A Very Feepit Christmas: Part Four
Over the next week, the trio settled into a regular routine. Everything went fine, as long as Cadmium kept the Feepit with her at all times, when she was at work with Elspeth or traveling to Happy Valley, or completely separate from everyone else. The Feepit liked the Royal Aisha only. Whenever one of the others tried to have any contact with the blue-and-white petpet, she bit, kicked, scratched, or - when she was feeling generous - ran for Cadmium. When the Feepit was left alone, it was a whole other story. Anything left within her reach was completely wrecked. Ivy could not be anywhere near the tiny creature, for the Feepit had apparently somehow developed a taste for Miamouse. Elspeth and Athena grew quite fed up with the once-adorable creature, but every time either one of them mentioned anything about getting rid of the "little pest," Cadmium's huge green eyes filled up with tears, and she would protest, pointing out that the Feepit always behaved around her. But even Cadmium's love for the little creature wavered at times. She grew tired of cleaning up after the petpet, and she sensed a distance growing between her and Athena because of the Feepit's malevolent attitude toward Ivy. Finally, the events of one evening right before Christmas Eve almost convinced Cadmium that her sister and owner were right.
One night at dinner not too long after the Feepit's arrival, Elspeth had announced that she was going to throw a party because of the immense success of the paintbrush shop that holiday season. Cadmium and Athena had welcomed the idea of having their friends over for food, music, Christmas tales, and games. After that, every evening was filled with seemingly endless preparations for the Christmas extravaganza. After all the hard work, it was finally the night of the much-anticipated party.
"Is everything set?" Fussing with her necklace, Elspeth bustled about the dining room, making sure everything was perfect. Her royal blue dress crinkled, and she smoothed it down with a freshly-manicured hand.
"Yes, El, it all looks-" Cadmium took a whiff of the scents wafting from the kitchen - "and smells fantastic!" The Royal Aisha looked stunning in a forest green velvet dress. I look like I did in my dream, Cadmium realized. I hope this party goes as well as that dream did. Secretly, though, Cadmium was worried about the still-unnamed Feepit. She hoped with all her might that the petpet currently locked securely in her playpen would behave. Taking a shaky breath, she straightened the green headband holding back her hair. As the doorbell rang, signaling the arrival of the first guest, she squashed down all her anxieties and allowed herself to feel excited.
After having shut herself in her room the whole afternoon, Athena glided her way down the stairs. She had let neither her owner nor her sister see her dress. She was wearing a sky blue dress that glimmered in the candlelight. "What do you think?" she asked, a shy smile on her lavender face.
Amazed, Cadmium took in the full effect of her sister's look for the evening. Her silvery white mane was clipped back with a blue barrette that matched her eyes, and the slight blush on her lavender cheeks completed the picture.
"Y-you don't like it?" the Faerie Peophin asked, her brow furrowed. "I can take out the barrette, or-"
"No! You look amazing! Don't you dare change one thing. Now, come on, let's go see who's at the door." Dragging her sister behind her, Cadmium ran to the door (as best as she could in her too-tight ballet slippers). Elspeth was greeting Marcie, Brett, and Misty as they reached it. Elspeth's best friend looked amazing in a sea-green dress that fit perfectly on her petite figure. To Athena's amusement, Brett had on a tuxedo. The Silver Shoyru looked exceedingly uncomfortable, continuously tugging on his collar. As usual, Misty was impeccably dressed in a wrap dress the color of holly berries. The Royal Aisha and Faerie Peophin chatted excitedly with their friends while waiting for the rest of the guests. They soon followed, from Elspeth's siblings and Athena and Cadmium's cousins to Elspeth's most faithful clients and their lavishly painted pets, and they all retreated to the kitchen for the feast.
Athena's eyes widened at the spread before her. She had always known that Elspeth was a good cook, but this was truly amazing. At one end of the sagging table was a platter of the biggest possible gammon with all the trimmings, followed by all sorts of side dishes including roasted vegetables, salads of all kinds, mashed potatoes with rich gravy, macaroni and cheese, wild rice, baskets of bread, and broiled fruit. And that didn't even include the desserts, which took up a the dangerously concave spare table at the other end of the kitchen. Wow, Elspeth and Marcie must have gone completely crazy last Saturday, the Faerie Peophin decided, thinking back to when Elspeth and her best friend had spent the entire morning and a good part of the afternoon cooking.
Everyone oohed and aahed appreciatively over all the mouthwatering dishes, and dishes, cups, and utensils were passed around. The guests and hostesses filled their plates, with teasing all around as pets dared their owners to "Aw, come on, try it. It's really good!" and vice versa. All were seated at the huge dark oak dining room table, and Elspeth tapped her glass for attention. The pets, including Cadmium and Athena, and their owners glanced up.
"I would like to propose a toast-" A loud crash upstairs interrupted her speech. "What in Neopia was that?"
Cadmium's eyes widened in horror. "Oh no. Athena, tell me you put the Big Book of Crossword Puzzles on top of the Feepit's crate lid!"
The two swapped agonized glances, but before they could do anything, a blue-and-white blur speeded down the stairs and landed on the dining room table. The Feepit stood on the end of the table, closest to Cadmium.
"Aww, what a cute petpet!"
"I had a Feepit once, before I zapped it into a Mutant Bearog!"
Guests commented on the tiny creature, who basked in the attention - before the scent of the food reached her nose. Eyes gleaming and a vicious chuckle gurgling in her throat, the petpet zoomed around the table. Pets' and owners' hands flew up as the Feepit snatched the food from their plates and stuffed it into her cavernous cheeks. Once she had apparently had her fill, she tore up all the napkins, knocked the candles over into the cups, and sat on the counter to survey her work. A satisfied smile on her face, she lay back and fell asleep, her bloated stomach rising and falling with her breathing.
All throughout the fiasco, everyone had been quiet. They simply sat at their places, too stunned to move. Elspeth snapped out of it first. She gazed around the room at the huge mess, her eyes pausing on the torn napkin in front of her.
"I am so sorry. I don't know what came over her. I-" She broke off as a sob caught in her throat. "My party," she murmured, her emotions overtaking her. "My dress!" She buried her face in her hands and cried. Marcie got up from her chair and went over to her best friend, rubbing Elspeth's shaking back.
One of the guests, a Pirate Krawk in a tuxedo, stood up. "Thank you for the lovely evening, Elspeth. I really think we should all be going now," he announced. Gesturing for his owner and Purple Shoyru sister to follow, he walked to the door, tipped his hat at the shell-shocked hostesses, and left. Taking his lead, the rest of the guests soon followed.
Marcie, Brett, and Misty stayed behind to help clean up the gigantic mess. A somber mood hung over the six of them while they scrubbed the carpet, picked up stray bits of food, and washed dishes. Cadmium noticed her owner and sister exchanging glances, and she knew what they were thinking. They were right, the Royal Aisha thought as she mopped up some spilled apple cider. I need to find somewhere else for that thing to live.
As if the Feepit knew her owner was thinking about her, she woke up and skittered over to Cadmium. Sensing the Royal Aisha's bad mood, the blue-and-white creature snuggled under her chin. To the petpet's surprise, Cadmium pushed her away. "How could you? This was the most important night of Elspeth's life, and you ruined it!" Cadmium didn't care that she was exaggerating; her petpet had made her mad, and she wanted the creature to know it. "What have I done wrong? I played with you, spent time with you, read to you. And THIS is the thanks I get?" she asked, gesturing wildly at the garbage bags filled with broken plates and scraps of ruined food. The Feepit gave a faint "Plllrr," which only annoyed Cadmium more. "No. I'm not going to take it. You are going upstairs in your crate until Christmas morning. No playing, no coming with me to the shop or Happy Valley, no nothing."
"Cadmium, I know you're angry, but 'no nothing' is a double negative, and-"
Athena placed a halting hoof on Elspeth's arm. Apparently she's recovered enough to correct our grammar, the Faerie Peophin thought ruefully.
Marcie spoke up. "I think we need to leave her alone to let her decide for herself. No matter how much we think we know what she needs to do." Ignoring the sentence fragment, Elspeth nodded thoughtfully, and the rest of them went into the kitchen to fix a light dinner.
After dinner, even though Marcie, Brett, and Misty stayed to chat for a while, Cadmium stayed up in her room. She had locked the protesting Feepit back in the crate and placed several heavy books on top of the lid. Now she sat numbly in the windowsill, staring out at the street below with tear-filled eyes. Her previous anger had turned into a heavy weight pressing on her chest. No matter how much she thought she loved the Feepit, the Royal Aisha knew what she had to do, and it was breaking her heart.
To be continued...