Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 131,950,016 Issue: 271 | 22nd day of Celebrating, Y8
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Holidays with a Kougra

by miliane085


It was snowing.

     That was the first thing Melianna noticed when she looked outside. The view from the first-floor window of a small, cosy house was breathtaking. The earth was all white, the trees covered with frost and their branches were all heavy with snow. Even though Melianna was a brown Xweetok, raised on the mild Roo Island, she was still a Xweetok with a thick fur, and she loved the snow. That had been one of the reasons she had been so happy when her family had moved to the Terror Mountain a while ago. It had been late autumn back then, the earth had not yet been all white but the trees and bushes had been still red with yellow hue. It was not a wintery place throughout the whole year like it was in the upper region of the mountain, but summers and falls were still very short compared to the ones in Roo Island. Melianna absolutely loved to live in there.

     And this seemed to be going to be a wonderful day.

     The excited young Xweetok run out of her room, the door slamming harshly behind her.

     "Aleanna! Wake up! It's snowing!" she screamed and pulled other door open. The sleepy baby Xweetok lifted her head from the pillows, and rubbed her eyes.

     "Snow?" the little Xweetok asked. It was her first winter in a place where it actually was frost in the winter, and she had never seen snow before. Melianna swished her tail impatiently, and after Aleanna had finally gotten up, pushed her little sister towards the door.

     "That's what I said! Come on!"

     The two young Xweetoks rushed downstairs, Melianna pulling Aleanna behind her. The little one was not yet completely awake, and was still rubbing her eyes. Melianna, however, stiffened as they entered the kitchen and stopped right there as if she had run against a wall. Her tail immediately swayed between her legs.

     She saw a white Kougra standing in the room.

     Now, as everyone knows, Xweetoks tend to be wary of Kougras, and Melianna definitely was not an exception. When she had been only a little Xweetok, a couple of Kougras had bullied her and that had only strengthened her prejudices. Of course she knew that they most likely had not been like regular Kougras but only a mean and stupid lot, but it didn't help her at all. Kougras were simply unreliable and it was impossible to know what they were going to do next and what the reasons behind their actions were.

     "Mom," Melianna asked a little uncertainly. "What is he doing here," she said and pointed at their guest.

     "Now now, Mel, don't be rude," a girl, who had been preparing breakfast in the kitchen the whole time, said. "Snowstar is a pet of my friend, and they are staying here during the holidays."

     "Staying! But Mom..."

     "No buts. Now, why wouldn't you two try to get to know each others?"

     And that was how the days passed. Out of Melianna's owner's demands, she had to spend time with the Kougra she partly feared and partly detested. Mostly when the three were playing together--Aleanna seemed to have developed a love for snow equal to her sister--Melianna simply ignored the Kougra, but played by the rules and didn't really do anything to provoke any fights. She simply let Aleanna talk to him and concentrated in pouting instead.

     Snowstar, on the other hand, didn't seem to mind Melianna's behaviour. He was apparently having fun and enjoyed the younger Xweetok's company. Aleanna also grew to like him and almost consider him to be her big brother. So no one can really blame Melianna for getting more and more worried each day. Who could say if Aleanna would begin to like Snowstar over her sister, admire him more... Melianna was determined to do something.

     The next morning when the three went to play outside, Melianna was a lot more enthusiastic than before. "Why wouldn't we go skiing today," she asked, a little mischief glinting in her eyes. Even though she had had not that much practise with her new skis, she was certain she would be better at skiing than that annoying Kougra.

     Snowstar looked at her, at first a little surprised, but smiled then. "Sure, why not?"

     Their skiing trip went a little further than Melianna had anticipated. And it didn't take long before she had noticed that Snowstar was indeed a good skier. That annoyed her more than it should have, and after a while she only snapped when someone spoke to her.

     After skiing about half of an hour the arrived to a rather large cliff but which was gently sloping enough to allow a pleasant descent. Snowstar went first and made it down fine. Aleanna didn't trust her skills enough and simply walked down the hill. There was no way Melianna could do the same.

     For good or for bad, she started to ski, slowly at first, but the speed was quickly building up. She closed her eyes and tried to slow down the whole time but simply wasn't able to do so. Of course she fell.

     Melianna glared at Snowstar.

     "Don't laugh at me!" she said behind her teeth and shook the snow from her fur.

     The Kougra swallowed his chuckles and raised his eyebrow. "You have to admit that your fall with that somersault looked quite funny. You would have laughed, too, if it had been me."

     Aleanna was hiding her giggles behind her paw.

     "You Kougras are all the same," Melianna said, fighting back her tears that were so burning behind her lids. She felt so humiliated. She had wanted to show that annoying, confident quest that she was not such a wimpy, fussing creature she knew Kougras considered Xweetoks to be. "Always laughing at others' accidents! You are an insensitive mean lot, all of you!"

     Snowstar only rolled his eyes.

     "Just like all the Xweetoks are only small, geeky creatures with a lot of fur, worthy only of teasing."

     "We are not!" Melianna shouted, visibly shaking with rage. "I have been training with a few other Xweetoks, and any of us could take any Kougra down in the Battledome! None of us fusses about anything, and we are not wimpy or stupid! It's so typical, no Kougra ever sees behind anyone's..."

     "And what exactly is that what you are doing then?" Snowstar asked, sarcasm dripping from his voice. "You don't seem to notice many individuals among Kougras either, do you? We are but big bullies, aren't we? How exactly does your attitude differ from theirs?"

     Words stopped in Melianna's throat, and her eyes widened.

     "From the moment we first met, you have been all but openly hostile towards me. For all I recall, before meeting you I had done nothing to you to deserve such treatment."

     "It's not the same thing..." Melianna muttered.

     "Yes it is!" the Kougra bellowed. Melianna simply turned around and flied. She had to get away.

     The young Xweetok spent most of the coming days avoiding Snowstar's demanding gaze. The more she had considered his words, the more she had to admit that he had been right. She had never really thought about the fact that those Kougras that had back then bullied her had also bullied others, including other Kougras. She had known that they were simply mean, but hadn't thought that other Kougras necessarily weren't nothing like them, not even a milder version of them. She had had no right to see all her prejudices appearing in Snowstar.

     But the Day of Giving was approaching, and Melianna knew that she had no choice but to join the dinner together with her family and Snowstar. And she had not yet apologised him, and had absolutely no idea how she could do that.

     When she was, as usually those days, sitting alone in her room, she heard timid knocks coming from her door. She didn't believe Snowstar would be so polite, and if the intruder would be her mom or her sister, she wouldn't mind. So she simply told the knocker to come in.

     It was Aleanna.

     "Why don't you come outside anymore," the little Xweetok asked while shutting the door behind her. "It's not so much fun to play without you."

     Melianna smiled a little sadly. "I haven't really been in the mood for playing lately," she said.

     Aleanna shrugged. "Anyway, could you help me to wrap these gifts? I'm not a very good wrapper."

     The brown Xweetok smiled a little happier, and nodded. "Of course."

     The two sisters worked together and soon Aleanna's presents were wrapped beautifully.

     "I really hope Snowstar will like the scarf I give him," Aleanna said when she left.

     Melianna buried her face in her paws. She hadn't even remembered that little thing. She got up from the floor and walked to the window and looked outside again, her gaze wondering towards the top of the mountain.

     And then she knew what she had to do.

     The Day of Giving arrived, and everyone was still happy about last night's turkey dinner. It had been a relief for Melianna that Snowstar hadn't talked to her much during the festivities, she was still so embarrassed of the way she had acted. She was finishing the turkey sandwich she had prepared herself for breakfast when she heard how the others began to open the presents, and rushed to join them.

     She looked expectantly for Snowstar to open one particular present... hers. And finally he did.

     He unwrapped an Ice Sword.

     Everyone looked at Melianna.

     "I got it from the Snowager," she said, looking as calm as she could. "I thought you would need it since otherwise I beat you in the Battledome way too easily."

     "We'll see about that," Snowstar said and smiled a little wryly.

     On the other side of the room, when nobody was looking at her, the girl smiled happily. Her plan had worked better than fine.

The End

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