Author's Notes: Helga's worst nightmare is realized. Arnold does not, nor will he ever love her. Can a depressed Helga live on now that she is assured that a future with Arnold is impossible? This story is rated PG for mild language. Readers beware. There is no Helga/Arnold fluff in this story at all. This is an AU one shot.
Disclaimer: I do not own Hey Arnold.
Life After Arnold
"He doesn't love you."
Her words were cold, but they still spoke of a chilling, bitter truth. Could I begrudge an innocent girl simply because of my own misfortune? This question, which should have held a simple answer, had been badgering me all day. It had badgered me for years. He didn't love me. All of my efforts were for nothing. He never loved me, and any hope of him liking me had long since been shattered. Why had I spat out words that seemed so foreign on my tongue? Why had I taken what was left of his esteem and trampled it so easily?
A monster lurked beneath the skinny body of a bully. All of my planning, all of my hopes and dreams were dashed. He would never love me. The words burned in my brain over and over again, until I felt as if I would collapse at any moment. I feared the look in her eyes, so I avoided her gaze at all costs. I could not hide for long however, because Lila was in no mood for childish games. She grabbed my chin, and surprised us both with her forward actions by forcing me to look in her eyes.
I had expected her green eyes to be triumphant and for her mouth to be smirking. What I saw was a shock indeed. Her visage was not victorious and her she did not appear mirthful. Could I have been wrong in my assumptions? Why was she not jumping around, throwing her victory in my face? Why wasn't she being spiteful? She had finally bested me, and yet she didn't boast.
"You know I don't love him. I could never."
She spoke again in the quiet of my room, and I shivered. For years I had grown accustomed to the eerie, depressing silence of my room. Everything felt so empty—my heart, my head, and my soul. When was it that I became an empty husk, masquerading as a person with genuine feelings? I wondered why Miriam had allowed her to enter what should have been my haven, a place where I could be free of my woes, but somehow I felt that I delved deeper into unnecessary pain.
"I know. What are you doing here if you aren't here to gloat?"
I asked her bitterly, slightly ashamed that I had taken my anger out on her an innocent victim. Wincing, I held back a retort at that thought. Exactly how innocent was she? She may not have loved him but she sure as hell didn't try hard enough to dissuade Arnold. Yet I realized he would come to her regardless. There must be something special he saw in her that made him feel compelled to obey her every whim. Oh, but to have been the one that he rushed to!
"I'm here to help. I'm here to comfort you. That's what friends do for one another right?"
I snorted at her comment, but nevertheless appreciated the sincerity. I personally was amazed that this girl could still talk to me after I made it my life's work to demonize her at every turn. She stood before me offering friendship that was undeserved, and I could not help but stare in awe at this sickeningly sweet girl. Did she have any flaws? Sighing, I exhaled loudly, allowing raggedy blond bangs to cover my red face. I hadn't even checked my appearance after hearing Arnold's final rejection. I must have looked terrible, but Lila managed to smile that happy smile of hers, which made probably made her feel as if all was right with the world.
"Why do this? I've done nothing but make your life miserable, so why in the world would you want to make me feel better?"
I demand of her, whirling around so that my back is to her. I can hear her sigh then, and the familiar creak from my bed, turns me around in an instant. She rubs her chin, as if she is thinking of something terribly devious. Her appearance is rather comical, and before I knew it, a smile broke upon my tear stained face. Lila as a conniving bitch was simply not right. She had never played the part well anyway, but I surely did.
"First of all, you never made my life miserable Helga. People only have the power to hurt you if you relinquish that to them. Your words could be as a sharp as a knife at times, but you only lashed out because you wanted Arnold's attention so much. So he doesn't love you. This doesn't mean your life is over Helga. I do not love Arnold, and I doubt that he is agonizing over me, as much as you are over him."
We sat in silence once more, and I hoped that she would get uncomfortable and leave the room, and preferably my house. Instead of vacating the premises, Lila made herself comfortable. My tears blurred my vision to the point that I had to reach for a tissue. As I leaned over her, she grabbed my wrist, pulling me to face her. She gently slid a Kleenex into my palm, that soft smile of hers shining brightly as ever.
"Life does not end because Arnold doesn't love you. We're only fourteen years old Helga. We all have a painful first love, and you'll get over him. Besides, it isn't healthy to allow your life to revolve around one person."
"Life is not worth living if he wasn't by my side, Lila. Can't you understand that?"
"Dammit Helga! He was never by your side. How can you miss what you never truly had? Arnold just wanted to be your friend, but you were too prideful to accept even that much. The shrine, the poetry, the scheming—it needs to stop. You aren't the only person in the world to have a broken heart."
I sat up instantly, my eyes bulging from Lila's words. How could she possibly know about all those things?
"How in the hell did you find out about all that?"
Lila shrugged nonchalantly.
"Honestly, old girl—did you think you were fooling anyone?! Brainy was not the only one that could see you were in love with him. As for my knowledge of the shrine, I had to be sure that you truly cared. I asked Brainy to take me to your shrine; I wanted to understand why you treated him so cruelly, when you harbored such deep feelings for him."
"You mean to tell me that you two snuck into my home, and violated my privacy?! How could you do that?"
I bellowed, aiming to slap the smile off of her flawless face. How could she stand before me like that when she was nothing but a hypocrite? She dodged my attack, tripping me as she took her place on my bed. From my position on the floor, I wanted to beat her face in.
"It was wrong of me to do so without your permission. I apologize for that sincerely Helga. I just needed to be sure that you truly loved him. I needed to find the justification for your behavior towards me. It was the only way that I could understand and forgive you. I only want to help, but only if you let me."
Crossing my arms, I snorted at her explanation, but nevertheless accepted it for what it was worth. It would do for now at least. I suppose her breaking and entering was payback or everything that I had done to her. Maybe I was getting off lighter than what I deserved. Suddenly my thoughts were interrupted as a thick overcoat was thrown into my face.
"Wha… What are you doing?"
She gathered her things wrapping her scarf around her face so tightly that I could barely understand what she said.
"Get dressed. We're going out for coffee, compliments of your newest friend."
She asked, passing me my house keys. I sighed with frustration, glaring as she smirked knowingly at me.
"Never mind, forget it. I'm sure I'll learn the meaning in you madness one day."
I gathered my clothes quickly enough, and soon we were out the door. The faint sounds of the TV blared from the first floor, and I could still hear Bob's bellows as we ambled down the lane. Our silence was suddenly companionable, having all but lost its awkwardness from just a few moments ago. Lila linked her elbows with mine, and even though her grins could be annoying, I felt a little bit better. It would be nice to have someone other than Phoebe to vent my frustrations with. Perhaps there was life after Arnold.
Footnotes: What did you think? Do you like it? Do you dislike it? Reviews will answer these burning questions people! As always, thank you very much for reading.