If I live to a hundred I’ll never get used to this, thought Percy. He surveyed the ruination of Camp Half-Blood from the vantage point of Thalia’s tree. The huge Athena Parthenos stood in the chaos of the torn down amphitheatre and looked down upon the Big House with the contempt that one usually saved for cockroaches. Percy did not doubt that is the statue was granted mobility; it would crush the Big House, just for good measure.
Percy brushed his fingers over a welt in the trunk of Thalia’s tree and as he absently patted Pelus’s head, he began to walk into the siege.
Immediately, he saw Annabeth. She was standing alone, and very still as though she was lost. Percy felt the same emptiness. It was like the camp that had helped them both so much, had been torn from its roots and they were there to watch it wither. Percy laced his fingers with Annabeth’s and she sighed.
“It’s so different,” she said.
“I guess that’s what happens in a war,” said Percy.
Annabeth shuddered. “How can we just come back here each summer now that…” Her voice trailed off, but Percy knew what she was thinking. Now that so many people are dead. Bodies, more than Percy knew could be broken in so many ways, littered the ground. Every now and again, a face would grow clear and Percy would have to close his eyes with the guilt. It gnawed on his stomach like a dog on a bone.
They stood there for a moment in silence. Annabeth gripped Percy’s hand tighter than was comfortable. A cool breeze blew across camp, carrying the scent of flowers. The Golden Fleece, working it’s magic even as the world turned barren around it.
“I guess,” said Percy thickly, “we just try to remember them. Remember what their names were and their age and favourite colour and who they would have died for and what they gave for us. I think, if they could have died for this, we can give them peace and our memories.”
The soft, fluttering notes of Pan Pipes echoed around the valley, accompanied by singing. It was a melancholy sound, full of the dead and the darkness. Yet, as Percy watched people turned their heads towards the music.
He felt something light flutter inside him.
“Come on,” he said. “If we hurry, we might be able to stop Grover from playing Jesse McCartney.”
Annabeth pulled him into a kiss. She was crying, but as she pulled away, her eyes looked like they might be smiling.
“We’d better hurry, Seaweed Brain,” she said, wiping her eyes with the heels of her wrists and running a hand through her tangled ponytail. “Or who knows, you might try to have another deep moment and I don’t think I could stand you having more than one a week. I’d die of astonishment.”
Percy laughed and the sound startled him. “I love you too, Wise Girl.”
Annabeth smiled properly and it gave Percy goose bumps.
She tugged him towards her and they began to make their way over to the campfire that had begun to burn blue.