She was unfamiliar with the layout of Camp Half Blood but Reyna couldn’t stay at the funeral. She left when they set the shroud on flames. There was too much sadness, too much tears. She couldn’t risk breaking down in front of the others. Reyna was the one who others relied on for stability and courage, but right now she only felt empty. As her physical scars healed, she felt her emotional aches grow deeper.
It had been a month since the Feast of Spes, since the final battle. Yet the funerals only happened now because Chiron said that it was disrespectful to hold a ceremony on destroyed grounds. So the demigods, both Roman and Greek, worked together side by side to clean up Camp Half-Blood and throw the funeral the heroes deserved. Reyna also called in some favours and retired Roman architects also came, working to restore the camp to its original state. Annabeth would have loved to learn from them. Oh, gods. Would have, in past tense. Would have, as in gone. Would have, as in never coming back. Reyna’s eyes stung with glistening tears. A lump seemed to form in her throat as she relived Annabeth’s last moments. No. No, she would not let the grief consume her.
The best way to not show worry and fear was to hide it and she knew that well. The training grounds at Camp Half Blood seemed satisfyingly equipped so Reyna took her imperial gold dagger and began training. Her aim seemed to be abnormally off today and the dagger always missed its target. Why was this happening?
“Curse Jupiter, will nothing go right today?” she grumbled.
“I wouldn’t say that if I were you, Zeus is already in a grumpy mood today,” a startling voice from behind stated.“And it’s not the angle of your dagger that’s the problem; it’s your emotions that are clouding your aim,” the voice carried on, coming closer into Reyna’s view.
“Who is this woman?” Reyna wondered curiously as the unknown lady walked towards her. The lady exuded strength, power and wisdom and she had a golden wreath on top of her black hair. So she was obviously a goddess then. Owls were delicately embroidered onto her white dress and what appeared to be an olive tree decorated the hilt of her sword. But what surprised Reyna most were her eyes- a blazing stormy grey which reminded her of… Annabeth. Of course, this was her mother.
“Minerva.” Reyna walked forward and knelt. “I mean, Athena. I meant no disrespect, my lady.”
To her surprise, no fatal curse was released on her. Athena smiled, “Rise, young one. Your mistake is understandable, even the gods themselves find it hard to keep track of their Roman/ Greek counterparts.”
“Pardon my boldness, my lady, but what happened with the gods’ schizophrenic situation?” Reyna asked.
“We have merged our personalities and kept our Greek names. However, that is not the topic at hand. Bellona and I have never seen eye to eye considering our differences, but I came to check on you Praetor Reyna.” Athena said, her grey eyes blazing as she spoke.
“I am fine, Lady Athena.” Reyna answered curtly.
“You remind me of my daughter a lot, praetor.” Athena’s eyes flickered with a glimmer of sadness as she mentioned the word ‘daughter’, before resuming its original blaze. “She, too, hid her emotions beneath a mask of courage. But I saw through it all the time and I see through yours now. Annabeth never knew how proud I was of her; she died thinking I did not care. But I am trying to correct my wrongdoing through what she loved most, her friends. So tell me, how are you coping?” Athena’s tone was surprisingly warm and maternal, with a tinge of grief. It was only then that Reyna fully processed that this was Annabeth’s mother, so any pain that she felt would be nothing compared to that of Percy or Athena.
“I don’t understand, my lady! There were so many others who could have sacrificed themselves, so many other choices your daughter could have chosen. Yet she chose to sacrifice herself and leave her friends devastated. And Percy is trying to heal, but how can you heal a broken heart? He hasn’t even smiled at all in the past month and Jason says that he can hear Percy sobbing at night from his cabin, crying over the loss of his love! Why, my lady? Why couldn’t it have been someone else?” she cried out. Her emotions spilled out rapidly and her heart ached.
Reyna hadn’t known Annabeth for long yet she respected Annabeth greatly. But Annabeth’s sacrifice left her bitter and less admiring of her. Annabeth knew that her death would tear Percy’s heart into pieces and toss it to Tartarus, yet she still did it. Of all people, why Annabeth? Wasn’t she meant to make smart decisions, being the daughter of the wisdom goddess?
“Reyna, there are some things in life that are hard to understand. Take that advice from the wisdom goddess. What Annabeth did will be difficult for many of you to comprehend, but deep down I think you do know the reason why. She loved all of you, with all her heart. And people do anything for the ones that they love. To be honest, I never thought it would be Annabeth who would sacrifice herself but Percy’s fatal flaw must have rubbed off on her a lot. My daughter gave her life for her loved ones, and she was proud to have done so. She knew that any one of you would have done the same.” Athena spoke slowly, and appeared to be saddened.
Reyna paused to contemplate what had just been said to her. Yes, Annabeth’s death hurt everyone greatly. But Annabeth did it because she thought it was for the best at the time. Annabeth truly was an image of courage and sacrifice. Reyna remembered Annabeth saying her last goodbyes before running off. She remembered how Percy’s mood affected the sea and how the waves had only been angrily rough for the past month. But she also remembered that although many sacrifices were made, they did achieve their ultimate goal- defeating Gaia. Gaia was now gone, and so were the giants.
“Thank you, Lady Athena.” Reyna’s eyes shone with heartfelt tears. She was no longer afraid to express her emotion for her friend- this was for Annabeth.
“All I ask of you is to carry on with your life, as you know that she would want you to. And to return to her funeral, you both deserve that closure. Goodbye my young one, until the next time.” Athena vanished in a column of light, leaving Reyna’s eyes temporarily blinded.
Reyna looked to the horizon. She would remember Annabeth not with her sad death, but with happy memories. If Annabeth’s death had taught her something, it was that love prevails over everything.