A/N: Hi guys! I had meant to publish this yesterday on Annabeth's birthday (as revealed to us in The House of Hades), but being me, I derped out and completely forgot about this even though I'd been working on it since late May!
So I hope you people enjoy this very long one-shot (by my standards at least). I'm actually pretty proud of it.
Update (7/12/15): Whoops, I must've misread the birthday thing—it's actually the 12th of July. Not the 7th. Oops. ^^;
Percy really hoped that everything would be perfect. After all, it was him and his friends who saved the world from Gaea, right?
So in the wee hours of July 12, 2015, Perseus Jackson was awake. He had no idea what time it was (the numbers on his watch were swimming around due to dyslexia and being sleep-deprived), but he somehow needed to think of a perfect day for Annabeth. He already had a rough outline of his plans, but he really needed to get to sleep now.
Wait. Rewind. Planning? Now he knew he'd been hanging out with Annabeth too much. Not that he minded it, of course.
Percy stopped his restless tapping with his pencil as he thought about her. He went off into Memoryland (a much, much better place than Memory Lane, in his opinion), thinking about all the adventures he had with the blonde. He smiled as he remembered Gloria the poodle during their first quest—man, he still cracked up when the memory of Grover talking to it resurfaced in his mind! He could remember sitting in the zoo truck with Annabeth and Grover and freeing all those animals with Riptide.
Then Percy's grin became thoughtful as he remembered when he and Annabeth fell into Tartarus together—when he swore that he was never letting go of her again. And her response: "As long as we're together."
Annabeth had saved him as much as he had saved her when they fell into the River Cocytus. He might've prevented them from becoming a grease spot on Tartarus's skin, but she dragged them out of the misery and became his light in everlasting darkness (excuse the corniness). She reminded him that there were still things to live for. Annabeth gave him strength to go on. Percy remembered weakly joking about studying surfing at her suggestion to go to college together. Her laughter was beautiful in the depths of Tartarus. It was pure joy.
Although there were some pretty decent moments in the pit—gods, he still had nightmares about that place. Being alone and Annabeth already being dead; the pain of the arai's curses once again coursing through his body; and—Percy choked just thinking about this—Bob and Damasen blaming him for everything . . .
Percy turned on his side, his pencil clattering to the floor. He refused to remember anything else about the pit. Anything but Tartarus. Calm down, Percy, he chanted in his mind. He couldn't go bug Annabeth in the middle of the night! Percy cleared his mind as he began to think about other things.
He had missed a ton of school when Hera plucked him out of Camp Half-Blood and wiped his memory. Normally, Percy wouldn't have minded missing classes and whatnot, but with the war and all—he really needed a break. He wanted to get back to having a normal life.
Well, as normal as he could get living the life of a demigod.
Between Paul and Annabeth's tutoring, Percy was able to complete his junior year at Goode and become a senior when the war ended.
But now it was summer, and summer meant camp . . . and Annabeth. June had flown by (with a couple capture-the-flag games Camp Half-Blood style), and now it was very early morning on her birthday.
When Percy had first learned Annabeth's birthdate, he couldn't help but feel a little (ahem, a lot)miffed that his girlfriend was older than him. But when his growth spurt hit (with the strength of a rampaging Minotaur, actually), he shot up to a good five inches above the blonde.
Which made the older thing a bit easier to handle.
With a sigh, Percy glanced back down at his notes.
July 12, 2015 — Annabeth's 18th Birthday
9:00 Eat breakfast
9:30 Maybe spar for a while/depending on what Annabeth wants to do
10:45 Take shower/same as above
11:30 Eat early lunch
12:15 Head to Mom's apartment
3:00 Go to Montauk
5:30 Get back to camp and shower
7:30 Eat dinner
Percy stared with dissatisfaction at his list when he finished reading it. He couldn't really come up with anything else to add to his "birthday" schedule because his mind kept going fuzzy. He gazed blearily at the ceiling. It would be a pretty good idea to . . . sleep . . .
Percy must've passed out, because only a few moments later, bright sunlight was streaming through the windows of the Poseidon cabin. Lifting his head up from his pillow (did he really have to drool on his notes?), he blinked groggily. Yawning, he glanced at his watch. Then his eyes widened as the clock numbers swam into view. 12:36.
Percy leaped out of bed, tugged a pair of basketball shorts on (which already had two very essential items tucked inside its pockets), wriggled into a well-worn Camp Half-Blood shirt, and ran to the bathroom. He quickly brushed his teeth, splashed some water on his face, and sprinted out the door—hurriedly swiping his damp hands through his hair in an effort to tame it.
He made it through the doorway, but promptly tripped going down the steps, landing at the feet at an amused daughter of Athena.
"Where's the fire, Seaweed Brain?" Annabeth joked, pulling Percy off the ground.
He chose not to answer, but offered a vague "Happy birthday" in addition to a customary good-morning hug. Percy felt her arms wrap around him as well.
"I'm one number older than you for a month, Percy," she whispered in his ear. With satisfaction, Percy noted that she had to tiptoe.
"I'm still taller, though," he teased, swaying them back and forth. He unwillingly released his girlfriend, but walked hand-in-hand with her to the dining pavilion. Percy and Annabeth sat together at the Poseidon table after sacrificing part of their lunch, and just leaned contentedly against each other. Percy, of course, got his usual drink—blue cherry Coke, while Annabeth watched in amusement before getting a glass of water.
The official camp rules were that only people from the same cabin could sit at the same table. That rule was heavily enforced, but ever since Percy came back with Annabeth, Chiron and Mr. D. had allowed just the two of them to be the only exceptions.
Percy had never eaten his food faster. He had already wasted part of the day sleeping, so he wanted to cram in as much of his plans for Annabeth as he could. Plus, he was starving since he slept through breakfast.
He glanced at the watch he had taken to wearing. 1:22. Most of the morning was already blown out into oblivion, but Percy figured that the rest of the afternoon could be managed. When Annabeth was finished eating, he quickly pulled her to her feet.
They walked together to the Big House, the sweet summer air floating around them. The scent of strawberries always calmed Percy down. He glanced at Annabeth and noticed that she was carefully scrutinizing his face. "What's up?"
She jumped, apparently not realizing what she was doing. "I'm trying to figure out what you're thinking," she admitted, holding her hands behind her back.
Percy smiled. Typical children of Athena. Reaching for her hand, Percy tried to make his already-present grin mysterious. "You'll find out soon enough," he said confidently.
But at his words, the cool and collected daughter of wisdom . . . burst out laughing. "What expression were you going for this time?" she choked out between giggles.
"Mysterious," Percy confessed. "Was it really that bad?"
A fresh wave of laughter caused Annabeth to slip her hand out of his and sink slowly to the grass. Now thoroughly bewildered, Percy plopped down beside her. He could smell the scent of strawberries in her hair.
"Hey!" he complained, trying to snap Annabeth out of her laughing fit. "I actually have stuff planned for today."
Annabeth composed herself and gave Percy an apologetic look. "Your 'mysterious' face . . ." she began, "kinda made you look like an insane madman." She buried her face in her hands, body shaking slightly as she tried to suppress her amusement.
Percy grasped her hands and mock-frowned. "Well, I am hurt. I do not look like Octavian no matter how much I might resemble him when he starts gutting his teddy bears."
Green eyes met gray for a heartbeat—before their owners collapsed in the grass, laughter echoing to the blue sky.
"I can't believe that Chiron's letting us out of camp," Annabeth murmured. "Especially with your demigod stink probably attracting every monster within a five-mile radius," she joked. Percy could feel some of his hair being twisted into a braid.
"I have my ways," Percy responded, before whispering to Blackjack to set them down in front of a certain apartment building. "And 'sides, I have Riptide right here," he added, patting his right pocket.And something else, too.
"So is this my birthday surprise?" Annabeth asked, slipping off of the pegasus.
". . . Part of it."
They ran up the stairs ("Ugh, I hate stairs," Percy grumbled) after repeatedly assuring Blackjack they'd get him donuts later.
"We're home!" Percy yelled as he flung open the door. Then he sighed in happiness when he sniffed the air—filled with the delicious aroma of freshly-baked cookies.
Percy heard a crash coming somewhere in the kitchen before his mother came hurrying around the corner, Paul trailing closely behind. "Percy!" she greeted, throwing her arms around him.
Percy hugged his mom close. When he had returned from Greece after the war, his mother was going out of her mind with worry. After the celebrations, Percy opted to go home and see his mom. They had talked for a long time, and it was then that he learned that Annabeth had visited his house occasionally when he went missing. Percy assumed that they had grown closer during his disappearance, and he smiled as his mother went over to hug Annabeth.
"Hey, Paul," Percy said, shaking his hand. Even though Percy had gotten to know Paul a lot better over the last 3-4 years, they still hadn't really shown many outward displays of affection.
The four of them met in the kitchen, where Percy's mom began piling all of the cookies onto a platter. "Happy birthday, Annabeth!" she said warmly, setting down the plate on the table.
Blue cookies, Percy thought dreamily. How long has it been since he's tasted his mother's homemade cookies? Way too long, in his opinion.
"Thanks, Ms. Jackson—um, Blofis," Annabeth said, correcting herself. Her cheeks became slightly pink.
"Oh, honey, I've told you that you can call me Sally," Percy's mom protested, smoothing down Annabeth's curls. "And we're practically family, now," she added, glancing slyly at Percy.
Embarrassed, Percy averted his eyes, choosing instead to pointedly stare at the wall.
"Sally!" Paul suddenly said. Percy's mom and Annabeth looked up. "Percy and I are going to go have a talk in his room."
Percy glanced at both of them, but Annabeth simply smiled and motioned for them to go on.
When they sat on Percy's bed, Paul then dropped the bombshell. "When are you gonna propose to Annabeth?" he demanded.
Percy could feel his face heat up. "You too?" he said accusingly, mock-glaring at his stepfather. But when Paul smiled knowingly, Percy grinned sheepishly and slipped his fingers into his pocket. Sighing dramatically, Percy said, "Yup. You caught me." Percy lowered his gaze from Paul's and fiddled with his bedsheets, feeling the cotton bunching around his fingers. "So, um, yeah. I am proposing to her—in a way, I guess. I have a promise ring that Hephaestus helped me with a couple weeks ago. And I have Athena's blessing, too," he said. "So I decided to do it on Annabeth's birthday. As an awesome birthday present, y'know?"
Percy met Paul's gaze again, wincing as he realized he'd been rambling.
Paul didn't say anything for a few moments, but then sighed, his eyes full of resignation. "Okay, then." He smiled softly. "You're growing up so fast, Percy . . . I can't believe that the young man in front of me is the same boy who blew up Goode High School's band room."
Percy laughed, remembering. "It's kinda sad when I think of the war with Kronos as the good old days. And you've only known me for—what, three-and-a-half years?"
Paul ruffled Percy's hair, earning an indignant "Hey!" from him. "I know, but in those short years—I watched you grow up, find love, suffer through so much . . . and I became proud to know that you were my son. Well, stepson."
Percy felt warmed at his words. Hugging his stepfather, Percy whispered, "Thanks, Paul."
Paul had stiffened a bit at his touch, but relaxed and hugged him back. "No problem."
After Percy and Annabeth said goodbye, they went down the hall to the fire escape. They sat down on one of the levels; cuddling together and watching the world go by. Percy was somehow reminded of the time when he and Annabeth were in the stables on the Argo II. It was one of his most peaceful moments during the war.
"It's crazy how we've known each other for six years," Annabeth suddenly commented. "We've been through so much together."
"Yeah, I know." Then Percy smiled. Gently tugging each of Annabeth's curls, he said, "When I first met you, I seriously thought you were a princess."
She laughed. "Why?" Then she sat up and dramatically threw her blond hair over her shoulder. "Was it 'cause of my . . . dashing good looks?" Her gray eyes sparkled.
"Of course, milady," Percy said, playing along. "Your beautiful blonde locks are perfectly curled like the princess you are."
They sat together in silence for a while, feeling the breeze ripple through their clothes. Percy could feel Riptide and the box digging into his thigh. It would be so easy — just fling out the ring and tell Annabeth what they both already knew. He closed his eyes and breathed in the scent of strawberries coming off of her hair.
Ugh, why was he being such a wimp? Percy loved Annabeth so much—she was his life. He wouldn't be able to stand it if she was ever gone from his side. Sowhy couldn't he just ask her?
"You okay?" Annabeth asked softly. Percy could feel his hair being twisted into a braid again. She had taken to doing that since they got out of Tartarus—anything to keep her mind off that monster.
"Yeah," he said, gazing at the horizon. Now that it was summer, the sun was staying in the sky longer. It wouldn't be dark for another 3-5 hours. "Just thinking about stuff."
The braiding stopped. "I feel like you're becoming distant from me," Annabeth whispered, laying her head on his shoulder. "If—If I'm not the one for you—if you're thinking about someone else—"
"No. No, of course not." Percy was horrified to think that. Had he been sending out the wrong vibes the whole day? "You're my Wise Girl, and I'm your Seaweed Brain," he reassured her.
"As it should be," Annabeth murmured. Then she leaned her head up and kissed him. "I love you."
"'I love you' doesn't even begin to cover it," Percy laughed, holding her closer.
"Phase 2!" Percy announced, removing his hands from Annabeth's eyes.
Percy had whistled for Blackjack from the fire escape, and encouraged Annabeth to climb on first. He had instructed her to keep her eyes closed during the flight, and Percy had his arms form a kind of barrier around her from the back so she wouldn't fall.
"We're at the beach," Annabeth said slowly, carefully slipping off her shoes and socks. She glanced pleadingly at Percy. "And your dad's okay with this?"
Percy took his shoes and socks off (subtly tucking the ring inside them) and waved her concerns away. "Of course!" he said airily. "And besides, we're at Montauk! This is where my mom and Poseidon met."
"Okay . . ."
"C'mon, it'll be fun!"
"But—hey! Percy! Put me down!"
Percy only laughed as he lifted his girlfriend, bridal-style, and ran to the waves. "I'll dry you off later," he promised, as he dropped her into the water.
When Annabeth resurfaced, she sent Percy a death glare, and flicked some water at him. "I would kill you for doing that," she said evenly, "but I love you too much to send you to Hades early."
Percy grinned. "Aw, thanks, Wise Girl. I knew you cared."
Annabeth rolled her eyes. "Well, you got me in here. Now what?"
"Water fight!" he announced, flicking a stream of water at her face. Then Percy's eyes widened as Annabeth, in retaliation, leaped forward and tackled him. They began splashing each other (Percy not getting wet, of course), their happiness evident on their faces for everyone to see.
When Annabeth declared that she was exhausted and hungry, Percy immediately agreed that they should be getting back to camp soon. He was craving a cheeseburger. With fries, obviously.
As they sloshed through the waves, Percy felt something hard under his feet. Bending down to pick it up, he realized that it was a shell—smooth and perfect. He slipped it into his left pocket, not sure what he'd need it for. It did look kinda pretty though.
Percy dried Annabeth off and put the box back in his pocket with Riptide. He swiped the sand off his feet and put his shoes on. He walked over to Annabeth, squinting to block the sun's glare from the ocean.
"Are you enjoying your birthday so far, Wise Girl?" Percy murmured, wrapping his arms around her waist.
Annabeth leaned back on him slightly. "It's been a lot better than others," she admitted. "Today's just been amazing." She turned and kissed him. "Just being with you is the best gift I could ask for. I just want to capture this moment in a jar and never let go."
Percy smoothed her hair. There were so many moments that he wanted to keep, but he knew that the past should be let go and that he should live now. "'Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift—that is why they call it the present,'" he quoted softly. Percy would keep moving forward—with his friends . . . and Annabeth by his side.
For the third time on July 12, Percy whistled for Blackjack. When the pegasus arrived, Percy said, "Hey, can you bring us back to camp?"
Of course, boss. Didja get me donuts?
"I'll give you some when we get back to camp. And don't call me 'boss,'" Percy said, mounting the black pegasus.
. . . Boss, Blackjack teased.
"Shut up," Percy grumped, helping Annabeth on.
"What's the argument about this time?" she asked in an amused tone, rubbing Blackjack's right flank affectionately.
"The boss thing."
The boss thing.
Percy and Annabeth decided to sit at the Athena table for dinner. Her siblings eagerly responded to Percy's request, loudly and cheerfully singing/shouting "Happy Birthday," while Annabeth blushed and hid her face in Percy's arm. Percy watched, laughing, as the rest of the camp spontaneously joined in the singing.
After dinner, Percy led Annabeth to the docks overlooking the canoe lake. They sat together, their legs swinging just above the water. The full moon's bright glow reflected serenely off the lake, making it look silvery and magical (he had to thank Artemis later).
Percy was going to give her the ring this time. This time, for sure.
"Annabeth," Percy began, turning to her, "we've—well, known each other for a long time, like you said, and have been dating for—for two years now." Percy internally cringed. He was such a terrible romantic. He cleared his throat, choosing to ignore that Annabeth was silently laughing.
"And I can't imagine anyone else I'd want by my side—whether it be fighting a monster, or" —he scratched his head nervously— "going to college." Percy shakily took out the box that held the ring. "We're kinda too young to get married, but I have a promise ring for you — to show that you'll always come back to me. If you want," he blurted out.
Now Percy wanted to curl up into a ball and die. This was embarrassing. He looked up and watched Annabeth's face cautiously. What would she say? What if—
Percy's thoughts screeched to a sudden halt as Annabeth grabbed the front of his shirt and kissed him. His mind went blank as he closed his eyes. It felt like that it was the two of them in this world. When they came up for air, he met Annabeth's shining gray eyes and managed to weakly say, "So, um, is that a yes?"
Annabeth's eyes were slightly teary. She threw her arms around him and practically yelled, "You're such a Seaweed Brain!" Annabeth let go of him and sniffed once. She smiled, making Percy want to melt into a puddle. "As long as we're together, right?"
Percy grinned back and opened the box. He gently slid the ring onto her left ring finger. They held hands for what seemed like eternity, the band sparkling. "You like it?" he asked.
Annabeth stretched out her hand, examining it. The ring was gold—with two small diamonds and an emerald in the middle. "It's beautiful. And . . . it's basically us." She pointed at the precious stones. "See? The emerald for your eyes, and the diamond for me."
"Exactly." Percy said in approval. "It took a lot of interceding through Leo to get Hephaestus to help with this one."
"Well, I like it," Annabeth said matter-of-factly, putting her hands on the docks. "And I'm gonna never let you go, ever," she said, leaning in for another kiss.
But that romantic moment was ruined when something hit Percy in the face. He flinched, making Annabeth lose her balance and almost fall into the lake. Thankfully, due to years of training, she steadied herself.
Percy frowned as he peered down into the water, watching something orange bobbing in the lake. "Is—Is that a Cheeto?"
"No PDA!" a voice yelled from behind them. Percy and Annabeth scrambled to their feet and stared in amazement as practically the whole of Camp Half-Blood leaped out from behind the bushes . . . armed with bags (and what looked like water guns, in the Hephaestus cabin's case) full of different varieties of Cheetos.
"Seriously," Percy complained, "is this gonna happen every time Annabeth and I go to the canoe lake to talk?" But he was smiling.
"Of course, Prissy," Clarisse shot back, smirking. "Don't think you're getting off the hook that easily." She raised her bag of twisted Cheetos. "CHARGE!" she roared, the rest of the camp running toward Percy and Annabeth gleefully.
Percy glanced at Annabeth, and she seemed to get the unspoken message. They both took a step back, and he grasped her hand. They swiftly turned around, Cheetos bouncing off their backs, and jumped High School Musical-style into the lake.
To Percy, this moment was highly reminiscent of two years ago, on his sixteenth birthday . . . except that they were being attacked with Cheetos this time. The cheesy snacks floated like a blanket on top of the two, making Percy wonder whether the naiads were going to flip out again.
As Percy formed another underwater bubble for Annabeth and himself, he vaguely thought about how Nancy Bobofit was doing. He grinned slightly as an insane redhead with liquid-Cheeto freckles came to mind. It was funny how she used to bother him so much.
He met Annabeth's sparkling gray eyes and felt such a rush of pure, unadulterated love course through his body. His grin felt like it was going to spill off his face.
And he didn't care. As he wrapped his arms around his girlfriend—no, his soulmate—Percy knew that he was happiest when he had his Wise Girl by his side. Nothing and no one would ever bother him again. Because as long as they were together . . .
They were safe.
They were content.
They were complete.
So what do you think? Was it presentable? A sequel, perhaps?
This was my first experience at writing romance at all, but I kinda enjoyed it.
Leave any comments in the review box down there, and I'll see ya'll soon!