Author's Note/Disclaimer: It's a rather sad day when I can say that I've sat on a plot egg for five months, but here I am. This short story is the result of waiting to buy a dvd for reference, not having motivation, and being drowned by a job that I can't stand but alas pays for gas where fanfiction does not. As I've said on my profile, I'm trying to just feel happier about my life, and I have had to go through a lot of thinking about what I want to do and what I want to focus on to find it. Also, the musical Sweeney Todd and the cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic have taken up much of my fan obsession lately. There. That's my apology note and I'm sticking to it.
I hope you enjoy the following short about a puffin and two penguin characters that I don't own and never will. Also, let me know if you would like to see more Happy Feet material from me or if you have any plot bunnies hopping around, provided they're about canon characters only.
Gained and Lost
A cold, almost sharp wind made its way across the Antarctic landscape on that most unusual night. The Emperor Penguins resting on a great, glacial shelf were struck by the strong force of nature. Many mothers and fathers were scrambling to the distant ocean to fish while the elderly and already fed watched over the now fading chicks. After a glacial catastrophe, panic over nearly starving, an inter-species alliance like nothing the Emperors had ever seen, and losing their ancestral home, the colony was understandably shaken up. Surprisingly though, among the mass need to feed and the unstable future ahead, a feeling of peace seemed to emanate from the hundreds of penguins.
There was only one creature that didn't fit in with the calm, tall creatures that evening. He was a strange bird; black and white like a penguin, but with a beak far too colorful and wings far too wide. From his perch on a piece of ice high up on the ice shelf, he could see nearly the whole colony below him. He looked up to the moon briefly before letting out a sigh and dipping his head.
Sven, who had pretended to be a penguin, couldn't keep up his act.
Sven, who had once been a hero, was alone in the world again.
Sven, once the Mighty Sven, was just one lost puffin.
The puffin couldn't bear to face his friends again. None of the Adelie, Chinstraps, Humbolt, or Blue penguins would listen to him now, and apart from Lovelace (and occasionally the pretty admirer) he never bothered to become too close to any penguin anyway. It was the masses that loved him–treated him like a god, even–and when the occasional individual asked for his "Sven think," he would show them his philosophy and let them get on with their lives.
Now the Mighty Sven was without his community and friends, just as he had been after losing his home and family in the far north. Despite all the love and hope the penguins below him projected, he could not bring himself to forget all the happy faces of Svenland he would never see again, nor the sorrow in his own heart. He was (and really always had been) alone in Antarctica.
"Sven?" asked a slightly crackling voice from below the puffin's perch.
Sven turned around. The penguin that stood before him was as grey as the clouds that once poured snows over his homeland. His eyes were bright blue and strikingly different from the brown-eyed masses of Emperorland. His true gifts, however, were his feet.
"Mumblie," Sven replied in his characteristic accent, "Nice to see you again."
The penguin nodded. "I didn't see you when the berg toppled."
"I had to fly out of 'de way," Sven explained. "All the peng'vuins moved out so queek!"
"Yeah," agreed Mumble without really anymore thought of what to say.
An awkward pause ensued. It took a good yawn from Sven and a little courage from Mumble to break it again.
"So, why are you here all alone?" the penguin finally asked.
"There's nowhere ealse to be, Mumblie," Sven answered. "Svenland is gone. Aelies gone hoome too. And me? Well, I can't do anything right."
"Now wait a minute," Mumble interrupted. "Just because you made one mistake–or maybe more than one–doesn't mean you can't make up for it."
Sven shook his head. "I'll never be a hero again." He paused and looked intently at Mumble. "You, on 'de other wing, are quite 'de hero, Mumblie."
"Me? Oh no, I'm just an ordinary penguin."
"Eet not ordinary for Emperor peng'vuins to dance like 'dat. Or go find 'de aliens. Lovelace says you talked to 'dem, yes?"
Mumble chuckled. "Well, once I did, but only with my feet."
"Eet stiil better than what I did," said the puffin. "I ran away from 'de aliens because…"
Sven didn't finish his sentence, instead wincing. Mumble was now curious why the "mighty" Sven would have run away.
Sven flapped his wings once and shuddered. "'Dey eat…birds."
The grey penguin's eyes widened and he looked out to the colony beyond for comfort. If the aliens decided to eat penguins instead of fish, they could easily destroy them all. They could do whatever they pleased to penguin-kind (or any kind, for that matter) without thought or pity. Then he rationalized.
"I don't think they would've eaten you, Sven," Mumble said. "The aliens must've cared if they saved your life. They saved mine too, once."
"–And 'dey kept you locked a'vay w'vere you went mad," said the puffin.
"H-how do you know all this?" Mumble asked, genuinely surprised that the puffin knew so much about his life's adventures.
Sven turned to Mumble. "Lovelace and many other peng'vins talk about what you did, Mumblie. You did something no one else could eever do."
"B-but, I'm just an ordinary penguin to everyone now."
"Well, maybe you think you're ordeenary, Mumblie." Sven chuckled. "–But your feet are too happy and you're too fluffy to be ordeenary."
Mumble laughed along with Sven. "I know that's true."
After a good laugh, Sven smiled with his colorful beak. "Mumblie, I feel 'dat I should say soory for some things."
Mumble raised a flipper. "Sven, you don't have to–"
Sven flapped his wings and flew in Mumble's face, interrupting him, before sitting on his head. "–But I do! So, I'm soory for pretending to be a peng'vin and causing all 'de Emperors 'dis trouble."
"–I-it's okay, Sven," Mumble started, an orange foot in his left eye.
"–And I'm also soory for making 'de moves on your wife."
"Ow…" Mumble muttered as he was scratched. "Look–um, I think you'll need to take that up with Gloria, but can you…"
"–And I'm sorry for being so mean to you all 'dis time," Sven said, putting his stapled beak in Mumble's face. "Hopefully we can be friendies?"
"Well, if you don't mind getting off my head…" Mumble grunted.
"Oops! Sorry!" Sven said and fluttered down to the ice next to Mumble before extending a wing. "You forgive me?"
Mumble pulled together the best smile he could and reached out his flipper in a shake. "Of course I forgive you. Even after all that happened, you still did a lot of good by feeding everyone and moving the berg."
Sven beamed at the newfound honor Mumble gave him. Though there was still tension between the two birds, and a whole world of uncertainty after all they knew about the aliens, they could at least understand the good things they both had accomplished. Mumble could now see that his own heroism was still remembered and Sven saw that he had done something greater than show off his flying skills.
"Friends?" asked Sven.
"Friends," answered Mumble, smiling.
"Pa?" asked a small voice from behind the penguin and the puffin.
"Eerik," Sven said with a wide grin as they both turned around to the Emperor chick behind them, who greatly resembled his father.
Erik took a step back and his eyes narrowed. "Pa, it's real late, and Mommy says it's time to go to sleep."
"I'm coming, son," Mumble answered his shy son who he now knew had such a big voice inside. "I was talking to Sven."
"Your father forgives me," said the puffin, flying right above Erik's head. "You forgive me too, Erik?"
The young Emperor took another step back then shook his head.
"Erik, that's not–" Mumble started.
"No! You lied about being a penguin. You lied that I could fly!" Erik cried.
The puffin frowned. "Eerik, I…"
"You're no hero," Erik grumbled before waddling back the way he came.
"Erik, come back!" Mumble called, though his son didn't listen. Erik had quite a temper at times, but Mumble had never expected him to get this angry at Sven.
"He didn't mean it, Sven," Mumble said, turning to the puffin who had his head ducked low to the snow.
"Yes, he did," Sven answered, "–And he is right."
Mumble couldn't say anything to that. He knew that Erik would never be able to fly, and that Sven had lied to an entire nation, but for whatever reason, he couldn't bring himself to be angry with him. Then again, it wasn't his dreams that had been betrayed, but his son's. Mumble had gained a friend, but his son had lost a hero.