A/N:

Did anyone think there was even a chance that an update wouldn't happen to this story? XD Darn me and my random yuletide ideas lol.

Anyway, I'd consider this a prequel to the other stuff in the fic. I'll warn you, it doesn't end on the happiest note simply because it can't, but there's something good there regardless, I promise : ) I really hope you all enjoy this and that you've been having a wonderful season. Whether things are going well for you or you're having rough times, I wish all you well and send you my hope and love. And for those who have stuck with me as I've tried to learn to be a writer over the years with the help of writing this story and my others, thank you for your readership and support and opinions. Your interactions with my work mean a great deal to me.

Oh and a very special thank you to everyone who voted for my story "Learning to be Helga" in the HA! Season 6 fan awards! I won! 8D Thank you, thank you, thank you all again! ^_^

So without further rambling, here we go!

HELGA PATAKI'S CHRISTMAS

Prequel:

First Christmas


Before ever marrying, before ever courting, before ever even meeting, both the man and the woman who would later become husband and wife had imagined in vague ways what their first Christmas as parents to a baby of their own would feel like. The strangeness of finally not being the child at Christmas themselves, but instead suddenly trying to 'help out' Santa with late night wrapping and stocking stuffing, baking cookies to be eaten by old Saint Nick and his reindeer, reading the "Night Before Christmas" to a little one before tucking them into bed, being roused at the crack of dawn by their new little love and watching warm together on the couch while they sipped a mug of hot cocoa and a mug of eggnog each as the baby opened gift upon gift but was far more interested in the beautiful scraps of shiny paper and bows and boxes than in most of the toys themselves. How different to be at last the one providing Christmas instead of the one receiving the holiday…and yet what a beautiful change to be explored.

And, now, for a certain man and woman, the time to have their first Christmas with a child of their own was finally here.

Miles and Stella Shortman had a baby boy named Arnold. And Arnold was one year old this Christmas.

Though technically the last Noel had been the first official Christmas in which the three of them had all existed and been together, Arnold had only been a couple of months old at the time. He had merely been held all morning while his parents opened up presents of new baby clothes and baby seats and baby toys for him. Certainly it had been a lovely Christmas, yet the holiday and the family had not felt quite real to them just yet.

Now, however, Arnold was almost a whole year and a half old. He was so big and he could crawl and he laughed and he was adventurous and noticed things and could even probably get his motor skills around handling some wrapping paper pretty well on his own, or so it seemed. He could recognize images of Santa and clap, and he would point to images of cookies and milk and reindeer in picture books in recognition of their holiday association. He also just adored the Christmas tree, all lit up and full of shiny wonders. He would even let them put a little Santa hat over his little blue hat sometimes.

Yes, this was the first Christmas when Miles and Stella, mother and father, could really give the holiday to their child and have it actively received by him.

Furthermore, the whole family was here in the boarding house, safe and sound, baby, parents and even grandparents alike. The Boarders were there too, of course, though at the moment all of them were off at their own respective family and work holiday gatherings, giving the Shortman clan some time alone before the hullabaloo of the annual Secret Santa exchange later on after young Arnold was fast asleep. To add to the festivities of the evening, the holiday decorations were all up in full swing, the snow outside was light and beautiful, a warm fire glowed in the hearth, the smell of gingerbread filled the old building, and all the while Grandma played occasional Christmas carols on the piano and Grandpa laughed and told stories, as he bounced young Arnold on one knee, of Christmas days of yore.

So perfect.

Yet, apart from the scene, Miles and Stella sat alone in the kitchen, dim and cool. They were dressed in bright reindeer sweaters that looked almost somber in the low light. Before the two of them on the table there were two mugs of fresh cocoa, though neither appeared to have been touched yet.

And Stella looked like she could cry.

Miles did not look much better.

"Heh…look at us…" Miles started, at least trying to improve the mood, "A couple of gloomy gusses. It's Christmas tomorrow. We should be rocking Arnold to the rhythm of Christmas carols and getting ready to wrap the last of his presents. Come on, Stella…" He looked to his wife, smiling more. "I think that would be good for us."

Stella let out a deep sigh and wiped at one of her eyes with the heel of her hand. She never liked to cry and especially did not want to start at this particular moment. "I just have a bad feeling about this, Miles. I can't help it. And I know we should be making the best of today and tomorrow but…I still have a bad feeling." She looked at her husband and frowned. "Maybe we shouldn't have decided to wait until after the holidays to tell your parents that we're going back to San Lorenzo. At least then I wouldn't feel guilty every time they smile and say how happy they are to have the whole family all together now for good." She looked down into her mug of cocoa and added softly, pensively… "And I still have a funny feeling about this, Miles. I just do."

Miles could be a little goofy and lighthearted, but he was also a very smart man. And he trusted is wife's intuition. But, still, they had been over this already. Miles put a hand on Stella's on the tabletop. "I know this seems strange. We were different people back when we were travelling, barely more than kids really. And now we're adults, we've got a baby—going back is like going back to the past in a way. But we can do this, Stella, we're the only ones who can do this actually…and we agreed, for the children." He squeezed her hand, smiling softly and looking into her eyes.

Stella looked up into his eyes and tried to smile too. She at least managed to squeeze his hand back. "Yes…the children." Honestly, if it wasn't for the idea of all those children, sick and in need of help, Stella would have stopped this madness of returning to help the Green Eyed People. She loved those people, she would never deny it, but they had shamans and healers and medical supplies nearby, even if they were only willing to trade for them through secret drop-offs. Meanwhile, she had a baby, a child, her own flesh and blood who needed her not to be an adventurer or a botanist or an ambassador right now, but a mother…and more than anything else right now in her life Stella wanted to be a mother to her little boy. She loved him, and he was such a bright new part of their world.

Miles smiled more, squeezing her hand once again. "We'll be fine—we'll be away such a short time that Arnold won't even miss us. We'll leave just before spring starts when it stops snowing here and come back just as summer is coming up, and then we'll take him to the park and buy him ice cream, and then the whole family and the boarders can cram into the Packard and we'll all go to that house by the seaside that my parents like to rent. Then, before you know it, it'll be next Christmas again and we'll be so freezing between shoveling the walk and dealing with the furnace going out sometimes that you'll be wishing we could take a trip to South America every winter." He laughed warmly. He really did want to make her feel better about all of this travelling business. Christmas should be a happy time no matter what worries were coming up afterward.

Stella did smile and even laugh a little more, though a tear suddenly escaped from her eye, which she quickly brushed away. "Yeah…you're probably right, Miles. Even right now I could use a little South American weather." She shivered a little and picked up her mug of hot chocolate, bringing it to her lips…though she quickly pulled it away with a slight cringe and frown. "Oh, it's gotten cold. Darn it." She sighed, putting down the mug. But then she smiled again and glanced out of the window. Snow was gently falling over the town, glowing with the glows of the streetlights and Christmas lights outside. "But it's worth the cold for a white Christmas," she added. "I lived too far south when I was little—I never got a white Christmas until I came here." A touch of a genuine smile came to her lips.

Miles smiled and stood up, taking up both of their mugs. "Come on, I'll reheat both our hot chocolates and then we can get back to Arnold."

Stella nodded, standing up as well. She seemed more sincerely okay now. "Okay. I'd like that."

Miles nodded and headed over to the stovetop.

Just as he set down the mugs, though, his eyes widened in surprise at the feeling of suddenly being hugged very tightly from behind (by his wife, he quickly realized).

She sighed softly and squeezed tightly. He couldn't see, but she had a small smile still on her lips. "You're a good man, Miles Shortman. And I love having you as my husband and my child's father and as my partner in all of the adventures we've had and ever will have." She laughed a little and wiped another tear from her face. "Sorry, don't mean to get all sappy. I think it's just the holidays and the excitement of the trip, that's all." She came to his side, smiling up at him.

Miles smiled down at her. "Aw, but I like when you're sappy. It's cute." He gave her a quick kiss, and laughed too, and then poured their cocoa in a saucepan and left it on low to simmer. "Come on, the hot chocolate will be here for however long we need it. I say we go play with Arnold while he's still little enough to want us around. After all, before you know it he'll practically be a teenager, all moody and defensive and wanting to spend time with girls far more than us." He laughed a little, shaking his head.

Stella smirked at him and pulled back, giving him a little nudge in the shoulder. "Miles, don't even joke about that—my baby has a good long while left yet to be a baby, and he'll always want his mother around." She smiled proudly to herself and started to saunter toward the kitchen door, arms crossed over her chest.

Miles just grinned and rolled his eyes, putting a hand on his hip. "Yeah, you think so…"

"I know so…" Stella assured, turning back to him once more.

Miles raised an eyebrow. "And how do you know that?"

Stella just shrugged and replied simply, her smile growing, "Because I'm the 'cool' parent. Bye for now, Miles, love." She winked and then turned away and opened the kitchen door. "Now where's my little boy…?" she called out playfully, heading to the den.

Miles blinked and then smiled more and dashed after her. "Hey, who says you get to be 'cool parent', huh?" he called after her jokingly.

Miles laughed and he heard Stella laugh, and the joke was soon forgotten as they burst in upon their son (dressed in a green pair of one piece pajamas with a little red Santa hat covering his blue cap) and Phil and Gertie (dressed in their own festive sweaters and hats), all of them cozily occupying the den. Grandma was now trying to teach Arnold to string popcorn garland while he just played with the popcorn and laughed, and Grandpa was sneaking cookies for himself and giving some to Arnold as well, who eagerly took them and nibbled at them with his few little teeth.

"Ah, there's my baby boy!" Miles went over and scooped up Arnold, twirling him around once in the air. "You've got to get to bed early, cowboy, so you can wake up early for Santa. I'm sure he's got lots of fun things for you in the morning, and so do Mommy and Daddy."

Young Arnold just laughed happily. Miles brought him down from the air and give him a little kiss on the head.

"Yes, tomorrow's a very exciting day, Arnold." Stella took her son now, holding him close and cooing to him gently. "Christmas Day. A time for miracles and giving people gifts from the heart." She smiled down at him as he gazed up at her in wonder. "And I just know there's a little Christmas angel watching over you, my Arnold. I think this will always be a good time of year for you." She leaned in and kissed his little nose, causing him to gurgle happily.

"Oh, what are you two getting all sentimental for?" Phil couldn't help but ask with an eye roll and a grin. "Come on, let's sing some Christmas carols or something. Pookie, the piano?" Phil gestured over to the large upright piano in the corner.

Gertie smiled and laughed. "Of course, Mon Capitan. Some carols!" She trotted over to the instrument.

"Yes sir," Phil grinned proudly, picking up a book and walking over to his favorite chair, "And I'll read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to the kids and the grandkid because I'm the patriarch now, don't you know." He winked down at a smiling Arnold, who was now positioned between his parents and sitting on the floor with them as all three looked up to Phil.

From across the room, Gertie laughed in that crazy and wonderful way of hers. "Mrs. Claus runs the show here, Santa!" Then she started up playing the tune of I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy, grinning over her shoulder at Phil as she did so.

Just like clockwork, Phil sighed and rolled his eyes. "Pookie, you know it bugs me when you play the wrong songs on purpose…" He shook his head, but there was a smile there. "Oh, fine, whatever you want, Pookie." He cleared his throat and turned back to his son, daughter-in-law, and grandson. "Now, let's get to the story!"

"Stowy!" Arnold yelled, clapping his hands together.

Phil laughed. "Yes, now let's see here." He flipped open the book and started to read. "Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse…"

The whole warm, glowing, colorful room was a particularly beautiful scene.

There were the makings of a good memory here; one that several people in the room would need to hold in their hearts for a very long time in order to get through some harsh moments ahead.

Though for right now none of them realized the significance, the importance, the soon to be rarity of what they had here at the moment. For right now they all just loved and were happy.


One Year Later…

Phil and Gertie were trying. They really were.

But it was so hard.

A little child, practically still a baby, needed happiness and optimism and joy to grow up with the truly light-hearted childhood any young person deserved. A baby especially needed festivity too at this particular time of year. And a little person had to be cared for almost all the time. So Phil and Gertie had been trying almost all of the time…trying to smile, laugh, play games, sing songs, pretend that there was nothing truly bad in the world, all for the sake of Arnold. They had even decorated the house and put up and trimmed a tree and put everybody in festive clothes, all for Arnold.

Yet all the two of them really wanted to do sometimes was sit quietly by a dim fire and hold each other and maybe cry.

Could they really be blamed? Their whole family was shattered. Arnold's sweet mother—disappeared. And their own son gone too…their dear Miles. Gertie remembered almost every day now her thrill almost three decades ago when she had realized she was going to have a baby—Phil's baby and her baby. So much happiness. Phil remembered watching Miles grow, taking him to do things his own father had done with him… So proud he had been when the boy had left the city, gone to college, graduate school—smart as a whip, that one. Then he had taken to travelling…only to bring home the most wonderful daughter they could have imagined. Phil and Gertie couldn't help but recall that first moment of meeting Stella too, and the love between herself and Miles.

Arnold was the greatest manifestation of that love.

Arnold was the only piece of their son or their daughter they had left.

And so Phil and Gertie would continue to fight against the pain for the sake of keeping that little two-year-old boy happy, and especially at Christmastime. Besides, life would be difficult enough for him when he realized the truth of his situation; that his parents had gone away for such a very long while…and might not come home ever again.

Not that a funeral had been held or anything, but people just usually didn't come back from mysterious plane disappearances over uncharted areas of jungle after eight months of being overdue and unheard of.

But for now it was Christmas Eve, so everything in the boarding house was as brightly colored and shiny and decorative as ever for the holiday season!

(Though there would be no Secret Santa this year with the boarders. Instead each of them had just bought some sort of small present for Arnold and given it to Phil and Gertie to put under the tree for him. And they had all agreed not to go downstairs until Arnold was asleep. This was a hard day for the old couple. They deserved some respect and time alone.)

Little Arnold was sitting on the floor in a wool Christmas sweater his Grandma had knitted for him, and a pair of red snow pants. He was playing with two gingerbread cookies like they were actual dolls, sometimes sneaking a gumdrop or a chocolate candy off of one of them, or eating a whole little cookie and then grabbing another one to replace it from the plate full of them sitting at his side. He seemed not to have a care in the world at the moment, which was how he was almost all of the time, actually, Phil and Gertie had noticed. Probably a good sign…except for one small thing neither one of them had been able to explain yet.

Arnold refused to let his little blue hat out of his sight. Ever. If it was taken away from him for whatever reason, he would cry and almost panic. There almost seemed to be fear in his small green eyes when it was gone.

So Phil and Gertie never took the hat. And when it did have to come off of his head they allowed it to stay within eyesight of him.

Otherwise, Arnold was the happiest toddler there ever had seemed to be.

But back to Christmas.

Right now Gertie was sitting at the piano trying to make a few bars of some kind of actual holiday song. Jingle Bells or something about Santa… She was trying. It sounded close enough. She was sad, but being in the same room as Arnold helped—seeing him happy gave her hope again. She was so grateful for the little boy and to have him safe and here with her. So she glanced behind her shoulder to watch Arnold at play. Instantly her smile perked up a little and her tune found some purpose. Definitely Jingle Bells. She wanted to give him some real Christmas music. After all, bugging Phil was one thing, but she didn't want young Arnold to grow up confused and thinking that Fourth of July songs actually were Christmas songs. Maybe when he was a bit older she would go back to her fun. Or maybe she would even switch things up a little. She had always related festive things in the oddest of ways anyway…

As the music picked up, Arnold picked up the beat and swayed a little side to side where he sat, making his gingerbread men dance until he suddenly fell backward, kicking his legs in the air and laughing, gingerbread men falling to his sides.

Gertie smiled even more and turned back to her work at the piano. She felt okay again. Anyway, after almost a full year now without seeing them…the pain was starting to get better slowly.

Phil came in the room now.

He had been wrapping presents for little Arnold. He and Gertie had certainly got the boy quite a few things this year (not to mention what the boarders had all bought for him). Of course everyone knew that presents could never make up for… But they all just wanted him to have a happy, thrilling, unforgettable Christmas morning of childlike wonder. It was the least they could do. Besides, he wouldn't be starting preschool for at least another year and there were no other children in the boarding house, so they wanted him to have as much imagination stimulation and playtime as possible. Besides, he really did have a big room to fill up with things now that Phil had finished the attic nursery entirely. There was wonderful blue and green and yellow wallpaper, a big skylight, beautiful crib, and then with all of his toys it would be Arnold's own happy place.

Phil smiled as he thought of how much Arnold would enjoy that. He sat down now in his usual cozy chair, a big Christmas scarf around his neck and a Santa hat on his head. "Say there, short man, what'chya up to? Playing Gingerbread men soldiers, eh?" He laughed a little. He noticed Gertie was playing a lively tune. A Christmas one, even. It made him happy to hear. And it made him happy to have Arnold with them.

Arnold was right in front of Phil's chair, and he picked up his gingerbread men and held them up with a smile. "Dinjer Bread Men!" he exclaimed happily. Then he blinked and smiled ear to ear in this cute little way he had of doing. "Gram-pa, you're Santa!" He put down his cookies and pointed up to the Santa hat.

Phil blinked and glanced up to his hat, then looked back down at Arnold and laughed. He scooped up the little boy from the floor, putting him on his knee. "Oh yes, I'm Santa's helper this year." He tapped his little round nose. "Anything particular you'd like for Christmas, Arnold? I could give Santa a last minute message for such a good boy like you."

Arnold put a finger to his chin like he was thinking, and then he smiled up at his Grandpa. "Can…" he did his best to find the right words, looking so hopeful as he did so, "Can Santa bring Mommy and Daddy to come over for Chwistmas?"

Gertie hit a sour chord on the piano, and then the music playing stopped entirely.

Phil paused in his light bouncing of Arnold on one knee.

The little boy just sat there looking optimistic as ever while for the moment his grandparents had no idea what to say.

Phil swallowed and finally managed a smile. He chose his words carefully. "Oh, well…Arnold, I'm sure Santa would love to let…to bring you Mommy and Daddy for Christmas. Heh, you must miss them, don't you, little guy?"

He touched the toddler's cheek and Arnold nodded, looking serious for a moment. "Yes. I miss Mommy and Daddy."

Phil smiled a little more. Such a good boy. "Well, um…well, you know, Arnold, the reason they haven't been able to come for Christmas is because…they're…o-on an adventure…to, um…to help kids…and Santa. Yes, Santa, they're Santa's helpers this year too, just like me!" He perked up, bouncing the little boy again.

Arnold smiled with interest. "Really?"

Phil nodded, getting into the story now. And it wasn't really a lie—it was sort of the truth. Embellished, yes, but still… "Oh yes. You see, there are lots of little children all over the world who don't have a nice boarding house or a big Christmas tree or lots of toys. They need extra help from Santa, so your parents are helping him out to make sure all the good little boys and girls have a Merry Christmas. They're in his sleigh with him right now bringing food like fruitcakes and Christmas cookies to those kids. And some of those kids are sick, so they're bringing them hot chocolate and eggnog to help with the taste after they take their medicine. Oh, it's a big job, but your Mom and Dad want to help—they're very good people. And they miss you so much too."

Arnold looked so happy to be hearing all of this. "Can they bring us presents too when Santa comes here? Can I see them?"

Phil swallowed and shook his head, still smiling. "Oh, no, I'm afraid you can't see them, Arnold. You know the rule—Santa, and Santa's helpers too, can only come when boys and girls are all asleep. But don't worry, your mom and Dad sent us some presents for you. They're all wrapped up and tucked away in secret, and you can open them tomorrow."

Arnold clapped his hands together. "Yay! Pwesents from Mommy and Daddy." He was so excited he almost fell off of Phil's knee.

"Oh, whoa there!" Phil caught Arnold and righted him on his knee again. "Don't get too excited, short man, you've got to go to bed soon. Remember, the sooner you get to sleep, the sooner you get to wake up for Christmas morning and presents. And your Grandma's going to make Christmas tree shaped pancakes, and we can see what's left of the cookies Santa ate. Then we'll set up all your new toys and then go play outside in the snow. What do you say?"

Arnold nodded happily. "Okay, Gram-pa."

Phil smiled warmly and leaned down and gave Arnold a kiss on the forehead. Then he ruffled his hair a little. "Very good, short man." Then he stood up with the little boy, holding him in his arms. "So how about we get you all cleaned up and into your jammies, and then we'll come back down here, I'll read you "Twas the Night Before Christmas", and then you can go to sleep and dream of sugar plums."

Arnold nodded, cuddling against his Grandpa's shoulder. "Yes, pwease."

Phil started to walk with him from the room.

He did not make it out, though, before stopping at the sound of Arnold asking, "Gram-pa, when Chwistmas is over, can Mommy and Daddy come back then?" It was such a curious and innocent question.

Phil hugged the boy just a little more tightly. Then he pulled back a little to look down into his eyes with the best smile he had. "Well, um…you know, they have a few more new adventures to go on first probably. There are lots of people who need help. Oh, but they do love you and miss you so much, and they'll send you birthday presents too just like the Christmas presents, you know, if they aren't back by then. It's just that i-it's such a big world, Arnold, it might take them a while."

Arnold had seemed to consider for a moment. Then an accepting smile came to his face. "Oh. And pwesents like my hat too?" Arnold touched the little blue cap affectionately.

Phil looked a little confused for a moment. Certainly Arnold must recall getting Christmas and birthday presents from his parents last year. So why again was he focusing on something like…

Phil didn't realize just yet, though, the difference for little Arnold between holiday presents and a present like his hat. Holiday presents for a little kid tended to blend together into one big mountain of stuff, kind of all from everybody at once. But the hat had been the only thing baby Arnold's memory could recall being specifically given to him directly by his parents without anything else to cloud the recollection. That was why Arnold loved his hat so much—and he was looking forward in his little heart to showing his parents how well he had cared for it when they finally came back.

Meanwhile, Phil just let it go and smiled—Arnold liked the hat the way any kid would pick a favorite blanket or toy to like, he figured, so better to just accept it rather than question it. He nodded to the little boy. "Oh yes, presents just like your hat and like all the other toys you have. They had them dropped off in advance this year in case they couldn't make it back for Christmas from their adventures, and they'll do the same for your birthday."

Arnold smiled happily. Then a little quizzical look came to that small, wide head of his. "What kind of adventures do Mommy and Daddy go on, Gram-pa?"

Phil let out a small sigh of relief. The boy still seemed happy and he was accepting the stories Phil was telling him. At least he had bought some time. And who knew—maybe something definitive about Miles and Stella would turn up one day…one way or the other. Either outcome would at least provide some closure.

"Oh well…" Phil started, firming up his grip and heading over to the stairs and starting up them, "All sorts—too many to tell you about in just one night. Erm…but they might be helping out with quite a few of the holidays for a while, you know. Growing extra big and nutritious carrots for the Easter Bunny based from seeds they found deep in the jungles of Peru, giving the tooth fairy plane rides whenever her wings get tired, finding ancient talismans in the Sahara deserts to ward off evil spirits on Halloween."

"T-Tell me the stowies, pwease," Arnold begged eagerly.

Phil laughed as they finished their ascent to the second floor and headed over to the attic steps. "You got it, short man. Come on, we'll finish getting you cleaned up, and along with "Twas the Night before Christmas" I'll tell you any story you want about your parents, holiday themed or not, until you fall asleep."

Arnold looked so relieved. "Thank you, Gram-pa. Mewwy Chwistmas." He hugged the old man tightly.

Phil hugged the little boy quite tightly right back. "Merry Christmas to you too, Short Man."

Later, when the stories were over and Arnold was in bed, Gertie would question Phil about Arnold's questions and ask for assurance that he thought it was a good idea to make up such things for the little boy. But after Phil explained Arnold's excitement upon hearing the tales and reminded Gertie that Arnold would be having questions no matter what, Gertie had agreed that a light hearted form of explanation probably was best for now. When Arnold really did get older, and if…there was no return of…well, eventually he would realize something else was the truth and then they could tell him everything. No sense upsetting him now with the harsh reality, and ignoring the situation would only upset him by making him feel confused and unsure. At least with the stories he was happy. And with such stories maybe both of them could be happier too. Making up colorful tales and recalling the good parts of Miles and Stella as people was better than just wallowing in worry and sadness.

That was why they were most grateful to have Arnold safe in their home and arms. He reminded them of what was really important, and he reminded them that, no matter how bad things got, life could turn out happy again in some way. He was hope. He let them heal so that they could better help him heal if and when the time came.

This would be Arnold's first Christmas without his parents. And though Phil and Gertie prayed it would be the last, they at least had faith at this point that they could all be okay and happy even if last year's Christmas really did turn out to be Arnold's last with Miles and Stella.

The three of them now were a different kind of family, but a family just the same; full of love and ready to face the future hardships and joys life could bring to them.

Let us be grateful when we have much in life and hopeful when we have little. And let us always love ourselves and each other no matter what our fate's design.

Thank you.


A/N:

A bit sad, I know, but this concept was just something I wanted to explore. You know, we got so little in the series about Arnold's parents and their departure, and I'm sure we would have gotten more in the movie, but either way it just seems like a moment worth a lot of interpreting. And I thought it would be interesting also to focus on a Christmas before the series rather than afterwards. Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed this latest Christmas update and that it helped add a little something to your holiday. Thank you for reading : )

In the new year please look for samples of original writing from me on my fictionpress account (Azure129 username) and possibly some postings in other fandoms, if you're interested. Any feedback or readership any of you could give me for these new submissions would be greatly appreciated : ) I promise, nothing of a length that's going to be too time consuming to look at XD I'm starting small : 3 Thank you!

Happy Reading!

Have a lovely winter!

~Azure129 aka Jenna