“Finally,” Grover says, smiling at their intertwined hands.
It’s new enough that a blush still finds its way onto her cheeks, and a side glance at Percy reveals the same on his.
“It’s been a long time coming, too,” Grover continues, either unaware or uncaring for their response. “I’ve been saying it for forever.”
And with a final laugh at their surprised faces, he waves and dashes over to where Juniper appears among the trees.
“We weren’t that obvious, were we?” Percy asks, still somewhat red, as they continue their walk to the strawberry fields.
She looks down at their hands and smiles, shrugging a little. “I don’t know. I mean, I only really figured it out like a year or so ago.”
He stops in his tracks to look over at her. “A year?”
And suddenly it’s her turn to flush red, and she quickly looks down at the ground, unable to meet his eyes. “I mean… yeah,” she mumbles.
“When?” he asks, tugging on her hand to get her to look up.
“I don’t know,” she shrugs. “It must have been around the time you saved me from Atlas, but I didn’t figure it out till Rachel came along.”
She chances a glance at his face, afraid of laughter, but his eyebrows are burrowed instead. “Rachel?”
She sighs, wishing the world would swallow her so she wouldn’t have to explain this to her adorable but very oblivious boyfriend.
“Yeah, I mean, you seemed into her.” She chooses her words carefully, but of course Percy chooses then to stop being oblivious.
“You were jealous!” It’s more an exclamation than a question, and the look of joy on his face is truly unfair, she thinks.
“Whatever,” she mumbles, looking down again, tugging his hand so they can move along. So what if she was jealous in the past? Percy had chosen her.
He stops again, turning to face her fully, shooting her that lopsided grin that makes her melt. “I think it’s cute.”
She rolls her eyes. It’s all good for him to say that, he’s not the one being embarrassed. “When did you figure it out?” she asks instead, wanting to shift the attention off of her.
“Oh, I thought you looked like a princess the first few moments I saw you on the porch before I passed out.”
This time she’s the one who stops them in their tracks, mouth dropping open.
He looks amused at her reaction and just barrels on. “And when I properly saw you, I thought you were really pretty. Well, pretty and scary,” he amends, shooting her a smirk.
She makes a face at him out of habit, her mind still unable to process that he had found her pretty since the first day. Sure, she had found him cute then too, but he was a son of Poseidon.
“And then at that dance you were so much more…mature, and when you feel from the cliff…” he stops talking, a dark look passing over his face. “Well, I refused to believe you were dead.”
She squeezes his hand then, because the thought of him coming to find her had truly kept her going.
“But then you felt that way about Luke and I hated him even more,” he finishes casually, tone switching back like nothing had happened.
She swears she’s usually better about keeping up with things, but everything out of his mouth is throwing her for a loop.
“It’s you,” she says automatically. “It’s kind of always been you.”
She feels vulnerable baring her heart like that, but it’s Percy, and she finds that she doesn’t mind as much as she thinks she would.
He nods and they continue their walk to the fields.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a time where I didn’t like you, Annabeth.” He says it in the same casual tone as before, but she catches the depth behind the words.
Their walk is interrupted for a fourth time as she tugs him in for a kiss. It’s not under a mountain about to explode, it’s not filled with frosting, it’s not even underwater, but it’s the best one yet.
Because it’s the one they get to have simply because they can.
She leans her forehead against his when they pull apart, breathless with rapidly pounding hearts.
“I don’t think so either.”