Conquering Fear, Part 1 is the fortieth chapter of The Gift of a Best Friend. It was first published on February 10, 2017.
Ok. I now love architecture.
I’m actually mad at myself for not listening to Cassandra about it before. I thought it was just about how buildings were built, but it’s so much more than that. It’s really about how they look, their natural beauty, and it really is beautiful.
I’ve read all of Cassandra’s books on it, and I’ve gotten so much more at the library, and I love every single one of them.
It’s now been a few months since Cassandra died, and I still miss her a lot and cry sometimes, but reading about architecture helps me get through it. I also feel like she’s still with me when I do because it’s a part of her that’s now a part of me too. But I constantly have to keep reminding myself that she’s gone and is never coming back.
Jasmine doesn’t exactly like that I’m going to be an architect now, but she does support it and helps me find more books or a documentary about it on TV, and so does everyone else in our family.
Right now, I’m taking a break from architecture to play with Jasmine at the pegasus stables.
We got a couple of pegasi, whose names were Porkpie and Guido (I think Jasmine named them and the other pegasi. She likes giving names to animals who don’t have names) and we raced with them, both on foot and in the air. Jasmine would’ve raced with Toothless, but he’s too fast for the pegasi, and they don’t seem to like him because of that.
After racing for a while, we sword fought on them, as we’ve seen warriors do sometimes on TV, but Jasmine wasn’t being fair. She was using her sword, but I only had my knife, so she had a much farther reach than me.
“You chose to fight with a knife,” she said.
“Whatever,” I replied. “It’s still not fair.”
“Jasmine! Annabeth!” Luke was calling us.
We stopped fighting, which Porkpie and Guido seemed to like, and looked where he was calling from. Luke was standing about a hundred feet away.
“What?” Jasmine called back.
“Chiron wants to see you two at the Big House,” Luke said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because two new demigods were brought into camp, and he wants you two to give them a tour.”
“Yeah?” Jasmine agreed. “If they’re unclaimed and are going to be put in the Hermes cabin until they’re claimed, shouldn’t you give them the tour?”
“Normally, yes,” Luke agreed. “But those two demigods are your ages, and we think that they’d be more comfortable if you two showed them around camp instead of me.”
“They’re our ages?”
“Yes! Now are you two going to do it or not?”
Jasmine and I looked at each other.
We’ve never given a tour to a new demigod before, mostly because they didn’t take us seriously because of how young we are. We’re still the youngest ones at camp; but, apparently, we weren’t anymore.
We both nodded. “Yes!”
“Ok, then,” Luke said. “Come on!”
“Can you put Porkpie and Guido back in their stables for us?” Jasmine asked.
It was hard to tell from a distance, but he didn’t seem to like being asked that. But he loves us too much to say no. “Sure.”
We rode them over to him, then we dismounted them, and gave him a hug.
“Thank you, Luke,” I said.
“You’re welcome,” he replied.
Jasmine turned toward the pegasi. “Be good for Luke and I’ll give you each some sugar cubes later.”
They both went a little crazy when she said sugar cubes because they both love them, but they nodded in agreement.
“Thank you.” She turned to look at me. “I’ll race you.”
I smiled. “Ok.”
I ran toward the Big House.
“Hey!” she complained, then I could tell she was running after me.
When we reached the Big House, Jasmine had somehow caught up to me.
When I got on the porch, she tackled me, and we both fell onto it with her on top of my back.
“Got ya,” she said.
“Ow,” I complained.
I managed to turn around and face her with her still on top of me.
“Did you have to tackle me when we got here?
“Sorry. I thought I would’ve gotten you before we got here.”
I was about to respond when we heard someone clear their throat.
We looked up and saw Chiron and Mr. D sitting at a table right next to us, and there were two kids about our age, a boy and a girl, standing next to them.
There was also a . . .
“Kitty!” Jasmine said.
She was right.
Standing on the table, looking down at us, was a gray, black, and brown striped cat.
“Mrow?” it said.
Jasmine got off of me and stood up, holding out her arms to the cat. It jumped into her arms and she started petting it. It licked her (no surprise, even from a cat), and started to purr.
I stood up from the ground. “Sorry, Chiron.”
“It’s all right, Annabeth,” he replied. “You can’t keep Jasmine away from an animal.”
“Jasmine, could you put the cat down for a moment so that you can meet our new campers?”
“Sure, Chiron,” she replied.
She put the cat on the table, and it walked toward the boy and the girl. I think they were it’s owners.
“Girls, this is Alabaster and Cia,” Chiron introduced us. “Alabaster, Cia, this is Jasmine and Annabeth. They’ll be giving you a tour of Camp Half-Blood and show you the cabin you’ll be staying in for a while.”
Jasmine and I waved at them.
“Hi,” Jasmine said.
She’s always excited to meet new campers at camp.
Alabaster and Cia waved back shyly.
“Come with us,” I said.
“Yes,” Mr. D agreed. “Go, and leave me alone, you little brats.”
“He doesn’t like any of us,” Jasmine said. “But none of us like him either, so it’s ok.”
Alabaster and Cia smiled a little bit.
Cia picked up the cat, and Jasmine and I led them off the porch and began giving them a tour.
They didn’t talk much at first, but after showing them a couple things, they looked excited and asked a few questions. Jasmine and I took turns answering each one.
Toothless came along with us, and Alabaster and Cia seemed to like him, but not Rolo (that was the cat’s name). She hissed at him and showed her claws every time he got too close to her or Cia.
As we were giving them a tour, I got a closer look at them.
Alabaster was a little taller than me. He had short brown hair, green eyes, and freckles on his face. He looked a little funny.
Cia was my height, with black hair as long as mine, though a little more curly. But her eyes were a little unsettling. They were a bright green color, as green as the sea, and they looked familiar, but I couldn’t remember where I’ve seen them before. I definitely didn’t recognize her, so I’m pretty sure that this was the first time we’ve met
Cia looked at me, and I realized that I was staring at her. I quickly turned away and focused back on the tour.
We were almost done and were now taking them to their current cabin.
“So you two don’t know who your godly parents are?” I asked them.
Alabaster and Cia looked at each other in an odd way. Then back at me and shook their heads.
“You, hopefully, will be claimed by them soon.”
“Is it your mom or your dad that’s a god?” Jasmine asked.
They looked at each other in an odd way again, then back at her.
“My mom’s a goddess,” Alabaster said.
“And my dad is a god,” Cia said.
Ok. Cia’s dad is a god. There’s a lot of possibilities of who he could be.
And Alabaster, there’s really only three possibilities. He doesn’t look at all like a son of Aphrodite. He could be a son of Athena, but we all have the same hair and eye color. He doesn’t have either of them. Maybe Demeter? I didn’t know. I’ll just have to wait and find out.
But why did I feel like they already know who their godly parent was and that they don’t want to admit it?
“So Rolo’s your cat?” Jasmine asked Cia.
She nodded. “Yes. She usually doesn’t like new people touching her until she gets to know them better.”
“Well, I have an aura.”
Jasmine nodded. “Yes. I was born with it, and it only affects animals. It makes them like me and feels protective of me. And I can talk to them too.”
“You can?” Cia asked.
“Cool. I can’t talk to land animals.”
That surprised me.
“Land animals?” I asked. “Can you talk to other kinds of animals?”
Cia nodded. “Yes. I can—”
“Cia,” Alabaster interrupted. “Let’s go see our cabin.”
“Why?” she asked.
“I want to go see it.”
“Then you go. I’m staying here.”
Alabaster looked at us uneasily, then he whispered something in her ear.
“Oh,” she said. “Ok. Let’s go see our cabin. Can we?”
Jasmine and I looked at each other, and a silent agreement passed between us: we’ve got to talk to Cia alone, without Alabaster.
We turned back toward them.
“Yeah,” I said. “Come on.”
We took them to Cabin Eleven and Luke took them from there.
We said goodbye to them and promised that we would play together later. Then Jasmine and I and Toothless went off.
“They’re hiding something,” I said.
Jasmine nodded in agreement. “Yeah. But what?”
“I don’t know.”
“Should we tell Chiron?”
“Maybe. What do you think?”
“I think we should tell Luke.”
Toothless said something, but of course, I couldn’t understand him.
“What did he say?” I asked Jasmine.
“He says that we should let them decide if they want to tell us whatever secret it is they have,” she said. “And that we shouldn’t force them to tell us what it is.”
“We won’t,” I promised Toothless. “But can we ask them?”
He nodded and said something else.
“‘Yes. But if they say no, don’t press them to tell you,’” Jasmine translated.
So that’s what we did.
Later that day, at sunset, we were playing at the volleyball courts along with Alabaster and Cia.
After a while, Cia wanted to explore camp alone. Alabaster didn’t want her to go, but she convinced him to let her, and Rolo promised him that she’ll protect her. And off the two of them went.
I took that opportunity to go talk to her alone and left the others behind.
I followed Cia all the way to the beach. She sat down on the sand about twenty feet from the shore. I walked toward her.
She didn’t see me coming until Rolo told her.
She turned to me and smiled, a friendly smile. “Come on, Annabeth.”
I went to her and sat down next to her.
We watched the sun set slowly over the horizon and the low tide.
“I love the sea,” Cia said. “And how the sun makes it shine a lot of colors. It makes me feel like I’m home. Do you love the sea?”
“It’s ok,” I replied. “But tell Jasmine that.”
“Why? Does she hate the sea?”
“Sort of. She likes it, but she’s really afraid of water.”
“She had a traumatic incident last winter, and she’s been afraid of going in it ever since.”
I wasn’t sure if I should tell her. But her looking at me with those sea-green eyes of hers showing concern, I felt like I should.
So I did.
I told her about the frozen river near our house, how Jasmine fell into it, and how I saved her.
“You’re a good friend,” Cia said when I was finished.
I smiled. “Thank you. I like to think that I am because Jasmine’s a really good friend to me.”
“You are. And Jasmine and Rolo have that in common. But I’ve been trying to help Rolo not be afraid of water anymore. I haven’t succeeded yet, but she’s a little more willing to do it now than before. Have you tried to help Jasmine not be afraid of water?”
“Yes. But she freaks out every time she gets in water because she remembers falling into that river and how scared she was. Luke’s tried too, but he couldn’t get her to do it either.”
“When was the last time you tried?” Cia asked.
“A long time ago,” I replied. “I think last March.”
“Why did you stop?”
“Well, I’m afraid of spiders, and she could try to get over her fear of water if I try to get over my fear of spiders, and I didn’t want to do that.”
“Ok. What about Luke?”
“He promised her that if she came into the water with him, he wouldn’t try to get her into the water anymore. And that’s what she did, and she freaked out. No more forcing her into the water after that.”
“Can I try to help her?” Cia asked.
“If you want to,” I replied. “But she won’t go into the water on her own, and she probably won’t let you help her.”
“I’ll try it.”
“Ok. I hope you can help her.”
“Me too. And you’re going to help me. Come on.”
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