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The Fates Smiled

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 Annabeth’s father, though practical, and a military history buff, is also quite enamored by fairy tales. Annabeth is too. The tales where a lonely girl would meet a prince and their timers would strike zero in unison. In these tales soul-mate timers always led to true love and true love could never be conquered. In curiosity, she examines her dad’s wrist. It has zeroed out. She points to his timer.

“Was it mom?” she asks with curiosity and hope in her tone.

“Yes,” he says, sounding wistful, “It was.”

He pauses a moment, “But I wasn’t hers.” He doesn’t finish his story that night.


 

 “Wait,” Annabeth asks, in all her five year-old, tantrum throwing glory, “You’re getting married!”

“Annabeth,” her father says, starting to lose his patience, “She’ll be a good mom for you.”

“She won’t be my mom,” she asserts, “And she won’t be your love.”

“Sometimes things don’t work out, Annabeth,” he says and his words coated in poison.

“When you get older, you’ll understand,” he says.

Annabeth glares and swears “I won’t betray my soul-mate.”

“Tell me that again in another thirty-years, sweetie,” he says bitterly, more bitterly than he’d ever spoken to his daughter. Tears prickle at the corners of her eyes, but she turns away. She won’t let him see.  


 

 When she gets older, she does understand. She understands that sometimes family doesn’t do what’s best for you. So she runs away. Annabeth runs away from her distant father and her spiteful stepmother and finds herself with Luke and Thalia. They become a family, one forged of love, trust, choice and soul-mate bonds. But then Thalia dies and she and Luke begin to grow apart, and she feels as though she’ll never be close to someone again. But in times like this, she’ll stare at her wrist, the timer constantly counting down, and feel a bit more secure in herself. She feels connected to her one, though she doesn’t even though their name yet.


 

 At Camp Half-blood, Annabeth is the little Athena girl who’s a better fighter than anyone so young has any right to be and more of a know-it-all than anyone cares for. Though half-bloods bully much more than their frequently bullied selves should allow, Annabeth doesn’t take it. Her skill with a knife earns even the respect of Clarisse, who is three times bigger than her and in Annabeth’s opinion, three times stupider as well. She still makes friends, though. Her older siblings dote on her, she and Malcom develop a friendship, Silena teaches her to ride horses, and there’s always Luke. But Luke seems distant, and Annabeth wants, well, more.

She wants to meet the half-blood of the prophecy that she’s to play a role in, and most of all, she wants to meet her soul-mate. She wishes she could make the numbers tick faster, because Annabeth’s not sure that she can wait until she’s seventeen.


 

 When she’s twelve, she meets Percy Jackson, child of the prophecy and her future best friend. She supposes her soul-mate will just have to wait.

Annabeth is twelve and Percy Jackson is the most annoying child that she has ever met, and of course, of course he has to be a child of Poseidon. He might be the child of prophecy, and if that’s the case, then Annabeth is stuck with him.

 He ends up growing on her, and Grover wins back her trust. But Luke loses it. He stomps on her heart and leaves her new friend bleeding. Luke betrays her- a knife through her heart, and it feels like Thalia’s death all over again. Only this time it’s different- maybe even worse. Thalia died a hero, but Luke’s making himself the villain.


 

 The years fly by and the prophecy looms over them. Annabeth grows and changes, but not enough, not enough to give up on Luke. He was her big brother, part of her family, and though she tries, she can’t completely hate him. It will never be hatred the way she hates a monster. She knew Luke, knew him as well she’d ever known anyone, probably better than she knows even Percy. She can never hate him blindly, see him as just a threat to be eradicated, because she understands him. She gets his motives and his decisions, and in some ways, she kind of respects them.

But she does hate him, in a way, a way far different from the blind hatred of good versus evil. She hates him for betraying her, betraying Thalia, for choosing his want of revenge over their family. She hates him in a way only love turned sour can hate, but she still hopes that he will change, hopes with all her naïve little heart.


 

 Luke dies a hero. Sort of? Kind of? Not really. They give him a hero’s funeral, though, and Annabeth is glad that he wasn’t completely evil in the end, but was he a hero in the end? Did his sacrifice make up for the children his war killed, for the destruction in wrought on her life? Annabeth doesn’t know. It doesn’t bring him back, but it does make her memory of him a bit less bitter, a bit less tinged with hatred. Maybe that is enough.


 

 Percy goes missing too soon after the first war ends. In a way, it seems like her heart is being ripped from her chest. She’s lost Luke, she never sees Thalia or Grover, and she might be losing Percy too, her best friend. It scares her, terrifies her to the core because it seems like as soon as she becomes attached to someone they die or leave or worse. She can’t be losing Percy too.


 

 Jason, Piper and Leo show up at camp a few days later, and her worst fears start to be confirmed. It seems that a new great war looms on the horizon, just waiting to strike. But Piper seems lovely, so that might be something.


 

 Percy, it turns out is at the Roman Camp- the Roman Camp where Jason is from that hates Greeks. This is not very reassuring, despite the fact that he’s Piper’s soul-mate, and Annabeth trusts Piper. She really wishes that she could trust Jason, to feel anything for him but anger for being here instead of Percy, for replacing her best friend, but she can’t. She feels petty, like when she met Rachel and felt this pure, possessive hatred that this girl would even become friends with her best friend. But this is different, completely unwarranted. She wishes that she could shake it.


 

 Her friendship with Piper is easy as she teaches the girl to spar, they tease each other playfully, steal each other’s breakfasts, and soon begin speaking of hopes and dreams, pasts and fears, and of course, soul-mates.

One day, the topic changes abruptly. One moment, they’ve sitting on Piper’s bed, discussing which words sound dirty but really aren’t and chucking pillows at the ceiling, and the next, Piper changes the topic to something more serious, something that she’s obviously been holding in for quite some time.

Piper says, “Hera messed with his memories.”

She pauses a moment, seemingly unable to get the words out, as if even thinking them is scandalous, “What if she messed with his timer too?”

“Piper-“ Annabeth tries to say, but the girl cuts her off, “Annabeth, what if I’m just charmspeaking him. I don’t- I don’t want this to be built on lies.”

“Piper,” she says sincerely, “I’ve seen the way that he looks at you, the way you look at him. That couldn’t be fabricated.”

“But the mist memories,” Piper protests.

Annabeth looks at her, and she says, “Piper, I think you’d know if it were fake. You’d know it within your core. There wouldn’t be any doubts.”

Piper doesn’t seem convinced, but doesn’t seem intent on pressing the issue, either.

“Do you ever wish that it was him?” Piper asks. Annabeth knows who she’s referring to, it couldn’t possibly be anyone else. She’s actually thought of it before, wondered if it wouldn’t be easier if it had been destined to be the two of them, just like their fellow campers had wanted.

“Sometimes,” she admits, because there’s no use denying it. Sometimes she wishes that it had been the two of them.

“But,” she says, because there’s always a but, “I haven’t met my soul-mate yet, but it’s getting closer. I guess I just have to believe we’ll be able to make it work.” 

“What if I can’t,” Piper says, “Gods, what if he remembers everything and we can’t make it work anymore?”

Annabeth tsks as she laughs, “You’ve always got to steal the attention for yourself, don’t you?”

Piper laughs and then pretends to glare, “Borrow. I borrow things.”

“Borrowing BMWs is still frowned upon, my friend,” Annabeth says and then everything is back to normal. The future is forgotten, if only for a moment in the company of a friend. 


 

 They board the Argo II, and Annabeth’s never been so simultaneously ready for something and scared to death of it (except perhaps the Great Prophecy). She wants to reunite with Percy, to hear his stupid insolent voice and his carefree smile. Her timer is nearing zero. She knows that she will meet her soul-mate in New Rome, knows it the same way that she knows spiders are to fear and that she can do whatever she sets her mind to. In some ways, this scares her. She is anxious to meet her one, but also terrified. The thought of messing up her first meeting with them horrifies her. And her soul-mate is Roman, a Roman who might not take too kindly to her being Greek. On top of it all, there is an ominous feeling in the wind: the knowledge hanging over her that things will become much worse this time around than the last, and that things will only get worse before they get better.


 

 As she climbs down the latter, she keeps glancing at her ticking timer. She can almost feel her soul-mate approaching. The meeting is supposed to be the biggest moment in her life, but she can’t completely focus on it. There’s still Percy to worry about, and the tentative peace that they hope to achieve with the Romans. She has to keep her calm. She has to keep her calm. She is a daughter of Athena, she can’t lose her shit because she is about to reunite with her best friend, because she is about to meet her soul-mate. She has to keep it together. She is Annabeth Chase and she has to keep it together.

 

She has to. There are no other options.

 

Her eyes meet Percy’s from across the field and she can feel herself running towards him. And she’s running and she’s running until she’s not anymore. She’s running until her face is in his chest and her arms are wrapped around his upper body, reminding her that he’s real, that her best friend is here. She has him back.

“I take it you missed me,” he says with that teasing lilt that only he could pull off (well, maybe he and Piper).

“You’re such an idiot,” she says, and she pushes off of him, out of his arms. He falls to the ground, apparently she pushed too hard, but Annabeth doesn’t care now. This moment is between herself and her soul-mate.  Annabeth looks down to her timer, it’s counting down rapidly now

15

14

13

 “Annabeth,” he asks, “are you alright?”

“Sh,” Hazel says softly, “her timer’s about to go off.”

“Oh-oh,” he says. Annabeth has looked at her timer tick long enough to be able to feel the pulse. She looks up to the crowd.

9

8

7

6

5

4

The Roman demigods part. Annabeth tries to look to the center.

3

2

1

Her eyes meet dark ones, those of a girl with long, dark hair and a purple cape. The girl looks like a queen. Annabeth sees her glance down at her timer and then look back to Annabeth.

Reyna, Annabeth thinks, and she smiles. Medals decorate the girl’s armor, and her face betrays her hopefulness upon having found her soul-mate and her worry about how this meeting might end. She meets Annabeth’s eyes, and then Annabeth looks away, unsure of how to maintain eye-contact when she doesn’t know her yet.  Percy’s just gotten up and his purple toga’s covered in dirt.

Jason clears his throat, “Um, so yeah. It’s good to be back.”

“This is Piper,” he says, and then Piper waved gracefully, though she seemed disappointed that she didn’t get to say her lines.

“And this is Leo,” Jason says, and the Leo flashes a peace sign high in the air.

“This is Annabeth,” Jason says, and Annabeth grins a bit, looking to Reyna, “she normally doesn’t knock people to the ground.”

“Unless we’re sparring,” she supplies.

Reyna’s eyes sparkle and she says, “Oh, I like you.” Annabeth winks. Hazel looks between the two of them and smiles. Reyna claps her hands, but continues to look at Annabeth, “It seems we have much to discuss. Centurions.”


 

Throughout the banquet, it becomes an unspoken agreement between the two that neither acknowledges what happened, nor do Hazel, Frank, or Percy.  They end up settling as many matters as they can before Reyna calls her aside.

 

Annabeth wants to ask Reyna so many things as they walk down the streets of New Rome: what her childhood was like, how her experiences have been at Camp Jupiter, if she believes in the timers, her favorite color even, but she keeps the thoughts inside. She is not sure how to voice them, and ends up distracted by the gorgeous architecture.

“We have the greatest architects and builders in the world,” Reyna says to her, with a small grin, “Rome always did. Many from the legion decide to stay here. Go to college. Work in the city. Raise a family. Your friend Percy seemed interested in this fact.”

“Percy will have to wait a while,” Annabeth says, “His timer is not set to go off for another ten years.”

“Did yours zero out,” Reyna asks, biting her lips. It’s an unusual question, but by no means an unwarranted one. Many people have been known to have their timer zero for someone who was their soul-mate, but who wasn’t theirs.

“Yes,” Annabeth says, “it did.” Annabeth did not bother asking Reyna, because she saw the reaction on her face.

“You’re a warrior, alright,” Reyna says, abruptly changing the topic away from the timers, “You’ve got fire in your eyes.”

“Thank you?” she asks.

“No- no,” Reyna says, “it’s a compliment. Coming from a daughter of Bellona, I assure you it’s a compliment.”

“Roman goddess of war?” Annabeth asks. Reyna nods. As they walk, a golden and a silver mechanical dog came up beside them.

“My pets,” Reyna says, “do you mind if they walk with us?” Annabeth gets the feeling that it’s not really a request. She nods in response. It seems that Reyna does not trust her, which is reasonable. A soul-mate bond doesn't guarantee much of anything. It doesn't guarantee long-lasting love, she knows from her mother and father, and it doesn't guarantee that one person won't betray the other, she's learned this from Luke. She learned many unpleasant lessons from Luke. 

She wishes that she could distrust Reyna, this Roman (enemy?) that her timer has zeroed out for. She really does, but her skepticism has faded away. Reyna puts her at ease in a way that she'd always hoped her soul-mate would. She can't force the naivety of her youth completely out of herself, and she doesn't much feel like trying. 

Reyna leads her to an outdoor café and purchases two hot chocolates.

 “They have wonderful hot chocolate, though it’s not very Roman,” she says.

“But chocolate is universal,” Annabeth says, Reyna nods as she hands Annabeth a cup.

“Is this a date,” Annabeth asks slyly from her mug of coco.

“Perhaps,” Reyna says with a sly smile on her face, “or as close as could be obtained due to the circumstances.”

Annabeth smiles slightly, “I’ll take what I can get. I would like to get to know you.” Reyna begins to speak of the differences between Minerva and Athena, and how to the Romans Annabeth is an impossibility. They speak of Ella’s prophecy as well. They walk up the hill, Annabeth’s fingers brushing gently against Reyna’s hand.

“This is my favorite spot,” Reyna says, “the Garden of Bacchus.” The garden is gorgeous. Flowering hedges line the edges. Various shades of flowers Annabeth doesn’t know the name of litter the ground, while some  crawling plants snake their way around statues. A nude statue of Dionysus pees into the central fountain. Annabeth finds herself stifling a chuckle. The garden would be incredibly romantic if a statue of her Camp Counselor weren’t urinating in the center.

“I wanted to hear it from you,” Reyna says plainly.

Hear what?” Annabeth asks, but even as she says the words she knows what they are. Reyna is not fool enough to simply trust the Greeks because one of them is her soul-mate.

“I want to hear it from you,” Reyna says, “Convince me that I’m not making a mistake by trusting you.”

“But we’re-“ she finds herself saying before she can stop herself.

Reyna’s serious look remains on her face, “I will not put too much faith in those timers, Annabeth. They guarantee the possibility of happiness, not anything else. I won’t base my judgment solely on that. I want to hear the words from your lips.”

Annabeth finds her story spilling from her lips. She tells Reyna everything, from her childhood to running away to the prophecy to Percy’s kidnapping to her mother’s mad words concerning the Mark of Athena.

Reyna tries to explain to her that it is not in Rome’s nature to cooperate with other powers. Annabeth tries to battle her right back.

“This isn’t just about New Rome,” Annabeth says, “This is about the world- Romans, Greeks, gods, mortals. This war concerns everyone, Reyna.”

“I understand that, Annabeth,” Reyna says, “Believe me. But it is sometimes hard to make my countrymen see sense. You have met Octavian.”

“You are a much better leader than he,” Annabeth says, “I am sure you can make them see sense. Please, Reyna. We need help from the Romans if we are ever to win this war. We can’t fight each other, or we will stand no chance.”

Reyna smiles, “You make a good point, daughter of Athena. I can see why they made you the leader.”

Not acknowledging our timers again, I see, Annabeth thinks with a tinge of bitterness. She wishes that her timer had warranted more trust from the girl. Annabeth wonders what Reyna has gone through that has made her so distrustful, even of the fates.

“We are going to the ancient lands,” Annabeth says abruptly, “we must.”

“There is something you must know,” Reyna says. She tries to inform Annabeth of the Mark of Athena, of her dead siblings, and of the perils it has caused. She tries to explain why this has prevented a peace between the nations. Annabeth feels a sense of dread, not only for her future, but for this moment. She hears a shrill sound in the distance. Annabeth turns to see an explosion bursting into a column. Demigods scatter in panic. A flaming coach flies through the air.

“You’ve betrayed us,” Reyna says, but Annabeth can hear the true hurt behind her words. She knows that the girl means me.

“Reyna I would never- I don’t know what’s happened, but I promise you-“

“Save it,” Reyna spits. Her dogs return to her side, but they do not attack Reyna.

“Perhaps you are telling the truth,” she says to her, a flicker of hope to her words, “Perhaps you weren’t aware of this devious behavior.

“I swear, Reyna,” she says, “I wouldn’t do this to anyone, let alone my soul-mate-“

“We need to go,” Reyna says, her voice going high at the mention of soul-mates, “There will be bloodshed.” Already, Annabeth could hear fights breaking out below them.

“We have to stop this,” she says. They look to each other, and run down the hill.


 

 Days pass on the ship, with Annabeth relearning Percy, getting to know Hazel and Frank, and trying to forget Reyna. She is more successful at the first two than the last.


 

 The world around her seems to go completely still when she sees Reyna again.

“Rushing off?” she asks in a tone Annabeth cannot read. In this moment, she is unsure whether she is being greeted by a friend or an enemy.

“Reyna,” she says, “What happened at Camp Jupiter- I swear I didn’t-“

“Save it for the trial,” Reyna says, excessively coldly, as if she is trying to force other emotions down.

“Do you want to drive a wedge further between our camps?” Annabeth asks in shock, “If you drive us apart- the giants will win. And that will be the ends of us- Greeks, Romans, gods, and mortals alike.”

“Do you think that I don’t know that?” Reyna asks, as her desperation and despair finally seep into her tone, “Do you think that I believe this is your fault? No- I know that it isn’t. But the Romans are insatiable. Someone must pay for this attack. If no one does, then Octavian will rile them up, and we will certainly go to war against your people. I won’t be able to stop them. But if you give yourself over, yes, you will be executed. But it will be some sort of justice. The people will be satisfied, and then maybe I can talk them away from Octavian’s plans. Maybe it can save us second war. I can save my people and yours.”

“It wasn’t me,” Annabeth asserts.

“Let it be you,” Reyna says seriously, “I promise you, it is the better option. Those who seek the Mark of Athena meet painful and bitter ends.”

“Reyna,” she says, “Please. Listen to me.” Reyna doesn’t respond, so Annabeth assumes that means she is giving her the opportunity to speak.

“I-I like you Reyna,” Annabeth says, “I feel like I could love you.”
“This isn’t about me,” Reyna says, “This isn’t about us. This is about the good of New Rome.”

“Will my execution make you happy?” she asks.

Reyna pauses in shame, “No.”

“Will it win this war?” she asks, “Will it stop it?”

“I don’t know,” Reyna says honestly. Annabeth admires that about her, her tendency towards honesty.

“You don’t know if it will win this war,” Annabeth says, knowing that she has snared her in her trap, “And it won’t make you happy. So why should you do it?”

“Because-“

“I’m going to follow the Mark of Athena,” she says, “And I will bring peace to the camps. It will work better than my blood.”

“You have no idea what awaits you there,” Reyna pleads.

“This grudge between the camps,” Annabeth says, “I can fix it.”

“The grudge is thousands of years old,” Reyna says, “Only newly inflamed by your newest ill-doing. Gods, my people just needed a reason to march on yours, a tiny, minuscule reason. Nothing you can do will smooth it over.” She seems terribly sorry, and regretful. As if she’s already mourning the love she could have known with Annabeth.

“This quest has to succeed,” Annabeth pleads, “Please- give me the chance to fix this. Either we fight to the death here and now, and I know, I know that neither of us want that. Or, you give me the opportunity to complete it, and hold Octavian off as long as you can. I’ll try to save both camps, Reyna. Please: give me a chance.”

Reyna contemplates it for a moment and then looks at Annabeth seriously, “You’ve never seen the legion at war.”
“Do not underestimate Camp Half-blood,” she warns. The battle rages onward near them. Annabeth can hear cries of pain (maybe cries of death) in the background.

“The spear has been thrown,” Reyna says, “our peoples are at war.”

“Not if I succeed,” Annabeth asserts. She takes a deep breath, waiting for the blow she feels is to come. Reyna, she realizes, will always choose duty over love. It is in her nature. Her home is the only lover that she seems to need.

“Annabeth Chase,” she says, her voice strained and saddened, “If we meet again, we will be enemies in the field of battle.” She flicks her hands, and her dogs move out of Annabeth’s way.

“Then let us hope we do not meet again,” Annabeth says with a teasing sort of lilt to her voice. The jibe falls flat, even to her own ears. Reyna does not even smile before she sprints away. Annabeth feels a sort of burning in her throat and a hardness in her heart. It’s like Luke all over again, only she should have seen this one coming.

Romans and Greeks can never get along, oh how could you have even hoped?

She forces herself to return to the fray.


 

 Annabeth appreciates that Percy fell with her. She understands what this means- that he loves her as much as any friend ever could. She loves him for that, and is truly grateful for his friendship. She just wishes that he would stop pretending to be the wise one.

 

“Annabeth,” he says as she begins writing her letter to Reyna, to send via the temple, “This is ridiculous. We’re putting all our hope in her. We barely know her.”

“I trust her with my life,” Annabeth retorts as she continues to pen her letter. Though in a way, she gets why he doesn’t understand because even she does not understand. “Because your timer zeroed out for her?” Percy asks, “Annabeth- those timers don’t mean anything. They don’t mean that things will work out, they don’t mean that she won’t betray you. Remember Luke? Our parents?”

She almost screeches, “How could I forget,” but bites her tongue, “I trust her, Percy. When did you become so cynical? So jaded?”

“When I nearly drowned,” he says, “Gods, if I can’t trust myself not to drown, how can I trust someone we’ve just met. She’s not Hazel, she’s not Frank, gods, Annabeth, what if she’s like Octavian?”

“You don’t know her,” Annabeth says, “Percy, you weren’t there at New Rome. You weren’t there in South Carolina, when she told me to go. I trust her, Percy. More than just about anyone else.” And she trusts her, and only the gods know why. She shouldn’t trust her so easily, but the easy conversation and interactions are still fresh in her mind. She has never felt so at ease with anyone, especially someone she had only just met: someone who, but all rights, should be her enemy. Annabeth hoped that her naivety was not going to bring her down.

“I don’t,” he says.

“She’s our only chance,” Annabeth bites out, “I will not have you fuck this up, Percy Jackson. You didn’t have to fall with me.”

“I couldn’t just let you fall alone,” he spits out.

“This is my quest,” Annabeth says, “I make the decisions.”

“Annabeth-“

“Leave it, Percy,” she says, acid flooding her tone, “Just stop. This is our only choice.” Percy looks like he’s about to protest, but Annabeth silences him with a glare. He shuts his mouth and glares. She writes her note.


 

After, (as she will always call the time after Tartarus, after the fall) on the Argo II, Reyna and Annabeth reunite. Reyna is covered with soot and scratches, and her eyes are red from her tears. She seems ready for an attack from anyone, including Annabeth.

“Come join us, Reyna,” Annabeth eventually says. Reyna reluctantly agrees, and sits across from Annabeth in their cross-legged circle. They speak of Frank’s ascension to praetor, and they all lavishly applaud Reyna’s achievements, especially Percy.

Reyna, of course says, “Says the demigod who fell into Tartarus and found his way back.”
Annabeth grins, “He had help, you know.”

“Of course,” Reyna says, “I doubt he could find his way out of a paper bag without you.” It seems almost as it was at New Rome, the easy companionship, only now they are surrounded by friends. Reyna has chosen sides, and she has sided with them, on the side of peace. They continue to discuss important topics such as how the statue will bring about peace, how to get it to Camp Half-blood and the like.

Annabeth tries to focus, but finds herself focusing on Reyna’s bedraggled appearance and stoic face. Annabeth knows that the loss of her pegasus has hit her hard. She wishes that she could ease it. They slowly agree that Nico, Reyna and Hedge will take the statue to Camp Half-blood. Nico to shadow-travel it, Reyna to defend him and help calm the Romans, and Hedge to defend him (and also to send him back to his son). Annabeth does not like the idea of Reyna undertaking yet another perilous quest. The group disperses, Nico running off first, and Percy trailing behind him. Leo heads to his helm. Frank and Jason to bed, and last, Piper and Hazel to some spot for Hazel to teach Piper more skills with a sword. Reyna hasn’t moved from her spot on the floor. Neither has Annabeth. Annabeth bites her lip.

“I’m sorry,” Reyna says, looking into Annabeth’s eyes. Annabeth does a double-take. First of all, they have been sitting for nearly five minutes and neither of them have said anything; the break in the silence is shocking in itself. And secondly, Annabeth never expected to hear Reyna apologize.

“I am sorry,” Reyna says, “I shouldn’t have asked you to give up your life. It was foolish of me.”

“Reyna-“

“I thought that you would die on that quest of yours,” She says, “A terrible, terrible death. I thought that if you went back to New Rome and faced trial, at least your death would have meant something.”

“Reyna-“

“I am sorry, Annabeth,” she says, “I hope that you can forgive me.”
“You were doing what you thought was best for your country,” Annabeth says, leaning forward, “I can’t fault you for that.”

“New Rome will never take me back after this,” she says bitterly, “gods- I’m a traitor.”

“They will,” Annabeth says, “or they have no sense. You only did what was best for New Rome.”

“This time,” Reyna says, “I didn’t do it for New Rome. I didn’t know how to save my city. I did it for you.” Annabeth’s heart flutters.

“You mentioned building a family in New Rome,” Annabeth says tentatively.

“I’m not sure we’re to that point,” Reyna says with a small, teasing smile, “You haven’t even taken me to dinner yet.” They smile in a way that is simultaneously easy and difficult in a way that only newly kindled love can be.

“I do not know how to move forward,” Annabeth says honestly, trying to emulate Reyna’s frankness, “the timers promise a possibility of love, but offer no advice on how to get there.”

Reyna smiles slightly, “I think we’ll do fine.” Annabeth grabs her hand and drags her quickly off to her room. They pass through the halls of the ship like ghosts and Annabeth plops down on her bed, Reyna close beside her. Reyna looks to her with a smile.

“Soul-mates,” Annabeth says in a stage whisper, as if it’s some beautiful secret meant for only their ears. Maybe it is.

“This is insane,” Reyna says, trying to look away, “we’ve only just met.”

“We have,” Annabeth responds.

“I shouldn’t feel this strongly yet,” Reyna says.

“We’re soul-mates,” Annabeth says, as if it explains everything.

“Annabeth,” Reyna says, her voice a wobbly mess of a million emotions, “I know that this timer on my wrist says that you’re my soul-mate, but I hadn’t ever put that much stock into them. The concept that the love of my life was decided before I’d even met them, that didn’t seem right to me. Then when I met you, you seemed too good to be true. Later, it looked like you betrayed me, but now, I don’t understand why, but I have done insane, traitorous things simply because you’ve asked. Annabeth I think that I might-“ Annabeth’s breath hitches n her throat, because she feels the same way. But they have known each other a matter of days. They aren’t ready for this. It is too soon, too fucking soon for feelings this deep, but Annabeth can’t rein them in either.

In some ways, she feels they need to talk about Reyna’s eminent departure, about Annabeth’s time in Tartarus, and about the possibility of either of them not surviving the war (the possibility of their side losing the war) But Annabeth can’t force herself to think of these things when she looks into Reyna’s eyes, having finally discovered her one after years of waiting. She cannot bear to think of her time in the bowels of the underworld at this moment, so she forces the dark images to the even darker corners of her mind, and forces herself to live in the moment.

This is my soul-mate, she thinks, this is Reyna. Reyna who had no reason to trust me, sans our soul-mate bond, yet let me live, let me go in South Carolina. She committed treason for me, lost her position for me, crossed the sea for me, battled monsters, lost her pegasus for me- this is Reyna, Reyna, whom I respect, my soul-mate. This is Reyna, my love. And I have a moment with her.

“Soul-mates,” Annabeth says, and she feels as if it would be true, even if they lived in a universe where there weren’t timers. She knows within her heart that Reyna is the one for her. It’s so blatant now, she feels that she would know Reyna was her one no matter what.

“Soul-mates,” Reyna agrees, cupping Annabeth’s cheek with her hand. Their fates are written in the stars, that includes their deaths, their great deeds, and their romances. Annabeth feels she might as well make use of the romance while she still has the chance. Sadly (or happily, Annabeth’s not sure which) the timers do not let them know how much time they have together. After Tartarus, Annabeth was afraid that might be all, that she might never see Reyna and make amends. Now more than ever, she’s not certain to make it out of the war alive. In some ways, it might be more likely that she will die.

So she makes her decision as she stares into Reyna’s ebony eyes. From the loving and lustful gleam in Reyna’s eyes, she seems to have made her choice as well. Annabeth kisses her with all the need and intensity that had been building since she met her.

This is it, Annabeth thinks, and somehow, kissing Reyna is everything she ever imagined and more, fireworks exploding between their lips as galaxies are birthed between their undulating hips. Annabeth digs her lips into Reyna’s and Reyna nips Annabeth’s lips. Annabeth lets out a mewl and presses ever harder against her. Reyna’s fingers make their way to Annabeth’s shirt and Annabeth can feel it being pulled over her head, breaking their contact. She pushes harder, drawing Reyna towards herself.

Annabeth presses her lips roughly against Reyna’s, and from there, Reyna takes over the rest.


 

 The next morning, she awakes with her arms wrapped around Reyna and the other girl’s fingers wrapped in her curls. It feels so right that Annabeth almost forgets that Reyna is leaving this morning.

“Annabeth,” Reyna murmurs, digging her face into Annabeth’s neck. Annabeth smiles.

"I wish that you didn't have to leave," Annabeth says in earnest. Reyna repositions herself atop Annabeth and she kisses her full on the mouth, quick, hot and passionate.

"Something to remember me by," Reyna says, her voice tinted with affection and arousal. Reyna tries to cuddle back into Annabeth’s arms.

"Oh," said Annabeth suggestively, "I'll be getting a lot more than that to remember you by." Reyna smirks and Annabeth cuts off whatever comment she was going to make with a kiss.


 

They stumble out of bed nigh noon. Annabeth pulls her matted, unkempt “post-sex” hair into a pony-tail. She can see Reyna putting her jeans and camp tee on, and moving to get her armor.

“Let me,” Annabeth says. She grabs Reyna’s breastplate and moves to fasten it. She has never put on someone else’s armor. In a way it is a truly intimate act, she moving her hands near Reyna’s chest.  She fastens the bindings quickly and then looks into Reyna’s eyes. Annabeth’s hand finds itself, unbidden, on Reyna’s cheek.

“Why did you volunteer for this quest,” she says softly, “I fear it will be dangerous.”

“No more dangerous than what you will do in Greece,” Reyna says, biting her lip, “I dare say less so.”

Annabeth holds her breath, and debates whether or not to say the next few words. She removes her hand from Reyna’s cheek, and drapes it by her own side.

She says them: I will worry about you.  The words are a slight blow to her pride, but they were worth it.
Reyna’s face is nigh unreadable, some odd mix of appreciation and anger.

“You think I will not worry about you?” are the words that pass Reyna’s lips.

“I know you will,” Annabeth says, and the words are the truth.

“Are you two done having wild sex yet?” Leo calls out.

“Leo!” Piper calls out in what at best could be called “fond exasperation” and at worst could be called “the contemplation of homicide.” Reyna grabs Annabeth’s hand and they walk out of the tent.


 

They walk hand in hand over to the coach and Nico di Angelo. Nico leans against the wall, trying to seem apathetic, but obviously nervous. Annabeth did not know much about Nico di Angelo. She did not understand what made him so elusive and what great pains kept him away from people, but she understood that his apathy was an act. She could see through that well enough. He was normally afraid, and he tended to care too much about those he cared for, case in point: Bianca.

“Are you ready to leave, pansy?” the Coach asked.

Reyna glares, and makes a show of putting her hand to her sheathed sword, “Do not call me pansy.”

“Alright, alright,” the coach said, putting his hands up in a sign of surrender that was contradicted completely by the large club waggling about in his right hand. Nico pushes himself off the statue and looks to Reyna. He clutches his iron sword in his hand and then looks back and forth between the two them. It seems pained- jealous. Annabeth tries not to think too deeply into why that is.

Since Annabeth isn’t quite sure how to say goodbye, she just squeezes Reyna’s hand a little harder. Reyna raises Annabeth’s right hand to her lips and kisses her lightly.

“Until we meet again, my lady,” she says and Annabeth bursts into what she assumes to be unattractive chortles. Nico beckons for Reyna to leave with him. Reyna and Coach Hedge grab onto the statue like a port-key, and then Nico causes it to dissolve into the shadows.

Yes, Annabeth thinks, a little bit sad but a large bit hopeful, until we meet again.