Why Do We Need Valentines Gifts, Anyway?
Paper heart cutouts and red and pink trimmings decorated
the walls of the school building in an effort to get students into the mood of
the coming holiday. Little pets thought of ways to create fancy cards for their
best friends, while older students wondered about what to give the special ones
they knew. Valentine's Day was less than two weeks away.
Several minutes before the school bell rang,
three pets entered their classroom, early as usual. Nieve, a Starry Lupe dressed
smartly in a crisp blouse and skirt, eyed the pink and red decorations stuck
to the walls of the room. "Valentine's Day already? Seems like just yesterday
everything was purple and green for Jhudora Day," she remarked.
"Actually, I think it was yesterday," said Danus,
leaning against his desk. "I remember doing a quest for her on her day."
His friend, Hentor, emitted a mock gasp. "You
did a quest for Jhudora? And survived?" He pretended to check the green Lupe
for bruises. "Funny, you don't look like you got zapped. What did she do to
Nieve rolled her eyes. "I'm sure Danus can take
care of himself, even against a Dark Faerie."
"That's right," Danus said, with a mock glare
at the yellow Ogrin. The Lupe shrugged. "Anyway, I never liked Valentine's Day
Nieve looked surprised and almost disappointed.
"It's too commercialized these days. Places like
the Chocolate Factory and Garden Shop start advertising their luscious brown
chocolates and giant roses a month in advance. As if anyone's going to buy a
Valentine's Day present that early," the green Lupe scoffed.
"Yeah, I'd eat the chocolate long before I had
a chance to give it to anyone," Hentor said.
"And the roses would wilt by the time Valentine's
Day came around," Danus added.
"Not if you planted them," the Ogrin said.
"Under my care, they'd wilt." Danus chuckled.
"They might," Hentor conceded.
Nieve uttered a brief laugh. "Wilted roses and
bitten chocolate wouldn't make much of a Valentine's Day gift. I expect you'd
do better than that if you ever gave someone a present."
The bell rang then, and the Starry Lupe hurried
off to find her seat. Hentor threw a meaningful glance at Danus, which, as he
didn't know the meaning, confused the green Lupe. "What?" he mouthed.
The Ogrin raised his eyebrows at him.
Still not understanding, Danus chose to ignore
his friend and opened his schoolbook. Hentor immediately poked him.
"Don't do that," Danus hissed. "What is it?"
Hentor launched into a series of wild gestures,
waving his hooves in the air as a peculiar way of trying to convey a message.
It wasn't working.
"Danus, Hentor," the teacher said with a frown.
"Please sit still and pay attention to the lesson."
Danus threw his friend a look of frustration,
conceived of both his inability to understand the Ogrin's attempts at communication
and the fact that his antics had earned them both a reprimand, and bent over
Watching from the back row, Nieve wondered if
she should be thankful that she didn't sit next to her two friends for the sake
of her good grades. Her eyes strayed briefly to the pink hearts floating on
the white walls, but she soon focused her attention on the teacher once again.
* * * * *
"Listen, Danus, you've got a big decision to
make," Hentor said to the Lupe he sat across from at the school lunch table.
Danus raised his eyebrows. "This is the first
I heard of it. What decision?"
"The one I told you about in class, of course!"
"You mean when you were acting all weird? I didn't
have a clue what you were trying to do."
"I had to tell you somehow, without attracting
attention," Hentor said.
"You can always pass a note, you know."
The Ogrin waved his hoof in dismissal. "Anyway,
the point is that you need to decide what you're going to give Nieve for Valentine's
Danus looked mildly surprised. "That's not really
a big decision. Besides, I already said I don't like Valentine's Day."
Hentor stared at his friend in disbelief. "You're
not going to get her anything?"
"You can't do that!" Hentor exclaimed. "Did you
hear how she was talking earlier? She clearly wants you to give her a Valentine's
present! Think how disappointed she'll be if you don't! She'll never let you
forget the day that you forgot to buy her a gift! She'll shun you for it forever!"
Slightly put-out, Danus replied, "Oh, come on,
she's not that shallow."
"Well, what's it going to hurt for you to buy
"First, I don't have money to spend on things
like that, and second, I don't want to be just another guy who gets a pack of
impersonal chocolates because it's Valentine's Day."
"So give her a card. They're cheap."
"Then I'd be just another guy who gets a cheap
card because it's Valentine's Day."
"You can be really insensitive sometimes, you
know." Hentor paused, thinking. His eyes lit up and a smile spread across his
face as an idea flashed into his mind. "Tell you what, you don't have to do
anything. I'll take care of the whole deal. I'll buy presents for her and all
that. Then on Valentine's Day, you pick up the stuff I got and give it all to
Nieve. She'll think you picked it all out for her and will be overcome with
admiration for you. And you won't have to do anything," he repeated.
Danus looked at him skeptically. "I don't know…
it sounds kind of sneaky."
"You said you didn't want to buy gifts yourself.
Besides, I want to do it! It'll make Valentine's Day a lot more interesting
for me." The Ogrin was clearly excited at the prospect of helping Danus win--or
"Look…" Danus began, intending to tell his friend
that this wasn't right.
Before he could finish, Hentor yelped, "She's
coming!" He reached across the table and clapped his hoof over Danus's mouth.
He whispered quickly to the Lupe, "Remember, you don't have to do anything!
See me on Valentine's Day. And above all, don't tell Nieve what's going on!"
"Mmph," Danus mumbled, trying to shake the hoof
away from his mouth.
Hentor straightened up and looked brightly at
the Starry Lupe who was now standing by their table, eyeing Hentor with his
arm stretched across the table to block Danus's voice from escaping his lips.
"Hey, Nieve! What'd you get for lunch? We weren't talking about anything important
while you were gone. Certainly nothing involving you."
Nieve rolled her eyes as she sat down. "Whatever
you said had better make me look good."
"It did, in a way," Hentor said, considering.
"Ahn yo' te'ing me na' 'oo te' 'er?" Danus mumbled.
"Sorry, I didn't understand you," Hentor said,
keeping his hoof over the Lupe's mouth.
Nieve sighed. "Will you please let him talk now?"
"Thank you," Danus said, glaring at Hentor.
Nieve took a bite of her sandwich, trying to
ignore the broad grins and meaningful winks that Hentor was giving to a slightly
irritated Danus. The Ogrin annoyed her at times; she surely wouldn't put up
with him if he wasn't Danus's friend. "So, um, Hentor, are you doing anything
for Valentine's Day?"
"Oh, no, of course not, what makes you ask?"
Hentor said loudly. He nudged Danus, who gave Nieve an embarrassed look. The
Starry Lupe pretended not to notice. Danus shook his head. This arrangement
just didn't feel right.
* * * * *
The morning of the day when Cupid was said to
make his rounds arrived too quickly, it seemed. The first thing Danus thought
of when he woke up was Hentor's plan. He heaved a sigh at the realization that
they were going to go through with it. Danus supposed it was nice of the Ogrin
to offer to buy gifts for the Lupe to present to Nieve, but all the same he
wished his friend had just left the subject of Valentine's Day alone. "I'll
dread seeing what he bought for me to give her," the Lupe muttered, imagining
scores of candies and valentine cards waiting at Hentor's house. Supposing that
he'd better find out what his friend was planning for that day as soon as he
could, he threw on some old clothes and headed outside.
When Danus reached the Ogrin's residence, Hentor
opened the door and ushered him inside with a wide smile. "Everything's all
set," he told the Lupe. "The presents are ready and waiting, and Nieve is coming
over in ten minutes."
Danus stopped in surprise. "What? She's coming
here? In ten minutes?"
"Yes, that's what I just told you."
"So you can give her the presents. Of course,
I didn't tell her that when I invited her." Hentor eyed the Lupe. "Hmm, I would've
worn a nice suit if I were you. Those jeans and stained T-shirt take away from
the Valentine's Day atmosphere."
"If you'd told me she was coming, maybe I'd have
dressed in something different," Danus said, glancing down at his worn clothing
self-consciously. This now seemed very much like a bad idea. "What are the gifts
I'm supposed to give her?"
"Just a minute." Hentor left the room, and returned
with a giftwrapped box in his hooves. The wrapping paper was covered with pink
hearts, and there was a large red ribbon on top. On closer inspection, the red
ribbon appeared to be hiding a cluster of air holes punched in the top of the
box. "Tada! Here's gift number one."
"Gift number one? What is it?" Danus asked, shaking
the box. Something inside the box shook back. Somewhat nervous, the Lupe asked,
"Hey, Hentor, is something alive in here?"
"Of course; it's a Petpet!" Hentor declared.
"Nieve doesn't have a Petpet, so I thought the best gift she could get this
Valentine's Day would be a faithful companion she'll adore forever."
"Isn't that supposed to be my role?"
Hentor stared at him. "You want to be fed canned
food and taken on walks?" He scratched his head. "I guess it does sound kind
of appealing. After all, you'd get to chase Symols. If that's really how you
feel, I've got a spare leash and collar that you could…"
"Never mind," Danus said quickly. Eyeing the
box uneasily, he asked, "So what kind of Petpet is it?"
With great pride, Hentor declared, "It's a Slorg."
Danus blinked. "A Slorg?"
"Yes." Hentor grinned.
"A Slorg. Not a cuddly Faellie or Kadoatie, but
"Why a Slorg, of all things?"
"Furry Petpets are overrated."
Danus stared at the box. "You want me to give
Nieve a Slorg for Valentine's Day," he said incredulously.
"What, do you have something against Slorgs?
I always did say those poor things didn't deserve their bad reputation."
"Nieve is a girl, Hentor. Girls are notorious
for not liking things like Spyders and Slorgs."
Hentor frowned. "You think so? Let's see!" He
stuck his head out the window and yelled to an Aisha walking down the street,
"Hey, what do you think of Slorgs?"
The Aisha shuddered. "They're the most disgusting
things ever to crawl the earth!" she replied. "Ugh, I can't stand the thought
Danus glared at Hentor. The Ogrin paid no attention
and directed another shout at a passing Kiko. "Excuse me, but do you like Slorgs?"
The Kiko turned to look at the Ogrin leaning
out of the window, revealing that she was carrying a Slorg in her fins. "I love
Slorgs!" she exclaimed. "They're the most wonderful Petpets ever! I don't know
what I'd do without my darling Slorg." She smiled fondly at her Petpet.
Hentor closed the window and turned to the Lupe.
"See, girls do like Slorgs. One out of two isn't bad."
Danus shook his head. "I don't think Nieve likes
"Do you know she doesn't?"
"Well, I've never really asked her, but…"
"Then you can't know! You've got at least a fifty-fifty
chance it'll work out." Hentor grinned. Cocking an ear, he added, "And here
she is now."
The doorbell was ringing. Hentor trotted off
happily to answer it, while the Lupe stood waiting uncertainly with the giftwrapped
box in his paws. He nervously smoothed the ribbon over the air holes, wondering
how he could get out of this. If only he'd stopped Hentor's plan earlier…
"Nice to see you here, Danus," the Starry Lupe's
voice reached his ears. Her gaze immediately fell on the box he was carrying.
Nieve's eyes lit up with interest and a bit of hope. "What's that?"
Danus considered telling her that it was for
his mother, but Hentor destroyed any hope he had of carrying out that idea by
whispering very loudly, "Now! Give it to her!"
"Is it for me?" Nieve's eyes flickered brightly,
and a smile spread across her face.
"Um…" Danus stammered, desperately searching
for an excuse not to give her the Slorg. She looked so pleasant and happy, standing
there with her hands clasped over her blue pleated skirt and a look of innocence
on her face. Surely it would be wrong to crush her hopes of receiving a wonderful
present, but would it be worse to do so by refusing to give her the gift or
by allowing her to discover that beneath the pink wrapping was a horrid creature
"Yup, Danus got it just for you for Valentine's
Day," Hentor told the Starry Lupe cheerfully.
"Ooh!" Nieve sounded delighted. "It's such a
big box. What could be in it?"
Danus allowed her to take the package, and then
watched miserably as she eagerly tore off the wrapping paper. The moment he'd
been dreading came as Nieve pulled off the last piece covering the mouth of
the box. She set the box on its side in her lap and opened out the flaps.
Plop! A slimy green thing squirmed out of the
box and began writhing among the folds of Nieve's skirt. She let out a yelp
of horror at the sight of a pair of bloodshot red eyes attached to stalks and
a down turned mouth melting in dripping slime, all belonging to the pathetic
thing in her lap.
Danus turned to Hentor, his eyes wide with disbelief.
"A Mutant Slorg?" he howled. "Why a Mutant Slorg?"
"Get it off of me!" Nieve shrieked, leaping up
and trying to shake the Slorg off. Instead, it wormed its way up through the
paths that her clothing created, leaving disgusting blobs of slime clinging
to her skirt. Finding its way up her arm, the Slorg began moving towards her
head. "AAAH! Get it OFF!"
Danus darted forward, his only thought of undoing
this disaster. He grabbed the Slorg and quickly dropped it back in the box,
closing the flaps over it. Nieve brushed the slime off of her fur with a look
of disgust. She eyed her slime-covered skirt, and then threw Danus a furious
glare. "So that's your idea of a nice Valentine's Day present? Couldn't you
save pranks for April Fool's Day?"
"Nieve, it wasn't my idea," Danus said weakly.
Hentor broke in with a loud exclamation of, "Wow!
Wasn't Danus brave? He heroically stepped in and saved you from that horrible
Slorg! You should thank him, Nieve!"
The Starry Lupe shot Hentor a withering look.
"I wouldn't have needed to be 'saved' from the Slorg if he hadn't given it to
me in the first place!"
"I'm really sorry," Danus mumbled.
"You can go wash the slime off in our bathroom,
Nieve," Hentor put in quickly. "Second floor, last door on the left."
Without a word, the Starry Lupe brushed past
the two pets and headed up the stairs. An angry tear made its way to the corner
of her eye. She should've known better than to think that Danus would really
do anything for her on Valentine's Day. He and Hentor were so immature…
Danus watched the Lupe hurry away, crestfallen.
When she was out of sight, he looked accusingly at Hentor. The Ogrin shifted
uncomfortably. "Huh, I really thought she'd like it."
"Oh, did you?" Danus said with a hint of mocking
in his tone. Sometimes he really wondered about his friend's sense of reasoning.
Hentor's usual grin returned to his face as he
whipped out a small, hard giftwrapped package. "Time for present number two."
"What is it? Chewing dung?"
"Of course not." Hentor made a face at the suggestion.
"It's a most traditional Valentine's Day gift: chocolate. Even better, it's
a Chocolate Lupe Treat. She, being a Lupe, will love it. The guy at the Chocolate
Factory told me that as soon as Lupes smell these treats, they can't resist.
They pounce on the chocolate, attacking it like a wild predator. They lick their
chops and bare their gleaming sharp teeth, and their tails wag in happiness
as they devour the treat with savage glee!" Hentor grinned, pleased with his
detailed description of the reaction he expected of Nieve.
There was a brief silence. Then Danus said slowly,
"Um… that doesn't sound particularly romantic."
"So what? This chocolate will make her forget
all about the Slorg incident."
Danus conceded the point. He took the little
package and waited for Nieve to return to the room. The good smell of chocolate
mixed with a faint scent of Chia floated through the wrapping paper and into
the green Lupe's nose. He willed himself not to eat the treat himself before
Time passed, and the scent of the delicious Lupe
treat began to be too much. "What's taking her so long?" Danus mumbled, fiddling
with the wrapping paper and trying to prevent himself from pulling it off and
gobbling up the candy.
At last, the Starry Lupe came down the stairs.
She still looked upset, and there were traces of slime on her dress. She gave
Danus a cold stare.
"He's got another present for you, Nieve!" Hentor
piped up, nudging Danus forward.
"Uh, yeah," Danus said, holding out the giftwrapped
Nieve looked at it disdainfully. "It smells like
"It is chocolate. It smells delicious," Danus
said, trying to keep his mouth from watering.
"Eat it yourself. I'm allergic to chocolate."
Hentor's eyes widened. Danus could hardly hide
his delight as he tore off the wrapping paper and popped the treat into his
mouth. "Yum," he said blissfully as he chewed it.
Nieve rolled her eyes. "You didn't know I was
allergic to chocolate?" she asked, watching as Danus swallowed the last of the
gift that she had rejected.
"I had no idea," Hentor muttered to himself.
He poked Danus, who was still reveling in the taste of the Lupe treat, and slyly
handed him a bouquet of flowers. "Present number three," he whispered. "These
are sure to be a hit. They're top quality black roses."
"Presents? Oh, right," Danus said, snapping back
"I don't know what you're thinking," Nieve said
in distaste, staring at the cluster of dried stems atop which perched a sorry
clump of shriveled dark petals. The "top quality black roses" were wilted into
an unappealing mass of tired plants. "Is this some sort of gross joke?"
Danus glanced down at the roses, and then threw
a glare at Hentor. "Yeah, is this a joke? How old are these flowers, anyway?"
"I found them five months ago and I was going
to press them, but I forgot," the Ogrin said thoughtfully.
"So you decided to reuse them today?" Danus looked
Nieve glanced from Danus to Hentor. "Wait a minute.
Who are these gifts from?"
Instead of answering, Hentor exclaimed, "The
final gift!" He slipped a card into Danus's paw. "Give her that. She'll love
the poem you wrote."
Nieve grabbed the card before Danus could offer
it to her. The front of it showed a stick figure drawing with childish uneven
heart cutouts glued all over it. Opening the card, Nieve read aloud,
"'You are a thoughtful and caring Lupe,
Better than even the faerie of soup.
(Though her cooking is really good too.)
On the scale of worth in Neopia's value log,
At one end there's dung and on the other there's
You are a princess, as beautiful as if you came
from a Mortog!
"I did not write that!" Danus exclaimed, cringing
at the bad poetry.
"Danus! Of course you wrote it!" Hentor said.
Nieve looked up from the card. "Okay," she sighed.
"I figured it out. Hentor, these, er, gifts are all from you, right?"
"Yes!" Danus said, relieved. "I had nothing to
do with picking them out."
"How did you know?" Hentor asked the Starry Lupe.
"Because this card is written in your handwriting,"
Nieve said. "Rather smart of you to think I wouldn't notice that," she added
facetiously. A sparkle returned to the Starry Lupe's eye, and she smiled for
the first time since she'd seen the Slorg. "I'm really relieved it wasn't you
who chose these gifts, Danus. If it had been, I would've had to think you were
going crazy. As it is, I can plot revenge against this silly Ogrin all I like!"
"No!" Hentor cried. "I was doing it for Danus!
And I thought you'd enjoy the presents I got for you," he added meekly. "Do
you really not like Slorgs?" he couldn't help asking.
Nieve grinned. "I can't say I enjoy having one
in my lap all that much."
"Nieve," Danus said, finding the nerve to speak
to her now that the fiasco was over with. Somewhat ashamed, he said, "I'm sorry
this ruined your Valentine's Day. I shouldn't have let the whole thing start."
Nieve laughed. "It didn't ruin my Valentine's
Day. But for a while I thought I wasn't going to give you this." She drew a
small, narrow box from her purse and handed it to Danus. His eyes widened in
surprise. "Open it," Nieve said with a smile.
"Wow, thanks," Danus said, eagerly flipping up
A rubber Cobrall sprang out of the box. The Lupe
jumped back, and Nieve burst into giggles.
"Happy Valentine's Day, Danus."