‘Goodbye,’ Rachel said to us as she shouldered her bag. She looked pretty nervous, but she was keeping a promise to her father and attending Clarion Academy in New Hampshire. It would be next summer before we got our Oracle back.
‘You’ll do great.’ Annabeth hugged her. Funny, she seemed to get along fine with Rachel these days.
Rachel bit her lip. ‘I hope you’re right. I’m a little worried. What if somebody asks what’s on the next maths test and I start spouting a prosphecy in the middle of geometry class? The Pythagorean theorem shall be problem two … Gods, that would be embarrassing.’
Annabeth laughed, and to my relief it made Rachel smile.
‘Well,’ she said, ‘you two be good to each other.’ Go figure, but she looked at me like I was some kind of troublemaker. Before I could protest, Rachel wished us well and ran down the hill to catch her lift.
Annabeth, thank goodness, would be staying in New York. She’d got permission from her parents to attend a boarding school in the city so she could be close to Olympus and oversee the rebuilding efforts.
‘And close to me?’ I asked.
‘Well, someone’s got a big sense of his own importance.’ But she laced her fingers through mine. I remembered what she’d told me in New York, about building something permanent, and I thought – just maybe – we were off to a good start.
The guard dragon Peleus curled contentedly around the pine tree underneath the Golden Fleece and began to snore, blowing steam with every breath.
‘You’ve been thinking about Rachel’s prophecy?’ I asked Annabeth.
She frowned. ‘How did you know?’
‘Because I know you.’
She bumped me with her shoulder. ‘Okay, so I have. Seven half-bloods shall answer the call. I wonder who they’ll be. We’re going to have so many new faces next summer.’
‘Yep,’ I agreed. ‘And all that stuff about the world falling in storm or fire.’
She pursed her lips. ‘And foes at the Doors of Death. I don’t know, Percy, but I don’t like it. I thought … well, maybe we’d get some peace for a change.’
‘Wouldn’t be Camp Half-Blood if it was peaceful,’ I said.
‘I guess you’re right … or maybe the prophecy won’t happen for years.’
‘Could be a problem for another generation of demigods,’ I agreed. ‘Then we can kick back and enjoy.’
She nodded, though she still seemed uneasy. I didn’t blame her, but it was hard to feel too upset on a nice day, with her next to me, knowing that I wasn’t really saying goodbye. We had lots of time.
‘Race you to the road?’ I said.
‘You are so going to lose.’ She took off down Half-Blood Hill and I sprinted after her.
For once, I didn’t look back.