Disclaimer: Yes, I own Hey Arnold. Deal with it.
Arnold placed the punchbowl on the table and looked down at his eager pet pig, Abner, who had no doubt smelt the food from the kitchen and would be following him closely in the interests of obtaining some of it. Although, Arnold sighed to himself, his poor animal friend probably wouldn't stick around for long after the party itself had started, for all the usual reasons.
Abner was an incredibly smart pig, and a very confident one at that, and he was very happy amongst all the Boarding House residents. He was also rather accustomed to the presence of Arnold's friends, despite being a little wary of Eugene, considering the number of times the clumsy teen had tripped over the poor pig, and the one time he'd dropped a spanner on his head, too. Over the years, Abner had only seemed to dislike a select number of males, one of those being Wolfgang whom he had bitten strongly on the ankles multiple times, causing the tall and tough football player to cry.
However, Abner was very strange when it came to females, most notably females anywhere near Arnold's age. Some of them, like Phoebe, he was merely indifferent to and tended not to acknowledge unless she directly offered him food. Although with the large majority he simply ignored them entirely, and went well out of his way to avoid. Strangely, he was absolutely terrified by Lila and absolutely all of Arnold's ex-girlfriends. It had caused problems on more than one occasion, because his poor pig would go into an absolute fit sometimes when he brought them home on dates.
Gerald, one day during lunch, had remarked on how hilarious the situation was, after Arnold had relayed the most recent anxiety attack Abner had succumbed to. Phoebe, who had been Gerald's girlfriend for some time, had become determined to figure out a theorem for his behaviour based on whatever psychology text book she had been studying at the time. Gerald had rather hilariously, at least to him, pointed out that Arnold would never be able to get married, or else risk his favourite pet having a heart attack. To which they all agreed, that if Abner ever showed an affection for a female Arnold's age, he should probably marry her.
Arnold gave his long-time pet a few pats, to which he grunted happily, before trudging back inside to check the time. People would be arriving in the next twenty minutes, and he still couldn't quite remember how he'd been convinced to do this. Phoebe's house was much too small to host a party of their classmates, which he understood. Gerald had offered, even though Arnold wasn't sure why, to have it at his place but that was foiled by Timberley's birthday, which was also today. Rhonda had gladly nominated herself, and her house, for the task of hosting but when she began to talk of formal dress, ballroom dancing and vegetarian finger sandwiches, Phoebe had insisted that she was probably not the right person for the job. Hence, with the space in his backyard and the fact that he could be trusted to keep it simple, Arnold was politely approached by Phoebe to host Helga Pataki's welcome home party.
Arnold had considered, when Phoebe had first asked, enquiring as to why the Pataki's couldn't host a party themselves. Until he recalled that, if they were the same people they had been upon leaving town five years ago, Big Bob and Miriam Pataki were promising candidates for the worst parents ever. With that in mind, he had relented. Helga and her parents had moved to the heart of New York when everybody was eleven, and after five long years, there were actually a few people eager for her return. Phoebe, of course, was absolutely thrilled and Gerald seemed fairly happy with the idea too, Arnold would have to ask him why later on, but then there were also Lila, Sheena and Curly who seemed pleased she'd be returning. Harold and Stinky had been trying to pretend they didn't care, but it wasn't convincing at all. Arnold's major concern, however, had been Abner, if the poor thing practically buried himself anytime Lila came near, what on earth might be like in Helga's presence.
Thirty five minutes later, and it seemed Arnold was about to find out. Abner was currently, as per the arrival of various females including the apparently terrifying Lila, shaking like a leaf on Arnold's bed whilst people mingled in the backyard. Helga, who was completely unaware of the party, would be lead in by Phoebe, under some clever guise that Arnold had now forgotten, in approximately the next thirty seconds. Rhonda was making comment somewhere to Arnold's left as to how she was certain Helga would have enjoyed her ballroom party far more than Phoebe had anticipated and Nadine was politely agreeing. Gerald was fidgeting, anxiously awaiting his girlfriend's arrival, and probably hoping to see the big smile on her face now that her best friend was back in town. Phoebe had practically crashed through the poor, in a display of recklessness not previously seen from the petite girl, dragging a very confused blonde girl behind her. People were rather quiet at first, because they weren't entirely certain the tall, leggy blonde with waist length waves and a casual grey sweater was actually the intended blonde for this particular party. That was, until the girl with the long black lashes and big blue eyes swept some of her fringe out of the way, revealing a thinned but still there unibrow and muttered a bewildered, "Criminy".
Helga was immediately swamped, and besides looking overwhelmed, she seemed to take it well. She was polite in general, still heavily sarcastic, but far more relaxed. She tucked long blonde wisps of hair behind her ear when the wind blew and smiled every now and then at a funny story somebody told. However, Arnold hadn't truly realised he was staring until Gerald nudged him and warned him he should probably stop. She didn't speak with him over the coming hours, and he supposed that made relative sense, after all, she hadn't liked him very much when they were kids. It wasn't until three hours after her arrival that he even spoke directly to her, and that was because a certain someone wouldn't leave her alone. Much to Arnold's astonishment that 'certain someone' had been Abner, who had come rushing down into the garden at some point before the three hour mark and all but launched himself at Helga Patkai. Gerald had almost spit out his punch and Phoebe looked absolutely amazed. Helga had appeared a little, pensive, at the pigs attentions but mainly just confused. When Lila had come over moments later mentioning how odd Abner's behaviour was, as he was always 'ever so' scared of her, Abner had squealed helplessly and tucked himself into a ball in Helga's lap. Helga seemed utterly speechless at this point, and Gerald was still spluttering, so Arnold had taken the step of apologising for Abner acting so strangely and taking his pet back inside. Gerald had, immediately after Arnold returned, rather emphatically stated that Helga Pataki was clearly the one.
Arnold had of course, disagreed with that in a state of panic, and his cheeks had flushed red. However, over the course of the year, Abner's strange behaviour in relation to Miss Pataki continued. One history project proved almost impossible to finish, what with Abner stalking poor Helga around the house and tapping his hoof against Arnold's bedroom door once they had locked themselves in there. Months after the party, when Phoebe and Helga had dropped Gerald at the Boarding House their way to the mall, Abner had done a flying leap into Helga's car. This was among the many times Arnold could be certain Helga was somewhere nearby on Vine Street because Abner would dash to the front door and beg to be let out.
And so it had continued, until the day just over a year later when Arnold summoned the guts to admit to Helga just how much he liked her, and she responded by kissing him. It was from that day forward, that Abner was content to simply brush past her in greeting and rest lazily at her feet if ever she and Arnold were in the living room. Except, of course, during times where they would fight, in which case Abner immediately resorted to those terrifying panic attacks until such disputes had been thoroughly resolved.