A/N: First HA fanfic, based on a whim. Please tell me how it turns out.

Disclaimer: HA belongs to Craig Bartlett. Not me.

---------

Prologue

It's fall again. Like every time before, the leaves have begun to turn the bright shades of orange, red, and yellow. Like every time, the air smells sweeter, the pond in the park becomes bluer, and there's a sense of melancholy as this happens.

Like every time before on August 27th, Helga is dutifully bound to her backpack, trudging up the hills and braving the numerous bus stops before finally stopping at PS 118.

But instead, unlike every time before, when she is approached by dozens of children, each asking how her summer vacation has gone, she smiles, tells them that it was Fine, Thank You, and that The Beach Is Really Beautiful. Then, she turns around and walks away, and whatever kid had approached her is standing, shell-shocked, because Helga G. Pataki never says the word "Beautiful."

---------

He doesn't look at her as she enters the room, as he's in the middle of talking to Gerald, but she doesn't sweat it; it's what happens every year. Instead, she catches Phoebe's eye, and as the small girl smiles, she makes her way to the back of the room and slides into a seat next to her.

"Have a good summer, Helga?" was Phoebe's small replty. She smiles tentatively, as she has heard the rumors of a "changed Helga." She quietly hopes that the said Helga is feeling alright, or at least isn't in the mood to renounce their friendship. Because while Helga can make her sad, she really does appreciate the bond that the two of them have, and would care if Helga declared herself "above" Phoebe. Or, at least, that's what it says in her mind.

Helga shrugged. "It was okay. Went to the beach with Bob and Miriam. Built some sandcastles. Swam in the ocean… The usual stuff. And yours?"

Phoebe flinches at this question; Helga has never really asked what she has done in her pastime before… She covers the look up quickly, before she thinks that the blonde notices, and quickly answers. "I went to Japan with my parents and saw some family. We went to some hot springs and it was really refreshing!" As she continues on about her stay, a corner of Helga's mouth twitches slightly, having noticed Phoebe's shock at her question.

She can too be nice… But it was too bad that Arnold wouldn't be able to see that.

---------

A/N: After the episode "The Beach," I think it was called… No confession involved. I'll give more insight to the episode later in the story.

Review, please.

VM