Hey you guys! :D Thank you all SO much for sticking around and reading this as it went along. It was so much fun to do, and sad to say, it's now all over and done.
So, enjoy the epilogue! Thank you all for reading this fic, I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. :3 Thank you so much for your feedback and support!
Also, maybe, and this is a big MAYBE, there might be a sequel. Who knows? We'll see. :)
"You sure you'll be all right?"
"Don't worry, football head, I'll be just fine getting back."
Arnold smiled and hugged Helga warmly, holding her close. She sighed happily and hugged back, laying her head on his shoulder. They stayed like that a few moments, in the doorway of the boarding house, with Miles and Stella watching in the background, both smiling.
"Just like Dad and Mom..." Miles mused, and Stella giggled.
"See you later, Arnold." Helga said as she pulled back.
Arnold kissed her lightly, and looked deep into her eyes. "I'll see you later. I love you, Helga."
"I love you too, Arnold." She kissed his nose, and then descended down the steps, waving goodbye to them before walking off down the darkened streets of their neighbourhood.
Miles and Stella waved back to her, and couldn't help but chuckle a little as Arnold watched after her for a few moments, a dreamy, lovesick look on his face. He then closed the door and let out a contented sigh.
"Well, I'm going to turn in early tonight. Night Mom, night Dad." Arnold said and stretched his arms a little.
"Goodnight, son." Miles smiled and patted his son on the shoulder. "See you tomorrow."
"Have a good sleep, Arnold." Stella kissed him on the cheek. "We'll see you in the morning."
Arnold smiled and hugged his parents, kissing them both on the cheek before he went upstairs to his room. An evening spent hanging out with his girlfriend and the entire household, including his parents, it was an awesome evening. He was going to bed pretty happy that evening.
As he got to his room, seeing all the pictures, maps and artifacts from San Lorenzo and various countries they'd been to all over South and Central America, his heart sank as he remembered then, that this wouldn't last forever. They were soon to go back, probably in a week or two by now. Since being here, back in Hillwood with his friends, seeing everything he missed, and especially the love of his life, had just made him realize how much he missed it here and how much he just wanted to come back and stay here for good. With of course, occasional travels to San Lorenzo and other places around the world.
Sighing, he changed into his PJ's and sat with forlorn on his bed, taking out his own little journal he'd started since his life in San Lorenzo. He wrote occasionally, usually at night in his bed in the hut he and his parents lived in, talking about his new life in San Lorenzo, about the things they did with the Green Eyed people when they were let in to see their hidden city, their travels around the jungle and many other places, and of course, how much he missed Hillwood and his friends. He also often wrote about Helga, how much he missed her, still loved her, and longed to be with her again, and how great he felt since finding out he was in love with her.
Being with her these past couple of weeks, and officially getting back together with her, were definitely the highlight of his visit back here. Arnold smiled at the thought, and wrote down in his journal.
We had another great evening, playing some board games and sharing stories all around with my parents, grandparents, and the rest of the household. Helga was positively beaming all night long, which was great to see. I love nothing more than seeing her happy, and she was. She really was. During my absence, she had come over to the boarding house often and made friends with my grandparents and the rest of the boarders. She loved them all, despite how weird they can be, and they loved her too.
Being with Helga is definitely the highlight of this visit, that's for sure. I'm so glad we got all our feelings sorted out, especially that night, a week ago, when we made love for the first time. I'll never forget it. It was the best night of my life.
In about a week or two, Mom and Dad and I are going back to San Lorenzo. As much as I love it there, and I love the people, the Green-Eyes, I really am dreading it. I'm so happy here in Hillwood, it's like I never left. I wish I didn't have to go, I'll miss it and everyone too much. Especially Helga. Leaving her back then was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I don't know if I can do it again.
"Knock knock, short man!" Phil greeted as he came into the room. "Just came to say goodnight to my favourite grandson!"
Arnold smiled a little and put his journal aside. "Grandpa, I'm your only grandson."
"Then you don't have to worry about competition!" Phil laughed, sitting down on his bed. "You all right, Arnold?"
"Yeah, I'm okay." Arnold nodded. "Why wouldn't I be?"
"Call me an old fool, but you and your Mom and Dad are going back to San Lorenzo soon, aren't ya?" Phil said, and nodded toward Arnold's collection of photos, maps and artifacts. "I take it you'll miss it here, huh?"
Arnold nodded sadly, looking down at his lap. "Yeah, pretty much. Grandpa, you know I love Mom and Dad, and I love San Lorenzo, and I care a lot about the Green Eyes, I always have. But..."
"But you're not looking forward to leaving Hillwood, your friends, and your little girlfriend behind again." Phil finished for him knowingly.
"Exactly." Arnold confirmed, and sighed heavily. "But I know I have to. I owe it to my parents, and the Green Eyes, and everyone else we help. And I want to, I'm always glad to help other people, it's made me happy, and I love it there. But..."
"The little lady is more important to you." Phil finished for him again, and gave a knowing wink.
"That's exactly it. I love Helga so much, and she means the world to me. I really don't want to leave her again, Grandpa. I know we said that we'd wait for each other, and I promised her I would come back to Hillwood for good someday. But still, I have to make her wait again. And I don't want to wait either. Not now, not when our relationship is better than it has ever been. I love her, Grandpa, and I want to stay here and be with her. I wish I didn't have to leave."
Phil ruffled his hair, noticing the tears in his grandson's eyes then.
"Well short man, all you can do is keep each other close to your hearts even while you're gone from each other. And hey, the little lady loves you like I've never seen someone love before....other than Pookie and I, of course." He laughed, and Arnold smiled a bit. "The point is Arnold, sometimes we have to make sacrifices for the ones we love."
"Yeah, I guess you're right. It's not like I'll be gone forever. I planned to come back here for college, anyway."
"There you go! Now that's not a long way off, is it? So don't worry about it, short man. Pretty soon you'll be back here for good and have your little lady back in your arms where she belongs!"
Arnold smiled at the thought and sighed happily. "I guess I'll be counting by the seconds for that day."
"You sure will, short man." Phil winked at him and then stood up. "Well! Off we go, time for bed! Goodnight, Arnold."
"Night, Grandpa. See you in the morning. ...And thanks, thanks for listening to me, Grandpa."
"Anytime, short man!" Phil gave him a thumbs up and then left the room, closing the door behind him.
Exhaling, Arnold fell back onto his pillow, looking up at the dark sky through the skylight. Though he felt better, he still felt the tinge of sadness of leaving his grandparents, the boarders, his friends, everything in Hillwood, behind again soon. It was not going to be easy, most especially with the way things turned out.
Still. He hoped everything would turn out all right in the end.
The moon hung overhead in the sky, a full moon. Arnold stared up at it, just as he did back in San Lorenzo when he would look out his window and see the moon up in the night sky.
Little did he know that at this very moment, Helga was also looking up at the moon, dreading the soon departure of her beloved.
The next morning, Arnold came downstairs, greeted his family in the kitchen and poured himself a bowl of cereal. Still, as he took in his parents, he noticed they looked very serious about something.
"Mom? Dad?" Arnold questioned, sitting down at the table and pouring milk into his cereal. "Is something wrong?"
Miles shook his head. "Oh, no. Nothing's wrong. We just wanted to talk to you about something, son."
"Huh? About what?" Arnold asked, confused.
"Well Arnold, your father and I have been doing a lot of thinking, and we've talked about it a lot lately." Stella said, placing her hand over Arnold's.
"What do you mean? I don't understand."
"Arnold, we know that you're not looking forward to going back to San Lorenzo with us." Miles told him.
"W-Wait, what?" Arnold was shocked, afraid his parents were going to get upset with him about it. "How did you know?"
"Arnold, we're your parents, we just know these things." Stella said. "And we overheard you and Phil talking last night."
"You did? Oh, Mom, Dad, I'm sorry...I didn't mean to-"
"Arnold, calm down, it's okay." Miles smiled. "We're not mad at you. We can definitely understand how you must feel. It wasn't easy for us to do the same thing 15 years ago."
Arnold gave a slow nod, knowing that story all too well.
"We know you love San Lorenzo, and all the people, and the Green Eyes, and they all love you too." Stella said gently. "And you have done so much, you really have. I don't think we could have asked for anything more."
"But you really don't want to go back, do you?" Miles said, serious.
A little ashamed, Arnold mutely nodded, looking down at his cereal.
Miles and Stella exchanged glances, and nodded to one another before looking back at their son with warm, understanding smiles.
"Then we'll stay here."
Arnold's head shot up like a gun had gone off. "What?!"
"We'll stay here in Hillwood." Stella said. "I think it's time that you lived your own life, Arnold. Besides, wouldn't you rather face your senior year back in school?"
"And I know it won't be easy leaving behind such an awesome girl like Helga." Miles said, winking at his son. "She's a keeper, Arnold. You're going to marry that girl someday."
Arnold turned deep red, a sheepish smile pulling at his lips. "I...well...um..."
"Miles, come now, he's only sixteen!" Stella playfully scolded him, giggling. She patted Arnold's hair affectionately. "We love you Arnold, and if you want to stay in Hillwood, then we'll stay. Don't worry about it. We'll go back and visit San Lorenzo from time to time every couple of months. But you're right. Our life and your life is here in Hillwood."
"Mom, Dad...I...thank you, thank you so much!" Arnold hugged them both tightly. "Thanks so much!" He pulled away and ran for the back door.
"Where are you going, short man?" Phil asked from the stove.
"I have to take care of something!" Arnold said, and ran out the door.
"Arnold wait! You forgot to-" Miles called after him, but he was already gone. "...Change out of your pajamas."
He looked back at Stella and started to laugh, Stella joined in and so did Phil and Gertie.
Helga was sitting on her dad's easy chair, still in her nightgown, and drinking some milk out of a mug and reading the paper while watching the news. Bob had gone to work early, and Miriam was in the kitchen making breakfast, humming to herself cheerfully as she did so.
"Helga, do you want some bacon with your eggs?" She called to her.
"Sure, Mom." Helga replied.
There was a knock on the door, which surprised Helga, since no one was expecting anyone, especially at 9:30 in the morning. Still, she got up, put on her nightgown's slip, went to the door and answered it.
"Arnold?!" Helga gasped, taken aback, not just the fact he was here, but also by the fact he was in his PJ's. Which were light blue. It reminded her of back in the fourth grade when he had shown up at Gerald Field the morning after he said he'd be visiting his cousin Arnie, in his pajamas, and was acting very strange. Not to mention he had hugged her for the third time that year for no reason at all.
"Helga...!" Arnold breathed, and hugged her tightly, taking in the scent of her hair.
"Arnold..." Helga giggled and hugged him back. "You're awfully affectionate this morning. What's up?"
Pull back a bit, he grinned widely. "I've got some awesome news I wanted to tell you."
"You just found out I'm pregnant?" Helga joked.
His eyes widened. "What?! You're pregnant?!"
Helga laughed heartily, and Miriam came out of the kitchen in shock as she overheard.
"Helga?! What did he just say?!"
"Mom mom, don't worry, I'm not." Helga assured. "I was only joking. Sorry about that, didn't mean to freak you guys out."
"Oh, okay, honey." Miriam sighed in relief. "Just please don't joke about that kind of thing, it's very serious."
Helga gave a nod. "I know, Mom. Sorry about that, I didn't mean to scare you guys like that."
Miriam retreated back to the kitchen, and Helga turned back to Arnold and giggled.
"Sorry, football head, I couldn't resist. So what's the news you wanted to tell me?"
"Well, it was pretty surprising to hear, but here it is." Arnold took her hands and looked into her eyes. "Helga, I'm staying here in Hillwood."
Helga's eyes widened. "What? You-You are?"
He nodded, grinning. "Yep. Mom and Dad decided that we should stay in Hillwood for good now. We'll visit San Lorenzo from time to time, to make sure the Green Eyes are okay, and since they recently finished construction on a dandy hospital not far from where the Green Eyes reside, as well as more support, it's okay if we stay. So I'll be facing my senior year here in Hillwood, and the whole gang can now get back together. Most of all, we can finally pick up where we left off."
Tears brimmed in her eyes, and she threw herself at him in a tight hug, knocking him up against the doorway. He laughed and hugged her back, kissing her head and holding her close.
"Arnold...that's...that's just wonderful!" Helga cried happily. "I love you!"
"I love you too." Arnold smiled, wiping her tears and and kissing her passionately. She kissed him back and threw her arms around his neck, pressing herself closer to him.
They kissed, kissed and kissed in the doorway of her home, in their PJ's, and carried on, not even hearing Miriam calling to Helga that breakfast was ready. Finally, the two young lovers were never to be separated ever again.