Ch. 26

Percy smiled before becoming more serious, "I also danced with Lady Artemis." He said quietly.

Zoe's eyes widened, "How did that go?"

Percy shrugged, "It was alright. A little scary at first but we're cool now."

Zoe raised an eyebrow.

"She wanted to know why I turned down godhood." Percy said softly.

Zoe nodded, "And why did you?" She asked with a small smile.

"I didn't want it. Besides, it seemed dumb to leave behind the person who tied me to my mortality especially after she turned down immortality a few minutes earlier." Percy whispered into her ear.

Zoe stepped back and looked at him shocked. Percy nodded, "It was you that pulled me out of the River Styx; the one who kept me grounded to the mortal world."

Zoe stared at Percy for a second before her hands drifted to his hair as she pulled his face down into a soft kiss. Percy felt the weight of the world lift off his shoulders as her lips met his. Everything that had been there his whole life weighing him down leading up to then was finally gone and he was truly free.

Zoe pulled back from the kiss as their foreheads pressed together, "I love you Percy."

Percy's lips shifted into a soft smile, "I love you too Zoe."

Zoe smiled as she pulled her head back from his. They both opened their eyes at the same time to find the music had stopped and every single person in the courtyard was looking at them.

Before they could say anything, almost everyone started cheering and applauding as both their faces turned cherry red.

Percy pulled her close before a shadow engulfed the couple, taking them away from their embarrassing moment.

Percy and Zoe reappeared on Zeus' fist in the woods of Camp Half-Blood; both their faces still bright red in embarrassment.

Percy looked down at Zoe and smiled a bit as some of the blush left his face, "Well that was embarrassing."

Zoe looked up at him and narrowed her eyes, "That was the most embarrassing moment of my life." She growled.

Percy held up his hands and smirked a bit, "If I remember correctly, you kissed me. I should be the one angry with you."

Zoe punched him hard in the chest, "Shut up." She growled, her blush returning a bit.

Percy stumbled back clutching his chest painfully. Zoe looked at him confused for a minute before her eyes widened, "Gods Percy I'm sorry."

Percy glared at her, "Thank you, I didn't take a master bolt there a few hours ago or anything."

She frowned, "I forgot, I'm sorry."

Percy nodded, "It's fine but please go easy on me for a bit, that was incredible painful." He said as he sat down on the rocks.

Zoe followed his lead and sat down beside him, leaning against him as she looked up into the night sky.

Percy smiled and slipped his arm around her before his expression turned more serious.

"Are you sure about this Zoe?" He asked quietly.

"About what?" She asked confused.

"Not rejoining the hunt. I know how much you loved being a hunter and Artemis is like your best friend. I wouldn't be mad if you went back to them. I would miss you but I don't want you to feel like you can't because of me." He said seriously.

Zoe shook her head slowly, "I didn't turn Artemis down for you Percy."

Percy looked at her confused making Zoe smile a bit.

"I turned her offer down because of you. I was a hunter for thousands of years and I was happy. I hated men with a passion because of Heracles and I thought all men were like him. But when I met you, it changed. You were the first man to look at me as a friend first and that made me trust you. In the entire time we were friends you never once tried anything or even flirted with me. You were a good friend, my best friend. You didn't think you needed to protect me but at the same time you always had my back no matter what. Spending the last two years thinking I was going to lose you, it made me realize how much you mean to me, more than my life in the hunt. This is what I want Percy, I did this for me and I have no regrets." She explained seriously.

Percy looked at her a little surprised by her explanation before leaning down and kissing her on the cheek, "So what happens now?" He asked with a smile.

"Well I suppose I will have to dedicate a good amount of my time making sure you don't be your usual impulsive and foolish male self." She said with an amused smile.

Percy shrugged, "I can live with that."

Zoe smiled, "What about tonight? It's your sixteenth birthday, what do you want to do?"

Percy looked at her surprised before standing up, "It is, isn't it? Well I have an idea but I need you to trust me."

Zoe rolled her eyes and held out her hand, "I wouldn't be here if I didn't."

Percy grabbed her hand and pulled her close before leaning down and kissing her softly on the lips just as a shadow consumed them and they vanished from Zeus' fist.

Line Break (1 Month later)

The campers and the hunters were taking their positions for the capture the flag game. Once again, Percy was volunteered by his loving girlfriend and caring friends to guard the flag when the campers found out Artemis would be playing for the hunters. He scowled as he sat on a branch; some friends he had. Sure this is exactly what he wanted; having to battle an Olympian goddess with the speed of Hermes and the skills of Athena. He vowed they would pay for this.

Before he could feel any more self-pity, a familiar auburn haired twelve-year-old girl ran into the clearing.

Percy jumped down from his branch as he eyed the goddess warily.

Artemis smirked at his face, "Relax Perseus, you're the only mortal to give me a good fight, I wouldn't kill you and deprive myself the joy of knocking you around every time we come to camp."

Percy shook his head smiling, "How kind of you Lady Artemis, I feel honored to be your mortal punching bag."

Artemis laughed as her hunting knives appeared in her hands, "As you should Perseus, as you should."

Percy's spear shot out of the ground but the minute he grabbed it, a ball of silver energy hit him square in the chest and knocked him back a few feet. His eyes widened when he landed on his back before he jumped to his feet and scowled at the goddess who was looking at him innocently.

"I wasn't aware we would be using powers." He growled.

Artemis feigned surprise, "Oops, I guess it slipped my mind."

Percy rolled his eyes as an idea formed in his head. He looked up at Artemis and smiled, "Well are you going to stand there all day or are you going to fail to get the flag again?"

Artemis eyes widened before she grinned evilly and stepped forward to charge Percy only to fall flat on her face. Artemis looked down at her feet, shocked to find them entangled in a mess of daisies and tulips.

She looked up at Percy with wide eyes as he tried to look innocent, "Oops."

Artemis narrowed her eyes, "How?"

Percy grinned, "Son of the Goddess of Spring here. It may not be a very useful power in battle but I suppose it does serve its purpose occasionally."

Artemis scowled before freeing herself with a quick swipe of her hunting knife and jumped to her feet, "You'll suffer for that Perseus."

Percy nodded, "I know but it was totally worth it."

Artemis lunged at Percy with her hunting knives only for Percy to block with his spear and kick her hard in her chest knocking her back a few feet.

Artemis growled as was about to charge again when she stopped as her bow appeared in her hand. Percy paled as a volley of silver arrows was fired his way. He dove to the right as his shield sprung onto his wrist as he took cover behind it. The arrows were relentless, giving him no chance to look out from behind his shield.

When the barrage of arrows finally stopped, Percy peeked his head over the shield only to find Artemis less than a foot in front of him before she kicked him in the face knocking him on his back. Percy rolled to side, barely avoiding her hunting knives and kicked the in the back of the leg making her stumble forward enough for him to get back to his feet. Percy threw his spear at the goddess making her duck as he uncapped Anaklusmos and summoned his second sword from the ground.

Artemis glared at him, "Not bad Perseus but you're still going to get it."

Percy nodded before charging at the goddess in a flurry of strikes. Artemis was surprised by his speed as he kept her on the defensive and pushed her back until he overreached on a slash as she ducked underneath and drove her hunting knife into his stomach.

Percy stepped back wincing a bit but smirked as he saw Artemis staring at her broken hunting knife disbelievingly.

"Well that's an unfair advantage." She growled.

Percy scoffed, "Unfair? I'm the one fighting the most combat skilled Olympian one-on-one and you say I have an unfair advantage?"

Artemis looked up at him surprised but smiled, "Why thank you Perseus. But flattery isn't going to help you today."

Percy narrowed his eyes, "It wasn't a compliment. It was a complaint." He said before charging at Artemis again.

A new hunting knife appeared in her hand as she blocked Percy's swords. This time the goddess planned to make Perseus well aware he was fighting an Olympian goddess. She blocked his swords again and pushed back before attacking with renewed vigor. She was a blur of silver as she attacked high and low, trying desperately to land a blow.

After a full minute, she could feel Percy begin to tire as she pressed harder, feinting an attack low and sending a powerful kick to Percy's chest.

Percy stumbled back but suddenly vanished as he dropped into a shadow at his feet. He reappeared behind to goddess as she barely turned in time to block. She scowled and vanished in a flash of silver trying to pull the same move as Percy but to her surprise he met her blade with his own when she reappeared to his left.

Artemis kicked the back of Percy's left leg, forcing him down to a knee before driving the hilt of one of her hunting knives into the back of his head knocking him to the ground.

Percy groaned loudly from the ground as his vision blurred.

Artemis ran to the flag and grabbed it. As she turned around, she froze as the conch horn sounded signaling the second straight defeat for the hunters.

The goddess cursed to herself for letting Perseus stop her again. She turned to Percy to chew him out to find him lying on the ground unmoving.

She couldn't help herself from feeling a little guilty about how hard she had hit him. She let her frustration get the best of her and used to godly strength to knock him out. Without the Curse of Achilles, he would be dead.

She knelt down beside Percy, "Perseus, are you okay?" She asked softly as campers and hunters made their way to them.

Percy groaned loudly again but nodded slowly, "Yes Lady Artemis, just a really bad headache."

Artemis nodded as offered Percy her hand as she pulled him to his feet. She grabbed his shoulder to stop him from stumbling away.

Thalia stepped forward with a smirk, "I think you broke him milady."

Percy shook his head and glared at his cousin playfully before turning to the other campers, "Screw you guys. Next time the hunters come to camp, someone else is guarding the flag."

A few campers and hunters chuckled at his remark while Artemis smirked and patted him gently on the back, "Sorry Perseus but you don't have a choice. I find our little fights far too much fun when I come to camp."

Percy rolled his eyes, "Yea fun for you, painful for me."

Artemis laughed a bit before shaking her head, "If only you were a girl; you would make an excellent huntress."

Percy scowled while everyone else laughed at her comment. The laughter was abruptly stopped when an all too familiar mummified woman walked into the clearing. She made a beeline for one of the huntresses, a familiar red-headed one before the oracle's eyes glowed and her mouth opened as green smoke began to pour out.

Instead of speaking, the green mist surrounded Rachel who was in shocked silence. She involuntarily opened her mouth as the smoke flowed into her body before her own eyes glowed green as she turned to the whole group,

"Seven heroes shall answer the call
To storm or fire, the world must fall
An oath to keep with a final breath,
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death"

Rachel said before she collapsed to the ground unconscious at the same time as the mummified corpse.

Everyone stood in shocked silence for a second before a bright golden light appeared beside Rachel's unconscious body.

Apollo appeared with a huge smile on his face, "Yes! My oracle finally found a new host." He said excitedly.

Artemis lunged at her brother and pinned him to the ground with a hunting knife pressed firmly to his throat.

"You dare make one of my hunters your oracle?" She growled at the now wide-eyed Apollo.

Apollo very carefully shook his head, "Not my choice sis. It is her destiny to be the next oracle." He said with fear laced in his voice.

Artemis glared at him harshly, "She is my hunter. Not your play thing. Fix it, now!" She hissed at him.

Apollo turned more serious, "I can't Artemis and you know that." He said as he carefully pushed the knife from his throat and climbed back to his feet.

Artemis shook her head, "She has sworn and oath to me and I have no intention of releasing her." She said angrily.

Apollo smiled, "That's perfect then. My oracles need to be virgins anyway. I have no problem with her remaining a hunter. Just more excuses to come visit my baby sis."

Artemis punched her brother hard in the gut, "I am older than you, idiot. And you will not visit. I will inform you when she gives her prophecies." She growled at him.

Apollo smirked, "Okay sis, whatever you say."

Artemis scowled but before she could yell at him again, Percy spoke up, "What was that prophecy?"

Apollo's face turned serious once again, "I believe we all just witnessed the next great prophecy being given."

Percy's face turned pale, "No friggen way Apollo. I did my part and I spent six years training for it. Whatever this one is about, count me out."

Apollo shook his head sadly, "That's not how it works Perce. If you are one of the prophesized seven then you must accept it or it could be the end of Olympus."

Percy just shook his head. Zoe stepped up beside him and grabbed his hand, giving it a soft squeeze, "Relax Percy, the last prophecy took almost a century to come to pass. Hopefully this one will as well."

Percy nodded his head numbly, feeling a little better with Zoe beside him.

Artemis and Apollo looked at each other seriously as a look of understanding and then a bit of sadness passed between them.

Artemis looked at Zoe, "Take Perseus back to camp, this isn't something he needs to worry about."

Zoe nodded and led a still pale Percy away from the clearing.

When they reached camp Zoe leaned over and kissed Percy softly on the cheek, "What's wrong Percy?"

Percy shook his head as he walked over to the brand new Hades cabin as his face changed to a look of anger before he drove his fist through the door of the cabin.

"I hate them. I should have used my chance to smack the old hags when I could." He growled.

Zoe looked at him confused but Percy just scowled.

"The Fates. When they said they weren't done with me I saw a bunch of weird images in my head including a huge battle. This is what they meant. I hate this. I just wanted to enjoy a little bit of peace for once in my life." He growled before punching another hole in the cabin door.

Zoe's eyes widened before she roughly grabbed her boyfriend and pulled him away from the door. She grabbed his face in her hand and made him look her in the eyes, "Stop Percy. If this is how it is then we can't change it. But I promise no matter what happens, I will be with you every step of the way."

Percy calmed as he looked in Zoe's dark eyes before he slowly nodded, "Thank you." He whispered.

Zoe smiled before she leaned up and kissed him softly on the lips making Percy's face shift into a smile.

Line Break (Six Months Later)

Zoe woke up in the Artemis cabin, smiling a bit as she remembered that she and Percy were going down to the Underworld today to visit some friends. She laid back in her bed as she thought about her life and how it had changed so much over the past three years.

Never in her long life did she ever see herself where she was today. She assumed she would serve Artemis faithfully until she fell in battle at some point. Which was exactly what would have happened had she never met Percy Jackson.

Now she couldn't help but smile, she was out of the hunt but surprisingly happy about it. She met what she considered to be one of the only good men in the world; someone who treated her as an equal and with respect. He was also the only man she knew tough enough to deal with someone like Zoe who had a tendency to get out her frustration physically. Percy was perfect for her. He could deal with her when she was angry but didn't let himself get pushed around by anyone, including her. She couldn't help her smile from growing. She was simply happy.

Zoe rolled out of her bed and showered before making her way over to the Hades cabin. She was a little surprised he wasn't up and about since Percy almost never slept in. As she knocked on the door, she was confused when she got no response. Either Nico or Bianca had to be in there as well as they didn't share their brother's love for early mornings.

Zoe slowly opened the door before her eyes widened and she ran inside where Nico and Bianca were passed out on the floor. She quickly knelt by Bianca's side and shook her eliciting a groan from the daughter of Hades.

Bianca slowly woke up and looked at Zoe confused before her eyes widened and she jumped to her feet, "Percy!" She yelled but was met with silence.

"What's wrong Bianca? Where is Percy?" Zoe asked worriedly.

Bianca's face turned even paler than normal, "He was taken."

Zoe's eyes widened, "What do you mean taken?"

Bianca's eyes starting tearing up, "We woke up when we heard Percy yell this morning. Some lady in a weird cloak was in our cabin. We tried to stop her but she snapped her fingers and Percy, Nico and I all passed out. The last thing I saw was her disappear with Percy."

Zoe's face turned a pale color and her heart broke a little when she thought about Percy being taken by some powerful being. She quickly wrapped Bianca in a hug, "We'll get him back Bianca, no matter what it takes."

A.N: Sequel to this story is also posted. Thank you for reading.