Hola peoples. That last chapter put a little dampen on your holiday, didn't it?
I just have to say to a random guest who reviewed: I appreciate your opinion, but no reason to be a hater. This story was supposed to be angsty and melancholy, and it DOES have a plot. The whole inspiration for the story will be revealed in the last chapter.
Also, to Guests who review, could you leave a name so that I can refer to you by anything other than 'Guest'?
Title: Part Four- New Beginnings
Main Characters: Annabeth Chase and my OC, Joel Ansell
Status: Four months after the happenings of the last chapter
Yet again, I'm sorry for killing Percabeth.
And, btw, Joel is a MORTAL, not demigod.
My heart was in over drive. My head pounded. My palms were sweaty. In fact, my whole body was sweaty. Sweat ran down my temples, into my eyes. My beaded camp necklace sat heavy at my throat.
Joel had insisted that I wear white pearls to match the dress, but I had refused. On such a special day as today, I wanted what was important to me next to my heart, giving me courage and warm encouragement. I imagined Chiron's kind smile, his gentle eyes with that look of sympathy, silently urging me to do the right thing.
So, here I was, doing the right thing. I was getting married. Moving on. With someone other than Percy. I was tempted to run away right then, get away from this day. Run back, about three years, back to that day that my best friend and one true love had died protecting me. But I doubted I would get far in this heavy dress that weighed me down, brought me down even further than the guilt did.
If it weren't for Percy's last wish of me, I would still be a loner. Guys would still be knocking on my door and calling in the middle of the night, trying to gain my attention, and affection. Joel was the only guy who had managed to lift my spirits. But not even his handsome smiling face could compare with the mischievous, trouble- making glint Percy always got in his eye when he was excited.
I sighed and stared at myself in the vanity mirror. If the makeup hadn't been enchanted by Aphrodite to stay on no matter what the circumstances, I would have wiped it all off.
The dress I wore was yet another one of Aphrodite's 'works of art'. It had a tight, satiny bodice with a gossamer silk shawl, and the skirt hugged my legs in a warm embrace that was neither tight nor loose. Layers over layers of silk covered the tight inside of the skirt, and it flounced when I walked. The love goddess had insisted on 'helping' me on this day of love.
It's my job, my responsibility, the goddess's words swirled through my head.
It made me wonder- did she know about Percy's last words? Had she somehow been communicating with him in the Underworld? It would be just like him to organize something with Aphrodite, to make sure that I found someone who would be just right for me.
If that was the case, was my relationship with Joel just a result of Aphrodite messing with my love life (again)? If so, I was hesitant to marry a man whom the love goddess had toyed with.
Stop making assumptions, I scolded myself. Joel loves you, and you love him.
Still, a distant, dark corner of my mind whispered, Are you sure about that?
"Joel Ansell," Reverend Sunmaster intoned. "do you take this woman, Annabeth Chase, to be your lawful wedded wife, to have an to hold, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, till death do you part?"
Joel turned to me, adoration in his eyes. "I do with all my heart."
The confident way in which he said those words made me feel worse. Would I be able to say my vow as confidently? I knew 'with all my heart' that Percy still owned a part of me. Would I be able to accept Joel, be able to move into a house with him? He would expect me to clean the house, to share my money and food, share a bed with him. He would one day expect me to bare children for him. And I still hadn't told him about my true heritage; about being the daughter of an ancient Greek goddess, about the monsters that would be sure to attack us, about the bronze dagger that I kept on my bedside table at night, about Percy… there was still so much he didn't know about me, and he had bared his soul to me, told me every single story there was to be told about himself, from proud to sad to shameful to funny to embarrassing.
The Reverend turned to me, and he met my eyes. I gasped slightly. His eyes… Blue. Blue as the sky on a sunny summery day. Yet, they swirled, like the beautiful blue sky could erupt into a black thunderstorm any minute… I knew this person. His hair was blond. Beyond the seriousness of his 'Reverend appearance' there was a fun- loving glint in his eyes that couldn't be mistaken.
"Apollo," I said under my breath.
He winked at me before repeating the same things he'd said to my fiancée.
This was it. No turning back. Joel was looking at me, excitement in his eyes. The crowd held their breath in anticipation.
There was one pair of eyes that stood out the most.
We stared at each other, and Jason nodded. He knew what I was thinking about. He smiled encouragingly at me, while holding the hand of his girlfriend: Reyna. No surprise there. Everyone had guessed that Jason would go back to Reyna after Piper was killed. The moment was drawing on. I turned back to Joel and met his eyes.
I exhaled slowly and closed my eyes, unable to look at anyone anymore. "I do," I said loudly.
Cheering erupted from the audience. I couldn't meet Joel's eyes. I vaguely heard Apollo's voice boom throughout the church: "Who has the rings?" and then Joel was slipping a diamond encrusted ring on my finger, and I had to be nudged to do the same to his.
Joel and I kissed, but I felt no emotions. We parted, and then Apollo the Reverend yelled at the top of his lungs, "Come greet the newly wedded, Mr and Mrs Ansell!" People hugged me, and patted me on the back, and a few of my closest friends even kissed me on the cheek.
There was a line up of people to greet me: a bunch of people from camp including Chiron, who hugged me and murmured a blessing in ancient Greek; Reyna and Jason, who were engaged after nearly three years of a happy relationship; my best friend Grover, who had had to come alone since his wife, Juniper the tree nymph, couldn't attend due to the fact that she was bound to the forest. Juniper had sent her well wishes, and Grover and I hugged. He understood my conflicted emotions. Thalia greeted me with a warm hug, but the dark, dangerous light in her eyes conveyed to me that she was just as harrowed by her cousins' deaths as me. Rachel Elizabeth Dare, the Oracle of Camp Half- Blood hugged me at some point as well, whispered her condolences and well- wishes in my ear. That had to be a good omen, coming from the Oracle, didn't it?
Surprisingly Clarrisse and her husband, Chris Rodriguez had showed up; then there was my siblings (Malcolm burst into tears, embarrassing me in front of my new husband. "My little sister's all grown up!" he'd said. That little rat). Even Amelia Neptune de Preeze was there. She was now eleven, and I could certainly see the similarities between her and Percy more so than I could three years ago. They had the same shaped eyebrows and noses, which I suppose they had inherited from Poseidon. I had always loved Percy's eyebrows for some reason. It was so refreshing to see them again, reborn on his little sister.
And last of all came Sally and Paul Blofis. I had to fight the tears when they came into view.
"Oh, Annabeth!" Sally cried, squeezing the life out of me. I hugged back, burying my head in Sally's neck. It was quite comforting to breathe in her scent of chocolate and peaches.
Sally and I had always considered each other like mother and daughter. She was more a mother to me than my own mother, whom I hadn't seen or heard from in three years.
"Oh, Annabeth!" Sally said again, unable to say anything else. "Three years," she whispered. I looked down.
"I know," I whispered back. "I miss him."
"So do I," Sally kissed me on the cheek. "Just never forget him, okay? My baby was a great hero."
Then she let go of me, and Paul hugged me lightly and patted me on the back. "You look beautiful, Annabeth," he said. "Joel is a lucky man, as was my step son. He will treat you well."
And then Percy's parents were gone and Joel was by my side, gripping my hand as if I might run away.
"Isn't it too good to be true?" Joel whispered excitedly in my ear as we danced the Dance of Honour (AN: is that what it's called? I've never been to a wedding so I don't know).
"Yeah," I laughed weakly, glad he was holding me so tightly. If he hadn't been, I might have collapsed already.
"We're married!" he rested his chin on my hair. I was too rigid to dance properly, so I kept stumbling over his feet. He must have put it down to nervous clumsiness.
The song ended, but Joel didn't let go of me. He seemed to be in pure bliss, as we continued swaying to no music. I wasn't enjoying this at all. It felt so wrong- being in this man's arms.
But he was holding tight to me.
Another song started, and other couples joined us on the dance floor. I suddenly felt very sick. My vision clouded, and my chest convulsed.
"Joel," I whispered. Either he didn't hear me, or he was ignoring me. His eyes were still closed. "Joel!" I said, louder this time. Bile was rising in my throat. "I have to_" And then suddenly my sentence was cut off as I dropped to the floor and vomited. I blacked out.
"Perseus Jackson," one judge said emotionlessly.
"Son of Poseidon and mortal Sally Jackson," the second judge continued.
"Hero of Olympus," the third judge finished. All three judges glanced at each other, doing a silent assessment.
"Elysium," they said in unison.
The dark haired boy that stood at the mercy of the judges looked confused and helpless. An unseen force seemed to push him off the podium, and through a set of golden gates that read: "Elysium" in cracked gold writing.
SOME TIME LATER
The boy stood on a beach made up of pristine white sand, a beautiful, unpolluted ocean, and tall, lustrous green palm trees.
In other words, it was paradise.
The boy didn't move. He stood on the beach and stared out at the ocean, his dark hair blowing in the wind. His arms were stiff and rigid by his sides.
I edged around so that I could see his face and I gasped. He didn't seem to see me, even though I was looking right into his eyes. Those deep, sea green eyes that held so much sadness, sorrow, wistfulness.
The boy blinked slowly, and reached into his pants pocket with one hand. He brought it out and looked at it. Nestled in his palm was a silver ring, with a fake green rhinestone embedded on the top.
"Annabeth…" the boy said, trailing off, still staring into the sea. "I love you…"
"Percy!" I sat up, gasping for air, sweat trickling down my forehead. My heart was racing.
"Hey, Annabeth, it's all right, calm down," a voice soothed me. My head whipped towards the voice, and I realised it was Joel. My husband. Right. Get a grip on yourself, Annabeth. You're married now. You can't wake up screaming another guy's name.
Even if that guy was the only guy who you'll ever true love…
I grasped Joel's hand weakly and took in my surroundings. I was lying on a pile of clothes in the vanity room.
I could feel that all the makeup had been washed off my face, but I was still in my wedding gown. I immediately felt guilty.
"I'm sorry," I said earnestly, glancing at Joel. "I ruined our wedding."
"No!" Joel said, squeezing my hand. "It's alright, really. We all have a right to be nervous."
"I know, but…" I trailed off when I saw his expression.
He gently slipped his arms under me and lifted me to my feet. I had to fight to stay relaxed and not go stiff. Maybe I had rushed into marriage. If I had really wanted this, wouldn't I be longing for him to pick me up and take me to the bedroom…
I had only felt that… feeling once in my life. And it hadn't been with Joel.
Once again, a longing for something just out of my reach filled me with false hopes. I remembered my dream about Percy. Had that really happened when he died? Well, I knew he'd go to Elysium. Duh. My heart ached when I recalled the way he had stared out at the ocean… whispered my name… said those three little words…
And those three little words were filling my ears right now. "…know I love you, Annabeth," Joel was saying, smiling warmly and holding my hand.
"Yeah, uh, I lo_" Thankfully, I was saved from saying it back by somebody bursting in on us.
My heart sank when I saw who it was, though.
"Oh, Annabeth," Aphrodite gushed, sounding like a love- crazy woman, which she was. However, she glared at me with fire in her eyes, as if to say: I keep giving you second chances in love, and you keep darn well messing them up!
"Why are you here?" I asked suspiciously.
Aphrodite faked a hurt expression. "Your aunt has a right to be worried about you when you get sick, doesn't she?"
I scoffed and shook my head, grabbing Joel's arm. "C'mon. Let's go."
We walked out of the room, and I didn't look back.
As I walked back down the aisle on my husband's arm, I looked at him and we grinned at each other. Then something caught my eye just beyond his ear. I focused on it and my heart stopped.
A head of dark messy hair, tall, tanned figure… a thousand memories engulfed me. I met those sea green eyes, and my heart restarted, feeling like a brick in my chest. Like father like son… the old phrase echoed in my head.
The sea god smiled kindly at me, sympathy and deep pain in his eyes. I tried for a smile back, but I'm afraid it was more like a grimace. Poseidon nodded at me, before dissipating into a fresh sea breeze.
"Anna, are you okay?" Joel asked me. He must have noticed my off expression. He turned to try and find what I had been looking at, with no luck. "Who were you looking at?"
I shook my head sadly, meeting Joel's confused eyes. "I'm fine, Joel. And, I wasn't looking at anybody. Nobody at all…"
We exited the church, and strode away to find a bench to sit on in the rose gardens. I cradled my hands in my lap.
Satisfied with my answer, Joel lowered his voice and whispered in my ear: "You're going to love our honeymoon, I can guarantee. You like the beach, right?"
And I had thought this day couldn't get any worse.
"Yeah, uh, I love the beach. At least, I used to…" I trailed off, and looked up into his eyes seriously. "Joel, there's something I have to tell you when we get… home. It's quite important, and it might change the way you look at me. I should have told you when you proposed, but I was a coward…"
Fear rose in Joel's eyes, but he visibly forced it down. "As long as you accept me for what I am, I will accept you. I'll always love you, Annabeth. You are one of a kind. I can tell that you have loved someone else, and had your heart broken, though."
I looked down, which probably gave it away.
Joel tilted my head back up with his index finger. "I know that a part of your heart will always belong to someone else. And I hope that one day you will be ready to tell me about your past.
"I also know that I will never replace that person, but I'll try to make up for it with all my heart. Do you hear me?" Joel's normally kind eyes blazed down into mine. "Do you?" he demanded. His grip became uncomfortably tight.
"I hear you, Joel," I whispered.
His expression softened considerably. "I'm sorry, Annabeth."
"Don't be." And then I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him, pouring all my pent up emotions into the kiss. He seemed taken aback by my forwardness, but soon responded with fervour.
And, even on this day of my holy bonding to another man (Joel was Christian, which I'm sure would change when he heard my story) I still yearned for Percy, for his endearing, smart assed comments and handsome smile. Most of all, I wished to taste his salty lips and smell the sea breeze that never disappeared from around him.
I tried to pretend that I wasn't using Joel as a replacement. Never replace me, Percy's words whispered through my mind.
I love Joel. That's why I'm here, right?
Still, that voice from earlier whispered through my mind, like the hiss of a snake: Are you absolutely, positively, 100% sure about that?
The honeymoon flew by. Joel had hired a cabin on a beach in Fiji. It was beautiful, but too close to the sea for me. I remember thinking once: I couldn't bear the thought if Percy and I ever broke up. I'd never be able to visit the sea again, because my broken heart would ache too bad (AN MOA, Annabeth walking along the Battery Harbour with Hazel and Piper. Page 226).
I think he could tell I was distracted. He didn't press me about the 'issue' I had promised to tell him about.
One night, we went out to a club and partied till about one in the morning. When we got back to the hotel room, I suppose we were probably both a bit drunk… because I woke up at about eleven in the morning with no clothes on and a pounding headache.
Well, that settles it, I thought, gazing out at the beautiful ocean view after I had gotten out of bed, leaving Joel snoring, thrown some clothes on, and taken an aspirin. I knew Poseidon was out there somewhere, maybe even watching me right now. Surely he would know I was here by now. After all, I had been here for about a week and a half, and I was practically right on his domain.
I now belong to Joel. I am his and he is mine.
As I stared out at the ocean, thinking about Joel and I, a hopeful smile lit up my face. The ocean was the colour of Percy's eyes. A sense of peace washed over me. I bowed my head and accepted his death. He was gone. I couldn't change that. But I could honour his memory by accepting his last wish of me.
"Hey, Annabeth!" a hearty voice greeted me. I turned to see Joel enter the kitchen with some hastily thrown on slacks on, but no shirt… I shivered. His chest was really nicely toned. How had I not noticed that before?
"Hi, Joel," I said shyly. He came up behind me silently, slipping his arms around my waist. I pressed back against his chest, and we both stared out into the sea.
I wasn't sure what Joel saw, but what I saw made the smile on my face grow and reach its limits.
I saw two smiling green eyes out in the depths of the waves. I saw a head of dark hair in the seaweed that washed ashore. I saw Percy Jackson. His face floated at the shore, radiant and glowing with love and adoration. He waved. I waved back. And slipped further into Joel's arms.
Percy's image dissipated. My heart ached immensely. I couldn't be sure whether the vision had been real, or just a figment of my imagination. I yearned to follow him. Seaweed Brain…
But I was content. Content to stay right here on shore. With Joel.
Back in America, I was packing up all my stuff, moving into Joel's apartment. For one thing, it was larger than mine, and it had a much nicer view off the balcony. I got to wake up to a second- hand car yard. Joel woke up to a nice view of Central Park.
I was sifting through an old box that I hadn't even unpacked since the last time I moved.
I was about to give up and move onto the next box because I thought it was just all old photos, but then I stumbled across something that chilled my heart to the core.
My collection of diaries from previous years.
Most of them only had a few paragraphs written in them. They were all from the years 2010, the year Percy and I defeated Kronos, 2011, the year he went missing for eight months, 2012, the year we began the voyage to Rome, and I had to follow the Mark of Athena (There was only, like, eight paragraphs in that one. Didn't really have much time to write while aboard the ship.) I must have missed 2013. Then again, that was the year that Percy and I fell to Tartarus. There wasn't any more after that. Apart from a sheet of paper with both sides filled with wobbly writing in black ink. I looked at the date and gasped when I realised it was around the time Percy died.
Right now it was 2020. So the oldest diary here was ten years old. Wow.
I began to try and decipher the wobbly black writing.
With Percy gone, I feel like somebody has punched a hole through my chest. I'm not usually poetic, but I guess when your boyfriend goes and dies on you, you have a right to be a bit dark and melancholy.
Jason and I have become somewhat closer. We see eye to eye. With him being the son of Zeus and all, I always felt that he thought he was superior to me, a mere daughter of Athena, despite the age difference. But he understands what I'm going through. In fact, I might even admit he has it worse- he didn't get to say goodbye to his girlfriend.
A pang went through my heart when I remembered beautiful Piper with her choppy dark and, and her tendency to braid it with feathers.
It hurts a lot, when I think of everyone. Hazel. Frank. Leo. Piper. Coach Hedge. Nico.
I have yet to come to terms with Percy's death. I keep thinking… that maybe Hades has just played a cruel joke on me, and Percy's going to pop up in my cabin on the Argo 11 one day and say, "Just kidding!"
Well, I'm just kidding myself. Once you die, you don't come back. The only thing that comforts me is that he'll go to Elysium, for sure. It's the least Hades could do for him, after all he's done for the gods.
I miss him. Miss him so much that it literally hurts. I want to just kiss him one last time, to hold him, see his smile…
Gods, I was a bit of a romantic freak back then, wasn't I?
I think back to that night when Jason found me with the knife pressed to my wrist. If not for him, how far would I have gone… to get back to Percy?
I stopped reading, and studied my wrist, where I had cut myself so long ago. There was a white mark, a smooth, straight line where the Celestial bronze had sliced through my skin like butter.
I'm scared of going back to camp. To face everyone. I can imagine it now. All that sympathy, pity, concern. I don't want any of it. I don't want to cry again. I don't want to go to his burial ceremony, to face Chiron again… I just want to get away from everything. Darn Jason and his horrible timing…
I shuddered. What state of mind had I been in when I wrote this?
It's been a week since Percy's death. Jason predicted that, with the Argo 11 in as bad condition as it is, it would take about another week of flying to get back to camp. This week feels like it's lasted a year.
I curse Aphrodite in my sleep every night. I decided I hate love. It was amazing
while it lasted… and yes, I did- DO love Percy. I want him back. I would kill to have him back by my side. But, ultimately, love sucks. It draws you in, wins you over, makes you think that maybe, just maybe, you have a chance at a happy ending, and then knocks you flat and you get trampled. I honestly thought that I might get a chance at a happy ending with Percy. He DID have the guts to propose to me, after all.
I absentmindedly fingered my worn camp necklace, with all the faded beads and the plastic ring Percy had left me with, and turned the sheet of paper over, where my monologue continued.
I can imagine what it would have been like… to dress up, to put on makeup for Percy. To have him give me a real engagement ring. To have a minister announce that we are now man and wife. To kiss him and seal the bond. He would have looked handsome in a suit…
Annabeth Jackson. That sounds great. It warms my cold heart. It was a certain possibility. Until stupid Dirt Faced Gaia interfered.
I have to go to dinner now. I dread eating in the dining room, where we get live visual feed of Camp Half- Blood. I don't want to see the Big House right now, or the camp eating dinner at the dining pavilion. With my luck, it might even show cabin 3.
Jason's calling. Maybe one day, I'll find someone else. No matter what though, nobody will fill the hole that left when he left me.
I'm hungry. All this dark stuff hurts my head.
I didn't realise, but by the time I was finished reading, tears blurred my vision.
I inhaled deeply, then wiped my steaming eyes, to no avail.
Then, oh, great, just my luck. My phone vibrated. I picked it up. "Hello?" I asked, wincing at the croak in my voice.
"Annabeth?" Joel said. His voice was concerned. "Hey, are you okay?"
I sniffed. "No. Can you come over? We need to talk."
"I'll be right over. See you soon. Love you." And with that, he hung up.
I sat on the couch and blew my nose into a tissue, and breathed deeply. Within minutes, Joel was at the doorway. He walked in and joined me on the couch.
We embraced, and he made me look at him. "Anna," he said sternly.
"Tell me what's wrong," he ordered.
I held up a finger, and stood. "Can I just go to the bathroom? I need to clean up."
Joel let go of my wrist, nodding.
I came back a few minutes later, and Joel wasn't on the couch where I left him.
"Joel!" I called, looking around.
"In here!" he answered. It came from the kitchen.
I entered the kitchen to see him at the counter, looking at something.
My spine tingled as I approached him and looked over his shoulder.
"What are you doing?" I asked, and then gasped.
"I came in to make a cup of coffee, and found this," Joel said, standing up straight. He looked at me with confusion and questions in his eyes. He held up the bit of paper I had just been reading.
Realization dawned on me. "Shit," I muttered, snatching it out of his hands.
Joel raised an eyebrow, a troubled expression on his face. "Care to explain? Who's this Percy guy that you…"
Joel noticed my face fall at Percy's name. "Oh, gods, Annabeth," he said quietly. "Percy is…?"
I nodded, unable to speak properly.
"He proposed to you?"
I nodded, unable to speak. I pulled my camp necklace out from under my shirt, and took it off, laying it on the bench.
I pointed to the fake silver ring looped on the leather cord. "It's not real, but it's all he had at that moment…"
I waited for a few moments before composing myself, and beginning with, "Joel, we need to talk. I've been putting it off, but… it's vital to our relationship. We want a relationship based on trust and honesty, not lies and deceit." I took a deep breath. I knew I was rambling.
Joel was obviously puzzled. I held up a hand in a placating gesture.
"Just, please, don't ask any questions until I'm finished, okay? And no doubt you will have questions. Okay, um…"
I sat down at a bench stool, and gestured for him to sit as well. "Joel, please keep an open mind about this, okay? You will find much of what I say to sound like… well, one huge lie, considering you're Christian and all," I mumbled. Get a hold of yourself, girl! You're just confusing him!
I started with the basics- about running away at age seven, and hanging out with Luke and Thalia. I got into the complicated stuff when Joel interrupted to ask why we were three young kids on the run. Running from what? He had asked.
"This is where it gets complicated," I said. "Do you know about the Ancient Greek myths? About the gods and monsters and Titans, and stuff?"
Joel nodded, obviously wondering how this fitted in with my story of three kids on the run.
"I am the daughter of one of those Greek gods. Goddess, actually. I am a daughter of Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom, fine arts and war."
Joel's expression turned incredulous. "No- no way," he stuttered. "There is no gods- there is only one true God_"
"I know this is hard to take in," I said gently, praying to all the gods I knew for patience. "But remember what I said about keeping an open mind. Luke was the son of Hermes, Greek god of merchants, thieves and travellers. Thalia is the daughter of Zeus, the Greek god of the sky, king of the gods." I didn't bother mentioning the fact that she can summon lightning, and that she's an immortal lieutenant to the goddess Artemis.
"Hold on," Joel said. "You said was for Luke, and is for Thalia. How does that work?"
I sighed. "Luke died ten years ago in a war against the evil titan Kronos. It's kind of hard to explain, but… I'll just say that Luke betrayed all his friends and turned to the dark side, but in the end he… sacrificed himself and saved us all."
Joel looked stumped. "Kronos. Evil titan. And you say you defeated him? How?"
I bit my lip. "Percy fought him. Sword against scythe. Percy kept Kronos at bay while I spoke to Luke."
"You speak like they are one person."
"They were. As I said, hard to explain if you weren't there."
"So, if this mythical world is real… they really had swords?"
I nodded. "I'll show you."
Joel blinked. "You have a sword?"
"I prefer the dagger, if I do say so myself. Stay here." I jogged to my bedroom and brought my dagger back, and held it out to Joel.
He studied it in amazement.
"Celestial Bronze. It can't harm mortals."
"Normal people. People with no trace of godly DNA. Like you."
Joel put the dagger down and glanced at me. "Was Percy a- did he have a godly parent?"
"The correct term is demigod, or half- blood. Yes, Percy was a son of Poseidon. God of the sea."
"Could he control water? Make cyclones, and huge thunderstorms and stuff?"
I laughed quietly. "He was the most powerful demigod ever at Camp Half- Blood, and he could control water, even make a mini storm around himself, but, no, he didn't make cyclones or anything like that."
"What's Camp Half- Blood?"
"Oh, it's a summer camp I go to. A safe haven for demigods to stay, where we train and so on."
"Train?" Joel asked, shooting me a cautious look.
"Well, you can't own a sharp weapon and not know how to use it. Percy was the second best swordsman in a century," I said proudly.
Joel nodded, looking a little miffed. He stood and started sifting through the box of photos. He eventually brought out a fat album named Memories.
I winced. That was the album with all the best photos of me and my friends. And my boyfriend.
Joel sat down and silently started flicking through the pages. I leaned over and looked at all the photos.
There was a photo of Thalia, Luke and me when we were on the run. It was one of those photo strips that you get from a photo booth. We were all making funny faces.
"How much older than you was Luke?" he frowned.
"About seven years," I replied nonchalantly.
"Five years, but she was a tree for a while and now she's immortal."
"I'd say she's about fifteen. And a lot of teenagers get offered immortality. In fact, after the Titan War, Percy was offered godhood by Zeus himself. But he declined. For me."
I think Joel was beyond words by this point. He shook his head in awe, and kept flicking through. There were pictures of me and Grover, me and Luke, the camp, Half Blood Hill, Thalia's pine tree.
Finally, we got to the 2006 section, with the earliest photos of Percy and me. The first photo I ever got of him and me together was the Fourth of July fireworks that we went to together. And it wasn't a date, that one. Grover was there, and there were no romantic feelings at all. I explained this to Joel, and told him that at first I had hated Percy, because he was such a Seaweed Brain, but it had eventually become endearing.
The next photo of Percy and I was after we came back from rescuing Grover from the Sea of Monsters, and we had won the chariot race together, with Tyson's help. Joel was eager to hear all about my various quests, however, his face soon fell when he heard that they were all with Percy. He got a disappointed glint in his eye when I told him about the time Luke kidnapped me and held me under the sky, and Percy defied all of the camp's rules to come and rescue me.
We flipped through the years, and I talked for hours until my voice got hoarse. There was a story for every photo.
In the section 2009, for some reason I had a photo of Rachel and Percy, and Percy had his arm around Rachel's waist and they were both laughing.
Joel asked about that.
"Percy and Rachel were, um, well, I guess you could say that they might have been something if Rachel hadn't become the Oracle of Delphi."
"Oracle of Dolphin?" Joel asked, confused.
"No, Delphi. Let's just say that she reads the future, like a seer. And there is no glass orb, so don't even ask about that."
Joel laughed and kept flicking through the photos. Eventually we got to the year 2010. The year Percy and I kissed.
There was that photo of the whole war council that I had found in Percy's cabin on the Argo 11 a couple of years ago, with Percy looking like an idiot. Joel was becoming more lenient as he got an idea of Percy's personality. We had a good laugh at some hilarious faces my friends pulled.
Joel became quieter when we got to the section where Percy and I started getting more 'closer' in our photos together.
There was another strip of photos from a photo booth of me and Percy. There was five different photos, in a wacky arrangement on the glossy paper. One showed us both poking our tongues out and crossing our eyes. The next was of me kissing his cheek while he poked me in the nose. The third was of us smiling nicely with our arms around each other. The fourth was of me on Percy's back, my legs wrapped around him, silly smiles of our faces. And the fifth…
"Oh," Joel said softly, looking at me. I didn't look at Joel- I stared out my window into the now- dark sky, all this memorabilia crowding my mind.
The fifth was of me and Percy kissing. His hands rested on my hips, and my arms were around his neck, my fingers knotted in his hair. We were both smiling into the kiss.
Joel quickly put that album away. He moved onto the next album. It was labelled, 2013- 2014.
"There'll be nothing in that one," I said, nodding towards it.
But it was already open. And there was a photo taped there, and a message.
The photo was of the Seven of the second Great Prophecy. Leo, Jason, Piper, Hazel, Frank, Percy and me. We stood in front of the Argo 11 with our arms around each other. I don't even remember it being taken.
I gasped when I read the message. Tears prickled at the corners of my eyes. "Percy…" I whispered. Joel must have read the message, because he leaned over and put his arm around me, planting a kiss on the back of my neck under my hair. I didn't feel a thing.
The message read:
Annabeth, when you get this, I hope that it's been a long time since my death. That you've found someone else. I just want to say that I'm sorry I had to leave you. I hope we never meet again, because you'll probably kill me again. You're probably wondering how this got here, hopefully under the photo of all of us in front of the Argo 11. Well, you remember how Aphrodite was always going on about how our relationship was equal to Helen and Paris's affair that started the Trojan War? She was happy to send this, because she knows you'll go into an emotional debate with yourself. I know it as well. Wipe those tears from your eyes, and put a smile there, because your husband doesn't deserve to have a wife who will forever mope for her last boyfriend.
I smiled through my tears, and Joel wiped them away. I was glad he didn't ask any questions.
I also want to say that I love you, and will forever. I can't wait until the day we meet in Elysium. But I'm true to my wish. I want you to live a long, happy life. If I had it my way, you'd live forever. So that your beautiful smile will never fade. I'm just rambling now, aren't I? Anyway, hope all's well for you. Say hi to my mum for me.
I love you so much, Wise Girl. Shame that I only told you once, because I actually was secretly in love with you for years.
My heart thudded painfully at that. Why didn't he ask me out, then?
I guess I was too scared to admit my feelings. I was scared that you would reject me, if I was too forward. But look at us now.
It kills me to have to close this letter. Who knew I'd be the kind of guy to write love letters? Aphrodite must be rubbing off on me.
Seaweed Brain xxxooo
I was sobbing in Joel's arms by the end of it.
"I'm sorry!" I cried, burying my head in his chest. "I should have told you before we got married," I blubbered. "I just, just loved him so much, and it's my fault that he died!"
"Just cry, baby," my husband whispered. "Let it all out."
And so I did.
I felt better by the end of it.
Joel stroked my back and held me the whole time.
Yet another year went by, and Joel seemed to accept that I would never really get over Percy. He learned about all the myths, even practised a bit with my dagger. He met Chiron, and they got along great.
One day, Joel posed a question to me. The question I had been dreading.
"Anna," he said.
"Yah," I answered, while bopping to Lose Yourself, by Eminem on MTV and making a ham and cheese sandwich. Joel was sipping a cup of coffee, and watching me.
"What do you think about children?"
I glanced up, pausing in my action of placing the cheese on the buttered bread.
"Um, that depends. I'm not particularly fond of babies, but I don't mind teenagers. They're fun to argue with."
Joel grinned. "Typical Annabeth. Nah, I'm serious. Do you think we're ready for children?"
I dropped my butter knife and gripped the counter. "As in, like, babies?"
Joel bobbed his head. "That was the point."
My mouth opened and closed like a fish. I hadn't a clue of what to say.
"It's okay if you don't answer now. But I'd like an answer soon. We're twenty seven, Annabeth. Not going to be young forever. I'm fine with whatever decision you make, and I'll respect you with whatever your choice, and support you. But, if you want children, well," he glanced at me slyly. "Now's the time to take action."
I was still unable to do anything but gape at him, before I managed to squeak out, "I'll think- about it."
Joel nodded and went back to his coffee, but that question plagued me for weeks. Did I want children?
A FEW WEEKS LATER
One morning, I was jolted out of my pleasant dreams of Percy and me by the urge to be sick.
I jumped out of bed, leaving Joel still snoring, and rushed to the bathroom, throwing open the toilet seat just in time for the sticky yellow bile to come up. I spat, and washed my mouth out at the sink.
Random, I thought, then went back to bed.
"Joel," I said.
"Yeah?" he looked at me curiously.
My mind was working over time, adding all the little things together, until I got the big picture. My heart stopped for a second. "Can you take me to the GP today?"
My husband put down his newspaper and looked at me with concern evident in his eyes. "Are you okay, Anna?"
I concentrated on washing my plate from breakfast under the running water. Concentrated on trying not to break it with my extremely tight grip that was probably not good for the innocent plate's health. "That depends on the doctor's answer."
Joel frowned at me worriedly, then slipped his reading glasses over his nose again, and resumed reading his paper.
AT THE GP
"Is that so?" Doctor Karris asked, as she leaned over me, inspecting my belly.
"I'm pretty sure," I said. "I just want a check up."
"That can be easily done," Doctor Karris smiled tiredly at me. "Can you just lie down on the bed over there, for me Mrs Ansell?"
I nodded, and did as she requested.
"Now lift up your shirt for me. Brace yourself, this is going to be cold," she warned.
I nodded again, and winced as she spread the cold gel on my bare stomach which was flat now, but for how much longer?
Doctor Karris started massaging my stomach with the ultrasound stick, and before long, a multicoloured image appeared on the digital screen above our heads.
"There it is," the doctor nodded to the thermal image. "Would you like me to send your husband in, Mrs Ansell?"
I nodded for the third time, utterly speechless. I couldn't decide whether I was excited or terrified.
"Hey, you," Joel smiled as he came and squatted by my side. The door closed softly, as Doctor Karris left us a moment of privacy. I barely acknowledged him, too busy staring at the thermal image that was telling me what couldn't be true.
"How is everything? Alright?"
I shook my head, still unable to speak. "Annabeth? Are you okay?"
"Joel," I whispered, not looking at him. "Do you know what that is, up there?" I waved my hand at the screen.
Joel squinted at it, then shook his head 'no'.
I sighed, and grasped his hand.
"That, up there," I said, "Is an image of an unborn child."
Joel stared at me. Either he was a great actor, or was actually out of the loop. "Please explain," he said.
"Well, you got your answer," I said. "I'm pregnant."
"Pregnant." Joel was staring at me.
"Yes, Joel. I am pregnant. We are going to have a child."
TO BE CONTINUED!
Oh my god. Annabeth pregnant? And NOT to Percy? Oh, it hurts my heart to write this…
But don't worry, one more chapter, and we get to see the inspiration of this story!
Just so you know, I don't own the wedding vows. I took them out of Virginia Andrews' book: Fallen Hearts, third book in the Heaven series. Awesome series, by the way.
I won't update till I get 20 reviews, okay?
Thanks for reading,