Author's Note: Hello! I'm back, bit of a hiatus, but now the holidays are over and I have more time to write. :) I didn't watch to rush this chapter either, because it sets a lot up. I'll try and release another chapter faster (without rushing) to make up for it.
My memories are often a bit foggy though, when it comes to the details, so please point out any errors! Huge thanks to Yesse, who pointed out I made a cabin error in the first chapter! Really appreciate that! If any of you notice any errors like that, please do point them out. Sorry if Aphrodite is a little OOC. I think how the way Rick portrays her is not the best. She's not a snob, in my opinion, just different.
Percy didn't know where he was running at this point, but he also didn't really care as long as he got to go far away. He knew he had hit the forest, but he could barely feel the branches hit his skin as he ran. The world behind him was forgotten as he ran farther. At some point, he must have lost his shoes because he could feel the cold dirt, along with the wet grass that was crunching beneath his feet. The bitter wind hitting his face, coming from nowhere.
His black hair became wilder as it mended with the twigs that came with the branches. He doesn't know why everything was so deep here, but it was. Why the world was hating on him he didn't know. The leaves on the trees continued to fall with the season, not waiting for him. The path kept going, but it didn't pause to wait up for him. He supposed the trail needed to keep going, but why couldn't it pause the temptation? Pause the need to continue? He didn't know where this road led, but it led away and that was enough for him.
The sun shined above him as if Apollo was also mocking him. The clouds considered moving in front of the sun but decided he was better left alone. It left the path brightened, but Percy still didn't know where it went, but he ran on. Anything to get away, he would accept, and this offered just that.
Time lost track, the sun left, the critters went to sleep as Percy ran. He ran and ran. Soon, he found himself in a grassy clearing. It was then he realized how long he had been running, as he saw the moon resting above the crystal waters of the pond. It was then he knew he was no longer at Camp Jupiter as well, for Camp Jupiter didn't have anything like this.
The moon was a beautiful white, its reflection in the water one of the prettiest things he had ever seen. The flowers along the side of the space grew tall. One was purple, another yellow, another blue, another large, another small, another tall, another wide, another rough, another soft, but by then, Percy had lost count.
But there was one flower that stood out from the rest. Anemone. The flower of Aphrodite, born from her tears as she mourned Adonis, killed out of revenge by Artemis, after he ventured into the goddesses territory and was killed by a wild boar. And he guessed it wasn't here to show it was going to rain, as it did sometimes when its petals closed.
"You are a smart one," Came the voice from behind him.
Percy didn't respond.
He felt someone sit down next to him and Percy took that moment to look at her. Right now, she was blonde, with gray eyes. He flinched and she noticed this, for her appearance quickly changed to a girl with chocolate skin and black hair, along with eyes as black as oblivion. "It's still fresh, isn't it?" She asked.
"Of course not," Percy said.
"I'm the goddess of love, Perseus Jackson." She said, "And you think I can't sense this?"
Once more, no response came from the dark-haired demigod.
She sighed, as her appearance changed. Her hair turned to a fiery red and with Jade eyes and tan skin as she tied the hair back in a ponytail. She grew tired of the ponytail quickly and turned the hair wavy and short before talking once more. "I apologize for my daughter," she said. "I love her, but she may not represent my kinder side, like Piper. How's she been doing lately actually? She hasn't checked in for a while now."
"She's fine," Percy said. "She just doesn't like it when you give her makeovers."
Aphrodite stuck out her bottom lip in a pout, "If only she would go shopping with me, just once. I know a great place for dresses and an even better place to do her makeup. It would do wonders for her."
Percy shrugged, "She's just not a fan of all that fancy stuff."
"It's a shame," Aphrodite sighed. "If only she could have kept my good side, but also a sense of fashion."
"It's better than another Diana," Percy said. "And she's a good friend, just the way she is, without your approval."
Aphrodite clearly had more to say, "You really should learn to control your tongue dear." She said, "But I can also respect that."
"Where are we?" Percy asked.
"One of my favorite places, but it hasn't been discovered yet." Aphrodite said, "You can call it Moon's Reflect."
"Fitting name," Percy agreed, looking out into the lake, forgetting just about everything for a moment. Now the stars had come out and joined the moon in the reflection, only adding to the beauty of the spot. It was probably good mortals hadn't discovered it yet, or it would have been ruined, they weren't exactly famous for keeping nature's spaces clean, just ask Pan. "You own this place?"
"No," Aphrodite said, her appearance shifting back to the one before, but keeping the short-curly hair. "But I come here often, so it might as well be." A dove flew by, the symbol of Aphrodite, it's white color shining brightly in contrast with the dark sky as if it were a painting, the light color brushing against the canvas. It could be viewed as both destructive or blending, depending on your opinion. The dove continued to fly across the sky, the faintest whoosh of its wings could be heard. At one point, it flew down closer to the water, causing the smallest splash against the otherwise still waves.
"I'd want this place to be mine," Percy said. And when Aphrodite didn't respond he continued. "I mean, it's a good place to think. Calming."
"You can come here whenever you like," Aphrodite said.
"Why are you being so nice?" Percy asked.
"Just because love can be cruel, doesn't mean it can't be beautiful." Aphrodite said as she applied her lipstick, now sporting a short-blonde hair look, "Or I have a date with Ares in a few hours and Hesphatus is in the next country over and won't be back for a while. But mainly the first option."
Percy snorted, "Where are you going?"
"Oh, just going to blow up a few colonies. Extremely romantic how much he cares for me, I just adore how he shows it." Aphrodite said. At Percy's horrified look she continued, "I'm kidding darling, just out for a nice lunch in Paris. He's not a big fan of the place, says there's not enough action there, but he also knows better. I just wanted to make sure you were paying attention to me when I said that."
"Kind of hard to ignore you," Percy said.
Aphrodite laughed, "I suppose it is." Her blonde hair growing even yellower, starting to look as if it was slightly glowing, kind of like a child of Apollo look, Percy decided.
"Percy, you know you can't stay alone forever," Aphrodite said, sighing slightly. "We both know you cannot stay awake from this kind of feeling, you need someone in your life, as much as you try and deny it. You're just going to get more miserable if you don't accept her death and move on. Do you understand me, Percy?"
"I do," Percy said honestly.
Aphrodite looked surprised, "Then you know what you need to do?"
Percy nodded, though he knew his answer was not the one she was looking for.
"I have to go," Aphrodite said. "Remember my advice." And before Percy got a chance to respond, she vanished into a pile of flower petals, the same flower from earlier.
Percy looked out into the lake one last time and it was then he made a decision. Screw the fates as he had done before, he was going to bring down the darkest depths to Annabeth back. It had been done before and he would do it again. He stepped out from the water, and left, without a single ripple.
Aphrodite did know the thoughts going through his head. She sighed, it wasn't going to work, he wouldn't find what he was looking for. He wasn't going to be able to bring her back.
Annabeth was not going to be coming back, no matter how determined he was to do so. And though there are times demigods outsmart the gods and fates or know more, now more than ever she knew, this was not one of those times.