Drew is in elementary school when she first realizes that she's different.
At first, being able to convince random people to do whatever for her—give her their sweaters when she's cold, listen to her ramble on about what happened in school that day, you name it—is a gift. After years of never being able to reach what she wants, she can finally have some sort of limitless power, even if she doesn't fully understand it.
But then it occurs to her that her control over people is subconscious, which isn't really control at all. That's when it starts to get scary.
One day, Drew decides she can't ignore this anymore, and she breaks down crying in front of her father about it. But then he looks at her like she has two heads—You're not even making sense. Of course you're normal. You're too old for these games, Drew. If this is some cry for attention—
In the back of her mind, Drew prepares to use every ounce of this strange power to implore him to believe her, but she stops short in horror, realizing she shouldn't have to use some stupid power to get her own father to believe her. And even as she gets older and the signs that something is off grow stronger (That one has ADHD and dyslexia—can you believe the luck?) and stronger (How can you speak French perfectly and not even realize it?), she refuses to risk the pain of his disbelief again. She's safer isolated.
In hindsight, Drew realizes that she made a mistake by making Silena Beauregard her hero before knowing very much about her. But when the beautiful girl greets her as a sister and tells her everything she ever wanted to know about being a demigod, even the silly things like which Pegasus is the most friendly, she can't help herself.
Silena is everything Drew ever wanted to be. She's nice to everyone, from her loving siblings to even the most devious children of Hermes. She can make anyone fall for her with a simple flip of the hair, which is safe to say for almost every child of Aphrodite, but somehow even moreso.
Even when Drew finds out that this thing called charmspeaking isn't at all common for a demigod, Silena finds a way to make her believe that this is a good thing, something that makes her special.
And best of all is the way Silena seems to actually care about what Drew is up to, even when she kind of doesn't want her to.
"I saw that," Silena says with a knowing smile.
"I don't know what you're talking about," Drew says, pretending to be focused on the food in front of her.
"You were looking at Travis Stoll again. Or is it Connor?" Silena says, stealing a subtle glance at the boy switching the sugar with the salt when he thinks everyone is distracted.
"It's Connor," Drew says indignantly, "and I was just thinking about getting him in trouble with Chiron. It's not like I like him or anything! I'm just, you know, being a responsible camper."
Silena raises an eyebrow at her sister, but thankfully, Silena is too nice to push it. It's not that Drew usually minds sharing personal details with Silena. She would just rather not share this crush with anyone. She knows that if she admits her feelings, someone will find a way to make it backfire on her. How funny, she imagines someone like Clarisse saying as soon as she hears the news, a daughter of Aphrodite who's afraid of love.
Drew loses the battle within herself by accident.
After years of teasing Connor, making fun of Connor, and basically doing everything in her power to keep him at arm's length, she loses it with one dumb coincidence.
"I heard what happened," Connor Stoll says as he awkwardly walks towards her.
"You shouldn't be here," Drew says, frantically wiping at her eyes to preserve whatever shred of dignity she has left. A part of her wants to apologize for being so rude (That's what got you here anyway.), but she can't seem to help it. She specifically chose the dining pavilion because she didn't think anyone would care to go here this late.
Connor just shrugs, sitting next to her on the wooden table. "Neither should you. I just couldn't sleep."
When Drew doesn't even reply, Connor scoots closer, choosing his words carefully. "That's it? You're not even going to call me out on daring to sit at the Aphrodite table when I'm just a disgusting child of Hermes? That's not the Drew I know."
In spite of herself, Drew lets out a laugh at someone seriously missing her snide attitude. Connor goes silent then, until finally she can't take the silence anymore—which may have been his intention.
"I stepped down," Drew says with a mix of irritation and plain sadness. "Cabin ten has a new counselor now, one who is well-liked and brave and everything else I haven't been in years. I suppose I should've seen this storm of hate coming."
"But…" Connor shakes his head as he tries to understand; he's never had this kind of trouble in his own cabin. "They're your siblings, aren't they? They can't hate you forever."
"You'd be surprised how easily family can lose faith in you," Drew sighs. "And unless I get myself killed or something, I don't think I'm going to get that faith back easily."
"That… sucks," Connor says. "I know, that's no help, but it's true. I'm not going to lie to you about it. You'll get that faith back sooner or later though. It's not that hard to like you."
And the next thing Drew knows, Connor is taking the risk of wrapping his arm around her, and for once, she's letting him.
The walls Drew worked so hard to put up aren't instantly demolished. When daylight comes, she still calls Connor out on his sneakiness (or lack thereof), and Connor still doesn't hesitate to laugh when he sees her smile just because the latest issue of People has arrived. But something shifts. When the Aphrodite cabin still cowers in the face of Drew's presence, Connor fills the room with empty threats of bugs in their bunks if they don't give Drew a chance. And over the next few months, Drew comes to understand her mother's firm belief that the pain of love doesn't have to be a bad thing.