrid."
"No need to worry about that," a voice piped up from the door.
Mildrid entered my chambers, carrying my wedding dress.
"Thank you, Mildrid!" exclaimed Rachel. "You've saved us much time."
Mildrid laughed. "No worries, girls. Now, let us get the princess into her dress, shall we?"
Juniper sighed. "Oh, Princess, you look stunning."
"Thank you, Juniper," I smiled.
I looked at my dress in the mirror. It had a snug bodice that gradually spread out to the skirt, which had a fairly short train; I didn't want it to be too extravagant. Though the dress had long sleeves, they were made of lace. I wouldn't be putting the veil on until we were going to the chapel, but it was almost transparent and would be held to my hair by my crown.
Just then, there was a knock at the door and my mother stepped in. The four other occupants of the room abruptly stood up and curtsied.
My mother smiled. "Please, no need for such formalities."
She walked up to me. "You look beautiful, dear."
She then turned to the others. "My! Thalia, you've not even worn your dress yet," she exclaimed.
Thalia bit her lip and quickly glanced at me. "My apologies, Your Highness. I will go put it on immediately."
She grabbed Juniper and Rachel by the arm, pulling them with her to the door. They stopped at the door, curtsied, and simultaneously said, "Excuse us, Your Highness," before hurrying out.
My mother looked to Mildrid. "Would you mind if I speak to my daughter alone?"
Mildrid scrambled to her feet. "Of course not, Your Majesty!"
She curtsied once before walking out of the chambers as well.
Mother sat down on the loveseat, patting the seat next to her. "Come, sit. I would like to talk to you for a moment."
I complied and sat down beside her. She took my hand in hers and gave it a squeeze. When she spoke, her eyes were gleaming an emotion I could not ascertain.
"You have come a long way from home," she began, "to marry a prince you've only met, in order to save your kingdom. I do not know any person in the world, man or woman, who is brave enough to do what you will be doing today. I am very proud of you, Annabeth."
I beamed at her. "Really?"
"Of course! Why, you are sacrificing so much for your kingdom. How could I not be proud?" she remarked, smiling at me.
I suddenly felt guilty. My mother should not have been proud of me for something I wouldn't be doing.
"Mother," I said, "I have a confession to make."
She raised her eyebrows.
"I do not intend on marrying Luke today," I stated.
Her eyes widened. "Why?"
"Because," I took a deep breath, "because I am in love with another man."
"I see," she said calmly, "and who, if I may ask, is this man?"
Mother frowned. "Your protector?"
I nodded. "Yes."
She studied me for a moment, her piercing grey eyes, very much similar to mine, seemed to analyze my every feature.
"Are you angry?" I asked quietly.
My mother pursed her lips before sighing. "No. I am a bit surprised, but I am not angry."
"I know it isn't proper to be falling in love with someone not of noble blood, but I love him dearly," I said.
She gave me a small smile. "I know you do, sweetheart. I can see it in your eyes. And do not think that falling in love ever has to be proper, all right? Differences in class will never stand in the way of love." She tilted her head a bit and looked at me questioningly. "Have I ever told you the story of how your father and I married?"
I shook my head.
"Well, I actually grew up in a small town just outside of the palace. I was never of noble blood, just your average peasant girl," my mother said, lightheartedly.
I gaped at her in surprise.
She continued, "When I was around your age, your father, who was the prince at the time, visited our town because we were holding a festival. I was visiting the festival when I bumped into him at a food stand. He apologized, though clearly it was I who stumbled into him, and offered to buy me something from the stand. I couldn't refuse, of course, because he was the prince and he was just so handsome."
My mother had a dreamy look on her face, most likely remembering my father when he was younger, and I had to stifle a laugh.
"He asked me to dance with him afterwards," said Mother. "It seemed as if the whole town gathered around us as the musicians played. I remember thinking that my life could not have been any better and that I could have possibly fallen in love. When he left, he promised to come back to visit me, and I kept him to that promise. Not long after that day, he returned and stayed in town for a week. We seemed to spend every waking moment with each other that week, and by the end of it, he confessed his love and asked me to marry him. I tried to reason with myself that one week was not enough to fall in love, let alone marry, but despite what my brain was telling me, my heart told me all I needed to know. I said yes.
"He took me back to the palace with him and introduced me to his parents, the king and queen. However, they did not approve of our relationship and threatened to banish him from the palace should he not break our engagement. But your father went against his parents words, and we eloped. We found a small cottage not far from the palace. We lived there for quite a while until word got out that the king had fallen ill. Not long after, the king died from his illness, leaving the kingdom without a king. The queen then sent a message to your father, begging him to take his father's place. From then on, we became King and Queen, and we had you, Annabeth, as Princess."
When my mother finished telling her story, I could only sit in silence, reflecting on her words. My mother had been a peasant, but my father married her anyway because he loved her. They understand what I am going through.
I hesitantly asked, "Does that mean you approve of my relationship with Percy?"
"He has done a fine job protecting you, and as long as he makes you happy, I approve of him," she replied.
I threw my arms around her and hugged her tightly. "Thank you," I whispered.
She tightened her arms around me. "You are welcome."
Mother pulled back and asked, "If you do not intend on marrying Luke, what are you going to do?"
I grinned. "I actually came up with a solution to all of this."
However, before I could explain to her my plan, Thalia stepped into the chambers. "Sorry to interrupt, but the groom's party has already left. It is time for us to prepare to leave."
My mother stood up, smoothing her dress. "Well, I will leave first. My carriage comes before yours, Annabeth. You should be waiting for your father to come fetch you."
Thalia curtsied to her as she left, and stepped into the room. I noticed that she still had not changed yet.
"All is set. I will only need to fit into the dress and we will be ready," she said.
I nodded. "And you will be taking a separate carriage?"
"Alright then. I believe you should go before someone figures you are missing," I pointed out.
Thalia grinned. "Right."
She exited my chambers, leaving me to sit in silence. I sighed, thinking about what I was planning. I hoped it would work in the end because we'd be left with even more problems if it didn't.
"Knock, knock," a voice announced from the doorway. "Time to leave, Annabeth."
I stood up and smoothed my dress. "Yes, Father."
He entered the room. "My, you look beautiful, sweetheart."
"Thank you," I said, chuckling.
Before I forgot, I grabbed the veil and my crown, positioning them on my head so that the veil surrounded my entire head.
"Ready?" my father asked.
I nodded. "Yes."
The carriage ride to the church was fairly short. Quite frankly, I found it unnecessary to ride a carriage when we could have walked. However, the ride was more enjoyable due to the festivity outside. The king had allowed people to gather around the path of the carriage. They were all cheering and waving to us. I smiled and waved to the people, as we were practiced to do.
Upon arriving at the church, my father helped me out of the carriage and two young girls immediately rushed to fix my rumpled train. They then each took a side and walked behind me, holding onto the train.
We halted at the lobby, where the bridesmaids and groomsmen were bustling about. Rachel was trying to calm them.
"Get to your places!" she hissed.
One-by-one, in the same order as the wedding rehearsal, the pairs walked down the aisle. When Ethan went alone, I heard a small outbreak of murmurs from the people in the pews.
"Where is Thalia, Annabeth?" my father whispered to me.
I bit my lip. "She is…a bit caught up on something."
I sensed my father was about to question further, but the music changed and we began walking. Everyone had risen to their feet, all smiling at me. When we reached the altar, my father went to sit down beside my mother. As the music came to an end, the priest began to speak:
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in Paradise, and into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined.
Therefore if any man can show any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter forever hold his peace."
I glanced at Luke and nodded. He nodded as well. It was time to unravel the plan. We both looked to the priest and said in unison, "We object."
Collective gasps were heard from around the room.
The priest, in his shock, managed to squeak out, "I beg your pardon?"
"We object to this marriage," Luke repeated.
"And what is your cause?" the priest demanded.
I smiled. "That we do not love each other. That there is someone else we would rather marry."
Luke and I then turned to our guests, our friends and family. My father was the first to speak up, "But Annabeth, dear, marrying Luke will be the only way for Castella kingdom to help us protect our citizens."
Luke shook his head. "Your Majesty, I promise you that if I am allowed to marry the woman I love, you will receive all of our help."
"Now, wait just a minute, Son," King Hermes intervened.
"Father," Luke said, "please understand that this will make me happier than if I were to marry Princess Annabeth. And wouldn't you like your son to be happy?"
The king looked a bit conflicted at this.
"If it makes you feel any better, she is of noble blood," Luke remarked, wearing a crooked smile.
Everybody chuckled and even King Hermes was trying to fight a smile.
He sighed. "Oh, alright, but I'd like to know who this girl of yours is first."
"Thalia Grace," Luke immediately replied, with so much emotion and conviction in his voice, no one doubted that he loved her.
"Very well, I will allow you to marry Thalia under one condition," said King Hermes.
Luke frowned. "And what is that?"
"You must marry her right now."
Luke grinned. "I was hoping you would say that."
I pulled my veil back so it did not cover my face.
"Mr. Grace," I called.
Startled, he looked up at me with wide eyes. "Yes, Princess."
"Would you mind walking Thalia down the aisle?" I asked, trying to contain the wide grin stretching my face. "She is already waiting in the lobby."
"Of course!" he exclaimed, scrambling to the back of the church.
Luke turned to me and whispered, "Thank you."
I smiled. "You are very welcome."
I walked towards Percy and sat beside him on the pew. He took my hand in his, beaming at me.
"It seems like your plan worked out after all," he murmured.
"I believe it did," I replied.
He grinned cheekily at me. "I knew it would."
I bumped his shoulder with mine. "Oh, be quiet."
Percy chuckled then pressed a kiss to my temple. "I love you."
"I love you, too," I replied, resting my head on his shoulder.
The music began to play and we stood, looking to the back where Thalia was entering. She was wearing a wedding dress similar to mine, except it was sleeveless. Her face couldn't be clearly seen due to the veil, which was held to her head by a tiara I had lent her. However, I knew that she looked beautiful.
Luke seemed to think so, as well, because when I looked at him, he was staring at her with shining eyes and a goofy smile. I smiled to myself. If that wasn't love, I didn't know what was.
When Thalia reached the altar, the priest began the ceremony, again.
Loud cheers rang throughout the palace as the happy couple made their way to their carriage. Percy and I were laughing as we threw rice into the air, and at Thalia and Luke, as well. I waved to Thalia as the carriage rode away.
When we could no longer see it in the distance, everybody gathered up their belongings, and made way for home.
Sighing, I bunched my dress up so it did not trip me, and walked alongside Percy and Rachel.
Rachel said, "So, now that the commotion and chaos of this wedding is over, what are we going to do?"
Percy and I shared a look. "I believe we will be going back home, now," I answered.
She looked crestfallen after I said this.
"Do not worry, though," I reassured her. "We will be back before you know it! I'm sure someone will be marrying soon enough."
Rachel immediately brightened up. "Absolutely. I'll be waiting for your wedding with Kelp Head."
Percy let out a "Hey!" while I exclaimed, "Why me? Why can't you say Grover or Juniper? I'm sure they'll be marrying soon enough."
Rachel merely rolled her eyes. "Because you two have bottled up your emotions for so long, waiting until only recently to confess your love. It's about time you get married!"
I merely huffed because I knew she was speaking the truth.
Six months later…
The cheers were loud enough to burst my eardrums and all I could see was white as literally tons of rice were thrown at us. However, I couldn't have cared less because Percy was holding my hand and laughing his head off.
We arrived at our carriage and he helped me into it. Once inside, we turned and waved to our friends and family as the carriage slowly rolled away.
I frowned. "Is that…is that Nico and Rachel holding hands?"
"Huh, I suppose it is," said Percy, rather surprised.
I smiled and shook my head, sitting back down on my seat. Percy followed suit and threw an arm around my shoulders. He leaned down to kiss me. I sighed against his lips before pressing mine firmly on them, deepening the kiss. After pulling away, I rested my head against his shoulder and placed a hand on his chest.
"We've come far, haven't we, my lovely wife?" said Percy.
I smiled up at him. "Why, yes, we have, my dear husband."
"So what now?" he asked.
I shrugged. "We live our lives. I believe I've had enough hardships to deal with for a lifetime."
"Me too," he agreed, wrapping his arms around my waist.
And I believe, from then on, that we lived happily ever after.
A/N: *sigh* And so ends the journey known as Why Me? Thank you for all of the support you guys have brought to this story. I seriously wouldn't have done it without the reviews/alerts/favorites. It's been an incredible year.
Unfortunately, I am not planning on making a sequel for this story. I'm focusing on writing a new one for PJO as well as one for Maximum Ride. I'm also planning on posting a lot of oneshots within the month or so. So, keep a lookout for those.
Again, thank you to all of you, especially my reviewers. Your reviews never cease to make me smile and I especially enjoy reading the longer ones. I love you all! Until next time, I look forward to your feedback. Hopefully, you'll be writing reviews for my next story very soon. ;)