Chapter 70

Requited Love

"Oh, well," Helga thought, as the fire began to fill the classroom. "It's not like I had anything left to live for anyway." Smoke from the fire stung her eyes, but she wouldn't let them close. "If I have to die, I want Arnold to be my last sight." She stared at him intently, but then…wait, what was going on? Was he coming towards her? Maybe the firelight was playing tricks on her eyes or something. But no, there was no doubting it. He was most certainly walking away from Lila and towards her. Now he was running towards her.

"What the heck?" she wondered. She tried again to sit up, and this time she almost succeeded. She probably could have made it out of the building by herself-if Arnold hadn't scooped her up in his arms.

"What's he doing?" Helga thought in amazement. "He's saving me? But why?" She looked up at him and almost had to resist the urge to kiss him right then and there in the middle of the blazing fire. "Who cares why?" she thought happily.

Arnold carried her out of the classroom and into the burning hallway. The flames rose high around them, but he bravely walked on. The smoke was almost unbearable.

"I've got to get her out of here," he thought worriedly. Helga started to cough, and he quickened his pace. "Don't worry," he told her above the roar of the fire. "We'll be fine. I'll get us out."

"Stupid football head," Helga thought to herself, fighting against losing consciousness again. "Always having to be optimistic about everything."

"There's the door!" Arnold thought excitedly. "Only a couple more feet!"

But those couple of feet were treacherous. He jumped out of the way as a flaming rafter fell from the ceiling. Helga gasped and turned her head towards him, burying her face in his chest.

Arnold ran the last few feet and finally burst through the door. He hurried away from the school, towards the crowd of kids gathered on the other side of the street. Helga had to close her eyes from the bright sun. It was such a change from the darkened school.

"Hey! You made it!" Sid said when they got over to them.

"What was it like?"

"What happened to Lila?"

"Are you okay?"

"Um, hello?" Rhonda said, obviously annoyed. "Am I the only one here who can see that he's holding her?!"

"Ooh! Do you love her, Arnold?" Harold teased.

"Yes," Arnold thought. "And I have to tell her, but…not here." Then, without saying a word to anyone, he walked away. He wasn't sure where exactly he was headed, but he didn't let that worry him.

Arnold walked for about five minutes, before he found himself at the park. He went inside and walked to a bench that was surrounded by weeping willows, making it almost completely isolated from the rest of the park. He carefully set Helga down on the bench and then sat down beside her.

They sat there for about a minute, neither one of them saying anything.

"Um…are you okay?" Arnold finally asked.

Helga just nodded. She stood up and was about to leave, but she couldn't yet. There was still something she needed to know. Staring straight ahead, she asked softly, "Why did you do that?"

"What, save you?"

She nodded again.

Arnold nervously got up off the bench and walked in front of her. "Well, I…this is kind of hard to say. I don't know exactly how to put it-"

"Don't play with me, Arnold. I know exactly what you're gonna say. 'I like Li-la, not you. Why would I like you anyway? You're always mean. Blah, blah, blah.' I don't even know why I told you anything. It's not like it makes any difference. You-you hate me." At this her eyes filled with tears, which she tried hard not to let Arnold see, but to no avail.

"Helga?" Arnold said softly, as he tilted her face towards his, "Don't cry. I never said I hated you. I would never dream of saying that. How could I ever say that to someone like you?"

She looked at him with questioning eyes. "I don't get it."

"Maybe this will make you understand."

Then in one swift motion he grabbed her, tipped her back, and kissed her.

Her eyes opened wide in surprise. She tried to register what was happening, but her senses were too overwhelmed to comprehend anything. Instead she just gave into her desires and melted into the kiss. He began to kiss her harder, and she felt she that she was going to die right then.

After about two minutes, he reluctantly pulled back. It was very fortunate for Helga that she was still clasped in his arms because she almost fainted.

When she finally came to her senses, all she could do was stare up at him and mutter, "Huh?"

Arnold smiled. "Who's dense now?" he thought.

He sat down on the bench again, and she sat down next to him. Then both began to talk at once.

"Look, Helga, I-"

"What was that-"

They both stopped talking.

"You first," Arnold said.

"What on earth did you do that for?" Helga asked, still half in shock.

"You really don't get it?"

She shook her head.

"I love you."

She whirled around to face him. "What?!"

"I love you! I don't know why I didn't see it before. I've loved you my whole life! You're the most beautiful, caring, amazing girl I've ever seen, and I'm so sorry that I ever made you think otherwise. Will you forgive me?"

"What?" Helga asked again.

This wasn't exactly the response he was expecting. "I love you."

"Say it again," she demanded.

"I love you, Helga."

"Again."

Arnold smiled at her. "Helga Geraldine Pataki, I love you with all my heart, and I always will."

That did it. Helga collapsed into his arms, crying and laughing at the same time.

"I love you, too!" she cried into his shoulder. "I love you, I love you, I love y-"

He cut her off as he kissed her once again.

Everything was perfect. Absolutely perfect. At long, long last, her love was no longer unrequited.

THE END