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There Is No Place Like Home


by shadowcristal

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Aurelie watched as her owner left. Soon, Suzanne would be off to a winter wonderland where Aurelie couldn't go. The Island Gelert sighed as Suzanne disappeared out of her sight. Her owner's words echoed in the Gelert's mind as she stared at the sunny sky and the slushy snow.

      "This is the 156th time that I have to tell you..." Suzanne muttered, throwing random things into a big, blue bag.

     "This is only temporary, and you'll be back, right?" the Gelert mumbled worriedly as she helped her owner pack.

     "Of course!" The girl stood up, eyeing her pet. "I've booked the best room and the finest meals for you at the Neolodge! Don't be such a worrywart!"

     She couldn't help it. Aurelie was already worrying. What if Suzanne got into an accident? What if Suzanne had left her there to stay forever? What if...

     "Are you Aurelie?" a voice asked, drawing the Gelert's attention away from the window.

     "Y-yes..." Aurelie replied nervously. A nice-looking Zafara was standing behind her, holding a few sheets of paper and a pen tucked behind her ear.

     "I'm the receptionist, Zella. I'll lead you to your room." Zella smiled as she grabbed Aurelie's hand and gently jerked the pet away from the window. They went up, and by the fifth floor the Gelert stopped counting. Finally the Zafara opened a door with a plate on it, saying 'Top Floor'. The corridor was filled with exotic plants from all of Neopia and there was a soft, red carpet on the floor to walk on. The receptionist opened a door with a fancy key and Aurelie looked inside.

     The room was huge. The whole space seemed to be brimming with light coming through the big, modern windows. The Island Gelert gasped, then explored the whole room.

     "This is the key," the Zafara put it on a table and said, "I hope that you are satisfied with my escorting. Your owner specifically requested it, and also this." Zella held up a small, gray box with a red button in the middle. "Press the button when you need room service or something similar. I'll be off now, but don't hesitate if you need help."

     The Zafara left, leaving Aurelie all alone in the big, spacey room. Suddenly the room didn't seem as friendly before. Clouds covered the smiling sun as small raindrops hit the windows. The Island Gelert sighed, then packed up all the stuff she had and threw it on the big, soft bed. She felt quite sad.

     "I miss Suzanne," the Gelert whispered to herself as she crept under the covers of the bed. It was so boring now. The room had been explored, the options considered and everything was done. Now she would have to spend ten, dull days in this place. She remembered how Suzanne had made her promise to have fun.

     Well, it wasn't very fun right now. Aurelie sighed as she dried some tears and went to sleep.

     -

     The rays bounced around in the airy room when Aurelie woke up. She looked around, her nose twitching because of some smells. The Island Gelert got up and did the morning routines while yawning.

     "Suzanne, isn't it time to go to Neoschool?" Aurelie asked before she realized where she was, and the fact that Suzanne was away.

     The Gelert felt a twinge of sadness, but decided to explore the Lodge since there really was nothing to do. She opened the door, promising herself to make it worthwhile. Another door creaked, and Aurelie stared into a pair of blue eyes.

     "Aah!" They both yelled at the same time, causing a staff at the Neolodge to run over to them to see what had happened.

     Aurelie's heart was beating at the speed of light as she told the staff member that it was nothing. The other pet, a Sketch Poogle, seemed equally scared. But slowly the Poogle smiled and extended her hand to the Gelert. Aurelie took it, not knowing what else to do.

     "I'm Riley the Riot," the Poogle said cheerfully, shaking the Gelert's paw. "And who may you be?"

     "I-I am Aurelie," the Island Gelert replied, quite nervous.

     "Let's be friends," Riley smiled. "Anyway, this is my first whole day here at the Lodge. I arrived here yesterday and fell asleep before I could explore everything. Whaddya say about showing me around?"

     "Umm..." Aurelie mumbled, "I am new to this too. I also got here yesterday."

     "Well, then why don't we explore the Lodge together?" the Poogle smiled.

     Aurelie had been hoping that Riley would ask that. The Sketch Poogle seemed quite happy and cheerful. She would definitely be an exciting friend.

     "Let's get going!" the impatient pet tapped her feet. Riley grabbed Aurelie's paw and together they went down to the floor below.

     The Gelert was surprised at the big marble swimming pool that they found there. With Riley's guidance, she learned how to swim faster and dive at greater depths. The Poogle was really great at those things, and for the first time since coming to the Lodge, Aurelie felt really happy.

     When they got out of the pool, the two pets proceeded to explore the games room, where several pets were playing Cheat. Riley immediately joined in and dragged Aurelie in it too. Soon the two pets were shouting loudly.

     The whole day went by in a flash. The Poogle was like a whirlwind, dragging Aurelie everywhere and anywhere. All of the attractions that had seemed boring yesterday were actually very fun. The Gelert hadn't had that quiet, serene feel since morning. She waved goodbye to Riley the Riot and entered her room. There, Aurelie brushed her teeth and went to sleep.

     The following days were just as exciting. When they had finished playing all the games that could be played and eaten a delicious dessert, the Poogle suggested that they could explore all the secret places. Aurelie was dragged around and found out more about the Lodge than anything else.

     It was always exciting with Riley around. The Poogle had a special aura that made Aurelie feel excited, even though she usually remained quiet and observing. Somehow, the Gelert started to actively doing things and found that she enjoyed these little adventure.

     In fact, Aurelie didn't really miss Suzanne at all. After that big, sad good-bye on the first day, everything had been fine. Even that beautiful NeoHome in Faerieland couldn't compete with the fun that the Gelert was having at the Neolodge. It was just so much better here!

     -

     On the dawn of the eighth day, Aurelie woke up and saw the curtains moving. She rushed there, and pulled the curtains apart. The Island Gelert gasped in surprise as she saw Suzanne standing in front of the window, happily smiling at her pet.

     "Surprise, surprise!" the owner said cheerfully. "I got back a little bit earlier than planned. Why don't you pack your things and check out today?"

     Aurelie gasped again, but this time from shock. Leave the Lodge? Leave all the fun behind?

     "Aren't you happy?" Suzanne asked, taking out the Gelert's bag.

     The pet nodded silently as she packed her bag. She knew she had to go home sooner or later, but this was certainly unexpected.

     Soon the bags were packed. At noon, Suzanne checked her pet out and they went to their NeoHome in Faerieland.

     -

     "Well, we're home!" Suzanne said happily. "The vacation was great. We had family reunion and I made a new friend! I never knew that my cousin was so nice!" She continued to talk about the fun things that they had done in the winter wonderland, Suzanne and her relatives.

     The owner stopped in middle of a sentence when she noticed that Aurelie wasn't listening.

     "Aww... Didn't you miss me at all, Aurelie?" Suzanne asked.

     The Island Gelert woke up from her reverie as she replied with a voice that was full of shivers. "O-of course I missed you!" Aurelie cried out, "How could I not miss my wonderful owner?"

     "You've changed," Suzanne commented quietly for herself as she asked about the Gelert's stay at the Lodge.

     "It was wonderful," the pet sighed wistfully. "Really exciting, not like here at home..." She gave very detailed reports about her daily adventures with Riley.

     "Hmm... Do you really like the Neolodge so much?" the owner asked. "Perhaps it wasn't such a good idea to rush and check out so quickly..."

     "Yeah! It was definitely great!" Aurelie wondered where Riley was now. The Poogle was probably confused and wondering where she was...

     "Why don't you go back for a few hours?" Suzanne asked, almost as if she had read Aurelie's mind.

     "Thank you!" the Gelert exclaimed gratefully as she ran towards the door. Aurelie skipped through pools of slushy snow and smiled happily when she saw the Lodge. "Soon I'll be there, Riley!" the Gelert thought.

     -

     "I'm sorry, but Riley the Poogle has already been checked out. Our database confirms that she was checked out about two hours before noon." Zella told the excited little pet.

     "Oh..." Aurelie trailed off, feeling very disappointed. It had been so fun with Riley! But no matter... She would just have to go around and have fun. Alone.

     The Gelert slowly walked away from the desk and around in the building. All the rooms had lost their magical gleam. They looked like the same dull, old rooms that had been there before Riley had showed her around.

     Then, as she stared out from a window, Aurelie realized it. She came to the realization that it wasn't the Lodge that was so great, but Riley.

     "How could I have been so stupid?" the Gelert asked herself as she walked home.

     -

     The soft glow from the pretty lamps bathed her room in a faint color of yellow. Aurelie sighed contently as she rested in her bed. This familiar home, with all the good old smells... How could she have thought that anything else was better?

     "Already back?" Suzanne's voice came from the door.

     "Yeah..."

     "Did you find what you were looking for?" the owner asked kindly.

     "Not really. But I did find something out." The Gelert smiled. "Friends are really great."

     "You're right," Suzanne said. "Anyway, I received a call from my cousin. It would seem that their NeoHome burned down, so now they have to live with us. Of course, it is only temporary."

     Aurelie couldn't help but to feel excited. All those wonderful days with Riley had awakened her curiosity and sense of adventure. It would be fun to meet Suzanne's cousin.

     "Catherine said that she only has one pet, so they won't take up a lot of space. Her pet is a Poogle named Riley."

     "Riley the Riot?" the Gelert asked enthusiastically.

     "How did you know?" Suzanne laughed. "Yes, it is Riley the Riot." She took on a sad expression as she continued, "But it's sad that their home was demolished."

     "After all, there is no place like a home."

The End

 
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