A/N: This story is currently in the process of a rewrite! The character Drew will be called Clara in the subsequent chapters until I can repost them too so if you haven't read this story before I'd recommend just reading this for now and I'll make sure to let everyone know when the rewritten chapters have been posted. Enjoy!
Annabeth stumbled over her own feet, dropping the huge stack of laundered clothes to the floor.
"You idiot!" The hot tempered princess screeched. There was a sharp crack as Princess Drusilla slapped Annabeth across the face. The pain was red hot, and Annabeth clenched her fists, prepared for the next slap she knew was coming. Her fingernails dug into her hands painfully but Annabeth wouldn't give Drusilla the satisfaction of seeing her cry.
"Drew," A cool voice said behind Annabeth, "Once is quite enough, the girl merely tripped. Look at her shoes, they're in pieces. I seem to remember you whining to Father about needing a new pair of shoes again. Might I suggest you find your old shoes and give them to her? Perhaps then you might see an improvement in the efficiency of her work."
Annabeth turned around, and at once recognised the green eyes associated with the royalty of England. She dropped into a curtsy immediately and tilted her head respectfully towards to the floor.
"Rise," said Percy Jackson, Prince of England. He stared at Annabeth for half a second longer before turning back to his younger sister.
"Drew, Father won't hear about this if you stop bullying your maid," Percy glared at Drew then swept out of the room. Something hit Annabeth in the back of the head, she turned to see a scowling Drew and a shoe on the floor in front of her. The soles were hard, and the rest was made of supple leather. Drew was holding the other shoe, poised to throw it.
"Put them on, then saddle up my horse and one for yourself. We're going riding," Clara turned back to her wardrobe. Annabeth scrambled to put the shoe on, and the second landed in front of her. There was barely an imprint in the shoe, Clara couldn't have needed new boots that much. Annabeth's own shoes were worn down to the point where they didn't even keep water out. Her socks were damp almost every day. Annabeth tied the final lace and curtsied politely before dashing out of the room down to the stables, her skirts billowing around her.
"Those horses better be saddled by the time I get down there!" Clara shouted after her. People moved out of Annabeth's way as she barrelled through the castle's corridors, everyone knew about the spiteful princess and the way she treated her maid.
With the help of the stable hand Annabeth had saddled the Princess's tan mare and a large black stallion for herself. The stable hand had nodded respectfully at her as she'd chosen the hefty horse.
"One of the Prince's favourites that," He'd grunted, his disfigured face momentarily lighting up.
"Not his own horse, but helped tame it and all." The old stable had spoken with a begrudging admiration for the prince.
"Good lad, that young Prince, few months older than yerself I think." He said. Annabeth had nodded. The Prince held less prejudice against the poorer people than his sister, she had to say that at least. Annabeth knew why too, the maids know everything. Princess Drew swept onto the large courtyard as Annabeth was leading the two horses out. Why Drew had felt the need to redo her hair was beyond Annabeth, but she was certainly in no place to question the Princess's choice.
"Hello my dear," Drew said with a genuine smile, Annabeth was slightly shocked before she realised Drew was speaking to her horse. Annabeth helped Drew up, before using the block to mount her own horse. They rode side saddle within the city limits with Annabeth riding slightly behind the princess. The further from the castle the girls rode the further the living conditions fell, this was where Annabeth was from. The peasants bowed as they rode past, lucky to be blessed with the highly coveted nod of from the Princess. Annabeth recognised several of the people she grew up with before she'd been employed at the castle, most of them looked with her at distaste. It was hard being shunned by your own people, but Annabeth couldn't pretend she wasn't proud at being handpicked to serve in the royal court.
Once away from the city, both girls had pulled up their skirts and began riding normally. Annabeth liked riding, she felt the gap that in society that separated her and Drew was lessened when they were out there. The wind whipping through her hair made Annabeth feel at peace. It was cold today, the winds brought a tear to her eye as she galloped through them. Drew led the way, she had wanted to go to a particular place today and had insisted that Annabeth tell no one where they were going. As her maid, Annabeth had sworn not to. Drew dropped her horse to a slow trot as they reached a clearing in the woods, then stopped and slid off. Annabeth followed suit, then lead both horses to a small stream. The clearing was formed by a large circle of flourishing trees, bright flowers filling the large circle, making it a comfortable place to sit. There was a large patch of daises and clovers in the middle, which Drew had now flopped down onto. Here, protected from the wind, it was quite warm and Drew had lifted her skirt up to her knees. Annabeth raised her eyebrows, but said nothing about it.
"So, why are we here?" She asked instead. Drew looked about, with an impish grin on her face.
"I'm meeting a boy," She said, having confirmed there was no around to overhear. Annabeth tied up the horses and sat down with Drew.
"How simply rebellious of you," Annabeth snorted. Drew must have been in an exceptionally good mood now because she laughed.
"I know. Daddy wants me to marry some man from Scotland, I said I simply couldn't and threw a tantrum. Of course, Daddy soon dropped that idea," Drew said proudly. Annabeth's reply was cut off by the sound of hooves approaching.
"Go and stand by the horses! You're much prettier than I am, they need to see me first," Drew ushered her away. Annabeth, stunned, stood between the horses and kept her head down. The black stallion was fidgeting, Annabeth loosened the horse and tied it further back, away from the Princess. She and the horse were now hidden from view inside the copse but left Annabeth able to see in.
Just then, a new horse broke through the clearing, a young man, a year older than Annabeth herself perhaps, slid off the horse and to the ground. As he approached Drew Annabeth saw his face more clearly and had to concede he was extremely good looking. The golden hair combined with his blue eyes, distinguishable even from a distance, made him look undeniably angelic. She was impressed.
"Luke." Annabeth heard Drew say. Drew was looking quite flustered, which was reasonable given she'd only ever interacted with males who were related to her or servants. Luke was moving closer to Drew now, speaking softly. He reached out and held both of Drew's wrists their bodies appeared to melt together. Then Luke's face changed, the previously soft smile now seemed ferocious as he carried on speaking to her. Drew's entire body froze, and she began trying to pull away from Luke but his grasp on her wrists was too strong. Luke whistled sharply, a shrill noise followed by the sound of dozens of horses, which emerged through the clearing as one force. Annabeth gasped, she recognised nearly all of the faces. People who were criminals, banished from the kingdom, all wearing a simple crest, two green snakes entwined on a sword. The princess was shrieking now and struggling violently, her efforts causing her dark hair to fall loose from the braids and shake around her face. Drew spat viciously into Luke's face and, for a second, Annabeth was impressed. Drew knew how to be a street girl, she thought. Luke's rising voice broke her train of thought.
"… we were banished wrongly!" He yelled. "And now we shall repay the King and that stupid son of his, by taking the darling Princess Drusilla. Really, I thought you'd be harder to fool! A pretty face goes a long way, but I bet you knew that, didn't you sweetheart?" Luke spat his words into Drew's face and gave her a little shake for emphasis.
"Annabeth!" Drew screamed, "Annabeth, please!" Luke laughed.
"You really think we'll fool for that? No one's coming little girl!" Luke sneered. Annabeth glared at him and silently she unsheathed the sword that hung from her horse's saddle. It felt heavy in her hands but she'd used one before and it took only a moment for her to get used to hit. Annabeth's best chance of freeing Drew would be to stab Luke, grab Drew and put her on the black horse. It took Annabeth only seconds to analyse the situation but all the men were too busy arrogantly laughing at the crying girl anyway. Annabeth freed her horse, murmuring a few words into its ear quickly. Then, with a deep breath, she ran forwards.