shiiki (shiiki) wrote in shiikifics,
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FIC: The Final Sacrifice, chpt 36

Title: The Final Sacrifice (Daughter of Wisdom 5)
Author: shiiki
Rating: PG-13
Characters/Pairings: Annabeth Chase/Percy Jackson, Luke Castellan, Thalia Grace, Charles Beckendorf/Silena Beauregard, Clarisse La Rue, Michael Yew, OCs, multiple others
Fandom: Percy Jackson
Word Count: 36 chapters, 132,929

Summary: The war on Olympus is heating up, and Annabeth Chase is right in the thick of it. Bad enough that she's gearing up for battle while wrestling with the emotional turmoil over two of her dearest friends that is turning her heart inside out. She doesn't need more mysterious glimpses about the Great Prophecy and how it connects to her own history. But in order to understand what lies in her future, Annabeth has to dig into the past. What she finds will shape her choices … and change the course of the final battle. An alternate PoV retelling of The Last Olympian. Part 5 of the Daughter of Wisdom series.

In this chapter
Chapter Title: I Build Something Permanent
Rating: PG
Characters: Annabeth Chase, Percy Jackson, Frederick Chase, Chiron, Rachel Dare
Word Count: 3,139

Chapter Summary: Annabeth's future starts to take shape.

Notes: The song at the end in the elevator to Olympus is Permanent by Randy Crawford. It seemed a fitting way to sum up Annabeth's 'quest' for permanence in her life—though I hope that by the end of this fic, it's become evident that she's learned how to better define those goals as she thinks about her future.

And speaking of the future ... This is the end of a massive, three-year project, and the last chapter of the DoW series. I'd like to say a huge THANK YOU to all the readers who have commented and encouraged me to keep going, keep posting, and keep sharing Annabeth's story as I've imagined it.

I don't intend to continue this series into HoO, for several reasons. First, time is the main factor. I've written and edited this fic concurrently with my PhD ... and as chance or coincidence would have it, I've completed both at nearly the exact same time (I passed my thesis defence just before chapter 35). DoW has seen me through some tougher moments—and some particularly mind-numbing ones, too! But keeping something of this scale going indefinitely isn't sustainable, especially with my new job. Second, HoO doesn't grab me the way PJO did in terms of having an untold story that I wanted to read. This is more to do with the format of the series—told in multiple PoVs—than anything about the content. Third, in what time I do have, I'd like to embark on some original writing—including the NaNo project I started last Christmas and didn't get a chance to finish, and the various novel outlines that haven't had time to take form while I worked on this story series. (I must stress that I certainly don't regret writing DoW or view the time spent on it as wasted; it has been an excellent exercise in plot, characterisation, and style, and all of your feedback on it goes towards making me a better storyteller!)

For those of you who have hoped I would continue into HoO, I know this may be disappointing, but I'll leave you with this: DoW started because I wanted to read a story and it didn't exist. It is my hope that someone may be inspired enough to do the same—I know many of you are aspiring writers, and I'd like to say that I'd be most happy to share the process of creating DoW and turning it into the final product that I've posted on this site. Feel free to drop me a note if you'd like to talk about this.

Thank you for following Annabeth's journey, and mine. I've really appreciated the experience of sharing the story.

Back to Fic Content Page



Percy and I fell into the pattern of dating so naturally, it was as if we'd been a couple all along. Being his girlfriend didn't change things much. He was still the same old Seaweed Brain: sarcastic, funny, and so exasperating. Except now, when he did something dumb, I could just kiss him to shut him up. He forgot whatever he was saying pretty quick when I did that.

Yeah, the kissing was definitely an improvement.

Percy seemed amazed by it all, like he couldn't quite believe his good fortune. I chose not to remind him that he'd gotten this the wrong way round. I was keenly aware that the curse of Achilles still lingered over him. A good dose of humility would keep him grounded against its scourge.

And he certainly wasn't going to get it from anyone else. In the wake of the Battle of Manhattan, he'd attained celebrity status at camp. I had to take over sword-fighting classes because campers would concentrate on him instead of his demonstration. It probably didn't help that his moves had become too quick and clean, like he simply couldn't slow down any more. The younger kids kept dropping their swords and giggling when he came round to help them (that quickly got annoying to watch).

Everyone wanted to hear about our exploits, especially the new campers—and there was a deluge of them. The satyrs who had made it through the battle in one piece were mobilised right away to bring them in.

The demigods from Luke's army were the first. They arrived tentatively, guided to us by minor gods who had received amnesty from the Olympians. All were lost. All were disheartened. Our satyrs had to coax them across the camp borders. But once they arrived, no one turned them away. We had seen enough fighting.

Then there were the unclaimed. A flurry of older demigods, mostly thirteen to fifteen, coming in fast and furious from every corner of the country and beyond. We even got one kid who barely spoke a word of English, though he seemed to understand us just fine. The gods were making good on their promise to Percy. Campfire nights were a riot, with all the godly signs flashing like fireworks overhead.

My plans for Olympus had to wait: there was a more pressing demand for new cabins right here. Nico was the first to get his own. Although both the Ares and Hermes groups had opened their doors to him, cabin eleven was now full to bursting point with the influx of new campers awaiting their own cabins, and Nico found the land mines in Ares (understandably) off-putting.

I drew up plans for a goth-inspired interior, taking my cue from Nico's typical attire. He seemed to approve. Once I presented him with the designs, he summoned a full skeleton work crew to start construction.

Hecate was next. We already had one of her daughters, Lou Ellen, who bounced on the balls of her feet as she detailed all the special effects she wanted in her cabin—including magic inscriptions on the stones that would warp the Mist indoors. A handful of her siblings trickled in during the amnesty, each with Hecate's maze-like tripod flashing defiantly over their heads as if to say, yeah, we fought you guys. We lost. Get over it.

I didn't see Alabaster Torrington. Maybe he'd fallen in battle like Ethan Nakamura, but we never found a body.

We built the Nemesis cabin next, in deference to her son's sacrifice. Like Luke, Ethan had turned on Kronos, only to pay with his life. I designed the cabin like the Supreme Court, with eight Doric columns framing the door, which was engraved with a set of scales. We only had one new camper to inhabit it for now, Damien White, but he assured us he did have siblings, all stuck on the other side of the country. Grover immediately sent a team of satyrs to collect them.

I continued down the growing list of newly-claimed minor god kids. Clovis, who could hardly stay awake long enough to approve my designs for Hypnos cabin. The foreign demigod, Paolo, who turned out to be a son of Hebe. A son of Iris who caused a stir at campfire night when a glowing rainbow shimmered over his head, accompanied by a giggling Iris image of the rainbow call operator. She winked at us, blew a kiss to Butch, and disappeared. (The poor kid probably would have gotten teased much more if he hadn't been the size of a tank.)

We closed the space on the open green so that the cabin area now formed a rectangle around the hearth. Still more kids were claimed every day—Nike, Tyche (and others, too, not necessarily rhyming)—who would all need their own quarters.

'I might need Chiron to clear space for a whole new wing,' I said to Rachel. She stood surveying the construction progress with me. I'd almost forgotten why I'd ever found her annoying. With her eye for artistic detail and an uncanny ability to predict how many bunks we should provide per new cabin, she'd been a great help with the blueprints.

Rachel herself had taken up residence in a cave near the top of Half-Blood Hill. It seemed like an odd choice for a girl used to living in a luxury condo, but she seemed to like it. To be fair, it offered her twice as much space and tons more privacy than the rest of us. By the time she finished decorating, it was the perfect space to chill out and sketch designs, from wall art to, say, blueprints for a brand new city on Olympus. I spent many an afternoon there with my drafting paper spread across her studio-like floor, while Rachel painted colourful murals over her walls.

Rachel even let me use her cave to make one very important call. She had a back room with a skylight dug up through the hilltop that filtered sunlight through the panelled glass the way a prism would—perfect for Iris-messaging. (Though I didn't really get who she intended to IM. Maybe she just liked the rainbows. It went well with the rest of her psychedelic wall art.)

It was early in the morning in San Francisco when I called (I'd forgotten about time zones), but my dad was already up, studying an old battle plan on his desk. Maybe he was still jet-lagged from his trip. Then again, it wouldn't be the first time he'd stayed up all night because he forgot to go to bed. He was so engrossed in his work, I had to call him twice before he looked up.

'Annabeth!' He knocked over his coffee mug and grabbed it before it could slosh over his antique map. 'What—how—?'

'It's an Iris-message, Dad. It's ... uh, magic. I had to do this because ... well, I can't use my phone. I kind of lost it.'

'Oh, um ...' He scratched his head. 'Is, ah, everything okay? Are you still at camp?'

I nodded. 'We're running later this year. We had—well, it's been a long summer.'

I settled into Rachel's plush armchair and told him about the battle we'd just fought. The gory details, I left out—he didn't need to know just how badly we'd trashed Manhattan, and I still wasn't ready to discuss Luke—but I described the battle lines and our strategic use of Central Park. That, he'd probably appreciate. When I got to the end, the part where Athena appointed me architect of Olympus, his eyes grew misty.

'You've certainly been busy,' he said. 'And ... I know I can't possibly understand all you've been through. But for what it's worth ... I'm proud of you, too.'

I let his words wash around me, warm and encouraging. Then I forged ahead with the plan I'd been concocting. I needed a huge favour from him.

'Thanks, Dad. The thing is, now that I'll be re-designing Olympus ...'

His brow furrowed. 'You want to stay in New York.'

I tucked my hair behind my ears. 'Yeah. But—not at camp. I thought maybe I could go to school in the city ...'

He leant back in his chair. 'I guess ... well, you'll be going off to college in a few years anyway. Janet did say you might want to consider programmes on the east coast.

I hadn't really thought that far ahead. It was only just sinking in that I could have a future. One that wasn't confined to camp, but an actual life in New York City, studying and actually being an architect. Just like I'd always wanted.

And I had to admit I had another reason for wanting to stay. Architecture wasn't the only thing I wanted to build.

'We'll find you a school,' my dad said. 'I may have a colleague who knows someone, who knows someone—well, we'll figure it out. In fact, I wouldn't put it past Janet to have made some back-up plans already.'

If only Iris-messages could transmit actions. I wanted to throw my arms around him and hug him tight. I had to settle for a heartfelt thank you. 'And, um—thank Janet, too, I guess.'

My dad smiled. 'But call us often, okay? We'll get you a new phone. And maybe before you start school, you could—'

'I'll come and visit,' I promised.

'Bring that boyfriend of yours if you want.'

'Da-ad! How did you know?'

'I didn't. But I do now.' He grinned and pointed behind me. 'And he didn't look half as scared the last time I met him.' He leant forward conspiratorially and whispered, 'No guy looks that terrified of an old professor unless he's dating his daughter.'

Sure enough, Percy was peeking in from Rachel's studio. He shifted his weight nervously from foot to foot. 'Uh, sorry, I thought you might be—I mean, hi, Professor Chase.'

'I'll be done in a minute,' I told him. 'Why don't you go steal Rachel's artisan coffee?'

'I hate that stuff,' Percy complained. He glanced at my father and winced. 'I mean, yeah, sure. Uh, nice seeing you, Prof Chase.'

'See you, Percy.' My dad had a twinkle in his eye.

'You're not going to read him the riot act?' I said.

'Fun as that might be ... no. The kid came all the way to our door two years ago because you were in trouble.' He brought his hands together and studied the tips of his fingers. 'I know your life is dangerous and I can't be there for most of it. I'd rather you did have someone who can look out for you.'

I found myself blinking hard. Although I had never told my dad about Luke, it was almost as if he knew how Percy had stepped up when Luke had failed.

'Besides,' he added, 'if I know your mother ... I have a feeling she's already threatened young Percy more than I ever could.'

I remembered the weird, smoky smell clinging to Percy when we'd left Olympus. He'd never really explained that. Now, I had a pretty strong suspicion why. 'Yeah. You're probably right.'

My dad gestured behind me. 'I guess you have to go. But Annabeth, now that that war of yours is over, maybe we could take that trip to Greece next summer?'

I grinned. 'Deal.'

Percy and Rachel were both sitting on her squashy purple sofa when I emerged. (Don't ask me where she managed to scrounge her furniture.) He leapt to his feet once I walked out, like he was afraid I'd get mad that they were in the same room. He acted like he was facing a pop quiz whenever Rachel and I hung out. One with questions that might explode if you got them wrong. I caught Rachel's eye and smothered a grin.

'I'm staying in New York,' I announced.

Percy's anxious expression morphed into a huge smile. He caught me around the waist and swung me in a circle. 'That's awesome!'

'Lucky you,' Rachel said. 'Wish I got to go to school in Manhattan.'

'Don't you?'

She shook her head. 'I made a deal with my dad. I'm off to Clarion Academy in two weeks—finishing school in Hampshire.' She made a face, like she was about to spit up a deadly new prophecy.

'You, at finishing school.' Despite the luxury condo and the millionaire dad, I still had trouble picturing her as finishing school material.

Rachel mimed walking with a stack of books on her head. 'I'm going to hate it. But—' she brightened, 'vacations are gonna be so much better when I can come here!'

I couldn't argue with that.

+++

All too soon, our summer came to an end. After the long, drawn-out start, it now felt like I'd hardly blinked and the last two weeks had disappeared.

At least Percy and I would venture out into the world together this time. I'd make a flying visit home to San Francisco before returning for boarding school in Manhattan. My new school was only several blocks from the Empire State Building, near enough that I could drop by Olympus every afternoon. Percy was only a few subway stops away, and once he told his mom I was spending the year in Manhattan, she insisted I visit every weekend.

On the last night of camp, we stayed out late at the amphitheatre. The campfire burned brighter and taller than it had all year. Our numbers were creeping back up, almost to pre-war attendance levels. Twice as many campers were expected next summer. When we came back, this was going to seem like a whole new place, with so many new faces.

Jake Mason handed me a box full of this year's end-of-summer beads. His cabin had designed them, with the Empire State Building etched into the surface of each one to commemorate our defence of Olympus. I had insisted on one little detail: the names of our fallen printed over it, so that they made a protective spiral around the building.

All of our fallen.

I took the box and stood with Percy at the head of the campfire. He picked up a bead and rubbed it between his fingers.

'This summer, you guys were the bravest army I've ever seen,' he said. 'We couldn't have held Olympus without you. This bead—' he held it up, 'this bead represents what we fought for.'

The amphitheatre was silent, hanging on his words. Percy's eyes travelled over the Greek letters on the bead. He swallowed hard.

I stepped in. 'It represents our courage. And our sacrifice—especially that of our friends. We'll always remember them and what they gave for Olympus.'

'For Olympus,' echoed the others.

I read out every one of the names. Beckendorf, Michael, Silena ... so many others. And Luke. His name flashed right at the top of the engraved Empire State Building, near the spire.

We passed the box around and the senior counsellors distributed the beads. I strung mine on my leather cord. It was getting seriously crowded. The new bead settled next to my father's college ring and another new addition: a red coral pendant Percy handed to me when we settled back into the campfire circle.

'Because, uh ... we're dating now?' he said. 'I mean, presents are good, right?'

I laughed. 'Presents are always good. So I take it you have something planned for our one-month anniversary?'

'Uh ...' He blinked rapidly, clearly thinking fast. 'A special dinner?'

I bumped his shoulder lightly. 'I'll hold you to that.'

A flashbulb popped. To my surprise, Chiron was behind the camera. He winked at us. 'You've reminded me that I need some new photos from my office wall.'

At the thought of Chiron's wall of heroes, my heart swelled. How long ago it had seemed that I'd wondered if I would ever stand among the ranks of the legendary demigods who graced his wall.

I looked out over the camp grounds as Chiron stood to make his end-of-summer announcements. Moonlight shone over Half-Blood Hill, making the Fleece on Thalia's pine glow silver. I could almost see the ghost of the girl I had been, making my way over the crest with Thalia and Luke.

The campfire ended. I stayed a while longer, fingering the beads on my necklace. Nine beads for nine years. In the smouldering embers, I got a brief glimpse of Hestia. Her soft, sweet smile was exactly as it had been the first day I'd stumbled into camp, lost, hurt, and desperate for a family that would last.

The children who notice me are the ones who crave a home, she'd once told me.

Now, she seemed to be asking, You've found what you were looking for, haven't you?

Percy held out his hand to me. 'Coming?'

I smiled and took it.

+++

I stared up at the towering building in front of me. Even after the awful battle it had just been through, the Empire State Building still made an impressive sight.

My first visit here on that fateful field trip four years ago seemed to belong to an entirely different lifetime. How I'd gaped at the delicate needle spire jutting out into the clouds. How enthralled I'd been to actually visit Olympus for the first time in my life.

Percy gave me a curious look. 'Are we going in, or what?'

'Yeah, of course. I just ... needed a moment.'

He smiled. 'Nervous?'

'No.' I paused. 'Maybe.'

'You'll be fine.'

'I know.'

The security guard stopped us at the gates. 'We're still closed for repairs.'

I fished in my pocket for the special key card that had been delivered to my school dorm earlier that week: gold, with the imprint of a mountaintop temple. A Greek Omega was etched over it. The doorman's eyebrows shot up when he saw the card. He gaped at me with an expression that said, who are you people?

'Annabeth Chase,' I told him. 'Architect of Olympus. And—' I glanced at Percy and my heart swelled at his proud grin. 'And my boyfriend, Percy Jackson.'

Percy took my hand as we stepped through and boarded the elevator. The music had changed. A jazzy club tune was playing, one I wouldn't have thought twice about, except the lyrics caught my attention:

I want something permanent, like the stars in the sky
Permanent, like the mountain high ...


I laced my fingers tightly through Percy's and smiled. My dream was about to come true: I was on my way to build a city for the ages, like I'd always wanted. But architecture wasn't just about building things.

My something permanent was already next to me.

THE END

Tags: the final sacrifice
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