Disclaimer: All PJO characters belong to Rick Riordan.
One Month Later . . .
Percy breathed in and out through his nose, getting his heart to a normal beating pattern. His fingers quivered on the string. He shut one eye, keeping his target the center of his focus. With one last breath, he let the arrow fly.
It fell three feet in front of him.
He cursed, glaring accusingly at the arrow. "That was just a bad arrow," he defended himself, turning around to look at Annabeth. She stood behind him, leaning against the table of weapons, giggling. She didn't answer him, but the look on her face made her point clear: Percy was terrible at archery and there was nothing he could do to stop her from making fun of him.
Percy made a face, but he really didn't mind. It had been a month, but he remembered all too well what it had felt like when he'd almost lost her. He'd made a vow to himself that he would never let himself feel that way again. If Annabeth died, he died, no questions asked. Until then, he planned on making as many good memories of her as he could. He watched her laughing at him in the mid-afternoon sunlight, her hair up in a ponytail, her eyes shut tight and crinkled at the corners, the way he felt as he listened to her laugh. He filed the memory away in his brain, knowing that any time he needed to, he could just pull it up and remember how beautiful she was and how much he loved her.
"I think you're just not very good at this," Annabeth answered when she'd finally calmed down.
Percy shot her a fake glare and crossed his arms. "I'd like to see you do better."
Annabeth got that competitive gleam in her eye. Without another word, she grabbed her bow off of the table and notched it with an arrow, then marched up to where Percy stood, facing the target. "Watch and learn, Seaweed Brain," she teased. She brought the arrow up and took aim, standing perfectly still for three seconds. Then, she let go and the arrow soared through the air, landing in the dead center of the target. She grinned, and turned to face Percy. "Bullseye," she said.
Percy shook his head. "Nope. You cheated."
Annabeth scoffed, her eyebrows raising with disbelief. "Are you serious? How could I cheat? I shot an arrow, that's it."
Percy brought a hand up and stroked his chin, the universal sign language for, "I'm thinking deep thoughts." Annabeth rolled her eyes and looked away. "I suppose," Percy said, "that I might be able to believe you if I had some form of persuasion." He puckered his lips, letting her know that he wanted a kiss.
Annabeth shoved his face away with a faint smile on her lips. "There's a fat chance of that," she said. "I think that since I win, I deserve some sort of award. So pay up, mister."
Percy grinned. "I'm sure we can find an arrangement that works for the both of us . . ." He took a step towards Annabeth, and captured her lips with his own. She let out a little sigh before kissing him back.
They both pulled away delirious. "That was nice," Annabeth commented, her voice dreamy. It still had a little rasp to it from when she screamed during the surgery, but it was mostly healed. Percy was almost sad about it. Annabeth's raspy voice had been strangely attractive.
"Mm," Percy agreed, already leaning down for another. Annabeth complied, pressing against him. They kissed for who knew how long, whispering and giggling and acting so normal, like two young people in love, that it was almost alien to Percy.
Finally, Annabeth stepped away from him, moving towards the weapons table. Without her having to say anything, Percy knew that she was getting tired. Even though she was out and about now, she still wasn't fully recovered. Her head was so sensitive to sound now that she couldn't be out in the village or any other loud place for more than a couple hours. When she went out at all, in fact, she could only be out for a few hours before her energy was drained and with just a glance at the sun, Percy knew that they had been out for too long. Annabeth must be ready to collapse. He moved to help her pick up, but a movement in the corner of his eye caught his attention. He turned and saw the king strolling past the entrance to the arena.
He glanced over at Annabeth. "You go ahead and head on up," he told her. "I'll be right behind. I have to do something first."
Annabeth nodded her consent. Percy jogged out of the arena and in the direction the king went. He found Fredrick entering the gardens, one of the royal dogs strolling next to him.
"Your Majesty!" he called, jogging over to him. The king met him with a surprised look on his face.
"Percy," he greeted. "It's nice of you to join me. I thought you were with Annabeth somewhere around here."
Percy smiled. "We were in the arena. She got tired so she went back up to her room." He paused. "Do you mind if I walk with you?"
"Feel free." Fredrick smiled. "How are you today?"
"I'm well. Thank you." Percy bit his lip nervously. He needed to ask Annabeth's father something, but he wasn't sure of how to approach it. Did he just go outright and say it, or was he supposed to lead up to it? He probably should have come up with a plan before throwing himself out in the open like this.
Thankfully, Fredrick seemed to know what was going on. "You came to talk about Annabeth, didn't you?" He fixed Percy with a knowing look, much like the one Paul used to give him when he was younger, and had girl problems.
Percy swallowed. "I want to marry her."
The air was so tense, Percy could have cut it with a knife. He closed his hands into fists to keep them from shaking. His stomach felt like he had just drank day-old milk. He wanted to vomit. The king didn't answer for what felt like an eternity, and Percy wanted to jump on his back and shake an answer out of him. Preferably a, "Yes, of course you can marry my daughter," or, even better, a, "You have my blessing." Anything other than a no.
Finally, the king sighed. "I wish that you could," he answered, and Percy's stomach dropped. "I really wish you could, Percy. No one makes my daughter happier than you do, and you'd be a fool not to see how much you love her. But I'm afraid that the law forbids it. You are not of royalty. I'm so sorry."
Percy's heart leapt. In all of the chaos that had happened since Percy's trip to Atlantis, he hadn't been able to tell the king and queen that he was, in fact, the son of Poseidon and the lost prince of Atlantis. It had completely slipped his mind up until this moment, the moment when it really mattered. He couldn't believe his luck.
He glanced over at Annabeth's balcony, visible from the gardens he was standing in. He saw Annabeth moving around inside her room, hips swaying and curls falling in her face. He smiled and looked back at the king, who stared at him with furrowed eyebrows.
"Well, actually . . ."
Percy was one thousand percent sure that this was a dream. There was just no way in the entire universe that he, Percy Jackson, was marrying Annabeth Chase.
The announcement that Percy was the prince of Atlantis caused a great stir in the kingdom, but the thing that brought the people into an uproar was the engagement of their princess to Percy. They'd all heard the rumors that Annabeth had fallen in love with him, but surely it couldn't be true. Why would Annabeth marry her kidnapper? Why would she marry the very same man who'd started this entire mess? It just wasn't proper.
But any opposition to the marriage was silenced when they saw the way the couple looked at each other on their wedding day.
The doors opened. Everyone stood. Percy's eyes searched, searched, searched until they landed on her. His breath caught. She was so beautiful, it hurt to look. It was like a ray of sunlight straight from the heavens shined down only on her, reflecting off the white of her dress, illuminating her in a golden halo of light.
Her lips were red.
She looked like an angel.
All feeling had left Percy's body. He couldn't form a coherent thought. As she walked towards him, their eyes never left each other's and all Percy could think was that this girl in front of him, this too-beautiful-to-be-real goddess that was walking towards him in the most gorgeous wedding dress, was his. She was his.
She made it to the altar. She handed off her bouquet of flowers to Piper, her one and only bridesmaid. Then they were holding hands in front of the priest, and he was welcoming everyone to this very special occasion and Annabeth was smiling at him and he was sweaty and nervous and so, so happy. After everything they'd gone through, here they were, hand in hand at the altar. Here they were, at the start of their new life. Together.
"Do you, Prince Perseus Jackson of Atlantis, take Princess Annabeth Chase to be your lawfully wedded wife, in this holy estate of matrimony? Will you love and cherish her from this day forward, as long as you both shall live?"
Percy's voice was as loving as his smile as he promised Annabeth, "I do."
"And do you, Princess Annabeth Chase of Olympia, take Prince Perseus Jackson to be your lawfully wedded husband, in this holy estate of matrimony? Will you love and cherish him from this day forward, as long as you both shall live?"
Annabeth's eyes were glittering with unshed tears and her voice quivered as she promised him, "I do."
Percy didn't hear the rest of what the priest said. He pulled Annabeth close, and she jumped up to her toes, throwing her arms around his neck as he connected their lips in a single, solidifying kiss. Annabeth smiled into his mouth, and he wiped away her tears with his thumb. When they broke the kiss, Annabeth buried her face in his neck and he pressed his nose into her hair, breathing in her scent.
Finally, finally, they were home.
"I have been writing vows to you in glass houses - wishing for your veil to be lifted and your white dress to glimmer easily and not painfully. You often send lightning back, a reply for the ages - blood dripping from my nervous brows; "If something is going to kill us, it might as well be love."
Special thanks God, for giving me the love of words and the gift of story-telling and supporting me each and every day. Thank you to all of my readers for supporting this story and helping me reach my goal of a thousand reviews. You all are amazing and your reviews made even the worst days better. I love every single one of you and thank you so much for reading my story. Thank you to anonymous999999999 for beta-ing this for me. I couldn't have done this without you and your amazing editing skills!
So what's next? I gave you all a preview of what I'm going to be doing in the future, but I'm going to update that information for you all. My plans as of now are to work on This Sweet Lullaby and another AU Percabeth story called The Way She Moves. The summary is below. It might be a while before I update either of them simply because I have to make sure the plot is smooth and makes sense. I'm not a fan of jumping into a project blind. So if you follow This Sweet Lullaby, rest assured that I am not quitting! I'm actually super excited about it and have so many ideas. Another project that I'm going to do is the asylum story. The official title is Danvers State Asylum, but on my profile, it's called The Gathering Darkness. It's a Percabeth story set in an asylum in the 1950s. It's dark and creepy and completely horrifying. I love it. I'm still researching for that one. And finally (because I love stressing myself out with millions of fanfiction ideas), I have two fantasy novels that I'm contemplating writing. One is called The Pirates of the Mediterranean and yes, it is a pirate AU. The other one doesn't have a title yet.
And the big news! I'm thinking of writing a sequel to this story. It would be called The Most Important Moments and would take place about three years from where this story ended. I have a very vague plotline right now, but I can tell you that it would bring a little bit of magic and sorcery into it. It would be loads darker and creepier than this story, which is always good. The darker a story is, the better, right? I just want to know if you all would be interested in a sequel. The (tentative) summary is below.
And that's about it! Again, thank you to everyone who has supported me through this journey. I'm thankful for all of you! I hope you all have a fantastic and wonderful day! I have to go do homework . . .
The Way She Moves: Percy Jackson, a below average student with no ambition and no plans for his future, is content to just ride his skateboard for all eternity. When he meets Annabeth Chase, an above average student and competitive dancer, he's intimidated and also a little intrigued. But Annabeth has issues of her own and with two complete opposites like this, it's a love story waiting to happen.
Danvers State Asylum: The year is 1953. Percy Jackson is a feared murderer, though no one knows of the nightmares that haunt him every night. When he's arrested and claimed mentally unstable, he's sent to an asylum. That's where he meets beautiful, quiet Annabeth and falls irrevocably in love with her. The only catch? Annabeth is completely, 100% mentally insane.
The Pirates of the Mediterranean: (This one hasn't been shortened yet!) For as long as she can remember, Annabeth Chase has been an ally of the royal family. She's lived in the palace all her life, worn only the finest silk, and dined on the best food in all of Greece. She's grown up living like a queen. And she hates it. Annabeth knows that her privileged childhood is only payment for something that the royal family wants from her. She's known it all her life. Gifted with powerful magic, Annabeth is vital to the Grecian monarchy. So when her ship is invaded by pirates while she's returning from a visit to her family and she's taken captive, Annabeth knows her life is about to drastically change. The Pirates of the Mediterranean are ruthless, cunning, and evil. Day after day, Annabeth is tortured, forced to use her gift for entertainment and, on occasion, evil. It's not long until she finds out the real reason the pirates are holding her captive and the desperate need to escape grows more urgent. But on a ship in the middle of the sea, there's no hope of rescue . . . unless the handsome and mysterious and completely irritating brother of the captain has anything to say about it.
The Most Important Moments: "You promised you'd pay whatever price it took to save your wife. Now I am here to collect my payment." The king's stomach dropped. "And what would that be?" he asked. The young woman's eyes sparkled as she rested them on the squealing child in the king's arms. "I want your daughter."