Hey guys!

This is a one-shot in response to Round 5 of the Capture the Flag Tournament.

Basically, I tried to describe Reyna's conflict when she was given the task of going to Europe to get the Athena Partenos, while also analyzing her desire to be something more than who she was currently. Hopefully I've achieved both.

Disclaimer: The lyrics in this fic are from 'Almost There', from 'The Princess and the Frog' soundtrack. Also, the title is inspired by the same song. Also, there are only two characters in this fic that I own. The rest belong to Rick Riordan.

Warning: There are spoilers for the movie 'The Princess and the Frog'. Read under your own consideration.

Please fav, follow and review. Hope you enjoy this and cheers for reading!

Word count: 2803.

"Trials And Tribulations."

Of all clichés, she never thought that was the one she would experience.

Still, life never tended to work itself like she intended.

So there she was.

At a Starbucks, sitting at a secluded table by the window, her eyes on her plastic cup as she slowly sipped the hot chocolate she had ordered.

To her left, she could catch her own reflection on the glass, the night outside allowing her to see herself clearly. Slowly, her eyes wandered away from her cup to look towards the window, seemingly looking at the street outside, yet really looking at herself.

She found comfort in the fact that her exterior hadn't seemed to change at all ever since her meeting with the Greek Oracle, Rachel Elizabeth Dare. For years, she had trained herself to overcome even the most challenging situations and, every time she had to prove herself, she found a sense of victory in that, regardless of what she lost, regardless of what she had to sacrifice, she still found the strength to maintain her badass coverup.

Every time something happened - her father, Circe, Jason's disappearance -, it felt as if pieces were stolen from her. After all, everything came with a cost so yes, she managed to keep herself together every single time the world seemed to be breaking into thousand of pieces - for the others' sake if not for herself but, every time she had to power through the stress and pain, she could feel her sanity, her inner peace and her strength evaporating away from her.

For the longest of times, she'd wondered what was her strength hiding. Every facade serves as a cover for something else, after all, so, once her bravery and her strength vanished away completely, what would be left? Once she had absolutely no one she could hold onto, once she was all alone against those who tried to harm her, what would be left?

She had wondered that for the longest of times.

And now she knew.

Resignation. Defeat.

Her hands unconsciously gripped her plastic cup tighter as her comfort began to falter. Her reflection on the glass showed her the same sight she'd seen that morning when getting ready. As she knew the Mist would cover her, she hadn't bothered changing clothes before walking into the mortals' world. Her armour reflected the artificial lights of the coffee shop, making it shine with a bronze light that would have been too obvious had she not been under the protection of the Mist. Her purple cape flowed from her shoulders and onto the ground, it's end flowing gently whenever a gush of wind made into the shop every time a customer opened the door on their entrance or departure, and her hair was still in the same tight braid that comforted her whenever everything else failed to do so.

It might have seen silly for anyone who hadn't gone through the same things Reyna had but, when life's painfully out of your control, when your fate's decided by forces other than yourself, controlling even the tiniest of things could be source of tremendous relief. When she braided her hair tightly every single morning before putting on her armour, she rejoiced in the relief both tasks gave her. The relief of knowing that she was a strong warrior, even if she didn't feel like one most days.

Still, the longer she looked at herself, the longer she questioned whether she wanted to be only that for the rest of her life. She imagined herself leading her legion onto battle after battle, dealing with power-hungry' companions, solving petty fights, or organizing quests created to follow some deity's order. She wondered whether, a few years from then, she would be as content with her life as she had been when she was handed her pretor's insignia.

One of the things she had liked the most about the Roman Camp was that it was predictable. Its chores, its people, even its challenges. By training herself under their values, Reyna had become the embodiment of everything a Roman warrior stood for.




Reyna stiffened as she thought of herself as dependable. She thought about Jason, and how he had shown his face in New Rome after eight months of her worrying herself sick over her best friend, parading his new friends and girlfriend as if he wasn't puncturing her heart in the process.

She thought of how this supposedly allies had invited themselves demanding an alliance, escaping cowardly after blowing up her home, clearly assuming she would clean their mess.

She knew there's no point in fooling herself. She was dependable, because she had made herself so. By submerging herself in her duties, by obsessing herself with her goal of becoming an untouchable warrior, by becoming a Pretor, and therefore there to answer her people's needs; she had become just that. She had tried to avoid pain, so she had sheltered her heart and her emotions but, in return, she had become an afterthought, only to be reminded when needed.

Reyna took a deep breath in a futile attempt of deterring the conflict quickly increasing within her. What was she supposed to do? She could follow her own pride and refuse to help the demigods of the Prophecy but, what would that accomplish? Both camps would turn against each other, allowing Gaia to win without any opposition whatsoever.

Was her pride worth the demise of thousands?

Also, wasn't Annabeth's request another demonstration of how actually dependable she was? The only difference, if any, was that Reyna would be risking her own life for strangers who had done nothing but destroy her home and leave her with a Senate out for blood, rather than risking her own life for her people.

The daughter of Bellona looked down at her now empty cup and quickly left it on the wooden table once she noticed she was about to break it. Then, she covered her eyes with a weary hand and sighed with frustration.

For a while, she had secretly wished for something that would take her out of the eternal loop she had fallen onto. She had wished for something, anything, that would make her life something other than the duty to think of others before thinking of herself.

She realized everything she had done, everything she had become, it had been out of a need to protect herself, to keep herself away from further pain, betrayal and disappointment. She had been successful but, as her skin thickened, she began to hope for something else, something more than what she had earned for herself.

She had wished, and the Fates had answered her.

Reyna could almost hear the Fates cackling at her, mocking her for having been so foolish.

"Are you a princess?"

Reyna startled at that, too surprised at having been addressed by a stranger to feel angered at herself for having been so distracted. Turning to the shop behind her, she noticed that the Starbucks had filled even more since she had entered the shop, and was now filled mostly with adults looking for a treat after having been chained down to an office for the last nine hours. Some couples of all different ages could be seen there too but Reyna avoided looking at them.

She feared she would puke over the public displays of affection surrounding her.

Instead, her eyes settled on the owner of that voice, tensing when she realized it was a little girl the one who had spoken to her. No older than five, the little girl stood before her in a strapless, sky-blue' gown, a tiara filled with glitter sitting on her dark curls, the latter bouncing around her face whenever the little girl moved. She was wearing a pink coat over her dress, and a pair of black leggings and silver sneakers could be peeked from under her long dress.

Seeing that Reyna was too shocked to speak, the little girl frowned with impatience and crossed her arms stubbornly. "Well, are you?"

"Of course not," Reyna finally replied, trying to soften her voice in order not to frighten the little girl. She would have loved nothing more than to be left by herself but still, she wasn't so mean as to consider frightening the little girl in order to achieve solitude. "Why do you ask?"

"Well, you're wearing an armour and a cape. You look like Tiana. If she wore armour, that is." The little girl sat herself by the chair opposite to the surprised pretor, her eyes shining excitedly now that she had gotten the information she'd seeked. "Why are you wearing armour, then?"

"Why am I wearing this," Reyna mused to herself, clenching her fists under the table when she realized she didn't know. Until then, her cloak and her pretor' insignia had been badges of honor, badges she had carried with pride.

Seeing how easily had the others moved on from the pretorship, that made her wonder whether she should be doing the same. Still, the others had left easily because she was there to clean up their messes, to carry on with their duties.

When would it be her moment?

"It's my uniform," Reyna finally answered in a non committal manner, deciding to change the subject as she realized the little girl could see through the Mist. She nodded in the little girl's direction with a small smile. "I do wish I could be wearing that, though. Your dress is lovely."

"I know, right? My mommy made it for me. She almost didn't let me wear it for school today but I promised her I would take really good care of it and that I would eat all of my veggies at dinner," the little girl, her eyes wide as she leaned forward on her seat, her voice dropping to a hurried whisper. "But I don't know if I can. Veggies suck."

Reyna wanted to laugh at that but refrained from doing so, as she didn't want to embarrass her sweet companion. Instead, she leaned forward as well, her voice dropping into a conspiratorial whisper. "They do suck but if you want to be tall and strong like me someday, then you need to eat all of them."

The little girl's eyes widened with horror. "All?"

Reyna nodded seriously. "All."

"Ugh." The little girl leaned back on her seat, her eyes distant as if she was contemplating the horrifying reality her new friend had shown her. Then, as if reaching a conclusion, she shook her head stubbornly. "I don't want to be a warrior. I want to be a princess. Princess don't eat all the veggies."

"Princess rule their countries. To do so, they need strength and intelligence. I'm afraid they do eat all of their veggies," Reyna retorted, shrugging as the little girl looked at her with utter interest. "Besides, princess can be warriors too. I take it your favourite is Tiana?"

"Tiana is the best of the best! She's so pretty and brave and I want to be like her one day!" the little girl squealed excitedly, her dark curls flying wildly around her face as she practically bounced up and down in her seat. Suddenly, she froze as if having thought of something appalling, and leaned forward on her seat with wide, caramel eyes. "Do you like Tiana?"

Reyna looked around her, noticing with trepidation that the little girl's outburst had summoned the attention of other customers, who were now looking at the pair fondly. Still, she decided to ignore them and turned back towards her companion, who was looking at her with increasing admiration. "I love Tiana but, remember how she fought to become a human once again and how she wanted to buy herself the restaurant and she managed to do so? A warrior doesn't have to fight a war, a warrior only has to fight for their heart's desire."

"Are you a warrior, then?" the little girl asked innocently.

Reyna was frozen. Was she a warrior? Was her constant sacrifices part of her identity as a warrior? If she ignored the side of her that always put other people's needs before her own, then who was she?

Deciding to spare the little girl of her own conflict, Reyna smiled. "I'm trying to be. Maybe, if I'm brave enough, someday I'll be a warrior like you and Tiana."

"And a princess!" the little girl giggled. She then climbed down her seat carefully, as it was too high for her short legs, and ran around the table to crash the older girl into a hug. "I hope you get what you're fighting for."

Too moved to speak, Reyna ignored the uncomfortable feeling of being hugged for the first time in who knows how long and leaned down, hiding her face in the little girl's curls, embracing the little girl tightly as a surge of gratefulness and admiration over the little princess warmed her entire body thoroughly.


The pair stepped away from their embrace, and turned to find an older version of the little girl waiting by the entrance. Her Starbucks' uniform could be seen under her dark coat and her eyes wrinkled with kindness as she smiled at Reyna. "I hope she wasn't bothering you, miss."

"Not at all, ma'am," Reyna smiled politely before looking down at the little girl. "Now, make Tiana proud, alright? Eat all of your veggies."

"Ugh, okay," Irene replied defeatedly but then smiled as she planted a big kiss on Reyna's cheek. "Bye, miss!"

Reyna smiled with amusement at the little girl and was about to turn around back towards the glass by her table but then, the little girl started singing as she twirled her way towards who Reyna supposed was her mother.

'There's been trials and tribulations, you know I've had my share

But I've climbed the mountain, I've crossed the river

And I'm almost there, I'm almost there

I'm almost there!'

"C'mon, Tiana," the older woman chuckled as she opened the glass door for Irene. "Let's go home."

"Mommy, I'm going to eat all the veggies so I can be a warrior like the miss at the coffee house!" Irene blabbered animatedly, squealing when her mother picked her up and kissed her cheek.

"Let's see if you still think that at dinner, little warrior," the woman replied, her voice tinted with amusement, as they exited the building. Still, she glanced back towards the pretor sitting by the window and smiled gratefully before being drawn into her daughter's endless chatting.

Reyna smiled in return and watched through the glass as the pair crossed the busy street and stood by the bus stop, the mother tightening the daughter's coat around her little body before clutching her little hand in hers.

As a bus came a few minutes later and obstructed her view of the little family from her, Reyna looked down towards her table with a smile.

Somehow, her conflict had been eased by that little girl.

There was this quote by Tolkien. 'He may have lost the neighbours' respect, but he gained — well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end.'

During her entire life, she felt that had been her case. Everything she had done, it felt as if it caused her people's respect on her to falter, as if they were just waiting for her to make any decision so they could criticize it.

She knew her departure would cause for their respect to disappear entirely. She knew the Senate would fight over her position as pretor. She knew Octavian would take the opportunity to intimidate the cohorts into submission. She knew her entire life would be enveloped in uncertainty.

Still, she found all of that to be irrelevant.

Her next quest was no longer about sacrifices or pride, but about her ultimate goal.

And, if her ultimate goal was to achieve her freedom, to become something more than the pretor everyone depended on, then she knew what she had to do.

She would sacrifice the comfort she had. She would sacrifice her undisputed role as pretor, she would sacrifice the comfort of knowing that, while sticking to the rules, she was untouchable to Octavian and the other vultures who seeked to obtain her power. She would even sacrifice her own life if the situation demanded it.

Still, this seemed different from the sacrifices she'd made so far.

She would sacrifice her comfortable life so they could survive but, most of all, so she could get the chance in the near future to decide for herself who she wanted to be.

She had become a warrior by fighting for her people.

Now, she would fight for herself.

And, if the Fates were gracious, she would achieve her happy ending.

She was almost there.