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T W E N T Y - T W O

"So, let me get this straight. You got permission from McGonagall to see Annabeth?" Clarisse repeated for the millionth time with a scowl that was practically permanently plastered on to her face. She huffed. "And you didn't even have to ask! She just gave it to you!" 

Percy's own scowl deepened. "I spent weeks begging for her to let me leave school. I'm sorry that I just gave up!"

"Well I didn't!" Clarisse protested, throwing her hands up in the air, frustrated. "I did more than pass on messages to camp, you know, asswipe!"

He averted his eyes, looking back down at the book in his hands. It read something like; ROESHE FO SPMYLOU.

He and Clarisse were at the library under the pretence that they were studying. Percy was ninety-five percent sure that the book he was 'reading' wasn't even relevant to anything he actually needed to know. He dumped it in the ever growing stack of books that were illegible to his dyslexic mind.

"When are you going?" Clarisse demanded, surveying him with a calculating look, eyes narrowed. He knew what she was doing. She was searching for any sign of the old him.

So was he.

He just wasn't sure where to find him.

"Saturday," he confirmed, twirling his ballpoint pen in his fingers, letting the rhythmic movements satisfy his short attention spam. It distracted him from the library.

He hated the place.

The smell of books and knowledge. The smell of ink. It smelled like her. He hated that too, knowing that he hadn't done anything to help her. After his happiness of being able to see Annabeth had faded, it had been replaced with a sickening feeling in his stomach.

"It's called guilt," Clarisse deadpanned, reading his thoughts. She didn't try to reassure him that it wasn't his fault, that there was nothing he could have done and to stop beating himself up about it. She told it like it was and left it at that. When he didn't respond, Clarisse kicked him in the shin. "Well?" she pressed. "What do you want me to say? That it's okay all of this has happened? That I understand? Well I don't! I'm not going to say that. It is your fault! You've done nothing when you could have done anything. The sooner you realise that, water boy, the better." Her words cut deeper than a sword and Percy didn't have the strength to pull the blade from his chest.

"I told you about Leo," he said, moulding his face so it displayed anything but what he was really feeling.  "Now you tell me what you know."

"I'll let Chiron know about Saturday," she said, ignoring his statement. "That is, unless you've decided you actually have the capability to do that yourself."

"I'm not totally hopeless." He glowered at her.

"Could've fooled me."

"Tell me what you know," he repeated. "I'm going to find out anyway."

Clarisse didn't respond.

"Tell me!"

"La rue! Jackson!" Madame Pince materialised from behind them, her arms folded over her chest, posture rigid, shoulders back and an unwavering sour look on her face. "If I hear another word from your mouths it'll be twenty points from the both of you and I won't allow you to disturb my library another minute. Is that clear?"

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