It had happened again. The nymphs had gone to set up breakfast and found another set of trays full of intricately decorated cupcakes. Currently, Chiron and Dionysus where staring at the trays like they had just fallen from the sky – although, that theory had already been ruled out.
Finally, Chiron spoke "Whoever made these knows a lot about the camp and camper. There are enough for each camper to have one, and look" and here he leaned closer to the trays "once again they're specially decorated for each cabin, each cupcake has a camper's name on it, and if last week's where any indicator, the flavors are also personalized." He looked over at the Camp Director "Do you have any idea who is leaving these?"
Dionysus grouchy shrugged. He was up far too early to be discussing pastries. "Maybe it was Aunt Demeter?"
"Lady Demeter would have included bran or cereal of some kind. There isn't any, well except for the Demeter kids."
"Step-mother then. No? Well, these are far more complicated than anything I've seen Aunt Hestia make." So, the two return to staring at the pastries like they had fallen from the sky.
Indeed, they were very intricate cupcakes. Each had been styled after the demigod's godly parent. The Apollo cabin's featured edible instrument, the Hephaestus cabin's had edible moving parts, and so on. Finally, bored, Dionysus stood stretching. "I am going back to bed. If the identity of the baker is really that important to you, make Peter and Annabell do stakeout or something."
One Week Later…
It really had mattered to Chiron, so Percy and Annabeth were sitting in the amphitheater carefully watching the mess hall for any signs of strange activity. Well, they were supposed to be carefully watching, but even Annabeth was having a hard time taking stakeout duty seriously.
Looking up from her work on the laptop given to her by Daedalus, Annabeth found Percy dosing,
"I'm awake!" he promised jerking up straight as she poked his shoulder. Stifling a yawn, Percy half turned to Annabeth asking. "Reminded me again why we have to stay up all night watching for someone to leave a couple trays of cupcakes."
Having assured herself that nothing interesting was happening in the mess hall, and that her boyfriend was actually awake, Annabeth's focus had returned to the laptop. "Whoever is leaving the cupcakes is bypassing the camp's borders to do so. Chiron wants to know who they are. He's worried that the border spells might be weakening now that Thalia is now longer directly connected to them."
"Ok, but why us?"
"I believe Mr. D suggested us. Look, if you're going to talk, tell me what you think of this." Annabeth turned the laptop so that Percy could get a better look at the screen. He tilted his head, and then after a second admitted,
"It looks like a half-eaten donut."
Time continued on, and sometime around 3 am, Annabeth caught herself dozing as well. Yawning, she looked up to see the edge of a cloak slip through the pillars of the dinning pavilion. Hurriedly she elbowed Percy,
"Ok, I was seriously awake this time."
As silently as they could, the two demigods followed the figure, in time to watch the back of slight young woman place down the last tray of cupcakes. Seemingly sensing their presence, the figure whirled around to face them. As she turned, her hood fell back revealing long coils of black hair, and a golden circlet that glinted in the moonlight.
"Whose there?" The woman didn't seem afraid, only curious. She scanned the pavilion before locking onto Annabeth and Percy with eyes that were like molten gold. Seeing them, the woman smiled apologetically.
"Oh! I'm sorry. I was trying to be quiet and didn't mean to wake any of my great grandchildren." she gave them a second looked and corrected herself. "Great grandchild, and grandchild. I just felt like doing something nice for you kids. That idiot husband of mine has put you through so much."
The look in Annabeth's eyes meant she had an idea of who the strange woman was, but Percy spoke first.
"Wait, who are you? What do you mean by grandchildren."
"Percy," Annabeth sounded a little frustrated with him for not figuring it out. "She must be Rhea, the Queen of the Titans." The next bit was addressed to the Titaness "I'm sorry that we disturbed you Lady Rhea, Chiron was just worried about whether the –"
Rhea's sudden burst of laughter cut Annabeth off. "I'm sorry sweeties, but just Rhea please. Or any variation on Grandma if you want. Lady Rhea makes it sound like we aren't family."
"You know I just realized this makes you the only grandparent I've met who hasn't tried to kill me." Percy blurted out before his brain could stop his mouth. They both tensed slightly, but Rhea laughed again, before making a face at the mention of Kronos.
"I know. That's why I've been making you kid's cupcakes. I had to do something – for both what my hopefully soon to be ex-husband put you through, and what you're parents all have been putting you through." Rhea shook her head in disbelief, "I'd have just dropped them off at the Big House, but Zeus tries to be so bossy sometimes." Rhea placed a hand over her heart, and in a fairly accurate imitation of Zeus complained "'Mom! You can't do that! That is interfering with their mortal lives.' Well," and here her voice returned to normal "I'm the Queen of the Titans, and his mother. I don't have to do anything he says. But, I don't have the energy to deal with one of his temper tantrums right now."
"Now," and Rhea was turning to Annabeth, all business, "You can tell Chiron that there's nothing wrong with his borders. I'm just taking advantage of my Grandparent card. Look, seeing as how you two are here, maybe you can help me out."
"Just a quick delivery to Hestia." Rhea promised, "I've been meaning to drop off an old album of all the second-generation Olympian's baby pictures, but Theia needs my help getting things ready for marriage counseling. I haven't had the time." With that Rhea produced a small leather-bound book from within her cloak, and handed it to Percy, "I know she likes spending time at your fire pit. Just give it to her when you next see her. Also, if you could remind Chiron to watch his salt? I know he sometimes forgets."
Before either half-blood could get a word, Rhea pulled both Percy and Annabeth into a tight hug saying, "Bye sweeties! I hope to see you soon," and then vanished.
"So, that was Rhea. She seemed very normal for a titan." Percy said after a minute. Annabeth looked a little dazed
"I'd always assumed she was like Hestia, but now I'm not sure who she reminds me of."
"Huh, I wonder what she meant by baby pictures," Percy carefully opened the little leather-bound book. Instead of paper, the pages of the book where made of thin sheets of crystal, and an image much like a photograph was frozen within each.
On the page Percy had opened the book to, the image showed a toddler Apollo was crying because toddler Artemis had shoot her toy bow at him. A rather frazzled looking woman was trying to consul the sobbing child.
"The woman must be Leto. She was Artemis and Apollo's mother." Annabeth theorized, as they turned the page. The next image was of what seemed like playtime for the younger gods. They weren't toddlers anymore – more like five or six. A little boy who could only be Hermes was being chased by Apollo. Behind them, little Hephaestus was helping Athena and Artemis were making a pillow fort for keeping Ares out. The only adult in the image was Poseidon, who lay fast asleep on a couch; having been worn out by, or given up watching the child gods.
The Next Morning
"Thank you so much!" Hestia said as Percy gave her the album. "Mom been so busy with Aunt Thetis, and I've been trying get all the pictures organized, but all the copies on Olympus where destroyed." Hestia thanked them again, before tucking the book away, and returning her focus to the fire pit.
They went to speak with Chiron next.
"Honestly, I should have thought of Rhea immediately. I take it she asked you to remind me to watch my sodium intake?"
The centaur shook his head with good natured irritation. "She always does that. Apparently, she arrived on Olympus this morning and grounded most of the pantheon. She has always been in favor of a more close-knit family and was very upset with their behavior towards their children. Said that it shouldn't have taken a war for them to treat both the campers, and the minor gods with some respect."