Disclaimer: I own nothing but my laptop and a watch that may or may not break down on me any day now. Story title and lines distributed throughout the story are from "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe.

Warning: few curse words / alternate universe

Pairing: Percy Jackson/Thalia Grace

Note: Dedicated to all you Perlia lovers - COUGH COUGH Heartless demon wolf and LubthaNiBriste COUGH COUGH- but all Perlia supporters nonetheless. Let's begin, shall we?


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once upon a midnight dreary

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beguiling my sad fancy-

into smiling.

...

[I. CLAUDERE]

This is the day Percy Jackson begins to die a slow death.

It is a death worthy of any tragic hero, but the circumstances are undesired by most. Because cradled in the circle of his quivering arms is a girl too pale, too cold, too young, and too dead. There is no pulse as he runs his trembling hands alongside her red-sprayed neck, throat clogged up at the lack of the vibration that is supposed to drum underneath his fingertips. From the awkward angle of her elbow and her splintered right arm, his urge to kiss so many you're safe, love, you're safe with me- reassurances into her skin runs too deep.

And he can practically hear the tears streaking down Annabeth's cheeks, but he doesn't even care. He tucks her glass-like body against his chest, selfishly shielding her away from the rest of the world because they don't deserve her. They never have. What haven can this cruel world provide for his sweet girl – the corpse of someone he's loved hard and long, nothing but white ice against his palms now – other than the warm protection his own arms have to offer?

Eyes the color of cyan are open, empty and hollow, but colder than the winter's embrace that loosely wraps around them. A resplendent storm used to live in them, having the effect to either frighten enemies away or ignite a fire from within. Irony likes to play with every demigod's precious life because her birthday is still just a few days away and it's in the bleak of December-

"Remove yourself from my lieutenant, Perseus."

startled by the stillness broken by reply so aptly broken-

Her order falls on deaf ears because long gone is the respect he used to have for the virgin goddess. He ignores Artemis and presses his trembling mouth at the base of her blood-painted neck, numbly whispering his love for her at the ends of a ruined canvas. Deep under the commingled smells of copper, rust, and death is still the underlying scent of honeysuckle, the one he has learned to remember in his dreams and in the way he closes his eyes, always waiting for her to return to him.

"No." Hoarse with temporary disuse, he does not sound like the leader the camp needs him to be. He clutches the body closer to himself in defiance as he narrows his eyes to Artemis' steel-eyed gaze. "You won't have her again. Never again." Thalia, oh, Thalia-

He will crack and he will crumble before the eyes of all with Thalia's name always a wordless prayer on his lips.


Thalia's shroud is beautifully colored in silver and white, a fabric replica of the master bolt embroidered in the middle to highlight the importance of being the daughter of Zeus. The King of all gods and goddesses stands tall and proud amongst those in assembly for her funeral, but Percy swears he sees the slight – painful – jerk of Zeus' shoulders when the shroud is lit on fire.

Beneath the master bolt also lies a small stag, Artemis' symbolic animal, and the creature on the shroud catches aflame first. There is only small satisfaction in watching the symbolic stag burn away first, forever cutting the former lieutenant ties away from her sisters of stone and the damned goddess that has directly led Thalia to her very tragic end. But after the fire eats away the rest of the shroud, the bright sparks begin to tread path on the porcelain skin that used to hold every ounce of immortality.

Annabeth's speech is heartbreaking. By the end of it, there are tears in every single person's eyes except Percy's, who can't help but watch as Thalia's body begins to blacken into ash. He can vaguely hear the sound of Tyson bawling loudly beside him, pouring his innocent heart over the girl who liked to build sandcastles with him on the shores of the beach while Percy did his best to preserve the memory.

Crinkled in his hands is a small bouquet of dandelions, the ones full of white flyaway seeds after they've turned yellow. They aren't the prettiest flowers in the world, but Thalia had liked them because of it.

("Why exactly do you like them again?"

"Let me guess—you like red roses, don't you, Fishface?" She swats his hand away when he flicks playfully at her freckle-sprinkled nose. His eyes focus on the way her lips purse together to blow at the weed, the puffs immediately floating in the air with just one breath. "See the way they just keep floating and floating? If I didn't have this stupid acrophobia, I'd fly all the time too."

Then it's a good thing she's afraid of heights because Percy won't ever have to worry about Thalia flying off and leaving him behind.)

A wry smile is twisted on Percy's lips when the funeral ends and when Thalia's ashes have been blown with the wind.

"Congrats, Sparky." White fingers grip the dandelions even tighter. "You're finally flying."


He likes to stare at the many cracks on the ceiling once his tears have stopped bleeding onto his pillow case. There are times where his shoulders have heaved forward, achingly hard to the rhythm of his choking gasps, the cracks in his shaky voice growing more and more disorientated as time passes. There's nothing but anguish because he can't won't hold it in anymore- but he's unable to stop.

Stopping only implies the action of forgetting and Percy can't find it in himself to tuck the memory of Thalia away like that. He can't just shove the remnants of the girl he's loved – still loves – in a box and stow it away in the deepest, blackest corners of his mind. It's an impossibility right from the start because he thinks of her every damn day, even though she's dead, and he strives to keep her alive when everyone else tends to turn a blind eye at his behavior.

my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor-

(Because apparently, he's insane.)


Sally Jackson learns soon enough that when Percy screams in his sleep, she's not supposed to wake him up. Especially when he starts yelling out the name that belongs to the daughter of Zeus.

The first time she's done it, her son's hands had been tight around her neck with a certain cause to kill her because behind those closed eyes, he thinks that she's that horrible monster that's ripped Thalia's life from her.


Percy bites his tongue hard from telling her that he loves her right then and there. Instead, in between scorching kisses and pining her against the door of his cabin to press his hips deeply against hers, he begins the epic battle of persuasion. He cheats many times, suckling that sweet spot just under her ear and using that as leverage to his argument. He convinces her that he'll be the best boyfriend ever, that they'll make a fantastic couple, and that no one will be able to trump what they have.

But as he fights for his love, their love, Percy fails to notice that Thalia doesn't at all push him away from his advances. If she would have said no, a fist would have been planted right into his nose. She kisses back and all he can feel is euphoric. Damn her for breaking his heart to pieces by joining the Hunters in the first place, but he'll be able to forgive her if she can let him have this.

And then he wakes up and the feeling is gone. Hundreds of memories spent beneath the warm sun are turning into relentless hallucinations, considering the way Annabeth never fails to soften her gaze each and every time she finds Percy wandering around the camp grounds in the middle of the night. ("Just taking a late night walk, Wise Girl," he always reassures, but she knows better.) He lives in his own little bubble during this hour of the night and these oddly-timed walks usually translate to 'looking for Thalia'.

She can't find it in her heart to tell him: Thalia's been dead for six months now, Percy.

There are nights where she can't sleep either – the nightmares of spiders are strangely coming back – and unlike Percy, she actually does go for calming walks around Camp Half-Blood as opposed to desperately searching for a blue-eyed, black-haired girl with the driest of humors and the bluntest of personalities. However, Annabeth halts when she passes Zeus' cabin because-

Percy – forehead pressed against one of the large, bronze double doors of mausoleum-like structure, grinding his temple against the smoothened wood with eyes clenched tight. His cheeks are already streaked with watery trails and more tears are gathered beneath the length of his dark eyelashes. One clasped fists is resting at the door near his head and the other is hanging limply by his side.

The daughter of Athena can't begin to comprehend how long Percy's been standing there in that exact same position and a small part of her doesn't want to know. She only turns and walks in the opposite direction from where she came from, pretending she hasn't seen anything in the first place. Annabeth will be no use to him at this point – seeing Percy like that will only make her cry too.


[II. PERMANE]

("She's going to leave the Hunters next month," Percy tells her cheerfully after a friendly spar in the arena.

Annabeth merely shakes her head in amusement. "I honestly can't believe people haven't noticed it already."

"Hey, we're good at covering our tracks," he wiggles his eyebrows at her, prompting both a roll of the eyes and the barest beginnings of a smile from the blonde girl. "Thalia's secretly training Phoebe to take her place once she leaves...")

"You lied," Percy accuses harshly, sea green eyes glaring at the immaculate gravestone that sits right under the pine tree. "You lied about leaving the Hunters, you lied about learning to fly without me—you lied about everything."

Thalia, are you even listening?

"You..." nameless here for evermore-

Sharp jerk of his head, exhales quietly. "You weren't supposed to die. That was never part of the plan."


Annabeth slaps him right across the face.

He supposes he deserves it – after all, the Achilles' Curse can only help him so much before he does something remarkably stupid and dangerous like intentionally trying to get himself killed in the middle of escorting a new demigod to the camp. Annabeth's been one of his closest friends for so long now and she's not an idiot. She knows there'd be something wrong with invulnerable Percy somehow getting caught by that minor hellhound. Not to mention Riptide was in his hand at the time and he's done absolutely nothing about it.

The girl's furious, shrewd glance up at him makes his gasp a little – there's an emotional storm in her grey eyes, nearly the same one he's seen behind the depths of electric blue. Something shatters in Percy, a piece of his heart breaking a way just a tad little more, the dents in his inner walls expanding by the miles, and gods damn, it hurts. It's suddenly painful to look at Annabeth directly because he doesn't want to have a complete breakdown before her or the scared, little demigod that has to tag along with them for safety reasons.

"I get it, Percy." Not Seaweed Brain because Annabeth never jokes around with him anymore. "You're hurting and you want a way out of this life because there's no point anymore, but fucking damn it! You need to stop acting like you're the only one who's been affected by Thalia's death because you're not, okay? I miss her too!"

"You never—"

"Don't you dare," Annabeth hisses back, incensed. "I loved her just as much as you did. So, fine, it wasn't the same type of love you expressed for her, but that doesn't mean I loved her any less. She was family to me and she was the only one—" she abruptly stops to whirl away from him, quickly wiping away the tears that are threatening to fall from her eyes.

From the beginning, it starts off with LukeThaliaAnnabeth.

Now it's just Annabeth.

So Percy does what he should have done a long time ago – he hugs his best friend. She sobs in his arms and the curly-haired kid stares with wide eyes at the sight of the two older demigods and Shh, it's okay, Wise Girl, you're gonna be okay. Annabeth's always been strong, so she'll get through within a fair amount of time. She'll get through this.

(On the other hand, Percy will- )


He's tried sneaking into the Underworld before, just to see if Thalia's made it to Elysium. As expected, Hades does not let him through and proceeds to kick him out, but from within the shadows of the walls, Percy does see Nico di Angelo give one simple nod towards him.


Of all the immortals to visit Thalia's grave after her funeral nearly nine months beforehand, he doesn't at all expect Hera to be there.

However, after seeing Apollo recite a love sonnet to the gravestone a couple weeks earlier, Percy's learned not to react in any particular way when someone non-human wants to pay Thalia a visit. She is tall, graceful, and beautiful, but Percy sees the Queen of gods for what she really is. He doesn't bat an eyelash at the way her white dress effortlessly ripples like water when the cloth sways over her body or the way her light brown eyes simply glow with undeniable power when she stares at him immovably.

For the most part, Percy ignores the goddess, purely because there's a fresh batch of dandelions that need to replace the withering ones in front of his ex-girlfriend's grave. He has to thank the Demeter kids for being so thoughtful, for planting fields of dandelions for Percy to use every day when he comes for his daily visits to the sacred pine tree. Hera, of course, makes an impatient noise from behind him, but he barely notices it, carefully placing the bundled dandelions against the slab of tone before throwing out the old ones.

"Are you quite finished?"

No, he doesn't think he'll ever be. He noncommittally meets her stare. "What."

Hera tsks at his lifeless tone. "Is that any way to greet your Queen?" She ignores Percy's derisive snort, head tilting to the side to inspect the son of Poseidon. Handsome, yes, but there are too many bags under his eyes. Plus, he's looking quite too pale these days. "You obviously do not look too well."

Percy sighs in exasperation, averting his gaze back to Thalia's grave. "Hera. What. Do. You. Want?"

"I am simply offering you a way out of this..." her voice trails off as she waves a hand mildly at the space between the two, trying to decipher whatever it is Percy was going through. Mortals are a fickle thing – she isn't accustomed as to why this boy would be depressed over the dead spawn of her husband, unless— "Ah, you were in love with her."

I still am – "That's old news, Hera," he responds blankly, this little fragile thing called Percy's heart feeling heavier than it has in months.

The Queen's rosy lips curve up into a light smirk. "You know, I never thanked you for saving Olympus. You were insolent enough to decline our kind gift of making you an immortal, so I figured...oh, it doesn't matter." There's another pause that breaks through, and before he turns around and walks down the hill, she says quietly: "Would you like to live in a universe where Thalia lives?"

so gently you came rapping-

"You can bring her back to life?" Other than Hades, gods don't have the power to bring back someone from the dead. Percy's supposed to know better than this, but he's stopped helping himself whenever Thalia is concerned. "But I thought—"

"Oh, for gods' sakes, no." Dejection in the slump of Percy's shoulders. "I asked if you wanted to live in a world where the girl is alive and healthy. After all, isn't that the important part—that she is alive?"

"What do you want in return?" As long as he doesn't have to kill anyone, he'll give up anything. Sorry, Annabeth, he knows he's promised not to do anything rash for the rest of the year, but he isn't as strong as you. He's weak and jaded and tired of suffering-

There's no hesitation in Hera's voice. "Your memories."


Thalia's a much better castle-builder, Percy believes in solemnity as he sits next to his younger brother atop the warm sands of the beach, having given up on helping the giant construct a miniscule building of granules. For a brute of his size, Tyson surprisingly has dexterous fingers in the way he shoves, builds, and designs.

But he can have all of this again – Tyson loading mounds and mounds of sand with happy claps and cheers, Thalia busy embellishing their masterpiece of a sandcastle with tiny details such as windows and doors against pretend stone walls, and Percy resting most of his weight on his elbows, a silent and willing observer in this blitheful scene that belongs solely to him. He'd smile his lazy smile and reach over to tuck that stubborn strand behind Thalia's ear and in return, she'd snap at him and tell him to go get her a cheeseburger.

He can just imagine Sally and Paul in this memory, his mother reading her magazines under an umbrella and Paul grading his many and unfinished papers. A bag of blue-colored sweets by Sally's side, all loud laughter and smiles, and it won't be silent like how it is now with just him and Tyson. Percy will get his girl back – he has to.

("You understand, of course, that there are certain consequences should you agree—"

"Cut the bullshit, Hera. I'll do whatever it takes.")


He lies in the field of dandelions, pulling at the weeds before blowing the seed heads off. The white puffs, like tiny flecks of snow, blend with the dark blanket of the sky flawlessly. They fly so far up into the air that Percy cannot tell the difference between dandelion fluffs and indiscreet stars.

A flash of light dances across the vast ocean of gleaming dots-

It's a shooting star.

Is that you, Thalia?

And there's the sweet irony because unlike its brethren, the shooting star is fleeting. It comes and goes - never stays - and it doesn't give a damn who it hurts or leaves behind. Thalia's that very star, circling the realms of the world with Zoë, mocking him where he sits. She's flying away from him and Percy doesn't have the ability to chase after her, not when rooted to the core of this earth.

The words leave from his bitter lips, but he counts on Hera to grant his wish.


The next time he opens his eyes, Percy's at a massive ruin of red and gray stones with rough-hewn timber beams. He has absolutely no recollection of anything about himself-

Oh, wait.

A dim memory of a pale girl in silver garb, eyes the epitome of a storm, black hair that has undertones of blue against the sunlight, and small, imperceptible freckles. And there's also a name that keeps ringing in his head – Annabeth.


[III. OBTURATIO]

Thalia fiddles with the bracelet that circles her wrist, the quiet clink of silver meeting skin providing her a small form of solace as she strides silently towards Cabin Three. She somehow knows that her best friend spends almost all of her nights here now.

She doesn't even bother with the knocking – too formal in their relationship – and she slips like a wisp of smoke through the door. The smell of the sea breeze that wafts around her body is surprisingly warm, even though the sea stones that surround the cabin are the very things that make it naturally cold in here. It's so very Percy and she gets why Annabeth holes herself up in this cabin because it does its best to remind her that her boyfriend really isn't gone.

The strap to her white Hunters' duffle bag falls from her shoulder, barely making a noise as it hits the floor. The circlet that always rests at her brow is the second to leave her, carelessly tossed atop the bag while she pads her way towards the large bed in the middle-

(-the bed that softly cushions her back as he showers kisses down the slope of her neck-)

Jagged by the strange image, she's not sure why the hallucination – memory – comes to her then because that has never happened before and just, what the fuck?

However, Thalia sees Annabeth's curled position atop the baby blue covers, sadness seeping from every surface of her form, and whatever has just transpired leaves her mind quickly. She vaults herself onto the bed dramatically, enough to cause the mattress to jump a little and enough for the daughter of Athena's body to hop along until the thing settles back to stillness again. Blotchy cheeks, red-rimmed eyes, lips pressed into a thin line – curiosity and wonder replaces despondency when grey clashes with bright blue.

Wordlessly, she holds out her hand. Comfort, love, familiarity...all bundled in every crease of the archer's fingers. Annabeth allows a wobbly smile to stretch across her frozen face – because she hasn't smiled in weeks – before she reaches for that hand.

"Don't worry, Annie. We'll find that stupid boyfriend of yours."

With Thalia dressed in pale hues like that, is it so wrong to mistake her as an angel?

for the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore-


None of it makes any sense to him.

(-arms wound around her slender frame, pulling her body flush against his. His lips find her neck once more, trailing a long and lazy column down the pallor of her throat. His dark hair tickles her neck, her own eyes blinking drowsily against the bright light from the early sun that manages to get through the walls of his cabin-)

There's a girl that likes to waltz around the corners of his mind, lips the color of raspberries curving into a wonderful little smile that haunts his mind day after day. In his dreams, between lazy kisses and mirthful teases, she talks of flying all the time and it scares him because he doesn't know who she is or what her name is, but he never wants her to leave him. And that name again, Annabeth, echoes over and over like a metronome. He tries pairing the name and the girl of his dreams together, but they never seem to fit.

His girlfriend's name is Annabeth, that much he knows. Is it possible to have a girlfriend you've forgotten only to fall in love with a girl you've never even met before?

Part of him wishes that this blue-eyed girl does exist and that her name really is Annabeth. He wishes that the name and the constant memories of the girl he gets make up one person.

But the better part of him, the incapable of facing the truth- aspect of Percy secretly knows this isn't true.


Of all the Greeks traveling on the Argo II, Thalia is the one least excited to reunite with Percy Jackson.

Don't ask her why. (She doesn't exactly know how to explain it herself.)


His heart slams so hard against his chest, so much that it threatens to claw its way out because she does exist.

Percy sees her leaning against the side of the flying vessel, an unreadable expression on her beautifulgorgeousrealstunning face, and he honestly doesn't care if he's lost most of his memories about everything else because he absolutely remembers her. It's odd how ecstatic he feels at seeing her face, the waves of sheer relief and frenetic elation that washes over, and it feels as though he hasn't seen her in years rather than months, like something terrible has happened to her while he's been away-

"Do you see her?" Reyna murmurs with a slight tilt of her head up towards the massive ship. "Your girlfriend—Annabeth?"

Even the weirdness of that name does nothing to daunt the state Percy's in. "Yeah," voice a breathless hymn- because everything's going to be okay, now, he thinks. There's still the upcoming war and all, but he knows he'll manage now. "She's the one with the circlet—" he stops there and he isn't sure why.

That circlet. It's a glowing halo around her dark tresses and it makes her look like a princess, never less than that, but he has deep negative feelings towards that object – or better yet, the one who gave her that circlet.

But when Reyna hums her approval at the sight, he's back to smiling like an idiot again.

"Percy!"

His arms are ready before he can even comprehend it, open and waiting. A body collides into him, pushing out a voluntary chuckle from him, and he crushes her to his chest, weaving his hands through her blonde-

Blonde? No, no, it's not supposed to be-

This girl doesn't smell like the sweet honeysuckle he's been imaging this entire time. She smells like lavender, and it's a nice smell and all, but it's clearly not right. He looks over the tan shoulder of the girl that is clinging onto him for all her life is worth and he sees the blue-eyed girl of his dreams standing a few meters away, a quirk of a smile playing at her lips. It's not the Gods, I'm so glad to see you again because I missed you so damn much smile, it's the Aww, the two lovebirds are back together again smile.

(She's smiling the wrong smile.)

And he's hugging the wrong girl.

thrilled me, filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before-

Percy gently disentangles himself from the blonde girl and ignores her confusion. Tightening his mouth, his darkened eyes, colors of the raging sea, stare straight at the blue-eyed girl. "Annabeth?" he ventures out carefully.

To his growing horror, she only furrows her eyebrows together. "Er, Annabeth's over there, Percy," she says – and that voice – and she points to the curly blonde female at his side, the one whose face have been drained of all color but pallid white.

"Oh." Crushing, overwhelming, tangible disappointment.

Everyone sees right through him, especially Annabeth.


Percy remembers his life in the other universe – every single speck of it.

("I asked if you wanted to live in a world where the girl is alive and healthy. After all, isn't that the important part—that she is alive?"

"What do you want in return?"

"Your memories. You'll be in a different universe, composed of different...circumstances."

"But she'll be alive? You can guarantee this?"

"Yes, Perseus. You understand, of course, that there are certain consequences should you agree—")

Hera is true to her word – he's in a universe where Thalia's alive.

She's just not his.


"So you guys are okay with each other, right?"

This is how he remembers Thalia Grace – blatant and audacious, unafraid to ask what everyone else is avoiding to inquire. Their swords have sung across Camp Jupiter's colosseum, keeping up their dangerous play of cat and mouse long enough to garner the attention of the other campers, Greeks and Romans alike. The corner of her lip is slanted upward in that favorite smile of his, and although he's much stronger, she's smarter and faster, and he sometimes forgets that she's coming at him with a sword when she grins like that.

Her cheeks are dusted with the fainted hint of rose, like how she gets when he's spent hours just kissing her-

Percy's the worst boyfriend in the world because in place of spending more time with Annabeth – trying hard to realize how and why exactly he has fallen for the grey-eyed girl in this world – he keeps gravitating back to the lover he's had in the last world. He knows he has to stay away from her because there's the awful chance that this Thalia doesn't have feelings for him at all. He needs to save himself from the future rejection, the dulling pain, but everything within Percy screams at him to get closer to her.

"Yeah," Percy mumbles, wiping his damp forehead with the collar of his t-shirt. "We're still working on things. Because Annabeth's the wrong, wrong girl. "I think we'll be fine." lies are the lullabies you sprout from tarnished lips-

"Good." Thalia wants to smile even wider back at him, maybe punch him in the arm like she used to, but when Percy's smoldering gaze roams all around her, the thought of doing such a thing dies as quickly as it's spun in her mind. The son of Poseidon looks at her like that a lot lately, with this uncharacteristically hungry stare that unsettles her in a way that certainly will betray Annabeth. "It's just that Annabeth's been going insane looking for you. I mean, she didn't stop crying for months—"

Perhaps mentioning his girlfriend's name is the wrong thing to do because Percy's handsome face immediately hardens afterward. She's accustomed to the usual goofy-looking grin that graces his face when Annabeth comes to mind, not this alien expression.

Thalia averts her gaze, something she never does, and instinctively touches her bracelet. "Artemis needs me back."

Her abrupt words strike him through the chest. "You're...you're leaving?"

"Yes." She's been spending way too much time with Percy and she needs go before things start spiraling down in a direction she isn't capable of handling. She remembers the way he had looked at her when they landed Argo II in Roman territory, that anguished heartbroken shattered- gaze that speaks more volumes in silence than it does with sound. "The Greeks and the Romans need to learn how to get along and they haven't killed each other so far, so I figured...plus, you and Jason are doing fine at this weird co-leader thing..."

No response. In fact, he looks as though she's gutted him with her sword before ripping his heart out right before his eyes. where are all your precious shooting stars now-

She swallows the odd lump in her throat and empties her face of all expression. "You'll be fine, Fishface," she adds robotically, pretending not to hear the tiny gasps that escapes Percy's mouth at the familiar nickname. She doesn't hesitate to walk away after that.

"No, I won't be, Sparky."

Thalia pretends not to hear that either.


[IV. REVERTETUR]

Two months after Thalia leaves Camp Jupiter, she receives a letter from Annabeth.

She vaguely wonders why her friend didn't use the Iris Messaging system, but she supposes that fact doesn't matter. It starts with Dear Thalia and it ends with Percy isn't doing so well. Please come.

Thalia has half a mind to rip the damn letter to shreds and forget all about it, but the moment she considers it, she's already furiously throwing most of her clothes into her traveling bag. This is the second time this year that she has to leave her post as lieutenant and she knows that Artemis isn't too happy about this. In all the years that Zoë Nightshade has worked under Artemis, not once has the girl left the Hunters in favor of being dragged deeper into all this memory-induced drama that's unofficially called bullshit.

It's also fucking bullshit that Thalia can't stop thinking about Percy. She has so many illusions of them being together in a mirage of different ways, yet she can't remember any of these mental images happening at all in this lifetime. They're all distant, but clear, a happenstance probably occurring in a past life of hers. It has to be. She doesn't like that these hallucinations are starting to resemble more and more like recent memories, but oddly enough, these spasms of recognition are still hers.

And that has to count for something, right?

"Forgive me, my lady," she bows before Artemis, circlet glinting in the light. "But I'm needed elsewhere." Gods, that sounds lame, even to her own ears.

Artemis watches her with the eyes of a hawk, lips pursed together. "More pressing matters, I presume?" The goddess doesn't not appreciate this game of tug of war that Percy Jackson is currently playing with her over Thalia. Such is the insolence of man. "Does this hold more importance than your sisters here?"

Is there a way of correctly answering that? "Annabeth needs my help, my lady. You know I'd choose her first." Sisters by anything but blood – she loves the rest of the Hunters in her own way, but the daughter of Athena will always be her real family.

Yes, she'll be an even better sister to Annabeth if she stops thinking about the blonde's current boyfriend all the time-

Stop.


After convincing the Roman campers to give the Greeks a try, Jason notices that Percy's eyes like to linger on his face for far too long to his liking. He never calls the older demigod out on it though, mainly because there's no need for any animosity or miscommunication between them now that the two camps are finally starting to play nice with each other.

He always manages to catch Percy staring at him with those intimidating eyes of his before the gaze is lowered to the ground, eyelashes hitting his upper cheeks in minor distress.

Piper rolls her eyes when he complains about it one day. "Jason, he's not checking you out," she says in such a way that makes him flush with embarrassment for thinking of such things. Well, it's not like he expected Percy to check him out! It's just weird that the guy keeps staring at him all the damn time... "If you ever really noticed, he always looks straight at your eyes, nothing else."

"Why?"

"Because." And she wants to slap him for being so dense. "You do realize that you and Thalia share the exact same eyes, right? Color, eye shape, eye size? It's uncanny really."

(Jason still doesn't understand the logic behind Percy's frequent staring, but Piper refuses to spell it out for him. She knows these things – she's a true daughter of Aphrodite, after all.)


"No."

"Thalia, please, just think about—"

"I said no, Annabeth!" A loud crack of thunder belts from the sky at her outburst and Thalia presses her lips into a thin line to avoid another hasty slip of emotion. Her brow twitches a mile a minute, an implication of her growing frustration. "Do you even hear yourself? Are you fucking high on something? This isn't funny—"

"I never said it was," the blonde girl whispers in near silence, white fingers delving deep into the grass below her. She feels the wild, raw power that radiates from the other female and she understands why Percy would be attracted to her. It's addicting to stare when Thalia's in too deep in her element and Annabeth doesn't at all feel compelled to look away. "Percy needs—"

A strong burst of wind blows through Annabeth's hair, unsystematically tousling her curls. "With the letter you sent me, you made it sound like Percy was dying or something," – Thalia's right, but Annabeth wisely holds her tongue – "not that he was breaking up with you. Look, he's just going through a tough time, and most of it is Hera's fault anyways—"

Annabeth shakes her head. "Not all of it is that woman's fault."

Hera's the devil with the temptation, but Percy's the one who accepted it. He chose this path for himself.

"You'll understand if you hear what he has to say," Annabeth presses on, a silent plea in her eyes. "It all makes sense actually, given with what's been going on." The way he looks at you, Thalia. You have to hear him out. "He whispers your name in his sleep," she adds a little more quietly, a touch of hurt, a touch of perplexity, but now a touch of understanding.

She has always been strong and Athena always has a plan-

Thalia just freezes in spot at Annabeth's last remark, something cold burrowing itself into her still beating heart.

("Finally finished training Phoebe," Thalia leans against the column of her cabin, something of a relieved grin on her face as she reveals this piece of information to him. The beautiful expression on his face is well worth it. "One week."

Percy takes her hand and lets his lips skim over her dainty knuckles. "I've already waited this long—one week should be nothing." Another heart-stopping smile before his lips touch hers, sweetness through one kiss, and he buries his face into her neck. "Hey, your birthday is coming up."

"I really don't—"

"Well, I do. C'mon, it'll be fun."

"Who says you get to decide? Asshole."

He retaliates by grabbing her face, planting a whole bunch of wet, loud, sloppy kisses all over her cheeks.)

"Annabeth." She sounds tired, exhausted, and her steady intake of air isn't doing anything to help her. "Just—don't give up on him, okay? You two belong together." Then why does Thalia sound so sad while saying this? Why does she keep pushing herself-

"None of this is your fault, Thalia. None. You realize that, don't you?"

The daughter of Zeus doesn't answer, and when Annabeth tries to take her frigid hand in her own tan ones, Thalia makes her move.


They sit in absolute silence – her knuckles bruised to a faint shade of purple and his jaw in temporary fragments.

over a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore-

"You died," Percy starts, his eyes briefly closing for a second to relive the mental agony of another life, another place. "A hellhound was chasing one of the new Hunters and you sacrificed yourself—like you always do." Admiration, but more affliction. "I didn't cope with your death and it came to the point where I started seeing you everywhere..." She ignores the heavy look he gives her because he's always doing this – constantly making sure that she's really there. "And I attempted suicide."

Thalia narrows her gaze and Percy chuckles humorlessly.

"Hera came to me one day and she offered me a universe where you'd live," he swallows his dry throat, noticing the way her fingers tighten over her bent knees. He wants to kiss the dark marks away, even though she's the one that punched him in the first place. "I didn't know that I'd replace the Percy in this world and I didn't know that my choices would lead to another war, but I still gave her everything in order to be here."

"If you somehow knew that this would happen," Thalia blinks languidly at the space before her, "would you still have done it?"

Is another war between the titans really worth this?

Is hurting Annabeth worth this?

"Yes," he replies back without a tremble in his voice. He's a selfish, terrible person for risking the entire world – so many lives – just to get what he wants. Thalia Grace is the only thing he refuses to give up, in this world or the next.

"Percy..." He sometimes misses his nickname, but it doesn't matter really. He watches the way she fists her fingers through her dark hair, on the very urge of ripping her roots out, and the endless want is there again. The lock you away and have you for all eternity- craving that chews at his soul and crawls out onto every exterior of his being. "I'm a Hunter. I made an oath and I can't just—"

"You also made an oath to me," Percy points out fiercely, clenching his jaw, despite the fact that it hurts to do so. "Are the memories coming back yet, Thalia? You promised me that you'd come back and I'm still waiting. I, gods, Thalia—" I love you.

Breathe. Please.

(-sometimes he doesn't even know why she's joined the Hunters in the first place and he hateshateshates Artemis for even-)

"I have to go," Thalia suddenly declares, still feeling as though she's accomplished nothing from this.

"Don't you always?" It supposed to sound bitter, but it ends up sounding broken instead.

She pretends that she didn't quite catch that – pretending is the only thing she's been doing a lot lately – and she stands up from her position beside him. At a last split-moment decision, Thalia leans back down and places her lips to his broken jaw, a delicate butterfly kiss fluttering to the corner of his mouth. His own lips part under the touch and she quickly moves away before it can escalate to something else-

Percy latches onto her wrists and pulls her back to him, his nose just brushing her protruding collarbone. His other hand slowly maps the graceful lines of her body, sliding up her sharp hipbones, up the soft curves that tingle beneath his fingertips, across the shoulder blade that unconsciously rolls under his palm, and finally to her tresses where he intertwines himself in the silky stands before cupping his hand around the nape of her neck. Her wrist is caught in a vice-like trap and his breath is pleasantly warm against her skin.

Feeling something odd burn through her eyes – are these tears? – Thalia unwinds herself from the other body before she even thinks about resting her cheek against his hair and immersing herself in the essence of sea salt and ocean spray. Her vision is a little blurry, and while she keeps these traitorous tears from falling, she completely misses the expression on his face.


"She's just being stubborn," Annabeth tries to reassure him as days bleed into months, her fingers twisted consolingly in his hair.

The rest of the campers are preparing for war and the two of them are here, staring into the depths of Little Tiber.

Percy's cheek is pressed against her lap when an inaudible, shaky, sigh escapes him. "Annabeth...I never did—I'm really never meant—"

"I know, Seaweed Brain."

(And things might be okay between them – certainly not now, but possibly later.)


The silver circlet that sits atop her head doesn't feel important to her anymore. It's a heavy burden that weighs over her head, a constant reminder of the choice – mistake – she's made those few years ago. This choking, sometimes stifling- white parka that drapes around her shoulders internally restricts her into something she doesn't want to be.

(-condemned by Zoë's death, blinded by Luke's betrayal, deprived of a mother's love-)

while I pondered weak and weary-

Thalia considers herself extremely lucky that Artemis does not turn her into an animal. Technically, she hasn't physically betrayed the goddess, but the intention is still there. She's the first lieutenant in centuries to ask to be released from the Hunt. And, understandably, she is the first female in a long while that Artemis has a hard time of letting go.

Once she is bereft of her former immortality, she feels all the more vulnerable, a little less sure of herself. But there is that undeniable divine liberation she feels when her status of a Hunter is finally stripped from her. She does not return to dark eyeliner or Death to Barbie t-shirts or the emblems of punk and rock and roll because they remind her too much of Luke. She has no idea why, but if feels so good just to dress in a simple plaid shirt and a pair of the plainest jeans she can find.

She has lost her band of sisters in arms-

-but she already is a sister to one blonde and she needs to relearn how to be a sister to another. She can be a good friend when she needs to be and she can create special bonds with other campers that isn't found in the world outside of gods, titans, monsters, and magic. She wants to fight with her brothers and sisters and cousins and die alongside them.

Luke Castellan is no more and she can open her heart again.

And on the night she leaves, the sky is blank of all but one bright streak. Eyes cast upon the shooting star that soars over her head, she imagines herself spreading her wings and flying by its side into eternal freedom.


[V. INCIPIUNT]

Thalia does something she hasn't done in a long time and she follows her fucking heart. It doesn't lead her to Camp Jupiter where she's supposed to be, in preparation for the upcoming tumultuous battle, but it does lead her to the empty Camp Half-Blood.

Except that it's not so empty.

On the beach, there are two figures sitting in the sand, attempting to build what appears to be a large, confusing structure of sand. She shakes her head to herself because the two brothers aren't even doing it right, and she knows this because she and Jason used to go to the beach and do the exact same thing. Her boots are the first to go, the sand tickling the soles of her feet as she crosses the distance between herself and them.

Percy's wide-eyed, open-mouth expression meets her first, but she turns to look at Tyson instead. "Hey, Tyson. Remember me?"

The giant's one eye blinks before he smiles toothily at her. "Daughter of Zeus."

"Hmm," Thalia smiles back, already feeling Percy's hand reaching for hers. "Well, your older brother did a shitty job of building a sandcastle. Want me to show you how to make a real badass one?"

The new sandcastles puts all other sandcastles in this entire world to shame.

Her toes are being stroked by the lapping waves and she can't help but lean against the strong body behind her – completely molded to her – while her fingers drift down to the forever keeping you here- arms that are locked tightly around her waist. His face is pressed against her neck and she can feel the happy, gratifying smile being printed on her skin. She isn't above admitting that she feels so good when the older son of Poseidon drops kisses in her hair, across her shoulders, sprinkling them down the column of her neck.

She turns her head to the side and silently beckons for another kiss. They must have traded at least a hundred since she's graced them with her presence on this beach, but after years of swearing off men, she doesn't think she'll get tired of them too soon. Her heart jumps all the way to her throat whenever his velvet mouth meanders over to hers and it's a rush of adrenaline every single time – even the soft, slow kisses that seem to drag on forever and ever.

"Just don't start holding my hand yet," Thalia pulls away just to tell him this. "Gods, I'm not even mentally prepared for that..."

Percy lets out a real, honest-to-gods laugh – he hasn't felt this way in so long – and he pins Thalia to the sand-top floor.


Here's the truth no one wants to hear: sometimes happy endings don't exist for everyone.


On the battle field, it's instinctual for him to keep an eye on Thalia.

Percy doesn't even know where they are, but he has come here to fight by her side only to get separated from her again. Aphrodite probably hates his guts for messing up with his love life for this long. The air is pungent with blood and decay, and it isn't inconsequential the way his sword automatically snaps out to behead some monster without even really thinking. War stops becoming a cognate thought process long before the battles even begin.

Gritting his teeth, he jerks his sword out from the torso of Kampê, torturer of all, even amongst those of her own kind. A nod of understanding is passed between the two leaders of the camps before Jason runs in a different direction and gets thrown into a fight with a different titan. There are so many monsters here – all that have been formerly locked into a place beyond hell and-

If these creatures are here, then Tartarus is here also.

An open pit just waiting to swallow up demigods-

The whole only needs one demigod, one true hero, to completely close. Percy sees the ephemeral crack against the ground and fear dawns onto him when he sees Annabeth and Arachne battling it out not too far away. Before he can run to them, a commingled mix of silver, wind, and electricity whirls past him, heading straight for the terrible, spider-woman. Thalia's chosen Percy in the end, like how they're supposed to be, but she can't break out of the habit because Annabeth has to come first.

presently my soul grew stronger, hesitating then no longer-

And Percy understands this. But he's not going to let Thalia do it alone again.

He's chosen this world, to ultimately be with her, but it comes with a price.

Thalia's sword flies through Arachne, burning the monster's skin with the thrum of electricity that pulses through the blade, and it is with one rough kick that has the ugly creature spiraling back to where it belongs. However, in one final act of retribution, Arachne shoots a thick web that manages to sneak around Thalia's waist before dragging the daughter of Zeus down with her.

Percy turns and kisses Annabeth's cheek once, sad smile tugging at his lips because he's known that this was going to happen. He willingly lets himself tumble into the hole a few seconds after Thalia falls into it.

(-Annabeth's tears, Jason's screams, Hazel's gasps, Nico's distress-)

When their bodies meet in midair, Percy remembers that she's afraid of heights, so he immediately tucks her face into the crook of his neck and forces her to focusing on nothing but him, his arms coiling around her waist to remind her that he's here, always always here.


falling-

falling-

falling-

They're not sure how long they've been twisting into vertigo nothingness, but it's okay.

The two of them are transcending into a dying, soul-sucking miserytornfearscaredalone- field of blackness, but they'll be alright. The demons will try to rip them apart and they'll do it in the worst possible ways, but their hands will be bloodied and bruised if that's what it takes to keep holding onto each other.

There are no stars here to cast his prayers on. But they're together and Percy finally gets his wish.


There are many ways this story could have started:

-when Thalia dies-

-when Annabeth loses the last of her family-

-when Hera makes an offering-

-when a shooting star makes an appearance-

-when Percy makes a choice-

-when the Argo II lands-

-when the two camps unite-

-when another war begins-

-when three people build a sandcastle-

-when a Hunter makes a promise-

But the story truly begins when a bone-weary blue-eyed girl finally whispers the words I love you to an equally exhausted green-eyed boy in a place infinitely darker than Hell.


/fin


I. claudere - close
II. permane - continue
III. obturatio - stop
IV. revertetur - return
V. incipiunt - begin

A/N: Yeah, terrible ending, but I sort of meant to end it like that. I might do a sequel or a companion piece to this, but I don't know yet. Was this confusing at all? Was the two universes concept a little strange? Please leave a comment or review and tell me what you thought of this :)