A Very Hunter Christmas: Part Two
It seemed that things just seemed to get worse for the Hunter family. Not only had Feather Dust not got the lead part, she hadn’t really got a part at all. She was in the chorus while Clarissa shone up on stage in front of Mrs Forthright and the rest of the cast. She had never felt more unhappy in her life. Annabel and Fadey couldn’t explain how Clarissa had got the part. Feather Dust had clearly been the better pet, they said, but she still got it.
“Something’s got to be up,” said Annabel. “I mean, you should have at least got a supporting part or something. Definitely not the chorus.” Feather Dust shrugged at the lunch table. She knew that her friends were just being nice.
“Face facts, guys,” she muttered. “Clarissa got the part fair and square. There’s nothing I could’ve done about it.”
Nevertheless, Fadey and Annabel swore that they would find out how she got the part.
Blitz was also depressed. It seemed that ever since it hit the twentieth day of Celebrating, he just sat in the window seat in the living room, staring out at the sky, begging for snow. What was Christmas without snow? Blitz wouldn’t be able to go sledging on dirt or build a mud man. It just wouldn’t be right.
Hennagell spent most of his time in his room, still concocting his potion that was supposed to change Christmas. Capricorn was praying that it would actually work, because it just seemed like one large black cloud was hanging over everyone’s heads, and for one thing, it was letting out any snow.
Tsukasa, it seemed, was the only one who still had an ounce of Christmas spirit left in her. She danced around the living room, still trying to make the tree look perfect. However, she had been working on it for at least two weeks and it was only half finished. No one wanted a tree that was half done. But Tsukasa was oblivious to what everyone was thinking and was now onto wrapping Christmas presents. She told everyone that she had bought their perfect gifts. She wrapped each one in traditional brown paper and tied them with festive ribbons, before placing them neatly underneath the half-done tree.
While Tsukasa was decorating and Blitz was sulking and Capricorn was baking and Hennagell was inventing, Feather Dust had rehearsals to suffer through. She didn’t have the option to pull out since she had auditioned, therefore was tortured for the full two hours by Clarissa. Luckily, she had her best friends to come along to every last one for moral support.
Fadey, who was wrapped up in about six layers of clothing, nearly fell down into a seat at the back row of the chairs along with Annabel, who was more sensibly dressed. They wished Feather Dust good luck as the Uni made her way up to the front of the theatre and sat with the other members of the chorus on the mini bleachers.
Clarissa was up on stage, reinventing the whole play because she thought that it ‘brought her down’. Feather Dust rolled her eyes and just focused on her part as they music played. It was the rehearsals for the song ‘How Much is That Puppyblew?” where Lucy finds her dream petpet sitting in the window of a store in the snow. Of course, instead of it being performed in the heartfelt way it should have been, Clarissa made it into a whole big thing, demanding fireworks and flashing multicoloured lights.
The piano began to play at breakneck speed, the young Bruce who was playing it almost out of breath within the first ten seconds. Clarissa spun on the stage before skipping over to the ‘shop window’.
“Oh my, my, my,
I’ve never seen something so
Cute, cute, cute,
In my whole life!
I can’t believe I’ve finally found,
The one best friend here in this town...
How much is that Pup-py-blew!”
Feather Dust sang the backing vocals along with the other Neopets. She was in the one place she never wanted to be - lower than Clarissa. All of a sudden, the Bruce on the piano yelped in pain and held up his hand.
“What are you doing, Marvin?!” yelled Clarissa. “I was on a roll!” She marched over to the side of the stage and slammed her fist down on the keys so hard that it nearly broke the whole instrument.
“Sorry,” said the Bruce. “I-I hurt my hand. The song was so fast, see-”
“I don’t want excuses!” replied Clarissa. “This is my musical! Just play the song or I’ll make sure you never work in this town again!” Feather Dust and a Wocky next to her exchanged glances. Poor little Marvin looked heartbroken as he started the song again.
Christmas Eve didn’t get much better. Capricorn baked mince pies for everyone and sent the lovely smell of fresh baked pastry throughout the house, but it still didn’t raise anyone’s spirits. Blitz was depressingly watching a Christmas movie on Neovision where snow was falling down softly from the sky as the family laughed and smiled.
Tsukasa had nearly finished her tree. She decided to save the star till last so the whole family could put it on, but besides from that, it really did look perfect. The lights which Blitz had fixed twinkled in the warmth of the fireplace, and the decorations sparkled merrily.
The Christmas play would be held the next afternoon, so Feather Dust wasn’t really looking forward to that. Hennagell came up from his room with his wizard robe on, holding a magical potion.
“Come on, everyone!” he called out. “It’s time to watch Christmas unfold!” He said the whole thing so dramatically that the others couldn’t help but smile. Capricorn came in with a platter of festive treats and Blitz turned off the movie. Hennagell placed the potion down on the coffee table, grinning as he took the lid off. He pulled out a small tube from his robe which contained a blue substance.
“Is everyone ready?” he asked. Everyone nodded. “Then let’s watch the amazing spectacle of Christmas!”
He tipped the blue liquid into the large potion, causing it to bubble and boil. Within seconds, fireworks of all different colours sprung out of the flask, exploding before their very eyes.
Suddenly, the potion began to rise.
“Um... Hennagell,” said Blitz, “is that supposed to happen?” Hennagell’s face fell when he saw the potion expanding.
“Oh no!” he cried, looking around in panic. “Quickly! Behind the sofa!” He urged his family to hide and they all rushed to crouch behind the settee. There was a loud
They all peeped up over the back of the couch. The potion had indeed exploded, leaving the coffee table in chunks of wood on the blackened carpet. Besides from that, nothing was damaged. Capricorn glared at Hennagell, but her expression softened when she saw how upset he looked.
“Three weeks!” he sobbed, walking over to the wreckage. “I spent so long on it! It should have worked! It should have!” He knelt down in front of it. His family came to comfort him.
“It’s alright, Hennagell,” said Tsukasa. “We don’t need the potion to have a good Christmas! We still have the tree!” She wished she hadn’t said those words because it came across as being a bit selfish.
“She’s right,” said Capricorn. “Let’s all put the star on top of the tree. Then I’ll clean this mess up.” Everyone agreed and stood up. Tsukasa walked over to a cardboard box at the side of the room and dug around in the polystyrene bits, before pulling out the most magnificent star they had ever seen. It was made from gold coloured glass that shone in the hazy glow of the room. It was covered in glitter and the edges had tinsel.
“It’s beautiful!” gasped Feather Dust.
“It was the last one they made,” said Tsukasa. “Let’s all put it on.” They all turned to the tree. Blitz got on Capricorn’s shoulders and they all stretched up to place the star on top of the perfect tree. It really did make the whole thing.
They stood back and stared at it, smiling. Maybe Christmas was going to get a bit better.
How wrong they were.
The Christmas tree didn’t seem to like the star. It began to sway from one side to the other, Tsukasa gasping and trying to keep it upright. Decorations spun wildly out of control, smashing all over the floor and Tsukasa trying to retrieve as many as she could while holding the tree up. The others backed as the tree finally came crashing down in front of Tsukasa’s fin, the star smashing as it hit the ground. She felt a tear roll down her cheek as she sat down next to what used to be her masterpiece. Nobody knew what to say.
“I-I can’t believe it,” she breathed, her eyes watering, “I thought this was going to be the best Christmas ever...” Feather Dust looked at her sister sympathetically. Tsukasa touched the broken remnants of the star with her hoof and cried.
“Some Christmas...” muttered Blitz, leaving the room. Capricorn tried to stop him.
“This was supposed to be perfect,” mumbled Hennagell, following Blitz. Feather Dust turned to go as well.
“Not you too, Feather!” pleaded Capricorn. “We can still make this work.” Feather Dust shook her head.
“I’m sorry, Capricorn,” she whispered. “Face it. This was the worst Christmas ever.” She too vanished out of the door. Tsukasa didn’t say anything. She just floated out of the room, her blue mane falling over her tear stained cheeks.
“Merry Christmas,” she said.
The next day nobody came out of their rooms until it was time to go to the Christmas play. With the tree smashed, no snow and a wrecked coffee table it felt like Christmas had gone before they had even had a chance to say hello.
Feather Dust more than anyone didn’t want to go to the concert. She reluctantly changed into her red dress and put on her coat, before walking down to the school with the rest of the family. The play didn’t start for half an hour, but she just wanted to be alone for a little while.
In the auditorium, owners and pets were already making their way in so that they could snag the best seats. Feather Dust walked down the middle to the stage and snuck behind the fallen curtain. The area for the chorus had been set up at the back of the stage so she sat there, waiting for everyone to come in.
“Feather Dust!” gasped a voice. She turned to see Fadey and Annabel clambering through the curtain, panting.
“What are you doing here?” the Uni asked her friends.
“We have news!” gasped Fadey.
“Clarissa... didn’t really get the part fairly!” puffed Annabel, “Her owner bribed the judges with a million neopoints for the neoschool fund!” Feather Dust stood up.
“AND he also paid extra to have you put in the chorus, so that you didn’t get a good part!” added Fadey.
Feather Dust couldn’t believe it! She should have got the part after all! Clarissa had cheated! But then she realised something.
“It doesn’t matter anyway,” she said, “Clarissa already has the part. Mrs Forthright accepted the bribe so I can’t ask her to change it.” Fadey and Annabel nodded but were smiling.
“What are you grinning about?” asked Feather Dust warily. The two pets looked at each other.
“You know Marvin, the Bruce who plays the piano? Well, he kind of gave Clarissa a little surprise in her shoes,” they said in unison. Before Feather Dust could ask what they were talking about, she heard a piercing scream coming from backstage. They sprinted out of the wing to where the actors were changing to find Clarissa, pulling her hoof out of a spaghetti filled shoe. Feather Dust had to stop herself from laughing. Unfortunately, that meant that Clarissa got the wrong end of the stick. She looked at Feather Dust.
“You!” she growled, her voice venomous. “You did this!”
“No! I didn’t!” gasped Feather Dust. If Clarissa told Mrs Forthright, she could get kicked off the play altogether.
“You think you’re so funny, Feather Dust Hunter! But you just wait! You’ll never be in another school play again! Never! Never! Nev-AHH!”
Feather Dust stepped back as she watched Clarissa slip over before her eyes on her own slimy foot. Everyone burst out laughing, but fell silent when Mrs Forthright came in.
“What is going on in here?!” she exclaimed, before lowering her vision to Clarissa, “What happened to my star?!”
“She did it!” Clarissa screamed, pointing at Feather Dust, “She put food in my shoes then pushed me over!”
“You liar!” yelled Fadey.
“Be quiet, Mr Gooding!” snapped Mrs Forthright, “Miss Hunter. Behaviour like this is not tolerated in the theatre. I’m afraid you will not be allowed to perform tonight.”
“What?!” cried Feather Dust. “But I didn’t do it!”
“She’s telling the truth,” came a voice. “I did it.” Everyone turned to see Marvin the Bruce making his way through the crowd. “Feather Dust had nothing to do with it. I don’t want her getting in trouble.” Feather Dust mouthed a ‘thank you’ to him.
“Very well,” said Mrs Forthright. “Marvin, you may still perform tonight, but only because you are the only pianist we have. Can you walk, my dear?” She tried to help Clarissa to her feet.
“Of course I can!” she snapped, trying to get up. Her legs gave way and she fell back down again.
“Oh no!” gasped Mrs Forthright. “Who will play Lucy Mistletoe?”
“Feather Dust should do it!” said Annabel. “She’s the best!”
Murmurs of agreement were sent around the group.
“Very well,” said the teacher. “Miss Hunter, you may play the role. Do you know all of the words?” Feather Dust nodded. “Good, then you better get ready, because the play is about to start.”
The play went even better than expected. Feather Dust blew the crowd away with her much more realistic versions of the songs from the musical. Her family couldn’t believe it when she came out on stage as Lucy.
At the end of the play, Feather Dust rushed onto the stage to take her final bow as the audience erupted with applause. She curtseyed before them all and held hands with her co-stars as she wore the biggest grin of her life.
It seemed everyone wanted to know the name of the Uni who wasn’t listed in the program. Capricorn sent a wave of “That’s my pet, that is! Mine!”
Feather Dust met her family in the rows of seats afterwards, giving them a big hug.
“Well done, sweetie,” said Capricorn. “Let’s go home. I’m sure we have some presents to open.” They all nodded and walked out of the exit at the back of the auditorium. Blitz gasped.
Before them lay a blanket of fresh, white snow and flakes were still falling from the sky above. And that wasn’t it. Fireworks were being released in the sky for Hennagell, swirling in all sorts of colours and becoming Christmassy images. A Christmas tree the size of the school sat in the centre of the playground, its deep green leaves iced with snow and decorated with baubles of all shapes and sizes. On top of the tree was Tsukasa’s golden star, perfectly restored. It was her perfect tree, just as she had imagined it.
“Capricorn!” gasped Tsukasa. “Did you do this?” Capricorn shook her head. They knew she was telling the truth because she looked the most shocked she had been for years.
“Then... who did?” asked Hennagell. They all hugged and looked up into the moonlight sky. Stars sparkled before their eyes and they swore that they saw something which looked a bit like a sleigh disappearing behind the clouds.