Helga struggled to avoid tripping and falling as she followed Arnold and his parents down the coarse hillside. Unfortunately, since she was looking at everything else she noticed around her, she didn't see the small hole in front of her on the path, and she began to fall as soon as she stepped in it. But luckily, Miles was right there to catch her before she hit the ground. Arnold and Stella heard the noise behind them and saw Helga fall into Miles's arms.
"Are you okay, Helga?" he asked after he caught her, then helped her stand up again.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Thanks, Miles," Helga answered.
"Are you sure, Helga?" Stella asked with some concern. In being a doctor, Stella was somewhat of a safety fanatic and was always concerned when someone close to her was or could be injured or sick.
"Yes, I'm okay, Stella," Helga repeated. "I mean, I stubbed my toes a little when I hit that hole. But otherwise, I'm all right."
"That's good," Arnold spoke up. "We're almost there now, so you'll get to see a lot of what's here and what we've been doing with our humanitarian group, Helga."
"Well, I'm eager to see it all, Arnoldo," Helga said.
"Great! Then let's get going!" Miles said eagerly.
After they reached the bottom of the hill and began their actual trek, Helga thought about the last, and only other, time she had been in San Lorenzo.
Helga, now 16, had last been to San Lorenzo five years ago, when she was 11 and had just completed fifth grade. She, Arnold, and the rest of her class had come to San Lorenzo as the prize for a class trip, which turned out to be a hoax set up by the evil river pirate Lasombra in order to lure Arnold there to help him find the Green-Eyed Peoples' relic, the Corazón.
After the entire class was taken prisoner, Arnold, Helga, and Gerald escaped Lasombra's camp to search for the Green-Eyes and their city. Upon their arrival, the trio learned that all of the parents in the city had fallen ill with a sleeping sickness. Simultaneously, they also discovered that, when they had returned to make and deliver the cure, Miles and Stella had caught the same sickness themselves and fell into a long sleep. But in the end, Miles, Stella, and the other parents were successfully reawakened and cured, then the entire group reunited with Arnold's class and returned to Hillwood.
Before they returned home, Arnold confessed to Helga about how grateful he was to her for helping him for the entire trip, and he even kissed her. When school finally began again, the two became a couple and started dating.
However, a couple of years later, Arnold's parents wanted to move down to San Lorenzo to be closer to the Green-Eyed people, to make sure they could help in any way if they ever fell ill with the sleeping sickness again. While it was a painful decision for him to make, Arnold decided to go with them, as he wanted to be with his parents and he felt he owed to them and the Green-Eyes.
Shortly before he moved, Arnold told Helga the news, and they immediately began fighting about it. Helga was furious and heartbroken, to the point where she accused Arnold of abandoning her and their friends for his own selfish reasons. Needless to say, Arnold was stunned at what Helga said, and he snapped back at her, saying she was being selfish and irrational for not being more understanding of why he had to do this. After a few more hurtful words were exchanged between them, their heated conversation finally ended when Helga said that it was over between them. Arnold, though shocked at what she said, quickly complied, then they walked away from each other and refused to look back.
In the three years since Arnold, Miles, and Stella had left, Helga always regretted what she said to Arnold on that day. She constantly mentally scolded herself for having been so harsh on him, especially because, despite all of that…yes, Helga still loved Arnold. Her feelings for him had never changed since the days that they broke up and he had moved away; if anything, they had only grown stronger since she had become a teenager.
But Helga needed to know…did Arnold still love her?
In her mind, she kept thinking to herself "No, he doesn't. Not after the way you treated him when you guys broke up." But still, Helga needed to know for sure.
And that's why she was here in San Lorenzo, to talk to him and try to sort everything out. She wanted to set things right with him, and she felt she could only if they saw each other face-to-face. Since it didn't seem to likely that Arnold would come back to Hillwood, Helga knew that she had no other choice but to go to San Lorenzo to see him. Although a jungle wasn't her idea of the best place to go on vacation, she was happy to finally be here just to see Arnold and his parents again.
Right now, though, Helga wasn't ready to speak to Arnold about her feelings. She wanted to take in the time to enjoy herself in being in the Shortmans' company and what they wanted to show her.
Several hours later, Helga had seen much of what Arnold and his parents had wanted to show her since she arrived. By this point, she was growing a little bored with just seeing what the Shortmans had done with their humanity group and hearing all about their adventures in the country, including those with the Green-Eyes. But she didn't want to come off as a rude guest, so she kept trying to just grin and bear it. At the same time, though, while she enjoyed being in the company of all three of them, she was eager to have some time alone with Arnold. Finally, she came to the point when she really didn't want to wait any longer. "Um…Arnold?" Helga asked, completely out of the blue.
Arnold, who was standing over to her left, turned his head in her direction. "Yes, Helga?"
Helga hesitated, then turned to Miles and Stella. "Uh…Stella, Miles? Could I talk to Arnold alone, please? I mean, do you think you guys could excuse us?"
Miles and Stella looked at each other and smiled before they turned back to Helga. "You don't even need to ask, Helga," Miles replied.
"Not at all," Stella added. "You two take all the time you need to catch up with each other."
"We're gonna head back to the village now," Miles said, putting his arm around Stella and pulling her closer to him. "You guys just come back there and to our hut when you're through."
"We will, Dad."
"Just don't go too far out into the jungle and beyond our known territory, you two. And don't stay out too long after it gets dark."
"We won't, Mom," Arnold said reassuringly. "I'll see you guys later tonight."
"Yeah, I'll see you guys later," Helga repeated.
"All right, then," Stella said. She and Miles began to turn away, but then she added, "And Helga?"
Helga raised her unibrow quizzically. "Yeah?"
"We're happy you came to visit us," Miles admitted. "It's really good to see you again."
"Yes, it is, Helga," Stella said. "We've all missed you a lot." Then she looked at her husband. "Come on, Miles. Let's go."
Arnold sighed patiently while he looked at his parents while they were leaving. "Mom and Dad. They still give me rules in all the years that they came back to Hillwood and since I have lived here with them. I don't think they treat me like a baby, but they are still protective of me since they didn't see me grow out of a baby and into a child." He chuckled. "But I guess to Mom and Dad, I'll always be their baby, no matter how old I am." Then Arnold turned his attention towards Helga. "So, Helga, did you want to talk to me about something in particular?"
"Um…well, a couple of things, actually," Helga admitted awkwardly.
"What kind of things?" Arnold asked.
"Well, first of all…how do you like San Lorenzo, Arnold?" Helga asked, still showing signs of awkwardness. "I mean, do you like living here more than you did in Hillwood? Can you see yourself living in San Lorenzo for the rest of your life?"
"Well, the truth is," Arnold began, "when I first came to live here, I was very homesick. While I was very happy to be with my parents, coming to live in San Lorenzo felt like a different kind of move than it would be for most kids. But my parents loved it here, and all three of us had a history with this country, especially with the Green-Eyes. So partly for their sake, I wanted to give it a chance. Now after three years…I love San Lorenzo. I really do. I love the Green-Eyed People, the friends I've made in our village, and I've also become very close friends with Eduardo. I could definitely come back to visit this place a couple of times a year, and it will always have a special place in my heart. But…no, I could never live here forever. Hillwood is and always will be my true home."
As Arnold finished talking, he saw Helga turn away from him, but not before he managed to see the sad look on her face. Instantly concerned, he asked, "What?" When Helga didn't answer, Arnold walked up to her side to make sure she looked him in the eye. "What is it, Helga?"
Helga's eyes were closed and she was hanging her head down. But that changed when she exhaled deeply. "I've been keeping this in since I arrived…but I just can't hide it anymore."
"Hide what, Helga?" Arnold asked, trying to get Helga to meet his gaze.
Finally, Helga looked up. "I've missed you, Arnold," she confessed. Gesturing with her hands, she continued, "I mean, I've really, really missed you! But then again, our friends, the people in the city you helped, and everyone in the boarding house has missed you so much, too. So I guess you would think I'm no exception to that."
Arnold frowned slightly and placed his hands on his hips. "And just what makes you think that?"
Thinking she didn't hear right, Helga asked, "Huh?"
"Well, I've really missed you, too, Helga," Arnold admitted. "When my dad said that we all missed you, he meant me, too. I mean, I miss everyone I know in Hillwood, but…I don't think I've missed anyone as much as I have missed you."
"Really, Arnold? You missed me? I mean, even after what happened between us before and when we broke up?"
"Of course I missed you, regardless of what happened between us!"
Helga looked away with shame. "I thought you hated me and never wanted to see me again after all of that."
"Oh, Helga, how could you think such a thing about me?" Arnold asked, feeling a bit upset at what he just heard her say. "I never hated you, and I could never hate you, despite everything we went through as kids. If anything, I…" Arnold hesitated, unsure whether Helga really wanted to hear it.
"You what, Arnold?"
"I-I-I…well…I," Arnold stuttered.
Now Helga was growing impatient. "Arnold, would you stop stuttering and just spit it out!"
"I LOVE YOU!" Arnold shouted, loud enough to scare some nearby birds away.
Taken back with shock at what she just heard, besides his yelling it, Helga could only stutter, "W-w-what?"
"I said 'I love you,' okay?!" Arnold cried, though with a slightly lower voice this time. As he announced this, Arnold was facing Helga, looking her in the eye, and he had gently taken her by the shoulders. Helga's mouth was agape and she was staring at Arnold following his confession. Realizing what he had done, he let go of her shoulders and let out a deep sigh, turning away from her and closing his eyes as he did.
"It's true, Helga. I still love you. I've never stopped loving you, even after we broke up and I moved down here. After three years of not seeing or hearing from you, I just can't get you out of my mind. I don't think I'll ever stop loving you, to be honest. I mean, you're the best girlfriend I've ever had. You were my first love…but I don't think I can love any other girl as much as I love you."
Helga continued to stare at Arnold with her mouth open while he admitted his feelings to her. Before Arnold could say anything else, Helga threw her arms around his neck and pushed her lips against his own. Realizing that Helga was kissing him, Arnold didn't want to lose his chance, so he grabbed her head and reciprocated her kiss. After ten seconds, though it felt even longer to Arnold, they finally pulled away from each other.
"I take that to mean that you still love me, too, and never stopped loving me?" Arnold asked Helga, even though he already knew the answer.
"Well, doi, of course that means that I still love you, Football Head!" Helga answered sarcastically. Then she gave him a loving sweet smile. "You were my first love, too, Arnold, and my only love. I never stopped loving you either, and I never will stop. I've always loved you, and I always will."
Arnold saw some tears brim in Helga's eyes before he felt his own eyes go moist. Placing his left hand on her waist and his right hand on her cheek, he leaned forward and kissed Helga on the lips. She melted in pure joy as she kissed back, placing her hands on his shoulders shortly before she wrapped them around his neck, then stroked his hair. When they ended their kiss, Arnold and Helga rubbed their noses, pecked each other's' faces, and even snuggled, sometimes cheek-to-cheek, with each other, laughing as they did.
Unbeknownst to the couple, Miles and Stella were hiding behind some bushes in the distance. They were hidden well enough that Arnold and Helga could not see them, but that they could see the two teenagers perfectly. As they watched the younger couple kiss and cuddle before them, Stella and Miles just smiled, first to themselves, then to each other with a loving look they shared.
"I knew it. I just knew that Helga still loved Arnold and wanted to get back together with him," Stella said knowingly.
"Me too, Stella. I didn't think Helga ever stopped loving Arnold, even after they broke up and Arnold came to live here with us," Miles said. "They really are just like my mom and dad."
"I didn't doubt it, either, Miles," Stella admitted. "Even when they were younger, with all the stories we heard about how much Helga had done to help Arnold, and when they were together, I didn't think any other girl could love our son as much as she did."
"And even after they broke up, I never doubted that Arnold still loved her. She's definitely a keeper." Miles chuckled to himself. "I mean, Heck, sometimes, she even reminds me of you."
"Oh, Miles!" Stella said in mock offense, playfully swatting Miles's arm. The couple laughed together, then they turned to head back to their village once they noticed Arnold and Helga walking off into the distance.
Arnold and Helga walked further into the wildlife area of San Lorenzo. At one point, they came to the top of a small waterfall, then walked down to the ground using the rocks that flanked one side of the falls. Helga was walking in front of Arnold, and every few moments, they paused to stop and look at each other lovingly.
When they came to a small river close to the waterfall, Arnold ran over to Helga and made a "come on" gesture with his face as he did. Helga frowned with confusion as he walked behind her and grabbed a nearby vine. Then her eyes widened in shock as he ran by her, holding, then swinging using the vine, then let go when he was over the river, and fell into the water.
Helga gasped and ran over to the small rock perch hanging over the river. She peeked into the river, trying to see if she could find Arnold. Before she had another moment to notice, Arnold quickly popped out of the water, rising up to meet Helga's level, and threw his arms around her before he went back under, pulling her with him as he did.
Seconds after the couple went under the water, Helga rose back up to the surface, gasping in surprise at what Arnold did and at how cold the water was. Arnold came up to the surface with her, and smiled as she quickly grabbed the rock perch to get back up on shore. Once she was out of the water, Helga began panting to catch her breath. Arnold followed her, climbing on to the ledge to sit next to her. Like her, he was soaked all over, with most of his drenched hair covering his face, but he was grinning from ear to ear. Helga glanced to her right, where Arnold was sitting, and raised part of her unibrow, giving him a little smirk as he continued to grin. The smirk grew bigger as Helga playfully pushed Arnold back into the river.
Once she pushed him back into the water, Helga stood up and started running away. Realizing that she was having fun with him, Arnold rose out of the river, climbed on to the perch, and began playfully running after Helga.
"You'll never catch me, Football Head!" Helga called after Arnold.
"Oh yes, I will! You can't get away from me, Helga!" Arnold called back.
The two teenagers kept running out in the open wilderness, laughing as they did, then went into the jungle, out of sight behind some trees until they came to a small hillside. Arnold and Helga faced each other and grabbed each other, pretending to wrestle. They then tumbled down the hill, still holding each other and laughing together.
Finally, Arnold and Helga hit the ground at the bottom of the hill, with Arnold positioned on top of Helga. The distance between the ground and the top of the hill was short, so neither were hurt when they finally stopped. They were still laughing by the time they hit the ground, but quickly stopped when they realized their current state.
Though they had stopped laughing, Arnold and Helga didn't move from their position. They just stared into the other persons' eyes and smiled, both wearing looks of longing, desire, and love for each other. Helga brought her right hand up to stroke Arnold's right cheek. Arnold returned the gesture by stroking the left side of her face.
"I love you, Angel," Arnold whispered, then he kissed her hand, the one that was touching his face.
"I love you, too, Arnold," Helga whispered back.
Unwilling to wait any longer, Arnold finally made his move by leaning down closer to Helga and met her lips with his own. Helga happily returned the kiss, knowing by now that her and Arnold's love was indeed forever.
In case you all are wondering, yes, I drew inspiration for the moments between Arnold and Helga in the jungle from "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" in The Lion King. Guilty as charged. ;) But anyway, I have wanted to write a story like this for a very long time, where Helga comes to see Arnold in San Lorenzo and they both hope for a reconciliation. And now that we have The Jungle Movie and know that Miles and Stella are alive and well, having this confirmation made it easier for me to do this story with the possibility that Arnold would be living in San Lorenzo with them during the time of The Patakis.
I owe a special thanks to my friend vakurii for making the commission artwork that is the cover art for this story. I really like to use artwork or screenshots that fit the content of my written works, and I am happy to have one made specifically for me and one of my stories.
And finally, when you finish reading, be so kind as to leave a review! I'm only starting to get back in the swing of writing for Hey Arnold!, and the more reviews I get, the happier and more confident I will be to continue writing. :)