Even though she has always wanted to be a fairy who keeps bad dreams away (she wasn't sure if there's such fairies, but if there were fairies whose duty is to take kids' baby teeth, then there must've been fairies whose duty was to keep bad dreams away), Cassie always knew that she was a perfectly normal child, albeit a not very lucky one. Her skin was fair, her height and weight was average, her dishwater blonde hair was straight and a little bit long, her eyes were brown—nothing makes her stand out.
Her father died when she was almost four years old, so she didn't really remember him. Her mother... well, that's a different story altogether. She didn't know anything about her, so she could be alive. However, Cassie knew that even if she was alive, it was not going to change anything. From a very young age, she had learnt that no one wants her, after all. She was taken to the orphanage a week after her father died, her suitcase was filled with the clothes her father has bought her. Other than her clothes, Cassie only owned a necklace her father gave her. Thankfully she got to keep it, unlike her books and toys.
Just like everyone in the orphanage, Cassie has always dreamed of having her own family; with parents who would love her and care for her. She has always been a soft-spoken child. She made friends easily with almost everyone so no one bothers her, not really. Sure, most of the workers didn't really care for the children; they're only there because it's their job. Fortunately, there were people like Ms. McPhee and Ms. Hadley who actually cared for them. Cassie was especially close with Ms. McPhee.
Things started to feel strange when Cassie was 6 years old. She started feeling anxious, like someone was watching her. It was the first time she felt really grateful that she was living in an orphanage where she didn't have her own bedroom; she shared it with five other girls. She thought that she wouldn't be brave enough to sleep around ever since she started feeling nervous and anxious with no apparent reason. She tried telling Ms. McPhee about how she felt. The kind woman had tried to reassure her that she was safe in the orphanage, but that only made Cassie felt like the adult wasn't taking her seriously. Who would blame her? After all, Cassie was only a silly, delusional 6-year-old.
Things only got worse from there as Cassie realized that gardens or parks are not a good place for her to be. And it saddens her because she really enjoy the Sunday mornings when Ms. McPhee and Ms. Barlow usually took them to have a picnic. She seemed to always stumble or fall whenever she went to gardens or parks, and when she turned to see what made her fall she would see vines and plants to be the reason. The ants, bees, butterflies, and even birds disturbed her sometimes. The bees would sting her whenever they can, and the ants will bite her. Strangely, the marks and pain would disappear quickly. Cassie found that other than that, the bees and ants didn't really cause anything else (she thought she would die the first time she got stung by a bee). By the time Ms. Barlow called them to help her tidy up they would be gone.
Cassie was smart, she knew that they would not believe her without proof. So rather than running back and crying, she made sure that she wore long-sleeved clothes and pants, even in summer. She would even put another layer when it was not too hot. She also avoided playing outside as much as she could. As time passed, Cassie felt like going out and participating in the weekly picnic session did nothing but stressing her, so she decided to stop participating in the activity. It wasn't as if everyone was required to participate, so they let her stayed in her room and read. Ms. McPhee would sometime tell her to stop spending time alone and join them outside though, but she managed to stay inside most of the time. Cassie came to a conclusion that she was not good with animals, that's why they were always attacking her.
Unfortunately, she still had to go to school. Cassie tried to make sure that she was always with someone, that she was never alone. She felt wary whenever she was alone. She still felt like someone was following and watching her though, but she felt safer with her friends around.
Six months after Cassie's sixth birthday, they had a new English teacher called Mr. Brown. He was peculiar in a way, but Cassie couldn't describe how. Mr. Brown wore a beanie everday. He was young and he always thought of fun games to play during his classes that would help Cassie and her classmates learn new, complicated vocabularies. this really helped because Cassie had dyslexia. The games and activities really helped her learn better. He wore a strange-scented perfume. Mr. Brown has a kind smile and he always listened to his students. It was break time and a bee just stung Cassie's arm. Used by the pain by now, Cassie was rubbing her arm as she went to class early, hoping that she would be safe from stungs and bites inside.
"Good afternoon, Cassie," Mr. Brown smiled as he greeted her.
"Good afternoon Mr. Brown," Cassie replied.
"Is anything wrong with your arm?" Mr. Brown asked, looking concerned.
"A bee stung me."
"A bee?" Mr. Brown repeated. Cassie nodded. "Do you want me to go with you to the infirmary to get it checked out?"
"It's okay Sir," Cassie said. "I'm used to it."
Mr. Brown opened his mouth to say something, but the bell rang and the other kids started pouring into the class. Cassie took her books and pencil case from her bag and put it on her desk, not realizing that Mr. Brown was still looking at her.
It was raining hard when Cassie realized she was doomed. As she had been doing ever since she turned 6, Cassie always made sure someone was with her. That day, she drank a lot of water so she really had to go to the restroom. Cassie ran as fast as she could to the restroom when the bell rings, indicating that the class was over. However, she forgot to tell her friends who usually walked home with her, so they thought that she had run home ahead of them.
When Cassie went back to class, she found that there was nobody there. Nobody except Mr. Brown, who was still tidying up his papers.
"Hello Cassie," he said kindly when he spotted her standing in the doorway. "Is everything alright?" he asked.
"My friends... they already left," Cassie said. She started feeling scared. Especially because as usual, she felt someone watching and following her this morning.
"Do you want me to accompany you home, Cassie?"
Cassie's head snapped at that, she looked at him in disbelief. "Would—would that be okay?"
"Of course!" Mr. Brown said cheerfully. "Let me get my stuff from the office and we could go."
Cassie nodded. She followed Mr. Brown to the office that was already deserted, just like the classes. Mr. Brown put his papers on his desk and grabbed his bag and jacket. He turned to Cassie and gave her a warm smile.
"Let's go then, Ms. McPhee must be worried about you," He said. Mr. Brown and almost all of her teachers knew Ms. McPhee because she was the one who usually came to get her report card. Cassie walked beside Mr. Brown. The orphanage was only 10 minutes away from the school. "Do you always go home with your friends, Cassie?" Mr. Brown asked.
"Yes," She nodded. "Going home alone is scary."
"Why is that?" Mr. Brown asked.
"I feel like someone is watching and following me," Cassie admitted. "Whenever I turn there would be no one. Everyone told me that I was being ridiculous. But we walk together everyday, to and from school. So I think... maybe they are scared too but they just wouldn't admit it." She added thoughtfully.
The wind started blowing hard and it started raining more. "We should take shelter somewhere, umbrellas won't keep us dry this way." Mr. Brown said as he offered his hand. Cassie took it and they ran towards the nearest building, an abandoned factory.
"This is not good," Cassie heard Mr. Brown muttering to himself and she agreed. It seemed like they rain wasn't going to stop anytime soon. He then turned to Cassie and offered a reassuring smile. "I think we should stay here until the rain dies down a little, okay?"
"Okay," Cassie agreed easily.
That was when Cassie heard something moving behind them, inside the factory.
"Mr. Brown," Cassie whispered. "What was that?"
Silence. "Cassie, I want you to stay behind me and stay close," Mr. Brown said, ignoring Cassie's question. "Do you understand?"
"Yes Sir," Cassie said. Her heart started beating rapidly. Somehow, right now she'd prefer Ms. McPhee who would tell her that it was probably just a rat or something. Mr. Brown looked serious as he scanned the building, so Cassie thought that he definitely wasn't thinking about rats. He was now holding a small sword. Cassie didn't know where he got it.
And then Cassie heard the hissing. The door busted open and Cassie saw the most terrifying creature in her life. She didn't even know what it was; she never saw it in any books. Cassie tried her best not to, but the scream escaped her lips.
"Nope!" Mr. Brown said to no one as he picked Cassie up and ran. Cassie was terrified, but it soon turned into surprise. She didn't know Mr. Brown could run this fast.
"What was that?" Cassie yelled in his ears in an attempt to beat the sound of rain, which was still pouring hard. Both the rain and the wind haven't subsided. Both Cassie and Mr. Brown couldn't care less. As far as Cassie was concerned, she didn't mind getting soaked as long as there wasn't any snake... woman.
"Gorgons!" Mr. Brown screamed, not slowing down. Cassie looked back, trying to see if it was chasing them. Because of the rain, she could only see the faint outline of the monster.
"It's still chasing us!" Cassie yelled.
Mr. Brown kept running. Cassie wasn't sure where they were heading, but she was sure it wasn't to the orphanage. Perhaps Mr. Brown knew someplace safer. After a few minutes, Mr. Brown started slowing down. He took her to a bus stop. Mr. Brown put Cassie down as he was trying to catch his breath, scanning their surroundings. Cassie did the same. They were in another part of the city, further to the orphanage than the school.
"This is really, really not good," she heard Mr. Brown mumble.
"Cassie," Mr. Brown kneeled before her. "I know that this must be confusing, but I need you to trust me. Do you trust me, Cassie?"
Cassie nodded. Of course she trusted her teacher. He's her teacher. Plus, he just saved her from a monster. Cassie shuddered at the thought.
"What's a gorgon, Sir?" She asked.
Mr. Brown flinched as if the question hurt him physically. Cassie was about to apologize but he cut her. "I will explain to you, but not here. It's not safe." He said, looking around once again as if he was afraid the Gorgon was going to pop out anytime. "I know somewhere safe, but it is quite far from here. We are going there."
"But... what about the orphanage?" Cassie tilted her head. "Ms. McPhee would be angry because I'm super late already."
"The orphanage isn't safe for you anymore, Cassie." Mr. Brown said sadly.
"You mean... you mean I can't go back there? Ever again?" Cassie asked in disbelief. Ms. McPhee had told her and the other kids to not go anywhere with strangers. Mr. Brown was not a stranger, though; and Cassie trusted him. Not only because of the things she had mentioned, but also because she felt like someone was telling her to. Her guts was telling her to.
"Not anytime soon." Mr. Brown said carefully.
Cassie thought about it. She will definitely miss Ms. McPhee and Ms. Hadley. She will miss her friends, too. She was grateful that she always wore the necklace her father gave, if she'd left it she would need to go and grab it, because she cannot leave the only thing she had left from her father.
"Okay," Cassie said sadly. "But can I visit one day?"
Mr. Brown patted her head and answered with a smile. "Of course." He offered his hand and Cassie took it.
"A 6-year-old?" Cassie heard someone asked. She fell asleep in the bus, someone was carrying her. A familiar smell. Like Mr. Brown's perfume. "She's even younger “A 6-year-old?” Cassie heard someone asked. She fell asleep in the bus, someone was carrying her. A familiar smell. Like Mr. Brown’s perfume. “She’s even younger than Annabeth!”
“I know,” Mr. Brown said. He was the one carrying her. “I thought I was looking for someone older, but it was her.”
“Chiron isn’t going to be happy,” the other person said.
Cassie drifted back to sleep.
She was somewhere comfortable. Cassie opened her eyes to find herself in a comfy-looking living room. Her clothes were still damp, but there was a fireplace that made the room warm. Cassie watched the fire dancing and smiled. She had always loved fire. She always felt safe whenever she was near them.
"You're awake," A voice said, startling the little girl. Cassie turned to see a kind-looking man in a wheelchair. "Hello, Cassiopeia."
"Hello," Cassie said quietly. "Um, where's Mr. Brown?" she asked warily.
"He went to get you some clothes to change," The man said. "I'm sorry, you must be confused. I'm Chiron."
"Nice to meet you Mr. Chiron, I'm Cassie." Cassie said. "Is this the safe place Mr. Brown was talking about?" She then asked.
"Yes. You're safe here, Cassie."
Mr. Chiron smiled sadly. "No gorgons."
Cassie returned the gesture. "Okay!"
To say that things were not confusing would be a lie. However, it was much easier for Cassie to believe because she had seen a gorgon with her own eyes. She was only six when she came ("I'm almost seven!" she protested whenever anyone mentioned her age.), so it was not hard for her to believe. At least, not as hard as other kids who came to the camp when they're twelve.
Annabeth was thrilled when she first met Cassie. She saw her as her own little sister, they were inseparable ever since Chiron introduced them. Luke and the other campers warmed up to the little girl quickly, she seemed to have something that made it easy for her to get along with everyone. Even the kids from Cabin Five. Even Mr. D undeniably had a soft spot for Cassie, which confused Annabeth to no end.
Because both of them were young, none of the gods claimed them as their child yet, so Annabeth and Cassie was put into the Hermes cabin. Cassie and Annabeth didn't have any problem with that, they were glad that they got to be in the same cabin (and Luke's there) except for the fact that the cabin is a little bit overpopulated. Used to sharing at the orphanage, Cassie didn't mind at all. She knew that there was a possibility of her being a child of a minor god, or of... whoever but they just didn't want to claim her. She was fine with that. She felt right at home in Cabin Five.
On Annabeth's tenth birthday, Cassie baked her cake. Cassie had a talent for cooking (and baking, and anything food related including eating) so she always tried to bake cakes whenever it was someone's birthday. Of course, she couldn't bake for every single birthday, so she'd miss some's birthday. But ever since she learned how to bake, she never missed Annabeth's, Luke's, Chiron's and Kafe's (Mr. Brown's real name) birthdays.
Two days after Annabeth's tenth birthday, she was claimed by Athena. Annabeth was thrilled, and Cassie was thrilled for her sister. Cassie thought that it made sense; if Annabeth was going to be the daughter of any god or goddess, it's going to be Athena. Cassie didn't understand why she didn't reach that conclusion earlier. Annabeth's smile faded when she realised that Cassie hasn't been claimed and that they would have to bunk in different cabins from then on.
"You're looking at me as if we aren't going to see each other again," Cassie said with a hint of humour in her voice. "We're just bunking in different cabins, Anna." Cassie was the only person who can call Annabeth Anna. She didn't like it when others made nicknames for her, she thinks Annabeth sounds better than any nicknames anyone could think of. However, Cassie was an exception.
"You're right," Annabeth smiled. "I'm sure you will get claimed soon."
Annabeth was usually right, but this time she was wrong. Cassie was claimed almost two years later, 8 months after her tenth birthday. She had just finished eating dinner and was just chatting with her fellow cabin mates when they gasped.
"What?" Cassie asked.
Alice pointed above her head while she was gaping.
Cassie look up to see a fiery red sign, slightly fading but was still clear enough. Cassie spent the year in Camp Half-Blood learning how to stay alive just like everyone else, she also learnt everything she could about mythology. She knew precisely who the sign belonged to, and in all honesty, she didn't see this coming.
"Hestia," Chiron said, his voice quieter than usual. "Goddess of the Hearth, Architecture, Home, and Family. Guardian of Elpis. Hail Cassiopeia Lancaster, Daughter of Hestia."
p.s I am aware that Hestia is supposed to be a virgin goddess.