Author's note: Wow. I'm actually updating. Keep in mind I have a full time job and a baby, so it's natural updates have slowed down. Thank you for your patience!
When Arnold finally reached Helga outside the school, she was down on her hands and knees in the grass, trying to force something out of Abner's mouth. "Let go of it you stupid pig!" she cried as she leaned back with all of her might, finally victorious in grabbing the mystery item away. Abner squealed and ran off, apparently irked that he'd lost the game of tug-of-war.
Arnold watched in silence as she desperately wiped the glass of the locket Brainy had handed her earlier off with her shirt, trying to clean it up. She let out a sigh of relief when she realized Abner hadn't cracked the screen. "Helga? What is that?"
Helga gulped and deposited the locket quickly down the front of her shirt. "Nothing, no big deal, nothing to see here, nope!" she shook her head. Arnold resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "What do you want, anyways? Haven't you realized I want you to leave me alone, Football Head?" she was still seated in the grass, and Arnold took the spot next to her. They both sat in silence for a while, but Arnold took the fact that she didn't ask him to leave (or demand it of him) as a good sign.
"Can we talk?"
"It's a free country, do whatever you want."
Helga picked a nearby flower and started to fiddle with its petals. "What are you sorry for?"
"I never called you. Never wrote to you…I'm so sorry about all that. I wanted to, but …" he bit his lip. He wasn't certain she'd be able to see the reason behind his actions, but if he didn't tell her, there would be no way for her to know. "I thought if I called you that you might waste your time being hung up on me when I didn't even know if I'd ever make it back to you. I thought by not calling you, I was doing the right thing. Letting you go, even though it really hurt."
"Is that why you didn't write to me either?"
"Jokes on you, Arnoldo. Not only did it not work, it drove me freaking crazy. Do you know how annoying it is to be so in love with someone who's half way around the world with no idea if they still feel the same way about you? With no idea who's with them?"
"I do, actually."
Helga gave him a blank look before cottoning on. "You mean to tell me you didn't find some perfect girl out there in the jungle?"
"There were some girls who showed interest," Arnold admitted, "But they weren't anything like you. I've never met someone so able to take care of themselves, who's as tough as you are and as loving."
"Me? Loving? You've got brain damage."
"No, it's true!" Arnold insisted. "Those poems Mr. Simmons wrote today - weren't those yours?" Helga shook her head. "Don't lie to me, Helga. There's no secret left to protect anymore. I know you like me."
"Maybe," she plucked one of the petals of her flower off, allowing it to float away on the breeze.
"And I'm still in love with you," Arnold finished.
Every part of Helga wanted to jump up and kiss him at that point. But Helga G. Pataki was still not the kind of girl who acted like everything was all right just because a guy told her he loved her. "Yeah, well, the ship has sailed, Buck-o."
"Why?" Helga repeated incredulously, "Because you left me to stay in that stupid jungle once and we'll have what, a week together before you do it all over again? I think I've cried enough over you."
"Who said I'm going back to San Lorenzo?" Arnold cocked his head to the side, genuinely confused. "We're moving back to Hillwood."
"Then why have you been following everyone to their classes instead of taking your own?"
"I don't transfer in officially for another week. They're still trying to sort out the whole thing with equivalencies since I was home schooled."
"You're really moving back?" Helga demanded. "And you're not going to run off to the jungle all over again?"
Arnold thought it over. "Well, I've got high school to finish. After that I might go back, but that's not for several years. I'm sorry I didn't write you or call you, but you never wrote to me either."
"I never sent them, but I did write them," Helga said softly, still studying the flower in her hand. "I thought you might have moved on."
Arnold chuckled. "Seems like we were on the same line of thinking, then," he clasped his hand around Helga's, effectively sealing the flower between their cupped hands. "We never actually got to go out. You don't have to make me your boyfriend, just please, go on one date with me?"
Helga couldn't fight it off any more. She pretended to think it over. "Oh, all right, Arnold, but this is your treat. I'm doing this out of the goodness of my heart. Some might even consider it charity work."
"Whatever you say, Helga," Arnold said agreeably before leaning in and kissing her.
"Boy howdy, that went better than I expected it to," Sid admitted. The gang was once more watching the pair by hiding behind the corner of the school building. "Thought for sure Helga would at least have broken his arm…"
"Willickers, I don't think she could do that to Arnold…she's always loved him, right?" Stinky asked.
"Will you idiots just shut up so we don't get caught?" Rhonda demanded, shushing them both.
"I'd say this is a rather happy ending, wouldn't you?" Phoebe asked the group as a whole, though her eyes were on Gerald. He nodded his agreement.
"Mmm-mm-mm. It's about time this whole thing came full circle."
"Eww, gross, they're still kissing!" Harold declared so loudly that Rhonda slapped her hand over his mouth and shushed him. A moment later she removed her hand. "I say it's not a happy ending until I get something to eat, I'm starving!" A Fudgy Bar was quickly passed his way.
"You guys stink at spying," Helga called after she and Arnold finally broke away from their kiss. Their expressions guilty, the group came out to meet her and Arnold.
"Looks like everything's back to the way it used to be," Nadine surmised. "Everyone's back."
"Now that you two are together, and," Lila giggled, "Harold has his Fudgy Bar, I'm ever so certain this can be declared a happy ending." Everyone except Helga nodded their agreement.
"You guys are a bunch of saps," Helga declared. "Especially you, Arnoldo."
"Whatever you say, Helga," Arnold still hadn't let go of her hand. She gave it a squeeze. "Why don't we all go to Slausen's for some ice cream?" The suggestion was met with great enthusiasm, and together all of the kids walked off, reunited for the first time in what felt to all of them like both far too long, and yet somehow…just like yesterday.
Author's note: Hope you enjoyed and huge thanks for reading!