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Never Forget Me


by frostcrystal

--------

Most Neopians think that someone who abandons their Neopet is a horrible, uncaring person, maybe even degrade them to the same level as hackers and scammers. Some, however, abandon their pets not because they don't care about them. Sometimes, an owner may leave their pet out of love.

The girl was alone, sitting before a cluttered desk in her jelly-walled bedroom. She chewed absently on a lock of ebony hair and contemplated the blank piece of paper lying before her with all the murderous intent of Kass himself. A few words were written neatly along the top, stating her name, the title of the History essay, and the bald fact that it had been due two days ago.

      Crystal growled in frustration and threw her pen on the floor, still glaring at the paper out of narrowed brown eyes. The door creaked slowly open and the blunt blue tip of a Peophin's nose peeked in.

      "Crystal? Are you alright?"

      Her owner snarled and began ripping up the paper.

      "Okay. Apparently not."

      Crystal gave up her futile efforts to claw her homework up into bits less than two millimeters in length, and leaned back in her chair, massaging her temples with weary fingers. "What is it, Syll?"

      Sylmarien slid fully into the room, her Halloween Peophin cape billowing out behind her slender form. "I'm going down to the Food Store. Lynn and Cryz've been eating for two hours straight and there isn't enough left in the house to feed a Mootix." The last sentence was stated with a general air of disapproval.

      "You don't want me to go with you?"

      "No, I know you have to finish that. I just need some money."

      Crystal nodded absently. "There's some in that drawer over there." The young human girl was now busily contorting her body to try and pick her pen up without getting up from the chair.

      There was a slight jingle as Sylmarien scooped out a bag of Neopoints. Glancing at her owner, who had her head stuck between her chair legs and one arm reaching for the bothersome pen, she shook her head. "Humans. Hasn't it ever occurred to them that it might just be easier to get up and pick the pen up in the first place?"

      There was a muffled protest from between the chair legs.

      Sylmarien ignored it, tucking the Neopoints safely into a small inside pocket in her cloak with one hoof and gliding gracefully out from the room.

      Ten seconds later, the chair promptly overbalanced, sending the unfortunate Crystal onto the floor in a tangle of arms and legs.

      "Oh, Sloth!"

~ * ~

Sylmarien eased carefully out of the Food Shop, her eyes barely able to make out the road between the massive bags of purchases she held in both arms. She made it until just outside the Pound without incident until the inevitable happened.

      "Can't you watch where you're going?" The flour-covered Shoyru sitting in the dusty road remarked cuttingly.

      The Halloween Peophin resisted the urge to tell him that no, she couldn't watch where she was going, and that he could have gotten out of her way in the first place. Biting her tongue, she busied herself scrambling round trying to get everything back into the bags where they belonged. When everything was back where it should be, with the exception of half the flour, she turned to the Shoyru to offer her curt apologies.

      He seemed to have forgotten about her. Dark, narrowed eyes rested upon a sobbing young owner coming out of the Pound. "See that?"

      "Huh?"

      "None of them actually mean it, you know." He didn't even seem to see her obvious confusion.

      "Mean it? Mean what?"

      "That! The crying, sad-faced thing. They're happy to be rid of you. Just putting on a show for other people's benefit."

      Sylmarien squirmed uncomfortably. She didn't like the position she was in. The Shoyru continued to ramble on, forgetting almost that she was still there. She got the distinct feeling that he told this same speech to whomever crossed his path.

      "Oh, don't believe the stories they say, kid. Some humans are alright, I suppose, but the ones who abandon... urgh. The Faeries know it was a mistake to put that place up in the first place. Lemme tell you this, kid, if anyone's ever abandoned anything to fend for itself, never trust that person. They never mean anything."

      "Not all humans are like that... I'm sure some of them had reasons for doing so..."

      The Shoyru snorted. "Don't give me that junk. They don't care a scrap about you, you're just here for their entertainment. If they cared peanuts about their pets, they wouldn't have thrown them in, now would they?"

      Syll had an answer to that, but the words stuck in her throat. She hurried away as fast as she could, leaving the Shoyru still standing there, staring with hard and angry eyes at the omnimous doors of the Pound. Now she realized why he hadn't stood aside when she's bumped into him. He'd been doing that very same thing, oblivious to the outside world, caught up the endless cycle of anger and hate and betrayal.

      Belatedly, she wondered how many others felt like that, betrayed by those they trusted and unable to forgive. Refusing to turn her head, she hurried on toward home. She didn't even pause to wipe away the tears that filled her eyes involuntarily.

~ * ~

"...mencapai tahap kegemilangannya dalam zaman pemerintahan..." Crystal muttered under her breath, scribbling down the words on a fresh paper.

      "What in Neopia are you talking about, Crystal?"

      The girl jumped with a high-pitched yelp of surprise, her pen once again dropping to the floor. "Lynn! Don't... do... that to me!"

      The Christmas Kyrii sitting on the open windowsill hopped down easily by way of the bed. "It's fun to see the look on your face. I still can't believe you never hear anything."

      "Alright, I admit it, my ears aren't as good as yours, okay? What did you want?"

      Julynea didn't reply, engrossed in her study of her owner's half-finished essay. "What language is that? It's not even Neopian!"

      Her owner ignored the question. "Lynn, for Fyora's sakes, next time just come in through the door, alright?"

      "Naw. It's too fun seeing you jump in horror." Her owner gave her an exasperated glance, and the Kyrii shrugged, absently twining the long emerald streak in her auburn hair around one paw. "Oh. I almost forgot. Cryz said to tell you that Syll's back. She's behaving kinda odd."

      "Odd?"

      "She hasn't cooked dinner yet."

      "Lynn!"

      The Kyrii raised both paws. "Okay, okay! We just asked her why she looked so weird when she came back from the Food Shop, and she said something like: 'Don't ask me! I don't know!', burst into tears and ran up to her room. Cryz thought we should tell you, so I went."

      "At least Cryz has better sense than you," Crystal harrumphed. CryztalFury, the oldest of the three pets and the most likely to swat Julynea over the head, was a Glowing Eyrie. Silent and lonerish and easily irritated by his hyper sister, it was no wonder he'd sent her up. Probably just to be rid of her for awhile, Crystal figured wryly.

      "Just leave her alone, okay? I'll talk to her later. Now out. By the door this time, if you don't mind."

      Her Christmas Kyrii hopped out the door, not bothering to shut it, and proceeded down the halls singing loudly and pointedly about dinner.

      Crystal groaned, and against her better judgement, got up to close the door herself. She hesitated upon her return and bent to pick up her pen as well. Oh well. As long as she was up anyway...

~ * ~

Auburn hair with golden streaks. The sweet aroma of fresh bread made with love and not from the Bakery. Laughter, a girl's voice, speaking words she could not recall, lost to her forever.

      It had been so long. Why couldn't she remember?

      A splash from the bowl beside her bed. Sylmarien barely even lifted her head, knowing her petpet Amber was anxious about her. The Primella's worry was lost on the Peophin, absorbed in her own thoughts.

      Be patient, Sylmarien, and never forget me.

      Words from her past. The only thing she could really remember.

      Why was she so affected by the Shoyru's words? It wasn't as if she could remember anything about how she came to be in the Pound before Crystal adopted her anyway. But the bitterness in his voice had clung to her, echoing in her mind.

      She'd simply never thought about it. Locked it out of her mind, except in the dark nights when she had lay in her bed, alone. Crystal's love, the new family she had found, had been a balm, soothing away the pain, but never curing it entirely. Face your past, Cryz had told her once. Look it in the face and accept it. Or you'll always be running.

      "How can I face it if I can't even remember it?" she burst out angrily.

      "Syll?" Julynea poked her head in. "Crystal said not to bother you, but the sun's gone down already and no one else here can cook for nuts..."

      "I'll be along," she muttered. The door closed, and she got up from her bed with a heavy sigh. As she eased herself off the bed, her slippery tail flukes slid on the equally slippery jelly floor. She let out a cry as she fell, hitting her head against the table lamp.

      Glaring at the offensive lamp still sitting serenely on the table, she raised a hoof to adjust it. A wave of dizziness swept over her, and as she fought against it, darkness tugged at her vision.

      The Halloween Peophin collapsed on the floor, limp, unconscious. Her owner and siblings would wait a long time for their dinner that night.

~ * ~

It wasn't a dream. Or maybe it was. Some realm beyond dreams, beyond memory, beyond what is called reality. She saw no one there, just a presence, the feeling that someone was waiting in the soft darkness.

      She stirred.

      *Sylmarien.*

      The voice was soft and soothing and compelling.

      *Sylmarien.... wake up.*

      The Peophin didn't want to. It was so comforting, so warm and soothing in that darkness. She didn't want to wake.

      Reluctantly, she opened her eyes and looked around. "Crystal? That you?"

      *No.*

      "Who are you? Show yourself!" The sheer impossibility of where she was began to intrude upon her. "This is a dream!"

      The walls were black, ebony - or perhaps there were no walls. She saw beyond them, the infinite stars in their ageless dance across the velvet throat of night. Death and the life arising from the ashes. Time eternal, a circle turning again and again as stars died and were reborn, deadly yet beautiful in the serene universe. And she sensed a presence about her, surrounding her. She was not alone.

      The images twisted, a spark of light appeared, expanded. A peculiarly familiar human figure emerged from it, bringing with her the radiance of heaven itself. She was insubstantial, her outline blurred, but she was there. Somehow. The stars dimmed somehow in that gentle glow, thrusting the area behind the Peophin into shadow.

      *Sylmarien,* a voice seemed to whisper. *You've grown so much.*

      She backed away. "No. No. This is a dream. A dream!"

      *In a way. I cannot reach you otherwise, you understand.*

      "Get away from me! Send me back!" she spluttered frantically.

      *You must face it, or forever be incomplete... Syll, you must face your past. There is nothing to be ashamed of in it. Why are you so afraid? Afraid of what you never knew? Afraid of how happy you used to be?*

      "Happy? I was happy?"

      The dream image wavered, then solidified, the presence no longer echoing but from a specific direction. A beautiful, yet curiously familiar girl, dressed all in flowing white, her greenish eyes and golden-streaked auburn hair contrasting perfectly against the pure unblemished whiteness of her clothing. Freckles on her cheeks gave her an impish, mischievous look, swirling milky-white clouds, mistier and softer than those that formed the clouds of Faerieland, where Sylmarien lived, seemed to embrace the dream image, enfolding her in a shimmering halo of light.

      A slim hand touched her muzzle gently. *Don't be ashamed, Syll. Tears shed for the past are sometimes necessary. And yours was not the betrayal others have experienced.*

      "But what... who..."

      *I must go.*

      A bright light seemed to glow behind the girl. Dimly, Sylmarien could hear voices, voices she remembered and could dimly place.

      *I'll always be there for you, Sylmarien. Don't forget me.*

      Her shimmering form seemed to fade - the light behind grew brighter. "No! Come back!" the Halloween Peophin cried, even as she shielded her face from the blinding light. "Who are you?"

      A voice came back to her, soft yet compelling. *Never forget me...*

      The light grew brighter and brighter until it was incandescent, then slowly faded, until she had sunk once more into an enfolding blanket of darkness.

~ * ~

"Crystal, wake up!"

      Crystal pulled the covers over her head. "Go 'way," she mumbled.

      Julynea glowered at her owner. "Syll wants to talk to you," she insisted.

      "Wanna shleep... firs'..." The teenage girl buried her face in her pillow and curled up in a tighter ball over the covers. The Christmas Kyrii prodded the prone body of her owner with one white paw, which simply gave birth to a few more unintelligible mumbles.

      The Kyrii rolled her eyes and reached for a large bucket she had carried in from the bathroom.

      "YEAAARGHHH!!!"

      Crystal was still shivering as she got out of her drenched bed and peeled off her wet shirt.

      "You asked for it," Julynea reminded her smugly from where she stood with her back turned.

      "Maybe, but ice water?"

      "I don't care. You still asked for it. In case you haven't noticed, it's noon. And Syll woke up from when she was unconscious last night."

      "Syll..." Crystal's mind suddenly reconnected. "She woke up?"

      "Yup."

      "Why didn't you wake me up sooner?"

      "I did, but you just rolled over and went back to sleep."

      "Why didn't you pour water on me then?"

      "I DID!"

      "Oh."

 ~ * ~

"All hail the queen," CryztalFury said sardonically as his owner entered the room, her long dark hair still bearing evidence of the bucket of cold water. "Only you could possibly sleep from eleven o'clock last night until past noon today."

      "Just put a negg in it, Cryz," Crystal growled under her breath. The Glowing Eyrie rolled his eyes, twitched his flame-touched wings and tail as if to emphasize it. "Syll, what did you want to say?" she continued.

      The Halloween Peophin hadn't spoken a word since her owner had entered, instead sitting twisting the hem of her ebony cloak in both hooves. She chewed her lower lip nervously now, and her hooves tightened on the hem.

      "Well," she began hesitantly, "It's like this..."

~ * ~

"I love you," the young teenage girl whispered to the newborn Peophoal clutched tightly in her arms. "You and me, we'll go a long way together."

      The Peophoal giggled, it's huge eyes dancing with excitement, squirming around in it's owner's arms.

      The girl with auburn hair laughed again, cuddling Sylmarien close.

      Some might have considered their life poor, indeed hovering on the brink of poverty. Their Neohome was a miserable cardboard one with three rooms, located on the very fringes of Neopia Central. The girl never bothered to make any money beyond what they needed to feed themselves, and Sylmarien had to do many of the chores about the house. But to the young Peophin, it was home, and home could not have been more wonderful. Home was among the ragged weeds in the garden, or outside in the country, along the very edge of the Endless Plains. Home was in her owner's constant smile and laughter. Home was hers, and she could not have been more content.

      The girl's name was Celia. She was a pale, thin, girl who walked with a limp, often sickly and frail. The only touch of colour about her was the flaming red hair streaked with gold and the emerald green eyes that seemed to see through everything. But for all her plainness and lack of physical beauty, Sylmarien saw in her an angel who could never be quenched or defeated. The girl cherished the love her pet gave her, so trusting and wholly devoted compared to others, and returned it threefold with a love of her own.

      For a few months, it was bliss.

      For a few months.

      Then one day, the girl had returned to the Neohome crying. Not even the pleas of her beloved pet could calm her. She had been getting weaker now for a long time. Now she was sick again, her shoulders shaking with every horrible hollow cough that seemed to tear her frail body apart. No one could make her better. No doctor. No faerie. No one.

      And now she was too weak, too weak to enter Neopia ever again.

      "What about the Healing Springs?" Sylmarien suggested urgently. "The Water Faerie can cure anything!"

      Celia hiccuped. "No... it's not a Neopian disease... no one here can help me. Syll, my Syll... you know I'm doing this for you... I can't do anything else..." The tears streamed down her sunken cheeks despairingly.

      A horrible possibility dawned on the Peophin. "You can't... not the Pound... please..." She backed away, her mind refusing to accept it, rejecting the possibility.

     "I thought you loved me!"

      "Syll..."

      "No!" Tears threatened to break, but she held them in. "You promised! You said you'd never leave me!"

      "I'll always be with you, Sylmarien," Celia said quietly. "Always."

      The Peophin's lower lip trembled, her defenses came crashing down around her. "Please..." She stared at her owner, willing her to gather her in her arms and assure her not to worry, that it was all a joke, that Celia would be staying and everything would be all right again.

      "I'm sorry..." The auburn-haired girl took a deep breath, stilling her crying, closing her eyes. For a moment she looked once again as she had before, when she had romped with her pet in the woods and the fields, not the pale wasted figure she had become over the past few weeks. For a moment the old strength came back, the strength of will that had always convinced her pet that the girl was an angel, sent to guide her in the world.

      Then she opened her eyes again, and it was gone, the reality came crashing in once more. "It's hopeless for me, Syll," Celia said sadly. "But perhaps you might still have a future..."

* * *

"Someone will come," Celia promised. "Be patient, Sylmarien. And never forget me."

      The girl walked away, out of the huge swinging doors of the Pound. She never looked back, never hesitated.

      "Celia!" Sylmarien screamed. "Celia!"

      The auburn hair faded from view behind the doors.

      "No!"

      "C'mon, girl, go in!" Dr. Death grunted, trying to pull her toward the inner part of the building.

      "Come back!"

      "She's not coming back, kid! Face it!"

      "NOOOOOO!!!"

      Her tail flukes slipped on the tiled floor. Sylmarien slumped to the ground, a faint trickle of blood trailing down her sea-blue mane from where she had hit her head on the hard porcelain.

      And then there was nothing but the darkness. Not anymore.

~ * ~

"I don't know why I remembered only now," Sylmarien faltered. "Just that..."

      Her owner placed a comforting arm about her shoulders. "Sylmarien, while you were unconscious, I got Cryz to carry you down to the Neopian Hospital. The Gelert doctor told us that the blow affected you badly because there was already a scar there, where you had been injured before. That blow to your head granted you back what you had lost." The arm curled tighter, more protectively about the slender Peophin. "Celia loved you, Syll. She did. But she's gone now, you have to face it."

      The Halloween Peophin raised her head, her eyes shining with tears, mixed with an almost palpable determination. "Tell them, Crystal. Tell the whole world. Write my story out, and tell everyone that not everybody who abandons their pet is dirt."

      "I will, Syll. I will."

The End

      Authors note: A different look on people who abandon their pets -- which has probably been done to death a couple million times by authors a lot better than me. Meh. At least you can't say I didn't try...

This entire story was revamped when I realized how cruddy the writing actually was. The original was written over a year ago, which is pretty pathetic. I used to be quite proud of it. Now it's... yeuck. *shudder*

P.S. I still haven't finished my History essay.

 
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