Greetings Readers! Here's the final chapter of Life and Love and I hope that you enjoy it! Thanks to those who have favorited and alerted this story.
A special thanks to those who reviewed:
loonytunecrazy: Thanks very much! Puns for the win! lol And yes, to the list.
buglegirl1899: Merci, I hope that you enjoy this!
angie93: Thanks for reviewing! As for your guesses, read on to see if they're right!
ASHtheMUSICALgirl13: Thanks very much, here's the conclusion!
acosta perez jose ramiro: Grazie! Yep, that's where they are from. I hope you like this chapter!
Disclaimer: I do not own Hey Arnold! or any of its characters.
Upon seeing the distress on Lila's face, Arnold put down the food he'd brought down and ran down the stairs after her, since Brainy had remained frozen in shock where he was standing. Unfortunately, Arnold had forgotten that Lila had run track in high school and college and so was long gone by the time Arnold had made it to the front door. Panting slightly, he walked back up the stairs and into their set of rooms in the boarding house and shook his head at Helga's inquiring look. Upon seeing him shake his head, Helga sighed and then leveled a piercing glare at Brainy who was slowly beginning to thaw out of his shock.
"Brainy…" Helga's voice sounded upset, and Brainy flinched.
"I'm sorry," he said weakly, "I never wanted you to know about that. Are you mad?"
Helga got up, holding Stella in her arms. "Arnold," she said in a restrained voice, "could you please take Stella out for a moment?"
Arnold walked over and took the baby from Helga and walked out of the room, simply shrugging at Brainy's appeal for clarification and smiling at the baby. "Something tells me your mama is about get a little…physical, Stella. I don't think it's such a bad thing that she's strong like that, but she'd rather keep you away from violence as much as she can." He smiled as the infant nestled into his chest and fell asleep. "I guess mother knows best."
Brainy had barely any time to turn towards Helga before he was slammed against the wall, pinned by his wrists. Helga's eyes were flaming. "What is the matter with you?"
"So, you're mad?" He groaned.
"Forget mad, I'm furious.!"
"I'm sorry. I never meant for you to find o-"
"Not about that!" She yelled, "And if you apologize to anyone, it should be Lila! How could you do that to her?"
Brainy was puzzled. "Lila? But," he looked around, "she's still here, isn't she?"
"No, you idiot, didn't you see her run out?" Helga groaned. "She looked heartbroken."
Brainy's shoulders sagged and his eyes widened. "She…she's gone? But why did she-"
Helga let go of his wrists and folded her arms. "Oh, I don't know – maybe because you yelled at her? Looked upset with her? You sure didn't try to stop her!"
Brainy blinked. "But I wasn't upset with her – I was just embarrassed that you found out about my previous thing for you."
"Do you love her?" Helga asked, her voice much softer.
"Of course I do!" Now he sounded affronted. "More than anything! You know that."
Helga sighed and leaned against the wall. "Yes, I do, but I'm not sure she does."
"You mean – oh, no." Brainy covered his forehead and eyes with a hand, "She saw that, and she thought –" He cut herself off. "Where is she now?"
"I don't know," Helga replied, "Arnold ran after her, though."
"And I didn't see where she went," Arnold added as he walked in with the sleeping Stella, "I didn't get downstairs fast enough."
Brainy dropped onto the couch, dropping his head into his hands. "What have I done?" He looked up. "I have to find her."
"But we don't know where she is." Arnold reminded him.
Brainy stood up, a determined look in his eyes. "I have an idea."
Lila curled up on the large boulder she was sitting on, folding her knees against her chest and wrapping her arms around them. She flinched at the cold teardrops hit her sleeves and soaked through to her skin. Through her red-rimmed eyes she saw the dark spots on the shirt and wished that she had remembered her coat when she'd run out.
Then again, she felt incredibly childish for running out like she did in the first place. She just couldn't stand being in the same room after what she'd done, not wanted to see the shock and anger in his face knowing that she'd caused it. Why'd she do it? Why couldn't she have kept her mouth shut? She buried her face in her folded arms, shivering.
Brainy had sprinted all the way from the boarding house, not even taking the time to get in the car and turn on the engine. As he sagged against one of the willows, his heart felt like it was about to burst, both from exertion and the relief that he'd been right and knew where she was. Then his heart melted when she realized that she was not only shivering but shaking with silent tears, and guilt filled him. He wasn't sure how he could fix this, but he knew where to start. He unbuttoned his coat, took it off, and draped it over her shoulders.
Lila jumped at the sudden weight and warmth and quickly turned to see Brainy smiling at her. She leapt off the rock and tried to hand him back his coat but he held out a hand to stop her. She held it tightly for comfort. "I am so, so sorry. I didn't mean to tell her, but it just slipped out."
He put a hand on her shoulder until she looked at him with her tear-rimmed gaze. "I know. It's okay."
"You're not mad?"
"How could I be mad at you?" He pulled her into his arms, and she rested her head on his shoulder. "I love you." He kissed the top of her head. "I could never stay mad at you"
Lila laughed and hiccupped, wiping her arms. "I feel stupid for leaving now."
"Not as I stupid as I was for letting you leave." Brainy said, and then was struck with an idea. "But now I'm glad that we're both out here."
Lila laughed, "We were out here earlier today."
"But not alone." Brainy's voice was suddenly very serious, and he cleared his throat nervously.
Lila's eyes became worried, "What is it?"
"Please, sit down," Brainy waited until she'd done so and then continued, "You are the best person I've ever known, Lila, and every day I thank God that you love me. I should have done this ages ago, but I could never find the name."
Lila's breath caught in her throat as he kneeled in front of her, she didn't notice his hand sneak into the pocket of the coat she was wearing and out again.
Brainy took a deep breath and pulled the box into view. "Lila, would you do me the honor of marrying me?"
There was an agonizing moment of silence and then Lila jumped into his arms so quickly that the coat fell off her shoulders to lay forgotten on the rock. Brainy let out a surprised wheeze as he hit the ground on his back but then Lila was on top of him kissing him, and he figured he could willingly without oxygen for a while.
She pulled up and sat beside them, flushed with excitement and embarrassment at being so forward. As she brushed a lock of hair out of her face, he sat up and grinned dazedly. "Is that a yes?"
"Of course it is! Oh, I wondered if you'd ever ask!"
Brainy pulled her into a tight hug. "I just wanted to wait for the right moment, I guess."
She looked up at him. "Was it the right moment?"
"You said yes, that's all that matters." He gently took her hand and slid the engagement ring on it. "I love you."
"I love you, too." She whispered and leaned her head against his chest. They sat among the melting snow for awhile and then Lila grinned slyly up at him. "You knew what this means, don't you?"
Brainy raised an eyebrow. "What?"
"Well," Lila drawled teasingly, "we're going to get married in a nice ceremony with all our friends present." Brainy nodded, uncomprehending. She smirked, "That means everyone's going to find out that your name is – hmph!"
Brainy stopped her from finishing her sentence, but she simply smiled and wrapped her arms around his neck as she kissed him back.
"You sure that you two don't want to be alone tonight?" Arnold asked Lila and Brainy, who were sitting together at the kitchen table, as he straightened his tie. "I mean, you just got engaged and it's Valentine's Day."
"We're fine, Arnold," Brainy said, holding Lila close as she blushed down at the emerald ring on her finger, "we don't mind watching Stella, and she's about to go to sleep anyway."
"If you're sure…"
"We are," Lila smiled, "Consider it a thank-you for letting us stay with you. My dad really didn't have any room."
Arnold smiled. "Okay. Thank you."
"I think we're ready to go," Helga's voice came from the bedroom, and as Arnold turned, his mouth fell open. Helga had twisted her hair into an elegant bun with strands framing her face, and red stones glittered in her ears. She wore a simple but beautiful red sleeveless dress and Stella was cradled snugly in her arms. Lila smirked at Arnold's stunned face and blushed at Brainy's equally admiring gaze on herself. "But you should kiss your daughter good night first."
Arnold shut his mouth and took Stella from his wife's arms. "Good night, little one," he said, kissing the little girl's forehead as he fell asleep. He carried the baby back to their bedroom and laid her in the crib. As he left the room, he heard Helga thanking them for working Stella.
"It's fine, Helga," Lila assured her, "besides we'll be alone this way anyway. We'll order some food, relax, watch a movie…"
"Fine," Helga said, "just don't do anything that'll scar my daughter for life, please."
Brainy smirked, "But she's asleep…"
Helga punched him in the shoulder just as a red-faced Lila hit him on the other. "Ow! Hey, I was kidding."
"Idiot." Helga laughed, "Well, we're off then. Give us a call if you need anything."
"See you later," Arnold said as the two closed the front door behind them. Brainy smirked and was moving in to kiss his fiancé when a pizza take-out menu was placed between them. He kissed the paper instead and shot a playful glare at Lila, who was laughing.
"First food, then kissing."
Brainy sighed and picked up the phone.
Helga had no idea where Arnold had in mind for their date, but she managed to keep enviably silent as they drove towards a French restaurant and pulled in the parking lot. He nodded to the hostess as they entered and she smiled and nudged a nearby waitress to pay attention. The waitress grabbed their menus and walked them past all the chattering customers and booths rich with the smell of fresh bread and wine to a small, pleasant room near the back. When both had been seated, the waitress placed the menus on the table and left after taking their drink orders.
Helga raised an eyebrow at Arnold as he bent down and picked up something from underneath the table. When he placed the object on the table, Helga saw that it was a strangely familiar-looking candle, and as he lit it a memory stirred. She gasped.
He grinned at her. "It's just like our first Valentine's date, isn't it?"
Helga reached out a hand and tentatively grazed it against the warm, flickering glass bowl. "But how did you get it?"
"Well, before they tore the restaurant down I was helping the owners to move out." Arnold said, "When I noticed the candle, the chef remembered when we'd come there before and offered to let me take it, so I did."
It had been only a few weeks after the two had started dating in high school that Arnold had made the connection between Helga and Cecile. The two had been on a picnic and Helga's hair had come free of its customary ponytail and swung down her back and over her face. Once the hair had obscured half of her face, Arnold had been taken aback and asked her if she was Cecile. Nervously, she admitted it, and he'd burst out laughing, surprised that he hadn't been able to make the connection. They'd had several more romantic dates at the same restaurant, becoming familiar to the chefs and waiters, but a few years after they'd started college the restaurant had been bought out by a fast-food chain and their chances to go there were gone.
"You're definitely a romantic, Arnold," Helga laughed and she covered his hand with hers.
"You know, if we are really wanted to make this like our first date," Arnold said as he swallowed a bite of soufflé, "we should have eaten cervelle de veu rather than coq au vin."
Helga rolled her eyes. "That first date was good, Arnold, but if you think I'm eating cow brains again for the sake of reliving it, you're crazy."
"Can't blame me for trying," he smirked.
"Sure, I can't." Helga drawled.
Arnold walked over to a small cabinet in the room and opened it. He brought out two presents and laid them on the table. He sat down and smiled at Helga who was shuffling around in her purse. "Go on, open them."
"Hold on," Helga placed a red package on the table. "You open yours first."
Arnold picked up the package and slowly unwrapped it. "It's a book."
"Open it," Helga prodded.
Arnold opened the book and smiled. It was an album full of pictures of him, of her and him, and of them with the baby. Each were meticulously labeled, with captions underneath full of Helga's gifted wording and humor. "Thanks, I love it." He folded his arms. "Now you open yours."
Helga pulled off the paper to see a beautifully engraved book, which, when she opened it, saw that it contained dozens of poems hand-written into the pages. She recognized several of her professed favorites along with others that she mentioned wanting to read when she had more time. "Thank you." Arnold picked up her hand and kissed it, and she picked up the other gift. She frowned curiously at it. "A CD?"
Arnold plucked the case from her hand and walked back over to the cabinet. He opened it to show a small stereo and slipped the disk inside. As it began playing, smooth, sultry jazz music flowed out of the speakers, and Helga smiled. "Of course, it's jazz."
Arnold held out his hand. "May I have this dance?"
She stood up and twined her arms around his neck as he pulled her to him. Together they danced in the solitude and smooth music, whispering to each other beneath the calls of the trombone and cello.
When the waitress came in ten minutes later to give them the check, she opened the door and walked in only for her face to flush bright red. The two customers were swaying gently in each other's arms, kissing each other in a sweet, passionate embrace. Smiling at the love between them, she quickly placed the check on the door and quietly slipped out.
Later, the two were sitting up in bed, lit by the bedside lamps as they looked over the album, Stella sleeping quietly in the cradle beside the bed. They'd sent Brainy and Lila off to enjoy their own Valentine's Day, and the two had gone off to the park where they'd been gone for a while.
"Sometimes you scare me, Arnold," Helga said as Arnold kissed her on the cheek.
"How's that?" He asked.
She gestured to the vase brimming with red roses on the bedside table, sandwiched between the lamp and a box of chocolates. "How on earth did you get all that in here without me knowing about it?"
He shrugged and kissed her nose. "I have connections."
"Really," she arched an eyebrow. She looked back down at the album open in her lap and smiled, tracing the lines of picture Arnold's face as he smiled down at a giggling picture Stella. "Isn't she beautiful?"
"Yes, she is – like her mom."
Helga playfully shoved him and he took the opportunity to pick up the book. He looked contentedly at the pictures. "I remember how happy I was when you told me Stella was coming – I almost fainted."
"You did faint." Helga laughed. "In front of all our friends, if I remember correctly."
"Ouch, must you remind me?"
"Would you bet that happy again if we…had more?"
"I would be ecstatic," Arnold said, and then looked at her, "but only if you wanted more children too."
"Of course I do," Helga smiled, "I'd like a little you, but," she added with a glare, "for your sake he'd better not have your head until after he's born. Otherwise, when it's time for him to come into this world he might be hearing a lot more colorful language than I'd like him to hear."
Arnold laughed and pushed the book away, pulling Helga into his arms and kissing her deeply. He kissed the bridge of her nose, the space between her nose and her lips, and then drew her into a long, sensual kiss. She'd wrapped her arms and pulled herself tighter against him to properly respond when…
The baby started turning fretfully in her cradle, and Arnold released Helga with a sigh. "Maybe she'd be more comfortable in her crib."
Helga nodded and scooped Stella up. Both parents walked into the baby's room and watched her face smooth into a peaceful smile as she fell asleep in her crib. Arnold tightened an arm around Helga as they looked down at her, at their miracle. Helga pulled away after brushing a soothing hand against the baby's face. Arnold looked at his little girl a little longer before leaving himself and closing the door.
"Hey Arnold…" Helga's voice came quietly from the bedroom, and Arnold walked in. Helga was sitting on the bed with an expression that made his blood pressure rise extensively, and he had to take a deep breath. She smirked. "Aren't you coming to bed?"
He closed the door and turned off the light, and that was all we need to know about that.
A/N: That's the end! I'm so glad I actually finished this on Valentine's Day! Sweet! I hope you enjoyed it!
Thanks for reading and please review! They make me happy!
Happy Valentine's Day!