A/N- A week or so ago, I was rewatching an old episode of Hey Arnold. I rewatched the episode "Helga and the couch" where Helga goes to a therapist. At one point, she is complaining that no one notices her and she's always mistaken for her sibling. As I am obsessed with Hetalia, Helga's statement reminded me of Canada. And thus this fanfiction was born.
If I made any mistakes, especially with anything Hey Arnold related, feel free to tell me. I watched it as a kid and just rewatched one episode a week ago, so I might have forgotten some stuff.
Disclaimer: Hetalia and Hey Arnold belong to people who aren't me.
No one ever notices Canada.
It's a cruel fact of life, one that Canada has long accepted. In fact, not being noticed occasionally comes with perks. Like the fact that he can leave meetings in the middle of the session and no one would mind. Canada was currently in Hillwood exercising said perk.
Though that wasn't exactly true. Canada was just a little upset due to what happened during the meeting and chose to give himself a little break.
In his rush to get away, he hadn't even paid attention to where he was going as he enjoyed the fresh air (or what passes for fresh air in the middle of the city.) This led to him not even knowing where he was. After he had calmed down a little, he realized he was completely lost. At first, he tried roaming around to try to figure out his bearings.
Eventually, he chose to sit just down at a bus stop so he could at least look like he knew where he was going- if anyone was even looking.
As he sat in silence, he began to make wishes. Canada wished someone would notice him. Canada wished there was someone who understood what it was like to be ignored. Or, at the very least, Canada wished for something to take his mind off the meeting.
No sooner than he made that silent wish, he heard a girl speaking from behind the bus stop bench.
"Oh Arnold," the voice said, "how I have always loved you. You are the Romeo to my Juliet, the love of my life!" By now, Canada had turned around to look at the child crouching behind the bench. "One day", she continues, "we will be united in holy matrimony as we say our vows and confess our true love. We will be husband and life and live happily ever after. One day, my football headed love, we will…"
The girl trailed off and looked around, as though searching for someone. And judging by the fist, it was not a friend she was looking for. "Where's Brainy? Usually he's breathing down my neck by now…"
Canada was very amused by the girl's love confession. He though girl was cute confessing her love the way she did. She even had a little picture of the boy! Canada did not notice, but his amusement made him stare at the young girl.
The girl finally looked up and caught Canada staring. "Hey!" she yelled. "Who are you?"
Canada was startled that the girl even saw him there; that alone was an accomplishment. It took a moment for him to get over his shock and reply. "I'm Matthew," he responded quietly after a moment's silence.
The girl narrowed her eyes. She stood up to appear more intimidating. "What did you hear?" she asked in a threatening tone.
"Nothing." The slight smile on his lips suggested otherwise. The girl apparently noticed this, as she replied with a threat.
"Yeah you better have heard nothing. Because if you heard something, and told anyone about this something,you would have to deal with my fists! My dad owns a beeper company, so even if my fists aren't enough, I can get him and his greasy paws to deal with you too. Got it?" She glared at him for a full effect.
Unfrightening as it was, Canada knew a threat when he heard one. He also knew a girl's desperate plea not to tell anyone about her crush when he heard one as well (though he never exactly had to deal with it before.)
Canada nodded mutely to the girl. However, she continues to glare at him, which Canada took to mean she wanted a better response.
"I promise not to tell, eh?"
She narrowed her eyes. "What happened to not hearing anything?"
"I… uh…" He was not used to rapid fire questions like this. Usually people forgot who they were talking to by now.
Soon enough, he thought of a better response. "You don't have to worry aboot me. I'm not from around here."
The girl smiled as she took on a mocking tone. "I don't have to worry aboot you? Yeah I wouldn't want you to go oot and tell your friends aboot it." She laughed as she mocked his accent.
Canada had pride in his home, so he usually would not be affected by juvenile mocking. However, he was already upset, and the scornful comments only made him feel worse. Still, he didn't want to act like a whiney girl, so he made sure the hurt didn't show on his face.
"Who would want to live there anyway? Really, Canada? Ha! What a joke."
This comment stung more than the last. Canada looked down at his hands to avoid watching the girl's scornful face. He was hurt by the girls mocking, immature as it was. However, at this moment the girl noticed how he was not fighting back. The girl promptly stopped laughing. She sat down next to Canada on the bench.
Though it was a nice(ish) gesture, Canada guessed she wanted to make sure she didn't give the one who knew her secret a reason to reveal said secret.
"You're acting like a third grader, with you pouting." She said this as though it was the most horrible thing in the world. However, this did not create the reaction she expected. He just lowered his head.
"What, no comeback?" she asked with slight concern in her voice. Canada still did not look up.
"Afraid of a fourth grader?" Though she was mocking him, it was much less harsh than before. Though his head still remained down, he smiled slightly.
"Soory, I'm not afraid of you." Finally, he looked up. The girl smiled for a moment, but quickly covered it up with a scowl.
"So," she asked conversationally, "where you from, Mr. Soory?" Though she was still mocking his accent, Canada knew it wasn't as cruel as before.
"Canada, eh," he said with pride.
This seemed to spark her curiosity. "So why you here in America?" She was interested, though there were still traces of the disdainful tone in her voice.
Canada saw no reason not to answer honestly. "I'm here for an important meeting."
"So why aren't you there now?"
This one, Canada had reasons not to answer honestly. However, he could not help but to lay his complaints on anyone willing to listen for more than 10 seconds.
"No one will notice if I'm not there."
The girl looked at him with slight pity in her eyes. However, Canada failed to notice as he was looking down at his hands.
"Everyone mistakes me for my brother anyway…" he continued quieter than before.
The girl perked up at this. "What did you say?"
Canada looked up to see her staring intently at him, and not in a cruel way. She seemed honestly interested in what he had to say.
"All the people in the meeting, and other important meetings, mistake me for my older brother. And if they don't think I'm Alfred they don't notice me at all." his quiet voice slowly got louder through his small rant.
"And if that's not bad enough, today…" His voice lost confidence. "Well, never mind."
"What happened today?" The girl sounded sincere. However, this was not enough to make Canada discuss it, so he remained silent.
She then realized she never introduced herself. "I'm Helga. Helga G. Pataki." She held out her hand.
"Matthew Williams." He shook her hand.
"So, Matty, what's your brother like?"
Canada was amazed that she continued to talk to him. And now she wants to know about America.
"Alfred is loud, overconfident, loud, ignorant, loud, oblivious to all things that aren't about him, and loud. The other nations, uh, nation's representatives always notice him, but that's only because he's louder than all of them combined. He gets in trouble with the other… leaders often because he really doesn't know when to be quiet. I swear, he's such an idiot he gets in trouble almost every time we have one of these meetings! And I'm the one who has to pay because they think I'm him!" Matthew was out of breath from his list of complaints. He could go on for much longer, but he chose to only complain about problem's he encountered today.
The girl- Helga- looked sympathetic, but she responded by saying, "Well, it could be worse."
Canada was confused. "What?"
"It could be worse." She said this with more determination this time.
"How?" He had to ask.
"Well, instead of being an annoying brat, he could be little mister perfect. If he got perfect grades in school and the teachers loved him and his friends loved him and his parents loved him and strangers loved him and everyone loved him because he's just so freakin' nice, and then everyone expected you to be perfect and be exactly like her- him, instead of who you are, it would be worse."
Now it was Canada's turn to be sympathetic. "Do you have to deal with this kind of older brother?" Though he asked, he was positive he knew the answer.
Helga got angry again as she put on a tough front. "That's none of your business."
"Oh." Canada was disappointed. It seemed like she understood his sibling trouble. "It's okay, eh."
They sat in an uncomfortable silence for a few minutes after that. Canada played with his hands on his lap, while Helga sat with a frown on her face. Canada couldn't be sure, but it seemed like she wanted to talk about it. She helped him feel a bit better by letting him vent; he figured he should do the same.
"You can trust me." He told her. "I won't tell anyone. Like I said, I'm not from around here."
She looked convinced, though suspicion suddenly showed up on her face. "You're not some kind of creepy kidnapper kind of guy, are you?"
Canada turned red simply from the implications. He squeaked out and "eh?" before managing to reassure her that, "No, I am not a creepy kidnapper."
"Okay…" She said. She remained silent for another moment before she decided to speak up.
"My sister" Helga said suddenly.
"It's my older sister who's the perfect one, not an older brother. Her name is Olga."
"Oh," Canada understood. "What is she like?" He repeated her question from earlier.
She sighed and seemed to deliberate something, most likely whether or not to dump her feelings on a stranger. But Canada could not help but feeling like he found a kindred spirit, and he assumed- hoped- she felt the same.
"Olga… is little miss perfect. Everyone she ever met loves her. Her teachers, her classmates, even random people on the street. They all love her because she's so sickeningly sweet. It's annoying." She paused for a moment as she sighed. "Everyone likes her better than me."
In an even quieter voice, she added, "My parents like her better than me."
I'm sure that's not true, Canada wanted to say. However, she said it with such finality, it reminded Canada of the tone he used when stating that no one notices him. In other words, he believed her.
"That is terrible, that your own parents only like you second best."
"It's not just that, though. If she isn't there, she's all my dad talks about. And my mom is too busy falling asleep everywhere to notice anything most of the time. And if Olga is around, my parents don't even acknowledge my existence! Its like… like…" she trailed off.
Canada knew this story well. "It's like I'm invisible. My life is just in the shadow of my older brothers'."
"My parents obsess over her. 'Olga this' 'Olga that'. They make it seem like the whole world revolves around my sister!"
"The ones who raised me can't even remember my name!"
"It's pathetic." The last statement was said in unison.
As they looked at each other, they both realized an important truth. They had found a kindred spirit, someone like themselves. They were alone and invisible together.
Then, for no reason in particular, they both started giggling. It started quietly, but grew steadily louder, until they could hear nothing other than the sound of their laughing.
"Man, our lives really suck, don't they Matty?"
"Yeah. I feel soory for us."
"Ha, you said soory" There was no cruel mocking in Helga's voice this time.
They continued to laugh until their eyes were teary and they were clutching their stomachs from laughing for so long. Eventually, they came to realize they had no reason to laugh at all.
Once silence had dawned on them, Canada saw the need to speak up. He voiced something that had been nagging him all day. "Today is the first of July, correct?"
Canada smiled. So he didn't get the date wrong. "It's my birthday." The smile then turned to a frown. "No one ever remembers, though. I should be used to it by now. Everyone remembers Alfred's instead. His is the fourth."
Helga frowned too. "You mean no one remembered your birthday?"
Canada sighed. "Yeah."
Helga stood up as she mumbled, "no one better see me doing this and being nice. I have a reputation…" She then got up and started walking on the sidewalk. After a moment, she turned around.
"Are you coming?" She asked.
Canada had no idea what Helga thought she was doing. "What? Where?"
Helga crossed her arms as though she was angry to have to response, and her tone contained this anger. However, she was blushing. "Well, it's your birthday, and I'm guessing you didn't get a cake. So we're going out for ice cream."
Canada realized she didn't ask him. She demanded him. He greatly appreciated her for it though.
He briefly contemplated if it was okay for him to just go out and get ice cream with a young girl he just met on the street. However, he trusted Helga and it seemed she trusted him too. "Ok, Helga. One moment though, I just need to get Kumocoma."
Canada reached down and picked up his pet that had been sleeping under the bench. "He's my pet miniature polar bear."
Helga opened her mouth, as though she was going to ask something, but promptly closed it. "Oh whatever. Bring Kumo-killer with you."
Canada got up to follow his new friend. He walked over to where she was standing with Kumajiro in his hands. "Alright. Let's go, eh."
As Helga took another spoonful of her ice cream, she thought of how she ended up here. She had been planning on going home after a day of wandering around aimlessly, but instead she was having ice cream with a stranger she met not a half hour ago.
At first, after she had revealed her secret to Matthew, she tried being nice to him to make sure he didn't tell anyone. However, as he explained more about himself, she realized the two had more in common than she had ever thought possible. They were both ignored and unloved.
She did notice one major difference between the two though. Their choices had led to them appearing very different. When Helga was very little and had just started school, many of the children began making fun of her. Instead of backing down, she attacked them back. This theory of being rude to everyone gave her a high status in the Elementary School social ladder and made it so she was always noticed.
Matthew however had chosen differently. If Helga had to guess, it was most likely that Matthew had not stood up for himself when others did anything to him. He just allowed them to do what they want. Eventually, the others forgot all about him.
This gave Helga a new fear: If she had not stood up for herself time and time again, would she just be made fun of like how she originally thought? Or would everyone just forget about her altogether?
Helga decided to just stop thinking about the "what if's" and focus on the person currently sitting across from her. He had been happy when they were ordering their desserts. He smile grew wide when he took his first bite. Now, though, he was only stirring the ice cream around his cup. He was brooding again.
Helga nearly sighed. The entire purpose of going out was to make sure he had a happy birthday instead of a crappy one. She then smirked to herself. That seemed like something football-head would do. Maybe he was rubbing off on her.
The idea to take Matthew to get ice cream was not something she had made up on the spot. When she was little, Helga always wanted to get a big girt for her birthday. Her first few birthdays she remembered were filled with hoped for hotweels and toy monster trucks. Her parents always disappointed her. As time went on, her standards for a good birthday had slowly lowered. By the time she was in second grade, the only thing she wanted was to go out for ice cream with her parent. Helga didn't care if it was "uncool" (she could just beat up anyone who dared utter the word to her); she just wanted a happy family. This year, all she got from her parents was a "why can't you be more like Olga?"
Well she won't let Matthew to be miserable on his birthday like she was on hers. With a smile, she realized that she was acting as though she was Matthew's older sister. After all, she was taking him to get ice cream and trying to protect the innocent kid from the cruel world. She realized that, though she just met him, Matthew felt like a little brother to her.
And it was time her "little brother" stopped moping around.
"Hey, what's wrong with you?"
"Eh?" He sounded surprised she was talking to him.
"I took you out to get ice cream and paid for yours when all you had was Canadian money. So why are you acting so depressed?"
"Oh, I… uhh… I'm fine, eh. See?" He smiled for an extra effect.
She was going to tell him she didn't buy it, but she noticed something much more unusual first. She just realized that what she assumed was chocolate syrup was… not.
"What is that on your ice cream?"
He looked down to the specified food for a moment. He only mumbled the answer.
"… Maple syrup."
Helga was quiet for a moment as she processed what he said. Then she burst out into laughter. "Maple Syrup? How Canadian can you get?"
Matthew turned red from embarrassment and tried to defend himself. "I don't normally eat ice cream with it!" He explained. "There was just a choice on the menu that said 'Canadian Blast' and I wanted to try it. Of course America doesn't know Canadians…" He sounded more upset at the end.
Soon enough, Helga noticed Matthew went back to looking depressed. Well, had enough of that.
"Stop it!" She yelled as she slammed her hands on the small table.
Matthew just looked confused. "What?"
"You've been moping around and feeling sorry for yourself since we got here! And I even paid for your ice cream!"
Helga took a deep breath and sat down. All that yelling might actually make him cry, she thought. She tried to act calmer as she treated the boy as she would a younger brother. "So what's up?"
Matthew remained silent.
As Helga tried to figure out just what the hell was wrong with the kid, she thought, what would Arnold do? An idea suddenly popped into her head.
"My birthday was a few months ago. This year, when I asked my parents if there was anything they wanted to tell me, my dad said 'yeah yeah go to school Olga' and my mom said 'can you pass me a pillow?' At school, none of the teachers remembered either. The only one who wished me a happy birthday was Ar- never mind. Later, when I got home, we had crappy leftovers. Olga called and said she wanted to talk to me, but my parents ended up talking to her the entire time. Beat that."
"Is your birthday sob story worse than mine?"
Matthew looked shocked for a moment before he responded. "I'm soory for acting depressed Helga. Today just upset me more than usual."
Helga wouldn't take that as an answer. "What happened?"
He sighed as he finally began to tell his story. "… its kind of stupid…"
She didn't comment. She just waved her hand as if to say "go on" to urge him to continue.
"Um… well… today…
"Like I said, today is my birthday. So this year, I wanted to do something to celebrate it since I hardly ever do anything. I chose to invite only a few people, like my brother and my… parents to a small party on my birthday. I mailed the invitations and most people said they would go. But Alfred is having a party soon and… I always seem to be overshadowed by him. When I went to the meeting, no one said anything to me. I was expecting that, though, because for some reason no one ever notices me.
"During the meeting, all Alfred could talk about was his party. He was bragging about the number of people coming and the band he hired to come and the fireworks and that he better get a lot of presents. This happens every year too. But this year, Alfred forgot to invite me. I tried to remind him, but he was too busy loudly bragging that 'everyone important will be there' to hear anything other than his own voice.
"Eventually, he started talking to Eng- Arthur about what he was doing today. The two of them blatantly made plans to hang out in front of me. Neither of them remembered that they were supposed to see me today. I couldn't bring myself to remind them.
"When I asked France- is, Francis, what he was doing today, his response was 'Nothing, pourquoi?' I asked Antonio, Ludwig, Feliciano. Nothing. Even Gilbert forgot, and he's usually good with that stuff.
"All of this, though, I took in stride. Like I said, I'm used to it. At one point, though, my brother almost seemed like he remembered. He said, 'Hey Iggy, I think there's something we were supposed to do.'
"When Arthur assured him that no, they didn't, Alfred said, 'Yeah I guess you're right. If an awesome hero like me can't remember, it probably isn't important. I guess it's just nothing. Nothing that matters.'
"By then, everyone had already forgotten about my existence. So when I said quietly, 'It's my birthday,' no one even commented on a ghost being in the room like they usually do. After that statement was greeted with silence, I left. I ran out of the room and because I'm so damn invisible no one noticed. And I'm so stupid I forgot all my stuff in the room, so I have to go back to get it. I… I… I hate this!"
By this point tears were freely flowing down Matthew's cheeks. His tears were as silent as his misery which nearly always remained hidden from the world. Helga felt bad for him because he seemed so innocent and fragile, and now he's been hurt. However, she felt she needed to correct his attitude.
"You're dealing with this all wrong!" She nearly screamed at him. She wasn't mad at him, though, only the ones who made him cry.
She started again. "They made you feel crappy! Instead of crying about it, you should be beating them up for forgetting about you. Then people will notice you, respect you, and be forced to wish you a happy birthday if they don't want a black eye! At the very least you should yell at them."
Matthew still continued to cry. She could see her opinion wasn't helping.
Helga decided to try to make him feel better by comforting him. She awkwardly tried to pat his arm as she tried to think of words of comfort. This proved difficult as she felt her previous words were very comforting. Eventually, she settled be simply saying, "There there, you'll be okay." This did not help right away, though.
She decided to try something new. She stated her true feelings. "Those people- Alfred, Arthur, Fransie- they are all cruel. I don't know how they could forget something as important as your birthday or not even notice when you say it! But don't worry; I'm sure there's someone who really does care for you. Without at least one person noticing you, you'd be insane instead of just upset. I know I'd be insane if it wasn't for Arnold." She nearly gasped when she realized what she said. "Uh, I mean, um… there, there."
Thanks to her little speech, Matthew eventually calmed down. Of course, his first concern was not himself, but her. Somehow, Helga was not surprised.
When he felt better, he said, "I'm so sorry for dumping all this onto you. I probably am boring you with these stories. Or I sound like a whiney teenager-"
"Don't worry about it!" She wanted to get onto helping him get back at the others, but she knew that would not help him. "I meant what I said. I'm sure there's someone who notices you. Right?"
Matthew smiled a little. "Like how someone notices you?"
Helga glared softly. "I don't know what you're talking about."
He answered her earlier question. "There is one person who usually me. Gilbert. He seems to be immune to my curse of invisibility usually. We're like best friends."
"So why don't you just hang out with him?"
"I wanted to have a small party with all the people who matter…"
"Well who cares about them? I say ditch them."
The Canadian laughed. "Maybe I'll just try to see him later. Last I heard he was completely hung over. But I'll go back and catch the end of the meeting before I see him." He blanched a little. "I'll have to see everyone else to do that though."
"I really do feel bad for you. Those guys were really rude to you. They don't deserve to even be invited to your party" She paused for a moment, thinking. "Want me to beat them up for you?"
Matthew laughed quietly, though not offensively. She eventually joined him.
"Thanks for the offer, but I'll have to decline." After this, they fell into silence.
Helga knew that simply feeling bad will not accomplish anything. She would be angry if she was him. Although, his kindness and purity might come from the fact that he does not blame his problems on others.
Surprisingly, it was Matthew who broke the silence. "I'm not usually this weak, you know. I'm not always like a whiney little girl. But with all this… I just felt like I had the wind knocked out of me."
"Yeah well…" Helga was never good at expressing herself. "You're… an okay guy. I just hope you don't crying to random strangers every day though." She smirked.
"I hope you don't confess your love to random strangers every day." He countered.
She once again glared. "Shut your pie hole."
By this point, both of them had finished their ice-cream. Helga also noticed that it was significantly darker outside than it was when they had first talked at the bus stop. She frowned as she realized that her parents would have liked her to be home an hour ago. The hell with them. This was worth it.
Helga explained that she had to leave and go home before it was completely dark outside. Matthew agreed and said that she should probably get going as well; he might be able to catch the very end of the meeting if he left now. Once Matthew got another ice-cream for the road (regular vanilla this time) they both left the building and stood outside before they went in their separate directions.
They stood awkwardly and silently as they said their goodbyes.
"So…" Helga tried to fill the silence but couldn't think of anything to say.
Matthew filled the silence instead. "Thank you for everything Helga. I'd probably still be miserable now if you didn't talk to me. I really appreciate it."
Helga blushed; she wasn't used to being appreciated like that. "Well…" She looked away. "You're welcome, I guess," she mumbled.
Suddenly she was struck with an idea. Without explaining, she took out a pen and paper. Once she finished writing it, she handed it to Matthew. It simply said HelgaP at .
"My email address." She said by way of explanation. "In case your friends start forgetting about you." After all, Helga felt that Matthew was like a shy little brother. She wanted to make sure she could help if he needed it. Plus, with email, there was no chance anyone could catch her being nice to someone.
Matthew seemed shocked. After a minute, though, he gave her his email address as well. They stood in silent content for a moment.
"Well, see ya." Helga said. Then she left.
She went home to see her classmates on the street playing games and her father in the house ignoring her and her mother sleeping on the couch, all as usual. At least there was one thing different now. She had met a kindred spirit. A friend.
As he walked back into the building with Kumajiro, Canada wondered if he should feel bad about ditching his meeting. Normally he would, but he found that he really didn't mind missing it today.
He walked into the meeting room just as Japan finished presenting something. The countries all stared as Canada as they silently asked for an explanation.
"I'm Canada." He said before they could ask. Seeing that no one showed any signs of recognition he clarified, "You two raised me," as he pointed to France and England. "And you're my brother," he clarified as he pointed to Alfred. He tried to make up a plausible excuse.
"Um… An emergency popped up and I had to leave. I'm sorry."
"Mattieu, what kind of emergency was it that you needed ice cream?" France asked. Canada looked down and noticed that, indeed, he was still holding his ice cream.
So they want to know? Fine. "I left the meeting earlier because none of you remembered I existed or that it was my birthday. I heard everyone mention Alfred's birthday and I tried to remind you of mine but it didn't work because you all ignore me all the time. So I wandered around feeling miserable because of all of you for awhile. But in case you feel guilty for ignoring a fellow nation on his birthday, (which, by the way, you have all done for the past hundred years), don't worry. I had a nice time while you were all stuck fighting each other at a meeting. And that's why I wasn't here. Okay?"
Everyone stared with their mouths agape due to the startling revelation. As they all just stared, Canada sat down and quietly sang to himself the end of a song.
"…Happy birthday to me."
A/N- Thanks for reading x)