Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 120,207,245 Issue: 243 | 9th day of Relaxing, Y8
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More Like Saffron: Part One


by rainpaint

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"Athena, Cadmium-DINNER!" Elspeth called from the kitchen of her spacious Neohome. Savory smells of broiled gammon, broccoli, mashed potatoes, and chocolate Faerie cakes-a treat reserved for special occasions only-wafted up the stairs to the Faerie Peophin and Royal Aisha's bedroom. As soon as they smelled the wonderful fragrance upon walking in the door after school, Cadmium and Athena knew something special was going to happen. The two swapped excited glances as they leapt up from where they were sprawled on their Faerie beanbag chairs and bounded down the stairs.

      "Well, you two, take your seats," Elspeth smiled, "and then I have some wonderful news!" Cadmium and Athena looked at her expectantly. Their usually prim and proper owner never grew this excited, unless it was something really spectacular. Elspeth hurriedly served the food, said grace, and cleared her throat.

      "As you know, I've always wanted a big family, consisting of neopets. Last month was a particularly good one for the paintbrush shop, and I feel that I now have enough neopoints to support another member of the family." She paused for dramatic effect. "I am going to get another pet!"

      Squeals of delight filled the air, along with a million questions.

      "Will it share our room? Will you paint it whatever it wants to be painted too?" This was from Athena.

      "Are you going to get a girl pet or a boy pet? Please get a girl pet, because all the boys at school are gross! And can you get a baby pet? I've always wanted a baby sister to take care of!" While Athena had stopped with two questions, Cadmium rattled on and on until Elspeth tapped her drinking glass.

      "Cadmium, please! Stop that incessant chattering. I thought we discussed that last week. I have decided that, since we have been blessed with such great wealth, we should take care of a pet that has been less fortunate."

      Athena gasped with pleasure. "Oh, that's so great! This way it won't be young and immature, like Jessie's new little Bori brother."

      Elspeth smiled somewhat wryly at her. "I'm glad you're pleased. Now, I'm not at all sure what sorts of pets will be there, but which would you two prefer? And no, I will NOT get a Lenny."

      The two girls sighed in relief, and a lively discussion about the pros and cons of each species of pet went on all throughout the evening. Elspeth sent Athena and Cadmium off to bed promptly at 9:00 despite their protests.

      "Aw, but El, it's Saturday! Can't we at least stay up until 9:30?" Cadmium tried to keep the whine out of her voice and failed miserably. They did manage to stay up until 9:15, because Elspeth gave them a lecture on "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a neopet owner healthy, wealthy, and wise."

      ***************

      "Why would it possibly be taking her three hours? Did something go wrong?" Athena's pretty face creased into a frown as she stared out the window at the falling snow.

      Cadmium was pacing the floor (and wearing a path in the rug in the process). She shrugged her shoulders but kept up her endless march. "Your guess is as good as mine, Athena. Maybe she had to do a lot of paperwork, or maybe she's having a hard time deciding. You know her-everything has to be perfect, including our new sister. I hope she remembered that we wanted an Usul!"

      Athena nodded, then moved from her perch at the windowsill. "I think I'll go get my pastels and work some more on my drawing," she murmured. After another hour of endless pacing by Cadmium and hopeless scribbling by Athena, the doorknob finally turned. Both pets scrambled to the door and in came a snow-covered Elspeth, who had a rather large lump under her coat.

      "Well? Where is she?" Cadmium demanded as Elspeth stomped the snow off her boots.

      A tiny fur-covered head with huge yellow eyes peeked out of Elspeth's coat. Elspeth gently placed the yellow Xweetok on the floor and said, "Cadmium, Athena, this is your new sister." The proud look in her eyes told the Faerie Peophin and Royal Aisha that their owner was pleased with her new pet. The Xweetok, however, looked like she was about to run back out the door and into the blinding snow.

      Athena offered a hoof to the tiny Xweetok. "Hello there, I'm Athena. What's your name?"

      Before the Xweetok could even open her mouth, Elspeth answered for her. "Her name is Saffron. That's what took me so long-I had to think of the most perfect name!" Athena and Cadmium shared knowing glances. "Well, you two, don't just stand there. Take Saffy up to her room and show her her things." As soon as they reached their room, Saffron's already huge eyes got even bigger.

      "Th-this is my room?" she asked in absolute amazement. "It's wonderful." Athena and Cadmium proceeded to show her everything Elspeth had bought for her, and Saffron gushed over it all until Elspeth called them down for dinner.

      "Ugh, I smell omelette." Cadmium sniffed.

      "Omelette! She must be tired!" Athena turned to Saffron. "We don't usually eat prepared food. Elspeth's a marvelous cook!"

      Saffron shrugged her bony shoulders. "I don't really mind omelette. It's better than what I had to eat at the pound."

      By this time, the three of them had reached the table, where Elspeth hastily served up the carrot and pea omelette. Athena and Cadmium wolfed it down and washed the taste out of their mouths with large glasses of apple juice, but Saffron ate delicately and complimented Elspeth on her wonderful cooking during the whole meal. Elspeth frowned at her two older pets when she saw their lack of manners. "Can't you two be more like Saffron? Look at how politely she eats." Saffron blushed, and Athena and Cadmium mumbled an apology and rose to wash their respective hooves and paws.

      ***************

      The next day was Saffron's first day at Neopia Central Junior High. The Lenny alarm (it was the only thing that would wake Cadmium up in the morning, mostly because, upon hearing it, she leapt three feet in the air) blared at 6:30, and Cadmium, in the process of leaping into the air, slammed down on the snooze button and fell back into bed. Ten minutes later, she and Athena awoke with a start.

      "Oh, no, did you press the snooze button again, Cadmium?" Not waiting for an answer, Athena raced to the bathroom to brush her mane. "Elspeth's going to be furious!" The two of them decided to skip their normal routine of making the beds and straightening up the room and instead concentrated on brushing their hair. By the time they got down the stairs, they only had ten minutes before the bell would ring.

      Cadmium smacked herself on the forehead. After all those months of having one sibling, they had completely forgotten about Saffron! "Athena, I think we forgot-" The words died on Cadmium's lips as they reached the kitchen. There was Saffron at the table, drinking her strawberry smoothie with Elspeth, who was drinking Purple Juppie Java and looking very ticked off.

      "Cadmium, Athena, the reason I bought the alarm clock for you was so that you would actually get up on time." The two tried to give their excuses, but Elspeth held up her hand. "I don't want to hear it. Tomorrow please try to be more like Saffron. Just sit down and eat these scotch eggs. I was going to make smoothies for all of you, but, well..." She gave them a stern look before walking Saffron to the door.

      Cadmium was indignant. "I didn't mean to push the snooze button! It's a reflex! The cackling makes me think of Gerald from third period Algebra, and you know how much I want to smack him!"

      Athena tossed a scotch egg her way and shoved her own in her mouth. "Come on, we've gotta go!" The two of them hurriedly swallowed their less-than-appetizing breakfasts and ran to catch up with Saffron, who was chatting amiably with Brett, the silver Shoyru from down the street.

      "Hey, how'd you get ready so fast?" Cadmium got straight to the point, not caring that she was interrupting. "And why didn't you wake us up?"

      Saffron blushed again. "I had to wake up really early at the pound in order to get any breakfast, so I was up at the crack of dawn. I guess I was already downstairs with Elspeth when your alarm went off. I'm really sorry you both got in trouble."

      Athena sighed. "It's not YOUR fault, is it, Cadmium?" She glared at the Royal Aisha, who at least had the decency to look slightly ashamed. The Faerie Peophin continued, "Look, we'd really like to get to know you better, so how about we eat lunch together?" Saffron nodded in agreement just as they arrived at school-moments before the bell rang.

      ****************

      As it turned out, Athena and Cadmium didn't even see Saffron until dinner that night. Brett, who Cadmium decided had a crush on Saffron, had immediately volunteered to take the yellow Xweetok to the office to get her schedule, which was completely different from theirs except for lunch. The cafeteria was so crowded, however, that not even Athena (who had 20/20 eyesight plus underwater vision) could spot her. As soon as the three girls arrived home from school, Saffron went to Elspeth's room and Athena and Cadmium flopped down on their Faerie beanbag chairs to get their homework, as Cadmium put it, "dead and done." At promptly 6:00, Elspeth called them down to dinner.

      "So, Saffy, where were you after we got home from school today?" Athena questioned as the three pets took their places at the dinner table.

      Again, Elspeth answered for the Xweetok. "Saffron was in my room using the encyclopedia set. She said she wanted to do research-something about a science project due next week."

      Cadmium looked astonished. "Do you mean that you started that thing already?"

      Saffron shook her head. "Actually, I finished the research," she murmured.

      This time it was Athena's turn to look amazed. "I haven't even chosen my topic yet!" Then another thought occurred to the Faerie Peophin. "What about your regular homework?"

      "Oh, I finished that in study hall. I wanted to get it done so that I could get started on the project early." Saffron paused between bites of orange chicken to answer.

      Elspeth addressed her two older pets. "Did you two finish your homework yet?" she asked before taking another piece of honey and wheat baguette.

      The two swapped sheepish looks before Athena answered. "Well, we got math homework done!" She smiled brightly.

      Elspeth detected the hesitancy in Athena's voice. "But?"

      Athena cleared her throat. "But we still have to do everything else."

      Their owner shook her head. "Why can't you two be more like Saffron?" She rose from the table with a sigh and served dessert-chocolate chip cookies, on which, of course, Saffron poured compliments.

      Cadmium and Athena wolfed down their cookies, threw a hasty "thank you" over their shoulders, and rushed back upstairs to finish their homework. Twenty minutes later, Saffron and Elspeth came into the room.

      Cadmium glanced up from her homework. "What've you been up to?" she asked.

      Saffron wore a slightly apprehensive expression on her face and was about to answer, but Elspeth spoke up before the Xweetok could even take a breath. "Saffron offered to clean the kitchen for me, since I had such a busy day at the shop. That's more than I can say for the two of you. What happened in here?" Elspeth's eyes took in the clothes scattered on the floor and the unmade beds.

      "Oh, don't worry about that. I can clean it up later," Saffron's voice was barely a whisper. Elspeth nodded approvingly, and neither Athena nor Cadmium missed the fond glance that their owner gave her newest pet before the two of them walked down the hall to her room, chattering about some new game show that apparently was about to come on.

      Athena and Cadmium waited until Elspeth's door closed. Then the two started talking almost simultaneously.

      "Did you see that? And have you heard her today? 'Why can't you be more like Saffron?' Since when is that little twerp the perfect pet?" Cadmium snapped.

      Although she was thinking the same thing, Athena wanted to be fair. "Maybe it's because she's new. El could be trying to make her feel at home. I mean, it must not have been easy for Saffron at the pound." Athena twitched her sister's ear, and Cadmium felt some of her anger fade.

      "You're probably right, Athena. I'm sorry for snapping. I agree that we should give her some time to settle in. This can't last forever." The two settled back to their homework, the sound of muffled laughter floating down the hall from Elspeth's room.

To be continued...

I hope you enjoy my second submission to the NT. Feedback is appreciated!

 
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