Characters and plot belong to Rick Riordan, I own the comments in-between.

Frank POV

"I will read next." I offered taking the book from Annabeth.

Chapter 2 Three Old Ladies Knit The Socks Of Death.

We all looked at Percy again.

"Just keep reading." He sighed.

I was used to the occasional weird experience, but usually they were over quickly. This twenty-four/seven hallucination was more than I could handle. For the rest of the school year, the entire campus seemed to be playing some kind of trick on me. The students acted as if they were completely and totally convinced that Mrs Kerr- a perky blonde woman whom I'd never seen in my life until she got on our bus at the end of the field trip- had been our maths teacher since Christmas.

"The trick of the mist." Hazel noted.

Every so often I would spring a Mrs Dodds reference on somebody, just to see if I could trip them up, but they would stare at me like I was a psycho.

It got so I almost believed them- Mrs Dodds had never existed.

Almost.

But Grover couldn't fool me. When I mentioned the name Dodds to him, he would hesitate, then claim she didn't exist. But I knew he was lying.

"Of course it was Grover." Annabeth said shaking her head and smiling. Percy laughed.

Something was going on. Something had happened at the museum.

I didn't have much time to think about it during the days, but at night, visions of Mrs Dodds with talons and leathery wings would wake me up in a cold sweat.

All the demigods shivered.

The freak weather continued, which didn't help my mood. One night, a thunderstorm blew out the windows in my dorm room. A few days later, the biggest tornado ever spotted in the Hudson Valley touched down only fifty miles from Yancy Academy.

"What's the matter with Zeus?" Leo asked. When no one answered he looked to Jason.

"Why are you looking at me?" he asked.

"Because Zeus is your dad."

"So?" Jason asked confused.

"So, it means that you should know why he is angry."

"What? Leo that doesn't make any sense."

"Yeah it-"

"Boys." Piper said over their bickering. "Just stop it and let Frank read."

One of the current events we studied in social studies class was the unusual number of small planes that had gone down in sudden squalls in the Atlantic that year. I started feeling cranky and irritable most of the time. My grades slipped from D's to F's. I got into more fights with Nancy Bobofit and her friends. I was sent out into the hallway in almost every class.

Annabeth glared over at Percy, who was holding up his hands in defense. He then cracked a grin and I saw Annabeth's glare waver until it was gone completely, replaced by a small smile.

Finally, when our English teacher, Mr Nicoll, asked me for the millionth time why I was too lazy to study for spelling tests, I snapped. I called him an old sot. I wasn't even sure what it meant, but it sounded good.

Annabeth started laughing.

"What's so funny?" Leo asked.

"He called him an old sot." Annabeth replied smiling.

"Yeah so?"

"It means old drunkard." She informed Leo, then she turned to Percy. "You shouldn't have called him that."

"He was annoying me."

"That doesn't mean you can go around calling him an old sot."

"I can call people old sots if I want."

"No you can't Percy, you-"

"Frank continue reading." Percy interrupted Annabeth mid rant. Obviously he knew that he was going to lose this argument.

The headmaster sent my mom a letter the following week, making it official: I would not be invited back next year to Yancy Academy.

Fine, I told myself. Just fine.

I was homesick.

I wanted to be with my mom in our little apartment on the Upper East Side, even if I had to go to public school and put up with my obnoxious stepfather and his stupid poker parties.

"I thought you liked Paul?" Annabeth questioned looking at Percy.

"This was before Paul."

"Oh that's right." Annabeth growled, he face turning dark.

And yet…there were things I'd miss at Yancy. The view of the woods out my dorm window, the Hudson River in the distance, the smell of the pine trees. I'd miss Grover, who'd been a good friend, even if he was a little strange. I worried how he'd survive next year without me.

"Ohhh." Piper and Hazel said at the same time.

"That's so sweet." Piper said.

I'd miss Latin class, too-Mr Brunner's crazy tournament days and his faith that I could do well.

As exam week got closer, Latin was the only test I studied for. I hadn't forgotten what Mr Brunner had told me about this subjects being life-ad-death for me. I wasn't sure why, but I started to believe him.

The evening before my final, I got so frustrated I threw the Cambridge Guide to Greek Mythology across my dorm room.

Annabeth glared at Percy. "There was no need to take your anger out on the book."

"Well what should I have done then?" Percy asked.

"Not of thrown the book."

"It was the only thing that was there."

"Still shouldn't have thrown the book."

"Guys," I said. "How cares? Can we please just continue reading please?"

Annabeth mumbled an okay while Percy silently thanked me.

Words had started swimming off the page, circling my head, the letters doing one-eighties as if they were riding skateboards. There was no way I was going to remember the difference between Chiron and Charon, or Polydictes and Polydeuces. And conjugating those Latin verbs? Forget it.

"Latin is easy." Jason said.

"Shut up Sparkey, not everyone is a Roman like you." Percy defended himself.

I paced the room, feeling like ants were crawling around inside my shirt.

I remembered Mr. Brunner's serious expression, his thousand-year-old eyes. I will accept only the best from you, Percy Jackson.

I took a deep breath. I picked up the mythology book.

I'd never asked a teacher for help before. Maybe if I talked to Mr. Brunner, he could give me some pointers. At least I could apologize for the big fat F I was about to score on his exam. I didn't want to leave Yancy Academy with him thinking I hadn't tried.

"That's so cute that you want to impress him." Piper said.

"Cute?" Percy asked. "How is that cute?"

"The way you look up to him like that, that you actually care what he thinks about you."

"Yeah because it's Chiron, who doesn't care what Chiron thinks about you." Annabeth added.

"Annabeth how do you know if it's Chiron?" Percy asked.

"It's so obvious."

"Whatever."

I walked downstairs to the faculty offices. Most of them were dark and empty, but Mr. Brunner's door was ajar, light from his window stretching across the hallway floor.

I was three steps from the door handle when I heard voices inside the office. Mr. Brunner asked a question. A voice that was definitely Grover's said "... worried about Percy, sir."

I froze.

"Dun dun dun!" Leo said dramatically. He received a smack from Piper for that.

"Ow, what was that for Beauty Queen?" Leo asked rubbing his shoulder.

"For being an idiot."

"How was I being an idiot?"

"Yeah." Percy agreed. "He was just adding sound effects, I love it." Piper glared at Percy while Leo nodded his head.

"Don't encourage him." Piper said sternly.

"I'm not encouraging him. All I'm saying is that adding sound effects like that to the story will make it more interesting."

"Exactly." Leo said.

"Everyone is favor of 'sound effects'", Annabeth said, making air quotes when she said sound effects. "raise your hand." Percy and Leo's hands shot up.

"All of those in favor of no sound effects, raise your hand." The rest of us all raised our hands.

"Aw, come on guys." Leo pouted.

"Fine be boring then." Percy said crossing his arms.

I'm not usually an eavesdropper, but I dare you to try not listening if you hear your best friend talking about you to an adult.

"You are so an eavesdropper." Annabeth smirked at Percy.

"I am not." He replied defensively.

"I've seen you with the Stolls."

And that put an end to the conversation.

I inched closer.

"... alone this summer," Grover was saying. "I mean, a Kindly One in the school! Now that we know for sure, and they know too-"

"We would only make matters worse by rushing him," Mr. Brunner said. "We need the boy to mature more."

"But he may not have time. The summer solstice deadline- "

"Will have to be resolved without him, Grover. Let him enjoy his ignorance while he still can."

"Sir, he saw her... ."

"His imagination," Mr. Brunner insisted. "The Mist over the students and staff will be enough to convince him of that."

"Sir, I ... I can't fail in my duties again." Grover's voice was choked with emotion. "You know what that would mean."

"He didn't fail." Annabeth said softly and Percy nodded.

"Didn't fail in what?" Jason asked.

"You'll find out soon." They said at the same time.

"You haven't failed, Grover," Mr. Brunner said kindly. "I should have seen her for what she was. Now let's just worry about keeping Percy alive until next fall-"

The mythology book dropped out of my hand and hit the floor with a thud.

"The Stolls will be disappointed because you gave away you're position." Annabeth said.

"Well I've gotten better." He defended himself.

"Sure you have."

"I have."

Mr. Brunner went silent.

My heart hammering, I picked up the book and backed down the hall.

"Ha see? Rule number 17, leave no evidence." Percy said to Annabeth. He had fallen right into her trap.

"Ha, I knew you were hanging out with the Stolls."

Percy cursed himself under his breath.

A shadow slid across the lighted glass of Brunner's office door, the shadow of something much taller than my wheelchair-bound teacher, holding something that looked suspiciously like an archer's bow.

I opened the nearest door and slipped inside.

A few seconds later I heard a slow clop-clop-clop, like muffled wood blocks, then a sound like an animal snuffling right outside my door. A large, dark shape paused in front of the glass, then moved on.

A bead of sweat trickled down my neck.

Somewhere in the hallway, Mr. Brunner spoke. "Nothing," he murmured. "My nerves haven't been right since the winter solstice."

"Mine neither," Grover said. "But I could have sworn ..."

"Go back to the dorm," Mr. Brunner told him. "You've got a long day of exams tomorrow."

"Don't remind me."

The lights went out in Mr. Brunner's office.

I waited in the dark for what seemed like forever.

Finally, I slipped out into the hallway and made my way back up to the dorm.

Grover was lying on his bed, studying his Latin exam notes like he'd been there all night.

"Good acting." Annabeth noted.

"Hey," he said, bleary-eyed. "You going to be ready for this test?"

I didn't answer.

"You look awful." He frowned. "Is everything okay?"

"Just... tired."

I turned so he couldn't read my expression, and started getting ready for bed.

I didn't understand what I'd heard downstairs. I wanted to believe I'd imagined the whole thing.

But one thing was clear: Grover and Mr. Brunner were talking about me behind my back. They thought I was in some kind of danger.

The next afternoon, as I was leaving the three-hour Latin exam, my eyes swimming with all the Greek and Roman names I'd misspelled, Mr. Brunner called me back inside.

"Three hour Latin exam? Three hours?" Leo asked in disbelief.

"Yep." Percy said. "It was absolute torture."

"I'm sure it wasn't that bad Seaweed Brain."

"Yeah you're right it wasn't, it was worse." Annabeth rolled her eyes.

For a moment, I was worried he'd found out about my eavesdropping the night before, but that didn't seem to be the problem.

"Percy," he said. "Don't be discouraged about leaving Yancy. It's ... it's for the best."

His tone was kind, but the words still embarrassed me. Even though he was speaking quietly, the other kids finishing the test could hear. Nancy Bobofit smirked at me and made sarcastic little kissing motions with her lips.

I mumbled, "Okay, sir."

"I mean ..." Mr. Brunner wheeled his chair back and forth, like he wasn't sure what to say. "This isn't the right place for you. It was only a matter of time."

"That's not the right thing to say." Piper said.

My eyes stung.

Here was my favorite teacher, in front of the class, telling me I couldn't handle it. After saying he believed in me all year, now he was telling me I was destined to get kicked out.

"Right," I said, trembling.

"No, no," Mr. Brunner said. "Oh, confound it all. What I'm trying to say ... you're not normal, Percy. That's nothing to be-"

"And that's even worse." Piper added.

"You're going to take that the wrong way aren't you?" Annabeth asked Percy.

"I didn't know it back then what we was referring to."

"Thanks," I blurted. "Thanks a lot, sir, for reminding me.

"Percy-"

But I was already gone.

On the last day of the term, I shoved my clothes into my suitcase.

The other guys were joking around, talking about their vacation plans. One of them was going on a hiking trip to Switzerland. Another was cruising the Caribbean for a month. They were juvenile delinquents, like me, but they were rich juvenile delinquents. Their daddies were executives, or ambassadors, or celebrities. I was a nobody, from a family of nobodies.

"A family of nobodies, really?" Jason asked raising an eyebrow.

"Shut it Grace." Was Percy's reply.

They asked me what I'd be doing this summer and I told them I was going back to the city.

What I didn't tell them was that I'd have to get a summer job walking dogs or selling magazine subscriptions, and spend my free time worrying about where I'd go to school in the fall.

"Oh," one of the guys said. "That's cool."

They went back to their conversation as if I'd never existed.

The only person I dreaded saying good-bye to was Grover, but as it turned out, I didn't have to. He'd booked a ticket to Manhattan on the same Greyhound as I had, so there we were, together again, heading into the city.

"Stalker alert." Leo said then started making an alarm sound. He got another punch from Piper.

During the whole bus ride, Grover kept glancing nervously down the aisle, watching the other passengers. It occurred to me that he'd always acted nervous and fidgety when we left Yancy, as if he

expected something bad to happen. Before, I'd always assumed he was worried about getting teased. But there was nobody to tease him on the Greyhound.

Finally I couldn't stand it anymore.

I said, "Looking for Kindly Ones?"

"You would've given him a heart attack." Annabeth said.

Grover nearly jumped out of his seat. "Wha-what do you mean?"

"Told you."

I confessed about eavesdropping on him and Mr. Brunner the night before the exam.

Grover's eye twitched. "How much did you hear?"

"Oh ... not much. What's the summer solstice dead-line?"

He winced. "Look, Percy ... I was just worried for you, see? I mean, hallucinating about demon math teachers ..."

"At least he's trying to cover it up." Hazel added.

"Grover-"

"And I was telling Mr. Brunner that maybe you were overstressed or something, because there was no such person as Mrs. Dodds, and ..."

"Grover, you're a really, really bad liar."

"He's getting better." Annabeth noted.

"Yeah those lessons from the Stolls are doing him good." Percy agreed.

His ears turned pink.

From his shirt pocket, he fished out a grubby business card. "Just take this, okay? In case you need me this summer.

The card was in fancy script, which was murder on my dyslexic eyes, but I finally made out something like:

Grover Underwood

Keeper

Half-Blood Hill

Long Island, New York

(800) 009-0009

"Why is it in fancy script when demigods have dyslexia?" Hazel asked.

"Mr.D, our camp director, likes to watch us struggle to try and read it. It… amuses him." Annabeth answered her.

"What's Half-"

"Don't say it aloud!" he yelped. "That's my, um ... summer address."

My heart sank. Grover had a summer home. I'd never considered that his family might be as rich as the others at Yancy.

"Okay," I said glumly. "So, like, if I want to come visit your mansion."

He nodded. "Or ... or if you need me."

"Why would I need you?"

"That's a bit harsh Percy." Hazel didn't sound impressed.

It came out harsher than I meant it to.

"Well at least you didn't mean it to." Her gaze softened.

Grover blushed right down to his Adam's apple. "Look, Percy, the truth is, I-I kind of have to protect you."

I stared at him.

All year long, I'd gotten in fights, keeping bullies away from him. I'd lost sleep worrying that he'd get beaten up next year without me. And here he was acting like he was the one who defended me.

"Grover," I said, "what exactly are you protecting me from?"

There was a huge grinding noise under our feet. Black smoke poured from the dashboard and the whole bus filled with a smell like rotten eggs. The driver cursed and limped the Greyhound over to the side of the highway.

After a few minutes clanking around in the engine compartment, the driver announced that we'd all have to get off. Grover and I filed outside with everybody else.

We were on a stretch of country road-no place you'd notice if you didn't break down there. On our side of the highway was nothing but maple trees and litter from passing cars. On the other side, across four lanes of asphalt shimmering with afternoon heat, was an old-fashioned fruit stand.

The stuff on sale looked really good: heaping boxes of bloodred cherries and apples, walnuts and apricots, jugs of cider in a claw-foot tub full of ice. There were no customers, just three old ladies sitting in rocking chairs in the shade of a maple tree, knitting the biggest pair of socks I'd ever seen.

I mean these socks were the size of sweaters, but they were clearly socks. The lady on the right knitted one of them. The lady on the left knitted the other. The lady in the middle held an enormous basket of electric-blue yarn.

"Surly not." Annabeth muttered.

All three women looked ancient, with pale faces wrinkled like fruit leather, silver hair tied back in white bandannas, bony arms sticking out of bleached cotton dresses.

The weirdest thing was, they seemed to be looking right at me.

Annabeth paled slightly. "Oh no."

I looked over at Grover to say something about this and saw that the blood had drained from his face. His nose was twitching.

"Grover?" I said. "Hey, man-"

"Tell me they're not looking at you. They are, aren't they?"

"Yeah. Weird, huh? You think those socks would fit me?"

"That was not funny Percy." Annabeth said."

"Not funny, Percy. Not funny at all."

The old lady in the middle took out a huge pair of scissors-gold and silver, long-bladed, like shears. I heard Grover catch his breath.

So did Annabeth.

"Annabeth." Jason said slowly. "Are those three old ladies who I think they are?" She nodded her head in response and Jason's face paled also.

"We're getting on the bus," he told me. "Come on."

"What?" I said. "It's a thousand degrees in there."

"Listen to him." Annabeth pleaded, grabbing on to Percy's arm.

"Come on!'" He pried open the door and climbed inside, but I stayed back.

Across the road, the old ladies were still watching me. The middle one cut the yarn, and I swear I could hear that snip across four lanes of traffic. Her two friends balled up the electric-blue socks, leaving me wondering who they could possibly be for-Sasquatch or Godzilla.

"How are you still alive?" Jason asked Percy.

"It wasn't my cord."

At the rear of the bus, the driver wrenched a big chunk of smoking metal out of the engine compartment. The bus shuddered, and the engine roared back to life.

The passengers cheered.

"Darn right!" yelled the driver. He slapped the bus with his hat. "Everybody back on board!"

Once we got going, I started feeling feverish, as if I'd caught the flu.

Grover didn't look much better. He was shivering and his teeth were chattering.

"Grover?"

"Yeah?"

"What are you not telling me?"

"Everything." Leo muttered.

He dabbed his forehead with his shirt sleeve. "Percy, what did you see back at the fruit stand?"

"You mean the old ladies? What is it about them, man? They're not like ... Mrs. Dodds, are they?"

His expression was hard to read, but I got the feeling that the fruit-stand ladies were something much, much worse than Mrs. Dodds. He said, "Just tell me what you saw."

"The middle one took out her scissors, and she cut the yarn."

He closed his eyes and made a gesture with his fingers that might've been crossing himself, but it wasn't. It was something else, something almost-older.

He said, "You saw her snip the cord."

"Yeah. So?" But even as I said it, I knew it was a big deal.

"This is not happening," Grover mumbled. He started chewing at his thumb. "I don't want this to be like the last time."

"What last time?"

"Always sixth grade. They never get past sixth."

"Grover," I said, because he was really starting to scare me. "What are you talking about?"

"Let me walk you home from the bus station. Promise me."

This seemed like a strange request to me, but I promised he could.

"Is this like a superstition or something?" I asked.

No answer.

"Grover-that snipping of the yarn. Does that mean somebody is going to die?"

He looked at me mournfully, like he was already picking the kind of flowers I'd like best on my coffin.

"Way to freak him out more." Annabeth shook her head.

"Who were those old ladies?" Leo asked.

"Those were the fates." Piper told him.

"Oh." Was his reply.

"Well… who wants to read next?" I asked.

A/N: Hey guys! Sorry for the massive wait just didn't have much motivation for this story. Anyway I want to add in some other characters but I don't how to do it without making it sound cliché, so do you guys have any suggestions? If you do I would love to hear them.

-Seaweed Brain Herondales.