Annabeth entered the sitting room slowly, looking around the spacious area hesitantly as she moved.
She hadn’t been alarmed when she had first received the owl from her mother requesting her presence on Olympus – she had been to Olympus quite a few times since the defeat of Kronos to check up on the re-construction of the city – but as she moved through the gleaming hallways towards her mother’s rooms Annabeth had found herself growing increasing uneasy. During the walk she had passed a few of the other Olympians and their behaviour had been odd, to say the least.
Apollo had winked at her and then grinned in a way she could only describe as lecherous.
Ares had glared at her with fire in his eyes before sighing to himself and shrugging.
And Aphrodite, who normally didn’t give her the time of day, had smiled widely at her and squeezed her shoulder when they passed by each other.
It was all incredibly bizarre, and by the time Annabeth had reached her mother’s rooms she couldn’t deny that she was feeling rather apprehensive.
Athena was standing in front of a large open window when Annabeth entered the room. Sunlight streamed in from beyond the window, bathing the goddess in gold as she took in the majestic city beyond.
“Mother,” Annabeth murmured, lowering her head respectfully when she spotted the goddess by the window.
Athena turned gracefully and a smile settled across her lips as her grey eyes landed on her daughter, genuinely glad to see Annabeth despite the awkward nature of the conversation they would soon engage in.
“Come closer daughter,” Athena responded, waving her hand towards Annabeth as she walked into the sitting area.
Still a little nervous, but ecstatic as ever to be in her mother’s presence, Annabeth quickly walked towards her and then came to a stop directly in front of the goddess, only hesitating for a moment before she looked up into her mother’s beautiful, regal face.
Athena reached out for her and placed her hands on Annabeth’s arms near her shoulders and held her thus for a few moments before she lifted her right hand to Annabeth’s cheek and stroked it affectionately with her thumb.
Annabeth closed her eyes at the feel of her mother’s hand on her face, and she had to concentrate very hard to stop the tears welling in her eyes from falling. Athena usually looked happy to see her on the occasions they found themselves in each other’s presence, but like the other Olympians her mother almost never touched her. In the past Athena had rested her hand briefly on Annabeth’s shoulder, but her touch had never lingered fondly as it did at that moment.
“Sit,” Athena breathed out a few seconds later, drawing her hand away from her daughter’s face. “We’ll have some tea.”
Annabeth blinked rapidly as she tried to adjust to the loss of the warmth from Athena’s hand and she struggled to kick-start her brain enough that she could comply with her mother’s request.
Though she was slow to start moving, Annabeth did manage to sit without embarrassing herself by falling over her own feet or knocking over the tea set, and once she was seated Athena poured them both tea from a shimmering pot made of a material Annabeth had never seen before on Earth.
Once Athena had taken a seat as well the Goddess of Wisdom began to speak to Annabeth about the reconstruction of Olympus and Annabeth felt then tension that had been suffusing her body slowly begin to drain away. The designs she had made were something she was comfortable talking about and indeed eager to talk about with her mother, and as Athena told her what had been happening Annabeth listened raptly and found herself sitting on the edge of her seat as she anxiously awaited being able to see the new building that had gone up with her own eyes.
“Will I be able to see it?” Annabeth asked softly, dropping her eyes from Athena as she spoke. She had greatly relaxed once they started to speak, but she still wasn’t completely at ease. Her gut was telling her something strange was going on and she knew she wouldn’t be able to truly relax until she figured out what it was.
“Of course,” Athena replied breezily before leaning forward to rest her tea cup on the glass table before her. “However, before we leave there was another matter that I wished to discuss with you.”
“Oh?” Annabeth asked looking over at her, her piercing grey eyes wide with curiosity and a bit of alarm.
Athena nodded and for the first time since Annabeth had entered the room the goddess looked ... uncomfortable.
“You’ve become quite close to Clarisse, daughter of Ares, in recent months,” Athena began shifting restlessly in her chair.
“Yes,” Annabeth responded so quietly that if Athena had been a mortal she would not have been able to hear the response. “I ... we ... yes,” Annabeth breathed out, trembling with nervousness as she glanced in her mother’s direction. “She’s my girlfriend ... like ‘girlfriend’ girlfriend kind of girlfriend,” Annabeth rambled nervously.
“Girlfriend Girlfriend,” Athena repeated slowly, her brow creasing in consternation as she tried to discern why Annabeth had repeated the word. “I am not sure I understand what you mean,” Athena said focusing her grey gaze on Annabeth. “A girlfriend is the only kind of friend a girlfriend could be. Is that not correct?”
“Yes,” Annabeth replied immediately. “Well, no. Yes, but also no. Yes and no. Both ... of them ... I guess,” she finished meekly, blinking rapidly and wincing slightly as she gazed at her mother, knowing that she was not making much sense.
“Annabeth,” Athena admonished, frowning at the young blonde. “My children speak in complete, comprehensible sentences. The sort of inane babbling you just unleashed is better left to Aphrodite’s brood.”
“Of course,” Annabeth murmured blushing deeply. “Apologies,” she continued softly. “I meant to express the idea that among humans there are two different meanings for the term ‘girlfriend’. In certain circumstances it is used to denote a platonic friendship between females, and in other circumstances it refers to females who are in a romantic relationship with each other. Clarisse and I are,” Annabeth cleared her throat awkwardly, “um, the romantic kind.”
“Ah,” Athena breathed out before plastering a strained smile across her lips. “Yes,” she murmured softly, “I was aware.”
“You were?” Annabeth squeaked out uneasily.
Athena nodded stiffly and then after a moment of pause she leaned forward to pick up her tea cup again. Her grey-eyes drifted away from Annabeth as she cradled the tea cup in her lap, and then, without lifting the cup to her lips, Athena leaned forward and placed the cup back on the table.
Once free of the tea cup, the Goddess of Wisdom looked over in Annabeth’s direction once again and her lips parted as if she were going to speak, but she averted her eyes before making a sound, and brought her fingers to the material of her dress and began to smooth non-existent wrinkles from the material.
Annabeth watched her mother’s uncharacteristic display ... and was alarmed.
“Are you ... upset?” Annabeth asked apprehensively.
She had never seen the Goddess of Wisdom act in such a way before. In fact, other than when they were facing the threat of attack from Kronos, she had never seen any of the Olympians display unease or discomfort.
“Upset?” Athena repeated curiously, drawing her eyes back over to Annabeth. “Wherefore should I be upset?” she asked sounding genuinely surprised.
“Because Clarisse is a girl?” Annabeth replied softly.
“Annabeth,” Athena chided, shaking her head mildly at her daughter. “You know better than that.”
Annabeth looked down at her lap.
She really should have known better than to suggest that.
The Olympians did not follow the same moral strictures laid out in the Holy Book of the Christians. Annabeth had never come across any myths of the female goddesses engaging in sexual intercourse with female mortals, but Zeus’s relationship with Gandymede was well-documented and currently in her cabin at camp at least three of her siblings had been the product of Athena’s mind mating with the mind of a female scholar.
It was foolish of her to think that Clarisse’s gender would matter to her mother, but growing up in human society had taught her to worry and be anxious about issues that were of no concern to the gods.
“Is it because she’s Ares’ daughter?” Annabeth asked, unable to shake the feeling that Athena was displeased in some way.
Athena was silent for a moment as she gazed at Annabeth appraisingly.
“Am I the Goddess of Wisdom?” Athena finally asked.
“Yes,” Annabeth responded hesitantly unable to ignore the feeling that she was being tricked somehow.
“Am I a reasonable woman?” Athena asked.
“Yes, of course,” Annabeth responded quickly but earnestly.
“Would it be wise or reasonable to judge a person based on the personality or actions of their parents?” Athena asked, focusing her sharp, grey eyes on Annabeth pointedly.
“No,” Annabeth breathed out softly.
“Then you have your answer,” Athena replied gently. “And for the record, I am not upset with you nor are you in trouble.”
Annabeth breathed out a sigh of relief and she slumped back in her chair as some of the anxiousness that had been coursing through her body dissipated.
“There is however...”Athena continued a few moments later, “that is to say,” the goddess corrected awkwardly, “it would behoove us to discuss certain aspects, certain intimate aspects, of your relationship with Miss La Rue,” Athena finally managed to get out, still studiously avoiding Annabeth’s eyes even after she finished speaking.
“Intimate ... aspects,” Annabeth repeated going white as a sheet. “You mean ...” she choked out, but she was unable to get the rest of the sentence past her lips.
“Coitus,” Athena offered awkwardly, and if it was physically possible to die from embarrassment Annabeth would have expired from mortification on the spot.
“No,” Annabeth blurted out before she could think better of it.
“Excuse me?” Athena asked arching an imperious eyebrow at her daughter.
“No?” Annabeth sputtered again though this time her voice lifted as she spoke giving her word the sound of a question.
“What exactly are you objecting to?” Athena inquired as Annabeth squirmed under her gaze.
“Um, talking ... about ... coitus,” Annabeth responded slowly, painfully, each word an unbearable torture.
“You do not wish to talk to me?” Athena asked, frowning slightly as she spoke.
“No. I mean, yes,” Annabeth began before realizing that she was digging herself into a hole she had already been warned against. “I do want to talk to you. I love talking to you. Talking to you is the best,” she continued wishing that she could just crawl under the desk in the corner of the room and fade into nothingness. “I just meant that we didn’t have to talk about ... coitus,” she choked out hating the word with every fibre of her being, “because, well, we’ve, I mean Clarisse and I, we’ve already kind of ... coitused.”
“I know,” Athena interjected, “And that is not a word,” she added unable to help herself even though she knew that Annabeth’s vocabulary was suffering because of her nerves. “Your ... relations with Miss La Rue are why I summoned you here this afternoon,” Athena continued readjusting herself in her chair once more.
Annabeth slumped against the back of the chair in shock and looked away from Athena, blinking rapidly to contain the tears of embarrassment building in her eyes as she comprehended the true horror of having to talk to her virgin goddess mother about her very colourful sex life.
“I ... I don’t understand,” Annabeth whispered tremulously as she forced herself to look back in Athena’s direction though she wanted nothing more than to crawl into a dark hole somewhere and die. “You ... you said you weren’t upset.”
“And I am not,” Athena replied in a voice she hoped was reassuring. “I am concerned.”
“You don’t have to be. Clarisse loves me. She would never do anything to hurt me,” Annabeth responded, her voice gaining strength as she spoke. She was beyond embarrassed and she wanted to be anywhere but in that sitting room with her mother, but despite her mortification she would not allow her mother to think badly of Clarisse.
“I know,” Athena responded. She smiled as she spoke, genuinely smiled, and Annabeth found herself thrown for a loop all over again. “I do not doubt Miss La Rue’s intentions towards you. I can see with my own eyes how much she cares for you and Aphrodite made a point to exalt the depths of your feelings for each other. I am truly happy for you. My concern is for the ... sanctity of your relationship.”
“The sanctity,” Annabeth repeated bewildered.
She had thought that her mother was displeased about the fact that her relationship with Clarisse was very carnal in nature – despite the tenderness of their feelings for each other. She had worried that the physical ways they often expressed their feelings for each other upset her mother, given Athena’s own chastity. The words her mother had just spoken eased her worries, but it left her uncertain what the objective of their conversation was.
“I don’t understand,” Annabeth confessed.
“Your intimacies are sacred and should remain so. They should remain private, between yourself and Miss La Rue, without prying eyes desecrating the act,” Athena declared stiffly.
“They are,” Annabeth responded feeling her cheeks heat up as she remembered the semi-public places she and Clarisse had been together in the past. Her words were not a lie however, as no one else had ever seen them making love. Though they were sometimes outdoors when they came together, they were always careful to make sure that they were alone.
“No, they are not,” Athena sighed looking over at her daughter. “You have unintentionally been summoning the Olympians while taking your pleasure and I have spent quite a bit of time over the past few months thwarting the members of my family from watching you and Miss La Rue in flagrante delicto. My attempts to obscure your relations have been mostly successful, but I fear that on a few occasions some of the other Olympians may have witnessed private moments between the two of you.”
Annabeth’s heart pounded beneath her breast and her skin became hot as her mind began to spin, trying to make sense of her mother’s words.
She had been summoning the Olympians while she and Clarisse ... she had summoned her own mother while ... and some of the other gods had seen her having sex with Clarisse ... her mother had seen her having sex with Clarisse ... and the Olympians that hadn’t actually seen them together still knew that they were ... and ... and ... and ...
... Apollo wink at her in the hallway and looking her up and down ...
... Aphrodite’s smile ...
... Ares glaring at her!
“Oh gods,” Annabeth gasped completely overcome with humiliation as she comprehended what Athena had just revealed.
She’d been putting on sex shows for all of Olympus and her virgin mother had been forced into the role of bouncer in order to protect what was left of her reputation!
It was such a horrible, agonizing, awful, terrible thought that Annabeth hoped her mind would reject it and form a pleasing, sanitized fantasy for her that she could delude herself into believing for the rest of her life. However, her life had been full of so many horrible, agonizing, awful, terrible events that she had long ago lost her ability to turn a blind-eye to the truth and she was no left with no recourse but to deal with the abysmal reality of things.
“Wha ... why ... summoning? How?” she choked out.
“That phrase you used a moment ago,” Athena began awkwardly, “‘Oh gods’,” she continued glancing down at her lap. “It calls to us. We are forbidden from interfering in your lives for the most part, but hearing our children when they call out to us allows for us to be with you, in a way, during times of crisis or need. Therefore,” Athena went on, clearing her throat uncomfortably, “when you have ... moaned, groaned, whimpered, cried and otherwise expelled these words as Clarisse ... attended to you,” she breathed out shifting again, “the gods have heard you, and in some cases assembled.”
“Oh go...” Annabeth began before catching herself and clamping her hand over her mouth.
The phrase had been a staple of her vocabulary for years. The words fell from her lips so naturally that most of the time she was not even aware when she was speaking them. If Clarisse had not commented on her using the phrase when they had been together during the capture the flag game, she probably would not have even been aware that she uttered it at all during sex.
“Under the circumstances I thought that it was best to bring the problems inherent with using the phrase to your attention,” Athena said as Annabeth buried her face in her hands. “I am not an expert, but I have given the matter some thought, and I believe that it would be in your best interest to start utilizing the phrase ‘oh yes’. The cadence is similar and it conveys a very comparable level of pleasure, which should make it a suitable replacement,” she finished primly.
Annabeth released a sound of anguish from behind her hands and Athena’s eyes widened in alarm.
“‘Oh oh’, ‘Oh please’, and ‘yes yes’ could also be substituted if you prefer,” Athena added quickly, misreading Annabeth’s piteous moan as displeasure with her suggestion. “Of course you could also ...”
“Please stop,” Annabeth exclaimed lifting her hands to cover her ears before she looked up at her mother. “Please,” she moaned, trying desperately not to think about the fact that her mother had been contemplating ecstatic cries she could use during sex. “Those are all great. Really,” she choked out, not wanting to offend her mother but not being able to handle the possibility of Athena making more suggestions either. “I’ll use one of those, promise.”
Athena breathed out a sigh of relief and straightened up in her chair, her mood improving greatly now that she had achieved the task she had set out for herself.
“Wonderful,” she declared reaching for her tea cup again, lifting it to her lips and taking a dainty sip from it this time. “Well, now that this matter has been sorted, would you like to see the new addition by the fountain?” Athena asked placing her tea cup back down.
The idea of running into any of the other Olympians after what her mother had just told her did not appeal to Annabeth in the slightest, but despite her horror, dismay and her futility wishing she had brought her baseball cap of invisibility with her, Annabeth nodded her head. Seeing Athena’s calm return once the discussion had ended made Annabeth realize how difficult the conversation had been for her mother, and though ignorant bliss had been working quite well for Annabeth in the past, she realized that it was significant that her mother had discomfited herself that way for her.
Also, despite her embarrassment and despondence over the news she had just received, Annabeth was still a wise-girl and as such there was a part of her that still really wanted to see the new building.
Athena stood and Annabeth followed her example, and side by side they started for the door. However, before they exited the room Athena drew to abrupt halt and Annabeth turned to look at her with a faintly horrified expression.
She was almost scared to find out what it could be now.
“Aphrodite wished for me to give you a message,” Athena began slowly, looking intently at Annabeth in a way that made the wise-girl know she had been right to immediately react to her mother stopping in place with alarm. “She said, and I quote, ‘that the thing you were wondering about is very possible and that if you make her an offering she’ll personally explain how’.”
Annabeth’s face immediately flushed, red colouring her from the base of her neck up to her hairline and she quickly looked away from her mother as she wondered how Aphrodite even knew what she had been considering and why the Goddess of Love thought that it would be a good idea to mention it to her mother of all people!
“I shall not inquire,” Athena sighed, knowing from her daughter’s reaction that whatever it was Annabeth had been considering it was not something that she wanted to know about. She had learned far too much about her daughter’s sexual proclivities already and she did not care to learn more. “But, I would advise you against accepting my sister’s offer,” Athena continued. “I do not know what Aphrodite’s motive is for offering you help. She is a different sort of creature from you and I and the workings of her mind are still largely a mystery to me. I am, however, certain that whatever her reasoning, you will not like it.”
Annabeth nodded, and despite the continued mortification she was feeling, she could not stop herself from smiling at the fact that her mother had used the phrase ‘you and I’, linking them together despite the fact that their conversation had highlighted some significant differences between them. Despite her mother’s assurances that she was not upset, Annabeth hadn’t been able to let go of the thought that Athena was a little disappointed in her libidinous ways, so she was relieved to know that her mother still respected her despite her weaknesses of the flesh.
“Now, let us go,” Athena said taking Annabeth’s hand, “and explore some of your other talents,” she added mischievously, smiling in amusement when Annabeth groaned.