[I would have posted this sooner, but I had a social life last night for a change.]
A.N.: First: I AM SO SORRY! I seem to have picked up this bad habit pf updating late. I hate it when people take forever to update, but then I feel like I do that too.
My excuse this time is that I wasn't sure if I had or had not said something before and I needed to check that first (thanks to King of Lucidity for helping me with that). And also I've been so exhausted after school every day that when I get home in the evenings I just collapse and read. I will do my best to update this weekend, but no promises because I have assignments to finish. Grade 10 is jam-packed.
Second: Thanks for the reviews on the last chapter!
And third: A got a PM from LightningAttitude saying that the last chapter wouldn't show up. I also experienced that when I received an email for a story update. I only managed to read the chapter the next day. I think this was a problem on the website, but I still apologise if you weren't able to read the chapter straight away.
Disclaimer: I forgot this in the last chapter… but you guys all know I don't own Percy Jackson, so…
Annabeth woke up the next morning to shouting, but despite the ruckus outside her door she was unable to identify what was being said. She gently pulled her body out of Percy's warm and comforting grasp and tiptoed to the door. She stood against the wall, making sure that whoever was outside didn't see her. She realised the two arguing voices belonged to her father and the king.
"How do you expect me to marry her off to Baal if she's pregnant?" the king roared.
"I told you that I found someone for her to marry," Frederick replied calmly. "Annabeth rebelled because she doesn't want to marry Baal. She loves Perseus! And I wouldn't be surprised if Baal doesn't even want to marry her after what happened last night."
The king sighed, and muttered, "I suppose you're right."
Annabeth's breath caught in her throat. Would he let her marry Percy now? Her heart began to pound loudly in her chest. As hopeful as she was, Annabeth warned herself no to get too excited just yet. And then –
"I suppose no other man will want a woman pregnant by somebody else," the king continued grudgingly. "I'll tell Baal that the engagement is off. She can marry Percy, only because there is no other option."
"Thank you, Your Maj –"
Frederick was interrupted by Annabeth's shout of joy. He and the king turned their heads in the direction of her room, the king frowning irritably and Frederick grinning because he knew his daughter had been listening. Annabeth clamped her hand over her mouth and ran back to her bed to find that her shout had woken Percy up. He groggily sat up in bed; eyes still bleary from sleep and his hair messed up.
"What is it?" he asked, his voice deep and thick with sleep. "What happened?"
Annabeth flung her arms around him and kissed his cheek.
"My father told the king. And the king said he would tell Baal the engagement is off," she answered excitedly. "And then he said that we could be married!"
Annabeth wasn't sure why she was she was being so out of character, but she decided that she would allow herself to be, just this once. After all, she had good reason to be.
Percy didn't say anything. Instead he took her face tenderly between his hands, grinned lopsidedly and kissed her. She smiled into the kiss and kissed him back. He tangled his hands, rough and calloused from years of brandishing a sword and yet still so gentle, into her hair.
When he pulled back he looked lovingly into her eyes.
"I love you so much," he whispered. "More than you know."
"I love you, too."
Unfortunately, when things begin to go right something else usually goes tragically wrong. Two days after the king approved of Annabeth marrying Percy, he fell fatally ill. No healer, doctor or magician was able to diagnose or cure him, and after examining him and giving him remedies for every disease she could think of, Leila predicted that nothing could save the king.
"When he dies Luke will be crowned, and he will begin to implement his new gods," Annabeth told Percy while they were sitting under the Cyprus tree in the garden one afternoon. "You and I know that Zeus will be furious."
"I know," he muttered. "But there's nothing we can do to change his mind."
"We have to do something!" Annabeth insisted.
"There's nothing we can do," Percy sighed. "We will just have to keep our faith in secret, and try to get as many people to as well. If we still hold respect for the Olympians there's a chance that they will spare us."
"Luke will find out."
"Well no matter what happens, I promise I will protect you," he vowed. "And our child."
He gently placed a hand on Annabeth's abdomen and kissed her temple. "The two of you are the most important people in the world to me," he whispered in her ear, his warm breath blowing across her cheek.
"Thank you," Annabeth whispered back.
She turned her head to capture his lips and kissed him tenderly. They were interrupted when a servant rushed into the garden.
"Miss Annabeth! Commander Perseus!" he called.
Annabeth and Percy broke apart and turned to face the servant.
"Yes?" she asked. She saw how flustered the poor boy looked and realised that something must be wrong.
"The- the king… he's…"
"No," Annabeth gasped, bringing a hand up to cover her mouth
"What?" Percy asked, puzzled. Then realisation dawned on his face. "Oh."
But before Annabeth had confirmed his guess, she had taken off running towards where she knew the king and queen's room was. Percy leapt up from where he had been sitting and ran after her.
Upon reaching the king's room, Annabeth saw her father, Leila and Thalia standing outside.
"Is he…?" she trailed off.
Frederick merely nodded.
"No…" she muttered, just as Percy appeared from around the corner.
"What?" he asked, completely out of breath. "Is he really…?"
"He is…" Annabeth tried, her voice shaking. She decided that she wouldn't be able to speak properly if she tried, too overcome by shock. Instead she nodded solemnly.
Although Annabeth had never liked the king, she and Percy both knew that only bad could come from Luke's idea of introducing new gods. If the king was gone, nothing would stand in Luke's way and everything around them would crumble down.
Percy took Annabeth into his arms and held her tight. "I promised you we would get through this, and I'm not breaking that promise."
The following day the king's shroud was burned and his ashes scattered by his widowed wife from the highest point of the palace to float on the wind. Luke comforted his weeping mother, but showed no remorse for his deceased father.
This puzzled Annabeth. Luke's lack of emotion towards the death of his own father… his hatred of the gods…
Then something just clicked in Annabeth's mind.
Of course he didn't care that the king had died. He wasn't even Luke's real father! And Luke's hatred to the gods… Annabeth decided that Luke was a man of very few emotions. He only seemed to care about himself. There were definitely many demigods who felt abandoned by their godly parent, but none had ever gone so far as wanting to replace the Olympians. Then again, maybe that was because none of them had had the power to make the change. But Luke had that power and he was determined to use it. He was a power hungry tyrant.
This idea played in her mind the rest of the day. Only much later that night did she say anything to Percy. When she told him her theory he mused it over before deciding that it was a logical explanation.
"He might be doing this out of anger towards Hermes," Annabeth further explained.
"That is a possibility…"
"But why? Surely he must know his father never abandoned him. Every demigod receives signs that they are being watched or have dreams where their Olympian parent speaks to them."
"We will never understand hw Luke's mind works," Percy answered. "We can only guess."
As hard as it was, Annabeth tried her best not to panic too much. But the thought of what could happen to them was terrifying, and her imagination always seemed to run away with her. Her mind would conjure up the most dreadful scenarios and she would be plagued with terrifying nightmares that cause her to wake up screaming.
Luckily Percy was always there to reassure and calm her.
His constant promises of getting the two of them and their child through whatever was to come always managed to prevent Annabeth from loosing her mind with worry. And eventually the nightmares ceased. But Annabeth still worried about the future.
Leila also reminded her not to stress (as it was bad for the baby) on a regular basis. Annabeth's stepmother seemed to have put their differences aside, as Thalia had done, and was being much kinder towards the younger woman.
Annabeth and Thalia had grown closer since the king's death. Partially because they could relate more to each other, both being pregnant, and because (even though Thalia was supportive of Luke's ideas) she was scared too. The stepsisters spent more time together, talking and just enjoying each other's company. Everyone except for Luke was happy to see them bonding. But then Luke was never happy about anything.
The only exception was the day he was crowned. He smiled all day, even though it didn't once reach his eyes. It was more of a smirk that played around on his lips, one of arrogance. A smile that reminded everyone who saw him that he was above everybody, and that he listened to no one.
At the end of the ceremony, he gave all the guests his same speech on his idea of new gods. His persuading voice managed to win most of the nobles over (probably because they were all already drunk), but most of the wiser (and still sober) men were not convinced. When one addressed the matter of Zeus destroying all of civilisation, Luke cried out in rage
"How many times do I have to explain?" he thundered. "The Olympians ignore us! They couldn't care less if we worshipped them or not! Forget them!"
Still the unconvinced remained unconvinced.
Luke immediately began tearing down temples and smashing statues. A law was put in place ordering immediate execution for anyone who dared to worship the Olympians. Of course if a person prayed silently nobody else would know, but Annabeth decided not to point this out in fear that Luke would think of another way to punish people faithful to their gods.
The new king had decided on having one main temple for all his gods, as it would be much faster to build only one. Luke began to interview and 'audition' artists to decorate the new and improved temple once construction was complete.
He was told it could take a year or maybe two to finish building the giant marble temple, but that wasn't good enough for Luke. So he forced half the palace servants and every unemployed man in the land to assist with the building. In addition to the extra workers, he extended working hours to ensure the temple would be finished as soon as was possible. The men forced to work received such a low wage that the city became stricken with poverty.
Many elderly men died from whippings because they were unable to lift the heavy stones. Young men were gravely injured from the physical work and the punishment for slacking off. Leila predicted that many of those fine young men would never do hard physical work again, and that the large number of injured youngsters would be of a great disadvantage if Greece went to war any time soon.
"He's working those poor men to death," Annabeth grumbled to her father after breakfast one morning, just after Luke had told them all about the additional workers. "Then he won't have anybody to build his stupid temple."
"The gods won't let him get away with this," Frederick assured her. "Something will stop him."
"What ever that 'something' is, I hope it arrives soon."
"Me, too, Annabeth. Me, too."
A.N.: not a great chapter, I know, but the drama and action is going to start soon… lots of stuff to come!
I have a lot of homework to finish this weekend (namely a history essay on political ideals in the French Revolution, a critical oral on Forrest Gump for English and a geography data handling task). But if I can get that all done there will be another chapter up by Monday!
Thanks for reading and reviewing if you do (:
[Next edited chapter on it's way soon!]