~* Hey there! This is one of my earlier HA fanfics I thought you may like to read. It's not as descriptive as my other ones usually are but a quick fic is a good fic! -Risma *~

Disclaimer: Hey Arnold does not belong to me but if Craig Barlett is willing to hand it over . . . I ain't stopping you buddy! I'm not rich enough to sue so don't waste your time.

Lila Come Home

Monday afternoon –

Lila and Arnold were walking home from school. He was carrying her books while laughing at her pathetic jokes.

Arnold: Heh. Heh. That poor guy.

Lila: Yeah I know. Gosh Arnold, this is ever so sweet of you to carry my books home but you don't have to . . .

Arnold: Lila, I don't mind at all. (I'd do anything for you.)

Lila started to fidget under the love gaze from Arnold.

Lila: Well at least let me carry a few. I feel just awful giving you a heavy burden.

Arnold: Alright . . . here.

He handed her the three lightest books in his hands.

Lila: But . . . ok you can the rest Arnold.

She walked ahead leaving Arnold ambling along behind her.

Arnold: (She's so . . . what's the word? . . . Whatever it is, she's it!) So where's you house?

She turned around and points down the street.

Lila: Just a little further. What are you exhausted?

Arnold: No! No I'm fine. It's just . . . well I've never seen your place.

A smile lit up her face.

Lila: Well, it's big but cosy. Daddy may not be home though. I did ever so much want him to meet you.

Arnold: Oh. If he's not, don't worry. I'm sure I'll meet him sooner or later. (When I finally win your heart, I'll be seeing a lot of him.)

They walked and made comments on the surroundings when they came to an old house. The only unpainted one on the street, most of its windows broken and the wood slowly rotting away.

Lila: Here we are.

He didn't hear her. He was staring at the dump or a so-called house.

Arnold: (Lila lives HERE! But it's so . . . run-down. How could a pretty girl like her live . . .)

Lila: Arnold? Arnold?

She snapped her fingers near his ear.

Arnold: Wha . . .?

Lila: I said, do you want to come in? I'm sure I can fix us something to eat. But you've first . . .

She held out her arms, waiting for the rest of her books. He reluctantly handed them over. He looked at the dump again.

Arnold: Ah . . . nice place. (Well I had to say something!)

She walked up the stairs, which were barely holding together. Lila unlocked the door and left it open for Arnold. He walked in slowly, trying not to bump anything in case the house fell down. He turned and shut the front door carefully. Arnold can hear her pulling cutlery from a draw, so he followed the sound to the kitchen.

Lila: Here we are . . .

She placed a plate of canned-meat sandwiches on the unpainted table. She took her seat while Arnold took his.

Arnold: Thanks. Ladies first.

He picked up the plate and offered her a sandwich. She accepted, then he took one and ate, while looking around the kitchen. There was no paint to be seen, no electrical appliances and the cupboards were empty and coming off their hinges. He watched Lila as she ate. She didn't look worried about the house at all. Actually, she seemed rather at peace, right where she was.

Arnold: (If she can live with it, I can handle it too. It's just a shame that . . .)

Voice: Anyone home?

Lila stood up and ran to the front door. Arnold got up and followed.

Lila: Daddy!

Arnold turned the corner, just in time to see the young girl practically knock her father over in the hallway. He smiled, then his heart ached. He knew he would never have the chance to greet his parents like that. He sadly stared at the ground. Lila's Dad peered over her shoulder and saw a young boy standing there.

Lila's Dad: And who's this dashing young man?

Lila turned to Arnold, as he looked up. She smiled at him, flipping his heart. He walked towards them.

Arnold: Hi. I'm Arnold.

Lila's Dad hand engulfed his own.

Lila: He's a friend from class.

Lila's Dad: Oh good. I'm glad you've taken a fancy to this fellow, he's got a firm grip.

Arnold let go of the older man's hand. Lila elbowed her father in the ribs, causing him to jump.

Arnold: (If only she would like me like me.) No we're just friends.

Lila's Dad: Well, then it wont hurt you to listen to the recent news. Let's go in the lounge room.

He lead the two kids into another unpainted room. It has one couch that was obviously missing a few springs under the fading material.

Lila's Dad: Ok. Sit down you two.

They sat down, but Lila was too excited to sit still. She had a feeling that what he was about to say would change their lives forever.

Lila: C'mon Daddy. What's the news?

Lila's Dad: Well honey . . . I got a job.

Lila jumped right off the couch into her father's arms.

Lila: Gosh this is great! When can you start?!

Lila's Dad: I start tomorrow. And it wont take us long to pack, considering that we don't have much stuff.

Arnold sat there, slowly gathering the information he just heard. There was the sound of shattering glass, as his heart broke.

Arnold: (She's moving! After all this, she's leaving. I don't think I'll ever be . . .)

Then he stared around at the room.

Arnold: (Well, she'll have a proper house, much more food and a better life. It is for the best . . . it's the right thing to do.)

Lila noticed Arnold's silence. Lila stopped hugging her dad and turned to the boy. She saw his face and sadly sat down beside him.

Lila: Gosh Arnold . . . I'm ever so sorry. I will miss you. Arnold . . .?

He tried to smile, reassuring her that he was happy for her but it didn't work. He stood up and looked at the ground. Afraid that if he looked at her face, he'd cry.

Arnold: I'll . . . ah . . . let you pack. I'll tell the others about . . . this.

He walked to the front door. He reached for the doorknob, when he was turned around. He felt a warm quick kiss on his cheek.

Lila: Oh Arnold . . . you will always be the perfect friend.

He smiled, opened the door and walked down the stoop. Lila slowly closed the door to the world outside.

On the Bus –

Arnold was sitting by himself, staring out at the buildings whizzing past. One person noticed his sad state. The person looked around the bus, seeing no one they knew, stood and walked over to the miserable boy. The person sat down next to him.

Person: Hey foot-ball head! Why the blues?

He turned and saw that someone had sat beside him.

Arnold: Huh . . . oh. Don't bother picking on me today Helga. I really don't need it.

He looked out the window again.

Helga: Hey! I only asked why you're upset! But if you're going to be like that . . .

She noticed that he wasn't listening. He sadly sighed and she felt guilty.

Helga: C'mon Arnold. You can tell me. I promise I won't tell anyone if you don't want me to.

He looked at her, saw her sincerity in her eyes and gave in. Staring down at his hands he tried to think of what to say.

Arnold: Oh alright. You see there's this girl . . .

Helga: Lila.

He looked surprised at her.

Arnold: Yeah! How did you . . .?

Helga: Oh c'mon. I'm not oblivious to people's feelings. You look exactly like you did when Lila said she only wanted to be friends. So what did Ms Perfect do to you now?

Arnold: She did nothing . . . she's moving.

Helga: (YES!!!! About time! Now I can have Arnold all to my . . .)

She stopped cheering and saw her beloved was holding back tears, She gave him the biggest smile she could muster under these conditions. She couldn't stand to see him looking like that. He slowly smiled back at her. Just then, Harold and Sid got on the bus.

Helga: Great. This is just what he needs.

Arnold heard her and saw her face fall to its usual scowl, as Harold walked up the aisle of the bus. She whispered from the corner of her mouth.

Helga: I'll stick up for you if you want.

Arnold: Um . . . I think I can handle it . . .

Harold spotted who Helga was sitting with.

Harold: Hey Heeelllgaaaa! You sitting with your boooooyfriend? Hahahaha!

She stands and points at Harold.

Helga: Shut up Pink Boy!!

Harold: Oooooo. Now she's sticking up for him. Helga and Arnold sitting in the tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G Hahahaha!

Helga went red and the thought of pounding Harold into the next dimension had come to mind. Arnold placed a restraining hand on Helga's arm. She could feel it tingling. She glanced down at him as he shook his head.

Helga: Ok. I'll let him live . . .

She death glared at Harold.

Helga: . . . for now.

Harold snapped his mouth shut like trap.

Arnold: Thanks.

She sat down again and they didn't talk for the rest of the ride.

In class –

Mr Simmons was calling the roll. Arnold was only half-paying attention, while rolling his pencil back and forth across the desk. Helga was watching him with concern.

Helga: (Please don't say Lila. Please don't say Lila. Please don't . . .)

Mr Simmons: Lila?

Arnold sat up quickly, and looked around the classroom hopefully. She wasn't there.

Mr Simmons: Has anyone seen Lila today?

Arnold slowly stood up to explain Lila's absence.

Arnold: Uh . . . Mr Simmons . . .

Voice: Lila couldn't make it sir.

Arnold turned around to see Helga standing. She had saved him AGAIN! She winked at him and he smiled back.

Helga: She's having a . . . family problem.

Mr Simmons: Well . . . thank you Helga. You can sit now.

Helga and Arnold sat down and he turned around to her.

Arnold: Uh . . . thanks again.

Helga: Hey, no problem. But don't get used to it!

She scowled at him then smiled. He understood and turned back around.

Arnold: (I kinda like Helga this way. Pity she can't be like this all the time.)

Helga, though was off in Dreamland, with her head on her hand gazing at the back of an oval shaped head.

Helga: (Arnold, if only I could be the only one to protect you from all harm. Hang on! I'll do it! Helga, the Protector. Helga, the Invincible. Helga, the only person with a quacked imagination. Love has its tough times.) Ahhhh.

Mr Simmons: Helga? You have something to contribute to this conversation?

She snapped back to reality and sat up with a start. She shook her head, her cheeks turning a pale pink.

Mr Simmons: Then please listen. Everyone pair up, boy and girl partners. In your groups, you need to find a place that is "special" to the both of you. Describe it in your notebooks and we'll have your "special" presentations tomorrow.

Gerald and Phoebe practically flew across the room towards each other. The others were reluctant but they managed to get a partner. Helga knew she'd get whoever was left, so she just stood back and waited. Ten minutes went by and she was still standing there. Finally the crowd parted and revealed her partner.

Helga: HIM!!

She walked up and tapped him on the head.

Helga: Hey, you awake in there?

He turned around and saw Helga. He made a slight groan.

Arnold: So we're stuck together again. What a surprise.

She looked sadly at his sarcasm and he felt guilty.

Arnold: I'm sorry. It's just . . .

Helga: You're heartbroken.

He smiled.

Arnold: Yeah. Ok if we're going to do this project we'd better get started . . . so what place is significant to you?

Helga's eyes went all dazed as she remembered Valentines Day.

Helga: Gerald Field. (Well I can't let him know can I?)

Arnold: Uh . . . really? (Who would've guessed?)

Helga: What about you?

Arnold: (Lila's house, the wall with our names on it and then there's the Cheese Festival. But Helga hates Lila, so none of those places would interest her.) Chez Pierre. (Huh! Where did that come from?)

On hearing the restaurant Helga's mouth dropped open. She was trying to get over the shock when Arnold stared at her. She smiled nervously.

Helga: Uh . . . why there?

Arnold thought for a moment.

Arnold: (Well she did ask?) I went to that restaurant with a mysterious girl. Even though I didn't know exactly who she was, I felt like I'd known her my whole life. It was great to know that I didn't have to try as hard to get her to like me.

Helga shuddered and gazed towards the heavens.

Helga: Ahhhh. (It's me Arnold. Me. Me!)

He looked at her with a raised eyebrow in confusion.

Arnold: But that place isn't significant to you . . . is it?

Helga: Huh…..NO! No of course not! I hadn't heard of the place 'til now! Nup never in my life! Heh. (Smooth move Helga old girl. Sheesh.)

Arnold: (What's she so worked up about?) Uh. Ok Helga. You can calm down now. . . so where else?

DING! A thought struck Helga. She slowly smiled and leaned forward on his desk.

Helga: (That's it!) I'll tell you what. I'll meet you outside after school with my idea ok?

Arnold: I suppose. (What's she up to?)

Helga walked back to her desk when she had a feeling of someone searching through her mind for secrets. She turned around and noticed he was cautiously staring at her.

Helga: It'll be a surprise. One I think you'll appreciate. So don't look so worried foot-ball head!

She walked away quietly laughing to herself. Arnold went back to his gloomy state and rolled his pencil across the table.

Helga: (This'll be perfect. It'll make him happier and maybe then I can confess everything in my tormented soul.) Oh how I long for the day when I can have enough courage to tell you. Tell you how much I love your weird head. How I love you "do-the-right-thing" speeches. And how I just love . . . well you! Oh Arnold . . .

Brainy: *Wheeze.* *Wheeze.* *Wheeze.* THUD!

Helga: (But how long can I stand acting so nice like this? I'm sure I'll break soon. What if I hurt his feelings? And then he'll be even more crushed and down cast.) Oh well!

Lunch –

Gerald, Stinky, Sid and Arnold were sitting at the same table. Arnold however had his head nestled in his arms, resting on the table, while facing away from the other kids. Gerald noticed his sad state.

Gerald: Hey Arnold. What's up man?

Arnold sat back in his chair and picked at his food tray.

Arnold: Nothing.

Stinky: Sure don't sound like nuttin'.

Sid: Yeah Arnold. You can tell us, we won't tell anyone.

Arnold looked sceptically at him, remembering what happened to Iggy. Sid smiled at him innocently. Arnold started swirling the various types of mush on his plate together, with a fork.

Stinky: Come to think of it, you've been like this all day.

Gerald: Well wouldn't you if you had Helga as a partner for class.

Arnold dropped his fork and glared at his friend's remark.

Arnold: Helga's not as evil as you think.

Sid: Yeah right.

Gerald: So c'mon . . .

Before Arnold could answer the PA System crackled.

PA System: Attention PS188. This is Principle Wartz. I have a special announcement. The school will soon be holding its annual . . .

Arnold left his food tray and stumbled over to his locker, while everyone's attention was focussed the voice over the speaker. Everyone? Not likely.

PA System: . . . Also, when I find the culprit who stole my *ahem* personal items they'll be severely punished. Don't worry, I'll find out who did this terrible deed, disgracing this school with theft, and taking away my poor little animals . . . *sniff* That is all.

That's right Helga watched her beloved walk dejectedly away. She stood and followed him leaving the sound of kids mocking their principal. She snuck into the hallway when she saw Curly bugging Arnold.

Curly: So you see I had to do it! Now I don't know what to do with these.

He showed Arnold some toy animals. Arnold wasn't really paying any attention. Curly was running after him trying to get some sympathy for his crime, when Helga grabbed the back of Curly's shirt. She lifted him off the ground, pulled him backwards while having her other hand firmly clamped over his mouth. Helga put him down and glared at him.

Helga: Alright Crazy. What's the problem?

She listened to Curly's problem, then shook her head with disgust.

Helga: Why do you even bother? But now that you're stuck, I'm sure you'll find someway to blame it on someone else, as usual. But let me warn you. You had better not say it was me, or you'll be answering to Old Betsy!

Curly swallowed hard. Helga pushed him out of the way leaving Curly there thinking of how he could frame Eugene for his dirty deed.

Curly: Ah! It might just work! I'll go up to his office and say "Wartz! I've found you animals." Wartz would fall to his knees and kiss my feet. "Thank you. You've saved my toys. Who stole them?" Then I'll stares down at his worried face and exclaim. "EUGENE!!" MAWHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!

Curly ran down the hallway to Principal Wartz's office. Helga watched him open the office door. She laughed at what she saw next.

Wartz: If you think for one minute that I'll believe that story you've got another thing coming sonny.

She watched Curly being dragged into the detention room, protesting that it wasn't his fault.

Helga: Poor twisted little freak.

Outside near the school steps –

Gerald and Arnold were waiting with Sid and Harold. Arnold sat down with a sigh while his best friend talked to the other two.

Gerald: We'll see you there okay?

Sid: Yeah just hurry up. I don't know how much longer we can keep the game from starting.

Gerald: Yeah, yeah bye.

Sid and Harold walked down the street. Gerald turned around, with his hands on his hips and looks down at Arnold.

Gerald: Arnold, spill it! I was expecting you to do something when Wolfgang stapled Park to the notice board, like help him down or, I don't know, a few words of comfort. Man, what is wrong with you?!

Arnold twiddled his thumbs then looked up at his friend. Gerald sighed unfolded his arms then sat down.

Gerald: Oh. So it's a girl thing right?

Arnold: Uh huh. I walked Lila home yesterday like I try to do everyday . . .

Gerald: And we just know how much she loves it when you do that.

Arnold glared at Gerald's sarcasm.

Arnold: . . . WELL I reached her house and it's a total wreck Gerald. It looked like one of those haunted houses in the Purdy Boy mysteries. So we walked in had lunch then Lila's dad came home.

His bottom lip started to quiver.

Arnold: He got a new job and they're moving. She's leaving Gerald. For good! I'll never see her again.

He felt a reassuring hand on his shoulder and looked over at Gerald, who in turn looked up the stairs with his mouth open.

Voice: She wasn't your type anyway.

Helga sat slowly down beside him.

Helga: She had been trying to tell you that for weeks, but it just never sinks in does it? Like you said "When you like, like someone and they only like you back, it hurts." You just wouldn't take no for an answer.

Arnold looks over at Gerald for support his friend nodded.

Gerald: For once I'm backing Helga's opinion. Though I won't do it again in a hurry.

Helga: Ditto! C'mon Foot-ball head, I said I'd take you somewhere and that's what I'm going to do!

She grabbed him under the arm and lifted him to his feet. They walked away leaving Gerald at the school.

In a dark alleyway –

Helga was grabbing on to Arnold's arm, dragging him through one dark alley to another. Arnold was get frustrated and finally yanked his arm away.

Arnold: Helga! I'm not going any further until you tell me where we're going.

She turned around and gave him a grin.

Helga: And spoil the surprise? No way!

Arnold shook his head and folded his arms.

Helga: C'mon. It's only a little further. Don't you trust me?

Arnold: Should I?

Helga frowned at him and they both glared at each other until he gave in.

Arnold: Alright, but this had better be good?

Helga's eyebrow lifted and she started to laugh.

Arnold: What's so funny?

Helga: Since when did we switch personalities? I always thought I was the grumpy one.

He eased up a bit and smiled.

Helga: That's better, we can do this then go home so no one can see that we spent the afternoon together and ruin our reputations.

She led the way past two more building then turned and went towards the street. Arnold eyes were having a hard time to adjust as light shone into them. Finally he couldn't see and bumped into Helga.

Arnold: Sorry. I didn't know you stopped.

Helga: I've become used to it. But here we are!

Arnold stopped rubbing his eyes and the blur went slowly away to reveal their destination.

Arnold: Here?! Haven't you been listening Helga? At the moment this would probably be the last place I want to visit.

Helga looked up at the shabby house with the "For Sale" sign out the front. After a quick look she found that all the windows were boarded up except for a broken one on the first level, the front door seemed the only way in. Helga carefully avoided the cracked stairs and tried to open it.

Helga: Damn. Locked. Maybe we can get though the broken window.

Arnold: Helga? What are you doing? HELGA?!

She picked up a trash can lid and knocked out the last shards of glass from it's frame. Arnold grabbed the lid off her.

Arnold: Helga, why are you breaking into Lila's house? What has she ever done to you?

Helga snatched the lid back from him.

Helga: Look Arnoldo, I know what I'm doing. You've trusted me so far why stop now? If you really must know, I getting my property and doing my assignment. So are you with me or not?

Arnold: (Property?) Yeah I'm with you. Just don't….

She was halfway through the window when she turned around and glared at him.

Helga: Don't what?

Arnold: Don't hurt yourself alright?

Helga: Who do you think I am? Rhonda? I can look after myself! THUD Ow!

Arnold rushed to the window and started to climb in.

Arnold: You alright?

Helga: Yeah yeah. Watch that first step. Help me find the light switch.

After banging into numerous walls they found the light switch.

Helga: That's better! Now I'll write notes on the rooms upstairs and you can do the bottom floor alright?

Arnold: Fine by me.

Upstairs –

Helga ran up the stairs two at a time to the top. She stood there deciding which room to search first.

Helga: (Now she must've left it here somewhere. I hope she didn't take that book with her. I had all my best poems in it.) If I was Lila where would I leave it . . .

She checked Lila's old room, then the next one and the next one. No luck whatsoever.

Helga: . . . obviously somewhere where Helga can't find it. She always was a pain in the neck!

Meanwhile in the kitchen Arnold has found an envelope with his name on it and a pink book on the table.

Arnold: I wonder if this is what Helga is looking for.

He shoved the envelope in his pant pocket. Then looked at the cover.

Arnold: "Keep Out! Peekers will be vaporised." Yep it's got to be Helga's.

Helga grumbled as she walked down to the lounge room. She looked around and then saw Arnold with his back to her, staring at the table in the middle of the room.

Hlega: My beloved, so serene in this barren room. This room, like my heart dusty and empty. Will I ever let him know? Can I take that big leap and blurt out all my true feelings to him. Will he understand? Will he ever understand? Will I . . . NOOOOO!!!

He turned around slowly with a pink book in his hands, just staring at the cover, contemplating whether to open it or not. Helga yelped then rushed over and took it out of his hand.

Arnold: Oookkkaaaayyyy . . . I'm guessing that was what you were looking for, right?

He smiled at her, shaking like a leaf, and she went all jittery.

Helga: Ah yeah. I let Lovela . . . I mean Lila borrow it for a smile . . . I mean while. Oh boy. Can't we just sit down and talk about the place?

Arnold: Sure. If you're up to it. You sure you're fine?

She dropped to the floor and opened her exercise book to jot down notes.

Helga: Yeah. Now tell me what so special about kiss house adore you?

Arnold looked at Helga quizzically as she sat back in horror.

Helga: Ah I mean . . . What so special about this house for you?

He slowly smiles and she calms down.

Arnold: Well . . . I think it holds a lot of secrets. Things people wouldn't want out in the open. For instance, when Lila first came to the school we all thought she had the perfect home life right?

Helga started to go pale but managed a slight nod.

Arnold: But her father was unemployed, they had hardly any food and they weren't living in the lap of luxury. Yet I would have never known this because no matter how tough times were, she was always smiling. I really miss her, you know?

Her face regained its colour and she took on her usual attitude.

Helga: Well I'm no Sherlock Holms, but I kinda guessed that this morning, remember?

He nodded remembering how she stuck up for him.

Arnold: Thanks again Helga. You can be fairly nice, when you want to, but now it's your turn.

Helga: (Should I tell him? Let him know. This would be the perfect time.) Can I ask you something?

Arnold: Shoot.

Helga: Did you read this book?

She pointed at the pink book beside her.

Arnold: No. Why do you ask?

Helga: Well I thought, you being a guy and all, would read it and then tell the whole world what was inside it.

Arnold: You have your own personal life and I have mine. It's not like you've ever been in my closet or even in my room before.

Helga went pale again and laughed nervously.

Helga: Heh. Yeah you're right. My mistake.

Arnold: I can tell you one thing, I've seen a book just like that one, except it had love poems in it. And I don't see how you could ever right stuff like that? (Ooops!)

She stood up and scowled at him this time he knew she wasn't joking.

Helga: For your information I could easily write a poem, all you have to do is rhyme and even Harold can do that! I can't believe that's how you think I am. You probably think that I just live to make your life a misery don't you!

Arnold looked at the ground with shame.

Arnold: Well . . . yes.

Helga: I don't! I hate calling you and other people names but I have to! It's who I am. That's why I play practical jokes and put other people down! And if I ever do stop, people will just ignore me even more. That's why I do it . . . so people to notice me.

She was pacing around in circles with frustration.

Helga: Everyone is always to busy with the nicer kids like Olga, Lila, Phoebe, Gerald and even you. I can't stand it!! No one gives a hoot about us kids trying to change. No one ever has, no one ever will.

She sat down again and inhaled raggedly while trying not to cry. Arnold moved over next to her and waited until she was ready to listen.

Arnold: Oh Helga. I'm sorry.

Helga: *sniff* Sorry? For what, you didn't do anything. *sniff* I'm the one who just yelled at you for no reason. But hey *sniff* you probably want to know why I like this place.

He reached over to his book and pen and prepared to write.

Helga: I like it because it's where I can keep my secrets, away from everyone around me. The best part is only Lila knows the real me but she wont tell anyone. And this old place can't talk so my secrets are safe. So I guess I'll kinda miss her too.

Arnold: Lila left me a note. I was going to save it and read it later when I got home, but I can trust you Helga.

He tore open the envelope unfolded the letter and read out loud. Helga lay on her back listening.

Arnold: "Dear Arnold,

I will miss all of my friends from PS118 ever so much and I will try to write to you every week to find out what's going on there. Maybe you'll be interested in my new life and want to know more too. Please give a good bye hug to my very best friend Helga. She'll need them sooner rather than later.

Arnold, as I know how much I can trust you, seeing as you must've found the letter, I have to tell you something. I have been sworn to secrecy on this, so I couldn't tell you. But I wrote it down instead."

Helga inhaled sharply and sat up in a hurry. She stared at the letter in Arnold's hand, hoping it would burst into flames any minute now.

Helga: Arnold . . . I really don't think you should read any more of that.

Arnold: Why?

She couldn't breathe and her clenched fists were aching.

Helga: You may not like what you hear . . . I'm just saying this for your own good! Please Arnold . . .

Arnold: What could possibly be so bad?

She stood up and walked over to the other side of the room. She slumped against the wall and looked away from the revealing truth of the letter.

Arnold: "I have tried not to like you more than a friend and now you must know the reason. A certain someone has loved you for years and it devastates her every time we're together. I know that you are a wonderful friend and wouldn't harm this girl. She may not act as she appears to be, because of reasons only she can understand. One day she will have the courage to tell you, but until then go easy on her.

I will miss you ever so much,

From Lila."

He peered over the letter at a lonely girl with a hard outer shell but a soft heart. He stood up and walked over to Helga. She straightened up, then started to quiver again. He stood there, and in a flash wrapped his arms around her.

Helga: Arnold, what are you doing?

Arnold: I'm doing as the letter said.

They stood there like that for a while, Helga in shock and Arnold in understanding. After a while he let go and she felt all warm inside.

Arnold: C'mon let's get our stuff and go home before our folks start to worry.

Helga stopped acting like a stunned mullet and picked up her books. She took a long look at her secret in her hands.

Helga: Hey Arnold, take this. Seeing as you trust me, there's no reason why I can't trust you. You might find it interesting anyway.

Arnold: Sure thing.

Helga turned off the light, and followed Arnold out the window. As they were walking home Helga had to ask.

Helga: Arnold . . . about you hugging me . . .?

Arnold: Hmm.

Helga: Why were you hugging me for so long?

Arnold: What? You think I wanted to do that?

He nudged her and she understood the personal joke. She smiled warmly down at him.

Helga: Whatever you say Arnold, whatever you say.