The wedding went off without a single problem which, to everyone, felt a little un-Percy like. The sight of the crowd, the complicated set up that the Aphrodite cabin had arranged, the noises of the water and the trees all melted away for Percy the second he saw Annabeth. He wasn't even sure he was breathing when he looks back at the moment now.
She was indescribably beautiful. Her white dress sat off her shoulders revealing her sun kissed collar bones. The torso piece sat close to her toned body revealing her perfect figure. Her golden hair was braided like a crown around her head making the sun dance. There was a single strand of small white beads resting just before the braids, simple and not distracting. Whoever did her makeup knew that Percy, along with Annabeth, preferred an understated look because there was only just enough to accent her face perfectly.
She was nervous to meet Percy's eye. Finally she looks up and bites her lip, trying not to explode into a huge smile. Her striking gray eyes sat like two moons in the sky. Percy couldn't be any more in love and he couldn't be any more sure.
Actually, he was so sure that suddenly this ceremony seemed silly. He knew, she knew, everyone there knew... hell, the world knew. Percy and Annabeth were meant to be together. A perfect balance of planning and spontaneity, wisdom and instinct, chaos and calm, yin and yang. A ceremony to tell everyone seemed redundant. Official? It couldn't be any more official than their relationship was.
Eventually, Annabeth was standing up there with him, giving him a look like she knew what he was thinking and that she agreed but that they were in the middle of it, so not finishing it would seem like a waste. Percy weighed the pros and cons of grabbing her now and running. By the time he was maybe half way through his very lengthy internal debate, he was putting a ring on her finger and kissing her with everyone was cheering and clapping. Percy wasn't sure how he got to that point already, but he didn't care. Reluctantly, she pulled away and placed her hand in Percy's, giving him a final stunning smile before turning to the crowd.
Eventually Percy and Annabeth got to sit as the food was being brought out. The excitement of it all was lessening just enough for Percy to be able to take in everything around him. All of the friends he made, the camp members both old and new, the family he found, and the family he has just made his. His wife sat by his side, as she would for the rest of their lives, talking with whomever it was she was sitting next to.
Without turning to look at him, she reached for Percy's hand and squeezed it tightly for a second. Percy could only widen his smile. His life was amazing.
As he returned to scan the crowd, he noticed one visitor that seemed misplaced. Percy squeezed Annabeth's hand to get her attention and mumbled "I'll be right back". She simply nodded with a pleasant smile and returned to her conversation. Percy walked around his table and towards the back, returning handshakes and simple congratulations and well wishes.
"Morning, sir. Having a good time?" Percy said, trying to be gentle. The god looked up and gave a simple mumble.
"As far as events go that one needs to be awake for, not bad. Haven't been to an event like this in a long time. No one really invites me places. I tend to... bring the energy down and make everyone have an early night in" Hypnos replied.
"I can't imagine why..."
"It's because I'm the god of sleep."
"I-" Percy stopped himself and sighed. Gods and sarcasm has never mixed well.
"I probably owe you a present don't I?" Hypnos continued.
"Please, don't." Percy mumbled to himself.
"Nothing. You don't owe me anything, sir. You came and that's all we asked."
"Isn't it traditional to get people wedding presents?"
"Well, yes but-"
"Then I should give you one, shouldn't I?" Hypnos asked. Percy just sighed. He wasn't getting anywhere. The god took this as a "yes".
"So what do you want? Something only I can give. I think we can all guess what your dream is judging by that goofy look on your face every time Annabeth looks at you." Percy smiled. "And we've seen your wife's great dream..." His smile widened. "You've also seen your nightmare, your wife dying obviously." Percy flinched and his smile melted like ice in a volcano. He didn't want to think about that. "I doubt that changed. Hmm..." The god rubbed his eyes like it was a struggle to stay awake. "Oh! What about your wife's greatest nightmare?"
Percy froze. It wouldn't be right. He didn't want to invade on her private thoughts. He had done that once before though not by choice. She deserved to have her own secrets. Still... he was curious. Was it the same as his?
"The thoughts that keep her up at night? The thing that makes her toss and turn every so often? You know those times. You've woken up because of those nightmares." It was true. Percy had been woken up to Annabeth mumbling in her sleep, crying out, jumping in her sleep... Every time he woke her up and asked her what was wrong, she'd simply play it off and fall back asleep while holding him close.
"I... I can't do that. When she's ready to tell me, I'm sure she will... but she doesn't have to." Percy finally managed to get out. He was curious, but not enough to upset Annabeth over. As he was about to thank the god and go back to his seat, he felt a hand slip into his.
"It's alright, Percy." Percy turned to see Annabeth smiling softly at him. "I appreciate you not prying... but you told me yours, I could tell you mine." Percy gave her hand a soft squeeze and looked around at the party. Everyone was too busy in their own conversations to notice this exchange. Percy turned back to his wife.
"Are you sure?" Annabeth simply nodded slightly. Percy turned back to look at the god and nodded.
"Here we go," Hypnos said before he stared directly into Percy's eyes.
Just like the other time, Percy was swept through on odd fog into a vision. A sixteen or seventeen year old Annabeth sat at the table in Chiron's office. She was fidgeting nervously with her knife, twirling it and picking at it as her knee bounced up and down energetically. Annabeth looked terrible. She looked like she hadn't slept in days. Her eyes were red and puffy, her face was pale and tight, and she looked skinnier than usual. Chiron placed a cup of coffee in front of Annabeth before slowly taking a seat. Chiron also looked tired but mostly worried either for the girl or whatever was causing her own worry.
"Annabeth... you really need to get some sleep." Chiron said softly. The girl merely shook her head and reached for the mug.
"You know I can't, Chiron. Too much going on in my head... And besides, even if I do fall asleep, I just see... him." As Annabeth said "him", her voice caught and her face seemed to grow even tighter, like she was trying to keep herself from crying.
"You need to at least try..."
"It's been weeks, Chiron. Weeks. We don't have a single clue as to where he could be." Annabeth stood up suddenly, throwing her hands into the air. Percy finally caught on to what he was seeing. It was when Hera had sent him to the Roman camp the first time. No one had any idea what had happened to him, not even himself. Annabeth was still pacing.
"I know you don't want to hear this but... there is always the possibility he's... with Calypso again..." Chiron said gently. Annabeth had stopped pacing, her face contorting with pain and sadness. "I know that the thought has crossed your mind, Annabeth. "
"Does he really love me? We've only been dating for a short time and I kind of made all of the moves and dropped all of the hints... What if it was just him getting excited from all of the near death experiences and the excitement of saving Olympus? He could just be settling. He knew how I felt about him." Annabeth said quickly. She was back to pacing around.
"You just have to have faith that he does love you. Everyone can see he does. Honestly, it's better than the alternative scenario..." Again, Annabeth stopped walking. She couldn't bring herself to look at him.
"I don't... I can't make another funeral for him, Chiron. The first one was a false alarm but... if I have to do it again... I don't think..." Annabeth said staring at her hands. Her usually active gray eyes were empty.
"I know, Annabeth. This time we'll make sure we find him, no matter what... state he is in." Annabeth nodded her head and collapsed back into her seat, rubbing her face with her hands. "Now, you should try and get some sleep. I promise to get you the second any word arrives."
After a long second, Annabeth sighed and chugged her coffee then readied herself to stand. She rose like she didn't know where her feet were. The act seemed to take all of her energy and it was killing Percy to watch her suffer like this. When Percy finally returned to Camp Half-blood after his time at the Roman camp, the other campers eventually told Percy just how bad Annabeth had become. Even the campers who didn't like Annabeth all that much were growing concerned with her visible deterioration. It took a lot of effect on Annabeth's part to finally trust anyone enough to be considered "family" and to just let Percy in and to so quickly have him get taken away must have had an enormous effect. Percy felt a brand new wave of guilt for leaving her... even if it wasn't his fault.
"Chiron..." A voice came from the door of Chiron's office. It opened slowly and a pale faced camper nervously came in. "O-oh... and Annabeth..."
"You were one of the campers assigned to finding information on Percy Jackson's location, were you not? Do you have news?" Chiron asked, rising quickly from his seat. The camper wasn't meeting their eyes. Annabeth was staring at him like a hawk watching its prey. Finally the kid nodded his head slightly. Annabeth's eyes grew wider and even more focused, as if she were trying to burn a hole in the poor demi-god's head to get to the information faster.
"Well? What's the news? Is he okay?" Chiron asked. With every silent moment passing, Annabeth's grip on her seat grew tighter and tighter. "Well?" Chiron asked again, this time with more tension in his voice.
Eventually the demi-god shook his head. Annabeth fell back into her seat and her face twisted with pain.
"Is he... alive?" Annabeth looked up at the demi-god, a bit of hope shining in her eyes. Again, the demi-god shook his head. An audible sound of pain escaped Annabeth despite her best efforts. Percy wanted to run to her. She looked like she was breaking. Percy thought about the time he thought she was dead. It was terrible. It was like he was missing his better, more familiar half... the part that he liked better of himself. He probably looked like that too.
The wedding was beginning to fade in but Percy's mind was still a thousand miles away. Annabeth squeezed his hand slightly. Jolted back to the present, he looked at her. She was older than she was in the vision. She was beautiful, wiser somehow, calmer, like everything was a bit more at peace in her mind. As Percy stared into her silver eyes, he vowed to never make her look at hurt as she did in the vision.
"They're not so different, huh?" Annabeth said with a knowing smirk. He gripped her hand so tightly that in the back of his mind, he was worried that he was hurting her. If he was, she didn't complain. She simply squeezed back.
"Come on, Percy. Let's get back to the party." Annabeth turned back to look at Hypnos. "And thank you, sir, for your present. I hope you enjoy the rest of the party".
The god nodded and settled deeper into his seat. For the rest of the party, no matter what they were doing, the couple never let go of each other's hand.