Author's notes: Something inspired by the release of The Lost Hero, which provided more than enough potential Percy and Annabeth angst to last several lifetimes. Hopefully you'll enjoy this speculation fic for their reunion.
Warnings: Massive SPOILERS for The Lost Hero and the rest of Heroes of Olympus possibly.
Disclaimer: I don't own Percy Jackson and the Olympians or Heroes of Olympus.
In Thy Memory
A place in thy memory, dearest
Is all that I claim;
To pause and look back when thou hearest
The sound of my name.
- Gerald Griffin
After the third day at the Roman Camp, Annabeth is dying to punch something. Maybe multiple somethings, if she can. But as Lupa won't let any of the Camp Half-Blood demigods go near the training coliseum until after they've proven themselves in some stupid worthiness ritual, she settles for throwing knifes at trees in a clearing in the forest instead.
While Chiron's spent the last two days trying convince her that a ritual isn't necessary and that he has trained them perfectly well, the Roman campers are busy taunting them and making sure they know exactly how little they think of their Greek counterparts. It doesn't matter that they found their way past the camp's defenses and showed up in a giant flying boat built with their own hands - the Romans have got it in their heads that they're the best and greatest, and nothing will change that.
Even Jason's presence doesn't help keep their contempt at bay all that much. After celebrating the fact that he was alive, his friends apparently decided that he got weak in his time away from camp and that he needs to go through some extreme re-orientation training. Annabeth only sees him at dinner time, looking exhausted and muddy, and exchanging longing looks with Piper and Leo across the dining pavilion, and sometimes outside his cabin, doing push-up with a dark-haired girl sitting on his back and yelling at him.
It's not until Nico kicks the asses of some idiots from the Mars family line, who wrongly decided he'd be someone to pick on because he looked small and frail, that the Romans give them even the tiniest bit of respect. And that's only because they'd never met a son of Hades before and wanted to fight his skeleton warriors for a challenge.
Annabeth doesn't have the slightest clue how they're supposed to bridge the gaps between the two camps if one side doesn't even want to try. They're going to be torn apart by Gaea and her giants all because some she-wolf goddess thinks Annabeth's not worthy of training on her camp's hallowed ground.
They certainly found Percy worthy enough, though.
She can't help the bitter unhappiness that wells inside after she thinks his name, and she tries to push it back down, but it's like corking a leak in a dam. The pressure's only going to build higher and higher, and sooner or later, it's going to crumble and all hell will break loose.
It wasn't like she hadn't prepared herself for their eventual reunion over the last six months. She had told herself time and time again that he might not remember her and even if he did, it didn't mean he remembered everything. She would have to be patient with him, not expect too much out of him and hope that maybe someday, he would be whole and they could be together again
And while she hadn't counted on him rushing to reunite with her like grand romantic movie moment, she had at least hoped he would recognize her in some way. The Fates, however, are cruel masters and decided she wouldn't even get that.
When they had piled off The Argo II to greet the Romans, Percy had been waiting right out front and his eyes had passed right over her. There were no double takes, flicker of confusion or even curiosity, not even when Chiron introduced her – it was as if he didn't see her at all. She (and the rest of Camp Half-Blood) had bored him.
Piper and Rachel had found her curled up Argo II's rigging hours later, sobbing her eyes out, because all she had wanted was for Percy to look at her once like he knew who she was, like he had spent as much time killing himself to get back to her as she had him.
But he hadn't, she knew.
Percy, Lupa said, didn't remember a thing about his life before he was found by Reyna and Dakota, although Chiron suspected the Romans hadn't exactly tried hard to get his memories back. He was the new king of the Roman camp, the dynamic son of Neptune who was the best swordsman they'd trained in a hundred years and got people to follow him into battle with a single, passionate look. He was their leader now and while the old Percy might have accepted the responsibility, bashful but sure, this stranger walking around in his body was one of the cockiest non-immortals she'd ever met.
No, Percy had had an easy six months at the Roman camp, and hadn't spared a passing thought to desperate, lonely daughters of Athena at any point. In fact, it looked like he'd been getting cosy enough with a daughter of Ceres at the bonfire the night before –
"Who cares," Annabeth says to herself loudly, eyeing a tree twenty feet away. She flips the butter knife, the last of the handful she had stolen after dinner since Lupa wouldn't let them have any regular weapons in their possession, in her hand and aims at the tree. "I certainly don't."
She pulls her arm back and lets the knife fly, feeling satisfaction flow through her when the blade embeds itself into the tree trunk with a loud thunk. The tree shakes and a dryad pokes it's head out, severely unhappy that her home is being used as a dartboard.
"Hey! You're not supposed to do that! I'll tell on you!"
"Oh, why don't you go turn into something useful – like a ream of notebooks!" Annabeth snaps, glowering at her.
The dryad gasps in shock and flutters off through the forest, probably to go complain to Lupa or maybe Mr. D's Roman equivalent, if he's been banished here too. She hasn't seen him yet, but if he is, Annabeth privately thinks he got the better deal at Camp Half-Blood. At least they liked to have fun.
She marches over to the tree and wrenches the butter knife free, admiring the clean entry point with a measure of satisfaction. It feels good to finally be doing something with her energy again. She's forgotten to retrieve the others she had thrown before, so she heads back up the path through the forest, finding the silvery utensils in branches or trunks every twenty feet or so.
When she gets to the last tree on the edge of the forest, however, her heart stops in her chest and she almost drops the handful of knives in shock. Someone is admiring her handiwork, someone she didn't expect to be out here, not without his legions of Roman buddies following his every move.
"This yours?" Percy asks, pointing to the knife embedded dead in the center of the giant redwood tree. He sweeps his dark hair out of his eyes, his green eyes dancing in amusement, and smirks at her. The shadows of the late evening make his smirk look unkind and Annabeth doesn't like seeing it on his face.
"Of course it's mine," she snaps, her hackles on edge. She walks over to him warily. "Unless you know someone else who's wandering through the woods with silverware?"
"Guess not. Do you want me to pull that out for you? Looks like it's in deep."
She glowers, reaching for handle of the knife and pulling it free with zero effort. She tosses it at him and he catches it, just a little impressed.
"I'm no damsel, Percy," she says. "Go find someone else to patronize."
He shrugs, leaning against the tree, and flipping the knife in his hand idly. "I'd just thought I'd ask. You Greeks are so touchy."
"You're Greek too, you know. A son of Poseidon."
"So you've all been telling me."
Percy glances upward, as if looking toward the heaven's for some sort of sign to confirm this. If the gods are listening, they don't answer and he glances back at her with an arched eyebrow, challenging her.
"You don't believe it?"
"Maybe," he says, smirking again. "Or maybe not. Doesn't really matter, does it?"
She doesn't want to answer that question, to betray how much she needs that part of his identity to matter to him. He doesn't know her, and she's just going to come off looking desperate and sad if she doesn't get control of herself.
"What are you doing out here anyway?" she says, suddenly feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. She sits down on one of the tree's large roots, tossing her knives to the ground and leaning back against the tree. "Don't you have training to do?"
"Not tonight. Besides, that oracle - Rachel? - said she had a feeling I was supposed to find my 'destiny' out in the woods. She wouldn't let me go anywhere until I came out here," Percy replied, making air quotes with his fingers around the word destiny, like it's the stupidest thing he's ever heard. "But all I've found is a butter knife and a daughter of Minerva. You're Annabelle, right?"
Annabeth's glad she's sitting down because the agonizing pain that cuts through her would've felled her in an instant. She wants to curl up and disappear on the spot. He doesn't even know her name ...
"Annabeth," she replies in a small voice. "Daughter of Athena."
"Oh, right. I knew it was something like that," he says, painfully casual. "It's been really hard to remember everyone's names the last couple of days. It figures some would slip through the cracks."
It shouldn't have been her that fell through the cracks, something inside her insists. It should've been Clarisse or Malcolm or Will Solace – not her. Why doesn't he remember her? Why doesn't he care? Isn't there some hollow spot inside him that tells him something is missing?
He surprises her again with his next move, though, sliding down the tree to sit next to her on the root. Annabeth's heart bangs against her chest, frantic and hurting all at once, and as much as she wants him to be near her, she almost can't handle it.
"And what were you doing in the woods, Annabeth?" he asks, tossing the last knife into her abandoned pile. "Looking for your own destiny?"
"Only if my destiny is to be a lumberjack," she mutters unhappily. It sounds like the witty comeback Percy would say, but he doesn't laugh, just looks at her like he can't figure her out. "No, I just needed some space … and maybe destroy a couple things. It's been a rough couple of days."
Percy makes a noise of agreement. "It's been weird, yeah. Don't know how I feel about it all yet."
She supposes he means he doesn't know how he feels about a virtual group of strangers showing up and claiming to know him, and she wants to feel some sympathy for him but she's selfish and always has been. She wants him to remember her and everything they've done together; she wants him to hug her and tell her that everything's going to be all right, that now that she's found him, he's not going to let her go ever again.
She lets their conversation die, unwilling to comfort him and tell him that it's okay, the Greeks are lying and they don't need him to be their hero any more. Percy doesn't seem entirely uncomfortable though, and the chirping of the crickets fills the silence between them at once. She lets the familiarity of the situation sink into her bones, comforting her when nothing else can.
Annabeth glances at him and her cheeks flush when she notices he's watching her. When caught, he doesn't try to hide the fact that he was looking at her and it makes Annabeth think that maybe ... maybe there's something there after all.
"You know, you're kind of – " Percy begins, breaking the silence and leaning forward a bit.
Before she loses her courage, Annabeth interrupts him and spits out, "We were friends at Camp Half-Blood."
He pulls back, startled, and cocks his head to the side.
"We were?" Percy asks, his nose crinkling as he contemplates this revelation. "A son of Neptune and a daughter of Mine … I mean, Athena?"
She hears the thinly veiled contempt when he says her mother's name, like he couldn't fathom why someone with his parentage would bother to make friends with someone like her – someone who isn't special and has no extraordinary powers. The fact that there's nothing (not even a vague feeling) that tells him he can't even consider their friendship a real possibility makes her feel a bit like a hopeless little bug about to be crushed under Percy's heel.
She has to try anyway though. She and Percy have faced the worst of Tartarus's monsters and the Titans together – a little amnesia isn't going to succeed where the rest of the world failed.
"Of course. We've been friends since we were twelve, when we went on our first quest together," she says calmly, although her hands start to tremble when Percy looks at her blankly. "Remember? When you first came to camp. Someone had stolen Zeus's master bolt and they blamed you, so the two of us and our friend Grover went all the way to the Underworld to get it back."
"I … " Percy pauses, confusion crossing his face for a split second, and then shakes his head. "No, I don't."
But that second gives Annabeth the burst of hope and confidence she needs. Maybe the Romans haven't destroyed what memories Hera left for him with their brutal training; maybe he's still there in the shadows of his mind, waiting for her to bring him back.
"You don't remember our second quest in the Sea of Monsters? With Tyson and the Golden Fleece? Or Grover in the wedding dress, trying not to get eaten?" she presses, staring at him pleadingly. "Or how we both have the same gray streak in our hair from holding up the sky? You were so brave and … "
She lists off every significant detail of their lives she can think of, latching on to scars and people long gone and the events that shaped their entire lives, hoping something will spark something in his mind. She's overwhelming him, but she doesn't care because she just wants Percy back so badly it physically hurts her. She can't stand him sitting next to her, acting like every cell in his body isn't whispering annabeth annabeth annabeth at this very moment just like hers is screaming percy percy percy at the top of its lungs over and over again.
Percy's posture grows tenser, his face twisting with annoyance and pain as she rattles on, and it's not until she's talking about their time in the labyrinth that he bursts out, "Will you stop already?"
Annabeth blinks, startled, but recovers immediately, taking the outburst as a sign that she's onto to something and that she needs to keep pushing.
"Why? Are you remembering anything on your own?"
She puts her hand on his arm, something she's done a thousand times before, hoping that it will spark something in him, but it's her touch that causes Percy to snap.
"Just – shut up, okay?" he shouts, shoving her hand off his arm violently and glaring at her like he's never seen anything more repulsive. "No, I'm not remembering anything! Don't you think I would've remembered this stuff already if it was anything important?"
He sneers the last word, making it clear he does not consider her important in the slightest. It takes Annabeth a moment to catch up because her brain's still stuck on the fact that Percy had yelled at her and then …
Then its like she's holding up the sky all over again. She's dazed and achy; she can't breathe because every molecule of her body hurts; she's so small and vulnerable under the weight and no one's going to save her this time because –
Because she's not important, not worth saving, not even worth the trouble of remembering. She's just silly little Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena, who dreams too big and holds on too tight to everything she was never meant to have.
She clenches her fists and takes a deep breath, trying to steady herself and regain her focus. She will not allow herself to lose control in front of him, not any more than she already has. The Romans have already taken everything else from her; she will not let them have her dignity as well.
"O – oh, right," she says, trying to keep her voice even. She stares at her feet with watery eyes. "I just thought ... you'd want someone to jog your memory, that's all."
Percy snorts and shifts where he's sitting. "Might've been nice if you weren't the first one who's tried. I've had people yammering my ear off since you Greeks arrived, and it's beyond annoying. Me getting my memory back isn't going to help us win the fight, you know."
"You don't know that."
"From the way it sounds, I'm a loads better fighter than I ever was at Camp Half-Blood," he replies smugly and no, Annabeth can't deny that. She's seen him fight; he's much more disciplined and controlled now, although she's sure she could still beat him. "Besides that, I'm a son of Neptune and I'm invulnerable from when I defeated Kronos. What good are my memories going to do?"
Annabeth turns to him, trying to keep her anger and despair under the surface as her shoulders shake with suppressed emotion. In the months she'd spent imagining their reunion, she'd never thought that Percy wouldn't want to remember his past and that he'd deliberately block them from his mind. What was so terrible and worthless about them? About her?
"Do you remember what your fatal flaw is?" she asks, coolly satisfied when he opens his mouth and then looks confused again when he has no retort. She breezes on, "Then maybe you remember the strategies of the enemies you defeated? No? Well, they're coming out of Tartarus so good luck to you if you run into them."
"Hey, just wait a second – "
Annabeth's had months and months of waiting, and she's through with it. Percy might not have missed her, but she's made herself sick worrying for him and he didn't care enough to try to remember her. She will not wait for him to play catch-up. A hollow, flaming anger has momentarily replaced the pain in her heart and if she stops now, it'll burn her up from the inside out.
"Bet you don't remember why Zeus is mad at you or which of the other gods you've pissed off and probably shouldn't ask for help from. My mother just might be at the top of the list right now," she continues, "Or which of us Greek kids are your friends and enemies. Some of us have sacrificed everything to save your skinny ass, and we've spent months searching for you, agonizing about your safety – gods, did you even think about what kind of hell your mother has been through? – and risking our lives to find you. I took a knife for you last summer and you – you can't be bothered to remember us!"
Somewhere in the middle of her tirade, tears have started pouring down her cheeks and she wipes them away with the back of her hands, no longer caring if she's falling apart. Percy is quiet and still as he watches her sob, and his face is uncharacteristically unreadable and unmovable. The damn Romans have even taken his compassion away from him.
"So I hope you enjoy being the mighty and important son of Neptune with your new friends, Seaweed Brain. Because you're no friend of Camp Half-Blood, and you're certainlynot Percy Jackson."
He starts at the sound of his nickname, but Annabeth can't stomach the sight of this stranger in Percy's body for a second longer. She shoots him one last watery glare and gets off the root, storming off in the direction of Agros II and trying to contain her tears. She hears his feet land on the ground behind her a moment later, but she doesn't look back. He's probably followed her to challenge her to a fight or say something else cruel and hurtful and –
His hand wraps gently around her wrist, tugging her to a stop, silently pleading with her to talk to him. It's what he's always done with they've gotten into a fight, and the familiarity of his touch sends a longing chill down her spine. Had he known? Or was this the Fates cruel way of reminding her that he was forever out of her reach?
"What do you want?" she asks hoarsely, voice thick with tears. "Something else you need to brag about?"
He sighs heavily. "Please don't cry. I didn't mean – "
"Of course you meant it!" she shouts, pulling her hand free and whirling around. "Jason had most of his memory back by the time we got here! If I – if we meant anything to you, you would've remembered something!"
"I – I might have been lying before," he says in a small, ashamed voice, "about not remembering anything important."
Annabeth's breath seizes up in her chest, and the only thing that keeps her from slapping him is the reminder that he's invulnerable and it'll hurt her more if she tries.
"Then why'd you say those things? Why'd you make me think that you'd – you'd – "
Percy glances away from her momentarily and when he looks back, his cocky, stoic mask has fallen. Hollow loneliness and hurt are written all over his face, and if it's not a trick of a darkness, she swears his eyes look a little misty.
"I was – I still am confused. I know I don't belong in this camp with these kids, but they accepted me all the same, and it became home after a little while. Then you people showed up and suddenly nothing fit any more," Percy explains, his voice hitching slightly. "I barely know anything about myself and I've tried remembering before, but the second I saw you, Annnabeth ... I knew everything about you. How you curl your hair when you're anxious, the way you move on the battle field, what I need to do to make you laugh ... or cry."
He reaches out for her hands, cupping them gently in his own, and Annabeth feels herself breaking apart again.
"When I'm around you, everything feels right. Nothing has made me want to remember more than you ... and that scares me. I don't know who I am or supposed to be, or why I even deserve to know you well enough to hurt you so deeply. I was afraid of remembering before and now ... I don't even know if I can any more."
"Being scared doesn't give you a reason to be an ass," she whispers with half of a laugh. She squeezes his hands, entwining their fingers, and steps closer to him. "And you can't give up now, Percy. There's always hope."
"I know. Because even though I may not remember who you are or what you did that makes me feel this way," Percy says, glancing down at their intertwined hands, as if he still can't figure out what made him reach out for her in the first place. "Somehow I know I hate seeing you sad because of me. So I'm gonna try to remember … everything. I swear."
He looks up, his green eyes shining intently under the black fringe of his hair, and Annabeth feels tears prick at the corner of her eyes for an entirely different reason.
For the first time they've arrived at this camp, she's truly seeing her Percy again.
She doesn't hesitate when she moves, throwing her arms around him and burying herself in the comfort of his chest. Percy stiffens, hardly expecting this reaction, but after a moment, his arms encircle her awkwardly and when he finally gets comfortable, he props his chin on top of hers.
"It's not much," she says, "but you do remember how to hug me."
He laughs softly and then, to her surprise, gathers her deeper into his arms, seeking out her comfort. She feels something wet dripping into her hair and he says, "I don't think I ever forgot this."
No, she thinks, in the grand scheme of things, it's not much at all. She knows getting his memory back won't be easy and that this night will only be the first in the long line of tears and frustrations between the two of them, but ...
But at least they have somewhere to start again.