Summary: She drove herself crazy with work and grief, and though he should feel, he does not. Instead, he shakes his head and walks away.. He does not speak

Disclaimer: not mine. Warnings: character death. Not officially beta'd. Notes: somewhat of an alternate take on Annabeth's strength. Oneshot. Complete.

Il ne parle pas

When it happens Percy knows he should say something, but the truth is he doesn’t know what to say. He’s running through dozens of different expressions, each one just as trite and meaningless as the previous, not a single one appropriate for the situation. There are tears gleaming in the corners of her eyes, and he knows she knows he’s watching. He also knows that she doesn’t want him to know about it. Doesn’t want him to bring it up.

So he doesn’t.

He lets the entire incident go, which is rather difficult seeing as he’s just saved the world, and the person who died to do it is the one she’s mourning. She pretends she’s not, of course—says she doesn’t care, that she never loved him, that he wasn’t important.

Whether she loved him or not, the latter statement is totally false.

Still, Percy ignores the way she tenses when the name is brought up, regardless of whether it’s in reference to him. He ignores the way her own gazes lingers just a bit longer on anyone with icy blue eyes like his. He ignores the way she seems to be so desperately searching for the tow head that had originally taken her in.

When Annabeth begins the plans for Olympus’s reconstruction, Percy tries not to burden her. He knows how important the task is to her, can tell exactly how much it means, and so he doesn’t feel bad losing one of his best friends to it.

It’s when she starts doing nothing but that he begins to worry.

Though it is the school year, Percy makes sure to keep in touch. At first, she responds to his calls and emails almost as soon as they come, but before long she begins lagging. A month or so into the year and she completely skips weeks of communication. He knows she is busy between school and architectural blue prints and the myriad of other things she has to work on, but Percy cannot help but worry. He goes to visit her in the middle of October, because she is his friend and she is his girlfriend and it makes no sense not to visit her when they’re living so close. Though she manages a smile when he enters, so much has changed: her hair, though curly, is more matted than anything; her skin is pale; there are dark circles under her eyes; and she has obviously lost weight.

It hurts him to see her like this, but he does not mention it. Instead, they spend the day together, and though he is worried he tries to suppress it.

The next time they even talk is over winter break at camp. He has decided to spend the holidays there because she will be, but it turns out to be a pointless decision: she is barely ever around for him to see. Every once in a while he will see her stagger out of the old barn she’s been using as a workspace, but very rarely does she appear. Often the only time he sees her is when he manages to worm his way into her studio at half-past two in the morning to find her passed out among a pile of designs.

Once, he tries to wake her. He knows she hasn’t eaten in days, knows she hasn’t even left the chair, and the stress combined with everything else has got to be killing her. She blinks up at him, groggy as the artificial light brings her back to reality.

“Luke…?” She stares up at his face, blinking into the lights once more, before she falls forward, clutching the fabric of his camp shirt and chanting the name that is not his over and over again. Her weight should drag him down, but she is not strong enough or heavy enough anymore, and Percy sinks to his knees in order to cradle her carefully against his chest. Tears slip down both their faces at the situations they cannot control, the days they cannot return, the things they cannot change.

When winter holidays end, she does not even make the time to say a proper goodbye.

Percy knows he shouldn’t have stopped trying. He knows inside that there is a piece of him that regrets it—there is a piece of him that cannot believe he simply gave up. But there is also the rest of him, screaming, reminding him that she was self-destructive and he couldn’t have stopped her. Though he hates listening to this voice, he knows it is right.

Her pride was her own demise.

Annabeth had once told him that that was her fatal flaw.

It wasn’t until she had worked herself to death that he understood what she meant.

Chiron says that it was a combination of everything—the stress, the poor self-care, the grief—that drove her mad. He says he’s not sure whether she did it intentionally, or whether she simply faded and died, her body too worn to continue on. He simply knows that she couldn’t handle it, despite her strong personality.

The shroud burning is scheduled for that cloudless afternoon, the first full one of the summer session, and already campers are flooding in. Percy stands on the outskirts of the gathering, carefully avoiding anyone familiar. He sees campers here and there whom he recognizes, but there are so many new faces—or, really, so many faces he never bothered to get to know—that he finds it easy to relax and get lost.

As everyone gets settled, Grover approaches from behind. He tells him, quietly, that he’s sorry and then asks him if he took up Chiron’s offer of saying a few words about Annabeth during the ceremony.

Percy shakes his head and walks away in silence.

He does not speak.

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