I guess you don't have to read this. It's more of an epilogue, really. Just wrapping things up. Did you spot the House of Hades reference last chapter, by the way? I was proud if that.
A final quote (the one that originally inspired this story): "Fate controls who walks into your life, but you decide who you let walk out, who you let stay, and who you refuse to let go."
(Annabeth's Point of View)
The snow has hit New York. The sunlight struggles through the frost coating the window on this icy morning.
Unable to sleep, I stare at the ceiling. Percy snores beside me. It's like this sometimes. I need the silence and the distant traffic sounds to draw together my scattered thoughts.
After a few minutes of letting my mind run away with itself I pull my body from the bed. The closet was full to bursting though it had only been six months. I extracted some clothes, stacked the book I'd been reading back into the bookshelf and slipped out into the lounge room.
My work was stacked on the coffee table: papers, books and files along with a disarray of other objects. Work was overwhelming me lately. With new tenants coming in early May, my designs and templates were due next week; construction was to commence after Christmas.
I stepped into the cold air, wrapping my coat a little tighter around my body. It's clarifying, the cold, on days like this. On days when I get crazy, restless feelings and days when I want equally to run as fast as I can in any direction and to cower in a dark place until the memories dissolve with time.
I haven't walked this way for a long while. I try to avoid it, to leave the past behind. None of it should affect me now.
I buy a tall coffee and drink it slowly as I walk. Finally, I reach the George. The bars on the side of the bridge are frosty and the Hudson river is swirling and a little slushy from the cold. Though I know it's not possible, I have vision's of Ethan's cold, limp body swishing around in the dark water, given life by the river's currents. I picture his frozen fingers fluttering and his eyepatch coming adrift to reveal an empty eye socket. I shudder, and the cold has nothing to do with it.
As much as the thought of old enemies rising from the dead is terrifying, if Ethan walked right up to me on the sidewalk by the George on this cold morning, I'd feel only sadness and pity. Sadness, that his life had to end that way. And pity because he deserved to have a proper life with a girlfriend and a job and an apartment in the city. Demigods might be born into this world different from mortals, they might live in a different world, but they deserve to live and lose their lives as they wish. And although his mother was the goddess of balance, it seemed as if he ended up with the short end of the stick.
But there were better things in this world than premature deaths and hard bargains.
I think of all the people who have walked into my life over the past year, and those who have left me, and those who have remain unwaveringly strong. I think of bonds formed, and bonds broken. Of days when my knees were too weak to let me stand and days when I felt as if I could conquer the world. I think of the summer days of past years and the winter days of recent months. I think of the places I've been and everywhere I could go. I thought of what my life used to be, and what it's become.
I'm happy and sad and regretful and unapologetic all at once. All though I can look back on it all, the past is set in stone and my life now is what it is. Tomorrow, everything could change. Next week, my life could be different. In a few years, maybe there'll be kids, maybe not. It'll just taking a lot of waiting and a lot of living to find out.
I'm lost in thought when, out of the corner of my eye, I see a car pull up. A figure makes its way slowly toward me across the footbridge.
Percy shakes his head as he walks up to me as if to say, 'Oh, Annabeth, I should have known'.
He hands me a donut from the shop across the road without a word and takes a sip of my coffee without asking.
I smile. "How'd you know?"
"Where you'd be? Figures. You've been in a reminiscent mood lately."
"No, Seaweed Brain, that I wanted a donut."
"I know you."
It's the simplicity and the kindness of the thought that hits home. The world might open up to a demigod when they discover the world hidden right under their noses, but it never fully unfolds until you discover that for all the magic that's out there, it's humanity and hope that can be most powerful. And it's only when you lose your humanity and your hope, that you're really lost.
I hope I never will.
"Also," Percy adds. "I don't know if I've ever met a person who doesn't like a donut."
Sheesh, took me long enough! Who thought, way back over a year ago that this would take all this time! Thanks for sticking with this through my mistakes and (loooooong - and unplanned) hiatuses.