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Honest Lu: Part Two


by puppy_girl252

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Part Two: Forgiveness

"Cherry!" Libby cried, running up to her with open arms as she walked through the door of the little sewing.

     "Cherry, Lukio! Where's Rachel?" Fawn asked, her large eyes full of worry. Lukio hovered by the door, her mouth in a thin line as she glanced over all the fearful looks on their little faces.

     "Yeah!" Shockra said, rather scared. Her big smile curved into a big frown. "Where's Rachel?"

     "Rachel's not coming," Cherry said, her voice sad and lost. She began opening her Angelpuss backpack and taking out her sewing supplies.

     The little sewers' mouths fell open.

     Reuben's bulgy eyes grew big. "No Rachel?!" he whined, his fat lip trembling.

     "But why?" Salvadore whimpered.

     Because...

     Rachel's leg was broken.

     Bad, you may say, in two places. And for the next couple weeks she was bedridden, which meant no more baby sitting boisterous baby Nimmos or walking naughty nipping Niptors. No more baking delectable chocolate or sugar cookies for the little pound children, and no more running around and laughing and being free. For two weeks she couldn't leave her bed. She couldn't do anything. And because she was bedridden... she couldn't help the little sewers sew.

     No one knew what exactly had caused Rachel's fall. Some said she just tripped, some said she was just plain clumsy. The hallway of Neoschool was too crowded and distracted for anyone to know for sure.

     But someone did know.

     Because Lukio knew.

     ***

     Rachel stared absently out of her bedroom window at the world around her in which she couldn't touch. Free singing Beekadoodles floated by, caroling a melody of the joyous wonder at being wild and free and having the splendor of doing whatever you pleased.

     Rachel sighed. Her right leg was propped up on a starry pillow her brother had lent her. It hurt dully, but just about every part of Rachel seemed to ache furiously with a wistful pang. But nothing, Rachel believed, ached worse than her heart.

     She missed seeing the jubilant faces of the little sewers as she helped them sew. She missed feverishly how they laughed and teased and made fun. She bit her lip. She missed Cherry, and her bossy temptations. And Lukio, and her kindness and honesty.

     All she did since her inadvertent displeasure was stay in bed and do nothing. And that bored Rachel, but she knew the more she stayed in bed to get rest, the faster she'd heal. The faster she'd heal, the faster she'd get to see the little sewers. It was her own fault anyway, wasn't it? Why did she have to be so clumsy!?

     ***

     It had been three days without Rachel, and the little sewing room seemed dull and lost.

     "Reuben, I know you miss Rachel, but please, don't try to eat the quilt, okay?" Cherry sighed, her brows furrowing and her mouth pressing into a thin line.

     The little sewers were nearly finished with their mini quilts. Days to come would show that.

     Lukio gathered all of the patterns and laid them out on the desks so that the little sewers could choose which color they wanted next. Only she had no heart in it. Lukio's mind spun with agony and a heavy blanket of fog weighed down with guilt rested upon her shoulders, making it utterly impossible for her to crack a smile.

     Lukio had done something awful. Terrible... she had done something terrible.

     After the fourth day, she couldn't take it any longer. She had to tell Rachel the truth... the truth behind her unfortunate fall.

     ***

     "Hey, Rachel," Luna, Rachel's owner, whispered, poking her dark-haired head through Rachel's bedroom door. "Oh, I thought you might be sleeping." A smile formed on her face and her voice raised a little. "Lukio's here to see you." And then Luna was gone.

     Rachel sat up. It wasn't unusual for Lukio to come, for she and Cherry had come every day since her accident to cheer her up. Only she hadn't realized it until now that Cherry had done most of the cheering up, and Lukio was mute.

     "Hey, Rach..." Lukio said softly, forcing a smile on her face to belie the horrible truth she knew. She walked into her room. She was carrying a basket.

     "Lukio! I'm so glad you're here." Rachel smiled hugely, for she was glad Lukio was there.

     Lukio cringed. She hated seeing Rachel smiling like that when she was only doing it to cover up all the pain and longing she held locked up inside. Her eyes were worn and tired and her forcefully cheery voice made Lukio's stomach churn.

     If only Rachel knew.

     Lukio walked over and set the basket on Rachel's side table. "I brought you some of Crystal's cloud muffins..." she said heartlessly. Her heart ached viciously as she saw the lost, wistful look in Rachel's blue eyes. Rachel longed to be up. She longed to be with the little sewers.

     Lukio suddenly hated herself with all force. How could she have been so stupid? Why did she have to get jealous? Why couldn't she just accept the fact that the little sewers liked Rachel more? She bit her lip.

     "Thank you so much," Rachel said, her eyes dancing. She took a deep whiff of them. "Mmm... they smell delicious."

     Lukio couldn't tell her. She couldn't hurt her best friend! But... she already had, hadn't she?

     Rachel noticed the sick look on her shadow friend's face. "Lu?" she asked, cocking her head slightly. "Are you okay?"

     Lukio bit her lip harder and felt unwanted tears filling her midnight-blue eyes.

     Rachel gazed at her sympathetically, her brows furrowing with concern. "Lu..." she stammered. "Why are you... crying?" Rachel felt a rush of faint tears fill her own eyes. She couldn't bare seeing others cry, let alone her best friend.

     Lukio was silent a moment. "I'm sorry, Rachel..." she whispered painfully, earnestly. "I'm so, so sorry..."

     Rachel seemed confused. "Sorry? Sorry for what?" she asked, a little twinge of worry gnawing at her. She reached her paw out to touch to her friend's arm.

     Lukio drew away in heartbeat, avoiding Rachel's hurt gaze. Her eyes burned with stinging hot tears of guilt.

     Stupid Lukio! Stupid Lukio! You hurt your friend! She'll never like you anymore! Why'd you do it? What made you do it, Lukio? What?!

     Rachel gazed at her. "Lukio...?"

     Tell her, Lukio. Tell her now!

     Lukio swallowed some tears before she spoke. "Rachel..." she started softly. "I... I tripped you, Rachel..."

     Lukio fled. She ran as fast as she could out of Rachel's room and down her steps and out of her front door. She didn't stop. She had tripped Rachel... It was all her fault Rachel was bedridden. It was all her fault Rachel couldn't see the little sewers.

     Stupid Lukio! Stupid Lukio!

     She couldn't stop crying.

     Rachel only stared with big eyes of hurt and anger and confusion. Bewilderment and sorrow twisted in her heart, making her frozen in her place, unable to breathe or think straight.

     Lukio had... tripped her?

     It all made sense now. Lukio, standing by the stairs... that look on her face... and then, as Rachel walked by... it would've been so easy to reach out her foot and trip her. And Rachel was too blind with anger and strife to acknowledge the foot that had touched her leg... the foot she had tripped over....

     Rachel sat, her mind whirling and whirling and disbelief spiraling in her head. She didn't want to believe those horrible, horrible words she had heard... But they were true all the same.

     Lukio had tripped her.

     ***

     "Hey, Lu... I came over with May. I just got back from seeing Rachel... what's the matter with her? She looked torn, worse she's been this whole time. She wouldn't speak at me, wouldn't look at me... Do you have any clue what happened?"

     Lukio didn't answer Cherry. Yesterday she had told Rachel the truth. When would she tell Cherry?

     Cherry stood in the doorway of her bedroom. "Lukio?"

     Lukio sat on her bed, staring at her twiddling paws in her lap.

     Cherry became ticked. "Lu, are you going to answer me or not?" she snapped, trying to keep her anger under control. Her concern for Rachel made her unable to keep calm.

     Lukio's head jerked up so that her eyes were locked into Cherry's. "I..." She knew she must also tell Cherry. Cherry deserved it. She was Rachel's friend too, after all. "I..." she tried again. She couldn't say it. She couldn't!

     "Yeah, go on," ordered Cherry, her bossy blue eyes glaring. "You what?"

     Lukio felt new tears flood her eyes. "I did something awful, Cherry."

     Cherry's eyes widened. She suddenly became very interested, only she had no idea that the awful thing was that she had hurt her best friend. "What? What did you do? Something reeeeeally awful?"

     Lukio whimpered, "Yes..."

     Cherry stood, waiting. "Well?"

     Lukio didn't answer.

     Cherry clenched her teeth. She marched over and gave Lukio's shoulders a rough shake. "Lukio! Lukio! I'm your friend! I'm Cherry! I need to know! Tell me what you did, NOW!"

     Lukio stood up and pushed Cherry away from her. "I TRIPPED RACHEL!" she exploded, a river of tears spilling down her cheeks.

     Her words hung in the air, sucking the jubilant life out of everything. The following horror-stricken silence was unbearable.

     Cherry stood... speechless... her eyes wide in disbelief... "You...what?" she choked.

     "I tripped Rachel!" Lukio shouted again, tearfully. "I tripped her! I did it! It was no accident!" she wailed, anguish and guilt in every word.

     Cherry gasped in horror. "But... why?" she asked fearfully.

     "Because I was jealous!" Lukio sobbed, throwing her arms helplessly in the air. "I was jealous of Rachel getting all the attention from the little sewers! That's why! It was wrong, but that's why!"

     It took Cherry a few moment to regain herself. When she realized what Lukio had just said was true, her eyes flared up with burning hate. "I can't believe you," she snapped coldly.

     Lukio sat crying helplessly, unable to speak.

     Cherry stepped forward. "Lukio... how dare you..."

     Lukio sniffled. "I'm sorry," she whispered pitifully in the teeniest, tiniest voice.

     Cherry snarled. "Yeah?! And you think sorry will fix Rachel?"

     Lukio didn't answer.

     "You think you can just go apologize to Rachel and she'd be totally cool about it?"

     "I did," squeaked Lukio, "apologize..."

     Cherry looked at her in raging disbelief. "Okay, so how did it go?" she asked smartly, her voice coated with outrage.

     Lukio didn't answer once again.

     "Lukio.... what kind of friend are you?" Cherry whispered tearfully, her heart aching.

     Lukio looked up, such sadness and disgrace clouding her eyes. "Awful," she said, her voice barely a whisper.

     Cherry clenched her teeth. "Lukio, do you realize what you did? You hurt Rachel! Now she can't do anything! Especially the thing she loves most, which is being with the little sewers!" Cherry growled in an enraged tone. "Lukio, how could you do such a thing?" She wanted desperately to reach out and slap the face that had hurt her friend. But she held her paw back in case of any frantic blow she might feel the need to pull.

     Lukio sniffed. "I know what I did... And I didn't mean to, Cherry! I mean... I did... but I didn't-"

     Cherry hissed, her eyes burning with hatred and Lukio could see the fire that blazed with such animosity. "Lukio... I hate you... Why couldn't you just let Rachel have the attention? The little kids loved her! You hurt Rachel... You broke her... therefore..."

     Lukio sat stiffly on her bed with such aching guilt, she felt her heart might actually be broken... She waited for Cherry's next words.

     Cherry shook her head. "You're not my friend anymore." She had said it. It hurt her with a such an unbearable ache, but she had said it. And it was true.

     Lukio looked up. "No, Cherry..." she said, pleadingly. "No... don't say that!" She reached out to touch her arm.

     Cherry flew back and hissed. "Get away from me, you monster!" she shrieked.

     Lukio's face twisted up with horrible tears.

     There was silence in the little bedroom, silence that nearly killed Lukio and her shameful, shameful self...

     Cherry shook her head again. "I... I can't believe I was actually making a puppet for you..." she said quietly, her voice quavering with disbelief.

     Lukio looked up, sniffling. "Wh... what?" Had she heard right?

     Cherry sourly dug in her Angelpuss backpack and retrieved a shadow Xweetok puppet. It had dark blue buttons for eyes and a sweet stitched smile. "I thought since you had made me and Rachel friendship puppets, that you deserved one too," she said tartly.

     Lukio gasped softly under breath. Oh... Cherry. Her Cherry! Her friend who complained about puppets...made her a puppet? A friendship puppet?

     "But it doesn't matter," Cherry said quietly, coldly. "We aren't friends anymore...."

     And then Lukio gasped again when she saw Cherry's blue eyes filling with... tears... Because Cherry never cried.

     "I... I give up, Lukio..." she said softly in defeat. She gave up? "I give up trying to be your friend..." And then Cherry fled. She slammed Lukio's bedroom door and left her past friend crying softly in her misery. She ran down the stairs of Crystal's neohome, blinded by tears.

     "Aw, that's a keeper," she heard Crystal say to her owner, May, who was over for the day with her little neopets. She was showing Crystal a drawing her little Shapay drew of a baby Xweetok.

     The two friends sat at the table in Crystal's kitchen, papers and pencils and crayons sprawled everywhere. All their little baby neopets gathered at the table and drew and colored, laughing like little children and smiling big, happy smiles.

     "Wiiwa! Don't cowor on my papew!" little Shapay squealed, the baby Xweetok snatching her paper from her baby Eyrie sister, who was dressed like a princess.

     Wiira's face twisted up. "Mommy! Shapay's not sharing!" She grabbed the purple crayon from Shapay's little paw.

     Shapay grabbed it back, and both girls growled and snapped at each other like little toddlers would do.

     "Hey, girls, that's enough," May ordered her little pets, eying them sternly. "You don't see Charlee acting up now, do you?" She pointed to Crystal's baby Gelert named Charlee, who was just sitting there, drawing innocently.

     Crystal grinned as she spooned Forest Fruit Baby Food into little Carrie's mouth, who was her little baby Xweetok with a silky blue bow in her tuft if hair. "That's right," she said smartly. "And if a certain little baby Xweetok and baby Eyrie were to be good, then maybe Crystal will have a surprise for them." Her blue-green eyes sparkled.

     Wiira and Shapay stopped what they were doing and looked up at Crystal, their eyes wide with interest.

     "Suwpwise?" little Shapay asked hopefully. "What kinda suwpwise?"

     Wiira fluttered her tiny Eyrie wings. "I like surprises!"

     May laughed, and Crystal put down Carrie's Forest Fruit Baby Food jar on the counter, walking over to the cupboard and retrieving a filled cookie jar.

     Wiira and Shapay squealed with delight.

     May giggled. "Gee, thanks, Crystal. I guess... Hm?" She stopped as she saw Cherry and her sad face appear in the kitchen doorway. Everybody turned to stare at her.

     Cherry didn't look at them as she walked over to the front door of Crystal's little blue house in Terror Mountain. She slung her backpack back on her back, staring at the ground, tears flooding her eyes.

     "Ch-cherry?" May asked, her voice filling with concern.

     Cherry was silent a moment. "We're leaving, Mom," she said stiffly and tearfully, and half ordered it. "Please?" she whispered a few moments later, wiping tears from her eyes with her paw.

     May threw a concerned glance at Crystal, whose brows furrowed, and she wondered what could be wrong.

     May sighed. "Okay, kiddies, time to go." She got up from the table.

     Wiira and Shapay protested.

     "Aw, but Mommy!" Shapay whimpered. "We wanna stay and cowow with Chawwee!"

     "Yeah!" Wiira said, flapping her feathery wings pleadingly.

     May glared. "No, come on. Cherry wants to leave."

     Two reluctant baby neopets jumped down from the table and shuffled over to the front door, pouty looks on their little faces.

     May hurried over to the stairs. "Padfoot!" she called up to her baby Lupe. "Padfoot, come on!"

     They heard a series of stomping and galloping down the hall and then two baby Lupes appeared, wearing pirate costumes. "Yes, Mommy?" little Padfoot asked, blinking his eyes, one of which was patched, like a pirate.

     And then suddenly everyone heard the door slam. Cherry was gone.

     May sighed deeply. "Come on, Padfoot, we're leaving," she said.

     Padfoot glanced at Sywun, Crystal's baby Lupe. "But I don't wanna leave," he barked, looking down at his owner with puppy eyes.

     "Come on, Padfoot, I'm not playing around. We need to leave," May said, looking back to where her little baby neopets were standing, shuffling still.

     Padfoot sighed and then said to Sywun, "See ya, Sye." He began to trudge down the steps.

     "You know, May," Crystal said, wiping a persistent Carrie's mouth with a napkin. "I could drop Padfoot off later when I head to town to pick up Mitchie from music lessons."

     May looked pleased. "So it won't be a problem?"

     "Not at all." Crystal smiled, a dimpled-smile. Her eyes were happy. Crystaline liked doing favors.

     May smiled. "Gee, thanks." See then shuffled her young pets out of the door, waving goodbye. Padfoot and Sywun whooped with joy and then tumbled back up the steps.

     Crystal sighed and shook her head, smiling. She then looked at her youngest baby neopet, baby Carolyne, or Carrie for short, and then her second youngest, Charlee. She sank into a chair. "Gee, Charlee Bear, I wonder what's wrong with your sister. I wonder if she and Cherry got into a fight."

     Charlee scribbled some pink crayon onto her paper. "Maybe," she said.

     Crystal looked thoughtful. She sighed. She hoped that whatever it was, they were friends enough to sort it out.

     ***

     Cherry ran. She ran and ran and ran, and Cherry didn't much like to run. But she couldn't wait for May. She wouldn't help. She'd only bombard her with questions Cherry couldn't muster the answers to.

     She stopped, completely out of breath, a stitch tearing at her side. Cherry sighed. A few tears still stumbled down her face, and she gripped Lukio's friendship puppet, the one she had made her, and had an impulse to throw it into the river.

     It was tempting. The river was right there, and it was be so easy to toss it in and watch with pleasure as it got swallowed up in the current, much like her friendship with Lukio had gotten swallowed up in lies.

     Cherry clenched her teeth. She still couldn't believe Lukio had done such a thing. This was Lukio they were talking about! Honest Lu! The one who never lied and who never tried to belie anything! Cherry was so confused. She had honestly cared so much about those little sewers and the attention they gave her? Obviously, or she wouldn't have gone and committed that horrible act.

     Cherry held the friendship puppet in her paw. She was surprised when she saw her paw trembling. She had made the puppet herself. It was an okay puppet, not fancy like Rachel's, or perfect like Lukio's... but it was a good puppet for Cherry. Cherry felt she actually liked puppets. Maybe not crazy in love with them, but she did. She almost smiled as she thought about how silly she was all those weeks ago when Lukio had first mentioned they were making puppets, how upset she was. She was happy now.

     But then her teeth bared and her fist tightened, crushing the puppet. Lukio! She hated her. It was because of her she felt all this anger and pain and anguish. Wasn't it?

     She looked at the puppet in her paw. Do it, she told herself. Throw it. It'll be easy.

     She sighed, and then headed home, puppet in paw.

     It wasn't that easy.

     ***

     For the next four days, the three used-to-be friends stumbled about in anger and confusion and guilt.

     Rachel stayed in bed, her leg healing some, and Cherry and Lukio heartlessly helped the little sewers, not making eye contact and not talking to one another. A few times Lukio tried to cast a smile at Cherry, a pleading smile. Please forgive me, the smile said.

     But Cherry's face twisted up and she hatefully flashed a scowl. Never, the scowl said coldly.

     Lukio was helping Shockra one day, when little Lava caught her eye. She remembered then that she had made a promise to herself, a promise to make little melancholy Lava smile. She wondered if she could do it. But then her heart tightened with determination. She could! And she would, too.

     She walked over to Lava, walking by Cherry as if she were nothing but a desk, or a stool. Cherry ignored her too.

     Lukio pulled out the chair next to Lava the grey Zafara and sat down. She studied her quilt. "Hey, Lava... that's a pretty nice quilt."

     Lava didn't answer, but she continued sewing. She maneuvered the thread and wove the quilt square onto the full quilt. Lukio thought it was pretty good. Really good, in fact. And then Lukio froze, her eye catching on something in Lava's lap. It was the puppet she had made her.

     Lukio smiled pleasurably, compassion welling in her heart. So she had liked her puppet! A small tingle of thrill raced up her spine. "Hey, Lava... I couldn't help but notice the puppet in your lap. You like it, huh?" Lukio half expected her to answer.

     Only there was none.

     Lukio's heart welled with defeat. She'd never get Lava to smile. Never ever ever! She sighed tearfully. "Fine," she sniffed, getting up and pushing in her chair, walking away to go help a little sewer who actually appreciated her compassion.

     Lukio didn't notice, but when she had walked away, Lava lifted her head and stared after her. Her gloomy, glossy red eyes filled with hurt. She actually felt sorry for Lukio.

     ***

     "Lukio, I'm going to give my Mama my quilt when I'm finished," Salvadore said, as he smiled down at he nearly finished quilt.

     "Really?" Lukio asked, trying to sound cheerful. "That's sweet, Sal."

     "I'm giving mine to my Mom too!" Shockra gushed, a humongous smile blazing on her face.

     "I'm giving mine to my sister, Lucy," Fawn said sweetly, her giant bow bobbing as she nodded her head.

     Lukio smiled, a fake smile. "That's really sweet, you guys. They'll love them for sure." Lukio snuck a glance at Cherry. She was admiring Libby's work, and praising the little pink Wocky for her hard-working demeanor. She caught Lukio's gaze, and her eyes burned up with hate and she looked quickly away back to Libby, laughing at something the little Wocky had said.

     Lukio's lip trembled. She got up and walked to the other side of the classroom, pretending to search through some patterns, but really she was... pouting.

     She longed for Cherry and Rachel to be her friends again. She missed them soooo, sooooo much, it hurt her that they hadn't spoken in days, that actually seemed like eternities to Lukio. She sighed, twiddling with some spool of pink thread. She suddenly felt a pretense behind her and froze, listening.

     "L... lukio?" the small voice asked uncertainly, a little quivering edge to it.

     Lukio listened, but for some reason, the voice didn't seem recognizable. And that was only because Lukio had never heard the voice before. She turned slowly around, a smile trying to peek on her face. It was her... it was really her. "Yes... Lava?"

     Lava's droopy red eyes grew wide but she still didn't smile. She held a pretty flowered quit piece in her paw. "Lukio..." she stumbled. "I don't like to see you fighting with Cherry."

     Lukio frowned. "Me either," she said sadly.

     Lava looked up at the ceiling, but then her gaze finally drifted back to Lukio's face, and then down at her quilt piece. "I think... you should make up..." she said. "And be... friends again..." Still no smile, though.

     Lukio sighed and nodded, looking at Lava. "I know, Lava," she said softly. "But I did something terribly wrong to Rachel. I don't deserve to be forgiven."

     Lava shook her head. "Sure you do... everyone deserves a chance. So you did something terrible... if Rachel was really your true friend... she'd be able to see past that, and know that you're sorry."

     Lukio was so stunned. Lava was speaking wisdom to her! She felt that she should be forgiven. "But I already tried to ask for forgiveness, from both of my friends." She sighed.

     Lava fiercely shook her head. "But you didn't try hard enough, Lukio! They're your best friends! You're supposed to forgive and forget!"

     Lukio looked into little Lava's sad, sorrowful face. "You... really think so?" she asked, tilting her head slightly.

     Lava still didn't smile, and her gaze was gloomier then ever, but Lukio could see a hint of a sparkle. "Yes."

     Lukio looked thoughtfully down at the pieces of leftover quilt on the table in front of her. A brilliant idea suddenly painted in her mind, and she smiled brightly.

     "Lava... I know just what to do..."

     ***

     Cherry angrily marched out from the little sewers' class that day, her teeth gritted. How dare that Lukio! How could she think she would ever be forgiven? How come she kept smiling and looking at her like Cherry was actually going to smile back?

     Cherry growled. She bared her teeth, so angry at everyone and everything, she could spit. She kept walking. She had come to that river again, the tempting river...

     Just to think... think out this horrible mess she was in. She laid her Angelpuss backpack on the grass and then shuffled through it for that friendship puppet she had made Lukio. It smiled warmly at her, just like the real Lukio would, and it made Cherry sick.

     And then the next thing Cherry did she regretted dreadfully. In a heartbeat's second she had raised her paw and threw the puppet into the river. When she realized what she had done, she tried to reach for it, crying, but it was too late. Cherry watched as the puppet hit the surface of the water and then was carried away in the rushing current.

     She stood there, numb with anger she felt for her own self, tears sliding down her cheeks. She gritted her teeth. "No!" she shouted tearfully, angrily. "No! Stupid Cherry!"

     And then the puppet was out of sight. That's when Cherry realized that all this pain and suffering she felt wasn't Lukio's fault; it was her own.

     For when Lukio had asked for forgiveness, she had rejected it, which is what a true friend wouldn't have done. A true friend would've forgiven and forgotten, and everything would've been sweet as a cupcake again.

     But no, Cherry had been stubborn. She had not forgiven. Instead, she had hated even more so.

     She had no one to blame for her misery and loneliness except for herself.

     ***

     Cherry slammed her bedroom door in anger. She marched over to her bed and flopped down, covering her face with her pillow. She felt unwanted tears start to prick her eyes.

     She didn't even hear the rustle and hushed whispers of the baby neopets under her bed.

     "Shh... quiet, Padfoot!" Sywun hissed, a plain wooden bowl over his head like a hat.

     "Sorry," Padfoot whispered, a blue spotted food bowl on his furry head.

     They listened, but Cherry didn't make a sound.

     Suddenly Padfoot's elbow rested on a squeaky Harris, and it make a loud squeak that made both boys howl with uncontrollable laughter.

     Cherry's head suddenly appeared, upside down, but still as scary as ever. "WHAT ARE YOU LITTLE BRATS DOING HERE?" she snarled, her eyes blazing with rage.

     Padfoot and Sywun fearfully huddled closer together. "We... we were just playing, Cherry," Padfoot whimpered to his sister.

     Sywun nodded slowly. "Yeah! We're sorry..."

     And then both little Lupes laid still with horror. Cherry's face had disappeared but now they heard... crying. Cherry was crying. In front of two six year old baby Lupes.

     Padfoot shuffled out from under the bed, his food bowl hat tilted weirdly on his head. "Cherry... are you okay?"

     Sywun followed, fixing his wooden bowl straight. "We're sorry, Cherry," he said apologetically, looking up at her with bluish-gray eyes, which he blinked.

     Cherry's head was cradled in her paws. "No!" she sobbed. "It's not you two... it's me... It's all me..."

     Sywun frowned. He had noticed how bitter and blue Lukio had been since her and Cherry's fight. He didn't know what happened, but he knew it needed to stop. "Is... it about Lukio?"

     Cherry froze and stopped crying. She nodded her head slowly. "Yes," she whispered.

     Padfoot laid a paw on his sister's arm. "Come on, Cherry. Don't cry. It's okay. Why don't you just go and apologize to Lukio and be friends again?" He smiled slightly.

     But it's not as easy as that! Cherry's mind screamed. "Because!" Cherry snapped tearfully. "I hate Lukio. I'll never, ever forgive her."

     Sywun frowned. "But Lukio's so sad, Cherry!" he blurted, feeling the need to share about his sister's feelings. "She misses you. Really."

     Cherry looked down at her paws, thinking. "But I can't forgive her..." It's not that easy, she thought again.

     "Why not?" Padfoot and Sywun asked at the exact same time.

     Cherry looked up at her little brother and his best friend. "Because... I just can't."

     "Yes, you can, Cherry!" Padfoot woofed. "You can!"

     Sywun nodded triumphantly. "And Lukio can too! You guys have been friends forever, and that's how it's gonna stay!"

     Cherry smiled. She couldn't help it as she looked into the pleased, happy faces of Padfoot and Sywun. "You know... you guys are absolutely right."

     ***

     "Hello? Rachel?"

     Rachel didn't open her eyes as she heard her bedroom door open and her baby Korbat sister's voice.

     Zulu the little baby Korbat stepped into her big sister's room, a tiny blue bow perched on her head. "Rachel... how are you feeling?" she whispered. She walked over to the bed. "Are you awake?"

     Rachel's eyes flew open, and little Zulu stepped back in shock, nearly dropping the bundle of books in her arms.

     "I'm fine," Rachel said crisply.

     "Okay," Zulu said quietly. She looked down at the pile of books cradled in her wings. "Well, Luna said you might like some-"

     "I don't want any crossword puzzles!" Rachel snapped coldly at Zulu, her eyes glistening. "So just tell Luna to back off, will you?"

     Zulu gasped and fell backwards, a Faerie Crossword Book, Lenny Crosswords, and Zafara Crossword Puzzles scattering everywhere. Her lip was trembling and she looked up at her normally kind sister with wide eyes.

     Rachel looked down at her lap in shame. "Zulu, I'm..." She looked into her baby sister's hurt gaze. She sighed. "I'm sorry, Zulu. I'm just not in the mood right now. I'm sorry I snapped at you."

     Zulu's big eyes filled with concern. She hurriedly picked up all the crossword puzzle books and placed them on her sister's side table. She then stared at her sister a moment. "What's wrong?"

     Rachel started to sigh. "No, Zulu, I told you. I'm not in the mood-"

     But with a little leap and a small flap of her wings, Zulu landed on her sister's bed. "Tell me," little Zulu ordered, putting her small face into hers.

     Rachel blinked. "Well... Lukio... she and I are fighting. But it's no use. I'll never forgive her after what she did to me."

     Zulu pursed her lips in thought. "Why not? Lukio's your best friend."

     Rachel sighed. "Yes, I know, Zulu. But I can't forgive her. I can't."

     "Sure you can," said Zulu, smiling. "But if you keep telling your mind you can't, then you never will. So I suggest you stop." Her gaze was stern as she glared at her sister.

     Rachel smiled. "Aw, Zulu... you're... right, aren't you?" she said slowly, rather thoughtfully.

     Zulu smiled a big smile, but then gurgled with laughter as Rachel began to tickle her.

     "I'm going to get you, Zulu! You've changed my mind!" she shouted playfully. "How dare you!" She continued to tickle her sweet baby sister, taking pleasure as she squealed with uncontrollable laughter.

     "Okay, okay!" laughed Zulu in defeat, as she struggled to push Rachel's tickling paws away.

     Rachel stopped, throwing her arms around her dear sister and holding her close. She would forgive Lukio, and they would be friends again.

     ***

     A few days later, Lukio's mustered enough courage to knock on Rachel's bedroom door. She was scared, though... afraid that Rachel might not accept her apology. She held Rachel's gift close to her heart. It was a last minute hurried gift, but Lukio thought it looked nice. And if she knew Rachel like she thought she did, she knew Rachel would love it, too.

     "Come in," she heard Rachel's sad voice say.

     Lukio opened the door, empty-pawed. "Uhh... hey, Rachel..." she said uncertainly.

     Rachel stared at her. She suddenly realized with a jolt that forgiveness wouldn't come easy. "What do you want?" she retorted, rather coldly.

     Lukio sighed. "Look, Rachel... I'm really, really sorry..." She felt her heart well with guilt and shame, and hope too, for she hoped Rachel would forgive her.

     "So," Rachel snorted. "And?"

     Lukio took a deep breath. "Look, Rach... I know you're upset with me. But please, don't be upset with the little sewers..."

     Rachel gasped softly as she saw the little sewers walk in her room, each holding up a part of a pretty giant quilt.

     "What... what's this?" Rachel breathed, on the verge of tears.

     "We made you a friendship quilt," Fawn said sweetly, a smile bloomed on her pretty face.

     "Yeah! All by ourselves!" Shockra gushed proudly.

     "And I wasn't going to eat it," big Reuben peeped. "Because quilts taste bad." He stuck out his tongue, which made Rachel laugh.

     But then she stopped. "Oh, guys! This is so... sweet..." She felt tears of love fill her eyes.

     Salvadore beamed. "It was all Lukio's idea."

     Rachel looked at Lukio, who only smiled softly.

     And then now Rachel realized why she was her best friend.

     "Thanks," she said earnestly. She smiled.

     ***

     The little sewers today had finished their quilts. They were good quilts too, neat and full of effort, sewn together with that childlike touch. Their owners and siblings alike loved them greatly.

     They gathered around in a circle and laughed and talked, while Lukio sat back, working thoughtfully on one of her puppets. Suddenly she felt eyes on her, and looked up. Lava was standing before her. Her red eyes were glossy and pitiful. "Oh, hey, Lava," Lukio said. "What's up?"

     Lava shuffled. She hesitated. "I... I just wanted to say..." Her voice could barely be heard. "Thank you..."

     Lukio smiled. "Aw, well you're welcome, Lava."

     And then... Lava smiled too. Lukio gasped softly. She had done it. She had gotten Lava to smile! She couldn't help but leap out of her chair and run over to the little grey Zafara and sweep her into a big hug.

     And then that's when she walked in. Or, rather limped in, for she was on crutches.

     Everyone gasped.

     "RACHEL!"

     The little sewers leaped up at the sight of her, laughing and cheering and smiling jubilantly.

     "We missed you soooo much!" Libby whined, her eyes big and sad.

     "Yes! Don't ever leave us again!" Fawn cried, throwing her arms around Rachel's waist.

     Rachel laughed softly. "I missed all of you guys too, a lot." She smiled. "A lot, a lot."

     They all smiled.

     Cherry ran up to her. "Oh, Rach! It's so good to have you back!" She carefully hugged her friend so that she wouldn't hurt her leg. "How are you?"

     Rachel smiled. "You know... I'm great." She caught Lukio's eye.

     All the little sewers' laughter and celebration died down and they all looked at the three friends.

     Cherry's nervous gaze shifted around the room. But Lukio and Rachel stared at each other. Lukio smiled softly with soft midnight-blue eyes that begged forgiveness. And Rachel smiled back. She opened her arms and Lukio fell into them, and the two friends became best friends again.

     "Rachel... I'm really, really sorry," Lukio said earnestly. "Really. I was wrong to be jealous, and I was especially wrong to trip you... I should have been honest with you. I'm sorry."

     Rachel laughed kindly. "Lukio, it's okay! I forgive you."

     Lukio looked up. "Really?"

     Rachel's eyes were dancing. "Of course. You're my best friend, Lukio. And you always will be." She reached into her bag and got out her friendship puppet, which she had always kept with her, even when she felt her and Lu were no longer friends. Rachel held up her puppet.

     Lukio looked at Cherry. Cherry's gaze slowly met hers, and she smiled. She shuffled in her bag and retrieved her friendship puppet, and also something else...

     Lukio gasped softly as Cherry handed her the friendship puppet that replicated herself.

     Lukio looked at it. She held it in her paws and admired it. It had the Cherry-touch. She smiled. "It's... perfect." Her soft gaze met Cherry's. Do you forgive me?

     Cherry's face blossomed with a smile. "Once a Blossom, always a Blossom." She hugged her friend tightly, glad to have her back. "I forgive you."

The End

I really hoped you enjoyed my little story! Feedback is appreciated.

 
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