"Ladies and gentlemen and gods of Olympus, allow me to introduce the new Mr. and Mrs. Percy Jackson! Flame on!"
"Sit down, Leo!" half the room shouted, and Percy laughed as he led his new wife (he loved thinking that word) out onto the dance floor. He only knew how to dance a little bit, and Annabeth couldn't do it at all (he knew this, sadly, from experience), but he had this feeling that Aphrodite won't let them screw up—not on this night, and especially not when she was sitting at a table in the corner with the other Olympians. Wouldn't do to have the groom tripping all over his own feet in the presence of the love goddess.
The crowd of faces slowly blurred into the backdrop as the music started playing. He felt Annabeth's arms tighten around him in surprise as they began to dance, and she asked, "Where did you learn how to dance so well? Did I miss the memo that said you were suddenly graceful, Seaweed Brain?"
He smirked. "Years of swordfighting, and…well, my mom. I'm serious—give her five feet of space and a good Frank Sinatra song and she's gone." He pauses briefly, then adds, "I don't think Paul ever had more fun in his life than that day."
Annabeth laughed. "Your family is so funny."
Percy lifted one hand and traced the gray streak in Annabeth's hair, deep in thought. "It's your family too now, Wise Girl."
Over Annabeth's shoulder, he caught glimpses of faces in the crowd: Thalia, who had showed up with the full complement of Hunters and a horde of animals (to their credit, none of the guests panicked when several of the giant white wolves nearly tore down the buffet table and Ares had to chase them out with a chair); Piper, Jason, Leo, Reyna, and Rachel—all of them beaming at him; Nico and Frank and Hazel, standing together in a quiet corner; even Athena and Poseidon, though they stood on opposite sides of the room and pointedly avoided each other. He laughed quietly. Some things never change.
"What's funny?" Annabeth asked, her lips distractingly close to his (again).
Percy grinned at her. "Our parents. You know—"
"—no, actually, I don't know—"
"—I was getting there! I was just remembering something Hermes told me a long time ago—that all families are messy, but immortal families are eternally messy."
"Well, isn't that the truth," she said, smiling at him.
She laid her head on Percy's chest and they danced that way for a while, not saying anything, each content just to be in the arms of the other. The song (which had taken several daughters of Aphrodite four hours, two and a half boxes of hot chocolate mix, and a broken iPod to pick out) reminded Percy of the music they had danced together to on Mount Olympus—only this time, it was definitely more hopeful than sad.
More and more couples started drifting out to join them: first Piper and Jason, who whirled around like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (and, quite frankly, put Percy's dancing "skills" to shame); his mother and Paul; Frank and Hazel—and he felt like he was going to burst with happiness. Just to see everyone at peace—this is worth fighting for.
And so, he thought, was the woman in his arms. How he had managed to get to this day and call such an incredible person his own simply blew his mind.
"What are you thinking about, Percy?"
Percy snapped back to see Annabeth looking at him almost amusedly. "You."
She rolled her eyes and lightly flicked him with her fingers. "Of course that's what you say."
She still had the amused smirk on her face.
"Still not making things easy for me, huh, Wise Girl?"
"I keep my promises," Annabeth muttered, leaning in and kissing him.
As the music slowed, then finally ended, she leaned over to Percy. "Guess what, Seaweed Brain?"
"What?" he asked over the roar of applause coming from their assembled friends and family.
"I've finally built something permanent."
For the rest of the night, Percy couldn't stop smiling.